Politics

Paul Krugman …

… is a national treasure.

Edwards: Friend of FOE

The environmental endorsements start rolling in

Environmental groups are starting to endorse candidates. Friends of the Earth has chosen Edwards and Republicans for Environmental Protection has chosen McCain … again. What other choice do they have?

A prize for Mr. Gore and science

NY Times editors get the Gore Nobel story right

With everyone weighing in on this year's Nobel Peace Prize, it's been revealing to see what the media makes of it, and how oddly misdirected their questions have been: Will Al run for president? (Argh.) What has climate change got to do with peace? (Huh?) Is this merely a political jab to the current U.S. administration? (So what?) But the editors of the NYT pretty much nailed it: What the citation didn't mention but needs to be said is that it shouldn't have to be left to a private citizen -- even one so well known as Mr. Gore -- or a panel of scientists to raise that alarm or prove what is now clearly an undeniable link or champion solutions to a problem that endangers the entire planet.That should be, and must be the job of governments. And governments -- above all the Bush administration -- have failed miserably. There will be skeptics who ask what the Peace Prize has to do with global warming. The committee answered that unhesitatingly with its warning that climate change, if unchecked, could unleash massive migrations, violent competitions for resources and, ultimately, threaten the "security of mankind." There will also be those who complain that this prize -- like the committee's earlier awards to Jimmy Carter and the chief United Nations nuclear inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei -- is an intentional slap at President Bush. It should be. We only wish that it would finally wake up the president. What has your favorite Nobel coverage (good or bad) been?

To CAFE or not to CAFE

The CAFE standards vs. carbon tax debate is more complicated than we imagine

One of the most frustrating aspects of the climate debate has to be the fact that just about every informed pundit, across the ideological spectrum, agrees that a carbon tax would be an outstanding way to reduce carbon emissions — and yet no one considers such a tax politically feasible. One might suggest that if pundits weren’t constantly qualifying their support for a carbon tax with lamentations about its political impossibility, political support might be more forthcoming. In the meantime, however, the blogosphere has taken the debate over the best policy-that-can-never-be in a new direction: since we almost certainly can’t …

California condor still endangered by lead bullets

California condors came to the brink of extinction in the 1980s, largely from eating game felled by toxic lead bullets. A recovery effort has proved successful, but attempts to bring condors back into the wild have been frustrated by the birds’ continuing poisoned-carrion habit. More than one-third of condors released into the wild in California over the past two decades have died; last year, 14 birds were released, and half perished. The birds’ undiscerning palates — or, rather, the continuing use of lead in ammunition — is the most persistent threat to full recovery, say biologists, who currently use public …

EPA not enforcing Clean Water Act, says report

The U.S. EPA is not so much enforcing the Clean Water Act, says a new report from green group U.S. PIRG. According to EPA data, 57 percent of the country’s industrial plants and municipal wastewater facilities dumped more than the allowable level of pollutants and sewage into waterways at least once in 2005, the most recent year that records are available. The average violation was nearly four times the legal limit. Of course, the Clean Water Act turns 35 next week, so why shouldn’t it relax a little? Meanwhile, in a timely case in point, Indiana may ease limits on …

The state of play of the Energy Bill

Can the House and the Senate agree on energy legislation?

The prospects for a successful reconciling of the House and Senate energy bills remain as iffy today as they were last month. How sad such failure would be at a time of record oil prices and a growing consensus of the need for urgent action on climate change. The big obstacle right now is that Senate Republicans oppose a House-Senate conference. E&E News (subs. reqd.) reports: "It looks like Senate Republicans are not going to agree to a conference, so we will probably see the same process on this bill that we saw with several other pieces of legislation this year," [Henry] Waxman [D-Calif.] told reporters after the meeting. What is this alternative process? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) intends to reconcile the House and Senate energy bills without convening a formal conference committee. Even this approach is no guarantee of success, as many roadblocks remain in Congress and the White House:

Nuke it out

Musicians put together anti-nuke video, petition

In an effort to excise a nuclear-power provision from the Senate’s energy bill, a group of musicians including Bonnie Raitt and Ben Harper has put together a short video and petition. Check it out: Also, it looks like Raitt and some of the other anti-nuke campaigners will be attending the Boxer event tonight. I wonder if they’ll be talking nukes.

Why Al Gore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

Gore’s effort to focus attention on climate change supports the goal of preventing wars

This is a guest essay by Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. It was originally published on Salon.com. What's world peace got to do with global warming? Perhaps everything. Or it will if things don't change fast -- if, in 10 or 20 or 40 years devastating floods and droughts displace millions of refugees and spur nations and tribes to desperate bloodletting. At which point, no one will have the slightest doubt why members of the renowned Scandinavian foundation thought former U.S. Vice President Al Gore was an obvious choice for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Speculation has been growing that Gore will be chosen for the prize on Friday. Regardless of the outcome, Gore is, quite simply, the indispensable player in the drama of mankind's encounter with the possibility of destroying the climatic balance within which our civilization emerged and developed. As anyone who read the book or watched the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" knows, Gore has been troubled by and fascinated with the science of climate change since his undergraduate days at Harvard, where he first encountered the theory that carbon emissions are slowly causing the planet to overheat. He began holding congressional hearings on the subject the moment he hit Washington in the early '70s and has not let up since -- perhaps because he understood instinctively that it was not a question of whether changing the atmosphere's chemical balance would disrupt climate, but when, and how fast. He recognized, too, that the incredibly hard task of turning around the world's energy economy would become impossible if we waited for global warming to announce its presence, stage left, with alarum and hautboys as Shakespeare might have scripted. So for years he accepted the thankless role of Cassandra, the Greek prophet no one would heed. But unlike Cassandra he did not sit by to watch fateful tragedy unfold. Once, when I was particularly frustrated by challenges I faced in my job at the Sierra Club, Gore heard me out and replied: "Never, ever give up." That would seem to be his motto, as reflected in the thousands of speeches he has delivered, the Live Earth concert he built from scratch, the naysaying he has endured, the movement he inspired. What's all that have to do with peace? Look at Iraq, Darfur or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- bloody sites that have engendered three Nobel Peace prizes. Twenty-first century conflicts seldom feature stable governments colliding, but rather collapsing societies attacking themselves. These are much harder to solve with diplomacy or peacekeeping troops. Prevention is the key. The Nobel Committee has recognized this in recent years, awarding its prize to such previously unlikely winners as Iranian feminist Shirin Abadi, and Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer of microfinance for the poor. A quick list of trouble spots that climate chaos could ignite would include:

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