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Climate Change

Ban: We Need to Seal the Deal In Copenhagen

Now with awesome lead-in music!


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Not sated on soot?

If you couldn’t get enough of my soot coverage this morning, here’s more. Everything you need to know about black carbon in 2:14.


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What to burn in the developing world?

As I was cleaning out my feeds this morning, I stumbled across this brilliant article on Black Carbon, part of a series on “stopgap measures that could limit global warming.”  

Black Carbon, aka “soot,” produced by primitive cooking stoves in the developing world, accounts for up to 20 percent of global warming according to some scientists and represents “low-hanging fruit” — the most possible bang for the buck (in regard to both cost and effort) in confronting climate change.

Not two minutes later, this report popped up on BBC tv (BBC, why no embed?) about researchers at Nottingham University who have discovered a way to make fuel out of banana peels (abundant in many parts of the developing world) and sawdust using no specialized equiptment.  Aside from dramtically reducing the occurrence of comic accidents, burning banana peels could also reduce the use of firewood as fuel, limiting deforestation and, therefore, addressing climate change. 

Count me skeptical that, if this is as cheap and easy as the researchers suggest, savvy entrepreneurs in the developing world wouldn’t have already figured it out.  Nonetheless, I like this coverage because it focuses on access to cheap, renewable, and environmentally friendly sources of energy in the developing world, an issue that doesn’t get enough air time and dramatically affects both climate change and the MDGs.  The real answer? I like solar cookers, but that may just be because I’m loathe to disagree with the Boonstra.


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Maldives to Become Carbon neutral

Via UN News Center, I’ve just learned that the small Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives has pledged to become the first country in the world to go carbon-neutral.    

This is significant because Maldives is probably the most vulnerable nation in the world to climate change.  Some 400,000 inhabitants live on small islands that rise no more than six feet above sea level.  Even the most modest sea-level rise could literally wipe the country off the map.  Of course, compared to major economies of the world,  Maldives is responsible for a negligible  amount of carbon emissions.  Still, it is heartening to see that the country with the most at stake in climate change is willing to lead by example.

Photo from flickr user romsrini


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Why Barack Obama should be watching Australia’s carbon

Might a parliamentary delay in Australia’s carbon emissions regulation plan presage the American experience?

Lacking the political backing to implement the world’s most sweeping cap-and-trade scheme outside Europe, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the regime would be delayed until mid-2011, but he still aimed to push laws through parliament this year.


“Starting slower because of the global economic recession and finishing stronger, with the prospect of a bigger outcome for greenhouse gas reductions… we believe gets the balance right,” Rudd told reporters.

Rudd’s assessment makes sense, but it’s nonetheless troubling — tighter emissions standards will never be more popular with industry, recession or not. Kicking the can down the road in hopes of doubling down later seems viable only inasmuch as the plan is actually able to be followed through on.

Potentially even more discouraging for the U.S. case, though, is the fact that Australia’s emissions reduction plan was already far more ambitious than the United States’ at the outset, so a parallel weakening, in a larger emitter, would arguably be more damaging to global efforts. The U.S. Congress, too, might be more hostile to stringent regulations than the Australian parliament. And, of course, there’s no American Green Party pushing hard against opponents of tough legislation.

(image of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd)


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NPR loves the grid

NPR is sure doing its due diligence on the “smart grid.”  This week they’re running a 10-part seriesevery day both on Morning Edition and All Things Considered…now that’s dedication. 

This morning, while moving my car to a legal spot, I caught Part 5: Getting Constant Current From Fickle Winds, which explores the chicken and egg problem that potential wind farmers face in South Dakota. They are slow to build wind farms because there are no power lines to take the energy to market, and they won’t build power lines because there is no power generation yet. Seems like a deal could be worked out…

My favorite so far? Part 1: An Aged Grid Looks to a Brighter Future. Also love the cool interactive map they’ve built so you can better envision the grid.



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