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.

How much does Dick Cheney care about the Calif. wildfire victims?

This much.

Notable quotable

“I can promise you that as president I will have him involved in our administration in a very senior capacity.” — Democratic presidential candidate Barack …

Notable quotable, non-environmental edition

“It depends on who does it.” — Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, on whether waterboarding is torture

Green groups battle over climate bills in the Senate

When writer and climate activist Bill McKibben took to the pages of The Washington Post late last month to demand that legislators and activists back …

Cheese-eating tax monkeys

French prez Sarkozy backs carbon tax

Via CK at the CTC, I see that French president Nicolas Sarkozy has called for a carbon tax in France, as well a a levy …

New York gets it right

NY Gov. Spitzer favors 100% auction under RGGI

New York state has announced that they intend to auction 100% of their carbon allowances under RGGI. This is a good thing. There is a 60 day comment period now open. File those comments, NY Gristers!

Lieberman-Warner meets the microscope

America’s Climate Security Act gets its first hearing

The U.S. Senate held its first hearing today to examine America's Climate Security Act, the new climate-change bill introduced last Wednesday by Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.). Given that the hearing was convened by a subcommittee that Lieberman chairs and on which Warner is ranking member, it should be no surprise that the expert witnesses overwhelmingly approved of the legislation. Normally at subcommittee hearings, members of the minority party are less inclined to attend. Their voices are overwhelmed, their issues are not at stake, and their input often isn't appreciated in any meaningful way. As today's hearing convened, though, the Republican side of the stage was at capacity -- every seat filled by its rightful senator, and staffers seated and standing behind them -- while on the Democratic side, less than a handful of people showed up. One of them was Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats; he was the sole official voice speaking up for significant strengthening of the bill. Sanders stood by the work he'd done with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in crafting a much stricter climate bill. He called for incentivizing clean energies like wind, solar, and geothermal; pointed out the great opportunity a new energy regime would present for creating new jobs; and warned that insufficient action could spell calamity for billions of people. (Boxer could not attend, according to a letter distributed by her staff, because of the wildfire crisis in California.) On the Republican side, some senators -- usual suspects like James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) -- opposed the legislation outright. But many others simply wanted to express their concerns that the bill might hurt the American economy or that it featured too few subsidies for the nuclear and coal industries.

Big balls, bigger wall

Chertoff lies, wildlife dies

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced yesterday that he's going to just waive the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Waste Disposal Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (among many others) in order to plough ahead with building a wall along the Arizona-Mexico border in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. He repeated his rationale that the wall could be good for the environment because migrants leave behind trash: But there are also environmental reasons to stop illegal crossings in the SPRNCA. Illegal entrants leave trash and high concentrations of human waste, which impact wildlife, vegetation and water quality in the habitat. Wildfires caused by campfires have significantly damaged the soil, vegetation, and cultural sites, not to mention threatened human safety. As anyone who's spent any time along the border (or, really, anywhere on the planet) can attest, this statement is a complete lie. A little pile of trash in the wilderness might be unsightly, but it has nowhere near the effect of a giant, honking, double layered concrete wall. (Which, um, is a little more unsightly, if that's the standard we're going by.) Since when is a wall a solution to trash anyway? I think usually, Mr. Chertoff, the way people clean up trash is by picking it up. What jaguars and bobcats and Sonoran pronghorn antelope and ocelots need is not a trash-free wilderness, but a wilderness that doesn't cut them off from the breeding populations on the other side of the border. Increased Bush administration border activity and the climate crisis have already reduced populations of the endangered Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope from 500 to below 25.

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