Bryony Worthington explains what the public announcements of China and US mean:
China’s impressive-sounding target to reduce its carbon intensity refers to cutting the CO2 that is emitted per yuan of economic activity. But because economic forecasts already predict that China’s economy will become less carbon intensive in the next decade, the country’s pledge actually only amounts to a cut of between zero and 12% off business as usual emissions in 2020 (depending on what version of the future you choose to compare it with). That is roughly a 40% increase in CO2 emissions on current levels.
The US’s number, as environmentalists, frustrated by the lost decade under President Bush, are keen to point out, amounts to only a 4% cut in emissions compared with 1990 levels.
But Europe is also playing the same game. The 1990 baseline for its targets flatters the EU massively because it allows it to count the emissions reductions that occurred in the 1990s due to the collapse of Soviet economies that are now part of the club. The combination of this unearned reduction, with a handful of one-off reductions in industrial gases in a few countries, delivered Europe its Kyoto target ahead of schedule. And it is now set to achieve more than a 10% reduction by the end of this decade – helped along by the current recession. Compared with 2005 emissions the current 20% target is only a 13% reduction by 2020.
Gail the Actuary explains the basics about peak oil in excruciating detail. This is a long read but interesting and relevant to our futures (if we have one).
How long will it last? , An amazing graphic on the Oil Drum about the expected supply depletion of various metals and chemicals. (Not really related to anything, but I found this fascinating.
Bryon King in a 2007 piece on the economic and logistical challenges of exploiting the Canadian Tar Sands.
Houston Chronicle reporter Eric Berger interviews James Hansen about climate change science. About renewable energy:
At the top of the list has to be energy efficiency, but you do need energy. The next thing on the list has to be renewables, but I don’t think renewables can do the job at a cost the public is willing to pay. Germany is now getting seven percent of their energy from renewables and it’s affected the energy prices enough that some companies are moving to other countries. Renewables are not yet as cheap as fossil fuels.
I think you need to include nuclear power in the mix, and you need to do it in a way that allows nuclear to compete economically with coal for baseload electrical power. The truth is the next generation of nuclear power, the third generation which companies are proposing now, is inherently safer than the second generation.
Yet even with the the deficiencies of the early generation, the safety record of nuclear power is not matched by any other major industry in the United States. Even wind power there have been 30-some deaths in the making of wind turbines. Nuclear critics, anti-nuclear, have been so effective in the U.S. it has just not been possible here.
But for China and India there is just no way the Sun and wind are going to provide the energy they need. We’ve got to allow nuclear energy to be in the mix, and the United States should be in a leadership role. We still have the best nuclear experts in the world and we should take advantage of that at this point.
(BTW, have I plugged Al Gore’s Our choice book often enough? It’s fantastic!)
Some major medical papers about climate change from Lancet (summarized by Joe Romm here).
Combustion-related air pollution is estimated to be responsible for nearly 2.5 million premature deaths annually around the world and also for a significant portion of greenhouse warming. These studies provide the kind of concrete information needed to choose actions that efficiently reduce this health burden as well as reduce the threat of climate change.