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Sunday Green Links Galore

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grist.org

Too many tabs open! Got to ... jettison ... some links ...

In a short piece for the NYT Week in Review, Andy Revkin covers the basics of climate change using (as far as I know) a new metaphor: the evidence for global warming is like a pointillist painting, clear in its broad outlines but with more gaps and uncertainties the closer you look.

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Richard Bell of the Post Carbon Institute reports on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources' hearing into "The Geopolitics of Oil." Scary stuff -- both the situation we face and how little the Senators seem to understand it. (See also here.)

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Yes! Magazine has an entire issue devoted to going local.

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House Democrats unveiled an energy package Friday that consists mainly of a variety of ways to put a boot to oil company asses. I'm all for that, but I hope we all realize by now that short-term gains and losses in the oil industry are a distraction. We need a permanent floor to oil prices and a permanent carbon tax, so everybody in the market knows what's happening and what to expect.

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Speaking of new energy policies, an EU commission released a comprehensive energy/climate change plan recently. Jerome a Paris covers it here and here. Oil Drum commentary here. Tons of press coverage gathered in this thread. Short story: it requires the break-up of big state companies in France and Germany, so it ain't gonna happen. (See also here on Asian countries' efforts to unite behind a (horrible) energy plan.)

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Want to know why I think greens should bail on ethanol and throw their advocacy behind hybrids and electric cars? Because ethanol has enough help. It's barreling forward already, and it would take enormous pushback even to slow it down. Everybody's going around thinking this way:

As any observer who is up-to-date on peak oil knows, the most pressing problem right now isn't a need for greener electricity, but for liquid fuels.

But greener electricity can substitute for liquid fuels, cleaner than any of the liquid alternatives. If you're just looking to invest and make some money, yeah, ethanol's booming. But if you're looking to improve the world, do what you can to accelerate electrification. It's inevitable, but we can spare ourselves a lot of hurt if we start now. (BTW, the piece from Chris Nedler at that link is well worth reading.)

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Brazil is now letting loggers into the heart of the Amazon rainforest, but don't worry! They're being "monitored."

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Interesting stuff on RealClimate from the author of a recent, widely covered study on the decline of Arctic sea ice.

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At Sundance, on Jan. 19, a documentary about global warming called Everything's Cool will debut. It will trace the fortunes of six "global warming messengers" between 2003 and 2006, and the coordinated pushback from industry. Here's an audio interview with the filmmakers. I wish them well, but Jesus, Schellenberger & Nordhaus are the "bad boys of environmentalism"? Feh. They just have best PR.

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Whatever you and I may think of hydrogen, the Big Three seem to have decided that the short-term payoff is in batteries:

"What you're seeing with GM is that they're going for broke on batteries," says Tom Gage, president of AC Propulsion, a San Dimas, Calif., company that retrofits hybrid cars. "There is a very real race going on here, but not just with General Motors and Toyota. All the car companies understand battery technology is key to electrifying the automobile."

This week, the Big Three automakers asked the federal government to fund a $500 million five-year battery-development program. To support their proposal, GM, Ford, and Daimler-Chrysler submitted to the White House a study indicating that the US was lagging Japan in battery development, according to press reports.

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"So what's wrong with GM? The cars."

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David Morris of the Institute for Local Self Reliance has a review George Monbiot's new book Heat on Alternet. I have only one small quibble. I understand that playing off of Al Gore is a handy heuristic for everyone in the global warming debate. But Morris says there are no solutions offered in "Al Gore's web site or speeches, except for his recommendation that America immediately freeze its greenhouse gas emissions and then reduce them." That's not so. Gore's NYU speech offered a whole passel of solutions, many way out ahead of what's possible in today's political milieu. They may not be radical enough to meet Monbiot's timeline, but it's not clear that Gore dumping such a radical message in America's lap would do Gore, or America, any good.

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The Greener Side goes to Macworld, and delves deep into the world of green jewelry.

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There's an interview with Worldchanging's Alex Steffen on the Jan. 6 sustainability segment of KEXP's Mind Over Matter. That guy sure does talk good.

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This article on positive psychology reminded me of a question I was once asked: what five things would you tell Americans if you had the entire country's ear? Here are mine:

  1. The principles of true, meaningful human happiness are subject to investigation and understanding.
  2. We already know a great deal about it -- the knowledge is embedded in literature, science, and our own common experience.
  3. It is possible intentionally to become happier, and make others happier. It's a skill that can be taught and learned.
  4. In many ways, the way we live in the U.S. works systematically to prevent us from being happy.
  5. If we worked to make ourselves and each other happier, as a side effect our country and the world would become more sustainable and more just.

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There was no good reason to think the leadership of Paul Wolfowitz would bring anything but shame to the World Bank, given his astonishing record of incompetence. Sure enough, half the bank's high-level executives have fled, while a claque of political appointees swarms over the place like a rash. Is there no end to the damage these fuckwits have done?

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The Mustache's latest column includes this execrable line:

Mr. President, you want a surge? I'll surge.

Please, Tom. Don't surge. None of us want to see that.

He does make the good point, though, that national sacrifice in wartime is a good framework with which to sell gas or carbon taxes.

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I always suspected.

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Psychology Today says:

Most people are surprised to learn that there are real, stable differences in personality between conservatives and liberals -- not just different views or values, but underlying differences in temperament.

Are most people really surprised by that? Because it seem rather stunningly obvious to me.

PS:

Those who think the world is highly dangerous and those with the greatest fear of death are the most likely to be conservative.

Ahem. And on the same subject, here's why hawks win and here's some chilling words about the American national security id.

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I heart Denmark.

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A truly fantastic piece in Radar about the fortunes of eight pundits after the Iraq War. Four were right about the war, four were utterly wrong. Guess which ones are prospering?

 

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