12:00 AM, Sep 28, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Last week was good for environmentalists, and perhaps even for the environment. President Obama doubled down on his effort to increase the likelihood of the success of the 2015 UN climate change conference in Paris, claiming the U.S. has “a special responsibility to lead. That’s what great nations do.” He took the occasion of the UN meetings in New York to put the heat on China, the world’s largest polluter, to match the steps the U.S. is taking to reduce its CO2 emissions. The president is relying on executive orders to by-pass Congress and put in place stricter control of power plant emissions. He must believe that if he has the power to order such reductions without consulting Congress, surely the leaders of the somewhat less democratic Chinese regime can rely on similar fiats. He also believes that if the world’s two largest emitters agree on a program to reduce these greenhouse gasses, the third, fourth, and fifth largest polluters will sign on to that program.
· China’s president Xi Jinping (#1) did not come to New York.
· Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India (#3), although in New York, gave the climate meeting a miss, and his environment minister asked, “What cuts? That’s for more developed countries. The moral principle of historic responsibility cannot be washed away.”
· Russian president Vladimir Putin (#4) is more interested in developing a plan to step up his challenge to NATO than to scale down his nation’s emission.
· Japan (#5), wants to keep open its options to burn more fossil fuels since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
Equally unfortunate is the difficulty of agreeing on a common set of facts as the background for a policy debate. There are studies showing that the climate is warming, and others that show it hasn’t done so for a couple of decades. There are studies showing that solar and wind power are now competitive with fossil fuels even in the absence of subsidies, and others showing that replacing fossil fuels with greater reliance on renewables that are not available when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine can drive up energy costs and reduce a nation’s competitiveness, as has happened in Germany, in the end forcing greater reliance on coal than at any time since 2007.
To make matters even more difficult for policymakers, poorer developing countries say climate change has been created by the rich, industrialized countries, and are demanding that the costs of solving the problem be borne by those beneficiaries of the age of fossil fuels. (See statement above by Prakash Javadekar of India.) They want a rather substantial income transfer to developing from developed countries, a long-standing goal only recently tied to the desire to reduce carbon emissions. And they want developed countries to reduce their emissions so that emerging economies can increase theirs without driving the global total to threatening levels. They like to note that the EU has managed to reduce its emissions sharply, ignoring the facts that it did so by presiding over a recession and by importing more and more goods produced in China’s heavily emitting manufacturing plants.
The president’s renewed drive for a Paris deal was not the only good news for those who believe the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is imperative if a climate disaster is to be avoided. An estimated 300,000 activists, including former vice president Al Gore and marchers calling for the end of capitalism, the latter tussling with New York’s finest for the control of Wall Street, turned out in New York City to support a reduction in emissions. So did the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. He announced he would reduce New York’s emissions by 80 percent by 2050, presumably by putting pressure on real estate developers who need his approval of their construction permits.
The frosting on environmentalists’ cake came when the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced it would divest shares in companies producing fossil fuels. It could not be determined whether John D. Rockefeller, the fund’s founder who also founded the modern petroleum industry, is spinning in his grave or, as his heirs contend, would be a leader in the switch to renewables. But it is certain he would have noticed that the family’s $2 million investment in renewables was wiped out.
Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook was dimly aware that the U.S. Army was reengineering its ammo but still was taken aback to read that it took 15 years and an estimated $100 million to come up with a new 5.56 NATO round for our infantrymen. It cost so much and took so long because, you know, it’s not easy being green. Today’s bullet is lead-free—made from copper with a steel penetrator.
2:48 PM, Jun 4, 2014 • By ADAM J. WHITE
"Everything reminds Milton of the money supply," Robert Solow once said of his fellow Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman at a symposium. "Well, everything reminds me of sex, but I keep it out of the paper."
And the benefits.12:00 AM, May 24, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The fracking euphoria had to end. For three reasons. First, the claims for its benefits were wildly exaggerated, ensuring eventual disappointment as even a cheerful reality could not meet the imaginings of the pro-fossil-fuel gang. Second, environmental groups were not going to sit idly by, their formidable political weapons holstered, while fossil fuels received a new lease on life in America.
2:38 PM, May 7, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The administration has made climate change its signature issue until something better comes along. This means that the the EPA will be walking point. After all, no new environmental legislation will be coming out of Congress. President Obama didn’t ever try for that when his party had majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Of course the weather was nicer back then, so Washington may not have felt the urgency.
8:26 AM, Apr 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Keystone pipeline has been under study for five years and will be studied further. It will be built, or scuttled, when the politics are right.
10:01 AM, Mar 12, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new Gallup poll shows the American people say climate change is one of the problems they worry about the least.
The polling firm asked Americans how much they worry about 15 separate issues facing the country, with the economy, federal spending, and health care ranking at the top. Fifty-nine percent said the economy and jobs were an issue they worried about "a great deal," and 58 percent and 57 percent said the same for federal spending and health-care affordability, respectively.
4:10 PM, Mar 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Harry Reid claims that recent bad weather is more evidence climate change exists and needs a response from the federal government. Reid's comments today come just after the Senate's all-night "talkathon," during which several Democratic senators spoke back-to-back about climate change.
7:44 AM, Jan 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In recent days, the new U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, took to Twitter to express deep concern about the practice of a local Japanese tradition.
"Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries," Kennedy tweeted.
8:01 AM, Jan 15, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The EPA awarded $461,368 in grants this week for various environmental projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. About half of the funds went to projects in Calexico, CA and Phoenix, AZ, but the remaining $230,000 went to two cities on the Mexican side of the border, Nogales and Ensenada.
8:26 AM, Nov 1, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Although CO2 is considered a "greenhouse gas" that contributes to climate change, if the Energy Department (DOE) finds partners to capitalize on the research of one of its laboratories, someday cars might run on sunshine. Technically, cars would run on the product of sunlight, CO2, and water using a "two-step solar thermochemical cycle" developed by the Albuquerque, New Mexico government lab.
7:21 AM, Jun 25, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Daniel P. Schrag, a White House climate adviser and director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, tells the New York Times "a war on coal is exactly what's needed." Later today, President Obama will give a major "climate change" address at Georgetown University.
"My only interest is making sure that when I look back 20 years from now..."7:02 AM, May 30, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
At a fundraiser last night in Chicago, President Barack Obama signaled that he's interested in his legacy as a president and insisted that he's willing to work with anyone.
2:45 PM, May 21, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The crusade to save the spotted owl continues. It began with limiting timber sales on federally managed lands in order to preserve the owl's preferred habitat. As a result, Teresa Platt writes:
1:24 PM, Mar 1, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
While American environmentalists focus primarily on saving field mice and frustrating development and energy production on the home front, there’s a growing need for genuine conservation and stewardship to protect the natural habitats of the world’s grandest animals. Take the cases of the rhino and the elephant.