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The Whine of the Motor

Big Auto pleads for smaller gains in fuel efficiency The heads of Ford, GM, and Chrysler returned to Washington, D.C., yesterday to try to convince Congress not to hike fuel economy standards. Next week, the Senate will consider a proposal to raise average fleet-wide mileage to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 from the current 25; several bills have sprung up to float more modest increases. At least two, including one cosponsored by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), contain escape clauses for car companies if the new standards prove too difficult to achieve. While the industry acknowledges that some increase in …

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We’re Sorry, Angela

G8 participants report climate-agreement highs and lows We can't possibly do justice to the intricacies of this week's G8 summit in this space. So brace for some injustice: German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the G8 to agree to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. U.S. President George Bush doesn't dig that plan, and wants to involve China and India in a vaguely defined "long-term solution." Bush and Merkel met yesterday, after which media around the world reported that her climate hopes were dashed. "There are a few areas here and there we will continue to work …

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Splitsville

Laurie and Larry David call it quits

Is it because she gave away his hybrid? Dunno, but if you want to read a bunch of substance-free psychobabble about the possible reasons why Laurie and Larry David are divorcing, you're in luck.

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Geek bleg

Not to out myself as a total geek (or has that boat sailed?), but I'd really love to read this report: "Lights Out: The Electricity Crisis, the Global Economy, and What It Means To You." My geekdom has limits, though, and I'm not about to pay for it. Any chance a Gristmill reader has a copy and wants to pass it along to me?

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Really short book review: Monbiot's <em>Heat</em>

Skip it

You can skip George Monbiot's book Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning. Slightly longer book review: Because there are far too many climate books to read, I confess I apply a litmus test. I look up "hydrogen" in the index. If the writer thinks it's a climate solution, the book can be skipped. I thought I would like this book, since I like many of the columns by the British author, including an early excerpt on the connection of the global warming deniers to big tobacco. But on page 162, he writes, "hydrogen fuel cells are beginning to …

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Where to gas up around the globe

(Or take the bus)

From Wired: How much are you paying for gas? Depends on where in the world you're parked. In oil-producing nations like Venezuela and Iran, you can fill up for as little as 17 cents a gallon. But in tax-happy Germany and South Korea, you'll pay more than six bucks. So even when prices hit near-record levels in the US, American drivers get off cheap compared with European motorists. This summer's bargain road trip: a tour of the Zagros Mountains, from Tehran to Abadan! Wow, 17 cents a gallon, huh? Of course, as some of the commenters have pointed out, this …

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Connecting land use and global warming

California takes the lead

California is once again taking the lead: California Attorney General Jerry Brown has sued San Bernardino County, the largest in area in the contiguous USA and one of the fastest growing, for failing to account for greenhouse gases when updating its 25-year blueprint for growth. "It's groundbreaking. California is just leading the way for other states and jurisdictions that will ultimately follow," says Richard Frank of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. ... If the suit is successful, California cities and counties could be forced to take steps to limit sprawl, promote compact …

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NASA chief Griffin stands by his Luddite remarks -- as space agency guts climate science work

Unfortunate

NASA administrator Michael Griffin offered a lame apology for his denier remarks on climate change. The Associated Press reports that Griffin "regrets airing his personal views about global warming during a recent radio interview." That is, he apologized for speaking his mind. Sad. In a related story, the media revealed a recent report on how NASA and the Bush administration are gutting earth observation work crucial to tracking climate change: The Bush administration is drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space, just as the president tries to convince the world the U.S. is ready to take the …

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Turkey-waste powered plant goes on line

Great idea or load of crap?

In Minnesota, a state that produces more turkeys than any other (some 44.5 million birds per year), a new power plant that burns turkey litter just began operations. According to the article in today's NYT, operators of the plant, which is the first in the country to run on animal waste, is environmentally friendly. But critics say the manure is more valuable "just as it is, useful as a rich, organic fertilizer at a time when demand is growing for all things organic." They also say the electricity is expensive -- that it requires a lot of energy for a …

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Thomas Edison's dream: A wind generator for every house

A man ahead of his times

I've always thought that Edison's notion of using DC instead of AC would've resulted in a better energy situation -- more locally produced power through cogeneration and other sources, and better storage capability. But this New York Times piece on how he worked to build an electric car, and his dream of powering every house with its own wind generator, puts him squarely ahead of his time.

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