The opening plenary was fascinating. Clinton explained how CGI commitments had already avoided 20,000,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Then he tried to get Robert Zoellick, head of the World Bank, to realize that the "Bank can show people options for sustainable development." Zoellick, however, was full of little more than platitudes, saying we need to address "questions of adaptation and mitigation," and noting that there is a sensitivity in the developing world that climate change funds will come at the expense of development -- totally missing Clinton's point that green development is the only winning path (and Gore's point that global warming, left unchecked, will negate all other efforts aimed at development). Clinton, however, persisted -- especially after H. Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, touted his various successes:
Brad turns out to be as serious (on climate) as he is good looking. He came to the first CGI as an observer, not a speaker. But today he announced a major commitment: Brad Pitt expanded his commitment to New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward today by announcing plans for a new community of homes in the area hardest-hit by the worst natural disaster in American history. He is partnering with Steve Bing in creating the 150 affordable and sustainable homes, which are the first effort of Pitt's "Make it Right" project. Pitt announced his plan at today's meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, where he challenged attendees to join him and Bing in rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward. Pitt pledged to match $5 million in contributions to the project. Bing has pledged to match $5 million in contributions as well, for a total of $10,000,000 in matching funds. Pitt seems genuinely committed to these issues. He said, it was "nice to be in a room with people who are not still debating climate change." He has enlisted William McDonough to make sure the housing is as green as possible:
At the end of their recent climate report, Lehman Brothers has one of the best brief discussions of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) that I have seen. Since the EU ETS is often viewed in this country as a failure, I thought I would reprint their somewhat different perspective in its entirety:
An Inconvenient Truth is so last year! Al Gore's book may have been No. 1 in 2006, but the global warming deniers and delayers are outselling everyone this year. Of course, BjÃ¸rn Lomborg's collection of cherry-picked misinformation, Cool It is the top-selling book in four categories: Climatology, Climate Changes, Public Policy, and even Conservation. But who knew that the top book in both Meteorology and Weather was the Competitive Enterprise Institute's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism) -- a book whose title would be accurate if only the word "politically" were removed? And the no. 2 book in both Climate Changes and Weather is coauthored by world-class denier Fred Singer -- Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years. Sounds like disaster movie dialogue: "It's unstoppable, I tell you, unstoppable."
There's going to be a lot of hype around the Bush climate summit this week. The key buzzwords of the global warming delayers are "aspirational," "technology," and "intensity." The more someone uses those words, the less serious they are about stopping climate change. The bottom line is that any international global warming agreement must include prompt, binding, and enforceable greenhouse-gas reductions by the United States or else the agreement will fail and all nations will suffer the consequences. Some other key points:
Hitting a record low on September 16, 2007, the Arctic lost half a million square miles of ice compared to its last record low just two years ago. For all the details, check out the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) website, which notes "the Northwest Passage is still open, but is starting to refreeze." We are still on track for an ice free Arctic by 2030, decades ahead of the climate models. This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Global warming makes wildfires more likely and more destructive -- an amplifying climate feedback that releases more carbon into the atmosphere. The full committee of the Senate for Energy and Natural Resources is having a hearing on the subject today. You can get live video here -- click on Live Webcast. I'm looking forward to this hearing since one of the witnesses is Dr. Thomas Swetnam, Director of the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research and Professor of Dendochronology, University of Arizona. He coathored the August 2006 Science cover story, "Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity" ($ub. req'd). The abstract is viewable online -- here is the conclusion:
Bush may be hosting a climate summit this week, but "what he will not do, officials said, is chart any shift in policies." Specifically, the Washington Post reports: Top Bush administration officials said the president is not planning to alter his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse gases or to stray from his emphasis on promoting new technologies, especially for nuclear power and for the storage of carbon dioxide produced by coal plants. This is straight from the Frank Luntz playbook on how to seem like you care about the climate when you don't: Technology, technology, technology. Yada. Yada. Yada. Delay, delay, delay.
This weekend, the AP released the following story: Global warming -- through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warmer waters expanding -- is expected to cause oceans to rise by one meter, or about 39 inches. It will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation. Wow! The first amazing thing is the confidence with which AP makes a statement beyond the IPCC's scientific consensus. This is what most of the experts I spoke to for my book said, and I'm glad to see it in print (kudos to AP reporter Seth Borenstein): Few of the more than two dozen climate experts interviewed disagree with the one-meter projection. Some believe it could happen in 50 years, others say 100, and still others say 150. The second amazing thing is this quote: