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Smart grid baby steps: smart meters (metres?) in the U.K.

Helping homeowners monitor electricity use

One piece of the smart-grid puzzle is home electricity monitoring -- allowing homeowners (and eventually business and factory owners) to track their electricity use in real time. As the old saw goes, what gets measured gets done. Simply making people aware of energy flows is the first step to helping them modulate those flows efficiently. On that note, it's fantastic to see this: soon, every household in the U.K. will be able to request a smart meter and have it installed for free. The next step, of course, is giving homeowners more automated control. One part of that is smart, …

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On efficiency

There’s more room than you think

(Part of the No Sweat Solutions series.) As almost everyone who studies the subject concludes, one key to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions is efficiency. Renewable sources generally provide energy at a slightly higher market price than fossil fuels. Oh, there are exceptions: passive solar heating, wind electricity, biofuel from waste. But overall, if we get all our energy from low-emitting sources, we will spend more overall per BTU. If we can use those BTUs efficiently, our overall energy bill can be the same or lower. Suppose a well-insulated home uses only 40 percent as much climate-control energy as a poorly insulated …

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IPCC Working Group III goes after transportation pollution

If you won’t go after them, we will

The IPCC reports are some of the most highly anticipated of 2007. An obvious sign? Within two weeks of one report's release, papers are already covering a leak from the next. IPCC Working Group III's focus is on mitigation, meaning a fair number of policy implications can be derived from its conclusions. So here's a hint for America's auto industry: the report calls for urgent action on road pollution. In the United States, there are 483 passenger cars per 1,000 people (EarthTrends). The world average is about 100, and few countries outnumber our car count (Australia, for example, had 492 …

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A convenient truth

In nearby Bothell

The Seattle Times is reporting on a Bothell family -- the Fraleys -- who are attempting to cut their family's greenhouse-gas emissions by 15 percent in May. Bully for them, and best of luck! Still, there's something about the Times account of their experiment that rankles, just a bit. It leaves a casual reader with the impression that reducing carbon emissions is a total pain in the behind. To wit: [The Fraleys] will try to reduce the household's greenhouse-gas emissions by using some common-sense ideas that nonetheless may be inconvenient. [Emphasis added.] And ... "I realized this wasn't going to …

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Jim Sims and the clean coal PR push

Learn how to recognize the shills

Yesterday I wrote about an energy conference in Utah at which Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer enthusiastically shilled for coal and demanded more federal money for it. Looking more closely at the conference, I see I shouldn't have been surprised. The Salt Lake Tribune story from yesterday is all but a press release for Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who hosted the shindig. Toward the end, though, it drops this tidbit: Some of the West's biggest names in energy, including $10,000-apiece Platinum sponsors Arch Coal, Rocky Mountain Power, Questar, Chevron and Bill Barrett Corp., are paying for the summit. Hmm. It …

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Cellulosic ethanol: the fuel of the future -- always

Where is it written that there’s an easy out to replace oil?

Another day, another story about cellulosic ethanol pointing out that, like the Star Wars missile system, it's a technology capable of sucking up endless tax dollars without ever producing anything that delivers in the real world.

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Oh, It’s Unparalleled All Right

U.S. claims emissions-reduction success, U.N. Security Council debates climate Today, for the first time ever, the U.N. Security Council will take up the topic of climate change and world security. "The security implications of climate changes are bigger than we thought even two or three years ago," says John Ashton, a climate lobbyist who pushed for the debate. "If there is no action, there will be no winners. All will be losers." Oh hey, and speaking of losers: according to U.S. EPA chief Stephen Johnson, the Bush administration's "unparalleled financial, international, and domestic commitment to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions is delivering …

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No sweat solutions to global warming: a series

A reintroduction

I'm restarting my series on solutions to global warming, both on how to phase out fossil fuels and the best means to sequester carbon, because I consider the topic a critical one. The carbon lobby has mostly (not entirely) given up disputing that global warming is occurring. They know that they won't be able to confuse the public on its human-caused nature much longer. But a final stalling tactic is open to deniers -- to pretend that nothing can be done, or at least nothing that most people are willing to live with. There is an old engineering saying: "no …

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Bill Bradlee and David Kroodsma, climate-fightin’ bike riders, answer questions

Bill Bradlee and David Kroodsma. What work do you do? How does it relate to the environment? David: Over the past 17 months, I bicycled from California to the southern tip of Argentina to raise awareness of the international consequences of global warming. I gave talks, visited schools, got in the media, and posted information in my blog, with the hope that Americans would look outside our borders and follow along. I was far more successful than I expected, appearing in the national media of almost every country I biked in, visiting about 60 schools, and having thousands follow me …

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G8: We really mean it on climate change this time

Really

The 33rd meeting of the G8 is happening in early June, in Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- perhaps in retaliation for the infamous backrub -- is determined to put climate change high on the agenda. Not surprisingly, the U.S. and Canada are working to water down the draft communique Merkel has put together. Somewhat surprisingly, Merkel -- backed by Tony Blair -- isn't backing down. Indeed, they seem to be ramping up the pressure on Bush. Will Bush's weakness and the now-universal chorus of concern on climate change combine to yield U.S. federal movement on the issue? Ha ha. …