Climate & Energy

More than 1,500 schools participate in Focus the Nation events

As part of a national teach-in called Focus the Nation, more than 1,500 colleges and universities across the country yesterday put together panel discussions, workshops, and other events to build eco-action momentum among the yoots. Professors agreed to work climate change into their biology, politics, philosophy, and everything-else classes, and some schools brought local politicians in to speak. At California’s Loyola Marymount University, students dumped plastic bottles on the lawn to demonstrate student waste; at the University of California San Diego, a student dressed as a polar bear sat in a mock electric chair. The University of Oregon event was …

Oil industry barely hangs on, thanks to brave Republican defense of subsidies

You may recall that a couple of months ago, Republicans in the Senate threatened a filibuster to defend about $13 billion in oil company subsidies. In other news, Exxon Mobil just posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company in history — $40.6 billion. It also set a record for the largest ever quarterly profit — $11.7 billion. The second biggest U.S. oil company, Chevron, saw its profits rise 29% to $4.88 billion for the quarter. Clearly, this is an industry that desperately needs government help. Renewables are just going to have to wait until oil gets through this …

Green groups sue over delay in polar-bear endangered-species decision

Environmental and native groups have sued — as they are wont to do — in an attempt to force the Interior Department to rethink its decision to sell oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, which is prime polar bear habitat. The lease sale by the department’s Minerals Management Service is scheduled to go ahead next week; meanwhile, another agency in the department, the Fish and Wildlife Service, has delayed its decision on whether polar bears should be protected as endangered species. FWS Director Dale Hall told a Senate hearing Wednesday that while staff recommendations are complete, the agency …

Kansas Republicans against global warming

A prominent Republican Kansas legislator comes out in support of Sebelius and against his ideological brethren on the subject of Kansas coal plants: When every Academy of Science in every developed, industrialized nation agrees, and when the overwhelming number of scientists throughout the world state man-made global warming is a reality, then I would ask this: Can we afford to gamble that all of them are wrong? You may be a skeptic. I am a true believer. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is the first government agency in the United States to cite carbon dioxide emissions as the …

Green fantasy tech one step closer to reality

Lockheed Martin signs exclusive contract with Eestor for energy storage units

Oh! I forgot to pass on some interesting news that came my way recently. Defense mega-contractor Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with mysterious ultracapacitor company Eestor to use its energy storage devices in "military and homeland security applications." This seem huge. The buzz around Eestor — more here — has been intense, and the claims it makes on behalf of its ultracapacitors are astonishing. If they pan out, it could revolutionize the auto industry, and that’s no exaggeration. The problem has been figuring out how much of it is hype. Though the company’s backed by a some respected VC …

Hawaii climate conference ends, scant progress made

The U.S.-led climate talks in Honolulu, Hawaii, ended yesterday without much fanfare and without much progress achieved. By most accounts, it was a closed-door, bureaucratic nothing-fest wherein delegates from the 17 biggest-polluting countries spoke about the need to act, but no one actually did. The United States finally agreed to take part in forming climate-change plans with the rest of the world by 2009, but that concession came only after the intransigent host country’s repeated objections, eventually eliciting loud boos from many of the delegates. Also, if past experience is any indicator, U.S. participation rarely translates into anything but interference …

Undriving Miss Daisy

Focus the Nation events aim for interactivity, accountability

This week, college campuses across the country held events for Focus the Nation, a major education and action campaign around climate change. To see what it was all about, I headed to Seattle’s University of Washington campus to find out if the students behind Focus the Nation could teach me a thing or two. The event was originally billed as a teach-in, and I imagined students walking out of class protest-style or professors stopping their lectures mid-algorithm to step on a global-warming soapbox. But when I arrived on campus, I found quite a different scene. Very little scene, initially. Outside …

Carbon-loaded question

Obama parries ABEC

Obama gets buttonholed by a planted ABEC coal shill: Nothing he says here is particularly objectionable. The priority on reducing CO2 emissions is welcome. It is true that if we can figure out a way to cost-effectively sequester coal emissions, it will bring some benefit. More important, though, is what’s not said. He says we can’t emit more CO2, but he stops short of calling for a moratorium on dirty coal plants with no sequestration. (He says he won’t “license or encourage” them. Hm …) And he tip-toes around the central question about clean-coal: at what price? How many subsidies …

Tonight’s climate-less Democratic debate: Brought to you on behalf of ABEC

I looked through the transcript, and as far as I can tell there wasn’t a single question about climate change in tonight’s Democratic debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. This is the fourth CNN debate sponsored by coal front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC). Not one of the four has contained a question on climate.