Climate & Energy

Compact fluorescents can cause health problems, say groups

As Australia, Britain, and the good ol’ U.S. of A make plans to phase out traditional energy-sucking light bulbs, health concerns are being raised about compact fluorescents, the most popular alternative. The British Association of Dermatologists says CFLs can cause rashes on folks with photosensitive skin, the U.K. Migraine Action Association suggests that the bulbs can trigger terrible headaches, and U.K. charity Epilepsy Action says CFLs can induce seizures. Health professionals say exemptions to country-wide bans should be made for people with special health circumstances, but lighting industry reps point out that there are alternatives to CFLs that still meet …

Monsanto counts its cash

Seed-and-chemical giant sees its profit triple

In a gold rush, the firms that supply the gold diggers with tools — not the gold diggers themselves — make the highest and steadiest profits. That’s a platitude, but it’s also usually true. And it’s now playing out in the boom in corn-based ethanol. Don’t waste much time envying corn farmers. Sure, they’ve seen the price of their product double over the past year and a half or so. But they’ve also seen their costs inch up. Fertilizer, land rents (much of the farmland in the midwest is rented), pesticides, and seeds — all have risen since the corn …

Bush plays Baker, part IV

Tom Carper totally knows the president

(An on we go, in a series on the WaPo piece so bad it required numerous separate gripes.) Tom Carper would like you to know that he’s a) committed on global warming, and b) tight with the president: People find all sorts of ways to lobby President Bush. Sometimes it comes in the form of a handwritten note slipped into his palm during a bill-signing ceremony. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) tried that last week when Bush signed energy legislation that will curb greenhouse gases. “Congratulations and good work,” Carper recalled writing. “By the way, Joe Lieberman and John Warner …

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.

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