Climate & Energy

Great Scott

Wal-Mart CEO lays out ambitious social and environmental goals for his company

Yesterday, Wal-Mart CEO gave a fairly amazing speech, assessing the company’s progress on its social and environmental goals and laying out some extremely ambitious plans for the future. A taste: He then laid out sweeping plans for the company on several health and environmental issues, and he hinted that even more ambitious goals might be on the horizon. Mr. Scott said, for instance, that Wal-Mart is talking to leaders of the automobile industry about selling electric or hybrid cars — and might even install windmills in its parking lots so customers could recharge their cars with renewable electricity. If Scott …

The solar distraction

Climate skeptics blame the sun for global warming

Global warming skeptics everywhere are jumping on the solar bandwagon: "It's not greenhouse gases, it's the sun! Let's burn some coal to celebrate!" There are, of course, many, many problems with the solar theory as an explanation for recent warming. To me, the most damning is that the correlation has failed in the last few decades. As highlighted in an interesting news item in this week's Science: [Courtillot] and his team acknowledge that "anomalous warming" in the past 2 decades apparently cannot be linked to solar or geomagnetic activity, although they decline to ascribe it to greenhouse gases. On the other hand, the mainstream theory that today's warming is caused by carbon dioxide (along with other anthropogenic effects and known natural variability) provides an explanation not just for the "anomalous warming," but for just about every climate variation over the last 100 million years.

The poor state of the nation's climate

Sign a petition to prompt Bush to address climate in his state of the union speech

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- President George W. Bush will deliver his final State of the Union address on Monday. We can be sure he will talk about Iraq and the economy, particularly the hot topic of the moment: recession. He probably will discuss Iran and the war on terrorism. He may talk about immigration and rising oil prices, two topics he raised last year and on which there has been no progress. But will he talk about global climate change? On the eve of the address, and in no uncertain terms, a group of the nation's leading scientists and policy experts is advising the president that he should. "We regret to report that the state of the nation's climate policy is poor, and the climate and the ecosystems that depend upon it are showing increasing signs of disruption," the group says in a statement being delivered to the White House today. We can no longer discuss the State of the Union without assessing the state of the nation's climate.

Al Gore tells World Economic Forum the climate situation is dire

In a speech spiced with signature phrases like “moral imagination” and “planetary emergency,” as well as plenty of references to future generations, Al Gore warned attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the climate situation is dire. “The climate crisis is significantly worse and unfolding more rapidly than those on the pessimistic side of the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] projections had warned us,” he said. “There has never been anything remotely like [this planetary emergency] in the entire history of human civilization. We are putting at risk all of human civilization.” Gore also emphasized the need …

Carry a tune

A plea for some pepper in the climate change message

On national security, Brian Katulis says progressives need a story to tell, and Matt Yglesias says they need some confidence. On climate change I’d make basically the same points: the progressive line is too much prose and too little poetry, and it’s delivered from a defensive posture. I liked Bill Richardson’s energy plan, but every time he launched into his list, christ … cap-and-trade of X percent, fuel economy of Y percent, appliance efficiency of Zzzz … To the extent one hears a tune through the notes, the mood is melancholy. Brothers and sisters, we must sacrifice. It’s time to …

Report warns of new security threats from climate change

Climate change will create a range of new security threats, including millions of displaced climate refugees, according to a new report from Britain’s Oxford Research Group. The report forecasts a tumultuous climate-changed future by as early as 2050 where some 200 million climate refugees fleeing environmental disasters in their homelands will try to immigrate to the U.K. and other wealthy nations. To his credit, the report’s author recommends actually tackling climate change now to avoid encountering such a situation instead of beefing up anti-immigration policies and fortifying police and other armed forces. However, given the current pace of action on …

Gore's moral obligation

Why Al Gore isn’t running for president

As Hillary, Obama, and Edwards continue to slug it out in the early primary states, one name is conspicuously absent among the Democratic candidates to become the next president of the United States. Where is Al Gore? The man who received more votes than George W. Bush did in 2000, who served eight years as Bill Clinton's vice president, and whose climate change evangelism has been rewarded with an Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize has resolutely refused to enter the race, even though he might well have won it. Ever since the documentary An Inconvenient Truth catapulted Gore to international superstardom in 2006, countless citizens and opinion leaders at home and abroad have urged him to pursue the presidency. For its 2007 Person of the Year issue, Time magazine asked Gore if he did not have "a moral obligation" to run, given the unparalleled power of the White House and the urgency of the climate crisis. Gore gave much the same answer he has been giving for months now: although he had "not completely ruled out the possibility," he did not expect to run for office; the best thing he could do to fight climate change was to stay focused on "changing public opinion."

Public vs. private commitment

Research on changing behavior

Frank Zaski is a retired auto executive who has made something of a name for himself by pursuing a campaign to get shopping mall owners to turn down the heat. He put together some interesting thoughts on how to get people to use energy more wisely:

The trust factor

What qualities do we need in a president who will get things done?

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- Change -- a perennial theme in presidential campaigns -- has taken on a more serious meaning this election season. Of all the promises being put forward by the presidential candidates, change may be the most frequent. "Change" usually is a word used by candidates who don't have much Washington experience, but want to package their inexperience as a virtue. But allegiance to "change" is far more important If we want to confront global warming, energy insecurity and peak oil over the next four to eight years -- not to mention Iraq, the deficit, health care costs, and several other messes the Bush administration is leaving to its successors -- change will be the name of the game. Big change, in fact. There is wide acknowledgment that Americans need to come together to solve some of these problems. We need a uniter, not a divider, in the White House -- for real this time. We have enough common causes, certainly, around which we should rally. What we don't have is trust.