‘Watt’s Up’ with Dumb Web Popularity Contests?

Let’s face facts: web polls, with close to zero controls over voting/such and no scientific sampling, are pretty close to meaningless. Even so … a web poll result on CNN or in the traditional media carries "weight" with the casual reader (which is most, right). And, there is the "best of …" status that we’ll hear about for years.

In a few hours, voting ends on the "best" of the blogosphere. When it comes to the "science" blogs, all I’ve got to say: You’ve got to be kidding me! Top of the pile, at the moment, is the "ASS"-promoting global-warming denying Watt’s Up With That. For better (and sometimes worse), the global warming denier community is heavily active on the web and has been out in force voting. We have a chance to change this equation. While not perfect (but definitely worth the read), "the controversial crusader against Intelligent Design", PZ Myers: Pharyngula, is a close second and you can cast your vote to have a the "best science blog" go to someone who actually understands the meaning of "scientific Theory".

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Plugging In for a Better Tomorrow: The School Bus ‘Solution’

Hybrids are too often thought of simply in terms of personal vehicles.

They are also penetrating the big vehicle market space. 509699620_5e4c9a11ac_m.jpgConsider the average delivery truck and all its starts/stops. There is a lot of energy to capture there, which is why UPS is pursuing hybrids. And, as per Walmart and its hybrid trucks, they are hitting the semi-trailer world. There are also efforts to apply hybrids to trash trucks and offer the opportunity to silence those squealing brakes at 5:45 am. Ann Arbor, Michigan, has started to get hybrid buses as is London. And, well, now they’re coming to a school system (maybe) near you.

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Elation to Confusion to Elation Again: The Obama Energy Appointments Roller-Coaster

green jobs not jailWatching Barack Obama and the appointments since the election has created the foundation for an emotional roller coaster while been a serious one for those concerned about energy and environmental issues. When it comes to Obama’s own actions, elation that his first major policy statement/engagement after the election was a strong statement on the need for action on climate change and his desier to lead. Confusion (concern) that, however, his targets for action fall far short of what science recommends.

Elation comes with many appointments. John Podesta as head of Transition, Hillary Clinton as SecState, Bill Richardson at Commerce, Carol Browner in the White House on Energy/Climate Issues. Truly, elation. All of them ‘get’ global warming and the challenges we face and the opportunities we have in creating a clean energy future. And, it goes further than that with many appointments. Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy: Super Elation.

But not all the appointments are as clear cut for standing ovations when it comes to energy and environmental issues. Jim Jones, as National Security Advisor, is coming from a Vice-Presidency at the global warming denier / delayer supporting US Chamber of Commerce where he developed energy policy that is best described as ‘climate delayer’ in tone. Tom Vilsack, perhaps due to the state he governed, is a massive promoter of questionable (fiscally, environmentally, energy balance) corn-based ethanol. Ray LaHood, for Transportation, has (generously) an uneven record on energy and environmental issues and strongly supported drilling and increased oil supplies as an ‘answer’ to our petroleum addiction. Being generous to the situation on those and other appointments, confusion about the centrality of sensible energy and global warming policies to an Obama Administration.

Yesterday, science and better paths in the face of global warming hit the trifecta. It is Congresswoman Hilda Solis for the Department of Labor, Professor Jane Lubchenco to direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and John Holdren as the Presidential Science Advisor (and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy). A massive turn back to ELATION! (more…)

Inhofe Plays while the Boxer’s Away

2141805638_63a6741eec_m.jpgIt must be that time of year again.

Just like last year, the Minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Commitee (read James Inhofe (R-Exxon)) has just released another "report" somehow proving that the globe isn’t warming or, if that fails, that humanity has nothing to do with the warming or, if that fails, that it really doesn’t matter or, if that fails, that we can’t do anything about it anyway. [DIGG.]

Let’s make some things clear, we should be outraged about this report. But, perversely, Inhofe and sidekick Marc Morano merit credit for using their positions of power quite effectively to do great damage to our abilities to move toward sensible policies that might actual provide a prosperous and secure future for Americans. Giving credit where credit is due is normally a pleasurable task. …

I am outraged:

  • As a taxpayer, that my taxes are used to support such truthiness and distortions.
  • As a human being, that such deniers (Roadblock Republicans) are able to stand in the way toward moving the nation and the Globe toward a more sensible energy future.
  • And, as an analyst, that such mediocrity and mendacity is allowed to be peddled as a "report" with the imprimatur of the US government and a US Senate Committee behind it.

Giving credit where credit is due is, to me, normally a quite pleasurable task in most cases. Lou Grinzo’s Inhofe Scale captures the delusional nature of the Senator from Exxon. (more…)

OH NO!!!! Americans using less electricity!!!!

