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There’s a connection between energy waste and our military adventurousness, so let’s stop the draft

This is what every utility in America should be required to provide in return for that monthly service charge that makes people who conserve energy pay more per unit of juice than people who waste it.

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Taking on the belief that technotoys will allow the status quo to continue

James Howard Kunstler, dyspeptic critic and peak oil Paul Revere, nails the people whose approach to the twin calamities of global heating and peak oil is to spend all their time trying to cobble together the McGyver solution that saves the day, rather than trying to adapt to the new, low-energy imperative. My belief is that the more time we spend trying to find the McGuyvers, the more likely we are to respond poorly when we find that no amount of McGuyvers are going to allow us to maintain the carburban dreamscape. Most particularly, I fear that the more energy …

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Not so perma, not so frosty

Thanks to global warming, the permafrost is no longer very perma, nor very frosty. I've noted before about how the ultimate release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases formerly trapped in the tundra could create a "self-perpetuating climate time bomb." But we shouldn't ignore the severe local impacts. The New York Times has a front-page story on what global warming has done to the Alaskan village of Newtok: Sea ice that would normally protect coastal villages is forming later in the year, allowing fall storms to pound away at the shoreline. Erosion has made Newtok an island .... The village …

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Arctic sea ice and global thawing

Once again National Geographic Magazine has managed to knock my socks off, this time with its June '07 issue. Vanishing Sea Ice is journalist and photographer Paul Nicklen's touching homage to the Arctic and its wildlife through the lens of his camera: a decade-long documentary of its accelerating demise. Big Thaw, meanwhile, zooms out to the global level to tell how ice around the world is fast receding. Global warming-induced meltage is a familiar story by now, but new studies are showing that -- due to multiple positive feedback effects -- the decline is occurring more rapidly than scientists had …

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A new website assesses property risk

Earlier this week I learned that I'm eligible, via my mother, for Dutch citizenship, which means I could potentially work, vote, and live in Holland without having to go through the hassle of visa applications. Before moving to a country that lies largely below sea level, though, I might want to check out Climate Appraisal, which, as its name suggests, is a website where you can size up the environmental hazards of your desired address. A joint project of a former banking executive and climate scientists at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the site has plenty of free information …

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The cost of acting first on climate change vs. the cost of not acting

"Lose-lose: the penalties of acting alone stall collective effort on climate change" is an article the Financial Times ran a while back. While the piece gives a panoramic analysis of the international prisoner's dilemma, there are two other angles that are missing. The first is the penalties of no one acting. According to the UK's environmental minister, the economic rationale for inaction is that the first country to act risks undergoing some degree of economic hardship. This, he explains, is "the last refuge of the deniers -- the idea that it's not worth anyone doing anything unless everyone does it." …

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Condi in a Tesla

I give you Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, riding in a Tesla electric car: More gape-worthy Tesla pics here. More about Rice here. (thanks LL!)

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Are Americans smart enough to learn from Australia’s crisis?

What if there was a country that was like America in many ways, such as the obstinate refusal of its government to acknowledge that pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment is simply a way to commit suicide faster, a fondness for beer, and an enormous capacity to live the high energy lifestyle as if there was no tomorrow? Could Americans learn anything from it? Bart A's always-excellent Energy Bulletin brings this chilling story about the very non-chill Australia, where a drought is putting big thermal plants out of business due to water restrictions. Is it possible -- …

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Good stuff at WC

Two good posts on Worldchanging I've been meaning to call out: Jeremy Faludi makes the important point that control technologies are just as important as efficiency technologies. Control technologies allow us to control energy systems in a more fine-grained way, using only what we need -- think occupancy sensors for lighting or continuously variable transmissions for cars. Make room for this in your conceptual toolbox. Alex Steffen, meanwhile, has an essay grappling with what he sees as the widening gap between our snail-pace, "small steps" reforms on one hand and the cutting edge ideas about a sustainable future that are …

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On ‘scientific reticence’ and sea-level rise

Sea level rise of 5 meters in one century? Even if most scientists will not say so publicly, that catastrophe is a real possibility, according to the director of NASA's Goddard Institute Of Space Studies. It may seem like I single Hansen out for recommended reading. But that's only because he: is the nation's top climatologist writes prolifically speaks with unusually bluntness for a scientist has been more right than just about any climate scientist He has written a terrific piece for the open-access Environmental Research Letters on "Scientific Reticence and Sea Level Rise": I suggest that a "scientific reticence" …

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