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Christopher Mims' Posts


The Climate Post: Cancun climate talks limp to a compromise at close of hottest year on record

Overall, Cancun was a small but significant success.It's official, at least according to NASA: worldwide, 2010 was the hottest year on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre may disagree, but the bottom line, says Andrew Freedman of the Washington Post, "is that all of the data as measured by land, sea, air, and even from space, shows 2010 has been an unusually warm year globally." Meanwhile, the international climate talks in Cancún concluded Saturday with an agreement endorsed by 193 of the 194 countries present. For the first time, the international …


Failure to ban BPA leading to impotence in U.S. congressmen (probably)

The irony train rolled into town with a 10 ton load of payback today: The cafe where nearly 200 members of Congress could get their daily joe is spewing receipts lousy with toxic chemical BPA. The chemical's been banned in Canada and California for, among other things, causing impotence. More importantly, the study is the fourth to show that the powdered BPA coating most cash register receipts rubs off onto skin readily, and is even steadily contaminating our money supply. • An attempt to add a ban on BPA to the food safety bill was shot down by members of …

Read more: Food, Politics


The Climate Post: Some progress in Cancun climate talks, but mostly a morass of competing interests

Monday, negotiators at the Cancun climate summit got down to brass tacks, settling into "vast, sunless meeting rooms, intent on restoring the credibility of a process aimed at slowing global warming." There were the usual moments of comic relief, including the removal of professional climate skeptic Christopher Monckton from a corporate lunch, and two apparent early victories in negotiations between the U.S. and China. China appears ready to accede to U.S. demands that it should allow verification of its emissions, and China made a pledge the U.S. is in no position to make: that its carbon emissions targets will be binding …


The Climate Post: Scientific papers paint most accurate portrait of Earth’s future yet

Just in time for the ongoing talks on what, if anything, the nations of Earth can agree to do about climate change in Cancún, Mexico, the U.K.'s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research has rounded up a trove of cutting-edge scientific research that paints what may be the most accurate portrait of Earth's future to date. The highlights from this series of papers published by the Royal Society: The U.N. has long sought to limit warming of the Earth to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) by 2100, but a new paper from scientists at the U.K.'s Met Office Hadley …


What if there had never been a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? [SLIDESHOW]

Heavy smog across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan to New JerseyPhoto: EPA Burning automobile batteries! Toxic runoff! Smog thick as Zach Galifianakis's mighty beard! It's 2010, and this is the world we would have inherited had not President Richard M. Nixon signed the Environmental Protection Agency into law forty years ago today. A trove of images released by the EPA to commemorate the agency's 40th anniversary depicts the world of the 1960's, a time when China-like levels of environmental degradation were widespread across America. At a time when the powers of the EPA are once again under assault, it's …

Read more: Uncategorized


The Fantastic 4 of climate change nonsense

Another international climate conference, another opportunity for a bunch of misinformed claptrap from the talking heads whose blithering passes for punditry in the internet age. The Guardian leads this morning with a tempest-filled teapot of half-truths: • Four myths that hold back progress in fighting climate change (Dec. 2 2010) What follows are the four "myths" listed by authors Vinod Thomas and Kenneth Chomitz, a director-general and senior advisor at the World Bank, respectively. For help in busting them, today we call on Scientific American's energy and climate change editor, David Biello, a man so well informed about energy they gave …


Leaked cables reveal Saudi minister of petroleum helped craft toothless Copenhagen climate accord

Tasty Hallal burgers aren't the only thing the Saudis are pushing.Photo: Rabun WarnaSo far most of the attention on WikiLeaks' Nov. 28 release of formerly secret U.S. diplomatic cables has been focused on what the cables reveal about Iran's nuclear aspirations. But buried in these cables are tantalizing clues about the back-door negotiations that surrounded last year's Copenhagen climate conference. A year later, many of the same negotiators are now in Cancun, where their motivations are likely to be the same. So what do these cables tell us about what to expect from current and future climate negotiations? 1. Nobody …


The Climate Post: Why solar can't go mainstream without Sarah Palin

Is a Palin endorsement really what the solar industry needs?Photo: OregonDOTSolar-power buying club One Block Off the Grid makes a case on its blog that of the millions of American households that could be saving money with solar, only a fraction are -- and the secret to getting the rest on board is convincing folks like Oprah, Jim Cramer, and Sarah Palin solar is mainstream. Most compelling reason to put a price on carbon ... we're running out of it: Ever since the International Energy Agency's (IEA) World Energy Outlook report came out last week, the mainstreaming of "peak oil" …


Bjorn Lomborg's mostly unoriginal, kind-of-dishonest new movie is worth thinking about anyway

Bjorn Lomborg would have you believe that he's an unbiased tipper of sacred cows who inspires rage in pretty much everyone who thinks about climate change precisely because of his resolute centrism -- he's neither in denial about global warming nor particularly worried about it, even if it is his life's work. In his new movie Cool It, Lomborg argues that the end-of-days climate scare tactics we've grown accustomed to are great for getting attention, but not for motivating the kind of action that he favors, which is adaptation. Geoengineering, sea walls, economic development: that's about the whole of the …

Read more: Climate & Energy


The Climate Post: Climate scientists: It’s war

James Hansen."We are taking the fight to them because we are ... tired of taking the hits," Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York, told the Chicago Tribune. "The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has changed." A group of some 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution. James Hansen from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies says scientists are bowing to pressure …