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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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NASA's Hansen on Live Earth, Gore, and coal

It’s all about coal

More from James Hansen's email: I was invited to go on stage at "Live Earth" at the Meadowlands, between Jon Bon Jovi and Smashing Pumpkins performances. I agreed to this, on the condition that I could bring my grandchildren, Sophie and Connor. I assumed it would be like last year when I appeared with Al Gore before a young audience, with a rather impromptu discussion of global warming. Bad assumption. When I asked "Where's Al?", I was told that I would be going out alone, and didn't I have something to put on the teleprompter? Hmm. Well, with someone standing …

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Bad news for coal, lessons for enviros

New coal-fired plants are unlikely

This from the Wall Street Journal today: From coast to coast, plans for a new generation of coal-fired power plants are falling by the wayside as states conclude that conventional coal plants are too dirty to build and the cost of cleaner plants is too high. If significant numbers of new coal plants don't get built in the U.S. in coming years, it will put pressure on officials to clear the path for other power sources, including nuclear power, or trim the nation's electricity demand, which is expected to grow 1.8% this year. In a time of rising energy costs, …

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Cost containment for the carbon market: A step toward cap-and-trade

Moderate senators are ready to get on board

As Joe mentioned yesterday, four moderate-to-conservative senators -- John Warner (R-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) -- just proposed a measure to achieve "Cost-Containment for the Carbon Market." I wanted to spend a bit of time on what's in it and what it means. You might think, given the business-friendly senators involved, that the measure's going to be a gimmick to let industries off the hook. Happily, it was jointly developed with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, a sharp new outfit at Duke University. It appears to be a credible attempt to devise …

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Umbra on tidal power

Dear Umbra, Much is made of wind, solar, geothermal, and even wave power, but why doesn't anyone talk about tidal power? It has more power than wind for the same turbine, without the eyesore of turbines, is totally renewable, and is predictable hundreds of years in advance. Yet nobody talks about it. What's wrong with tidal? Chris MorrisonLondon, England Dearest Chris, The tides appear fruitful, but we disturb the ocean at our peril. Do oceans hold the answer? Photo: iStockphoto One concern is that tides follow the lunar cycle, but human power use is linked to the solar cycle. There …

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Is it unmanly to carpool?

A gender fender mind-bender

For the last few weeks, my fella and I have been staying with a male friend during a monthlong gap between homes. Fella and Friend work at the same company, about 30 minutes away. Every morning, Fella and Friend get up, go about their morning routines, get in their cars, and leave -- all within 5 minutes of each other. Before we moved in, and once since then, I suggested that they carpool. Different schedules, they protested. Wouldn't work. This morning, as I waved them off at the same time, I found myself wondering if gender plays a role in …

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Why Do I Still Feel So Hollow?

GE unveils carbon-offset credit card, other companies pondering same move Some people say you can't shop your way to happiness, but they haven't met the new GE credit card. Yes, the company that brought us "ecomagination" has imagined a way into wallets everywhere. The GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard -- hang on, have to take a belly-laugh break. OK, whew. Sorry about that. The GEMERPMC offers a 1 percent rebate, which cardholders can donate to carbon-offset projects. Similar cards are offered in Europe, and companies including Bank of America and American Express are said to be considering issuing them …

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Twenty-two Hours of Darkness and Two of Light

California utility commits to massive solar buy, B.C. deals with oil spill Call it the light and dark sides of the energy industry: yesterday, as news spread that a major California utility will make a ginormous solar buy, a British Columbia neighborhood was drenched in crude oil spewing from a broken pipe. Related? Only in the sense that all our global energy interests are tied. But holy visual metaphor, Batman! While officials in Burnaby, B.C., struggled to clean up the mess -- which led to the evacuation of 20 homes, the "voluntary evacuation" of 80 more, and residents complaining of …

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Timber industry rent seeking

Making things out of wood sequesters carbon, turns out

One telling point that carbon tax advocates make against cap-and-trade systems is that they create an enormous incentive for rent-seeking. Now it seems the timber industry is getting in on the game. Via Greenwire (sub rqd), this has my BS alarm all a-ringin': [Timber] Industry groups are lobbying Congress and making a public relations push to promote privately managed forests as carbon sinks -- a bid for a place in potential cap-and-trade schemes for greenhouse gas emissions. The industry's congressional testimony, posters and educational materials promote the potential for carbon storage in young, growing forests managed by timber companies and …

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Yes, Virgin, there is a green festival

Virgin Festival ‘near-zero waste’ for first time

The two-day Virgin music festival next weekend at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore will feature performances by The Police, The Smashing Pumpkins, and the Beastie Boys, as well as some bettin' on the ponies (!) -- but organizers are also gambling on concert-goers to "green it like they mean it" as they plan for a "near-zero waste" event. Certainly, the festival is not treading in virgin territory -- the green music thing has been done. And perhaps, with the Sir Richard connection, the move is not entirely unexpected, either. But Virgin seems to be the first to corral a Hollywood …

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