discussion forum


Aug 30 2017 - 12:00
Jon Queally

As record-breaking rainfall and unprecedented flooding continue to batter the greater Houston area and along the Gulf coast on Tuesday, energy watchdogs groups are warning of "a credible threat of a severe accident" at two nuclear reactors still operating at full capacity in nearby Bay City, Texas.

Aug 7 2017 - 03:30

In July,UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon highlighted the role of hydropower in boosting the use of renewable energy globally, when he visited a nonprofit  institute in China that helps emerging nations develop and build hydropower plants. Many countries consider hydroelectricity a clean source of power because it doesn’t involve burning dirty fossil fuels. But that’s far from true. Hydropower is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions: a new study shows that the world’s hydroelectric dams are responsible for as much methane emissions as Canada.

Jul 28 2017 - 12:15
Jessica Corbett

Nearly 50 years ago, the U.S. electric utility industry was warned about potential risks posed by climate change if it continued to rely on fossil fuels. Rather than heed those warnings, the industry spent the following decades instilling public doubt and making substantial investments in fossil fuels—according to a report released Tuesday by the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI).

Jul 9 2017 - 09:30
Sarah van Gelder

Mayors across the country have vowed to deliver on the goals of the Paris climate accord in defiance of President Trump’s decision to back out. But how can they, realistically, when the national government is questioning climate science and promoting coal, fracking, and pipelines?

"When a local economy is dominated by enterprises that work to extract value for Wall Street banks or corporations controlled by absentee owners, communities are drained of their common wealth."

Jun 21 2017 - 08:30
Joe Romm

The U.S. power grid can, must, and will be largely renewable by 2055. Let’s discuss the details — without bickering.

By 2055, the U.S. power grid can, must, and probably will be virtually carbon-free — with lower electricity costs than today.

But a nasty and unproductive debate has bizarrely erupted between high-profile scholars who basically agree on this reality. Why? The devil, as always, is in the details.

Jun 20 2017 - 13:30
Mark Jacobson

PNAS published a paper today by nuclear and fossil fuel supporters, which is replete with false information for the sole purpose of criticizing a 2015 paper colleagues and I published in the same journal on the potential for the U.S.

May 8 2017 - 17:15
Martin J Boucher and Philip Loring

March 20, 2017 — At the COP 21 climate change convention in Paris at the end of 2015, leaders from 194 nations agreed to pursue actions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming within 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above pre-industrial conditions. Meeting this goal will avoid continued and increasing harm to people and ecosystems around the world caused by a changing climate, and it is also a great opportunity to turn the world into a place that embodies our collective and pluralistic values for the future. Nevertheless, there remains a notable gap between current trajectories of global GHG emissions and the reductions necessary to see COP 21’s goals realized.

Numerous technological and economic strategies for bridging that gap are currently being discussed, including transitions to renewable energy and/or nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, and cap and trade. However, many overlook the fundamental social issues that drive climate change: overconsumption, poverty, industrial agriculture and population growth. As such, even if these strategies succeed in mitigating CO2 emissions — renewable energies, for instance, seem to have achieved irreversible momentum — they leave unaddressed a second gap, a sustainability gap, in that they allow issues of ecological overshoot and social injustice to persist. We argue that there is an opportunity to reverse climate change by attending to these sustainability issues, but it requires that we reject the convenience of technological optimism and put aside our fears of the world’s “big” social problems.

In 2004, Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow wrote in Science that it is possible to address climate change by breaking the larger problem of CO2 emissions down into a series of more manageable “wedges.” They offer 15 different solutions based on existing technology, including nuclear energy, coal carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency, and increased adoption of conservation tillage, for mitigating climate change one wedge at a time. Their pragmatic approach to the problem has been popularly received, as evidenced by the thousands of citations that the paper has received. However, their approach can also be critiqued for glossing over the immense costs involved and for its piecemeal and top-down nature. In other words, they assume that this complex global environmental problem can be fixed with a handful of standardized solutions.

Climate change is just one of many related sustainability problems that the world faces. In addition to rising atmospheric CO2, we are approaching or have already exceeded multiple other planetary boundaries — such as fresh water, nitrogen, phosphorus and biodiversity loss — that CO2-mitigating technologies cannot solve. Solving climate change on its own would require immense investments but leave too many other problems unaddressed. That is not to say that these technological innovations are irrelevant; Pacala and Socolow’s desire to break down the challenge into manageable pieces is both valid and appreciable. What’s missing from their assessment is the fact that the world is a complex system, and systemic problems require systemic solutions.

Apr 24 2017 - 16:30
James Plested

Who can forget the image? George W. Bush’s stupid, blank face staring out across the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln under a giant banner emblazoned with the words “mission accomplished”.

The date was 1 May 2003 – a little over a month after the US launched its invasion of Iraq – and Bush was there to declare an end to major combat operations. As it turned out, this was somewhat premature.

Apr 21 2017 - 14:00
Brad Plummer

Right after Donald Trump won the election, a number of observers worried that having a climate denier in the White House would be a crushing setback for efforts to tackle global warming. Here’s a sample hyperventilating headline from, uh, me: “There’s no way around it: Donald Trump looks like a disaster for the planet.”

Apr 21 2017 - 12:45
Zachary Davies Boren

Wind and solar power generation is skyrocketing in China, but a large – and growing – proportion is going to waste, according to the latest data.

In 2016, China’s wind curtailment rate – the amount of wind power that could have have been generated and used but wasn’t – reached 17%, more than double what it was in 2014.

The amount of wasted wind energy over the past three years is roughly equal to Beijing’s annual electricity consumption.



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