In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you're going up to New York City where you're, I assume, going to see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is affecting our weather.
What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change, and do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?
Our love of meat is killing us in more ways than one. But get pumped, everyone: The Centers for Disease Control has dubbed this "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week"! And while we may be late to the party, we're excitedly tucking our pants into our boots and heading down to the farm. The factory farm, that is, where (amongst the other usual horrors) rampant antibiotic usage in livestock is threatening the efficacy of the drugs on humans.
To work with regulatory, veterinary and industry partners to promote the judicious use of antibiotics in food animals
To reinforce the judicious use of antibiotics in agriculture by: limiting the use of medically important human antibiotics in food animals; supporting the use of such antibiotics in animals only for those uses that are considered necessary for assuring animal health; and having veterinary oversight for such antibiotics used in animals
If you pull into a Propel station in Washington or California (Propel being a chain of alternative fuel stations), you may notice a new offering: Soladiesel. It's a name that hearkens back to the finest tradition of pseudo-sciencey terminology in ads for cigarettes and face creams ("Loaded with Coxyresin®!" "Lab-designed to satisfy your M-Zone™!"), but there's kind of a logic to the name. It actually is a solar diesel! In the extremely indirect sense that algae needs the sun.
Algae has been proposed for years as an alternative to corn as a way to produce biofuels. Special algae are grown in bulk; when fed certain sugars, they produce combustible oils that can be used as fuel additives. The resulting fuel, biodiesel in this case, produces significantly less pollutants and, Solazyme claims, may in some ways actually perform better.
Solazyme's "Soladiesel"™! Specially formulated for your car's engine, etc., etc.!
The beauty of the free market is that it's ruthless. It's an ongoing footrace with pushing and shoving and scrambling that rewards whoever's in the front. The market doesn't care that you used to be in front. If you're losing, you're losing.
Coal is losing. And in the race coal's in -- for cheap, abundant, clean energy -- it's hard to catch back up.
America’s coal power fleet is facing an increasingly uncertain economic future. Growing competition from cheaper, cleaner alternatives -- including natural gas and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar -- is making it harder for these generators to produce energy economically.
With appropriate planning, these outdated coal generators can be closed down while still maintaining a reliable electricity system. By ramping up underutilized natural gas plants, increasing renewable energy through existing state policies, and reducing demand through improved energy efficiency, every region in the country could more than replace the electricity currently produced by ripe-for-retirement generators.
One of the main challenges for the plants the UCS expects to close is that they're dirty, emitting more harmful particulates and other pollutants than is healthy or, in some cases, legal. And as coal grows more expensive relative to other sources (like natural gas), the cost of upgrading facilities to remove those pollutants becomes less and less feasible.
As Bloomberg notes, the UCS's projections exceed the number of plants previously expected to shutter -- again, because coal is less cheap relative to other energy-production methods than it used to be. The UCS anticipates 59 more gigawatts of retirement than previous estimates -- some 6 percent of electricity generated in the U.S.
This magic number, 350, trumpeted by 350.org and hailed as a marker of climate health, signifies a particular goal in the effort to curb carbon dioxide pollution. 350 is the target amount of CO2, in parts-per-million, that it would take to maintain global temperatures at near-normal levels. Holding steady at 350 ppm would require, according to a 2006 study, a 5 percent reduction in emissions each year.
Last month, the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 391 ppm. And in 2011, global CO2 emissions rose another 2.5 percent. From Reuters:
Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2011 rose 2.5 percent to 34 billion tonnes, a new record, Germany's renewable energy institute said on Tuesday. ...
"If the current trend is sustained, worldwide CO2 emissions will go up by another 20 percent to over 40 billion tonnes by 2020," IWR director Norbert Allnoch said.
China led the table of emitters in 2011 with 8.9 billion tonnes, up from 8.3 billion a year earlier. Its CO2 output was 50 percent more than the 6 billion tonnes in the United States.
India was third, ahead of Russia, Japan and Germany.
Coal remains a critical component of the world’s energy supply despite its bad image. In China, demand for coal in 2010 resulted in a traffic jam 75 miles long caused by more than 10,000 trucks carrying supplies from Inner Mongolia. India is increasing coal imports.
So is Europe, as it takes advantage of lower coal prices in the United States. …
Global demand for coal is expected to grow to 8.9 billion tons by 2016 from 7.9 billion tons this year, with the bulk of new demand -- about 700 million tons -- coming from China, according to a Peabody Energy study. China is expected to add 240 gigawatts, the equivalent of adding about 160 new coal-fired plants to the 620 operating now, within four years. During that period, India will add an additional 70 gigawatts through more than 46 plants.
Moody's Investor Service thinks it has a tip for its friends in the field of finance. From The Hill:
“We believe the White House will reverse course and approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would ship crude from Canada’s western oil sands to the Gulf Coast,” the ratings agency said in a wide-ranging report Monday on the implications of the elections.
At least one industry group agrees, imagining that the president's campaign rhetoric signals a change of heart. From the Financial Times:
Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s lobby group, said after the election that Mr Obama had moved “about 180 degrees” in his rhetoric towards support for oil and gas production.
Insiders in Mr Obama’s campaign had “implicitly promised he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline”, Mr Gerard said. He added: “It will be a threshold test as to how serious the president is about producing America’s oil and natural gas.”
Keystone XL opponents would be forgiven for responding with a hearty, "Keep dreaming." After all, it was only 10 months ago that President Obama rejected a permit to build the pipeline.
Clearly the API and Moody's would like to see the pipeline move forward -- but it's not at all clear why the president would change his mind.
It is the grim result of more than half a century in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap. An estimated 20 percent of small public water systems in Tulare County are unable to meet safe nitrate levels, according to a United Nations representative ...
The event comes six years after former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB32, the law that required California to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 1990 levels -- the equivalent of a 17 percent reduction.
"It's the largest carbon market in the United States, and the second largest in the world, behind the European Union," [CARB spokesman Stanley] Young said. …
The air board estimates the regulation will add 10 cents per gallon to the price of gas for every $10 per ton that industry pays for allowances. On Friday, the futures market pegged the price at $12 a ton, which could result in a 12-cent per gallon increase.