Politics

More thwarting

Ladies and gentlemen, Bush’s ‘scientific enquiry’ is still a sham

Every few months, if you pay close enough attention, you'll discover new and exciting ways the Bush administration is gumming up the machines of scientific inquiry. This will happen basically every time the likely results of a particular line of inquiry will be at odds with public policy as determined by the Bush administration. It's an elegant system. And as a result, there's a quick and dirty way to find examples of meddling. For instance, while you're unlikely to find meddling in biotechnological research (non-stem cell), most government-funded environmental research will eventually be sabotaged in some way. That's the basic pattern. The latest example comes to us from the good people at The New York Times: An effort by the Bush administration to improve federal climate research has answered some questions but lacks a focus on impacts of changing conditions and informing those who would be most affected, a panel of experts has found ... [T]he report cited more problems than successes in the government's research program. Of the $1.7 billion spent by the [Climate Change Science Program] on climate research each year, only about $25 million to $30 million has gone to studies of how climate change will affect human affairs, for better or worse, the report said ... Only two of the program's 21 planned overarching reports on specific climate issues have been published in final form; only three more are in the final draft stage. And not enough effort has gone to translating advances in climate science into information that is useful to local elected officials, farmers, water managers and others who may potentially be affected by climate shifts, whatever their cause, the panel found ... A major hindrance to progress, the panel's report said, is that the climate program's director and subordinates lack the authority to determine how money is spent. And so on. And so on. And so on.

U.S. Transportation Secretary blames bikes for decay of roads and bridges

When one rides a bicycle, one is able to transport oneself from place to place — thus, one might call a bicycle “transportation.” But not if one is U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. Despite the …

BBC convinced by Bush adviser that climate change is real

Breaking news: The US chief scientist has told the BBC that climate change is now a fact. Yes, if President Bush’s science advisor is 90 percent certain about it, then it must be true. It …

10 things <em>we</em> can do: Rebuilding civil society

It’s not that individuals can’t do anything about climate — they just can’t do it by themselves

I’ve been thinking about this debate over voluntary individual action and its place in the larger fight for sustainability (see here, here, and here). It’s missing something. A huge gulf has developed in America between …

The lash is back

Stratfor analysis of the backlash against ethanol

Stratfor’s Bart Mongoven on why the growing negative buzz around ethanol is having limited political effect: … the backlash against biofuels is in full swing. The critics, however, are running head on into the powerful …

U.S. climate-change research found inadequate in many ways

The good news: the National Research Council finds that the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, started in 2002, has gathered some useful climate data. The bad news: well, where do we start. Less than 2 …

Sigh

Hopes for energy bill this session fading

According to John Broder, things are not looking good for comprehensive energy legislation this session: The prospect of a comprehensive energy package’s emerging from Congress this fall is rapidly receding, held up by technical hurdles …

Bill to phase out incandescent light bulbs gains steam in U.S. Congress

Momentum is building in the U.S. Congress for a bill that would require phasing out regular incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescents and other, more efficient lighting technologies. The bill now in the …

The good German

German Chancellor Merkel focuses on climate change

In Germany, when the going gets tough, the tough go green: Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have realized that, contrary to the song lyrics, sometimes it's quite easy being green. Mrs. Merkel has shied away from the biggest fight at home: the deep economic restructuring she advocated during her campaign two years ago. And on the matter of the suspected terrorist plot in the heart of Germany, she has remained in the background, apparently happy to cede the limelight to her interior minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. But in the past month Mrs. Merkel could be found inspecting glaciers in Greenland and calling for new measures to combat global warming at a conference in Kyoto, Japan. It was as if Ronald Reagan had turned into Al Gore after being elected. But the voters loved it, awarding her the highest approval ratings any chancellor has enjoyed since World War II. [my emphasis] The fact that a center-right politician can ride eco-campaigning to popularity could be a lesson for U.S. Republicans. Though Fred Thompson recently ridiculed global warming, polls show doing so might not be the smartest political move. The environment is the one issue on which Republican politicians are most out-of-step with the Republican base. According to a recent Pew study, 65 percent of Republicans want stricter environmental laws (though it's questionable how much of a voting priority it is). Ultimately, however, Merkel's ability to pull off a green hat trick shows the importance of creating bipartisan support for environmental protection.