John BoehnerNew Speaker of the House John Boehner: “The idea that carbon dioxide … is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”Photo: republicanconferenceBecause nothing closes the window of opportunity on peaking greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 quite like a new of speaker of the House who once expressed outright disbelief about the veracity of scientists’ claims regarding the threat of climate change, geologists published a paper this week suggesting the Earth will take 100,000 years to recover from the effects of the global warming resulting from our current emissions trajectory.

In an election season characterized by countless acts of questionable taste, the lack of climate as an issue in most campaigns could be considered a blessing. Notable exceptions include Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), whose defeat was largely due to his collaboration with the Obama administration on the climate bill, says his former chief of staff. Rookie Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello, a vocal proponent of the climate bill, was also defeated.

An analysis by Dow Jones Newswires argued a “yes” vote on the climate bill hurt at least 12 Democrats who lost their seats on Tuesday, but paradoxically, Democrats who voted against the bill “actually fared worse proportionally — 27 of the 43 who opposed it lost.”

In addition, perhaps the two most visible proponents of the climate bill, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both managed to hold onto their seats in contested races.

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Whatever the causes of the shift of power from Democrats to Republicans, the general result is an Obama administration doubtful it will get anywhere close to passing clean-energy legislation until the composition of Congress changes once again.

Political megatrend goes unnoticed: In all the excitement over elections at the national level, a second, even more powerful political riptide went largely unnoticed: The GOP gained 680 state legislature seats, “giving the party unilateral control to remake the boundaries of 190 congressional districts.”

This level of state legislative control was last seen in 1952, and if the tendency for GOP candidates to view action on climate change unfavorably continues, it will shape climate and energy legislation for the next decade.

California kneecaps its own green efforts with Prop 26: Californians who are in favor of greentech development celebrated the defeat of Prop 23, which would have neutralized the historic emissions reduction legislation passed under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But California’s other anti-environmental regulation, Prop 26, passed early Wednesday morning. The New York Times calls it Prop 23′s “evil twin” and says it could have almost as profound an effect on the greenhouse gas regulations.

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Nissan Leaf selling like iPods; too bad about the batteries: Don’t bother trying to get an all-electric Leaf, because the entire 20,000-vehicle run has sold out before a single one hits showroom floors. Lithium ion batteries like the kind used in electric cars age like humans do: irreversibly.

J.D. Power projects hybrid and electric vehicles will be “only” 7.3 percent of the global market in 2020.

Extreme climate change: Those of you who are used to looking at normal distributions are not going to believe how far off the norm Russia’s most recent heat wave was. The next century will see climate shifts so profound there will be no more Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park. Get ready for permanent drought over “most of the populated areas of the world” by the end of the century. Australia is already prioritizing the design and implementation of its climate change adaptation strategy.

Luckily, averting (simulated) catastrophe is as simple as making the right decisions inside a new computer game that simulates our climate future and is called, appropriately enough, “Fate of the World.”

This won’t be controversial at all: Donald Brown, associate professor of environmental ethics, science, and law at Penn State University, asks whether or not climate science disinformation is a crime against humanity.

Geoengineering has been banned by at least one international body, even though that body isn’t quite sure what constitutes geoengineering.

Climate denial is becoming a part of America’s school curriculum.

Roger Pielke Jr., not an economist, argues there is an “iron law” of economics that says countries forced to choose between growth and emissions reductions will always choose growth. The Economist reviews his latest book favorably; bloggers, not so much.

Once more, for the cheap seats: A majority of Americans are in favor of action on clean energy.

Only 30 percent of members of the Tea Party believe
there is “solid evidence” the Earth is warming, compared to 79 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans, says a recent poll.

Landicane!: A weather system with a core of record-setting low pressure kicked up high winds over such a large area of land meteorologists were forced to invent a new name for it. Here’s a stunning image of the world’s first “landicane.”

If we’re addicted to oil, what’s the energy equivalent of Methadone?: “The state of Hawaii wants to reduce oil use by 70 percent, but no one knows how to do it.” The U.S. military wants to use photovoltaics to build a self-sufficient “energy island” out of Camp Smith in Oahu.

Assault on the EPA: A surge of lawsuits challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act are being shot down by the Department of Justice, which argues only Congress can block the EPA’s authority in this matter.

Green energy business in the doldrums: Wind power is growing no faster than it did in 2007, and greentech venture capital outlays are down 55 percent from the same quarter in 2009, with most of the money going to mature companies. Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that won a half billion dollars in federal aid, is laying off workers and closing one of its plants.

Meanwhile, South Korea is launching an $8.2 billion project to build a 500 turbine offshore wind farm capable of producing 2,500 megawatts of electricity.

The good kind of gas problem: Alaska has way less oil than previously estimated, because most of the underground reserves are in fact natural gas, which only adds to the current glut of gas in the country, due mostly to fracking for shale gas.

Our little secret: “Some of the country’s largest emitters of heat-trapping gases, including businesses that publicly support efforts to curb global warming, don’t want the public knowing exactly how much they pollute,” according to USA Today.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

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