Climate & Energy

Study touts environmental benefits of switchgrass-derived biofuel

Fast-growing switchgrass makes for a super-duper biofuel, says new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The five-year study of 10 Midwest farms concluded that switchgrass-derived biofuel can produce more than five times the energy consumed in manufacturing it, and emits 94 percent less greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline. “This clearly demonstrates that switchgrass is not only energy efficient, but can be used in a renewable biofuel economy to reduce reliance of fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and enhance rural economies,” says lead researcher Ken Vogel. Well, great! Now we just have to wait for cellulosic ethanol …

Warm in NH

Time has a nice little story on the "Eight Keys to New Hampshire." Number six: global warming. It may be Al Gore’s ultimate political triumph: climate change as a key election issue. Everywhere they go throughout the state, candidates from both parties field questions about global warming from voters who are looking for more than just platitudes. They want to hear about cap-and-trade, carbon tax, hybrid cars, and woe to the candidate who tries to side-step the issue. Last spring, 180 out of 234 townships in the state passed a resolution asking the federal government to address climate change. That …

Not stern enough

Stern says he underestimated climate risks

Via WSJ, Sir Nicholas Stern says he underestimated the risks of climate change in his influential report. "We underestimated the flow of emissions from developing countries, especially China," he said, observing that emissions of greenhouse gases from China over the next 25 years will equal the total emissions from the U.S. and Europe over the last century. Emissions from developing countries and developed countries must be capped, he said, but the ethics of allocating the pain are delicate. "If you’re consuming the goods, you can’t blame the location of the factory," he argued.

Canadian government rejects panel’s advice to implement carbon tax

Regarding an expert panel’s solicited advice that Canada strongly consider implementing a carbon tax: The Conservative government is just not that into it.

A solar grand plan

A roadmap to getting 70 percent of U.S. electricity from solar by 2050

OK, having spent an absurd amount of time bashing on a crappy article that came out while I was on vacation, let me turn my attention to an extraordinarily good one (via HillHeat): "A Solar Grand Plan," by Ken Zweibel (NREL), James Mason (Solar Energy Campaign), and Vasilis Fthenakis (Brookhaven National Photovoltaic Environmental, Health and Safety Research Center). Some flaw in my character leaves me much less able to analyze things I like, so mostly I’ll just urge you to go read it. Here are the nut concepts, though, via the Scientific American editors: • A massive switch from coal, …

Reclusive candy billionaire opposes drilling near his Montana land

Ranchers and conservationists fighting to keep drills out of coal and gas deposits along Montana’s Tongue River are finding an ally in landowner and reclusive billionaire Forrest E. Mars Jr., former CEO of the Mars candy company. Sweet.

What does California's climate bill mandate?

Does AB 32 call for maximizing emission reductions or minimizing costs?

California’s pioneering climate legislation, the Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, caps the state’s emissions at 1990 levels by 2020. That’s the headline, anyway. But the bill contains other interesting statutory language. For one thing, 1990-levels-by-2020 is referred throughout the bill as a limit, not a target. The implication would seem to be that it’s a floor on emissions reductions, not a ceiling. What’s more, Sec. 38560 says this (my emphasis): The state board shall adopt rules and regulations in an open public process to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions from sources or …

Taking Germany 100 percent renewable

German scientists develop Combined Power Plant

Via the The Sietch blog, some very, very cool stuff out of the University of Kassel in Germany — the Combined Power Plant: The secure and constant provision of power anywhere and at anytime by renewable energies is now made possible thanks to the Combined Power Plant. The Combined Power Plant links and controls 36 wind, solar, biomass and hydropower installations spread throughout Germany. It is just as reliable and powerful as a conventional large-scale power station. The Combined Renewable Energy Power Plant shows how, through joint control of small and decentralised plants, it is possible to provide reliable electricity …

Hansen v. coal

PRE-PUBLISHING UPDATE: After I wrote this but before I posted it, I got an email from Grist reader CD notifying me of the sad news that Mass.’s gov approved the coal gasification plant. Decisions like this are going to look awfully stupid in a few years. —– I meant to mention this last week, but better late than never: Kudos to climate scientist James Hansen, not only for being a public advocate against coal, but doing so in a targeted op-ed in the Boston Globe, geared to two decisions that the citizens of Mass. will be making soon. Hansen has …

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