Climate & Energy

Narwhals more at risk than polar bears, says study

Polar bears get all the press, but climate change may be even harder on the narwhal, says new research. Narwhals, the whales whose long spiral …

Details matter: Small sticks and no carrots

Lieberman-Warner criticism, Part 2

This is the second in a five-part series exploring the details of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. See part 1 here. With atmospheric GHG concentrations rising at a frightening rate, we need a full court press to change directions, using every possible tool at our disposal. From an economic perspective, this means that we not only need to impose financial penalties on polluters, but also provide financial incentives for those who act to lower GHG emissions. We need a market mechanism in place so that the costs of GHG emission -- or the revenue associated with GHG reduction -- factors into individual investment decisions immediately. In short, we need big sticks and big carrots. The Climate Stabilization Act (CSA), as the Lieberman-Warner Bill is known, is a small stick with no carrot. This post explains why.


Governors rally against dirty Bush car plan

Nothing brings together diverse groups like a common threat. And governors in environmentally progressive states are getting used to banding together against the Bush administration. Now they've done it again, to protest the "cynical" effort by the Bush Department of Transportation to take away the right of California to set tougher greenhouse gas standards for cars (and the right of other states to adopt the California standards). The latest assault on states' rights came in the fine print of a proposal this week by the DOT to put into place tougher CAFE standards required by last year's energy act. On page 387 of that proposal, DOT slipped in the killer language: "any state regulation regulating tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles is expressly pre-empted."

Third try at coal-plant bill heads to Kansas governor

With firm belief in the power of try, trying again, Kansas legislators have sent another coal-plant proposal to the desk of veto-happy Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. …

Sticker shock!

What’s causing the sudden run-up in food prices?

A lot of people are wondering what the hell is going on with food prices. Rice, dollars per ton Source: Reuters The price of bulk …

The Betty Crocker’s Cookbook of low-carbon living

When I got to college, the best book I bought was a 3-ring notebook-style Betty Crocker's Cookbook. Not adventurous food, but for someone who knew very little about anything concerning food, it was a great first book. It assumes that you are reading a cookbook because you want to know what to do, step-by-step -- instead of just hinting, it lays it out, with pictures and plain language. Great stuff. A couple times a year my wife and I still will ask one another, "What does Betty say to do with these?" I always think of Betty (and the old How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive) as the epitome of good technical instruction books. They are all about practical information first, with a minimum of wasted words. Today I found a new one for that list.

Jay Leno Earth Day videos

Because I’m a video hu-a and will basically embed anything anybody sends me, I give you this from NBC:

Are fixing the climate and the ozone layer mutually exclusive?

A geoengineering scheme to solve climate change could hurt the Antarctic ozone layer, while recovery of the ozone hole could increase Antarctic warming, new research …

New bulb on the block

Spendy mercury-free LED bulb supposedly lasts 50,000 hours

Somewhere, in school or on the job, every engineer learns about tradeoffs -- that there is no free lunch, and that, once a design is at all reasonable, gains in one dimension come at the cost of compromises in others. The shorthand statement of this is the pithy evergreen in design classes: "Good, fast, and cheap. Pick two!" There's a new bulb out: a 13-watt LED array bulb with an integral diffuser, so you don't see the annoying space-craft look of little tiny rows of LEDs like the first-generation LED lamps offer. It has no mercury, a boon, and lasts about five times longer than its 13-watt compact-florescent competitors, while being much faster-acting and producing a warmer light. It costs a boatload, at least now ($90). But I still have my first compact florescent bulbs from 1989: huge, heavy ballasts, barely "compact" at all. I'll buy one of these whenever I need a new bulb and gradually switch over all the hard-to-reach spots. An interesting video comparison with 100-watt incandescent bulbs and 13-watt compact florescent bulbs is available at the link.