The enemy is conventional thinking 5

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 16 Aug 2007 18:02:00 GMT

Thomas Casten addresses the potential gains in carbon reduction by focusing on the energy distribution systems:

I’ve done a study of what would happen if the United States went all the way with power recycling. We could cut our electric fuel in half. We could drop CO2 by between 20 and 30 percent. And we could make money on the first 25 percent drop with today’s technology. In the process, the technology would improve and we would be able to go farther.
And the consequences of ignoring this sector:
In 1900, about 3.5 percent of the potential energy put into electric generation actually became delivered electricity, and about 1.5 percent of it ended up as useful work. The curve rises for the next 60 years, as these things get more efficient. By 1960, about 32.5 percent of the potential was arriving as electricity. In 2005, we’re at 33 percent. The electrical generation industry stopped improving its efficiency.

Natasha Chart addresses the question of agricultural practices and soil carbon content:

The Carbon Farmers of America assert that, “[i]f the American people were to restore the soil fertility of the Great Plains that we have destroyed in the last 150 years, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide would be reduced to near pre-industrial levels.”

Both approaches offer massive opportunity for everyone from corporations to families.

They conclude, respectively, “The enemy is conventional thinking,” and “Answers could be right under our feet.”

Larson Carbon Tax Bill: America's Energy Security Trust Fund Act (HR 3416) 15

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 16 Aug 2007 15:27:00 GMT

Just before the August recess, Congressman John B. Larson (D-Conn.) introduced HR 3416, a federal carbon tax proposal that follows the basic model of Al Gore’s carbon tax recommendation.

Elements:
  • Covers coal, petroleum, and natural gas
  • Only regulates carbon dioxide content, not other GHG emissions (the bill calls for a proposal to cover those emissions within 6 months of enactment)
  • Tax starts at $15 per ton and rises at 10% faster than the cost of living adjustment each year
  • Tax refunds or credits include feedstock and any offset project other than enhanced oil recovery, and all exports
  • Revenues raised go into “America’s Energy Security Trust Fund”. 1/6 up to $10 billion goes to clean energy technology R&D, 1/12 goes to industry relief (declining to zero by 2017), and the remainder goes to offset payroll taxes.

Shareholders Pressure Exxon on Global Warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 14 Aug 2007 17:32:00 GMT

In Resolved: Public Corporations Shall Take Us Seriously, the New York Times Magazine describes the rising tide of shareholder resolutions on climate change against ExxonMobil:
The ring tone on Sister Patricia Daly’s cellphone is the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah,” which makes every call sound as if it’s coming from God. On the particular May afternoon, however, David Henry, who handles investor relations for the ExxonMobil Corporation, was on the line. Henry wanted to know if Daly planned to attend the annual shareholder meeting later that month — a rhetorical question, really, since Daly had been at every one of them for the past 10 years. At each she posed roughly the same question: What is ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, planning to do about global warming?

The article makes reference to Citigroup’s influential climate change investment report from the beginning of the year, Climatic Consequences: Investment Implications of a Changing Climate, and the May 2007 Greenpeace report ExxonMobil’s Continued Funding of Global Warming Denial Industry.

