Climate & Energy

U.K. activists will hold big protest at coal plant this summer

Activists in the U.K. have announced that an annual weeklong climate camp, held last year to protest expansion of London’s Heathrow Airport, will this summer be held at the site of a proposed coal-fired power plant in Kent. Which is not to say, of course, that they’re not still pissed about Heathrow.

Climate policy, auctions, and economic justice

The core progressive issue in the fight over climate legislation

The following post was originally published on The Nation’s guest blog, Passing Through, where I was in residence throughout February. It is a rudimentary introduction to cap-and-trade and the question of allocating permits, an argument (or three) in favor of auctioning permits, and a review of the political state of play around the question. The point is to get people up to speed on the crucial debate over permit auctions, which should be a central focal point for grassroots pressure on the process. It is long. I recommend printing it out and reading it on the toilet. —– Good morning, …

Coal gets emBiggered

Righteous anger from author Jeff Biggers about the notion of "clean coal" — or as I call it, "clean enemy of the human race." He’s watching some of America’s oldest mountains get blown up, landscapes scarred, communities immiserated … and it doesn’t look clean to him. We’ve noted here many times that new coal is not cheap. Capital costs have skyrocketed and the entire industry lives in mortal fear of impending carbon legislation. Imagine if the industry were forced to actually follow safety and environmental regulations and fairly compensate communities for health and nuisance impacts. Imagine if a new president …

Media enable denier spin, part one

A (sort of) cold January doesn’t mean climate stopped warming

I fully understand why spreaders of climate disinformation have hyped up a (sort-of) cold January as if it somehow provided scientific evidence to support their campaign to undermine the well-established scientific understanding of human-caused climate change. That's their job (literally, in many cases). But I can't understand why the media keep treating such disinformers as if they were a genuine part of the scientific process who deserve free publicity, rather than dangerous serial misleaders who don't believe in either science and real-world observations (but who repeatedly misuse one or the other to confuse to the general public). Our deep understanding of the climate is, as I've noted, based on hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that themselves are based on countless real-world observations over decades (and paleoclimate data extending back hundreds of thousands of years). It can't be undercut by a few weeks of cool weather -- and the really annoying thing, you may be surprised to learn, is they haven't even been remarkably cool! So I don't understand why the usually thoughtful Andrew Revkin would enable the disinformers write an NYT article titled "Climate Skeptics Seize on Cold Spell," or the usually thoughtful WSJ blog would write a similarly misguided piece, "Little Ice Age? Cold Snap Sparks Cooling Debate." Seriously. Who cares what non-climate-related factoid or piece of pseudo-science so-called "Climate Skeptics" seize on? And the only "debate" that has been sparked is one created by the disinformers and the media. [I will come back to the media critique at the end. In Part II I'll discuss, one more time, why they do not deserve the label "skeptics," and why I'm finally persuaded "deniers" isn't a great term. Let's call them "disinformers," for now, though a good case could be made for "would-be climate destroyers."]

Emissionaries wanted

Check out Oregon PeaceWorks’ ‘5% solution to the climate crisis’

Oregon PeaceWorks, a venerable peace and social justice organization based in Salem, Oregon, has adopted a program of action to intended to help head off the next resource war(s). It's called the "5% Solution to the Climate Crisis," and it makes explicit the link between a chaotic climate and the natural follow-on consequences, which can be summarized as "All four horsemen of the Apocalypse."

It's bloomin' idiotic

Can words describe how bad corn ethanol is?

Well, maybe my words can't describe how bad corn ethanol is, or Mayor Bloomberg's, or those of top scientists, but I think I have found someone's words that do: Opus's from Bloom Country. First, however, the lastest grim news from Fortune: "The ethanol boom is running out of gas as corn prices spike." Yes, "plans for as many as 50 new ethanol plants have been shelved in recent months." Why? Spurred by an ethanol plant construction binge, corn prices have gone stratospheric, soaring from below $2 a bushel in 2006 to over $5.25 a bushel today. As a result, it's become difficult for ethanol plants to make a healthy profit, even with oil at $100 a barrel. If you can't make money with oil at $100 a barrel, you are not much of an alternative fuel. But I know what you're thinking -- if corn ethanol is so bad, what's wrong with plants being scrapped? Well, the corn ethanol business is here to stay. The corn ethanol mandate from the most recent energy bill requires doubling supply from current levels. Fortune explains what that means:

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