Climate & Energy

Show me the money!

Scientists do not have a financial incentive to settle the climate debate

An argument often heard in the fruitlooposphere* is that the scientific community has financial incentive to push the consensus view that humans are responsible for climate change. The idea is that toeing the consensus line translates into more research funding. There is, of course, never any evidence presented with this argument. Rather, it is presented as "common sense": "Well, of course they're just trying to get more funding ..." So let's apply a little common sense and see how the argument fares. First, consider that the scientific community has been saying for several years that our understanding of the climate system is quite good. Not perfect, mind you, but good enough that many scientists feel we should be taking action now to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions. Based on the strength of this conclusion, many politicians have started saying "the science is settled." Does that sound like a recipe for getting lots of research funding? Saying that we have a pretty good understanding of the climate system?

Adventures in CFL-land

Brit blames bulb for TV-remote glitch

First CFLs cause migraines. Then they worsen skin conditions. Now they frig with the frequency of TV remotes. O brave new world …

The key ideas behind Sky Trust

A look at the framing behind the last climate policy proposal

Not long ago, a group of important environmental leaders published an essay on Gristmill -- "Creating an Earth Atmospheric Trust" -- about Peter Barnes' Sky Trust proposal. As it happens, Rockridge is about to release an analysis comparing Sky Trust with the Lieberman-Warner bill. We particularly evaluate what we call "cognitive policy," which is the set of ideas and values that underlie a legislative or social policy. The Rockridge Institute endorses the key ideas in the Sky Trust. The reasons for our endorsement are best understood by looking at the cognitive policy behind it. This "cognitive dimension" of their policy is the source of inspiration that makes the Sky Trust strong. The most fundamental principle behind this entire endeavor is this: An effective policy must gain popular acceptance if it is to stand the test of time and it must do so for the right reasons, namely because it promotes the right long-term values in the minds of citizens. The Sky Trust proposal is an exemplary effort to instill this principle firmly in policy. Keeping Our Air Safe and Clean The proposal begins with a cognitive foundation that contextualize the problem. This provides the moral context for addressing the climate crisis and shapes the material policy that emerges from it.

But what about the less attractive countries?

Swedish company to warm buildings using body heat

The legendary hotness of Swedes is now useful for more than getting dates. Calls to the French Embassy about plans for using the famous Gallic "icy superciliousness" for air conditioning were not returned by press time.

Warming climate may lead to spread of dengue fever in U.S., say health officials

Climate change is likely increasing cases of malaria in Kenya, various viral diseases in Australia’s outback, and tropical dengue fever in the U.S. “Widespread appearance of dengue in the continental United States is a real …

Judge rules that natural-gas company can drill on billionaire’s land

When we picture candy billionaire Forrest Mars, we imagine him diving into pools of M&Ms à la the coin-swimming revelry of Scrooge McDuck. That said, Mars’ attempts to keep oil and gas drills off of …

The high costs of doing nothing, part II

True costs of fossil fuels make renewables seem cheap in comparison

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- In November 2006, California voters rejected Proposition 87, a ballot initiative to raise the oil industry's taxes by $4 billion for research into renewable energy. Four months before the ballot, a survey (PDF) by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 61 percent of likely voters favored the idea, including 51 percent of Republicans. What changed between the survey and the vote? The oil industry pumped more than $60 million into a campaign to defeat the measure. Proposition 87 contained a specific provision that would have forbidden oil companies from passing the tax along to consumers. Nevertheless, a central part of the industry's message was that Proposition 87 would raise the price of gasoline. On the Hill and in the voting booth, the specter of higher costs and taxes is the big weapon in the fossil-fuel industry's arsenal against climate action. The question is, what's the defense? It is important to acknowledge and to anticipate that putting a price on carbon will raise energy prices. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an estimate (PDF) last November that carbon pricing to achieve a modest 15 percent reduction in emissions would cost the poorest fifth of the population between $750 and $950 a year on average. That's big money to a family living on $13,000 -- and fossil-energy costs presumably would grow as carbon caps get stricter. But we can mitigate those costs:

On the road again?

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on carbon-heavy touring

Wired this month features an interesting conversation between Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and musician David Byrne. In it, Yorke, a longtime vegan whose 2006 solo effort focused on global warming, mentions his carbon-related guilt about …

Green groups will sue over feds’ missed polar-bear deadline

Discontented with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement that it will not meet its deadline for deciding whether to list polar bears as a threatened species, the Big Three green groups — Greenpeace, NRDC, …