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Global Weirding, Obama’s Clean Coal, Wind Power Jobs in the U.S. and Other Stories

August 13th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Here’s our pick for the top environment stories this week: strange weather events christened by pundits as ‘global weirding, Obama’s quest for clean coal, etc.

Watch: Forest fires, heat wave, and drought engulfing large areas in Russia

It’s been a while since we last made our weekly compilation of the most interesting (and intriguing) environmental and recycling stories. We sort of gave up on that for a while after covering the stories during the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen last year when most of the news coming out of that city were too depressing or infuriating to read.

Fast-forward to Summer of 2010. These past few weeks, the world has witnessed some unusual and disastrous weather pattern changes: from the massive flooding in Pakistan, the flooding and landslides in China, the heat wave and fires in Russia, the flooding in Iowa, to the giant ice island breaking away from the Petermann Glacier in Greenland. Ryan Grim and Lucia Graves call these occurences “The Global Weirding” – so weird, in fact, that Russia which at best was agnostic towards the issue of climate change, has turned 180 degrees and now calls for countering global warming.

In the US, meanwhile, where the media strangely gives credence and equal footing to the strident ignorant voices of climate change and science deniers, Senate majority leader Reid decided to postpone the vote on the Kerry-Lieberman climate proposal. This, of course, has led some observers in the media to pronounce that the “climate bill is dead.” Is it really RIP for cap and trade? Not just yet, says Valerie Volcovici of Point Carbon. By some strange coincidence, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a group which includes Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Montana, and Washington plus four Canadian provinces unveiled on the same week their blueprints for their cap and trade system which is set to be fully implemented in 2015. In short, while the rest of us will have to wait until the Senate could make up its mind about climate change, these states and the four Canadian provinces will be years ahead of us in carbon reduction and green technology.

Watch: Flood Wreaks Havoc in Pakistan

In the aftermath of the worst oil spill disaster in history, efforts to find alternative and cleaner sources of energy continue. This week, the world’s largest tidal turbine to be deployed off the coast of Scotland was unveiled.
The device which measures 18 meters (59 feet) in diameter and weighs 1300 tons could generate one megawatt of power – enough electricity for about 1,000 homes.

One more piece of weird news. In the US, Agence France Presse (via Grist) reports that a task force established by President Obama has called for a “strong government role to promote clean coal, potentially accepting liability over carbon-storage sites for thousands of years to come.” ‘Carbon capture and storage’ or CCS is a “largely underdeveloped technology” and already, some people are asking if this was some sort of a joke. Apparently, it’s not, which leads Leslie Back over at Triple Pundit to exclaim: “Mr. President, there’s no such thing as clean coal.”

Any piece of good news? There’s one actually and this goes to those who despair about the US losing jobs to cheap labor markets abroad.

There’s one industry in which it just doesn’t make sense to outsource manufacturing: the US wind power industry. A recent report called ‘Harnessing the Potential of Open Trade…in the Wind Energy Industry’ by the World Resources Institute explains that the major costs incurred in the wind industry is in transportation. Those massive blades and towers need to be taken from the manufacturing plant to the wind farm site. It doesn’t make sense to outsource production of these to countries thousands of miles away because there’s no “significant cost benefit over domestic manufacturing because of transport costs.” If you’re still unclear about the benefit of green technology to the economy and to American workers, there’s your answer.

Tags: Sustainability

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Glass Bottles // Aug 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Thanks for the update. You are key in keeping me up to date with world news!

  • 2 Sheila // Aug 25, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    What an awesome blog! You’ve taught me significant global information from this article. I appreciate you for taking the effort to extend this topic so comprehensively. I look forward to learning more on your upcoming posts. Thanks.

  • 3 Julia // Sep 13, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great post on the environmental issues our world is experiencing these days. It’s very enlightening. I absolutely like to read informative stuff. Looking forward to find out more and acquire further knowledge from here! Cheers!