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Climate & Energy

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That’s Why We Have to Assassinate Them

Foreign officials offer policy critiques -- and aid -- in Katrina's wake International politicians and pundits are pointing to possible links between global warming and Hurricane Katrina and criticizing the environmental policies of the Bush administration. German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin caught heat from colleagues for the Tuesday timing -- but not the substance -- of his slam in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper against President Bush, accusing him of willful blindness to the human and economic costs of climate disruption. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela admonished the U.S. for not signing the Kyoto treaty and being obsessed instead with "capitalist …

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How are journalists covering climate change in Katrina’s wake?

As the 140-mile-per-hour winds of Hurricane Katrina raged through the lush lowlands of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on Monday, as people clung to their roofs, as levees crumbled, as fires blazed, we met in the Grist offices and asked each other: "Wonder if anyone's writing about climate change?" Frankly, we committed the sin of heartlessness of which journalists -- and many environmentalists -- are often accused. But then again, it's part of our job to look at weird angles. And as it turned out, we weren't alone: people were, in fact, talking about climate change. On Monday, before the winds …

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Coming at It From a New Anglo

U.K. Christian groups ally with eco-advocates to lobby on climate change Several Christian organizations in the U.K. have joined forces with environmental groups in a new alliance to "Stop Climate Chaos." The coalition is pressuring the British government to make cutting greenhouse-gas emissions a domestic and international priority and to support international aid and development plans that emphasize investing in clean technologies and helping developing countries cope with the effects of climate change. Stop Climate Chaos -- which includes Christian development groups like Christian Aid, Cafod, and Tearfund alongside Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and World Wildlife Fund -- hopes …

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Umbra on offsetting emissions from flatulence

Dear Umbra, I was wondering if there is any information about the average CO2 emissions from human flatulence. My friend (and I really do mean my friend, I'm not just trying to hide that it's for me) has a birthday coming up, and I think it would be a fun and meaningful gift to get him renewable-energy credits for his CO2 emissions. Thanks! MattAshland, Wis. Dearest Matt, When I first began writing this column three years ago, I thought I'd have to fake questions, but curious humans like yourself make that quite unnecessary. (In general, I believe advice columnists don't …

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Freedom to Pollute Is on the March

New air rules could allow coal-fired plants to pollute more The Bush administration may finally eviscerate the legal basis for many pesky air-pollution lawsuits against coal-fired power plants. A new proposal being drafted by the U.S. EPA would change the system for monitoring plants' emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide: after a plant modernized its equipment, its permitted emissions levels would be based on pollution produced per hour, instead of the long-established per-year standard. Under this revision of the Clean Air Act's new-source review rules, if upgrades let plants operate for longer hours, they could end up polluting more …

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Are fuel-efficiency standards a smart way to reduce oil consumption?

Fareed Zakaria has a nice rundown of the many ways our hunger for oil distorts our foreign policy and makes a mockery of our efforts to fight terrorism and spread democracy. At the end, he briefly mentions solutions: It's true that there is no silver bullet that will entirely solve America's energy problem, but there is one that goes a long way: more-efficient cars. If American cars averaged 40 miles per gallon, we would soon reduce consumption by 2 million to 3 million barrels of oil a day. That could translate into a sustained price drop of more than $20 …

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The latest solution to pumped-up prices

Because I'm obsessed with reactions to gas prices, I shall tell you about an email I got this morning from a childhood friend in Maine. Maybe you've also gotten it. But not from my friend, a sweet woman who usually forwards the Ann-Landers messages: you know, a poem reminding you to love your kids and scratch behind your dog's ears, because tomorrow you might all be dead, that sort of thing. Today's note is about a campaign to "force a price war" by not buying gas from ExxonMobil. The thinking goes that once they feel the sting, they'll have to …

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Play Your Cardigans Right

Americans look with dread toward this winter's heating bills Skyrocketing energy costs aren't just kicking Americans in the gas tank -- they're punching Americans right in the bills. The home-heating bills, that is. Folks are expected to spend $600 billion this year on oil purchases (including home heating oil), about $210 billion more than two years ago, and $167 billion on natural gas, up from $120 billion in 2004. Though the overall impact on the economy is in dispute, some economists call it a "consumption tax" that will eventually have a ripple effect, forcing consumers to cut back in other …

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Drivers panic at the pump

Are rising gas prices driving some people to the brink? Late last week, a station attendant in Alabama was run over and killed while trying to stop a dude from stealing $52 worth of gas. (The driver just turned himself in.) And today, on my new favorite web feature "Gas Gripes," a woman reports that her credit card was stolen and used to buy not a TV or a diamond ring, but -- you guessed it -- gas. I was going to be all delicate and say you couldn't draw a trend from such isolated events. But behold, the glory …

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Downward Freezing Dog

Freezing AC is status symbol at some Asian offices In some tropical Asian cities, it's become a symbol of luxury to keep offices at an arctic chill. Hong Kong may be the world's coldest city when you're indoors, say researchers, who found the average office temperature is between 70 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (72 to 78 is considered the optimum human-comfort range indoors). Workers in one office contend with 64-degree summer cooling -- so cold they do yoga in the bathroom to warm up. Patricia Shiu, who actually uses a space heater under her desk to stay warm at her …

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