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Carbon offsets: The real reasons to avoid trees

Trees are good for a lot of things; carbon offsetting isn’t one of them

The first rule of offsets, according to Joseph Romm, is "no trees." This is a pretty good rule, as these thing go. The TerraPass offset portfolio contains no tree-planting projects, despite the fact that most consumers love trees and the fact that tree-planting projects are typically cheaper than offsets from renewable energy projects. So if trees are both consumer-friendly and cost-effective, why avoid them? There are lots of reasons, and Romm chooses to focus on one of the more minor ones: a recent study suggesting that trees outside of tropical zones actually cause a net increase in global warming by …

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Sure it's 100 in the shade, but man, nice plane!

While planet burns, Boeing scores a PR victory

At the gym, in between hearing an EMT talk about the heat stroke issues he expects tomorrow, I marveled at how awful news programs were today, devoting huge chunks of time to talking up Boeing's new "Dreamliner" jet, which the blow-drieds say will consume 20 percent less fuel per mile. I even heard one blow say "eventually reducing the cost of air travel." Man, talk about delusional. (Oh, and I know I'm not supposed to connect things like our craze for jet travel and high temperatures, as if to suggest a connection between another spate of record breaking temperatures in …

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RFK Jr. nails it

Amazing how much honesty a non-candidate can bring!

From Brad Blog comes this transcript of Robert F. Kennedy's excellent comments at LiveEarth: Now we've all heard the oil industry and the coal industry and their indentured servants in the political process telling us that global climate stability is a luxury that we can't afford. That we have to choose now between economic prosperity on the one hand and environmental protection on the other. And that is a false choice. In 100% of the situations, good environmental policy is identical to good economic policy --- if we want to measure our economy, and this is how we ought to …

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Rocking the Cradle of Democracy

Energy debate leads to unprecedented government shutdown in Pennsylvania More than 24,000 state workers in Pennsylvania are back on the job today, after a fierce debate over budget issues -- including transportation and clean energy -- led Gov. Ed Rendell (D) to enact an unprecedented partial government shutdown yesterday. At a late-night press conference, Rendell said an agreement had been reached on a $27.3 billion budget for the fiscal year, which began July 1. The major sticking point had been an $850 million alternative-energy fund proposed by Rendell. Republicans did not dig the proposal, which included a monthly surcharge on …

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A Grist correspondent sweats her way through Live Earth

Emily Gertz reports on environmental issues from her home base in Brooklyn, N.Y. She has written for Grist, BushGreenwatch, The Bear Deluxe, and other independent publications. She contributes to Worldchanging.com, and recently launched OneAtlantic.net: Environmental News & Views for the Atlantic Coast. Saturday, 7 Jul 2007 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. With Live Earth over, Al Gore, Kevin Wall, and their no-doubt-exhausted crew can be congratulated for pulling off at least one crazy ambitious feat: orchestrating a day of concerts across the time zones in eight cities on seven continents, with the cream of the global pop crop exhorting arena-sized crowds to …

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PG&E's 'ClimateSmart' offsets are anything but

Breaking all the offset rules

[Important update to this post here.] One reason I began posting my Rules of Carbon Offsets is a dubious program by the California utility PG&E called ClimateSmart, which is supposed to allow PG&E customers to become "climate neutral." This program actually manages to violate rules zero, 1, and 2 all at once! It really makes clear why offsets are bastardized emissions reductions -- and why trees are an especially dubious offset. This picture graces the "Our Projects" page of the ClimateSmart website. The caption reads : "Photo of van Eck Forest, courtesy of Pacific Forest Trust." Well, that burns rule …

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Rules of the road for carbon offsets: A better map

Carbon offsets are tricky business

Joseph Romm has been running a series of "rules of the road for carbon offsets" on these pages. This is a worthwhile endeavor, and as good of an excuse as any for me to provide some shade and color to the frequently misconceived debate over offsets. Although I mostly agree with Romm's conclusions, I don't think he chose the best route to reach them. My intent is not to rebut Romm's proposed rules -- again, I (mostly) agree with all of the guidelines posted so far, even if they do contain some important errors of fact and emphasis. And more …

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Monbiot: We can provide all or most of our electricity from renewable sources

In his July 3 column, George Monbiot reminds us of how much worse the threat of global warming may be than the consensus IPCC position. But he also reminds us that there are reasons for optimism too. He cites three studies that point to the fact that there is every reason to believe Europe and the UK can supply between 80 percent and 100 percent of electricity needs completely sun, wind, water, wave, tide, and minor amounts of biomass and geothermal energy, V2G Vanadium flow batteries, and pumped storage. Given that electricity can drive just about all energetic processes of …

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The Day the Music Lied?

Live Earth reaches an estimated 2 billion, critics harp on hypocrisy By all accounts, Live Earth (perhaps you've heard of it?) was a smashing success. Organizers say the shows reached about 2 billion people in 130 countries. More than 150 musical acts crooned, and supporters held more than 10,000 registered "fringe events" in addition to the main concerts on every continent. Al Gore appeared in person (and in hologram form!) to urge crowds to commit to a seven-point pledge to green their lives, and launched a three-year campaign that will "get the scientific [climate] evidence in front of people all …

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And the Peanuts Are Free-Range

With fans and fanfare, Boeing unveils new fuel-efficient aircraft Yesterday, Boeing unveiled a new fuel-efficient airplane to a crowd of more than 15,000 workers and onlookers, as tens of thousands more watched by satellite. The 787 Dreamliner -- nicknamed the "greenliner" -- boasts a body that's half carbon-fiber composite; because the material is lighter than the traditional aluminum, the aircraft will use 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized planes, says the company. According to Jeff Hawk, who oversees environmental efforts for the model, the 787 consumes about one gallon of fuel per seat per 100 miles of travel -- …

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