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Attention toddler shoppers

A short video clip introducing CFLs to kids

You can watch Disney and the Department of Energy's co-produced energy-efficiency PSA here. It's half an ad for Ratatouille, half a push for compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Maybe the marketing theory is, "Hook 'em while they're young." Works for soft drinks and breakfast cereals. Perhaps it will work for Energy Star, too.

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Live Earth: How green are the concerts for a climate in crisis?

Depends how you define green

On 7/7/07, climate change awareness will officially rock, as a series of concerts kick off at venues as far afield as Shanghai, Sydney, and the South Pole. Chatter about the Live Earth concerts has been rampant for months as bits of gossip trickled in here and there. Though organizers still promise a few surprises, much of the mystery is gone at this point. But when it all goes down this weekend, one question is still weighing on a few minds: How green will these concerts actually be? "Greening an event and a venue is not necessarily the most brilliant, exciting …

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Doddmentum, anyone?

Talking carbon tax in N.H.

Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd talks energy policy at a house party in New Hampshire last week:

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The first rule of carbon offsets: No trees

A good reason we shouldn’t love trees, at least not in this case

Everybody loves trees. They are so popular as offsets they even make Wikipedia's definition: When one is unable or unwilling to reduce one's own emissions, Carbon offset is the act of reducing ("offsetting") greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. A well-known example is the planting of trees to compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions from personal air travel. But does planting trees reduce global warming? Not in most places on the earth. The Carnegie Institution's Ken Caldeira summarized the result of a major 2005 study (PDF) this way: "To plant forests to mitigate climate change outside of the tropics is a waste …

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Why economics (and coal) matter

Parsing 15 years of electric data

Environmental pressures have forced us to generate more of our power from natural gas, and this focus on gas has caused power prices to increase ... right? Wrong, conventional wisdom notwithstanding. And the lessons from the last 15 years indicate the importance of considering how markets will respond when mandating new technologies and fuels. Consider: In 1990, the U.S. had 184 GW of natural-gas fired generation, from which we produced 373 million MWh of electricity. Electric load grows reliably at 1 to 2 percent per year, mandating consistent increases in generation investment, and environmental considerations have made it virtually impossible …

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Umbra on fireworks

Dear Umbra, Our family has always lit a fair amount of fireworks for our 4th of July celebration. I would like to encourage my family and friends to find other ways to celebrate due to the CO2 emissions that will result. However, I don't really know how much carbon is emitted. I already have to deal with the fact that many in my family are not taking climate change seriously, so I want to be knowledgeable when I state my case. Donna Elk Grove, Calif. Dearest Donna, Can one change a family tradition given only a few days of warning, …

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We Always Thought It Was Industrial Strength

McDonald's to power U.K. delivery fleet with its own grease Proving once again that everything's cooler in Europe, McDonald's has announced that it will run all its U.K. delivery vehicles on biodiesel -- from its own greasy grills! The chain will convert the 155-lorry fleet to a mix of 85 percent fry grease and 15 percent rapeseed oil by next year, and says the switch will cut its U.K. carbon emissions 75 percent. Mickey D's has already made a similar move in Austria, and is apparently drumming up other plans around packaging and recycling. All this comes on the heels …

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After All, She Knows The Secret

Poll respondents pick Al, Oprah, and Kofi as climate messengers Recent polls have shown that people all over the world ... join hands, start a love train, love train! Oh sorry, we get distracted. People all over the world are worried about the environment -- and the latest poll says that Oprah could help save us. Run by the Nielsen Company and Oxford University, the poll asked 26,000 people in 47 countries to choose from a list of celebs and spokespeople they felt were best equipped to champion the climate cause. Oprah, Al Gore, and former U.N. chief Kofi Annan …

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Al Gore's call to action

An editorial in the NYT

Al Gore: ... we should demand that the United States join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy Earth. ... We should aim to complete this global treaty by the end of 2009 -- and not wait until 2012 as currently planned. ... A new treaty will still have differentiated commitments, of course; countries will be asked to meet different requirements based upon their historical share or contribution to the problem and …

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Big Al succumbs to ethanomania

Predicts rabbit out of hat in three years, too

Here's a film clip of Al Gore making a firm prediction that "next generation ethanol" not dependent on corn or food crops will move out of the lab in "three years." He discusses the energy balance question, fails to question the use of coal for process heat, and suggests that there is some sort of "distribution network" that's going to be built. Sad.

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