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Climate & Energy


Bush's dumb luck on emissions

They went down because of random factors, not Bush

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped 1.3% in 2006, as the Energy Information Administration reported yesterday. President Bush immediately took credit: "We are effectively confronting the important challenge of global climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong economic investment." [Please, no laughing.] In spite of the fact that Bush has actually gutted programs aimed at the promoting clean energy technologies, last year's emissions dropped because of: higher gasoline prices, a sharp drop in heating demand from an unusually warm winter, which helped bring about a decline in natural gas prices (and hence more use of this clean fuel for …


Some good news for a change, albeit with an albeit

Oregon blazes a trail again, mostly

The Oregon House passed an aggressive renewable electricity supply standard that requires the biggest utilities in the state to get 25 percent of their capacity from renewables (not including existing hydro) by 2025. The state Senate already passed the companion bill, and the Oregon governor, Ted Kulongoski, has been pushing these all year, so they are widely expected to pass after the two bills are reconciled into one. But ... The downside to these bills are that the "25 percent by '25" target is reduced for smaller electric providers, the rural electric coops that tend to get all their power …


Clinton and Obama: eco-sellouts?

A columnist thinks so

Over at Politico, Glenn Hurowitz argues that at key moments, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have sold out the public interest in favor of polluting industries in their states. He says they could stand to learn something from Bill Richardson and John Edwards, whose energy/climate plans are ambitious and powerful. I suspect that if you look closely enough at Richardson's and Edwards' records, you could find some evidence that they're not above parochialism either, but on the broad point, I can only say: word. But what about Dodd, though? He's got a good energy plan too. Where's the Doddmentum?


Taxes: bad because they produce revenue

Conservative critique of the carbon tax

This story contains two things: Evidence that when it comes to climate and energy policy, mainstream Democratic politicians (+ John McCain) are more or less in consensus: yes on "the need to enhance energy efficiency, introduce a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, and incentivize clean energy technology," no to a carbon tax. The worst argument against a carbon tax ever: "A tax won't work," said John Raidt, adviser to McCain. "It will just raise money for bureaucrats. There's no telling where that money would go." Classic conservatism. "The money will just drift off into The Government, and then god knows …


On the non-inevitability of solar

Regulatory infrastructure will be crucial

I was traveling last week and missed "solar's inevitable dominance." I disagree. There is nothing at all inevitable about solar. Sure, the technological potential exists. But the problem is not technology. The technology works great. The problem is policy. Right now, if solar panels were free -- handed out on street corners -- you still would not see market uptake anywhere near the technical potential. Why? Because we do not yet have the right regulatory infrastructure. Let me give you an example. Last year, the Arizona Corporation Commission passed a huge increase in the state's renewable energy standard. It will …

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Gary Snyder: James Lovelock's arguments for nuclear power 'demented'

Nuclear power is too risky

This past weekend the Ojai Poetry Festival featured the great American poet Gary Snyder, who read to a large crowd of listeners mostly from work written this century, especially his 2004 book of haibun called Danger on Peaks. (Haibun, we learned, is a mix of prose and haiku: Japanese professor Nobuyaki Yuasa has described it as having a relationship "like that between the moon and the earth: each makes the other more beautiful.") Snyder read poems linking the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in March 2001 by the Taliban to the destruction of the Twin Towers, among others, as …

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Mongabay highlights for May '07

Good reading on Mongabay

There is so much good stuff over there I hardly know where to start. You might consider subscribing to the weekly email. Top of the list is an interview with Luke Hunter (the same biologist I pissed off with my pincushion post). Coincidentally, roughly a fifth of the interview dealt with that topic: ... does conservation of the species require radio-tagging? There are many, many cases where it does not. I often read proposals by graduate students who are wishing to radio-collar cats to address a conservation issue when they could far better achieve their goal by some other means. …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


Umbra on albedo

Hi Umbra, Can we make small changes to increase the albedo in the Northern Hemisphere? Choose white or light-colored autos (white is safer, anyway), white or light-colored roofs. Could we float white "islands" (recycled Styrofoam) in our lakes and oceans in locations that would not disrupt transportation? Sometimes white plastic bags get caught in the branches of trees and I've been so angry about that litter -- maybe I should appreciate them as increasing the albedo? Thanks for all you do, Shelley Forest Park, Ill. Dearest Shelley, How generous of you to see a silver lining on litter. Alas, it …

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Are Republican presidential candidates taking global warming seriously?

Brownback’s plan is not promising

He hasn't released a detailed plan yet, but Republican presidential contender Sam Brownback gave a speech yesterday to the Set America Free coalition that outlined his thoughts on energy policy. (There's more info in this Greenwire story, but it's subscription only.) Republican candidates haven't talked about climate and energy as much as their Dem counterparts, but Brownback's comments are more or less representative. Consider this a critique, then, of mainstream Republican climate/energy policy. Brownback -- like Romney and McCain, at least -- acknowledges global warming and the need to reduce carbon emissions. He says that "we need to reduce our …


Noah's ark rebuilt

A not-so-subtle call for climate change attention

At the base of snow-capped Mount Ararat, where the bible says Noah's ark came to rest after 40 days of flooding, environmentalist volunteers are constructing a miniature version of the famed zoological craft. Its completion is being timed to coincide with next month's G8 summit in Germany, where climate change will be a hot issue. Last week, for instance, scientists from all across Africa plus Brazil, India, China, Mexico, and South Africa presented joint statements to German prime minister Angela Merkel calling for "united global action on energy efficiency and climate change mitigation." The Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living