Talking Heads on Global Warming Politics 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 07 Jan 2008 20:51:00 GMT

The Sierra Club has an interesting interview on global warming with four pundits of very different persuasions (though joined by their white Ivy League maleness): progressive blogger Matt Stoller, Democratic consultant Michael Bocian, Oberlin professor David Orr, and former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Stoller usually gives the most original answers to the questions, as typified by the responses to the first:
Q: How will global warming figure in the 2008 presidential election?

Newt Gingrich: Whoever wins will have a sound and realistic approach to climate change. Democrats have an advantage in developing solutions because their primary voters care more about the issue and because they are more comfortable dealing with environmental issues, which have been largely a liberal area of dialogue for the past generation. Republicans have to play catch-up in developing answers other than no. Our research at American Solutions indicates that, by a very substantial margin, Americans prefer entrepreneurship to bureaucracy and innovation to litigation. The Republican nominee should be able to develop strong solutions to climate change that emphasize science, technology, innovation, and incentives. These will prove surprisingly popular compared with the tax increase-government control-bureaucracy and litigation model that has dominated for the past 30 years.

Michael Bocian: Mr. Gingrich is correct that the public clamors for innovation. Our polling shows that Americans feel our country is failing to lead on energy and global-warming solutions, yet they believe we have the technological know-how to lead, and we must harness it. Mr. Gingrich is also correct on the importance of incentives. But any purely voluntary solution fails to address the seriousness of the problem. Americans believe we need strong standards if we are to succeed. Setting strong standards and enforcing them require real accountability.

David Orr: The Republican Party has not done its homework on the biggest issue of our time and has persistently chosen ideology over science, even going along with the Bush administration’s crude attempts to quash the evidence. The time to avert the worst is very short. To do so, we will have to create something akin to the government-business-public partnership in WWII. This will necessarily include lots of things Mr. Gingrich has opposed in the past: government regulation, taxation to change market incentives, and lots of R&D on renewables and efficiency. It will also require attention and money—so no more wars fought for phony reasons.

Matt Stoller: Global warming may not figure directly in the 2008 race. Consider that Al Gore received only a small bump in approval ratings for his Nobel prize and continues to have high disapproval ratings. He is the political figure most closely associated with climate change, yet according to some polls, almost half of Democrats don’t want him to run for president. I’m using Gore as a proxy, but there are other obvious signposts. There was no climate-change backlash from Katrina in 2005, and no candidates are making the issue the centerpiece of their campaign. Even with wildfires in the West and drought in the Southeast, I’m seeing most action take place at the local level disconnected from the federal government.

Global warming is one in a bucket of issues, along with Iraq, civil liberties, executive overreach, economic inequality, global financial instability, and corporate corruption. They are all of deep concern to a newly energized progressive movement and must be solved together. Climate change isn’t a major political issue yet, but it will hit the national radar in a few years, ferociously.

Alaska Drilling Sale Announced Before Polar Bear Endangerment Decision

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 03 Jan 2008 17:29:00 GMT

The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) will hold its first federal Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas lease sale since 1991 on February 6. It is leasing nearly 46,000 square miles in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska, with estimated conventional reserves of 15 billion barrels of oil. Waters within 25 miles of the coast are excluded from the lease area. This announcement comes just six days before the January 9 deadline for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether to list the polar bear as endangered because of the global-warming induced decline of Arctic sea ice, some of which covers the Chukchi Sea.

The MMS believes that environmental concerns will be sufficiently addressed by its stipulations, which do not consider the effects of climate change:
The sale area will not include nearshore waters ranging from about 25 to 50 miles from the coast, which includes the near-shore “polynya” through which the bowhead and beluga whales, other marine mammals, and marine birds migrate north in the spring, and in which local communities subsistence hunt. Leases issued from the sale will include stipulations to address environmental effects that may occur because of exploration and development of the area’s oil and gas resources. These stipulations call for protection of biological resources, including protected marine mammals and birds and methods to minimize interference with subsistence hunting and other subsistence harvesting activities.

