Given the lift-off achieved by China's roaring wind industry, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the country's now warming up to solar power. China has become one of the world's leaders in solar photovoltaic technology, second only to Japan in the production of solar PV. While nearly all of the technology is for the export market, China's clean energy tycoons are hopeful that the government's support for solar tech will spur domestic demand.
The Obama campaign is hitting McCain hard for being in the pocket of Big Oil after Exxon Mobil reported an eyeball-popping quarterly profit of $11.7 billion today.
The activists lashing out against corn-based biofuels can update their talking points with this worrying new fact: the size of the Gulf of Mexico's "Dead Zone" is almost the largest on record. The fast-expanding Dead Zone--an area off the Louisiana coastline with too little oxygen to support marine life--would have broken the 2002 record had it not been for Hurricane Dolly churning the Gulf last week. The oxygen-depleted waters are the result of the fertilizer run-off from the Mississippi River watershed, which has dumped habitat-disrupting nitrogen into the Gulf.
"Clean" coal, that still-mythical beast, is rearing its head once again. This time it's in the form of carbon capture and storage (CCS), the technology that promises to remove CO2 from burning coal, liquefy it, and pump it underground. CCS has been in the works for well over a decade, mostly in Europe and Canada, but has recently gained a slew of coal-go-lucky supporters in America. As Yale Environment 360 explains, the cost of retrofitting old plants for CCS is so high that it would only be practical for newly constructed coal plants.
The EPA has instructed its staff "not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general," the Associated Press reported yesterday.
Over at Grist, Tom Philpott rails against the news from Doha that U.S. has offered to reduce its farm subsidies--so long as other countries open up their markets to American farm exports: What [U.S. trade rep Susan Schwab] seems to be demanding is a license to dump industrially produced U.S. farm goods onto foreign markets…Surprise, surprise. The Bush administration is using farm-subsidy cuts as a lever to pry open markets, mainly in the global south, to U.S.
Mount St. Helens finally stopped erupting last week...a mere four years after it began. The crater started trembling on Sept. 23, 2004, but it was only this month that scientists said that the eruption was finally over, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tells us. Everyone had been fearing a reprise of the 1980 catastrophe when the tremors first began. (CNN kept cutting away from Kerry vs. Bush to the steaming mountain, the story notes.) But Mount St. Helens has confounded the world's volcanists by keeping it at a slow burn for the past 40 months: More than anything, scientists say, Mount St.
While Obama basks in the glow of his European lovefest, McCain's also hoping for a wee sprinkling of international stardust. Tomorrow McCain will be meeting with the Dalai Lama in Colorado, where the Tibetan leader has been hobnobbing with the other bigwigs at the Aspen Institute.
Middle Eastern countries are being forced to choose between food and water, The New York Times reports: For decades nations in [the Middle East and North Africa] have drained aquifers, sucked the salt from seawater and diverted the mighty Nile to make the deserts bloom. But those projects were so costly and used so much water that it remained far more practical to import food than to produce it. Today, some countries import 90 percent or more of their staples. Now, the worldwide food crisis is making many countries in this politically volatile region rethink that math.
The Wall Street Journal ruefully points out that it will take some $3 trillion to realize Al Gore’s plan to end our dependency on carbon-based electricity by 2018. How, exactly, are we going to scrape together that kind of money? In his speech today, Gore described how “billions of dollars of new investment” have already been flowing into clean energy development, and his organization describes the growing enthusiasm of greentech venture capitalists. But at the heart of Gore’s proposal is how the government should put the foot on the (renewable) gas pedal.