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Alt tech circular firing squad

New energy technologies are starting to attack each other

I suppose this was inevitable: In what one industry representative calls a struggle for supremacy, advocates of various sources of alternative energy are beginning to point out the competition's warts. "Everyone wants to use the energy crisis as leverage to support his solution," said Bob Rose, executive director of the Fuel Cell Council. But with limited government research-and-development money available for ways to replace oil, any gain for one technology is a loss for the others. So the criticism is flying in all directions. I seriously hope we can keep this from devolving into a full-on circular firing squad of …

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'Climate change': too big and too little

It’s the wrong lever for creating social change

On Saturday night, I was on a panel at the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival on the subject of "communicating about climate change." My co-panelists were KC Golden of Climate Solutions, LeeAnne Beres of Earth Ministry, and Sean Schmidt of the Sustainable Style Foundation. The moderator was Steve Scher of local public radio station KUOW. It was fun. Most of what I said had to do with the following mini-revelation that came to me as I was walking to the event: the problem with communication about climate change is that it has been too focused on climate change. The notion …

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Nuclear shillery and the reporters who buy it

Maddening

I'm way, way, waaay behind on this one, but I nonetheless want to draw your attention to two pieces on the massive, ongoing PR push from the nuclear industry. The first is an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review on the maddening phenomenon of mainstream news reporters accepting the claims of paid shills (i.e., Patrick Moore and Christie Todd Whitman) at face value, without making clear their relationship to the nuclear industry. The second is a more extensive and well-documented piece called "Moore Spin: Or, How Reporters Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Front Groups," by Diane Farsetta. It …

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How Many Queens Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Britain's Queen Elizabeth studying how to green her palaces Word on the street is HRH the Queen of England Her Majesty With the Breath of Baby's Breath Elizabeth is looking at ways to lessen the impact of her palaces. Proposals being floated include switching Buckingham Palace's 40,000 lights to efficient bulbs, building a turbine in the Thames to generate power for Windsor Castle, cooling the royal wine cellars with boreholes instead of air conditioning, and flying less. Last year, Lil and Prince Phil took 425 plane trips, including 45 overseas; they used the royal train (!) just 14 times. Reportedly …

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Then There’s the Short Term

Long-term radiation risks lower than some daily hazards, study finds Living in fear of a nuclear meltdown? Now you can relax! A new study says the long-term risks faced by survivors of two of the world's most notorious nuclear episodes -- the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the 1945 bombings of Japan -- are lower than the risks caused by urban air pollution, obesity, and smoking. For instance, the study found, while radiation exposure at Chernobyl may mean a 1 percent chance of contracting cancer later in life, living with a smoker increases mortality 1.7 percent. Those still living near the …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Carbon tax catching on?

Some signs point to yes

I never thought it would happen, but it looks like a carbon tax might actually become a viable policy option in the U.S. In the Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson discuss growing support for a tax over a cap-and-trade system. If you read between the lines, it basically breaks down like this: economists and policy wonks prefer a tax, because it would provide a predictable price trajectory and would be less subject to gaming and manipulation. Legislators, on the other hand, prefer a cap-and-trade system precisely because of its complexity -- that complexity will serve to hide price …

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CO2's lowest hanging fruit?

We’re inside it

We all know buildings are part of the global warming problem, but many people don't recognize how central they are to the solution. A recent UNEP report -- "Buildings and Climate Change: Status, Challenges and Opportunities" -- shines light on how relevant and accessible building-related climate change solutions are. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: By some conservative estimates, the building sector world-wide could deliver emission reductions of 1.8 billion tonnes of C02. A more aggressive energy efficiency policy might deliver over two billion tonnes or close to three times the amount scheduled to be reduced …

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Congress stepping up on climate and security

Finally recognizing environmental threats to national security

Building on Dave's link yesterday: Last week, the Senate's number two Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel proposed a bill calling for a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to assess the threat of climate to the United States and abroad. Refreshingly, the bill requires a 30-year time horizon. Climate scientists will still find this window painfully small, but security analysts (and the rest of government, frankly) will recognize this as progress in comparison to the normal Washington policy timelines (a few years, or until the next election). Momentum to consider climate and security connections has been growing over the …

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Al Gore and the Nobel committee, sittin' in a tree

Makin’ eyes at each other

Al Gore recently gave his talk on global warming in Norway, to an audience that included one Ole Danbolt Mjoes. Mjoes, as you may know, is the head of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee -- though he insisted he was attending as a private citizen. He said Gore's message is "very important," and took part in a one-minute standing ovation. Reuters has more: "I have Gore as a clear favorite," said Stein Toennesson, head of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo. "I think the committee will be unable to resist the temptation to add their voice" to concerns about …

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Pushing intelligence agencies to weigh in on climate change

Like, totally geo-green

Interesting: Senators of both parties are pushing for U.S. intelligence agencies to assess the danger to the nation's security posed by global warming. Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Wednesday introduced legislation that would "require a National Intelligence Estimate to assess the security challenges presented by the world's changing climate," according to a statement from their offices. National Intelligence Estimates, or NIEs, represent the best information and thinking of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, distilled by their analysts into a series of key judgments about national security threats and other issues. The legislation will also fund additional research …