British Conservative Party leader David Cameron said in a speech today that under a Tory government, Britain would be a world leader in “green coal” technology. Ahem: Coal. Is. Not. Green. That is all.
The drought in the southeastern U.S. will keep on keepin’ on at least through March, according to a 90-day outlook from the National Weather Service. In fact, the agency predicts above-normal temperatures for most of the U.S. from January to March, thanks to La Niña and “recent trends.” Ooh, mysterious.
Tom Friedman is very confused about exactly what happened at Bali and why. So are M.I.T. science journalist fellows. So what are your chances of figuring it out? Well, they are a lot better if you read this excellent Bali debriefing by my friend Holmes Hummel (PDF), a Stanford Ph.D. and Congressional Science Fellow. One interesting point she makes: Some media coverage left the misimpression that the Bush team opposed language that would have committed Annex I (i.e., rich) countries to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. But that isn't correct. The language they vehemently rejected merely said this:
Until last week, this long-beloved annual tradition seemed to be a lock for one person -- Nobel laureate, itinerant educator, and media superstar Al Gore. Sadly, he only makes first runner-up this year. Like Time magazine, our Person of the Year is awarded to the person or group who "for better or for worse ... has done the most to influence the events of the year" in the climate arena. By single-handedly stopping any international action on climate at Bali, by stopping California from regulating tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions, by forcing Congress to drop almost all non-oil-related provisions to cut GHGs from the energy bill -- all in one week! -- one man proved his unchallenged high-impact misleadership on the issue of the century: Dick Cheney George Bush.
Here's a nice PR gimmick (and by nice, I mean totally disgusting): power your monster "eco-boat" with biodiesel made from human fat: You can also make biodiesel from tallow (animal fats), fish oil, seaweed and algae. In fact, in an extraordinary show of dedication to the project, the skipper, Pete Bethune, underwent liposuction, and the fat (all 100ml) was used to make a small amount of Biodiesel for Earthrace! I think this mostly shows an extraordinary dedication to clever marketing. Unfortunately for the earth, Bethune isn't all that chubby, so he enlisted a few "big, fat people" (his words) to squeeze out four gallons of biodiesel. All in, this represents about 0.06 percent of the fuel Bethune will need to set the "Round the World Speed Record by a Powerboat."
Are you thinking what we’re thinking? Yep: It’s time for a green college roundup! Maine’s College of the Atlantic has made good on its pledge to be a carbon-neutral campus, say school officials. “As far as we know, [COA is] the first in the world to make the commitment, and as far as we know, the first to do it,” says David Hales, president of the 300-student college, which offers one major: human ecology. Meanwhile, Oregon’s Portland State University plans to hire as many as 10 professors with expertise in sustainability to teach subjects from economics to biology to art. …
This is one of those stories where you don't know whether to be hopeful or depressed after reading it. Like drug addicts who will try snorting every powder in the house, we seem to be willing to subject any substance on the planet to the real acid test of our age: Will it help us keep carburbia going?
A renewal of tax incentives for building and installing clean energy sources was stripped from the recently signed energy bill, putting wind and solar boosters just a wee bit on edge. Current federal tax credits for renewable energy will expire at the end of 2008; Rhone Resch of the Solar Energy Industries Association predicts that U.S. solar installations, which jumped 80 percent in 2007, will “start to drop off in the second quarter of 2008 if [tax incentives] are not extended.” But all is not lost: Leaders in both chambers of Congress have promised to revisit the tax-credit issue in …
This never fails to fascinate me: The chart shows how much fuel is consumed over 15,000 miles by cars of different fuel efficiencies. The curve matters a lot. It means that from the perspective of fuel conservation, it's not terribly important to trade in your Honda Civic to buy a Prius. But it's hugely important to trade in your Dodge Durango for a Toyota Tacoma. I'll use some rough numbers to illustrate. You trade in your Civic, which averages about 32 miles per gallon, and buy a Prius, which gets a whopping 47 mpg. You've bumped up by 15 mpg -- a big deal, right? Sort of. Over the next 15,000 miles of driving, you'll have reduced your fuel consumption by 150 gallons. That's fine. But consider what happens when you upgrade your SUV. That's where the real action is.