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From a new contributor

I feel like I ought to introduce myself, since Dave just upgraded me to contributor, but maybe I've already been introduced. I'm the "more inconvenient truths" guy! But I take the point. The expiry date has passed. I won't say it any more. Not much anyway. All I ask is that nobody say "tipping point" either. Or "building momentum." Nobody imply that technology is going to save us. And I won't say "inconvenient truth" ever again. Actually, there is this one other little thing. I've managed to convince myself that the entire climate movement can be divided into two schools: …

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Rising costs affect consumers

One of the side effects of the rapid increase in ethanol consumption in the U.S. is that corn -- the main feedstock for ethanol -- has gotten much more expensive. Just take a look at the futures markets: the July 2007 corn contract started climbing last fall, which was about the time people started to realize just how quickly demand for corn-based ethanol was growing. Obviously, rising costs trickle down to consumers in all sorts of ways. If corn prices stay high, meat, poultry, and dairy products will all get more expensive, since the animals are fed lots of corn. …

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Without subsidies, they’re just not profitable

News breaking from Canada: It turns out that once the government stops subsidizing fossil fuel developments ... fossil fuel developments are increasingly unprofitable! Brief summary of the link: It looks like all forms of fossil-fuel development in Canada -- especially the tar sands -- are going to suffer as governments are forced by public pressure to reduce the subsidies and tax breaks they've been doling out. This looks to be equal parts environmental activism and populist "screw the oil barons" attitude, but whatever it is I say huzzah!

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Biofuels force the choice on us

Lester Brown says the diversion is already happening: If you think you are spending more each week at the supermarket, you may be right. The escalating share of the U.S. grain harvest going to ethanol distilleries is driving up food prices worldwide. Corn prices have doubled over the last year, wheat futures are trading at their highest level in 10 years, and rice prices are rising too. In addition, soybean futures have risen by half. A Bloomberg analysis notes that the soaring use of corn as the feedstock for fuel ethanol "is creating unintended consequences throughout the global food chain." …

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More on coal in West Virginia

OK, here's some rare good news in the fight against mountaintop removal mining. Last Friday, Judge Robert "Chuck" Chambers, a federal judge in West Virginia, ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke the law in issuing MTR mining permits that would allow streams to be buried. This means that, finally, the Corps, which approves mining permits, will have to recognize and uphold the Clean Water Act! They've been called out for illegally issuing permits that destroy vital streams, ecosystems, and the environment around mining sites. Never mind that they're supposed to be the ones in charge of protecting …

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Climate contrarian blocks Gore concert plans

If climate change is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," then an all-star climate concert on the Capitol lawn has got to be some kind of descent into madness. So sayeth Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who's vowing to indefinitely block a resolution allowing Al Gore's Live Earth concert to rock the Capitol grounds in July because the event is "partisan." Said Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), who co-sponsored the resolution with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), "That would certainly provide an unfortunate message on behalf of the U.S., that somehow we're languishing in our desire to combat the …

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Unintended consequences?

According to this article there is a downside to fluorescent light bulbs; they have small quantities of toxic mercury that are hard to remove. Goes to show that sometimes working on one dimension of environmental quality exacerbates another. It's also why I don't like the idea of government mandates in favor of fluorescent bulbs.

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Wheee!

More alarmism from scientists: By the end of the century up to two fifths of the land surface of the Earth will have a hotter climate unlike anything that currently exists, according to a study that predicts the effects of global warming on local and regional climates. And in the worst case scenario, the climatic conditions on another 48% of the land surface will no longer exist on the planet at all. The changes - which will have a devastating affect on biodiversity hotspots such as the Amazonian and Indonesian rainforests - will wipe out numerous species that are unable …

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Wrestlemania for the future of the planet

El Hijo del Santo to the rescue! Someone tell Inhofe that after a worldwide search we've finally found his doppelganger. If the money is right and Don King doesn't want too big a cut, I don't see why we can't put together a pay-per-view event and settle this thing once and for all.

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Use Google Maps to simulate rising sea levels anywhere in the world

One of the most memorable scenes in An Inconvenient Truth is when Al Gore makes the sea level rise 20 feet and inundate various low-lying regions of the world, including Manhattan and Florida. It was suitably squirm-inducing, especially if the viewer happened to live in one of the areas shown. For the rest of us, or at least for me, however, the lingering question has been, "what would it look like where I live?" Now, thanks to Google's mapping API and the ingenuity of one Alex Tingle, we have Flood Maps, where you can view any part of the world …

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