RealClimate has spared me the task of compiling a list — and of deciding whether to put my book on it. I reprint their post (sans pics) below. Feel free to identify any omissions, such as NYT Bestseller The Green Collar Economy and, of course (!), Everything you could possibly want to know about carbon (aka The Carbon Age) , and, of course (!!), Hot, Flat, and Crowded:
We are in the middle of the Jewish Festival of
efficient and renewable Lights.
Hanukkah commemorates the “rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem” twenty-two centuries ago. The miracle being celebrated is that they only had enough “consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days.”
From my perspective, the miracle was a sign from on high to use renewable fuels and/or put them in a lamp that burns very, very efficiently.
Download this report (pdf)
The next administration will face an extensive list of simultaneous policy challenges, not least of which include an international financial crisis, two wars abroad, and the growing climate crisis. While President Barack Obama navigates which issues and policies to prioritize, an essential element of our nation’s economic recovery must be investing in a clean energy economy in order to create jobs and spur economic growth and prosperity, while at the same time fighting global warming and addressing national security.
This report seeks to highlight the multiple challenges and opportunities for action to vastly increase our nation’s renewable energy generation and connect this clean energy to the grid via advanced electrical transmission construction. Identifying the significant, but by no means insurmountable, obstacles to implementing this vision is the first step toward designing policy solutions that enable investments to not only significantly reduce our nation’s global warming emissions but also to put us on a path to a clean energy future.
If you were fooled by the multimillion dollar “clean coal” PR marketing campaign take a look at this video footage of a massive flood of toxic coal sludge from a dam that burst at a local coal company’s processing plant in Tennessee yesterday.
The spill covered as many as 400 acres of land with toxic ash as high as six feet deep.
You can go here to see some local TV news coverage. Here’s some raw footage of the spill zone:
The coal industry is attempting to organize bloggers to promote their false “clean coal” propaganda. The Reality Coalition, a group of national environmental organizations, have begun airing the message that “There’s no such thing as clean coal,” to counter the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by coal-powered corporations to pretend that coal is a “clean” fuel. So the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) and Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), essentially one coal propaganda group with two different faces, is fighting back with an email blast asking people to join their “Blogger Brigade”:
You can get into the debate. If you are interested in becoming an active member of ABEC’s Blogger Brigade just send me an e-mail to email@example.com and let me know you’re interested. One of our team members will give you a call and walk you through the process. It’s really easy – and for those of you who don’t already Blog, it is fun! You can join the online debate that’s already going on and you and others can remain anonymous (if you want to) at the same time! We’ll even set up a little competition to see how many Blog entries each person can make.
Notwithstanding the strange capitalization of “Blog,” this is the latest in a series of netcentric efforts from the coal public relations people. They’ve launched a Facebook page, Twitter feed, and have littered blogs with comments defending coal.
No matter how large ABEC’s “Blogger Brigade” gets, they still won’t be able to hide the toxic and dirty reality of coal. Yesterday morning, a dike at the Kingston coal-fired power plant in Harriman, Tennessee broke, letting loose a deluge of about 500 million gallons of coal slurry into tributaries of the Tennessee River, destroying twelve homes and derailing a train.
Watch the startling news footage:
Full email: Read more
Our guest bloggers are Daniel J. Weiss and Alexandra Kougentakis, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy and a Fellows Assistant at the Center For American Progress Action Fund.
Yesterday, the Center for American Progress released “Clean Coal Smoke Screen,” which documented that the coal and utility companies that belong to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) have invested only a paltry percentage of their profits to develop technologies to reduce global warming. ACCCE attempted to push back by releasing a list of research efforts to capture coal’s global warming emissions:
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) today released a list of more than 80 carbon capture and storage demonstration and research projects, predominantly underway in the U.S., proving again that the coal-based electricity sector is moving aggressively towards bringing advanced clean coal technologies to the marketplace domestically and abroad.
