What Abandoning Paris Really Means

July 5th, 2017 <-- by Paul Higgins -->

This piece was originally written as a Column for the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. It will appear in the August issue

 

The decision to back away from the Paris climate agreement is harmful to the United States’ interests. It is a setback for climate change risk management and a blow for U.S. leadership. But the move almost certainly makes very good sense politically for President Trump. That reveals a more systematic problem facing the country. Our policy process creates politically imperative decisions that are at odds with the nation’s interest. (more …)

Settling in for the Long Haul: Getting Good News

May 24th, 2017 <-- by Richard Rood -->

Settling in for the Long Haul: Getting Good News

It is difficult to get past the domination of the news cycles by President Trump.

I have gone through my blogs since the 2016 election, and in the grand scheme of things, I am pretty happy with my analyses. I am going to try to make a transition from the analyses in those blogs to more concrete documentation of responses and resources.

Chaos Again

I propose that a usable model to anchor one’s behavior is to frame Trump’s style as chaos management.

With chaos as a management style, deflection, diversion, and disruption become management tactics. We respond at an emotional level, and that allows those waiting for the diversion, the operatives, to go into action. Critical in effective response is to depersonalize that which is dismissive, insulting, and hurtful. The goal is to resist the emotional bait. What we can control is how we evaluate and respond; it is not easy. (more …)

Dilemma: Past and Future of Science in Society

March 12th, 2017 <-- by Richard Rood -->

Dilemma: Past and Future of Science in Society

Dilemma: I like those old Greek words. They suggest hope, or perhaps, hopelessness. It is pretty clear from, say, Aristotle’s Treatise on Rhetoric, that the types of political arguments and of political behavior we see today have been around a long time. That includes attacks on reason, logic, and science. Hope, perhaps, is represented in that this is something that we have seen before. Hopelessness, because there is seemingly nothing that can be settled by knowledge as long as knowledge is in conflict with want, belief, and emotion.

Since my transition to the chaos of Trump, I have been trying to find a foundation for analysis. We often search for such a foundation in past behavior and past experience. This leads to what I will call the past-future dilemma, which is, should we try what we have done with success in the past, or does the future require something different? (more …)

A Fee and Dividend but Without the Dividend—How Good Ideas Turn Less Good

March 7th, 2017 <-- by Paul Higgins -->

The fee and dividend put forward by conservative thought leaders recently would cause a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and provide us with a more stable climate system. It would also help most low-income families and take the sting out of any increase in energy and transportation prices, if they happen. We know all of that from basic economics and from decades of intensive research on the climate system (and also my posts here and here).

One of the key obstacles the idea will face is that an emission fee without the dividend would provide a new revenue stream. That revenue stream is highly alluring to those who want to create new federal programs, particularly if they can’t win a more direct argument to obtain the federal funding they need to finance those programs. (more …)

The Conservatives’ Fee and Dividend—The Advantage of a Focus on Emission Prices

February 17th, 2017 <-- by Paul Higgins -->

Last week I wrote about a new fee and dividend climate policy put forward by a group of conservative policy makers (which you can download here or read about here and here). It’s a fee starting at $40 per ton of carbon dioxide that increases over time. All revenue would be returned on a per-capita basis to the American people with checks coming every three months.

The approach would provide serious climate protection, as much or more than anything anyone has tried so far. Yet past policy debates (like the Washington State initiative I wrote about here) suggest there will be criticisms of the approach that have at most a thin basis in reality. These criticisms will be important to avoid (or refute) if this new approach is to receive a fair look. So my next few posts will look at some of the most common misunderstandings likely to arise with this new approach. (more …)

Conservative Climate Policy

February 10th, 2017 <-- by Paul Higgins -->

Earlier this week, a group of prominent Republican policymakers put forward a new climate proposal (you can read about it here, here, and here). The approach is very interesting because it would almost certainly sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is, in my view, among the most effective proposals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that has been offered.

The approach would start with a price of $40 per ton of carbon dioxide and that would increase over time. The revenue would be returned on a per-capita basis to the American people through a check that arrives every three months.

Putting a price on emissions makes sense. (more …)

Organization, Presence: Adaptive Management in the Trump Administration

February 3rd, 2017 <-- by Richard Rood -->

Organization, Presence: Adaptive Management in the Trump Administration

The transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration has jolted the climate-science community, indeed, the science community in general. The open reporting supported by social media fuels and amplifies conflict and anxiety. Fears are propagated as facts.

We are at a moment where how we, the community of scientists, organize and respond will be critical to how the U.S. science enterprise appears in 4 years, 8 years, and 12 years. What I am going to do in this blog is to think about how to monitor and manage what, presently, feels like convulsions from one outrage to the next. This blog follows from my EOS editorial Take the Long View on Environmental Issues in the Age of Trump and my previous entry on ClimatePolicy.org, Fear and Loathing, Irony and Deception. This blog will be followed by further analysis as rhetoric and positioning are replaced by actions. (more …)

The Climate Uncertainty Shuffle

January 20th, 2017 <-- by Paul Higgins -->

Quantifying and characterizing uncertainty is among the most important contributions that scientists make to the advancement of knowledge and understanding. Mischaracterizing uncertainty and using it to mislead public audiences is among the most common tricks of those who oppose climate policy.

Scientists work hard to understand sources of uncertainty and to accurately characterize that uncertainty. It is often the central goal of scientific research and, done well, leads to peer-reviewed articles—often highly valued ones—which are the foundation for researchers’ professional advancement.

One great example of rigorous uncertainty characterization is climate sensitivity, which many scientists have worked very hard to understand and quantify over multiple decades. (more …)

Fear and Loathing, Irony and Deception

January 14th, 2017 <-- by Richard Rood -->

Fear and Loathing, Irony and Deception

Several colleagues have told me that my last blog / editorial was a struggle to find optimism. After finishing that blog, I had no sense of optimism. (I expect an updated version of the editorial will be published in the February print edition of EOS.)

During the presidential transition, a number of statements hostile to climate science and climate scientists have risen and, perhaps, fallen. There was the request for names of climate scientists in the Department of Energy. There were the statements about NASA’s Earth observations being cut or eliminated – some sort of merger with NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. There is the ongoing anxiety, in some cases panic, about the collection, management, and provision of climate data by the U.S. government. There are the many concerns about the future of the Environmental Protection Agency. (more …)

Signals Through the Noise of the 2016 Election

January 7th, 2017 <-- by Paul Higgins -->

The outcome of any election hinges on many factors. So it was with Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. No single reason can fully explain the outcome. But one important factor in all elections is what stands out to voters above the messy static of messaging throughout the campaign season. This signal-to-noise issue also makes climate change risk management difficult despite our having straightforward and well understood response options.

Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton each had attributes that stood out strongly to voters. He was one of America’s most prominent businessmen. He was also an outspoken political outsider who emphasized toughness on border security and immigration. She was among the most experienced politicians in the country. She was also a woman—the first nominated by a major party—who emphasized inclusion across race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.

These were strong attributes that often cut both ways. They resonated powerfully with each candidate’s supporters while also angering and motivating each candidate’s opponents. The net impact of these attributes is difficult to assess.

But Trump had two signal-to-noise advantages over Clinton. (more …)


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