Archives for January, 2011

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 —…

Comments Off on Set the Alarm Clock: Don’t Sleep Through the Green Revolution

“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,…

Comments Off on Hydrogen from Sunlight

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…

Comments Off on Ask Adaptation Expert, Matthew Kahn

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…

Comments Off on Shale Gas Development and Water Quality: Best Practices Can Mitigate Risks to Underground Aquifers and Water Wells

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…