Climate & Energy

Modestly right, not interestingly wrong

The right way to interpret Shellenberger & Nordhaus

Matt Yglesias has a review of Shellenberger & Nordhaus’ book in the NYT Sunday Book Review. It contains a good insight and a fairly crucial mistake — albeit a mistake common to those enter S&N’s hall of mirrors for the first time. The insight is twofold. First, that the core and most valuable part of S&N’s book is about messaging: "We know from extensive psychological research," they write, "that presenting frightening disaster scenarios provokes fatalism, paralysis and … individualistic thoughts of adaptation, not empowerment, hope, creativity and collective action." Insecurity, they argue, is an emotional pillar of reactionary politics, not …

Mayor may not

Climate treaty among mayors often honored in the breach

Seven cities in the San Diego region signed on to the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, but some didn’t do much more than sign it. I imagine it wouldn’t be difficult to find other MCPA participants for whom signing was little more than an empty gesture. That should come as no surprise: it’s a voluntary treaty with no mechanism for enforcement or even monitoring, asking politically difficult feats of more than 750 mayors. One should have realistic expectations. The promise of the MCPA has never been that all 750 mayors will muster the ingenuity and sheer cussedness to crank the city …


Leader of group fighting Cape Wind project makes $203,000 last year (WTF?), quits this year to go work in the wind industry (WTF?), and hands over leadership of the group to a former coal executive (WTF?).

Green groups sue over DOE’s plans for electric transmission corridors

Green groups are suing the Department of Energy over its plans for electric transmission corridors in the U.S. Southwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. The groups say the DOE violated environmental laws by failing to take into account the potential impacts of the high-voltage transmission lines on air quality, wildlife, and habitat; the corridors encompass dozens of state and national parks, refuges, and recreation areas. In addition, say the groups, boosting the electric-transmission network is a not-so-subtle OK for the U.S. to continue largely sourcing its power from Big Coal. Christopher Miller of the Piedmont Environmental Council suggests, “Reducing both peak and …

My Al Gore story

Gore’s impromptu humor at a recent small climate summit

I'm not normally given to shameless name-dropping, but what else are blogs really for (other than making bets with readers)? Over the last three days I attended a small climate solutions summit hosted by the former vice president and current Nobel laureate. It was off-the-record, so I can't report on presentations directly, but they have made me a lot smarter about the latest technologies and strategies for clean energy, which will inform my blogging this year on climate solutions. I will say now as an aside that I have become much more bullish on the potential for large-scale solar photovoltaics as a result of attending these meetings. The VP asked me to speak for seven minutes on hydrogen at dinner Wednesday. Before dinner, I gave him a copy of the brand-new paperback edition of -- warning, shameless product placement -- Hell and High Water. He looked it over for a few minutes and said, deadpan:

Maldives builds higher-altitude island, can’t attract residents

The tiny island nation of Maldives is at high risk of being swamped in years to come: it rises a mere three feet above sea level. So officials are building Hulhumalé, a human-made island with an altitude of more than six feet, capable of housing as many as 150,000 of the nation’s 369,000 inhabitants. There’s only one problem: Very few people want to move there. In the words of one Maldivian, who lives contentedly in the capital city of Malé with nine relatives in 730 square feet of space: “People are just being shifted from one island to another — …

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