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If It's a War on Coal, Coal Is Winning

If It's a War on Coal, Coal Is Winning

As wars go, the fight between clean and dirty energy sources is more like a centuries-old religious conflict than shock and awe.

That’s one lesson from a new study of U.S. power generation by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. In 2040, the electricity sector might not look radically different from the way it does today, with emissions a little higher, or lower, and power sources still clubbing each other over the head for market share. Coal isn’t surrendering so fast, renewables won’t clean up the planet by themselves and, if the U.S. can ever put a price on carbon, the most politically tolerable level (here, $10 per metric ton of carbon dioxide) won’t do the trick. That’s just enough change to keep everybody in the game and nobody happy.

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Why Does Asia Call Hurricanes Typhoons?

Typhoon Neoguri

Or, why do Americans call typhoons hurricanes?

Either way, they’re the same thing.

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Unguarded Beaches: Today's Top Reads

Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • N.Y.’s Hamptons remain unguarded two years after Sandy (Bloomberg)
  • When beliefs and facts collide (NY Times)
  • Why the U.S. is starting to blow up old dams (Fast Company)
  • Agents tackle rhino horn smuggling from Miami hotel room (Bloomberg)
  • Dark snow: From the Arctic to the Himalayas, the phenomenon that is accelerating glacier melt (Guardian)
  • Why marijuana should be legal, and expensive (Atlantic)
  • Warming puts Emperor Penguins at risk of extinction (Climate Central)
  • Cruel trade in Asian elephants threatens survival (BBC)
  • Creative ways cities can fight the climate change ‘slow tsunami’ (GreenBiz)
  • Why the fossil fuel divestment movement is a farce (Al Jazeera)

Visit The Grid for the latest about energy, natural resources and global business.

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Bloomberg BNA — The Defense Department has made strides in assessing the impact of rising sea level, declines in sea ice, and other climate-related impacts on its more than 7,500 installations around the world but has yet to develop firm timetables for ensuring the work can prepare it for future adaptation efforts, the Government Accountability Office said in a June 30 report.

The DOD should set firm “milestones” for completing climate change vulnerability assessments of its installations and incorporate potential climate impacts in better prioritizing which military construction projects should get funding, the GAO said in the report, “Climate Change Adaptation: DOD Can Improve Infrastructure Planning and Processes to Better Account for Potential Impacts.”

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Bloomberg BNA — Appalachian streams polluted with mountaintop mining runoff have less than half as many fish species as non-impacted streams, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research.

The research, announced July 1, examined fish diversity and abundance in the Guyandotte River basin of West Virginia, documenting elevated selenium and electrical conductivity levels from mining runoff in streams where fish communities were degraded.

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Facebook Data Storage Facility

How many companies think climate change will have a material impact on their business? Not too many, apparently. Roughly half of the 3,000 biggest publicly traded companies in the U.S. say mum’s the word, reporting zilch in their annual filings to U.S. regulators.

A new online tool makes it easy to find which companies are disclosing climate-change risks -- both the direct impacts to the environment and indirect risks from tougher curbs on pollution. The tool, created by investment-advisory group Ceres and CookESG Research, scours SEC filings of the biggest American companies, included in the Russell 3000 index.

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Bloomberg BNA — Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have agreed to work together along with INTERPOL, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Development Program, the UN Environment Program and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to curb illegal logging and timber trade that is stripping the East African region of some of its most valuable natural resources and biodiversity.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, in explaining the role of INTERPOL and the UN agencies in the program, said the initiative will draw specialized expertise from each collaborating agency. “The five agencies will assist the governments of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to address a different facet of the illegal trade in timber, from economic drivers, corruption, law enforcement, customs control and monitoring.” he said.

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Bloomberg BNA — Recent high-profile Republican calls for action to address climate change are helpful because they frame the issue in terms of the economic costs of inaction, several senators who have worked on climate issues told Bloomberg BNA June 26.

However, those calls are unlikely to have altered the prospects for legislation among current lawmakers, multiple senators said.

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Canada Must Consult With Aboriginal Groups on Land Use: Court

Bloomberg BNA — A ruling June 26 by the Supreme Court of Canada that the federal and provincial governments must consult and accommodate aboriginal groups on proposed uses of aboriginal lands could play a significant role in government decisions on energy projects and pipelines.

“The right to control the land conferred by aboriginal title means that governments and others seeking to use the land must obtain the consent of the aboriginal title holders,” Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin wrote in the unanimous decision of eight judges. “If the aboriginal group does not consent to the use, the government's only recourse is to establish that the proposed incursion on the land is justified” under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, she said. Section 35 affirms indigenous rights.

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Watch Air Quality Above U.S. Cities Clear Up in Seconds

Unites States

U.S. city-dwellers can breathe easier than they have in years. Satellite maps released this week by NASA show a pervasive drop in nitrogen dioxide, which is emitted by cars, trucks, power plants and other combustion-fired machinery. That’s a boon for people who prefer inhaling air to corrosive industrial exhaust.

This NASA video condenses a decade of NO2 levels into ten seconds. Watch it. You can almost smell the oxygen as the unsightly red splotches shrink.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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