Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ARC Launches 7 Year Plan for Generational Change

Our allies at the Alliance of Religion and Conservation have launched, in partnership with the United Nations, the "Seven Year Plan for Generational Change." This is an amazing initiative that all faith communities and institutions should join. We here at FUSE look forward to partnering with the ARC in this great effort. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this initiative please email

To read the entire plan and learn more about the ARC click here:

UN/ARC: The Seven Year Plan

Why? Increasing destruction of the natural environment and climate change are probably the biggest global challenges to human development and to the welfare of all life on earth. They both threaten developing communities’ economic, social and physical well-being and put at risk the diversity and wonder of nature itself – through destruction of forests, pollution of the waters and loss of habitats.

For many, this has created fear and anxiety about the future. We believe it is therefore a time when the major religions of the world must take a lead - sharing their wisdom, their insights and their hopes, and working through their faithful to address these issues in a holistic and comprehensive way.

This is why we have launched The Seven Year Plan with the UN as cosponsor.

The heart of this ARC/UN Programme is to assist the major organisations and traditions within the world’s faiths to draw up their own Seven Year Plan of action designed to create generational changes. This will help faith communities respond practically and effectively, offering programmes and models of constructive engagement with these great global issues.

As a guide, there are Seven Key Areas the faiths can explore:

"The key contribution the faiths can make to the environmental issues of today is to develop programmes based not on fear, guilt or apprehension but on doing what is right" A Muslim fisherman in Africa explains why he has stopped fishing with dynamite... because it is right to do so.
The Seven Key Areas are:

1. Assets: land, investments, purchasing and property

2. Education and Young People

3. Pastoral Care and Theological Education

4. Lifestyles

5. Media and Advocacy

6. Partnerships, Eco-twinning and Creating your own Environment Department

7. Celebration

The Plans
We are therefore asking that faiths consider how they can develop Plans which will shape the behaviour and outlook of the faithful for generations to come - and to assist them we have produced some guidelines (note that this is a 2MB file) full of creative ideas and examples: there are some things that many faith groups are already working on: others that they might not have thought about.

The guide offers various ideas and models of constructive engagement with these great global issues. Not all areas will be relevant to all faiths. The Seven Year Plans should reflect particular strengths and interests of each faith community. Each Plan will be unique. The guide will be updated and expanded as faiths send us their stories and examples.
Announce Your Plans by November 2009
We invite faith groups to create Seven Year Plans to be announced in local, provincial, country and international celebrations in November 2009.

We will be linking faith communities worldwide on that day, through internet and radio and TV as community after community, country after country announce their Seven Year Plans.

The results of all these Plans will contribute directly to the Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen at the end of November 2009, which will determine the shape of the next stage of the ‘Kyoto Protocol’, considered by many to be a crucial event for the future of the planet.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A climate hero: The early years

Originally posted at


A look back at James Hansen's seminal testimony on climate, part one

The speakers at a Washington, D.C., climate rally this past Earth Day, April 22, showcased the range of the modern environmental movement. They included an activist who engaged in a hunger strike, an outspoken preacher from the Hip Hop Caucus, and a folk duo that performed, "Unsustainable," a parody of Frank Sinatra's "Unforgettable."

Yet it was a comparatively dry, 20-minute scientific presentation that brought the crowd to its feet. The speaker, introduced as a "climate hero," was James Hansen, a long-time scientist with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Hansen is not a revolutionary by character. He is a mild-natured man who speaks with a soft, Midwestern tone. Raised in southwest Iowa, the fifth child of tenant farmers, Hansen would later commit his life to studying computerized climate models. With human-induced climate change now widely regarded as the greatest challenge of this generation, Hansen is considered a visionary pioneer.

Theories of climate change first surfaced more than a century ago. But it was Hansen who forever altered the debate on climate change 20 years ago this month.

On June 23, 1988, in the sweltering heat, Hansen told a U.S. Senate committee he was 99 percent certain that the year's record temperatures were not the result of natural variation. It was the first time a lead scientist drew a connection between human activities, the growing concentration of atmospheric pollutants, and a warming climate.

"It's time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here," Hansen told reporters.

Scientists first expressed concern about possible climate change more than a decade before Hansen's testimony. The most-publicized report came from the National Academy of Sciences in 1977. It warned that average temperatures may rise 6 degrees Celsius by 2050 due to the burning of coal.

Around the same time, Hansen, a space scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, began studying the effect of greenhouse gases on climate. His first paper on the subject, published in the journal Science (PDF) in 1981, predicted that burning fossil fuels would increase global temperatures by 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 degrees Celsius) by the end of the 21st century.

Click here to continue reading article and series at

Friday, July 25, 2008

The 'pope' of hope

Originally posted at Interfaith Power and Light


Can religion help prevent eco-catastrophe? The leader of the Orthodox Church thinks so - and as the spiritual guide for 300 million people, he has more influence than most politicians.
. . .

