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Taking the Temperature

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Author: the Inkslinger

Lots of climate crisis-related signals flooding the inputs lately. The level of chatter is definitely on the rise and increased activity in is popping up on radar.

What’s most interesting is the way the usual battle lines of left and right that have traditionally defined the debate are being being thoroughly trashed. As increasing numbers of companies and policymakers confront certain irrefutable, if inconvenient, truths, cross-over to the side of intelligent thinking is growing, making the idea that urgent action is needed now more of a concensus view and progressively isolating those who still insist that we just don’t have enough evidence to validate the “risk” of taking action (!). It’s not so much a liberal-activist/conservative-business stratification at this point as it us an act/don’t act split. And the “acts” are solidly ahead.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the momentum is on our side and much-needed change is coming. If this were the late 70s, when scientists rang the first alarm bells, I’d be quite confident we’d get the job done. But, as is so often the case with us wacky humans, humanity was waited until just about the last possible minute to deal with this and now we’ve got mere years rather than decades to avoid the tipping point. Still, there’s much hope for optimism. Here’s a look at the portents heating up the wires…

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Power Shifting

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Author: the Inkslinger

Recently Capital Hill was taken over by students from around the country who don’t want to inherit a world crippled by climate change. Change-It ’06 alumni Jackie Sargent was there and she’s sent us this dispatch from the front lines…

From Nov 2-5, nearly 6,000 students from every state in the nation attended Powershift, the largest national youth summit on global warming, which was held at the University of Maryland, College Park. Students attended workshops and panels and learned all about environmental initiatives and how to make their campus/city/state/nation a more sustainable one.

There were speakers such as Ralph Nader and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. On the last day, students went to the Capitol for a rally and more than eleven hundred students visited their local state representatives to talk about what matters most to them – the environment, social justice, and a better world for all.

Alright, that's the background. Now for my story…

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Energy for Dummies, Part II: Special Congressional Edition

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Author: the Inkslinger

I’ve been sitting here fuming all afternoon about the information that Congress is actually considering taking renewable energy tax credits and utility mandates out of the 2007 energy bill. (And boy is my dog sick of listening to me....) But I’ve realized I should have capped my previous post with some information about what we can do to convince our elected representatives that this is a remarkably, shall we politely say, foolhardy course of sad inaction. So go here and help. Deliver a letter. Make a call. Send an e-mail. Put the pressure on. Because in 2007 it would be the absolute height of unmitigated insanity to have an energy bill that doesn’t include renewables let alone focus on them.

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Energy for Dummies

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here’s a question: Why do we even talk about fossil fuels anymore? Why do we care? Seriously. Why do we wring our hands over the price of oil? Why do we destroy entire mountain ecosystems in a fool’s errand for coal? For that matter, why do we keep irradiating ourselves with fissionable materials? Why do we give even so much as the time of day to any source of energy that involves splitting atoms or carbon-loading the atmosphere when the entire country and most of the rest of the world could do everything it needs to without depositing so much as a single thimble of anything into the air?

I have to ask because I absolutely do not get it. At all. I am utterly baffled. Truly. I’m constantly reading about incredible and incredibly workable ideas to generate power without pollution. Big, here-now, ready-to-go, here-you-are solutions that could do it all. Like Concentrated Solar Power, which could power 90% of the entire world, provide all the drinking water it could want, and here at home keep the U.S. lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids from now until the end of time using a patch of desert scrub just 92 miles square. Right here. Right now. Today. No more oil. No more OPEC. No more emissions. No more carbon. No more apocalypse. End of story.

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Selling Salvation

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Author: the Inkslinger

Under the headline “Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats,” an article in Tuesday’s Washington Post talked about what the Democratic candidates are saying about the climate crisis and posited that their general we-gotta-do-something-serious-but-it-ain’t-gonna-be-cheap-or-easy-or-fun campaign statements may be harmful to their electoral prospects.

Democrats' boldness, however, could carry a political price. The eventual GOP presidential nominee is almost certain to attack Democrats over the huge costs associated with limiting emissions. "They will come at this hard," said John Podesta, who heads the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and sees an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases as necessary.

Podesta may be right, but if Democrats think it’ll be a hard to campaign on a platform of climate crisis action wait ‘til they see life in a world whose candidates dare to do nothing. They don’t know from hard. And they seem to be unwilling to tap into the general sentiment out among the voters, which is that we’re all mostly ready to deal with this climate thing.

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Step It Up Tomorrow!

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Author: the Inkslinger

A quick reminder that tomorrow is StepIt Up’s National Day of Climate Action. Find an event near you, and let your voice be heard. The stakes are as high as they get, and it’s up to each of us to do whatever we can and then some to pull this beautiful world back from the brink.

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Big Rays of Hope

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Author: the Inkslinger


Kaye Evans-Lutterodt/Solar Decathlon

Technology fetishists (like me) will recognize the name of David Pogue, technology writer for the New York Times. He can usually be found in the paper’s Circuits section opining on the latest gizmological gadgetry. That’s hardly a green subject, especially given all the crazy materials they put into e-things and iToys these days, but Pogue also has a blog in which the “e” in electronics occaisionally crosses paths with the “e” in environment and Pogue can be found ruminating on what happens when it does.

His latest post covers the Solar Decathalon, a biennial event in which design teams from all over compete to build a complete off-the-grid house that runs totally on renewable energy. The hitch is that in order to qualify each house must allow its occupants to live “normally,” i.e. be able to shower, cook, watch TV, do laundry, maintain a comfortable temperature, etc.

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Good Energies

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Author: the Inkslinger

This comment from Dani at EnergyBill 2007 came in late last week in response to our latest automobile mileage standards post. We wanted to promote it to official post status to make sure that everybody sees it and has the opportunity to lend a hand to the effort to get the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks where it needs to go.

It's is awesome that the public has responded so quickly to Toyota's campaign against the 35 mpg fuel efficiency standard set for 2020. Delaying the energy bill's effects by trying to lower the standards is not going to help anyone in the future. It's time for a change. I think that a great way to stop Toyota is to reach out to our government directly. They are the ones who are supposed to be serving out best interest, it is not Toyota's job. I'm working for a coalition that is trying to persuade Congress to stand strong against the tactics of Toyota and others who would like to see the standards lowered. It is easy to help by reaching out to your representatives directly through this petition: www.energybill2007.org. Thanks for bringing this important moment in environmental policy to your readers attention! We all have a chance to do something big here!

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Correcting Toyota’s Wrong Turn

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Author: the Inkslinger

We’ve had a few things to say about Toyota’s disappointing decision to oppose efforts to increase average fuel efficiency standards to 35 mpg by 2020. And apparently we’re not the only ones. Nine environmental orgs have come together to create a new website, TruthAboutToyoya.com and jump start the effort to convince the automaker to do the right thing.

There are going to be rallies at Toyota dealerships to call attention to the issue and some full page ads in big national newspapers. Hopefully by the time it’s all over, Toyota will figure out that its penny-wise-pound-foolish stance is driving its image (and sales) into the ditch, and the company will change its mind and actually be the responsible caring carmaker its marketing department keeps telling us it is. Visit the web site and check out what’s up. And if you’ve got a Prius or were thinking about one and maybe aren’t so much anymore, the most effectove action you can take is to tell the company how you feel. (There’s a page on the new website that makes it easy to send your own message.)

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This and That From Here and There

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Author: the Inkslinger

It’s going to be a little quiet around here during the next couple of days as most of the staff heads to the hills outside Stowe for a two-day retreat. That makes it a perfect time to dump my virtual in-box out on the table and see what seems post-worthy.

A new survey finds that Americans are getting ahead of the political curve when it comes to the climate crisis. 62% think that we’re headed for major trouble if we don’t act decisively and soon. Encouragingly, 40% say a presidential candidates position on this burning issue will be extremely or very important to them. Still, we apparently aren’t quite ready to put our money where our viewpoints are. 67% are against carbon taxes on gasoline and 71% are against taxes on electricity. In other words, we don’t want to pay the price of global warming but we don’t want to pay the price of avoiding it either.

But here’s the thing: with a little investment, we could all cool out. According to a study released last week by the alarmingly named National Security Space Office, we have the technology necessary to build a bunch of giant solar space things that could collect enough energy from the sun every year to supply the entire world with all the power it could squander seven times over. The energy would be beamed back to earth via lasers or microwaves (will we also be able to set our bowls of ramen noodles outside for convenient heating?). Of course, we’d have to build these orbiting juicers and get them up there, but with crude oil closing in on $100 a barrel, giant solar space things are actually getting cost-competitive. Something tells me that if you (ahem) taxed petroleum and other energy sources to account for the environmental damage they cause, we’d be launching them even as I write.

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