Climate & Energy

No relief in sight

The current oil shock

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. ----- When will it end, this crushing rise in the price of gasoline, now averaging $4.10 a gallon at the pump? The question is uppermost in the minds of American motorists as they plan vacations or simply review their daily journeys. The short answer is simple as well: "Not soon." As yet there is no sign of a reversal in oil's upward price thrust, which has more than doubled in a year, cresting recently above $146 a barrel. The current oil shock, the fourth of its kind in the past three-and-a-half decades, and the deadliest so far, shows every sign of continuing for a long, long stretch. The previous oil shocks -- in 1973-74, 1980, and 1990-91 -- stemmed from specific interruptions of energy supplies from the Middle East due, respectively, to an Arab-Israeli war, the Iranian revolution, and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Once peace was restored, a post-revolutionary order established, or the invader expelled, vital Middle Eastern energy supplies returned to normal. The fourth oil shock, however, belongs in a different category altogether.

A prophetic approach to energy efficiency

Taking a three-day weekend for the planet

From the Beehive State, a gratifying way to reduce energy use (and carbon emissions): Taking Fridays off. And it's mandatory. In part to deal with rising gas prices, Utah's republican governor John Huntsman introduced the measure for state employees. The move, of course, instantly reduces commutes by 20 percent. The remaining four work days get longer -- state offices will now stay open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. -- so that the total number of hours worked remains the same. I'll bet there's a civic benefit too: The change may actually makes government offices more accessible by extending open hours beyond the tight 9-to-5 window that most citizens still work. From the USA Today article:

Ex-policymakers urge current politicians to get off their asses

In order to avert “a long-term energy crisis,” writes a bipartisan group of former political up-and-ups in a letter to U.S. politicians, we must “reexamine …

Biomass in Austria: An adventure in pictures

The human-scale, renewable, domestic power systems reviving rural Austrian economies

Listen Play “Lonely Goatherd,” from The Sound of Music On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Salzburg, we took a field trip to a few examples …

Umbra on sea-level rise

Dear Umbra, I’m a bit confused about the possible rise in sea level that may be caused by global warming. I know that in general …

Coal for dummies

Study finds that prenatal exposure to coal-plant emissions impedes neurodevelopment

A major new study by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health finds: Closing coal-fired power plants can have a direct, positive impact on children's cognitive development and health ... [P]renatal exposure to coal-burning emissions was associated with significantly lower average developmental scores and reduced motor development at age two. In the second unexposed group, these adverse effects were no longer observed; and the frequency of delayed motor developmental was significantly reduced. The full study [PDF] in the July 14 Environmental Health Perspectives is available online: "Benefits of Reducing Prenatal Exposure to Coal Burning Pollutants to Children's Neurodevelopment in China." The study provides yet more evidence -- if any were needed -- that we need to ban traditional coal plants: "elimination of prenatal exposure to coal-burning emissions resulted in measurable benefits to children's development." This is a sophisticated study, which used molecular markers to directly track exposure to coal plant emissions:

Aviation industry is into greening, to an extent

The aviation industry talked up greenness Wednesday at the world’s biggest air show in Farnborough, England. At a sustainability summit, Giovanni Bisignani of the International …

The hole truth

EPA proposes new regulations for injecting carbon into the ground

The EPA released a proposal for a new rule on Tuesday that lays some of the groundwork needed to get carbon capture and storage technology …

Come health or high water

EPA scientists spell out dangers of climate change while EPA chief delays action

While EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and the rest of the Bush administration have decided to run out the clock on regulating greenhouse-gas emissions, EPA scientists …