Blue Marble - August 2009

Eco-News Roundup: Wednesday August 12

| Wed Aug. 12, 2009 3:52 AM PDT

Ch-Ch-Changes: More from Kevin Drum on healthcare.

Graphic Content: A new map shows which congressional aides have turned healthcare lobbyists.

Cruisin': The electric Chevy Volt will get 230 miles per gallon, says GM. [Wall Street Journal]

Bird Flu Discovery: New research shows a link between bird flu and Parkinson's. [AAAS]

Greening China: China's dire pollution is pushing it toward green solutions. [Christian Science Monitor]

 

 

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NCES09 Central

| Tue Aug. 11, 2009 5:19 PM PDT

Speaking in Las Vegas on Monday, former President Bill Clinton challenged Americans to change how the energy/climate debate has been framed by extremists on the right.

The debate so far has been dominated by a need to prove that:

1) Global warming is real.
2) Global warming is caused by human activity.
3) Global warming is bad.
4) Measures to stop global warming won’t destroy our economy and way of life.

In other words, supporters of the energy status quo and their loony mercenary mobs have rational people playing defense at every turn. That framework is reason #1 why the wimpy Waxman-Markey bill barely squeaked by in the House.

In a single phrase, uttered six minutes into his remarks and repeated throughout his one-hour address, Clinton supplied the winning frame for progress on a host of interconnected issues, including global warming, a tanking economy (particularly noticeable in a massive loss of jobs), and a series of disastrous oil wars.

Clinton’s new frame was: "We are still piddling with this." And by this he clearly meant all of these interconnected issues of jobs, energy, the environment.

Now, I don’t expect to see signs going up across the nation proclaiming, "No more piddling!" But it’s just the kind of phrasing that connects with a huge number of "ordinary" Americans.

Clinton, whose mojo was always about connecting heart and head (or sense and sensibility), went on to discuss in the pure wonk language of numbers, the challenges facing us and the benefits of specific actions. But he always tagged up with a variation of the "piddling" theme.

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Tweeting Las Vegas

NCES & National Security
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Low-hanging fruit

Clinton said we need to focus policy – and money – on the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency. Retrofitting older building to make them energy efficient, for example, would provide the most bang for the buck, in terms of lowering GHG emissions and in job growth. Constructing a new coal-fired power plant generates 870 jobs for every $1 billion invested, said Clinton. The same money used to make existing buildings energy efficient would create 6,000 jobs.

A report issued on Monday by the Center for American Progress (a host of the summit), underscored Clinton’s message. According to the study, 40 percent of GHG emissions comes from energy used in building. "Deep building retrofits can cut energy use by 20 to 40 percent with proven techniques and off-the-shelf technologies," the report continued. "Best of all, they can pay for themselves from the energy they save."

The report recommends a $500 billion public-private investment to retrofit forty percent of our existing building stock by the year 2020. Such a program would, according to the study, employ over a half million workers and save consumers $32 billion to $64 billion annually in reduced energy costs.

For at least part of that money, Clinton advocated creating a program along the lines of the Small Business Administration. Banks, which Clinton said are sitting on $900 billion that could be available for loans, should be encouraged to make that money available for energy efficiency by government backing of the loans.

"You’ve got to get the banks involved," he said, "if you’re going to stop piddling around."

Sec. of Energy Steven ChuSec. of Energy Steven Chu


In a small press conference earlier in the day, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu had called energy efficiency "the fruit on the ground" ready to be picked up, even more accessible than "low-hanging" fruit.

The Green Bank

Clinton’s idea is in addition to a so-called Green Bank which was mentioned throughout the day as another avenue routing funding for a new energy economy. One plan for a Green Bank claims that at a funding level of $50 billion, it could:

·    Generate enough clean electricity to power 22.9 million cars a year.
·    Decrease gasoline consumption by 12.6 billion gallons a year.
·    Decrease oil consumption by 642 million barrels a year.

