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Below the Melt

Greenland ice sheet melting speedily, making seas rise faster New research indicates that the Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than we thought, will be gone sooner than we thought, and may raise sea levels more than we thought. Whee! The new study, published in Science, says Greenland's glaciers -- among the earth's largest freshwater reservoirs -- are sliding into the Atlantic at twice the rate of a decade ago. The study attributes the accelerated melting to rising surface-air temperatures, and while it doesn't speculate as to what might be raising temperatures ... well, we have a theory. Flood-prone areas …

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What a green wants: An index-card manifesto (first draft)

A positive environmental program that can (almost) fit on an index card

Without further ado, here's the first draft of my index-card manifesto. It turned out to be two index-card manifestos, with five points each: one for stuff I consider immediately urgent, and a second for what I consider longer-term goals. Feedback is welcome -- nay, requested. (I'll discuss the whole project more in a subsequent post.) WHAT A GREEN WANTS: IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES Energy efficiency: Proven techniques can get the same amount of work with 50% of the oil. Tax/subsidy shifts: Markets should tell the ecological truth. That means shifting subsidies from industries and practices that harm us to those that help …

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Oil on The Daily Show

Jon Stewart interviews an oil analyst, who basically blows it

A couple days ago, Jon Stewart interviewed Peter Tertzakian, author of A Thousand Barrels a Second: The Coming Oil Break Point and the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependent World. (You can watch the interview here.) I haven't read the book, so I don't know what Tertzakian's general outlook is, but I can tell you that on television his outlook is boooring. It's highly unfortunate: The Daily Show reaches an extremely influential demographic, and the peak-oil issue desperately needs a higher profile on the cultural scene. A Daily Show interview is not the time for measured analysis; it's the time to …

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An excerpt from Missing Mountains, a new book about mountaintop-removal mining

Missing Mountains, Wind Publications, 220 pgs., 2005. In August of 2002, Amanda Moore, a lawyer for the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, took on what she thought was a cut-and-dried legal matter for Granville Lee Burke, a resident of Chopping Branch Hollow in eastern Kentucky. Earlier that year, a flood that wreaked havoc throughout the hollow had severely damaged Burke's house and toolshed. Like almost everyone in the hollow, Burke blamed Premier Elkhorn Coal Company for the flood. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the company had conducted mountaintop-removal mining, blasting the tops off of ridges and dumping the unwanted tons of rock …

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Plan the rockingest party ever to celebrate Kyoto’s first birthday

It seems like just yesterday that the Kyoto Protocol came into force, only to languish in toothless uncertainty as major powers including the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the U.K. sought to tank it in various ways. But it's been a whole year! Can you believe it? Party like Bush signed on. Photo: stock.xchng. Yes, today marks Kyoto's first anniversary. In honor of this glorious occasion, we offer a toast to those countries bold enough to ratify. We pants those countries that are holding back. And we hereby give you, dear readers, a few ideas for creating that perfect Kyoto Anniversary …

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Mountaintop-removal mining is devastating Appalachia, but residents are fighting back

This article was originally published in Orion Magazine. Not since the glaciers pushed toward these ridgelines a million years ago have the Appalachian Mountains been as threatened as they are today. But the coal-extraction process decimating this landscape, known as mountaintop removal, has generated little press beyond the region. A mountaintop no more.Photo: Vivian Stockman/SouthWings.The problem, in many ways, is one of perspective. From interstates and lowlands, where most communities are clustered, one simply doesn't see what is happening up there. Only from the air can you fully grasp the magnitude of the devastation. If you were to board, say, …

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Royaling for a Fight

Oil and gas companies set to receive $7 billion taxpayer windfall To supplement their already record-breaking profits, oil companies are set to receive around $7 billion in royalty relief over the next five years -- possibly up to $35 billion, depending on the outcome of an ongoing lawsuit -- and the feds claim they are basically powerless to stop it. At issue are royalties charged for oil and gas extracted from federal land and deep waters off shore. Or in this case, not charged: In the mid-90s, oil was cheap and the feds were trying to sweeten the pot to …

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Have They Asked the Conservative Think Tanks About This?

Climate change really screwing things up, say scientists around the world Global warming, neither a far-off abstraction nor the myth some (still!) claim it to be, is already causing mayhem worldwide, according to the latest rash of studies on the topic. In the late 20th century, the Northern Hemisphere experienced its most sustained warm stretch in 1,200 years, report a team of U.K. scientists in the journal Science. In the medical journal The Lancet, Australian scientists warn that climate change will trigger or exacerbate health problems galore, including overheating, allergies, cholera, infectious disease, and starvation. A study by the Swiss …

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The Bear Necessitates

Feds to consider listing polar bears as threatened Congressional Republicans waging jihad against the Endangered Species Act may soon have a new reason to hate it: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering giving polar bears federal endangered-species protections because climate change is melting their Arctic sea-ice habitat. If the feds are compelled to protect polar-bear habitat, and the habitat is threatened by climate change, then the feds may be forced -- horrors! -- to do something about climate change. Recent data show that Arctic sea ice has declined by 15 to 20 percent in the past 30 years; …

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The Sweden Hereafter

Sweden aims to be oil-free in 15 years It's official: Sweden is the coolest ... country ... evar. Already widely admired for meatballs, Ikea, and, um, other Swedish stuff, the country has now announced its aim to have an oil-free economy by 2020. The Swedes cut the percentage of their energy coming from oil from 77 percent in 1970 to 32 percent in 2003, and they're favoring biofuels over nuclear power to get them down to zero. Only 8 percent of Swedish homes are heated by oil today, and thanks to tax breaks, Swedes can fill their Saabs with ethanol-based …

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