Climate & Energy

Internal combustion news

Volkswagen’s new entry to the clean diesel fleet

Enough election talk, it's time to put some honest-to-goodness car news in the Gristmill (so this one's for you, JMG!). Volkswagen is about to unveil a new Golf hybrid, said to feature an all-electric mode at low speed and regenerative braking to compete with the Prius and its ilk. The difference is that this is a diesel-electric hybrid, which VW says will get 69 mpg and exceed Europe's (and California's) tough emissions standards. The point is somewhat moot, as this internal-combusion-perpetuating monster will not be for sale in the U.S. But is this just another indicator that clean diesel cars are greener than hybrids? Perhaps. But filling one of these new Golfs with locally produced, organic, fair-trade biodiesel made from waste vegetable oil by a worker-owned biorefinery will certainly help.

Oh, goody! A book!

The Business & Media Institute’s new but not particularly special report

I'm sure there's at least a chapter devoted to the two decades of TV broadcasts in which, no matter how irrelevant the context, the words "global" or "climate" or "change" or "warm" were inextricably linked to the words "scientists disagree." No? Instead, they offer us John Coleman's Medienkritik: Coleman told an audience at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change on March 3 in New York that he is highly critical of global warming alarmism. "The Weather Channel had great promise, and that's all gone now because they've made every mistake in the book on what they've done and how they've done it and it's very sad," Coleman said. "It's now for sale and there's a new owner of The Weather Channel will be announced -- several billion dollars having changed hands in the near future. Let's hope the new owners can recapture the vision and stop reporting the traffic, telling us what to think and start giving us useful weather information." John Coleman, providing useful information in a place where the weather can change from a comfortable day at the beach to a comfortable day at the beach in an instant:

Arctic expert predicts I will win $1000 this year

OK, he didn't say that directly: The polar cap in the Arctic may well disappear this summer due to the global warming, Dr. Olav Orheim, head of the Norwegian International Polar Year Secretariat, said on Friday. I originally wasn't going to post on this, but a number of people, including Earthbeat's Mike Tidwell (on whose show I will be appearing today) have sent it to me. I am skeptical the Arctic will be ice-free this year, but I'm open to any other takers for my bet that it'll happen by the end of 2020. Should be a no-brainer for you global coolers out there.

Company creates global map of wind patterns

Any way the wind blows, weather-consulting service 3Tier wants to map it. The company has created a global map of weather patterns that’s available free on the internet, allowing anyone to check whether there’s strong enough air movement — and transmission capacity — to power property in a certain area. 3Tier plans to do a similar project to show the potential of solar energy, to keep the renewable-energy industry from stickin’ panels where the sun don’t shine.

Gas up

The next generation of infrastructure should help more Americans go carless

It appears that oil has reached a new all-time high in real terms. Given that gas prices normally peak during the summer season, the stage could be set for some ugly pump prices this year, although expensive oil may not be the most painful part of the current commodity price boom for consumers (an honor which may go to the exploding cost of grain). With oil so expensive, commuters may wish they had better transportation options. Some of them may even begin to wonder whether we might want to improve our investments in mass transit. This is important, as momentum …

The plot to destroy America

Suppose you knew about a plot whose inevitable outcome would be to undermine the health and well-being of your children, their children, and the next 50 generations. Yes, hundreds of educated people -- mostly Americans -- are assembling in New York right now for just two purposes: Sharing the techniques needed to block vital action that could save billions of people from suffering and misery. Spreading long-debunked disinformation while masquerading as experts who believe in the scientific method. Well, of course, if you were Fox News, you'd be celebrating the event. What can the rest of us do about this dangerous plot? Three things: Get the facts from real climate scientists at RealClimate. Keep a watchful eye on the conspirators with the help of DeSmogBlog. Give your children an extra hug tonight. Remember, it's all about the children! If you don't stand up for them, who will? This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Climate skeptics hold conference in New York City

A conference of climate-change skeptics gathered in New York City this week to congratulate each other for daring to challenge the accepted science of global warming. A range of high-profile deniers painted themselves as put-upon independent thinkers branded as heretics by the church of climate-change dogma. Films were shown. Speeches were made. Al Gore jokes abounded. But actual climate science was largely avoided. Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University geosciences professor, said that with the media and most policymakers now largely ignoring the climate skeptics, “they have to get together to talk to each other, because nobody else is talking to …


Nine Nobelists on the big problems

Saw a good DVD this evening, after what seemed like several weeks where all the worst things were unfolding faster and faster and I was looking for something not quite so grim as the current headlines. Nobelity is worth a look. Two ideas of special note for Gristies. The film starts off with a discussion with physicist Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas, whose Nobel was for figuring out the electroweak force that unified two of the four fundamental forces in nature. He talks about (among other things) climate change. In a very matter of fact way, he makes a hugely important point that pertains to all the so-called skeptics (paraphrase):

The natural resource curse is such a bitch

Oil and the status of women in the Middle East

I'm not sure this falls under my "campus news" beat for Grist, but I heard it at a seminar at a college campus, and it's compelling enough that I'm going to say that because it falls within academia, it counts. Michael Ross is a political scientist at UCLA who was published in the February 2008 American Political Science Review with the assertion (PDF) that much of the gender inequality in the Middle East relative to the rest of the world can be explained not by traditional Islam, but by the presence of oil. Photo: iStockphoto The quick version is that Ross makes a strong case that women are hurt by a previously unappreciated effect of the infamous "resource curse" that imperils democracy in countries with abundant fossil fuels.