May 2011

Sea Levels to Rise Faster than Expected: May 4, 2011 : 5:32 PM

The Associated Press reports more grim news:

“The ice of Greenland and the rest of the Arctic is melting faster than expected and could help raise global sea levels by as much as 5 feet this century, dramatically higher than earlier projections, an authoritative international assessment says.”

“The findings "emphasize the need for greater urgency" in combating global warming, says the report of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the scientific arm of the eight-nation Arctic Council.”

“The warning of much higher seas comes as the world's nations remain bogged down in their two-decade-long talks on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.”


Our Choice App Reviewed May 6, 2011 : 11:58 AM

Huffington Post reviews the Our Choice App:

“What resulted combines the expressiveness of the traditional form with the educational simplicity of a documentary, all tied together with an utterly smooth, remarkably beautiful interface that does justice to the material it presents, and the format it's presented within. On the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, the app is able to display photos are crisp and gorgeous and videos that play without a single skip, which range from scientific explanations of how something like a nuclear generator operates, to historical clips of Jimmy Carter speaking, to short documentaries about regional problems.”

Purchase the App today. I am donating my proceeds to the Alliance for ClimateProtection.


Renewable Energy to Surge, Costs to Fall According to Groundbreaking New Report May 7, 2011 : 4:41 PM

An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report report due to come out on May 9th came to some fascinating conclusions to those working to solve the climate crisis:

"The cost of most renewable energy technologies has declined and significant additional technical advancements are expected," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said, based on a review of 164 expert scenarios.

"Further cost reductions are expected, resulting in greater potential for climate change mitigation and reducing the need for policy measures to ensure rapid deployment," the draft said.

It said most scenarios pointed to a "substantial increase in the deployment of renewable energy by 2030, 2050 and beyond."


New York Times on Our Choice App May 10, 2011 : 11:48 AM

Another positive review:

"People pitch me on new apps all the time, but Al Gore doesn't do it that often. In
fact, only once -- last week I took the bait.

I met with him and his collaborators on "Our Choice," a $5 app version (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch) of Mr. Gore's 2009 best seller of the same name."

"Now, I'll be frank with you: I must get pitched every other week on some "revolutionary" e-book app that claims to reinvent the book. That usually means it has a couple of video clips in it."

"Our Choice, though, might actually live up to the boast."

Purchase the Our Choice App today by clicking here. One hundred percent of my proceeds will be donated to the Alliance for Climate Protection.


IPCC Renewable Energy Report Released this Week May 10, 2011 : 3:42 PM

The report I mentioned here last week was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday. The Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) found that for an investment of only about 1 percent of global GDP, renewable energy could account for almost 80 percent of the world's energy supply within four decades.

"Close to 80 percent of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows."

"The findings, from over 120 researchers working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also indicate that the rising penetration of renewable energies could lead to cumulative greenhouse gas savings equivalent to 220 to 560 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtC02eq) between 2010 and 2050."

"The upper end of the scenarios assessed, representing a cut of around a third in greenhouse gas emissions from business-as-usual projections, could assist in keeping concentrations of greenhouse gases at 450 parts per million."

"This could contribute towards a goal of holding the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius – an aim recognized in the United Nations Climate Convention's Cancun Agreements."


Adaptation in the US May 12, 2011 : 2:42 PM

We are already feeling the effects of the climate crisis and prepare for changes to our environment here in the United States. For example according to a new report from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association:

"The Bay Area must start prepping for the whens, not the ifs, of climate change - like building cooling centers for use during heat waves, propping up homes on stilts in flood-prone areas and even abandoning roadways vulnerable to sea-level rise, according to an influential urban policy organization."


Off Shore Wind Power Capacity to Explode May 13, 2011 : 5:15 PM

Clean renewable energy is making amazing strides:

"Offshore wind will reach 70.1 GW of capacity by 2017, says Pike Research. That's 17 times its current capacity, which is 4.1 GW, and amounts to several times the current maximum solar capacity of the most solared-out country in the world, Germany."

"Europe is currently in the lead on offshore power, but by 2017, China will pull even. (The U.S. will be in the mix somewhere too, if we can get those Nantucket swells to settle down.) We¹re mostly talking about ocean wind farms, but a portion of this new capacity will come from freshwater offshore installations, such as in the Great Lakes."


Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble on Sale this Week May 17, 2011 : 12:54 PM

I had the opportunity at the TED conference to hear about Eli's new book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, which goes onsale this week. It is a fascinating look at what Pariser calls the new "algorithmic gatekeepers" that are changing our online experience.

