Tuesday, June 24, 2008

1988-2008: Climate Then and Now

Interesting reading. Follow the links to get in the way back machine.
Global warming has felt like breaking news a few times in recent years. But the first big pulse of coverage and public attention came in 1988, when the Amazon rain forest and Yellowstone were ablaze, a searing drought had farmers kicking dusty fields in frustration
I thought it might be worth inviting you all to read and “annotate” (as we’ve done with a couple of climate speeches and a polar bear decision recently) my cover story for Discover Magazine, reported through that hot year and published in the October 1988 edition.
I asked the current management there if they’d post the original article. They liked the idea, but the article was so old that it wasn’t even available in electronic form, so they had to type it up. Here’s the story, “Endless Summer: Living With the Greenhouse Effect.”
Melissa Lafsky of the magazine also did a brief e-mail interview with me, which is on their Reality Base blog.
Discover Magazine cover story on climate, October 1988
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Monday, June 23, 2008

McCain proposes $300M prize for new auto battery

Note to John McCain. If someone can come up with a better automobile battery they won't need a $300 million prize.

I have an idea. How about we give $300 million to Warren Buffet or Bruce Covner and get them working on solving the Social Security problem. They will probably be early investors in the new battery anyway and the returns will be better.
clipped from apnews.myway.com
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday that the search for alternatives to the country's dependence on foreign oil is so urgent that he's willing to throw money at it.

The Arizona senator proposed a $300 million prize for whoever can develop a better automobile battery, and $5,000 tax credits for consumers who buy new zero-emission vehicles. The latest proposal is in addition to his support for overturning the federal ban on offshore oil drilling.
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Use a Machete and Shower Less: Five ‘Manly’ Ways to Go Green

You can read the entire story by following the link. Funny, entertaining and thought provoking
clipped from blogs.wsj.com
Q: What are five going green tips for life you’d give guys who think eco-stuff is for wimps?

A: First, make friends with a guy who tears down buildings. My Dad is friends with a guy who does that in Akron; he’ll be tearing down a school with gargoyles and stuff and thinks it’s all garbage. My Dad takes a gargoyle home and makes an incredibly gorgeous sculpture out of it.

Second, learn how to landscape with a machete. Instead of firing up the chainsaw and using gas to trim the branches, use the machete to hack a path. Plus, you’ll look so cool sharpening it with a stone. Sit on the front stoop with a toothpick and sharpen your machete and you’ll never be f—– with.

Three, shower less frequently. You can tell your wife that you’re saving the earth.

Four, ride a motorcycle. It saves gas. My wife has always been anti-motorcycle, but she brought it up recently. If you ever wanted a motorcycle, now you can do it with a moral imperative.

Five, conserve water by drinking your whiskey straight.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Americans drive 4.5 billion fewer miles in April

Interesting trend. It will be interesting to see how this effects oil imports and retail sales in the months ahead.
clipped from www.breitbart.com
Americans drove around 4.5 billion fewer miles in April compared with the same month last year, marking the lowest mileage clocked on US roads for the month since 2003, a report showed Thursday.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) said in its monthly report that the number of vehicle miles driven in the United States fell by 1.8 percent, to 245.9 billion, based on preliminary data from the state highway authorities across the United States.
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Warming = More Harmful Climate Extremes


The first thorough federal review of research on how global warming may affect extreme climate events in North America forecasts more drenching rains, parching droughts (especially in the Southwest), intense heat waves and stronger hurricanes if long-lived greenhouse gases continue building in the atmosphere.

The report is distinct from last month’s federal review of specific impacts of warming on agriculture, ecosystems, coasts and the like in the United States, focusing instead on how weather patterns will change.

The report, Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate, is online at climatescience.gov. The biggest impacts of global warming will be from the shifts in the frequency and duration of extreme events, not the slow rise in the average temperature, it concluded.

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Seas Rising and Warming Faster Than Realized


On a very busy climate-oil-politics day I was able to just squeak in a short print piece last night on a new study in the journal Nature clarifying what’s happening with the oceans in a heating world (the heat held in by a building greenhouse blanket has largely accumulated in the oceans and physics demands that it will eventually add to atmospheric warming).

