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Native Americans likely to be hit especially hard by climate change, says report

Climate change is likely to hit disadvantaged groups the hardest, and that includes Native Americans, according to a new report. Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder predict that rising seas will flood tribal lands in Florida and droughts will involve tribes in water wars in the Southwest; coastal towns in Alaska are already suffering from melting sea ice and erosion-causing storms. "We've been left out in a number of other major initiatives," says Native American advocate Steven Etsitty, who says the Navajo have been involved in climate talks with the U.S. EPA. "This is another important one, and …

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Discover Brilliant: Smart grid

Grid experts discuss why the grid is broken and how to fix it

Next up, "A Brilliant Energy Grid for North America." Geek heaven! Here's the line-up: California Energy Commission, Merwin Brown, Director of Transmission Research, PIER (moderator) Modern Grid Initiative, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Steve Pullins, Team Leader, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Clark Gellings, VP of Technology Innovation IBM, Ron Ambrosio, Global Research Leader -- Energy & Utilities Itron, Mike Burns, Senior Product Manager, AMI Applications What's wrong with the grid? Gellings: Load is growing about twice as fast as transmission capacity, and has been for over 10 years. Lots of congestion. We've modernized virtually every industry in the U.S. except this …

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Nuggets and Hummers and fish sticks, oh my!

PETA VP argues vegetarianism is the best way to help the planet

This is a guest essay from Bruce Friedrich, vice president for campaigns at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). It was written in response to Alex Roth's essay "PETA's dogma is all bark and no bite." Friedrich has been an environmental activist for more than 20 years. In 1987, I read Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé and -- primarily for human rights and environmental reasons -- went vegan. Two decades later, I still believe that -- even leaving aside all the animal welfare issues -- a vegan diet is the only reasonable diet for …

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Bill McKibben: Can anyone stop it?

A review of Lomborg and Shellenberger & Nordhaus

This piece, which appears in the October 11, 2007, issue of the New York Review of Books, is posted here with the kind permission of the editors of that magazine. ----- CAN ANYONE STOP IT? Bill McKibben Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming by Bjørn Lomborg. Knopf, 253 pp., $21.00 Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. Houghton Mifflin, 344 pp., $25.00 What We Know About Climate Change by Kerry Emanuel. MIT Press, 85 pp., $14.95 Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and …

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Discover Brilliant: Utilities

Innovation from the nation’s most progressive electricity providers

First up today, a session on utilities: "Big Energy, Big Vision -- Utilities Making the Climate Commitment." We're starting off with a presentation from Janice Berman of PG&E, a northern California utility that's way, way ahead of the pack on energy policy. Here's an abridged list of what they're doing: Funding renewables generation via solar, wind, tides, and biomass. Hooking customers up with solar systems (more than 1700 so far). Pushing hard on energy efficiency. Allowing customers to go climate neutral via offsets. A Sustainable Communities program focuses on holistic city and town sustainability (rather than merely efficiency), at the …

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Mankiw very much

Conservative economists agree: Taxes rule!

Stalwart Republican, former Bush advisor, and Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw makes the case for the carbon tax. He also thinks a carbon tax is the most achievable global policy: A global carbon tax would be easier to negotiate. All governments require revenue for public purposes. The world's nations could agree to use a carbon tax as one instrument to raise some of that revenue. No money needs to change hands across national borders. Each government could keep the revenue from its tax and use it to finance spending or whatever form of tax relief it considered best. I guess …

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Judge tosses out lawsuit brought by California against automakers

Automakers gained an edge yesterday in the Big Auto vs. California debate, as a federal judge tossed out a lawsuit against the world's six largest auto companies brought by California Attorney General Jerry Brown. Brown had claimed that because of the harmful environmental effects of vehicles' greenhouse-gas emissions, the Big Six were running afoul of California's public nuisance laws. But U.S. District Judge Martin J. Jenkins ruled that the issue should be legislated, not litigated; that calculating the exact percentage of blame to be pinned on automakers was impossible; and that a ruling in favor of Brown would threaten the …

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Investors petition SEC to require companies to disclose climate risk

Activists, investors, and activist investors have teamed up to try to compel the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to require publicly traded companies to disclose their climate-change risks. Under current law, the SEC requires companies to detail potential risks to investors in their annual and quarterly reports to the agency. The activists, armed with a petition, are seeking an "interpretive" release from the agency clarifying that climate risk, and the risks and benefits that could come from domestic climate legislation, should already be part of a company's financial reports. "This is about an investor's right to know," said a spokesperson …

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Me on the radio

Talking to Bill Scher

I was on Bill Scher's radio program on Saturday for about 20 minutes. It was broadcast on WHMP-AM in western Mass.; you can listen to the podcast here. Or if you like, you can watch Bill talking to me: One amendment, for those who actually listen to the whole thing: I praised renewable portfolio standards for being "technology neutral" in that they don't dictate what "non-fossil" energy has to fill the quota. That's not quite right. As I add later, a good, genuinely technology-neutral RPS would allow for energy efficiency and cogen, both of which are, or can be, fossil-based, …

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Discover Brilliant: The business of climate change

The final session of the day (hooray) is about "the business of climate change." On the panel: Climate Change Journal, Grant Ferrier, Editor (Moderator) Climate Solutions, K.C. Golden, Policy Director Sterling Planet, Alden Hathaway II, Senior VP, Business Development Environmental Resources Trust, Gordon Smith, EcoLands Director We start with Smith, who begins by, of all things, talking about forestry credits in carbon markets! He says they aren't attractive in the compliance (mandatory) carbon markets, but voluntary offset customers love them. And they're sketchy. But nonetheless, that's what he specializes in. Uh ... why? Doesn't say. Hathaway starts by talking about …