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Climate IQ a Reflection of Age, Education and Party Affiliation

New Hampshire and Yale studies throw light on America's ignorance of climate science

By Elizabeth McGowan

Oct 25, 2010

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Professor Lawrence Hamilton is not at all flabbergasted that most Americans are flunking Global Warming 101.

The University of New Hampshire sociologist witnesses the disconnect daily as he attempts to make that learning curve less steep.

Americans could boost their climate IQ, Hamilton suggests, if politicians would hire and value science advisers, scientists would speak out and more readily and share their data, and people would become more discriminating about their online intake.

“What’s new is the Internet-fed belief that you know more than you know,” Hamilton told SolveClimate News. “People aren’t getting climate change information directly from scientists. Instead, it’s being filtered via the Internet. And these days, four or more years of vigorous and peer-reviewed research can get spun by a blogger in one day.”

New Hampshire Candidates Quiet on Climate and Clean Energy

Invited to a carbon forum in Manchester, candidates decline to attend

By Elizabeth McGowan

Oct 24, 2010

MANCHESTER, N.H.—What if you spent months organizing a forum to allow voters to quiz their congressional candidates directly about climate legislation, energy policy and green jobs—and none of the six invited candidates bothered to show up?

If you’re chairman of the New Hampshire Carbon Action Alliance, you don’t punt. Instead, you forge ahead with Plan B.

“We were confident that at the very least we could get one or two candidates to show up,” a disappointed but resilient Farrell Seiler told SolveClimate News in a post-forum interview. “I was after them and after them up until the last minute. Our goal was to let them know that these topics matter. My concern is that candidates aren’t paying attention to these vital environmental issues.”

Even just one candidate for Congress or the U.S. Senate appearing would have led to an overflow crowd at the Wednesday gathering, Seiler emphasized.

Hawaii Rejects Proposed Ban on Solar Energy

State's largest utility loses skirmish to solar industry group but could still halt feed-in tariff program

By Sara Stroud

Oct 22, 2010

The latest skirmish in an ongoing struggle between Hawaii’s largest utility and the state’s solar industry was settled earlier this month when state energy regulators rejected a proposed moratorium on new solar intallations and instead greenlighted a program intended to accelerate small solar development.

The state’s Public Utilities Commission that would allow renewable energy projects of up to 500 kilowatts to get paid for the power they feed back into the electrical grid.

The decision came despite requests from Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) to postpone the program over concerns that added distributed generation resources could destabilize the islands’ power grids.

Investors Warned of Hidden Financial Risks of Water Shortages

From Georgia to California, scarce water a threat to both environmental and financial security

By Lisa Song

Oct 22, 2010

An economic study released yesterday on ongoing and worsening water shortages in municipalities from Georgia to California is sending a warning signal to the investment community and highlighting the link between environmental and financial security.

Called , the study warns investors of the hidden risks embedded in bonds backing public water utilities and municipal power plants, increasingly vulnerable to water shortages due to climate change.

About 4 in 5 Americans get their water from public water utilities, and public power utilities provide electricity to 45 million people. The two industries are closely linked: power plants are responsible for 41% of national freshwater withdrawals, while water companies depend on electricity to transport water from reservoirs to homes.

"Investors should treat water availability as a growing credit risk," said Mindy Lubber, the President of Ceres, in a news conference. "Ample, long-term water supplies are not a guarantee, and (they are at risk) in many parts of the country."

Green Jobs & Clean Energy Gains on the Line in Governors' Races

Clean energy standards in Colorado, Minnesota and other states could be weakened

By Stacy Feldman

Oct 21, 2010

Colorado and other states with ambitious climate change agendas said on Wednesday they fear gubernatorial elections in their states could dial back job-creating clean energy policy.

Several Republican candidates in the 37 governors' races have suggested that they would undo renewable electricity standards (RES) that require a boost in cleaner-burning fuels if elected. They claim such measures harm the economy, chiefly through higher electricity bills, which is especially true in the Midwest and South, where solar and wind still lag behind the rest of the nation.