As you may be aware, those rejecting the enormous body of evidence pointing to a growing human influence on climate had embraced some transitory findings implying that the oceans were cooling.
The study, by Australian and American researchers, reviewed millions of measurements of ocean temperatures
shows that the rate at which seas warmed and rose between 1961 and 2003 was about 50 percent greater than previous estimates
the change in rate is what is important, the experts said, because it implies greater coastal retreats than anticipated last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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Hundreds of U.S. nuclear components lost

clipped from blogs.usatoday.com

Hundreds of nuclear missile components in the U.S. arsenal cannot be located, the Financial Times reports, citing unpublicized details from a Pentagon report. One official put the number of missing parts at more than 1,000.

The disclosure follows two nuclear blunders in the past year: the shipment of nuclear missile cones to Taiwan, and the cross-country flight of a bomber carrying nuclear warheads. Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired two top Air Force official who were blamed for the Taiwan screw-up.

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Nuclear Dreams: Will the Next Atomic Age Ever Come?

clipped from blogs.wsj.com

While President Bush picked up the offshore-drilling gauntlet yesterday, senator John McCain returned to the charge on nuclear power. He called for the construction of 45 more nuclear reactors by 2030—or a roughly 50% expansion of the current U.S. nuclear reactor fleet.

Now that public support for the stuff appears to be growing, how realistic is Sen. McCain’s faith in nuclear power?

For the folks at the Worldwatch Institute, not very. The D.C.-based environmental thinktank just produced a scorecard on nuclear power’s progress around the world: It’s growing one-tenth as fast as wind power. Last year, just 2 gigawatts of new nuclear power were brought on line, or a 0.5% increase over the world’s existing nuclear capacity.
That’s without mentioning one big bugbear facing nuclear power in the U.S.—what do with all the toxic waste. There’s also the question of where to get the fuel from to run the reactors.
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Would you drive this car?

On June 7, 2008, the converted Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
(PHEV) owned by Central Electric Power Cooperative in Columbia, SC,
was destroyed by an internal fire that occurred during a routine
drive. Thankfully, there were no injuries. But the converted Prius
was destroyed. The cause of the fire is not known.

Until further investigation, CRN has advised grounding all test
vehicles in the PHEV demonstration and is undertaking a detailed
investigation. The limited information available is as follows:

* The car was a 2008 Toyota Prius outfitted with the
Hybrids-Plus PHEV15 conversion kit.
* There was no data logger installed.
* The vehicle had previously experienced minor mechanical issues
relating to the charger.
* The fire occurred during routine highway driving. The
upholstery in the back seat had caught on fire. The driver pulled
over, exited the car, and there was a subsequent explosion.
* The A123 lithium-ion battery was damaged but remained largely
intact and functioning.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain: 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030

clipped from www.msnbc.msn.com
Sen. John McCain called Wednesday for the construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030 and pledged $2 billion a year in federal funds "to make clean coal a reality," measures designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The Google Earth gatecrashers who take uninvited dips in home-owners' swimming pools

I wonder if we will be importing this new behavior like we do reality shows.

My guess is Yes. And your guess?

Would-be revellers are using satellite images on the internet to find houses with swimming pools - and then turning up uninvited for an impromptu dip.

The craze involves using the Google Earth programme, which provides high-quality aerial photos of Britain and other countries.

Once a target is chosen, the organisers use social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo to arrange to meet, say police.

Officers said that residents have woken up to find youngsters 'dipping' in their back gardens, or have come home from work to a swimming pool full of beer cans.

One group has already boasted on the internet that it held an event earlier this week.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said yesterday: 'We are advising owners of swimming pools to be on their guard.

The rules of 'dipping' often include wearing fancy dress and participants are urged to 'bring a bike' to escape if discovered.

A potential target? A pool in the back garden of a house in Dorset as seen on Google earth
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Climate + Oil + Politics = ?


