Climate & Energy

Beyond the point of no return

It’s too late to stop climate change, argues Ross Gelbspan — so what do we do now?

As the pace of global warming kicks into overdrive, the hollow optimism of climate activists, along with the desperate responses of some of the world's most prominent climate scientists, is preventing us from focusing on the survival requirements of the human enterprise. The environmental establishment continues to peddle the notion that we can solve the climate problem. We can't. We have failed to meet nature's deadline. In the next few years, this world will experience progressively more ominous and destabilizing changes. These will happen either incrementally -- or in sudden, abrupt jumps. Under either scenario, it seems inevitable that we will soon be confronted by water shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather events, collapsing infrastructures, and, potentially, breakdowns in the democratic process itself. ----- Start with the climate activists, who are telling us only a partial truth.

Bird by bird

A third of avian species on land could disappear this century as a result of climate change

In more depressing bird news, researchers at my alma mater estimate that up to 30 percent of all land-dwelling bird species could be extinct by 2100 as a result of global climate change. The study, published this week in the journal Conservation Biology ($ub. req'd), modeled bird population responses to changes in vegetation for over 8,000 species and 60 scenarios, and is one of the first analyses of extinction rates to incorporate information from the recent IPCC reports. I think I'm going to go cry now.

Bali conference goes into second week

The latest from Bali: On Saturday, a draft text was produced suggesting that developed nations cut emissions between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The U.S. and Japanese delegations were displeased; by Monday, that target was reportedly dropped. Sen. John Kerry paid a visit to assure delegates, “I am convinced the politics of 2009 in the United States are going to be just night and day, different from where we have been before.” A faction of finance ministers and a troop of trade ministers gathered to discuss their specific interest in climate change issues. A Canadian environmental …

Fools on the Hill

Greed versus green on the energy bill

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- As the new energy bill hit the Senate with a thud last week, we had to ask: Is it really so easy to stall vital public policy with tired old scare tactics? Last Friday, the answer was "yes." One of the potholes the bill has encountered is its $13 billion take-back from Big Oil. The bill proposes to repeal tax breaks given to the industry by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2004-2005 and to close some tax loopholes that allow oil companies to game the system when they report income from foreign oil and gas extraction. Predictably, the oil industry and the White House complained about a tax increase and warned of higher prices at the pump -- two time-tested themes to trigger knee-jerk opposition from the public. Let's break it down.

Innovator patents floating wind turbine

Traditional wind turbines have gotten a bad rap from NIMBY folk and bird advocates, but innovator Mac Brown thinks he can sway the haters. Meet the Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS), a 100-foot-wide, helium-filled turbine tethered to the earth by a copper cable. Hovering at 1,000 feet, MARS is capable of producing 10 kilowatts of energy. “Picture a spinning Goodyear blimp,” says Brown. The governments of India and Pakistan have expressed interest in MARS, which was patented in October. As for the birds and the bats: “This thing is bigger than a house,” says Brown. “A bird can see it …

Coal lover to skip climate forum

Rudy Giuliani’s ties to dirty energy and efforts to kill the Senate energy bill

You might recall that a while back there was talk of a(nother) presidential forum on climate and energy, to be convened by Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger in New Hampshire, involving all the candidates from both parties. Surely given the location, the subject, and the star power, no candidate could say no, right? Well, turns out it’s not happening. Why? Because of the Republicans, only McCain agreed to attend. Giuliani didn’t even return their calls. In other news — you might even say related news — it turns out that coal-heavy utilities like Southern and American Electric are lobbying furiously …

The real action in Bali

Grassroots mobilizes over the weekend at int’l climate conference

Post by Will Bates, Stepitup 2007 The weekend has finished, and countries are diving into their second week in Bali of chit-chatting about what to do about climate change. While we may not be seeing much bold action so far at this round of negotiations, we know that global public pressure for urgent action is beginning to mount ... Saturday was the third annual International Day of Action on Climate Change, which the Global Climate Campaign helped coordinate in more than 85 countries. Local groups and international activists have carried forth the message for urgent action in a big way here in Bali.

My country, right or ... wait, no, that's definitely wrong

US and EU demand import-tariff reductions on stuff that they export

Wow, the latest out of Bali is really, um, something to behold: The US and the European Union found a rare common cause when they combined to ask developing nations to cut or remove tariffs on imports of environmental goods and services. Golly, why would developing nations not go for that? Other developing countries were also understood to be concerned that the proposal would only benefit rich nations, by opening up export markets in green goods and services before poor countries had a chance to develop them. Well, there is one "environmental good and service" for which developing countries have …

U.K. politician wants to power every British home with wind by 2020

Every home in the United Kingdom could be powered by offshore wind farms by 2020, says John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform. The long-titled Hutton said that investment in 7,000 turbines would admittedly change Britain’s coastline and raise energy costs in the short term, but would be “a major contribution towards meeting the E.U.’s target of 20 percent energy from renewable sources by 2020.” He adds, “We’ve got a choice as a country whether we rise to the challenge … or stick our head in the sand and hope [climate change] goes away. It is …

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