Climate & Energy

Notable quotable

Ugly babies

“Ethanol is an ugly baby, but it’s our baby. I’m not against any fuel unless it’s foreign.” — oil billionaire and energy independence evangelist T. …

Gore's speech

Gore calls for carbon tax, 100 percent renewable electricity by 2018

[Editor's note: The headline was mistakenly published to read "energy" in place of "electricity." The fault lies with the Grist editorial staff instead of with Joseph Romm. Our apologies to Joe.] July 17, 2008 A Generational Challenge to Repower America (as prepared) D.A.R. Constitution Hall Washington, D.C. Ladies and gentlemen: There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more -- if more should be required -- the future of human civilization is at stake. I don't remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly. The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse -- much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland's largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

So uncool

Eighth warmest June on record means ‘Great Ice Age of 2008′ is still over

I know we're supposed to be going into a period of cooling, at least according to people who don't believe in the scientific method, but for those who do, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reports in its "Climate of 2008 June in Historical Perspective": Based on preliminary data, the globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the eighth warmest on record for June and the ninth warmest for January-June year-to-date period. It is pretty darn hot in Greenland and Siberia, not like there's anything important in those regions:

New Nature Conservancy prez chats about jumping from Goldman Sachs to the green scene

The stereotypes of biz-begrudging enviros and planet-pillaging business leaders were upended years ago. These days, green groups and corporations team up on everything from preserving …

The center can't hold

A collection of Venerable Old White Guys weighs in on the energy challenge

High Broderism has finally and fully descended on the energy debate. The AP reports that a “bipartisan group of 26 elder statesmen” (that sound you …

NYC government plans 30 percent carbon cuts by 2017

Energy efficiency is cornerstone of ambitious plan

Everyone's favorite McKinsey study suggests that America can shed a huge chunk of its emissions through costless measures, primarily in the realm of energy efficiency. The fly in this delicious low-carbon ointment is that the freebie cuts haven't so far happened by themselves, and it's never entirely clear how well an analyst's report is going to translate into reality. How nice, then, that New York City is gearing up to provide the proof point we've all been waiting for. Mayor Bloomberg's office recently released a plan to drop the carbon emissions of the municipal government 30 percent from 2006 levels by 2017. The plan will cost about $2.3 billion, but the city expects to recoup these costs by 2015 -- an average payback of less than eight years across a large portfolio of projects.

Al Gore details plan for exclusively carbon-free electricity in U.S. by 2018

In a speech in Washington, D.C., today, climate activist Al Gore called for the United States to move toward using electricity that comes exclusively from …

2.6 million acres opened to drilling in Alaska, Dems introduce Drill Act to spur production

The U.S. Interior Department announced it’s opening up some 2.6 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) to exploratory drilling. A decision …

The economics of power plant construction

A brief primer on variable vs. fixed costs

For those of us in the power industry, media discussions of the economics of power generation reveal an almost complete misunderstanding of how power is priced. Depending on our vested interests, we may find this either frustrating or beneficial -- but in all cases, it's false. Herewith I attempt to explain from whence the confusion arises -- and why it is so critical for the clean energy community to understand this math and its consequences ... and to more accurately articulate the economics of those options we prefer.