Environment Forum

from UK News:

Are you losing faith in climate science?

climatechangeWhile attending a meeting of prominent climate sceptics during the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December (an anti-COP15, if you will), I listened to each of the speakers put forward their theory on why conventional evidence on the primary causes of climate change should be dismissed as, for lack of a better phrase, complete hokum.

Among their denunciations of widely-accepted truths regarding global warming, greenhouse gases, melting glaciers and rising sea levels was the assertion that a change in attitude was afoot; the public may have been duped into believing the mainstream scientific assessment of climate change, but not for long.

There was something in the air, the sceptics said, and soon people would begin to question their trust in the majority view.

I’m no scientist and am in no position to comment on the validity of any of the evidence on show; as journalists we were there to make sure both sides of the argument were being heard. This group of climate outcasts were in every sense on the fringes of COP15, but after a series of controversies in recent weeks it seems they were right about one thing at least -- the public conviction about the threat of climate change is slipping.

Well, it is in Britain anyway. An Ipsos Mori poll of over 1,000 UK adults found that the proportion of people who believe climate change is definitely a reality dropped from 44% to 31% in the past year.

Is Bloom Energy the next GE?

sridhar

Updated on Feb 24.

The blogosphere is rumbling with anticipation of the  “Bloom Box”, a pint-sized “power plant” that could change the way we power our homes and offices forever.

The buzz began Sunday when 60 minutes aired an exclusive profile of the alternative energy fuel cell developed by startup Bloom Energy and its CEO K.R. Sridhar (a former rocket scientist) in Silicon Valley. After eight years in the making, the power plant in a box is set to be released Wednesday with California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Colin Powell on hand.

“You’ll generate your own electricity with the box and it’ll be wireless. The idea is to one day replace the big power plants and transmission line grid, the way the laptop moved in on the desktop and cell phones supplanted landlines,” reports CNet News.

Shale Gas Valuation Index

Following is the Thomson Reuters North America Shale Gas Valuation Index, based on closing share prices from Feb. 18.

The data comes from StarMine, a Thomson Reuters company, using the 12-month forward SmartEstimate, a measure that selects estimates from only the most accurate analysts.

StarMine Intrinsic Value is a variation on the dividend-discount model methodology that adjusts for biases uncovered in analyst forecasts.

from Summit Notebook:

Awaiting the alternative energy sukuk: Innovation vs conservatism

MANAMA, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Dubai’s debt fiasco and real estate bubble bust pushes investors to look out for alternative assets underlying Islamic finance products – could renewable energy provide a way-out?

Predominantly, Islamic finance and investment products have been backed by infrastructure or commodities assets. But executives at the 2010 Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit said product diversification was needed to cut the over-reliance on real estate in the Gulf.

“Sharia scholars are eager to support the renewable energy initiative, but the Islamic banking industry (in the Gulf) does not seem to be overly interested in this area although I am aware of a couple of deals involving acquisitions of clean tech companies in the U.S. and wind farms in the UK," said Ayman Khaleq, partner at the Vinson & Elkins law firm in Dubai.

Goldilocks and the three fuels

ENERGY-MARCELLUS/

– Richard Heinberg is the author of eight books, including “Peak Everything”, “Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis” and “The Party’s Over”. He is also a senior fellow with the Post Carbon Institute. The views expressed are his own. –

Recent shale gas projects, including those involving the massive Marcellus Shale in several northeastern states, have been yielding significant quantities of fuel. Reserves of the stuff are enormous. But drilling costs and per-well decline rates are high, so producers can make a profit only if gas prices are near historic highs.

Where are oil prices headed in 2010? Forecasts for the year are all over the map, from more than $100 a barrel to under $50.

Shale Gas Valuation Index

Following is the Thomson Reuters North America Shale Gas Valuation Index, based on closing share prices from Feb. 17.

The data comes from StarMine, a Thomson Reuters company, using the 12-month forward SmartEstimate, a measure that selects estimates from only the most accurate analysts.

StarMine Intrinsic Value is a variation on the dividend-discount model methodology that adjusts for biases uncovered in analyst forecasts.

from The Great Debate:

California tilts towards cap and refund


kemp

-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

California is set to auction all or almost all allowances under its emissions trading programme, and rebate up to 75 percent of the proceeds to households through a lump sum payment or reductions in income and sales taxes.
The proposals, contained in a draft recommendation from the Economic and Allocation Advisory Committee (EAAC) to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), are in sharp contrast to the proposed federal programme, stalled in Congress, which would give away most permits to utilities and other energy intensive industries.
Since California's proposed programme is one of the most advanced, and would be the largest and most comprehensive in the country, with links to other states through the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), the decision gives significant impetus to proponents of the cap and refund approach, now emerging as a credible alternative in Congress.
ADVISORY COMMITTEE MANDATE

California's Global Warming Solutions Act 2006 (AB 32) requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. CARB has developed a "Scoping Plan" detailing how the state will achieve this using a mix of direct regulations and an over-arching cap and trade programme.
In May 2009, CARB established an Advisory Committee, consisting of technical experts, to make recommendations on two key elements: (a) how to put allowances into circulation (via auctions, free distributions, or some combination of the two); and (b) how to allocate free allowances or the revenues from permit auctions.

In making recommendations, the Advisory Committee must take account of various statutory objectives, among them to "ensure no disproportionate impact on low-income communities" and design the regulations "in a manner that is equitable, seeks to minimise costs and maximise the total benefits to California". The draft recommendations therefore carry weight as an expert opinion of which system best meets both equity and efficiency criteria.

That Dutch sinking feeling

How much of the Netherlands is below sea level? dutch

a) 60 percent

b) 55 percent

c) about half

d) 26 percent

It sounds like a trivia quiz but it’s part of a scientific controversy about the environment. The worrying thing is that a lot of people who should know don’t.

If you reckon it’s 60 percent, you can point to a report by the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, or an article in the journal Nature discussing the Netherlands’ vulnerability to flooding after Hurricane Katrina.

If you think it’s 55 percent, then you can back up your argument with page 547 of an influential 2007 report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Retailers reject oil sands — a good move?

CANADA BOOMTOWN

Two big U.S. retail chains have turned their back on Canada’s oil sands, a move that was both hailed and derided, split as you might expect along environmental lines.

Whole Foods and Bed Bath and Beyond this week said they were boycotting the Canadian oil sands and they would actively seek alternatives to oil sands fuel for their delivery trucks to reduce their carbon footprints.

The oil sands are the largest source of oil outside of Saudi Arabia, and most of the 1.2 million barrels a day of oil sands-derived crude gets shipped to the United States.

Venezuela tries to make it rain

VENEZUELA TURTLES
global_post_logo This article by Charlie Devereux originally appeared in GlobalPost.

Flying high over Venezuela’s southeastern territories, a plane banks and fires into a mass of clouds.

Venezuela is not at war with the skies but with a severe drought that has caused an electricity crisis and forced the government to resort to unconventional methods to make it rain.

The government began “bombing clouds,” or cloud seeding, late last year after it emerged that the country was facing a dire water shortage.

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