Climate & Energy

Time to shut down the IPCC?

It is doubtful that future IPCC reports will make a difference in climate policy

I have a long column at Salon.com, "Desperate times, desperate scientists," which discusses how dire the climate situation is and how desperate climate scientists have become in the face of global inaction. In general, I am a fan of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has done -- and they certainly deserve the Nobel Prize they shared with Al Gore. That said, at the end of the Salon piece I argue for disbanding it: In fact, I think that with the release of the recent synthesis report, the IPCC has reached the end of its usefulness. Anyone who isn't persuaded by that document and the general desperation of international climate scientists is unlikely to be moved by yet another such assessment and more begging. In particular, skeptical Americans are unlikely to be convinced by another international report that focuses on international climate impacts. We could use a new definitive analysis by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences on climate science, U.S. impacts, and solutions. That analysis should also do something the IPCC doesn't -- namely, look at plausible worst-case scenarios, given that such scenarios typically form the basis for most of our security and health policies. It would be harder for Americans to ignore an Academy study than the IPCC reports. An Academy study would also be more likely to get thorough attention from the U.S. media and possibly even from conservatives ... I just don't think that continuing the IPCC process will have any meaningful impact on American climate policy. And much of the rest of the industrialized world is ready to make the necessary commitments now.

Free campaign advice

How the Dem candidates should answer the question on energy independence

I’m not watching the Dem debate in Iowa right now, so I pass the mic to former Gristie Kate Sheppard, who reports on candidate answers to a question about energy independence, which was framed, as always, in terms of its alleged high cost: Biden, up first, says, "The president has to make this a moral crusade for the American people." Richardson says we need to raise fuel efficiency standards to 50 miles a gallon, not 35, and reduce consumption of oil by 50 percent. He also mentioned investing in mass transit, the only of the candidates to do so. "This …

You first! No, you first!

China and the U.S. are both obliged to act on climate change, quick-like

Apparently, based on some recent threads on this site, there’s some dispute about the role China plays in the Great International Climate Change Debate. I’m absolutely snowed under right now, but I want to make two quick points: It is indisputable that the U.S., and developed countries generally, bear a vastly larger share of the responsibility for climate change than China, and developing countries generally. This is true whatever perspective you take: physical responsibility (we put the vast share of the CO2 up there), moral responsibility (we’re hurting people that are largely defenseless and innocent of wrongdoing), financial responsibility (we’re …

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