David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts is a staff writer for Grist. You can follow his Twitter feed at twitter.com/drgrist.

Arctic Refuge drilling: Down the rabbit hole

Liberal opposition to drilling is reason enough to support it for some folks

The Senate Energy Committee voted today to include Arctic Refuge drilling in a massive budget reconciliation proposal, which will make it filibuster-proof. The fate of the budget reconciliation is not totally clear, but the odds are looking pretty grim. Our own Amanda Griscom Little will be writing more about this later in the week. If you want to do something to try to stop it, the Wilderness Society has your standard online petition going. Sigh. As a political issue, I find the Refuge rather mystifying.

Global warming, in capsule form

In the midst of a long post on Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer's coal-to-liquid-fuel plans, Oil Drummer Stuart Staniford provides a handy one-paragraph-long roundup of evidence on global warming. The next time someone you know asks about it, just cut and paste this paragraph and send it to them. Warming cliff notes! [W]e are reaching the point where we can see that we are starting to make massive, probably irreversible, changes to our climate. The glaciers are in full retreat almost everywhere, the Arctic is melting (with total melting of the summer sea ice possible, though not certain, as early as 2020), the permafrost is melting, and releasing large amounts of methane, which is a very powerful global warming gas, while in the last thirty years, droughts have doubled due to warming, hurricanes are much more intense all over the globe, and are showing up in places they never did before in recorded history. Scientists have been projecting changes in ocean circulation, and lo-and-behold, they are starting to show up, including changes to the North Atlantic Circulation, although major change here was previously thought unlikely this century. There is some possibility of changes in deepwater circulation destabilizing methane hydrates in the ocean, particularly in South East Asian deeps. Oh, and the Greenland ice sheet is now melting much faster than climatologists expected, and the West Antarctic ice sheet is starting to collapse, though again, this was previously thought unlikely. Also paleoclimatological studies have made it clear that in the past the climate abruptly flipped between modes, sometimes with dramatic change in as little as three years. And we are making rapid changes in carbon dioxide, known to be critically important in regulating the temperature of this sensitive climatic system for a century now. As he says, "maybe there's some scientific doubt still on any individual piece of the picture, but the gestalt is starting to look extremely alarming." Yes.

Rebuilding: the cock-up is underway

Unsurprisingly, the Bush administration is already screwing up reconstruction

It's a couple weeks before Halloween, but if you're looking for a nice horror story, try the LA Times piece on post-Katrina reconstruction. You know how sometimes President Bush makes big, rousing speeches full of earnest declarations, with his chest all puffed out, making that one annoying hand gesture, and then in subsequent weeks adds several carefully staged photo-ops, and then his administration doesn't follow up on anything and whatever the subject of the speech was descends into chaotic factionalism and incompetence because, really, what Bush likes is feeling like he's being Historical and he doesn't care for the nuts and bolts of governing at all? Yeah, this is one of those times.

Welcome to the new Grist. Tell us what you think, or if it's your first time learn about us. Grist is celebrating 15 years. ×