Archives for April, 2011

A roadmap to clean living

What if we could avoid hundreds of thousand of deaths, billions of dollars in crop losses and trillions of dollars in healthcare expenditures simply by spreading off-the-shelf technology and industrialized-world regulations to developing nations? Oh, and along the way, we’d mitigate a fair bit of global warming. Sounds like a plan? I’d say such a…

Floods, droughts, heatwaves, rising sea levels. Massive debts and deficits. Multiple wars. Peak oil. But what’s really important is providing yet more evidence that the president was born on U.S. soil. So the White House flies a staffer 9,600 miles (15,450 km) from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii and back to collect the certificate of live…

Proponents of shale gas extraction are not particularly pleased with the attention drawn this week to a new study in Climatic Change that found widespread development of Marcellus natural gas may actually accelerate climate change rather than slow it down. Unfortunately for them, their primary argument rests on a lack of hard data on 1)…

Natural gas won’t save us

It was in Bill McKibben’s first, and arguably best, book, The End of Nature, that I first came across the challenge posed by fugitive emissions. Back then — just 20-some years ago — natural gas was touted as a cleaner alternative to coal and oil because the combustion of its primary constituent, methane, results in…

Tennessee

Tennessee’s House passed this disingenuous piece of legislation the other day. They’re not to the first to try this sort of thing and they probably won’t be the last.

The nuclear misdirection

We can’t seem to stop thinking about nuclear power. Given what’s at stake — the biosphere, the economy, our genetic integrity — this is understandable. But I think too many are getting distracted from the fundamental problem with splitting atoms and arguing scientific questions we are unlikely to resolve anytime soon.

See that black box over on the left-hand side of this blog? The one with the numbers counting down? That’s a little widget I assembled by rejigging one from trillionthtonne.org. The basic idea is that, if our climate can be expected to suffer severe disruption at a certain amount of global warming due to a…

50 ways to leave your lover

A new review paper in Nature makes a stab an answering the question “Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?” In an apparent effort to satisfy a variety of audiences with different evidentiary and skepticism standards, Nature and the reviews authors, led by Anthony D. Barnosky of the University of California, Berkeley, offer a…

I guess this was inevitable.

The heart of the problem

No one is more surprised than I to see something worthwhile reading in The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s iPad magazine. You might even be forgiven for suspecting an April Fool. But there it is. It’s an editorial by Shikha Dalmia, a senior policy analyst at frequently misnamed Reason Foundation, exploring the fundamental problem with nuclear power.…