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Climate & Energy

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Drown and Out

Baby seals drown from melting ice as Canada hunt begins Pop an antidepressant before reading this: Canada has reduced this year's quota for its annual harp seal hunt by 20 percent, to a mere 270,000 -- not because of pressure from conservationists and animal activists, but because thousands of baby seals have already fallen through melting ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and drowned. Global warming strikes again! In some areas, the pup mortality rate may be reaching 100 percent -- before the hunters even arrive. "The pups can't swim for very long. They need stable ice," says a …

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An interview with Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers

Meet Jim Rogers, a great American paradox. He's the top gun at Duke Energy, a huge (and hugely polluting) power company; he's also one of the nation's most dogged advocates for federal regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions. Jim Rogers. Duke Energy operates smack in the heart of coal country in the Midwest and Southeast and derives 70 percent of its power from the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. Rogers knows full well that his company has a lot at stake when it comes to cleaning up carbon emissions -- which is why, he says, he wants to be on the vanguard …

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I do not think it means what you think it means

President Bush "said he took climate change very seriously Tuesday, a day after the US Supreme Court ruled the government must regulate greenhouse gases." In other news, President Bush "said on Tuesday he planned no new action to impose caps on greenhouse gases blamed for global warming."

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More on fourth IPCC report

Bring your tissue to this one. On Friday, the IPCC publicizes its "emotional heart," the Second Working Group's contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report, covering impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Preliminary drafts have been leaked. Why is it shaping up to be such a tear-jerker? According to Andrew Weaver, a lead author of Working Group I and climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, this one illustrates "a highway to extinction, but on this highway there are many turnoffs. This is showing you where the road is heading. The road is heading toward extinction." As many as one-third …

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A new report could change the entire energy picture

Virtually everyone involved in energy discussions takes for granted that there's plenty of coal waiting to be burnt. The typical claim is that the U.S. has "200 years" worth of domestic energy in its coal reserves. That's why some people aren't as worried as they might be about the imminent peak in oil production. The notion is that we'll burn coal for electricity, liquefy it for transportation fuel, and be on our merry way. (And oh yeah, to shut the global warming crowd up, we'll sequester the carbon emissions.) If you doubt just how much future energy supply is dependent …

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Stories on smart grid starting to pop up

I'm late on this too, but do check out what is the first straight news story (that I've seen anyway) on Gore's "electranet" -- i.e. smart grid -- proposal. Congrats to Lisa Friedman. It's a nice piece of work, making the simple point that Gore is not talking about science fiction. The tools to make the electricity grid smarter and more resilient, and to decentralize electricity generation and storage, exist. The barriers are political. As usual, California is way out ahead of the rest of the country, with the Solar Initiative and some smart net metering laws. But much work …

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New energy technologies are starting to attack each other

I suppose this was inevitable: In what one industry representative calls a struggle for supremacy, advocates of various sources of alternative energy are beginning to point out the competition's warts. "Everyone wants to use the energy crisis as leverage to support his solution," said Bob Rose, executive director of the Fuel Cell Council. But with limited government research-and-development money available for ways to replace oil, any gain for one technology is a loss for the others. So the criticism is flying in all directions. I seriously hope we can keep this from devolving into a full-on circular firing squad of …

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It’s the wrong lever for creating social change

On Saturday night, I was on a panel at the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival on the subject of "communicating about climate change." My co-panelists were KC Golden of Climate Solutions, LeeAnne Beres of Earth Ministry, and Sean Schmidt of the Sustainable Style Foundation. The moderator was Steve Scher of local public radio station KUOW. It was fun. Most of what I said had to do with the following mini-revelation that came to me as I was walking to the event: the problem with communication about climate change is that it has been too focused on climate change. The notion …

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Maddening

I'm way, way, waaay behind on this one, but I nonetheless want to draw your attention to two pieces on the massive, ongoing PR push from the nuclear industry. The first is an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review on the maddening phenomenon of mainstream news reporters accepting the claims of paid shills (i.e., Patrick Moore and Christie Todd Whitman) at face value, without making clear their relationship to the nuclear industry. The second is a more extensive and well-documented piece called "Moore Spin: Or, How Reporters Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Front Groups," by Diane Farsetta. It …

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How Many Queens Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Britain's Queen Elizabeth studying how to green her palaces Word on the street is HRH the Queen of England Her Majesty With the Breath of Baby's Breath Elizabeth is looking at ways to lessen the impact of her palaces. Proposals being floated include switching Buckingham Palace's 40,000 lights to efficient bulbs, building a turbine in the Thames to generate power for Windsor Castle, cooling the royal wine cellars with boreholes instead of air conditioning, and flying less. Last year, Lil and Prince Phil took 425 plane trips, including 45 overseas; they used the royal train (!) just 14 times. Reportedly …

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