Archive for December, 2011


Coal has been a vexing challenge for the Obama administration (Washington Post).

India makes gains in solar power (NY Times). A hydroelectric dam proceeds in China (NY Times).

A drilling fight gets nasty in Louisiana (NY Times).

The EPA has had inconsistent oversight of state agencies (Stateline).

Happy New Year everyone.

Year after year, you make a New Year’s resolution – it often doesn’t work and maybe you’ve resolved not to do it anymore. Give it one more shot this year – make your resolution taking the 11-1 Lights Out, Green In pledge.

There is more than enough light on sunny days to work with the lights off in most companies or houses – so do it. You won’t be fumbling about in darkness. You won’t be turning your back on technology. You’ll be adapting to the threat of climate change and sending us on a path to cleaner air and less pollution. So make this year’s New Year’s resolution a little bit about you (you’ll save money) and a lot about the coming generations. Join the more than 500 households and companies combined who have taken the pledge.


The EPA’s proposed new mercury rule isn’t sitting well with industry (LA Times). It could close some of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest plants (Washington Post).

The US continues to oppose the EU’s airline emissions tax (BBC), recently ruled legal by Europe’s high court (Washington post).

Brazil seeks charges against Chevron employees after last month’s spill (BBC). But a new Amazon development policy has environmentalists worried (Washington Post).

Seattle bans plastic bags, and hopes it stands this time (NY Times).

During the past few years, Lights Out, Green In has featured a series of blog posts that remain “evergreen,” which means they are still relevant. Here are a few to check out:

Is a fake Christmas tree or a real one better for the environment?

Are using LEDs (now available in the favored warm white color) helping lessen the environmental impact of Christmas? Will they act as a gateway for consumers to experiment with new energy-saving lighting?

And don’t forget – Bill O’Reilly’s misplaced rant on the War on Christmas helped spark Lights Out, Green In’s creation.

What are some ways you save energy at Christmas? Leave a comment below …


The Senate’s version of the 2-month payroll tax cut extension forces a February decision on the Keystone XL pipeline (Washington Post). The administration said it would likely reject the permit in that case (NY Times).

Thawing permafrost could greatly increase carbon emissions (NY Times).

Japan’s Fukushima plant is finally stabilized (BBC).

The EPA is set to limit mercury at power plants (LA Times).

Planning for rising sea levels draws the ire of some climate change deniers (Washington Post).

LED lighting has a bright future (BBC). But “green” bottles remain a long way off (NY Times).


Safety was an afterthought before the BP Gulf spill, says a new report (LA Times).

Local governments fight for control over gas drilling (NY Times). Meanwhile, concerns continue about drilling’s possible connection to earthquakes (NY Times).

The Keystone XL pipeline has become an election issue (Washington Post).

A British panel says clean technology doesn’t necessarily mean energy price spikes (BBC).

Some firms want Europe to raise carbon prices (BBC).


Why bother waiting for an answer, right? You’re going to have wait 3 years for an agreement to begin taking shape and another 5 years for an agreement to come into effect. That’s long past the 2017 tipping point when greenhouse gases will start creating irreversible problems.

But the biggest reason why the agreement reached last weekend won’t pay off is that it will likely be unenforceable. We’re more than a decade after the Kyoto Protocol and Canada has left the agreement in an expected move. They will pay no penalty for this. The move is being shrugged off by most countries, but it just goes to show how India, China – and yes, the U.S. – can at any time exit whatever agreement is reached by 2020.

It’s time to stop waiting for government to answer all of our climate change problems. A change by everyone in daily habits will cut back the emissions and truly empower the human race. There’s no use waiting for Durban.


A late agreement emerges at the UN climate talks (BBC, also see this analysis of “winners” and “losers”).

The Washington Post says the deal paves the way for an accord in 2015. The LA Times says the agreement delays a concerted effort on greenhouse gases. The NY Times says the agreement is “limited” and wonders if the task is just too tough.

Warren Buffet bets big on solar power (LA Times).

France’s Alpine glaciers are retreating (BBC).

Measuring western air quality is growing more difficult (NY Times).


The EU and some of the world’s poorest nations want results at the climate talks (BBC). But the talks are lacking urgency (BBC).

The U.S. envoy denies that America is dragging its feet (NY Times). Meanwhile, the U.S. and China are again at odds (NY times).

Fracking probably contaminated well water in Wyoming, says the EPA (LA Times).

Toxic chemical regulation is outdated (Stateline).

The words “road map” and “stuck” have been thrown around more during the past 10 days of the UN climate change conference than “climate change” or action” and that is a problem.

As expected, there is very little hope for a “road map” to eventually agreeing on emissions cuts.

The fundamental sticking point at the talks is the same conflict that has dominated international negotiations for years: The existing global-warming treaty does not impose binding emissions cuts on some of the world’s top emitters, either because they were not originally bound or because they refused to ratify the agreement. Now, with the first commitment period of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol set to expire at the end of next year, delegates are wrangling over what sort of process should guide talks aimed at forging a new global warming treaty by 2020.

Developing countries such as Brazil, India, South Africa and China are drawing a line in the sand in telling more developed countries that they need to act before any of the BSIC coalition acts.

India has questioned the timing of the demand for a new global treaty. It has argued that developing countries should not be asked to “make a payment” everytime “an existing obligation becomes due on the part of the developed countries.” Natarajan has made it clear that India has an open mind on the issue, but perhaps it is not the right time to consider a new agreement.

The only thing not retreating these days is the relentless evidence from scientists that global warming is getting worse.

The team’s new examination of the paleo-climate record now shows that  ”a global warming of a couple degrees Celsius would basically create a different planet,” Hansen warned. It’s different than the one that humanity, that civilization knows about. If we look at the paleo record, the target of two degrees Celsius is actually a prescription for long-term disaster.”

Hansen says another measure of climate change deserves a second look in light of this new investigation: The atmospheric carbon reduction target of 350 parts per million (ppm) may not be enough. “It really should be somewhat less than that,” he told the gathering. “It’s necessary if we want to maintain stable ice sheets and shorelines.”

“A different planet” – lets hope it’s one where politicians make progress for our future rather than argue over the “road map” to an agreement.