Climate & Energy

A post-energy-bill agenda

Twelve simple things green groups can do about climate change

Hey, environmentalists! You passed the energy bill -- what're you gonna do now? Here are 12 things that could be undertaken with present resources:

At last, some climate progress

Japan says it can meet Kyoto goals

Reuters reports: Japan will be able to meet its greenhouse gas emissions limits agreed under the Kyoto Protocol through additional, mainly voluntary, agreements with industry, a government panel said. The measures will help Japan cut 37 million tonnes or more of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent a year, a joint panel on climate change under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Environment said in a final report approved on Friday. This is offered in the spirit of actually posting some climate progress now and then ... This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Historical warm periods linked to increased insect activity

This news has us buggin': Historical warm periods have been linked with an explosion of insect activity, and not-so-distant future warm periods may very well see the same, says new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Not only that, but elevated carbon dioxide levels may cause plants to produce fewer nutrients, so insects must gobble more foliage to mitigate their hunger — bad news for humans who wanted to eat those bug-devoured crops. Now where did we put our insect repellent?

Theo Jansen's creatures

Wind-powered autonomous artificial life

A friend of mine showed me this video last weekend, and I just wanted to show you all how freaking cool it is. It's a ongoing work of Dutch artist Theo Jansen, who's literally creating artificial creatures that can move on their own and survive autonomously on a beach. Wind-powered and updated using simulated genetic evolution ... well, just look!

Greenland study

Sea-level rise could be double IPCC projections

Last year, Nature Geoscience and Science (PDF) published major articles suggesting that the consensus projection for sea-level rise this century was far too low -- and could be as high as five feet. Now the Journal of Glaciology joins in with a remarkable analysis, "Intermittent thinning of Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland, since the Little Ice Age" (PDF). The lead author, Beata Csatho from the University of Buffalo, explains implications of this work for the traditionally very simplified ice sheet models, such as those used by United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to make projections of sea-level rise:

Midwest refineries source more crude from tar sands; emissions will rise

Emissions from Midwest oil refineries are expected to jump by up to 40 percent in the next 10 years, thanks in large part to an industry-wide trend of sourcing crude oil from Canada’s tar sands. The sands produce petroleum of such poor quality that it requires more energy — and thus more pollution — to process it into usable fuel. The trend flies in the face of national and regional efforts to curb greenhouse gases, not to mention oil companies’ lip service to renewable energy and climate-change mitigation. “We take climate change very, very seriously,” says Bill Gerwing of oil …

London mayor triples fee for most-polluting cars entering city center

London Mayor Ken Livingstone tripled the fee drivers of the most-polluting vehicles will have to pay to enter the city center beginning in October, from about $16 to $49. The so-called congestion charge was introduced in 2003 in an effort to decrease traffic and greenhouse-gas emissions, encouraging Londoners and visitors to use public transportation instead of cars. Today’s changes to the congestion-fee program include exempting drivers of the most-efficient vehicles, including the Toyota Prius, from the charge. Another change would erase the exemption that had been in place for residents who live within the congestion zone, subjecting drivers of the …

Obama says will move immediately on international climate pact

Prior to his weekend wins in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barack Obama promised to begin developing the U.S. position on an international pact to halt global warming now, instead of waiting until 2009. “I’ve been in conversations with former Vice President [Al] Gore repeatedly, and his recommendation, which I think is sound, is that you can’t wait until you are sworn into office to get started,” Obama proclaimed. “I think we need to start reaching out to other countries ahead of time, not because I’m presumptuous, but because there’s such a sense of urgency about this.” …

Welcoming our new efficiency overlords

Have you been naughty with your light bulbs? You need some good old command and control.

The so-called incandescent light bulb ban (not actually a ban) included as part of the recent energy bill has prompted a low-level but consistent set of complaints that deserve further consideration, because they betray a fair amount of confusion about which policy tools to break out for which issues. On the right, the reaction to the new lighting efficiency standard has ranged from hysterical whining to hysterical snark. But even on the left, it's fairly common to run across the high-minded opinion that finicky legislation like the lighting efficiency standard only wastes time and stirs up needless recrimination. Instead we should set a price on carbon, and let the market sort out the rest. It's an excellent theory, one that I subscribe to under most circumstances, but sometimes command and control really is just the thing. The math on light bulbs is pretty easy to run. Follow along if you're interested, or just skip the next two paragraphs.