Archive for the ‘Climate’ Category


Cullen on Colbert

August 31, 2010

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Cullen on Colbert, posted with vodpod

The Cynical Environmentalist

August 30, 2010

Rajendra Pachauri just gave Bjørn Lomborg’s book an endorsement. Surprising news, I suppose, from the man who once compared Lomborg to Hitler. Evidently,

“Lomborg will call for tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change. “Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century,” the book concludes.”

A philosophy graduate student writes privately with the following insight:

Of course, that’s $100 billion per year to solve the problem “by the end of the century,” i.e. in the next 90 years, which means $90 trillion dollars [sic]. Could it possibly cost that much? And take that long? You know, call me a cynic, but it sounds like he’s high-balling the cost and the time-span to make it seem even more daunting, demanding, and fiscally impossible, thereby lending credence to the skeptics. But that’s just the cynic in me.

Even if it’s just $9 trillion dollars, that’s still a lot of dough. Good magazine has a slightly different cynical take.

Has Pachauri been had?


IAC Report

August 30, 2010

The InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC report has just been released. Roger has a summary overview at his site.


The “CO2 is Plant Food” Crock

August 25, 2010

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The “CO2 is Plant Food” Crock, posted with vodpod

Thank Goodness

August 18, 2010

Mark Morford pounds it out with this one. (I don’t even know what that means… but his column was kinda funny.)

Thank God Global Warming is a Hoax

I mean, right? You know? Because gosh Jesus in angry apocalyptic heaven, wouldn’t it be just terrible if it were all true?

Wouldn’t it be horrible if all this stunning, insanely mounting, irrefutable evidence — death, floods, fires, heat waves, the worst this and the most violent that in 1,000 years — were some sort of surefire, cumulative sign that we have, if not directly caused, then wildly accelerated and amplified the imminent implosion of this planet?

But we didn’t! And we haven’t! And we aren’t! I mean, whew…


Geoengineering Article

August 5, 2010

My article with Lisa Dilling, “Geoengineering, Ocean Fertilization, and the Problem of Permissible Pollution” is now out in Science, Technology and Human Values. Check it out:

Many geoengineering projects have been proposed to address climate change, including both solar radiation management and carbon removal techniques. Some of these methods would introduce additional compounds into the atmosphere or the ocean. This poses a difficult conundrum: Is it permissible to remediate one pollutant by introducing a second pollutant into a system that has already been damaged, threatened, or altered? We frame this conundrum as the “Problem of Permissible Pollution.” In this paper, we explore this problem by taking up ocean fertilization and advancing an argument that rests on three moral claims. We first observe that pollution is, in many respects, a context-dependent matter. This observation leads us to argue for a “justifiability criterion.” Second, we suggest that remediating actions must take into account the antecedent conditions that have given rise to their consideration. We call this second observation the “antecedent conditions criterion.” Finally, we observe that ocean fertilization, and other related geoengineering technologies, propose not strictly to clean up carbon emissions, but actually to move the universe to some future, unknown state. Given the introduced criteria, we impose a “future-state constraint”.” We conclude that ocean fertilization is not an acceptable solution for mitigating climate change. In attempting to shift the universe to a future state (a) geoengineering sidelines consideration of the antecedent conditions that have given rise to it –conditions, we note, that in many cases involve unjustified carbon emissions –and (b) it must appeal to an impossibly large set of affected parties.


Smoky in Moscow

August 4, 2010

Just checked the weather forecast for Moscow. Yep. It’ll be hot. Hot and smoky. Who knew that the Weather Channel had “smoky” as a forecast option?



August 4, 2010

If you haven’t happened to read the Center for Environmental Journalism blog recently, you might head over there and check out my colleague Tom Yulsman’s interview with our other esteemed colleague Jim White. And also, this one here.

“Carbon dioxide levels, methane levels, are already very high relative to what we know existed for the last million years. I don’t think that we’re going to turn that around very quickly. We could get into some very serious geoengineering in terms of removing these greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Very expensive things to do.

My feeling is we just need to understand what the science is telling us and make intelligent decisions. I don’t really believe that it’s my role as a scientist to tell policy makers what to do. My role is to tell them this is the information you’re going to get, and we need as a society to make decisions. My pitch as an educator, as a professor, is that those be educated decisions. And whether it’s we’re going to adapt or we’re going to deal with this from a geoengineering sense, it doesn’t really matter to me . . . What matters to me is that we do this with intelligence and that we don’t just deny the obvious.”

But here’s the quote I really like:

“We’re the only creature on the planet that can actually think through these things, and we ought to start thinking”



July 19, 2010

Stephen Schneider has passed.



July 9, 2010

Revkin interviews Don Brown (Penn State) about environmental ethics and climate ethics. Not a terribly substantive interview, but worth a few minutes of your time, at least. Here’s one quote of interest:

We like to say if we get the science and economics wrong, we will likely get the ethics wrong. More importantly, to do this work well one must follow climate change policy controversies as they unfold. Most ethicists don’t typically do this kind of work and only a few universities allow their ethicists to do this kind of “applied” environmental ethics. I am lucky to be at Penn State.

Don seems to have flipped things on their head here. I think it’s more likely that if we have the ethics wrong, it doesn’t matter if we get the science or the economics right or wrong. The problem with the holocaust wasn’t that the Germans got the science and the economics wrong (though they did that too), is that they were completely ass-backwards with regard to human rights.

True, though, that many universities traditionally don’t smile much on applied environmental ethics. Fortunately, there are many now that are starting to see the value in interdisciplinary collaboration on these applied issues, so there are a growing number environmental ethics outposts. All told, we’re pretty late to the game.