Saturday, March 7, 2009

Could technology repair Earth’s climate?

Q: What are some of the leading proposed technological fixes for staving off global warming, and how feasible are they?
– James Harris, Columbus, Ohio

A: While most of the world fixates on how to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere, scientists and engineers worldwide are working on various geoengineering technologies – many of which are highly theoretical – to mitigate global warming and its effects. Many scientists oppose using new technology to fix problems created by old technology, but others view it as a quick and relatively inexpensive way to help solve our most vexing environmental problem.

One theory for reducing global warming involves deflecting heat away from the Earth's surface using satellites with movable reflectors or injecting sunlight-deflecting particles high in the atmosphere. Computer models suggest that blocking 8 percent of the sun's earthbound radiation would effectively counteract the warming effect of our CO2 pollution.

'NRDC mafia' finding homes on Hill, in EPA
The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the country's most influential environmental groups, has sent at least a half-dozen former employees into prime government positions tasked with writing U.S. climate and energypolicies.Michael Goo, NRDC's legislative director on climate issues over the past 18 months, started Tuesday as special counsel for Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey's House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

House Bill for a Carbon Tax to Cut Emissions Faces a Steep Climb
Representative John B. Larson embarked again this week on his lonely quest to enact a national tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

His idea is to set a modest price on a ton of emissions, gradually increasing it each year until the desired reduction in heat-trapping-gas pollution is achieved. Under the bill he introduced this week, virtually all the revenues from the tax would be returned to the public in lower payroll taxes.

"The American people want us to level with them," Mr. Larson, a moderate Democrat from Connecticut and a member of the House leadership, said in an interview. "We create price certainty without any new bureaucracies or complicated auction schemes."

Five More Arrested in Civil Disobedience against Mountain Top Removal and Coal Slurry on Schumate Dam above Marsh Fork Elementary School
Around 1:30 today, just three days after the Power Shift Conference and Capitol Climate Action in Washington, DC, and less than a week after Raleigh County Circuit Judge John A. Hutchison granted Massey Energy's Temporary Restraining Order against Mike Roselle and other members of Climate Ground Zero, a new group of protesters took action to bring a halt to mountaintop removal mining on Massey Energy's Edwight mining site above Marsh Fork Elementary in Sundial, WV.

Ashley Judd continues mountaintop removal activism

More news from activist groups fighting mountaintop removal coal mining …


Film star Ashley Judd has teamed up with the Sierra Club, with a new personal letter, video and online "take action," urging President Barack Obama to step in and "protect the mountains, streams and people of Appalachia."

"I grew up in Eastern Kentucky, and like so many Appalachians, just seeing our beautiful mountains and valleys tells me I am home," Judd said in the letter. "Our mountains are our heritage and our legacy to future generations. But big coal companies are using explosives to literally blow the tops off mountains, extract the coal and destroy Appalachia."

A Jesuit school says no to Massey stock

The Society of Jesus — the Jesuits –is the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church, and at colleges and universities around the world,  they teach students with a focus on service, specifically to the poor, sick and others in need. Here in West Virginia, the folks at Wheeling Jesuit University have focused on things like improving mine safety and helping coalfield residents get a fair shake when dealing with the coal industry and the government agencies that regulate it.

Last week, there was an interesting coal-related development out of Santa Clara University, a Jesuit school located in California's Silicon Valley. Apparently, some students there heard about and saw the effects of mountaintop removal. They didn't like it, and successfully urged the university to divest itself of some Massey Energy Co. stock.

Operation Appalachian spring Coal River Mountain sit-in campaign blooms

Coal River Mountain sit-inCherry Pond Mountain, Coal River Mountain, West Virginia
Photo: Nicole Motson.

As the U.S. Supreme Court continues to hear the Brent Benjamin-Don Blankenship case on the compromise of judicial neutrality from special interest lobbies -- read: Massey Energy's Big Coal grip on West Virginia courts -- five more arrests took place today in a growing campaign to stop mountaintop removal in the Coal River Valley.

If the local and nationwide momentum is any indication of a promised spring and summer campaign of civil disobedience, Coal River Mountain is destined for an extraordinary Appalachian Spring.

Europe Advises U.S. Officials on Climate

A clutch of leading international climate officials and negotiators who descended on Washington this week to press the United States for action on global warming say they got a clear message from the Obama administration and key lawmakers: The question now is not whether the nation will act, but how.

