Climate & Energy

Gore's backstory

Interesting tales in a recent profile

The profile of Al Gore in NYT Magazine contains, amidst other good stuff, some interesting backstory about Gore’s experiences with the Alliance for Climate Protection, as well as his experiences in the Clinton administration. Forthwith, …

'Environmental pragmatist' in <em>The New York Times</em>

All about hydrogen

Probably half the media queries I get concern hydrogen -- thanks to my last book, The Hype about Hydrogen. Yesterday's New York Times Magazine had an exceedingly long article, "The Zero-Energy Solution," on a solar-hydrogen home. The author refers to me as "an environmental pragmatist," no doubt because I don't automatically embrace every environmental solution that comes along, but judge each on its technical and practical merit. I have written a number of articles arguing that hydrogen has been wildly overhyped as an energy and climate solution, when in fact it holds little promise of being a cost-effective greenhouse gas reduction strategy for at least the first half of the century, if not forever. Since ten years ago I ran the federal office that does hydrogen research, I am one of the go-to guys for a skeptical quote or two.

Global warming and the vision thing

Concrete images of a greener society

Global warming activists have often advocated policies based on numerical goals or painted scary scenarios of the future. But there is a third way to advocate for long-term policies: propose solutions that contain a positive vision of a fossil fuel-free society. The importance of this approach was underlined to me when I heard Betsy Rosenberg of the radio show Ecotalk interview Chip Heath, an author of the business-oriented book, Made to Stick. She asked Heath what he thought of the phrase "20% by 2020," that is, reducing carbon emissions by 20% by 2020. She thought it had a nice ring to it ... until Heath responded, well, no, nothing turns people off like a bunch of numbers. Instead, the author advised environmentalists to use "concrete images." Therefore, instead of talking about numeric targets for carbon emissions reductions in order to avoid hell on earth, I'd like to try to paint a picture of how to create a society that might be better than the one we live in now. In that spirit, let me propose the following scenario:

Dog bites man

West Virginia’s two U.S. senators say it’s possible to promote coal and clean air initiatives at the same time. Uh … WTF else are they going to say?

They send letters

Recently, 15 House committee chairs sent a letter to the president to tell him to stop trying to water down the G8 statement on climate change. Meanwhile, chair Brad Miller from the House Science Committee …

Story of the day: Nukes and global warming

The two don’t mix well

This story deserves singling out because it is on an important but too-neglected subject -- the connection between energy and water.

Climate changes the picture

On a new McKibben editorial

If this were the daily sunset you had gotten used to growing up, you would understand the hesitancy of even Bill McKibben, a renowned environmentalist, to okay wind turbines on the horizon, interfering with bird migration in order to generate electricity. However, in an opinion article in which McKibben confesses his sentiment, entitled "One world, one problem," he ultimately resolves: In this world, the threat to that landscape, and to those birds, comes far more from rapid shifts in temperature than from a few dozen towers. McKibben goes on to write a testament to the gravity of climate change and its meaning for the environmental movement, which the existential call for action is uniting. No matter your top concern -- clean water, dolphin populations, crop survival, energy consumption -- there is a link to climate change and a bigger picture to keep in mind. This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Policies in need of Californication

All green eyes turn to the West Coast

Popularized by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the term "Californication" actually refers to the surge of Californians migrating up the West Coast following the opening of a major highway. In this context, we're hoping we can Californicate the state's climate change and energy policies to the rest of the Union. Since the 1970s, California has kept its per capita energy use at a level rate, using primarily energy efficiency programs. Over time and with minimal spending, the cost of electricity under the programs is 1.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's an outstanding rate compared to traditional or even carbon-free energy sources. I discuss California's unique route in Chapter 7 of Hell and High Water, but you can access the information from the California Energy Commission or this PowerPoint with graphics. When our country gets serious about addressing climate change and energy dependence, we need active national attention and proliferation of California's policies. A good start is Paul Krugman's editorial in the New York Times from earlier this year. You need a Times Select subscription, but it is included below because it's too good to miss:

Plus, He Made That Boat Sink

Leonardo DiCaprio brings climate-change film to Cannes A year ago, Al Gore spread the climate-change message at the Cannes Film Festival. Now it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn. The former boy wonder produced, co-wrote, and narrated The …

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