A climate hero: An outspoken truth

A look back at James Hansen’s seminal testimony on climate, part three

Worldwatch Institute is partnering with Grist to bring you this three-part series commemorating the 20-year anniversary of NASA scientist James Hansen's groundbreaking testimony on global climate change next week. Part three of three follows. Part one is here; part two is here. ----- In May 1989, a few months after NASA scientist James Hansen declared that global warming had arrived, he would provide another testimony to clarify the risks of future climate change. But before Hansen could make his presentation to Sen. Al Gore's subcommittee, the White House's Office of Management and Budget intercepted the testimony and rewrote its conclusion. According to the revised copy, the cause of climate change was still unknown. NASA headquarters said Hansen could accept the changes or not testify, he later recalled. It was not the first OMB revision of a Hansen testimony. This time, he decided, would be different. Hansen notified Gore that his testimony did not reflect his actual opinion, which led Gore to frame the hearing's questions to reveal the OMB edits. It was the lead story on all major television networks that night.

Stormy waters

Offshore drilling likely to raise some voter ire in Florida

John McCain’s call this week for an end to the moratorium on offshore drilling isn’t faring well with environmentalists across the country. In one key state, however, it might really come back to bite him come November. Florida — yes, land of dangling chads and nearly-won elections — may well prove to be the place where McCain’s call for drilling cost him in the general election. “I think that he has made a serious miscalculation,” Holly Binns, field director for Environment Florida, told Grist. Citing long-time bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling in the state, she also noted that Gov. Charlie …

Back to Nature

Nature publishes my climate analysis and solution

Here is perhaps my most succinct and citable explanation of why "Both national and global climate policy (PDF) must redirect its focus from setting a price on carbon to promoting the rapid deployment of clean technologies" (online here). True, I didn't think I would appear in Nature again. But Nature online asked me for my critique of the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner Bill bill, and they were open to a big-picture commentary based on the latest climate science. They even ran with a modified version of my proposed wedges solution (see below, longer version here). The central conclusion of the paper is the major theme of my work: The latest science suggests that national and global climate policy is seriously misdirected. We must aim at achieving average annual carbon dioxide emissions of less than 5 GtC [5 billion metric tons of carbon] this century or risk the catastrophe of reaching atmospheric concentrations of 1,000 p.p.m. A carbon price set by a cap-and-trade system is a useful component of a longer-term climate strategy. Implementing such a system, however, is secondary to adopting a national and global strategy to stop building new traditional coal-fired plants while starting to deploy existing and near-term low-carbon technologies as fast as is humanly possible. What are the "series of aggressive strategies for technology deployment" we need? ... tax credits, loan guarantees or other incentives for low-carbon technology, demonstration projects of technologies such as carbon capture and storage, a standard for electricity generation involving renewable or low-carbon options, a low-carbon fuel standard, tougher standards for fuel economy and appliances, and utility regulations that create a profit for investments in efficiency. These are all features of the climate plan of the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama (PDF), but are not part of the announced climate strategy of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, whose plan starts by allowing unlimited offsets. I am especially delighted that they created a figure for me of the wedges (click for larger version):

Why more drilling is not the answer

Conservative arguments to the contrary are intellectually bankrupt

Originally posted at the NDN blog. Of the various false solutions being proposed to the current oil shock perhaps none is more disingenous than the idea that it can be solved by drilling in the Alaskan wilderness and along the Outer Continental Shelf. This is the idea that the right wing media, recently John McCain, and now President Bush have been pushing as a cure-all for soaring oil prices. Since many Democrats oppose this drilling, the next false logical step is to say Democrats are to blame. This was the thrust of President Bush's energy proposal yesterday, one that only highlights the intellectual dishonesty and partisanship of this failed administration. Is more drilling the answer? No, for three reasons.

Well, when you put it that way ...

Rasmussen poll biased on offshore drilling

Rasmussen Reports did a poll that they tout as showing "67 percent Support Offshore Drilling." Given the biased way they did the poll (details here), I'm surprised the number was so low. The first question they asked: "How concerned are you about rising gas and energy prices?" Pretty much everybody is concerned. Duh. But in a flawed poll, almost a push poll, the point of the first question is to get people thinking about about the pain of gasoline prices, rather than, say, the coastal environment or global warming. Second question: "In order to reduce the price of gas, should drilling be allowed in offshore oil wells off the coasts of California, Florida, and other states?" I kid you not. That was the question. And Rasmussen is supposedly a serious polling firm. I'm just surprised that only 67 percent answered that loaded question "yes."

Happy go drilly

McCain says he’s willing to ‘examine’ his stance against drilling in ANWR

The News-Leader in Springfield, Mo. has more on McCain’s energy policy roundtable yesterday. Seems he also indicated that he’s open to reconsidering his stance on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which he has consistently opposed in the past. “I would be more than happy to examine it again,” McCain told the crowd. Guess it might not be so special after all.

What do oil lobbyists think about drilling for oil?

Here, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell discusses McCain’s plan to drill, drill, drill with RNC deputy chairman and McCain supporter Frank Donatelli: What Mitchell didn’t tell you: Before joining the RNC, Donatelli was a registered lobbyist. For whom, you ask? What type of clients? Three guesses! Oh, fine, you got it the first time: ExxonMobil Corp. and Dominion Resources. But why would MSNBC viewers need to know that?

The Grand Ostrich Party

Conservative heads increasingly buried in sand

Andrew Sullivan reads this Jim Manzi post (Conservatives are going to win on climate change! By doing nothing!) and says he’s on board. He then proceeds to blow my freaking mind: The key will be private and public innovation of non-carbon energy, and possibly carbon capture technology. Frankly, however painful it is for many, the high price of gas is perhaps the best anti-global warming non-policy there is. Now, why is it that the high price of gas is the best anti-global warming non-policy there is? The reason, of course, is that the higher prices are producing a demand response …

OMG, CNN actually reports

Major news network exposes McCain’s energy contradictions

Does not compute: Only thing is, they keep saying, “this shows how tricky it is for McCain.” What it also shows, one might think, is that McCain is willing to lie and change his positions willy nilly. They used to call Democrats people “flip-floppers” and “serial exaggerators” for that sort of thing. With McCain, it’s just some sort of objective difficulty in the landscape that forces him to lunge this way and that on policy. Which you know pains him, since he’s a Straight Talker© and all!

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