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Now That’s a Bald Spot

Demand for air conditioning in developing countries hurts ozone Remember when Britney had just broken up with K-Fed, and she seemed happy and healthy and getting her life back on track, and then things ... took a turn for the worse? Let us draw a slightly strained analogy to the ozone layer. As ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons were banned in Europe and began to be phased out in the U.S., the yawning ozone hole seemed to be closing -- but now demand for air conditioning in India and southern China is slowing the healing process. The main offending gas is refrigerant HCFC-22, …

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Eat local foods, import biofuels

A message from Kenya and Biopact

Over on the Biopact website -- probably the best website for up-to-date international news on bio-energy science and markets -- they have posted an interesting commentary, based on a BBC interview, on how small Kenyan farmers, Mr. Peter Ndivo and Mr. Samuel Mauthike, are affected by the confusion engendered by concepts such as "carbon footprints," "fair trade," and "food miles." Biopact's message? Buy your vegetables and fruits locally, if you must, but please allow developing countries to supply your biofuels. Here is the crux of their argument: If the consumer in Europe and America really wants to start buying local …

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The little green computer that could

British-built server up for big award

We here at Grist love computers, even if sometimes they don't love us back. Every once in a while, a piece of technology comes out that you can't help but get excited about (and I'm not talking about the iPhone). The internet has physical houses in which information, services, and sites like this one are stored. These computers, known as servers, are the "always on" engines that power the constant activity. Due to the mission-critical nature of such machines, performance and reliability are of primary importance. Terms like "energy efficiency" and "ecological footprint" rarely find the ears of system administrators. …

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Elements of an effective response to global warming

Debate shifting post-IPCC report

With the release of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, the debate over climate change has noticeably shifted from arguments about the reality of human-induced climate change to a debate over how to address the problem. For example, here on Gristmill an interesting debate has broken out over whether a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system is best to price carbon emissions (e.g., here or here or here). This is exactly the kind of thing we need to be debating, and I'm glad to see it. Given that climate change is a serious risk, what prudent actions should we take to …

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Plights of the Roundtable

International business group joins chorus begging for emissions regulations Yet another group of businesses has come out in support of international greenhouse-gas regulation. The Global Roundtable on Climate Change, which includes nearly 100 large companies, issued a statement Tuesday espousing an increasingly common belief: "If we delay too long in beginning the changeover to increasingly de-carbonized energy systems, the eventual costs will only rise and the impact of climate change will only become more severe." The pact urges world leaders to set "scientifically informed" binding limits on emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012, and put a price on carbon dioxide …

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Don’t Just Kiss Our Babies

New Hampshire climate activists take advantage of election spotlight The wee state of New Hampshire hopes to take advantage of its front-running primary election to make climate change a priority at the federal level. In March or thereabouts, at least 180 communities, constituting more than 75 percent of the state, will vote on a resolution that calls for the feds to get off their arses and support a national greenhouse-gas reduction program and sustainable-energy research. The (hopefully favorable) results will be compiled by the nonpartisan Carbon Coalition -- composed of greens, business groups, scientists, and others -- and presented to …

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Anything You Can’t Do I Can’t Do Better

E.U. sets emissions goals, will raise bar if other countries join Yesterday, European Union ministers agreed to a historic cut in greenhouse-gas emissions, and they're prepared to take things even further if other nations join them (ahem). The Continent will aim for a 20 percent cut from 1990 emissions levels by 2020; they'd strive for a 30 percent goal if, you know, others joined them (ahem). "The unilateral commitment to cut E.U. greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 -- the first of its kind -- shows we're willing to take concrete action on an issue that citizens care about," …

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Perry and Thrust

Judge's ruling could buy Texas coal-plant permit objectors more time They say everything's bigger in Texas, and that applies to coal battles too. A big ol' permit hearing on six of the power plants proposed by TXU Corp. was scheduled to kick off today, with opponents explaining why they're not keen to live in a "ring of fire." But the anti-coal crowd got a big ol' reprieve: a judge decided yesterday that the fast-track executive order issued for the permits by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) isn't binding. The decision, expected to delay the hearing, led activists to breathe a …

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Brit's Eye View: What should greens do about air travel?

When is it necessary, and what are the alternatives?

Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. The Bishop of London recently proclaimed that flying on holiday is a sin, a view that seems increasingly to be shared by greens in the U.K. Our environment minister, David Miliband, castigated Prince Charles for flying to America to receive an award, suggesting that he should have collected it via video-link. Mayer Hillman, author of How We Can Save the Planet and one of the more rigorous of our green thinkers, wants us to "drastically reduce or stop …

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AAAS the World Turns

Leading science organization takes a stand on climate change For the first time, the influential American Association for the Advancement of Science has weighed in on climate change. The verdict: it's bad. "The scientific evidence is clear," says a statement issued this weekend by the association, which publishes the journal Science. "Global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now and it is a growing threat to society." Pointing to retreating glaciers, rising sea levels, extreme weather, and unusually high atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, the 159-year-old society -- made up of 262 affiliated groups -- called for stronger …

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