For the first year of this long presidential race, there was little focus on energy, climate and the environment, presumably because polls and focus groups showed scant public concern about these issues. The last few weeks, and today in particular, have shown the power of high oil and gasoline prices to get politicians’ attention.

obama & gore
Senator John McCain, speaking in the heart of oil country (refining, not drilling, these days), gave an update to his May speech on climate and energy, trying to reconcile calls for fewer greenhouse gas emissions and more domestic oil drilling — in offshore waters that have been off limits for nearly four decades.
Mr. Obama has not made climate and energy a front-tier issue for the most part, although his proposals are laid out in detail on his campaign site. His stance on climate is similar to Mr. McCain’s, with both seeking legislation involving cap-and-trading mechanisms to cut greenhouse gas emissions (with slightly different targets and timing).
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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Heavy Problem: Dirtier Oil, Though Cheaper, Sparks Green Backlash

Cheap oil! Get your cheap oil here!
clipped from blogs.wsj.com
The bad news: it’s nasty stuff.

Heavy, sour grades of crude oil trade at a discount because they cost more to refine and produce less of the premium products like gasoline and jet fuel. Iran has had such trouble selling its sulfur-rich oil that it’s got 14 tankers of the stuff floating in the Persian Gulf unsold. So yesterday, Iran and Kuwait slashed the price of their heavy oil; it’s now selling at the steepest discount in at least nine years.

Trouble is, there’s more heavy oil on the way. Canada might have a trillion barrels of oil in its tar sands, but they don’t call them “tar” for nothing. And it’s not just Canada; most new oil finds these days are “gooey, acidic, or laced with sulfur,” as the Journal’s Neil King Jr. put it in April.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Charge Polluters; Pay People

This is a long article with links to additional information. Worthwhile reading.

Follow the link in the clip for the details.
Even as Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ attempt to move forward with global warming legislation today, other approaches to federal climate action have already begun to percolate.
James E. Hansen, the NASA climate expert who has long been a bellwether for global warming campaigners, has strongly endorsed one of the less-popular options — a variant on the “cap and dividend” system for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.
It’s also on his Web site at Columbia University (June 4 entry). It’s titled Carbon Tax and 100-Percent Dividend; No Alligator Shoes!
In Dr. Hansen’s approach, a straightforward rising tax is imposed on the carbon content of fuels
Here are the slides summarizing Dr. Hansen’s “tax and dividend” plan for cutting greenhouse gases
the full PowerPoint presentation is here
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Next Steps on Climate and Energy

Here’s what a “floor fight” in the Senate over the issue of the century — satisfying energy needs without overheating the planet — looks like:

When lawmakers get into partisan tangles over legislation and a bill dies a slow procedural death, as happened with a climate bill in the Senate this week, the result is ugly and incremental, and doesn’t compete well with news of spiking oil prices. That makes for shrinking space in the very finite (and ever more finite) confines of a newspaper.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Morgan Stanley's Oil Influence

Oil set a new record after a bevy of high predictions and negative news spurned an already sensitive market.
clipped from www.forbes.com
The latest rise seems to have been driven by a report from Morgan Stanley predicting that oil could reach $150 by July 4, up from the $138.05 level it traded at on Friday afternoon, a rise of $10.26, or 8.0%, from Thursday, and a two-day gain of $11.59. In mid-May crude prices spiked partly because after billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens said he expected one barrel to cost $150 by the end of the year. (See: "Boone's Boom") Earlier that month oil rallied after the venerable Goldman Sachs predicted that crude prices could reach $200 in the next two years. (See: "Solar Sector Sucked Into Oil's Wake")

Reality Check: IEA Wants ‘Immediate’ Climate Action; Senate Kills Bill

clipped from blogs.wsj.com

In Paris, the International Energy Agency released a blunt warning about how much it would cost to cut greenhouse-gas emissions enough to make a real difference to the environment. In Washington, the Senate made clear it doesn’t believe Americans are willing to pay that much.

