- World leaders say Copenhagen to be a steppingstone to final climate deal
- The environMENTALIST contest: On what day will Obama sign the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill into law?
- Superfreakonomics coauthor replies to "scathing review" by Elizabeth Kolbert: "she somehow accomplished all this with a degree from Yale in … literature."
Posted: 15 Nov 2009 07:18 AM PST
Some very good news on the international front, as the UK Guardian reports today:
This is no big surprise to CP readers or anyone who follows international negotiations or domestic politics. For 8 years, U.S. negotiations were run by hard-core anti-scientific conservatives, who not only blocked any domestic action and opposed any international deal — but the Cheney-Bush negotiators actually actively worked to undermine the efforts of other countries to develop a follow on to the Kyoto Protocol.
It was never possible that team Obama — in just a few months — could undo that and simultaneously develop a final international deal and pass bipartisan U.S. climate legislation — a very slow process, given the experience with our last major domestic clean air bill, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.
As the NYT's Revkin blogs this morning, "Many seasoned participants in nearly two decades of treaty negotiations aimed at blunting global warming had predicted this outcome."
The new plan for Copenhagen makes the prospects for a successful international deal far more likely — and at the same time increases the chance for Senate passage of the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill that Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen Lieberman (I-CT) are negotiating with the White House. The NYT print story reports:
Indeed, had leaders gone into Copenhagen without this recognition of the obvious and let the whole effort collapse under the weight of unrealistic expectations, that would have been all-but-fatal to the domestic bipartisan climate bill.
Now it will be obvious when the Senate takes up the bill up in the winter that the rest of the world is prepared to act — that every major country in the world has come to the table with serious targets and/or serious commitments to change their greenhouse gas emissions trajectories. Every country but ours, that is.
The few key swing Senators will understand that they are the only ones who stand in the way of strong US leadership in the vital job-creating clean energy industries and stand in the way of this crucial opportunity the world now has to preserve a livable climate through an international deal. Their role in history will be defined by this one vote. And, yes, I do think that matters to people like Dick Lugar (R-IN) and perhaps even John McCain (R-AZ).
UPDATE: One can expect those who have long opposed serious action on climate change to trumpet this good news as bad news. The WSJ, for instance, writes, "International efforts to combat climate change took a significant blow when the leaders of the APEC forum conceded a binding international treaty won't be reached when the U.N. convenes in Copenhagen in three weeks." What do you expect from a paper that has long trumpeted disinformation on climate science and the economic impacts of climate action? Yes, this was a "news" story, but consider this line from the story: "The election of Obama, a believer in strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions, had raised hopes among environmentalists that Copenhagen would produce a tough, binding treaty to follow the Kyoto accords of 1997." Notice how Obama is framed not as someone who believes in climate science, but merely in regulations. And again, notice how for the WSJ, the only people who care about those regulations are "environmentalists" rather than, say, all of humanity or even those who understand the climate science laid out by the IPCC that sets the basis for international climate agreements.
Posted: 15 Nov 2009 06:31 AM PST
One of my guilty pleasures is the CBS crime show, The Mentalist. One-time fake psychic Patrick Jane uses his powers of observation and deduction to figure out the answer to the mystery before everyone else.
So here's the contest for all you would-be environ-Mentalists. Use your amazing powers of observation and deduction to figure out on what day Obama will sign the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill into law. The winner gets to write a blog post for Climate Progress — woo hoo!
Remember, the bill has to pass the Senate, go into conference, pass the House and Senate again, and then a few days after that, Obama has the big signing ceremony.
Yes, you could pick "never" but, of course, you'd never collect! Plus the bill remains a likely prospect since the breakthrough Senate climate partnership between Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA) — see E&E News: "At least 67 senators are in play" on climate bill.
Indeed, with the addition of Sen Lieberman (I-CT) to the bipartisan (tripartisan?) team and the beginning of talks with White House "to discuss a possible compromise" the chances may be greater than ever. Heck, even the moderate coal-state Democrat Sen. Baucus (D-MT) said last week, "There's no doubt that this Congress is going to pass climate change legislation."
That said, it seems increasingly unlikely that the bill will get to Obama's desk before the summer. Indeed, The Washington Times Washington Insight/Energy (sub. req'd) has these remarkable prognosications from a former Senate majority leader and a leading industrial expert:
Here's a little history on the bipartisan CAA amendments for all you enviro-Jane's out there, courtesy of EPA:
Yes, life was different in Washington, DC two decades ago, a lot more moderates in those days…..
Conferences between the two Houses aren't known for their speed. And again that was two decades ago, when we had a moderate pro-environmental Republican president.
Based on my conservations with Hill experts, I tend to think the bill will hit the Senate floor in late February and the debate will last for a few weeks until it passes in late March or early April. Then conference could take quite a while. Still, I think the pressure will be to wrap this up before the late summer recess, and not take this right before the fall election. I think Obama will sign the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill in early August, but I will say that at least one person with much more Hill experience than I have says it'll be October.
But what do you think?
Posted: 14 Nov 2009 10:20 AM PST
On Monday, The New Yorker published Elizabeth Kolbert's lengthy review of SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. In her 2400-word review, titled "Hosed: Is there a quick fix for the climate?" she writes:
On Friday, coauthor Stephen Dubner replied in a post titled, "With Geoengineering Outlawed, Will Only Outlaws Have Geoengineering?" Notwithstanding the title, the piece is clearly meant to be serious. Here is what they have to say about Kolbert's review:
Snap. Or not.
Note how Kolbert is pigeonholed as an "environmentalist," albeit a "feeling and passionate" one, since that allows her to be lumped in with all the other environmentalists who supposedly find geo-engineering repugnant — as opposed to, say, climatologist Ken Caldeira who merely finds the geo-engineering-only solution that the authors propose in their book unworkable and "pretty ugly" and "a dystopic world out of a science fiction story" and "crazy." Kolbert herself notes:
You can read the interview she gave and decide if that makes here "a feeling and passionate environmentalist" — not that there's anything wrong with that — or simply a journalist who has talked to dozens of the leading climate scientists and visited many of the places where the climate is changing the most and reported on what she heard, saw, and learned.
Indeed, Kolbert's point about credentials is almost exactly the opposite of what Dubner implies in his dismissal of her:
Their credentials aren't the issue for her. They simply didn't do their homework, and so they got the science all wrong (as many, many others have pointed out). Hence her quote of Pierrehumbert.
Their dismissive reply to her substantive critique is another attempted aerosol smokescreen, just as Levitt's reply to Pierrehumbert on RealClimate was:
As Pierrehumbert replied:
Kolbert ended the review:
You don't need to be a climatologist to know that.
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