Monday, January 31, 2005

Convincing the Complacent Ones

It's not just in the U.S., but British scientists have noted how curiously complacent the UK public is to the threats of global warming. On the one side, you have evidence and studies from thousands of climatologists around the world; some of the most comprehensive, extensive computer modeling that has ever been performed to map climate change events; and the consensus of vast majority of the world's leading scientific organizations. On the other side, you have a handful of skeptics who have been thoroughly debunked by credible scientists; hack writers like Michael Crichton who use flimsy rhetorical arguments to bolster weak, improbable plot lines (State of Fear); and a laughably incompetent news media that pretends there is still a great debate over whether human activities cause climate change.

This article from The Guardian, How we put the heat on nature, examines the reasons behind public complacency and the rising fears of those scientists who are confronting climate change issues.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Stop Hogging Resources

In an curiously emblematic gesture, the owner of a double-parked Hummer in the Boston Back Bay region hurled scalding Starbucks coffee in a meter maid's face as she was writing him a ticket. In this article by Derrick Jackson, he skewers the sense of entitlement shown by the world's premiere energy users toward the rest of the planet. A single sentence from the article strikes at the heart of the issue: "An angry man in one of America's largest gas-guzzling cars in one of the most chronically congested parts of the city throws some of the nation's most expensive coffee at a working-class woman."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Point of No Return

One of the world's leading climate experts, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, fears that we've already reached the point where a reversal of global warming will be impossible unless immediate, drastic actiions are taken. Ironically, he was appointed to his post as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by the Bush administration after Exxon, a staunch opponent of action to combat global warming, complained that his predecessor was too "aggressive" in demanding action. In this article in The Independent, Dr. Pachauri concludes, "We are risking the ability of the human race to survive."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Solar Strides

A Canadian research team has devised a way to capture light energy outside the visible spectrum, using nanoparticles small enough to be dispersed in typical solvents, such as paint. The process described in this article, Solar Photovoltaic Breakthrough Taps Infrared Light, opens up possibilities for some very exciting applications.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

China Goes Nuclear

Just about the time that most of the world has recognized that nuclear power is expensive, impractical, and dangerous, China is embarking on a major drive to build a series of nuclear reactors to meet projected power needs. As described in this article, China Promotes Another Boom: Nuclear Power, China's aggressive plans for reactor construction include building more than one a year until 2020. Public discussions on the risks and implications of increased reliance on nuclear power have been minimal; the government censors news coverage of this sort.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Homegrown is Best

When it comes to biofuels, such as ethanol, countries are best served by producing their own fuel from local sources, a senior scientist at a Greenpeace research lab in England stated. As reported by Reuters in this article, clean-burning ethanol can generate pollution during production if fertilizers and pesticides are used to grow the corn, sugar, or other crops on which the fuel is based. Fossil fuels burned during manufacturing processes and shipment also contribute to pollution. Just as the hydrogen for fuel cells can be produced in clean processes (using renewable energy sources) or dirty processes (using nuclear power or fossil fuels), biofuels are only truly clean when they are produced cleanly.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Do You Want Clean Car Options?

It's Monday--a good day to let your voice be heard. In response to recent California regulations intended to fight global warming through cleaner automobile technologies, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (with a membership that includes Ford, Toyota, GM, and Daimler-Chrysler) is suing to block the implementation. Their claim: consumers don't want clean car options. The Union of Concerned Scientists is coordinating a letter-writing campaign to convince their president, Fredrick Webber, otherwise. Take action by following this link.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Fuel-Cell Vehicles Gain Momentum

The major automakers have been experimenting with fuel-cell vehicles for years with mixed results. This year, however, those experiments are beginning to fruit, suggesting we are advancing toward a new generation of automotive machines that compare admirably with the performance of conventional gas-burning autos. This article, Automakers Put Hydrogen Power on Fast Track, tells the tale. Is it time to start planning a network of hydrogen filling stations?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Willie Nelson Bets on Biodiesel

As a long-time supporter of American farmers and the driving force behind Farm Aid, Willie Nelson makes an ideal proponent for biodiesel fuel. He makes an even more interesting energy company executive, as described in this story, Willie Nelson Bets on Biodiesel. Combining forces with three business partners, Willie recently launched Willie Nelson's Biodiesel and has begun marketing the vegetable-based fuel to truck stops throughout the midwest. As Willie explains it, "There is really no need going around starting wars over oil. We have it here at home. We have the necessary product, the farmers can grow it." If anyone can give a boost to this industry, Willie can.

Friday, January 14, 2005

As the Blades Turn: A Mighty Wind

Despite the hammerlock of a domestic energy policy that seems determined to anchor our future to a sinking ship (fossil fuels), the promise of wind power grows mightily. As discussed in this piece from, [E] - A Mighty Wind (by Doug Moss), wind power is a reality and the graceful spinning blades of wind turbines are finding many new homes around the world.

Monday, January 10, 2005

2004: The Year Global Warming Got Respect

Reporting for the National Geographic News, John Roach declares 2004: The Year Global Warming Got Respect. Despite the obfuscating of the oil industry apologists and the foot-dragging of the business-as-usual power brokers and the tin hat theories of the scientifically challenged miscreants, global warming is being taken seriously around the world. Now, if only the U.S. will take a cue from the rest of the world and begin to address the threat in a rational way, perhaps that respect can be turned into useful action.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Foreshadowing Things to Come

As images of the tsunami aftermath stun the senses, this earthquake-generated event offers a glimpse of the potential consequences from extreme weather events linked to global warming. In this post, Informed Comment, Juan Cole focuses on the important points: global warming is a real phenomena in the collective judgment of the vast majority of the scientific community and the potential impact is deadly.