Seattle's difficult decision: A mini-series

Because local transportation choices aren’t local any more

As Bradley noted below, the citizens of Seattle face a dilemma. The Alaskan Way Viaduct — an elevated highway that enters Seattle on its west flank, offering stunning views (to drivers) of the city and the waterfront — is falling apart. There’s real danger that an earthquake, or just Father Time, could send it tumbling down, along with lots of cars. Nobody wants that. That’s where the consensus ends. The question is: what should we do about it? In some sense this is a local decision, of course. But in an age of climate change, such decisions are never purely …

Coal-bashing is hot new trend in Congress, science circles, and business world

Is King Coal about to be deposed? Climate scientists, key members of Congress, enviros, and the progressive wing of the business world are plotting a coup d’état. Regime change isn’t likely to come soon, but this resistance movement could significantly alter the way the pollution-spewing sovereign wields its power. James Hansen. Photo: Arnold Adle/NASA The ringleader of this uprising is James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s top climate scientists. Last week he threw down the gauntlet: “There should be a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants,” Hansen told the …

Texas: Climate's anti-canary

The last to react

We all know and love the "canary in a coal mine" analogy, where the canary is a first warning sign of some potential catastrophe. The Arctic is a good example of a canary for climate change, since we expect (and indeed see) the effects of climate change there first. Then there's the anti-canary. Rather than being the first to react, the anti-canary is the last. When the anti-canary moves on an issue, you know that everyone else has already moved. In the climate change debate, Texas is the anti-canary. With the Governor, Lt. Governor, and other senior legislators arguing that the science is not proven, Texas has been stuck in neutral on this issue while other states have taken the lead. But there are indications that the anti-canary is beginning to take climate change seriously.

Split over nuclear versus renewables threatens EU global warming pact

Spring summit underway

From an article in the Guardian: Divisions over nuclear power and renewable energy threatened to derail the EU's campaign to assume a global leadership role in the fight against climate change at the bloc's spring summit which began last night. [...] But France, backed by several east European countries, insisted carbon-free nuclear power be included within the EU energy mix and rejected [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel's proposal to make a 20 percent target for renewable energy binding on all 27 members. At his swansong summit, the outgoing French president Jacques Chirac insisted that he would only agree to binding energy targets if nuclear power were included and proposed that 45 percent of the mix come from non-fossil fuel sources. France gets 80 percent of its power from nuclear power plants.

House creates global warming committee

Vote passes easily

Today the House of Representatives voted to create the much-discussed committee on global warming: The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday passed a rule to create a committee that will focus on climate change. On a vote of 228-195, the House approved creation of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has been pushing for the committee as a way to raise public and lawmaker awareness of climate change. Congressional aides say Ms. Pelosi is likely to appoint Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) an outspoken proponent of climate change policy, to chair the …

Wave of Futilation

U.S. House, at odds with White House, passes $1.7 billion wastewater bill The U.S. House made waves yesterday by passing the first of three water-quality bills it will consider this week. Faced with White House disapproval, feisty U.S. reps voted 367-58 to spend $1.7 billion over five years to modernize wastewater systems and stem sewage overflows across the country. The funding would be a drop in the bucket compared to the U.S. EPA’s estimate of a coming $300 billion to $400 billion shortfall in the country’s sadly neglected wastewater treatment infrastructure over the next two decades. “No American should have …

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