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Free money

We want some

Hmmm. This is interesting. Seems that American Express is running a contest, and the winning project gets $5 million. I mention this for two reasons: out of civic duty, and because our project is in the running for five million freakin' dollars. We are currently about 1,200 measly votes from making it to the next round. The project, "Harvest the Sun," is a collaboration of Vote Solar and the Center for Resource Solutions, and would go toward our work bringing solar into the mainstream. For the love of God -- I currently expend a ridiculous amount of time, energy, and …

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New study finds that plug-in hybrids rule in all possible futures

Really

If you haven't already heard, yesterday saw the release of an important new report: In the most comprehensive environmental assessment of electric transportation to date, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are examining the greenhouse gas emissions and air quality impacts of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The purpose of the program is to evaluate the nationwide environmental impacts of potentially large numbers of PHEVs over a time period of 2000 to 2050. The year 2000 is assumed to be the first year PHEVs would become available in the U.S. market, while 2050 …

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Japan nuclear-site damage worse than reported

Shocking

I am shocked, shocked at the N.Y. Times report: The Japanese operator of a nuclear power plant stricken by an earthquake earlier this week said Wednesday that damage was worse than previously reported and that a leak of water was 50 percent more radioactive than initially announced. For the third time in three days, Tokyo Electric Power apologized for delays and errors in announcing the extent of damage at the plant in this northwestern coastal city, which was struck Monday by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake. The company also said that tremors had tipped over "several hundred" barrels of radioactive waste, …

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Washington Post notes Planktos

The new alchemy: Turning iron particles into gelt

Turns out we here at Grist got a preview of his "fringe environmentalist" testimony to Congress. Too bad the Post didn't mention his cold fusion background; that really puts this scheme into perspective. It's just the eco-version of the same old same old. (There's one born every minute, and two to take his money ... )

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Loan star

Making energy efficiency possible for cheapskate homeowners

Apropos of my recent realization that if I had bought a new furnace on credit rather than waiting to save up the cash I'd have saved a bundle of money over the last 5 years, here's something I've been meaning to write about for months: a Vancouver developer that came up with a smart -- I mean, diabolically smart -- financing scheme to build a super-efficient condo complex. (Proving, I suppose, biodiversivist's point that spreadsheets are, in fact, wonderful things.) All things being equal, I imagine that most real estate developers don't care one way or the other if their …

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Details on Dingell's carbon tax

It’s not optimal, but he says he’s serious about it at least

As you'll recall, a few weeks ago Rep. John Dingell said in an interview that he plans to introduce a carbon tax bill, "to see how people really feel about this." He expressed doubt that the American people are willing to pay what it will cost. Reaction from progressives was swift and vicious. Everyone assumed Dingell would deliberately design a horrible bill, fail to support it, watch it go down in flames, and thereby poison the debate. See, e.g., this unsigned L.A. Times editorial. Now there's a little bit of information about the bill emerging. Seems the Detroit Free Press …

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Oh, jeez, not another carbon offset post ...

Just when you thought it was over

Spreadsheets are wonderful things. Rhett Butler has put together a really nice cost analysis comparing the value of tropical peat bogs to palm oil. In a nutshell, this chart shows how much money the owners of these peat bogs could make in the next thirty years, depending of course on the future prices of palm oil and carbon offset credits: Take a look at the lower left-hand corner. Note that carbon credits put money in the landowners' hands from day one, while a new palm plantation puts them into debt for the first several years. This is a big advantage, …

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video

Mystery ads

There's a series of very strange political videos out recently on YouTube. They parody Republicans, but purport to be campaign ads for Rudy Giuliani. Nobody knows who's making them, or why. So mysterious! This one's mildly amusing on global warming and oil: (h/t: reader KW)

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Some good news about coal

For once

It's typically held that the market will price in all current information. To avowed economists, this means markets can virtually predict the future. If you buy that logic, the market may be signaling something environmentally positive about coal and carbon legislation. This from Greenwire ($ub. rqd): Citing high input costs, weather and environmental concerns, the global bank Citigroup yesterday downgraded coal stocks across the board and shaved earnings estimates and targets for Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI) and Foundation Coal Holdings Inc. (NYSE: FCL). In a metals and mining report to investors, Citi analyst John Hill …

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To the rescue!

A new group called The Elders to solve globe’s problems

Singer Peter Gabriel and industry titan Richard Branson conceived, and have now convened and funded, a group called The Elders, a small collection of eminent global statesmenpersons who, it is hoped, will be able to ... um ... be wise and stuff. And also use their superpowers to solve pressing global problems like climate change and poverty and reality tv. Meet your elders! The members include Desmond Tutu, South African archbishop emeritus of Capetown; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and Mohammed Yunus, the Nobel laureate and founder of …