Climate & Energy

China will close thousands of small coal mines

China plans to close more than 5,000 small coal mines, accounting for about 8 percent of the country’s coal output, for safety reasons. Some 4,750 people died in China’s mines in 2006.

Now he tells us

All the sudden, Pete Domenici supports renewable energy

Wow. You don’t see gall this unmitigated every day. Here’s Pete Domenici, with a “Statement on Renewable Energy Tax Credits in Economic Stimulus Package”: Over the last several years, it is apparent that America’s renewable energy industry has shown great promise. Much of the growth of these industries, such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal, has been a direct result of tax credits established by Congress. Many of these tax credits, however, are set to expire at the end of this year. I strongly believe that the renewable energy tax credits should be extended, and that the economic stimulus package …

Papua ooh mau mau

The real story behind the world’s favorite scolding of the U.S.

Last month, Kevin Conrad became somewhat famous representing Papua New Guinea at the Bali climate talks. Confronted yet again with U.S. intransigence, Conrad said: I would ask the United States, we ask for your leadership. But if for some reason you’re not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way. The way the story’s been told, Conrad’s bold moral cry shattered the wall of U.S. indifference and broke the logjam. Naturally, the reality’s a bit more complicated and the U.S. is not the clear (or only) villain. Andy Revkin interviews Conrad and …

Cap-and-trade 101

The Center for American Progress has put out a clear and concise description of "What Is Cap and Trade, and How Can We Implement It Successfully?"

Prince Charles appears as hologram to speak in Abu Dhabi

Prince Charles recently spoke to political leaders at the World Future energy summit in Abu Dhabi. But swallow your cries of jet-setting hypocrisy: Chas appeared as a hologram. “Scientists are now saying that the problem of climate change is now so grave and so urgent that we have less than 10 years to slow, stop, and reverse greenhouse-gas emissions,” said the virtual prince. “Common actions are needed in every country to protect the common inheritance that has been given to us by our creator.”

Deep thought of the day

It would be awesome if all government tax breaks and subsidies were removed from the energy sector, a carbon tax were imposed, and all low-carbon competitors could battle it out on a level market playing field. However, that’s never going to happen. So we should figure out what to do in the meantime.

There’s coal money and then there’s war money

In an electoral year when climate policy will play an unusually high-profile role, the $35 million raised by coal front group ABEC seems like a daunting obstacle. Then again, all-purpose-right-wing-warmongering front group Freedom’s Watch is raising $250 million to spend on elections this year. So I guess it’s important to keep these things in perspective.

Big names will discuss climate at World Economic Forum

Business and political leaders are descending on Davos, Switzerland, for the annual World Economic Forum, which kicks off tomorrow. The forum will offer various climate-related sessions, including one led by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair Rajendra Pachauri; one which will be a discussion between Al Gore and Bono; and one with the ominous title Beyond Kyoto: Is Collaboration Possible? Luminaries’ travel to and participation in the five-day meeting is expected to produce some 7,500 tons of greenhouse gases, 70 percent of which the forum hopes to make up for by sending solar cookers to impoverished folks in China.

Fat earthers

The parallels between accepting obesity and ignoring global warming

I have recently been thinking about the parallels between climate change and the obesity epidemic facing the United States and other industrialized countries. Both are the result of our society's desire to consume, and there are similarities in how we might respond. Photo: iStockphoto There are basically three ways to respond to obesity, and each has an analog for climate change. First, you can try to reduce caloric intake. Bob Park calls this the thermodynamic diet: take in fewer calories than you expend and you'll lose weight. For the climate change problem, the parallel is reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. The problem with this approach, of course, is that it is hard. No one likes to diet, and many find it impossible to lose and keep off weight this way. Similarly, our society is not going to find it easy to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. That does not mean, of course, that it can't be done, or that we won't be happy with the results. I've never met someone who's lost a lot of weight that isn't ecstatically happy with the results, and I think there are many benefits for our society that come along with reducing CO2 emissions. Second, you can simply say, "I'm overweight and I'm going to stay overweight. If I have any health problems, I'll let the doctors solve them for me." So if your weight causes hip problems, just have the hip replaced. If your cardiovascular system goes on the fritz, utilize the latest in cardiovascular care to get the problematic arteries unblocked or a pacemaker installed. If the risk of stroke rises, take the appropriate medication to bring the risk down. A recent news report said that obesity is now a lifestyle choice for Americans. In other words, many overweight people have simply given up trying to lose weight by taking in fewer calories, mainly because they just can't do it. They are now relying on the health care system to deal with the impacts of their obesity:

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