Politics

Karl Rove, global warming, and Bush's legacy

Rove believes that Bush’s policies will look good in hindsight

Karl Rove thinks history will be kinder to President Bush than the public and the pundits are today: I believe history will provide a more clear-eyed verdict on this president's leadership than the anger of current critics would suggest. President Bush will be viewed as a far-sighted leader who confronted the key test of the 21st century. Not! On the path set by Bush's do-nothing climate policies, future generations -- including historians -- will be living in a ruined climate for centuries, with brutal summer-long heat waves, endless droughts, unstoppable sea-level rise, mass extinction, and on and on. If we do stop catastrophic global warming, it will only be because succeeding presidents completely reject Bush's approach. Either way, President Bush will be viewed as a short-sighted leader who ignored the key test of the 21st century. Rove actually has the chutzpah to claim:

Fifteen years ago

Gore in 1992 talking about the ‘spiritual crisis’ behind environmentalism

Thanks to frequent tipster LL for sending along this very, very interesting video: So much to say about this, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts first.

Alt-fuel industry recycles rubber tires, contributes to air pollution

A decade-old industry that recycles old rubber tires into fuel is chipping away at the stockpile of 1 billion retired tires in the U.S. But the laudable recycling effort is balanced by a negative impact on air pollution, as the U.S. EPA’s clean-air regulations for burning solid waste include a loophole loosening requirements for facilities that “recover energy.” Now a recent appeals-court decision in favor of environmental groups is forcing the U.S. EPA to come up with a new definition of “solid waste” — if tires are included, it may have a huge impact on the industry, which touts tire-derived …

Iraq flushes Blackwater: Time for a real debate on troop levels?

When Gen. Petraeus faced down Congressional questioners last week, few of his interlocutors were impolite enough to ask about what I have called the "rent-a-soldier surge": the some 180,000 private contractors, many of them heavily armed, now serving in Iraq at the pleasure of President Bush, on the dime of the U.S. public. To put their number in perspective, note that the number of official U.S. soldiers in Iraq now stands at 160,000 (of whom President Bush has magnanimously proposed bringing home 5,700). In Bush’s father’s Gulf War, official soldiers outnumbered mercenaries 60 to 1, according to Jeremy Scahill, who …

Mankiw very much

Conservative economists agree: Taxes rule!

Stalwart Republican, former Bush advisor, and Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw makes the case for the carbon tax. He also thinks a carbon tax is the most achievable global policy: A global carbon tax would be easier to negotiate. All governments require revenue for public purposes. The world’s nations could agree to use a carbon tax as one instrument to raise some of that revenue. No money needs to change hands across national borders. Each government could keep the revenue from its tax and use it to finance spending or whatever form of tax relief it considered best. I guess …

Judge tosses out lawsuit brought by California against automakers

Automakers gained an edge yesterday in the Big Auto vs. California debate, as a federal judge tossed out a lawsuit against the world’s six largest auto companies brought by California Attorney General Jerry Brown. Brown had claimed that because of the harmful environmental effects of vehicles’ greenhouse-gas emissions, the Big Six were running afoul of California’s public nuisance laws. But U.S. District Judge Martin J. Jenkins ruled that the issue should be legislated, not litigated; that calculating the exact percentage of blame to be pinned on automakers was impossible; and that a ruling in favor of Brown would threaten the …

Discover Brilliant: The business of climate change

The final session of the day (hooray) is about "the business of climate change." On the panel: Climate Change Journal, Grant Ferrier, Editor (Moderator) Climate Solutions, K.C. Golden, Policy Director Sterling Planet, Alden Hathaway II, Senior VP, Business Development Environmental Resources Trust, Gordon Smith, EcoLands Director We start with Smith, who begins by, of all things, talking about forestry credits in carbon markets! He says they aren’t attractive in the compliance (mandatory) carbon markets, but voluntary offset customers love them. And they’re sketchy. But nonetheless, that’s what he specializes in. Uh … why? Doesn’t say. Hathaway starts by talking about …

Discover Brilliant: The policy and investment landscape

Next up, H. Jeffrey Leonard, president of the Global Environment Fund. He wants America to "get real." 1. Aggregate global use of fossil fuels will not fall in the next two decades. 2. American "energy independence" is an unrealistic pipe dream driving bad policy. 3. The Biofuels Initiative won’t achieve anything environmentally speaking, and is a grotesque example of pork barrel politics. 4. Consumer and lifestyle steps being taken by Americans are all but irrelevant. Chipper! One interesting point: China has no domestic access to natural gas. No nation has ever cleaned up its pollution or dealt with its environmental …

Tackling climate: Beltway tone-deafness edition

On subsidizing ‘green’ energy R&D

In its "green" issue this week, The New Republic features an excerpt from Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger's new book, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. Their basic point is that the emphasis of the political debate is all wrong. I'm not sure they really understand how things are shaping up, but they're saying that politicians should spend less "time" talking about regulatory approaches, and more time reiterating the importance of innovation. This gives pretty short shrift to the fact that a carbon tax (or cap-and-trade program that auctions credits) is basically an in-kind subsidy to clean energy. But still, regulation and direct subsidies aren't mutually exclusive, and I think the reason you don't hear a lot of hand-wringing about subsidies for green R&D is that securing real (as opposed to de facto) subsidies -- in any future climate change bill -- to well-positioned clean energy companies will be the easy part.* * Keep in mind that part of the reason this will be easy is that the biggest subsidy winner will almost certainly be King Coal, who will almost without a doubt receive billions and billions of dollars to refine and implement carbon capture and sequestration technology across the country and, perhaps, the entire world.

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