The book jacket describes it this way, "With little notice or fanfare, our online experience is changing, as the websites we visit are increasingly tailoring themselves to us. In this engaging and visionary book, board president Eli Pariser lays bare the personalization that is already taking place on every major website, from Facebook to AOL to ABC News. As Pariser reveals, this new trend is nothing short of an invisible revolution in how we consume information, one that will shape how we learn, what we know, and even how our democracy works."

To watch Eli's TED talk or to buy the book


Save Current TV in Italy May 19, 2011 : 2:00 PM

I'm in Rome today to help support independent journalism and save Current TV in Italy.

Sky Italia Plans to Drop Current TV, Italy’s Only Independent Information Channel

Current Co-Founder and Chairman Al Gore Arrives in Rome to Support Grassroots Effort to Save Current TV

Rome, Italy, May 19, 2011 -- Current TV has been told it will be dropped by Sky Italia, the only satellite television distributor in the country. Current was founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt six years ago, and was launched in Italy three years ago, with a mission to democratize television via new forms of participatory media. Today, the company is the only independent news and information channel delivering a platform for independent producers and commentators in Italy, the US and the UK, and has become the industry’s fastest growing cable and satellite network reaching more than 75 million households worldwide.

Current Co-Founder and Chairman Al Gore travelled to Rome and spoke with reporters today about Sky Italia’s sudden decision. He also spoke in support of a viewer-driven grassroots campaign demanding that Sky reverse its decision and continue to carry Current Italia.

The sudden decision comes as Current Italia has proven to be a popular choice for viewers in just three short years. An analysis of data from Auditel, the leading television ratings research firm in Italy, confirms that a third of Sky Italia subscribers watch Current every week. In addition, according to majormarketing intelligence firm GN Research, nearly 20 percent of respondents picked Current as one of their top 5 favorite channels; and of those subscribers who call Current a favorite channel, about 20% of them – or close to 4% of Sky Italia’s subscriber base – say that they would cancel Sky Italia if they didn’t carry Current. Also, according to a 2010 Auditel-Starcom annual survey, Current’s market share grew 270% in day time and 550% in prime time while growth across the Sky platform was flat.

“In this time of rapid political, economic and social transition, the future of healthy democracies depends on independent journalism that is untethered and unafraid. We at Current have dedicated our international media platform to unleash truth tellers, and there is no more critical time for truth telling than in Italyright now,” said Current co-Founder and Chairman Al Gore. “I came to Italy to personally ask Current’s loyal viewers here to tell Sky they want to keep Current."

Referring to the implications of the decision taken by Sky Italia, which is 100% owned and controlled by News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV), Current Co-Founder and Executive Vice Chairman Joel Hyatt commented: “If regulators in the United Kingdom or the European Union are wondering what the impact will be of having a satellite system totally owned and controlled byNews Corporation, they need only look to Italy. Sky Italia – in what can only be described as a flagrant abuse of its dominant market position – just kicked off the only independent news and information network on its platform without warning, and despite repeated assurances that Current's contract berenewed. It is ironic that Sky markets its satellite offering as being the ‘Freedom Choice.’ In fact, News Corporation wants what they own and control to be the only choice.”

Current Italia launched in 2008. Tom Mockridge, the CEO of Sky, joined Al Gore at launch, announcing to Italian consumers: “Being the leading global network for the transmission and sharing of news and current affairs, Current is today an important voice for the young adult generation. We are happy to introduce this innovative channel in Italy.”

At a time when most media companies are curtailing their investments in journalism and high-quality newsgathering, Current TV has increased resources earmarked for covering important news stories for its viewers. Current Italia just recently won the prestigious Hot Bird TV Award for the Best News Network in all of Europe, a prize Current shared with BBC World News. Year after year, thechannel has won every prestigious journalism award for its groundbreaking investigatory series “Vanguard,” including the Peabody Award, The Emmy Award, the Livingston Award and the DuPont Award.

With a programming lineup that is 90% Italian produced and acquired news series, documentaries and specials, Current Italia has become the trusted source for local information and commentary in Italy. “We are the only media channel in Italy that has the courage to use our channel to speak truth to power. Whether debuting the “Berlusconi” documentary, or providing a refuge for Annozero when Michele Santoro was banned from RAI last year, or bringing Roberto Saviano’s story to television, we have used our media to inform, enrich and inspire our audience,” says General Manager Tommaso Tessarolo.