Colorado's , championed by Gov. Bill Ritter, orders utilities to get 30 percent of power from renewable sources by 2020. Supporters say the policy led to the creation of 20,000 new green jobs since 2004.

Ritter, who is not running for re-election, said it could be under attack.

India First to Track Multi-Trillion Dollar Value of Natural World

Hope that other nations will follow suit and also start accounting for "natural wealth," protect it from damage

by Juliette Jowit,

Oct 20, 2010

India is today expected to become the first country in the world to commit to publishing a new set of accounts which track the nation's plants, animals, water and other "natural wealth" as well as financial measurements such as GDP.

The announcement is due to be made at , and it is hoped that such a move by a major developing economy will prompt other countries to join the initiative.

Work on agreeing common measures, such as the value of ecosystems and their "services" for humans – from relaxation to clean air and fertile soils – will be co-ordinated by the World Bank, which hopes it can sign up 10-12 nations and publish the results by 2015 at the latest.

With 2 Weeks To Go, Green Groups Get Behind Clean Energy Election Push

Green Democratic majority in House riding on nail-biter races

By Elizabeth McGowan

Oct 20, 2010

WASHINGTON—In Gene Karpinski’s eyes, Nancy Pelosi is the most pro-environment speaker of the House ever. And as the president of the League of Conservation Voters, Karpinski doesn’t want to rock that green boat.

Here’s why the arithmetic leading up to the Nov. 2 midterm election makes him nervous: Republicans need to take over just 39 seats in the House to supplant Pelosi, a California Democrat. And political handicappers are predicting a GOP net gain of at least 40 during these tumultuous, tea partying and anti-establishment times.

Is Voluntary Disclosure of Fracking Fluids on the Internet Enough?

Industry says "yes," but environmental groups say voluntary disclosure is insufficient, as national web tool takes shape

By Stacy Feldman

Oct 19, 2010

A coalition of state water regulators is introducing a first-ever national Web tool to post potentially toxic chemicals used in the gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on the Internet for all to see.

The Okla.-based says its system will allow drillers to publish chemical recipes used in the new wells they have "fracked." Disclosure will be on a voluntary basis only, it said, but the group is optimistic firms will participate.

"My hope is that if we build it, they will use it," Mike Paque, executive director of the council, told SolveClimate News.

The "chemical registry" for fracking is being funded by the U.S. and is expected to launch at the end of November. "No one else is doing anything more progressive," Paque said.

But environmental groups, who fear fracking fluids are causing irreversible damage to groundwater, say anything voluntary is not likely to be enough. 

In Turkey, Environmental Opposition to Power Plants Invites Defamation Lawsuits

Turkish Law No. 5651 and lawsuits used to muzzle environmentalists

By Julia Harte

Oct 19, 2010

Editor's Note: This is the second of two parts. You can read the first part here.

Haluk Direskeneli says he's  “an engineer, not an environmentalist.” But he's been threatened with a lawsuit for criticizing Turkish energy investors who disregard the environment, as several environmentalists who have opposed power plants have been lately. 

An energy consultant and member of the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers in Ankara, Turkey's capital, Direskeneli says that he doesn't object to power plants as long as they follow environmental regulations.

But after he published an on weaknesses in the licensing process for new power plants in Turkey, he was told to retract it—or prepare for a lawsuit.

Nebraska Senator Asks State Department to Reroute Oil Sands Pipeline

Johanns wants to keep TransCanada's proposed oil artery away from Ogallala aquifer and sandhills

By Elizabeth McGowan

Oct 18, 2010

WASHINGTON—Concern that a proposed oil pipeline could irreversibly damage his home state’s aquifer and most fragile landscape has prompted Nebraska’s junior senator to ask the U.S. State Department to pursue an alternate, more easterly, route.

Republican Sen. Mike Johanns is urging officials to reroute the Keystone XL pipeline north from Steele City, Neb., to the U.S./Canada border in North Dakota instead of Montana.

Such a solution, he says, would keep TransCanada’s pipeline out of Nebraska’s sandhills and away from the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies 78 percent of the water supply and 83 percent of the water for irrigation in the Cornhusker State.