Climate & Energy

On the Ball: The three R's

Readying for the Olympics, revisiting artificial turf, and racing with Formula One

As Beijing prepares for the Summer Olympics, officials claimed the best run of blue-sky days on record between Jan. 21 and Feb. 18, and said that 26 of February’s 29 days met the city’s clean-air standard. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge lauded Beijing’s pollution-reducing efforts, stating, “I can’t hide the fact that there is today a danger of atmospheric pollution in Beijing, but our Chinese friends are doing tremendous efforts to reduce this.” The NYT revisits the synthetic turf war: Health advocates say that the ground-up rubber that gives bounce to most synthetic fields contains potentially cancer-causing chemicals. On …

Chris Anderson: Paper mags are better on carbon than websites

From 1998 until 2006, the Wired website and Wired magazine had different owners and were run separately. In 2006, Condé Nast bought the website back and reunited them. I’ve heard rumors that there were some tensions along the way. I can’t help but wonder if those tensions are behind an odd post from Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, claiming that Wired-the-magazine beats Wired-the-website on a carbon basis. The claim is mostly based on the fact that by cutting down (sustainably managed) trees and burying them in landfills, paper magazines sequester carbon. There are, however, no numbers offered to back …

Timing of EPA decision on vehicle greenhouse-gas regulation still a mystery

When will the U.S. EPA decide whether to regulate vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions? EPA head Stephen Johnson testified in the Senate Tuesday that he just couldn’t say, even though it’s been nearly a year since the agency was directed by the Supreme Court to make that decision. When asked whether any EPA staffers were currently working on the issue, Johnson said he didn’t know. “The only conclusion I can reach is you are under pressure not to do anything,” replied exasperated Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “This is the Environmental Protection Agency, not the administration protection agency.” Johnson had originally promised to …

Bush's sleight of hand

Renewable energy subterfuge

The following is a guest essay by Daniel J. Weiss and Nick Kong. It was originally published on the Center for American Progress website. ----- Photo: "Watch what we do, not we say," Attorney General John N. Mitchell accurately warned at the dawn of the Nixon administration. This could also be a fitting epitaph for President Bush's energy policies. Despite frequent claims of support for renewable energy over the years, the record shows consistent opposition to efforts to spur investments in clean wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources. The subterfuge began when President Bush announced his administration's National Energy Policy on May 17, 2001. The White House's plan was based on recommendations provided to Vice President Cheney from coal, oil, nuclear and other dirty energy companies. The speech included a soothing nod to renewable electricity -- five weeks after the administration proposed slashing millions from renewable energy programs. The routine has varied little since Bush first took office. President Bush pays lip service to clean energy technologies, while opposing many voluntary incentives and other efforts to promote these very same technologies. Often, these events occur only days apart. Another attempt at sleight of hand will occur on Wednesday, March 5, when President Bush addresses the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference. This speech comes just seven days after the administration opposed House passage of the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, H.R. 5351. This bill would extend tax credits to encourage producers and homeowners to employ wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy technologies. Without an extension, an estimated 116,000 construction workers and other employees will lose their jobs. President Bush will no doubt use his speech to extol the virtues of clean energy technology incentives even while he prepares to wield his veto pen to stop legislation that would do just that. This will only be one event in a long string of Bush rhetoric that doesn't match reality:

A passing trend

Hansen throws cold water on cooling climate claim

NASA's James Hansen has weighed in (PDF) to ... ... expose the recent nonsense that has appeared in the blogosphere, to the effect that recent cooling has wiped out global warming of the past century, and the Earth may be headed into an ice age. On the contrary, these misleaders have foolishly (or devilishly) fixated on a natural fluctuation that will soon disappear. As Hansen explains:

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.

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