With a new president who has made enacting a cap-and-trade bill one of his top domestic priorities, legislators who will help shape it have begun grappling with the complexity of putting a price on carbon, which would raise energy prices, in the midst of an economic crisis. Behind closed doors, they peppered the foreign leaders and economists, who have years of real-world experience with the issue, with questions about how to make such a system work.

Not guilty: Greenpeace Activists Who Used Climate Change as a Legal Defence

Six Greenpeace climate change activists have been cleared of causing £30,000 of criminal damage at a coal-fired power station in a verdict that is expected to embarrass the government and lead to more direct action protests against energy companies. Article by John Vidal of the Guardian.

Smart grid will need more federal power: GE exec
The United States needs bolder legislation to ensure a transmission grid can be built to carry wind and solar energy from remote areas into cities, a senior General Electric Co official said on Thursday.

"Renewables will not work unless we have the transmission issues resolved," said John Krenicki, head of GE's energy infrastructure unit.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Arctic summer ice could vanish by 2013: expert
The Arctic is warming up so quickly that the region's sea ice cover in summer could vanish as early as 2013, decades earlier than some had predicted, a leading polar expert said on Thursday.

Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, said recent data on the ice cover "appear to be tracking the most pessimistic of the models", which call for an ice free summer in 2013.

GOP assails administration over nuclear waste site
Several Republican senators, including former Barack Obama rival John McCain, are criticizing the administration's refusal to push for development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada.

A dirty lie Waterkeeper Alliance unveils anti-coal campaign

The essay below was written by Steve Fleischli and Scott Edwards of Waterkeeper Alliance.

Right now the coal industry is engaged in a multi-million-dollar campaign propagating the lie that coal and so-called clean-coal technology are the answer to America's future energy needs. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is no such thing as clean coal.

Waterkeeper programs in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia have been fighting the coal industry for years. Now, they have joined together with the nearly 200 programs of Waterkeeper Alliance in a grassroots campaign called "The Dirty Lie" -- because none of us can afford to wait another minute to start creating a new national energy policy that frees us from a reliance on fossil fuels.

The Next Big Oil: Big Smart Grid?

Photo via the New Republic

smart grid new big oil photoIt's a widely held notion that politicians have long been in the pocket of Big Oil. And there's good reason for that perception: oil companies' huge campaign donations, vast lobbying power, and close ties to politicians have ensured that their taxes remain low, that hidden subsidies are around to provide extra funding, and that they receive preferential treatment in US energy policy. But there could be a new, greener 'Big Oil' coming to town that politicians owe their favors to—'Big Smart Grid'.

***How to Build the Smart Grid Smartly

The Smart Grid transmits information between utility companies and household appliances, allowing you to automatically dial back energy use during peak hours. "In theory, the Smart Grid offers a user-friendly way to curb our electric appetites," Jenn Kahn wrote our in energy issue last May. "The most compelling thing about the Smart Grid is that it could change the way we use energy without requiring us to do anything."

Having read our magazine, I suppose, President Barack Obama recently set aside $4.5 billion in the stimulus bill to build a national Smart Grid. (At the time Kahn wrote her piece, Smart Grid boosters were pining for a meager $400 million in R&D funding). But it turns that the Smart Grid requires us to do at least one thing before it will pay off: figure out how to build it. It's going to be harder than we thought:

In a surprise, support for L.A. solar panel measure fades

The Los Angeles election delivered a few surprises, and the biggest was the weak showing for Measure B, the plan for adding 400 megawatts of solar panels to rooftops and parking lots.

The City Clerk's office reported that 50.3% of voters were rejecting Measure B.

Countdown To Prague Sunday, April 5, 2009 4 weeks 30 days 735 hours 44129 minutes Obama also to debate climate in Prague, Bursik to go to U.S. Prague - The April 5 EU summit in Prague, attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, will also debate climate protection, the Czech Environment Ministry said today, adding that Martin Bursik, Czech deputy PM and environment minister, will go to the U.S. in mid-March to pre-discuss the agenda.

"We planned our trip to the U.S. irrespective of what the result of [Czech] negotiations on Obama's Prague visit may be. Now it has been confirmed that the summit will also deal with preparations for the Copenhagen climate conference [due in December 2009]. That is why we will be able to pre-discuss the topic [in the U.S.] beforehand," Bursik's deputy Jan Dusik told CTK.