Scientists are widely calling for a cut of more than 50% in global greenhouse-gas emissions by mid-century – a period during which global emissions otherwise are expected to more than double. Meanwhile, governments are debating slapping tough emission caps on industry, requiring industry to pay for the right to dump carbon dioxide into the air.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Climate Debate: Democracy In Action?


David M. Herszenhorn has a piece today examining this week’s Senate action (or inaction, more accurately) as the debate over the Warner-Lieberman-Boxer bill aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases stalled amid partisan parrying using age-old rules of order.

The NPR program “On Point with Tom Ashbrook” just had a useful discussion of this issue with William Nordhaus, a Yale economist who says progress is slow, but does foresee the country and world moving to having a price on emissions of carbon dioxide, and Joe Romm of Climateprogress.org, who says a carbon price must also come with a big federal push for energy efficiency and technology shifts. I did some brief scene-setting.]
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Pump Pain: Stung by Gas Prices, Even Dallas Asks People to Walk

This made me chuckle. Charging to use a public street to ease congestion. I lived in Dallas and they do get some interesting ideas down there.

Want a sure-fire sign that high gas prices are changing behavior? They’re walking in Dallas.
clipped from blogs.wsj.com

Or at least, they’re talking about it. A city commission is meeting today to discuss new zoning rules that would encourage pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

there’s another plan on the table that would cause a stir just about anywhere: congestion pricing. Highland Park, a ritzy neighborhood north of downtown Dallas, is considering a plan to charge drivers who use a major local road as a cut-through. (Locals wouldn’t generally be charged.) The Dallas Morning News says the idea, if adopted, would create the nation’s first tolled surface street. That may not be as ambitious as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s much-discussed plan to charge drivers entering downtown Manhattan—but then, that plan was killed in April. (The Highland Park plan may suffer the same fate—no one seems certain the plan is even legal.)
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On June 3, George Soros said oil prices will not "crash" any time soon. What reason(s) did the billionaire cite?

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Squawk Box
In his June 4 blog, what did Jim Goldman call "the only real issue" in the Yahoo-Microsoft drama?
Answer: fiduciary accountability

Squawk on the Street
On June 3, George Soros said oil prices will not "crash" any time soon. What reason(s) did the billionaire cite? Answer: prices' strong foundation

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On June 3, George Soros said oil prices will not "crash" any time soon. What reason(s) did the billionaire cite?

George Soros: 'We face the most serious recession of our lifetime'

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What's Really Pushing Gas Prices? Subsidies.

At its hearings Tuesday on "energy market manipulation" (no assumptions of innocent till proved guilty, there), the U.S. Senate's Commerce committee was champing at the bit to regulate, well, anything really that had to do with oil trading.
clipped from www.forbes.com
Several of its witnesses dutifully pointed the finger at oil market speculators, though billionaire financier George Soros provided a reality check on how effective regulating them would prove (see "Soros Tells Congress To Pop An Oil Bubble").
Half the world's population benefits from energy subsidies, which translates into a quarter of the world's gasoline production, they say in a note to clients. Though three-quarters of the world's gasoline consumption is taxed, those taxes vary hugely around the world, resulting in a spread of prices at the pump from five cents a liter in Venezuela to $2.70 a liter in Turkey. (It is about $1 a liter in the U.S.)
At the end of 2006, when oil was trading at $60 a barrel, only 10.4% of the world's gasoline consumption was taxed. That has now risen to 22%, Jen and Bindelli calculate, and oil has similarly more than doubled in price.
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Monday, June 2, 2008

On Friday, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris said Dow uses how much of the U.S.' electricity to make its products?


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On Friday, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris said Dow uses how much of the U.S.' electricity to make its products? Answer: one percent

On Friday, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris said Dow uses how much of the U.S.' electricity to make its products?

Dow Chemical CEO Says US Underestimating Inflation

Liveris estimates Dow uses about one percent of the U.S.'s electricity to make its products, which become components of other consumers goods, and the equivalent of about one million barrels of oil a day.

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