Business & Technology

Chicken or Egg – – Health Care or Climate Change?

President Obama, who will personally participate in the Copenhagen climate talks this week, said last Sunday that he expects to get a health care bill on his desk before Christmas. The barriers to meeting that deadline may revolve around the answer to an age-old question: which comes first – – the health care chicken or the climate change egg? Senators who were previously close to signing onto his health care package are hesitating for several reasons, but most of them revolve around cost. That’s not just  worry about the overall price tag, but also a question of how much Congress …

cut bait

Atlantic bluefin tuna inches towards protection

Can we change our tuna?With the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery on the verge of collapse and ICCAT, the entity charged with protecting it, ignoring its own scientists’ call for a fishing ban, the tuna’s last hope appears to be a March 2010 meeting of an international wildlife management group. Marine biologists and fisheries experts (along with eaters, I should point out) hope that this group — the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) — will put the Atlantic bluefin tuna on its Appendix I list of endangered species. If the tuna gets on …

Power Shift

For Wisconsin’s Doyle, it’s all about green jobs

When you think of renewable energy, the image that comes to mind is often a solar array in California, a windmill in Texas, or a cornfield in Iowa. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) wants you to think of Wisconsin first, which explains why he’s one of several governors attending the Copenhagen climate talks. I sat down with him for a brief interview. An edited transcript follows: Q. Where are the opportunities for job development in the larger effort to achieve climate solutions? Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (center) at the Climate Leaders Summit in Copenhagen.The Climate Group via Flickr A. Well, …

From my roof to your fridge

Steve Howard on our energy-efficient future

Steve Howard, CEO of the non-partisan nonprofit organization The Climate Group, took some time away from his Copenhagen climate duties to share a tantalizing glimpse into our energy future: Q. How will our day-to-day lives change if we really do adopt more sustainable energy practices and products? A. You’ll walk out of a building and you’ll get into your electric vehicle. Your electric vehicle will have been charged, but it won’t have been charged from a coal plant power station. It will be sun from the southwest of the U.S., or it will be wind from the North Sea of …

The other aquacalypse

California’s water woes worsen

NASA just released a disturbing report on California’s shrinking water supplies: New space observations reveal that since October 2003, the aquifers for California’s primary agricultural region — the Central Valley — and its major mountain water source — the Sierra Nevadas — have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. The findings, based on data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), reflect California’s extended drought and increased rates of groundwater being pumped for human uses, such as irrigation. Combined, California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin drainage basins have shed more than …

waiting in the wings

George W. Bush’s man in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN — To understand how global climate negotiations reached such a troubled state before the U.N. talks began here last week, one could do worse than to look to James L. Connaughton. James L. Connaughton headed George W. Bush’s Council for Environmental QualityFile photo / Wikimedia CommonsFor eight years, Connaughton was the top White House environmental adviser to President George W. Bush. So when I saw him at a business summit in Copenhagen last Friday, I asked him about the Bush administration’s responsibility for the climate quagmire—the fact that negotiators haven’t gotten past disagreements that were evident a decade ago. …

Bottle that optimism!

Gregoire: ‘America is back in its rightful position’

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) is in Copenhagen for the last few days of the climate conference. I sat down with her for a brief interview. An edited transcript follows: Q. The spirit of optimism is higher in my conversations with governors than with any other officials at this conference. What drives your optimism and how do you see that playing out in your state? Gov. Chris Gregoire is talking up America’s climate leadership this week in Copenhagen.File photo / WSDOT via Flickr A. Let me take you back to about 2006. President Hu Jintao [of China] visited the U.S. …

...Paved with good intentions

Big business’ climate conundrum: lead, follow or obstruct

Is that government out front, or big business?iStock PhotoCOPENHAGEN — The most popular American CEO here these two weeks, at least among other business leaders, has been Duke Energy chief Jim Rogers. Which doesn’t make much sense, as Duke generates most of its electricity from coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Consider Rogers’ own confession: “Of all the companies in the U.S., we [Duke Energy] have the third-largest carbon footprint,” he said at a press briefing last Thursday. “Of all the companies in the world, we’re number 12. If we were one of the 192 countries of the United Nations, …

How to cut U.S. CO2 emissions by 20 percent ... tomorrow

Natural gas as a near-term CO2 mitigation strategy

Discussions of CO2 reduction tend to start from a presumption of near-term economic disruption coupled to long-term investment in green technology. The presumption isn’t right. The U.S. could reduce its total CO2 footprint by 14-20 percent tomorrow with no disruption in our access to energy services, without investing in any new infrastructure. The Waxman-Markey proposal to reduce CO2 emissions by 17 percent over 10 years is constrained only by its ambition. This near-term opportunity would be realized by ramping up our nation’s generation of electricity from gas and ramping down our generation from coal, taking advantage only of existing assets. …

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