Countdown to IMPACT (Copenhagen): 9 months 39 weeks 276 days 6636 hours 398219 minutes 23893198

 9 months 39 weeks 276 days 6636 hours 398219 minutes 23893198

*****Obama must pass climate laws ahead of Copenhagen, Danish minister warns
The US needs to set an example to developing countries if significant progress is to be made at the Copenhagen summit, Denmark's climate minister warns.

Buffett-Backed Atomic Fuel Bank Founders at UN Agency
Billionaire Warren Buffett's plan to help the United Nations create a safe supply of enriched uranium is foundering because countries fear it will restrict their development of nuclear technology, officials and diplomats say.

Resistance among some emerging-market countries on the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board of governors is threatening to derail a $150 million plan that includes a $50 million pledge from Buffett and the rest from donors including the U.S. and the European Union, according to two UN officials and two diplomats with firsthand knowledge of the talks.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

World's Largest Solar Energy Project Brightens California

Solar power history is being made in Southern California. Southern California Edison and BrightSource Energy from Israel have signed the world's largest solar energy deal.

Now awaiting approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, when the contracts are fulfilled — this could happen by as early as 2013 — the Israeli-California sun project will power almost 1 million California homes.

Israel Kroizer, the chief operating officer, and president of BrightSource in Israel says that when completed, it will be the world's largest solar energy project. Some 1,300 megawatts of energy will be created, with the first plant to be built in Ivanpah, California, expected to generate 286,000 megawatt-hours per year.

***MIT builds solar-powered race car that runs all day
Wish you could drive all day long on nothing but the power of sunlight?

If so, you may be in luck.

A group of researchers at MIT have developed an out-of-the-ordinary race car, one that isn't dependent on gasoline. That's right, the team has built a car that runs on solar power.

The car, dubbed Eleanor, can reportedly maintain a cruising speed of 55 mph and run all day -- if the sun is shining, according to MIT. To get that kind of power from sunlight, researchers have designed the car with six square meters of monocrystalline silicon solar cells and an improved electronic systems.

****Judge issues order to stop protests against Massey Energy
A judge has issued a temporary restraining order to prevent protests on Massey Energy property, but environmentalists say the order violates their First Amendment rights.

For the past month, Coal River Mountain has been the focus of several environmental groups. Protesters have chained themselves to mining equipment, trespassed on property belonging to Massey Energy, and blocked a coal haul road.

Clean Energy Corps Proposed to Create Jobs, Fight Global Warming
More than 80 labor, environmental, civic, and policy organizations have endorsed a proposal to secure America's economic recovery and environmental health by applying energy-efficient measures to over 15 million existing buildings - from adding insulation to replacing inefficient boilers.

The Clean Energy Corps would combine job creation, service, and training to combat global warming. "The beauty of the Clean Energy Corps is that it doesn't just create jobs," said Green For All founder Van Jones, "it also creates pathways out of poverty."

EU confident Obama will follow its lead on climate change
The EU presidency is confident that the United States under President Barack Obama "will follow the leadership of the European Union", by setting ambitious mid-term goals for cutting greenhouse gases.

****Battle over clean air is bound to get dirty
In Capitol Hill testimony two years ago, Browner foreshadowed the assertive tone of the new president by saying the EPA had the moral and legal authority to "protect the health of future generations." She said, "We have the science; the will has been summoned; the technology will come. Have no doubt: We can stop global warming. Anything less would be a felony against the future."

Foes of wind farm off Cape Cod sue state agency
A group fighting plans to build 130 wind turbines in the ocean waters off Cape Cod has challenged the findings of a state agency on the project.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound announced on Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit in Barnstable Superior Court against the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.

GE, Google, Waste Management: Three Fortune 500 Firms with Emerging Roles in Clean Energy
Over the last several years, Google has invested heavily in solar energy and launched a Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal campaign. ...

Google is working on a prototype system called the Google Powermeter to help energy consumers monitor and track their energy consumption.
Google is working on a prototype system called the Google Powermeter to help energy consumers monitor and track their energy consumption.

Senate panel to study details of setting up electric 'smart grid'
Lawmakers, regulators and industry officials have declared that a "smart grid" is necessary for the nation's energy security and clean energy future, but the technology has yet to be adopted nationwide.The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will examine the smart grid dilemma in a hearing tomorrow with discussion on what exactly a smart grid is made up of, the benefits -- including jobs -- it creates and what barriers restrict its implementation.

****Students hold mother of all lobbying days
"Lobby days" are a Washington staple. But the one held Monday was unique both for its size and who participated.

