Climate & Energy

Green energy is the bottomless well

The poverty of fossil fuels becomes apparent

Martin Wolf makes what I think is a really bad argument in the Financial Times: We live in a positive-sum world economy and have done so for about two centuries. This, I believe, is why democracy has become a political norm, empires have largely vanished, legal slavery and serfdom have disappeared and measures of well-being have risen almost everywhere. What then do I mean by a positive-sum economy? It is one in which everybody can become better off. It is one in which real incomes per head are able to rise indefinitely ... This is why climate change and energy security are such geopolitically significant issues. For if there are limits to emissions, there may also be limits to growth. But if there are indeed limits to growth, the political underpinnings of our world fall apart. Intense distributional conflicts must then re-emerge -- indeed, they are already emerging -- within and among countries.

China releases energy white paper, plans to boost renewables R&D

China has released its first-ever white paper on energy policy, stating that the country “attaches great importance to environmental protections and prevention of global climate change” and plans to give “top priority to developing renewable energy” as a long-term pollution solution. That includes wind, solar, natural gas, and nuclear, as well as a continuation of the country’s controversial current emphasis on hydroelectric dams. That said, the report noted that China won’t be able to wean itself off of its massive coal consumption overnight, and reiterated that the country has no interest in putting strict limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. The report …

What I want for 2008

A plead for utility leadership on climate change

What I want most for 2008 is serious action on climate change -- not just in terms of policy, but in terms of action. Mathematically, this mandates serious and constructive engagement from the electric sector, which has thus far been not only absent, but hostile to any serious discussion of GHG reduction. Given their relevance (42% of US GHG emissions) and tremendous inefficiency, they are a source of much of my personal quixotic quest. But ultimately, they must engage -- and so far, they have not even come close. So in case we have any utility executives in the Gristiverse, here is the speech I'd like to hear from one of you in 2008:

Solar cheaper than coal and falling

New developments in solar power make ‘clean coal’ look even dumber

Let me be the last in the greenosphere to note that Nanosolar has shipped its first panels, and it’s no exaggeration to say that this moment will likely be seen as a historical turning point. For a taste of the breathless anticipation around Nanosolar, read "innovation of the year" over on PopSci (or this recent piece in the NYT). Unlike so many other hyped green tech dreamers, the company is not just talking and researching prototypes. They’re building factories. Once the factory they built in San Jose is up to full production capacity, it will be cranking out more solar …

Christmas Eve link dump

Plenty of reading to occupy you over the holidays

It’s been a hectic few months in the climate/energy world, so I’ve got a lot of leftover bits and pieces waiting for attention. As in … about 35 open tabs in my browser. The last thing I want when I get back from the holidays is a browser full of guilt, so I’m dumping ‘em. Also, I found a draft of a link post from several weeks ago that I forgot to put up. So what you get today is a Double Ultra Mega Link Dump. Posting will be light for a while, so I hope this tides you over. …

Yielding the moral high ground: Part II

Republicans have every reason to share ownership of the climate issue

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. In Part I, we saw how conservatives were turning their backs on the moral issue of our time -- global warming. Here we'll examine the many reasons conservatives should share ownership of this issue. Global warming and its solutions involve issues that are important to conservatives, progressives, Independents and even political agnostics. For example: National security: "Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world, and it presents significant national security challenges for the United States," 11 retired admirals and generals concluded in a security analysis last April. "The increasing risks from climate change should be addressed now because they will almost certainly get worse if we delay." Jobs: The global need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is arguably the biggest entrepreneurial opportunity the United States has known. Billions of the world's people need access to clean energy, a market of unprecedented scale. Here in the United States, according to an analysis by the Management Information Services in Washington, D.C., energy efficiency and renewable energy can create 40 million jobs by mid-century, at skill levels stretching from entry level to the highly technical.

‘Stop using so much oil’

A great little story today in Tom Rick's Inbox, from the Washington Post's military correspondent:

Yielding the moral high ground: Part I

Republican candidates are keeping their distance from climate change

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. In recent years, conservatives have mastered the art of hijacking morality. They have positioned themselves as the champions of family values, faith and good old-fashioned patriotism. But on what some regard as the moral issue of our time, the party's presidential candidates are turning their backs. That issue is global warming. Al Gore is not the only prominent leader who considers climate change a moral issue. Three years ago, the National Association of Evangelicals issued its "Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility." It reads in part: We affirm that God-given dominion is a sacred responsibility to steward the earth and not a license to abuse the creation of which we are a part. Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation. At about the same time, Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, opined that "Christians should make it clear to governments and businesses that we are willing to adapt our lifestyles and support steps towards changes that protect our environment." The magazine endorsed the bipartisan global warming bill co-sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I/D CT) and John McCain (R-AZ). Yet, the other Republican presidential candidates are keeping their distance from the issue as though it is their weird Aunt Ethel with halitosis.

The renewable Janus

Renewables are pulling two directions, nationwide and local

Recently a study found that wind can serve as reliable baseload power. The key is to link wind farms together with a high-speed transmission grid. "This study implies that, if interconnected wind is used on a large scale, a third or more of its energy can be used for reliable electric power, and the remaining intermittent portion can be used for transportation, allowing wind to solve energy, climate and air pollution problems simultaneously," said Archer, the study’s lead author … So much for the "wind can’t do baseload" shtick. Windophobes will point out that creating a huge new continent-spanning transmission …

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