Climate & Energy

Cap-and-trade 101

The Center for American Progress has put out a clear and concise description of "What Is Cap and Trade, and How Can We Implement It Successfully?"

Prince Charles appears as hologram to speak in Abu Dhabi

Prince Charles recently spoke to political leaders at the World Future energy summit in Abu Dhabi. But swallow your cries of jet-setting hypocrisy: Chas appeared as a hologram. “Scientists are now saying that the problem …

Deep thought of the day

It would be awesome if all government tax breaks and subsidies were removed from the energy sector, a carbon tax were imposed, and all low-carbon competitors could battle it out on a level market playing …

There’s coal money and then there’s war money

In an electoral year when climate policy will play an unusually high-profile role, the $35 million raised by coal front group ABEC seems like a daunting obstacle. Then again, all-purpose-right-wing-warmongering front group Freedom’s Watch is …

Big names will discuss climate at World Economic Forum

Business and political leaders are descending on Davos, Switzerland, for the annual World Economic Forum, which kicks off tomorrow. The forum will offer various climate-related sessions, including one led by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change …

Fat earthers

The parallels between accepting obesity and ignoring global warming

I have recently been thinking about the parallels between climate change and the obesity epidemic facing the United States and other industrialized countries. Both are the result of our society's desire to consume, and there are similarities in how we might respond. Photo: iStockphoto There are basically three ways to respond to obesity, and each has an analog for climate change. First, you can try to reduce caloric intake. Bob Park calls this the thermodynamic diet: take in fewer calories than you expend and you'll lose weight. For the climate change problem, the parallel is reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. The problem with this approach, of course, is that it is hard. No one likes to diet, and many find it impossible to lose and keep off weight this way. Similarly, our society is not going to find it easy to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. That does not mean, of course, that it can't be done, or that we won't be happy with the results. I've never met someone who's lost a lot of weight that isn't ecstatically happy with the results, and I think there are many benefits for our society that come along with reducing CO2 emissions. Second, you can simply say, "I'm overweight and I'm going to stay overweight. If I have any health problems, I'll let the doctors solve them for me." So if your weight causes hip problems, just have the hip replaced. If your cardiovascular system goes on the fritz, utilize the latest in cardiovascular care to get the problematic arteries unblocked or a pacemaker installed. If the risk of stroke rises, take the appropriate medication to bring the risk down. A recent news report said that obesity is now a lifestyle choice for Americans. In other words, many overweight people have simply given up trying to lose weight by taking in fewer calories, mainly because they just can't do it. They are now relying on the health care system to deal with the impacts of their obesity:

Turn on, plug in, drop out

Plug-in hybrids and electric cars: A core climate solution, nationally and globally

I have a new article in Salon, "The car of the future is here," about plug-in hybrids. The two central points of the article are: Plug-in hybrids (and electric cars) are an essential climate strategy, enabling renewable power (even intermittent sources like wind) to become a major low-cost transportation fuel. Practical, affordable plug-in hybrids will be here in a few years -- even if we don't get a technology breakthrough in batteries. (I am even more confident of these conclusions given the amazing joint announcement today by Renault-Nissan, Project Better Place, and Israel -- see below.) If you read the Salon article, you'll know more than billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who recently said: Forget plug-ins. They are nice toys. But they will not be material to climate change. The subject deserves a far more serious discussion. Transportation is the toughest sector in which to achieve deep carbon emissions reductions. Of the three major alternative fuels that could plausibly provide a low-carbon substitute for a significant amount of petroleum:

If you build it, they will come

Growing solar industry depends on key tax credit that will expire this year

Advocates talk a lot about how renewable energy is not just good for the environment, but good for the economy as well. And here is some real-world proof: New Mexico, with strong leadership by Gov. Richardson, PRC Commissioners Lujan and Marks, and many others, has done more than most to establish the full suite of policies necessary to build a solar market. And the reward? Schott AG is investing $100 million in a new manufacturing facility outside of Albuquerque. It will initially employ 350 people, which could grow to 1,500. Good stuff, and congrats to New Mexico. But lookie here at what Schott has to say about what it will take to get to the higher end of the projected jobs numbers:

Moving on out

There are limits to the positive environmental change we can expect from high gas prices

You can scarcely pick up a paper or turn on the television these days without hearing the word recession. Leading economic indicators have wiggled in different directions over the past few months, but the general …

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