Former oilman turned wind baron turned natural gas proponent T. Boone Pickens, offered another idea:

Mandate that all diesel fleet vehicles including 18-wheel trucks be run on natural gas. Pickens pointed out that natural gas is far less polluting than diesel fuel and that it could provide a bridge to an all clean electric transportation society. Former Vice President Al Gore agreed with Pickens that electric battery technology is not yet ready to replace diesel engines and supported the idea of switching to natural gas.

Such a costly conversion program may be unnecessary, however, even in the short run, after last week’s announcement that the DOE was releasing $2.4 billion to develop electric cars (EVs) and an EV charging infrastructure. $1.5 billion targets improvements in battery technology.

Another Clinton idea is to take the best part of the Cash for Clunkers program and adapt it for EVs. Providing buyers of new EVs with a $10,000 incentive, could, he said, put more clean cars on the road and drive the industry which is still gearing up, to get more efficient, better-designed EVs to market sooner.

The day-long event produced many other ideas for moving to a clean energy economy, creating jobs and making the US the world leader in cutting GHG emissions.

These include:
 

  • Funding community colleges to train workers (from all backgrounds) in new technology jobs.
  • Doing more to create a national smart grid that can efficiently handle power generated from new sources.
  • Sensible deregulation to allow energy efficient and environmentally sound project to scale up more quickly.
  • Open public land in the Southwest to development of large scale solar power facilities.


I cringed when I heard that last goal. Not because I disagree with its premise. I’m a proponent of solar power, including the large-scale form known as Concentrating Solar Power (CSP). It was the language used at the summit that had me thinking, "here we go again."

One speaker used the phrase "unlimited potential" to describe the desert’s use for electric power generation. In discussions about natural resources, "unlimited" has typically meant only that the speaker refuses to recognize limits and abide by them until what was once unlimited is destroyed. Then it’s time to move on to the next new thing with "unlimited potential."

John Podesta, Center for American Progress (Photo by OGD)John Podesta, Center for American Progress (Photo by OGD)

After a final press conference, I told John Podesta, head of the Center for American Progress, about my concerns and he did his best to reassure me that "they all" understood the environmental values of the Southwestern deserts. "Look," he said, "in the Clinton administration [where Podesta was Chief of Staff] we preserved more desert lands than any previous administration. We can do CSP in the desert in a thoughtful, environmental way."
 

The day ended in the late afternoon on an upbeat note. I overheard one woman leaving the area say to her companion, "I learned so much; I just don’t want to forget it!"

That enthusiasm is important. A large part of the summit was designed to get momentum rolling for passage of a Senate clean energy bill that does not "just piddle around." That actually improves the House bill.

The only way that can happen is if proponents seize the Clinton frame and get the questions back on track. If the national discussion (or shouting match in recent days) remains fixed on defending the extent and culpability of global warming, we all lose. What we need now, coming out of the summit, is a nation asking its elected officials "When, in God’s name, are you going to stop piddling around on issues that decide whether or not I have a job, about my ability to provide for my family, my kids’ future, our national security, and a changing climate that could devastate large regions of America, and the world?"

And the answer better be: “Now.”

L-to-R, T. Boone Pickes, Senator Harry Reid, John Podesta (OGD)L-to-R, T. Boone Pickes, Senator Harry Reid, John Podesta (OGD)


Final thoughts:

One of the most striking features of yesterday's clean energy summit was the successful combination of two seemingly opposing worlds. There were lengthy exchanges about the nittiest and grittiest details of energy policy (new standards to prevent air leakage in ductwork, for example).

It should have been boring. It wasn't.

The audience was intrigued and engaged and even, at times, euphoric. The summit was like an old timey tent revival meeting -- but for clean energy wonks. True, the panelists were wonks. The audience, however, seemed pretty normal (by Las Vegas standards, of course). The exchanges became so technically detailed yet fervent at points that I thought some panel members had begun speaking in tongues.

Why is this important? Because progressives have such a bodaciously miserable record in this regard.

Major policy shifts live or die based largely on the passions of the day. And a major policy shift is definitely what's called for when you are faced with a rapidly heating planet, a crumbling energy infrastructure and an economy that sucks like a Hoover (in either sense of the name).

Republican leaders and the fossil fool industries understand this all too well. They spend millions to gin up the fear factor on behalf of the status quo. They're playing with fire and they know it. But they don't care.

The progressive challenge is to stir passions for positive change without resorting to lies, demagoguery or forgery. The National Clean Energy Summit may have been an historic advance in that mission.

The task now is to spread those ideas—and those passions—to a much larger audience.

Slot Machine, hotel lobby, 2009Slot Machine, hotel lobby, 2009

One favorite remark from the summit provoked lots of laughs from the audience (me included). But it was also one of the most open, honest and significant unscripted observations made at the gathering.

During a panel discussion, the always quotable T. Boone Pickens mentioned an exchange he had with a foreign pooh-bah. "What does the rest of the world think about our energy dependence on foreign oil?" (That's the gist of the question.) The man demurred, but Boone pressed him. Finally, the man said, "we think you look stupid."

Ouch!

Which begs the question: Are Americans stupid?

I don't think so, and here's why. Years ago I was a graduate student at University of Arizona in American Indian Studies, studying with, among others, the late, great Vine Deloria. The topic one days was language and how it both shapes and reflects our world. The prof (I think it was Vine, but it could have been someone else) gave a powerful example.

"In [some Native American language], there's no way to say an individual person is stupid. You can't say they're smart, either. Or brave or a coward," he said. "You can say a rock is hard or a very tall tree is noble." He explained the difference: Rocks and trees aren't capable of change. They are what they are. Humans have the potential to change.

You can say a person is acting stupidly or bravely in that language, but embedded in the syntax is the belief that a person can change her or his behavior. People aren't rocks or trees.

My point being that Americans are not stupid. Not collectively or individually. We sure as hell are acting stupidly, however. Change is possible, but that doesn't mean it's inevitable.

We can act to change course. On the other hand, we can continue acting stupidly and pumping out CO2 as if there are no consequences to our actions, as if the piper will never demand payment. We can do that until we no longer have the capacity for change. Because by cooking our planet and destroying the ecosystems we are part of and depend on, we will become as dead as rocks.

National Clean Energy Summit | Tweeting Las Vegas

| Tue Aug. 11, 2009 2:09 PM PDT

Tweeting coverage from the National Clean Energy Summit, August 10, Las Vegas, NV,  in chronological order.

To learn more about the individuals named below check out the official agenda, here.

9:18 Out of work union members presser: Clean energy is key to jobs in NV.

9:59 Energy Summit about to start. I hope they turn down the loud techno music.

10:05 Out of work plumber local 525 says "no jobs anywhere." Her preteen son adds: "there are in China." No laughs.

10:23 Harry Reid's up at bat. "We're known for producing great athletes, now we're going to be known for producing great scientists."

10:25 Schwarzenegger won't be here -- mother in law ill. [Eunice Kennedy Shriver passes away at 2 am the next morning]

10:32 Al Gore joshing about Harry Reid creating energy jobs...in Nevada.

10:35 Gore: #ACES [climate bill] is important step. Now Senate is going to take it up. Sec. Chu, Tim Worth, John Podesta, Sec. Solis all working for this.

10:38 Gore: National program to repower America is just what the doctor ordered...for financial crisis.

10:39 Gore: Gore: Who R we 2 ignore the warnings of scientists on global warming. Kids will ask us "what wr U all doing, watching Am. Idol?"

10:41 Reid intros Tim Wirth, early supporter of fight against global warming.

10:41 Tim Worth is head of UN Foundation.

10:43 Wirth: Energy and jobs can be looked at separately, but they go hand-in-hand.

10:46 Keith Schwer, UNLV business school using LV as example. 1900, LV pop was 17. 2000 pop. 2 million. (I didn't know that!)

10:52 Sec Chu on getting renewable energy to scale. "US has an incredible opp. We need to have a second industrial revolution."

10:54 Sec Chu: China understands no more biz as usual. They plan on being the leader. But we can be, unless we miss the opp.

10:55 Chu: Energy efficiency is going to be the "lowest hanging fruit" for the next couple of decades.

10:57 Chu: Supports biofuels -- "It doesn't have to be food or fuel." He ends and gets a large round of applause.

10:59 50 minutes in and no women speakers so far.

