Investing in a green future

With the budget battle raging in Washington, our investments in a green future are in jeopardy. President Obama wants to make responsible cuts to spending while preserving our investments in clean energy that can help us gain energy independence and a greener future. Here’s President Obama from his weekly radio address:

Both Democrats and Republicans believe we need to reduce the deficit. That’s where we agree. The question we’re debating is how we do it. I’ve proposed a balanced approach that cuts spending while still investing in things like education and clean energy that are so critical to creating jobs and opportunities for the middle class. It’s a simple idea: we need to live within our means while at the same time investing in our future.

That’s why I disagree so strongly with a proposal in Congress that cuts our investments in clean energy by 70 percent. Yes, we have to get rid of wasteful spending—and make no mistake, we’re going through every line of the budget scouring for savings. But we can do that without sacrificing our future. We can do that while still investing in the technologies that will create jobs and allow the United States to lead the world in new industries. That’s how we’ll not only reduce the deficit, but also lower our dependence on foreign oil, grow the economy, and leave for our children a safer planet. And that’s what our mission has to be.

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Stay involved. Remember that the decisions you make at the ballot box have real implications for your lives.


The greening of Africa

This article from Time is fascinating on several fronts. It highlights the potential for a green movement in Africa, where the expansion of deserts can be halted and reversed with green initiatives. It also addresses how carbon credits can be used to great effect.

Two global agreements aim to put that right. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows developed-world businesses that need to offset their pollution to buy certified emission reductions, or carbon credits, to fund the reduction or sequestering of carbon dioxide in the developing world. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (UN-REDD), launched in 2008, allows polluters to pay developing-world farmers to keep their trees, which store carbon dioxide as they grow. UNEP is working with scientists in Kenya, China, Niger and Nigeria to quantify how much carbon each ecosystem swallows — comparing the appetite of a rain forest with, say, that of a mangrove swamp — and when completed in 2012, those formulas will determine how much to pay each landowner. The UNEP’s Steiner says “farming carbon” this way is far cheaper than new technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions at their source.

Estimates of how much the new market is worth vary wildly. The World Bank says carbon sequestration could be worth $1.5 billion a year to Africa, while Sukhdev reckons UN-REDD will be worth an eventual $30 billion to $110 billion a year globally. Manfred Kern of agritechnology company Bayer CropScience argues that the potential for monetizing natural assets is almost infinite. There is no reason, he says, that what works for trees should not also work for earth. “For the urbanized world, soil is just dirt, mud,” Kern told a U.N. conference in Bonn in May 2008. “But soil is the source of our food, the very future of humanity. We must recognize that soil has a value higher than gold.” What is clear is the potential. “It is essential that climate change be viewed as a major development opportunity for Africa,” World Bank managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said last year.

Carbon credits and trading are very controversial, but the impact on places like Africa cannot be discounted.


Is U.S. Government Heading For A Shutdown?

It’s not exactly what anybody wants and it’s not the ideal situation for the American people, but it is looking more and more like there will be a government shutdown in the United States of America.

Online wagering fans have been betting back and forth over the last couple of weeks while keeping a close eye on the situation, but as of now, it looks like the two main parties of government can’t come to an agreement on the budget and there will be a shutdown.

Leaders in both Chambers of Congress spent the last few hours pointing fingers and trying to win a public relations battle rather than trying to settle the situation.

And with both sides offer different versions of the story, it’s unclear what is exactly happening amidst the talks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggests that the problem stems around ideology and claims that both sides have actually made plenty of progress as far as the actual budget is concerned. The Republicans, on the other hand, suggest that this is solely based around the numbers and they are trying their best to cut down the American debt, which is currently at $14 trillion.

In the mean time, it doesn’t look like a short term bill will be an option. President Obama has vowed to veto any such temporary solution, calling it a distraction from a long-term solution, which is obviously what is really needed to remedy this mess.

As it stands now, the government shutdown will begin at midnight Saturday – that is unless the two sides can agree on a budget for the rest of the year.

Stay tuned as the we are going to find out more about this situation very shortly. Hopefully cooler heads prevail but as of right now, it looks like both sides are too far apart to prevent a shutdown.


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