Politics

Bush (almost) blows

Our prez nearly made a slip of the plug

The funniest news lede I've read in a long time: Credit Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation. Apparently, our befuddled prez was about to stick an electrical plug into the hydrogen tank of a Ford hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid. This act, if completed, would have generated Hindenburg-esque bad publicity and probably made Cheney our next president. (Eep!) To make the save, Mulally apparently "violated all the protocols," grabbing the president's arm and steering him away from the plug. Maybe that's exactly what Bush needs: someone who's not afraid to step in to steer him away from stuff that's eventually going to blow up in his -- and our -- face. Wonder if Mulally would accept a pay cut ...

Learning from the EU's cap and trade system

Learning is fun

Check out this great article in the Washington Post. It explains many of the pitfalls and unintended consequences that have occurred under the EU's system and some of the challenges the US will likely face.

A unique insight into the IPCC process

The innerworkings of it all

Those opposed to action on climate change are compelled to attack the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its reports. Not doing so would cede the scientific high-ground of the argument and essentially doom their preferred do-nothing policy approach. One way to attack the IPCC is to describe it as a nameless bureaucracy pursuing its own political agenda, and entirely disconnected from the scientific community. For example, a report from the Fraser Institute makes this argument explicitly: [A] compelling problem is that the Summary for Policymakers, attached to the IPCC Report, is produced, not by the scientific writers and reviewers, but by a process of negotiation among unnamed bureaucratic delegates from sponsoring governments. Their selection of material need not and may not reflect the priorities and intentions of the scientific community itself. This argument is transparently false on several counts. First, the authors are not nameless, but are listed prominently on the first page of the Summary. In addition, they are not bureaucrats, but all have scientific credentials in the arena of climate change.

The pro-enviro solution that dare not speak its name

Trains are the forgotten mode of transport, at least in the U.S.

"Because if your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down their throats." Take electrified rail, for instance. Here's a sad report from Dean Baker of The American Prospect, one of the best reporters going today: I was shocked to discover in a conversation with a congressional staffer that rebuilding the country's train system is a topic that is strictly verboten on Capitol Hill. I was reminded of this when I read that a French train had set a new speed record of 357 miles per hour. Trains are far more fuel efficient than planes. Even at much slower speeds than this new French train, service across the Northeast and between the Midwest and Northeast can be very time competitive with air travel, after factoring in travel times to and from airports and security searches. It is remarkable that politicians don't even have trains on their radar screens. And, if you haven't seen the video of what an electrified train can do, check this out.

Climate in the UN Security Council

Highlighting security risks of climate change

On April 17, the UK will use the prerogative of the chair of the UN Security Council to devote a day to the security implications of climate change. UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is scheduled to deliver a major address meant to put climate-security links squarely on the high table of security policy. John Ashton, the UK special envoy for climate change and an adviser to Beckett, has been making the case for treating climate as a security issue since he took up the post last fall.

Something Inhofe and environmentalists can agree on

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes

Let's hope, anyway.

Good new blog on climate science and communication

Climate scientist Michael Tobis has started a blog, not so much about climate science itself as about the challenges of communicating about it and the bizarre notions about it that remain puzzlingly persistent. Off to a good start.

Bipartisan bill calls for intelligence assessment of climate impacts

How might U.S. national security be threatened by mega-droughts, coastal flooding, killer hurricanes, food scarcity, and the other ecological calamities scientists widely predict will occur if global warming continues apace? Is climate change the real ticking bomb? Photo: iStockphoto No one knows, but Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) think it’s time to find out. Last week, the bipartisan duo introduced a bill that would require federal intelligence agencies to collaborate on a National Intelligence Estimate to evaluate the security challenges presented by climate change. The bill’s debut is well-timed. First, it comes just before the official release …

The global problematique

A big picture statement the world’s big problems

I’m on a listserv, where somebody made the fateful mistake of casually asking me, "from a Gristy environmental point of view, wouldn’t it be a good thing if fossil fuels ran out?" In return, they received … a whole bunch of words. Then I thought, "hey, wait, I just wrote a bunch of words without putting them on the blog! What the eff am I thinking!?" So, without further ado, here’s a whole bunch of words: —– I don’t particularly consider myself an environmentalist as such, and I wouldn’t presume to speak for Grist. I just consider myself a progressive …

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