Climate & Energy

OK, I'm demanding debate

Search for local climate skeptic in Texas proves fruitless

Awhile back, I ran across the web site (hat tip: Michael Tobis). The thrust of the website is that everyone should demand debate about climate change instead of gullibly accepting the Gore/alarmist view. Their slogan is, "I'm more worried about the intellectual climate." I am teaching a "intro to atmospheric science" class and had been trying to find a skeptic to come talk to the students. So I hit the contact button on the web site and asked: I would be interested in having an expert from your group come speak to my atmospheric sciences class. Unfortunately, I don't have any money to support travel, so I'm hopeful that you have someone local to the area (we could probably pay for mileage to/from Houston, Austin, Dallas, or other local cities). Thanks! I didn't expect to get a response, but Steve Milloy himself e-mailed me back: Hi Andrew, Can't think of anyone offhand. But will think about it. BTW, you could always show them The Great Global Warming Swindle. We also have a YouTube video: Steve I found that unsatisfactory, so I e-mailed back:

Asian countries sign on to vague climate pact

Leaders of 14 Asian countries, along with Australia and New Zealand, have signed onto a climate pact that says — well, nothing in particular, really. Maybe it’s the thought that counts, but setting specific goals for addressing a rather important global crisis would count for a hell of a lot more. In our humble opinion.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be efficiently lit

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is up; once it’s lit on Nov. 28, we can no longer deny that The Holiday Season is in full swing. We can, however, ogle the tree guilt-free, as the towering evergreen will be lit by energy-efficient LED bulbs and powered in part by solar energy.

Dream of hydrogen car goes down in flames

Full-cell company bought by Daimler and Ford

Ballard -- the Canadian fuel-cell company that once hoped to be the "Intel Inside of the hydrogen car revolution -- has sold off its automotive fuel-cell business to Daimler and Ford. You can listen to a good CBC radio story on it, which includes an interview of me (click on "Listen to the Current," Part 2). You can read Toronto Star columnist Tyler Hamilton on the story here. A Financial Post post piece headlines the story bluntly: "Hydrogen highway hits dead end: Ballard's talks with potential buyers is admission that dream of hydrogen fuel car is dead: analyst." The story has a keen interpretation of the sale's meaning from Research Capital analyst Jon Hykawy:

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown makes ambitious climate speech

In his first major speech on the environment, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested that Britain could aim to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. To accomplish said goal, Brown promised that all new dwellings in Britain will be zero-carbon by 2016, and that free insulation, low-energy light bulbs, and efficient appliances will be distributed widely to homes over the next few years. He wants to eliminate plastic bags and source 40 percent of British energy from renewables by 2020. He also said that the climate crisis will spur a “technological revolution” and announced a summit to …

What he said

Tobis on the multidimensionality of the climate discussion

Readers know that I was mightily bothered by Andy Revkin’s attempt to classify certain thinkers as part of the "middle" of the climate debate. Some folks have attacked Revkin because they think one "side" — the "alarmist" side — is correct. That wasn’t quite my point. What I was trying to get at I just found summarized in a comment by Michael Tobis over on John Fleck’s site. Tobis makes the point with many fewer words: Opinion space is multidimensional, not linear. That is my problem with Revkin’s approach. Journalism’s common error isn’t just about concentrating on extremes, it’s about …

Delay of the land

Drastic delays proposed for Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup

The following is a guest post from Gina Barteletti, publications and volunteer coordinator at Heart of America Northwest. —– The U.S. Department of Energy is proposing to add more deadly, toxic waste to Washington State’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation before existing waste is cleaned up. At the same time, DOE is proposing changes to the Tri-Party Agreement (TPA), also known as the Hanford Cleanup Agreement, which could add decades to cleanup. DOE has proposed to empty only 20 of the 149 leaky single-shell nuclear waste tanks by September 2019 — only one tank retrieved each year. Additionally, DOE proposed a 22-year …

The states of high gas prices

How oil-intense is your state’s economy?

Last time I checked, oil prices were hovering just below $100 per barrel. This reminds me of something I used to obsess about: high oil prices hit some places harder than others. All else being equal, oil-efficient economies are more insulated from oil price shocks than are economies that require large oil inputs to function. I'm not talking about the amount of oil consumption, but about the "oil-intensity" of an economy. New York state consumes a lot of oil, and it also produces a lot of wealth. Other states, such as Louisiana, consume a lot of oil, but don't produce anywhere near as much wealth per unit of energy. (In fact, New York produces five times as much wealth per barrel of oil as Louisiana.) Just so, when oil prices skyrocket, Rhode Island suffers less pain than Texas. And Massachusetts feels less of a pinch than Wyoming. So at the risk of oversimplification, I'll propose a little schema for the future: If the future is likely to bring high oil prices, and we'd like to remain prosperous, then we should probably start weaning our economies from petroleum. Brilliant, I know. I guess one potential lesson here is that our big capital investments shouldn't expose us to decades of oil price shocks. (Yeah, I'm talking to you, highway.) They should insulate us from high oil prices. (Oh, hi there, compact walkable neighborhood.) So, how do all 50 states stack up? Find out below the jump ...

Indiana regulators approve coal plant

Apparently not having received the memo that denying coal plants is the hip thing to do, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has approved an application from Duke Energy to build a coal-gasification plant in the city of Edwardsport. The bright side (if you can call it that): Duke will have to submit a plan on how to capture carbon-dioxide emissions from the plant. But still.

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