11:02 Hey, Amory Lovins gets a shout out for making Americans aware of energy efficiency.

11:04 Marc Porat, CEO of Serious Materials: Making cement puts out as much CO2 as all automobiles together.

11:05 Porat: "We're so blessed" to have the Obama administration who "gets it" on jobs-energy-CO2.

11:10 One hour, a woman at last: Rose McKinney James - Energy Foundation Boards.

11:12 James: Talks about the importance of state utility boards. More info needs to get to states.

11:15 John Woolard, Bright Source Energy. We have to build 2000 GW between now and 2050. That's 50GW a year. "We're losing ground."

11:18 "Pin-up stimulus" -- plans that are ready, but delayed by permitting. Basic, boring, but key. John Woolard.

11:21 Stephanie Burns, CEO Dow Corning, maker of PV cells. Wants more support 4 job training programs, more financing 4 US manufacturers.

11:24 Lucien Bronicki, a pioneer of geothermal energy. This industry has jobs that can't be off-shored.

11:28 NYT has good editorial on climate bill today. Wonder if the people around the table read it?

11:30 Gen. Wes Clark making the case for biofuels. If we invested in biofuels it would take Hugo Chavez out of the picture. Hmmm.

11:30 Denise Bode, American Wind Energy Assoc.: Wind is up to scale, ready to rock and roll right now.

11:35 Bode: US led the world in new wind power last year. China will prob. take that over this year. We need long term commitment in US.

11:36 Bode, as others, talks about the importance of smart grid.

11:38 A tweet by Sen. Reid just appeared. He was looking down for a while. Hi, Senator!

11:40 T. Boone Pickens: "I'm kinda an oddball in this group." Quite laughter before he explains he means he's a Repub.

11:42 Pickens: Energy security is number one for me. But I do believe global warming is happening.

11:45 Pickens: Says diesel 18-wheelers should be forced to switch to natural gas.

11:47 Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA): Energy is a $6 trillion industry; the "mother of all markets."

11:51 FYI, this is the most mainstream, ardent capitalistic pro-new energy discussion I've ever heard!

11:52  Another FYI, Gore looks more fit than I've seen him in some time. New energy diet?

11:54 Gore is most impressive in his command of the full range of new technologies.

11:56 Gore: We invent all these new technologies, but then manufacturing goes overseas.

11:57 Gore goes through the history of "obsolete" energy system. "It's ridiculous!"

Noon Gore: The old way of thinking about [energy transmission] needs to change. Talks re cogeneration. 65% of coal energy lost as heat.

12:03 Gore's frustration with "old thinking" is palpable. He's slugging away. Impressive.

12:05 Gore is taking this country by the lapels and shaking us.

12:10 Van Jones - White House Council on Environmental Quality: We should be able to come together as a country on this one.

12:12 Jones: His theme is common ground. New energy "is fiscally conservative." Talks about health, too.

12:13 Jones "We're asking questions that liberals like, and offering answers that conservatives like."

12:15 Jones is impassioned, too. And it's infectious. Biggest applause from the room so far.

12:17 LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: We met Kyoto standard by Oct. 2008. "We are moving fast and hard."

12:22 Gore appears to be chewing gum. If it were Obama, I'd guess Nicorette. I bet he's calculated how much energy is used per chew.

12:30 Gore asks utility owner wht cn B done 2 lower inefficiencies from coal-fired power plants. The guy dances a bit. Gore bulldogs him.

12:32 Gore continues after utility owner. Is it regs? No, he sez. Basically: I don't know.

12:35 Sec of Labor Hilda Solis: Everybody needs to participate in recovery. Too many areas, rural, poor, have been traditionally left out.

12:41 Danny Thompson, NV, AFL-CIO: Works here have been suffering. "Manufacturing represents 75% of new energy jobs; we need them here."

12:44 NV State Sen. Steven Horsford: "NV is at the center of renewable energy." OK, I know we're in NV, but, AZ is the center. Just sayin'

12:46 Terry O’Sullivan, Laborers’ International Union of NA: 1.6 million construction workers out of work.

12:49 O’Sullivan: 100 million houses in the US that need to be weatherized.

