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Christopher Mims

Christopher Mims

Posted: October 8, 2010 01:13 PM

The Climate Post Offers a Rundown of the Week in Climate and Energy News

Cleantech venture capitalist David Anthony points out utilities and taxpayers don't want to pay to meet states' Renewable Energy Standards, so it's probably a good thing the U.S. Department of Energy has its own reasons for attempting to lead the renewably-powered, distributed-energy revolution.

Fuel convoys are one of the many liabilities today's Army could do without, and so is dependence on hostile regimes for supplies of oil. The second goal doesn't always lend itself to going with the greener option: Senators on the Armed Forces Committee want to repeal a 2007 law that prevents the military from buying oil derived from Canada's tar sands.

Announcement of Solar Panels on White House Recalls... George W. Bush?

Carter may be famous for putting solar panels on the White House, but since Reagan, no one dared recall that symbol of America's last energy crisis until George W. Bush followed suit. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu trumpeted the announcement President Barack Obama would expand on Bush's solar installation on his blog, and solar companies across the country began warming up their PR engines in anticipation of the competition to determine who will be the provider of the panels themselves.

Obama, EPA, Lisa Jackson: So It's Come to This

A lengthy dissection of the failure of the bipartisan Senate version of the climate bill lists miscommunication, infighting and a lack of support from the White House as the sources of its demise, ending with the zinger "Barack Obama was the James Buchanan of climate change."

The piece makes it clear the threat of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases was sufficient incentive for some sectors of industry to support the bill, and with its failure the battle has indeed moved to this front.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared the EPA is a "rogue agency," that has "targeted" the oil and gas-rich state even as his state climatologist declared Texas is uniquely susceptible to drought and searing temperatures as a result of future global warming.

Some commentators believe the new focus on emissions will hurt Obama's 2012 chances in states whose economies are heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson continues to fire back at critics. "The Clean Air Act is a tool. It's not the optimal tool. But it can be used," she said. "And, in fact, I'm legally obligated now to use it."

Meanwhile, Obama asserted energy legislation will be passed in the future, but in "chunks." He also upped the ante on the link between clean energy and the economy, asserting no other industry has more potential to create jobs.

Will California's Proposition 23 Create or Destroy Jobs?

Proponents of California's Proposition 23, which would effectively nullify California's greenhouse gas reduction law of 2007, issued a study arguing it would create 1.3 million jobs by 2020, while opponents of Prop. 23 fired back that the report is hardly unbiased.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research argued a recession is precisely the time greenhouse gas regulations will create jobs.

The "no" on Prop. 23 campaign is out-fundraising the "yes" campaign by a wide margin, including gifts from notables such as the wife of Google co-founder Larry Page.

U.S. Energy Innovation Agency Might Get the Ax

ARPA-E, the advanced energy research division of the U.S. government established in 2007, might become the victim of Congress' failure to pass a 2011 budget.

Dangerous Climate Change Closer than We Thought

Research published in the Journal of Quaternary Science suggests the 2 degrees Celsius limit of warming deemed "safe" by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.N. probably isn't, echoing claims made by NASA researcher James Hansen and climate advocate Bill McKibben of 350.org. Based on a study of a period approximately 125,000 years ago, study author Chris Turney says temperatures during that period, which were 1.9 degrees Celsius warmer than now, led to sea level almost 10 meters higher than present.

Apparently conceding the infeasibility of the approach, the U.N. is giving up on binding agreements on the hard caps for emissions it already had in place.

A first of its kind study by NASA reports a "huge" increase in the amount of fresh water flowing into the oceans as a result of more intense storms caused by global warming.

A new study suggests the warming effects of emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, both powerful greenhouse gases in their own respect, will be even more powerful due to additional carbon cycle feedbacks.

It turns out the sun's influence on Earth's temperature is the opposite of what everyone assumed.

Artists visualize what London will look like if the Thames Barrier is ever breached by rising seas.

As Climate Threats Mount, Plans C through Z Get a Workout

U.S. policymakers are looking into ways to fund research on geoengineering.

The results of the National Climate Adaptation Summit are in: the federal government needs a plan for coping with future impacts.

Future ocean acidification could wipe out what is currently a significant protein supply for billions of people.

"By 2050, growth in livestock production could generate as much as 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions considered to be a safe threshold for the planet."

India just pulled ahead of Russia to become the world's third largest emitter of carbon. Russia isn't resting on its laurels, however. The country recently presented its vision for exploitation of the oil and gas riches of a rapidly thawing arctic.

Pakistan on the Brink

If Pakistan's record floods are a result of global warming, will that nation's potentially impending coup be modern history's first climate-related regime change?

We're not sure how anyone would quantify the damages associated with revolution, but legal scholars suggest developing countries could sue over damages associated with climate change.

The All-Electric Nissan Leaf is a "Drivable iPod"

The Nissan Leaf gets a glowing review from an influential car aficionado, and it may herald a wave of fuel-efficient and electric cars as the Obama administration floats a passel of vehicle emissions standards that could go as high as a 62 mpg fleet average by 2025.

Meanwhile, Americans are buying more SUVs than they have in years.

Green-Tech Investment Plummets

But concentrated solar thermal plants of significant scale are set to rise on Federal land for the first time ever, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar just signed a lease for the first-ever offshore wind farm in Federal waters, and global installations of solar photovoltaic panels will increase 42.3 percent in 2011.


The Climate Post is produced each Thursday by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.