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Archive for the ‘ Climate change ’ Category

San Diego Council President Todd Gloria discusses Climate Action Plan

Gloria, ToddThis morning CleanTECH San Diego’s board meeting included a presentation by Todd Gloria, Council President of the City of San Diego, and most recently the City’s Interim Mayor.  Councilmember Gloria reviewed several items of interest to CleanTECH San Diego membership including the proposed City of San Diego Climate Action Plan.  The current working draft of the Plan was published in February 2014 near the end of Gloria’s six month stint as Interim Mayor.  He said that his goal is to have a plan which is specific and which challenges the community with aggressive goals.  He estimated the process to approve the Plan would most likely extend into the first quarter of 2015.  Click here for a copy of the Draft Plan and the Appendices

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UC San Diego’s Advanced Energy Initiative Public Lecture Series

Our Energy FutureYou are invited to come hear UC San Diego experts give informative TED-style general audience talks on the essential topics relating to the future of energy in this country and the world.  The Lecture Series will be held on Thursday evenings from 5:30-8:30pm on October 3, 10, 17, and 24 at Atkinson Hall, Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego. This series will launch the campus-wide Advanced Energy Initiative by Food and Fuel for the 21st Century and the Center for Energy Research.

10.03.13 Energy Production and Options for a Sustainable Future
10.10.13 The Impact of Energy on Climate Change
10.17.13 Social and Economic Issues of Energy
10.24.13 Energy, Water, and Food Security

Each evening will feature three speakers followed by a catered reception for attendees to connect with the students, faculty, and investigators who are conducting advanced energy research at UC San Diego. Visit the Our Energy Future page to see the topics and speakers. The first night will be October 3 and cover Production and Utilization of Energy.

REGISTER>>

Energy Future Public Lecture Series Phone: 858-534-6383

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As CO2 Approaches Symbolic Milestone, Scripps Launches Daily Keeling Curve Update

For the first time in human history, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) could rise above 400 parts per million (ppm) for sustained lengths of time throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere as soon as May 2013.

To provide a resource for understanding the implications of rising CO2 levels, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is providing daily updates of the “Keeling Curve,” the record of atmospheric CO2 measured at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. These iconic measurements, begun by Charles David (Dave) Keeling, a world-leading authority on atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation and Scripps climate science pioneer, comprise the longest continuous record of CO2 in the world, starting from 316 ppm in March 1958 and approaching 400 ppm today with a familiar saw-tooth pattern. For the past 800,000 years, CO2 levels never exceeded 300 parts per million.

Keeling Curve 2013

“I wish it weren’t true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400-ppm level without losing a beat,” said Scripps geochemist Ralph Keeling, who has taken over the Keeling Curve measurement from his late father. “At this pace we’ll hit 450 ppm within a few decades.”

The website keelingcurve.ucsd.edu offers (more…)

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Crippling Intellects

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

People can be individually smart and collectively dumb. Or some may argue that people can be individually dumb yet collectively smart. When it comes to plotting a future path, I think we often get the worst of both worlds. In this post, I’ll look at the role that mental horsepower plays in our societal narratives, for better or for worse. We’ll explore two aspects to the problem: people who are so smart that they have dumb ideas; and smart people who are held captive by the manufactured “dumb” of society.

A word of warning: “smart” and “dumb” are loaded words, and even impolite. We place so much value on intelligence in our society that being called smart can make a person’s day, while being called dumb can cut to the core. We’re very sensitive to people’s perceptions of our intellectual standing, and some of the choicest insecurities are laid upon this foundation. I use “smart” and “dumb” as blunt instruments in this post, so if you’re particularly touchy on the topic, either steel yourself or skip the post and call it the smartest thing you did all day.

Let me preface what I am about to say by the disclaimer that most of this is conjecture. I have little data, relying instead on hunches about what makes people tick based on personal observations.

One other disclaimer: this isn’t a post whose veiled message is how smart I am. I might once have thought so, but then I met bona-fide geniuses when I was in grad school at Caltech. Fortunately, I was mature enough at that point for it not to cause a crisis of confidence or identity, and rather enjoyed the window I had into the off-scale brilliance of some individuals. So let’s go ahead and put me in the dumb box so we can move on to what I want to say.

