Climate & Energy

Norway says whale consumption is good for the planet

Eating whale meat is better for the planet than eating beef, pork, or chicken, according to a comparative carbon-emissions calculation by Norwegian lobbying group the High North Alliance. Says the alliance’s Rune Froevik, in what may be a bit of an exaggeration, “Basically it turns out that the best thing you can do for the planet is to eat whale meat compared to other types of meat.” Points out Greepeace’s Truls Gulowsen, “The survival of a species is more important than lower greenhouse-gas emissions from eating it.” Meanwhile, Australian activists clashed yet again with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean. …

Dismal science

Do Big Oil and Big Tobacco share a similar smokescreen?

Stepping into the Heartland Institute’s “2008 International Conference on Climate Change” was like walking into an alternate reality. To the rest of us, climate science is settled, the solutions are sensible, and the time for action is now. But in the Marriott Grand Marquis Times Square, the only science comes from industry-funded think tanks; climate action will destroy humanity; and the underdog in this fight is ExxonMobil. Photo: Justin Shearer Perhaps more accurate than alternative reality, the event was about denying reality. Global warming isn’t an abstract possibility. It’s already raised temperatures, stressing species from salmon to moose, triggering more …

Grand Canyon flood supported by feds, criticized by park officials

Federal flood control managers will let loose a rush of water through the Grand Canyon on Wednesday, which the feds say is necessary to restore sand banks and side pools, and National Park Service officials say is unnecessary, aimed at pleasing hydropower companies, and could irreparably destroy the habitat it’s meant to restore.

The wheel turns against gasoline

Americans reduce gas consumption as prices continue to rise

Shocked by high gas prices? You're not alone: according to the lead story in today's Los Angeles Times, prices are at a record high. The gravity-defying price of oil shot through another barrier Monday by briefly touching $103.95 a barrel in New York trading, the highest cost ever for black gold even after adjusting for inflation. But the experts say it's not so much a rise in demand that is pushing up the cost, but a fall in the value of the dollar. "I don't think it's a coincidence that the price of oil hits an all-time high around the time that the dollar hits an all-time low against the euro," said Ken Medlock, an energy studies fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute. "The amount of dollars you have to give up for a barrel of oil is going to increase because the dollar is purchasing less and less." In response, according to an excellent story in Monday's Wall Street Journal, Americans have at last began to turn against gasoline.

California waiver update

Earlier this year I wrote about a new (EPA-sponsored) study showing that increased CO2 in the atmosphere is directly correlated with increased ozone, particulates, and carcinogens in the air. Since California suffers disproportionately from those traditional air pollutants, it follows that California does have "extraordinary and compelling conditions" in the face of climate change, and the EPA’s decision to deny Cali’s waiver was bogus. Now the author of that study, Stanford’s Mark Jacobson, has an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle arguing more or less the same thing. In other EPA waiver news, there’s an unsigned editorial in the NYT …

USDA head suggests harvesting switchgrass on conservation land

Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said Tuesday that it would be a “great idea” to allow farmers to grow and harvest biofuel-bound switchgrass on land currently set aside as wildlife habitat. More than 34 million acres in the U.S. are in the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays landowners to convert cropland to native grasses and keep it largely untouched. Environmentalists found the idea not so great; growing switchgrass on CRP land would “completely undermine the purposes of the program,” says Julie Sibbing of the National Wildlife Federation. More than 2 million acres of land were removed from CRP designation …

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.

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