John Dingell Announces Global Warming Proposal 3

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 13 Aug 2007 19:30:00 GMT

At his town hall meeting last week, House Energy and Commerce chairman John Dingell unveiled the outline of his global warming legislative plan, which he will introduce in committee on September 1:
  • cap-and-trade system with an 80% cap by 2050
  • $100 per ton CO2 emissions tax
  • 50-cent increase in federal gax tax
  • funding for research on renewable energy
  • ending the McMansion mortgage deduction (homes larger than 3,000 square feet)
Glenn Hurwitz at Grist pens a stinging assessment of the chairman: Dingell is dispensible.
So far, he’s fought hard against all steps forward, but it hasn’t made much difference in policy. That suggests that environmentalists and Democrats would be well served to reconsider conventional wisdom about Dingell. Partly because of his gratuitous and repeated swipes at leadership and the environmental movement, his sway with both leadership and rank-and-file Democrats is considerably less than it once was. As the RES vote and Hoyer’s prediction that Congress will pass aggressive fuel efficiency standards shows, his support is no longer essential to passing major environmental legislation. This doesn’t mean that Democrats or environmentalists can ignore all sometime-opponents of environmental progress within the caucus (some, like Gene Green and Charlie Gonzalez, have shown that they retain considerable pull), but it does mean we can stop obsessing about Dingell.
Earlier at Grist David Roberts criticized the Greenpeace activists protesting Dingell’s recent efforts to block an increase in CAFE standards: Dingell’s dimwitted detractors.
Argh. Silly, gimmicky, irrational crap. If this is what Dingell runs into, it’s no wonder he holds green activists in such contempt. Relative to what Dingell’s proposing, the difference between a 35mpg CAFE (which he supports) and a 45mpg or 50mpg CAFE (which greens support) is meaningless. Utterly and completely trivial. A distraction. If we could get in place a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system, the effects will dwarf minor changes in CAFE. Instead of hectoring Dingell about CAFE, activists should be using their energy to push other legislators to support these bills.

Around the Web: Green Collar Jobs, Water, Emissions Intensity 6

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 13 Aug 2007 17:37:00 GMT

Matt Stoller interviews Congresswoman Hilda Solis on Global Warming and Race at OpenLeft. Rep. Solis is hosting a global warming forum in Los Angeles this week.

Stoller writes:

By turning global warming into a jobs issue, Solis is working to reframe the often depressing and disempowering rhetoric of the environmental movement into language that different groups can get behind. There are interesting and unexpected allies here. A few weeks ago, I accompanied a Sierra Club lobbyist to a visit with freshman Tim Walz, and he’s using the same strategy in his rural Minnesota district – sustainable energy means jobs. Conservative rural residents are now proud of wind turbines, because it means economic growth. The political combination of rural and urban constituency groups is quite potent.

Good Magazine put out an excellent global water supply infographic poster.

Warming Law continues its unparalleled coverage of Massachusetts v. EPA.

Simon Donner takes a look at the question of emissions intensity.

What Is the Hottest Year on Record? 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 10 Aug 2007 17:23:00 GMT

A story on Daily Tech yesterday, with the headline “Years of bad data corrected; 1998 no longer the warmest year on record”, was immediately picked up by Rush Limbaugh:
I’ve got a story here from Reuters that is embargoed until 2 o’clock. I’m tempted to break the embargo, but I probably won’t because I play by the rules. But the basic story – and I’m going to give you the details of this as the program unfolds – one of the central tenets of the global warming hoaxers today is that 1998 was the hottest year in history on record. And that five of the top ten hottest years have been in the last ten years. Five of the hottest years have been in the last ten. It turns out that the statistics, the temperature data that NASA used to compile the temperatures in 1998 is wrong. 1998 was not the hottest year on record. 1934 was. In fact, five of the top ten, I believe, I’m going to have to check this, five of the top ten warmest years on record are in the 30s, during the Dust Bowl era and so forth.
and thence to dozens of conservative websites; Michelle Malkin has a helpful list of links to the dozens of websites repeating the story. Today New York Times’s Opinionator blog repeated the claim, calling the general scientific community “Cassandras”:
A blogger’s recalculation of NASA data puts 1934, not 1998, as the warmest year on record…. Among global warming Cassandras, the fact that 1998 was the “hottest year on record” has always been an article of faith.

These stories are grossly misleading. Steve McIntyre’s correction applied to the surface temperature record of the contiguous lower 48 United States, not the global mean surface temperature record. 19 of the hottest twenty years on record for the planet have come in the last 26 years. 2005 is the hottest year on record, not 1998 (number 2) or 1934 (number 64).

Correcting the US data record was genuine accomplishment by an individual blogger, but of no qualitative consequence.

