Climate & Energy

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: 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 …

Restating the obvious: Coal isn't renewable

Alaska state legislature proposes fund to support alternative energy including coal

Alaska has proposed a $21 billion fund (Greenwire, $ub. req'd), which uses oil surpluses to support alternative energy projects, including: wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass and a plant that "produces ultraclean fuels from coal." State Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) responds: Coal is not renewable energy and by any fair definition it's not really alternative energy Sounds controversial!