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Climate & Energy

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Climate change appraisal

A new website assesses property risk

Earlier this week I learned that I'm eligible, via my mother, for Dutch citizenship, which means I could potentially work, vote, and live in Holland without having to go through the hassle of visa applications. Before moving to a country that lies largely below sea level, though, I might want to check out Climate Appraisal, which, as its name suggests, is a website where you can size up the environmental hazards of your desired address. A joint project of a former banking executive and climate scientists at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the site has plenty of free information …

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Worse than a prisoner's dilemma

The cost of acting first on climate change vs. the cost of not acting

"Lose-lose: the penalties of acting alone stall collective effort on climate change" is an article the Financial Times ran a while back. While the piece gives a panoramic analysis of the international prisoner's dilemma, there are two other angles that are missing. The first is the penalties of no one acting. According to the UK's environmental minister, the economic rationale for inaction is that the first country to act risks undergoing some degree of economic hardship. This, he explains, is "the last refuge of the deniers -- the idea that it's not worth anyone doing anything unless everyone does it." …

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Picture of the week

Condi in a Tesla

I give you Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, riding in a Tesla electric car: More gape-worthy Tesla pics here. More about Rice here. (thanks LL!)

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A <em>really</em> vicious cycle

Are Americans smart enough to learn from Australia’s crisis?

What if there was a country that was like America in many ways, such as the obstinate refusal of its government to acknowledge that pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment is simply a way to commit suicide faster, a fondness for beer, and an enormous capacity to live the high energy lifestyle as if there was no tomorrow? Could Americans learn anything from it? Bart A's always-excellent Energy Bulletin brings this chilling story about the very non-chill Australia, where a drought is putting big thermal plants out of business due to water restrictions. Is it possible -- …

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Good stuff at WC

Two good posts on Worldchanging I've been meaning to call out: Jeremy Faludi makes the important point that control technologies are just as important as efficiency technologies. Control technologies allow us to control energy systems in a more fine-grained way, using only what we need -- think occupancy sensors for lighting or continuously variable transmissions for cars. Make room for this in your conceptual toolbox. Alex Steffen, meanwhile, has an essay grappling with what he sees as the widening gap between our snail-pace, "small steps" reforms on one hand and the cutting edge ideas about a sustainable future that are …

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Yet another must-read by James Hansen

On ‘scientific reticence’ and sea-level rise

Sea level rise of 5 meters in one century? Even if most scientists will not say so publicly, that catastrophe is a real possibility, according to the director of NASA's Goddard Institute Of Space Studies. It may seem like I single Hansen out for recommended reading. But that's only because he: is the nation's top climatologist writes prolifically speaks with unusually bluntness for a scientist has been more right than just about any climate scientist He has written a terrific piece for the open-access Environmental Research Letters on "Scientific Reticence and Sea Level Rise": I suggest that a "scientific reticence" …

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A few random notes

For Gristers in Houston, you might be interested in this event. A good friend of mine, Emmett Duffy, has started a new blog called The Natural Patriot. Emmett is a marine scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. Check out his entry on what it means to be a Natural Patriot -- and add this blog to your RSS reader.

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Wind-loss, wind-gain

On the heels of last week's apparent defeat of the proposed Hoosac Wind project in mountainous Western Massachusetts due to environmental (wetland) concerns, Massachusetts' new governor has put his voice behind further offshore wind projects. The timing is interesting. We already knew Governor Patrick supports Cape Wind, the final permitting for which is now up to the feds. Details are sketchy yet on what he proposes for further offshore projects, but it sounds like an unofficial rebuttal to the state arbitration panel's decision that the Department of Environmental Protection didn't do its job on the Hoosac proposal. And maybe they …

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Cutting carbon by 80% by 2050

Continuing the debate

Recently, in the post "Global Warming and the vision thing," I criticized the use of numbers in advocating policies, arguing instead on behalf of concrete images. Jon Warnow, a Step It Up 2007 organizer, responded to my post, and I thought it would be appropriate to give him the benefit of a separate post, along with my reply: In Defense of the Numbers As an organizer that worked on the Step It Up 2007 efforts on April 14th, I am one of the global warming activists that is guilty of having "advocated policies based on numerical goals" as Jon Rynn …

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Will it play in Bolivia?

A South American take on Gore’s film

Jessica Weisberg is an American journalist currently based in South America. The following is her take on the peculiar cultural dominance of An Inconvenient Truth. ----- I liked Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Really, I did. But when I count off my reasons -- the special effects, the wet-your-pants astonishment, the drama -- I find myself applauding the film's popular appeal more than its take-home message. The film has achieved a global monopoly in the fight against global warming, becoming not just a film about climate change, but the film about climate change. Even in South America, where the fight …

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