Thursday, March 22, 2007

Do-Or-Die-Decade News

Planetary emergency: In testimony before Congress, Al Gore laid out an ambitious campaign to confront our do-or-die-dilemma. It includes a moratorium on construction of new coal-fired plants not compatible with carbon capture; a carbon freeze on emissions and reduction by 90% by 2050; a gradual move away from taxing income to taxing CO2 emissions (with programs to aid the poor); de facto compliance with Kyoto and pushing for a new international treaty in 2010; a national program to allow small generators (including individual homeowners) to sell electricity back at fair rates to the utilities; raising CAFE fuel efficiency standards, etc. Read David Roberts liveblogging play by play, or the more traditional NY Times report:

The coal binge. The world has been bringing new power plants on-line at a rate of 2 every week for 5 years: “some 1 billion tons of new carbon-dioxide emissions … nearly a third of human-generated global CO2 emissions.”
China accounted for two-thirds of them. The U.S., “in the next five years … is slated to add 37.7 gigawatts of capacity, enough to produce 247.8 million tons of CO2 per year … That would vault the US to second place – just ahead of India – in adding new capacity … more than 150 coal-fired power plants that don't sequester their emissions.”

Polar bear and two sows, Beaufort Sea coast, Fish & Wildlfie Service

38,000 square miles a year: Arctic sea ice is being lost at a greater rate than expected. “Rapidly thinning Arctic sea ice may have reached a tipping point that threatens to disrupt global weather patterns, bringing intense winter storms and heavier rainfall to western Europe, scientists warn today.” The ice “could vanish from the Arctic ocean completely as early as 2040.” This will “have a dramatic impact on polar bears and other species that hunt among the ice floes, but it will also trigger erratic shifts in climate that will be felt around the world.”,,2035308,00.html

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