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Putting the Yeehaw in Hubris

U.S. federal agencies, World Bank help developing countries emit more President Bush has made clear his feelings on global-warming mitigation: "We all can make major strides, and yet there won't be a reduction until China and India are participants." So it seems a wee bit hypocritical that the United States is actually contributing to global-warming emissions in China, India, and other developing countries. Since 1995, two federally controlled agencies -- the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. -- have spent $21 billion in loans and loan guarantees for fossil-fuel projects in more than 40 countries. The U.S. …

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Shrinky-Dinky Do

Great Lakes, Arctic sea ice shrinking to record lows It could be a summer of record lows in two of the world's iconic places: the Great Lakes and the Arctic seas. Water levels in Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior are well below normal, and Superior could soon hit a record low set in 1926. The U.S. and Canada have undertaken a five-year study that could shed sloooow light on the situation, which has been blamed on climate change, rainfall patterns, and human activities like dredging. "I think we found that all of those contributed to some degree," said Robert Nairn, …

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Interview with Thomas Casten, part two

Why aren’t people doing this stuff already?

DR: If every industrial facility in the world has been throwing money on the ground, why has it taken so long for somebody to come along and pick it up? What's the catch? TC: EPA did a study and it appears that we can generate 20 percent of our electricity with industrial energy that's now being thrown away. So we can't do everything. There is not silver bullet. DR: That's not small potatoes. TC: No. It would require an investment of somewhere north of $100 billion, but it has been identified fairly well. To calibrate you, that is about 64,000 …

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Why cap-and-trade or carbon taxes alone won't solve global warming, and why we still need them

Correcting two misunderstandings

As we discuss "cap-and-steal" (aka "cap-and-trade"), "cap-and-sell" (aka "cap-and-auction"), and carbon taxes -- three ways of putting prices on carbon -- it is worth remembering that putting a price on greenhouse-gas emissions is not enough to bring them under control. Gristmill is full of posts showing ways to save carbon at a profit. David posted an interview on Recycled Energy today that points to something that has been known, but mostly ignored, for over thirty years. I can, and have in the past, posted extensive theoretical musings on this. But the bottom line is that if we are ignoring available …

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Marrying efficiency and renewables

A match made in heaven?

Energy efficiency and renewable power together are better than either alone, according to a recent report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the American Council on Renewable Energy. Not a shocking conclusion, but an important one, especially in a world where it seems that all types of zero-carbon power are competing against each other for funding. The report finds that synergies between renewables and efficiency would cut greenhouse-gas emissions more effectively than either alone. What kind of synergies? Timing is one ... Efficiency can provide substantial short- and medium-term energy savings, while ... renewable energy is now …

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Dingell is dispensable

Even though conventional wisdom says you need him to pass major environmental legislation

Whether House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell is a potential friend or an implacable foe is not only the subject of intense debate here at Gristmill, but a key strategic question for the environmental movement and the Democratic Party. I recently wrote an article for The American Prospect about how Dingell's fellow congressional Democrats are abandoning him as he tries to obstruct meaningful energy and climate legislation -- and implied that his diminished power means Democrats and environmentalists can go around him without worrying about fallout from not having him at the table. I want to use this opportunity …

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Algeria …

... sets out to become the Saudi Arabia of solar energy.

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Chickens coming home to roost

Hope they don’t want any corn

What? A sharply hotter climate and abundant CO2 aren't good for field crops? But, but ... the coal lobby Greening Earth Society said they would be! Fitting: the photo accompanying this story in The Detroit News shows a huge trailer of corn being deposited at an ethanol plant. Michigan corn may have been knee-high by July, but a scorching summer has made the harvest one of the worst in the nation, federal statistics show. Early hopes for a fruitful harvest have given way to predictions of a 24 percent decrease in corn production in 2006 and low levels of field …

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15 Green Cars

The greenest way to get around? On your own two feet, of course, or on a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, or public transit. But if you still find yourself in need of a car, these are some of the best green options on the market. If we zoomed right past your favorite eco-friendly auto, tell us in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Courtesy of Toyota via Wieck Toyota Prius The best-selling Prius is synonymous with "hybrid" in many minds, and with good reason. More than 750,000 have been sold worldwide, and it's the greenest mainstream car on …

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Cane: the cellulosic Godfather

A new series pivots around ethanol

Randomly, last night I caught the debut episode of the new CBS series Cane. It's about the Duque family, a Cuban-American clan in both the sugar and rum businesses in South Florida. At the outset of the show, the Duque's long-time rivals, the Samuels -- a drawling family of white Southerners -- offer to buy up their sugar fields, claiming that the sugar business is slow and the real action is on the rum side. "We'll do sugar; you do rum." Family patriarch Pancho (Hector Elizondo) turns them down. Why? Because his adopted son and heir to the business Alex …

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