This past weekend, the international climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa, ended with a positive whimper. The 192 countries participating in the negotiations have decided they will work toward a binding international agreement over the next 4 years. No new commitments to reduce global warming pollution are expected to kick in until 2020. In other words, international negotiators have just kicked the can down the road.
We Can Try to Ignore it but It Won’t Go Away on its Own.
Two new reports out suggest climate change should be a key issue heading into next year’s elections and in every election to come. Not just presidential and congressional elections, but also statewide, state legislative and local elections. Why? Because if we are going to meet the dual challenges of reducing our greenhouse gas pollution and preparing for the climate change already “imbedded” in the system, we need every level of government acting.
If you followed any of the mainstream media reports about Solyndra—the California solar manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy two years after being awarded a $500 million federal loan guarantee—chances are you’ve only heard part of the story.
The debate about fracking—that controversial method of extracting natural gas from deep beneath the earth’s surface—is a lot like the debate around safe sex. Those who suggest no fracking is the only safe fracking are like those who suggest abstinence is the only safe sex. They may be right in the strictest sense, but that doesn’t make them realistic.
This past week, Richard Muller, a physicist and researcher at the University of California Berkeley, and one of the more credible climate skeptics, did an about face. Muller had expressed doubts about the historical temperature records, suggesting that multiple decades worth of studies analyzing temperature records had it wrong. After doing his own study, Muller concluded that global warming is real.
Reducing global warming pollution means a cleaner, safer, more sustainable world. Why wouldn’t we want that, with or without the risk of climate change?
Like the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists, I am very worried about man-made climate change. We pump 74 million tons of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every day, mostly by burning coal, oil and natural gas.
Look out. They are at it again. With the characteristic anti-government zeal so fashionable these days, conservative columnists and pundits have taken aim at the green economy and green jobs. Wielding a few distorted examples, they claim that green jobs are a myth, and that government policies to encourage investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency have failed. The facts say otherwise.
New York City is putting a whole new spin on nuclear energy’s NIMBY problem.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is questioning the State’s unofficial plan to pull the plug on the Indian Point nuclear-power plant in the lower Hudson Valley—New York City’s backyard.
The 40-year-old plant, located just 35 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, is surrounded by staggering numbers of people: 300,000 live within 10 miles; three million within 30 miles and about 12 million within 50 miles of the nuclear plant.
You Feel Lucky? We’re Betting Our Future on the Chance that Everything will be Okay in a Warmer World
The discussion about the risks of climate change, and how much we are willing to pay to lessen that risk, has been framed all wrong. Uncertainty about the science and projected impacts ought to scare the heck out of us, not lead to inaction. Yet here we are, mostly not acting.
In November 1965, the U.S. Science Advisory Council warned President Lyndon Johnson that failure to stem the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere would trigger climatic changes with potentially dire consequences for humanity.
Fifty-three years later, the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irene in August provides what is the latest example of the type of “havoc” that 1965 Panel anticipated. Extreme weather is now the rule, not the exception.