Climate & Energy

The Vulcan Project

A high-resolution map of U.S. CO2 emissions

Check out the Vulcan Project out of Purdue University (with funding from NASA and DOE). It’s an attempt to quantify and visually represent U.S. CO2 emissions over time: Here’s a nifty video introduction: (via Dot Earth)

Student charges that textbook downplays climate change

“[S]cience doesn’t know whether we are experiencing a dangerous level of global warming or how bad the greenhouse effect is, if it exists at all,” says a random climate skeptic the widely used 2005 version of Advanced Placement high school textbook American Government. The text, written by two prominent conservatives, goes on to imply that the cause of climate change is in doubt and that the negative effects of global warming will be balanced by positives. “I just realized from my own knowledge that some of this stuff in the book is just plain wrong,” says New Jersey high-school senior …

Al Gore at TED

Al Gore addresses the TED conference, March 2008: Pretty intense. You can see how he is consciously attempting to transcend politics — he’s shooting for something bigger now.

Climate change affects — noooooooo! — beer

If dire warnings about the fate of global health and security don’t move you to care about climate change, maybe this will: Climate change could make beer more expensive. (No! Anything but that!) Malting barley will likely be harder to grow in a warming world, especially in Australia, says climate scientist Jim Salinger. He warned at an Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention Tuesday that within the next 30 years, “either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up.” Now that’s something that Foster’s fear.

BP-powered no more

Remember that new environmental blog at The New Republic that was "powered by BP"? Apparently it is no longer thus powered. As gratifying as it is, in a schadenfreudey sort of way, to see that other small media operations can be as dysfunctional as, er, some small media operations I’m familiar with. I’m glad this got settled quickly — I really do think it will be a blog worth reading. (This post brought to you by Wal-Mart.)

Brit's Eye View: Not now, Darling

U.K.’s Labor Party embraces nuclear but is slow to move on the big climate challenge

Ben Tuxworth, communications director at Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. The British press swooned over the visit of Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni to the U.K. late last month. We're suckers for the idea of French romance, particularly mixed with wealth, sophistication, and the sort of impetuosity we "rosbifs" can seldom muster. Apparently, Bruni saw Sarkozy on TV and said to a friend, "I want to have a man with nuclear power." And what Bruni wants, Bruni gets. It's unclear whether Sarkozy knew it was his big machinery that attracted Bruni, but a man who is willing to wear high heels to appear as tall as his glamorous spouse clearly has security issues high on his agenda. As it happens, the new entente cordiale between Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is based, amongst other things, on a shared passion for the atom. Together, Britain and France will supply the world with nuclear technology, simultaneously saving the industry, creating thousands of jobs, and sorting our energy security issues. I've already explored why these arguments don't really stack up. The Labor Party's newfound zeal for nuclear power -- and Business Secretary John Hutton's recent speech in which he said expanded nuclear power could be akin to North Sea oil for the British economy -- make these interesting times to ask what the legacy of New Labor will be for the environment. It still seems as if, at some fundamental level, they just don't get it.

Ford lays out how it will reduce fleet emissions

Ford Motor Co. has laid out specific plans for reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions of its vehicle fleet at least 30 percent by 2020. The announcement comes in response to shareholder resolutions filed by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (representing about 300 religious investors) and the Investor Network on Climate Risk, organized by green-minded investment group Ceres. Says Mindy Lubber of Ceres, “Ford is taking a critical first step to align its products with the climate change challenge before us. But, let’s not fool ourselves, this step is only a beginning.”

Lieberman-Warner is a mess

Climate Security Act could be worse than the 2007 energy bill

Last year the Energy Independence and Security Act put into place mandates that will in all likelihood increase GHG emissions. The Lieberman-Warner act (critiqued by Sean here) could turn out to be just as ineffective. From an analysis [PDF] of the Energy Independence and Security Act by the NRDC: ... the requirement for renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biogasoline, will grow from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons in 2022. So far, so good, but keep in mind that biogasoline, green diesel, algae derived biodiesel, and cellulosic ethanol have yet to be proven commercially or environmentally viable. Less than a month ago, the NRDC and our government were under the mistaken impression that our conventional biofuels produced fewer greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. And it gets worse:

Out of the frying pan ...

Dynegy targeted by Sierra Club in new anti-coal campaign

Check out Clean Up Dynegy, the brand new website for the Sierra Club's campaign against the company Sierra calls "America's Coal-Fired Polluter Number 1." The campaign is significant in that it represents the first attempt by anti-coal forces to single out a single company on a nationwide basis. It kicked off in late February with mass call-ins to Dynegy headquarters originating from twenty states -- "thousands of calls," according to the Sierra Club. Already, the campaign seems to have hit a nerve, with Dynegy's CEO, Bruce Williamson, lashing out that his company is being unfairly picked on. It probably didn't help Williamson's morale that he was also just picked as one of five executives to receive 2008 "Fossil Fool of the Year" awards.

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