Climate & Energy

On climate, Hu's leading whom?

Snappy comebacks for the climate do-nothing set who’s using China as an excuse

On a hot day this summer, Chinese President Hu Jintao and a group of state leaders appeared at a public function wearing short-sleeved shirts, rather than their normal business suits. According to the state press, the casual attire wasn't just a new fashion statement: China's top brass were leading by example, encouraging Chinese workers to dress in light clothing in order to reduce the use of air conditioners in office buildings. Fashions do change. Outright denial of global warming is out of vogue. Instead, the climate change do-nothing set is sporting this season's new line: "Why should we bother trying to fight climate change when China won't do anything to reduce its emissions?" (Conservative communications consultant Frank Luntz even insists that the "'international fairness' issue is an emotional home run." Emotional home run? One might ask what a win looks like in his game?) How to counter this flawed logic? Hu Jintao's climate-fighting wardrobe choices aside, here are three ways:

The twilight of Inhofe

One last rant from the Senate’s loopy streetcorner anti-prophet

Sen. James Inhofe has become something of an epic figure, worthy of contemplation by historians, playwrights, or perhaps psychoanalysts. The zeitgeist, which once seemed to rise up around him like a thundercloud, has now moved on, leaving him dripping and bedraggled, resorting to ever more unhinged grand gestures to try to recapture some of the old magic. His historical moment is over, as his career may soon be, but he’s not going gently into that good night. Quite the contrary: he seems to have entered some sort of bizarre fugue state, taking to the Senate floor for over two hours …

Cities and counties take note

Berkeley shows the way to climate change mitigation at a local level

The city of Berkeley, Calif., shows how to take serious action on climate disruption by paying up-front costs to help residents switch to solar power. This could be done at any scale, from village to nation. All that is needed is wisdom and an understanding that any "ROI" (return on investment) calculation that doesn't include the risk that failure to respond to climate disruption will bankrupt us (in addition to its moral bankruptcy) isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Berkeley, Calif., suggests innovative solar scheme

The Berkeley, Calif., city council will soon vote on an innovative scheme to front the cost of solar panels to homeowners, who would pay the city back over 20 years as a property tax add-on. The amount to be paid back would be roughly what homeowners would save on electric bills by being sun-powered. “This plan could be our most important contribution to fighting global warming,” says Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. “We’ve already seen interest from all over the U.S. People really think this plan can go.” What will those crazy hippies think of next?

BP settles three federal investigations

Oil giant BP settled three federal investigations yesterday. Drumroll please … In regards to the 2005 Texas refinery explosion that killed 15 workers, BP will admit it is Beyond Guilty to felony charges of violating the Clean Air Act and not enforcing safety standards, and will pay a $50 million fine. In regards to last year’s snafu with leaky oil pipelines in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the company will plead guilty to a misdemeanor for violating the Clean Water Act and will pay $20 million in fines. And in regards to allegations that it manipulated the propane market in 2004, BP …

Can't we all just get along?

Gore, partisanship, and climate change

A Gore conservatives could love? Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage. One of the stranger things I sometimes read about Al Gore is that because he is so partisan, because he turns off a certain bloc of the U.S. public, he is flawed as a leader on climate change. Surely the issue deserves a prophet that’s not so sullied by politics! This seems confused. In terms of spreading awareness and generating pressure behind a response, Gore has done more than anybody in the world on this issue, by a quantum leap. If there are leaders in the wings with the potential to be …

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