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Frank Ackerman's Posts

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The atrazine emails: Science with an attitude is still science

Herpetologist and atrazine researcher Tyrone Hayes in a 2002 photo. (Peg Skorpinski/UC Berkeley)The EPA is re-evaluating the safety of atrazine, one of the most widely used pesticides in the United States, and indeed the world. Several groups in the science and farming communities have called for its review over mounting evidence of its environmental and human health hazards, despite the whitewash it received under the Bush administration. The defenders of atrazine claim that it is indispensable in growing corn in the Midwest; I've written about the economics of an atrazine ban here. In the debate surrounding atrazine -- Syngenta, the …

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A climate policy for people and the environment

With a good climate policy, we could save money and our environment. Congress is off for its summer vacation, and once again, they left the Capitol without adopting a climate policy. Is it impossible to pass a bill that's good for both the earth's climate and the American taxpayer? Or did Congress just drop the ball again? The good news: A well-designed climate policy could slash greenhouse-gas emissions while putting money in the pockets of most Americans. The bad news: That's not the policy Congress has been debating. What would it look like to do climate policy the right way? …

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What would happen if we admitted to the high risk of deepwater drilling?

Was the Obama administration "arbitrary and capricious" in imposing a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling? U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman thought so. His June 22 order reversed the moratorium, citing the "immeasurable harm" to "the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country." By immeasurable harm to the Gulf region, he meant the loss of oil industry jobs, not the loss of oil-free water and beaches. How could anyone be opposed to a time-out to figure out what went wrong in the Gulf of Mexico? Others close to …

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What is the social cost of carbon?

The social cost of carbon may be the most important number you've never heard of. U.S. climate legislation is stalled in Congress, but in the meantime, the Obama administration is trying to fill the gap by considering climate impacts in the regulatory process: from the tailpipe emissions limits and gas mileage standards unveiled April 1, to energy-efficiency standards for many types of residential appliances and commercial equipment. This is important work; U.S. action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is long overdue, and it's crucial in the global picture, both because of our large share of total emissions, and because of our …

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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 …