Climate & Energy

There’s one

Chris Dodd comes out in support of Dingell’s carbon tax proposal. Think anybody else will?

Republican, global warming denier, and sun worshiper

Fred Thompson’s confused stance on climate change

He's running for president now, so let's revisit Fred Thompson's climate change confusion. He took some standard denier myths and threw in a dash of his own unwarranted sarcasm to create this mishmash on the Paul Harvey radio show: Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto. NASA says the Martian South Pole's "ice cap" has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I guess Jupiter's caught the same cold, because it's warming up too, like Pluto. This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle. Silly, I know, but I wonder what all those planets, dwarf planets and moons in our SOLAR system have in common. Hmmmm. SOLAR system. Hmmmm. Solar? I wonder. Nah, I guess we shouldn't even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There's a consensus. Ask Galileo. I thought Thompson was a member of the Churches of Christ, not a heliolater or perhaps a Druid. I have previously debunked this bit of denier disinformation and will expand on the key facts below -- especially his misguided sun worship.

Bush administration will propose quicker deadline for phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals

Nearly 200 nations will gather on Sept. 15 to discuss the Montreal Protocol, a 20-year-old treaty put into place to phase out the nasty chemicals that contribute to the thinning of the ozone layer. At the meeting, a dozen countries plan to suggest that participating nations move up the deadline for a full phaseout of refrigerating chemicals called HCFCs; the most ambitious plan will be presented by the Bush administration. No joke. The U.S. hopes to move up the deadline by a decade, to 2020 for industrial nations and 2030 for developing nations. U.S. chemical companies are in favor of …

An underrated climate solution

On the energy potential of geothermal power

Like solar thermal power, geothermal power is too often neglected. Indeed, the Bush administration has proposed zeroing out the geothermal energy program for two years running. But a major 2007 study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, "The Future of Geothermal Energy" (a 372-page PDF), reveals the potential if we redouble our efforts toward this zero-carbon power source. The MIT-led panel of scientists, economic experts, and engineers found that Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) that use "heat-mining technology, which is designed to extract and utilize the earth's stored thermal energy" could contribute 10 percent of baseload power by mid-century:

Bush makes gaffes at APEC gathering, forum may set weak voluntary targets

In Sydney, Australia, today at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, U.S. President George Bush referred to APEC as OPEC, then tried to cover up his gaffe by explaining that Australia’s prime minister had invited him to a summit of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries next year. Unfortunately, Australia has never been part of OPEC. Bush also called Australians “Austrians,” mispronounced leaders’ names, walked the wrong way off the stage, and, when asked whether there had been any new message in his speech, bristled, “Haven’t you been listening to my past speeches?” Which is all far more interesting than …

'We should already be moving to prepare and protect ourselves'

Mooney on hurricanes and climate change

Chris Mooney has a piece in the L.A. Times about the current hurricane season and the connection between hurricanes and climate change. It echoes the sensible line taken in Chris’ book. This is the crucial bit: When it comes to the hurricane-global warming relationship, neither outright alarmism nor dismissive skepticism are warranted. Rather, taking the limited information that we have and making the most of it should lead to a stance of cautious, well-informed concern. Further research — or, perhaps, more mega-hurricanes — may seal the issue. But meanwhile, given how much we have at stake, we should already be …

The 'intensity' scam

APEC’s draft plan to reduce GHG intensity will do nothing to curb emissions

Reports coming out of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit say that a draft statement on climate change from the Pacific Rim nations is on the way. Early reports, however, contain this nugget: To strike the accord, negotiators agreed to set a target to reduce "energy intensity" -- the amount of energy needed to produce economic growth, Al-Farisi said. Australian Prime Minister John Howard previously called for reducing energy intensity 25 percent by 2030. A Southeast Asian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that goal was included in the draft. This is, as I blogged about before, a huge scam. Greenhouse-gas intensity is the emissions per unit economic output. Multiply this quantity by the size of the economy and you get total greenhouse-gas emissions. Historically, greenhouse-gas intensity has declined all by itself as the world's economy has evolved from manufacturing (which takes a lot of energy) to services (which take less), and as equipment has naturally become more efficient. Over the past few decades, U.S. greenhouse-gas intensity has declined somewhere between 1 and 2 percent per year without any government policies. Based on the historical data, the target of decreasing our greenhouse gas intensity by 25 percent over 23 years is essentially a do-nothing target. We would expect such a decrease to occur naturally. And given such a modest decrease in intensity, we can still expect emissions to continue to grow rapidly -- and hence climate change will continue unabated. If this is indeed their target, it should be clear that the leaders of the APEC nations are not making any legitimate effort to head off the risk of climate change.

Al Gore will pen a solutions-focused sequel

Al Gore is writing another book — and you can bet that climate change is shakin’ in its boots. The Path to Survival, a solutions-focused sequel to the groundbreaking Inconvenient Truth, is slated to hit shelves on Earth Day 2008. (Where was that impeccable timing when you were campaigning, Al?) Billed as “part scientific manual, part exposé, part visionary call for a new planet-wide political movement,” the book will spell out climate-helpful steps for both individuals and governments to take. It will also explain how “bold choices now to protect our environment will also create new jobs, propel sustainable economic …

Notable quotable

From a Washington Post article about the transcendent potential of switchgrass: But such efforts [to persuade farmers to grow switchgrass] have hit a snag: Scientists haven’t perfected the process that turns switchgrass into ethanol. So for today, the Crop That Could Change Virginia is just hay with better publicity.

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