Climate & Energy

Alaska joins regional climate initiative

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has created a climate-change committee and joined her state with the cool kids at the Western Climate Initiative.

The siren song of denial

Climate change skeptics try to seduce us to inaction

Every once in awhile, I'm struck by something that makes me realize how the ancient storytellers were terrifically acute observers of the human condition, and used metaphor brilliantly to convey their observations. Perhaps the most salient example these days is the song of the sirens, the beauties whose songs would lure sailors toward them until they grounded their ships on the rocks and drowned. The modern-day sirens, Avery and Singer, are taking up the cause by trying to lure the world away from any action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Their song is that this is all just a natural cycle, and the skyrocketing CO2 concentrations can just be ignored.

Discover Brilliant: Renewables and buildings

Now it’s "Moving the Technology Frontier," about technologies that are going to create "tectonic shifts" in the cleantech space, with Stan Bull, head of R&D at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Steve Selkowtiz, Building Technologies Program Leader at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Bull is first up. Says NREL’s budget is $200-$250 million. That seems tiny to me. Makes the point that available solar energy dwarfs what is available from any other energy source, technology and money aside. Need to move to renewable electric generation, plug-in hybrid vehicles, zero-energy buildings, and sustainable communities. Possible breakthroughs: nanoscience, biotech, hybrid biological-physical systems, …

Discover Brilliant: Energy security

A strange and old-fashioned way to start a hip, cutting edge conference

I’m in a session about “Energy, Climate Change & Resource Nationalism” with General Bruce Wright, commander of U.S. Air Force in Japan, and Dr. Liam Fox, Shadow Secretary of State of Defence and Member of Parliament in the UK. These are old-school guys, fairly conservative, and they’re painting a grim picture. China is ravenous, buying up energy resources in a geostrategic way, growing its military capability. Russia is practically owned and operated by Gazprom and very much wants to restore the prestige of the USSR. The oil problem will be closely followed by a natural gas problem. Europe will soon …

Ecomagination and coal

As long as GE funds coal, its net impact is far from green

Let me pull a few excerpts from a recent WSJ story on the progress of GE’s much-touted "ecomagination" campaign: “I don’t want to change the economic flow of the company,” [CEO Jeffrey] Immelt says. So GE continues to sell coal-fired steam turbines and is delving deeper into oil-and-gas production. Meanwhile, its finance unit seeks out coal-related investments including power plants, which are a leading cause of carbon-dioxide emissions in the U.S. … Counting the emissions was a big challenge for a company with more than 3,000 facilities in 73 countries. One nettlesome question: How should GE count emissions from power …

Cuomo arigato!

New York attorney general subpoenas energy companies over disclosure of coal-plant risks

A new weapon has been brought to bear in the war on coal, and it’s aimed right at the corpulent industry’s soft underbelly: risk. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo just sent out a round of subpoenas to energy companies. He wants to see internal documents demonstrating that the companies — AES Corporation, Dominion, Dynegy, Peabody Energy and Xcel Energy — fully disclosed the financial risks of planned coal-fired power plants to investors. (This is Cuomo’s twist on a once-obscure statute — the Martin Act, a 1921 state securities law — that his predecessor Eliot Spitzer revived and used to …

New York state investigates power companies’ emissions on behalf of shareholders

New York state used a new tactic last week to try to prompt coal-fired power plants to clean up their climate changing emissions: concern for shareholders. State attorney general Andrew Cuomo sent letters and subpoenas to five coal-lovin’ power companies on Friday requesting internal documents and questioning if investors had been given adequate information on the financial liabilities that could result from CO2 emissions at their planned power plants. “Any one of the several new or likely regulatory initiatives for CO2 emissions from power plants — including state carbon controls, EPA’s regulations under the Clean Air Act, or the enactment …

The present the whole world needs

With more ‘zero-zero’ buildings, maybe we could still have cake now and then

This story appeared on my birthday (a prime number year). I'll consider it my present.

Debunking Bjorn Lomborg: Part II

Lomborg misrepresents possible sea-level rise

Lomborg is a champion cherry-picker when he isn’t just getting his facts wrong, as I argued in Part I. He has a deceptively misleading — and outright erroneous — discussion of sea-level-rise projections in Cool It. Let’s start with a few all-too-typical howlers: Antarctica is generally soaking up more water than Greenland is shedding, as the IPCC predicts. The IPCC estimates that the very worst additional increase to be expected from Greenland could be 8 inches over the century, but this is possible only in a model where CO2 levels rise two to four times more than expected by 2100 …

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