Climate & Energy

NYT columnists drinking the efficiency Kool-Aid

And it’s goood …

The NYT has done itself proud with not one but two op-eds this week pushing for energy efficiency — first Nic Kristof’s, and now the The Mustache of Understanding. I guess the idea is gaining traction. The Mustache references a potentially revolutionary change being pushed by Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers. (On Rogers, the cynical should note this.) The idea, now before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, is as follows: Because energy efficiency is, in effect, a resource … in order for utilities to use more of it, “efficiency should be treated as a production cost in the regulatory arena.” The …

Brown Knows

San Bernardino County, Calif., will account for greenhouse-gas emissions One of the largest, fastest-growing, most sprawl-happy counties in the U.S. will have to measure its greenhouse-gas emissions and set targets for reducing them by 2010, according to a legal settlement announced Tuesday. California’s San Bernardino County had been sued by State Attorney General Jerry Brown after county officials updated a 25-year growth plan without accounting for emissions. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the settlement, and enviros crossed their fingers that the ruling will set a precedent for other counties and municipalities to limit sprawl and create denser communities. Because driving …

My My, Is It 2007 Already?

Judge requires feds to submit climate research plan, impact assessment The Bushies are big stinkin’ lawbreakers, a federal judge ruled this week. A 1990 federal law requires the U.S. government to provide a scientific report every four years on climate change and its effects on the environment, the economy, and public health, but the Bush administration chose to ignore its 2004 deadline for such a report. Green groups sued, and U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong ruled in favor of timeliness, demanding the required impact assessment by May 31, 2008. The laggardly administration also owes a plan to guide federal climate …

Finding a new biofuel: Chop chop!

Could used chopsticks fuel a fire?

The whole point of alternative energy solutions is finding a fuel source that is already overly abundant and underused, and will continue to be ubiquitous for some time, right? In Japan, that fuel source is chopsticks.

Big Oil's biggest toadies

And the ‘Climate Balls of Steel’ award goes to …

A new report penned by the environmental movement's genius uber-strategist Daniel J. Weiss of The Center for American Progress and his alliterative sidekick Anne Wingate examines exactly how big Big Oil's influence on individual members of Congress is. Working with OpenSecrets.org, Weiss and Wingate found that the 189 members who opposed a Democratic measure to redirect $16 billion in oil and gas subsidies to clean energy like wind and solar received on average $109,277 in contributions from Big Oil between 1989 and 2006. The 221 representatives that voted successfully to shift the subsidies to clean energy had only received an average of $26,277 over the same period. While I'm sure some of those representatives who voted against the measure may sincerely believe that Exxon Mobil needs an extra few billion so that its shareholders don't go hungry, I suspect that most were just doing it to keep the petrodollars flowing right into their campaign account, and were willing to ignore the climate crisis to do it. It's amazing how cheaply those representatives are willing to sell their votes: $109,277 over 17 years isn't that much money -- generally less than 5 percent of what those candidates spent on their campaigns during that time. It shows how contributing to political candidates remains one of the most effective ways to spend money: had Big Oil won this round, they would have spent one dollar for every $774 dollars they got back in subsidies (and that's just this one vote; actually their $20-million-plus in contributions have got them more than $35 billion annually in subsidies and tax credits). Industry has long known this, but environmentalists can get the same bang for the buck by directing more of their resources towards campaign contributions. Heather Wilson. I'd like to highlight a few of the biggest recipients of Big Oil's big money: New Mexico's Heather Wilson (R): $492,120 New York's Thomas Reynolds (R): $155,661 Virginia's Tom Davis (R): $134,360 But I've got to give today's Climate Balls of Steel award to New Jersey's Mike Ferguson (R), who sucked in $95,500 in oil money, but voted against Big Oil anyway. There aren't many people who can suck on Big Oil's teat and then spit crude oil in the harlot's face, but apparently Ferguson (at least in this instance) is one.

Return of the 'happy days,' when nuclear annihilation loomed

Existential threats are a bummer

Following the letters to Grist complaining about a declining humor quotient and the posts wondering if we're just focusing too darn much on the climate crisis, it occurred to me that there's precedent for what we're going through. Just like people in the USA and USSR had to get used to the idea of annihilation -- and still go about their daily lives -- we are watching people struggle with the problem of living their lives while knowing that the chances that their kids will be able to live nearly as well are declining rapidly. Thus, the paradox: knowledge is no longer power. Instead, the better informed you are, the more likely you are to feel existential despair.

Moose tracks

Bovines aren’t the only ones to blame

Thought cows were the only gassy animals belching up a climate change storm? Apparently the Scandinavian moose is also quite the methane machine: Norwegian newspapers, citing research from Norway’s technical university, said a motorist would have to drive [about 8,000 miles] in a car to emit as much CO2 as a moose does in a year. That’ll get you from New York to L.A. and back, with CO2 to spare.

Teddy Would Be Proud

Conservation organization sues feds over energy development The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has sued the U.S. Department of the Interior over the authorization of thousands of new oil and gas wells, roads, and miles of pipeline in a wildlife-rich area of Wyoming. News that an organization has sued the federal government over environmental travesties is, well, not really news — unless it’s TRCP, a non-litigious group with a largely Republican membership. The move is indicative that even the Bush administration’s usual allies are fed up with a one-track-mind approach to energy development. Case in point: The Bureau of Land Management …

Umbra on replacing a boiler

Dear Umbra, When changing boilers for heating a house for the next 30 to 40 years, should we choose gas or electric? We have gas now and want to go from 80 percent efficient to 95 percent efficient. About 60 percent of our electricity comes from Missouri River hydro and 40 percent from coal. We have wind, but that is not developed, and will only be a small percentage in the future. Chuck Berry Brookings, S.D. Dearest Chuck, Good for you for wanting to improve your efficiency, and for knowing in such detail where your power comes from. Summer is …

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