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The future of coal

‘Clean coal’ is an oxymoron

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. Should we, the nation's beleaguered taxpayers, be required to spend billions of dollars on an oxymoron? The oxymoron in question is "clean coal," and in my view, the answer is "no." If coal is to have a future, the coal industry and its partners in the rail and electric power industries should pay for it themselves. Here are the reasons. First, while climate science is complicated, climate policy is simple. We need far lower levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which means …

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Coal is not the enemy of mankind when properly offset

Because voluntary offsets are never, ever like indulgences

In a prime example of how voluntary offsets fail to resemble indulgences: As someone who once sunk a shrimp boat as an act of civil disobedience, Diane Wilson was disappointed when two big environmental groups opted for a less-than risky alternative to blocking a new coal-burning power plant that's poised to blaze in her community of Calhoun County, Texas. If she had the time and resources, Wilson, a fourth generation fisherman and leader of the lonely environmental group Calhoun County Resource Watch, says she would have tried to "stop [the plant] dead in its tracks." Instead, the Sustainable Energy and …

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Hunting the white whale

Flawed new analysis purports to show that there’s no scientific consensus on climate change

If those opposed to action on climate change are like Ahab, the scientific consensus is their white whale. The reason is simple: as Frank Luntz's famous memo pointed out, if they can convince the general public that the science of climate change is uncertain, they can drag the debate over policy to a grinding halt. Thus, every so often, another argument emerges that purports to prove that scientific consensus on climate change does not exist. This week, it's a blast from the past: an analysis of the "Web of Science" that shows that no consensus exists and only a minority …

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Was this found on a stone tablet? Papyrus? Vellum? Handpress broadsheet?

W. Va. editorial says mining coal should be easier

This editorial is from 2007, not 1877: " First Things First: Let's Mine the Coal." Maybe there's something to the inbreeding jokes ... We can talk about windmills, solar panels and biomass, and they undoubtedly are in our future. But those energy sources cannot meet the nation's growing energy demands now or in the foreseeable future. Nuclear energy may take on an expanded role, but not everyone will welcome it. Our leaders must step up and tell the nation the truth: We need coal. It must remain a major source for electricity, and it certainly could and should be a …

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Smeg me

Pardon me a little gadget porn as I ogle these Smeg refrigerators, which have made it to the states at last. Despite the unfortunate name, it's on my Christmas list: They're extremely efficient, too: 305 kWh / year. I know, I know. If I was a real enviro I wouldn't refrigerate food.

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The Architect speaks

Karl Rove says history to view Bush as ‘far-sighted leader’

Here is how The Architect describes President Bush's environmental legacy: On energy, the environment, and climate change, [Bush] is developing a new paradigm. Emphasizing technology, increased energy-efficiency partnerships, and resource diversification, his policies are improving energy security and slowing the growth of greenhouse gases without economy-breaking mandates and regulation. The president who won criticism by rejecting the failed approach of Kyoto has implemented policies that enabled the United States to grow its economy by 3.1 percent and reduce the absolute amount of CO2 emissions (by 1.3 percent).

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Storms a brewin'

Global warming will spawn severe storms and tornados, reports NASA

We have known for a while that global warming is making our weather more extreme, especially extreme heat, drought, heavy rainfall, and flooding. Now we have more predictions: NASA scientists have developed a new climate model that indicates that the most violent severe storms and tornadoes may become more common as Earth's climate warms. Perhaps that is why we have been setting records for tornados lately. This is especially bad news for this country because, as the study notes: "The central/east U.S. experiences the most severe thunderstorms and tornadoes on Earth." The full study, "Will moist convection be stronger in …

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U.N. climate meeting ends with a whole lotta nothin’

We are psychic, if we do say so ourselves. As leaders from 158 countries gathered this week at a U.N.-convened meeting to discuss post-Kyoto Protocol climate targets, we claimed doubt that anything of substance would come out of it. And voila! Deadlock and vagueness abounded. The E.U. and developing nations pushed for an indication that industrialized countries should be guided by a goal of reducing emissions 25 to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020; countries including Canada, Japan, and Russia opposed such approaching-strong language, and the final version of negotiations stated that such numbers provide "useful initial parameters for …

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Taking the measure of measurement

Is climate change an artifact of computer models?

Electric Politics has an audio interview on measuring climate change that might be of interest to many here. Here's the intro: The main knock against anthropogenic climate change -- more or less unchanged since the 1980s -- is that a cabal of cunning computer modelers have managed to dupe, co-opt, bamboozle, or intimidate climate scientists into believing fantastic, yet unsubstantiated, allegations. Recently put forward by the redoubtable Freeman Dyson, this critique also, unfortunately, picks up a certain amount of support in the progressive community. To help dispel these arguments and the confusion they still cause, I turned to Dr. Chris …

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Eye on the storm

Thoughts on Chris Mooney’s Storm World

I recently finished Chris Mooney's great new book Storm World. There have been lots of reviews (see Chris's blog for a pretty complete list), so I won't write another one here. Instead, I thought I would highlight the part I particularly appreciated, and what I think needed more emphasis in the book. First, the high point: The book does a great job of detailing the turbulent interface between knowledge and ignorance where science operates. Science is a contact sport, and it is not for the faint of heart. New ideas, especially bold ones, have to survive in the crucible of …

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