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Climate Change


Koch head

Mike Pompeo (R-Koch) gets to work slashing EPA funding

Rep. Mike Pompeo.Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. Last night, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) proposed an amendment to the Continuing Resolution that would "sharply cut funding for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that collects data on industrial greenhouse gas emissions." The $8.4 million cut would leave funding for the registry at $3.2 million, unless the EPA shifts funds from another program to the registry. Toeing a fine line between conspiracy theorist and Koch Industries profit protector, Pompeo took the house floor where "he called the registry part of an EPA plot to destroy U.S. jobs": EPA would, I am sure, …


a walk through the week's climate news

The Climate Post: Obama’s new budget would make Big Oil pay for clean energy

The president gives a preview of his budget in his weekly address.Republicans are vowing to fight President Obama's newly released budget for the 2012 fiscal year. Among other things, the new budget includes a few significant changes to spending on climate and energy research. In the energy sector, it calls for slashing tax breaks and loopholes for fossil fuel producers to bring in about $4 billion dollars of additional revenue. Obama has asked to end these fossil fuel subsidies in the past two years' budgets, however, and was shot down each time. (Meanwhile, a House bill called the Ending Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act would …


rain of error

Yes, we caused Snowpocalypse, says new study

Photo: Bruna CostaWe're gonna need a bigger boat, preferably one with two of each animal. Studies published in this month's Nature look at the link between CO2 levels and heavy rains and floods, and find that the increase in intense precipitation over the last 50 years can't be explained by natural variability. The question of whether any single event -- Snowpocalypse, the Queensland floods, etc. -- is due to climate change is historically a thorny one, but these studies show that it's possible to analyze the human contribution to extreme weather. Extreme precipitation can only be fully explained by our …


Can you hear me now?

New poll: The public trusts EPA, loves the Clean Air Act, and wants Congress to butt out

That's love.Original photo: Matt CramptonAs everyone knows by now, Republicans have launched a massive, coordinated assault on EPA, attempting to block its greenhouse gas regulations, its air and water regulations, and in some cases its very existence. In the surreal hothouse atmosphere of the Beltway, where anti-government radicals are ascendant and everybody's watching the same three cable news channels, this can seem reasonable -- even inevitable. But if we can collectively pull our heads out of the Beltway's ass and take in a wider view of the country, it quickly becomes clear that the Republican attack on EPA is radically …


Paint it black

Ask Umbra Book Club: How coal lit a fire under human society

Bring in the chimney sweep!Photo: Thiophene GuyDearest readers, In our last book club conversation about Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life, we discussed some of the sordid history of the food we eat. Now let's turn our attention to the way we heat. Back in the Middle Ages, people were in desperate need of heat sources. In those days, houses were typically warmed in winter via an "open hearth" in the middle of the house’s main and only room. Bryson compares it to "having a permanent bonfire in the middle of the living room." Chimneys were …


maybe the world should buy some insurance

Inaction on climate change is risky business

Even Tom Cruise thinks some risky business should be avoided.Like a family that has no homeowner's insurance, no fire detectors, a gas leak in the basement, and a bad case of denial, the global community remains unprepared for irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes to the Earth's climate. What's needed -- quickly -- is an international risk management effort, a process that's more familiar in military and national security circles than it is in environmental and scientific circles. That process is described in "Degrees of Risk: Defining a Risk Management Framework for Climate Security" -- a report just released by the …


Greener by design

Peter Calthorpe on why urbanism is the cheapest, smartest way to fight climate change

Peter Calthorpe.Cities may be the trendy topic du jour, but Peter Calthorpe has been talking about the benefits of urbanism since the 1970s. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism, an influential national organization that promotes walkable, mixed-use, transit-rich development. Now Calthorpe has come out with a new book, Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change. In it, he argues that sustainable urban development must play a key role in the fight to reduce carbon emissions and counter climate change. He writes: Confronting climate change is a little like the war on …


Just in case

The U.S. government is an insurance conglomerate and it should insure against climate change too

Photo: David HilowitzMainstream economic modeling isn't very good at incorporating the more severe risks of climate change, as I mentioned last week. The low-probability, high-impact possibilities that show up in the "long tail" of probability distribution -- collapsing ice sheets, massive methane emissions from the permafrost -- just completely short-circuit conventional models. As a result, economists have created better models largely ignored those risks. Rather than incorporating the wide range of probabilities, economists use seemingly firm numbers like the median or mean, which creates projections that have a comforting illusion of precision. "The modelling thus becomes a knob-twiddling exercise in …


no rain, no grain

The world is one poor harvest away from chaos

An Indian woman sifts grain from a previous harvest. Water shortages could drastically affect this year's harvest.Photo: World BankIn early January, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that its Food Price Index had reached an all-time high in December, exceeding the previous record set during the 2007-08 price surge. Even more alarming, on Feb. 3, the FAO announced that the December record had been broken in January as prices climbed an additional 3 percent. Will this rise in food prices continue in the months ahead? In all likelihood, we will see further rises that will take the world …


Holes in our pockets

House Republican budget cuts would strangle innovation

This article was cross-posted from the Center for American Progress. President Barack Obama's State of the Union on Jan. 25, 2011, waved the green flag for innovation and competition in the cleantech sector. He proposed a number of programs to speed the development and manufacturing of domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors to help American businesses race with their Chinese, German, and other competitors. But before the president's proposals had completed their initial laps in Congress, the Republicans' proposed House "continuing resolution" (or spending bill) for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 (FY 2011) waves the yellow caution flag …