For the many pilgrims who stream into the lavishly decorated Church of St George, Istanbul, it is the crystal chandeliers, incense clouds, iconography and sombre, chanting, enigmatic bishops dressed in black that are the main attraction of a little-known district in the throbbing Turkish metropolis.

Yet this cathedral holds far greater significance than photo opportunities and a sliver of Christendom in a Muslim-majority country. Around the corner from dusty cafes and tat shops, up a cobbled street, you come to the office of one of the most influential figures in the fight against climate change and world poverty.

His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, is the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians and 270th successor to the Apostle Andrew. He is also extremely green, taking heads of church and state to areas beset with environmental problems - the Amazon and Arctic among them - and confronting them with the best science.

After announcing, on an Aegean island, that attacks on the environment should be considered sins, he called pollution of the world's waters "a new Apocalypse" and led global calls for "creation care".

The Guardian America has the rest.

Evangelicals and Global Warming

From the Interfaith Power and Light Blog


There's plenty of news out there about growing divisions among evangelicals over the science and the action required to address global warming. Although this video is a bit light on information, the young Christians here actually give a good sense of the debate and reveal some emerging generational, authority, and messaging issues.

Here's head of governmental affairs head for the National Association of Evangelicals Richard Cizik bringing his faith down to earth. Note: Interfaith Power and Light on that Sen. Boxer poster.

Interfaith Power and Light is beginning to work more closely with committed evangelicals who care deeply for creation and understand the science. Have you had any conversations with global warming skeptics? What have you said that's helped create common moral ground or explain the science? Share your experience and ideas below for all our IPL folks.

Report: Global Warming Has Changed Our Weather — Worse Heat Waves, Floods, Hurricanes, Storms To Come

From the Think Progress Blog


The traditional media rarely discusses extreme weather events in the context of global warming. However, as the Wonk Room Global Boiling series has documented, scientists have been warning us for years that climate change will increase catastrophic weather events like the California wildfires, the East Coast heatwave, and the Midwest floods that have been taking lives and causing billions in damage in recent days.

Today, the federal government has released a report that assembles this knowledge in stark and unequivocal terms. “Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate,” by the multi-agency U.S. Climate Change Science Program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the lead, warns that changes in extreme weather are “among the most serious challenges to society” in dealing with global warming. After reporting that heat waves, severe rainfall, and intense hurricanes have been on the rise — all linked to manmade global warming — the authors deliver this warning about the future:

In the future, with continued global warming, heat waves and heavy downpours are very likely to further increase in frequency and intensity. Substantial areas of North America are likely to have more frequent droughts of greater severity. Hurricane wind speeds, rainfall intensity, and storm surge levels are likely to increase. The strongest cold season storms are likely to become more frequent, with stronger winds and more extreme wave heights.

Unfortunately, some of the cautions in this long-delayed report have come too late for the victims of the Midwest Flood:

Some short-term actions taken to lessen the risk from extreme events can lead to increases in vulnerability to even larger extremes. For example, moderate flood control measures on a river can stimulate development in a now “safe” floodplain, only to see those new structures damaged when a very large flood occurs.

Climate change is threatening our health, our lives, our economy, and our security already. Now the only question is when our media will take notice, and when our leaders will respond. Our future depends on it.

From the accompanying brochure comes this chart summarizing the findings:

(Click here to continue reading this article at Think Progress / The Wonk Room)

BREAKING: Bush Asserts Executive Privilege To Hide Global Warming Documents

Orginally posted on ThinkProgress / Wonkroom


With a contempt of Congress vote looming by Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) House Oversight Committee, President Bush asserted executive privilege this morning to block the committee’s subpoenas for documents relating to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reject California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to override scientific recommendations on ozone standards.

Waxman’s committee had scheduled the 10 am business meeting to hold contempt votes for EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and White House Office of Management and Budget regulatory administrator Susan Dudley. On May 20, Johnson appeared before the committee, without the subpoenaed documents and evading questions about Bush’s involvement.

Stephen Johnson has been compared to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for his mishandling of the EPA. Susan Dudley and her husband Brian Mannix, an EPA administrator, are products of the Mercatus Center, a right-wing pro-industry think tank.

From TPMMuckaker, Waxman’s blistering response:

I don’t think we’ve had a situation like this since Richard Nixon was president
. When the President of the United States, may have been involved in acting contrary to law and the evidence that would determine that question for Congress, in exercising our oversight, is being blocked by an assertion of executive privilege. I would hope and expect this administration would not be making this assertion without a valid basis for it, but to date I have not seen a valid instance of their executive privilege.

Waxman’s written statement from the committee website: “Today’s assertion of executive privilege raises serious questions about Administrator Johnson’s credibility and the involvement of the President.”

This is the fourth Congressional investigation Bush has impeded by asserting executive privilege. He invoked the privilege repeatedly in the US attorneys scandal that brought down Alberto Gonzales last summer: to prevent Josh Bolten from turning over documents; and to protect Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor and Karl Rove and Scott Jennings from testimony. Rove, Gonzales, and Jennings resigned from the White House soon thereafter. Considering the assertions of executive privilege improperly made, this February the House voted to hold Miers and Bolten in contempt of Congress, but Attorney General Michael Mukasey declined to investigate.