In fact, this list did not prove that ACCCE members are “moving aggressively” in carbon capture and storage research. A quick review of the list found that most of these research projects are undertaken by the Department of Energy in cooperation with non-ACCCE entities. The projects on the ACCCE list fall into the following categories (projects before 2001 are not included here):
– 18 with ACCCE members in a joint CCS-related project
– 18 are joint National Energy Technology Lab and regional Carbon Sequestration and Leadership partnership projects
– 13 are joint DOE-university projects
– 12 projects are joint projects between DOE and non-profit or non-ACCCE for-profit partners
– 8 projects are joint DOE-U.S. energy lab projects
– 10 are foreign projects
– 6 are joint projects by the DOE or National Energy Technology Labs and regional Carbon Sequestration and Leadership partnerships; while the partnerships in this group include ACCCE members, these particular projects did not include ACCCE members as primary sponsors
– 1 with an ACCCE member partner in a non-CCS project
– 1 project is funded by the DOE only
– 2 are private projects by non-ACCCE members
Only 18 out of 89 projects on ACCCE’s list are CCS-related projects involving investment from ACCCE members. Sixteen of the 18 were recognized in the Center for American Progress analysis, which relied on information provided by ACCCE members. Two additional recently announced projects that were not on the ACCCE list were accounted for by the Center for American Progress as well. All the ACCCE list proves is that the federal government has undertaken many CCS projects with little monetary involvement from the “coal-based electricity sector.”
Our study found that ACCCE companies made 17 times as much money in 2007 alone as their total multi-year investment in CCS research –- a fact not refuted by ACCCE’s press release. Despite this miniscule investment in carbon capture and storage, we fully expect ACCCE and its member companies to continue to urge Congress to delay and weaken greenhouse gas reduction proposals, and to use taxpayer dollars to fund the research the coal industry should be doing themselves. Hopefully, Congress will not be fooled by the clean coal smoke.
Until the election, this long-beloved annual traditional of Climate Progress was a lock for one person — last year’s winner. After all, like Time magazine, our Person of the Year is awarded to the person or group who “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year” in the climate arena.
Now the judges are split. On the one hand, no person on the entire planet, heck no semi-sentient lifeform in the entire solar system, has week-after-week worked so tirelessly, given 110% evey day, to high-impact misleadership on the issue of the century than George W. Bush.
Indeed, even after the election, when you think he is not just a lame duck, but a duck in need of a hip replacement, electroshock therapy, and CPR, his EPA administrator undoes perhaps the only recent glimmer of hope to come out of the one tiny enlightened corner of the entire executive branch that
Darth Dick Cheney had apparently not cowered into conscienceless, self-destructive, obedience — when the EPA Environmental Appeals Board voted to stop new coal plants cold. But as the NYT reported Friday, “Officials weighing federal applications by utilities to build new coal-fired power plants cannot consider their greenhouse gas output, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency ruled late Thursday.”
Of course not. Sure the Supreme Court ruled against the Bush Administration, decided carbon dioxide was a pollutant, and ordered EPA to start regulating it under the Clean Air Act. But they didn’t reckon on George Bush ruling against them.
On the other hand, Bush and Cheney never counted on the American people ruling against them. And now the country will be lead by the greenest, most scientifically informed, radical pragmatists in the history of the Republic:
The anti-clean-coal Reality Campaign is a coalition of some very serious groups and smart people. They have the same goal that all CSAs (climate science advocates) do, namely to stop building new dirty coal plants (and presumably to start shutting down existing ones). But I just don’t think they have figured out an effective way to attack clean coal clap trap yet.
I criticized the first ad of the Reality Campaign (see “Memo to Gore: Don’t call coal ‘clean’ seven times in your ad“). I think that costly TV ad is actually counterproductive, and probably leaves in the memory of most casual viewers (i.e. the target audience) either a neutral or positive view of “clean coal.” I can’t believe Frank Luntz or the fictional Don Draper — or any set of leading PR people the Campaign might get pro bono — would ever sign off on such an ad.
Now they have a new uncompelling “Smudge” ad, which again is simply too clever by half. Judge for yourself:
At least they only repeat “clean” twice, and at least this appears to be a web only ad that won’t cost them much money. I’m interested in your impressions. I see a lot wrong with this ad.
[Post your picks below.]
In my defense of Obama science pick John Holdren against the deniers and delayers, I wrote:
Amazingly, [NYT science writer] Tierney quotes CEI attacking Holdren. Now CEI is itself probably one of the top five anti-scientific think tanks in the country. It has taken $2 million of ExxonMobil money in the past decade to run an anti-science disinformation campaign with ads that claim the ice sheets are gaining mass when they are losing it and ending with the absurdist and suicidal tag line, “CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!” And those are only some of their ads aimed at destroying the climate for centuries. No reputable science journalist would quote CEI’s opinion on science or climate issues.
