Energy and Global Warming News for August 24th: Updates on energy-efficient mortgages and Europe’s huge Saharan solar power plan

One of the better articles on energy-efficient mortgages I’ve seen.

Green for Green

Want to make your home more energy efficient but can’t afford the cost? There may be ways to save on a loan to get the work done.

A number of lenders and government agencies are offering mortgage deals to people who borrow money to make their homes more efficient, or who buy homes that already meet high efficiency standards. The programs work in a number of ways. Some offer a discount””often $500 or more””on the closing costs for a refinancing or new mortgage. Other plans offer a lower interest rate on the loan, sometimes a half-point or more below the current market rate.


Meanwhile, some programs give another kind of benefit: They factor potential energy-bill savings into qualifying income, which may allow people to borrow more money. Even minor efficiency upgrades can bring hundreds of dollars a year in savings and potentially help people qualify for a bigger loan.

The savings also provide an incentive for homeowners to get the work done now””since energy prices may become more of a burden in the near future. Energy prices “have already started to go back up,” says Paul Ellis, a certified financial planner and senior financial adviser with Ameriprise. “Nothing is guaranteed, but as the economy recovers, energy costs will most likely start to rise again. Right now, while energy costs are still reasonable, there’s more of an opportunity for people to plan without feeling under the gun.”

Europe’s Saharan Power Plan: Miracle Or Mirage?

A 400 billion euro plan to power Europe with Sahara sunlight is gaining momentum, even as critics see high risks in a large corporate project using young technology in north African countries with weak rule of law.

Desertec, as the initiative is called, would be the world’s most ambitious solar power project. Fields of mirrors in the desert would gather solar rays to boil water, turning turbines to electrify a new carbon-free network linking Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Its supporters, a dozen finance and industrial firms mostly from Germany, say it will keep Europe at the forefront of the fight against climate change and help North African and European economies to grow within greenhouse gas emission limits.

This is a pretty good article on the massive CSP project being considered, which is certainly no slamdunk. For more on the technology, see “Concentrated solar thermal power Solar Baseload “” a core climate solution.”

Climate change opens Arctic route for German ships

Two German ships set off on Friday on the first journey across Russia’s Arctic-facing northern shore without the help of icebreakers after climate change helped opened the passage, the company said.

Beetles, wildfire: Double threat in warming world

A veil of smoke settled over the forest in the shadow of the St. Elias Mountains, in a wilderness whose spruce trees stood tall and gray, a deathly gray even in the greenest heart of a Yukon summer. “As far as the eye can see, it’s all infested,” forester Rob Legare said, looking out over the thick woods of the Alsek River valley.

Reuters, Pass U.S. climate law, then strengthen — Waxman

The United States can follow California’s lead of raising climate change goals over time, a congressional leader on global warming initiatives said on Friday.Representative Henry Waxman, the Democrat who navigated a climate change bill through the U.S. House of Representatives this year, urged his counterparts in the Senate to move quickly on its bill.

A Farm on Every Floor

IF climate change and population growth progress at their current pace, in roughly 50 years farming as we know it will no longer exist. This means that the majority of people could soon be without enough food or water. But there is a solution that is surprisingly within reach: Move most farming into cities, and grow crops in tall, specially constructed buildings. It’s called vertical farming.

GOP looks to put the Hurt on Rep. Perriello

Former Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) opened up a sweepstakes in his old district when he said last month that he wouldn’t run in 2010, and state Sen. Robert Hurt has emerged from the clutter as the odds-on frontrunner.

Hurt has yet to make his intentions known, but those close to him say he is seriously looking at the race and is leaning toward entering it.

Southern governors hear warning on climate change

Global climate change over the next 20 years will cause intense droughts in the Southwest, floods in the Northeast threatening the coastline and urban areas, and significant storm damage along the Gulf Coast, a panel of Southern governors was told yesterday.