Secret Meeting of Top U.S. Climate Scientist with Fidel Castro Proves Climate Change is Communist Hoax

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

…Not really, but the story of Castro’s sudden interest in the climate effects of nuclear war, not to mention the implications of climate change for Cuban agriculture, is both fascinating and almost totally unreported by the mainstream press.

The Renewable Energy Standard Rides Again

In an improbable 11th-hour comeback, a bipartisan cohort of Senate cowboys has the temerity to suggest Congress might be able to pass an energy bill during the upcoming lame-duck session after all.

The bill covers only a national Renewable Energy Standard, which would require the country get 15 percent of its power from renewables, with one-quarter of that requirement eligible for fulfillment with energy efficiency measures. It was co-sponsored by Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, and Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas. Notably, it also has support from two other Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and John Ensign of Nevada, reports The New YorkTimes.

At least one Democrat, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, has pledged not to support the bill unless it also removes the current moratorium on offshore drilling.

Democrats to Environmentalists: “Where are you guys?”

Disheartened by recent defeats, environmentalists aren’t turning out for Democrats as they did in the last election.

Russ Feingold, one of the six Democratic Senators whom Grist identified as “critical to the climate fight” is now trailing his Republican opponent by double digits.

A poll revealed members of both parties like environmental protection, but not when it extends to regulating CO2 emissions.

The Clean Air Act is 40!

The Clean Air Act: so awesome even the American Enterprise Institute lauds it as an example of successful environmental regulation.

More good news: the depletion of the ozone layer has apparently stopped.

Failure of Climate Talks Inspires $1 Billion Investment

Now the bad news: the Cancun climate summit isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans, says the U.S.’s lead negotiator. India is even more pessimistic about the talks.

The overall failure of talks has inspired investor George Soros to pledge to donate $100 million to environmental policy groups working on new regulations, and invest $1 billion in clean energy technology.

Going Back to Cali

Environmentalists may have given up on Obama and any chance of preserving a livable climate, but they’re not about to give up on Proposition 23, which would reverse California’s path-breaking law intended to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Why Scientists Need Marketers

White House science advisor John Holdren’s proposal to rename climate change as “global climate change disruption” was immediately picked up by opponents of action on climate change as evidence that it’s all a sinister plot.

A former correspondent for the BBC says that climate change as a story of note is “over” for the UK’s most important news outlet. The head of New York University’s journalism program says that the whole climate change debate “fries the circuits of the mainstream press.”

A paper highlighted by the National Science Foundation suggests we’re all just cherry-picking the experts who confirm our preconceived biases, anyway. Another paper, from the National Bureau of Economic Research, suggests recessions cause people to stop caring about the environment.

Yet More Studies Say Current Warming is “Unprecedented”

“The last decades of the past millennium are characterized again by warm temperatures that seem to be unprecedented in the context of the last 1600 years.”

Warming temperatures are drying out the U.S. southwest and decreasing (already rare) cases of bubonic plague. Extreme heat not seen since 1998, when 16 percent of the world’s reefs died, is killing them off again.

The Climate Change Crystal Ball

Climate change could spell “disaster” for America’s wild areas, and the city of San Francisco is trying to figure out what to do about higher sea levels even as it prepares for electric cars.

Climate change science is finally sophisticated enough to tell municipalities how to prepare to adapt to its impacts. The UK is poorly prepared to deal with a warmer future, says the government’s climate advisors.

A professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment suggests if you’re worried about climate change, you should move to Fargo, N.D.

Energy Drinks Do Not Qualify as a Renewable Resource

China, now the world’s largest user of energy, has superseded the U.S. as “the world’s energy superpower,” complicating its attempts to use less energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is about to reveal its guidelines for greenhouse gas controls.

The California Energy Commission just approved a plan to build the biggest solar array in the world. The concentrated solar thermal power plant could begin construction as early as November.

Stimulus funds for home energy retrofits in Michigan have been delayed by red tape.

Wal-Mart is buying up masses of thin-film solar panels, apparently in an attempt to nurture the technology into maturity.

An online poll suggests 80 percent of Americans are comfortable with nuclear power, but only a third of Europeans.

A new documentary argues some residents of small towns have really good reasons for not wanting wind farms in their back yards.

Soul-Crushing Irony

A Maryland Green Party candidate was killed by an SUV while riding her bicycle.

GOP Congress = Ragnarok for Campaigners on Climate

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Ancient Norse mythology concludes with Ragnarok, a god-killing end of days that makes the Book of Revelation look like tea time; it’s also a pretty fair description of most environmentalists’ take on the fate of government action on climate change in the wake of a GOP takeover of the House and/or Senate come November. Picture a George Romero zombie flick in which the virus also destroys your ability to believe in the science of global warming.

Mike Castle of Delaware, the lone GOP senate candidate who voted for cap-and-trade, lost the primary to Christine O’Donnell – ironically, she represents one fewer seat for the GOP come November, given the long odds of her victory in the general election.

Even among those who advocate for action on climate change, not everyone agrees  the changes predicted to come out of this election season will be bad for climate and energy legislation. Other activists argue cap-and-trade was the wrong approach in the first place, and it hasn’t worked for Europe.

Here Comes the State-Level Battle over Regulation of Greenhouse Gases

Schemes for limiting greenhouse gas emissions in states including New Jersey and California are the next battleground. Four states are planning to sue California if a ballot proposition challenge to its greenhouse gas-limiting law fails. Governors for half the states in the Union signed a letter urging Congress to pass a Renewable Energy Standard.

The EPA’s Ability to Regulate CO2 Emissions Is Intact, for Now

The Senate Appropriations Committee did not vote on an amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from acting on its authority to regulate greenhouse gases, but Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid did promise a vote on the subject during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress.

If it passes, the measure would freeze EPA action on emissions for two years. Energy trade groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are for it, while EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson blasted lobbyists for making “doomsday predictions” about the consequences of EPA action on greenhouse pollutants.

Country Stars Headline Dueling Coal Rallies

The Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security sponsored a pro-coal rally in D.C. featuring Dolly Parton’s sister, arguing new clean water standards threaten their jobs. Across the lawn, Big of Big and Rich headlined an anti mountain-top removal rally.

Appalachia turns out to also be a great place to build wind turbines, putting the two energy sources (wind and coal) in direct conflict.

U.S. Unions vs. China’s Green Subsidies: FIGHT!

The United Steelworkers Union filed a trade case against China and its subsidies of green technology. China rejected the claims while arguing that were such a case to be pursued by the Obama administration, it would more than a little hypocritical. China is also unhappy about the state of forthcoming climate talks – the gist is that industrialized countries should go first on emissions cuts.

Obama: No Carter

The administration rejected activists’ attempt to convince the president to restore President Carter-era solar panels (actually, solar hot water heaters) to the roof of the White House. On the other hand, the Department of Energy is moving to enforce energy efficiency and water-conservation standards for the first time in 35 years.

World Bank: Conflicted

Last year The World Bank invested a record $3.4 billion in coal power, but it’s all good, because they also just hired renewable energy guru and UC Berkeley professor Daniel Kammen as their chief technical specialist for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

It’s Not Too Late, If We Accomplish the Improbable

A new study reveals as long as we don’t build any more greenhouse gas emitting factories or power plants, we can let our existing fossil fuel-powered infrastructure live out its natural life without exceeding an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450 ppm.

Biofuel from Microbes Gets Serious

The Navy has ordered 150,000 gallons of algae-based biofuel, part of its effort to get half of its energy needs from non-fossil-fuel sources within 10 years. Joule Biotechnologies, which has been making wild claims about the economics of its super-secret fuel-spewing microbe, finally revealed it is in fact a cyanobacteria that sweats diesel and other useful hydrocarbons .

The Usual Domestic and International Explosion in Clean Energy

U.S. Utilities are trading natural gas for coal and ramping up their production of hydropower.

U.S. entrepreneurs are opening solar panel factories in China because of a friendly investment climate, and U.S. investors seem to agree: VantagePoint is setting up a $100 million yuan-denominated venture capital fund to invest in cleantech in Tianjin.

China’s top wind power company was founded just five years ago.

$249 million in Stimulus funds allowed A123 to open the  largest U.S. electric vehicle battery plant, in Michigan; 60 percent of the wind turbines used in the U.S. are built domestically, in part because it doesn’t make economic sense to manufacture them overseas.

A clean energy advocacy group argued the Senate’s inability to pass a climate and energy bill cost the U.S. 1.9 million jobs.

Geoengineering Can’t Turn Back the Clock

How much geoengineering is enough to return the planet to a cooler, pre-emissions state? It depends on where on planet earth you live, says a new study suggesting that even this last-ditch attempt to cool the planet will lead to winners and losers.

Adaptation – Or Retreat?

Economists are beginning to wonder whether or not oceanfront development threatened by sea level rise is worth saving.

Extinction at the Top of the World

An “unprecedented” mass migration of walruses onto dry land may have been caused by declining Arctic sea ice. Walruses are one of 17 Arctic-dwelling bird and mammal species threatened by climate change.

Is Understanding of Climate Change Gendered?

“Men still claim they have a better understanding of global warming than women, even though women’s beliefs align much more closely with the scientific consensus,” says Aaron M. McCright, an associate professor at Michigan State University.

Climate Bill Finally Dead Enough to be Fondly Remembered in Series of Keepsake Daguerreotypes

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found new ways to let the public know there is absolutely no way the U.S. will get a climate and energy bill this year, the failure of which climate activist Bill McKibben lays at the feet of attempts to make the issue about energy security and the economy.

The aftermath of the climate bill has been opportunity for a cast of experts to opine about what comes next. On the table: the usual debate about investing in research and development of new technology vs. rolling out existing technology, and yet more calls for a national Renewable Energy Standard (RES), which probably won’t happen even though it would be great for the renewable power industry.

Congress’s failure to pass even an RES was the direct reason the U.S. fell to second place, behind China, in Ernst & Young’s index of the world’s best places to invest in renewable energy.

President Obama wants $50 billion for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, but the plan to pay for it by taking back some oil and gas industry tax breaks is going to be a tough sell among legislators backed by those groups.

Sunny Climes Warm to Climate Legislation

The Koch brothers, recently in the news because of a lengthy profile in The New Yorker outlining, among other things, their funding of groups hostile to action on climate change, just donated $1 million to the effort to repeal California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards. Politicians in favor of the proposition are getting heat from their eco-conscious constituents.

Shifting political winds in Australia have that country’s Greens Party declaring right now is the best opportunity they’ve ever had to pass legislation that will result in substantial emissions reductions.

Obama’s proposal to let businesses write-off the full value of new equipment purchases is also an accidental emissions-reduction plan.

Scientists Get Political

In a rare, explicitly political editorial, the world’s top science journal decried the “anti-science strain pervading the right wing in the United States.”

China Gets Aggro on Messaging, Energy

China tells the world it will always prioritize its national interests above cutting its emissions, even as its regional leaders inflict blackouts on their constituents in order to meet national energy-saving targets set by Beijing.

A massive new offshore wind project in China underscores the fact that the country is no longer a hub of manufacturing, but increasingly an innovator in its own right.

HSBC is projecting a tripling of the global market for low-carbon energy by 2020, with the fastest growth in China.

The U.S., meanwhile, is about to drop $575 million across 15 states for clean coal.

Preventing Wars Spawned by Climate Change

Climate change will lead to “irregular challenges” for the U.S. military, but the debate over whether it already has just got more interesting. A new paper says recent wars in Africa cannot be attributed to our warming world.

Water storage will be increasingly necessary to guarantee food security in the developing world, which is already experiencing jumps in food prices reminiscent of 2008, all due to this year’s extreme weather.

The irrigation on which so much food production depends has a second effect – it may be cooling some areas of the planet as much or more than climate change has warmed them, an effect that will disappear if the underground aquifers enabling this practice run dry.

Meat: Not A Climate Villain After All?

Eco-pundit George Monbiot reviews a new book that declares meat is not inherently a climate villain – it’s how we produce it that’s the problem.

Nuclear: Still Not Green

An incredibly detailed review of the literature declares that nuclear is, at best, only marginally better than natural gas at either returning invested energy to its producers or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Getting (Green) Power to Those Who Have None

A pair of special reports address efforts to exploit the fact that renewables are inherently a distributed form of power generation to bring electricity and lighting to India and the developing world in general.

The Spotlight Shifts to Adaptation

The New York Times’s Andrew Revkin points out that a lot of our vulnerability to extreme weather is a systematic inability or unwillingness to plan for rare but not impossible events. This may be one reason why the world’s insurer’s are demanding a role in helping the UN come up with climate change adaptation plans for the developing world.

A forthcoming book from a pair of esteemed Stanford environmental scientists sums up the general mood: Preparing for Climate Change.

Will the “Dead” Climate Bill Become a Federal Renewable Energy Standard?

