Climate & Energy

Biofuel for the flames

Are biofuels a core solution?

As part of my ongoing series on core climate solutions (see links below), let's examine biofuels. If we are going to avoid catastrophic climate outcomes, we need some 11 "stabilization wedges" from 2015 to 2040. So if you want to be a core climate solution, you need to be able to generate a large fraction of a wedge in a climate-constrained world. And that is a staggering amount of low-carbon energy. Princeton's Socolow and Pacala describe one wedge of biofuel in their original August 2004 Science article [PDF] on the wedges:

Connecting the dots

A simple regulatory fix to the coming power crisis

Our electric regulatory model is broken. It preferentially deploys expensive power sources before cheap ones. It compares the variable costs of dirty fuels to the all-in costs of clean fuels and deludes itself into thinking that the dirty, expensive power is economically advantaged. It places the interests of utility shareholders above the interests of other potential investors in our power grid, massively skewing capital allocation, even while it insulates utility investors from the disciplines imposed by a competitive market. These problems arise fundamentally from the over-regulation of our electric sector, which has created stable utilities, but virtually no opportunities for the kind of economic "upside" necessary to attract entrepreneurs into the sector. This ought to be good news; after all, we Americans are really good at taking risks, deploying our prodigious entrepreneurial talents and making big financial bets. The problems we face all play to our strengths. Unfortunately, any positive change to our system is by definition deregulatory -- a word that has been politically poisoned by the botched restructuring (don't call it dereg!) in California and Enron's machinations. As factually irrelevant as those bogeymen may be to any discussion of deregulation, they present formidable political obstacles to reform -- and only the most quixotic windmill-tilter chases reforms that are politically untenable to both sides of the aisle. Houston, we have a solution.

Netroots Nation: David talks about energy and the economy

Who’s that grizzled chap in the plaid? It’s our own David Roberts, on a panel earlier today titled “Debunking the Issue Silo Myth: Why the …

The newest denialist talking point

Physicists reaffirm that human-induced GHGs affect the atmosphere

It goes something like this: The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. Of course that's not true. Today a statement appeared on the APS website saying: APS Position Remains Unchanged The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: "Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate." An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that "Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum." This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed. For a list of societies that have endorsed the mainstream position on climate change, see this post.

Goracle on Meet the Press

Questions for Gore’s energy plan?

This Sunday, Al Gore will appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" to talk about the energy action plan he unveiled in Washington this week. So, Grist readers, in tribute to the late Tim Russert, what kind of tough questions do you want host Tom Brokaw to lob Gore's way? Offer your suggestions here. Looking ahead, is it safe to say that Gore stands to get a very warm reception from interim "Meet" host Brokaw? After all, the ex-NBC anchor hosted an Emmy Award-winning Discovery show back in 2006 that explored the reality of climate change and the need to address it. And he's a self-proclaimed environmentalist -- a lover of the outdoors (travels the world with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard) who touts his personal efforts to conserve energy. Brokaw also did his part to flack Gore's movie, "An Incovenient Truth." Will Brokaw embrace his inner Russert and grill Gore about how exactly the nation can meet a 100 percent renewable electricity goal by 2018?

Input on outputs

New white paper provides more details on output-based standards

For those of a policy-wonk bent. For those who simply loved my earlier post on output-based standards for greenhouse gas control and have been thirsting ever since for more details (I know you're out there!). For those who wait eagerly at their mailbox waiting for the current issues of electricity policy magazines to arrive ... Yea, verily, I bring you this [PDF]. A white paper just published in The Electricity Journal, providing much more detail than was appropriate for a blog post on the concept of output-based CO2 standards, and hopefully clarifying some of the details.

House Dems fail attempt to make Big Oil drill on the land it’s got

A bill that would have required oil companies to drill on leased land they already hold before seeking new conquests failed in the House of …

Antarctic icebergs scraping seafloor bare more often due to climate change

The warming Antarctic is changing life on the seafloor as well as above as icebergs freed from surrounding sea ice earlier than in previous years …

Mr. Gore, how do you feel about 90 percent?

Blogosphere responds reservedly to Gore’s call for 100 percent renewable electricity

Al Gore stood up in Washington today to call on Americans to join a crusade for 100 percent renewable electricity use by 2018. The blogosphere's response? A golf clap and general round of nitpicking ... Some see the renewable energy goal as a touch impractical, and his beating of the carbon tax drum (1993 ... anyone? anyone?) irked plenty of conservatives -- no surprise -- and congressional Democrats on the grounds of poor timing as the American economy limps along. A roundup of reactions: