Climate & Energy

Deader Than Ever

Biofuels could contribute to historically big Gulf of Mexico dead zone Still think corn-based biofuels will save the world? Here’s another piece of the no-they-won’t puzzle: Researchers say more intensive farming of more land in …

Cheney energy task force ... revealed!

Pretty much what you thought it was

Six years and a protracted legal battle later, The Washington Post has finally gotten its hands on a list of who met with Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force in 2001. Turns out it’s a bunch …

Carbon credit allocation

All the kids are talking about it

Today in Greenwire, Darren Samuelsohn rightly notes that the big — and by big we’re talking multi-billions of dollars — question around a cap-and-trade system is how the credits are initially allocated. Do you give …

It ain't natural

What global warming could do to national parks

The National Parks Conservation Association released a new report last week, “Unnatural Disaster” (PDF), which explores the impact of global warming on national parks, and as you’d expect, the news is pretty grim. From the …

Benefits of large-scale energy storage

A shock absorber for the grid to enhance efficiency, reliability, and security

In their July 16th piece on solar energy technology in The New York Times, Andrew Revkin and Matthew Wald wrote that, "With more research, the solar thermal method might allow for storing energy. Currently, all solar power is hampered by a lack of storage capability." They are certainly right. In fact, a lack of storage capacity hampers a lot of things. While there's been a lot of talk about coupling energy storage to solar (and wind) power, there are additional reasons for addressing our lack of storage capability. In fact, storage technologies can act as a "shock absorber" for the whole grid and can help address some of the key challenges facing the industry, including efficiency, reliability, and security. Simply put, energy storage is good for the grid.

House offset hearing on Wed.

This hearing is the main reason I haven't had time to post more "rules" -- I know, I know ... you have been waiting for them as anxiously as for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming hearing on voluntary carbon offsets tomorrow will be webcast at globalwarming.house.gov -- and I have been reliably informed that if there's any problem with that website, the direct link to the hearing room feed is here. You don't get that kind of information anywhere else on the web! And here's a Greenwire (subs. req'd) story on the hearing:

Green computing: Hope or hype?

Hard to say, but Zonbu has clearly done its homework

A lot of the deepest environmental thinking is that we have to move away from the idea of purchasing consumer products and instead keep "ownership" with the maker, who is responsible for minimizing the environmental footprint of the product and for dealing with it when the user is ready to move to another one. In other words, we should pay for the services we want (computing, hot water, power, cool air, comfortable office floors, etc.) rather than the devices used to provide those services (PCs, tankless heaters, electricity, air conditioners, office carpets); that way, we're not invested in less-efficient devices. As soon as the old ones wear out, we shift to new ones, and the service provider has to deal with the decisions about upgrading or handling and reusing the material wastes. There's an outfit that seems to get the concept, selling a small(tiny)-footprint PC with all the bells and whistles, radically reduced power consumption (assuming you don't use a power-hog monitor), and extended producer responsibility for the device. Given how fast people go through PCs, this is a great idea -- much more affordable, and upgradeable, and with far less environmental consequence. I especially like the flash memory feature rather than the hard drive, the source of most computer problems. If I had a student going into high school or college, this is definitely the PC I would be looking at closely.

An interview with Tom Kiernan of the National Parks Conservation Association

A moment of reflection at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Photo: Richard and Robin via flickr Every year, millions of Americans pack up their families and head out to visit one of …

First grants from $100 million Duke Foundation Climate Initiative announced

The winners? ED, NRDC, The Pew Center for Climate Change, and other familiar faces

The first round of grants (PDF) from the $100 million climate fund established last year by the Doris Duke Foundation were announced last week. Funding priorities and grant recipients were identified in an exhaustive 18-month process of extensive literature reviews and interviews with more than 75 distinguished scientists, economists, environmental leaders, investors, energy industry representatives, and public policy experts. The result? A total of $3.6 million will be distributed to five environmental organizations -- ED and NRDC ($500K), Pew Center on Global Climate Change ($395K), World Resources Institute ($750K), and Resources for the Future ($750K) -- and two universities -- Harvard ($750K) and MIT ($500K). Three climate action strategies will be pursued: devise "optimal domestic and international pricing policies for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases"; develop policies "that bring available technologies to market more quickly"; and, "identify adjustments" to reduce climate-change impacts. That the $100 million Duke Foundation fund will be expended on a decades-old strategy that has not worked is no surprise, as no coherent alternative to our present approach is available. However, the Duke Foundation announcement may portend change in two important respects.

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