Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Climate Progress

Climate Progress

Climate Progress is Technorati's top-ranked "Green" website, but …

Posted: 03 Nov 2009 08:16 AM PST

… anti-green is #2!  By this categorization, why isn't the Drudge Report the #1 Green website?


I regularly use Technorati to check who is linking to CP, and stumbled across the fact that last month they totally redesigned their "Technorati Authority" and added a topical ranking by category.

As you can see here, I am (for now) the top-ranked website among Green blogs and news sites.  Of course, people who follow this space closely will wonder why they omitted TreeHugger, which would beat everybody (although my rank is currently 994 out of a possible 1000, so they couldn't beat me by that much, I suppose).

Technorati has been known for a fairly objective and slow-changing measure of influence — links from other sites over the past 6 months.  But I suppose in a desire to be more timely (and, no doubt purely incidentally, boost their own traffic), they have jazzed up this ranking system, and then added a breakdown by category:

What is Technorati Authority?

  • Technorati Authority measures a site's standing & influence in the blogosphere. With the October 2009 redesign of, we've changed the Technorati Authority calculations to better reflect the continually changing attention of the blogosphere.
  • We have also added a new measure of Technorati Authority, which is topical by content category, i.e., technology, movies, automotive, etc.

How is Technorati Authority calculated?

  • Authority is calculated based on a site's linking behavior, categorization and other associated data over a short, finite period of time. A site's authority may rapidly rise and fall depending on what the blogosphere is discussing at the moment, and how often a site produces content being referenced by other sites.
  • The new Authority calculation differs from the past version, which measured linking behavior over a longer 6 month timeframe….
  • Authority is on a scale of 0-1000. 1000 is the highest possible authority.

How does topical Technorati Authority work?

  • Topical Authority measures a blog's influence within its subject category.
  • Blogs will appear ranked by topical authority within Technorati's blog directory.
  • Factors include linking behavior from blogs and posts in the same category, how well a blog's overall content matches the category in question, and other associated data.
  • It's possible for a blog to have authority in several different categories. The authority in each category may be different.

Hmm.  Looks like they've given up a little bit of their own "authority" in a transparent ranking system to adopt this faster-changing one.  And I'd love to know what that "other associated data" is.

I actually liked the old more static Authority, exactly because it gave you a more slow-changing measure of what should in fact be slow changing — the "Authority" and influence of a blog or website.

No doubt my exceedingly high Authority right now is partly due to the phenomenal amount of traffic and linking I've gotten from breaking the story on the Error-riddled book Superfreakonomics — a post that has been read by more than 50,000 people and, whose analysis, I'm happy to say, has been vindicated by major journalists and leading climate scientists.

That said, Technorati is hurting its own credibility by not being more explicit on how it does its Authority calculation and, even more by it's arbitrary category placement.

It's silly to put Watts in the Green category.  Equally silly is that Watts is in the the Science category, but Climate Progress isn't.  Watts is an anti-scientific site that has actually called climate science "the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind," which is is anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense. It accuses the entire scientific community broadly defined of deliberate fraud.  More recently, Watts published a piece by the widely-discredited Roy Spencer asserting, "I contend that the belief in human-caused global warming as a dangerous event, either now or in the future, has most of the characteristics of an urban legend."  Again, that is anti-science.

Now you might think Technorati didn't put Climate Progress in the Science category because, since the emergence of the climate bills, most of my posts are not purely about the science (although I would argue that most of my posts are driven by the science).  Great argument, except, Wonk Room, for instance, is (deservedly) in the Green Blog category, and CP has a considerably higher fraction of posts that are about science than WR has that are Green (or that WR has that are "Business," another Category WR is in).

If any readers know someone at Technorati, I'd be interested in hearing their thoughts on this issue.  They are no doubt just working the kinks out of this new system, and you can share any thoughts you want with them by clicking here.

Final note to Technorati:  If you really want to be seen as fast-paced, you'll probably want to take "Yankees Snag 3-1 Series lead" off your front page!

the Science category, but Climate Progress isn't.

Senate GOP embrace Inhofe's boycott of Clean Energy Jobs Act in effort to thwart Copenhagen deal; Boxer responds "We're going to be very patient. We're going to wait for them to come. We're going to sit there every day and ask them to please come back to the table."

Posted: 03 Nov 2009 06:11 AM PST

InhofeThe GOP's approach to climate and clean energy policy has remained the same for decades — obstruction and obfuscation (see "Senate GOP propose 25% 'Do-Nothing' energy tax on Americans").  Now, led by James "the last flat-earther" Inhofe, they are trying to stall climate legislation as long as possible, on the flimsiest of excuses, presumably because they want to make sure that there is no Senate vote on the bill before Copenhagen.

