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Gore's backstory

Interesting tales in a recent profile

The profile of Al Gore in NYT Magazine contains, amidst other good stuff, some interesting backstory about Gore's experiences with the Alliance for Climate Protection, as well as his experiences in the Clinton administration. Forthwith, a couple of longish excerpts. First, on the Alliance: In mid-2005, he began talking to members of "the green group," as the environmental lobby is collectively known, about marshaling a popularizing effort. ... Gore was the obvious candidate to lead the crusade. But the Al Gore of September 2005 was not the Saint Albert of today. That Al Gore was a harsh partisan, and all …

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'Environmental pragmatist' in <em>The New York Times</em>

All about hydrogen

Probably half the media queries I get concern hydrogen -- thanks to my last book, The Hype about Hydrogen. Yesterday's New York Times Magazine had an exceedingly long article, "The Zero-Energy Solution," on a solar-hydrogen home. The author refers to me as "an environmental pragmatist," no doubt because I don't automatically embrace every environmental solution that comes along, but judge each on its technical and practical merit. I have written a number of articles arguing that hydrogen has been wildly overhyped as an energy and climate solution, when in fact it holds little promise of being a cost-effective greenhouse gas …

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Global warming and the vision thing

Concrete images of a greener society

Global warming activists have often advocated policies based on numerical goals or painted scary scenarios of the future. But there is a third way to advocate for long-term policies: propose solutions that contain a positive vision of a fossil fuel-free society. The importance of this approach was underlined to me when I heard Betsy Rosenberg of the radio show Ecotalk interview Chip Heath, an author of the business-oriented book, Made to Stick. She asked Heath what he thought of the phrase "20% by 2020," that is, reducing carbon emissions by 20% by 2020. She thought it had a nice ring …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

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Dog bites man

West Virginia's two U.S. senators say it's possible to promote coal and clean air initiatives at the same time. Uh ... WTF else are they going to say?

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They send letters

Recently, 15 House committee chairs sent a letter to the president to tell him to stop trying to water down the G8 statement on climate change. Meanwhile, chair Brad Miller from the House Science Committee sent a letter to Exxon to tell it to stop funding climate denialists. You can read both letters here. As both the president and Exxon have proven themselves open to rational persuasion, the problems should be cleared up now. Next!

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Story of the day: Nukes and global warming

The two don’t mix well

This story deserves singling out because it is on an important but too-neglected subject -- the connection between energy and water. "Climate change puts nuclear energy into hot water," from the International Herald Tribune. Key point: Nuclear power "requires great amounts of cool water to keep reactors operating at safe temperatures. That is worrying if the rivers and reservoirs which many power plants rely on for water are hot or depleted because of steadily rising air temperatures." Factoid of the day: "During the extreme heat of 2003 in France, 17 nuclear reactors operated at reduced capacity or were turned off." …

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Climate changes the picture

On a new McKibben editorial

If this were the daily sunset you had gotten used to growing up, you would understand the hesitancy of even Bill McKibben, a renowned environmentalist, to okay wind turbines on the horizon, interfering with bird migration in order to generate electricity. However, in an opinion article in which McKibben confesses his sentiment, entitled "One world, one problem," he ultimately resolves: In this world, the threat to that landscape, and to those birds, comes far more from rapid shifts in temperature than from a few dozen towers. McKibben goes on to write a testament to the gravity of climate change and …

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Policies in need of Californication

All green eyes turn to the West Coast

Popularized by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the term "Californication" actually refers to the surge of Californians migrating up the West Coast following the opening of a major highway. In this context, we're hoping we can Californicate the state's climate change and energy policies to the rest of the Union. Since the 1970s, California has kept its per capita energy use at a level rate, using primarily energy efficiency programs. Over time and with minimal spending, the cost of electricity under the programs is 1.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's an outstanding rate compared to traditional or even carbon-free energy sources. …

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Plus, He Made That Boat Sink

Leonardo DiCaprio brings climate-change film to Cannes A year ago, Al Gore spread the climate-change message at the Cannes Film Festival. Now it's Leonardo DiCaprio's turn. The former boy wonder produced, co-wrote, and narrated The 11th Hour, a documentary that explores how industrial society screwed itself and how it can fix the problem. Relying on interviews with the likes of Stephen Hawking and David Suzuki, the 90-minute film "[gives] the scientists and experts a format where they can speak freely and openly without having to argue the points anymore," says Leo. Like Gore, his eco-mentor, DiCaprio is battling accusations of …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Coal Is the Enemy of the Human Race

New BP, Rio Tinto venture plans three "clean coal" plants Last week, oil giant BP announced a new "clean coal" partnership, and it's already spewing big plans. With Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest mining company, BP created Hydrogen Energy, a cleaner-energy venture. Just one hitch: they're gonna make hydrogen by burning fossil fuels, which produces carbon dioxide, which ends the world. So the companies will plunge huge amounts of money into "clean coal" operations that separate out the carbon, then bury it under the sea. (Note to future generations: We know it sounds crazy. So, uh, did it work?) BP …