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Is the Chevy Volt just more GM greenwashing?

Sure looks that way

Back in May, I was seduced by GM's seeming sincerity in developing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Chevy Volt. We must always remember, however, that GM is a master greenwasher. An article in Edmunds, "Chevrolet Volt Goes to Washington To Underline GM's Anti-CAFE-Increase Argument," suggests GM is using the Volt the same way it used fuel cell cars to kill the electric car in California (as the movie explains): General Motors' North American operations chief, Troy Clarke, is meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill today, and he's bringing along the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid prototype. GM hopes the Volt …

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Climate change

Game over

In an editorial in this week's Science Magazine, Donald Kennedy writes: With respect to climate change, we have abruptly passed the tipping point in what until recently has been a tense political controversy. Why? Industry leaders, nongovernmental organizations, Al Gore, and public attention have all played a role. At the core, however, it's about the relentless progress of science. As data accumulate, denialists retreat to the safety of the Wall Street Journal op-ed page or seek social relaxation with old pals from the tobacco lobby from whom they first learned to "teach the controversy." Meanwhile, political judgments are in, and …

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Rule three of offsets: No geo-engineering

Smacking down a bad idea

I know you've all been eagerly waiting for this (don't worry, I don't have many more rules). I got sidetracked by last week's offset hearing. Offset projects should deliver climate benefits with high confidence -- that's a key reason trees make lousy offsets, especially non-urban, non-tropical trees. An even more dubious source of offsets is geo-engineering, which is "the intentional large scale manipulation of the global environment" (PDF) to counteract the effects of global warming. As John Holdren, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, noted in 2006 (PDF), "The 'geo-engineering' approaches considered so far appear to …

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Same carbon credits sold twice (as CDM and on voluntary market)

Double counting does not legally qualify as fraud

The ENDS Report -- July 2007, issue 390 ($ub. rqd): ENDS has learned that chemical corporation Rhodia is using carbon credits from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to meet voluntary corporate targets -- only to sell them at a profit to be counted again elsewhere. Cement company Lafarge has not ruled out the same practice. Companies like Rhodia can use CDM credits to comply with mandatory targets under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. But they can also use them to meet voluntary carbon reduction commitments or to make "carbon neutral" claims, or sell them on the market. Rhodia and other …

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Jack Bauer is going to stop global warming

The TV show 24 will reduce its carbon footprint

Fans of 24 know that if there's one person that can stop climate change, it ain't Al Gore. It's Jack Bauer. If you are not familiar with Jack, here are some of his qualifications from the site Random Jack Bauer Facts: There are two hands that can beat a royal flush. Jack Bauer's right hand and Jack Bauer's left hand. Most people would need months to recover from 20 months of Chinese interrogation. Jack Bauer needs a shower, a shave and a change of clothes. The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for …

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Adventures in the smart grid no. 2: Demand response

Information is power

The day is sweltering, air conditioners are cranked up, and the power grid is straining to meet demand. Today is a "needle peak" day -- on the annual power demand chart, it shows up as a spike. Out of the year's 8,760 hours, needle peaks will occupy 200 hours or less. An extreme day like this is why the grid maintains roughly twice as much power generating and transmission capacity as it uses on an average day. Even though power plants and lines are idle most of the year, this costly overbuilding is needed to cover all contingencies. The grid …

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BP, coal plants dump mercury into Great Lakes

Enemies of the human race

Last week, I put up a post explaining that BP will be increasing their dumping of toxic waste into the Great Lakes. Congress overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning BP's dumping -- a resolution sponsored by Rahm Emanuel, a powerful Democratic Congressman. Now, thanks to some fine investigative reporting by the Chicago Tribune, we find out that BP has been dumping mercury as well, and will continue to do so: Federal records analyzed by the Tribune show BP puts 2 pounds of mercury into the lake every year from its sprawling plant 3 miles southeast of Chicago in Whiting, Ind. That …

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Everyone's a critic

A quick review of Project Phin

By my lights, the world's best movie critic is Janet Maslin, hands down. She has a simple formula: she lets you know if the movie sucks or not, she doesn't give away the ending, and she is funny. Take her review of The Bridges of Madison County. The second 'graph begins like this: "Arguably the world's longest greeting card ... " Beautiful. Someday I hope to be able to slide a metaphoric shiv with such economy. Anyway, the NYT has Maslin off movies and on the book-review beat, so we are on our own when it comes to reviewing the …

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Black-eyed Peas: Live Earth edition

Their eco-song doesn’t suck. Too much

I have been remiss in my music-related reportage, and I apologize. I had heard prior to Live Earth (which was three weeks ago) that, like Madonna, the Black-eyed Peas would be writing a song specifically for the spectacle. But I never updated you as to how that worked out. Then, today, thanks to my "media hound" colleague, I found out that unlike Madonna's song, this one does not suck. As much. Check out the video for "SOS" here.

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