Archive for October, 2011


China says its per-capita emissions won’t reach U.S. levels (BBC).

Sports leagues are increasingly going green (NY Times).

Oil drilling causes tension in Colorado (NY Times).

Federal aid could be key to the future of the solar and wind industries (NY Times).

BP gets its first Gulf deep water drilling permit since the spill (Times-Picayune).

The world order seems to dictate a new major gadget release each week. One week it’s a new iPhone, the next it’s Google’s new operating sytem – and this week it’s a THERMOSTAT!

You likely have to be a big energy geek to fully graps what all the buzz is about. One of the architects of the iPod, Tony Fadell has started hsi own company and released a simple, programmable thermostat, the Nest.

The thermostat learns form your behavior and within a week programs itself for your optimal temperature. It starts turning down the temperature when you’re away or in bed – and it adjusts over time. With WiFi control, it allows you to adjust the settings from your phone or from your computer – and its large, easy buttons make it simple to adjust in person. No more tiny buttons that you have to press extra hard to get them to work.

Heating and cooling accounts for approximately half of a household’s energy use each year, so there’s a chance to find real energy savings. According to one measure, if you use 4 degrees less energy per year, you’ll save $200-$300. And that explains the con of the device. It sells for $250 at electronic stores, plus $120 for installation ($25 each for additional devices).

Like most energy-saving devices, you’ll make up your money in the long-run – and in this case, probably less than a year … but most families are unable to advance that type of cash. Would a payment plan work? Is it eligible for energy tax breaks? Would the electric company provide subsidies? These are all questions for the future.

For now, just check out all … thepositive … reviews.


California adopts cap-and-trade (LA Times).

200 companies call for tougher action on climate change (BBC).

Dollars aren’t the only cost of California’s proposed bullet train (LA Times).

State energy efficiency programs did OK in 2011 (Stateline).

When you thought you’d seen it all in New York, how about growing crops on a Queens industrial rooftop (LA Times).

This is from last week, but this NY Times article discusses climate change’s fade from public consciousness.

The EPA announces plans to regulate wastewater from hydrofracking (LA Times).

Another study, another finding of warming temperatures (BBC).

Leasing your property for gas drilling could cause mortgage problems (NY Times).

Less Arctic ice is good news for oil companies (NY Times).

Democrats are split on the Keystone pipeline issue (Washington Post). Meanwhile, the pipeline presents a huge dilemma for the administration (Washington Post).

In pushing for governments across the world to act, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu declared that attempts to disprove climate change remind him of a fight the American public had nearly half a century ago.

Chu criticized attempts to “muddy the waters” on climate change science. He said the debate in the U.S. reminds him of what he “heard as a young person growing up about how cigarette smoking was not really bad for your health.”

More than twenty years ago, many officials were already trying to slow down government’s response to climate change:

Reagan’s “greenhouse skeptics” loathed the idea that the world would solve global warming the way it had solved the Ozone Hole issue the previous year. The Montreal Protocol involved an international agreement with mandatory targets. It is still widely hailed as a huge success. The fossil fuel lobby was determined to ensure that no such agreement would ever occur that might threaten their bottom line, regardless of the effect such a failure might have on the rest of the planet. They therefore “welcomed any delay which would stave off demands for concrete action” and the IPCC was viewed as the perfect vehicle by which this would be achieved.

And so, here we sit almost 20 years later and globally, the IPCC is in trouble as the liberal European Union is now wondering whether to cut emissions.

There is no question about its target of cutting CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, as that is now binding law. But the EU has been developing its long-term policy options around the assumption that it would reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050, in line with what industrialized countries as a group should do — according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change— to keep the global temperature rise within two degrees Celsius.

The draft suggests that this might have to be reconsidered, if there is no progress on a global deal, because otherwise the EU would be left alone in pursuing this goal and possibly end up penalizing its industry.

All of this comes as one of our 50 states is increasing government’s role in censoring bad news about climate change:

The TCEQ is headed by Bryan Shaw, known for saying that scientific arguments that human activities are changing the climate are a hoax. He was appointed by Texas governor Rick Perry, who has publicly said that such science is inconclusive.

“They just simply went through and summarily struck out any reference to climate change, any reference to sea level rise, any reference to human influence - it was edited or eliminated,” Anderson told The Guardian. “That’s not scientific review, that’s just straightforward censorship.”

If Chu’s analogy is right, we’re a long way from when the government brought a class-action suit against big-tobacco. Right now, a lot of the fingers looking for someone to blame can point right at the government.

Al Gore spoke this week, blaming climate change for all of the major natural disasters this year. It comes as the Northeast readies for the latest effects of cliamte change.

Meanwhile, add coffee to the list of luxury items such as chocolate and wine that are endangered by climate change. With space travel limited, NASA is resuming its study of Antartic ice cover.

Is your day-to-day life affected by climate change right now?

Well, parts of it. More severe storms are hitting land, causing lots of problems for people. But, the reality of the Northeast losing the entire ski industry, for one example, is still a couple of decades away despite the fact the damage is being done now. The cumulative effect is years away.

And that’s the case for a lot of things that will be changing, including: Vermont’s maple syrup industry, beach towns dealing with erosion or water pipelines needing to be rerouted to areas that will deal with major droughts.

Now you can add a couple more things to the list. If you didn’t think 88 million people being displaced worldwide becasue of climate change was a number you could really digest, then how about we take away your wine and chocolate. That’s right – both of these commodities are in trouble.

Half the world’s cocoa supply will be in danger, according to one report, while wines made from grapes grown on the West Coast could also face climate problems.

Is it sad that it might take the rarity of these two “luxury” products to bring home the reality of cliamte change? Yes, but maybe it’s necessary.

Some pro-environment actions as governor could hurt Mitt Romney in the GOP primary (Wall Street Journal).

Another day, another Solyndra e-mail release (Washington Post).

The EPA eases another rule (Associated Press).

Airlines look into using more biofuels (NY times).

A container ship leaks oil off the New Zealand coast (BBC).

It hasn’t been a vibrant foliage season yet (Providence Journal).

The energy industry hasn’t escaped the impact of the Texas drought ( Meanwhile, ranchers are forced to send their cattle north (LA Times).

The head of DOE’s loan program resigns over the Solyndra collapse (Washington Post). Meanwhile, President Obama defends the loan guarantee program (LA Times).

An EPA panel releases a Gulf Coast restoration plan (NY Times).

A key advisory opinion says the EU’s airline emissions cap is legal (BBC).

This month’s latest example of global warming that will be ignored by skeptics has arrived. Arctic sea ice has now hit its second-lowest level ever. Most scientists were surprised it wasn’t an even lower level:

Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said the continued low minimum sea ice levels fits into the large-scale decline pattern that scientists have watched unfold over the past three decades.

“The sea ice is not only declining, the pace of the decline is becoming more drastic,” Comiso said. “The older, thicker ice is declining faster than the rest, making for a more vulnerable perennial ice cover.”

And while more shipping routes are open because there’s less ice, the saved fuel from fater shipping routes is an upside that unfortunately is just a little too small. Less arctic ice means higher sea levels – and a reshaping of the world’s coasts.

And where are the climate change skeptics? Luckily, they’re in trouble.