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Bush to cut funding for geothermal

The Bush administration wants to eliminate federal support for geothermal power just as many U.S. states are looking to cut greenhouse gas emissions and raise renewable power output. A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.

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Umbra on oil and plastic

Dear Umbra, How much oil is used to make a pound (or some other comparable measure) of typical plastics? Melody Evans Paris, Ill. Dearest Melody, Ah, Paris. Is it as lovely in the springtime as they say? Yes, Ben, plastics ... Photo: The Graduate (1967)/MGM Your question is a good and tricky one. Let's start with a look at how plastic is made. Manufacturers take simple hydrocarbons from whatever source material they're using -- commonly crude oil, but also natural gas, corn, and other biomass -- and turn them into polymers, a fancy word for chains of molecules. In the …

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Journalism, wonkery, advocacy, nuclear power, and the kitchen sink

Join me for some navel gazing!

There is sometimes a fine line between opposing something and not supporting it; between believing that something should be advocated against and believing it should not be advocated for; between believing that something is bad and believing that there are several better options. Two examples come to mind. One is adaptation, as opposed to mitigation, in response to climate change. (Much more on that soon.) The other is nuclear power. Readers of this blog probably think I oppose both adaptation and nuclear power, because they just don't get me, man my writing has been focused on how, in both cases, …

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Why is climate change not taken seriously in the U.S.?

Is it a communications failure?

Recent news articles have pointed out that we in the U.S. do not consider global warming a critical threat. Some bloggers have argued that this is the result of a communications failure (e.g., here or here or here). The decision whether to worry about a looming issue is a value judgment, not a scientific one. You and I could agree entirely on the science of climate change, but disagree about whether it's something for our society to address. For example, one argument against us worrying about climate change is that our descendants will be much richer than we are, so …

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On a Bing and an Err

Stanford and U.C. Berkeley criticized for partnerships with Big Oil Movie producer Steve Bing has yanked a promised $2.5 million donation to Stanford University in response to several TV and print ads wherein ExxonMobil touts its partnership with the school. Exxon is funding up to $100 million of Stanford's climate and energy research; Bing, whose family has given millions to his alma mater, is unimpressed. "ExxonMobil is trying to greenwash itself, and it's using Stanford as its brush," says Bing's spokesperson. In light of the Bing thing, concerns have risen about academic integrity in a just-announced 10-year, $500 million deal …

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A Little Light Music

U.S., E.U. push phaseout of incandescent bulbs, U.K. gets serious about carbon The world is seeing the energy-efficient light: a U.S. coalition including Philips Lighting and the Natural Resources Defense Council will push to phase out incandescent bulbs by 2016. And following the lead of Australia and California, European Union leaders have proposed ditching the bulbs even sooner, a plan that could reduce E.U. carbon emissions up to 25 million tons a year. E.U. President Angela Merkel, who uses energy-saving bulbs at home, offered her pitch: they're "not quite bright enough, so sometimes when I'm looking for something that's dropped …

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More on the 'reasonable middle'

Why Broad’s NYT piece isn’t all that important

[ed. note from David Roberts: It appears everyone in the climate world was writing about this piece at once! My response is here; RealClimate's is here; Tim Lambert's is here. Now take it away, Andrew.] William J. Broad writes today on the complicated relationship between Al Gore and the scientific community in the New York Times. Here's the thesis of the article: But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore's central points are …

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Debunking the NYT's sloppy hit piece on Gore

The gray lady gets it woefully, laughably wrong

Yesterday, Drudge breathlessly reported a coming "hit on Gore" from The New York Times. Today that hit has come, in the form of a state-of-the-art piece of slime from Bill Broad. This may be the worst, sloppiest, most dishonest piece of reporting I've ever seen in the NYT. It's got all the hallmarks of a vintage Gore hit piece: half-truths, outright falsehoods, unsubstantiated quotes, and a heaping dose of innuendo. As usual with these things, unless you've been following the debate carefully, you'll be left with a false impression -- in this case, that scientists are divided over the accuracy …

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He Believes in Miracles

Former Jamaican bobsled team founder seeks energy independence as mayor It's a career crisis we've all faced at some point: what comes after you've created the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team? For George Fitch, now the mayor of Warrenton, Va., the answer stinks. Fitch wants to make the 8,000-person town energy independent by 2010 by building a $30 million biomass plant at the local dump. Are you in love like we're in love? "You don't have to be a big fan of Al Gore to realize that this is critical to our community and our national security," says the Republican mayor, …

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Get Me Rewrite!

Part two of intergovernmental climate report no sunnier than part one No Monday would be complete without a dash of grim global-warming news, so here goes. Part deux of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is due out in April, and according to a draft, things are looking quite the opposite of good. The report, the second of four scheduled to be issued by IPCC this year, focuses on the effects of climate change. Among other bleak things, it says effects are already being felt -- as opposed to the 2001 report, which said chaos was still on its …

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