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Eban Goodstein's Posts

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Three ways to fix the climate in 2012 and beyond

SeedlingsThree green shoots, ready to grow. (Photo by Shutterstock.)

Over the last two years, the consequences of 150 years of fossil-fuel development have materialized with a vengeance. The U.S. has experienced the worst drought in 80 years, replete with unprecedented Western fires and fears of widespread crop failure. This on the heels of record-breaking U.S. spring temperatures, with record daily highs outpacing record daily lows at a staggering pace of 12:1 since the start of the year. This on the heels of record U.S. flooding throughout the Mississippi basin last year. These examples reflect only the U.S. experience, in a world where record-breaking extreme weather is becoming the norm.

It’s hot. It’s going to get hotter. And despite the politics of the moment, extreme weather will eventually drive a national consensus on climate action. What can each of us do to insure we get there soon, rather than too late?

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Triumph, tragedy, and climate change: ‘The Island President’

Mohamed Nasheed. (Photo by Chiara Goia.)

"A cross between paradise and paradise." This is how Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives describes his nation in Jon Shenk's powerful new film, The Island President.

Shenk follows President Nasheed over a one-year period, leading up to the Copenhagen climate summit, in a beautiful, courageous, and strangely hopeful story. The film resonates all the more deeply following last month's coup in the Maldives. The story’s ending -- perhaps tragic, perhaps a powerful continuation -- is today unfolding in real time.

Read more: Climate Change

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How to beat the Tea Party and win on clean energy

Photo: Ramkumar RajendranThe politics of the radical right have locked the U.S. into energy-policy stalemate, at least through the middle of this decade. With the climate clock running out, is this stalemate also checkmate for the planet? Despite the ongoing tragedy in D.C., the clean energy movement has real solutions that can both revitalize the economy and stop the destruction of global climate stability. What clean energy does not have enough of -- and what the Tea Party does have -- are committed political candidates and its own power base in a committed business community. National Democrats, President Obama included, …

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Costs of inaction: the price of ice

Click for a larger version.Image: NASAArctic sea ice extent averaged over Januray 2011 its lowest recorded levels since satellite records began in 1979. It was 19,300 square miles below the record low of 5.25 million square miles, set in 2006, and 490,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average. Climate change, the crisis many hoped we could ignore for decades, is here. Ice and snow that covered the vast frozen northland for 800,000 years is disappearing rapidly. As countless square miles of the Arctic turn from reflective white to heat-absorbing dark, the result is an acceleration of global warming. And …

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Costs of inaction: the economics of high-end warming

Perhaps nowhere is the contrast between the science and economics of climate change as great as in the dueling metaphors governing the impact of high-end warming: "collapse" (following scientist Jared Diamond) vs. "reductions in the rate of growth" (following all standard integrated assessment models in economics, including those of Nicholas Stern and the IPCC). By way of reference, mid-range estimates of business-as-usual warming are currently around 7.2 degrees F. During the last Ice Age, global temperatures were only 8.1 degrees F colder then they are today. Many climate scientists, I would argue, believe that high-end warming (greater than 7.2 degrees …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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New year, new idea for climate: the American Clean Energy party

Fossil fuel addiction is impoverishing the planet, and we have only a few short years to act before the window for action will close, forever.Photo: Mutasim BillahLast year was a bad year for the future of humans and other creatures of the Earth. The U.S. failed to act on climate, and the victory of dozens of Tea Party Republicans in November eliminated any prospect for serious action for at least the next three years. This is tragic. Barring future technological or political miracles, we have now blown by the chance we had to stabilize the carbon blanket surrounding the planet …

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Climate realism: too late for what?

Photo: Xava duCross-posted from Real Climate Economics. The elections earlier this month saw the breaching of the 2016 deadline set by NASA's Jim Hansen for global CO2 stabilization, and also moved us well beyond IPCC Chair Rajendra Pauchuari's statement that action beyond 2012 "will be too late". So where does this leave us? For what are we now, officially, too late?  Until this year, one could envision, just barely, a "politics-as-usual" scenario that set us on track to stabilizing C02 concentrations at 450 parts per million (ppm). The 450 goal would, according to the IPCC's best guess, have held global …

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California's landmark climate law: Job killer or creator?

With the nation's unemployment hovering near 10 percent, can we afford aggressive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Proponents of Proposition 23 in California claim no. They claim that California should suspend its landmark climate and energy policy (AB 32) until its unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent. Setting aside scientists' warnings that we're running out of time to address climate change, and setting aside the fact that the oil company funders of Proposition 23 also opposed AB 32 when it was passed in 2006, when California's unemployment rate was lower than 5.5 percent, is there anything to be said …

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The economics of 350

There is good news on the climate policy front. The Europeans have ratcheted down their emission targets; the Chinese are getting serious about solar power and energy efficiency; and Washington, after opening a multi-billion dollar stimulus spicket for clean energy, is lumbering towards a carbon cap.  This is progress-inadequate, but still important progress -- towards what many of us used to think we had to do: cut global warming pollution 80 percent by 2050. These cuts would stabilize the thickness of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide blanket surrounding the earth at 450 ppm (parts per million) and, we thought, provide insurance …