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When Science is a Conveyor of Bad News

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

Science is a phenomenal institution. Sometimes I can’t believe we created this construct that works so incredibly well. It manages to convert human imperfections into a remarkably robust machine that has aided our growth juggernaut. Yet science seeks truth, and sometimes the truth is not what we want to hear. How will we respond? Will we kill the messenger and penalize the scientific institution for what is bound to be an increasing barrage of bad news this century as Earth fills beyond capacity?

I think for many people in our society, personal contact with science is limited to science classes in school or perhaps the dreaded science fair—or maybe as adults watching shows like Nova or tuning in to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

So let me take a moment to explain science as I have come to understand it. (You can skip if you already have a firm grip.)

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PRESENTATION: 2012 California Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade

On March 29 the Environmental Breakfast Club will present: 2012 California Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade Implementation.

The program will provide a summary of AB32 Cap-and-Trade Requirements – the legal challenges and policy proceedings, an update on ARB Cap-and-Trade implementation options, the recent registration process for covered entities, and the schedule for additional compliance requirements for 2012 and beyond. You’ll also hear from experts Craig Anderson of Solar Turbines and Jackie Ferlita of Element Markets who will discuss compliance strategies such as:   

  • Benchmarking and free allocations  
  • Covered entities to reduce GHG emissions
  • Indirect impacts expected by the rule, such as higher electricity and water rates, and what companies can do to prepare to mitigate the impacts
  • The opt-in options 
  • Setting up compliance accounts  
  • The role of the carbon markets 
  • Compliance strategies for the first period 

Panelists

Partner and Clean Tech Practice Group Leader

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP 

President 

BlueScape Environmental, Inc. 

Corporate Director of Environmental and Government   Affairs   

Solar Turbines    

Director

Element Markets     

Thursday, March 29, 201    7:30 – 9:30 am
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP 
525 B Street

First Floor Conference Center 
San Diego, CA 92101    

Please RSVP to:
Brittany Lewis at 619.525.3818

brittany.lewis@procopio.com

This event is complimentary to attend

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Dr. Naomi Oreskes: The verdict is in on climate change

UC San Diego History and Science Studies Professor, Dr. Naomi Oreskes, the co-author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming was recently featured on the OpEd page of the Los Angeles Times.  “The verdict is in on climate change” is a logical and articulate presentation why, in this case, the seemingly reasonable act of maintaining an open mind is, in fact, unreasonable.  Click here to get the full impact in her words.

In Merchants of Doubt, Dr. Oreskes describes how denial-for-hire “experts” have been involved in a continuum of anti-science campaigns stretching back over 50 years to a time when cigarettes were supposedly healthy.  Their tactics have centered on nurturing doubt to forestall action.  The jury is still out; two sides to every story; don’t rush to judgment are their common themes.

The remarkable scientific advances of the past two centuries are based upon a process of research, followed by scientific writing, followed by peer review.  Modern scientific truths are not based on opinion polls or the forcefully stated positions of hired guns from unrelated fields.  The fact that not every scientist within a given field is in agreement does not negate the validity of the peer reviewed conclusions held by the vast majority.  Imagine that you had a child with a life-threating medical condition.  Your doctors agree on the recommended course of action.  In doing so they reveal that their conclusions are held by 90% of the physicians in their specialty.  Would you not take action because their conclusions were not universally held?  Would tell your child, “The jury is still out?”  Would you wait?

Click here for my 2010 review of Merchants of Doubt.  Buy a copy for yourself and for all of your smart friends who read.  

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Smart City San Diego Collaborates to Deliver Results

With a focus on the San Diego region’s job growth, smarter technology development, solar energy storage integration and increased electric vehicle infrastructure and deployment, Smart City San Diego is delivering results. The collaborative is made up of City of San Diego, GE, UC San Diego, CleanTECH San Diego and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).  It formed to leverage each entity’s strengths to create and implement initiatives to improve the region’s energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assert San Diego as a clean energy leader.

