Climate & Energy

What price the future?

No sensible warming response can exclude carbon pricing

Jim Manzi, with whom I have debated warming policy responses before, has a problem with The Washington Post‘s coverage of new studies on climate change. He writes: The premise of the story by Juliet Eilperin is well-expressed by its headline: “Carbon Output Must Near Zero To Avert Danger, New Studies Say”. Eilperin prominently quotes Carnegie Institution senior scientist Ken Caldeira, co-author of one of the studies promoted by the article, who says: “The question is, what if we don’t want the Earth to warm anymore?” Well, that’s a question, but it’s certainly not the question, and is not even a …

Bear poops in woods, some observers say

Check out the "story highlights" on top of this CNN piece: • World’s poor are disproportionately affected by climate change, analysts say • Low-income groups have comparatively little influence on public policy • Burden of climate change rests with wealthy individuals, some observers say Interesting that "some observers" are the only support for that third bullet. What if you added a first premise: "Wealthy individuals are responsible for a disproportionate amount of total greenhouse gas emissions." (Princeton’s Stephen Pacala says the world’s richest 7% are responsible for 50% of GHGs.) Then doesn’t the last bullet follow from simple deductive reasoning? …

Stickin' it to the <del>man</del> car

California vehicles to get global warming stickers

The following post is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- Go shopping in 2009 in California for a new car and you'll notice some new information on the smog index window sticker. Next to the smog score will be a global warming score. The California Air Resources Board is putting the finishing touches on the program. You can see some of the details in the presentation (PDF) from their last meeting. According to CARB, approximately 13 states have thus far adopted the California's Low Emission Vehicle regulations, which requires the smog labels. At least 11 of those states -- including New York, Connecticut, Oregon, and Washington -- are likely to adopt the new global warming labels. Vehicles are assigned a score of 1 to 10 based upon their emissions, with 1 for the worst and 10 for the lowest greenhouse-gas emissions. However, calling it a "Global Warming Score" and having 10 be the best is likely to cause some confusion. Perhaps "Planet-saver Score" would be better? This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The enemy of my enemy

Natural gas utilities are no friends of Big Coal

In the fight against coal, crucial support may come from another fossil fuel: natural gas. A price on carbon emissions, bane to the big coal utilities, will advantage gas utilities, at least in the short-term. As coal gets more expensive, nat gas is the cheapest alternative ready at hand. Will their contrary incentives lead them to open warfare? To some extent it already has. Remember those xenophobic ads Sunflower ran in against Gov. Sebelius in Kansas? They were premised on the notion that opting for natural gas means cuddling with Hugo Chavez. Recently another contretemps spilled over into public. The …

Solar-panel manufacturers dumping toxic waste in China

Solar panels may look bright and shiny, but they have a dark underbelly: production of polysilicon for panels gives off a highly toxic byproduct called silicon tetrachloride. In China, where factories are rushing to alleviate a polysilicon shortage that’s cramping the global solar-panel industry, the bubbly white liquid is often just dumped in nearby villages. “The land where you dump or bury [silicon tetrachloride] will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place,” says a material-sciences expert at Hebei Industrial University. “It is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it.” While silicon tetrachloride can …

Queen Elizabeth II encourages environmental protection

In her annual Commonwealth Day speech on Monday, Queen Elizabeth II had unusually pointed words regarding environmental protection. “The impact of pollution falls unequally,” she said. “It is often those who pollute the least — notably in the world’s least-developed nations — who are closest to the razor’s edge and most affected by the impact of climate change and least equipped to cope with it.” She encouraged all Commonwealthers to contribute to solving the crisis. “Whatever we do, wherever we live, our actions in defense of the environment can have a real and positive effect upon the lives of others, …

Face It: No coal

Students create body paint images for anti-coal contest

Emily Bibler. Photo: Architecture 2030. Architecture and design students across the country were challenged by Architecture 2030, Metropolis Magazine, the USGBC and the AIAStudents to face it, literally. Students competed to produce the best body- and face-paint image that conveyed a "no coal" message. Emily Bibler of Ohio Iowa State won the Face Color Award, Jackie Fabella of Cal Poly Pomona won the Face B+W Award, and Miles Courtney of Pratt Institute won the Body Award. Jackie Fabella's image will be featured in a full-page ad in the March issue of Metropolis magazine titled "Choose." These and other images will be used throughout the year to spread the word. A student's comment to Metropolis:

Screwing with the planet, but on purpose this time

Geo-engineering: cooking up solutions just like nature used to make

Geoengineering may be an awful idea for reversing the warming effects of climate change, but it sure makes for a sweet subject of satire, à la this retro-style informational video. Like they say, “If you can’t fix the problem, techno-fix the problem!” After all, technology will save the world. Because we know everything there is to know about the planet and all. Not to mention what happens when we mess with it. So, instead of cleaning up and trimming the world’s energy glut, let’s focus on dumping SO2 into the atmosphere to stop global warming. We probably wouldn’t get literally …

Cape Wind comments

Agency holds hearings for Massachusetts wind project, extends comment period 30 days

Heads up! The Minerals Management Service is extending the public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement for Cape Wind for an additional 30 days, until April 21. Leave your loving or loathing feedback here or attend one of four hearings this week in Mass. and give your opinion in person: Monday, March 10, West Yarmouth Tuesday, March 11, Nantucket Wednesday, March 12, Martha's Vineyard Thursday, March 13, Boston There's sure to be a "festive" atmosphere at each of these events! Plan on hearing about more guerrilla theater by Cape Wind proponents, all dressed up like Kennedys for a fine day of yachting on Nantucket Sound.