Climate & Energy

The year in one cartoon

2007 was the year of splitting the difference

The triumph, for yet another year, of those who want to split the difference and, basically, do nothing (i.e. those whose key climate strategy is to invest in good ole technology or at least to say they want to invest in technology) -- this means you President Bush, Newt Gingrich, Bjørn Lomborg, OPEC (!), Shellenberger and Nordhaus (depending on what day you happen to catch them), and possibly Andy Revkin (and maybe even E. O. Wilson -- say it ain't so!) By the way, the (lame) outcome of the energy bill ought to make VERY clear that funding clean energy technology at the level it deserves ($10+ billion a year) is NOT politically easier than regulating carbon (contrary to what Shellenberger and Nordhaus keep saying). Conservatives hate both strategies -- and we will certainly need the money from the auctioning of carbon permits to pay for the technology, since it is now clearer than ever that such money won't come from 1) raising taxes [as if] or 2) shifting money away from huge government oil subsidies even when oil is at $90+ a barrel! This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

U.S. EPA directs employees to gather documents related to California decision

The U.S. EPA has directed employees to preserve and produce all documents — including communications with the White House — related to its recent unpopular decision to block California from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions. The memo to employees indicates that the agency will comply with a Congressional investigation into its decision.

Papua New Guinea loses the moral high ground

PNG agrees to let palm-oil producers raze rainforest

Everyone at Bali cheered when the Papua New Guinea delegate dissed the Bush team: 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. Oh, snap! [Sorry, couldn't resist one last 2007 Daily Show-ism] Now comes the heartbreaking news:

Energy efficiency a tough sell to small businesses in India

India’s 4.5 million small or medium businesses produce 70 percent of the country’s industrial pollution, according to a World Bank study. But most of those small-scale entrepreneurs can’t afford the upfront cost of energy-efficient equipment — or aren’t persuaded of its usefulness — creating a barrier to India’s attempts to curb emissions from its fast-growing economy. Many areas of the country also experience frequent and severe power shortages, leading to more electricity use as machines reboot after an outage. Officials are urging factory owners to go in together to hire energy auditors, buy new machines, and apply for collective loans, …

Vinod Khosla blows his credibility dissing plug-ins

Venture-capital star ain’t no clean-tech expert

Vinod Khosla may be a "venture-capital star" who is now putting a lot of money into biofuels -- but he is no clean-tech expert, as he proved during a keynote address at ThinkEquity Partners' ThinkGreen conference in San Francisco. In remarks that should worry anybody relying on his judgment, Khosla said: Forget plug-ins. They are nice toys. But they will not be material to climate change.

On the Ball: Ready for the Olympics?

It’s almost 2008, and Beijing’s air is still polluted

The city of Beijing has been striving to clear its air for the sake of the Olympic athletes who will descend upon the city this coming summer — but whether it will be able to pull off blue skies remains to be seen. Beijingers were warned to stay inside today, as pollution hit “as bad as it can get,” according to a spokesperson from the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau, who adds, “This is as bad as it has been all year.” The International Olympic Committee has warned organizers that it will reschedule athletic events if air quality is a threat …

The 'Inhofe 400': Busting the 'consensus busters'

Today: Thomas Ring

Recently, Senator James Inhofe published a list of 400 "prominent scientists" who have recently voiced significant objections mainstream climate science. In response to this list, I recently blogged that many of those listed lacked qualifications (see also here). I'm betting that Sen. Inhofe doesn't want you to actually read the list of skeptics, but just read the headline and accept their conclusion. Here at Grist, however, we don't do what the good senator wants us to do very often. So in the spirit of non-compliance, I'm going to institute a semi-regular series where I examine the qualifications of some of the "experts" on the Inhofe 400 list.

Italian village first host to outbreak of spreading tropical disease

Congratulations to Castiglione di Cervia, Italy, the first place in modern Europe to feel one dismal effect of a warming world: a tropical disease out of its natural habitat. This summer, more than 100 people in the village of 2,000 came down with fever, exhaustion, and terrible bone pain later found to be caused by chikungunya, a disease spread by warm-climate-lovin’ tiger mosquitoes. “Climate change creates conditions that make it easier for this mosquito to survive and it opens the door to diseases that didn’t exist here previously,” says Dr. Roberto Bertollini of the World Health Organization. “This is a …

European biodiesel: riding on empty?

Unlike the U.S., European governments are cutting back on agrofuel goodies

European biodiesel makers have entered a rough patch. The price for their main feedstock, rapeseed, has risen more than 50 percent since the beginning of the year. But the price of the final product, biodiesel, has plunged, because producers are churning out far more biodiesel than the market can absorb. Similar conditions hold sway among U.S. ethanol makers: heightened corn prices combined with an ethanol glut. But U.S. producers are celebrating while their European counterparts exude gloom. Why the difference? That’s an easy one. In the U.S., the government is playing Santa Claus, while in Europe, governments are responding to …