Back when all the immigrant protests were happening, I thought about posting something on the debate within the environmentalist community over immigration. (See this Christian Science Monitor story for a good rundown.) But you know what? It's a stupid debate, and I think anti-immigration enviros are a tiny, tiny minority whose voice is amplified by media hungry for controversy. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better example of short-term, misanthropic thinking than trying to cut off immigration to the U.S. for environmental reasons. It's a political loser, a moral loser, an economic loser ... it's a loser of an argument. Just thought I'd mention that.
Oh good grief: [Senior U.S. climate negotiator Harlan] Watson also said that evidence for global warming seemed to be getting stronger but that there was still great uncertainty about how a warming would affect the planet. "In these settings there tends to be only an emphasis that 'everything is going to be worse everywhere'. There are undoubtedly going to be areas where things are going to get better," he said. For instance, in the gated mountaintop redoubts of the super-rich, things are going to be positively Edenic!
This is hilarious. Apparently U.S. EPA administrator Stephen Johnson recently met with EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimoas. A Dimoas spokesflack subsequently told Reuters that the U.S. is showing some small signs of interest in working with the EU on a post-2012 emissions-reduction regime. (Kyoto expires in 2012.) Well, this is intolerable. We can't have the world thinking the U.S. might want to join the international community in efforts to address the signal challenge of our time! What are we, commies? So naturally, Johnson sent his own spokesflack out to hurriedly deny the scurrilous accusation.
You may be vaguely aware that an enormous hullabaloo has broken out in Europe over the one-year-old carbon-trading market -- the primary mechanism by which the EU plans to meet Kyoto targets. Because you are not paid to read boring stories, and I am, let me summarize it for you. The carbon-trading market covers some 9,000 industrial facilities across Europe. Each participating government allocates a certain amount of CO2 emissions to each of its facilities. If those facilities emit less, they can sell their emissions credits. If they emit more, they have to buy credits. (The initial allocations cover 2005-2007.) So, two things recently happened that sparked the hubbub:
Air Force tests synfuel in jets The Air Force consumes more than half the fuel used by the entire U.S. government; in fiscal year 2005, …
"Americans and Climate Change: Closing the Gap Between Science and Action" (PDF) is a report synthesizing the insights of 110 leading thinkers on how to educate and motivate the American public on the subject of global warming. Background on the report here. I'll be posting a series of excerpts (citations have been removed; see original report). If you'd like to be involved in implementing the report's recommendations, or learn more, visit the Yale Project on Climate Change website. Below the fold is short list of the most prominent recommendations yielded by the conference's working groups. I tend to think too many of the recommendations pinned their hopes on the creation of new institutions, but I'd love to hear what y'all think.
... is cool.
It seems to me there's a bipartisan consensus forming -- at least among the pundit class -- that the sensible answer to our energy problems is a stiff gas tax (typically combined with reductions in other taxes, to cushion the blow to the poor). The idea is that such a tax will force people and businesses to start making the necessary changes. But what are the necessary changes? Anthony Flint has a problem: ... the discussion always comes right up to the ultimate reason we use so much energy -- our physical environment and how we live -- and then backs away. This is true. No politician has the stones to question sprawl -- where their most coveted voters live -- and most mainstream pundits fear the dread tag of "elitism." But Flint's right: You can't get around the built environment. Here's what he suggests:
Fareed Zakaria is one of the few mainstream opinion writers I consistently respect. He's smart -- and furthermore, he's funny on the Daily Show, which goes a long way with me. In this column on oil, he basically elides the peak problem and instead focuses on this: There are really only five countries that matter in the world of oil: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Russia and Venezuela. ... In order to build up real capacity, these governments would need to take their oil revenues and reinvest them in projects that would take five to 10 years to spout oil. Which of these countries has that level of stability, confidence or competence? This is accurate, and gets at something about peak oil that's been bouncing around, slightly inchoate, in my head. It seems to me many peak oil prophets overstate the degree to which peak oil will be a prime mover in geopolitics (and domestic politics) in the coming decade. It will certainly serve as a background condition, slowly ratcheting up the pressure on the entire system. But in the foreground, it will be politics and circumstance that provide the big developments. Zakaria also takes aim at U.S. demand:
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