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Gore's climate-policy speech today at NYU: a carbon freeze and a carbon tax proposed

After months of gloom and doom, Gore’s all about solutions

Against a backdrop of eight American flags -- ceremoniously arranged behind a podium emblazoned with the scales of justice -- Al Gore took the stage at the New York University Law School early this afternoon to deliver what was billed in press releases as a "major policy address on global warming." Major it was -- in terms of the media turnout, anyway. There were nearly a half-dozen cameras rolling and most major publications represented. It was also major in terms of length (over an hour of factually dense commentary, sans visual aids) and gravitas (a more somber, more serious, dare …

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Chagrin and Bear It

Melting sea ice makes polar bears starve, drown Travel agents hawking trips to the Arctic have been boasting lately of an increased likelihood that tourists will see polar bears -- because starving bears are encroaching on human settlements to scavenge for food. Polar bears have traditionally used ice floes to hunt seals, their favored prey -- but Arctic ice, in case you hadn't heard, is melting. According to new research in the journal Arctic, the spring hunting season for polar bears has been reduced by nearly three weeks in some places, causing female bears to gain up to 175 pounds …

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Nixon Goes to Reality

Rumors fly about possible new Bush climate policy First there was the tantalizing hint that President Bush's thoughts on climate change have "evolved," and that a major new energy initiative would soon be announced. Then there was the Onion-esque claim that Bush would announce a goal of stabilizing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million by the year 2106 (wouldn't our great-grandkids be pleased?). Then Bush's top environmental adviser told us to "stay tuned." And finally, "administration insiders" confirmed that a flip-flop ... er, Nixon-goes-to-China moment was in the offing. If this flurry of rumors and …

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Wigley Room

Spewing sulfur dioxide into atmosphere could slow warming, says research On earth, sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain and harms human hearts and lungs -- but if injected into the stratosphere, says new research in Science, it could shade the sun's rays and keep global warming at bay. Hey, if volcanoes can spew it, why can't we? "I'm not suggesting we don't reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for energy," says study author Tom Wigley. "But ... can we make it economically and technologically easier by doing something that's also technology, which may be cost-effective?" According to Wigley's computer models, …

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The Magnificent 87

California's Prop. 87, which would tax oil to fund renewables, spurs big spending Proposition 87, a California ballot measure that would tax oil production and use the proceeds for research into alternative energy, is spurring some big spending. Oil companies have raised nearly all of the more than $35 million in the "No on 87" piggy bank, with Chevron donating a notable $13.1 million. The pro-87 side has raised $21.8 million, with Hollywood mogul Steve Bing contributing a cool $16.5 million or so. The measure would impose a tax of 1.5 to 6 percent on California oil producers, depending on …

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The Ice Has It

More evidence of global warming from study of Arctic winter ice A NASA scientist has wrested free of his muzzle to declare that the drastic melt of Arctic sea ice is likely caused by global warming. New research published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that for the past two winters, Arctic sea-ice growth at its peak has been 6 percent below the average peak since 1978, consistent with scientific models of human-caused global warming. Arctic summer ice reduction had already been decreasing steadily for years, with the last four summers showing record low ice cover. Lead author Josefino Comiso, a …

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Put That in Your Pipe and Spill It

BP spills in California, wants to open Alaska pipelines Beleaguered oil giant BP has admitted to yet another misdeed: a leak of 1,000 barrels of refined petro-product from an underground pipeline at the port of Long Beach, Calif. About 870 barrels had been recovered as of yesterday; authorities believe the leak did not taint water or ground soil. "We're pleased that there was no significant environmental damage," said a BP spokesflack. Yeah, we bet you are. BP executives recently appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for a wince-worthy tongue-lashing. Senators from both parties berated execs over recent …

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We’ve Got a Helsinki’n Feeling

Asia-Europe Meeting provides lots of talk, little action A club of 38 European and Asian leaders concluded a two-day summit in Helsinki, Finland, yesterday, saying what they always say and failing to make the concrete plans they always fail to make. The leaders agreed to continue to cut greenhouse gases after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, but didn't set new targets. Predicting that long-term climate-change mitigation will require technological breakthroughs, the summit attendees agreed to encourage investment in clean energy and share "cleaner and climate-friendly" technologies with developing countries, which have "legitimate priority needs" to grow their economies and …

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Go and Cinema More

New climate-change documentary focuses on people of faith If An Inconvenient Truth didn't exactly bring evangelicals to the multiplex in droves, The Great Warming just may. Religious leaders hope the documentary, to be screened in September and distributed in October along with voter guides and eco-sermons, will mobilize religious groups around climate change -- just in time for midterm elections. "[T]here is no doubt about the mandate of scripture here. We need to do what we can to care for the Earth," says Pastor Joel Hunter, who is apparently reading different scripture than some Jesus-lovin', climate-change-denyin' folk we can think …

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Come On, Baby, Do the Loco Oceans

Rising ocean temperatures caused by anthropogenic warming, says study Well here's a shocker: turns out it's global warming causing the globe's oceans to warm, a phenomenon linked to more intense hurricanes. Such is the counter-counter-intuitive conclusion of new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Over the 20th century, average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have increased by 1.2 and .58 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively; meanwhile, Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have increased twofold over the last 30 years. Researchers compared observed ocean-temperature changes with the predictions of 22 climate models, and found that …

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