Climate & Energy

Research panel discourages presidential plan for U.S. nuclear-waste reprocessing

A 17-member panel of researchers from the National Academy of Sciences released a report yesterday discouraging President Bush from continuing on his quest to resume U.S. nuclear waste reprocessing. The researchers said the president’s proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership plan has not been adequately peer reviewed and relies on unproven technology. Instead, the panel suggested that money currently going to GNEP should be redirected — to speeding construction of new nuclear power plants. Sigh, and we were all set to be cheery there for a moment.

Notable quotable

“I’ve been a Republican my whole life, but I’ll be doggoned if Al Gore isn’t right. Is it fair for you and me — this generation — to pollute for all the generations to come when we’re already seeing the effects — global warming, mercury, particulate matter?” – newly minted environmentalist Sammy Prim

From Campus: Making a power shift

Students organize summit on climate change

You know how some days you just get so wrapped up with those new Facebook apps that you barely notice when columnists in the nation's newspaper of note are talking shit about you behind your back? Earlier this month, Tom Friedman wrote: America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage ... of Generation Q [for "Quiet"]. That's what twentysomethings are for -- to light a fire under the country. But they can't email it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won't cut it ... Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy didn't change the world by asking people to join their Facebook crusades or to download their platforms. Activism can only be uploaded, the old-fashioned way -- by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall. Big numbers? Washington Mall? Why haven't students thought of this before? Oh, wait:

Climate equity: Saleemul Huq

From citizens of nation states to citizens of the world

((equity_include)) This is a guest essay by Saleemul Huq, head of the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This essay is part of a series on climate equity. —– Perceptions of climate change — and what must be done to tackle the problem — have evolved over time. With concerns about justice and equity now rising to the surface, it is time for a new era of global citizenry in which people around the world come together to both take and demand effective action. Back …

Great Lakes water wars

Race to make the Earth look like the Moon

What with drought threatening large sections of the American West and South, perhaps it should not be surprising to see this article from the Chicago Tribune, "Great Lakes key front in water wars; Western, Southern states covet Midwest resource," in which the reporter warns: With fresh water supplies dwindling in the West and South, the Great Lakes are the natural-resource equivalent of the fat pension fund, and some politicians are eager to raid it. The lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world's surface fresh water ... Water levels of the Great Lakes are down substantially, and while that may be part of the historic cycle of ups and downs, water managers argue the region must jealously guard what is here Even New Mexico Governor and Presidential candidate Bill Richardson couldn't resist the temptation to speculate on using the lakes. Fortunately, there is a concerted attempt to protect them: Eight Great Lakes-area states, from Minnesota to New York, and two Canadian provinces have proposed a regional water compact that would, among other things, strengthen an existing ban on major water diversions outside the Great Lakes Basin, home to 40 million Americans and Canadians

Introducing Auden Schendler: Part I

On those quotes in Businessweek’s ‘Little Green Lies’

This post is by guest blogger Auden Schendler, executive director for Community and Environmental Responsibility at the Aspen Skiing Company. Named a "Climate Crusader" in Time magazine's 2006 special issue on climate change, Auden once worked for Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute. You can read his full bio here. Auden has unique insights into the difficulties of corporate sustainability in the absence of government leadership and a price for carbon. ----- Recently, Businessweek covered Aspen Skiing Company's work on emissions reduction as part of an article titled "Little Green Lies." The article has received considerable coverage in the blogosphere because it addresses the gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to business claims on the environment. Joe asked me if I'd like to clarify that story, and I jumped at the opportunity. My main point, which probably didn't get across in the article, is that even at a remarkably progressive company like Aspen Skiing Company -- which has strong support from ownership, management, and staff -- cutting CO2 emissions is very difficult. Imagine how hard it must be in most standard businesses that don't have this level of buy-in. This statement may seem obvious, but it cuts against conventional wisdom. Most entities involved in emissions reduction have a stake in saying it's profitable, relatively easy, and sometimes fun. The NGO community makes its living on this perspective. The government needs its own programs to look good. And corporations have a stake in their perceived success as well.

Industry's plan for us

The many ways big money seeks to avoid reducing fossil fuel use

The following is a guest essay from Peter Montague, executive director of the Environmental Research Foundation. —– It now seems clear that the coal and oil industries are not going to allow the United States to curb global warming by making major investments in renewable sources of energy. These fossil fuel corporations simply have too much at stake to allow it. Simple physics tells us that the way to minimize the human contribution to global warming is to leave the remaining fossil fuels in the ground — stop mining them as soon as humanly possible. This obvious solution would require …

Revenue-neutral emission reduction for cities

What if there were more Berkeleys?

Imagine if more cities started doing this — neutralizing the upfront costs of solar. It would stimulate competition and innovation in the solar industry (more than there already are). Pretty soon there would be large economies of scale for solar power and the price would drop (faster than it already is). More cities would be lured into the program, stimulating yet more innovation and lower prices. So on and so on, the cycle of smart long-term investment. Tell me again why we think tackling global warming has to be expensive?

In the end …

… it will be transparency — political and financial — that kills the coal industry.

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