Clark Williams-Derry

Clark Williams-Derry is research director for the Seattle-based Sightline Institute, a nonprofit sustainability think tank working to promote smart solutions for the Pacific Northwest. He was formerly the webmaster for Grist.

Green Cars

Turning over the new Leaf

How do the Leaf’s emissions stack up?Finally. If you don’t like being dependent on oil — but find that you do need to drive — you’ve got at least one decent option. The Nissan Leaf is the first mass-produced, mass-market electric vehicle to hit the U.S. sales floors in … well, essentially forever. (Yeah, I know about the Tesla and the EV1. But the former is too expensive to be in the range of most families, and the latter was never really offered for sale — you could only lease it.) The Leaf’s a bit pricey, but for many families …

EPA reports massive drop in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions

Don’t be confused, we’ve got some good news.Photo: Corie HowellCross posted from Sightline’s Daily Score blog. Great Scott, how did I miss this? Late last month, the EPA released a draft greenhouse gas inventory, showing that net climate warming emissions from the U.S. fell by a whopping 15 percent from 2000 through 2009 [PDF]. A 15 percent decline? Wow. Just wow. But the story gets even more dramatic. Over the same period, the U.S. population grew by about 9 percent. Combining the two trends, net per capita greenhouse-gas emissions fell by 21 percent over the decade. And most of that …

The Coase isn't clear

The shaky foundations of free-market environmentalism

Photo: Steve RhodesCross-posted from Sightline Daily. [CORRECTION: As mentioned in the comments under this post on Sightline, this discussion of the "Coase theorem" contains several errors -- most notably, that Coase himself did not present his arguments mathematically. In fact, according to a number of sources, there really is no single "Coase theorem" -- instead, there are several different and somewhat conflicting notions that followers and interpreters of Coase have presented as theorems. For more, please read the comments on Sightline.] Those inclined to be uncharitable might see the phrase “free-market environmentalism” as somewhere between oxymoronic and greenwashing. But I’m …

Size Matters

Smaller SUVs are safer than bigger ones, but walkability trumps all

If you want to be safe, buying a big SUV won't do it. But living in a place where you don't have to drive so much is a sure bet.

The Young and Not-So-Restless

Fewer and fewer young people are driving — but why?

American teenagers simply don't drive as much as they used to. But should we really chalk it up to the internet and the digital revolution?

Taking Stock of BP

As happens with stock charts, this one is likely to be out of date even before I get this post published.  But here’s Google Finance’s chart comparing the stock price of British Petroleum (in red), an energy-stock index fund (in blue) and an S&P 500 index fund (in yellow). Since the oil spill in the Gulf in late April, BP’s stock has tanked.  Meanwhile, the broader stock market has inched downward; and the energy mutual fund, dominated by big oil and gas companies, has done only a wee bit worse than the broader market. But remember, BP (in red) is …

Opinion vs. Science

The six Americas of climate change

Researchers at George Mason University and Yale broke down U.S. public opinion into six different categories [pdf], based on people’s belief in, and concern about, global warming.  For the nickel version, see the graphic below: Of course, I’m sure there are more than six ways of slicing this pie. It seems likely to me that public opinion lies in a continuum, rather than in six discrete groups. Still, the authors’ analysis yields some interesting findings. My favorite is this: folks who are convinced that global warming is a hoax — the “Dismissives” — admit they haven’t thought all that much …


James Hansen vs. cap-and-trade

NASA climate scientist James Hansen has a new book out about climate policy, with excerpts in this month’s issue of The Nation. And in my view, he’s got a pretty good policy idea: tax carbon, and use the revenue to give out rebates in equal, per capita shares to every U.S. citizen. It’s a twofer — the carbon tax helps drive down emissions, and the rebate makes sure that it’s fair to middle- and lower-income folks who’d otherwise bear the brunt of the tax. If I were the globe’s climate czar, Hansen’s tax-and-dividend plan is one of the top 5 …

NASA climate scientist should come back to earth

Eric’s take on Jim Hansen’s opposition to cap and trade is exactly right.  Hansen is a renowned NASA climate scientist.  But on climate policy, he’s just lost in space.  Now, I’m not going to call Hansen’s support for carbon taxes misguided.  Remember, we LIKE carbon taxes. We’ve given BC’s pathbreaking carbon tax lots of sloppy wet kisses over the years. Instead, what’s misguided is Hansen’s belief that cap and trade is fundamentally different from carbon taxes.  That’s just wrong.  As Paul Krugman points out, carbon taxes and cap-and-trade are like two peas in a pod. The both put a price …

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