Climate & Energy

Yielding the moral high ground: Part I

Republican candidates are keeping their distance from climate change

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. In recent years, conservatives have mastered the art of hijacking morality. They have positioned themselves as the champions of family values, faith and good old-fashioned patriotism. But on what some regard as the moral issue of our time, the party's presidential candidates are turning their backs. That issue is global warming. Al Gore is not the only prominent leader who considers climate change a moral issue. Three years ago, the National Association of Evangelicals issued its "Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility." It reads in part: We affirm that God-given dominion is a sacred responsibility to steward the earth and not a license to abuse the creation of which we are a part. Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation. At about the same time, Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, opined that "Christians should make it clear to governments and businesses that we are willing to adapt our lifestyles and support steps towards changes that protect our environment." The magazine endorsed the bipartisan global warming bill co-sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I/D CT) and John McCain (R-AZ). Yet, the other Republican presidential candidates are keeping their distance from the issue as though it is their weird Aunt Ethel with halitosis.

The renewable Janus

Renewables are pulling two directions, nationwide and local

Recently a study found that wind can serve as reliable baseload power. The key is to link wind farms together with a high-speed transmission grid. "This study implies that, if interconnected wind is used on a large scale, a third or more of its energy can be used for reliable electric power, and the remaining intermittent portion can be used for transportation, allowing wind to solve energy, climate and air pollution problems simultaneously," said Archer, the study’s lead author … So much for the "wind can’t do baseload" shtick. Windophobes will point out that creating a huge new continent-spanning transmission …

The success of solar depends on storage

Storage helps the sun keep shining even on cloudy days

New project and technology announcements have kept solar energy in the news lately. But, as with wind, the issues of intermittency and the grid still lurk in the shadows. Some still argue that intermittency isn't a problem, or that it can be solved without storage. In a new piece in the Arizona Daily Star, reporter Tom Beal talks about those issues. As we've previously argued here, here, and here, energy storage has a big role to play in enabling solar and wind to compete with the big boys -- coal, gas, and nuclear. The engineers that actually operate the grid on a minute-to-minute, day-to-day basis know that intermittency is a technological problem that must be solved one way or another if solar and wind are to generate more than a token percentage of our electricity. Storage needs its own day in the sun, and now that sun is in the limelight, maybe storage will finally get some respect as well. Full piece below the fold:

'Mine's bigger'

Me on Hannity & Colmes

Here I am on Hannity & Colmes, 21 Dec. 2007. Mark Steyn was sitting in for Sean Hannity. The other guest is Chris Horner of CEI. There’s some satisfaction in taking shots at Horner and CEI. God knows they get off too easy most of the time. And watching Horner bumble around and make no sense is fun. He called me an “alarmist” and decried ad hominem attacks in the same sentence. In a discussion of whether there’s a scientific consensus, you are not allowed to appeal to the authority of science? What can that even mean? Did he really …

Multiple states will sue over EPA decision to not let California regulate vehicle emissions

Riled up about the U.S. EPA’s decision not to allow California to regulate vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions, Golden State Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared he will sue the agency “within the next three weeks.” At least eight other states that would have adopted the stricter emissions standards had the EPA allowed it have said they’ve got California’s back and will co-sue. Congressional Democrats, led by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), plan to launch an investigation into the EPA’s decision. There’s gonna be a rumble!

Plan to regulate airline emissions moves forward in E.U.

A proposed law that would regulate emissions from airlines taking off from or landing in the European Union has been approved by environment ministers. The bill to include airlines in the E.U.’s carbon-trading scheme was scaled back from the version passed by the E.U. Parliament last month, aiming to start in 2012 instead of 2011 and making airlines buy only 10 percent of their carbon permits, with the rest distributed free, instead of the original 25 percent. The amended proposal also caps emissions at 100 percent of average emissions from 2004 to 2006, instead of 90 percent. The plan still …

More on the 'scientific' attacks on global warming

NYT’s Revkin gives Inhofe a pass

So Sen. James "global warming is a hoax" Inhofe (R-Okla.) issues a report in which he claims: Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. "Padded" would be an extremely generous description of this list of "prominent scientists." Some would use the word "laughable" (though not the N.Y. Times' Andy Revkin, see below). For instance, since when have economists, who are pervasive on this list, become scientists, and why should we care what they think about climate science? I'm not certain a dozen on the list would qualify as "prominent scientists," and many of those, like Freeman Dyson -- a theoretical physicist -- have no expertise in climate science whatsoever. I have previously debunked his spurious and uninformed claims, although I'm not sure why one has to debunk someone who seriously pushed the idea of creating a rocket ship powered by detonating nuclear bombs! Seriously. Even Ray Kurzweil, not a scientist but a brilliant inventor, is on the list. Why? Because he apparently told CNN and the Washington Post: These slides that Gore puts up are ludicrous, they don't account for anything like the technological progress we're going to experience ... None of the global warming discussions mention the word "nanotechnology." Yet nanotechnology will eliminate the need for fossil fuels within 20 years ... I think global warming is real but it has been modest thus far -- 1 degree f. in 100 years. It would be concern if that continued or accelerated for a long period of time, but that's not going to happen. And people say I'm a techno-optimist. So Kurzweil actually believes in climate science -- rather than the reverse, as Inhofe claims -- but thinks catastrophic global warming won't happen because of a techno-fix that stops emissions. If wishes were horses ... everyone would get trampled to death. In the real world, energy breakthroughs are very rare, as we've seen, and it's even rarer when they make a difference in under several decades. Then we have the likes of this from Inhofe's list:

LED Christmas lighting is cool -- literally

Safe, energy-efficient holiday lights

I hope you've all bought LED lighting for your trees -- they are much more efficient and safer, too, because they generate less heat! We have, and so has the White House and Rockefeller Center (see below). Here is an Electric Power Research Institute fact sheet (PDF) to answer all your questions on LED vs. conventional Christmas lights (PDF). Happy Holidays! This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

British duo’s carbon-negative road trip fueled by chocolate

This weekend, while you’re finishing up the last of the chocolates in your advent calendar — oh admit it, you ate them all already — Britons Andy Pag and John Grimshaw will be rolling to the end of a chocolate-fueled road trip. The duo claim that their trip from Poole, England through the Sahara desert to Timbuktu, Mali, will be the world’s first carbon-negative voyage, thanks to their fuel: 396 gallons of chocolate discarded by a British manufacturer. “This way we’re doing the chocolate factory a favor by taking away their waste, we’re doing the local government a favor by …

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