Climate & Energy

Notable quotable

Hm, oversold by who?

“[Carbon capture and sequestration] as a magical technology that solves the carbon problem for coal plants is oversold. … I think there is a lot …

350.org up and running

Go get your grassroots on

350.org has officially launched, in eight languages. Grassroots actions are now being planned around the world, from the Great Wall of China to the Eiffel …

Thinking outside the Oxfam

Four short films explore how climate change affects women worldwide

“Is climate change a feminist issue?” NewScientist enviro blogger Catherine Brahic asked last week, then answered, “[F]or me, climate change is not a gender issue. …

Mother Earth's triple whammy

Why North Korea was a global crisis canary

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is reprinted here with Tom's kind permission. ----- Gas prices are above $4 a gallon; global food prices surged 39 percent last year; and an environmental disaster looms as carbon emissions continue to spiral upward. The global economy appears on the verge of a TKO, a triple whammy from energy, agriculture, and climate-change trends. Right now you may be grumbling about the extra bucks you're shelling out at the pump and the grocery store, but, unless policymakers begin to address all three of these trends as one major crisis, it could get a whole lot worse. Just ask the North Koreans. In the 1990s, North Korea was the world's canary. The famine that killed as much as 10 percent of the North Korean population in those years was, it turns out, a harbinger of the crisis that now grips the globe -- though few saw it that way at the time. That small Northeast Asian land, one of the last putatively communist countries on the planet, faced the same three converging factors as we do now -- escalating energy prices, reducing food supplies, and impending environmental catastrophe. At the time, of course, all the knowing analysts and pundits dismissed what was happening in that country as the inevitable breakdown of an archaic economic system presided over by a crackpot dictator. They were wrong. The collapse of North Korean agriculture in the 1990s was not the result of backwardness. In fact, North Korea boasted one of the most mechanized agricultures in Asia. Despite claims of self-sufficiency, the North Koreans were actually heavily dependent on cheap fuel imports. (Does that already ring a bell?) In their case, the heavily subsidized energy came from Russia and China, and it helped keep North Korea's battalion of tractors operating. It also meant that North Korea was able to go through fertilizer -- a petroleum product -- at one of the world's highest rates. When the Soviets and Chinese stopped subsidizing those energy imports in the late 1980s and international energy rates became the norm for them too, the North Koreans had a rude awakening.

A climate hero: The testimony

A look back at James Hansen’s seminal testimony on climate, part two

Worldwatch Institute is partnering with Grist to bring you this three-part series commemorating the 20-year anniversary of NASA scientist James Hansen's groundbreaking testimony on global climate change next week. Part one is here; part three is here. ----- An unprecedented heat wave gripped the United States in the summer of 1988. Droughts destroyed crops. Forests were in flames. The Mississippi River was so dry that barges could not pass. Nearly half the nation was declared a disaster area. The record-high temperatures led growing numbers of people to wonder whether the climate was being unnaturally altered. Meanwhile, NASA scientist James Hansen was wrapping up a study finding that climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, appeared inevitable even with dramatic reductions in greenhouse-gases. After a decade of studying the so-called greenhouse effect on global climate, Hansen was prepared to make a bold statement. Hansen found his opportunity through former Sen. Tim Wirth (D-Colo.), who chose to showcase the scientist at a Congressional hearing. Twenty years later, the hearing is regarded as a turning point in climate science history.

Trust as first sight

Public trusts Obama more than McCain on gas prices, global warming, energy

Interesting results from a new ABC/WaPo poll. Who do Americans trust more on the economy? Obama 52%, McCain 36% How about gas prices? Obama 50%, …

House party

Yet another climate bill introduced in the House; greens applaud

Since climate change legislation failed to gather steam in the Senate this month, all eyes are now on the House. Energy and Commerce Committee Chair …

McCain calls for offshore drilling, renewables, and conservation in energy speech

Republican presidential candidate John McCain tried to pack something for everyone into a big energy speech yesterday, saying the U.S. needs more conservation and renewables …

McCain’s free pass

Great post from Hilzoy over at Obsidian Wings, starting with McCain’s confused statements on climate change, moving out to McCain’s confused statements on other matters …