12:50 O’Sullivan: Green jobs need to be careers, not fly-by-night operations. (aka: temporary and low paying.)

12:52 Tim Wirth is wrapping up morning session. I'll be posting pix later at the Mother Jones blog site.

LUNCH BREAK [Time of tweets not recorded, but still in chronological order.

And we're back...Harry Reid is introducing President Clinton.

Clinton: Thanks to Al Gore for his long struggle...even when he was referred to as "Ozone Man." [By GHWB]

Clinton: I asked Al Gore are we going to get something about deforestation in Copenhagen? He says yes.

Clinton talking about the loss of almost 7 million jobs. The least sexy topics are where the solutions are.

Clinton: If we close 22% of old dirty coal plants, we could cut emissions in half. (citing Robert Kennedy, Jr.)

Clinton: We are still piddling with this. (Green economy)

Clinton points out that the cities that are doing the most in terms of greening economy are already the greenest.

Clinton talks about retrofitting Empire State Building. Great, but its a drop in the bucket.

Clinton: The best solution is that utilities finance retrofitting homes.

Clinton calls for an energy equivalent to the Small Business Administration. $900 billion in banks not committed. Use it.

Clinton: You've got to get the banks involved in this if you want to stop piddling around.

Clinton: Suggests $10K from gov. to buyers of EVs! [Sign me up!]

Clinton still has his ability to connect with people, even in a large room. Amazing.

Clinton: Let's take what NV is doing and put it on steroids. There are millions dying to go to work.

Clinton finishes by urging people to make the energy bill even stronger. Now, setting up final panel. Town hall meeting.

email questions to panel: questions@cleanenergysummit.org

Panel in place: Podesta, Gore, Reid, Pickens and Cathy Zoi.

Opening talk is about Gore's forthcoming book on climate solutions, coming out Nov 3: "Our Choice."

Gore: We are at a moment of choosing. Quotes several holy texts: You can choose life, or death; blessings or curses.

Gore about birthers: they're putting a bit of poison into American politics.

Gore: the key challenge is to get a bill passed in the Senate. Political will is a renewable resource.

Gore warns against thinking of China and India as being the same when it comes to climate change.

Cathy Zoi: There's no "land problem" with having giant solar facilities. [Lots of us would take issue with that one]

Harry Reid: The potential for solar in the southwest for CSP is unlimited. [Uh-oh]

Boone Pickens: When natural gas is cheap, wind is too expensive. [Only because the market leaves out true cost of things]

Gore: Lots of Fortune 500 companies are now backing this change. They see it's a low carbon future.

Gore: In order to address the climate crisis, we're going to have to address the democracy crisis in this country.

Q from audience re leaky air ducts.

Cathy Zoi agrees it's important to make sure air ducts don't leak. This is great; getting down to nitty gritty.

Gore points out that CA hasn't increased energy usage in years. See: Negawatts.

Reid gets back to energy transmission. I won't be satisfied with nrg bill, without strong transmission component.

Reid: FERC should be able to condemn land for transmission lines.

Van Jones We're going to make sure that veterans aren't left out of the new green jobs. (in response to question from Iraq war vet.)

Interesting: Lots of support in audience on veterans & jobs. [But, will it happen this time?]

Obviously this is a self selected crowd, but still, remarkably little despair. Lots of optimism, lots of desire to DO something.

Pickens: China has done $100 billion of deals on energy to (lists countries). Where's the US in this?

Gore: People are afraid these changes will mean higher energy prices. The best way to push prices up is to do nothing.

Pickens says we reached peak oil in 2006. Gore says, if not, it'll be soon. Need to power shift.

Pickens 2 Gore: Do heads of state complain to you about US having small share of world pop. but using too much oil. G: Well, yeah!

This is wrapping up. I'll be tweeting the presser afterward.

Gore: John Podesta is a national resource.

Huh, Gore says Cathy Zoi created the Energy Star program at EPA years ago. Didn't know that, but aren't the reviews mixed?

This has been a long day, but even as it ends, few people are leaving. Lots of energy here, apparently.