The excuse this time is that EPA supposedly hasn't issued a full analysis of the bill — even though EPA has issued an analysis of the bill (see "EPA releases economic analysis finding cost to U.S. households of under $10 a month, bill consistent with global effort to stabilize at 2°C warming") pointing out that it has only moderate differences from the heavily-analyzed House bill (Waxman-Markey), none of which would significantly affect the economic conclusions.

The best evidence this excuse is just a pretense is that the GOP never accepted the conclusions of the EPA's detailed analysis of the House bill (see "New EPA analysis of Waxman-Markey: Consumer electric bills 7% lower in 2020 thanks to efficiency").

TP reports on the GOP delaying tactics:

Senate Republicans have endorsed Sen. Jim Inhofe's (R-OK) plan to boycott the legislative markup of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733), scheduled to begin tomorrow. Inhofe's GOP compatriots on the environment committee hope to block action by refusing to participate in the markup on the pretext that the Enviromental Protection Agency's economic analysis of the bill is not "complete." In a letter sent to committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), ranking member Inhofe and his counterparts on five other committees said any attempt to begin the markup before acceding to his demands "would severely damage" its chances for passage:

"We understand that there may be an attempt to report S. 1733 from the Committee not only without a satisfactory analysis, but also without sufficient opportunity to address the bipartisan concerns raised over the course of legislative hearings on the measure. As we are sure you will understand, from our viewpoint, such an approach would severely damage, rather than help, the chances of enacting changes to our nation's climate and energy policies

The signatories are the top Republicans on the six Senate committees that will consider this legislation — environment, energy, agriculture, commerce, foreign relations, and finance. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX, ), like Inhofe, flatly deny the reality of climate change. However, several of the signatories have claimed concern about the threat of global warming — Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Dick Lugar (R-IN), who in 2006 warned of the "significant long-term risks to the economy and the environment of the United States from the temperature increases and climatic disruptions that are projected to result from increased greenhouse gas concentrations." Evidently their commitment to partisan obstruction is greater than their concern for the future of the nation.

Download the letter here.

The Sierra Club has posted the "Top Ten Excuses for not showing up for work on the Clean Energy Jobs bill."
Boxer has extended the amendment deadline to Tuesday night, according to a Washington Times newsletter, and will hold off on the markup of the legislation, saying:

We're going to be very patient. We're going to wait for them to come. We're going to sit there every day and ask them to please come back to the table. We're not going to rush this through because we don't think that would be the right thing to do.

E&E News (subs. req'd) reports this morning that Boxer is going the extra mile to accommodate the GOP obstructionist delayers:

Hoping to avert a partisan meltdown, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) yesterday offered an olive branch to Republicans who are planning to boycott today's markup of a sweeping global warming bill.

Boxer still plans to begin the markup at 9 a.m. with opening statements. But she agreed to suspend the markup at 2 p.m. for an open-door meeting with U.S. EPA officials to answer committee members' questions about the economic modeling of the legislation, she noted in a letter late yesterday.

EPW Republicans, who ignored yesterday deadline for filing amendments, also now have until 5 p.m. today to submit any suggested changes to the bill.

"We think this is going the extra mile for our friends on the other side, and we really hope they'll return to the table," Boxer told reporters. "They have every reason to do that."

Boxer added that she still retained the right to advance the 959-page bill without Republicans, though she would not say how long she would wait before ending the markup. "I never put a finishing date on any markup," Boxer said. "I never have."

She added, "I will tell you this, we're going to be very, very patient."

But the GOP delayers don't want answers to questions — they want delay:

Committee Republicans huddled last night to discuss Boxer's offer on the question-and-answer session with EPA. Matthew Dempsey, the panel's GOP spokesman, said he expected Republicans to respond shortly before the start of today's markup.

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) first made the information request to EPA in July on the economic implications on the climate bill, placing a "hold" on Robert Perciasepe's confirmation to be EPA deputy administrator until he got answers. Voinovich declined to say whether he would attend the question-and-answer session, which he had heard about only moments earlier when Boxer approached him on the Senate floor.

But Voinovich did say he had no plans to back down on the boycott until he gets a more complete assessment of the climate bill from EPA.

"I think we've made it pretty clear that we want a complete analysis of the bill," he said. "It's been made clear to her that's what we want. I think it's a sensible approach because of the fact this is probably the most important piece of legislation this committee has undertaken since the Clean Air Act itself, maybe even more important."

Again, from an economic perspective, the bill isn't much different from the House bill, which has been analyzed to death, not just by EPA, but CBO and EIA:

And as Boxer herself wrote yesterday:

I want to make sure you are aware that EPA has confirmed that the extensive analysis and supporting materials provided to the Committee are totally sufficient and appropriate for our legislative process. In fact, EPA reports that the analysis provided on the Kerry-Boxer bill and Chairman's Mark exceeds the analysis typically conducted prior to a markup. EPA has also indicated that this economic analysis reflects hundreds of thousands of pages of backup documentation. It is far more analysis than the 10,000 pages of documentation on the Clear Skies bill that this Committee received in a prior Congress before markup of that legislation.