“Over the past year, Smart City San Diego has been forward-thinking about creating opportunities for a more sustainable region,” said San Diego Mayor Sanders. “Moving into 2012, our collaborative will continue to build on those results and develop and launch even more initiatives to drive economic growth for our region.”

These results include:

Car2Go: The City of San Diego and SDG&E worked with Daimler’s Car2Go to make San Diego’s launch of its plug-in electric vehicle car sharing pilot a big success. The City continues to work with SDG&E to increase the number of public-access charging stations throughout the Car2Go targeted region. The team is working collectively to educate the community about the benefits of the pilot program and expects to increase public interest in electric vehicles and encourage the growth of the plug-in electric vehicle industry in San Diego. Data gained from Car2Go will provide information on where charging stations are most needed. Smart City San Diego also continues to work to streamline the permitting process for deploying charging stations.

Smart Appliances: SDG&E and GE are working together to test the communication links between GE’s smart appliances and SDG&E’s smart meters to ensure consumers are empowered with the best technologies to manage energy use and costs. GE’s Appliances business is supplying SDG&E with a smart dishwasher, washer and dryer along with a GE Nucleus energy manager and Programmable Control Thermostat to expedite the testing process. SDG&E’s team is currently testing the communication between these assets prior to consumer deployment.

Economic Development and Job Growth: CleanTECH San Diego – working with the City of San Diego, SDG&E, UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and its private sector member companies – is quantifying and categorizing regional clean tech companies that touch smart grid technology development. Categories include solar energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, clean transportation and other technology companies. CleanTECH San Diego has also created a baseline analysis of the direct and indirect economic impacts of the named clusters. This baseline analysis can help quantify year-over-year job growth and other economic impacts of the regional smart grid sector. This will be particularly helpful in measuring the economic impact of the over 180 solar companies and over 20 storage companies that call San Diego home.

Solar Integrated Energy Storage: UC San Diego and SDG&E have submitted a grant application to test, demonstrate and evaluate a variety of solar integrated energy storage projects over a 12 to 24 month period. If funded, this initiative will test multiple applications at multiple sites and provide analysis for the benefit of utilities, grid planners, regulators, solar inverter manufacturers, system integrators, business modelers, energy storage manufacturers and other early adopters. CleanTECH San Diego supports this initiative as part of efforts to advance the region as an Innovation Hub (IHub).  In August 2010, the California Governor’s Office of Economic Development designated the greater San Diego region as an IHub for solar energy storage.  The purpose of the IHub is to build on the region’s existing innovation infrastructure and strong culture of collaboration to accelerate the convergence of solar energy and energy storage.

Policy Leadership: In July 2010, Smart City San Diego hosted California Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron for a day long briefing on San Diego’s smart grid initiatives.  The Commissioner met with industry representatives from the solar, energy efficiency, smart grid and technology sectors and toured UC San Diego’s world renowned microgrid.  The collaborative held a roundtable with the Commissioner to brief him on the vision and work of Smart City San Diego.

Solar Decathlon 2013 Finalist: The City of San Diego and UC San Diego worked with the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Committee to make San Diego one of two finalists for the location of the 2013 Solar Decathlon. The event promotes the outreach, education, and economic benefits of energy security, renewable energy and energy efficiency.  If early projections bear out, attendance at the event has the potential to be larger than the San Diego Convention Center’s highest attended conference and create a positive economic impact for the region.

Economic Development and Job Growth: GE worked with CleanTech San Diego and SDG&E to host a GE Sourcing Supplier Diversity event for the first time in San Diego.  Over 50 diverse local suppliers participated in one-on-one sessions with GE buyers to learn how best to work with GE and be considered for future projects.

“GE is proud to bring our grid modernization technology and expertise to Smart City San Diego,” said Mark Hura, global smart grid commercial Leader for GE’s Digital Energy business.  ”An efficient, reliable and sustainable electric infrastructure is essential to powering economic growth and supporting business, industry and the dynamic lifestyles of a skilled workforce.  We applaud all the successes over the past year and look forward to many more to come.”

