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Using Earth's magnetic field to eject CO2

A new solution from a plasma physicist

We've already thoroughly debunked geoengineering strategies like launching mirrors into space, seeding the oceans with extra iron, and loading the atmosphere with ray-repelling aerosols. But this idea, posed by a scientist last week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, though still a long shot, is actually pretty ingenious. Alfred Wong, a plasma physicist at UCLA, says that we might be able to use Earth's natural magnetic field as a giant conveyor belt to catapult excess carbon dioxide into outer space. The CO2 must be ionized first, which Dr. Wong proposes could be done with lasers (generating less …

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Sen. Sanders' energy legislation

On the cutting edge

The Burlington Free Press has a story on some energy legislation Sen. Bernie Sanders is about to introduce: Sanders' proposed energy grants could be used by Vermont towns and counties to update building codes to require construction of energy-efficient homes and businesses, retrofit old buildings with newer technology, experiment with alternative energy, create incentives for residents to car pool or ride the bus, and organize voluntary efforts to encourage people to save energy by turning down their thermostats or replacing traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting. The Senate also will vote on a Sanders amendment that would create a …

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Wind is well

An insider’s view of the wind industry

Be sure to check out a fascinating post by Jerome a Paris (who helps finance wind power projects) on the state of play in the wind industry. Here's the spoiler: Anyway, the conclusions I draw from all if this are as follows: windpower is booming, and is reaching a stage where it becomes a noticeable source of electricity in a number of countries. This is not the time to stop supporting it - it's time to make the essential part of electricity production: any kWh from wind lessens the need for coal-fired plants - or for nuclear. As such, the …

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2006: Second most extreme weather ever

And yet the media isn’t reporting it

Global warming has long been predicted to make the weather more extreme. Wouldn't it be great if there were an official government index of extreme weather -- of heat, drought, rainfall, and hurricanes -- that would let us know if the prediction had come true? Well, such an index exists: the National Climatic Data Center's Climate Extremes Index. As the figure shows, the most extreme year by far was 1998; 2006 was the second most extreme, followed closely by 2005. The fourteen least extreme years all predate 1981. The weather is becoming more extreme, as predicted: Yet my guess is …

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Catastrophic warming: Is it too late?

Scientists weigh in

Sorry to post this on the heels of "Doom and gloom blowback," but this Daily Kos summary of a new study by Hansen et al is too well done to pass over. And do note that Hansen is trying to accentuate the positive. The original paper, by the way, is called "Dangerous human-made interference with climate: a GISS modelE study" (PDF). And it's not locked down.

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The Economist talks business on climate change

… but doesn’t let governments off the hook

So I'm a sucker. I can't walk by a newsstand where a magazine features a pair of innocent green cotyledons sprouting from a bed of industrial factories. It's this week's issue of The Economist, and what's inside the "Cleaning Up" issue is as alluring as the cover. Although I've only just skimmed, the articles look promising, and they're all freely available online. Here's the rundown: "Cleaning up: How business is starting to tackle climate change, and how governments need to help" "Everybody's green now: How America's big businesses got environmentalism" "Trading thin air: The carbon market is working, but not …

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Spotlight on Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman of The New York Times has been rolling in green editorials. In mid-April he wrote a major piece called "The Power of Green," in which he made the case for his generation to follow the footsteps of the Greatest Generation to become the Greenest Generation. He writes: We in America talk like we're already "the greenest generation," as the business writer Dan Pink once called it. But here's the really inconvenient truth: We have not even begun to be serious about the costs, the effort and the scale of change that will be required to shift our country, …

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Must Be All That Hot Air In Crawford

Texas tops list of greenhouse-gas emissions by U.S. states Know what would make the climate debate even contentiouser? Some sort of ranking of which U.S. states produce the most emissions. Oh look! The Associated Press has analyzed a set of U.S. Department of Energy carbon dioxide data from 2003! Let the finger-pointing begin. It seems that states with a lot of coal plants are among the worst offenders, with Texas topping the list. Coal-fired power plants in Wyoming produce more carbon dioxide in eight hours than power generators in Vermont (which has a bigger population) do in an entire year. …

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Sounds Familiar

China releases first climate plan, says economic concerns are key China has released its first-ever national climate-change plan, a 62-page document that pledges to improve energy efficiency, increase the use of renewables, develop drought-resistant crops, and expand emissions-absorbing forests. But the country's leaders emphasized that they don't want to sacrifice economic growth. "We must reconcile the need for development with the need for environmental protection," said Ma Kai, head of the National Development and Reform Commission. "In its course of modernization, China will not tread the traditional path of industrialization, featuring high consumption and high emissions. In fact, we want …

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Powering cars with hydrogen?

A new idea for how to transport the stuff in cars

I have never been a fan of hydrogen technology as a solution to the climate change problem. It would be great if we could power automobiles with hydrogen (generated, of course, with renewable energy), but how do you carry the hydrogen around in your car? Do you really want to be driving around on top of a tank full of compressed hydrogen? Can you say Hindenburg? I just listened to a great segment on this week's Science Friday. The guest, Jerry Woodall, a professor at Purdue, has an interesting idea for how to carry hydrogen in a way that seems …

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