Climate & Energy

Conservation work will potentially be undone by climate change

Habitat preservation is a noble cause — so it’s really too bad that many conservation efforts may end up rendered moot by climate change. For example, restoration of Pacific Northwest salmon runs won’t do much good if warming makes streams unlivable; restoring fresh water flow in the Everglades will be somewhat pointless if sea-level rise swamps the wetlands. “We have over a 100-year investment nationally in a large suite of protected areas that may no longer protect the target ecosystems for which they were formed,” says Healy Hamilton of the California Academy of Sciences. So conservationists face multiple dilemmas: Should …

Republican primary in Florida

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a Republican primary in Florida today. It has largely come down to a Romney/McCain contest, the polls have been bouncing all over the place, it’s utterly impossible to predict what will happen, and it’s likely that whoever wins — particularly if it’s a sizeable win — will secure the Republican nomination. So it’s a big deal. Naturally I won’t/can’t endorse anyone, but just considering things from the generic green voter’s perspective, it seems like Romney would be the better outcome. He has obviously and openly retrograde positions on climate and energy and would provide …

Bittman on meat

In case you’d forgotten, industrial meat is a friggin’ nightmare

It’s a little weird that no one on Gristmill has yet pointed to Mark Bittman’s stellar NYT piece on the environmental ravages of industrial meat. Philpott, where you at? Anyway, it’s amazing. Go read it. Here’s a taste (ha ha): Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word "raising" when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that …

Why are American automakers special?

The Big Three attempt to persuade other states of the danger of fuel efficiency standards

Automakers are ramping up their PR effort to persuade states not to adopt California’s auto emission standards, which they fear will survive the Bush administration’s latest monkey wrench. But their arguments are as silly as ever: Dave McCurdy, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers … said the California-inspired initiative would result in a "patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs" that would lead to "confusion, inefficiency, and uncertainty for automakers and consumers." Is this supposed to persuade any of those wavering states? For one thing, it’s not true, and for another, why should states care if …

Green group and Chinese dam owners will work together to address eco-impact

The company that owns China’s problem-stricken Three Gorges Dam is expected to sign a pact with The Nature Conservancy to conduct a feasibility study on flood risk and floodplain management within the Three Gorges Dam reservoir. The Three Gorges Dam Company and the green group have also agreed to cooperate on researching eco-minded management of four more dams that are planned to be built upstream on the Yangtze River. These four dams have the potential to increase output of ecologically sustainable hydropower and generate more money from electricity generation, which could then be put toward warning systems, flood insurance, and …

Why a climate bill in 2008? Part I

On letting the perfect be the enemy of good climate legislation

David Roberts has argued for waiting until 2009 to pass a climate bill. Environmental Defense is pushing hard for a bill this year, and I appreciate his invitation to explain why. We agree that the political landscape in 2009 will be much like today's as far as climate change legislation goes: we'll have the same interest groups, a similar Senate line-up, and a crowded national agenda that threatens to divert politicians' attention. David outlined these challenges nicely a couple weeks ago, and we see things pretty much the same way. So where do we part ways? The bill in play right now, the Climate Security Act, isn't perfect. Many think that if we wait until after the election, we can do better. Or maybe not. We've been here before.

Biz to gov: no, you first

Despite all the hype about the greening of the private sector, the big businesses of the world largely don’t rate climate change as a top priority: Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report’s publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world …

Fact checking the union: Clean energy and global warming

A closer look at the SOTU’s energy claims

Last night, as President Bush stepped to the well of the House floor to deliver his final State of the Union address, at least one thing was clear -- this president is a big fan of recycling. Unfortunately, I am not talking about the plastics and glass in my bottle bill, but the retooling of old rhetoric on global warming and our energy future. Here is my attempt to inject a little reality into the old Bush rhetoric rolled out in the State of the Union: Bush claim: "To build a future of energy security, we must trust in thecreative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs andempower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. Our security, our prosperity, and our environment allrequire reducing our dependence on oil." Reality: President Bush threatened a veto on the tax portion of the recently-passed energy bill, which included major incentives for a new generation of clean energy -- incentives that would have heralded a new era in green technology development. The Bush veto threat also killed the Renewable Electricity Standard which would have required that up to 15 percent of our electricity be generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. He also opposes any mandatory cap-and-trade bill that would unleash the technology to meet the climate challenge by setting a price on carbon emissions.

Will peak oil force the localization of agriculture?

Stuart Staniford says no. Sharon Astyk says yes. Jeff Vail also says yes.

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