More than 12,000 high school- and college-age students attended Power Shift '09, a four-day conference organized by the Energy Action Coalition (EAC), a consortium of environmentalist and progressive student groups, held at the D.C. Convention Center over the weekend.

Social Security chief hopeful on system's solvency
Social Security chief hopeful on system's solvency

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Scientists urged to step to plate on climate politics
Money and politics, the stuff of social science, now drive global warming, and climate science needs to get with it, a National Research Council report suggests.

"Demand is growing for credible, understandable and useful information for responding to climate change," says the report, called Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change. The report, released Thursday, calls for "transformation" of climate science to emphasize the climate's influence on food, economics and public health.

Calls Mount for Obama to Fire NASA Climate Boss [Fool! Risking treasure and standing for some cause. Fool!!!]
Calls are mounting for President Barack Obama to fire James Hansen, the controversial figure in charge of climate studies at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

**Making the Odds on Federate Climate Bills
Capping emissions, selling allowances, and returning the money to the taxpayers to help them handle higher energy costs is an option that is gaining bipartisan traction. Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is laying down a climate policy marker for his more rational GOP colleagues, is touting this alternative. Centrist California Democrat Dianne Feinstein is said to be working on cap-and-dividend legislation.


At long last I've done the right thing and returned a laptop I was borrowing.  Should have done it many months ago.  Was not right to keep it so long.
The impact?  I lose half my daily computer time because the time at the Peace Vigil, well, now that is out.  Yes, I can hear the cheering from some.  In any case that is the deal, so all of my 4 sites will suffer.  It is a funny God we have.  Or does something like this happen because we IGNORE that God?

***Peter Orszag and Eric Cantor. Luke and Darth. [Are you on the sidelines?]
OMB Director Peter Orszag and Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos"

POWER SHIFT 09. "And the children shall lead us." SL finds hope for the first time. As sliver.

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WASHINGTON — More than 2,000 clean-energy activists converged at a coal-fired power plant on Capitol Hill on Monday for a protest they billed as the largest display of civil disobedience on the climate crisis in U.S. history.

Willing to be arrested for their cause, they encircled and blocked entrances to the plant, which powers the U.S. Capitol and House and Senate office buildings.

But this particular plant may be the least of the protesters' worries.

Less than a week before the rally, congressional leaders requested the plant's full conversion to natural gas. Organizers were taking credit.

"There are no gifts in this world," said Vermont author and environmentalist Bill McKibben told a cheering crowd. "There is only organizing and movements and people doing what it takes to make change happen and that's what we're doing."

http:// www tech /science/environment/2009-03-02-global-warming-protest_N.htm




******Foggy Bottom to Get Much Bigger $$ Hike Than Pentagon Under Obama Budget
In Another Break From Bush, President Aims to Make Good on His Campaign Pledge to Strike a Balance Between 'Soft Power' and 'Hard Power' in Pursuit of U.S. Foreign Policy; Budget for State Department Is Hiked by 10 percent, While Defense Department Sees Only a 1.4 Percent Increase

Monday, March 2, 2009

Obama’s Backing Raises Hopes for Climate Pact
Until recently, the idea that the world's most powerful nations might come together to tackle global warming seemed an environmentalist's pipe dream.

****The Carbon Addicts on Capitol Hill

Washington has seen its share of big protests over the years, and most of them center on the White House, the Mall or the Capitol. That will change tomorrow, when the first big protest of the Obama era -- and the first mass civil disobedience against global warming in this country -- will take place against the not-very-scenic backdrop of the Capitol Hill Power Plant, a dirty symbol of the dirtiest business on Earth, the combustion of coal.In that one plant -- owned and operated by our senators and representatives -- you can see all the filth that comes with coal.

Obama Ready for Battle With Budget Critics [He's a fool if he thinks we are going to join him. Right?]
"I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business," Obama said. "And I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this: So am I."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Let the Next President Know – We Want a Nuclear-Free World!

The United States still maintains an arsenal of nearly 10,000 nuclear weapons – enough to destroy the world many times over.

The only sure way to prevent nuclear proliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear war – before the next blinding flash – is to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The era of nuclear weapons must be brought to an end. This can be done. It will require leadership and commitment. Nuclear weapons were created by humans, and it is our responsibility to eliminate them before they eliminate us.

I hope you will join me in signing on to the Appeal to the next President, calling for US leadership for a world free of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will present the Appeal to the next President when he or she takes office on January 20, 2009.

You can read and sign the appeal HERE.