Formed in January 2011, Smart City San Diego was charged with bringing together leading organizations from government, business, education and non-profit to maximize synergies to drive sustainability programs forward, identify new opportunities, embrace additional collaborators, and move the San Diego region beyond today’s boundaries of sustainability.  This model will be able to be duplicated in other regions.

The collaborative leverages its strengths and resources as a partnership to develop and implement local initiatives that will empower consumers, improve environmental quality, drive economic growth, and reduce the San Diego region’s reliance on oil.  The collaborative is working toward a more consumer-focused, environmentally conscious energy future by addressing San Diegan’s 21st century energy needs.

Click here for the Smart City San Diego website

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E2 EcoSalon: Energy Security and the Impact on the Economy

Carl Nettleton, Lee Stein, Elizabeth Dreicer McPhail, Bryce Rhodes

The E2 San Diego Chapter held an EcoSalon on Thursday, October 20, titled, “Energy Security and the Impact on the Economy.”  The event was held at Chapter Co-Director Lee Stein’s home and featured three panelists: Leendert “Len” Hering Sr. RADM, USN (ret.); Stephen Mayfield, UC San Diego Professor of Biology and Director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology; and Marney Cox, Chief Economist for the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). E2 San Diego Chapter Co-Director Carl Nettleton moderated the session. 

San Diego is a hub for both the military and alternative fuels development and the panelists discussed the national and local imperatives driving the military’s emphasis on reducing or eliminating fossil fuel use.  According to Chapter Co-Director Elizabeth Dreicer McPhail, the event met the goal of bringing together a small but quality group of business and community leaders to provide visibility for E2 while researching locally important issues and appealing to potential new members.

In August E2 published a 23 page report, Advanced Biofuel Market Report 2011.  Click here for your copy.

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity.  E2 has seven chapters: Northern California, New England, New York, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

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X Prize Foundation: Which incentive prize to drive cleantech?

On Friday Dr. Peter Diamandis, founder and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, was the keynote speaker for the annual venture summit of the San Diego Venture Group.  This was my second opportunity to hear the dynamic Diamandis present.  His work is focused outside the box, but not so far as to be non-productive; in summary, “audacious yet achievable”.

The X PRIZE Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in R&D worth far more than the prize itself.  The first two X Prize competitions awarded $20 million to the winners.  In May the X PRIZE Foundation announced that they would collaborate with Qualcomm Incorporated to design the Tricorder X PRIZE, a $10 million prize to develop a mobile solution that can diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians.

In addition to active X Prize competitions there are others which are in development waiting funding or under consideration including several in the category of Energy & Environment.  The X Prize website lists a dozen “audacious yet achievable” topics for consideration.  (click to link)

In particular I am intrigued with Carbon Utilization and Solar Pavement.

Carbon Utilization

We recycle aluminum, glass, paper, plastic, and yard waste – why not carbon? As of now, no company has successfully commercialized a carbon utilization technology. Current government funding is narrowly focused on ultra-expensive geologic sequestration, which treats carbon as a liability, with virtually no attention to utilization technologies, which treat carbon as an asset. A Carbon Utilization competition crosses political boundaries and environmental ideologies by finding profit in reducing emissions through technological solutions. The goal would be to develop radical new technologies that solve the global carbon challenge by recycling CO2 into brilliant new products. The winning team must create a system that cost-effectively transforms carbon emissions from coal-based power plants into beneficial products. This must be accomplished while maintaining energy producers’ ability to provide reliable cost-effective “base load” power to their customers, including those below the poverty level.

Solar Pavement

While nearly 3% of US land area is covered by pavement, it provides no benefit other than surface structure. A significant impact could be achieved if it were made to also produce power. The goal of the Solar Pavement competition will be to turn blacktop surfaces into photovoltaic power generation sources. The winner will be the first team to convert a one acre parking lot surface into a generator that can produce a peak power output of 50kW of solar energy.

