Geekosystem on North Carolina's attempt to ban Tesla cars Ian Chant takes stock of recent efforts in North Carolina to ban the direct sale of electric Tesla cars. "A bill moving through the state legislature there would make it illegal for Tesla — or any other car manufacturer — to sell cars directly to consumers in the state," he begins. The rationale (or lack thereof): "Most states have laws on the books prohibiting car manufacturers from selling directly to consumers. Those laws serve to keep car dealers in business and…oh, actually, that’s about all. Tesla, though has a different sales strategy, opting to sell their rather pricey, top of the line automobiles to wealthy consumers over the Internet and forgoing dealerships altogether," Chant explains. "But car dealers are crying foul, and as local dealers have more political sway than a startup electric car company, they're concerns carry a lot of weight."
National Journal on how Washington should make climate policy "Are small-ball measures ... enough to fight climate change?" asks Amy Harder, who polls four climate policy experts. She explains: "Over the past few years, lawmakers kept trying to "go big" on energy and climate, including enacting a cap-and-trade system. Are more sweeping policies like that and a carbon tax really what's needed to confront this global challenge and to show the rest of the world the United States is serious in its commitment? Or are smaller-ticket policies better than nothing, given that the politics in Washington aren't conducive to more-sweeping measures?"
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The Guardian on how the energy politics drive conflict in Syria Nafeez Ahmed untangles the often misunderstood energy politics that underly the ongoing, violent conflict in Syria. "[T]he US, Israel and other external powers are hardly honest brokers. Behind the facade of humanitarian concern, familiar interests are at stake. Three months ago, Iraq gave the greenlight for the signing of a framework agreement for construction of pipelines to transport natural gas from Iran's South Pars field — which it shares with Qatar — across Iraq, to Syria," he writes, later concluding, "The origins of Syria's 'war by proxy' are ... unmistakeable — the result of converging climate, oil and debt crises within a politically repressive state, the conflict's future continues to be at the mercy of rival foreign geopolitical interests in dominating the energy corridors of the Middle East and North Africa."
The New York Times on the Earth's temperature "Since 1896, scientists have been trying to answer a deceptively simple question: What will happen to the temperature of the earth if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles?" So opens Justin Gillis's meditation on "climate sensitivity," the ability of the Earth to withstand climate change. He writes: "Given how weak the political response to climate change has been, there is no reason to think that human society is going to stop there. ... Even if climate sensitivity turns out to be on the low end of the range, total emissions may wind up being so excessive as to drive the earth toward dangerous temperature increases. So if the recent science stands up to critical examination, it could indeed turn into a ray of hope — but only if it is then followed by a broad new push to get the combustion of fossil fuels under control."
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The Atlantic on Kazakhstan's nuclear legacy Weighing Kazakhstan's history of nuclear proliferation during the Soviet era, Jillian Keenan considers the country's efforts to develop nuclear energy: "Kazakhstan is moving forward with plans to build a civilian nuclear power facility for domestic energy needs, possibly on the Aktau site of a now defunct Soviet-era plant. For many Kazakhs, these steps are proud evidence of the country's developing status as a major player in international nuclear policy. They are, however, also a painful reminder of the Soviet-era nuclear traumas that continue to haunt millions of Kazakhs today." She adds, "Although the human and environmental tolls of nuclear testing ... remain an open wound for most citizens, that experience did arm Kazakhstan with the credentials to play an active role in global nuclear politics."