Army Corps climate efforts in New Orleans may not be enough

No one wants to see this again — but can post-Katrina protection efforts keep the Big Easy safe? Photo: NOAA Here’s the good news: The Army Corps of Engineers is “racing” to complete a comprehensive levee system for metropolitan New Orleans by 2011 that actually takes into account global warming, at least in terms of sea-level rise. Here’s the bad news: the levee system under development is wildly insufficient to the growing climate problem, according to many informed critics. That’s because the vast and flat Louisiana coastal area — sometimes called the “Bangladesh of America” because it could disappear due …

Australians R Us!

No country in the world is more like the U.S., so where’s our national climate-change leader?

Kevin Rudd. Photo: AP / Rob Griffith Culturally, politically, and spiritually, what country in the world is most like the United States? It's not Canada and it's sure not Great Britain. The answer is Australia. Ask anyone who's been there. It just feels like America there, from the sprawling suburbs to the cars people drive, from the obsession with sports to their unit of currency: the Australian dollar. Add these factors too: both countries were British colonies, both wiped out indigenous peoples, both have big cities in the east and vast frontiers to the west, both have huge coal deposits and per capita greenhouse-gas emissions that lead most of the world, and, in the last several years, both have had conservative national governments that basically deny the reality of global warming. The Aussies R Us! So how, then, did Australia just complete a national election where the issue of climate change played a central role and may have determined the outcome? How did a country so steeped in America's brand of fierce self-reliance, consumerism, and fossil-fuel addiction throw out a "climate skeptic" prime minister and hand a landslide victory to a Labor candidate who talked persistently about ratifying Kyoto? And most important, if they can do it Down Under, is there still hope for America?

Voluntary actions didn’t get us civil rights, and they won’t fix the climate

Strange but true: Energy-efficient light bulbs and hybrid cars are hurting our nation’s budding efforts to fight global warming. More precisely, every time an activist or politician hectors the public to voluntarily reach for a new bulb or spend extra on a Prius, ExxonMobil heaves a big sigh of relief. Scientists now scream the news about global warming: it’s already here and could soon, very soon, bring tremendous chaos and pain to our world. The networks and newspapers have begun running urgent stories almost daily: The Greenland ice sheet is vanishing! Sea levels are rising! Wildfires are out of control! …