Climate & Energy

Global warming in seven words

Here’s your chance to be the Pollan of climate change

Kristina/Jason’s plea for a tagline here reminds me: check out this post over on the NRDC Switchboard blog. It notes the success of Michael Pollan’s already legendary aphorism — "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." — and wonders whether something similarly compact could be used to explain what people need to know about climate change. A couple of Times bloggers noted that this little pearl has a "haiku-like resonance" – seven plain words, and something about its two-word / three-word / two-word structure. Dwight Garner amused himself trying his hand at it. And then the Well blog’s Tara Parker-Pope …

Notable quotable

“This is something that is very, very important, and I think it’s something the president would sign. We have to have it.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, endorsing the fantasy that President Bush will sign Lieberman-Warner into law

Mittster attacks McCain on climate

Could Romney’s climate contrarianism come back to bite him in the general?

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Republican race is down to McCain and Romney, and they are rapidly escalating their attacks on one another. Romney is now using McCain’s climate legislation against him: In a new line of attack, Romney then tore into the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. "Instead of seeing if there’s a way of stimulating the economy, McCain-Lieberman would depress the economy," Romney said. "His plan calls for a new financial burden to be placed on people who are purchasing gasoline, or for that matter, natural gas to heat their homes or to cook in their homes. The …

An ominous statement from Shell

Conventional oil will peak within seven years

The oil company with the best strategic planning says the day of reckoning is nigh:

Bubbling up ...

Could alternative energy companies drive the next big market bubble?

In case you missed it, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a violent and exhausting 1,000-point swing the past week, down 450 points on Tuesday before trimming its losses and then tumbling 330 points on Wednesday before rebounding with a 299-point gain. It's not the only financial freefall of late. The housing market bubble was punctured last fall and has been leaking like the Hindenburg ever since. (And long before that, the economy experienced the dual dot-com and technology implosions in the spring of 2000.) Photo: iStockphoto All of which is to say, it's probably safe to assume most Americans are familiar with what a financial bubble looks like when it bursts. But how many of us could spot a bubble in the making? Eric Janszen believes he can. In fact, the president of predicts the next bubble is going to be green -- not as in the color of money, but as in alternative energy companies, suppliers, and technologies. If Janszen's right (and he's got a pretty good pedigree in all things bubbles, having had a front-row seat at the dot-com debacle and now as founder of a website that tracks financial dislocations), it could be the mother of all bubbles.

Senate committee considers mining reform, not all that into it

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing yesterday on mining reform, indicating unwillingness to overhaul 136-year-old U.S. mining policy anywhere near as much as would a House of Representatives bill passed this fall. Senators seemed generally open to creating a cleanup fund and placing royalties on new mines, but key lawmakers from Western states balked at taxing existing mines or increasing environmental regulation. “It is important to remember that while the mining law itself has not been updated, there have been numerous new environmental laws that are still applicable to mining,” said ranking Republican Pete Domenici (N.M.). …

Climate change in last night's GOP debate

McCain’s doubletalk express on global warming

If you think Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is a straight-talking, courageous politician on the issue of global warming, watch this jaw-dropping clip from last night's Republican presidential debate: The transcript is online, so we can go through McCain's entire Orwellian answer to moderator Tim Russert. [Note: This was following a question to Giuliani about the global warming threat to Florida and his opposition to mandatory caps, which I'll briefly discuss at the end.] Russert said, correctly: Senator McCain, you are in favor of mandatory caps. And, as you've seen, McCain immediately answers: No, I'm in favor of cap-and-trade. And Joe Lieberman and I, one of my favorite Democrats and I, have proposed that -- and we did the same thing with acid rain. And all we are saying is, "Look, if you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, you earn a credit. If somebody else is going to increase theirs, you can sell it to them." And, meanwhile, we have a gradual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Not just an environmental issue

Climate change is as much a social priority as an environmental concern

Climate change is a universal menace, threatening hardships for everyone. But it's not an egalitarian menace: everyone will not suffer equally. Perversely, those people and nations least to blame for causing it are most vulnerable to its impacts. Climate disruption heaps misfortune on the less fortunate, whether in low-lying Bangladesh, the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, or the flood plains around Chehalis, Wash. In the aftermath of climate change, the less you have, the more you're likely to lose.

Schwarzenegger's response

Details on the EPA chief overruling his staff on California tailpipe emissions

We have known for weeks that the EPA administrator overruled his staff when announced late last year that the EPA was denying California's application to regulate vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions. Now we have the details of the PowerPoint presentation that the EPA's legal and technical staff made to Johnson, thanks to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). At the end, I'll reprint a letter from the Terminator (and 13 other governors) sent to the EPA. As reported today by the S.F. Chronicle: In the presentation last year, EPA staffers wrote that California could clearly demonstrate "compelling and extraordinary conditions" -- the legal definition under the Clean Air Act that requires EPA to approve regulations set by the state. "California continues to have compelling and extraordinary conditions in general (geography, climatic, human and motor vehicle populations -- many such conditions are vulnerable to climate change conditions) as confirmed by several recent EPA decisions," the staff wrote. The staffers also told Johnson that climate scientists at the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had concluded California was at greater risk from the impacts of global warming than other states, which could justify the tougher rules. "California exhibits a greater number of key impact concerns than other regions," they wrote. The staffers listed all the risks that could prove the state's case -- from potential water shortages to rising sea levels affecting coastal communities to health threats from air pollution. "Wildfires are increasing," which could "generate particulates that can exacerbate health risk," they wrote. "California has the greatest variety of ecosystems in the U.S.; and the most threatened and endangered species in the continental U.S." Nice to see the EPA staff gets this issue, even if their boss and the White House don't. The story notes: