Climate & Energy

The year ahead

What will it take to make 2008 great?

The following guest post is by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), originally published on Climate Progress. He is the co-author of Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy. ----- Now that our New Year's Eve party hats are put away, it's time to look to the next year in the battle against global warming. In the year 2007, some good things did indeed happen on this front. Measures significantly improving car mileage standards and promoting the growth of renewable fuels were signed into law. But if 2007 was a year that could be considered in some ways good, then 2008 needs to be a year that will be great. Nothing else will do. The cataclysms of one million square miles of ice melting in the Arctic, a several-fold increase in the rate of melting tundra, and the acceleration of melting in Greenland, foretell possible feedback mechanisms that demand a faster and more aggressive clean energy revolution than we even envisioned a year ago. Whatever we thought necessary on New Year's Day 2007 needs to be doubled in 2008. So what will it take to make '08 great? Three things will do the trick.

Compact fluorescents can cause health problems, say groups

As Australia, Britain, and the good ol’ U.S. of A make plans to phase out traditional energy-sucking light bulbs, health concerns are being raised about compact fluorescents, the most popular alternative. The British Association of Dermatologists says CFLs can cause rashes on folks with photosensitive skin, the U.K. Migraine Action Association suggests that the bulbs can trigger terrible headaches, and U.K. charity Epilepsy Action says CFLs can induce seizures. Health professionals say exemptions to country-wide bans should be made for people with special health circumstances, but lighting industry reps point out that there are alternatives to CFLs that still meet …

Monsanto counts its cash

Seed-and-chemical giant sees its profit triple

In a gold rush, the firms that supply the gold diggers with tools — not the gold diggers themselves — make the highest and steadiest profits. That’s a platitude, but it’s also usually true. And it’s now playing out in the boom in corn-based ethanol. Don’t waste much time envying corn farmers. Sure, they’ve seen the price of their product double over the past year and a half or so. But they’ve also seen their costs inch up. Fertilizer, land rents (much of the farmland in the midwest is rented), pesticides, and seeds — all have risen since the corn …

Bush plays Baker, part IV

Tom Carper totally knows the president

(An on we go, in a series on the WaPo piece so bad it required numerous separate gripes.) Tom Carper would like you to know that he’s a) committed on global warming, and b) tight with the president: People find all sorts of ways to lobby President Bush. Sometimes it comes in the form of a handwritten note slipped into his palm during a bill-signing ceremony. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) tried that last week when Bush signed energy legislation that will curb greenhouse gases. “Congratulations and good work,” Carper recalled writing. “By the way, Joe Lieberman and John Warner …

In 2008, globe will cool down a bit — but still be bloody hot, say researchers

Thanks to a strong La Niña, this upcoming year is likely to have lower average global temperatures than have occurred since 2000, according to U.K. forecasters. (Note to climate skeptics: This is the point where you stop reading and write a press release gleefully announcing that the earth is cooling and global warming is a hoax.) For those of you still reading, the same scientists predict that 2008 will still likely be one of the 10 hottest on record. Says researcher Phil Jones of the U.K. Met Office, “The fact that 2008 is forecast to be cooler than any of …

Greening the Export-Import bank

Ex-Im to finance more clean energy exports

The appropriations omnibus bill just passed through Congress "recommends that the Export-Import Bank provide 10 percent of its financing capacity to promote the export of clean energy products and services." This was a recommendation by many groups, including the Center for American Progress: Having supported more than $400 billion dollars of U.S. exports during the past 70 years, the Export-Import Bank is one of the most powerful tools at the U.S. government's disposal for spurring innovation and economic growth. But in yet another backward-looking strategy typical of this administration:

Me in CiF

While I was vacationing, the Guardian‘s Comment Is Free site ran two pieces by yours truly, one assessing the climate issue as it manifests in the Democratic presidential field, the other doing the same for the Republican field. Check ‘em out. (I continue to be mystified by the extraordinarily high level of fruitcakery in the comments over there.) UPDATE: I see that SolveClimate just made roughly the same point, and via them, AEI’s Ken Green did the same. At least someone’s paying attention.

Send this to your local government and public works department

Finally, something to do with all the damn asphalt

This sounds like a great idea! Seems like every school has a ginormous parking lot, as does every city and county building -- and think of the asphalt in residential streets.

Plans for new U.K. coal plant move forward

It’s the week o’ ill-advised energy choices in Britain, where nuclear power may soon get a boost and plans for the first new coal-fired power plant in decades are inching forward. A local government authority has recommended that Business Secretary John Hutton give the go-ahead to utility E.ON’s proposal for a coal plant; concerned that Hutton might just do so, critics have already come out with scathing statements. Says energy-policy professor Dieter Helm: “The fact people are going to build new coal plants now illustrates how badly the government has planned environmental policy over the last 10 years.” Agrees Greenpeace’s …

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