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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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U.S. aims to map mineral-rich Arctic seafloor

Update on the race to despoil the Arctic: This week, U.S. Coast Guard researchers set out on their third venture since 2003 to map the mineral-rich Arctic seafloor. There's a lot to be learned about the watery depths; overall, maps of Mars are about 250 times better than maps of the ocean floor. The U.S. is eager to identify underwater mountains and caverns so we'll know just where to stick our drills when global warming finally gets to doing something useful for a change: if current trends continue, the Arctic could be ice-free in summer by 2040. Russia, Denmark, Norway, …

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Aspen, Colo., unveils its own carbon-offsetting program

Aspen, Colo., home of many insanely rich folk, has become the first municipality in the nation to sell its very own brand of carbon offsets. check out the offsets: <a href="

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Climate change could cause more flooding than currently predicted, says research

Do you like news of the "If you thought you were screwed, it's even worse!" variety? Then with no further ado: a new study in Nature suggests that climate change brings a higher risk of flooding than previously thought. Researchers say that current predictions overlook the fact that rising levels of carbon dioxide decrease plants' ability to suck up water from the ground and release the excess into the atmosphere. On the bright side, "It means that increases in drought due to climate change could be less severe as plants lose less water," says researcher Richard Betts. "On the other …

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Editorial vs. news

The Wall Street Journal contradicts itself on global warming

The Wall Street Journal is universally admired among journalists for its news and analysis; for its editorial page, not so much. A spectacular example of the latter's ability to mislead appeared yesterday, under the cute title Not So Hot, in which the anonymous editorializers adroitly attacked NASA, environmentalists, climate change models, and climatologists James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt over a statistically insignificant data correction. The misleading editorial was rewarded with great popularity, as the piece was the second-most emailed of the day, right after a feature on beer pong. But interestingly, two weeks ago the number-crunchers at the WSJ ran …

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China’s one-child policy reduces population, helps climate

Perhaps a wee bit sensitive about being vilified for its excessive impact on climate change, China has pointed out that its one-child policy, instituted in the late 1970s, has kept 300 million consumers off of the planet.

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The solar power you don't hear about

Solar thermal power deserves more attention, due to its lower cost and relative ease of storage

Solar thermal power is back! Solar thermal gets less attention than its sexier cousin -- high-tech photovoltaics -- but has two big advantages. First, it is much cheaper than PV. Second, it captures energy in a form that is much easier to store -- heat -- typically with mirrored surfaces that concentrate sunlight onto a receiver that heats a liquid (which is then used to make steam to drive a turbine). Back in the 1980s, Luz International was the sole commercial developer of U.S. solar thermal electric projects. The company built nine solar plants, totaling 355 MW of capacity, in …

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Fast to stop global warming

September 4th event marks new phase in struggle for the planet

I'm incredibly excited about the September 4th Climate Emergency Fast being organized by the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and others. I've signed up and hope you will too, by clicking here. In one week, the number of fasters has grown from 395 to 795 and continues to multiply. Everyone I've talked to about it is instantly drawn to it; people seem to instinctively understand that we need to move beyond the polite letter-writing, lobbying, and yes -- blogging -- that has characterized response to the climate crisis thus far. In most true crises, people take to the streets if the …

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Do as we say ...

Developed world scolds China for doing what it does

For 200 years the Western world has plundered the world's oil and fouled its atmosphere, and despite a recent flurry of happy talk to the contrary, it is still doing so. So it's rich indeed for Merkel to go to China and ask them to please stop. If I were Premier Wen Jiabao, my response would be nothing but a raised middle finger. He's somewhat more polite about it.

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'If you were really green, you would have walked here'

Is Burning Man living up to its Green Man intentions?

The headline refers to a sign that appears as you drive (or as I drove, in a huge white pickup truck) into the Playa at five miles an hour, and it's not a bad summary of the enviro discussion here at Burning Man. How can you really be green at an event you have to drive hundreds of miles to, mostly through desert, with all your heavy crap in the car? Where will all those plastic water bottles end up? Is there such thing as a petroleum-free camp? What about all those Zip Ties, the preferred technology for securing dome …

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