That might as well be the title of the 2009688462_02dcbfcfe9_m.jpgWall Street Journal article Surprise Drop in Power Use Delivers Jolt to Utilities.

An unexpected drop in U.S. electricity consumption has utility companies worried that the trend isn’t a byproduct of the economic downturn, and could reflect a permanent shift in consumption that will require sweeping change in their industry.

OH NO!!!! Americans using less electricity and this might be something permanent rather than simply a lousy economy.

Now, as for the ‘lousy economy’, as we have yet to hit bottom and have a long way to go, hard to assert (yet) that it is not economic distress that is driving reduced energy use. Perhaps people are ‘turning off lights’ to save pennies in the face of economic distress. And, patterns begun in economic turmoil could become life’s new patterns. Thus, unlike what the WSJ‘s coverage might suggest, there is much to hope for as to a start in a shifting of American culture toward more energy efficient patterns.

The utilities …

Most utilities plan around an assumption of rather constant and predictable electricity-demand growth curves.516482621_f0151e049e_m.jpg This provides "certainty" of planning for generating facilities and other capital investment. Introducing energy conservation and energy efficiency into the equation can threaten these plans.

Households are considered "the most stable group of consumers," thus drops in household demand executive attention. (more…)

Fired Up? Obama and Energy Independence

Barack Obama has fostered one of the most 3001809537_c6058b17ff_m.jpgimpressive political machines, if not social movements, in American history. As much community organizers as political operatives, the Obama campaign has created neighborhood and community teams of volunteers who will merit a great deal of the credit for sweeping him into office. What happens, starting tomorrow, with this movement when it is President-Elect Obama? The machine won’t dissipate, won’t disappear, but will transform … to what?

We can hope that Barack Obama and his team, even as they move from campaigning to transitioning to the Executive Branch, will turn this massive movement toward helping shape the change that Obama has made a core part of his campaign message, of his call on Americans for moving to something better.

Will this movement turn toward another form of national service? Will Obama-Biden campaign machine turn to, for example, fostering energy efficient practices throughout American society?

As Obama said at his last campaign appearance near the Manassas battlefields of the Civil War.

The change we seek will not come from government alone. It will have to come from each of us in our own lives, our own communities.

Government is not the answer, but is part of the answer combined with our actions as individuals and communities. Change can be driven from above, from below, from without, from within … our challenges and opportunities are so great that each of these paths for change must be embraced and pursued. (more…)

Pickens buying CA vote?

In 2004, T. Boone Pickens invested his money in trashing John Kerry and helping doom us to four more years via Swift Boat Veterans for Truthiness.

In 2008, T. Boone Pickens is investing his money in trashing our opportunity for a sensible energy future.

In 2008, T. Boone Pickens is attempting to buy a yes vote on California’s Proposition 10 which would return $100s of millions (probably billions) into his pockets via mass (over) subsidy of natural gas trucks.

Californians … Prop 10 is not good environmentally, not good for energy security, not good fiscally, not good at all except, that is, for T Boone.

Pickens is now at $19 million (that can be tracked) expended in support of Proposition 10. The Consumer Federation of California has about $150k to oppose this (along with efforts of some environmental organizations).

For a great background and discussion of Prop 10, see
Pickens trying to pick Californians’ pockets at the excellent (and critically important) Climaticide Chronicles: (more…)

John McCain: We Know You by Now…

For ever so long, the energy and environmental community has been working to communicate the dishonesty, truthiness, deceptiveness of John McCain’s claims when it comes to renewable energy and global warming. Sadly, the McBlurring McSame McCain has worked all too well in creating confusion that John McCain is "green", that he is somehow a real leader when it comes to key technologies and approaches for achieving an energy smart future.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has a great video that shines a new light to unblur the situation.

The case against John McCain is quite stark in terms of claims and the realities when it comes to support for renewable energy. Post the last debate, the Obama campaign’s fact sheet was actually too generous to John McCain when it comes to renewable energy.

The spin machines work long and hard and fast nowadays. Email boxes around the country are filled with "fact sheets" and other material from campaigns during presidential debates and in the hours afterwards. Among other things, the Obama campaign produced "John McCain’s 26 Lies Tonight". Lie #16:

RENEWABLE ENERGY: McCain 2496422563_dc6ff1dd70_m.jpgclaimed to support renewable energies, but his record shows otherwise. He has voted 23 times against investing in renewable energies and opposed a bipartisan effort to remove tax breaks for oil companies in order to invest in renewable energy.

23 times? Wow, that seems pretty bad … except that the real story is worse than that. On at least 50 occasions, John McCain voted against clean energy or (14 times) simply didn’t bother to show up.

Now, it is good that the Obama campaign is calling out McCain for his disingenuous statements, "lies", when it comes to supporting renewable energy. For too long, McCain’s "Green Straight Talk Express" has actually been the "Dirty Energy Twisted Action Delay Machine".

One way to test John McCain in this arena: compare his voting record with those of Barbara Boxer and James Inhofe.

  • McCain voted with Boxer 1 out of 50 times – against signing the Kyoto protocol (note: they were both "not present" several times)
  • McCain voted with Inhofe 42 out of 44 times
  • McCain voted with Republicans unless they voted with Democrats

So much for John McGreen

NOTE: Consider taking one of those last chances, Act Blue for the Earth in an Energy Smart way, help get some truly Energy Smart people into Congress.

How America Can Break Its Coal Addiction (Or: no, coal isn’t necessary)

smoke-plume-backlit.thumbnail.jpgThis diary will be a relative short and sweet one. For once, no links with the supporting evidence and material …

Just a very simply outline of how the United States could, without Heruclean efforts, eliminate coal-fired electricity from the electrical system by 2030.

And, do so while improving the economy.

Very simply, 50% of US electricity comes from coal at this time. This is a serious portion of the overall US carbon load. It is also a major source of mercury and other pollutants worsening our lives. Now, the United States is referred to as the "Saudi Arabia of Coal".

So, how can we eliminate the US dependency on coal-fired electricity while improving the economy and not increasing dependency on foreign energy sources?

How to ‘eliminate coal’?

Here is a short outline of key elements of a path to eliminate coal from the electrical power equation by 2030 or sooner, and ‘make a profit’ while doing so.

Energy Efficiency

The United States’ greatest reserve of energy potential is not our coal, but our wasteful energy use patterns. Inadequate building standards (inadequate insulation, leakage, windows), inefficient appliances/electronics burning up vampire power, McSUVs and McMansions, inefficient motors, transmission line losses, failure to exploit combined-heat power (CHP) opportunities, etc …

The United States can achieve, without any leaps in technology required, a 20+% reduction in current electricity use via energy efficiency even accounting for projected economic growth over this time period. (more…)

GM’s Lutz remains a Putz on Global Warming denial

Stephen Colbert pushed GM’s Bob Lutz on his Global Warming denial views. And, he reasserted his rejection of that "CO2 theory", citing thousands of scientists as well.

2840668988_aa78d193b0_m.jpg

Colbert: Why not just call this the Chevy-Gore? You don’t believe in Global Warming, do you? You’ve said that you don’t.

Lutz: I accept that the planet has heated.

But, like many noted scientists, I don’t believe in the CO2 theory.

GM engineers, scientists, and others who believe in the scientific method and working within reality must wince every time he speaks about Global Warming.

Colbert: It’s just sunspot activity.

Lutz: In the opinion of about 32,000 of the world’s leading scientists

Lutz is simply a global warming denier, seizing on truthiness and propaganda to fit his weltaunschuang rather than dealing with facts and giving some respect to actual science. Let us be clear: 1: Solar radiation is NOT a driver of Global Warming, the numbers just don’t work. 2. The "32,000" is absurdity (to be polite, with the (vast) majority of signers only having bachelor’s degrees and no advanced studies. (On the "petition" that Lutz is referring to, see: here, here, here, etc …

To be honest, other than the GW denial, Putz held up well against the Colbert pressure and got in some good zingers. But, he really sold the car short. When Colbert was asking him whether the Volt would help him "get laid", Lutz said that it would probably change the nature of the women, to ‘nicer, without makeup, environmental types …’ And, o

And, he clearly understood that his Global Warming denialism wasn’t the best thing for him to talk about when he was on The Colbert Report to talk about the Chevy Volt which has had recent big news.

However, we have to get off this subject …

Yeah, Bob, reminding people that Lutz is such a Putz perhaps isn’t the best thing for GM’s image and marketing of a car designed to appeal to people concerned about global warming, peak oil, and a better future for America.

Josh Nelson has the low-down on GM executive political donations … anyone surprised to hear that they are tinged red, significantly?

Unfortunately, their political contributions indicate that their green talk on their website is nothing more than lip service. For decades they have been lining the pockets of politicians who actively work against fuel efficiency standards and investments in clean fuels. Here are their contributions to federal candidates over the past several cycles

The Green Miles has this recommendation for Bob Lutz:

Note to Bob for future reference – if you’re going to greenwash, it’s best not to come right out and deny the scientific consensus on global warming with a made-up number of people who believe in a kooky denial scheme. Kind of undercuts your alleged green credentials.