Climate & Energy

Helter smelter

Björk, Sigur Rós protest Icelandic aluminum plant in concert

Grist video producer Jennifer Prediger visited Iceland recently, attending an environmental protest concert featuring Björk and Sigur Rós. Here's her report, in words and video. In Iceland, the battle between power companies and conservationists is heating up. As the aluminum industry's plans to build dams and smelters move full steam ahead, Icelanders could well become the number one emitters of carbon dioxide per capita in the world. This possibility, in a land whose geothermal resources should make it a renewable energy haven, is the ultimate slap in the face to activists trying to keep it green. Bjork. Photo: Warren du Preez & Nick Thornton Which is why the country's stars aligned recently for a free benefit concert to protest the smelting plans. "It is great that we have not managed to totally fuck up this country yet, and we are standing at a crossroad right now," said headliner Björk. "What we need more than anything is information. And that is my goal with this concert." Together with the group Sigur Rós and author Andri Snær Magnason, Björk pulled off a concert attended by 10 percent of the country's population (that's 25,000 out of 250,000 people). The concert was timed to the release of the English translation of Magnason's Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation. "We came together and said something very big has to be done," Magnason told me. "There are 60 million people [in the world] that live on geothermal areas they could use both for heating and energy. That's like 10 percent of mankind. We need to go there with the knowledge, not make Iceland a colony of Alcoa. It's not a good idea." Below the fold, video of the concert and of the country.

An electric plug

Plug-in hybrid offers practical solution to peak oil

Plug-in hybrids are the only alternative fuel vehicles that can provide genuine energy independence from steadily rising oil prices and brutal price spikes. I have agreed to participate as a guest blogger for ScienceBlogs in a three-month project on the next generation of energy ideas. My first post is "Electric Vehicles: The Next Generation." Longtime readers of this blog or my books know that I have been an advocate of plug-ins for a number of years.

U.N. clean-energy program criticized for not funding clean energy

The United Nations Clean Development Mechanism, set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, issues carbon credits to industrialized nations that pay for renewable-energy projects in …

The cruel offshore-drilling hoax, part 1

EIA maintains offshore drilling gains will be negligible

The GOP and McCain/Bush keep insisting that an end to the federal moratorium on (some) offshore drilling is a major solution to America's oil woes, even though Bush's own energy analysts make clear it is not. That Energy Information Administration analysis is, however, a couple of years old, so I called up the author today and asked if it was being updated. Turns out a new version will be published in a couple of days, but she explained to me that the "answers are not very different" -- no significant impact for the duration of the analysis (through 2030) -- for reasons I will discuss below. First, however, it wasn't until I talked to her and looked closely at the original analysis -- "Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf" -- that I understood what a cruel hoax this whole issue is. The oil companies already have access to some 34 billion barrels of offshore oil they haven't even developed yet, but ending the federal moratorium on offshore drilling would probably add only another 8 billion barrels (assuming California still blocks drilling off its coast). Who thinks adding under 100,000 barrels a day in supply sometime after 2020 -- some one-thousandth of total supply -- would be more than the proverbial drop in the ocean? Remember the Saudis couldn't stop prices from rising now by announcing that they will add 500,000 barrels of oil a day by the end of this year! Here is the key data from EIA:

Model behavior

Global warming will worsen storms, says U of Michigan scientist

From ScientificBlogging: Mathematical Model Says Climate Change Will Make Storms WorseA new mathematical model developed by University of Michigan atmospheric and planetary scientist Nilton Renno says that dust devils, water spouts, tornadoes, hurricanes, and cyclones are all born of the same mechanism and will intensify as climate change warms the Earth's surface.Renno hopes the new equation will allow scientists to more accurately calculate the maximum expected intensity of a spiraling storm based on the depth of the troposphere (the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere) and the temperature and humidity of the air in the storm's path.This equation improves upon current methods, Renno says, because it takes into account the energy feeding the storm system and the full measure of friction slowing it down. Current thermodynamic models make assumptions about these variables, rather than include actual quantities.

EPA says climate change could worsen smog levels, extend smog season

In a draft report released Thursday, the U.S. EPA said smog levels could increase significantly in many areas of the United States due to climate …

Bush admin gets senior-itis, says it won’t decide on emissions before term ends

EPA head Stephen Johnson. Photo: epa.gov Instead of deciding whether greenhouse-gas emissions endanger human health and welfare and formulating standards to reduce them — as …

Salzburg: day two

Netherlands’ response to climate change

Listen Play "Maria," from The Sound of Music Don’t have much time to write — another starting already! — but I just saw an extraordinary …

Salzburg: day one

The unglamorous work of change at the local level

Listen Play "I Have Confidence," from The Sound of Music I arrived here too late to catch the whole day today, but I did see …