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Well Oil Be Damned

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pursues energy treaties in South America Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is on a four-nation swing through South America this week, using his country's oil riches to win friends and influence people. Yesterday, Chavez signed an "energy security treaty" with Nestor Kirchner, the president of Argentina; he will continue on to Uruguay, Ecuador, and Bolivia, where observers expect similar energy agreements to be cemented. The treaty with Argentina will see Venezuela buy $1 billion of that country's bonds, provide as much as $400 million for a new natural-gas plant, and cooperate on initiatives including oil refining projects, …

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Someone Alert Ben and Jerry

Indo-Pacific coral reefs disappearing twice as fast as rainforest, study says Forget the rainforest: the coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific oceans are vanishing twice as quickly, researchers say. The Indo-Pacific region, home to 75 percent of the world's coral reefs, has lost nearly 600 square miles of reef each year since the late 1960s. In addition, coral cover -- a measure of ocean-floor coverage that reflects reef health -- has shrunk from a historic average of 50 percent to an average of about 20 percent in 2003. A team from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who published …

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What makes a good cap-and-trade system?

A short guide

Lots of economists and analysts on both sides of the aisle prefer a carbon tax to a cap-and-trade system, but political reality is such that the former is exceedingly unlikely and the latter has become all but inevitable. So it's time to focus on doing it well. One question that came up in the panel Q&A was this: what makes for a good cap-and-trade system? This subject is both enormously complex and enormously relevant to current politics. We need the grassroots to be engaged, pushing back against the many half-ass measures on offer, lobbying on behalf of good measures. To …

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An interview with Mike Gravel about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Mike Gravel switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party in March 2008; after failing to secure the Libertarian nomination, he ended his presidential campaign in May 2008. Mike Gravel. In his "Rock" campaign ad, Mike Gravel silently stares into the camera, throws a stone into a lake, and walks off into the distance. It's disconcerting, off-the-wall, and low-budget -- just like his presidential campaign. As a senator from Alaska during the '70s, Gravel was best-known for fighting nuclear weapons, nuclear …

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Count Trackula

Wacky dude makes cool stat-o-meter on what’s happening in the world

OK, so the guy who made this says he finds the "theory of global warming highly debatable," but this thing is pretty cool: The World Clock. It lets you see a number of (likely somewhat flawed) stats about what's going on in the world during the current year, month, week, day, or time period you're on the site. CO2 emissions have crept into the six-figures, 132 cars and 330 computers have been produced, 50 people have gotten cancer and 33 have died from it, 69 hectares of forest have been lost, and the planet's temperature has crept steadily upward. It's …

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Biofuels fueling conflict

The need for good research

The rush to put biofuels in our gas tanks has given people analyzing natural resources and conflict some work to do. How are European and American policy mandates to dramatically increase the use of biofuels affecting the places that grow biofuel inputs? It seems fair to say that little consideration has been given to the potential conflict and equity impacts of this surge in demand for palm oil, sugarcane, and corn. After President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address, which called for massive increases in biofuels, we heard stories of skyrocketing corn tortilla prices and resulting social disruptions. Now …

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Early 2007 saw record-breaking extreme weather

More evidence of the link to climate change

The weather is getting more extreme thanks to human-caused climate change (as I've pointed out many times, see here, here, and here). Now the World Meteorological Organization reports more evidence: In January and April 2007 it is likely that global land surface temperatures ranked warmest since records began in 1880, 1.89°C warmer than average for January and 1.37°C warmer than average for April. Several regions have experienced extremely heavy precipitation, leading to severe floods. The Fourth Assessment Report of the WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Group on Climate Change (IPCC) notes an increasing trend in extreme events observed during the last 50 years. …

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Coal is the enemy of the human race: Utah miners edition

How many more deaths will we tolerate?

About 4am yesterday, a mine in Utah collapsed, trapping six miners 1,500 feet underground, almost three and a half miles from the mine's entrance. No one knows if they are alive; there's been no contact since the collapse. Right now, rescuers are trying to drill through the mountainside to reach them. Progress has been slow, and it may well take up to three days. When the collapse first occurred, it was blamed on a small earthquake, but scientists now think the seismic activity was caused by the collapse itself. No cause has been conclusively identified. Crandall Canyon mine has a …

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Step It Up 2 is coming this November — get ready to hit the streetsAsk politicians to join Step It

Bill McKibben is organizing Step It Up 2, a national day of climate action. A scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, the first book for a general audience on climate change, and, most recently, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. He serves on Grist's board of directors. Tuesday, 7 Aug 2007 MIDDLEBURY, Vt. Movements need to keep on moving; once the rock starts to budge you've got to push even harder on the pry bar. It's time to Step It Up once more. Circle Nov. 3, 2007, on your …

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Did climate change contribute to the Minneapolis bridge collapse?

The question must be asked

The thought didn't cross my mind until my Minneapolis-based brother suggested it. I had asked him for his thoughts on the collapse, and that is the question he posed. I was skeptical at first, but after doing a Google search -- and after NBC reported Sunday that National Transportation Safety Board investigators are "looking at everything" including "the weather" -- I think it is a legitimate question to ask. First, though, why is it an important question to ask? NASA's James Hansen says we are on the verge of turning the earth into "a different planet," thanks to uncontrolled greenhouse-gas …

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