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Measure, monitor, reduce, offset

Haven't had enough on offsets yet? Good. Romm's zeroth rule of carbon offsets is that you should "do everything reasonably possible to reduce your own emissions" before buying offsets. At first blush, this reads like a memo from Obviousland, a staunch statement in favor of apple pie. Pretty much every marketer of carbon offsets heavily stresses that offset purchases should go hand-in-hand with serious attempts at conservation, and I certainly agree. So far, so good. But the rest of the post serves as a lesson in what can happen when common sense hardens into ideology. After making a bunch of …

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Trees should play a bigger role

After reading the recent posts by Romm, Stein, and Roberts, I have concluded that carbon offsets are a pretty good idea if properly implemented. Once government regulations have been established (and enforced), consumers should be able to buy with greater confidence. As it stands today, you are taking a small risk that your purchase may not actually result in CO2 reductions. So, if you are going to buy them, do your homework first. I also don't see why an individual should do everything reasonably possible to offset carbon emissions that are under their direct control before buying offsets from a …

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As Long As the Sox Are OK

Study says climate threatens Northeast icons like lobsters and foliage Imagine the Northeast without lobsters, snow, cranberries, and colorful foliage. Without that, you'd have -- what, white churches and crusty old lumberjacks? But all those natural icons are at risk from climate change, says a report the Union of Concerned Scientists put together with scientists and economists. "The character of this region is at stake," says UCS President Kevin Knobloch. "The emissions choices that we make today will lead to starkly different futures in our lifetime and certainly the lifetime of our children." In an area where average annual temperatures …

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Consumers are stingy about buying new energy-efficient appliances

We've been meaning to replace our furnace -- an old oil heater that was converted to gas back in the '70s -- for years. It's big, it's ugly, and worst of all, it's inefficient. So we pay much more for heat than we'd like, even in Seattle's relatively mild winters. But new furnaces don't come cheap. In fact, some back-of-the envelope calculations a few years back convinced me that it could take nearly a decade before the savings on our gas bills paid for the up-front costs of a new furnace. In theory, of course, that's still a pretty good …

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A new Pardoner’s Tale?

David objects to calling offsets indulgences. In contrast, the actual offset purchasers I've met -- via the internet or in the "real world" -- tend to be environmentally concerned and engaged. They view offsets as something they can do in addition to other things they do to lighten their footprint. This is disingenuous on two levels. First the indulgence metaphor is primarily aimed at CDM and JT under the Kyoto treaty, where offsets are legally permissions to emit. An offset that is less than 100 percent perfect in that context is very like indulgences at their worst; net emissions are …

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A guest essay

A week or so back, climate scientist James Hansen passed this essay along to a few folks. It's about the need to rein in coal, and the puzzling lack of involvement from young people on the issue. I thought I'd pass it along. ----- Scientific data reveal that the Earth is close to dangerous climate change, to tipping points that could produce irreversible effects. Global warming of 0.6°C in the past 30 years has brought the Earth's temperature back to about the peak level of the Holocene -- the current period of climate stability, now of nearly 12,000 year duration …

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He proposes a carbon tax, assuming it will fail

Last Sunday, Rep. John Dingell appeared on the C-SPAN show Newsmakers for a 30-min. interview (transcript here; video accessible via the website), and caused an enormous ruckus with this: SWAIN: Mr. Chairman, I want to go back to your statement that the American people want action [on climate change]. Does that also correlate with the American people being willing to pay higher prices, because of energy legislation? DINGELL: I sincerely doubt that the American people are willing to pay what this is really going to cost them. I will be introducing in the next little bit a carbon tax bill, …

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Videos for your viewing pleasure, if that’s the word for it

Film director Robert Greenwald has been producing a series of videos exposing Fox News as a propaganda arm of the far right wing (is "exposing" the right word when everyone already knows it?), under the rubric Fox Attacks. The latest in the series is Fox Attacks: The Environment, which is about Fox's hackery on the subject of global warming. Here it is: Accompanying the video is a campaign by a grassroots coalition to spread the word about Fox's environmental hackery and to persuade Home Depot -- which claims to be a green company -- to withdraw its advertising from Fox. …

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A guest essay from Greenpeace scientists

A while back, after some criticisms of his company on this site, I ran an essay by Russ George, CEO of Planktos, defending his work. What follows is a response to that essay from the UK-based Greenpeace Science Unit. ----- Russ George, CEO of self-professed 'ecorestoration' company Planktos, seems increasingly convinced that opposition to his plans for commercial-scale fertilisation of the oceans with iron results from the activities of 'fringe environmentalists', ignorant of his former connections with environmental groups and bent on hurting his profits. Perhaps by portraying in this divisive way the profound and widespread concerns expressed by scientists …

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