Archive for the ‘General’ Category


End of the Zeds

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, folks! Good riddance to a pretty awful decade. When it began, at the beginning of the millennium, I remember saying good-bye to a pretty awful century and thinking at the time that things would likely get off to a better start. Then came the crazy 2000 elections, followed by 9-11, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and it was all downhill from there. Now nobody has any money.

Here’s to hoping for a less tragic and much better year, decade, and century. Finally back in Boulder, soon to hop back on the work wagon.



November 25, 2009

There is waaaay too much going on right now to do any service to the number of things happening. I’ve been running helter-skelter all day trying to prepare for our big feast tomorrow. Even still, here’s a fun little roundup:

Here. Give thanks for this:

Global ice-sheets are melting at an increased rate; Arctic sea-ice is disappearing much faster than recently projected, and future sea-level rise is now expected to be much higher than previously forecast, according to a new global scientific synthesis prepared by some of the world’s top climate scientists.



November 17, 2009

Two more articles for bed-time reading:

  1. David Turnbull claims that the doors in Copenhagen aren’t yet closed
  2. Superfreakout on Charlie Rose

What We Do

November 13, 2009

In a recent post, Roger commented on a paper that was authored by his father and a team of many others. I find the conclusions of his father’s paper interesting, maybe because I’m missing something.  (Am I missing something?) There’s a whole chicken-coop of shitstorms brewing over this paper, but I fail to see what’s so controversial.

For one thing, the idea that there are multiple anthropogenic causes of global climate variability strikes me as nothing new. As a non-specialist, I feel like this has been the narrative for a long time. I don’t know the scientific controversy surrounding this, so I’ll refrain from commenting on that. But isn’t it reasonable to show the many, many anthropogenic reasons why our earth is warming? Why is this controversial in any way?

Is it that it challenges the conclusions of the IPCC? Is it that it is perceived to threaten global climate policy? Is it that it’s not true that there are other causes of global climate change?

From what I gather, it’s some combination of these. What’s at issue is the extent to which policy prescriptions practically follow from (as opposed to “reasonably follow from” or “are conceptually distinct from”) the scientific conclusions. Clearly it’s the case that our public policies should be responding to the actual state of affairs. At the same time, it’s also true that our public policies can be structured to handle several anthropogenic causes at once. If GHGs, or land use, or biochar, or aerosols, or my dad’s stinky socks, are contributing factors to global climate change, then it seems to me reasonable that we should adopt broad-reaching policies that address each of these various causes.

For a long time the thrust of environmentalism was concern over the things that we do, mostly related to wilderness areas. As an ethicist, this is precisely what concerns me: what we do, and whether it’s right or wrong, permissible or impermissible, morally complex or morally simple. I have no particular commitment to carbon, or to SO2, NO2 or even H2O. It’s all twater to me.

In recent years, the environmental movement, as well as the environmental policy community, has gotten caught up in the climate discussion.  In doing so, it has left other important environmental issues off the table. If GHG emissions contribute disproportionately to climate change, and climate change will make or break all of these other major issues regarding forests and oceans and wildlife, maybe that’s as it should be. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder why we shouldn’t also be concerned about the multiple other factors at well. We should, shouldn’t we? All the more so if they are contributing factors to climate variability.


A Guide My Students Need

November 10, 2009

This has very little to do with anything, and yet, it has something to do with everything.


Eye on the Earth

November 7, 2009

The Washington Post has this nice slideshow at the edge of the human/environment interface.


Pock Party

October 28, 2009

Environmental Graffiti has a pretty nice collection of images depicting damages from large-scale mining projects.


Hotter than Oprah

October 2, 2009

Since most of the traffic currently heading here is likely funneled through Roger’s blog, I probably don’t need to repeat this (though I do harbor a small hope that a few others are reading). Nevertheless, I thought I would post this book list compiled by Nature.  The magazine asked Mike Hulme, Tony Juniper, Mark Lynas, Oliver Morton, Ron Oxburgh, Rajendra K. Pachauri, Roger Pielke, Jr, Andrew Revkin & Joseph Romm, all to select one book as recommended reading in the lead-up to Copenhagen.  As a word nerd, what I like about this list is its diversity of views.  I will certainly be bringing a few of these selections to local coffee shops in the near future.  Carry on.