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Hansen on 'trains of death'

Yeah, coal again

Still more from James Hansen's email: Ed Wilson explains that the 21st century is a "bottleneck" for species, because of extreme stresses they will experience, most of all from climate change. He foresees a potentially brighter future beyond the fossil fuel era, beyond the peak human population will occur if developing countries follow the path of the developed world to lower fertility rates. Air and water can be clean and we will learn to live with other species in a sustainable way, using renewable energy. The question he asks is how many species will survive the tremendous pressure of the …

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Plug-in hybrids rule; PHEV Hypercars rule even more

Let’s go all the way

When David pointed out that plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs) can reduce carbon emissions in all possible futures, two main arguments were raised in opposition -- practicality, and the possibility that they will provide too low a reduction, while blocking the path to something better. The way commercial plug-ins look to be implemented within the next five years is that normal hybrids will be built with large batteries and the ability to plug into a socket in your dedicated parking space. They will travel the first twenty miles or so on electricity and then turn on their gasoline engine around the …

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Why does Robert Samuelson hate America?

He thinks we’re too shallow to beat global warming

For the most part, the jackassery of Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson is background noise for me, easy enough to ignore. But when he writes about global warming, I can't help but pay attention, despite the dyspepsia that inevitably ensues. Samuelson has one of his characteristically cranky, daft columns up, making an argument that Matt aptly summarizes as, "since the best measures to stop global warming are politically unpopular, it's obvious that environmentalists are all frauds and we shouldn't do anything to stop global warming." Here are three particularly irksome features of Samuelson's writing on this issue (features that are …

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GE's climate credit card

Mock, yes, but then take a closer look

How about that GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard? Hard not to make fun of it, right? So hard, in fact, that Daily Grist failed. To not make fun of it. That is to say, they made fun of it. And by "they" I mean "we." Moving on. Beyond the mockery, there's actually a reasonably interesting story here, and less of a Paradigmatic Example of Our Greedy, Rotten Culture than you might think. Joel Makower, as usual, has the goods. This is particularly relevant: The launch of the card is accompanied by the release of a standard for carbon credits …

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Fatally flawed attack on renewables by Jesse Ausubel

Forthwith debunked

Every silver lining has a cloud -- or so we are told. Climate analyst Jesse Ausubel is getting a lot of press with his new, controversial, deeply flawed study, "Renewable and nuclear heresies" (available here with subscription, but you can get the main points from this 2005 Canadian Nuclear Association talk and the accompanying PPT presentation). He says ramping up renewables would lead to the "rape of nature." His study concludes: Renewables are not green. To reach the scale at which they would contribute importantly to meeting global energy demand, renewable sources of energy, such as wind, water and biomass, …

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Economic effect of cap-and-trade: A wager

Will you take it?

So, Reuters took a look at the EPA's economic analysis of the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act (so I didn't have to!). In case your memory is hazy, the CSA is a cap-and-trade bill that would cut emissions 65% by 2050. Here's the nut: The EPA found that the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007 would shave up to 1.6 percent, or $419 billion, off a baseline forecast for U.S. gross domestic product in 2030 and up to 3.2 percent, or $1.332 trillion, by 2050. That is, by any reasonable measure, a modest price to pay. Even so, I bet …

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Glowing orbs for everyone

Making electricity visible helps reduce consumption

Here's what might be an ingenious idea, as reported by Wired: Mark Martinez couldn't get Southern California Edison customers to conserve energy. As the utility's manager of program development, he had tried alerting them when it was time to dial back electricity use on a hot day -- he'd fire off automated phone calls, zap text messages, send emails. No dice. Then he saw an Ambient Orb. It's a groovy little ball that changes color in sync with incoming data -- growing more purple, for example, as your email inbox fills up or as the chance of rain increases. Martinez …

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Cheney suppressed evidence of market manipulation in California power crisis

New investigative report

Don't miss Jason Leopold's crack investigative reporting on Truthout today: This story is based on a two-month investigation into Cheney's energy task force; how the vice president pressured cabinet officials to conceal clear-cut evidence of market manipulation during California's energy crisis, and how that subsequently led Cheney to exert executive privilege when lawmakers called on him to turn over documents related to his meetings with energy industry officials who helped draft the National Energy Policy and also gamed California's power market. Truthout spoke with more than a dozen former officials from the Energy Department and FERC as well as current …

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Climate confusion in Hong Kong

Dumb arguments rear their heads yet again

A reader pointed me to a letter in the South China Morning Post, "Cold water on the warming debate" (subs. req'd). The writer, a senior research fellow of the HK Institute of Economics and Business, rehashes a number of mistaken arguments I hear all too often: Many people fail to knit together these two strands - climate change and the exhaustion of fossil fuels. If they did, they would see that the energy crisis, which is predicted as a result of the exhaustion of fossil fuel reserves, contains the seeds of the resolution of the global warming crisis. As fossil …

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Offset mania

Can’t we offset something other than carbon?

Lordy, this is getting out of hand: Under the agreement announced Wednesday, the Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will allow individuals or groups to make charitable contributions that will be used to plant trees and do other work to improve national forests. ... Under the new program, known as the Carbon Capital Fund, consumers can "offset" their carbon emissions by investing in projects on national forests to plant trees and improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat and help restore public lands damaged by natural disasters such as wildfires. Tell me, why can't you give money to "plant trees …

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