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CA Proposition 23 and the National Clean Energy Dialogue

By Guest Author Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP

Tom Steyer has a vision for a national dialogue about energy production and consumption.  At the 2011 gathering of the Cleantech Investor Summit in Palm Springs, California, Steyer shared his perspective on the defeat of Proposition 23, along with how that outcome can inform the national conversation on clean energy issues.

Steyer is an unlikely spokesperson in the clean energy movement.  As the founder and co-managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, he has built a career around institutional investing for schools, foundations and high-net-wealth individuals.

“I have been a professional investor for the last 30 years, not having to do with clean energy,” said Steyer.  “When Prop 23 was proposed, I assumed that I would do absolutely nothing.  When everyone else took the exact same (more…)

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Return of the T-RECs: Back from Extinction, Part Two

By GUEST AUTHOR Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about the unanimous decision of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to allow Tradable Renewable Energy Credits (T-RECs) in California.  If you’re not familiar with a T-REC, it is, quite simply, an environmental commodity representing the environmental attributes associated with one MegaWatt hour of renewable energy generation.

According to the CPUC, under the new rules, T-RECs “can be purchased by a utility and traded separately from the underlying energy produced by a renewable generating facility.  These energy credits can then be applied, by the utility, toward their renewable energy compliance goals.”

Within days of last year’s March 11 decision, a flurry of (more…)

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California Proposition 23 and Implications for Cleantech

By GUEST AUTHOR Courtland Weisleder, President and founder of Greener Dawn, Inc.,

Proposition 23, which would Suspend AB 32, the Global Warming Act of 2006, is on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California.  Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) is known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.  The act, passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is California’s landmark clean air legislation which requires that greenhouse gas emission levels in the state be cut to 1990 levels by 2020.  As part of this process, utilities in the state are required to obtain a third of their power from renewable sources.  If Proposition 23 is passed, AB 32 would be suspended until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% for four consecutive quarters.  To put that number in perspective, California’s unemployment rate, which currently hovers around 12%, has been at 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters just three times since 1980.

Arguments for Prop 23

The arguments for Prop 23 are summarized here in a column quoted from (more…)

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Proposition 23 puts San Diego cleantech jobs at risk

Californians face a crucial vote on Proposition 23 on November 2.  Funded primarily by Texas oil companies, Proposition 23 would undo California’s landmark climate change law, AB 32.  In the midst of a frustratingly stalled economy, dirty energy companies seek to jam a monkey wrench into the one area of our economy which is showing measureable progress, clean technology. 

The intent of Proposition 23 is to thwart the strongest clean energy policy ever passed in the United States.  To protect their future markets, big oil interests spread the fear of job loss.  In fact, the clean technology sector in California has been one of the few areas of job creation in our country.  With or without California the world will move forward with clean technology.  California’s leadership in this transformation means jobs now and more jobs later.

Let’s focus on what we know for sure.  Our planet is occupied by 6.87 billion people.  California has 37 million.  Although California represents less than 0.5% of the world’s population, its portfolio of (more…)

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119 one-liners to respond to climate change skeptics

While he drinks your beer in your house your know-it-all brother-in-law spouts out “There’s no consensus about climate change.  And anyway everybody knows that volcanoes belch out more CO2 than humans.”  You could respond with a sharp wack to his temple with the remote control or you could whip out your iPhone and tap the app for Skeptical Science

Also available on-line and via Android, Skeptical Science lists 119 one-line responses to combat climate “skeptics” and “disinformers”.  Each response links to the supporting scientific references.  The counter to “…no consensus about climate change”, is “97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.”   To add credibility to your rebuttal, a click on the answer links to a basic 500 word explanation.  If you need to pull out the big guns you can click on the intermediate level of response for a more detailed explanation with charts, peer-reviewed research etc. 

 Skeptical Science is the labor-of-love of Australian John Cook.  He notes that “Scientific skepticism (more…)

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A book to read and give

The focus of the Climate Club dinner held in April was a discussion with scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) about the challenges they face dealing with aggressive attacks on their work on climate change.  The organizer of the event, John Lormon, noted that “The science community is generally not organized or culturally equipped to respond to politically motivated attacks on their findings.  If these attacks are successful in challenging the credibility of the science, they can be used to establish claims that can negatively impact California’s economy and jobs”. 

