Politics

An interview with Ron Paul about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Ron Paul dropped out of the presidential race on June 12, 2008. Ron Paul. Photo: MyTwistedLens Enviros …

Think you very much

Smart commentary on Gore’s Nobel

“Do I derange you?” Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage. Gore’s Nobel certainly brought out the mouthbreathers, but it also inspired some insightful commentary, some of it, mercifully, not about its effects on the presidential race. Most commentators …

Sticks and stones

Right wing commentators react to Gore’s Nobel

The assault on reason Gore Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage. Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize was met with howls of outrage and resentment from the right, which never met anything other than war that it couldn’t drum …

Chinese prez Hu Jintao promises eco-reforms in big speech

Chinese President Hu Jintao, in a speech to the country’s Communist Party Congress yesterday, promised environmental as well as economic reforms in the next five years. Shying away from specifics in his 2.5-hour speech, Hu …

Respect

Al Gore’s commitment to public service in the face of cynicism

“Hey Crichton, won the Pulitzer yet?” Photo: Eric Neitzel/WireImage. I get accused of "hero worshiping" Gore, which I don’t think is right, but I do have immense respect for the guy, so I thought I’d …

Most opinion leaders just don't get global warming: Part I

The intelligentsia isn’t helping the public understand the urgency of the climate crisis

Why does the public largely lack a sense of urgency on climate? Maybe because most opinion leaders also lack that sense of urgency. To mark its 150th Anniversary, the Atlantic Monthly (subs. reqd) ... ... invited an eclectic group of thinkers who have had cause to consider the American idea to describe its future and the greatest challenges to it. Now this one is real easy -- you don't have to be scientifically literate or read the work of James Hansen, you just have to have seen Al Gore's movie or maybe read Time magazine (reading the Atlantic itself is, however, no help, as previously noted). By far the greatest challenge to the American idea (i.e., unlimited abundance, supreme optimism about the future, global moral leadership, and our special place in the world -- OK, that one's a bit tarnished already -- is global warming. In fact, if we don't adopt something close to Barack Obama's extraordinary climate plan within the next few years -- and I suspect conservatives will block such an ambitious, albeit necessary, approach as too "big-government" -- then global warming will destroy the American idea, perhaps for a millennium or more. Global warming means we move from great abundance to oppressive scarcity, from optimism to pessimism (especially if we cross carbon-cycle tipping points that cause an accelerating greenhouse effect in the second half of this century), and finally, as I wrote in my book: For decades, the United States has been the moral, economic, and military leader of the free world. What will happen when we end up in Planetary Purgatory, facing 20 or more feet of sea level rise, and the rest of the world blames our inaction and obstructionism, blames the wealthiest nation on Earth for refusing to embrace even cost-effective solutions that could spare the planet from millennia of misery? The indispensable nation will become a global pariah. The Atlantic assembled a who's who of the intelligentsia -- who in the main, though very thoughtful, just don't get it:

Stepping it up on activism

New book from McKibben & co. aids grassroots action

Tuesday marks the release (yes, on recycled paper) of Fight Global Warming Now, the Step It Up 2007 team's handbook for grassroots action on climate (and most other issues) in our communities. It's a blueprint for success based on their own experiences. Step It Up 2: Who's a Leader is just around the corner (Nov. 3), and there is an increasing corps of leaders committing to turn up at the events: eight members of Congress and two presidential candidates: go here to find an event in your neighborhood to support. If you find your choices lacking (hello, North Dakota?) organize one of your own: like coal, it's easy, cheap, and high-impact.

Killing me loudly

Big Green savages Dingell’s carbon tax

"Man always kills the thing he loves," wrote naturalist Aldo Leopold in the environmentalist bible, A Sand County Almanac. Leopold was referring to Americans' destruction of the wilderness, but he could have been describing the green establishment's hostile reaction to the "hybrid carbon tax" proposed by Michigan Rep. John Dingell last month. Dingell's tax package, combining a carbon-busting tax on fossil fuels, a surtax on gasoline and jet fuel, and a phase-out of subsidies for sprawl homes, should have been greeted by environmentalists like the Second Coming. Extrapolated to 2025, the carbon tax alone would cut annual CO2 emissions by 1.3 billion metric tons (a sixth of current emissions) and curb U.S. oil usage by 2.8 millions barrels a day (mbd). With Dingell's petrol surcharge, the savings swell to nearly 1.6 billion metric tons of CO2 and 4.5 mbd, more than the entire oil output of Iran. Further savings would come from abolishing the tax-deductibility of mortgage interest on houses larger than 4,200 square feet, a loophole that has underwritten millions of McMansions on America's SUV-crazed exurban fringe. (Smaller houses down to 3,000 square feet would also lose some deductions, on a sliding scale.) Taken as a whole, Dingell's proposal would be a giant step toward what Friends of the Earth terms "decarbonizing the tax code." It would also embody the cardinal sustainability precept that keeps Europe's carbon footprint at half of ours: energy prices must tell the truth, even if it requires taxing fuels. Alas, with the lone exception of FoE, leading Big Green groups have gone after Dingell's proposed bill like a clear-cutter on crank.

Paul Krugman …

… is a national treasure.

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