Climate & Energy

Cool things happening at the local level

California ‘cool cities’ are taking the lead on climate change

Now in her seventh term, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) represents California's 36th Congressional District. Jane Harman. Even sunny skies and pleasant ocean breezes over much of our state can't mask the fact that Californians breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation. California is the world's 12th largest source of carbon dioxide, the chief heat-trapping gas that causes global warming. As dirty as our air is, we are taking the lead nationally in trying to make the air cleaner and our actions greener. Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law ambitious legislation establishing the goal of reducing dangerous emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. And yet many in Washington, D.C., are unhappy with California's efforts and are working to undermine and override state laws and regulations designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote cleaner fuels. Several weeks ago, emails from the U.S. Department of Transportation suggested senior-level administrators, and possibly the secretary of transportation herself, have been lobbying on behalf of automobile interests to persuade the EPA not to issue a waiver allowing California's clean-air rules. Currently, the Bush administration and Gov. Schwarzenegger are at odds over whether California can do its part to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles. Sixteen other states have either adopted or are planning to adopt the California standard, so if the U.S. EPA grants the waiver, it would directly impact 40 percent of the U.S. auto market. In April, Schwarzenegger sent a letter to the EPA giving them six months to act on his waiver before he would be forced to file a lawsuit. Six months have now passed, and the EPA has still not made a decision. Not one to make an empty threat, Schwarzenegger's administration filed suit today demanding that the EPA make a decision on the waiver. It is unclear how this standoff will end, and whether the Bush administration will allow California the leeway to regulate its own emissions. Fortunately, the feds cannot impede a growing effort to address global warming now underway at the local level: the "Cool Cities" program.

Curses, oiled again!

High oil prices reshape the geopolitical landscape

Check out Mark Landler on how rising oil prices are changing the geopolitical landscape. Here’s the nut: The prospect of triple-digit oil prices has redrawn the economic and political map of the world, challenging some old notions of power. Oil-rich nations are enjoying historic gains and opportunities, while major importers — including China and India, home to a third of the world’s population — confront rising economic and social costs. Hey, I can think of another major importer. I wonder if it too will "confront rising economic and social costs"? Managing this new order is fast becoming a central problem …

Poll: 107 percent of respondents willing to blow smoke up pollsters' asses

New BBC poll finds that people are excited about paying more and sacrificing

I’m the last one in the greenosphere to mention it, but check out this new poll of 22,000 people in 21 countries (full results PDF), done by the BBC and PIPA. The big takeaway is that more than 80% of people say they’re willing to make substantial changes in their lifestyle in order to go green. Supposedly, 50% of people worldwide support a tax on oil and coal, and more if the revenue is specifically targeted to renewables and efficiency. This, however, is revealing: In almost all countries in Europe, and in the US, most people said they believed the …

Murkowski condemns Rush to judgment

Alaska Senator defends young constituent against Limbaugh’s attacks

Those of you who don’t read the comments under our posts may have missed this. Two days ago Nathan Wyeth brought news that talk radio gasbag Rush Limbaugh has been mocking a young Yup’ik Eskimo from Alaska who came to testify to Congress about the accelerating loss of her people’s traditional way of life due to climate change. During her testimony, she broke down in tears. Said Limbaugh: “Wah, wah, wah, wah.” You should know that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), who represents young Cheryl Charlee Lockwood, defended her constituent in comments, saying that “her motives for testifying were unfairly questioned” …

Vote early and often

I don’t usually pay much attention to the Weblog Awards, but it has come to my attention that the odious skeptic blog Climate Audit has marshaled its flat earth fanboys to push it in the lead for “best science blog.” That just ain’t right. Unless you want to hear Glenn Beck repeating a new talking point ad nauseum, head on over and vote for the more sensible Bad Astronomy. Go on. It will only take a sec.

Food companies damaging climate through deforestation, says new report

The makers of such familiar products as Pringles, KitKat, and Philadelphia cream cheese are contributing to deforestation and climate change, says a new report from Greenpeace. Companies like Unilever, Kraft, and Nestle use palm oil from Indonesia in their products. And guess what happens in Indonesia when the palm-oil peddlers come calling? Virgin forests are cut down, valuable peatlands are drained, and all hell breaks loose. Such deforestation and drainage releases carbon dioxide — in fact, Indonesia now ranks third in human-made carbon emissions, behind the U.S. and China. Demand for palm oil for cosmetics and biofuels is only upping …

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: First full committee hearing

America’s Climate Security Act goes before Boxer’s Environment Committee

Well, so much for enjoying Boxer's continued grilling. Early in the hearing, after one brief but blistering round of questions, she had to depart for votes on the Senate floor. She passed the gavel down to Joe Lieberman, who also had to leave, and down it went until it reached Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who closed up the hearing -- a brief one by Senate standards. Sanders remains the only member of the committee asking serious questions about renewable energy. He pokes the most significant holes in the skeptic argument that drastically decreasing our carbon consumption will also drastically decrease our standard of living. It's nice having heroes, but he needs more support. Here are links to opening statements from Chairman Boxer (D-Ca.) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Ok.) and testimony from the witnesses, submitted for the record:

Clinton, Daley to green Sears Tower, other Chicago landmarks

The tallest building in North America is officially going green, along with a few of its Windy City counterparts. At a green building expo in Chicago yesterday, former President Bill Clinton and eterna-Mayor Richard Daley announced a partnership to retrofit landmarks including the Sears Tower and the Merchandise Mart, the nation’s largest commercial center. Using features like wind turbines and green roofs, the endeavor will seek to save energy, fight climate change, and — perhaps most important — show other communities and countries around the world that environment and economy do mix. Green building and other climate fixes represent “a …

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: First full committee hearing

America’s Climate Security Act goes before Boxer’s Environment Committee

Today is the first hearing on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill in the full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Now that we're out of subcommittee, the expert witnesses aren't all cleverly selected special guests of the bill's authors. So we're hearing, right now, from people like Anne E. Smith, vice president of CRA International, which represents some, shall we say, unsavory anti-environmental companies. This is not a mark-up hearing, so the bill won't be changing shape today. Events like this are in large part Kabuki theater -- events with the patina of a fact-finding mission, meant to provide members who already plan to vote "yes" or "no" on the legislation with the expert cover they think they need to do so. But there is, I suppose, the off chance that people like Smith and Dr. Margo Thorning of the American Council for Capital Formation will knock an on-the-fence senator away from supporting this or other, stronger bills. More likely, though, it will just create an opportunity for Boxer to smack Smith around for not disclosing the fact that her company works on behalf of Arco, Haliburton, Exxon Mobil, and on and on, and for Jonathan Pershing of the World Resources Institute to make people like Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) look like idiots.