Erik Pooley eviscerates the Superfreakonomics book.Seth Borenstein reports statisticians who refute the “Earth is cooling” meme.
Ken Caldeira talks about the possibilities of geoengineering (something hyped by Superfreakonomics).
Kate Galbraith reports on how Texas is leading in terms of wind power development:
Texas’s secret, besides strong winds and lots of land, is its lack of regulation. Wind developers rave about the fact that, in essence, they need few state permits to build a turbine farm. They deal mainly with local officials, who are generally permissive (energy, after all, is a well-loved commodity in Texas).
California, by contrast, has all but stifled wind developers. The state built several big wind farms in the 1980s — but has added very few since, because of the cost and delays of complying with stringent state environmental regulations. The early turbines killed thousands of birds, for instance, and that memory lingers.
Such snags are a key reason California has turned to solar power. It’s more expensive than wind, but plastering rooftops of homes and businesses with panels takes up no extra land. There is still plenty of paperwork involved, but rooftop solar largely avoids regulatory snarls (although there is the occasional only-in-California court battle between tree lovers and solar-energy lovers).
The regulatory hurdles are also why the state has aggressively pushed energy efficiency, which is the most cost-effective way to reduce dependence on oil and gas. Strict building codes and energy-saving requirements for home appliances and light bulbs — measures that have been largely ignored by Texas — make an excellent fit for California, where residents are used to being regulated.
Despite their vast differences, Texas and California do share one approach: each has a renewable electricity mandate, requiring that a certain amount of their electricity come from renewable sources by a given year. This policy, clunkily called a “renewable portfolio standard,” is in place in about half the states. Congress is considering one for the nation too: In June, the House passed a bill that would require 20 percent of utilities’ electricity by 2020 to come from a combination of renewable sources and efficiency improvements. The Senate is considering an energy bill that includes a somewhat weaker requirement (along with a separate, hotly debated climate bill).
Market resource, a free market energy blog (pretty much opposed to the climate change bill).
Here’s a contrarian view about Texas’ wind power initiative. The commenter seems to have many interesting opinions about energy and conservation.
Robert Bryce on how Texas wind power is overhyped. Note that I don’t agree with the premises or the conclusions of this article, but I’m still learning.
PR Watch talks about how to spot a front group.
NYTimes discussion about the carbon footprint of using a clothes dryer. One activist comments:
Speaking of cold, make sure you turn your washing machine and dryer dial to the low temperature setting, as this will also save you a tremendous amount of energy. There is little evidence that washing in warm or hot water (140 degrees) or drying at high heat can kill the viruses and bacteria about which we should be most concerned. There is plenty of evidence that running power plants and mining for natural gas in order to power domestic hot water heaters is causing asthma and climate disruption at the micro and macro level.
Greentech, a CNET blog about environmental technology.
Danielle Fanelli reports: A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.
Candace Lombardi reports about where the green jobs are.
A new report from the National Research Council examines and, when possible, estimates "hidden" costs of energy production and use — such as the damage air pollution imposes on human health — that are not reflected in market prices of coal, oil, other energy sources, or the electricity and gasoline produced from them. The report estimates dollar values for several major components of these costs. The damages the committee was able to quantify were an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, a number that reflects primarily health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation. The figure does not include damages from climate change, harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security, which the report examines but does not monetize.
I feel compelled to defend my constant citations of Joe Romm (who is argumentative). He is uniquely qualified to understand policy issues, science issues and filters lots of climate change articles. The recent critiques he wrote about Superfreakonomics (not cited here, but easy to find) were both comprehensive and timely. I feel comfortable citing his commentary all the time because he is a stickler about accuracy, blogs often and responds quickly (and ferociously) to his critics. For a blogger, he is my hero!