Gore: We have an obligation to steer by the stars and not by the lights of each passing ship. (quoting of Omar Bradley)

Gore's quote meant: Take the long view, for once, America!

Reid: There are people out there who will do everything they can to stop leg. on energy, even if it means lying.

Reid takes a populist stand against special interests.

Reid: Speak out against the evil-mongers who want to take our country away from us.

END OF TOWN HALL MEETING

Presser should begin in a minute or two. Standing by.....

Al Gore not here. But Reid, Pickens and Podesta are for wrap-up presser.

Reid: We'll never be a secure nation without being independent of foreign oil.

Reid: NV is the poster child of public lands.

Podesta: We need stronger policies and leadership. The discussions here today were about going further on the road map.

Pickens speaks for natural gas as a short term way to get off foreign oil while we put solar and wind into place.

Reid calls biofuels "extremely important."

I ask Podesta : Did they mean to suggest that desert lands can be exploited 4 solar pw w/no enviro considerations? A: c next tweet

Podesta: We cn do CSP in the desert in a thoughtful, environmental way. We did desert land pres. in the Clinton WH. We'll do it here.

And that does it, folks. Thanks for following. Check back at MJ and Phoenix Sun for more later.

5 Creative Uses for: Pantyhose

| Tue Aug. 11, 2009 4:05 AM PDT

Next up in our series on clever ways to reuse or use up household items: pantyhose. I'll admit it's been a hot minute since I donned this frustratingly delicate garment, but then again Mother Jones HQ isn't exactly a formal business attire kind of place. For those of you in offices where jeans and a sweatshirt won't cut it, I give you, courtesy of AltUse.com, five things to do with old pantyhose:

1. Doggie toy: Braid several pairs of hose together to create a thick, woven, nylon rope that is strong, yet very soft on a dogs gums and teeth. They love to play tug of war and fetch with it. Also it's lightweight and can't damage anything.

2. Grow melons: Use pantyhose in the garden to fashion protective sleeves to keep the melons suspended above the ground and away from damp soil where they may rot.

3. Wax skis: After hot waxing and scraping ski bases, rub the bases with pantyhose to create friction for a smooth and glossy finish.

4. Lost things finder: Lost something under the couch? Place pantyhose over the end of your vacuum. The item will be not be sucked past the end of the nozzle covered by the pantyhose.

5. Keep onions fresh: eHow recommends:

Take a washed pair of used or new pantyhose and place the onions into the feet. Tie a knot in the pantyhose above each whole onion. Repeat this process until both legs are full or you have inserted all the onions. Hang the pantyhose in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as a pantry, closet, or cellar.

Eco-News Roundup: Tuesday, August 11

| Tue Aug. 11, 2009 4:00 AM PDT

Tuesday environment, science, and health stories from our site and beyond:

Global warning on the back burner: Bjorn Lomborg has never denied global warming, he just thinks it's not that big a deal.

Backpedaling on drug pricing: Instead of openly agreeing to promise no control over pharmaceutical pricing, the White House now says that it’s all a big misunderstanding and the pricing question was not discussed. Oh, come on.

Dog blogging: Man's best friend can't quite get the concept of inequality. Remind you of any people you know?

Meteor madness: Tonight marks the start of the Perseid, an annual shooting star show visible from most parts of the northern hemisphere. This year's will be good, despite the moon glare.

Hybrid haiku: Japan's Prius sales/up 392/percent from last year.

Where the wildebeest aren't: The Mara River, which flows through Kenya and Tanzania, was once home to the largest wildebeest migrations. But now the river's drying up.

You are getting veeery excited about recycling: What'll it take to organize the masses to save our warming world? Climate change psy-ops.

Flu Triggers Parkinson's

| Mon Aug. 10, 2009 3:48 PM PDT

Here's news of an avian flu strain that makes you more susceptible to Parkinson’s, maybe Alzheimer’s, later on. The work is published in an upcoming PNAS and reports how mice surviving infection with an H5N1 flu strain are more likely than uninfected mice to develop brain changes associated with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The researchers note that around age 40 people begin losing brain cells. Most people die before they lose enough to get Parkinson’s. But now it appears the H5N1 avian influenza infection changes the curve, making the brain more sensitive to another hit, possibly from another infection, from a drug, or from an environmental toxin.