Science blogger Joshua Rosenau, who spends his days at the National Center for Science Education defending the teaching of evolution, emailed me a question about the second sentence, which led to this post:
Back in November, the EPA Environmental Appeals Board voted to stop new coal plants cold (see “No new coal plants without “Best Available Control Technology” for CO2“).
But as the NYT reported Friday, “Officials weighing federal applications by utilities to build new coal-fired power plants cannot consider their greenhouse gas output, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency ruled late Thursday.” [Note to self: Keep repeating, "January 20, January 20, January 20."]
Now E&ENews PM (subs. req’d) reports,
The chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee asked the Justice Department to force U.S. EPA to withdraw a “blatantly illegal memo” by its administrator saying the agency need not consider greenhouse gas emissions when permitting new coal-fired power plants.
And people say I’m a (technology) optimist! Boxer’s letter is here. The article continues:
John Tierney, a libertarian columnist whose work graces the New York Times science pages, slammed President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of John Holdren as chief science adviser this weekend. Tierney attacks Holdren for being “spectacularly wrong about a major issue in [his] field of expertise,” for having “resistance to dissenting views,” and for “his tendency to conflate the science of climate change with prescriptions to cut greenhouse emissions.” Tierney quotes at length from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Reason Foundation, both right-wing libertarian think tanks.
Tierney takes special umbrage at Holdren’s critique of Bjorn Lomborg’s 2001 book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, even though it’s a hodge-podge of ideological pseudo-science and dishonest rhetorical fallacies. Actually, Tierney’s defense makes sense, because John Tierney’s own stock in trade is a hodge-podge of ideological pseudo-science and dishonest rhetorical fallacies.
Tierney does appear to go off the deep end with this bizarre paragraph:
Even if most climate scientists agree on the anthropogenic causes of global warming, that doesn’t imply that the best way to deal with the problem is through drastic cuts in greenhouse emissions. There are other ways to cope, and there’s no “scientific consensus” on which path looks best.
It’s not a complex fact that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere won’t stabilize until we stop adding new emissions. Natural processes to sequester atmospheric CO2 in the deep ocean and rocks take hundreds of thousands to millions of years. If the climate is to stabilize at any level in the meantime, net anthropogenic emissions will have to approach zero — requiring “drastic cuts.” Considering that the climate system is rapidly destabilizing, those drastic cuts are going to have to happen fast.
To be fair to Tierney, this assessment is failing to consider “other ways to cope,” which fall into three categories:
1. Magic technology to suck up emissions
2. Magic technology to block out the sun
3. A medium-scale nuclear war
(By “magic” I mean “undeveloped, unresearched, untested, and needed to be deployed on a global scale.”) Perhaps Tierney is arguing that the kind of science advice Obama truly needs is plans for seeding the ocean with vast amounts of iron, a fleet of orbital mirrors or an Arctic Christo-wrap to reflect insolation, or heightening tensions in Kashmir.
For now, I’d rather stick with cutting energy waste, shifting away from fossil fuels, and promoting reforestation and sustainable agriculture. Not quite the stuff one reads about in science-fiction novels or Gregg Easterbrook columns, but it’s a good deal less stupid.
At Climate Progress, Joe Romm writes, “Tierney is easily the worst science writer at any major media outlet in the country.”
A Politico story today begins:
A major coal industry group has spent an estimated $45 million on an ongoing advertising campaign promoting the clean energy potential of coal, but its members are spending relatively little on the research that would make the technology a viable solution, a report by the Center for American Progress [CAP] finds.
The only hope for the coal industry (at least in a world that is itself not suicidal) is a very well-funded effort to demonstrate and deploy carbon capture and storage. This will take at least 10-years from the time the industry (and government) gets serious — and probably much longer (see “Is coal with carbon capture and storage a core climate solution?“). That was true ten years ago when the coal industry — and car companies — lobbied against Kyoto saying they needed time to develop new technology. But those complaints turned out to just be an excuse for inaction, as many warned.
Detroit suicidally squandered that time, with the support of their conservative allies (see “The car companies bailed out on us“). The equally self-destructive behavior of the coal companies were also enabled by conservatives (see “In seeming flipflop, Bush drops mismanaged ‘NeverGen’ clean coal project“).
