Climate & Energy

Chevron throws hissy fit that anti-Chevron activists received award

Chevron is throwing a hissy fit over the Goldman Environmental Prize awarded to two Ecuadorian activists who want the oil company to clean up pollution in the Amazon rain forest. Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron in 2001, dumped 18.5 billion gallons of petrochemical waste in the Amazon between 1972 and 1992. Lawyer Pablo Fajardo and community organizer Luis Yanza won the Goldman Prize for spearheading a lawsuit against Chevron, saying it should be responsible for cleanup. But Chevron claims that a $40 million cleanup by Texaco in 1992 was sufficient. Chevron says through spokesfolks that the Goldman Foundation was …

The education of Warren Buffett

Why did the guru cancel six coal plants?

One of the biggest climate stories of 2007 never made it to the business pages. It's about how Warren Buffett, with no fanfare, quietly walked away from coal, cancelling six proposed plants. Warren Buffet. Buffett used to love coal. His involvement with it began when Berkshire Hathaway bought MidAmerican Energy Holdings in 1999. MidAmerican was a big operator of coal plants, and with natural gas prices edging toward a huge leap upwards -- bringing coal back into favor -- it appeared to be a typically savvy Buffett move. In 2006, Buffett picked up another utility, PacifiCorp, which includes Rocky Mountain Power and operates in Calif., Idaho, Ore., Utah, Wash., and Wyo. Again, it seemed like a smart play, bringing MidAmerican's expertise with building and running coal plants to a region of the country with lots of coal. Sure enough, in the fall of 2006, PacifiCorp presented regulators with plans [PDF] for six (or, in some scenarios, seven) coal plants in Utah and Wyo. over the next 12-year time period, representing approximately 3,000 megawatts of new capacity.

Dear Mr. Gibbons

A letter from a climate scientist to Nevada’s governor

The following is a open letter to Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons from noted climate scientist James Hansen. ----- Dear Governor Gibbons, I am honored to be the recipient of the Desert Research Institute's annual Nevada Medal this year and to attend the awards ceremonies hosted by you and the First Lady. I hope that I may communicate with you as a fellow parent and grandparent about a matter that will have great effects upon the lives of our loved ones. I refer to climate change, specifically global warming in response to human-made carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants. This topic has long remained in the background, but it is now poised to become a dominant national and international issue in years ahead. Global warming presents challenges to political leaders, but also great opportunities, especially for your state. Nevada has the potential to be a national leader in protecting the environment and implementing technologies that can mitigate the crisis posed by global warming. First, however, I want to make you aware of rapid progress in understanding of global warming. Warming so far, averaging 2 degrees Fahrenheit over land areas, is smaller than weather fluctuations. Yet it already has noticeable effects and more is "in the pipeline," even without further increases of CO2, because of climate system inertia that delays the full climate response. Effects of global warming are already seen in Nevada. One result is increased wildfires. Longer summers mean more dried out fuels, allowing fires to ignite easier and spread faster. The wildfire season in the West is now 78 days longer than it was 30 years ago. And the average duration of fires covering more than 2,500 acres has risen five-fold. As the planet continues to warm, these and other impacts will grow worse for Nevada and the American West. The world's leading climate researchers conclude that, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the region faces:

Breaking: The great ice age of 2008 is finally over -- next stop, Venus!

One month’s worth of data laughable as proof of global cooling

A top NASA scientist just emailed me the breaking news: "The ice age expired!" Even more shocking: the rate of warming this year has been just about unprecedented in the historical record -- even faster than I had predicted just last month based on the NASA data from February. Just look at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies dataset. While January's land-ocean global temperature was a mere +0.12 degrees C above the the 1951-1980 average and the February anomaly was +0.26 degrees C -- the March anomaly was a staggering +0.67 degrees C. (Warning: the following chart is not suitable for children or those who believe in global cooling. Please cover their eyes since the 2008 data, plotted in red below, might give them nightmares.)

For Earth Day, Bush claims to want climate solutions

Analysis: Bush announcement attempt to subvert action

As David mentioned, The Washington Times reported today that "President Bush is poised to change course and announce as early as this week that he wants Congress to pass a bill to combat global warming, and will lay out principles for what that should include." However, "it is not clear exactly what Mr. Bush will propose." Although this announcement comes as we head into the Earth Day weekend, Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino claimed it's just a coincidence. Stephen Dinan writes that Bush and conservatives are now focusing on the possibility that "runaway" global warming legislation will cause a "disaster" and a "nightmare." Asked about The Washington Times story, Dana Perino warned today of a "regulatory train wreck with many different laws, such as the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act." Perino all but admitted this leaked announcement is a "trial balloon" to try out new conservative talking points. When she was asked when the Bush plan would be released: It could be never. Watch it:

Taking care of rural coal workers

This WSJ piece on the battle over coal in rural (and important electoral swing) states is frustrating. On one hand, you have enviros, characterized as urbanites concerned exclusively with global warming. On the other hand, you have rural residents, characterized as concerned exclusively with keeping their mining jobs. Why is there no mention of the ways Dem candidates and enviros are attempting to address those concerns? No mention of the ways Obama and Clinton propose to use auction revenue to help these states out, retrain their workers, create new green jobs for them? I don’t blame the reporters. The candidates …

Link between climate change and stronger hurricanes becomes fuzzier

Climate change may not in fact make hurricanes more frequent and intense, says new research published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. While other climate models have reached similar conclusions, this study is notable for having as its lead author atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel, who was one of the first to suggest a link between warming and stronger hurricanes. Emanuel says he’s surprised by the results of the new modeling, but has moderated his position, willingly admitting that much remains to be figured out when it comes to warming and hurricanes. Of course, skeptics who regularly bash climate …


Via Deathridesahorse, here’s a video of Ausra (“utility-scale solar power”) CEO David Mills explaining Ausra’s solar thermal technology:

On the Ball: Fore!

The greening of golf, baseball, and the Olympics, oh my!

Your sports roundup for the week: Golf: Golf’s reputation is far from green — but tee-ers are trying their darnedest to move in a green direction. That includes Augusta National Golf Course, current host of the Masters tournament. The club is not on the list of some 300 courses that have received a stamp of approval from Audubon International (thanks in part to notorious privacy), but it has taken significant steps toward being more sustainable (thanks in part to notorious deep pockets): It has stopped putting dye in its ponds, monitors the weather and adjusts maintenance accordingly, and has taken …

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