As the Washington Independent notes, Bush also claimed executive privilege to block the Pat Tillman investigation and a 2001 investigation into the FBI corruption scandal fictionalized in “The Departed.”

The last time the full Congress found an administration official in contempt was in 1983, against EPA official Rita Lavelle for her cover-up of Dow Chemical’s dioxin poisoning in Midland, Michigan. Twenty-five years later, EPA regional administrator Mary Gade was fired by Johnson when she tried to clean up the pollution.

In an email, Daily Kos contributor Kagro X notes further parallels between today’s scandal and the 1983 EPA scandal: “Reagan’s EPA Administrator, Anne Gorsuch, refused to testify or turn over documents on the advice of White House counsel Fred Fielding.”

Fielding replaced Harriet Miers
as Bush’s White House counsel when she resigned last year.

Clean Air Watch’s Frank O’ Donnell writes in to the Wonk Room:

This is basically an admission that the White House did indeed tamper with EPA’s decisions
. Executive Privilege only applies to actions taken by the President or his top aides.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of our government. This isn’t a matter involving national security. This is really about a very political White House helping special interests by interfering with an agency’s responsibility to carry out the law.

Global Boiling: Rush Versus Reality

From the Think Progress Blog

Last week, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh assailed the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s “Global Boiling” Progress Report, which explained that the extreme weather events causing death and destruction across the United States “are consistent with the changes scientists predicted would come with global warming.” He called it a “piece of propaganda” by “wackos” but refused to read any of it — “You can imagine what it says.” He continued:

You know, it is a crying shame to have to sit out here and just do nothing but refute a bunch of lies that are repeatedly told by leftist activist groups and then amplified and promulgated by willing accomplices in the Drive-By Media.

The “leftist activist groups” Rush is attacking now includes not only us but also the Bush administration, whose multiagency Climate Change Science Program has released two reports this week on the damage climate change is doing to the United States.

The first, released Thursday, said:

Many extremes and their associated impacts are now changing. For example, in recent decades most of North America has been experiencing more unusually hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights, and fewer frost days. Heavy downpours have become more frequent and intense. Droughts are becoming more severe in some regions, though there are no clear trends for North America as a whole. The power and frequency of Atlantic hurricanes have increased substantially in recent decades, though North American mainland land-falling hurricanes do not appear to have increased over the past century. Outside the tropics, storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are becoming even stronger.

Friday’s report on the effect of global warming on our continent’s ecosystems finds that “Climate change has very likely increased the size and number of forest fires, insect outbreaks, and tree mortality in the interior West, the Southwest, and Alaska, and will continue to do so.”

Its warning for the future?

The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land-use change, pollution).

To conclude: the U.S. Climate Change Science Program — comprised of the Agency for International Development, Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, Department of State, Department of Transportation, US Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution — has found that global warming has likely or very likely worsened:

  • Intense rainfall
  • Heat waves
  • Winter storms
  • Hurricanes
  • Wildfires
  • Insect outbreaks
  • Coral bleaching

The future, in addition to the above, will see worse:

  • Droughts
  • Ocean acidification
  • Storm surges
  • Wildlife disruption
  • Extreme coastal erosion

It’s important to note that none of these are new findings — these are simply summaries of thousands of works of scientific research from the past decades. And even with the release of these long-delayed reports, the Bush administration continues to violate its lawful mandate to take action on global warming, as the president’s Nixonian assertion of executive privilege on Friday makes clear.

So, despite Rush’s attacks, these “wackos” at the Center for American Progress Action Fund will continue to report the truth and hold his friends accountable.

Science: Greenland can warm 2-4°C in one year!

From the Climate Progress Blog


A new article in Science Express, “High-Resolution Greenland Ice Core Data Show Abrupt Climate Change Happens in Few Years” (subs. req’d) examines “The last two abrupt warmings at the onset of our present warm interglacial period.” The article explores the underlying causes of

… abrupt shifts of northern hemisphere atmospheric circulation resulting in 2-4°K changes in Greenland moisture source temperature from one year to the next.

The article concludes that

… polar atmospheric circulation can shift in 1-3 years resulting in decadal to centennial scale changes from cold stadials to warm interstadials/interglacials associated with astounding Greenland temperature changes of 10°K. Neither the magnitude of such shifts nor their abruptnesses are currently captured by state of the art climate models.

The time to act is yesterday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Video - Crude Impact

U.S. driving down 4.5 billion miles in April

Originally posted at Climate Progress


April 2008 saw another sharp drop in vehicle miles traveled (aka VMT) according to the Federal Highway Administration’s monthly report on “Traffic Volume Trends.” This follows “the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history” in March (see here).

