Climate & Energy

Media enable denier spin, part one

A (sort of) cold January doesn’t mean climate stopped warming

I fully understand why spreaders of climate disinformation have hyped up a (sort-of) cold January as if it somehow provided scientific evidence to support their campaign to undermine the well-established scientific understanding of human-caused climate change. That's their job (literally, in many cases). But I can't understand why the media keep treating such disinformers as if they were a genuine part of the scientific process who deserve free publicity, rather than dangerous serial misleaders who don't believe in either science and real-world observations (but who repeatedly misuse one or the other to confuse to the general public). Our deep understanding of the climate is, as I've noted, based on hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that themselves are based on countless real-world observations over decades (and paleoclimate data extending back hundreds of thousands of years). It can't be undercut by a few weeks of cool weather -- and the really annoying thing, you may be surprised to learn, is they haven't even been remarkably cool! So I don't understand why the usually thoughtful Andrew Revkin would enable the disinformers write an NYT article titled "Climate Skeptics Seize on Cold Spell," or the usually thoughtful WSJ blog would write a similarly misguided piece, "Little Ice Age? Cold Snap Sparks Cooling Debate." Seriously. Who cares what non-climate-related factoid or piece of pseudo-science so-called "Climate Skeptics" seize on? And the only "debate" that has been sparked is one created by the disinformers and the media. [I will come back to the media critique at the end. In Part II I'll discuss, one more time, why they do not deserve the label "skeptics," and why I'm finally persuaded "deniers" isn't a great term. Let's call them "disinformers," for now, though a good case could be made for "would-be climate destroyers."]

Emissionaries wanted

Check out Oregon PeaceWorks’ ‘5% solution to the climate crisis’

Oregon PeaceWorks, a venerable peace and social justice organization based in Salem, Oregon, has adopted a program of action to intended to help head off the next resource war(s). It's called the "5% Solution to the Climate Crisis," and it makes explicit the link between a chaotic climate and the natural follow-on consequences, which can be summarized as "All four horsemen of the Apocalypse."

It's bloomin' idiotic

Can words describe how bad corn ethanol is?

Well, maybe my words can't describe how bad corn ethanol is, or Mayor Bloomberg's, or those of top scientists, but I think I have found someone's words that do: Opus's from Bloom Country. First, however, the lastest grim news from Fortune: "The ethanol boom is running out of gas as corn prices spike." Yes, "plans for as many as 50 new ethanol plants have been shelved in recent months." Why? Spurred by an ethanol plant construction binge, corn prices have gone stratospheric, soaring from below $2 a bushel in 2006 to over $5.25 a bushel today. As a result, it's become difficult for ethanol plants to make a healthy profit, even with oil at $100 a barrel. If you can't make money with oil at $100 a barrel, you are not much of an alternative fuel. But I know what you're thinking -- if corn ethanol is so bad, what's wrong with plants being scrapped? Well, the corn ethanol business is here to stay. The corn ethanol mandate from the most recent energy bill requires doubling supply from current levels. Fortune explains what that means:

Oh hell yes

More here.

Efficiency, anyone?

Power plants’ costs doubled since 2000

According to a new index by Cambridge Energy Research Associates: The cost of building a U.S. power plant has risen 130 percent since 2000, and 27 percent in the 12 months to October 2007 alone. CERA's Candida Scott explains most of the implications:

Letter in TAP

Green advocates urged to be reasonable

In last month’s print edition of The American Prospect, Chris Mooney had an article called "This will mean the world to us," about what a …

A sea of stats

Even more numbers to illuminate the vast ocean

Perhaps because it was released the same week as Ben Halpern and colleagues' excellent human impacts map, the new U.N. report "In Dead Water" has been met with little fanfare. It's too bad, because the report is a natural complement to the scientists' graphic illustration of the intersection between humans and the seas. "In Dead Water" takes a big-picture look at the five primary threats facing the oceans: pollution, climate change, overfishing, invasive species, and habitat loss. You can download the report here (PDF); I plucked out some of its major findings in an oceanic ode to the Harper's Index. With apologies to Lewis Lapham:

Slacker credits

This is from the very funny daily web comic Joy of Tech:

Climate skeptic tries to throw cold water on global warming, gets all wet

From an article titled "Cold Water on 'Global Warming'" (paraphrased): My climate change prediction is that no one outside of our own inner circle of discredited charlatans and industry shills will want to sit around and watch The Great Global Warming Swindle reruns for three straight days, even if it is at the Times Square Marriott. Once my prediction comes true, I can blame it all on the liberal media.