Nick Engelfried

Nick Engelfried

Posts by This Writer

11 years 3 months ago

In Australia, dissatisfaction with the failure of major political parties to act on climate change has handed the Australian Greens a key place in government - and an opportunity to at last make real progress on the climate. Australia’s national election last month not only left neither major party with a governing majority, but saw unprecedented support for the Greens. The Greens now hold nine seats in the Australian Senate, and for the first time ever have won a seat in Australia’s lower house as well.

Prime Minister...


11 years 3 months ago

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico should have been enough to spur policymakers to invest in renewable energy and emissions reduction programs, encouraging a new wave of low-carbon innovation. Yet just in case there was any doubt that oil spills and other accidents are not a freak occurrence, but rather an unavoidable consequence of drilling for oil, maybe today’s reports of a second oil drilling platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico will drive the message home.

Proving BP is not the only oil company prone to accidents, the drilling platform in question this time belongs to the Houston-based company Mariner Energy. The accident occurred sometime this morning...


11 years 3 months ago

If you’ve done much work on energy and emissions issues, chances are you’ve run into questions about the intermittency of renewable energy. They come up all the time—both in interpersonal interactions, and even more in online forums. After you’ve sung the praises of renewable energy and made your point about how much potential there is to develop renewable power, someone asks a question that goes something like this: “What are we going to do when the wind’s not blowing and the sun isn’t...


11 years 3 months ago

At left: Corvallis Mayor Charlie Tomlinson stops by a carbon challenge booth to talk with NICE organizer Chelsea Thaw

The climate science is clear: to preserve the planet in a habitable state, major economies must reduce fossil fuel consumption dramatically. But if the need for action is clear, figuring out exactly how to break the addiction to carbon-based fuels has always been more challenging. National governments have been unwilling to take...


11 years 3 months ago

China’s drive to meet growing energy demand with new coal plants, and other polluting power sources that come with high carbon emissions, has grabbed a lot of media attention. There’s good reason for this: China’s carbon emissions are growing faster than any other country on a per-ton basis, mainly due to skyrocketing demand and a reliance on fossil fuels like coal to produce energy.

But what’s received less attention is the fact that China is simultaneously decommissioning many of its dirtiest and least efficient power plants. In the last three years alone, China has shut down...


11 years 3 months ago

Policymakers in Chile might do well to learn a lesson from developing countries like St Lucia and Ecuador, which are setting themselves up to be leaders in clean energy and reducing carbon emissions. The government’s current plan to meet growing energy demand with coal-fired power plants has met with widespread opposition—apparently stemming both concerns about both the immediate impact of coal plants on the environment, and coal’s hefty carbon footprint that...


11 years 3 months ago

It turns out toxic coal ash in the United States is an even worse problem than previously thought, with thirty-nine until-now undocumented dumping sites newly identified by environmental groups. Dubbed “the other carbon emission”by Justmeans writer Paul Birkeland, coal ash is one of the most dangerous—and until recently overlooked—byproducts of burning coal for fuel. A report released todayby the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and the Environmental Integrity Project...


11 years 3 months ago

Sure they’re far from the most important causes of climate change. But the manufacture of plastic shopping bags produces carbon emissions as well as a host of other environmental problems, and eliminating disposable plastic bags in supermarkets should be a relatively easy step for local, state, and national governments to take on behalf of the planet. Fortunately a growing number of governments across the world—from individual cities to the most populated nation on the planet—are doing just that.

Just Wednesday Mexico City, which is home to nine...


11 years 3 months ago

If you follow the news on climate change, chances are good you’ve run across the idea of “geoengineering” at some point. While the details of different geoengineering schemes vary, the basic idea is the same: through technological feats of an enormous scale, humans might be able to counteract the effects of climate change by intentionally altering the structure of the atmosphere or reflecting large amounts of heat back into space.

On its face it seems like an attractive idea: geoengineering suggests an easy way out of climate change, promising that we don’t have to...


11 years 3 months ago

As part of its new ten-year plan, the Tennessee Valley Authority plans to retire at least 1,000 megawatts of coal energy (and emissions that come with burning coal) by the year 2015. This amounts to about 7% of TVA’s total coal fired capacity, and represents a good first step for this federally owned energy supplier that controls a sizable fraction of the eastern US coal fleet.

TVA’s actions should call into question why other power suppliers like the Northwest’s Portland General Electric keep insisting they can’t get their own dirty and outdated coal plants offline...


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