Tag Archives: clean energy

Climate Sense: Sea ice, economics, legal issues and the orca task force

The shift to “clean fuels,” such as solar and wind power, is tied up in economics, and it appears that change is coming — with or without a push from government. This week, I read three different and somewhat contradictory reports about this dynamic competition between fossil fuels and renewable energy.

I also took a look at the hard data surrounding Arctic sea ice and reviewed videos of the governor’s orca task force meeting on Monday.

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Climate Sense: I would like to share what I learn during this coming year

In October, I was grabbed by a headline on a column by Margaret Sullivan, who writes about media issues for the Washington Post: “The planet is on a fast path to destruction. The media must cover this like it’s the only story that matters.” See Water Ways, Oct. 23.

Margaret Sullivan
Photo: Michael Benabib

As I wrote in my blog post, “Climate change is not a subject that generates happy news. It is not a subject that most politicians wish to address in any form, but it is one subject that separates those who care about the future of the planet from those who care only about short-term economic benefits or political gains.”

Nearly every time I write about climate change, someone reaches out to me to ask that I keep telling the climate story in my blog. I do a lot of reading about water-related issues, of course, and I am constantly learning about climate change — from detailed studies by scientists to government plans to address a future with greater floods, larger forest fires and extensive loss of marine life.

I have decided this year to share some of the more fascinating, ground-breaking or inspiring reports that I come across during my reading. I may provide just a link to an article or scientific report with a brief commentary, as opposed to a full-blown discussion. I’m going to label these brief references “Climate Sense” — as in the headline on this blog post. I hope we can all become better informed about this issue so vital to the future of humanity. (As always, one can subscribe to this blog in the column to the right.)

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Should Gore lead the charge for clean energy?

Is former vice president Al Gore too controversial to carry the torch for the clean-energy movement?

Let’s be right up front about this. While Gore is a hero to many environmentalists, he is a toxic figure to many people of the conservative persuasion.

Last week, Gore received a lot of attention when he proposed a crash program to shift from carbon-based fuels to renewable supplies, such as solar and wind. (See Associated Press story by Dina Cappiello.) I was surprised that Gore said nothing about what has gone on before with the help of U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, and his New Apollo Energy Project and others involved in the Apollo Alliance.

Yes, Gore has managed to raise the profile on this issue like nobody before him. But as Michael Gerson says in an opinion column in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun:

Some Republicans and conservatives are prone to an ideologically motivated skepticism. On AM talk radio, where scientific standards are not particularly high, the attitude seems to be: “If Al Gore is upset about carbon, we must need more of it.” Gore’s partisan, conspiratorial anger is annoying, yet not particularly relevant to the science of this issue.

This points, however, to a broader problem. Any legislation ambitious enough to cut carbon emissions significantly and encourage new energy technologies will require a broad political and social consensus. Nothing this complex and expensive gets done on a party-line vote.

Yet many environmental leaders seem unpracticed at coalition building. They tend to be conventionally, if not radically, liberal. They sometimes express a deep distrust for capitalism and hostility to the extractive industries. Their political strategy consists mainly of the election of Democrats. Most Republican environmental efforts are quickly pronounced “too little, too late.”

Gore is well known for his concerns about climate change, which he revealed in his book and later the movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Now, he has hitched his ambitions to a crash program of energy conversion, something that Inslee has written about in his own book, “Apollo’s Fire.”

In interviews I’ve seen and heard, Gore gives barely a nod to legislation that others have been pushing. He exhibits more than his usual arrogance in acting like this was his idea alone.

Now, T. Boone Pickens, the multi-billionaire oil man, is muscling in with his own clean-energy initiative, including a potential $53 million ad campaign to promote wind energy and break America from its oil addiction.

Maybe all sides of the energy issue should come together and decide what can be reasonably accomplished with a bipartisan effort. While Al Gore could bring something to the table, I’m not sure whether everyone would welcome him there. And the notion that he should become some kind of “energy czar” for the country might just turn the table upside down.

Hear Gore in his own words on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”