Monday, June 25, 2007

Retired Reading

For those evenings when you want to settle in with a good mag, the good anonymice point to Rolling Stone and Tim Dickinson's article

The Secret Campaign of President Bush's Administration To Deny Global Warming.
Of course Eli did not think it was a secret. As the article describes the US's current policy on climate change.
The National Academy of Sciences blasted the policy, saying it lacked a "guiding vision, executable goals, clear timetables and criteria for measuring progress." Even the technology promoted in the president's plan was bogus. "It's as if these people were not cognizant of the existing science," one member of the academy remarked. "Stuff that would have been cutting-edge in 1980 is listed as a priority for the future."
Phil Cooney then chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality plays a starring role as editor:
In May 2002, the administration released its Climate Action Report, a dispatch to the U.N. that documents progress on climate-treaty obligations. The report was developed by the EPA, but internal documents reveal that Cooney edited it to reflect positions advocated by the API and Ford. On the opening page of the chapter on climate impacts, Cooney inserted a litany of language in bold intended to cast doubt on the science: "the weakest links in our knowledge . . . a lack of understanding . . . uncertainties . . . considerable uncertainty . . . perhaps even greater uncertainty . . . regarded as tentative."

But the clumsy caveats weren't enough to obscure the report's real science. With the help of an EPA source, The New York Times filtered out Cooney's waffling and filed a front-page story that called the report "a stark shift for the Bush administration." The report, the Times observed, detailed "far-reaching effects that global warming will inflict" and "for the first time mostly blames human actions for recent global warming."

Cooney was horrified: An obscure government report he had tried to whitewash now threatened to undermine his former employers in the energy industry. Panicked, he called on an old friend for help. Myron Ebell had been a key member of the coalition that crafted the disinformation "action plan." In fact, casting doubt on global warming is Ebell's full-time job: He heads the climate-denial campaign at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank that was underwritten in part by ExxonMobil.

Funny how Myron pops up

Also Eric Bates interviews Al Gore,
The world's leading climate scientists - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - issued a report earlier this year that shows global warming is far more advanced than even the most dire predictions had led us to believe. Is there any one finding from the most recent wave of science that alarms you?
The degree of certainty the scientists are willing to assign to their conclusions has gone up. But what's more interesting to me than the IPCC report is the stream of evidence just in the last five months since that report. Many scientists are now uncharacteristically scared. The typical pattern in a dialogue between scientific experts and the general public, of which I'm a part, is for the scientists to say, "Well, what you've heard is a little oversimplified. It's a lot more textured than that, and you need to calm down a little bit." This situation is exactly the reverse. Those who are most expert in the science are way more concerned than the general public.
Robert Kennedy Jr. describes how industry (well the smart ones) see meeting the challenge of man made climate change as an opportunity, not a cost
"We haven't even touched the low-hanging fruit yet," Kim Saylors-Laster, the vice president of energy for Wal-Mart, told the assembled CEOs. "We're still getting the fruit that has already fallen from the trees."

As the discussions at the summit demonstrated, America's top executives know something that the Bush administration has yet to realize: America doesn't need to wait for futuristic, pie-in-the-sky technologies to cut its reckless consumption of oil and coal. Our last, best hope to stop climate change is the free market itself. There is gold in going green, and the same drive to make a buck that created global warming in the first place can now be harnessed to slow the carbon-based pollution that is overheating the planet.

And Evan Serpic writes about putting together the Live Earth concert


TokyoTom said...

You're right, Eli. What the Administration has been doing is a secret only to those who don't want to know, so the Rolling Stone article will have zero impact (and can easily be spun as more junk from an enviro rag).

And of course the "free market" itself cannot stop climate change because the atmosphere is an unowned and unmanaged global commons. There are market incentives already to economize on fossil fuels and to capture PR benefits by appearing to be green, for sure, but no market incentives to act to mitigate climate change - unless we collectively (and globally) act to create private costs for AGW actions and private gains for mitigation measures.

Given the size of the problem, both in terms of global coordination and the difficulty in changing the inertia in the climate system (the warming that is now built in and our growing fossil fuel consumption), I think we need to spend more time talking about seqestration and geoengineering - which require much less coordination - in order to buy time.

Did you see this argument earlier?

GEOENGINEERING: A CLIMATE CHANGE MANHATTAN PROJECT, Jay Michaelson (Yale JD), Stanford Environmental Law Journal January, 1998;

Nature and Paul Crutzen have recently brought the idea back up again.

"Climate change: Is this what it takes to save the world? Long marginalized as a dubious idea, altering the climate through 'geoengineering' has staged something of a comeback."

DILEMMA? Paul Crutzen;



Anonymous said...

"America's top executives know something that the Bush administration has yet to realize"

That may be true, but it ain't saying much. They came to the table after it had been set for years (decades, even). Kinda like Miss Havisham's table in Great Expectations.

I always find it humorous that the American executives are often close to the last ones to recognize a good business decision.

People like Amory Lovins have been repeating the "efficiency is good" -- for the bottom line and the environment -- for a very long time (decades).

To imply that the American executive is somehow ahead of the curve is downright hilarious.

guthrie said...

If there is something I have found out in the past few years it is that executives are extremely conservative, and most companies I have worked for are poorly run. So it is very hard to actually get them to change course and do things. For every innovative, exciting company, there are a score that sit there going "Lallalaa, I can't hear you".

Anonymous said...

executives are extremely conservative,"

Only in the political sense.

If they were conservative in the economic sense, they would support anything that increased efficiency and reduced waste.

Somewhere along the way, the term "conservative" lost the meaning it once had.

I'm not even sure what it means today. I'd bet that most people who call themselves "Conservative" can't even say.