Climate & Energy

Radiation exposed

Low doses of radiation can cause harm; coal plants worse than nuclear plants

The effect of radiation is not a subject I blog on a great deal, although it is a subject I have studied a great deal. Indeed, my uncle, a former nuclear physics professor at MIT, started our family Radon testing business, which was sold off years ago. I asserted that people should be worried about low doses of radiation, especially cumulatively over time. Charles Barton of The Nuclear Green Revolution commented, "Your low doses over time assertion has been repeatedly falsified by empirical studies." Quite the reverse is true. As the National Research Council's Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation (!) reported definitively three years ago:

See levels rise

Jet Propulsion Laboratory has new climate website that shows global sea-level trends

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a very good new website on global climate change. It offers a nice summary of the relevant science in a variety of areas: key indicators, evidence, causes, effects, uncertainties, and solutions. The website is a good place to send people who are uninformed on global warming, but looking for basic information. JPL has a very nice front-page banner with pulldown menus providing data on "Vital Signs of the Planet," including Arctic sea ice, carbon dioxide, sea level rise, global temperature, and the ozone hole. Here is the expanded chart showing the recent 70 percent jump in sea level rise:

Oil execs' alternate reality

McCain says he trusts Big Oil over energy and economic experts

John McCain said today that he believes what Big Oil says about the amount of oil still available in the United States’ outer continental shelf, …

A Prius problem?

The WSJ alleges that our use of hybrids increases oil prices

The Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog is a must-read. But what exactly were they thinking with this column: So you think you're being virtuous by trading in the SUV for, say, a Prius? What if, instead, you're really sticking the next guy in line with higher pump prices? Yes, The WSJ is revoking the law of supply and demand. Less demand translates into higher pump prices! How is this possible, you ask?

Waived by the bell

Congress goes on recess without passing energy legislation

Congress broke for August recess today without making any notable progress on energy issues — as expected. Despite multiple attempts in both the House and …

'Can this planet be saved?'

Conservatives will drill-and-burn this planet to the point of destruction

Great Paul Krugman column in The New York Times today. And another absurd Charles Krauthammer column in The Washington Post -- yes, I know, that's a dog bites man story. They both teed off Nancy Pelosi's statement that one of the reasons she was blocking a vote on coastal drilling was, "I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet." Krugman understood that, notwithstanding the fact that offshore drilling would never have a significant impact on oil prices, she was talking about global warming: "Beyond that, Ms. Pelosi's response shows that she understands the deeper issues behind the current energy debate." As Krugman points out, that point is utterly lost on Senator McCain, who has now become "a standard drill-and-burn Republican." Krugman's worry:

Sixty seconds to make climate matter

Create a video for our next president

If you had 60 seconds to talk to our next president and other political leaders about climate change, what would you say? Well, get your …

When 'picking energy winners,' don't ignore past investment

Marketplace commentary gives a misleading picture of government’s role in energy use

In a commentary on Thursday's Marketplace, the Cato Institute's Will Wilkinson critiqued T. Boone Pickens' new energy plan. In doing so, he painted a misleading picture of the government's role in our energy usage. Pickens wants wind energy to replace natural gas in electricity generation, and use the freed-up natural gas to fuel vehicles so we can use less foreign oil. There are problems with this energy plan, but Wilkerson is most concerned that the government might be "picking a winner" if it helps Pickens realize his scheme. (Wilkerson doesn't specify exactly what Pickens wants the government to do, but Reuters reports that under the Pickens plan, the government would need to create power transmission corridors.) Wilkerson doesn't seem to think the government should get involved; his criticism of the Pickens Plan is that it's "not about offering you, the consumer, a choice." This is where he overlooks one crucial factor in the energy puzzle. He says:

Harvey and me

Five Gore steps to carbon-free electricity and electrified transportation

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to comment about Al Gore's next step on Earthbeat Radio, a syndicated, weekly, hour-long environmental program, and speaking with me was long-time anti-nuclear, environmental, and political activist Harvey Wasserman, author of "Solartopia! Our Green Powered Earth." The show is co-hosted by Daphne Wysham, global environmental activist from the Institute for Policy Studies. Our segment [mp3] is a little more than halfway through. Our conversation got me to thinking about what a set of five "Gore" steps might look like. Gore has put forth the first and second steps, so now we can pitch in and propose a few more. Here are mine: