Saturday, November 14, 2009
- Ban Ki-moon climate deputy says Copenhagen deal may take two stage approach; Outline of bipartisan Kerry, Lieberman, Graham proposal likely beforehand
- Climate bill would be a boon to farmers
- Europe to easily beat Kyoto target — looks like the European Trading System has worked after all
- CEOs of Aspen Skiing Company and The North Face: "Climate change threatens our livelihoods–and yours"
- USGBC jobs finds "Green building to support nearly 8 million U.S. jobs over next 4 years"
- Energy and Global Warming News for 11/12/09: Germany to help develop Moroccan solar-thermal energy projects; Clinton calls Copenhagen "steppingstone"; Military's growing thirst for oil is costing lives — report
Posted: 13 Nov 2009 08:07 AM PST
That's the news today from The Washington Times Washington Insight/Energy (sub. req'd).
It is no surprise to CP readers that "administration officials have stressed that it will not agree to a global treaty that cannot win approval in the Senate." For a related story, see the WashPost's "U.S. weighs backing interim international climate agreement." And this is similar to the "Statement by Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at the GLOBE Copenhagen Legislators Forum on 24 October 2009," which I'll excerpt below.
First, more from the Insight story:
Here are excerpts from the recent speech by the Danish Prime Minister:
The devil, as always, will be in those "outstanding details." Stay tuned.
Posted: 13 Nov 2009 07:12 AM PST
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has argued that for American agriculture, the income benefits from climate and clean energy legislation will outweigh the costs (see "USDA: Economic benefits of climate bill for farmers 'easily trump' the costs"). Unrestricted greenhouse gases emissions would certainly be a disaster for farmers (see "A Stormy Forecast for U.S. Agriculture"). In this CAP repost, guest blogger Tom Kenworthy, looks at some recent studies on the direct economic benefits a climate and clean energy bill would have for farmers.
When it comes to legislation cutting carbon pollution, two Iowans steeped in agriculture policy take very different views of the likely impact on rural America.
"The agriculture industry and rural communities will be some of the hardest-hit areas," says Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
"For American agriculture, the income benefits will outweigh costs, particularly over the long term," says Tom Vilsack, Iowa's former governor and now secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration. "For rural Americans, it will help create new economic opportunities and green-energy jobs."
Secretary Vilsack has it right. While no one can precisely predict what the economic impacts will be of either the American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, which passed the House in June, or the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, S. 1733, now under consideration in the Senate, most thoughtful analysis contradicts the doomsday scenarios seen by some farm state lawmakers and representatives of big agriculture.
For American farmers and the rural areas where they live, clean-energy and carbon-pollution-cutting legislation will mean significant economic benefits. A clean energy economy built on wind, solar, and biofuels including gas derived from anaerobic digestion of manure will bring vitally needed economic development to the rural areas that are home to most of those resources. And taking action now will help prevent the often catastrophic impacts of doing nothing, including droughts, heavy downpours, and floods, all of which will reduce crop yields and cut farm income.
One of the key upsides to legislation curbing carbon pollution is it will give farmers the ability to profit from conservation measures that capture or store carbon and cut emissions of other harmful gases such as methane from livestock waste and nitrous oxide used in fertilizer. Those practices include no-till and reduced-till farming, using less fertilizer, planting trees or cover crops, and capturing methane from livestock operations. Farmers, who are not subject to the pollution caps in the legislation, will be able to sell those offsets to industrial polluters whose emissions are capped and can't meet their targets on their own or find they can do it more cheaply by buying offsets from farmers.
Both the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency see a huge market opportunity for farmers in offsets that will boost their incomes and help strengthen rural economies. EPA's estimate of the House bill is a $20 billion offset market by midcentury.
As Vilsack wrote in a recent commentary in the Wichita Eagle: "Over the long term, the benefits will far outweigh costs, growing to almost $15 billion to $20 billion in 2040-50. At that rate, agricultural offsets could be worth more than 5 percent of today's total agricultural sales."
Vilsack also explored the impact of carbon pollution reduction legislation in testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on October 27, 2009:
"While farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have a lot at stake if we fail to act, they also have much to gain if we address climate change quickly and wisely," he said. "Rural America has an unprecedented potential for economic development and job growth through new energy technologies…A robust carbon offsets market will provide farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners with the potential for new sources of income."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's analyses of both the House and Senate bills, said Vilsack, show "that economic opportunities for farmers and ranchers can outpace—perhaps significantly—the costs from climate legislation."
American agriculture is well positioned to take advantage of these opportunities, according to a report from the Center for Rural Affairs: "[A]griculture can play an important role in mitigating these damaging emissions, both by reducing its own emissions and by sequestering carbon. Given U.S. agriculture's current climate, the quality and volume of its soils, the competence of its farmers, the maturity of its science and technology, and the sophistication of its policy institutions, there is no national agricultural complex better suited to carbon sequestration than U.S. agriculture."
Though farmers will face some higher costs for fuel, fertilizer, and electricity under carbon-pollution-reduction legislation, analysts say the potential extra income from selling offsets will easily outpace those costs.
"Depending on the carbon pricing scheme, farmers could increase their net profits by up to 24 percent," notes the Agricultural Carbon Market Working Group, with additional income coming "from a number of sources including revenue from the production of low-carbon biofuels and an increase in commodity prices caused by changes in management practices."
A University of Tennessee study released on November 11 also predicts that farm revenue will grow by $13 billion a year with a well-designed trading system in carbon offsets.
Iowa State University economist Bruce Babcock analyzed the impacts on Iowa corn and soybean farmers from climate legislation and predicts higher production costs of about $4.52 per acre (1 percent to 2 percent), but additional income of about $8 an acre by shifting to no-fill farming.
Further, a study prepared for the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University concluded "that the agricultural sector would be placed in a favorable position" by policies that cut carbon pollution and establish a market for offsets.
"While agricultural producers will feel the input price ramifications of restrictions on fossil fuel-intensive input suppliers (energy, fuels and fertilizers in particular), they can benefit in several ways. First, a portion of production cost increases can be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Second, new revenue opportunities may exist for bioenergy feedstocks. Third, by being outside the [carbon pollution] cap, agriculture and forestry are a considerable potential source of offsets for sale."
Progressive voices in American agriculture understand that farmers and rural America have a great deal to lose from climate change and much to gain from a robust policy to cut carbon pollution.
As National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson told the House Agriculture Committee in June: "Failure to reduce [carbon pollution] emissions poses significant economic impacts on agriculture and populations whose welfare is of special interest to the agricultural community. Models of climate change scenarios demonstrate increased frequency of heat stress, droughts, and flooding events that will reduce crop yield and livestock productivity."
Carbon offset projects, he added, "could be valuable revenue streams for producers who will experience increased agricultural input costs."
JR: I would add that all offsets need to be subjected to the kind of scientific analysis and additionality criteria established in the House and Senate climate bills.
More from CAP on farmers and global warming:
Posted: 12 Nov 2009 04:47 PM PST
Europe made a major commitment under the Kyoto Protocol that U.S. conservatives have been telling us for years it would never achieve. In fact, the Europeans are poised to surpass their targets under the terms of the Protocol. It is no longer plausible for those who don't want a U.S. cap-and-trade system to point to the European Trading System (ETS) as a failure. Quite the reverse.
The EEA analysis concludes the EU-15 will not need to rely on offsets to meet their Kyoto target and "foresees a variety of factors contributing to the EU-15's total reduction of more than 13%":
No doubt some will try to ascribe this success to the global economic collapse, but as E&E News PM (subs. req'd) reported:
In fact, the Kyoto budget period covers 2008 to 2012, so it will extend over a period of significant economic growth, and much higher GDP than in the 1990 base period. The United States, by comparison, has also been hit by the same global economic downturn, and our emissions remain significantly above 1990 levels.
The EEA also reports the reductions of the broader EU-27:
The European Trading System, which "covers large carbon-emitting industries, which represent about 40 % of EU greenhouse gas emissions," is far from perfect. That's why Climate Progress previously discussed a major August report detailing lessons for U.S. climate bill.
But the bottom is clear: Conservatives and other opponents of the climate bill have been insisting for years the Europeans won't meet their Kyoto targets and that the ETS was a failure, proof that the U.S. shouldn't adopt a similar approach. They were wrong on every count. The EU-15 will exceed their Kyoto target, and the ETS is helping them do it. An even better designed trading system in this country, such as is found in both the House and Senate climate bills, can help the U.S. reduce its emissions in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Posted: 12 Nov 2009 02:38 PM PST
This piece by Steve Rendle, CEO of The North Face, and Mike Kaplan, CEO of Aspen Skiing Company, was first published in "High Country News." For more, see "Aspen SkiCo and global warming" and "The AP gets the bark beetle story right."
In the summer of 2003, one of the most legendary and fearsome mountaineering routes in the world –– the North Face of the Eiger –– fell victim to climate change. An unusually warm summer melted much of the ice that makes this route in Switzerland passable. As temperatures continue to warm, this iconic passage may only exist in winter.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, aspen trees have begun dying off in huge numbers. Aspens can fall victim to many diseases, but science suggests that a warmer climate will lead to increasing tree mortality as a result of sickness, insect infestations and other pests.
As CEOs of two of the most widely known consumer brands in the outdoor recreation market — Aspen Skiing Company and The North Face — it gets our attention when our companies' namesakes start to vanish before our eyes. Although we operate different businesses, we share concern about the impact of climate change on our companies, the economy, the environment and our customers. We also agree that now is the time for dramatic action by Congress to curb greenhouse gas emissions, stimulate investment in renewable energy sources and clean technology, and encourage energy efficiency.
The effects of warming global temperatures are not theoretical.
At Aspen, where our business depends on the climate, we already see a gradual increase in frost-free days and warmer nights. Milder winters mean a shorter ski season and greater reliance on artificial snowmaking, a costly and carbon-intensive practice. In short, climate change impacts Aspen's bottom line. For the $6 billion ski industry, and the hundreds of thousands of people who make their living directly or indirectly from it, the stakes are huge.
The North Face is part of the $9 billion outdoor market, and our business depends upon predictable and consistent four-season weather patterns for our customers and athletes to get outdoors and ski, camp, climb, run and hike. Climate change disrupts this predictability, creating a tenuous business climate for ourselves, our supply chain and our dealers. Most importantly, it reduces the outdoor activities of our customers.
As our athletes and customers travel the globe, they tell us they see firsthand the changes taking place, from the recession of glaciers to the effects of severe drought. These impacts are having dramatic effects on the people and places many of us have come to love.
But we are doing more than just fretting about climate change. Both our companies have taken extraordinary steps to increase our energy efficiency and reliance on renewable energy, and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these efforts save us money as well. By installing extensive solar energy systems at Aspen, and by offsetting our energy consumption with wind energy and installing solar panels at The North Face, we are working every day to reduce our impact.
We serve passionate outdoor customers who are eager to learn about solutions and take action towards a clean energy economy. These customers tell us in ever-growing numbers that our reputations and actions for environmental responsibility are why they buy our product and/or ski at our resort.
We also know that these efforts are a drop in the bucket compared to what needs to be done. And that is why a strong global and national climate and energy policy is so important. America is at a critical crossroads on climate change: We can lead the world and jumpstart our economy by spearheading the transition to a low-carbon global economy, or we can delay and fall further behind China and other nations that already have cleaner, more efficient cars, and more established wind and solar power industries.
We pick the first choice, not because we are idealists, but because we are businessmen, and because solving climate change and creating a clean energy economy is a business imperative. We believe that far from being a drag on economic growth as some fear, comprehensive climate and energy legislation will prove an economic stimulus for the long haul, creating millions of new jobs, spurring technological innovation and stabilizing business. This issue is not an abstraction to people like us. Aggressive action on climate change will preserve and protect the source of our profit and our passion: the stable climate, and the beautiful earth.
That is why we urge the Senate to take action now on a new and comprehensive climate change policy. This is the time for us to be the world leaders that we know we can be, and should be.
Posted: 12 Nov 2009 10:18 AM PST
The U.S. Green Building Council is having its huge annual conference now — you can watch live streams and archived videos of the leading experts on clean energy and energy efficiency here. And they just released a major new "Green Jobs Study" done by Booz Allen, which concluded:
The study is well worth reading — or grab some PowerPoint slides. Here's more from the press release:
Kudos to USGBC and Booz Allen. H/t Mnn.com.
Energy and Global Warming News for 11/12/09: Germany to help develop Moroccan solar-thermal energy projects; Clinton calls Copenhagen "steppingstone"; Military's growing thirst for oil is costing lives — report
Posted: 12 Nov 2009 10:11 AM PST
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- Should electric cars be intentionally made noisier?
- Boreal Forests: The Carbon the World Forgot
- Under pressure from Tea Party activists, Charleston GOP censures Lindsey Graham for bipartisanship effort to preserve our national security
- Why solar energy trumps coal power: Exclusive new Caldeira analysis explains "the burning of organic carbon warms the Earth about 100,000 times more from climate effects than it does through the release of chemical energy in combustion."
- Berlin '89: When the Impossible Became Real
Posted: 12 Nov 2009 09:17 AM PST
This is a guest post by Chelsea Sexton, my friend and costar of the 2006 documentary film "Who Killed the Electric Car?" At a young age, Chelsea began working for GM marketing their ill-fated electric car, the EV1. She even married an EV1 service technician! Now she serves as the Executive Director of Plug In America (full bio here). Her first guest post was, "So what is it like to actually drive the Chevy Volt plug in hybrid electric car?"). This post was first published on her blog. The picture is of Fisker Karma's artificial sound-emitting bumper speakers.
For the most part, the electric vehicle world is palpably buzzing with excitement of cars to come — and after some seriously dark years, there is much to look forward to. The collective conversation has finally shifted from "if" to "how", but even on easier "how" points, we can't seem to get out of our own way — which really doesn't bode well for the hard stuff.
Case in point is a newly-emerging issue over the silence of hybrids and electric cars. In the EV generation of the 1990's, their comparative lack of noise was a selling point. Now, according to some, it's a threat to life itself.
Advocacy organizations and hyper news reports are forming a chorus with a fairly shrill tune: "Electric cars are going to kill blind people!" Policymakers are now considering a minimum noise requirement for vehicles; worse, automakers are doing it voluntarily. In due time, plug-ins stand to be a favorite domain of the SEMA crowd, so I'm not referring to the folks who want to trick out their EV as Kitt to their David Hasselhoff. It's in the proposed custom to add constant noise to all hybrids and plug-in vehicles that we've collectively lost the plot.
Pedestrian safety is obviously not an unfair consideration, though the amount of spontaneous momentum it's received lately raises eyebrows. Realistically, the blind community would likely be the least affected group, compared to the number of sighted pedestrians who run around with iPods connected to noise-blocking earphones or on cell phones (often all but screaming into them to be heard over traffic noise, adding to the communal din), or who simply aren't paying as much attention as we should. And, there is experience to draw upon … in addition to the EVs deployed to date, we have a decade of experience with hybrids, also electrically driven at low speeds. Are Prii littering crosswalks and parking lots with fallen bi-peds and I'm just out of touch?
Either way, we've taken a question that was asked and answered years ago and are turning it into an industry imperative. Except when at a dead stop — when pedestrians of all sorts are reasonably safe, plug-in vehicles are not silent. Many are quiet (though, with today's insulation and sound-deadening measures, so are many gas cars) but they still have some amount of motor whine, electronic humming, fans, coolant pumps, tire noise, etc. Plug-in hybrids may also have gasoline engines running. Yet even with these "features", GM engineers thought of and addressed the issue years ago: Every EV1 came equipped with a wonkily-named "pedestrian alert alarm". At low speeds, drivers could engage an electronic chirp/headlight flash to warn pedestrians, as needed, that the car was approaching- loud enough to get attention, but not nearly as startling as the regular horn. Drivers loved it- the car made extra noise only in the moments it mattered. Those on foot were protected- the proverbial "win-win". So why are we trying to make what was so simply solved a dozen years ago so complicated today?
Electric vehicles were once pervertedly argued to be a social justice issue based on the idea that only wealthier folks were able to afford the early ones, so their communities would have the air-quality benefits. In response, S. David Freeman has incredulously noted that "air doesn't know a boundary between Brentwood and South LA". However, plug-ins could in fact be a tool in the social justice box for their lower noise profile in addition to lack of tailpipe. The goal shouldn't be to make them louder but to aim at sucking decibels from all vehicles. Yes, I know that performance vehicle enthusiasts would have me strung up (I do grok that many think thrust is as much an aural experience as a visceral one), but who would argue that mom's minivan is deficient without a throaty internal combustion growl? Cleaner, quieter transport means higher property values in often economically depressed neighborhoods adjacent to freeways and high-traffic roadways, to say nothing of the health of the families living there and public dollars saved from not building sound walls and other noise abatement measures. Electric drive technology has attendant benefits beyond the obvious environmental and energy concerns that we haven't begun to analyze- but should, before we go adulterating it.
But (and it's a big one), none of this takes away from the most important- and most overlooked point:
THE PROPULSION SYSTEM IN A VEHICLE DOES NOT ABSOLVE THE DRIVER OF THE RESPONSIBILITY NOT TO HIT SOMEONE.
More simply said, if you can't avoid hitting people you shouldn't be driving a vehicle of any kind. In all of the angst over this issue, it bears repeating. Now can we please — pretty please — get back to the actual (and not insignificant) work of putting cars on the road?
Posted: 12 Nov 2009 05:09 AM PST
When we think about forests and climate change, we tend to think about tropical forests. This is not without undue reason – some of the highest rates of deforestation are happening in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia Pacific. But one source of carbon, which happens to be the world's largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon, has been mostly overlooked in international climate discussions to date. I'm talking, of course, about the boreal forest.
The global boreal forest circles the northern portion of our globe, carefully edging along the southern arctic through Russia, Scandinavia, Canada, and Alaska. A report out today by the Canadian Boreal Initiative and Boreal Songbird Initiative states that the boreal forest stores as much as 703 billion tons of carbon in its trees, peatlands, and soils – this amounts to nearly twice the storage capacity per unit area as tropical forests.
So what makes these numbers so high? The main difference with boreal forests is that a significant portion of its carbon is stored below vegetation level whereas tropical forests tend to store the majority of their carbon in the trees and plants themselves. Because boreal forests reside in much colder climates, much of the carbon stored in its vegetation never fully decomposes and is gradually pushed into thick layers of peat and permafrost to be stored for thousands of years.
The report also argues that the intactness of the boreal forest will be vital in coming years for species adapting to the effects of global warming. A report earlier this year by the Audubon Society found that many North American birds have shifted their wintering ranges further north over the past century as a result of climate change. Species like the Woodland Caribou have seen drastic declines in numbers in recent years due to a combination of climate change and habitat destruction. Maintaining healthy, intact ecosystems for these species battling with changing environments will be crucial for their long-term viability.
While rates of deforestation in boreal forests tend to be lower than tropical forests, this is no cause for indifference. Around 30% of Canada's Boreal Forest has been designated for logging, and this number becomes much higher when including mining and oil and gas leases. A recent report by Global Forest Watch Canada (link 3) found that the oil extraction technique of strip-mining large underground deposits of bitumen (often called 'tar sands' due to its thick texture prior to being separated from clays and soils) has devastated a landscape in Alberta of 686 km2, holding up to 21 million tons of carbon. Approved and proposed mining projects account for another 29.6 million tons of biotic carbon, and under a full development scenario of surface and insitu bitumen in the region, it has been estimated that 238 million tons of carbon would be released from tar sands industrial development.
The co-benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation for species make the boreal forest an ideal place for large-scale conservation. Some success has been achieved at domestic levels, but the international push for boreal conservation has been slow to wake up. Global leaders should not halt their focus on tropical forests in favor of boreal forests, but rather adopt the boreal forest as the next frontier for climate-focused forest conservation.
Posted: 12 Nov 2009 04:51 AM PST
First Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced his breakthrough Senate climate partnership with John Kerry (D-MA). Then Teabaggers tried to "flush" Graham out of GOP, calling him "traitor" and "RINO" and "wussypants, girly-man, half-a-sissy." Graham responded, "We're not going to be the party of angry white guys." But the Tea Party activists weren't done, as this Think Progress repost makes clear.
On Monday, the Charleston County Republican Party's executive committee "took the unusual step" of officially censuring Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The local GOP committee admonished Graham for stepping across party lines to work with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) on a bipartisan clean energy bill and other pieces of legislation. The censure stated that Graham's "bipartisanship continues to weaken the Republican brand and tarnish the ideals of freedom."
Part of the fury from the right against Graham is being spurred by the oil and coal industry. The oil company front group "American Energy Alliance" has blanketed South Carolina with ads smearing Graham for seeking to address climate change.
The pressure against Graham has also stemmed from his criticism of hate radio and Fox News host Glenn Beck. "Only in America can you make that much money crying," said Graham, mocking Beck in early October. Beck has responded with a slime campaign against Graham that he typically reserves for liberals. The leader of the Charleston Republican Party, Lin Bennett, is also a member of Glenn Beck's 9/12 organization in South Carolina. According to its website, the Charleston GOP claims to work closely with tea party groups and Beck's 9/12 activists in selecting its favored candidates.
Will Graham be able to stand up to the angry backlash being cultivated by far right voices and entrenched corporations interests? At a Graham town hall in Greenville last month, activist Harry Kimball of "RINO HUNT" protested by constructing a display that portrayed Graham, as well as other GOP moderates, being flushed down a toilet:
Graham's spokesman defended his boss to reporters yesterday, claiming the senator has a "90 percent conservative voting record." Unfortunately for Graham, that may not prevent him from being "Scozzafavaed."
In Beaufort, South Carolina, a crowd of tea party activists displayed signs which "bore messages such as 'downsize D.C.' and 'Rush and Glenn for president' — an apparent allusion to political talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck."
Why solar energy trumps coal power: Exclusive new Caldeira analysis explains "the burning of organic carbon warms the Earth about 100,000 times more from climate effects than it does through the release of chemical energy in combustion."
Posted: 11 Nov 2009 03:06 PM PST
The color of solar cells — and their short energy payback — are trivial factors when considering the huge climate benefit they provide in avoiding the release of CO2 from the combustion of fossil fuels.
That was a central point I made when I broke the story on the error-riddled book Superfreakonomics. By failing to retract the many glaring errors I pointed out in my original post weeks ago — and instead blowing an aerosol smokescreen with false claims that Caldeira did not say the book misrepresented his views (see here) — Levitt brought upon himself the detailed and devastating takedown by Geophysicist Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, which focused on the same exact paragraph in the book that I debunked:
In my post, I noted that there were three and a half major howlers in this one tiny paragraph, that California Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld called this "patent nonsense" when I read it to him, and that a former lead engineer at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab had emailed me to point out that climatologist Ken Caldeira, of all people, had an analysis showing it was trivial:
And so we have the graphic above.
Several people asked me for the analysis that derived the factor of 100,000. Climatologist Ken Caldeira was kind enough to share it with me and give me authority to post it. It is a previously-unpublished joint analysis by Caldeira and NYU's Martin Hoffert titled, "Warming from fossil fuels," which is now posted here. The abstract reads:
Put another way, as Caldeira and Hoffert write in their final paragraph:
Thus the color of the solar cells or the heat they reradiate is utterly trivial. What matters is that they replace the burning of fossil fuels and prevent the fossil carbon from ever being released. As an aside, Pierrehumbert notes that coal plants also give off massive amounts of waste heat because they are so inefficient, so "That makes the waste heat of solar cells vs. coal basically a wash," even ignoring this factor of 100,000.
Levitt and Dubner need to retract that entire paragraph, much as they have agreed to correct their claim that Caldeira believes "carbon dioxide is not the right villain" in future editions.
