Climate & Energy

High drama leads to compromise at climate conference

After days of bitter fighting and an overtime stretch filled with twists and turns and even tears, world leaders on Saturday came to agreement on a rough roadmap for developing a new global climate treaty …

All's well that ends not completely horribly

Countries strike climate deal in Bali

Apparently they’ve reached some kind of agreement at Bali. Sounds like the last 24 hours have been a real white-knuckler: BALI, Indonesia (CNN) — The United States made a dramatic reversal Saturday, first rejecting and …

Growing pains

Why ecology explains growth, and economists don’t

Recently there have been a number of discussions concerning economic growth and global warming. Some have argued that the effort to prevent as much global warming as possible will incur unacceptable costs to the global economy in terms of growth. Others have argued that growth is causing global warming. I want to argue that neoclassical economics is badly designed to help with this debate. The two main problems, in my opinion, are that economics does not see the economy as being composed of a set of nonsubstitutable "life support" functions, to use Joshua Farley's phrase; and the neoclassical theory of economic growth is inadequate (PDF) for understanding how global warming (and most everything else) will effect growth. The problem of economic growth looms large in both the DICE model put forward by William Nordhaus, and the Stern Report, led Sir Nicholas Stern, because they both calculate the extent to which global warming and global warming mitigation will effect growth. In 1991, Stern opined that growth theory "has, however, been a popular topic for those involved in formal economic theory only for short periods, notably from the mid 1950s to the late 1960s." There is a good reason for this: neoclassical growth theory doesn't really explain economic growth.

Big Bali of trouble

It’s time to throw down on the home court

Post by Richard Graves and Erin Condit-Bergren, U.S. youth delegation. Nusa Dua, Bali. We have been sitting outside the closed conference rooms where delegates from around the world engage in the grueling process of working out an international climate policy, line by line. Campaigners, delegates, and journalists mill about, trading rumors and whispering strategy. Everyone has been working nonstop for two whole weeks, and it all has come down to this one long session. The milling crowd reflects nothing of the nuance of the international negotiations, which will determine the future of international climate change policy. Instead, the din reveals the clanking of glasses and the milling hubbub of various national representatives, sound and fury, signifying nothing. The air may be charged, but what exactly are we all waiting for? Everyone is as edgy and nervous as an expectant father banished from the maternity room, yet there will be no agreement born today. At the moment, all we hope for is a plan to negotiate another plan. Why on earth are we here at 2:00 a.m.? We know that in the end, despite all our efforts at the conference and over the last year, the White House delegates will ignore the will of the American people and even the plight of their own children. The sad truth is that while we have done so much over the last year and won so many victories, when we try to get our own government to represent us it is like we are the nagging conscience they have grown comfortable ignoring.

The United Nations and climate equity

U.N. creating small Adaptation Fund by going carbon neutral

The following essay is a guest post by Kari Manlove, fellows assistant at the Center for American Progress. ----- The IPCC has warned us that developing nations are poised to bear the most dramatic effects of global warming, and so far we (the world) have done practically nothing to counter or prevent that fact. But the U.N. is trying. This week in Bali, the U.N. announced that it will go carbon neutral by offsetting the operations of over 20 agencies, including the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. With the money collected, the U.N. will invest in an Adaptation Fund to help developing countries combat the consequences of climate change in coming decades. At its start, the fund will be worth no more than $50 million, but advocates hope that number will grow as we see increasing need for a fund of its type.

Walruses trampled as a result of climate change — no, seriously

Here’s a climate-change impact you don’t think about every day: trampled walruses. When walruses get tired of swimming, they clamber onto sea ice to rest. As ice is in increasingly short supply above the Arctic …

Points of no return ahead

James Hansen talks about what to do now that we’ve passed the ‘tipping point’

For the last few years, James Hansen, the man who first warned Congress of global warming in testimony last century, and the man considered NASA's "top scientist" on climate questions, has been giving talks around the country asking can we avoid dangerous climate change (PDF)? But Hansen has changed his tune: no longer does he ask if we have passed the tipping points of climate change. In a press conference Thursday morning at the American Geophysical Union, he stated that we have passed several tipping points. He said scientists now know that soon the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer, that huge ice sheets will melt, and the climactic zones will shift towards the poles of the earth, among other consequences.

It's debate time!

Climate skeptic steps up

We've finally found someone willing to debate me: Tim Ball, a retired professor from the University of Winnipeg. The debate will be online Monday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. CST. You will be able to listen online through BlogTalkRadio's service. In fact, you can even call in during the show (see the BlogTalkRadio web site for details). You can also post questions on SciGuy Eric Berger's website. I realize that these types of events don't do much to move the climate debate forward. I'm mainly doing this to test my own ability to answer the skeptic's questions and see how I fare in this type of activity. For those who miss it live, it will be archived in mp3 format.

Australians R Us!

No country in the world is more like the U.S., so where’s our national climate-change leader?

Kevin Rudd. Photo: AP / Rob Griffith Culturally, politically, and spiritually, what country in the world is most like the United States? It's not Canada and it's sure not Great Britain. The answer is Australia. Ask anyone who's been there. It just feels like America there, from the sprawling suburbs to the cars people drive, from the obsession with sports to their unit of currency: the Australian dollar. Add these factors too: both countries were British colonies, both wiped out indigenous peoples, both have big cities in the east and vast frontiers to the west, both have huge coal deposits and per capita greenhouse-gas emissions that lead most of the world, and, in the last several years, both have had conservative national governments that basically deny the reality of global warming. The Aussies R Us! So how, then, did Australia just complete a national election where the issue of climate change played a central role and may have determined the outcome? How did a country so steeped in America's brand of fierce self-reliance, consumerism, and fossil-fuel addiction throw out a "climate skeptic" prime minister and hand a landslide victory to a Labor candidate who talked persistently about ratifying Kyoto? And most important, if they can do it Down Under, is there still hope for America?

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.