I was compelled to blog on this because of the incredibly astute media coverage by AFP, “worldwide news agency,” which wins the “Duh!” award for the month:

Observers surmise a possible link between the declining number of miles driven and rising US gasoline prices.

Wouldn’t want the ever-cautious media to leap to any conclusions. [Note to AFP: Observers surmise a possible link between the declining number of readers for big media and the rising blandness of your/their coverage.]

As it becomes increasingly clear that high gasoline prices are not a fluke, Americans are adjusting their driving habits. The longer prices stay high — or go even higher — the more people will start to make permanent adjustments in their driving — and then, ultimately, in where they live and so on.

Here are the details from the April report:

In April 2008, Americans drove 245.9 billion milles, compared to 250.3 billion in April 2007. Indeed, the April 2008 figure is lower than the April 2004 figure. To see just how remarkable that is, look at the annual vehicle-distance traveled data (in billions of miles) since 1983 (this is a moving 12-month total):


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lake Chad now more like Pond Chad

Satellite images show Lake Chad one-tenth the size it was in 1972, not even 40 years ago. Lake Chad used to be the world’s sixth-largest lake, but its resources have been diverted for human use or affected by rainfall such that its been almost entirely depleted in a very short amount of time.

In the IPCC’s 2007 report on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation in Africa, there is no specific mention of Lake Chad. But staring at these satellite images one can’t help but wonder how global warming, which is expected to cause drastic changes to the hydrological cycle (drought, rainfall, water levels, etc.), especially in Africa, will accelerate or contribute to the already scarce resources that this map demonstrates is quite the stark reality.

Click here for article source at the Climate Progress Blog

Monday, June 16, 2008

Upward from the Climate Security Act: Stronger. Simpler. Fairer.

The following is a guest blog from KC Golden, policy director at Climate Solutions in Seattle. You can read more of KC's writings, including a more detailed version of this post, at the CS Journal blog.
-- Luis

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate tied itself in a procedural knot, preventing a vote on the substance of the Climate Security Act (CSA) – the first meaningful climate legislation to reach the Senate floor. Once again, the "world's greatest deliberative body" did nothing about the world's biggest problem. Twenty years after our pre-eminent climate scientist Jim Hansen warned Congress of the need for immediate action, this dilly-dallying is enough to make you scream.

But a closer look at the political tectonics at play gives cause for hope. Climate deniers and dawdlers are running out of places to hide. The election will be unkind to candidates who fail to offer real solutions to the fossil fuel dependence that is strangling the economy as aggressively as it is wrecking the climate. And months ago, we narrowed the field of presidential contenders to those who support real climate action.

Even more encouraging, a much stronger bill is already emerging. Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) has introduced the "iCAP" (Investing in Climate Action Policy) Act. Compared to the CSA, its emission reduction provisions are stronger, it protects consumers better, and it gives more assurance against development of coal plants that lack technology to safely dispose of climate pollution.

Click here to continue reading article at the 1sky blog

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Global warming causes deluges and flooding, just like the Midwest is seeing (again)

The British and the Chinese understand global warming has driven their record flooding. The United States? Not so much.

Although you wouldn’t know it from most U.S. media coverage (here or here or here), the record “once-in-a-hundred-year flooding” the Midwest now seems to be getting every decade or so is precisely what scientists have been expecting from the warming.

A 2004 analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center found an increase during the 20th century of “precipitation, temperature, streamflow, heavy and very heavy precipitation and high streamflow in the East.” They found a 14 percent increase in “heavy rain events” of greater than 2 inches in one day, and a 20 percent increase in “very heavy rain events”-best described as deluges-greater than 4 inches in one day. These extreme downpours are precisely what is predicted by global warming scientists and models.

Click here to continue reading article at the Climate Progress Blog

Friday, June 6, 2008

A new twist for offshore wind

Jun 5th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Energy: Floating wind-turbines are being developed that can be used at sea in deep water, and do not need to be permanently fixed in place

WINDS sweeping across New England, in the north-east of the United States, blow at an average of about four metres a second (m/s). But a few hundred metres offshore they blow more than twice as fast. This increase in speed is found offshore in much of the world. But although engineers know how to build turbines to generate electricity from offshore wind—mounting them on towers pounded deep into the seabed, or anchored by massive blocks of sunken concrete—they can do so only in waters up to about 40 metres deep.

Now wind power could be taken into deeper waters. Building offshore wind farms is expensive: each turbine costs at least 50% more than one built on land. But the stronger winds out at sea can generate more electricity, and hence more revenue: wind blowing at 10m/s can produce five times as much electricity as wind blowing half as fast, and this greatly favours building more offshore wind farms, says Walter Musial, a senior engineer at the National Wind Technology Centre, a government research laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Yet just 300-400 offshore wind turbines have been built worldwide, most of them in British or Danish waters. There are none in America. People think they ruin the view and harm the offshore environment.

