Politics

UN Secretary-General appoints climate envoys

I haven’t been keeping very close tabs on this, but apparently new(ish) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — who is determined to make climate change a priority — has named three Special Envoys for Climate Change. What’s a Special Envoy, you ask? Good question. I searched in vain for answers, and all I found is this: The Special Envoys will solicit the views of national leaders, including those who are key actors in the climate change negotiations. “The work of the Special Envoys will assist the Secretary-General in his consultations with Governments and other key stakeholders on how he might facilitate …

Where there's muck there's brass

A bill to subsidize making biogas from cow manure

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has just submitted a bill in the Senate that would establish federal tax credits, loans, and loan guarantees to encourage production of "biogas" from cow manure. Three Republicans are co-sponsoring the bill: Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Wayne Allard of Colorado, and Larry Craig of Idaho. A similar bill has been introduced in the House. As described by an article in the Omaha World-Herald, the legislation would "help ease America's addiction to fossil fuels by encouraging a renewable resource." Here we go again.

Newt Gingrich's 'green conservatism'

It’s not an alternative, it’s a subset

Newt Gingrich has a new book out called A Contract with the Earth, which purports to outline a "green conservatism." For a summary, you can check out this brief op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I approached it with an open mind — eagerly, even. There’s nothing I would like more than for a vibrant green conservatism to join the debate over the best way to accomplish green goals. That would be an enormous step forward from the current situation. Unfortunately, the op-ed is a rather vaporous string of cliches. Here’s the nut: We emphatically reject as ineffective the liberal environmentalists’ …

Thursday is link day

So much goodness you could waste a day

Every since my Brooklyn vacation, I’ve been behind and struggling to catch up. You know what that means … a link dump! Enjoy. In the course of joining the wonkosphere’s call for a carbon tax, Fareed Zakaria comes very close to repeating my slogan: Understanding the causes and cures of global warming is actually very simple. One word: coal. Coal is the cheapest and dirtiest source of energy around and is being used in the world’s fastest-growing countries. If we cannot get a handle on the coal problem, nothing else matters. Speaking of coal, turns out making it clean is …

I Don’t Want a Pickle, I Just Want a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

Senate committee OKs bill to raise fuel-economy standards A Senate committee has approved legislation that would increase average vehicle fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, with a 4 percent annual increase from 2021 to 2030. For nearly two decades, U.S. passenger cars have averaged 27.5 mpg, while light trucks and SUVs have measured even lower. Besides boosting those stats, the new bill would regulate large work trucks and tractor-trailers for the first time. Fuel-economy toughening has never had so much congressional support — thanks, gas prices and climate change! — but greens are wary, noting that the …

Tony, We Hardly Knew Ye

British Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign, climate legacy mixed British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his resignation today in a short speech whose message amounted to, “Sorry about blindly following Bush. Forgive me?” Blair leaves in late June after 10 years at 10 Downing Street, with Finance Minister Gordon Brown expected to replace him. While much of the insta-chatter over Blair’s legacy is focused on Iraq and Ireland, climate change is in the mix. “Tony Blair has made a significant positive contribution to the global debate on climate change, but this has been undermined by his failure to tackle …

More on climate and national security

The hits keep on comin’

Senate Foreign Relations Testimony on the grave threat to our nation's security posed by global warming: Admiral Joseph W. Prueher (PDF), USN (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command and Former Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China; General Charles F. Wald (PDF), USAF (Ret.), Former Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command; and Vice Admiral Richard H. Truly (PDF), USN (Ret.), Former NASA Administrator, Shuttle Astronaut and the First Commander of the Naval Space Command. Memo to conservative global warming deniers: Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) asserts in his opening statement (PDF),"To adequately prepare our security and diplomatic forces for future threats, we need to understand how climate change might be a source of war and instability." This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Inslee v. Scarlett

A smackdown in Congress

The corruption and incompetence of the Bush Interior Dept. are legend at this point, so I won’t rehash it all here (though I can’t resist linking to this). Instead, I’ll just report that today, in a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Endangered Species Act, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) laid into Interior Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett. He accused her of being responsible for incompetence and “political hackery,” and told her she should resign because, and I quote, "you refuse to acknowledge how sick this situation is." She disagreed. Vociferously. Words were exchanged. Entertainment! You can watch the video here.

Conservatives don't know Jack

They don’t get that climate is a security issue

"The Democrats' Global War on Weather" and "Jack Bauer, Climatologist???" are the headlines conservatives are using to mock efforts by progressives to finance a National Intelligence Estimate to study global warming. But climate is clearly a national security threat, as made clear in a recent CNA report from a distinguished group of former military leaders (PDF). As but one example, a "ferocious drought and famine" were the driving forces behind the crisis in Darfur, which is "likely to be seen as the first climate change war," as the Guardian put it. Contrary to the mocking press release, the "war on weather" is being waged by conservatives who block action on mandatory greenhouse gas controls, thereby ensuring more and more extreme weather events for many decades to come. It is precisely because conservatives have blocked action on climate change that progressives are driven to fund a serious effort by our intelligence agencies to understand the dangerous implications of our do-nothing climate policy. If only Jack Bauer were a climatologist -- then conservatives might listen to the overwhelming scientific evidence about the climate crisis. Better yet, put Jack in charge of U.S. climate policy -- then we would finally have a leader who believes in taking action. This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.