Climate & Energy

Monbiot lays it on the line

Politicians here and abroad are refusing to listen to arguments against biofuels

Gristmill reader KO has directed me to George Monbiot's latest article in the Guardian. You folks out there with "biodiesel / no war for oil" stickers are accused of perpetuating a crime against humanity. The article is a (concise and articulate) compilation of my most recent rants against biofuels. Some money quotes:

John Edwards

A call for moral boldness (and decentralized grids!)

Over at Rolling Stone‘s blog, Tim Dickinson says of this video: It just may change your opinion about John Edwards — in particular about how compelling a combination it is to be both a Southerner and an unabashed progressive. He starts his bit on global warming about halfway in. Decentralizing the energy grid gets a big shout-out.

Climate change and Pakistan's priorities

Climate change mitigation is related to building democracy and decreasing poverty

While the climate change "issue" is covered frequently in the press and is implicitly or explicitly part of the U.S. presidential campaign, for developing countries it is just one of many pressing issues. For the man on the street, at least in many of the countries I visit, climate change is important but not urgent. The same could be said of many other issues, of course, but what distinguishes climate change is that it is perceived as "an act of God" on which individual actions have only minimal impact. Unless it is linked to issues of social justice, energy security, economic growth, and the aspirations of a growing middle class in developing countries, support for action on climate change will remain pegged to the fortunes and attention of environmental liberals in the developed North. While on a recent trip to Pakistan, shortly after the Nobel Committee's Peace Prize announcement, I asked several people, "What do you think of Al Gore and the climate change issue winning the Nobel Peace Prize?" or alternatively, "What do you think climate change means for you and Pakistan?" Even to me these questions seemed ridiculous given what's going on in Pakistan -- especially the events of the past week, whenpa a U.S.-sponsored general showed what kind of friend he is to democracy. Answers ranged widely, from a sophisticated intellectual who had attended a viewing of Al Gore's film as part of a film discussion club, to people who had heard of Clinton but not Al Gore, to a few who said they had never heard of climate change. I looked in vain for any mention of climate change in the opinion pages of local newspapers, and while there was vibrant debate over important international issues (e.g., the nature of democracy, government ineptitude, pollution, poverty, the U.S. playing kingmaker, and energy shortages), there was nothing on climate policy. (Aside, that is, from glowing mention in a few blogs of the fact that one Pakistani national, Professor Adil Najam at Tufts University in the U.S., is a member of the IPCC and thus partial recipient of the Nobel Prize -- read his blog here.)

Energy demand, greenhouse-gas emissions expected to soar, says report

The International Energy Agency has released its annual World Energy Outlook, and it’s fair to say that the outlook is, um, not good. World energy demand is projected to surge by 55 percent by 2030, with China and India accounting for nearly half of that increase and China overtaking the U.S. as the globe’s primary energy glutton. Think $100-a-barrel oil is spendy? That’s nothin’, says the IEA, which predicts the price of crude could reach $159 by 2030. The IEA also expects a 73 percent jump in demand for coal by 2030. Relatedly, it predicts that greenhouse-gas emissions will be …

Lurching along on $100/barrel oil

Why we’re not conserving like it’s 1980

On Tuesday, the price of oil set yet another all-time nominal high, leaping above $97/barrel. More importantly, it has just about reached its all-time inflation-adjusted high, reached amid the turmoil of the Iran hostage situation way back in 1980, the Associated Press reports: Crude prices are within the range of inflation-adjusted highs set in early 1980. Depending on the how the adjustment is calculated, $38 a barrel then would be worth $96 to $103 or more today. Back in 1980, sky-high energy prices sparked a wave of efficiency measures within corporate America and in households. Today, not so much. Detroit …

Just another day in the right-wing media

Drug-addicted philanderer mocks civically engaged young Alaskan

We already knew that right-wing commentator Mark Steyn of the National Review enjoys belittling children's health problems and that right-wing bloggers attacked Graeme Frost's family when he spoke up for children's health insurance. But it seems that being mean to kids is becoming a kind of bizarre hobby of the right-wing media. This weekend, 5,500 students from across the nation came to the nation's capitol for Powershift 2007, the first national youth summit on climate change -- and the solutions to it. Yesterday, upwards of 3,000 people packed into the offices of members of Congress to press them for action to stop climate change with clean energy development that'll create 5 million new green-collar jobs. More on that in a later post. Representative Ed Markey invited five young people to testify before the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence, one of which was 18-year-old Cheryl Charlee Lockwood, a Yup'ik Eskimo from the community of St. Michaels on the Bering Sea. (Footage available here.) Here's what she told the committee:

The political climate is changing: Part I

Will climate change become the hottest issue of the presidential race?

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- In addition to his Oscar and Nobel Prize, Al Gore may be in line for the title of Prognosticator of the Year. Last January while I was attending his training program in Nashville, Gore predicted that by the time of the 2008 presidential election, climate change would be the hottest issue in the race. That prediction hasn't come true yet, but things are moving that way. Climate change is emerging like a tropical storm building to Category 5. It may become the issue that most clearly defines the candidates' courage, vision, ability to unify the nation, and willingness to be honest with the American people. "The most remarkable thing about the environmental debates taking place in this year's presidential campaign is that they're occurring at all," Time magazine reported this week. "Once the stuff of a few hug-the-planet bromides in green states like Vermont and Oregon, the environment is one of the hot topics of the 2008 campaign."

Coal is the enemy of the human race: Begging the question edition

You can’t begin an argument about coal’s future by assuming coal’s future

I swear, I don’t mean to just rant about stupid coal articles every day. But people keep writing stupid coal articles. I’m like Pavlov’s dog at this point — they say stupid things, I bash them. Good boy! The latest is this interview in Wired’s Planet Earth blog with Jeremy Carl, who researches how to clean up coal. Consider the very first bit of the intro: Coal is dirty. But coal is driving the U.S., Chinese and Indian economies. And therefore, coal is not going away. Yeeeaaargh! That makes no goddamn sense! "Humanity uses a lot of coal; therefore, humanity …

U.S. Capitol buys carbon offsets

As part of an ongoing greening plan, the U.S. Capitol is buying $89,000 worth of carbon credits to offset the 30,000 tons of greenhouse gases emitted annually by the antiquated coal plant that provides it with power. The Government Accountability Office plans to publish a review of the carbon-offset industry in April; some members of Congress asked House Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Beard, who will cut the offset check to the Chicago Climate Exchange, to hold off until the GAO report is published. Beard chose to go ahead, but also says that shutting down the coal plant is a priority …