Climate & Energy

Chris Mooney: That's not kryptonite after all

Does refuting deniers only strengthen and empower them?

Science journalist Chris Mooney, author of must-read The Republican War on Science, has a post at Science Progress titled "Enablers: Sometimes refuting unscientific nonsense reinforces it." This is a provocative and timely post, given the recent tussles I've been having with deniers and delayers. I've talked to Chris, and his occasional co-blogger Matthew Nisbet (who has a related post here) many times. And while we are probably 95 percent in agreement on most things climate, I don't quite buy their argument here: So we've reached a point where we may well be wasting our energies if we continue to battle climate skeptics. Indeed, we run the risk of propping them up far more than they deserve. For that's the other problem with constantly rebutting anti-science forces -- not only does it waste our time, but it may play right into their hands. Consider: Over at his blog, Framing Science, Matthew Nisbet makes a very strong case that the rhetorical strategy of the Heartland Institute is exceedingly similar to that of the anti-evolutionist think tank the Discovery Institute. If so, it follows that the defenders of climate science ought to be at least as leery of outright engagement with Heartland as the defenders of evolutionary science are when it comes to engaging with Discovery. The reason is that if you actually bother to rebut the Heartlands and Discoverys of the world, you instantly enter into a discourse on their own terms. The strategic framing these groups employ to attack mainstream science heavily features the rhetoric of scientific uncertainty ...

Biggers to Obama: Free Appalachia from coal

Jeff Biggers suggests an ambitious and risky Appalachian strategy for Barack Obama: By the 1920s, plundered for their coal and unable to compete with the non-union labor in Kentucky and West Virginia, the southern Illinois …

Poof! 132 coal plants disappear

The magic mouse of Guy Caruso

Want to kill one coal plant? Use a lawyer. Want to kill a hundred? Use a spreadsheet. On March 4, without fanfare, a bureaucrat named Guy Caruso caused 132 coal plants to disappear with a wave of his magic mouse.

Report by Australia economist suggests ambitious climate policy

An interim report on the economic impact of climate change on Australia — Oz’s version of the Stern Review — has been produced by economics professor Ross Garnaut. The government-commissioned Garnaut Review, which will be …

Foreign energy 'sources'

McCain’s crooked talk on nuclear power

This week John McCain has an article in the Financial Times: "America must be a good role model." It has two paragraphs on the need for leadership on greenhouse gas reductions but endorses only one low-carbon energy source: Right now safe, climate-friendly nuclear energy is a critical way both to improve the quality of our air and to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. That dependence, I am afraid, has become a vulnerability for both the US and Europe and a source of leverage for the oil and gas exporting autocracies. You can tell a politician is being wishy-washy when he or she uses the phrase "dependence on foreign energy sources." There is really only one foreign energy source Americans care much about -- oil. It comes from unstable and undemocratic regions, and our trade deficit in it now exceeds $1 billion a day. But nuclear power can't significantly reduce US oil consumption or imports -- because very, very little electricity in this country is generated by burning petroleum (only 1.6 percent of electricity in 2006 came from oil). [In the future that could change when a significant number of vehicles on the road substitute electricity for gasoline, but that is not imminent.]

Latest hot commodity: coal

As coal prices rise, U.S. coal exports boom

Environmentalists have helped scuttle more than 50 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. in the past year. That’s fantastic. But the movement to stop coal won’t help the climate unless it can globalize; for the …

The Even Sterner Review

Australia’s pivotal Garnaut climate report to back 100 percent permit auctions

The bar for national climate policy just inched up again. In April of last year Australia’s State and Territory Governments commissioned a comprehensive independent study from economics professor Ross Garnaut. The Garnaut Climate Change Review …

On thin ice

Arctic ice alarmingly scarce, say NOAA, NASA, NSIDC

Yes, I know you've all heard that we've had "record" refreezing of Arctic ice. Big shock there. We had record melting followed by a temporary cooling La Niña event. What those denier/delayer-1000 talking points don't tell you is that the refrozen ice is very thin and still at record low levels following the staggering ice loss this summer. To set the record straight, on Wednesday, the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA had a teleconference to show the surprising and alarming new data from NASA's ICESat satellite, which revealed over the past year "the steepest yearly decline in perennial [i.e., old, thick] ice on record" (click to enlarge):

Deep thought of the day

One can be anti-nuclear subsidy without being “anti-nuclear.”

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