Take, for instance, a project known as Cape Wind, based on plans by Energy Management, an American company, to build 130 turbines 10km (six miles) offshore in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts. Although it is backed by a number of green groups, local opposition (not least from the allegedly verdant Kennedy family) has been fierce. Jim Gordon, Energy Management’s boss, says “visceral” local protests have delayed the project by at least three years and cost his company millions of dollars.

But what if the turbines could be put much farther out to sea? Many experts say new technology now makes floating turbines feasible. These could be sited a long way from land. Devices known as “floaters” are already used to support more than two-thirds of the 4,000 or so oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, says Paul Sclavounos, a marine engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With funding from ConocoPhillips, Mr Sclavounos is developing a turbine floater for the windy North Sea. He expects an industry making floating wind-turbines to flourish in about five years. Others think it may take longer, but few doubt it will happen. Building turbines on land can be just as controversial, suitable locations for fixed-base shallow-water turbines are limited and a new generation of big turbines will need lots of space: only a couple can be placed in each square kilometre.

SWAY, a company based in Bergen, Norway, is developing turbine floaters that can operate in 150 metres of water. The firm, partly funded by Statoil, Norway’s energy giant, estimates that each will cost about as much as a fixed-base turbine placed in 30 or 40 metres of water. Its design uses a hollow, buoyant cylinder that extends down from the tower to about 100 metres underwater. The cylinder is anchored to gravel ballast on the sea floor. SWAY plans to float a full-scale prototype in 2010.

In December a company called Blue H Technologies, based in Oosterhout in the Netherlands, placed a half-size prototype turbine about 20km off the coast of southern Italy in water 108 metres deep. It uses a flotation framework known as a “tension-leg platform”, similar to that used to float oil rigs. Construction of full-size floating turbines for the site has now begun. The company has had to convince Italy’s naval-certification agency that a floating turbine could withstand a “100-year wave”—which in that part of the world amounts to a 9.7-metre wall of water. When it blows at sea, it can blow very hard. That presents difficulties, but it also provides opportunities.

Mission: Transmission - Harvesting the breeze is trickier than it sounds

Apr 28th 2008

“BANANA” is the wind industry’s bitter motto for its farms—meaning Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. Most people do not want to see or hear a wind farm, just as they want to stay clear of other power plants.

Although people tend not to live in windy areas, BANANA can complicate another necessity for wind farms (as it can for most sources of electricity): transmission. Given the gigantic distances in America especially, remote generators require miles of nuts-and-bolts infrastructure to get the power to population centres.

Transmission is expensive and often an afterthought, at least for consumers. Even within windy areas the generators are often scattered across wide expanses, which makes gathering it and bringing it to market difficult. Rob Gramlich of the American Wind Energy Association calls transmission the industry’s “biggest long-term barrier”.

Texas leads the nation in wind power, most of which comes from its remote western plains, and it has made transmission infrastructure a priority, according to Jess Totten of Texas’s Public Utility Commission, who spoke at an MIT energy conference earlier this month. The creation of “Competitive Renewable Energy Zones”, which identify wind-rich and encourage their development, has allowed Texas to gather wind projects together, making transmission easier.

Other parts of America are also hoping for a burst of building. In Maine, the best wind is in the northern and central parts of the state, hundreds of miles from New England’s population centres of Portland, Boston and Providence. In New York, the wind is upstate and the people down in New York City. In California, where wind development has stalled in recent years, a big project to bring power to population-rich Southern California from rural Tehachapi, one of the windiest areas of the state, is moving ahead. Its completion could restart California’s wind industry.

As America’s demand for electricity grows, transmission developers will run into BANANA issues even for wires. High-tension aerial lines are not glamorous. Nobody wants to live near them. In New York, a 190-mile proposed upstate-to-downstate transmission line has run into opposition from residents who dread the words “eminent domain”.

Stephen Conant of the New England Independent Transmission Company plans an undersea cable to shuttle energy from wind farms in Northern Maine to Boston. “We minimise BANANA by going under the ocean,” he says. “So long as the fish don’t start voting.”

Then there are costs. In a place like rural Kansas, where the right-of-way is cheap, new line can cost as little as $500,000 per mile. But putting transmission underground, through a dense suburban area like Boston’s, can cost up to $20m per mile.

In Texas, $3-6 billion more is needed for transmission, according to a recent filing by ERCOT, the Texas electrical grid operator. Overall, across America, between $12-15 billion per year is being spent on transmission infrastructure, according to Lawrence Makovich of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Costs are worsening with the rocketing prices of steel, copper and engineering services.

All of which raises the pesky question of who pays. One way or another it is generally the users, who naturally resent the extra charges. But being fair to everyone is complicated. A transmission system is a network; when you connect a new line to an existing system, it affects power flows throughout. The actual costs can be hard to predict. The electricity industry’s answer is “socialisation”—the cost of any new capacity is spread evenly among a state’s consumers. This can be an effective quick fix, but it risks burying price signals and creating some thorny interstate issues.

Arizona, for instance, has access to much cheaper electricity than does neighbouring southern California. So naturally Arizonans chafe at the idea of building new transmission lines across their beautiful state, lines which would connect with California’s grid to reduce prices there—while raising them at home. If planners are going BANANAs, there is good reason for it.

A combination of flexible solar cells and low-energy lighting provides a way to bring electric light to isolated communities

A bag full of sunshine
Mar 6th 2008
From The Economist print edition

IF YOU live in a remote area, particularly in a poor country, obtaining electricity can be a problem. It is probably too expensive to connect you to the grid, so you are left reliant on generators and batteries—and even these have to be wired to the points, such as light bulbs, where power is wanted. But Kennedy & Violich Architecture of Boston, Massachusetts may have the answer. In collaboration with Global Solar Energy of Tucson, Arizona, it has developed a cheap, practical and portable way to capture the sun's rays by day and release them by night as useful light, wherever it is needed.

The idea, dubbed “portable light”, combines solar cells with light-emitting diodes attached to the surface of a fabric that can be made into bags, and thus carried around during daylight hours. In sunlight, the cells generate electricity that is stored in batteries stitched into the material. When it gets dark, the batteries power light-emitting diodes that are also sewn onto the cloth.

The solar cells themselves are made from a substance called copper indium gallium diselenide, Global Solar Energy's speciality. This is not quite as good at capturing sunlight as silicon, the material from which solar cells are usually made, but it is less rigid and easier to work with. Crucially, a working cell can be made by spreading a thin layer of the stuff on another material, such as a sheet of plastic. The result is flexible and fairly robust.

Storing the electricity generated by the solar cells involves small batteries that are also woven into the fabric, along with plastic-coated wire connectors. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries—the sort used in mobile phones—can store more energy per unit weight than other types, and do not lose their charge too rapidly if they go unused for long periods.

These batteries then power hundreds of light-emitting diodes a few millimetres across that are sewn into the fabric on the opposite face from the one occupied by the solar cells. Until recently, such diodes were expensive and did not shine very brightly. But they have improved enormously over the past few years and are now used in mainstream lighting. (A town in Italy recently became the first to switch its street lighting over to such diodes.) Light-emitting diodes are well suited to providing portable illumination, because they are robust, they are not heavy and, unlike traditional bulbs, they do not become too hot to touch.

So far, so good. But there was room for further improvement. As the person carrying the bag moves around, parts of it will be in the shade while others are overwhelmed with sunlight. So the engineers devised a way to direct the energy where it is most needed. To do this, they have woven sensors and switches into the fabric. These ensure that energy from a fully illuminated photovoltaic cell is sent to batteries that are not already receiving electricity at the highest rate they can store it.

In this way, the engineers have created a device that can stash away enough electricity to power the light-emitting diodes for ten hours after three hours in full sunlight. Unlike conventional light sources, the fabric can be spread out to provide background lighting for an entire room or rolled up to generate more concentrated light for a particular task. Moreover, many pieces can be joined together to produce light for larger meetings, and also to power devices such as mobile phones.

The first beneficiaries of this technology are the Huichol, a group of Amerindian people who live in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico, but if all goes well, Kennedy & Violich hopes to sell its invention to rural communities in Africa and Australia as well. And at $50 per bag—less than the average Huichol spends on candles and torch batteries each year—it seems a bargain.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Caring for planet increasingly tied to faith groups

By Nancy McLaughlin
Staff Writer at

"Abraham sits at the oaks. Deborah holds court under a palm tree. Moses speaks to a bush.

'I would say connecting this to the Bible is important for some people,' said Dr. Matthew Sleeth, a former hospital chief of staff who couldn't shake the faces of patients with seemingly increasing environment-related illnesses. So he quit his job, gave away half his belongings and began spreading the word on the urgency of people paying more attention to the environment.

Pointing out the symbolism of trees in Scripture has helped Sleeth link faith with personal responsibility. His book, 'Serve God and Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action,' is in its seventh printing. Sleeth also has a prominent role in the publication of an upcoming 'green Bible.'"

To continue reading click here.

Video - Veg My Ride - How to convert a diesel engine to run on vegetable oil - Instructional Video

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Iceland Has Power to Burn: The tiny island nation can teach the United States valuable lessons about energy policy

By Daniel Gross

at Newsweek

"The Blue Lagoon, Iceland's largest tourist destination, is a 100-degree melting pot. On a cold March day, as driving rain blows wisps of vapor from the nearby geothermal power plant, a group of Brazilian twentysomethings, a Japanese couple and teens from St. Paul's, the New Hampshire prep school, wade through the milky water and coat themselves in silica mud.

The lagoon was created entirely by accident. In the 1970s, the Svartsengi geothermal plant began to discharge water rich in salt, algae and silica, which turned into a kind of caulk. A pool formed in the featureless lava fields in western Iceland, and when locals jumped in, they found that it cleared up symptoms of skin ailments like psoriasis. Today, the Blue Lagoon sports a 15-room clinic and a spa that attracts 407,000 tourists annually. With revenue of $21 million and 200 workers, the Blue Lagoon is an Icelandic blue chip. "We are one of the 300 largest enterprises in Iceland," says Anna Sverrisdottir, managing director of the Blue Lagoon."

