Climate & Energy

In 2008, globe will cool down a bit — but still be bloody hot, say researchers

Thanks to a strong La Niña, this upcoming year is likely to have lower average global temperatures than have occurred since 2000, according to U.K. forecasters. (Note to climate skeptics: This is the point where you stop reading and write a press release gleefully announcing that the earth is cooling and global warming is a hoax.) For those of you still reading, the same scientists predict that 2008 will still likely be one of the 10 hottest on record. Says researcher Phil Jones of the U.K. Met Office, “The fact that 2008 is forecast to be cooler than any of …

Greening the Export-Import bank

Ex-Im to finance more clean energy exports

The appropriations omnibus bill just passed through Congress "recommends that the Export-Import Bank provide 10 percent of its financing capacity to promote the export of clean energy products and services." This was a recommendation by many groups, including the Center for American Progress: Having supported more than $400 billion dollars of U.S. exports during the past 70 years, the Export-Import Bank is one of the most powerful tools at the U.S. government's disposal for spurring innovation and economic growth. But in yet another backward-looking strategy typical of this administration:

Me in CiF

While I was vacationing, the Guardian‘s Comment Is Free site ran two pieces by yours truly, one assessing the climate issue as it manifests in the Democratic presidential field, the other doing the same for the Republican field. Check ‘em out. (I continue to be mystified by the extraordinarily high level of fruitcakery in the comments over there.) UPDATE: I see that SolveClimate just made roughly the same point, and via them, AEI’s Ken Green did the same. At least someone’s paying attention.

Send this to your local government and public works department

Finally, something to do with all the damn asphalt

This sounds like a great idea! Seems like every school has a ginormous parking lot, as does every city and county building -- and think of the asphalt in residential streets.

Plans for new U.K. coal plant move forward

It’s the week o’ ill-advised energy choices in Britain, where nuclear power may soon get a boost and plans for the first new coal-fired power plant in decades are inching forward. A local government authority has recommended that Business Secretary John Hutton give the go-ahead to utility E.ON’s proposal for a coal plant; concerned that Hutton might just do so, critics have already come out with scathing statements. Says energy-policy professor Dieter Helm: “The fact people are going to build new coal plants now illustrates how badly the government has planned environmental policy over the last 10 years.” Agrees Greenpeace’s …

A negative-carbon corn ethanol plant?

Cogeneration and ethanol production

I am not the biggest fan of corn ethanol. But I am the biggest fan of cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power, or CHP (well, maybe the second-biggest fan). It is probably the single most overlooked strategy for sharply cutting greenhouse-gas emissions while reducing overall energy costs. Now a new EPA report finds that running an ethanol plant on natural gas CHP can, with the right design, result in negative net CO2 emissions (click on figure to enlarge). Important caveat: "Impact of Combined Heat and Power on Energy Use and Carbon Emissions in the Dry Mill Ethanol Process" (PDF) does not examine the energy consumed (or emissions generated) from growing and harvesting the corn or from transporting the corn or ethanol. Still, with CHP, corn ethanol can actually generate significant CO2 reductions compared to gasoline. If Congress is serious about promoting ethanol in a manner that actually reduces GHGs, they should require all new ethanol plants to cogenerate. This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

U.S. miscalculates threat of global warming

Sea-level rise at our doorstep; puts nation at risk

What the scientific community has failed to communicate, and the public has failed to grasp, is that the U.S. is particularly vulnerable to very small increments of sea-level rise. The IPCC Fourth Assessment projects a sea-level rise of 0.18 meters to 0.59 meters this century. Even though the report includes a caveat that this range does not include any significant contribution from the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets, global warming skeptics continually characterize those who mention a six-meter sea-level rise as scaremongers. There is also a common notion in circulation, advanced by the media and many studies on the impacts of climate change, that wealthier countries in the West will be able to adapt, while underdeveloped countries will bear the brunt of the impacts. It is no wonder then that global warming scarcely registers as an issue in the presidential election. Until the American public understands that the U.S. is directly threatened by impacts resulting from global warming, little meaningful action to curb our greenhouse-gas emissions will take place. With just one meter of sea-level rise, the U.S. will be physically under siege, with calamitous and destabilizing consequences.

Predictions for 2008: II

The Lieberman-Warner bill will … happen

((2008predictions_include)) The Lieberman-Warner climate bill will go to the Senate floor. After a largely uneventful committee hearing, LW is set to be introduced on the floor of the Senate in the early months of 2008, where it will face a bruising battle. Of that I feel certain. Subpredictions about which I feel only certain-ish: Inhofe will put on a clown show. He and other fossil fuel dead-enders will introduce hundreds of amendments attempting to water the bill down. Some small fraction of the amendments will pass. The coal industry will run a multimillion-dollar ad campaign trying to convince the public …

Barnes answers questions about the Sky Trust

I hope everyone read the essay from Peter Barnes et al that we published last night. If you’re interested in the notion of an atmospheric trust, you might also check out Dot Earth today, where Barnes answers questions from readers.

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