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Edwards not as green as you thought: When a ban isn't a ban

Why Edwards’ ‘ban’ on coal plants does little good against climate change

John Edwards. Photo: kk+ via flickr One of the most meaningful steps the U.S. can take to fight climate change is to forbid construction of new coal plants unless they capture and sequester their carbon emissions. If we allow more dirty coal plants, all our other efforts will be in vain. That's why James Hansen and Al Gore return to the subject so often. Dem presidential candidate Chris Dodd has called for such a policy in blunt language: "The Dodd Plan requires all new plants to capture and sequester CO2. No exceptions." Most enviros seem to think that John Edwards …

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Edwards and 'compatibility'

John Edwards would not require that new coal plants sequester their CO2 emissions

There was some question in this thread about what exactly John Edwards means when he says he would "require that all new coal-fired plants be built with the required technology to capture their carbon dioxide emissions." Would he require that new coal plants sequester their emissions, or merely that they be built in such a way that they could sequester their emissions at some point in the future? I called the Edwards campaign today. The answer is the latter: the ban would not require coal plants to sequester their emissions; it would merely require compatibility. This is enormously significant difference. …

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The phrase 'glacial change' needs to be retired

Glacial melting is accelerating more quickly than projected

Climate change is occurring much faster than the IPCC models project. The Greenland ice sheet is a prime example. Robert Correll, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, said in Ilulissat recently: We have seen a massive acceleration of the speed with which these glaciers are moving into the sea. The ice is moving at two metres an hour on a front 5km [3 miles] long and 1,500 metres deep. That means that this one glacier puts enough fresh water into the sea in one year to provide drinking water for a city the size of London for a year. …

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Greenland glaciers melting at an alarming rate

Depressing climate news, version 17,354: Greenland's two-mile-thick ice sheet is melting at a rate unforeseen to scientists and climate models. Chunks of ice breaking off are so huge that they're triggering earthquakes; the glaciers are adding some 58 trillion gallons of water annually to the oceans, more than twice as much as they were 10 years ago. In total, Greenland's ice holds enough water to raise global sea levels by a terrifying 23 feet. The melting may also disrupt weather patterns on the west coast of the U.S., making much of California drier and bringing more precipitation to the Northwest …

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Backseat policy-making

Ex-heads of state tell current heads of state how to solve climate crisis

If you're into exclusive clubs, check this one out: the Club de Madrid, membership limited to former heads of state. (Actually, even heads of state can get blackballed.) Those former heads of state are trying to get their successors to do what they couldn't and tackle the climate crisis. In collaboration with the United Nations Foundation, the Club today released their recommendations for what the world should do on the next round of climate crisis. The ex-heads acknowledge the severity of the crisis and call for current leaders to facilitate rapid reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, or face massive disaster: Avoiding …

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Battling the Borg

Some reviews and criticism of Bjorn Lomborg’s new book Cool It

I was all geared up to recommend this review of Bjorn Lomborg's new book Cool It, written by The Weather Makers author Tim Flannery, but it turns out to be pretty bad. It's kind of scattered all over the place a makes no coherent, forceful critique. Much better is Eban Goodstein's review in Salon, which drills in on the subject of tipping points, which Lomborg totally ignores: But this really is not the point. The glaring error in "Cool It," and the one that disqualifies the book from making a serious contribution, is that Lomborg ignores the main concern driving …

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Will polar bears go extinct by 2030? Part I

On the myth that polar bear populations are flourishing

Human-caused global warming is poised to wipe out polar bears. The normally staid U.S. Geological Survey -- studying whether the bear should be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act -- concluded grimly last Friday: Projected changes in future sea ice conditions, if realized, will result in loss of approximately 2/3 of the world's current polar bear population by the mid 21st century. Because the observed trajectory of Arctic sea ice decline appears to be underestimated by currently available models, this assessment of future polar bear status may be conservative. That's right -- this grim prediction is …

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Solar-powered plane breaks world record for longest unmanned flight

Ooh, fancy: A lightweight solar-powered plane has smashed the official world record for the longest-duration unmanned flight. The plane flew for 54 hours, through two sunless nights, and was controlled remotely from the ground and by autopilot. And manned (excuse us, personed) flights are on the horizon: A Swiss man has plans to circumnavigate the globe aboard a solar-powered plane in 2010.

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Bringing the Doddmentum

Dodd doesn’t have the boldest climate goal, but he’s got the boldest policy proposals

Chris Dodd says the right things. To my mind, he's every bit as good on climate change as John Edwards and Bill Richardson, if not better. Putting aside political feasibility and the electability of any of these candidates, what's the best way to look at their policy proposals? I think there are two important things to note. The first and most obvious is a policy's particular goals. On that score, Richardson wins. He calls for a 90 percent reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, which is better than Dodd and Edwards who call for 80 percent reductions …

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To everything, turn turn turn

One inconclusive set of international meetings yielding weak climate resolutions ends -- another begins.