Climate & Energy

My Al Gore story

Gore’s impromptu humor at a recent small climate summit

I'm not normally given to shameless name-dropping, but what else are blogs really for (other than making bets with readers)? Over the last three days I attended a small climate solutions summit hosted by the former vice president and current Nobel laureate. It was off-the-record, so I can't report on presentations directly, but they have made me a lot smarter about the latest technologies and strategies for clean energy, which will inform my blogging this year on climate solutions. I will say now as an aside that I have become much more bullish on the potential for large-scale solar photovoltaics as a result of attending these meetings. The VP asked me to speak for seven minutes on hydrogen at dinner Wednesday. Before dinner, I gave him a copy of the brand-new paperback edition of -- warning, shameless product placement -- Hell and High Water. He looked it over for a few minutes and said, deadpan:

Maldives builds higher-altitude island, can’t attract residents

The tiny island nation of Maldives is at high risk of being swamped in years to come: it rises a mere three feet above sea level. So officials are building Hulhumalé, a human-made island with …

Canada oil sands not good for the environment, says study

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Canada’s oil-sands operations have been given poor environmental marks in a study by green groups Pembina Institute and the World Wildlife Fund. Ten oil-sands ventures in the province of Alberta, …

Mayoral climate-protecting agreement hasn’t necessarily translated into action

Mayors across the country have signed onto the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a nonbinding initiative encouraging city leaders to meet or beat the greenhouse-gas reductions outlined in the U.S.-shunned Kyoto Protocol. So about that …

More scientist/activists

Here’s hoping newly politically active scientists don’t step on rakes

A few days ago I said of James Hansen’s increasing activism: Hansen has decided that it would be perverse to hoard the social capital that comes with being a prominent scientist in the U.S., standing …

The elusive green-collar job

With all the upbeat talk about an environmental labor boom, is rhetoric running away from reality?

Someone help me puzzle this out: Proposition 1: A shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency will result in a boom in green-collar jobs -- good service-industry work that can't be outsourced. This proposition is attractive because it holds forth the promise of a grand alliance between greens and the labor movement. See, e.g., Tom Friedman and everyone who posts on Grist. Proposition 2: The optimism over green-collar jobs is a classic example of the make-work bias, a widespread economic fallacy that mistakes amount of work for wealth creation. The actual effect of greenhouse-gas reductions on labor markets is unclear, so environmentalists should stick to environmental policy. See, e.g., various environmental economists. I don't have a clever opinion here, although I will say that the case for a positive labor impact from energy efficiency measures seems decently solid. Efficiency is, after all, an unambiguously good thing for the economy as a whole. If it costs us less to get the same amount of stuff, we're all richer. Certainly this is a nice thing for consumers, and because energy industries tend not to be labor-intensive, we can expect that wealth creation at the expense of energy producers will be a net benefit for employment as well. I think. The impact of renewable energy, on the other hand, is more difficult to suss out. More to the point, it's not clear that anyone has sussed it out. Discuss.

Tennessee Senate passes resolution honoring Al Gore

The Tennessee state Senate has passed a resolution honoring Al Gore for his efforts to curb climate change. And the crowd goes wild! “Let’s be honest about it. What is a resolution but a piece …

Huckabee on Colbert

Bit of a dodge on global warming, no?

Investors see opportunity in efficiency and wind

Energy stocks are looking attractive

The following essay is a guest post by Kari Manlove, fellows assistant at the Center for American Progress. ----- CNNmoney.com just released a summary outlook on the solar, wind, biofuel (mainly ethanol), and efficiency industry financial sectors. The two looking most optimistic are wind and efficiency, and thus both sectors are overflowing with opportunity. According to one investment portfolio manager, efficiency investments are reliable and essentially fundamental. In his words, investing in efficiency is like putting your money on the arms dealer in a war or conflict -- no matter which side wins (or which sector), the arms dealer simply can't lose.

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