Now CAP has a new report that details just how unseriously the industry has taken the pursuit of its only hope for long-term survival:
Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
America’s coal industry is blowing smoke on the American public, misleadingly hyping its commitment to cleaning up its act. A series of feel-good ads this year showcased a variety of people straight from central casting saying “I believe in…Clean Coal. America’s Power.” These ads were sponsored by the American Council for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), an industry group comprised of 48 coal and utility companies. ACCCE spent at least $45 million on advertising this year to convince Americans that coal is a clean panacea to the world’s problems.
Despite the ads’ claims, an analysis by the Center of American Progress determined that ACCCE’s companies spend relatively few dollars conducting research on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), the experimental but promising technology that would allow power plants to capture 85 percent or more of their carbon dioxide emissions and permanently store them underground in geological formations. CAP’s analysis found that the 48 ACCCE companies made a combined profit of $57 billion in 2007 while investing over several years only $3.5 billion in CCS research.
ACCCE companies combined made $17 in 2007 profits for every $1 invested in CCS research over several years. This is a very generous estimate, because the analysis includes several projects that haven’t yet begun. Nonetheless, the research funding over a number of years is dwarfed by the profits for a single year. The 18 CCS projects by ACCCE companies have a lifetime cost of $5.7 billion, or one-tenth of the ACCCE companies’ profits in 2007 alone. Of this total cost, the ACCCE companies would eventually spend $3.5 billion on these projects, based on our analysis of publicly available data. The Department of Energy would provide an additional $1.9 billion. [CAP, 12/22/08]
With such relatively small investments in CCS research, it’s no wonder that it may take many years to develop and commercialize the technology. The lack of investment reinforces the notion that the real purpose of the clean coal campaign is to postpone requirements to reduce emissions. Read more
Roger Pielke, Jr. is usually very hard to pin down. But at least it is now plain for everyone to see that his climate policies are no different from Bjorn Lomborg’s, or George Bush’s for that matter (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah”). Following Pielke’s “specific policies” would inevitably result in the self-destruction of humanity as we know it. So something useful has come out of our back-and-forth.
Scientists know the Antarctic ice sheet is losing mass “100 years ahead of schedule” (see “AGU 2008: Two trillion tons of land ice lost since 2003” and “Antarctic ice sheet hits the fan“).
Now, as Nature‘s climate blog reports, two studies presented last week at the AGU meeting document what should not be a surprise, but still is. New research suggests “the entire Antarctic continent may have warmed significantly over the past 50 years“:
The study, led by Eric Steig of the University of Washington in Seattle and soon to be published in Nature, calls into question existing lines of evidence that show the region has mostly cooled over the past half-century.
… they found warming over the entire Antarctic continent for the period 1957-2006. Restricting their analysis to 1969 to 2000, a period for which other studies have found a net cooling trend, Steig’s study found slight cooling in east Antarctica, but net warming over west Antarctica.
How did they perform the analysis of the harshest, most remote climate on the planet?
David Roberts reprints so many of my posts, I though I’d return the favor with one of his. I will get around to writing a long piece on this subject, but the recent piece in the Washington Post, “For Obama Cabinet, A Team of Moderates” cried out for an immediate response.
Steven Chu is a progressive environmentalist because he’s a good scientist
I’ve been reading the discussion sparked by Chris Hayes’ latest piece in The Nation — “The Pragmatist,” about Obama’s much-discussed pragmatism — with great interest. Pragmatism is a subject dear to my heart and something I studied in grad school, though the kind you study there and what goes by the name in political discussion bear little resemblance. On that note, Hayes is absolutely on point:
… pragmatism requires an openness to the possibility of radical solutions. It demands a skepticism not just toward the certainties of ideologues and dogmatism but also of elite consensus and the status quo. This is a definition of pragmatism that is in almost every way the opposite of its invocation among those in the establishment. For them, pragmatism means accepting the institutional forces that severely limit innovation and boldness; it means listening to the counsel of the Wise Men; it means not rocking the boat.
[Please post your response to Tierney's column here.]
Science advisor pick John Holdren gets global warming (see “Obama’s strongest message on climate yet“). Although he is wildly overqualified for the job compared to anybody a GOP President has named in recent memory (see “The sad state of Bush’s science advice“) — heck, Holdren was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science — the deniers and delayers have their knives out.
