Climate & Energy

The right means for our ends

A response to Jim Manzi

I want to thank Jim Manzi for taking the time to respond to my criticisms of his recent writing on warming policies here at Gristmill. Though I disagree with much of what he says, his thoughtful work on the subject has improved the debate. I want to use one more post here to rebut a few of his assessments. Let me begin by expressing sharp disagreement with his argument that an effective, efficient, and binding carbon tax is an unlikely outcome given the many political actors involved. As has been made abundantly clear in recent weeks, the United States is …

How can California become more energy efficient?

California looks for yet more clean energy

The following essay is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released its biennial integrated energy policy report (PDF). The 301-page report looks at various issues confronting California and makes recommendations on how to address them. The issues include: Rising population leading to greater demand for energy (natural gas, petroleum, and electric power). Rising natural gas demand while production remains flat, leading to a tight market and higher prices. Increasing population away from the coast, increasing peak electric demand from air conditioning. Increasing vehicle travel from population and sprawl. Expected petroleum supply constraints (e.g. port facilities for increase imports) making it difficult to fuel future vehicle travel conventionally. California's AB32 cap on greenhouse-gas emissions, requiring 1990 levels by 2020 (despite the population increase -- a 30 percent decrease in absolute emissions). Even though California is already one of the most efficient users of energy, the CEC is looking for further efficiency improvements, and although a 2006 legislative act mandates 20 percent renewable electricity by 2010, the report looks to 33 percent by 2020 to support California's population growth. A few of the numerous specific recommendations from the report include:

Season's greetings: Oregon Peaceworks starts on a 5% solution

Combating global warring by addressing global warming

A long-established statewide peace organization in Oregon has initiated a new project called "The 5% Solution" as a way to give people a SMART (specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic, and timed) goal for climate action. It asks people to pledge to reduce their own carbon footprint 5 percent a year, each year, and to spread that commitment through their communities, and then states, and then country. As the material here notes, if the developed world stops increasing emissions and makes 5 percent cuts per year from 2008 to 2050, its emissions will go down about 88 percent and the developing world will have some flexibility to increase emissions for a few more years before joining the rich countries on the glide path to an overall drop of about 80 percent.

An ice-free Arctic by 2013?

Scientist claims that climate models are too conservative in predicting ice loss

Maybe I'm not alarmist after all. Maybe this future is nearer than everyone thinks: I was called "over-alarmist" by one of the people who took my bet that the Arctic would be ice-free by 2020. But one of the country's top ice experts, non-alarmist Professor Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School, told an American Geophysical Union audience this week:

This week in ocean news

Killer farmed salmon and non-deadly sharks

More than 10,000 people worked to clean up the worst oil spill in South Korean history after a crane punched a hole in an oil tanker, releasing 2.7 million gallons of crude. A 63-year-old shellfish farmer wept as she showed dead tar-coated oysters to a reporter ... ... a study published in Science suggested that leaving more fish in the sea leads to higher profits than the traditional target known as maximum sustainable yield. "We like to say it's a win-win," said one of the study's authors ... ... a detailed new study of salmon farming found that farmed fish spread sea lice, which killed juvenile wild salmon ...

Question of the day

What about the RPS in Texas?

So Senate Republicans managed to kill the Renewable Portfolio Standard in the energy bill. One question: who was the big-government, nanny-state liberal who forced one of the nation's largest and most successful RPSs on the poor, unwitting state of Texas? Hint: As Governor of Texas in 1999, he signed the RPS into law and later moved to the District of Columbia to pursue other opportunities, like threatening to veto a bill that would have treated all Americans like Texans.

Annals of irritants, part four

Press peddles Republican talking points on energy bill

I’m seeing this kind of thing all over the place: Faced with stiff Republican opposition that is backed by Bush’s veto threat, Democrats made misstep after misstep in trying to pass this energy bill. It was too ambitious. It tried to force utilities to increase production of renewable energy in the face of fierce opposition by the utility industry group, and it included a tax package that the White House has long indicated it would not support. Second, Republicans also felt like they were left out of the negotiating process in reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill. …

Notable quotable

“We seek your leadership. But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way.” – Kevin Conrad, U.N. delegate from Papua New Guinea, during contentious last-minute climate talks in Bali. Conrad’s blunt declaration was met with applause.

The big picture

An unbiased, factual report on biofuels: How rare is that?

The Worldwatch Institute has produced an interesting summary of what's happening in the world of grain supplies. They also just published a book called Biofuels for Transport. Along with all of the positive potential for biofuels, I'm sure it also discusses the "potential" problems with "first generation" biofuels. These are some of the latest buzzwords being used to support industrial agrofuels. The word "potential" suggests that there are not yet any actual problems. The words "first generation" suggest that all of these "potential" problems will fail to materialize thanks to the timely arrival of "second generation" fuels. The reality, of course, is that these fuels (i.e., industrially grown food monocrops) are already wreaking all kinds of havoc and are likely to remain the only commercially viable biofuels for the foreseeable future (i.e., forever).

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