Update [2007-9-25 15:12:2 by Tom Philpott]:In the 24-hour lag time between finishing this piece and its posting, I had an email exchange with Keith Smith of the University of Edinburgh, one of the authors of the study discussed below. I’ve modified the post to add information I got from Smith. By all accounts, biofuels deliver startlingly modest reductions in greenhouse gases. In a relatively generous assessment of the environmental benefits of ethanol and biodiesel released last year, University of Minnesota researchers credited corn-based ethanol with 12 percent less net greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline, while finding that soy-based biodiesel emits 41 …
As an undergrad at Brown University and a veteran organizer with the Sierra Student Coalition, Nathan Wyeth has his ear to the ground on campus sustainability issues. In this occasional column for Grist, Wyeth will report on what's afoot at the campus grassroots level and how he and his fellow students are making their voices heard. ----- A debate has been swirling on Gristmill for the past few weeks over the role of voluntary actions versus government policy in solving climate change specifically, and environmental problems generally. I'd like to stir this pot further and add another ingredient -- what might be looked at as an in-between of sorts: social entrepreneurship. Bill Clinton in the Atlantic Monthly touted a reinvention of charity, and Adam Werbach in Fast Company touted a reinvention of Wal-Mart. This whole social entrepreneurship thing is clearly "the new black." For the purpose of discussing it, I'll define social entrepreneurship as business that achieves profit through the delivery of public (social or environmental) goods. I could tell that this was not just a media phenomenon after only a few days back on campus this fall.
Take that, housing market: Solar-powered homes in California are outshining the competition.
There's going to be a lot of hype around the Bush climate summit this week. The key buzzwords of the global warming delayers are "aspirational," "technology," and "intensity." The more someone uses those words, the less serious they are about stopping climate change. The bottom line is that any international global warming agreement must include prompt, binding, and enforceable greenhouse-gas reductions by the United States or else the agreement will fail and all nations will suffer the consequences. Some other key points:
If our own Brian Beutler’s blogging from the UN climate meeting isn’t sating your ravenous appetite for … blogging from the UN climate meeting, check out Hill Heat for a roundup of other bloggers at the event and what they’ve written.
An article on the benefits of using economic prizes instead of subsidies as incentives for alternative fuel research appeared in Monday's edition of National Review Online, an extremely right-wing publication. Besides the fact that this is a good idea that economists have been increasingly talking about over the past few years, there are a couple additional take-away points: There are many people on the right who are sincerely interested in environmental progress and who are thinking seriously about the best ways to move forward. Being able to converse relatively proficiently about economics and market principles, not just acknowledgment of the problems, is the best way to create a bipartisan consensus on policy. People on the right will listen to these and often agree.
Many corporations are recognizing the impact of climate change on business as usual, and in response are disclosing and working to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions, says a new report from the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project. The group’s fifth annual survey of the world’s 500 largest companies boasted a 75 percent response rate; of those, 80 percent of businesses found climate change to present a commercial risk, 82 percent recognized increased commercial opportunities, and 76 percent said they had implemented programs to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. While the responses aren’t independently verified and should be taken with a grain of salt, the numbers …
The following is a guest post from Terry Tamminen and Stewart J. Hudson. Tamminen is the Cullman Senior Climate Policy Fellow at the New America Foundation. His latest book is Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction. Hudson is president of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and co-chair of the U.S. Climate and Energy Funders Group. Preparations for President Bush's Sept. 27-28 summit of world leaders on climate change are underway and will determine how the president sets the tone for this historic meeting. He can restore American leadership by calling for mandatory reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, or he can shoot for the lowest common denominator as a means of sticking with the status quo. "Science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it," the president said recently. In keeping with this new perspective, there are three steps he could take now to make this summit a success.
Hitting a record low on September 16, 2007, the Arctic lost half a million square miles of ice compared to its last record low just two years ago. For all the details, check out the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) website, which notes "the Northwest Passage is still open, but is starting to refreeze." We are still on track for an ice free Arctic by 2030, decades ahead of the climate models. This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.