Climate & Energy

Leafy laws

Climate bills would save world’s forests

More money for forests and wildlife conservation than has ever been available in history The regrowth of many of the world's forests Massive quantities of greenhouse gases sucked out of the air Those are a few of the benefits of the newest versions of the climate legislation now being considered in the House and Senate. Both the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner bill [PDF] and Rep. Ed Markey's latest proposal [PDF] include massive financing for forest and land conservation that could save these planetary lungs. Both bills are based on a fundamental recognition that trees suck up vast quantities of carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen -- and that standing pristine forests and grasslands (especially tropical forests) are a tremendous storehouse of carbon that we've got to keep safely locked up in forests. Indeed, deforestation for agriculture and logging is already driving 20 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions and is the biggest single source in the developing world. And so these bills would unleash unprecedented levels of financing to preserve great natural reserves from Big Ag, Big Timber, and land-hungry peasants. But the ways in which they do it -- and the overall scope of the bills -- could spell very different fates for the forests and grasslands they're meant to save. The Lieberman-Warner bill would allow polluters to offset their own pollution with more than 25 percent offsets through domestic and international forest, grassland, and agricultural conservation, reforestation, and afforestation -- amounting to billions of dollars a year in financing opportunities. Polluters are likely to jump at these forestry offset opportunities: Because of the relatively low price of land and the immense quantities of carbon stored in the forests, conserving forests is generally a lot cheaper than cleaning up industrial pollution. The Markey bill takes a different approach. In the past, there's been some skepticism that offsets from forestry could be accurately tracked. In the words of a senior adviser to Markey's global warming committee, "You can't plug a meter into a tree to see how much carbon was sucked in that day." There were also concerns in the past that it would be hard to accurately track whether a forest that was "saved" would actually have been cut down in the absence of financing or conservation action.

NASA internal investigation finds press-office climate distortion

An investigation by NASA’s inspector general has found that the agency’s press office repeatedly distorted climate-change research findings and limited its scientists’ access to the media between 2004 and 2006. NASA scientist James Hansen first …

Rallying for the Climate Security Act

Boxer and friends rally in park for climate bill

  Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) hosted a press conference in a park outside the Capitol this afternoon to rally support for the Climate Security Act. Standing on a podium alongside other …

Nukes of hazard

The self-limiting future of nuclear power, Part I

My analysis on nuclear power for the Center for American Progress Action Fund is finally finished and online. I think you will find it useful because it has many links to primary sources and tries to avoid the typical discussions by nuclear proponents and opponents, focusing instead on the rapidly escalating cost of nuclear power. My point in this paper is not to say nuclear power will play no role in the fight to stay below 450 ppm of atmospheric CO2 concentrations and avoid catastrophic climate outcomes. Indeed, I even include a full wedge of nuclear in my 14-wedge "solution" to global warming -- though as will be clear from the study, "The Self-Limiting Future of Nuclear Power," that achieving even one wedge of nuclear will be a very time-consuming and expensive proposition, probably costing $6-8 trillion. Fundamentally, the large and growing risks from climate change, particularly the real danger that failure to act now means we will approach a horrific 1000 ppm by century's end, mean two things:

It's nukes to me

Climate-bill sponsors talk about nukes and wooing McCain

Before this evening’s cloture vote on the motion to proceed, the sponsors of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act held a press conference, mostly repeating things we’ve already heard from them. Two interesting topics came up, …

Blast from the future

Why does the Post let conservative columnists make up climate facts?

Memo: To Washington Post, circa 2008 From: Future Historians of America (FHA), circa [you wouldn't believe us if we told you] Re: Historical Fact Checking Via: T-mail (Tachyon-Mail) As we attempt to document the reasons carbon dioxide concentrations are currently 945 ppm and rising 5 ppm a year, the FHA has a few questions we hope you can answer for us. It seems like every time the United States contemplated legislation to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, you and other major media outlets allowed your -- we believe you called them conservative columnists, but we call them Delayer-1000s -- to ridicule any serious action using claims that would never have passed a ninth grade science teacher with access to Google. (There is some controversy today at the FHA as to whether major media outlets of your time actually had access to Google, given the stream of disinformation you kept printing. Can you clear that up for us?)

Gore at the right time

America’s climate guru issues statement of support for America’s Climate Security Act

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is pretty jazzed about this statement of support for the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act that Al Gore released today: I want to commend Senator Boxer for her leadership of the Environment …

World’s third-largest tropical rainforest disappearing quickly

Papua New Guinea is home to the world’s third-largest tropical rainforest, but the country is experiencing such rampant deforestation that more than half of its tree cover could be lost by 2021, says a new …

<em>Post</em> hack

How not to inform readers about cap-and-trade

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson has long impressed me as one of the most hackish economic columnists not associated with the Wall Street Journal and not named Ben Stein, but today’s piece on cap-and-trade is …