Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Clean Energy Gains in 2009

As we continue in 2010, information about the state of the world in 2009 is becoming available.  CO2 levels, global temperatures and clean energy development are all being reported.  Here are the data on clean energy from 2009 in the U.S.

Wind: 10,000 new megawatts installed in 2009 for a grand total of over 35,000 megawatts.  That’s right, 1/3 of the wind capacity in the U.S. was installed in 2009.  Similar gains are expected in 2010 due to stimulus funding and financial incentives made possible by the federal government.  Despite similar costs to dirty energy, the so-called “free market” isn’t doing much with or for wind power.  Expect that to change as the cost of dirty energy becomes more transparent.

Geothermal: only 250 new megawatts installed for a total of 3,150 megawatts.  An additional 6,440 megawatts are now planned.  Only $400 million in stimulus funding went to geothermal (compare that to the billions expected to be given away to the prohibitively expensive nuclear industry).  Assistance did include a 30 percent investment tax credit and a “cash grant” alternative.  Capacity is expected to triple to nearly 10GW in 5 years – not a very high amount, but every bit helps.

I don’t remember seeing anything on solar power just yet.  If something comes out or if I find a released report, I’ll be sure to share it.  More and more clean energy infrastructure is going to be made available in the coming years.  Much, much more needs to come online so that dirty energy infrastructure can finally be turned off and dismantled.  The biggest obstacle to making that happen?  Lack of high capacity transmission lines that can deliver the power from where it’s collected (typically far away from where people live) to where it’s consumed.  President Obama and the Democratic-led Congress need to do something about that this year.


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CO’s Prop 101 Will Hurt Every Colorado Student

Right-wing extremists in Colorado would love to see public education fully defunded so they could force families to send their money to private corporations instead. Are they truly concerned about the state of education? Of course not. Like every other policy issue, they’re much more interested in tranferring the middle class’ wealth (what remains of it) toward amoral, unaccountable entities that have more rights than people.

Heading up this year’s public-vs-private entity battle will be Proposition 101, one of three potential ballot initiatives that will show up this November 2nd. In a nutshell, Prop 101 would cut income taxes 0.1 percent a year until the rate was 3.5 percent – down from the current 4.63 percent – and reduce ownership taxes on used vehicles to $1 and to $2 for new vehicles. It would also repeal FASTER, enacted last year to begin work on billions of dollars worth of failing roads and bridges. How does that relate to education? Every school district in the state gets a share of those taxes.

The Bell Policy Center is analyzing the effects of Prop 101 on a county-by-county basis. More on that below.

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Clean Energy Newsmakers: Carlos Ghosn, electric vehicles, Better Place

Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn understands the risks that future oil prices and climate change will have on transportation and responds by pushing electric vehicles.  He’s a visionary that has feet solidly on the ground.

As 2010 auto shows move around the country, the hottest vehicles are the cleanest vehicles: hybrids and electrics are garnering plenty of attention and praise.  They are only beginning their path into the U.S. auto market, but will soon dominate it, I think.

One thing Republicans aren’t prepared to handle: business leaders asking Congress for prompt, decisive climate action.  More and more leaders are realizing how serious climate change is and want to get in front of it, not be run over by it.  Aspen Skiing Co. was one of 83 U.S. corporate leaders who say the U.S. is “falling behind” on clean-energy development.  Is it too little, too late, though?

I’ve followed the story of Better Place for a while now.  Here’s a strong video about investors on electric vehicles and opportunities opening up for Better Place around the world.  Better Place CEO Shai Agassi was on CNBC recently discussing what they’ve achieved in a short period of time.  Later this year, Israel is scheduled to become the first place where widespread implementation of the Better Place business model takes form.  Other locations will follow.


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Right-Wing Extremist Arrested For Illegal Wiretapping Plot

The same class-act who posed as a pimp in a scheme to take down ACORN, one of the only community organizations assisting low- and middle-income Americans, has been arrested for participating in a plot to illegally wiretap a U.S. Senator’s office.  Like his ACORN stunt, this plot failed.  Unfortunately for the attention-starved extremist, this action is a whole lot more serious.

Fraudulently representing themselves as telephone repairmen on federal property could land James O’Keefe and his three plot-members with up to 10 years in prison.  I sincerely hope prosecutors seek the maximum penalty against the four of them.  O’Keefe in particular has now demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the law and for fellow citizens, a U.S. Senator among them.

An attorney for one of them was quoted as saying, “I don’t think there was any intent or motive to commit a crime.”

Are we really supposed to believe these hoodlums didn’t mean to illegally wiretap the phones of a Senator?  Again, past behavior indicates they plan out their activities to achieve ideological results.  Representing yourself as a pimp can be passed off as a prank, albeit one with poor taste.  Representing yourself as a telephone repairman is an altogether different case – one that can’t be easily explained away.

Where is the Law & Order crowd on this situation?  Where are the ‘personal responsibility’ folks?  Silent as usual when one of their own is busted.


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State of Polar Ice – 1/25/09

The state of polar sea ice in late January 2010 is bad compared to climatological conditions (1979-2000).  For the fifth time in the past six years, the global sea ice extent minimum has fallen well below climatological values, as this graph demonstrates.  The most recent data show that global sea ice covers ~15 million sq. km., compared to 16 million sq. km. normally.  The last two times the annual minimum didn’t fall below climatological norms were in 2008 and 2004.  In a nutshell, the annual minimum extent has shifted in behavior in a significant way in the last decade.

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More Right-Wing Violence

I just wrote another post of right-wing violence by white men the other day.  Then yesterday, I saw another disgusting example, and this one has distinct political overtones.

One of the leaders of the tea-baggers was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly raping a 7-year-old girl, who could be a close family member.  How freaking lovely are these characters?

Does anybody want to take a guess what police found while searching his home?  If you’ve read anything about right-wing violence in the past couple of years, it’s not hard to guess correctly.

A Colt M-203, 40-mm grenade launcher.  Bomb-sniffing dogs also indicated that explosives had been stored in his house recently, though it doesn’t look like the search turned up anything.

These clowns are calling themselves patriots and everyone else traitors.  These are the outstanding members of our society who are stocking up on guns (legal and illegal), assault rifles, grenade launchers and explosives.  While a few of them are being appropriately handled by the FBI and ATF and no events like Waco or Ruby Ridge have occurred in a while, it will only be a matter of time before it does.

The corporate media’s silence on right-wing violence continues.  If this guy had been brown-skinned or named Muhammed, they couldn’t cover it enough.

Stay classy, patriot wanna-bes!


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Hickenlooper’s First Energy Stance = Con-Lite

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, now running to be the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, made his intentions regarding drilling on Colorado’s West Slope known about a week ago.  His statement doesn’t spark any confidence that he’ll deliver messages in ways that voters will respond.  In fact, it’s an early signal that the message Massachusetts voters sent have yet to be heard in this part of the country (timing of the two events notwithstanding).  If Hick wants to be the next Governor of Colorado, he has a steep learning curve ahead of him.

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