Environmental organizations are livid. The World Wildlife Fund published a series of statements from Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Audubon, and indigenous activists condemning the threat to the polar bear and other marine life from the planned sale.

In the fine print of its final notice of sale, the MMS does note:
Lessees are advised that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and has initiated a comprehensive scientific review to assess the current status and future of the species. The FWS anticipates making a decision in early 2008 on whether to list polar bears under the ESA. Please refer to for additional information. If the polar bears are ultimately listed under the ESA, then MMS will consult with FWS under Section 7 of the ESA, and may be required to apply additional mitigation measures on OCS activities to ensure appropriate protection.

Update: Sierra Club has launched a letter-writing campaign to “chill the drills” in what it calls the “Polar Bear Seas”.

California Sues EPA Over Waiver Denial

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 03 Jan 2008 14:20:00 GMT

As California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced upon the EPA denial of the California waiver request to regulate tailpipe greenhouse emissions, California has filed a petition for review of the decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Fifteen other states – Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – joined the suit.

Warming Law notes:

One interesting legal wrinkle is that the case has been filed in the 9th Circuit—not in the DC Circuit, as many (including ourselves) had suggested. In the wake of EPA’s decision, LA Times writer David Savage presciently noted that the DC Circuit might not be naturally inclined to California’s arguments. While the state’s case for a waiver was undoubtedly strengthened by the Supreme Court’s decision on standing in Massachusetts v EPA, it was the DC Circuit that had previously sided with the EPA’s position (this rationale is strongly mirrored in the EPA’s current claim that global warming doesn’t pose a unique threat to California). The state’s arguments based on statutory text and the weight of Supreme Court precedent would probably have held up in any court, but its tactical filing move certainly seems, on the surface, to bolster its odds.

Uranium in Virginia 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 02 Jan 2008 13:06:00 GMT

In today’s Washington Post, Anita Kumar writes Uranium Lode in Va. Is Feared, Coveted:
Underneath a plot of farmland used to raise cattle, hay and timber in south central Virginia lies what is thought to be the largest deposit of uranium in the United States.

Now, three decades after the deposit was found, landowner Walter Coles has set his sights on mining the 200-acre site despite concerns of environmental groups and residents about unearthed radioactive material that could contaminate the area’s land, air and source of drinking water.

Coles is attempting to convince the Virginia General Assembly to approve a $1 million safety study in advance of reversing the 25-year ban on uranium mining in the state. Gov. Timothy Kaine (D) supports the study. Others lobbying for approval include Coles’s brother-in-law Whitt Clement, a former legislator, and investor Henry Hurt, whose son is a state senator.

Taking Responsibility

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 28 Dec 2007 20:53:00 GMT

The National Environmental Trust released a report earlier this month in conjunction with the Bali Conference entitled Taking Responsibility: Why the United States Must Lead the World in Reducing Global Warming Pollution.

The report puts into graphic terms the U.S. share of global warming pollution: 42 states individually emit more C02 than 100 developing countries. Even Wyoming, the most sparsely populated state in the U.S., with only 510,000 people, emits more carbon dioxide than 69 developing countries that are home to 357 million. The report includes profiles for every state and the District of Columbia.

Are Humans Smarter Than Yeast?

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 28 Dec 2007 20:52:00 GMT

A Solar Scenario in Scientific American

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 28 Dec 2007 03:43:00 GMT

In A Solar Grand Plan (Scientific American January 2008), Ken Zweibel (NREL), James Mason (Solar Energy Campaign) and Vasilis Fthenakis (Brookhaven National Photovoltaic Environmental, Health and Safety Research Center) lay out a vision for replacing our fossil fuel-powered electricity production to solar energy. The editorial summary:
A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.

A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.

Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.

A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.

But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.

By way of contrast, the Friends of the Earth analysis finds that Lieberman-Warner (S. 2191) allocates approximately $800 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, with about $350 billion to subsidize carbon capture and sequestration specifically. About $350 billion is allocated to all sustainable technologies (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal).