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Gadget Watch: Inflateable Solar-Panels and Eco-Laptops Have Arrived

Original post by Teresa Herrmann

"Blowing up over your water heater bill?

The UK-based engineering firm Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC) has plans to mass produce inflatable solar panels that will provide hot water at a fraction of the cost of conventional solar heaters.

The SolarStore panels, as they're called, use clear and black layers to create heat and insulation around water. The system, when inflated, measures 6 feet by 6 feet and can heat three full tanks of water per day. When deflated, it can be stored in a backpack.

Racking up temperatures of close to 176 degrees, each unit can curb carbon emissions by 0.2 tons a year, the company claims.

At a cost of $200, the trial data predicts the product could pay for itself in six months and be more cost effective than solar panel-based water heaters, which can cost upwards of $4,000.

Though the product could one day replace conventional solar water heating systems everywhere, IDC envisions the inflatable panels being used in developing nations where remote locations often lack access to reliable electricity supplies. "

To continue reading click here.

Wall Street Tells Big Coal: Not So Fast

Original Post by Jeffrey Ball

"Investors like certainty -- and if they aren't going to get it from Washington, they'll try to impose it themselves.
That's one lesson from today's announcement, first reported in the WSJ, that three big Wall Street investment banks are rolling out a new set of environmental standards to tighten their financing requirements for coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Morgan Stanley say they expect a federal greenhouse-gas-emissions cap in the next few years that will make conventional coal-fired power plants riskier investments. Given that no one knows exactly what such a cap will look like, the banks say they’ll make some conservative assumptions as they screen power-plant financing requests starting now."

To continue reading click here.

Climate Change Reflections of the Pope's Visit to the US

Original Post by Carolynn

at The Skywriter, 1Sky's Blog

QUIZ: Who said the following?

“Indeed, the challenge of climate change is at once individual, local, national and global. Accordingly, it urges a multilevel coordinated response, with mitigation and adaptation programs simultaneously individual, local, national and global in their vision and scope.”


a) Stephen Johnson, Head of the EPA
b) Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director of 1Sky
c) Arnold Schwarzenegger
d) United Nation representative for the Pope
e) Van Jones, Green for All

The answer is D. Although the title of this post would give you a clue, this quote is from Monsignor Celestino Migliore, the UN representative for the Pope.

To continue reading click here.

Clergy urged to speak on environment

By Yonat Shimron
Staff Writer at
The Rev. Sally Bingham is the godmother of the environmental movement in the religious community.

Back in the 1990s, when religiously based environmentalists were still viewed as nature worshippers, she founded Episcopal Power & Light. Now called Interfaith Power & Light, the nonprofit organization has 27 chapters across the United States, including North Carolina. The mission of the organization is to mobilize a religious response to global warming through the promotion of renewable energy and conservation.

Bingham, the president of Interfaith Power & Light and the environmental minister at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, met with 20 religious leaders at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Raleigh last week. She said religious communities have made remarkable strides in addressing the intersection of faith and global climate change, and she encouraged them not to give up.

"You clergy need to talk about it," she said. "I think it should be in every single sermon.

To continue reading click here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Gas Tax Distractions

Original post by Jason, May 1, 2008

"Oil is nearing $120/barrel, food prices are going up, ice sheets six times the size of Manhattan are falling off of Antarctica, and election season is in full swing. Now, more than ever, our politicians will respond to big problems with short term pandering. Case in point: increased demand for gasoline will make summer gas prices go up, and instead of telling us to drive less, 2/3 of the presidential candidates promise us two weekends of artificially low prices: (video).

Obviously this is a bad idea. and there are plenty of people backing that up. But to be honest, it's more of a symptom than anything else. Our leaders are responding to desperation with false hope at a time when we need some straight talk: 'Gas prices are high because global demand is high, because the entire world is replicating the unsustainable American way of life. To free ourselves from dependence on mostly and unpredictably priced commodities, we're going to need society-wide commitment to a long-term strategy that will wean us from our addiction to fossil fuels.'"

To continue reading click here.

Counting the Omer and Lent: New Eco-Spiritual Customs

"There has been a resurgence of interest in Sefirat HaOmer of late, as people are striving to reconnect with agricultural, natural cycles. While the Omer focuses on the maturation of the barley crop in Israel (as Liore taught a few posts ago), many of us have added a local focus as well. I live in Philadelphia and the Omer brackets a period of phenomenal greening and flowering as every dogwood and azalea struts its stuff. I love the progression of each flower and plant in a beautifully synchronized symphony of color, shape, fragrance and inflorescence."
To continue reading click here.

The Dream Reborn

"Reflections on the Dream Reborn"

Original post by Van Jones on April 11th, 2008

"This year, I was proud to help launch a new, national organization, Green For All. Our advocacy organization is committed to building an inclusive, green economy, strong enough to lift millions of people out of poverty.

