Climate & Energy

Debunking Shellenberger & Nordhaus: Part IV

Why bother criticizing S&N?

The question has been raised: Why spend time "debunking" S&N when they seem to be well-meaning folks struggling for a genuine solution to global warming, unlike, say, Bjorn Lomborg? Aside from the fact that they are adding great confusion and misinformation to a critical debate, the answer is simple -- they aren't well-meaning. S&N spend far more time attacking the environmental community (and Al Gore and even Rachel Carson) than they do proposing a viable solution. Worse, they don't even attack the real environmental community -- they spend their time creating a strawman that is mostly a right-wing stereotype of environmentalists. S&N's core argument is that environmentalists only preach doom and gloom and sacrifice, and that solving global warming ... ... will require a more optimistic narrative from the environmental community. Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, like Silent Spring, was considered powerful because it marshaled the facts into an effective (read: apocalyptic) story ... In promoting the inconvenient truth that humans must limit their consumption and sacrifice their way of life to prevent the world from ending, environmentalists are not only promoting a solution that won't work, they've discouraged Americans from seeing the big solutions at all. For Americans to be future-oriented, generous, and expansive in their thinking, they must feel secure, wealthy, and strong. Gore has never promoted such an inconvenient truth -- they should read his book or listen to his speeches -- and indeed I don't know any major environmentalist or environmental group that has promoted such a message. Just spend some time on the climate websites for NRDC, Environmental Defense, the Sierra Club, and Greenpeace. They all support (most of) the same big solutions S&N do, they just don't think you get those solutions the way S&N do (i.e., a massive government spending program).

Never doubt that a small group ...

The threat from climate deniers

People forget that Margaret Mead's overused quote about small groups being able to change the world doesn't necessarily imply "in a good way." Here's an interesting interview to think about when you next read something from folks like the National Assn. of Manufacturers, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or Bjorn Lomborg:

It's the efficiency, stupid

Water limits on power plants

From Greenwire today (sub req'd): water availability may limit new power plants. This is widely appreciated in the power sector, but doesn't get as much attention elsewhere. It's especially acute as our population growth moves south and west where we are especially water-limited. What's under-appreciated is that this is a story about efficiency. When two thirds of the fuel we burn in power plants is wasted as heat, and that heat is rejected in cooling towers (at least in coal and nuke facilities), any gain in energy efficiency is a reduction in water use. Given the huge gains available in efficiency, it ought to be central to this discussion. Also bear in mind that Clean Air Act compliance and carbon sequestration drive down the efficiency of coal plants, thereby increasing water use per MWh. Excerpts of the full article below the fold:

Bring in the noise

For every problem there’s a solution that’s simple, attractive, and wrong

Like the noise standard one jurisdiction in Michigan has adopted for wind turbines: "Based on their studies, noise was identified as a key problem. After lengthy research and discussion the regulation was made simple. "If it makes noise and we can measure it, you shut it down," Arndt said." Shall we apply that to coal burners and natural gas turbines (jet engines)??

An interview with Sam Brownback about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Sam Brownback dropped out of the presidential race on Oct. 19, 2007. Sam Brownback. Photo: IowaPolitics.com “America …

The meaning of global warming, part one

Stabilizing the climate requires technology, public investment, and global economic development

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, the latest in the ongoing conversation about their new book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. —– …

British government approves world’s largest offshore wind farm

Plans for the world’s largest offshore wind farm have been approved by the British government. The project, led by Shell and European energy company Eon, would place up to 341 turbines over 90 square miles …

Survey on what we’re willing to do for the climate crisis

Not a whole lot, apparently.

Yucca Mountain may be doubled in size, need more funding

In a move sure to endear Nevada’s Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository to fiercely opposed Nevadans, the Department of Energy has proposed doubling its size. Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) concisely sums up the reaction of …

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