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Climate & Energy

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More thwarting

Ladies and gentlemen, Bush’s ‘scientific enquiry’ is still a sham

Every few months, if you pay close enough attention, you'll discover new and exciting ways the Bush administration is gumming up the machines of scientific inquiry. This will happen basically every time the likely results of a particular line of inquiry will be at odds with public policy as determined by the Bush administration. It's an elegant system. And as a result, there's a quick and dirty way to find examples of meddling. For instance, while you're unlikely to find meddling in biotechnological research (non-stem cell), most government-funded environmental research will eventually be sabotaged in some way. That's the basic …

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O Canada, what are you doing?

Tar sands are the enemy of the planet

Our civilization's addiction to oil is being displayed in all its nefarious glory in the tar sands of Canada. According to Chris Nelder: What we have here is arguably the most environmentally destructive activity man has ever attempted, with a compliant government, insatiable demand, and an endless supply of capital turning it into "a speeding car with a gas pedal and no brakes." It sucks down critical and rapidly diminishing amounts of both natural gas and water, paying neither for its consumption of natural capital nor its environmental destruction, to the utter detriment of its host. And all to eke …

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BBC convinced by Bush adviser that climate change is real

Breaking news: The US chief scientist has told the BBC that climate change is now a fact. Yes, if President Bush's science advisor is 90 percent certain about it, then it must be true. It feels so good to finally know.

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Mortgages go green

Lenders believe energy-efficient homeowners are less likely to default on mortgage payments

With all the bad news about mortgages, it is time for some good news: Mortgages that promote energy efficiency are on the rise. The basic idea is simple. If you make your home more energy efficient, you reduce your monthly energy bill. And that means you have more money to pay your mortgage, and are less likely to default, so lenders are wisely encouraging this: The Wall Street Journal has a very good article on this: While energy-efficient mortgages have been available from many lenders for some time, they are receiving renewed attention. They allow borrowers to qualify for bigger …

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Global warming brings Greenlanders potatoes, destroys their heritage

It gets lost in all the gloom and doom, but global warming does have its upside. In the sub-Arctic south of Greenland, rising temperatures over the last five to 10 years have brought residents more potatoes, broccoli, and flowers, and have made officials optimistic about economically beneficial opportunities for drilling and mining as sea ice melts. Of course, melting sea ice is also ravaging the hunting and fishing that provide cultural identity and livelihood to many residents -- but the broccoli! Did we mention the broccoli?

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Sky Trust explained

Peter Barnes looks at carbon-capping methods

Peter Barnes has a guest post on the Step It Up blog giving a good brief description of how a Sky Trust would work: Carbon capping comes in three varieties: cap-and-trade, cap-and-auction, and cap-and-recycle. In cap-and-trade, permits are given free to historic polluters. This is called 'grandfathering.' The more a company polluted in the past, the more permits it gets in the future -- not just once, but year after year. As the descending cap raises the price of fossil fuels, everyone pays more, and the com­panies that get free permits keep this extra money. In Europe, a carbon cap-and-trade …

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Debunking Bjorn Lomborg: Part I

The great polar bear irony

For debunkers, Lomborg's work is a target-rich environment. There is even a Lomborg-errors website, where a Danish biologist catalogs Lomborg's mistakes and "attempts to document his dishonesty." Lomborg's latest work of disinformation, Cool It, isn't out yet in Europe to be debunked, so I'll fill the gap for now. I will start with polar bears for two reasons. First, the nonironic reason: Lomborg starts his book with a chapter on polar bears, presumably because he thinks it's one of his strongest arguments -- it isn't. Second, the ironic reason. "Bjorn" means "bear"! Yes, "Bear" Lomborg is misinformed about his namesake. …

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Treadles are not the devil, after all

Human-powered irrigation can increase harvests for farmers

Recently, I wrote about treadle pumps that let human power replace diesel power for irrigation. As a one-to-one replacement it sounded pretty oppressive. But it turns out that it is not a one-to-one replacement. Poor farmers who only earn a dollar or so, per person per day, can afford to do a lot more irrigation with treadles than they can renting diesel pumps from rich farmers and buying diesel fuel to run it. So they multiply the size of their harvests by two or three, their incomes by even more. Even in a formal efficiency analysis, you are probably increasing …

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Climate change will cause agricultural output to decline significantly, says study

Attention, people who eat: Climate change could cause global agriculture output to decline by up to 16 percent by 2080, according to a new study from the Center for Global Development and the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Like life itself, the allocation won't be fair: productivity is likely to generally decline in developing countries -- India, Pakistan, and most of Africa and Latin America -- while improving in the U.S., most of Europe, and Canada. India, which is on track to become the world's most populous nation by mid-century, could see its food production fall by up to 38 …

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Global warming art and articulation

The next generation puts us to shame

These are the winners of the 16th International Children's' Painting Competition on the Environment. This year's theme was climate change. The works speak for themselves, but the children who created them also wrote eloquent statements. The winner (top) is by 12 year-old Charlie Sullivan of the United Kingdom, who writes: I would like to express by my painting the need for everyone to act as climate change is happening now. My inspiration came partly from another art competition I entered, the Global Canvas, where I learnt how the power of art can affect our views with just an image. The …

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