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

It’s over: Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska) has conceded the primary race to her opponent, Joe Miller. Along with three other Republicans who will be leaving the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, this means new leadership and four open seats for the group tasked with dealing with just about everything readers of The Climate Post care about.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he might have two Republicans on board for a lame-duck bill that would give the U.S. a Federal Renewable Energy Standard requiring utilities to “provide 15 percent of their power from renewables by 2021, although about a fourth of the requirement could be met with energy-efficiency programs.”

Environmentalists Recovering From Some Kind of Fight Club-Level Whupping

It’s as much opinion as news, but The Washington Post paints a portrait of beaten-down, post climate bill-defeat environmentalists trying to regroup by staging acts of cathartic street theater. Grist asks: “How bad are the next few years going to suck?

Court Tells Climate Scientist to Mann Up

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been temporarily thwarted in his quest to secure documents on the science of climate change from former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann. Undaunted, Cuccinelli pledged not to back down.

Administration to Enviros: “We Like You, Just Not in That Way”

Many were left scratching their heads when the Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision that would have allowed plaintiffs to sue emitters of greenhouse gasses under common-law nuisance claims.

These actions might make more sense in light of the administration’s current efforts to mollify greenhouse gas emitters in industry lest their allies on the hill take back whatever power the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has left to regulate greenhouse gases: “EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said over the weekend upcoming climate regulations are modest in scope, comments that come amid Capitol Hill efforts to scuttle the rules.”

As if on cue, Environmentalist Bill McKibben declared Nixon was better for the environment than Obama.

Report Critical of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Did / Did Not Land With a Thud

Climate scientists think the new report suggesting a revamp of the IPCC is full of helpful suggestions, and the world’s leading science journal cast it in terms of adaptation and survival for the decades-old body.

Editorials on the right argued the report was an indictment of the IPCC’s findings in general, while those on the left countered it said nothing that impugned the science of climate change itself.

“Devastating Climate Shock Needed to Spur Climate Change Policy” Is Kind of Already Here

An editorial in The New York Times cast resistance to action on climate change in terms of its perceived threat to American identity and hypothesized natural disasters might change that.

The next report from the IPCC will consider what happens if governments don’t sign on for or follow through with emissions reductionsLawyers are already acting on related data, and are exploring the implications of nascent efforts to statistically assign blame to global warming for natural disasters already in progress.

The melting of Mont Blanc, one of Europe’s iconic glaciers, has engineers racing to avert an explosive flooding of the valley below. Acidifying oceans spell a marine biological “meltdown” by the end of the century.

The coffee bean is threatened by warming, retreat of glaciers in Asia will decrease the water supply of billions, and China’s crop yields are projected to decline in the next few years because of warming-related water shortages. In addition,flooding in Niger is devastating a people already menaced by a food crisis, El Niños  leading to extreme weather are growing stronger, and food prices in Russia are soaring after a drought and fires with direct costs between 7 and 300 billion dollars.

A new kind of desertification is afflicting the planet – “ocean desertification,” in which warmer waters lead to decreased biological productivity in the world’s tropical marine ecosystems.

On the other hand, The Economist argues Brazil has a model for how to feed the denizens of a warmer, more crowded planet, New York had its hottest summer ever but nothing blew up or was looted, and Scientific American reviews a recent paper that asks “If the world is going to hell, why are humans doing so well?

The Fossil Fuel Lending Crisis

Banks increasingly don’t want to fund environmentally controversial activities such as mountaintop-removal mining and palm oil.

To transition to renewables, China must raise the price of coal without stalling its economy. Industry groups still back the administration’s planned $1 billion clean-coal effort.

The Renewables Award Tour

France wants $13 billion for 3,000 megawatts of wind farms and India approved 1,000 megawatts of solar.

Angela Merkel wants to keep Germany’s nuclear power plants online for another 15 years, and the cost of Bulgaria’s nuclear plant has soared to 9 billion euro from 4 billion in 2007.

In shades of what’s happened to the solar panel industry, a supply glut means a price war in rechargeable batteries for cars.

In Conclusion: Tree Sitting Above the Arctic Circle

It used to be all you had to do was drive into the woods and chain yourself to a redwood, but that’s just not where the action is anymore if you’re a committed environmentalist. At the intersection of a warming Arctic, offshore drilling, Greenland’s eventual autonomy from Denmark, prospecting for remote oil in the face of peak fossil fuels and, well, Greenpeace, a handful of activists are braving what could be 50 mph winds to occupy the underside of a drilling platform in the storm-tossed coastal waters of Greenland.