Obama Sets Ten Year Benchmark

Last night was Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. This is not the place for partisan politics, but it is this author’s opinion that the speech was refreshingly bold, eloquent, and very enlightened. The boldest part of the speech, and the one we will be discussing is that on energy.

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Ethanol Myths? A Thorough Exploration

Add the US Department of Energy to the growing list of ethanol apologists that insist on jumping aboard a sinking ship. They have an entire webpage devoted to debunking five so-called “ethanol myths”. In our look at each “myth” we will see that with all their resources the best the DoE can do is cast a pebble of doubt into the vast sea of ethanol criticism. As we will see, at times they do everything short of outright lying just to protect the image of ethanol.

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Is “carbon-neutral” anything more than a buzzword?

While it is easy to understand the general idea behind labeling a city, product, or process “carbon-neutral,” it is not clear what the precise definition is and how big the system is that is being referred to. While there may be an equal amount of carbon inputs and outputs, or none at all, in most cases, other parts of the system, such as distribution, actually produce quite a bit of carbon, but are not considered. A recent claim by Dell has stretched the definition of being carbon-neutral even further. The fact is that Dell buys renewable energy directly from utilities to satisfy one-fifth of its energy needs, along with enough renewable energy credits to offset the other 80%. With this in mind, there are a few problems with claiming that all Dell facilities are carbon-neutral.


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A Step in the Direction of Mitigation

A few months after proposing the controversial “congestion tax,” New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, never out of new ideas, has now put forth his vision of a city capable of producing its own energy by renewable means. Windmills and solar panels on the top of skyscrapers may very well be in the future for New York City.

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Bilbao – Model of Sustainable Urban Development

I recently spent five weeks in Bilbao, the principal city of the Basque Country in Spain, during a summer semester study abroad term. Many of us idealize Europe’s sustainable urban development models, citing the high density living and various forms of public transportation as well as a difference in lifestyle choices as very resource-efficient ways of living. Before going to Europe, I had doubts that what I would see would contrast much with the United States. What I found in Bilbao was something very rare in the United States, a medium-sized city allowing complete independence from the personal automobile.
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McCain and the Illogic of the Gas Tax Holiday

It’s not often that you see an issue on which an entire field worth of experts agree. It is reasonable to say though that if a world leader does come across such an issue, he or she ought to listen to the experts. Unfortunately, this presidential race has proven that certain candidates will willfully fly in the face of centuries of academic research in the interest of staging a political campaign. In this case, I am referring to the proposals involving a “gas tax holiday”.

Hillary Clinton had a proposal for a gas tax, a campaign gimmic that apparently didn’t fool Indiana voters.1 Yet even after this, McCain’s campaign still clings to this smoke-and-mirrors strategy, and he brought it up completely unprompted in an interview this week with George Stephanopoulos Continue reading

Mixing Oil and Water

This blog has previously discussed the merit of talking about peak oil in terms of electricity conservation in our Making Up The Difference series (parts 3 and 3A). We’ve also talked about how careless water consumption in America and elsewhere results from the abundance of local sources and pressure to provide at below market value (see here).

Because of all the pumping, managing, and cleaning that must be done to the water supply, wasting potable water is also wasting energy. Continue reading