Because they failed to quickly own up to the egregious mistakes in that one paragraph, they left themselves open to Pierrehumbert writing his "An open letter to Steve Levitt," accusing Levitt of "academic malpractice":
Levitt first tried to respond to my debunking of that paragraph by letting Myhrvold reply. But that backfired when Myhrvold repudiated the core argument of the chapter! Myhrvold's "defense" was so lame that Berkeley economist Brad Delong posted on his blog an extensive debunking of it, written by Nicholas Weaver, which ends with perhaps the best one-sentence judgment on the book and its key source that I've seen so far:
On October 30, Levitt replied directly to Pierrehumbert on RealClimate with another attempted aerosol smokescreen:
As anyone can see, it is not an "intentional misreading." Quite the reverse. Just go to the now-searchable Superfreakonomics on Amazon and put "reradiated" into the search engine. Pierrehumbert replied directly:
Yes, lots of people couldn't believe the book was as bad as I had asserted — especially since the publisher made me take down PDF of the chapter I had posted and also asked Amazon to end the searchability, so no one could see the contents until the book was actually out. But now everyone can see it was as error-riddled as I said, and that every single statement I made in the original post was accurate.
I'll address the energy payback argument further in a later post.
That makes the waste heat of solar cells vs. coal basically a wash,
Posted: 11 Nov 2009 01:10 PM PST
Sometimes change can happen much faster than people expect. If we pass a domestic climate bill, as Sen. Baucus (D-MT) and other key swing Senators now believe is likely, and that enables an international climate deal, then I do think that will usher in a much more rapid decarbonization than most people expect. Continuing the Veterans Day theme, I'm going to repost this Huffpost piece from my friend Joe Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund, about a signature event in the end of the Cold War.
I was in Berlin 20 years ago this week. I saw the impossible first-hand: the people of Germany taking down the Wall.
I was then working on the professional staff of the House Armed Services Committee. We were on a staff tour of NATO military bases and arrived in Berlin during this critical week by pure coincidence. When our delegation took off from Andrews Air Force base outside of Washington the Warsaw Pact was alive and apparently formidable. By the time we landed in Europe, it was falling apart.
It is amazing how quickly structures, paradigms, and ideologies that experts believe unchangeable can change. Forces can build undetected for decades, then explode in rapid, transformational movement.
I arrived in Berlin a couple of days after November 9. I was one of the last people to walk through the famous Checkpoint Charlie border crossing. When I passed through in the morning, East German guards were still checking passports. When I strolled back down Unter den Linden, after having a scotch with some Cubans in an East Berlin bar, marveling at the Ishtar Gate from Babylon in the Pergamon Museum, examining World War II bullet holes still peppering some buildings, and joining a student protest over required courses in Marxism-Leninism, the guards were gone. The checkpoint was open for free passage in both directions. As far as I know it never re-opened. Today, it is a tourist attraction.
At a German NATO base we got the standard briefing on NATO military strategy. But when the map went up showing how NATO forces would react to an offensive lead by East German tank divisions, we just looked at each other. We asked the general briefing us what the strategy was now, that the Eastern European forces would not be part of a Soviet offensive. He couldn't answer. We didn't know.
It took years for the West to understand that the events of 1989 were not a fraud or a feint. David Hoffman describes in this new book, The Dead Hand, how President George H.W. Bush "lost" the year 1989.
We cannot let another policy moment slip away. Twenty years after, we are at another historic point, ripe with transformational possibility. Domestically, we see it in issues like health care. Internationally, we see it in potentially profound changes in nuclear forces and policies, and in the very structure of global relations.
The transformation will be resisted. The forces of reaction are strong, as they were in 1989, arguing against change, clinging to the tired policies and weapons of the past. They tell us now, as they did before November 9, that change is impossible, that we are naïve to question the Cold War weapons and strategies, that diplomacy is appeasement, that they are the realists and we, the idealists.
But I have seen the impossible happen. I have a chunk of the wall in my bookcase to prove it. I have seen what the determined action of millions of people can do. I have seen decades of history change in days. These moments are not flukes; they are more the norm than we acknowledge.
We are in such a moment now. We must, like the Berliners of 1989, make the most of it.
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