It's Hard to Justify May 20, 2011 : 2:46 PM

A great Washington Post editorial:

“Seizing on inevitable points of uncertainty in something as complex as climate science, and on misreported pseudo-scandals among a few scientists, Republican members of Congress, presidential candidates and other leaders pretend that the dangers of climate change are hypothetical and unproven and the causes uncertain.”

“Not so, says the National Research Council. ‘Although the scientific process is always open to new ideas and results, the fundamental causes and consequences of climate change have been established by many years of scientific research, are supported by many different lines of evidence, and have stood firm in the face of careful examination, repeated testing, and the rigorous evaluation of alternative theories and explanation.’”

“Climate-change deniers, in other words, are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three. And their recalcitrance is dangerous, the report makes clear, because the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be -- and the more drastic the needed response.”


Coal Cares May 23, 2011 : 5:12 PM

Sometimes a joke is close to the truth:

"An activist prankster group called Coal is Killing Kids has struck with a hoax website lampooning the coal industry’s resistance to federal pollution reforms. And science is on their side."

"The target of their “Coal Cares” site, supposedly offering free Justin Bieber and Dora the Explorer inhalers to children living near coal-fired power plants, is Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company. Peabody and other energy companies have opposed government-mandated cleanup fixes."

“Some environmentalists have suggested that coal companies should install an untested technology called ’scrubbers’ atop coal plants to make them burn more cleanly, reducing coal particulate exposure as one cause of childhood asthma,” reads the site. “For our part, Peabody has decided that reducing Asthma-Related Bullying (ARB) is the single most effective way to combat public misperceptions of our industry.”

See the site by clicking here.


An Article of Faith May 24, 2011 : 2:51 PM

The Center for American Progress writes about the Pope’s stand on the climate crisis:

“Pope Benedict XVI has been an ardent supporter for many years of recognizing thetruth of climate change and the collective responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and preserve clean air and clean water. In fact, he has been dubbed the "Green Pope" in diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks.”

“And in a true example of “lived faith,” the pope and his leadership spearheaded renewable energy projects right in Vatican City. In 2008 the Vatican began installing 2,400 solar panels atop the pope’s audience hall, which prevents 230 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted annually. The Vatican even flirted with the idea of going completely carbon neutral by reforesting degraded land in Hungary to offsettheir emissions, though critics assailed the plan for its focus on offsets over efficiency improvements.”

“In the new pope’s first social encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate,” he proclaimed there is a “covenant” between humans and the environment, and “responsibility is a global one, for it is concerned not just with energy but with the whole of creation, which must not be bequeathed tofuture generations depleted of its resources.” He highlighted in particular the responsibility of wealthy developed nations to take the lead on these efforts.”


The True Cost of Carbon May 26, 2011 : 5:04 PM

Carbon based energy’s true cost is much higher than previously thought:

"Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney, economists at The Hamilton Project, are releasing a new paper Wednesday on the costs of American energy policy. They argue:"

"… our energy choices are based on the visible costs that appear on utility bills and at the gas pump. This system masks the social costs arising from those energy choices, including shorter lives, higher health care expenses, a changing climate, and weakened national security. As a result, we pay unnecessarily high costs for energy."

"For example, Mr. Greenstone and Mr. Looney estimate that a coal plant must spend 3.2 cents to produce a kilowatt hour of electricity (and consumers then pay slightly more than this). This price appears to be a bargain, the economists write, but the true costs — once health costs, military costs and the like are taken into account — are more than twice high: 8.8 cents per kilowatt hour."

[Source: New York Times]


A Pro-Market Energy Policy May 29, 2011 : 2:45 PM

Ezra Klein makes a great point:

“We cap liability for nuclear disaster at $12.6 billion. Oil companies are legally responsible only for the first $350 million in costs from an onshore spill and the first $75 million for an offshore spill. A variety of tax credits and regulatory standards encourage the blending of ethanol into other fuels. Those are all subsidies, too, though they’re not counted on the graph.”

“The irony of our energy debate is that the pro-market position would look something like this: Price energy at its real cost, no matter the source, and wipe out the various subsidies in the system. As the free-market philosopher F.A. Hayek said, we cannot leave the ‘harmful effects of deforestation, or of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories . . . to the owner of the property in question. . . . In such instances we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism.’”

[Source: Washington Post]