So much material. So little time. So many complicated issues. So little expertise.
How about a big fat linky post!
Treehugger has a fantastic interview with Hunter Lovins, long-time champion of sustainability, now president of Natural Capitalism Solutions, Inc. She talks about her current international work, focusing on Afghanistan. I particularly like this exchange, which is relevant to our discussion of poverty earlier:
Do you believe that economic development can go hand in hand with sustainable development?
Yes, and this is a critical point. We know how to meet people’s needs for energy, for water, for housing, for sanitation, and for transportation, with much more sustainable technologies than are traditionally brought by development agencies.
Most of what is called development around the world is really donor nation dollars hiring donor nation contractors to deliver last century’s technologies, in such a way that the jobs and the economic benefit go right back to the originating donor country.
And when the dollars, the contractors, and the programs leave, the people in Afghanistan, or Africa, or wherever the so-called "development" is being done, are no better off than they were. If anything, they’re worse off: perhaps building a massive coal plant for which they’ve taken foreign debt; or put in some piece of infrastructure that they don’t really know how to run, that isn’t creating local jobs, and isn’t meeting local needs. And, everybody’s wasted a lot of money and time. We can do a lot better than that.
Speaking of fantastic interviews with Lovinses, don’t miss Discover‘s short but action-packed interview with Amory Lovins. Just about everything the dude says is quote-worthy, but I think this is my favorite:
If I could do just one thing to solve our energy problems, I would allow energy to compete fairly at honest prices regardless of which kind it is, what technology it uses, how big it is, or who owns it. If we did that, we wouldn’t have an oil problem, a climate problem, or a nuclear proliferation problem. Those are all artifacts of public policies that have distorted the market into buying things it wouldn’t otherwise have bought because they were turkeys.
So much wisdom in so few words.
The NYT’s Felicity Barringer and Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick both have blow-by-blows of today’s Supreme Court arguments over the scope of the Clean Water Act. Lithwick’s is, as always, witty and smart and perceptive and omigod I’m totally in love with her. Ahem.
Worldchanging would like you to give them some money — get thee and do so.
Econbrowser takes a look at the Economic Report of the President (PDF) and the Annual Energy Outlook in light of Bush’s "addiction to oil" talk. In summary, both reports are full of talk about command-and-control regulations, tax credits, and subsidies, with nothing about the most effective way to treat our addiction: an oil tax. Neither indicates that our addiction is ending any time soon. See also this hilarious chart from the AEO:
Well heck, color me convinced — let’s start drillin’!
Ross Gelbspan offers three interlocking strategies for a global energy transition:
- in industrial countries, the withdrawal of subsidies from fossil fuels and the establishment of equivalent subsidies for clean energy sources;
- the creation of a large fund — perhaps through a small tax on global commerce — to transfer clean energy technologies to developing countries; and,
- the incorporation within the Kyoto framework of a progressively more stringent Fossil Fuel Efficiency Standard that rises by 5 percent per year.
In the Fall 2005 edition (PDF) of the Electric Power Research Institute’s journal is "Driving the Solution: the Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle" (PDF), probably the best introduction to plug-in hybrids I’ve read. A must-read if you’d like to talk intelligently about PHVs, which look increasingly like the next big step in our energy transition.
Carl Pope has a great post on the Bush administration’s truly dumbass (politically and substantively) plan to sell off $800 million in public land and cut off funding for rural schools — all in one fell swoop! You can’t make this stuff up.
California continues to lead the environmental pack. Gubernatorial candidate (and current state treasurer) Phil Angelides recently proposed a plan to cut the state’s oil consumption by 25% over 10 years, in part by requiring all new cars sold in the state to be flex-fuel. (Amusingly, he announced the plan at a press conference with Ed Begley Jr.) And of course Schwarzenegger’s flurry of green initiatives continues — you can now read about all of them in one place, at the recently launched Green California website.
- Did you know that the Aral sea is the most toxic place on earth? Me neither.
- Researchers are talking about harvesting "ambient solar, kinetic (vibrations), and thermal energy" and storing it in lithium-ion batteries. Friggin’ weird.
- Speaking of fancy new batteries, check out the word on a new type of ultracapacitor that could revolutionize … everything (of course).
- Cute pictures of farm creatures with their owners, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
- WorldPress photos of the year for 2005. In particular, check out this one of Katrina’s aftermath.
- Ford developing hydraulic hybrid, supposedly 300% more efficient than the Prius. Anybody know if this is legit?
- Ze Frank made a highly amusing video about America’s "addiction to oil" (it’s about five minutes long).
Ahhhhh … It’s like a huge weight has been lifted! I feel so light. So free.
And of course within a couple of days I’ll feel hopelessly behind again.