Those in attendance were of diverse backgrounds, but by the end of the evening I sensed a common denominator of extreme frustrated concern.   What we learned from SIO Professors Richard Somerville, Ray Weiss, Ralph Keeling and Andrew Dickson was made doubly disturbing by their personal testimony.  It is one thing to discuss climate change denial in the abstract.  It is another to hear the stories of deceit and distortion directed at the life’s work of serious scientists whose only motivation is to “do science” honestly and objectively.  This is not a story of competing theories, but rather one in which established science is ignored or misrepresented.  The complexity and scope of climate change denial is of enormous magnitude.   As the evening ended I was saddened with the sense that none of us saw a clear path of response.   The following month Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway published a book which beams light on the path.

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming will, I guarantee, make you angry.  Oreskes and Conway pinpoint the scientists-for-hire, think tanks and foundations which thread from one denial campaign to another beginning with the tobacco industry’s multiple decade stall on the linkage between smoking and cancer.  The stage is filled with many of the same players who challenged the science behind acid rain, ozone depletion and now global warming.  What is amazing is that denial-for-hire has become a robust industry.  Huge funding from the tobacco industry, oil and others hides behind the artifice of educational foundations and even attorney-client privilege.  Some big-name national commentators have set up “foundations” so that they can receive funding from special interest groups and maintain deniability that they are not journalists for hire. 

Go to Amazon.  Buy the book.  If you already own it, buy copies to give to your smart friends.  Thought leaders everywhere need to know this story.  You can make a difference.

Naomi Oreskes is a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego.  There have been many reviews written about this important book.  Here’s one by Jesse Kornbluth.

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Eight from UCSD among 255 scientists signing open letter about climate disruption

On Thursday, 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel laureates, made public an open letter striking out at the orchestrated effort by a small network of climate deniers that has deliberately sought to confuse the public’s understanding of the dangers of climate change.  Signers include eight scientists from University of California at San Diego.  The statement is direct and elegant.  Click here for the full text.

Recently I had the honor to be included in a group brought together to discuss the communication challenges discussed in the letter.  In attendance that evening were four scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who have spent decades dealing first hand with the study of climate.  It was a wide ranging discussion.  One concept that I took away was that the science we use to make decisions is the best science we have at hand.  Like climate science, medical science is imperfect and essential.  If my surgeon tells me that 95% of medical specialists are 95% confident of the efficacy of a recommended procedure, I will use that information to make my decision.  Even if my choice were to side with the minority viewpoint, I would make a decision.  What I would not do is revert to the no-decision mode of (more…)

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T-RECs Invade California Energy Market

To meet renewable goals, California utilities can buy power from Arizona households. It’s a new ball game.

By GUEST AUTHOR Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP

Barken T-RECSTo meet their renewable standards, California utilities are now able to look outside the state. What happens next should be interesting.

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandates minimum renewable energy thresholds in a utility company’s electricity mix. In California, that minimum is 20% by the end of 2010. Utilities can obtain a three-year extension, and most will ask for that, but 2010 is still the official deadline.

Why an RPS?

According to the Public Utilities Code, Section 399.11, an increase in renewable resources “may promote stable electricity prices, protect public health, improve environmental quality, stimulate sustainable economic development, create new employment opportunities, and reduce reliance on imported fuels.”

However, these lofty goals overlooked one important element: execution.  Drafting a law mandating a 20% renewable mix doesn’t (more…)

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Climate & Energy Law in San Diego

USD LogoCritical to the success of any regional technology cluster is the presence of an engaged legal community.  The rapidly expanding roster of clean technology companies in San Diego has the benefit of a strong base of intellectual property legal talent which has served our life science and high tech hubs for more than a generation.  Like every other aspect of local technology advancement, our institutions of higher education have provided intellectual stimulus.  Recently the University of San Diego School of Law began publication of the San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law.  This is the first academic law journal in (more…)

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SEC Clears the Air: New guidance clarifies climate change disclosure requirements

By GUEST AUTHOR Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP

While President Obama drew 48 million viewers for his State of the Union address, another noteworthy – albeit quieter – presentation was being made across town at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  The SEC, not particularly known for its marketing prowess, used the same day that Obama took the podium to announce that the SEC commissioners had voted to approve the release of interpretive guidance on financial disclosures related to climate change.  

