Climate & Energy

Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump moves structures to account for fault line

If falsified quality-assurance documents and vehement opposition from locals (among other things) aren’t enough to put Nevada’s Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump on your list of Bad Places to Dump Nuclear Waste, may we offer you an inconveniently located underground fault line?

Suffer the little children -- from carbon offsets?

A clean tech firm accuses a carbon credit nonprofit of forcing kids to do fieldwork

You might blame a leading carbon-offset provider of forcing poor kids to work, according to The Times of London. Or not. Carbon credit firm Climate Care pays families in India to use human-powered treadle pumps to get water out of the ground for drinking and farming. As a result, half a million foot pumps have replaced diesel ones, which pollute and cost a lot to fuel. Unfortunately, Climate Care doesn't ensure the diesel pumps are retired instead of finding new life with other owners. Nor does it stick around to make sure that kids aren't doing all the pumping. It probably never crossed the minds at the British nonprofit that this would come into question. Children have done backbreaking farm work for eons in regions where sustaining an income in the field is a family necessity. And the foot pumps are supposed to be easier to operate than hand pumps.

Do something already

Poll finds people ready for action on climate change

The BBC World Service just released the results of a poll they did of 22,000 people in 21 countries on attitudes toward global warming. Short story: large majorities believe that human beings are causing global warming, that urgent action needs to be taken to avert it, and that part of that action should be rich countries helping fund the efforts of poor countries. Says GlobeScan President Doug Miller, "The strength of these findings makes it difficult to imagine a more supportive public opinion environment for national leaders to commit to climate action." And yet, national leaders continue to dither and …

Biofuel: Is it a greenhouse gas, gas, gas?

New study claims ethanol and biodiesel may actually boost GHG emissions

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 …

From Campus: Get hip to social entrepreneurship

It’s a hot topic on campus these days

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.

Solar-powered homes a bright spot in California housing market

Take that, housing market: Solar-powered homes in California are outshining the competition.

What to listen for during 'Global Warming Week'

On how the Bush administration creates an illusion of climate change progress

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:

Bloggers at the UN climate confab

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.

Renewable energy allies in strange places?

The benefits of using prizes to drive alternative fuel research

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.

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