I just got an email from the Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA) asking for people to let their representatives know they support extending the 2005 investment tax credits for residential solar power and fuel cells. The credits are set to expire in 2007, but there's a bill being proposed to extend it another 8 years.
Andy Revkin, NYT's climate reporter, brings news of a just-released federal study on climate change which shows "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system." For a moment I'm shouting, "All right! We're moving past debate and into problem solving." But ... not to be undone by their own research conclusions, policy officials note that "while the new finding was important, the administration's policy remained focused on studying the remaining questions and using voluntary means to slow the growth in emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide." There's also this:Dr. Christy [one of the study's authors] also said that even given what the models projected, it would be impossible to slow warming noticeably in the coming decades. Countries would be wise to seek ways to adapt to warming, he added, even as they seek new sources of energy that do not emit heat-trapping gases. So, we simultaneously resist admitting this is a big problem and jump right past prevention to adaptation. I'm guessing this report will spark some change, and it does knock another leg out from the feds' already tottering chair of denial. But it still amazes me that it's so incredibly difficult for us to deal with the problem squarely.
A while ago there was a great discussion of the pros and cons of integrating adaptation into global-warming debates (prompted by Nordhaus and Shellenberger's op-ed "preparing for nature's attack"). I just ran across an adaptation strategy that's compelling because it positively engages global warming consequences, without softpeddling or sidestepping the issue. Alex Wilson at Environmental Building News suggests that in order to adapt to increasing environmental volatility, we need to design buildings for passive survivability. Ooh, I like the sound of that ...
Recently, the issue of how to frame the global-warming debate has come up repeatedly. David sums it up here. It's gotten me thinking about the confluence between climate science and decision science. Communicating about global warming can not be reduced to a simple up or down vote on the use of doom and gloom, or a tradeoff between bad science and a complete value change. In the end, how, when, and most importantly, why people start to seriously address global warming will be 1/10th about the climate science and 9/10ths about good ol' wacky human decision making.
A couple of folks on another post commented on how environmental activity is limited to progressive cities and campuses. Since I just got back from a green campus in a green city, I thought readers might want to hear about some good stuff going on in that small corner of the world. The University of Oregon's annual HOPES Conference just wrapped up on the 16th. Now in it's 12th year, HOPES is a student-run environmental-design conference. If you are depressed by the level of environmental apathy around you, this was a place to recharge your faith and hope in humanity, especially the college-age segment of humanity.
Climate reporter Andrew Revkin wrote an essay in the NYT on Sunday wherein he tries to "bring the debate on global warming down to earth." While I believe global warming is "breaking news" (it's the fate of Earth we're talking about after all), I'm not as interested in taking another shot at the "debate." What struck me was the story I found in the graphs alongside the article. Several recent surveys show a fairly low level of concern for global warming and the environment generally among Americans. There is a striking disconnect between these survey results and the real, concrete steps being taken at local and state levels. Mark Hertsgaard points out one such example in the recent Vanity Fair green issue: