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California, Clean Energy, and the Obama Promise

What does the President’s vow not to “walk away from the promise of clean energy” mean for California?

By Alison van Diggelen

President Obama made a strong State of the Union commitment not to walk away from the promise of clean energy. Was it a shrewd long-term strategy or a political liability that will result in even more “Solyndras” here in California?

On the one hand, Obama’s clean energy focus has helped expand the clean energy job market, into a sector with more than 2.7 million jobs, with investments in smart power grid, energy efficiency, electric cars and renewable power. In 2011, the federal clean energy push led to a remarkable $56 billion investment in the sector, surpassing even China’s. Continue reading

This is Your Atmosphere on Drugs

A new report on extreme weather compares climate change to steroids

Julie Denesha/Getty Images

The tornado that tore through Joplin, MO in May was one of the worst of last year's extreme weather events. But tornadoes have one of the more tenuous connections to climate change.

As we’ve noted before, last year was packed with extreme weather events, but it’s difficult to out-and-out blame any particular one of them on climate change. Explanations are often along the lines of, “This is the kind of thing that could become the norm in the future.” The science just isn’t quite there to able to pinpoint any single event and say exactly what caused it.

To try to sort out what we know from what we don’t, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a consortium of universities doing earth science research, has a new feature on its website, “In Depth: Weather on Steroids,” about that science: the science of attribution, as in, what can we attribute to climate change?

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