Climate & Energy

EPA economic analysis of cap-and-trade program

Like Christmas for nerds

For the hardcore dorks out there, the U.S. EPA has just finished an extensive economic analysis of Senate Bill S.280, the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. This analysis is likely to carry considerable weight as Lieberman and Warner put together their new cap-and-trade bill. I’m going to look at this a bit later and report back with details.

An interview with the directors of Arctic Tale

Adam Ravetch gets up close and personal with his subject. Photo: Arctic Bear Productions After the surprise success of March of the Penguins in 2005 — a film about, well, penguins … marching — it’s pretty clear that people like movies about cute animals in cold places. So it’s no surprise that National Geographic Films, the company behind Penguins, is back this summer with a new movie documenting the lives of Arctic creatures, this time with a climate-change bent. Arctic Tale follows a polar bear cub named Nanu and a walrus calf named Seela as they come of age in …

A word of caution on climate change and 'refugees'

It’s sometimes problematic to attribute migration specifically to climate change

Scholars, policy analysts, and even military officers are breaking down climate change's impacts into what they hope are more manageable topics for examination. The migration that climate change could cause is one such topic. For instance, the Center for American Progress recently posted a piece entitled "Climate Refugees: Global Warming will Spur Migration." The International Peace Academy analyzed "Climate Change and Conflict: The Migration Link" (PDF) in a May 2007 Coping With Crisis working paper. Climate change-induced migration also figured prominently in the security perspective offered by the CNA Corporation's Military Advisory Board in its report, "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change." In many respects, these pieces are careful in their discussion of the topic. But allow me a few words of caution on climate change and migration, based on what we learned from a series of programs on the topic in the late 1990s here at the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Climate change message: positive or negative?

Al Gore does both

Both: “What we’re facing worldwide really is a planetary emergency,” Gore said. “I’m optimistic, but we’re losing this battle badly.” That’s in an article about Al Gore at the Aspen Institute. It’s going to take a 90-percent decrease in carbon emissions from developed fossil fuel guzzlers like the U.S. and a 50-percent decrease worldwide to get a handle on the problem, Gore said — changes that will take major leaps of political will far beyond what current politicians see as feasible. That reduction, which would be mandated by a world-wide treaty, could happen through carbon taxes, cap and trade, technological …

Just Call Us the Rainmakers

Study confirms connection between human activity and increased rainfall A study led by Canadian scientists shows that peeps have an effect on precip: “For the first time, climate scientists have clearly detected the human fingerprint on changing global precipitation patterns over the past century,” the team says. Comparing rainfall records from 1925 to 1999 against nearly 100 scenarios generated by 14 computer models, the team found that 50 to 85 percent of rainfall increase at latitudes north of 40 degrees, including Russia, Canada, and northern Europe, was connected to human activity. The study, set to appear in Nature on Thursday, …

Viva Zap

Canada, U.S., Mexico sign five-year energy pact Will an energy pact between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico pave the way for alternative fuels or grease the skids for business as usual? Maybe a little of both. The five-year agreement, signed yesterday by Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, and Mexican Secretary of Energy Georgina Kessel, “represents another step — we believe a major step — toward enhancing global energy security and environmental protection,” Bodman said. The countries will share information and technology on renewable sources like wind, solar, and biomass; draft energy-efficiency guidelines for …

Lieberman and Warner move closer to climate legislation

But what will it look like?

Sens. Lieberman (I) and Warner (R) are, as you may know, attempting to put together a global warming bill that can get through the Senate. They’re picking bits and pieces from all the other bills floating around. A hearing on Wed. Tues., with testimony from a variety of big money types, should reveal something about how they plan to play it. Here’s what E&E has to say (sub. rqd): Lieberman and Warner are a little more than three weeks into talks on a compromise climate package that would establish a cap-and-trade system covering most sectors of the U.S. economy. The …

The future is solar; politics is ethanol

Hillary pays tribute to Iowa politics

This is (bitterly) funny: As Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton climbed onto a makeshift stage at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and embraced motor fuel from corn as a key to America’s future, she completed a turnabout from being an ethanol opponent, a position she held only two years ago. … Political observers view her about-face as a political necessity, saying Iowa’s first-in-the-nation’s caucuses — in which residents of the country’s biggest corn-producing state vote their choice for presidential nominee — makes it politically risky to avoid kneeling at the altar of ethanol-from-corn. This seems like a good place to tout Robert …

Alternatives to nuclear power

They exist

In an unsigned editorial, the L.A. Times makes the case against nuclear power. IMHO, the strongest stuff comes at the bottom: The accelerating threat of global warming requires innovation and may demand risk-taking, but there are better options than nuclear power. A combination of energy-efficiency measures, renewable power like wind and solar, and decentralized power generators are already producing more energy worldwide than nuclear power plants. Their use is expanding more quickly, and the decentralized approach they represent is more attractive on several levels. The much hyped (though largely imaginary) “renaissance” of nuclear power relies on popular opinion that there …