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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 …

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Debunking Bjørn Lomborg: Part III

Lomborg’s a real Nowhere Man

In Cool It, Lomborg writes about global warming -- but the globe he is writing about certainly isn't Earth. We've already seen in Parts I and II that on Planet Lomborg, polar bears can evolve backwards and the ice sheets can't suffer rapid ice loss (as they are already doing on Earth). On Planet Lomborg, the carbon cycle has no amplifying feedbacks -- even though these are central to why warming on Earth will be worse than the IPCC projects. I couldn't even find the word "feedback" or "permafrost" in the book [if anyone finds them, please let me know]. …

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Climate update from NOAA

Second-warmest U.S. August ever

Let's look at some of the records for the month:, according to the National Climatic Data Center, a division of NOAA: For the contiguous U.S., the average temperature for August was 75.4°F (24.1°C), which was 2.7°F (1.5°C) above the 20th century mean and the second warmest August on record. More than 30 all-time high temperature records were tied or broken, and more than 2000 new daily high temperature records were established. Raleigh-Durham, N.C., equaled its all-time high of 105°F on August 21, and Columbia, S.C., had 14 days in August with temperatures over 100°F, which broke the 1900 record of …

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Discover Brilliant: The policy and investment landscape

Next up, H. Jeffrey Leonard, president of the Global Environment Fund. He wants America to "get real." 1. Aggregate global use of fossil fuels will not fall in the next two decades. 2. American "energy independence" is an unrealistic pipe dream driving bad policy. 3. The Biofuels Initiative won't achieve anything environmentally speaking, and is a grotesque example of pork barrel politics. 4. Consumer and lifestyle steps being taken by Americans are all but irrelevant. Chipper! One interesting point: China has no domestic access to natural gas. No nation has ever cleaned up its pollution or dealt with its environmental …

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Tackling climate: Beltway tone-deafness edition

On subsidizing ‘green’ energy R&D

In its "green" issue this week, The New Republic features an excerpt from Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger's new book, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. Their basic point is that the emphasis of the political debate is all wrong. I'm not sure they really understand how things are shaping up, but they're saying that politicians should spend less "time" talking about regulatory approaches, and more time reiterating the importance of innovation. This gives pretty short shrift to the fact that a carbon tax (or cap-and-trade program that auctions credits) is basically an in-kind …

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Alaska joins regional climate initiative

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has created a climate-change committee and joined her state with the cool kids at the Western Climate Initiative.

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The siren song of denial

Climate change skeptics try to seduce us to inaction

Every once in awhile, I'm struck by something that makes me realize how the ancient storytellers were terrifically acute observers of the human condition, and used metaphor brilliantly to convey their observations. Perhaps the most salient example these days is the song of the sirens, the beauties whose songs would lure sailors toward them until they grounded their ships on the rocks and drowned. The modern-day sirens, Avery and Singer, are taking up the cause by trying to lure the world away from any action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Their song is that this is all just a natural cycle, …

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Discover Brilliant: Renewables and buildings

Now it's "Moving the Technology Frontier," about technologies that are going to create "tectonic shifts" in the cleantech space, with Stan Bull, head of R&D at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Steve Selkowtiz, Building Technologies Program Leader at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Bull is first up. Says NREL's budget is $200-$250 million. That seems tiny to me. Makes the point that available solar energy dwarfs what is available from any other energy source, technology and money aside. Need to move to renewable electric generation, plug-in hybrid vehicles, zero-energy buildings, and sustainable communities. Possible breakthroughs: nanoscience, biotech, hybrid biological-physical systems, …

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Discover Brilliant: Energy security

A strange and old-fashioned way to start a hip, cutting edge conference

I'm in a session about "Energy, Climate Change & Resource Nationalism" with General Bruce Wright, commander of U.S. Air Force in Japan, and Dr. Liam Fox, Shadow Secretary of State of Defence and Member of Parliament in the UK. These are old-school guys, fairly conservative, and they're painting a grim picture. China is ravenous, buying up energy resources in a geostrategic way, growing its military capability. Russia is practically owned and operated by Gazprom and very much wants to restore the prestige of the USSR. The oil problem will be closely followed by a natural gas problem. Europe will soon …