Climate & Energy

Historical warm periods linked to increased insect activity

This news has us buggin': Historical warm periods have been linked with an explosion of insect activity, and not-so-distant future warm periods may very well see the same, says new research published in the Proceedings …

Theo Jansen's creatures

Wind-powered autonomous artificial life

A friend of mine showed me this video last weekend, and I just wanted to show you all how freaking cool it is. It's a ongoing work of Dutch artist Theo Jansen, who's literally creating artificial creatures that can move on their own and survive autonomously on a beach. Wind-powered and updated using simulated genetic evolution ... well, just look!

Greenland study

Sea-level rise could be double IPCC projections

Last year, Nature Geoscience and Science (PDF) published major articles suggesting that the consensus projection for sea-level rise this century was far too low -- and could be as high as five feet. Now the Journal of Glaciology joins in with a remarkable analysis, "Intermittent thinning of Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland, since the Little Ice Age" (PDF). The lead author, Beata Csatho from the University of Buffalo, explains implications of this work for the traditionally very simplified ice sheet models, such as those used by United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to make projections of sea-level rise:

Midwest refineries source more crude from tar sands; emissions will rise

Emissions from Midwest oil refineries are expected to jump by up to 40 percent in the next 10 years, thanks in large part to an industry-wide trend of sourcing crude oil from Canada’s tar sands. …

London mayor triples fee for most-polluting cars entering city center

London Mayor Ken Livingstone tripled the fee drivers of the most-polluting vehicles will have to pay to enter the city center beginning in October, from about $16 to $49. The so-called congestion charge was introduced …

Obama says will move immediately on international climate pact

Prior to his weekend wins in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barack Obama promised to begin developing the U.S. position on an international pact to halt global warming now, instead of waiting …

Welcoming our new efficiency overlords

Have you been naughty with your light bulbs? You need some good old command and control.

The so-called incandescent light bulb ban (not actually a ban) included as part of the recent energy bill has prompted a low-level but consistent set of complaints that deserve further consideration, because they betray a fair amount of confusion about which policy tools to break out for which issues. On the right, the reaction to the new lighting efficiency standard has ranged from hysterical whining to hysterical snark. But even on the left, it's fairly common to run across the high-minded opinion that finicky legislation like the lighting efficiency standard only wastes time and stirs up needless recrimination. Instead we should set a price on carbon, and let the market sort out the rest. It's an excellent theory, one that I subscribe to under most circumstances, but sometimes command and control really is just the thing. The math on light bulbs is pretty easy to run. Follow along if you're interested, or just skip the next two paragraphs.

G7 countries call for clean-technology fund for developing nations

The Group of Seven richest nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.S. — have called for investment in a multibillion-dollar fund to provide climate-change-fightin’ clean technology to developing countries.

A climate for old men

Spearheading transit for livable cities at 93

I recently ended 100 days without Grist. And wouldn't you know, the title of the first post I saw, "No climate for old men," spoke directly to the reason I was away. No, I wasn't with the McCain campaign. Rather, I was immersed in a project, spearheaded by a really old man, that could become a terrific tool for beating back the climate crisis. That man is 93-year-old Ted Kheel, legendary New York labor-lawyer-turned-environmentalist. His project is a study of the feasibility of financing free mass transit in New York City through congestion pricing and other charges on driving. I directed the study (PDF), which has just been released, and I think its implications could be huge, not just for New York but for every city in the U.S. and around the world.

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