What Does the Future Hold for Energy Use in America?

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, AER Energy Perspectives and MER.

After declining for several years in a row, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions grew by 2% in 2013. This was largely due to an increase in the use of coal by electric power plants in the U.S., after a rise in the price of natural gas.

While this still left the U.S. 10% below 2005 levels, it is a move in the wrong direction. These findings follow President Obama’s recent second term push for national action on climate change, and call for an increase in the use of renewable energy …read more

Things That Made Us Go “Hmmm…” in 2013


2013 is coming to a close, and as another year passes us by, we pause to reflect, in the words of C+C Music Factory, on some of the things that made us go “Hmmm….” Following, in no particular order, is that list:

Winter 2013 in Zaatari refugee camp (Photo credit: Oxfam International)

1. Snow covers the ground in Egypt for the first time in 100 years. It was not only the worst snow storm to hit the Middle East in 50 years, but the snow and near freezing temperatures threatened thousands of Syrian refugees who lacked adequate shelter.

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Can National Governments Lead the Way On Limiting Climate Change?

English: President Barack Obama talks at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, President Obama called on the US government to lead by example and increase its use of renewable energy. The goal is for each government agency to get 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, which would nearly triple the current usage standards. In recent years, the US government has been notable for its inaction on environmental issues, and climate scientists have been frustrated by a lack of positive legislation, but recent moves by the Obama administration have …read more

Poverty and Environmentalism: An Impossible Combination?

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In ‘The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels’, a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Bjorn Lomborg argues that environmental concerns must come second to alleviating poverty, especially in the developing world. There are certainly problems with Lomborg’s argument, chief among them his choice to underplay the importance of climate change. His views are controversial, and have been challenged by members of the scientific community. For example, he endorses fracking, ignoring the controversy surrounding its implementation in the USA (as noted in a recent UNspOILed blog post).

However, the main thrust of his argument is valid; those …read more

The Environmental Dangers of “Green Energy”

Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (Photo credit: craigdietrich)

Way out in California’s Mojave Desert sit three 400-foot tall concrete towers surrounded by over 170,000 garage door sized mirrors, all of which are positioned to focus light onto three black colored vats full of water that sit atop the towers.

You would be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled upon the set of the most recent James Bond movie, but actually this complex is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. The solar thermal farm, the largest of its kind in the world, is designed to focus the sun’s light to heat …read more

Maryland’s choice: Renewable Energy or Fracking?

Mike Tidwell

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network presenting at MICA

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) has mobilized this month in opposition to Dominion Energy’s proposed natural gas liquefaction facility in Cove Point. They are hosting meetings throughout the state to educate citizens on the project and its risks, inspire them to oppose the plant and provide opportunities to act via postcards and letters to Governor O’Malley.

This $3.8 billion would liquefy more than 750 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to be shipped to India and Japan. Not only would this put Maryland’s …read more

How to Talk to a Climate Change Denier

Environmental advocates do a lot of things right; their level of enthusiasm, devotion and innovation are incredible. But one thing they often struggle with is communicating their message to those who do not agree with them. Those who work to stop the effects of climate change are often disregarded as leftist radicals who lack a solid grounding. Much of that comes from the way in which many of them try to communicate their message.

Following is a video of George Marshall of the Climate Outreach & Information Network, based in the UK. He is working to change the way in …read more

To Avoid Serious Damages of Climate Change We Need Intergovernmental Cooperation NOW!

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On September 27th the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the first part of their report, called AR5, on “the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.” More than 840 scientists convened in Stockholm to complete the report, and came to the conclusion that not only is climate change definitely happening, but that they are 95% sure that humans are the ones who should be held responsible. Additional sections of the report, to be released in 2014, will investigate …read more

Fire Threatens Water?

As a national parks enthusiast, I try to visit a new park at least every couple years. We visited Yosemite for the first time two weeks ago – yes, right around the time the Rim Fire broke out. At the time, the only signs of the blaze came from a road closer to the park’s Northwest entrance.

PHOTO: Hiking at White Wolf, miles from threatened sequoias at Tuolumne Grove

As the week went on, murmurs throughout the park began to increase, as did the smoke billowing into the sky that was visible from some of the park’s more …read more

Can America Be Energy Independent?

Fracking’s Radioactive Dumping Ground (Photo credit: Truthout.org)

The vision of an energy independent America has become a popular topic in the political arena. It has become part of the President’s platform, while media pundits tempt us with this dream. But can it actually happen?

Simply put, no. Unless the President decided to nationalize all of America’s energy companies, energy independence is something that could never exist in a free-market capitalist system. Yet we constantly hear about the plethora of energy options that big energy companies are moving forward to create an energy independent America.

It is one big marketing …read more