Dec 12, 2010

Some positive environmental news

After years of wrangling, the gigantic wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod has been finally approved:
After more than eight years of federal review by the U.S. Department of the Interior through two administrations, Cape Wind was finally approved last spring by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. More lawsuits were filed, but on Aug. 31 a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against community opposition and granted the Cape Wind energy project the permits to begin construction. Many community members have pledged to keep fighting, suggesting that the wind farm sets a dangerous precedent for private developers who want to open the area to drilling rigs or nuclear power plants. The wind farm is anticipated to be fully operational by late 2012 and is estimated to cost at least $2 billion. It will have the capacity to power about three-quarters of Cape Cod’s residents — many of whom continue to fight Cape Wind Associates.
In a surprising twist, though, Texas has been quietly building massive wind capacity:
The story of wind off Texas’ coast will be written very differently from that of Massachusetts. The Lone Star State already has the capacity to produce 10,000 megawatts of wind power on land, making it by far the nation’s leading producer of wind energy. With dramatic irony, many tapped-out oilfields have been resurrected as wind farms. Today, if Texas were a nation, it would be the sixth-largest wind producer in the world.
Don't mess with Texas. Further south, the climate negotiations in Cancun have actually shown some real results:
Broadly, the agreement accomplishes most of what observers hoped it would heading in two weeks ago: It records the commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions that developed and developing countries made in Copenhagen, establishes a framework for transparency, sets up a global climate fund with the goal of providing $100 billion in financing to developing countries by 2020, and establishes an initiative aimed at curbing deforestation.

Observers and many parties acknowledged that the progress was modest, and that the emission pledges still fall short of the stated goal of limiting global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Those pledges are not legally binding—nor do they answer the outstanding questions about the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, which binds most industrialized nations to emmissions targets, and which is set to expire in 2012.
It's not nearly enough to solve the problem, but it's quite a lot more than I would have expected.  Here's hoping my pessimism will turn out to be completely wrong.

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