Last month, ALEC (an organization of state legislators who have sworn fealty to big business) began advocating for the "Electricity Freedom Act," a bit of sample legislation aimed at crippling state renewable energy standards. The title of the bill is brazenly hypocritical -- which by itself was probably enough to pique the Heartland Institute's interest. And sure enough, it's throwing in.
The Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank skeptical of climate change science, has joined with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to write model legislation aimed at reversing state renewable energy mandates across the country. ...
James Taylor, the Heartland Institute’s senior fellow for environmental policy, said he was able to persuade most of ALEC’s state legislators and corporate members to push for a repeal of laws requiring more solar and wind power use on the basis of economics. ...
Taylor dismissed the idea that his group pushed for the measure because it has accepted money from fossil-fuel firms: “The people who are saying that are trying to take attention away from the real issue -- that alternative energy, renewable energy, is more expensive than conventional energy.”
[F]or the most part, the U.S. has shown a marked bias toward relieving victims of disaster, while underinvesting in prevention. A study by the economist Andrew Healy and the political scientist Neil Malhotra showed that, between 1985 and 2004, the government spent annually, on average, fifteen times as much on disaster relief as on preparedness.
Politically speaking, it’s always easier to shell out money for a disaster that has already happened, with clearly identifiable victims, than to invest money in protecting against something that may or may not happen in the future. Healy and Malhotra found that voters reward politicians for spending money on post-disaster cleanup, but not for investing in disaster prevention, and it’s only natural that politicians respond to this incentive.
Surowiecki notes another political roadblock: the federal government's ongoing indifference to broad infrastructure spending. Combine the two, and the prospect of preventative investment seems daunting.
We just didn't really expect it would happen this fast. From New Scientist:
In a small patch of the Southern Ocean, the shells of sea snails are dissolving. The finding is the first evidence that marine life is already suffering as a result of man-made ocean acidification.
"This is actually happening now," says Geraint Tarling of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. He and colleagues captured free-swimming sea snails called pteropods from the Southern Ocean in early 2008 and found under an electron microscope that the outer layers of their hard shells bore signs of unusual corrosion. …
If you know Paris, you know that it is primarily populated by men with pencil-thin mustaches who wear berets and carry around baguettes in paper bags. A lot of them wear shirts with thick horizontal stripes. These men don't talk much, they mostly loiter around in the background speaking a language comprised mostly of sniffs and grumbles. (There are also women in Paris; they are uniformly stunning.)
The protagonists of the city are the superspies, the well-coiffed American and British men who use Paris as a rendezvous point with clumsy, heavyset agents from Russia or Bulgaria. Invariably, these meetings end poorly, and the superspies -- though heavily outnumbered -- manage to effect an escape by driving vintage cars along the banks of the Seine. Depending on the day, the Bulgarians either end up in the river, emerging with a spluttering curse, a fish draped across their heads, or they vanish from the scene in some sort of horrific explosion.
But all of that is likely to change, ruining the Paris that we know so well. The mayor of the city is going to ban vintage cars.
[T]he ban would include many of the most recognizably French cars, including the Citroën 2CV, known as the Deux Chevaux; the Citroën DS, celebrated for its clean, distinctive design; the Renault 4L, a practical Everyman’s car of the 1960s and ’70s; and many classic Peugeots. …
The ban would apply to private and commercial vehicles that would be older than 17 years in 2014 and therefore do not comply with existing European standards for the tailpipe emissions that cause smog.
A spokesman for the city estimated that 367,000 cars would be affected. Also targeted are heavy trucks older than 18 years and motorcycles older than 10.
The Ob River is a massive tanker that can carry 150,000 cubic meters of liquified natural gas. (You can tell it carries liquified natural gas because the side of the vessel says "L N G" in massive letters.) And the ship is about to do something that no tanker has done before: traverse the winter Arctic to ship fossil fuels from Norway to Japan.
The tanker was loaded with LNG at Hammerfest in the north of Norway on 7 November and set sail across the Barents Sea. It has been accompanied by a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker for much of its voyage. ...
"It's an extraordinarily interesting adventure," Tony Lauritzen, commercial director at [the company that owns the vessel,] Dynagas, told BBC News.
"The people on board have been seeing polar bears on the route. We've had the plans for a long time and everything has gone well."
As you prepare piles of food for family and friends this week, keep in mind how much you're actually going to eat. Each Thanksgiving, Americans waste more than a third of the turkey meat they purchase and prepare.
Over the past two weeks, a group of concerned New Yorkers has been expropriating thousands of dollars worth of tools and materials from luxury residential developments across Manhattan and delivering them to neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
The confiscated materials, some of them never even used, include: shovels, wheelbarrows, hand trucks, pry bars, tarps, buckets, hard bristle brooms, industrial rope, contractor trash bags, particulate masks, work lights, work gloves, flashlights, heat lamps, and gasoline.
Liberated from their role in building multimillion-dollar pieds-à-terre for wealthy CEOs and Hollywood celebrities, these tools are now in the collective hands of some of the hardest-hit communities in the city where they are now being allocated and shared among the people who need them most. These expropriations will continue as long as the demand for them exists.
All this week, forecasters have been relying on ... satellite observations for almost all of the data needed to narrow down what were at first widely divergent computer models of what Hurricane Sandy would do next: explode against the coast, or veer away into the open ocean?
Now we know just how much reliance forecasters placed on satellites. Without them, predictions that Sandy would veer sharply to the west -- the path that brought it to New York -- would not have been made as early as they were.
This letter is to notify you that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has determined that the operating performance of Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC (Black Elk) must be improved immediately.