Climate & Energy

Everything old is new again

U.S. blocks consensus at international global warming conference … 17 years ago

Does it seem to you like nothing ever changes in the world? Well, you're right, and now I have hard evidence. I was searching through the archive of Bob Park's What's New newsletter when I ran across this snippet, right above an update about the miracle of cold fusion: At the World Climate Conference in Geneva this week, the United States blocked consensus on specific goals for reduction of carbon dioxide emission. As What's New predicted a month ago, the US sided with such backward nations as China and the Soviet Union, and oil producers like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Our traditional allies, Western European nations, Canada Japan, New Zealand and Australia, said they could cut emissions through energy efficiency measures at no net cost. A German study even concludes they can make money -- selling energy-saving technologies to backward countries like the US. John Knauss, the head of NOAA who led the US delegation, contended the revised Clean Air Act would lead to significant CO2 reductions, but a recent estimate from EPA put the reduction at only about 2%. The date of the newsletter: November 9, 1990. Seems like it could have been yesterday. Or tomorrow. P.S. You should subscribe to Bob's newsletter. It's required reading for those who are interested in the politics of science.

An artifact of prior decisions otherwise concealed, part deux

Why coal is cheaper in China

Alternatives to coal are at a severe disadvantage in China: These are the realities faced by companies seeking to make themselves more environmentally friendly in …

A nice rundown in layman's terms

Physical chemist on climate change

Turns out that my friend's brother is a physical chemist who has a lot of interesting things to say in response to the abrupt <a href="http://e-center.doe.gov/iips/faopor.nsf/d75c18ae2432dc898525649c005de232/cd548f8acf0efbe28525736900689456?OpenDocument">climate change modeling grant posting that the feds just put out. He sent this great rundown on how things look from his point of view:

California air regulators adopt emissions-tackling rules

As part of its groundbreaking plan to tackle air-polluting, climate-warming emissions, the California Air Resources Board has adopted six new rules for manufacturers, shippers, and …

Poll: Americans deeply, perhaps irredeemably, confused

From the American Institute of Architects’ annual public survey (sub rqd): The greatest percentage — 31 percent — of respondents said they believed recycling was …

Earth still round; sky, blue

IPCC: climate change will hit poor hardest.

Get used to high oil prices

No supply-side energy solution will come to our rescue

No one is going to come to the rescue on the supply side -- and, of course, we remain stuck with an administration that doesn't believe in demand-reduction strategies. As the Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) reported in "OPEC's Lever Loses Its Pull on Oil": Oil prices are hovering near historic highs, but consuming nations shouldn't expect quick relief from OPEC, the world's only source for big, quick supplies. For several reasons, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has neither the clear leverage nor the inclination to open the spigots and drive down the price of crude, which jumped past $90 a barrel in intraday trading in New York last week for the first time. This figure shows how little spare capacity OPEC has -- essentially none outside of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis have no inclination to initiate a major price drop, especially since these prices do not appear to be destroying demand. Moreover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned back in July that it saw "OPEC spare capacity declining to minimal levels by 2012." And the WSJ notes no one outside of OPEC will be coming to the rescue either: Saudi Arabia has little to fear from the world's other major producers, such as Russia, which in decades past have ramped up supplies in an effort to capture a greater market share. But at the moment, the world's major producers for the most part are already pumping flat-out. "They have little competition from non-OPEC suppliers and few worries about losing market share," says Jeffrey Currie, senior energy economist at Goldman Sachs in London. We cannot be far from $100+ oil.

Notable quotable

“Well, there are public health benefits to climate change, as well, both benefits and concerns …” — White House spokeswoman Dana Perino

Two new environmental blogs

In general, I have been critical of media coverage of global warming. So I am pleased to announce that two of the best environmental journalists working have launched blogs: • A new environmental blog from Mark Hertsgaard, the terrific environment correspondent for The Nation (and author of a lot of great books). • A new sustainability blog from The New York Times, dotearth, led by their first-rate climate reporter, Andrew Revkin. Revkin notes the limits of the traditional media on these issues: