June 23, 2007

Various Links, Some of Them Interesting

Some odds and ends:

1. The New York Times on freeganism. Best line: "Opening that first bag of trash... is the biggest step." Admittedly, I've done this once or twice for donuts late at night, and while foraging for food from supermarket trash bags isn't as putrid as it sounds--and might even be a good way to stick it to the man--it's absurdly time-intensive.

2. Yes, I think the United States needs to aim for an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. But I don't think it's a politically impossible goal. Not entirely. New Jersey just passed a bill gunning for 80 percent by mid-century. We'll see how they fare, but the realm of what's politically feasible is very rapidly evolving. A few years ago, not even the bluest of states were talking about drastic reductions.

3. Democrats in the Senate tried to pass a bill that would require electric utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from solar, wind, or biomass by 2020. Republicans gave it the ol' filibuster. If you actually read, say, the EIA's analysis of the bill, it's clear that, contrary to conservative objections, the mandate would barely impact consumer electricity prices (of course, it would only make a small dent in emissions growth as well). On the other hand...

3a. Grist's Sean Casten says the government shouldn't be picking winners among alternative energy technologies--in this case, wind, solar, and biomass, to the exclusion of things like, oh, waste heat recovery. Instead, Congress should just pass general goals for utilities (that they should get X percent of their electricity from non-carbon sources by 2020) and see what happens. That's halfway to the GOP position on mandates (Domenici wanted to include a broader set of clean technologies in the mandate--though he also wanted to let states opt-out, which is ridiculous), but I think I agree.

3b. In a similar vein, Kevin Drum has an excellent post about how reducing fossil-fuel consumption is going to require a mix of policies, rather than one "silver bullet." Maybe that should go without saying, but he says it quite well. See also the post on Sweden, below. Yes, they slapped down a hefty carbon tax, but they didn't stop there.

4. Interesting IHT piece on how global warming could make it harder for nuclear plants to operate, by limiting the availability of water to cool reactors. During the 2003 heat wave in France, 17 nuclear plants had to either shut down or operate at reduced capacity.
-- Brad Plumer 10:53 AM || ||