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Then There’s the Short Term

Long-term radiation risks lower than some daily hazards, study finds Living in fear of a nuclear meltdown? Now you can relax! A new study says the long-term risks faced by survivors of two of the world's most notorious nuclear episodes -- the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the 1945 bombings of Japan -- are lower than the risks caused by urban air pollution, obesity, and smoking. For instance, the study found, while radiation exposure at Chernobyl may mean a 1 percent chance of contracting cancer later in life, living with a smoker increases mortality 1.7 percent. Those still living near the …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Some signs point to yes

I never thought it would happen, but it looks like a carbon tax might actually become a viable policy option in the U.S. In the Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson discuss growing support for a tax over a cap-and-trade system. If you read between the lines, it basically breaks down like this: economists and policy wonks prefer a tax, because it would provide a predictable price trajectory and would be less subject to gaming and manipulation. Legislators, on the other hand, prefer a cap-and-trade system precisely because of its complexity -- that complexity will serve to hide price …

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We’re inside it

We all know buildings are part of the global warming problem, but many people don't recognize how central they are to the solution. A recent UNEP report -- "Buildings and Climate Change: Status, Challenges and Opportunities" -- shines light on how relevant and accessible building-related climate change solutions are. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: By some conservative estimates, the building sector world-wide could deliver emission reductions of 1.8 billion tonnes of C02. A more aggressive energy efficiency policy might deliver over two billion tonnes or close to three times the amount scheduled to be reduced …

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Finally recognizing environmental threats to national security

Building on Dave's link yesterday: Last week, the Senate's number two Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel proposed a bill calling for a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to assess the threat of climate to the United States and abroad. Refreshingly, the bill requires a 30-year time horizon. Climate scientists will still find this window painfully small, but security analysts (and the rest of government, frankly) will recognize this as progress in comparison to the normal Washington policy timelines (a few years, or until the next election). Momentum to consider climate and security connections has been growing over the …

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Makin’ eyes at each other

Al Gore recently gave his talk on global warming in Norway, to an audience that included one Ole Danbolt Mjoes. Mjoes, as you may know, is the head of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee -- though he insisted he was attending as a private citizen. He said Gore's message is "very important," and took part in a one-minute standing ovation. Reuters has more: "I have Gore as a clear favorite," said Stein Toennesson, head of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo. "I think the committee will be unable to resist the temptation to add their voice" to concerns about …

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Like, totally geo-green

Interesting: Senators of both parties are pushing for U.S. intelligence agencies to assess the danger to the nation's security posed by global warming. Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Wednesday introduced legislation that would "require a National Intelligence Estimate to assess the security challenges presented by the world's changing climate," according to a statement from their offices. National Intelligence Estimates, or NIEs, represent the best information and thinking of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, distilled by their analysts into a series of key judgments about national security threats and other issues. The legislation will also fund additional research …

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All signs are positive

Solar power is going mainstream! So they have said, anyway, for about 30 years now. This time, however, there are good reasons to believe the hype. As Adam keeps reminding us, solar is incredibly popular -- huge majorities favor it, and favor gov't incentives to support it. Prices have been falling for years, orders are up, politicians on both sides of the aisle sing its praises, and the California Solar Initiative promises to kickstart economies of scale. All of this good news is summarized in an Austin American-Statesman piece that has me downright ... what's the word? ... opti... optim... …

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On Revkin’s piece on poverty and climate change impacts

(A topic I return to every once in a while. See here and here.) The link that Jason posted Sunday deserves a closer look, if you missed it over the weekend. Revkin has written an excellent, if somewhat depressing, piece on the fact that while climate change is overwhelmingly the responsibility of the world's rich nations, the nations that suffer most will be the world's poorest. It also reminds me of something else I heard Tim Flannery say last week: whatever else we know about climate change, we know that it will stress nations, and stressed nations sometimes do horrible …

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What are you doing to respond to the climate crisis?

Orion magazine has a brand new section, of interest to all Gristmill readers, where folks from all over are encouraged to write in and share what changes their families, communities, churches, etc. are undertaking to respond, now, to the climate crisis, peak oil, etc. I've seen so many ripe ideas posted on Gristmill, BioD's plug-in hybrid bike being a good example. So have a look at some of these great ideas and initiatives (a clustered, renewably-powered, affordable housing community in Missoula, for example) in the first installment of this section, called Making Other Arrangements, and share your own projects and …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Breaking: Supreme Court rules against Bush admin. in global warming case

Word just came down that the Supreme Court has ruled against the Bush administration in the landmark global warming case of Massachusetts v. EPA. The ruling was 5-4, with conservatives dissenting and the crucial vote of Anthony Kennedy going with the ... non-conservatives. Background on the case here, here, here, and here. The court addressed three questions: Do states and environmental groups have standing to sue EPA? (To show legal standing, states had to show they would be harmed by the excess global warming that would occur without EPA regulations. This was the real sticking point, and it was at …