In what might be characterized as the pin drop heard around the world, the SEC highlighted four areas where climate related disclosures may be required:

  • Impact of Legislation and Regulation
  • Impact of International Accords
  • Indirect Consequences of Regulation or Business Trends
  • Physical Impacts of Climate Change 

Science and Environment Commission?

 SEC Chair Mary Shapiro was quick to point out that the interpretive guidance is not an official position on climate change.  “We are not opining on whether the world’s climate is changing, (more…)

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GUEST AUTHOR San Diego to Copenhagen: It’s a Small World After All

By Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP

BARKEN future_nowIt’s a balmy 67 degrees in San Diego and I’m back home at my local coffee shop, sipping Chai Tea Latte.  A short 24 hours ago, I was in the snow and bitter cold of Copenhagen, Denmark, attending the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP15) climate summit.

For two brief weeks, people from around the world had been gathered to discuss how carbon emissions are affecting our environment.  Despite a failure to sign a major agreement, the victory of the conference has been its ability to focus world attention on climate change issues.  COP-15 has captured the public’s interest, raised awareness and energized ordinary citizens into action.

Acknowledging the gravity of climate change is a difficult task to consider as I sip a tasty beverage in the comfort of my shorts and t-shirt.  Perhaps the single largest challenge for reducing carbon emissions is to convey a sense of urgency to those who are the least affected.  Has our (more…)

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SIDEBAR: Video interview and photos from Copenhagen

Not only has Lee Barken provided us with a daily report from the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP15) climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, he also provided those of us suffering the heat in San Diego with a video interview and a photo montage of events in Copenhagen including the Bright Green Conference

Click here for video interview:

Click here for photos:

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GUEST AUTHOR Carbon Debt: What Is the Industrial World’s Responsibility to Developing Countries?

By Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP

BARKEN avatar_93As we begin the final day of the Conference of Parties (Cop15) climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, the grueling hours and stressful conditions are surely taking their toll on official delegates. It is, however, extremely impressive to see how tactful and diplomatic the country representatives are, even when speaking with observers and civil society participants.

After one particularly late night at the Bella Center, home of Cop15, I waited at the Metro station at 1:30 a.m. in the snow and freezing temperatures and happened to engage in conversation with a negotiator from Bolivia.

The position of Bolivia and others in the region is that the atmosphere is polluted with emissions lingering from the dawn of the industrial era. In other words, developed countries spewed all these (more…)

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GUEST OPINION: Slavery, Carbon, Economics and the Ties that Bind Us

By Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP

BARKEN slaveryWith the gathering of more than 130 world leaders in Copenhagen this week, the issue of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is taking center stage.  GHG has become the burden that no one country can unilaterally cure, but every person on the planet has a vested interest in addressing.

Cap and trade, along with other policy measures, have stirred a great deal of controversy–as they should.  Decisions to significantly alter the fabric of commerce and daily life should not be taken lightly.  Rigorous debate is essential and should be welcomed.

However, even the most ardent climate skeptic acknowledges that finite resources such as oil and other fossil fuels won’t last forever.  As such, the debate seems to be evolving into a question of when and not if.  In other words, (more…)

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GUEST AUTHOR: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to COP15 Climate Talks

The COP15 corridor dance: A yellow badge-wearer chats up a pink badge-wearer.

The COP15 corridor dance: A yellow badge-wearer chats up a pink badge-wearer.

By Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP

Wish you were here? Allow me to draw a picture.

We’re now well into week two of the COP-15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen and the diplomats, activists and media representatives are fully engulfed in a whirlwind of activity.  Beyond the maze of the Bella Center’s million square feet, 60 meeting rooms and winding pathways lies another maze comprised of diplomatic maneuvering, backroom gamesmanship and good old-fashioned guerrilla marketing.  Knowing where to go and what to do (more…)

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