Climate & Energy

Doctors suggest global warming could lead to more heart problems

Does global warming make you heartsick? Oh wait, we mistyped. Retry: Does global warming make your heart sick? Some doctors think it might.

Offsets never, ever resemble indulgences: Part II

On the problem of carbon-offset projects in developing countries

[editor's note, by David Roberts] Important update to this post here. It turns out that Climate Care, a major indulgence offset provider, is paying farmers in India to pump water with treadles rather than diesel pumps in order to offset plane flights. I would hope that supporters of offsets would be as quick as opponents to see what is wrong with this. In case someone is reading this before their morning coffee, I will simply point out that it is one thing for rich, overweight Americans to substitute manual labor for energy use, and another for a poor Indian farmer who already has plenty of manual labor in his life to do so. It is paying poor people to suffer to offset plane rides for the rich.

Hurricanes are getting stronger -- thanks to global warming!

Climate change is increasing the frequency of Category 5 storms

Global warming has long been predicted to make hurricanes more intense. Well, now we are seeing more intense hurricanes. Chris Mooney has a great post on the recent storm surge of Category 5 hurricanes, now that Felix has joined that once-elite club. He notes: There have now been 8 Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes in the past 5 years (Isabel, Ivan, Emily, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Dean, Felix). There have been two Atlantic Category 5s so far this year; only three other seasons have had more than one (1960, 1961, 2005). There have been 8 Atlantic Category 5 hurricanes so far in the 2000s; no other decade has had so many. The closest runner up is the 1960s with 6 (Donna, Ethel, Carla, Hattie, Beulah, Camille). Some people, especially the Deniers, think this is all a coincidence, or the result of incomplete data from earlier years. Here's why I don't:

So much for that fig leaf

Congressional Research Service report bolsters California’s case for EPA waiver

As you know, California is all set to implement its tough tailpipe GHG emissions standards — and something on the order of 14 other states are ready to follow suit. All Cali needs is a waiver from the U.S. EPA, allowing it to supersede national standards. It first requested the waiver in Dec. 2005, but the EPA has been dragging its feet ever since, to the point that Gov. Schwarzenegger has threatened to sue. Lots of political observers expect the Bush EPA to deny the waiver, perhaps based on upcoming boosts in national CAFE standards. Now there’s a new development …

Edwards & the mine workers union

How does Edwards’ union support mesh with his ambitious climate-change platform?

John Edwards' bid for union support seems to finally be paying off for him -- yesterday, his campaign won the support of the steelworkers and mine workers unions. Which raises an important question: To what extent is Edwards' support for mine workers (and their support for him) incompatible with his climate-change platform? Edwards was the first of the Democratic hopefuls to put forth an ambitious climate-change plan (perhaps inspiring slightly more ambitious offerings from Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson), and he remains the only one of the three leading contenders to have made addressing climate change a priority -- we've heard standard platitudes from Hillary Clinton, and a series of confused and incrementalist proposals from Barack Obama. So I asked the Edwards campaign if supporting coal miners is at odds with supporting the human race (of which coal is an enemy, as we at Grist are fond of reiterating). They sent me the following statement:

Give Bush some (perverse) credit for emissions drop

Spike in gasoline prices is partially due to Bush’s weak energy policy

The Washington Post reported that President Bush made the following claim at a fundraiser: Do you realize that the United States is the only major industrialized nation that cut greenhouse gases last year? The Post noted immediately that the White House "was unable to substantiate the claim" because they really don't know what other industrialized nations have done. But does Bush deserve any credit for the unusual U.S. drop in emissions? I say yes, but only in a perverse way -- his failed energy policy (and the failed reconstruction of the Iraqi oil industry) helped set the stage for sharply increased gasoline prices in 2006, which moderated oil consumption. The White House claims that "progress is due in part to natural causes, innovation and market forces, and emerging federal, state and local policies." Uh, how do "emerging federal policies" change anything? Answer: they don't until they actually emerge, which for this administration will be pretty much never.

'Be quiet and sit down'

Wisdom from 13th-century Persia

Last Friday, Bill Moyers interviewed the poet Robert Bly on PBS. Bly has been translating some of the poetry of the great Persian poets Hafez and Rumi, and he recited the following piece from Rumi: Just be quiet and sit down. The reason is you're drunk. And this is the edge of the roof. Bly (and Man with a Muck-Rake) relate this to Bush, but I wonder if the phrase could be also be applied to way humans have been abusing the environment: becoming drunk on fossil fuels and the natural capital of nature, ready to fall off the roof.

Pacific Rim nations meet to consider climate, unlikely to do much

If you haven’t had your fill of anticlimactic climate meetings, hark: climate is at the top of the agenda at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney this week. APEC’s 21 members — Pacific Rim countries including the U.S., China, and Australia — together consume about 60 percent of the world’s energy, and thus are big players in global climate-affecting. But don’t expect anything too ambitious out of Sydney: according to a draft statement obtained by Greenpeace, APEC members may adopt wording supporting voluntary “measurable and verifiable contributions to meeting shared global goals.” Then again, one foreign ministry official predicts …

We won't even help our own

For mitigation over adaptation: the argument from cynicism

The second anniversary of Katrina has passed, marked by me only with craven silence. There are three Katrina tidbits I wanted to pass along, though, as they are germane to the argument over whether humanity can or should adapt to ongoing climate change. The first is from a year ago. Jim Rusch, who was then acting governor of Idaho and who is likely to take over Larry Craig’s recently vacated Senate seat, said this: Here in Idaho, we couldn’t understand how people could sit around on the kerbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had …