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With Our Tailpipe Between Our Legs

U.S. cars are tops in CO2 emissions The U.S. boasts 30 percent of the world's cars and is responsible for almost half of global car-caused greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a new report by Environmental Defense. American-driven cars emit 15 percent more carbon dioxide per mile than the global average (meaning, in essence, they get worse gas mileage). Plus, Americans just drive more: 29 percent above the global average. In 2004, U.S. cars and light trucks drove the equivalent of the distance to and from Pluto ... more than 470 times. Small cars in toto emit more CO2 than SUVs because …

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Club Afoot

Sierra Club sues Pentagon for holding up new wind farms The Sierra Club is suing the Defense Department for effectively halting new development of wind farms in the name of homeland security. The suit charges that the department failed to complete a congressionally mandated study on how wind turbines affect military radar by a May 8 deadline; at least 15 new wind projects await completion of the study. "If the military can have windmills and effective radar at Guantanamo, why can't we have both in the Midwest?" asked Sierra Club attorney Kristin Henry, who noted that delayed construction could make …

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The Mend Is Nigh

Some scientists look to geoengineering to stave off climate change What will it take to stop global warming? Reducing developed-world consumption and funding clean technologies in the developing world? Boooring. Human-engineered ultra-reflecting clouds, altered carbon-soaking oceans, trillions of little sunshades floating in space? Now we're talking! "We should treat these ideas like any other research and get into the mind-set of taking them seriously," says the president of the National Academy of Sciences. Geoengineering -- large-scale rearranging of the earth's environment so that we can continue to live here comfortably -- has produced such suggestions as reflecting the sun's rays …

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‘Cause I’m the Waxman

House Democrat introduces climate bill that would actually help climate For all the buzz about global warming in the U.S. popular press of late, the few pieces of legislation that have made their way to the halls of Congress have been woefully inadequate (of course, even those have failed to pass). But last week, to little fanfare, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) introduced the Safe Climate Act -- a bill that would actually reduce greenhouse-gas emissions as much as scientists say we need to in order to avoid catastrophic, irreversible changes to the climate. The bill would require the U.S. to …

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Rep. Henry Waxman’s Safe Climate Act

For weeks now, I've had an open tab in Firefox with Rep. Henry Waxman's Safe Climate Act languishing in it, waiting for my loving bloggy ministrations. Today, I finally had a look, and Ana's right -- this is a more powerful and more sensible plan that the one Kerry described yesterday. The main reason, in my view, is not so much the stronger ultimate target (80% vs. 65% below 2000 emissions by the year 2050) but the incrementalism -- precisely the problem ffletcher identified. Here's the capsule version of the plan: Science tells us that we face a grave risk …

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Olive Twist

"Climate-change farmer" plants England's first olive grove Britain's first olive grove has been planted in Devon in southwestern England -- made possible by global warming. Traditionally an iconic crop of Mediterranean regions, the olive may soon be able to flourish in more northerly climes, some specialists believe, thanks to rising temperatures. Olive entrepreneur Mark Diacono hopes that his "climate-change farm" will produce Britain's first homegrown olive oil in five to seven years. Diacono, who plans to grow his crops organically, has also planted warm-weather-loving apricots and almonds. The only question, he says, is "have I done this 10 years too …

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Kerry energy speech

John Kerry -- approaching full campaign mode -- delivered a major energy speech yesterday. It blahs on and on toward the beginning, but finishes strong. (Here's an mp3 of the speech.) Even reading his text, I imagine him delivering it and drift to somnolence. But this 'graph is choice: For evidence, look no further than the fake energy bill Congress enacted over bipartisan objections -- a monstrosity with no guiding national goal, no tough decisions, no change in priorities -- just a logrolling, back-scratching collection of subsidies for any industry with the clout to get a seat at the table …

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A conversation with the makers of Who Killed the Electric Car?

Chris Paine, the director of Who Killed the Electric Car?, looks a little embarrassed as he walks toward his waiting limo. "I should really have them drop us off a block away from the theater," he says, laughing uneasily. At least he's carpooling. Dean Devlin and Chris Paine at Sundance. Photo: Fred Hayes/WireImage. With him are Dean Devlin, one of the film's executive producers (whose other projects include Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot); former electric-vehicle sales rep Chelsea Sexton, who appears in the film; and Sexton's husband, Bob, who helped launch Saturn before becoming the go-to technician for EV …

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Profit and Laos

Big dam project in Laos aims to minimize environmental and social damage A controversial hydropower dam under construction in Laos will serve as a test case for whether a large dam can be built without trampling too heavily on the natural world and human rights. Supporters, including the World Bank, say the Nam Theun 2 dam will set a new standard for social and environmental responsibility. Activists aren't convinced; they're concerned about the 6,000 people to be displaced, the dam's location next to a forest with endangered species, and the effect on water quality for up to 100,000 people downstream. …

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Heh Heh, He Said Buttress

Greenland is melting fast and worrying scientists Greenland's name may soon be more accurate, as its two-mile-thick ice sheet is melting twice as fast as it was five years ago -- faster than climate models predicted. Since 1991, the average winter temperature has risen almost 10 degrees; by 2005, the landmass was losing up to 52 cubic miles of ice a year. Meltwater has lubricated the bedrock beneath, causing glaciers to slide toward the sea more quickly. That is, to say the least, bad news: "[The glaciers] are like the buttresses of the high cathedral. If you remove the buttress, …

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