Politics

Japanese whaling fleet to hunt up to 1,035 whales, including 50 humpbacks

Japan’s oft-criticized “scientific” whaling fleet will be extra busy this season as it aims to land up to 1,035 whales in what could be the …

More light, less heat

Reflections on Grist’s presidential forum on climate change

On Saturday, presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton gathered in L.A. to discuss climate and energy at a forum co-sponsored by Grist …

Success

The Grist presidential forum on climate and energy went off without a hitch and was a huge success. I’ll have much more to say about …

Anticipation

I’m sitting here at the venue for tomorrow afternoon’s event: the Wadsworth Theater. It is … large. I think around 1500 people are going to …

Museum meddling

Republican war on science, edition MMCCCVIII

Surprised? Some government scientists have complained that officials at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History took steps to downplay global warming in a 2006 exhibit on the Arctic to avoid a political backlash, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. The museum's director, Cristian Samper, ordered last-minute changes to the exhibit's script to add "scientific uncertainty" about climate change, according to internal documents and correspondence. Scientists at other agencies collaborating on the project expressed in e-mails their belief that Smithsonian officials acted to avoid criticism from congressional appropriators and global-warming skeptics in the Bush administration. But Samper said in an interview last week that "there was no political pressure -- not from me, not from anyone." Samper put the project on hold for six months in the fall of 2005 and ordered that the exhibition undergo further review by higher-level officials in other government agencies. Samper also asked for changes in the script and the sequence of the exhibit's panels to move the discussion of recent climate change further back in the presentation, records also show. The exhibit opened in April 2006 and closed in November of that year. The Post obtained a hand-scrawled note by a curator on the project indicating there was "concern that scientific uncertainty hasn't come out enough." Edits to a "final script" show notations about where to add "the idea of scientific uncertainty about climate research." Right. I guess we're supposed to believe that this had nothing to do with Dick Cheney's service, as part of his vice presidential duties, on the Smithsonian's board of regents. And nothing to do with the fact that six other regents are appointed by the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate -- at the time Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) -- and the Speaker of the House -- at the time Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Nothing unusual here! At any rate, D.C. residents have other, better options if they want to learn about global warming from a museum exhibit.

British government publishes climate change bill

The British government has published its climate change bill, which would set a target of reducing carbon emissions 60 percent by 2050. The bill will …

The speaker speaks on the energy bill

Nancy Pelosi answers my question about renewables in the energy bill

I and several other journalists spent the morning at an on-the-record breakfast with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) where, armed with my trusty digital voice recorder, I asked her to address last week's rumors about the potential demise of renewable energy in the energy bill. Will the electricity standard and the tax titles be dropped? If not, will the bill be split into parts? Her reaction was ... well, I'd call it slight consternation. She, not surprisingly, stopped short of saying anything definitive -- there are still no guarantees that the Congress will pass the energy bill enviros are hoping for. But it sounds very much as if renewables were not thrown under the bus, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may still turn it into two or three bills if he thinks it will help certain parts of it overcome the 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. But that's not exactly chastening because -- let's be realistic here -- if he's unwilling to force a real filibuster over Iraq withdrawal timelines, then he's unlikely to force a real filibuster over renewable energy. Still, Pelosi did at one point describe the bill as, potentially, a "beautiful Christmas present," and reiterated her hope that the bill would pass -- with renewables and all the rest -- before the end of the year. I sat near one end of a rather long banquet table and the Speaker sat at the opposing head, so my recording was, in certain parts, difficult to transcribe. But 99 percent of it is below the fold.

Technology alone won't alleviate climate change

NYT’s Andy Revkin and E. O. Wilson get suckered by Newt Gingrich’s phony techno-optimism

Newt Gingrich is an anti-environmentalist who spreads disinformation and has done more than any politician in the last two decades to thwart a sensible climate policy that includes a major clean technology component, as I have explained. Absent serious regulations, no technology-only strategy can possibly avoid catastrophic global warming (as we should have learned in the 1990s). Some well-meaning people, like The New York Times' first-rate climate reporter Andy Revkin and the great conservation biologist, E.O. Wilson, have gotten taken in by Newt's new-clothes rhetoric. Why? They don't know the history of climate technology policy that I and others have written about -- and they don't understand the explicit Luntz/Bush strategy of trying to get political credit on the climate while blocking the crucial regulatory (and technological!) solutions by talking about "technology, technology, blah, blah, blah," as I put it. I am in 100 percent agreement with David's analysis on this. Gingrich is most certainly not part of a "move to the pragmatic center on climate and energy," as Revkin writes -- especially not an imaginary center that Revkin claims includes Bjørn Lomborg and Shellenberger & Nordhaus (for a debunking of these folks, click here and follow the various links). Gingrich and Lomborg are not classic global warming deniers -- since they realize denial is now politically and scientifically untenable -- which is why I label them delayers. (I will come back to S&N's ongoing disinformation campaign in a future post.) Gingrich and his coauthor are not "realists and visionaries" -- the phrase Wilson uses in a foreword to their book, A Contract with the Earth (you can read the foreword -- and, if you're clever and have a huge amount of time, the whole book -- for free if you click here [reg. may be req'd]). I have emailed Wilson -- whom I don't know -- my earlier Gingrich post. I'll focus on Revkin, since I do know him, and he has a blog where he is fighting back against David (and others) who criticize him.

Bush administration’s fuel-economy regs for bigger vehicles smacked down

A federal appeals court has rejected the Bush administration’s fuel-economy regulations for 2008-2011 model light trucks and SUVs. In the scathing tone that the Bushies …