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Enough With the Fat Climate Change Reports Already

Enough With the Fat Climate Reports Already

Early next week the group drops the last of four massive tomes that together make up its fifth report in a quarter century. In essence, next week's edition is a synthesis of the thousands of pages of synthesis that started coming out last fall.

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Solar

Every time fossil fuels get cheaper, people lose interest in solar deployment. That may be about to change.

After years of struggling against cheap natural gas prices and variable subsidies, solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 U.S. states -- in 2016, according to a Deutsche Bank report published this week. That’s assuming the U.S. maintains its 30 percent tax credit on system costs, which is set to expire that same year.

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This election is supposed to be all about energy. Billionaire oilmen are spilling their wallets, and environmental groups are spending record amounts. The New York Times joined others last week with a story declaring “an explosion of energy and environmental ads.”

If that’s the narrative you’re looking for, there’s plenty of evidence. There are climate and environment ads like this, this and this, and pro-coal ads from both parties like this and this. So far, there have been 125,000 Senate TV ads mentioning energy and the environment, according to Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks campaign ads. That’s the highest level in at least the last four election cycles.

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Brooklyn Bridge

There are 8 million stories in the naked city and at the moment they’re all themed “Ebola.” Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and public health officials are trying to slim the number of stories down to one. It goes like this.

Craig Spencer, 33, is a New York City doctor who contracted Ebola while in Guinea volunteering with Doctors Without Borders. His diagnosis, the first in New York City, has brought the disease to the nation’s most densely populated region.

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Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • Jakarta's $40 billion plan to stop sinking into the ocean (Fast Company)
  • India's largest dam given clearance but still faces flood of opposition (Guardian)
  • There's a surprisingly strong link between climate change and violence (Washington Post)
  • Burden of Germany's shift to renewable energy falls on taxpayers, but energy rates are close to U.S. range (ClimateWire)
  • What will winter hold for drought-plagued California (Climate Central)
  • Motor chills EV drivers' anxiety about going the distance (Scientific American)
  • South Florida wants to be the 51st state because of climate change worries (National Journal)
  • 'Extreme Whether' explores the climate fight as a family feud (NY Times)

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

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Marijuana Smoking

Few will be surprised that teens can be struck dumb by heavy pot smoking. What's interesting is the question that new research raises: Can kids under 16 get baked every now and then without limiting their long-term brain power?

Sixteen-year-olds who regularly enjoy marijuana show somewhat diminished grades, according to a new analysis of data on 2,235 British children born in 1991 and 1992. What the study considers moderate users -- teens who have smoked cannabis fewer than 50 times -- showed no similar losses on exams.

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Electricity

Why can't we buy electricity the way we buy peanut butter?

It's very easy, apparently, to buy 35-pound tubs of peanut butter. Just search for "peanut butter" on Google Shopping. They cost $51.99 each.

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Break-Even Points for U.S. Shale Oil

Oil Is Cheap. But Not So Cheap That Americans Won’t Profit From

Oil profits are being tested. Crude prices have face-planted to their cheapest level since 2010, threatening the balance sheets of companies and the budgets of nations.

Take Canada’s controversial oil sands. With crude prices teasing $80 a barrel for the first time in years, about 25 percent of the synthetic crude produced from the sands is no longer profitable, according to the International Energy Agency.

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Louisiana Wetlands

If acting on climate change hurts the economy, as the American Coal Council's talking points suggest, it’s a lesson lost on some of the world’s most successful companies.

Stocks of companies that take climate change seriously beat the wider market by almost 10 percent over the last five years, according to a report released this week by a U.K. nonprofit. The group, CDP, encourages companies to disclose their climate change work publicly, on behalf of hundreds of institutional investors.

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Americans Can Save More Money by Not Burning It: Study

Greenhouse Gas

Climate change policy is often assumed to be a lose-lose proposition. Nations can pay now for expensive carbon-reduction policies, or they can pay later -- potentially a lot more -- through destructive climate-related events like storms, droughts and flooding.

In the U.S., however, that take may not be correct, according to a new study by the environmental group World Resources Institute. It says that improving buildings' energy efficiency, boosting the fuel-economy of automobiles and cutting leaks from the production and transport of natural gas can save money now and cut climate change later.

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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
eroston@bloomberg.net

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor
trandall6@bloomberg.net

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