NYT “science writer” John Tierney has assembled critiques from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Bjorn Lomborg, and Roger Pielke, Jr., in one of his classic
science articles disinformation screeds, “Flawed Science Advice for Obama?” The first thing to say is that if Tierney, Pielke, Lomborg, and CEI all disagree with you on any point related to climate, energy, or science, you can sleep soundly knowing with 100% certainty you are right.
Lomborg and Pielke are probably the two most debunked non-deniers in the world — though in fact Lomborg is a denier-equivalent and Pielke is a delayer-equivalent, as I’ll discuss below. And it is perhaps telling that Tierney — a non-scientist — did not manage to find a single scientist to quote dissing Holdren.
Tierney is easily the worst science writer at any major media outlet in the country. Pretty much every energy or climate piece he writes is riddled with errors and far-right ideology, including this one.
Amazingly, Tierney quotes CEI attacking Holdren. Now CEI is itself probably one of the top five anti-scientific think tanks in the country. It has taken $2 million of ExxonMobil money in the past decade to run an anti-science disinformation campaign with ads that claim the ice sheets are gaining mass when they are losing it and ending with the absurdist and suicidal tag line, “CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!” And those are only some of their ads aimed at destroying the climate for centuries.
No reputable science journalist would quote CEI’s opinion on science or climate issues. Worse, guess who he quotes?
Dr. Vicky Pope, head of climate change predictions at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, writes in the UK Times that
In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5°C by the end of the century.
It may be “a worst-case scenario” for rational people like her, but right now even Hadley understands it is better described as the “business-as-usual” case.
Update: Thanks to WestCoastClimateEquity for pointing out this figure.
This staggeringly grim conclusion shouldn’t be news to anyone. After all, the traditionally staid and conservative International Energy Agency annual noted in its World Energy Outlook released last month said, “Without a change in policy, the world is on a path for a rise in global temperature of up to 6°C.”
Thanks in large part to poor messaging by scientists (and environmentalists and progressives) and generally lame media coverage, the public thinks there is some broad range of temperature rise we face, from pleasant to maybe a tad too toasty. That’s because scientists mostly analyze and talk about a range of emissions scenarios that almost exclusively assume very strong emissions reductions efforts — efforts that aren’t happening and don’t look to be happening anytime soon because of the lack of urgency brought on in part by that poor messaging (and by a major disinformation campaign led by conservatives and energy companies).
The consequences of 5.5°C warming by 2100, which Hadley says is “likely” on our current emissions path are all but unimaginable — mass extinction, devastating ocean acidification, brutal summer-long heat waves, rapidly rising sea levels, widespread desertification. But they are rarely studied or articulated by scientists who can’t imagine humanity would be so stupid as to let this happen. I have tried to piece them together them together from the scientific literature (see “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction“).
A 5.5°C warming would inevitably lead to the mid- to high-range of currently projected sea level rise — 5 feet or more by 2100, followed by 6 to 20 inches a decade for centuries (see “Startling new sea level rise research: “Most likely” 0.8 to 2.0 meters by 2100“). That means 100 million or more environmental refugees by century’s end alone.
Then we have desertification of one third the planet and moderate drought over half the planet, plus the loss of all inland glaciers that provide water to a billion people.
Is this a sign of the times to come or a sign of the crimes to come? The UK Times reports:
Versace, the renowned fashion house, is to create the world’s first refrigerated beach so that hotel guests can walk comfortably across the sand on scorching days. The beach will be next to the the new Palazzo Versace hotel which is being built in Dubai where summer temperatures average 40C and can reach 50C.
The beach will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface. The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.
And in the understatement of the year, the Times adds:
The scheme is likely to infuriate environmentalists.
I’m guessing the resort will also be introducing Hummer golf carts and coal-powered jet-skis. Then again, maybe the snarkiness is premature. Maybe this will be a “sustainable” refrigerated beach:
In a landmark radio address today, President-elect Barack Obama announced his powerful science team and the end to Bush’s war on science, saying:
Today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. It’s time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America’s place as the world leader in science and technology.
Obama again signaled his belief in strong action on global warming — in case that wasn’t incredibly obvious already based on his science picks (see “Obama’s strongest message on climate yet: John Holdren to be named Science Adviser” and “For NOAA head, Obama appoints yet another scientist who gets climate“) or his key technology pick (see “A Nobelist for Energy Secretary who gets both climate and energy efficiency?“) — by unexpectedly repeating a key word in his address: