Climate & Energy

Papua New Guinea loses the moral high ground

PNG agrees to let palm-oil producers raze rainforest

Everyone at Bali cheered when the Papua New Guinea delegate dissed the Bush team: We seek your leadership. But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way. Oh, snap! [Sorry, couldn't resist one last 2007 Daily Show-ism] Now comes the heartbreaking news:

Energy efficiency a tough sell to small businesses in India

India’s 4.5 million small or medium businesses produce 70 percent of the country’s industrial pollution, according to a World Bank study. But most of those small-scale entrepreneurs can’t afford the upfront cost of energy-efficient equipment — or aren’t persuaded of its usefulness — creating a barrier to India’s attempts to curb emissions from its fast-growing economy. Many areas of the country also experience frequent and severe power shortages, leading to more electricity use as machines reboot after an outage. Officials are urging factory owners to go in together to hire energy auditors, buy new machines, and apply for collective loans, …

Vinod Khosla blows his credibility dissing plug-ins

Venture-capital star ain’t no clean-tech expert

Vinod Khosla may be a "venture-capital star" who is now putting a lot of money into biofuels -- but he is no clean-tech expert, as he proved during a keynote address at ThinkEquity Partners' ThinkGreen conference in San Francisco. In remarks that should worry anybody relying on his judgment, Khosla said: Forget plug-ins. They are nice toys. But they will not be material to climate change.

On the Ball: Ready for the Olympics?

It’s almost 2008, and Beijing’s air is still polluted

The city of Beijing has been striving to clear its air for the sake of the Olympic athletes who will descend upon the city this coming summer — but whether it will be able to pull off blue skies remains to be seen. Beijingers were warned to stay inside today, as pollution hit “as bad as it can get,” according to a spokesperson from the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau, who adds, “This is as bad as it has been all year.” The International Olympic Committee has warned organizers that it will reschedule athletic events if air quality is a threat …

The 'Inhofe 400': Busting the 'consensus busters'

Today: Thomas Ring

Recently, Senator James Inhofe published a list of 400 "prominent scientists" who have recently voiced significant objections mainstream climate science. In response to this list, I recently blogged that many of those listed lacked qualifications (see also here). I'm betting that Sen. Inhofe doesn't want you to actually read the list of skeptics, but just read the headline and accept their conclusion. Here at Grist, however, we don't do what the good senator wants us to do very often. So in the spirit of non-compliance, I'm going to institute a semi-regular series where I examine the qualifications of some of the "experts" on the Inhofe 400 list.

Italian village first host to outbreak of spreading tropical disease

Congratulations to Castiglione di Cervia, Italy, the first place in modern Europe to feel one dismal effect of a warming world: a tropical disease out of its natural habitat. This summer, more than 100 people in the village of 2,000 came down with fever, exhaustion, and terrible bone pain later found to be caused by chikungunya, a disease spread by warm-climate-lovin’ tiger mosquitoes. “Climate change creates conditions that make it easier for this mosquito to survive and it opens the door to diseases that didn’t exist here previously,” says Dr. Roberto Bertollini of the World Health Organization. “This is a …

European biodiesel: riding on empty?

Unlike the U.S., European governments are cutting back on agrofuel goodies

European biodiesel makers have entered a rough patch. The price for their main feedstock, rapeseed, has risen more than 50 percent since the beginning of the year. But the price of the final product, biodiesel, has plunged, because producers are churning out far more biodiesel than the market can absorb. Similar conditions hold sway among U.S. ethanol makers: heightened corn prices combined with an ethanol glut. But U.S. producers are celebrating while their European counterparts exude gloom. Why the difference? That’s an easy one. In the U.S., the government is playing Santa Claus, while in Europe, governments are responding to …

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 …

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