Climate & Energy

Nations meet to hash out claims to Arctic seafloor

What with climate change melting record amounts of Arctic ice, the five nations that claim land rights in the Arctic region have been rushing to …

Personal carbon trading considered in U.K.

Britain should go ahead with a carbon-credit trading system for individuals, a committee of Members of Parliament has recommended. The system could be modeled on …

G8 nations agree on the need to agree on emission cuts

A three-day meeting of G8 environment ministers in Japan this weekend concluded with a familiar call for nations to agree on goals to cut emissions. …

Call to service

Obama calls for clean energy activists in commencement speech

From Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Wesleyan University, 25 May 2008 (he was standing in for Ted Kennedy): At a time when our ice caps …

A glimpse of possible futures

One of permaculture’s founder envisions possible futures

An important new site from David Holmgren, one of the fathers of permaculture: Future Scenarios. He writes, "The simultaneous onset of climate change and the peaking of global oil supply represent unprecedented challenges for human civilisation. Each limits the effective options for responses to the other." Holmgren uses a scenario planning framework to bring to life the likely cultural, political, agricultural and economic implications of peak oil and climate change. "Scenario planning allows us to use stories about the future as a reference point for imagining how particular strategies and structures might thrive, fail or be transformed," says Holmgren. Future Scenarios depicts four very different futures. Each is a permutation of mild or destructive climate change, combined with either slow or severe energy declines. Scenarios range from the relatively benign Green Tech to the near catastrophic Lifeboats scenario. (h/t to Adam at Energy Bulletin)

Somebody forgot to tell Rockport that coal is cheap

How much would your town pay to stabilize the electric bills of every home and business in it for the next 25 years?

Solar land use: less than coal

Nevada Solar one is a better and smaller neighbor than a coal mine

Every now and then, one hears complaints about solar energy: "But it takes too much land!" "An entire Idaho!" "Three Californias!" Nevada Solar One takes up about 400 acres, mostly for mirrors and heat engines. You would have to mine about 5,300 acres to feed a coal-fired powered plant producing the same amount of electricity. Even acre for acre, I'll take Solar One's pleasant campus over a coal mine. Math below the fold.

What is it good for?

Militarization and progressive change are not compatible

The U.S. military push for coal-based synthetic fuels reminds us that in the long run, solving climate chaos is incompatible with an aggressive military policy. Solutions will ultimately have to draw on traditional American virtues of thrift and cleverness, not the domination and power expressed in the new U.S. Air Force motto: Air Force Above All, which probably sounded more impressive in the original German. Militarization has a long history of pushing us down less sustainable paths in the U.S. Part of that is direct meeting of Pentagon needs. For example, one reason we have today's super-highway system is that Eisenhower was impressed by the military advantages of the German autobahn network -- both for the Germans and for the allies when their turn came to use it. The "National Defense Highway System," as it was called when first inaugurated, was built wide enough to allow tanks and military convoys to travel freely across the U.S. without depending on rail. The financial structure was similar to the autobahn's as well. The national highways trust is based largely on fuel taxes paid by both rail and trucks, but which rail gets almost no benefit from -- that helped ensure the gradual shift of freight from trains to trucks.

The farm bill ups the cellulosic ethanol ante

Lost amid the crop-subsidy battle, a new biofuel regime

Amid all the thunder and lightening about subsidies in the new farm bill — which officially became law Thursday — Congress made a major policy …