Even so, one key swing GOP Senator is siding with this delay:

Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) later said that his signature should be seen as a warning signal to Democrats should they expect to get his help in winning over other GOP moderates.

"It would not be constructive as far as progress on the bill is concerned," Lugar said. "I suspect that there'd be no particular reason for many members to support it."

My recommendation is to give in to GOP delaying tactics, while continuing to point out how absurd they are.

I see no upside in offending Senate moderates, since this bill will have to be bipartisan to succeed, and we need time over the next couple of weeks for Graham and Kerry and the White House "to discuss a possible compromise."

Boxer should have the EPA do a "complete analysis" before the mark up — and then watch as the GOP hypocritically denounce the conclusions of it anyway.

Road to Copenhagen, Part 1: Doing the Climate Shuffle

Posted: 03 Nov 2009 05:29 AM PST

There's a familiar dance being performed on the world stage. It's called the Climate Shuffle.  It has been going on for decades, but more people are watching now and every nation is practicing the steps.

The dance is not complicated. The goal is to get everybody dancing together, a kind of Clean Electric Slide. But first, insist you won't get on the dance floor until everybody does. If you get there and find that everyone is doing his own thing, try the Unilateral Slide (one step forward, two steps back, moving in circles). Most of all, be prepared to dance fast because the music is speeding up.

In this strained metaphor, the music is the increasing pace of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  As it turns out, the scientific evidence on which negotiators and policy makers have depended – particularly the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – significantly underestimated the speed at which global warming is occurring.

Poor and low-lying nations already are suffering its effects. Some of the first climate refugees are being forced from their ancestral islands in the South Pacific because of rising sea levels.  Livestock is dying in parts of Africa parched by drought.

The World Health Organization estimated earlier this year that 150,000 deaths occur annually in low-income countries due to climate-related crop failure, malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, malaria and flooding. Nearly 85 percent of the dead are young children.

Rich nations are not exempt. In June, the U.S. government's Global Change Science Program reported to Congress that damaging climate impacts are here and likely to get worse:

Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow.

In the September issue of the journal Nature, 28 environmental scientists reported we have reached or surpassed the upper safe limit in six of the planet's 10 critical biophysical systems.

NASA scientist Dr. Jim Hansen, whose scientific forecasting has been pretty accurate over the years, now warns that holding atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to 450 parts per million will not protect us from climate-induced disaster. He says we need to get back to 350 ppm, a threshold we've already crossed.  We need to accomplish that backward step at the same time we're making billions more babies and trying to end the extreme poverty that already afflicts billions of men, women and children around the world.

Five weeks before the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen – a long-anticipated gathering in danger of being anti-climatic — one source close to the negotiations tells me three broad scenarios remain on the table.

  • Scenario 1 is a Son-of-Kyoto treaty in which all nations agree to specific, verifiable and enforceable limits on their greenhouse gas emissions;
  • In Scenario 2, nations remain hung up on sticking points and can't agree on a global treaty. Instead, they agree to cut carbon with national-level efforts and smaller bilateral or multilateral agreements.  However, they accept international monitoring of progress and some type of enforcement.
  • In Scenario 3, nations decide to go it alone with no international deal, monitoring or oversight.

So far down the road to Copenhagen, we would have hoped that the U.S. Congress had passed an aggressive climate bill and negotiators would have decided on the basic architecture of a global deal. The lack of progress is not for lack of effort. A lot of negotiators, subject-matter experts and key staff on the Hill are sleep-deprived these days. Because of them, hope is not lost. They deserve our thanks.

At the same time, I know they will forgive us for keeping up the pressure for deals in Congress and at Copenhagen – not just any deals, but real deals. All that's at stake is a civilization worthy of the noun. The Climate Shuffle becomes a death dance if it goes on too long.

With pressure in mind, I will post a series of pieces over the next several days. They will address how our policy-makers are underestimating the risks of climate change; how new evidence suggests we have only five years to completely retool global industry; how consumers, corporations and government might work together; how the White House can provide audacious leadership; and how morality must trump money on Capitol Hill.

– Bill Becker

If you have nothing better to do, here's's First Annual Push Poll on Global Warming.

Posted: 02 Nov 2009 02:44 PM PST

pigeonOkay, the calls it their "First Annual Survey on Global Warming."  But I think you'll agree with our friendly neighborhood Rabett that it's more like a "push poll."

What has gotten Eli hopping mad?  This remarkable "you-are-a-pigeon question":

Which, if any, of the following statements comes closest to capturing your attitudes and opinions about global warming?

