Archives for January, 2011

The headlines from the State of the Union said, “Clean Energy.” What I heard was: “we need to do this together.” President Obama laid out an ambitious agenda to spur innovation and remain competitive globally. But he also used that agenda to send an important message in a fractured political time: The time for division…

In his State of the Union address, President Obama declared that we’re going to solve our energy problems by “out-innovating” the rest of the world. But there’s a key question we’ve got to figure out:  who’s going to be doing all this innovating? The President made it clear what he thought the answer should be,…

When Chinese president Hu Jintao visited the United States this month, many issues made headlines, but one that didn’t is nonetheless important: clean energy cooperation, competition, or both. This issue is a litmus test for the two superpowers’ ability to build a partnership based on mutual needs and opportunities. The outcome will affect our global economic, environmental…

The RAND Corporation releases a critical report on the state of alternative energy investment in the armed forces. Military commanders, however, remain committed to reducing fossil fuel usage fleetwide.

Are people who write about climate change and environmental issues destined to become doomsayers? This question returned to my mind while I was reading the World Meteorological Organization’s review of 2010 significant weather and climate events. I was looking for a broader context to comment on the major weather-related tragedy on record that happened in…

Join us and the climate and energy community for a live chat around the President’s State of the Union speech. We will also be curating the best of the climate and energy tweets — join on twitter by using the hashtag #ecosotu.

To those with more than a casual interest in politics, “Silly Season” is a common term used to indicate the time running up to an election when the logic of Capitol Hill, such as it is, gets crazier than usual. Votes are scheduled or canceled depending on how much they would help or hurt the…

The most recent attempt to establish universal standards for ethical issues in global science was developed as part of the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity, held 21-24 July 2010, in Singapore. The “Singapore Statement on Research Integrity” seeks to set forth a set of principles and accompanying responsibilities to guide ethics in science on…

There are many different stakeholders who view Appalachian coal supply from entirely different perspectives. Producers fear increased costs and production impediments arising from an expanding regulatory structure, including an increasing difficulty in obtaining the necessary permits to enable production. Conservationists fear the environmental damage that would result from any retreat from a strict regulatory structure.…

Somebody didn’t get the memo. Wind and other low-carbon technologies have taken their hits of late from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and its ilk. (Examples here, here, here, and here.) But one piece in particular caught my eye with the headline: “Electric Cars May Accelerate Global Warming.” It Started at Forbes.com … ……

If the United States announced that it planned to cap greenhouse gases at 2005 levels, chances are that everyone would suddenly start arguing. Some would say the goal wasn’t ambitious enough, while others would argue that it would mean economic disaster. But if we just bumbled into it by some unexpected stroke of fate? Would…

For Africa’s poorest families, lighting is often the most expensive item in their budget, typically accounting for 10–15 percent of total household income. The energy poor in Africa spend about US$17 billion a year on fuel-based lighting sources.  To put the full energy sector in perspective, independent estimates place worldwide spending on fuel-based lighting in…

Welcome to 2011! With the New Year comes a new Congress and a chronic disillusionment for the passage of any comprehensive climate and energy legislation. With cap-and-trade off the table, I believe it’s time to consider a Plan B to lower GHGs through an existing patchwork of legal authority at all levels of government —…

“There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.” The revolution Dr. King spoke of in his speech at the National Cathedral in 1968 was one of the most transformative of the 20th Century – the painful transition from a racially divided America to an America stitched together, however roughly. But the sentiment…

More and more people are interested in carbon emissions analysis and management. You can see this in the growth of awareness-raising campaigns to promote lower-carbon lifestyle choices, as well as voluntary carbon offset programs and proliferating  online household carbon footprint calculators. Now that interest is being harnessed at the community and country level. At the World Bank,…

Elementary school children are taught that photosynthesis is the basis for life on Earth.  Plants take carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, water and sunlight, and produce useful chemical energy – their “fuel” for growth and reproduction.  But is it possible to create synthetic photosynthesis? Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin believe it…

My last post on David Owen’s piece in the New Yorker and on the Jevons effect stirred up some interesting questions and discussion that I want to follow up on here. My last one purposely avoided some of the more technical parts of the issue to keep it readable and under my word limit. I…

Matthew Kahn, author of Climatopolis and professor of economics at UCLA Institute of the Environment (and also a blogger here), has been at the forefront of adaptation research, exploring how people will avoid or reduce the harmful impacts of climate change.  His controversial take: cities will actually thrive in a hotter planet. For those of…

If you follow the news on the development and production of natural gas and oil from shale rock buried deep underground, you have probably seen or read stories about the potential risks to fresh water supplies posed by hydraulically fracturing (“fracing”) and producing shale gas.  You may have heard that the New York State Legislature…

When president Barack Obama arrived in Copenhagen for the Summit of chiefs of government, Congress was still discussing a comprehensive climate and energy bill. Expectations were set too high for COP15. Most delegates and environmentalists hoped that Obama would lead the way towards a global climate agreement. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson explained on a side…

In the context of an overall bleak 2010 for the planet, forests offer a bright point for some celebration — showing this sector as the area offering perhaps the best hope for continued progress in fighting climate change. Towards that end, here are the world’s top five forest stories of the year: Global decline in…

Did you resolve last January that 2010 would be the harbinger of a new low-carbon world? Sorry, the statistics for 2010 are coming in, and it’s pretty clear it did not happen. Let’s take a look.

In his first media interview since the Cancun climate talks, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations’ climate change science panel, talked to National Geographic about the progress he believes was made, and the steps ahead. Pachauri said he had not wanted to give “instant analysis” on Cancun, but to take time to digest what…

Buried in the latest set of government energy statistics is a bombshell about our energy future. It’s a development that shows that big changes are possible,  yet still take decades to pay off. The Annual Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration sums up the government’s best estimates of energy trends through 2035.  Buried…