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Goodell on coal gasification

My officemates are furiously packing, washing, dusting, and hauling in preparation for the Big Grist Move (you could help out by sending a few dollars our way!). I fled the scene to come home, using the excuse that somebody has to keep the blog going. So I guess I better blog about something ... On Wednesday, I had a long, fascinating conversation with Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal. I hope we can get it up in a week or so. In the meantime, check out the great op-ed Goodell just wrote for the NYT, which echoes many of the …

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Have Some Class: The Big Green Bus

Dartmouth students ride the future

If you've been reading Gristmill -- as I'm sure you all have! -- you'll know that I just returned from a trip to cover the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (And what a long, strange triperoo, it was!) One of the many things I didn't get to mention in my story is that I met these folks while I was there. I happened to be hanging around the straw-baled green pod when I looked out into the sea of tents and port-o-potties and noticed a big, green bus. But I soon found this wasn't just any big, …

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It’s Wicked, Wicked Real

Two new high-profile studies reaffirm global-warming science Last year, the National Academy of Sciences was commissioned by Congress to rigorously assess a notorious climate study that has become a flash point in the debate between global-warming denialists and the other 98 percent of us. The study contained a graph that's come to be known as the "hockey stick," which purports to show a spike in global average temperatures in the last 25 or so years, to the highest level in over 1,000 years. Yesterday, the NAS released its report. Though it cast some doubt on ancient temperature measurements and the …

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Sear in the Headlights

Summer in Western U.S. is off to a hot, dry, fiery start In Western states, wildfires and heat waves are getting an early start this year -- a pattern unsurprising to climate scientists, and likely to get worse. Wildfires have already burned more than 3 million acres, more than triple the average for this time of year. Meanwhile, a recent Denver heat wave was the earliest of the year since recordkeeping began in 1872; the federal Climate Prediction Center predicts above-average temperatures for Colorado through September. According to a 2004 study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the number …

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Do you know where your candidates stand on climate change?

With growing numbers of scientists declaring that the global climate crisis is approaching a point of no return, there is a huge and bewildering disconnect between our physical world and our political environment. Our government's response to the prospect of runaway climate impacts is one of paralysis. The negligence of the Bush administration is understandable. The White House has become the East Coast branch office of ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy. The fossil-fuel lobby is essentially writing the administration's climate and energy policies. As a result, climate change has become the preeminent case study of the contamination of our political system …

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An Irritating Truth

EIA predicts world will continue to guzzle energy According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, growing public consciousness of the impending worldwide energy crisis is going to ... well, have basically no effect at all. World energy demand will surge 71 percent between 2003 to 2030, predicted the EIA yesterday, and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will rise a terrifying 75 percent. Oil demand will soar 37 percent, with more than half of that increase due to demand in the U.S., China, and India. But the EIA thinks oil supply will keep up as exports rise from non-OPEC countries, and oil …

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Umbra on replacing light bulbs

Dear Umbra, I am reluctant to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs because that means tossing out not only used-but-still-working incandescent bulbs, but also the brand-new bulbs I have waiting in the closet. Is it really a positive effect overall when we're reducing our carbon emissions but adding to landfills? Julie Pittsburgh, Pa. Dearest Julie, Damn fine idea ... don'tknow why I didn't thinkof it myself. The gummint says, if every American household replaced five incandescents with higher-efficiency fixtures or bulbs, it would keep a trillion pounds of greenhouse gases out of the air. You tell me: would you rather …

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Interview with Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal

I'm not sure what I expected when I picked up Jeff Goodell's Big Coal, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is neither a number-and-graph-filled wonkfest nor a provincial, narrow examination of a particular set of companies. Instead, it's an engagingly written narrative that travels through every stage of coal -- from extraction through travel through burning -- and ends with a broad examination of the consequences for the climate. I really can't recommend it highly enough. It's a book even your grandma could enjoy. I hope to post some more on it soon. But for now: I'm meeting with Goodell …

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Touching the third flail

A geo-green third party?

Thomas Friedman -- la moustache de la sagesse -- has a column up (NYT $elect; reprinted in full here) suggesting that his "geo-green" shtick would be a good basis for a third party presidential candidacy. God love The Mustache for bringing energy issues to a broad audience, but this column is dopey. Let's start with this: What might a Geo-Green third party platform look like? Its centerpiece would be a $1 a gallon gasoline tax, called "The Patriot Tax," which would be phased in over a year. People earning less than $50,000 a year, and those with unusual driving needs, …

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And Things Were Going So Well …

Struggling Iraqi refineries dump oil byproduct near Tigris River The government of Iraq has been disposing of millions of barrels of oil refinery byproduct by pumping it into mountain valleys in the north of the country and setting it on fire. The result: huge black bogs and thick smoke carried as far as 40 miles downwind. The oily bogs are threatening to seep into the nearby Tigris River and the groundwater that sustains villages in the area. The byproduct, called black oil, would normally be exported for further refining, but insurgents have stalled government-controlled exports; insurgent presence is also cited …

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