Climate & Energy

Building faster to get the power to build faster

There's an old saying in the military: "There's always someone who doesn't get the word." Here is a post that reports on an analysis, repeated a number of times, strongly suggesting that the up-front energy investment in nuclear plants is simply too large to allow nuclear to be a serious contender for replacing fossil fuels in an energy- and carbon-constrained world. Here's a piece in the Baltimore Sun that says ... well, look: While the governor and others in Annapolis are demanding cuts in electricity consumption, there's a better way: increasing the supply through nuclear power. Yep, there's always someone who doesn't get the word.

Bank of America can’t make the call in green buildings

Bank of America says that energy-efficient windows in its newer buildings are blocking cell-phone signals.

Brit's Eye View: Young, gifted, and green?

New survey of U.K. youth reveals mixed attitudes about the future of the planet

Ben Tuxworth, communications director at Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. Debates about how we should save the planet tend to explore the impossibility of almost every approach until someone says, "We need to change the education system," at which point it is deemed churlish to snigger. Catch 'em young, and it's job done seems to be the hope. Well, with only 100 months of planet-saving time left, according to Greenpeace, this approach has worked as much as it is ever likely to. So, are the young going to save us? Fresh perspective comes from the Future Leaders Survey, a scan of 25,000 applicants to U.K. universities and colleges published last month. The survey, carried out by Forum for the Future and UCAS (the central admissions service for higher education in the U.K.), paints a picture of young Brits facing a fairly terrifying future with an odd mixture of denial, irritation, and pragmatism.

Republican convention will go green

Not to be outdone by the Democratic convention, the Republican convention will, indeed, go green. While hosting divisive delegate debates over the best way to address environmental issues from a GOP perspective, the Minneapolis convention hall will boast recycled-fiber carpet, booths and stages constructed of local, sustainably harvested wood, water in petroleum-free bottles, biodegradable plates, composted food, non-plastic banners printed with soy-based inks, energy-efficient lighting, reduced paper, bicycles available for delegates to pedal to and from hotels, and, of course, an intent to make the event carbon neutral. As would only be expected, says the communications director of the GOP …

News from the Coal Bust

A cascade of news shows that coal is on the ropes

Remember, oh, about a year ago when every day brought a new article about the coming Coal Boom? How times change. A few pieces worth noting, just from the last few days: Mark Clayton covers the Coal Bust; Keith Johnson covers the latest blow to Big Coal, Missouri’s Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. canning a planned 660MW coal plant due to skyrocketing costs; Matthew Brown at AP covers the suspension of a federal loan program for coal-fired plants in rural communities; Greenwire covers a new lawsuit filed against the Bush administration (sub rqd) by North Carolina advocacy groups — they say …

New company wants to seed ocean with iron to sequester carbon

Weeks after ocean-seeding company Planktos bit the iron dust, a startup called Climos is plowing ahead with a similar business plan: seed the ocean with iron dust to stimulate the growth of CO2-gobbling plankton, then sell offsets for the sequestered carbon. Climos has announced $3.5 million in venture capital and is backed by reputable investors: Tesla Chair (née Pay-Pal cofounder) Elon Musk and venture-capital firm Braemar Energy Ventures. Climos CEO Dan Whaley says his company differs from Planktos in that it will have a science-oriented approach, expert managerial team, and “all-star cast” of experienced scientists. Whether it can avoid the …

On the Ball: The three R's

Readying for the Olympics, revisiting artificial turf, and racing with Formula One

As Beijing prepares for the Summer Olympics, officials claimed the best run of blue-sky days on record between Jan. 21 and Feb. 18, and said that 26 of February’s 29 days met the city’s clean-air standard. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge lauded Beijing’s pollution-reducing efforts, stating, “I can’t hide the fact that there is today a danger of atmospheric pollution in Beijing, but our Chinese friends are doing tremendous efforts to reduce this.” The NYT revisits the synthetic turf war: Health advocates say that the ground-up rubber that gives bounce to most synthetic fields contains potentially cancer-causing chemicals. On …

Chris Anderson: Paper mags are better on carbon than websites

From 1998 until 2006, the Wired website and Wired magazine had different owners and were run separately. In 2006, Condé Nast bought the website back and reunited them. I’ve heard rumors that there were some tensions along the way. I can’t help but wonder if those tensions are behind an odd post from Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, claiming that Wired-the-magazine beats Wired-the-website on a carbon basis. The claim is mostly based on the fact that by cutting down (sustainably managed) trees and burying them in landfills, paper magazines sequester carbon. There are, however, no numbers offered to back …

Timing of EPA decision on vehicle greenhouse-gas regulation still a mystery

When will the U.S. EPA decide whether to regulate vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions? EPA head Stephen Johnson testified in the Senate Tuesday that he just couldn’t say, even though it’s been nearly a year since the agency was directed by the Supreme Court to make that decision. When asked whether any EPA staffers were currently working on the issue, Johnson said he didn’t know. “The only conclusion I can reach is you are under pressure not to do anything,” replied exasperated Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “This is the Environmental Protection Agency, not the administration protection agency.” Johnson had originally promised to …

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