(We'll give you a chance to amplify in your own words later–but I need to pigeonhole–umm, stereotype–umm, put you in a 'box' if at all possible. If necessary, just pick the least objectionable statement, or indicate that you prefer not to say.)

O I believe global warming is the crisis of this generation, and should be the highest priority for policy makers right now.

O I think global warming is undoubtedly real and a serious problem, but I think it has been 'overplayed' by the press, politicians and some organisations.

O It looks to me like global warming probably has a grain of truth in it, but it's almost certainly not as bad as it has been made out to be.

O I believe global warming is true, but not man-made.

O I don't believe global warming is true. I think natural forces account for the changes in climate and there's no need to look at human contributions–which in any event have not been proven.

O This issue is not even at the top of my radar screen. I don't pay much attention to global warming or climate change, it doesn't influence how I live, how I spend my money, who I vote for–I don't really pay too much attention to this.

O I prefer not to say.

I'm filing this post under humor only because I never bothered starting a category for "unintentional humor."

Eli notes "the airspace between the first and the second choice and the fine gradations between the rest," which is to say that all of the later choices are designed to 1) get lots of votes that totally outnumber the votes for the first choice and 2) make the first choice seem extreme, even though it is certainly the closest to representing the current state of our scientific understanding, albeit not with language I would use (see "Intro to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water" and UK Met Office: Catastrophic climate change, 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 27°F in the Arctic, could happen in 50 years, but "we do have time to stop it if we cut greenhouse gas emissions soon"). has inspired me to offer my own "First Annual Survey on the Examiner's First Annual Push Poll on Global Warming."  Which, if any, of the following statements comes closest to capturing your attitudes and opinions about the Examiner's First Annual Push Poll on Global Warming?

  • I believe the's First Annual Push Poll is the single most laughable example in recent memory of how deniers and delayers try to use every form of media to misinform and mislead the public on global warming, which is the gravest preventable threaten to the health and well-being of future generations, and should be the highest priority for policy makers right now.
  • I believe the Examiner's First Annual Push Poll is the second most laughable example in recent memory of how deniers and delayers try to use every form of
    media to misinform and mislead the public on global warming, which should be the highest priority for policy makers right now.
  • I believe the Examiner's First Annual Push Poll is undoubtedly a real and a serious problem, but I think it has been 'overplayed' by Eli Rabbet, and is more of an irrelevant waste of time than an outright push poll aimed at misinforming and misleading the public on global warming, which should be the highest priority for policy makers right now.
  • I believe the Examiner's First Annual Push Poll is not at all serious, but an obvious spoof of a real poll on global warming, which should be the highest priority for policy makers right now.
  • I don't believe the Examiner's First Annual Push Poll is true.  You made it up.  What do you take us for — anti-scientific deniers and delayers who don't know the first thing about global warming, which should be the highest priority for policy makers right now?
  • The Examiner's First Annual Push Poll is not even at the top of my radar screen, assuming that I even had a radar screen, which I don't.  I'm too busy trying to stop catastrophic global warming, which should be the highest priority for policy makers right now.
  • I prefer not to say just how lame is the Examiner's First Annual Push Poll global warming, which should be the highest priority for policy makers right now.

If you would like to amplify on your opinions regarding global warming and climate change, please do so in the Comments section.

Nearly 200 organizations and companies urge Senate to adopt key energy-efficiency provision in climate bill

Posted: 02 Nov 2009 01:41 PM PST

A diverse coalition of nearly 200 business, labor, civil rights, and environmental groups have sent a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) urging her to support an important energy-efficiency provision that would:

  • Generate $100 billion in electric efficiency investments;
  • Create more than 900,000 new construction, energy service, and building maintenance and operations jobs by 2020, and many more additional jobs at plants that supply these sectors (based on analysis by Green Economy, 2009), and;
  • Reduce consumers' energy bills by $300 billion.

What is this magical provision?  As the letter explains:

We are writing to request that the climate bill require an investment in energy efficiency equivalent to at least 1/3 of the value of the total allowance allocation given to electric utilities.  Such an efficiency investment will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs retrofitting millions of buildings nationwide, and benefit consumers by lowering electricity costs by billions of dollars, as residential, commercial, and industrial consumers typically save in the range of $2 to $4 for every $1 invested in energy efficiency.  It would also help decrease greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce the market clearing price of carbon.

Following is a joint statement from the broad-based coalition:

"We believe that the adoption of an additional electric utility, energy-efficiency measure in the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act will reap tremendous benefits for our economy and consumers.

Energy efficiency is the fastest, cheapest and cleanest way to reduce our carbon pollution. We urge the Environment and Public Works Committee to act now by adopting this provision to create jobs, reduce pollution, and save consumers and businesses money."

For more on benefits of efficiency in the climate bill, see: