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But What About Liechtenstein?

Survey unearths international climate-change attitudes A majority of South Koreans believe global warming is a critical threat. Same with Iranians. And Mexicans. And Israelis. But Americans -- not so much, says a recent survey of more than 20,000 people in more than 15 countries. Granted, the U.S. could have been more ignorant: a solid 46 percent of Americans deemed climate change critical, and an additional 39 percent labeled it "important." Also encouraging: 43 percent of U.S. residents favor attacking global warming even if it involves "significant costs," while a mere 17 percent favor the let's-study-it-some-more approach. Chinese views were similar …

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I Think I Can’t, I Think I Can’t

Automakers tell Congress why fuel-economy improvements won't work Congress hosted a few more cranky white men yesterday, as the CEOs of Chrysler, Ford, GM, and Toyota's North American division appeared before a House subcommittee to explain why they couldn't possibly raise fuel-economy standards. Joined by the head of the United Auto Workers, the churlish chiefs pointed to the high costs of meeting a 4 percent a year raise proposed by President Bush, saying it posed a threat to jobs and retirees' health care. They also said using ethanol and regulating tailpipe emissions would be better ways to wean the U.S. …

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Take That, Iowa

New Hampshire towns send climate-change message to feds The votes are in, and the message is clear: New Hampshire is peeved about global warming. Nearly 90 towns approved a nonbinding resolution at their annual meetings this week telling the feds to act on climate change and harrumphing that presidential candidates should make it a priority in their campaigns. About 90 more will debate the resolution -- which also endorses the idea of a national sustainable-energy research initiative -- at upcoming town meetings this spring. Given its traditional first-in-the-nation primary status, the tiny state's fist-shaking is nothing to sneeze at. "There's …

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Compare and contrast

Bush to cut funding for geothermal

The Bush administration wants to eliminate federal support for geothermal power just as many U.S. states are looking to cut greenhouse gas emissions and raise renewable power output. A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.

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Umbra on oil and plastic

Dear Umbra, How much oil is used to make a pound (or some other comparable measure) of typical plastics? Melody Evans Paris, Ill. Dearest Melody, Ah, Paris. Is it as lovely in the springtime as they say? Yes, Ben, plastics ... Photo: The Graduate (1967)/MGM Your question is a good and tricky one. Let's start with a look at how plastic is made. Manufacturers take simple hydrocarbons from whatever source material they're using -- commonly crude oil, but also natural gas, corn, and other biomass -- and turn them into polymers, a fancy word for chains of molecules. In the …

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Journalism, wonkery, advocacy, nuclear power, and the kitchen sink

Join me for some navel gazing!

There is sometimes a fine line between opposing something and not supporting it; between believing that something should be advocated against and believing it should not be advocated for; between believing that something is bad and believing that there are several better options. Two examples come to mind. One is adaptation, as opposed to mitigation, in response to climate change. (Much more on that soon.) The other is nuclear power. Readers of this blog probably think I oppose both adaptation and nuclear power, because they just don't get me, man my writing has been focused on how, in both cases, …

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Why is climate change not taken seriously in the U.S.?

Is it a communications failure?

Recent news articles have pointed out that we in the U.S. do not consider global warming a critical threat. Some bloggers have argued that this is the result of a communications failure (e.g., here or here or here). The decision whether to worry about a looming issue is a value judgment, not a scientific one. You and I could agree entirely on the science of climate change, but disagree about whether it's something for our society to address. For example, one argument against us worrying about climate change is that our descendants will be much richer than we are, so …

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On a Bing and an Err

Stanford and U.C. Berkeley criticized for partnerships with Big Oil Movie producer Steve Bing has yanked a promised $2.5 million donation to Stanford University in response to several TV and print ads wherein ExxonMobil touts its partnership with the school. Exxon is funding up to $100 million of Stanford's climate and energy research; Bing, whose family has given millions to his alma mater, is unimpressed. "ExxonMobil is trying to greenwash itself, and it's using Stanford as its brush," says Bing's spokesperson. In light of the Bing thing, concerns have risen about academic integrity in a just-announced 10-year, $500 million deal …

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A Little Light Music

U.S., E.U. push phaseout of incandescent bulbs, U.K. gets serious about carbon The world is seeing the energy-efficient light: a U.S. coalition including Philips Lighting and the Natural Resources Defense Council will push to phase out incandescent bulbs by 2016. And following the lead of Australia and California, European Union leaders have proposed ditching the bulbs even sooner, a plan that could reduce E.U. carbon emissions up to 25 million tons a year. E.U. President Angela Merkel, who uses energy-saving bulbs at home, offered her pitch: they're "not quite bright enough, so sometimes when I'm looking for something that's dropped …

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More on the 'reasonable middle'

Why Broad’s NYT piece isn’t all that important

[ed. note from David Roberts: It appears everyone in the climate world was writing about this piece at once! My response is here; RealClimate's is here; Tim Lambert's is here. Now take it away, Andrew.] William J. Broad writes today on the complicated relationship between Al Gore and the scientific community in the New York Times. Here's the thesis of the article: But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore's central points are …

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