Green For All wanted to do something special on April 4, 2008 - to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

So we did something unusual. We brought more than 1,000 people to Memphis, the Southern city where he was assassinated.

And then and there: we declared the Dream ... REBORN."
To continue reading click here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Video - Going Green - The Renewal Project

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Video - Cleaning Up School Buses in Texas

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Video - Climate of Hope

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Catholics and Southern Baptists Getting Greener

From the wires:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Thou shall not pollute the Earth. Thou shall beware genetic manipulation. Modern times bring with them modern sins. So the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of "new" sins such as causing environmental blight. The guidance came at the weekend when Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, the Vatican's number two man in the sometimes murky area of sins and penance, spoke of modern evils.

Hat tip to Doug Hunt (Tennessee IPL), from the AP:

Signaling a significant departure from the Southern Baptist Convention’s official stance on global warming, 44 Southern Baptist leaders have decided to back a declaration calling for more action on climate change, saying its previous position on the issue was “too timid.”


Yet its current president, the Rev. Frank Page, signed the initiative, “A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change.” Two past presidents of the convention, the Rev. Jack Graham and the Rev. James Merritt, also signed.

“We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues has often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice,” the church leaders wrote in their new declaration.

A 2007 resolution passed by the convention hewed to a more skeptical view of global warming.

In contrast, the new declaration, which will be released Monday, states, “Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed.”

Stickin' it to the man car - California vehicles to get global warming stickers

Go shopping in 2009 in California for a new car and you'll notice some new information on the smog index window sticker. Next to the smog score will be a global warming score. The California Air Resources Board is putting the finishing touches on the program. You can see some of the details in the presentation (PDF) from their last meeting.

According to CARB, approximately 13 states have thus far adopted the California's Low Emission Vehicle regulations, which requires the smog labels. At least 11 of those states -- including New York, Connecticut, Oregon, and Washington -- are likely to adopt the new global warming labels.

Vehicles are assigned a score of 1 to 10 based upon their emissions, with 1 for the worst and 10 for the lowest greenhouse-gas emissions. However, calling it a "Global Warming Score" and having 10 be the best is likely to cause some confusion. Perhaps "Planet-saver Score" would be better?

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Dream Reborn - The Video

Green For All has just produced a new video with Van Jones and leaders in the new eco-equity movement about what you'll find in Memphis at the Dream Reborn. Check it out!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Video - China Air Pollution

A look at China's growing economy and the effect it will have on climate change and the health of its population.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Abu Dhabi pushes to be leader in renewable energy

By Simeon Kerr in Abu Dhabi

Published: January 21 2008 02:00 | Last updated: January 21 2008 02:00

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company is using the emirate's excess petrodollars and its low-cost manufacturing environment in a bid to become the world's leader in renewable energy, initially exploiting the United Arab Emirates' plentiful sunshine for solar power, writes Simeon Kerr.

The company, also known as Masdar, plans to fund research and development of a variety of alternative energy technologies, foster the businesses that create them, and use the emirate's financial clout to make these expensive ideas economical. "We have a unique ability to invest at all stages of the development timeline," says Steven Geiger, Masdar's director of special projects.

Masdar has invested most of the $250m in its Clean Tech Fund, which it launched in 2006 with Credit Suisse and Consensus Business Group, in 10 firms developing alternative energy technologies, including a way to turn human bio-waste into a coal-like substance.

Holy light: Wyandotte priest preaches, practices energy efficiency

When the Rev. Charles Morris thought about illuminating his congregation at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, he decided to do it with solar panels, a wind turbine, compact fluorescent light bulbs and a solar net.

Morris, the priest at the Wyandotte church since 1993, believes the faith community has the responsibility to lead the way to salvation from fossil fuel dependence and pollution while embracing renewable energy sources.

And he's practicing what he preaches.

St. Elizabeth was one of the stops on last weekend's Michigan Sustainable Homes and Businesses Tour — also known as the National Solar Tour — with sites from Monroe to Clarkston and Detroit to Canton. Businesses, schools and other organizations showed off their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints by using renewable energy to heat, cooling and light.

A "solar net" covers the church's 1,400 square feet of stained-glass windows. The shroud reduces glare by 93 percent and helps regulate the inside temperature. That translates to heat savings in the winter and lower cooling costs in the summer.

Throughout the school, rectory and church, an overhauled lighting system uses compact fluorescent bulbs and other high-efficiency lights. Exit signs are LED technology.

Click here to read full article

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Video - Addicted to Oil

A clip from Thomas Friedman's documentary exploring ideas for breaking our dependence on oil as an energy source.

National teach-in on global warming

A national teach-in on global warming this week will bring together students, experts and regular citizens at more than 1,100 locations, including more than a dozen in Central New York.

The event is called "Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions for America." Syracuse University and the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry are hosting a joint teach-in Thursday with a full day of events, including presentations by nationally recognized experts and a round-table discussion between students and local lawmakers.

Click here to read more