12:01 AM, Jul 11, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Pope, President, Prices and Paris. That covers just about everything you need to know about the next step in the battle to prevent what has come to be called climate change, the title now preferred to “global warming” by those who worry that CO2 emissions are causing, er, global warming. The Pope has issued his encyclical, President Barack Obama has issued his executive orders, myriad countries have already filed their goals and plans with the United Nations as agreed in Peru last December, and representatives of some 200 countries and myriad organizations have lined up hotel rooms for an early December in Paris. That meeting might well be dubbed an environmental synod, given the lead role Pope Francis has chosen to play in ridding the world of fossil fuels, the cheapest source of energy and economic growth available to the poor nations for which he professes the greatest concern.
The individual plans will form the core of the agreement that all nations are expected to sign in Paris. Most observers feel that this bottom-up approach is far more likely to produce tangible results than past efforts that relied on the handing down of rules and quotas by experts and politicians, a set of rules known as the Kyoto Protocol. The US signed on in 1998, but then-President Bill Clinton dared not send it to the senate for the confirmation necessary to convert the Protocol into a treaty after that body voted unanimously to reject it, given the opportunity. That stripped the Protocol of practical meaning, and sent vice president Al Gore on an international tour to proclaim impending doom.
President Obama anticipates similar opposition in the senate, which must approve all treaties, and has decided to treat the Paris deal as just that, and not elevate it to treaty status. Which means that the next president can simply walk away from it, either formally or by refusing to follow through on any measures to which Obama agreed. But Obama feels he is on a roll. Buoyed by his success in by-passing congress on immigration, environmental regulations, important features of his health care plans, and the de facto legalization of marijuana in several states, Obama is taking the lead in Paris, backed now by the moral authority of the Pope. Which is no small thing. Several Catholic institutions here, including universities and religious orders, have begun divesting themselves of holdings in coal and other greenhouse-gas-emitting energy sources. The “Pope of Rome” might not have any divisions, as Stalin pointed out when asked by the French to ameliorate the condition of Russia’ Catholics, but as Churchill later noted, The Holy Father has “a number of legions not always visible on parade.”
Environmental groups are hoping that the Pope’s encyclical will put pressure on contenders for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination -- Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal are Catholic -- to moderate their opposition to regulations to curtail the use of fossil fuels. But Jeb Bush, the current favorite in the race for the nomination, told an audience “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”
The American plan submitted by Obama provides for the Environmental Protection Agency to issue regulations to reduce emissions from cars, trucks and power plants by 28% from 2005 levels by 2025. He has also persuaded China to agree to halt the increase in its emissions by 2030, and then begin reducing them. There is irony here: America is basing its emission reduction program on command-and-control regulations. Don’t blame Obama. Adam-Smith-reading conservatives in congress shot down the President’s original market-based plan, called cap-and-trade, which allowed polluters to trade permits so that the lowest-cost reductions carry the burden of reducing emissions.
9:04 AM, Apr 20, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The president is taking Air Force One to Florida this week. He is going there, unsurprisingly, to make a speech. On Earth Day, about climate change. He could make the speech in Washington, of course, but he needs a prop—in this case, will be the Everglades, which he describes as “one of the most special places in our country.
2:43 PM, Dec 16, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
As if the plunging price of oil were not enough to doom the market for electric and hybrid automobiles, there is this from ABC News:
A carbon tax won’t happen without some give from the left. Nov 10, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 09 • By ELI LEHRER
Despite growing support from some conservative policy wonks, the idea of taxing carbon dioxide emissions, even as an alternative to the sort of heavy-handed greenhouse regulations promulgated by the Obama administration, has failed to garner much enthusiasm on the right.
The idea remains almost untouchable for Republican politicians, and the notion that there’s any chance that could change in the near future has been dismissed as “wishful thinking” by left-wing outlets like Mother Jones.
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.
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.