Debate on Cap and Trade with Environmental Defense

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 08 Aug 2007 20:37:00 GMT

Environmental Defense was one of several prominent environmental groups to embrace the Lieberman-Warner proposal:
Joe Lieberman and John Warner are providing remarkable leadership. By developing an approach that has environmental integrity and support from both sides of the aisle they are doing what is necessary to actually make law.
Matt Stoller of Open Left, who has been highly skeptical of all cap-and-trade approaches, let alone the Lieberman-Warner proposal, wrote this analysis yesterday:
Anyway, the bill Bush is going to get behind is the Lieberman-Warner bill, opposed by the Sierra Club but supported by the intensely corporate-friendly and compromised Environmental Defense. There’s a green civil war coming, with ED President Fred Krupp playing the role of the DLC. The other environmental groups are split, with the Pew Center and the Nature Conservancy following Krupp over the cliff. The Union of Concerned Scientists and NRDC are ‘concerned’, and the LCV and the Sierra Club are clear that this is a bad move. If you want to see a dysfunctional, degraded, and compromised movement that have lost touch with their mission statements, look no further than ED, Pew, and the Nature Conservancy.
Today, Tony Kreindler of ED responded on Stoller’s site. Here’s an excerpt:
What Lieberman and Warner have offered is a blueprint for a climate bill with an airtight emissions cap and a market for carbon that will spur investment in cost-effective emissions reductions. They also have a plan for managing economic impacts, and importantly, it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the emissions cap. Does that favor corporations over the environment? We don’t think so, and we won’t support a bill that fails the environmental test.

The discussion is continued at Open Left.

A Look at Evangelicals and Global Warming 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 08 Aug 2007 14:26:00 GMT

The Washington Post has an extended feature today on the growing evangelical advocacy on global warming, “Warming Draws Evangelicals Into Environmentalist Fold”, telling the story of Joel C. Hunter, pastor of Florida’s Northland Church. It discusses how the environmental advocacy of U.S. pastors is a result of an intense six-year effort by their counterparts in Great Britain, led by atmospheric scientist and evangelical Sir John T. Houghton, University of Wisconsin professor of environmental studies Calvin B. DeWitt, and Bishop James Jones of Liverpool, with further outreach by environmental organizations and scientists.
Several eminent scientists also set out to repair the breach that had divided American faith leaders and scientists for nearly a century. Harvard University entomologist Edward O. Wilson, who had grown up Southern Baptist but drifted away in college, decided that if he could win over the religious right, he might be able to convince Americans that their entire ecological heritage was in jeopardy.

“I was working off the ‘New York effect’: If you can make it in New York, you could make it anywhere,” Wilson said. In the fall of 2006 he published “The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth,” a short treatise in which the biologist makes his case for environmentalism in a series of letters to an imaginary pastor.

Last fall, Hunter and Wilson were among more than two dozen scientific and evangelical leaders who met secretly at a retreat in Thomasville, Ga., to draft a joint statement calling for immediate action on climate change. A month and a half later, they released a statement saying both camps “share a moral passion and sense of vocation to save the imperiled living world before our damages to it remake it as another kind of planet.”

After the meeting, Hunter and Conservation International’s Campbell drafted a tool kit titled “Creation Care: An Introduction for Busy Pastors” to send to evangelical leaders. Within a matter of months, they had produced a package of Bible passages and information on scientific findings to promote action on climate change.

Environmental Non-Profits Respond to Lieberman-Warner 7

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 06 Aug 2007 05:58:00 GMT

In summary, US-CAP members Environmental Defense, Pew Center on Climate Change, and Nature Conservancy offer unequivocal praise of Lieberman-Warner.

NRDC (US-CAP) and Union of Concerned Scientists say it’s a starting point that needs fixing.

Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club say it has major problems; the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters say that focus should stay on the Sanders-Boxer bill.

A number of organizations have not yet weighed in. Full quotations and links to the statements are below the fold.

House Passes Energy Package with Renewable Energy Standard Provision 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 05 Aug 2007 00:50:00 GMT

HR 3221, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act, passed at 5:40 PM by a vote of 241-172. 26 Republicans voted in favor of the bill and 9 Democrats against.

At 4:39 PM the Udall renewable energy standard (RES) amendment passed 220-190. 32 Republicans voted for the provision and 38 Democrats against.

At 8:16 PM, HR 2776, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, was passed by a vote of 221-189. 9 Republicans voted in favor and 11 Democrats against. The bill was subsequently attached to HR 3221 and the combined bill will go into conference with the Senate.

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