Climate & Energy

Bush administration pressured to act on climate by banks, international leaders

The pressure is rising on the Bush administration to take action on climate change. This week, some of the world’s leading banks are gathering as lobbying group International Carbon Investors and Services to urge the U.S. and other developed nations to introduce a lightly regulated carbon-trading program. And, in anticipation of Bush’s planned summit on global warming later this week, government officials from around the globe went to the White House yesterday to urge mandatory cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. Not to mention the near-constant ragging the administration gets from a certain scrappy, incisive web magazine. Personally, we don’t know how …

You too can be John Dingell's legislative adviser

Dingell wants feedback on his carbon tax bill

Rep. John Dingell is going to put a draft of his carbon tax bill on his website this Thursday, to solicit feedback. (Did I say "tax"? I meant "emissions fee.") Reportedly, this marks the first time Dingell’s done something like this. I dunno. If he’s just introducing the tax to sabotage the rest of the climate legislation in the House, why do this? Why allow for public comment before introducing a bill if you mean the bill to fail? Inscrutable as usual. Regardless, when he opens it up for feedback, I’m going to head over (hopefully joined by lots of …

Heating water is a tankless job

On-demand water heaters rock

It's totally goofy, but I love my water heater. It's an "on demand" (also called tankless) unit, so it only turns on when I need to do the dishes or wash some clothes, or do both at the same time, even. I like that it doesn't heat a big tank of water 24/7 on the off chance that I'll need it at any moment. Thus it's small, and when it does turn on it's efficient. When not in use, it's completely off. Even though it runs on gas, it has no eternally burning pilot light, and I like that, too. It's three years old now and I've never had any issues with it. Ubiquitous in Europe and elsewhere, tankless water heaters are gaining popularity in the U.S. too. So if you're in the market for a new water heater and don't have the resources for a solar domestic hot water system, have a look: Rinnai seems to be the best manufacturer. These units save space and resources -- and over time, money.

Coal is the enemy of the human race: <em>New Republic</em> edition

Editorial questions the sequestration promise

The New Republic has a fine, fine editorial about coal today. It calls into question whether spending up to $40 billion on the ten-years-hence promise of carbon sequestration in order to save the coal industry from obsolescence is the best investment we could make to fight global warming. The weak link in the argument is here: Nor is it clear that sequestration will be economical: One GAO analysis predicts that electricity from carbon- capturing plants will cost up to 78 percent more than electricity from conventional coal plants. By the time the technology becomes viable–if it ever becomes viable–solar and …

Right message, wrong vehicle

Environmental Defense’s climate ads go negative, miss the mark

There's no shortage of messaging on climate change these days, but the latest ad I came across concerned me in the same way that Greenpeace's pissy kid ad did. I just heard the radio version of Environmental Defense's two TV ads (which this hard-rock station was repeating back-to-back, for extra negative impact), which tear a page from the same playbook: "The Gift" features kids reading off a list of lousy things that adults are giving them, like droughts, stronger hurricanes, etc. And then there's the one about time running out alongside a long list of bad things to come called "Tick," and one of a girl about to be hit by train thrown in for fun. Sure, it's the kids whose future will be most impacted, but messaging with fear and guilt is not the way to win the hearts and minds of adults, as Gristmillers discussed here and in many other threads recently. The big green groups really need to get on the positive bus as much as possible, or we're going to see the public ignoring the "threats" of climate change and risk missing the opportunities inherent in getting off of fossil fuels.

Greenspan vs. Naomi Klein and Amy Goodman

A remarkable bit of radio on Democracy Now

I agree with Joseph Romm that Alan Greenspan is way overrated. Sure, he declares in his new book that "I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows — the Iraq war is largely about oil." But he adds in his very next sentence, to paraphrase: And that’s a good thing. Yes, he supported the war because he saw it as essential to maintaining a smooth flow of oil. Everything else, for him, was political window dressing. And yes, he became a hero to certain liberals because he worked well with Bill Clinton. But what did the …

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 …

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