Climate & Energy

Gore's flaw: He doesn't sound enough like an uptight libertarian wonk

Says uptight libertarian wonk

I don’t understand what Steven Landsburg is supposed to be saying here. By his own admission, the position Gore advances is in line with the Stern Review. But Stern showed his work, with a few hundred pages on discount rates and risk assessments, and Gore just made a movie that got seen by tens of millions of people, so Gore is some kind of buffoon and Stern should have gotten the Nobel? That doesn’t make any sense. Why should the technical language of economics be the only legitimate way to grapple with climate change? Why not approach it in the …

White House spokesfolks play up health benefits of climate change

Recent Senate testimony on the public-health impacts of climate change by the director of the Centers for Disease Control was watered down because the White House wanted “to focus that testimony on public health benefits,” White House spokesperson Dana Perino said this week. She went on to state that U.S. experts are attempting to determine “what are going to be the health benefits and the health concerns of climate change, of which there are many.” Asked to elaborate on said benefits, Perino said, “Look, this is an issue where I’m sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when …

Everything old is new again

U.S. blocks consensus at international global warming conference … 17 years ago

Does it seem to you like nothing ever changes in the world? Well, you're right, and now I have hard evidence. I was searching through the archive of Bob Park's What's New newsletter when I ran across this snippet, right above an update about the miracle of cold fusion: At the World Climate Conference in Geneva this week, the United States blocked consensus on specific goals for reduction of carbon dioxide emission. As What's New predicted a month ago, the US sided with such backward nations as China and the Soviet Union, and oil producers like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Our traditional allies, Western European nations, Canada Japan, New Zealand and Australia, said they could cut emissions through energy efficiency measures at no net cost. A German study even concludes they can make money -- selling energy-saving technologies to backward countries like the US. John Knauss, the head of NOAA who led the US delegation, contended the revised Clean Air Act would lead to significant CO2 reductions, but a recent estimate from EPA put the reduction at only about 2%. The date of the newsletter: November 9, 1990. Seems like it could have been yesterday. Or tomorrow. P.S. You should subscribe to Bob's newsletter. It's required reading for those who are interested in the politics of science.

An artifact of prior decisions otherwise concealed, part deux

Why coal is cheaper in China

Alternatives to coal are at a severe disadvantage in China: These are the realities faced by companies seeking to make themselves more environmentally friendly in China, where coal is king. Coal-fired plants are quick and cheap to build and easy to run. While the Chinese government has set goals for increasing the use of a long list of alternative energies — including wind, biomass, hydroelectric, solar and nuclear — they all face obstacles, from bureaucracy to bottlenecks in manufacturing. … The problem is particularly acute because governments across Asia, from China and India to Indonesia and the Philippines, are turning …

A nice rundown in layman's terms

Physical chemist on climate change

Turns out that my friend's brother is a physical chemist who has a lot of interesting things to say in response to the abrupt <a href="http://e-center.doe.gov/iips/faopor.nsf/d75c18ae2432dc898525649c005de232/cd548f8acf0efbe28525736900689456?OpenDocument">climate change modeling grant posting that the feds just put out. He sent this great rundown on how things look from his point of view:

California air regulators adopt emissions-tackling rules

As part of its groundbreaking plan to tackle air-polluting, climate-warming emissions, the California Air Resources Board has adopted six new rules for manufacturers, shippers, and truckers. Starting in 2010, vehicles that go in for a tune up or oil change will be required to fully inflate their tires; trucks and trailers must be fitted with fuel-saving devices; cargo ships will be disallowed from idling at ports; the chemical sulfur hexafluoride will be banned; and both the greenhouse gas perfluorocarbon and propellants in spray cans will be more strictly regulated. The board also adopted standards for using California’s forests to offset …

Poll: Americans deeply, perhaps irredeemably, confused

From the American Institute of Architects’ annual public survey (sub rqd): The greatest percentage — 31 percent — of respondents said they believed recycling was one of the three most important things they could do to reduce [global] warming. Reducing driving came in next, at 25 percent, followed by reducing energy consumption, at 23 percent. Only 4 percent thought limiting fossil fuel use was most crucial. Recycling?! I need a drink.

Earth still round; sky, blue

IPCC: climate change will hit poor hardest.

Get used to high oil prices

No supply-side energy solution will come to our rescue

No one is going to come to the rescue on the supply side -- and, of course, we remain stuck with an administration that doesn't believe in demand-reduction strategies. As the Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) reported in "OPEC's Lever Loses Its Pull on Oil": Oil prices are hovering near historic highs, but consuming nations shouldn't expect quick relief from OPEC, the world's only source for big, quick supplies. For several reasons, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has neither the clear leverage nor the inclination to open the spigots and drive down the price of crude, which jumped past $90 a barrel in intraday trading in New York last week for the first time. This figure shows how little spare capacity OPEC has -- essentially none outside of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis have no inclination to initiate a major price drop, especially since these prices do not appear to be destroying demand. Moreover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned back in July that it saw "OPEC spare capacity declining to minimal levels by 2012." And the WSJ notes no one outside of OPEC will be coming to the rescue either: Saudi Arabia has little to fear from the world's other major producers, such as Russia, which in decades past have ramped up supplies in an effort to capture a greater market share. But at the moment, the world's major producers for the most part are already pumping flat-out. "They have little competition from non-OPEC suppliers and few worries about losing market share," says Jeffrey Currie, senior energy economist at Goldman Sachs in London. We cannot be far from $100+ oil.

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