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But Barack Obama is also the most powerful person in the world who says he’s committed to averting climate disaster, and with acknowledging that comes some responsibilities. It turns out that even short of congressional action there are a number of extremely significant things the executive branch could do …… The environmental protection agency actually has the legal authority to begin regulating carbon under the Clean Air Act–no need for congressional approval. The executive branch is such a massive purchaser of energy, vehicles and equipment, it could use that purchasing power to create new, vibrant markets for clean energy.

And the White House currently has the authority to block the Keystone XL pipeline, which would pipe extremely carbon intensive tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in Texas. If that pipeline is built, it means a huge new source of emissions into the foreseeable future. The cliche about second presidential terms, one with, I think, a good deal of truth to it, is that in a second term, a president’s attention turns to leaving a legacy. I am almost certain that 50 or 100 years from now, the only issue that will really matter to people is what we did about the climate.

Chris Hayes, of Up With Chris Hayes, MSNBC, reacts to the President’s (surprising) concern about climate change in the Inaugural Address, Jan 21.  Despite the obstructionism of the 2013 Congress, says Hayes, the President has the responsibility to use his executive power to make progress on energy efficiency, alternative energy, and other reductions in our use of carbon.  Hayes’s full post.

Most Residential Consumers Unaware They are Energy Hogs

"For many years, we’ve asked consumers who they most blame for rising energy costs. And for years, respondents have said they most blame either 1) oil companies, or 2) the U.S. government – with utilities much farther down the list. This year, in light of declining natural gas prices, we edited the question, asking who (or what) respondents thought most affects energy costs. With this change, “blame” shifted dramatically to utilities, followed closely by oil companies and the U.S. government." "Most pertinent, however, is who Americans don’t blame – themselves. Only 12 percent blamed energy costs on their own demand, because 80 percent of consumers think they use the same or less energy in their homes than they did five years ago. And we know this simply isn’t true — American residential energy consumption hit record highs last year." From The Shelton Group. Let’s repeat: Shelton Group finds that 80 percent of us are unaware that we use more energy than 5 years ago in our homes.

Beijing to Curb Rampant Air Pollution

"The Beijing government put in place emergency measures on Wednesday to try to combat thick smog that has encased the city, which the Communist Party has hailed as a showcase capital, in brown and gray soot. The measures include temporarily shutting down more than 100 factories and ordering one-third of government vehicles off the streets, according to official news reports." — New York Times.

The human cost of coal, in photos -- Sierra magazine

When mining companies level West Virginia mountains to get at the coal beneath, towns disappear.

When a Michigan power plant burns coal to make electricity, it triggers asthma in children nearby.

When coal ash blows onto a Paiute reservation in Nevada, elders die.

Sierra traveled to those three states to ask people how their lives have been affected by the world’s dirtiest energy source—and what they’re doing to stop it.

This is how important mainstream media thinks home energy efficiency is:

The moderator arrived 2 minutes before shooting this public service segment the News Station is required to do; focused on the props we brought not the energy myths we were to talk about; and it was all over in 3 minutes on a Sunday morning before 7 am.

The sad fact is that most people don’t think they need an energy audit when they do.  They may have installed energy efficient windows, CFLs, or attic insulation and figure that’s enough.  They may have had a utility company assessment and followed up with work covered by rebates.  However, without an independent energy evaluation, most homeowners don’t really know how their home performs and how best to spend their money on energy efficient improvements.

We know one person who saw us on TV that morning — an insomniac carpenter friend of Cheryl’s. 

Humans are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde.

Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now

David Attenborough | Breaking News (via kateoplis)

Born in 1926,  Sir David Attenborough is a graduate of Cambridge University (1947) in Natural Sciences.  In 1979, he wrote and presented all 13 parts of "Life on Earth" (1979) (then the most ambitious series ever produced by the BBC Natural History Unit). This became a trilogy, with "The Living Planet" (1984) and "The Trials of Life" (1990).

(via kateoplis)

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

Pres. Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural Address, Jan 21, 2013, in which the President states that climate change and “sustainable energy sources” are something the US must lead on.

"A meat-eater with a bicycle is much more environmentally unfriendly than a vegetarian with a Hummer." — Dr Mark Post,a star of the Dutch research into in-vitro meat.

Alex Renton, “Inside the meat lab: the future of food,” in The Guardian.  A fascinating article on the future of food production.

Source Guardian