Flu is primarily a respiratory disease but indirect evidence dating back to 1385 links it to neurological problems, including the brain inflammation known as encephalitis. Some survivors of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic went on to develop Parkinson’s symptoms.

The study marks the first time scientists have naturally triggered a Parkinson’s-like protein build-up—something apparently not that hard to do with the H5N1 virus.
 

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Population Growth Explained With Bubbles

| Mon Aug. 10, 2009 3:13 PM PDT

Hands down the best and most dynamic 10-minute explanation of population issues I've seen. From Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Thanks to Gapminder.

 

 

 

National Clean Energy Summit | Live Blogging, Part 1

| Mon Aug. 10, 2009 10:13 AM PDT

[Read Sunday night's preview here.]

10:10 Just about to start. You can follow tweets at thephoenixsun.

10:15: Gore, Chu, et al. take the stage. John Podesta (CAP) makes opening marks. "Clean energy infrastructure works best when it works together." EVs, solar, got to do everything at the same time. Mentions a green bank to put money into this effort.

10:25: Harry Reid: These problems didn't happen overnight and won't be solved quickly. But time to make a start. Schwartenegger won't be attending, mother-in-law Eunice Kennedy Shriver verry ill.

Introduces Al Gore.

OK, that didn't quite work out technically as planned.

I had thought my tweets would also show up here, but apparently not. Sorry about that.

All my tweets are available for your viewing pleasure, here.

For more, see NCES09 Central, here.

Eco-News Roundup: Monday August 10

| Mon Aug. 10, 2009 3:41 AM PDT

News on health, nature, climate, and the environment from our blogs and other sites.

Lies of August: One reporter is getting fed up with healthcare misinformation.

Grumble Down Under: Pacific island nations are demanding climate control. [ENS]

Slimming Down: Kevin Drum's feline friends are losing weight and looking good.

Earthly Manipulation: Scientists debate artifically manipulating the climate to counteract global warming. [Nature]

Ex Ex-Gay: The APA goes on record repudiating gay-to-straight conversion therapy.

Under the Counter: A backroom deal might allow drug manufacturers pricing control.

 

National Clean Energy Summit & National Security

| Sun Aug. 9, 2009 6:42 PM PDT

[Read Monday's liveblogging here.]

No one has ever accused the military of being a bunch of treehuggers—but that doesn't mean they're blind to the military and strategic implications of global warming.

"We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today," said retired General Anthony Zinni in a New York Times article yesterday, "...or we will pay the price later in human terms."

The article by NYT writer John Broder is particularly well-timed.

Tomorrow, former Commander-in-Chief, Bill Clinton, will address a "National Clean Energy Summit" in Las Vegas. While the theme of this year's summit (the first was held last year) focuses on jobs, the Times article dovetails perfectly with the larger context of the gathering: the dawning reality that no area of human activity will be untouched by a changing climate. From jobs to wars, the facts are the same.

Studies by military and intelligence analysts warn of "profound strategic challenges" to the US due to the affects of climate change, reports Broder. The climate-induced crises include famine, water wars, mass migration, epidemics and massive storms.

While the military is not an environmental organization -- think Agent Orange or nuclear testing in the Pacific -- their view is and always has been utilitarian and mission-driven. Sometimes, environmental and military needs coincide. That's the case now with global warming -- just as it was in 1817 with a different issue.

You needed wood to build and maintain a fleet in the 19th Century and so the Secretary of the Navy reserved large swaths of hardwood forests on the east coast. Deforestation was halted (for a time) for national security reasons.

Maybe someone should print a bumper sticker (if one doesn't already exist): Support the troops. Fight global warming.

Check back here tomorrow when I'll be live blogging the summit.

The first session begins at 10 AM (1 PM on the east coast) with opening remarks by Al Gore, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Podesta (the Center for American Progress is a host of the event) and other heavy-hitters. Should be interesting. You can check out the agenda yourself, here.

Osha Gray Davidson edits The Phoenix Sun and is a contributing blogger for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.