Climate Change Investing 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Dec 2007 20:09:00 GMT

Ceres is the dominant organization in climate-related investment, with the mission of “integrating sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people.” Their Investor Network on Climate Risk represents corporations and institutions controlling $4 trillion in assets calling for corporate climate disclosure, emissions-reduction legislation, renewable energy investment, and related actions.

J. P. Morgan is one of the few investment majors with a dedicated climate change research division.

Calvert, one of the main players in the “socially responsible” investment space, has Calvert Global Alternative Energy Fund (CGAEX).

Guinness Atkinson has the Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy Fund (GAAEX).

PowerShares offers various index funds, including Global Clean Energy Portfolio (PBD) (WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index (NEX)), Global Water Portfolio (PIO) (Palisades Global Water Index (PIIWI)), Cleantech Portfolio (Cleantech Index (CTIUS)), Water Resources Portfolio (Palisades Water Index (ZWI)), WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (WilderHill Clean Energy Index (ECO)), and the WilderHill Progressive Energy Portfolio (WilderHill Progressive Energy Index (WHPRO)).

Winslow Management specializes in “green” investment, offering Green Growth (WGGFX) and the new Green Solutions mid-cap (WGSLX).

Green Century Funds offers the Green Century Balanced Fund (GCBLX) and Equity Fund (GCEQX).

Forward Management has the Sierra Club Stock Fund (SCFSX).

Innovest recently released the report Carbon Beta and Equity Performance based on their work on the Carbon Disclosure Project.

CSRWire has a newsfeed of environment-related corporate press releases.

Green Chip Stocks is a green penny-stock tip sheet.

Boxer: Lieberman-Warner is "A huge step forward"

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Dec 2007 19:42:00 GMT

A year-end fundraising email from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works calls the committee approval of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill “a huge step forward” and “one of my proudest accomplishments”:
Subject: A huge step forward

Our progress on moving global warming legislation through the Environment and Public Works Committee this month and sending it on to the full Senate was a huge step forward for America, and personally, it was one of my proudest accomplishments over my 30 year career in public service.

But we’ve still got many more steps to take over the coming years to fight global warming and save our planet for our kids, our grandkids, and generations to come.

That’s one big reason I’ve decided to run again for the U.S. Senate when my term expires in 2010—and, because we know that I’ll be a top target for the right wing, I’m already preparing for a tough race. . .

As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, leading the fight against global warming will continue to be my top priority. And, if 2008 goes our way, I may soon be working with a new Democratic President and expanded Democratic majorities in Congress who share our commitment to that fight.

But we’re not going to solve the climate change crisis with just one bill, a better Congress, or a Democratic President. Fighting global warming is going to require many years of focus, dedication, and leadership to see things through. . .

We’ve still got a lot of work to do on fighting global warming, ending the war in Iraq, protecting our environment, defending a woman’s right to choose, and so many other important issues—and I’m going to need you with me every step of the way.

Ed. – the fundraising pitches have been stripped out.

2007 Weather Records

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Dec 2007 16:16:00 GMT

From the AP, some climatic changes:
  • Warmest January on record—global mean temperature 0.85 C above the 30-year mean
  • 8000 high-temperature records set or matched in August at US weather stations
  • Warmest April in England in 348 years, 0.6 C above 1865 record
  • Canadian Northwest Passage open for five weeks starting August 11, first time ever navigable
  • Arctic sea ice retreated to record minimum, 23% below 2005 record minimum
  • Greenland ice cap
  • Across North America, severe to extreme drought was present across large parts of the western U.S. and Upper Midwest, including southern Ontario
  • Extreme drought in Australia
  • Record Alaskan permafrost warming
  • Record rains fell in China, England and Wales
Other weather events:
  • A tornado struck New York City in August
  • A June cyclone struck Oman and Iran
  • South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years

Older posts: 1 ... 52 53 54 55 56 ... 70