Climate & Energy

Corny weather

FT: Midwest rains threaten U.S. corn crop

Remember in February, when a fertilizer magnate raised the specter of widespread famine if any of the globe’s big farming regions hit a rough patch …

Big biz ranked on greenness

Takeaways from a new ranking of eco-friendly practices in big biz: Consumer companies are getting greener, but there’s plenty of ground to gain. In its …

Alaska legislature looking for polar-bear skeptics

The Alaska legislature wants to use $2 million in state money to fund an “academic based” conference to highlight the views of scientists who don’t …

CCS gets slammed

Hawkins to industry: ‘deal with it’

Greenpeace's body slam of the core "clean coal" technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) may take a while to sink in. Not so long ago, groups like NRDC were writing glowing accounts of the technology, and it's safe to say that much of the environmental movement is still sipping the Kool-Aid. So it was heartening to read that at least one person attending the Carbon Capture and Sequestration conference in Pittsburgh seems to have her head screwed on straight and her ear to the grassroots: Becky Tarbotton of Rainforest Action Network. Becky writes:

McCain: We went to war for oil

In ’91, that is! Not in 2003. No sir.

Sierra Club will sue over new coal plants

The Sierra Club is planning lawsuits to halt construction of coal plants in seven states, arguing that the mercury-spewing plants violate the Clean Air Act. …

Danny sings the blues

Seattle Times columnist needs a new ride

Via the Sunday Seattle Times: Danny Westneat has wrecked his car and needs a new ride. Now, I don't expect it to be easy being green. But this is ridiculous. What was hailed as our leading green alternative to petroleum [biodiesel] is now an affront to humanity? I wonder which print media gave him this false impression that biodiesel was our leading green alternative? But when we asked around about biodiesel, it didn't take long before the scolding started. Biodiesel pollutes more than oil, said one e-mailer on a community site where my wife asked for advice. Another questioned our morality, saying it's wrong to use food for fuel when people are starving. I find it ironic that a newspaper journalist had to learn all of this on an internet forum. Why didn't they just search the Times archives for articles instead? And what is wrong with stuffing 15 acres of vegetable oil annually into your gas tank? Hint: The price of cooking oil in Africa has gone up 60 percent.

Taking a pillow to a knife fight

Traditional print media and complex issues

On Saturday I received an email with a link to an article by Lisa Stiffler in Friday's Seattle Times. I'm going to use it to demonstrate how newspapers can muddy the water when it comes to complex issues. First, her article is a perfectly good one -- and a very typical one. You can't put a hyperlink on paper. You can't afford to waste space for footnotes. You are constrained by a word count. You also have to craft a story, keep it local, and do your best not to show whatever bias you may have (and we all have our biases). A quick check by an editor hardly qualifies as peer review. After all, it's a newspaper, not a research article. Finally, there is no commenter feedback to point out errors. Letters to the editor are, statistically speaking, a waste of time. Here is a quote from The New Yorker that I scrounged off one of Dave's link dumps: Journalism works well, Lippmann wrote, when "it can report the score of a game or a transatlantic flight, or the death of a monarch." But where the situation is more complicated ... journalism "causes no end of derangement, misunderstanding, and even misrepresentation."

Carbon trading blasted by indigenous groups

Spoilsports don’t appreciate all the World Bank has done for them

Some of the world's poorest people seem to think carbon trading will destroy their way of life without actually contributing to solving global warming. The highly respected  Institute for Policy Studies seems to think so, too [PDF]. Very odd of them to take such a position. Because, after all, there are no alternatives to carbon trading.

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