Climate & Energy

The GOP and climate

One small step for Republicans on climate, but giant leaps still needed

I've noticed recently that some conservatives -- particularly Andrew Sullivan -- have offered kind words to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for being the only presidential candidate in the Republican field to take the climate change issue seriously. It's difficult to know what to make of this. On the one hand, the country would be in a much better position to seriously address the crisis if John McCain's environmental views fell in the mainstream of his party, instead of where they actually fall -- radically at odds with the views of his party's leaders, virtually all conservative thinkers, and almost every last pundit on the right. If that's ever going to change, it will probably require more people like Andrew Sullivan to highlight -- and praise -- the fact that McCain isn't a typical right-wing denialist or industry shill. At the same time, though, this really brings to light just how far behind the issue green conservatives are, and, as a corollary to that, the fact that the party of the filibuster is light years away from accepting the sort of legislation that will be necessary very, very soon if the problem is to be addressed adequately.

Not-so-great grandfathering

Cap-and-trade vs. a carbon tax

I don't know what to say about this article, which is largely a critique of a grandfathered "cap-and-trade" system for reducing greenhouse emissions. On the one hand, I shouldn't complain. Any serious discussion in the press of climate policy is welcome. But on the other hand -- jeez, is it so hard to get climate policy right? My problem isn't so much that the article gets things wrong (though it does). It's that it tells, at most, half the story of cap-and-trade -- not even the important half.

Northern Ireland and Japan plagued by jellyfish

We’re sure you have plenty of fodder for eco-nightmares, but let us add another: killer jellyfish. Last week, a horde of jellies covering an area of 10 square miles (!) attacked Northern Ireland’s only salmon farm, killing some 100,000 fish. The mauve stinger jellyfish were well north of their favored Mediterranean habitat, thanks to warmer-than-normal water. Another type, the Nomura jellyfish, has within the past five years become a huge problem to fisherfolk in Japan. Theories for the recent jump in jellyfish include warmer seas, pollution, and changing water flows linked to China’s Three Gorges Dam. Japan is doing what …

Response to Jeremy Carl, part two

There are some compelling reasons to focus on cleaning up rather than abandoning coal

In my previous post, I argued that if developing nations refuse to alter their escalating reliance on dirty coal, we’re all screwed. If they are willing to consider more expensive (at least in the short-term) options, the question then becomes, which alternatives are fastest, cheapest, most practicable, and most sustainable? "Clean coal" is one alternative. There are others. If you think China and India should focus emission reduction efforts primarily on cleaning up coal rather than shifting to renewables and efficiency, you need a good argument. You have to explain why clean coal is fastest, cheapest, most practicable, and most …

World’s poor to be shafted most by climate change, U.N. report says

It’s official: The world’s poorest people will be the most screwed over by climate change and its ill effects, including drought, agricultural failures, water shortages, disease, flooding, and all the rest, according to a new report from the United Nations Development Program. “For millions of people, these are events that offer a one-way ticket to poverty and long-run cycles of disadvantage,” the report says. The report cautions that inequalities in the ability to cope with climate change have been emerging as an increasingly powerful driver of even wider inequalities between and within countries. And while the poor will undoubtedly get …

Our defining moment

The next president needs to move with speed and clear vision on mitigating climate change

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. Rajendra Pachuari. As I mentioned in a previous post, many of my colleagues in climate-action circles are delighted at the detailed commitments the presidential candidates in the Democratic field are making around global warming. It seems ungrateful to ask them for more. But ask we must. We need to know what they'll do to act quickly. And we need to hear their unifying vision for the post-carbon world. On speed: We've all read Jim Hansen's warning that the international community must take significant action within a decade if we wish to avoid the most dangerous consequences of global warming. Now the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has moved up the deadline. In announcing the IPCC's final report on Nov. 16, Rajendra Pachuari warned, "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment."

Cheaper to power Nevada with renewables than coal, says consultancy

Nevada will end up with costlier power if it goes ahead with plans to build three new coal plants instead of relying on renewables, says a study from an independent economic consultancy. Higher construction costs and an inevitable tax on emissions will drive up costs of the black rock in the not-so-long run, according to ECONorthwest. The conclusions will surely get the thumbs up from downwind Utah residents, who are petitioning to protest one of Nevada’s planned plants.

Global warming and the Holocaust

Is the analogy between climate change and Hitler’s atrocities appropriate?

Andy Revkin has an interesting post on Dot Earth about global warming and Holocaust analogies. On Oct. 22, climate scientist James Hansen testified before the utilities board in his home state of Iowa. He said, among 59 pages of other stuff, this: If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains — no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species. Hansen was subsequently scolded by Kraig Naasz, president of the National Mining Association, and Kenneth Jacobson, deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League. …

Palm oil may be certified sustainable, some greens skeptical

Hoping to quell criticism from biofuel bashers, palm-oil producers have drawn up criteria for certifying their product as sustainable. It’s a nice idea, but green group Friends of the Earth has threatened to withdraw its support of the standards, saying that Malaysia and Indonesia — which together produce nearly 85 percent of the world’s palm oil — are using the voluntary initiative as an excuse to keep from legislating against rainforest-pillaging palm plantations.

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