Archive for the 'Climate Change Solutions' Category

Dilemma: Past and Future of Science in Society

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

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

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

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

Friday, February 17th, 2017

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

Friday, February 10th, 2017

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…)

Champions of Climate Change?

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Last month a Washington State ballot initiative to help protect the climate system went down in defeat. The initiative was remarkable for being one of the most straightforward and promising approaches to climate change risk management ever tried in the United States at any level of government. That it failed is remarkable because some environmental groups contributed to the defeat.


Belief and Knowledge and Humans and Nature:

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Belief and Knowledge and Humans and Nature:

I am starting this entry from a previous blog, Rhetoric Again – Cycles. I got some interesting comments as well as a couple of letters for that entry. To set the tone, here is a thought from the end of that blog.

There is little doubt that humans are the dominant life form on the planet today. We shape every ecosystem. We consume all forms of energy. Throughout time, plants and animals have determined and altered the environment. Today we humans change our environment, the atmosphere and ocean. Not only are we a dominant life form, we have this amazing ability to extract rocks and liquids and gases from the Earth and to burn them. We have the ability to push land around, to remove mountains, to build islands, and to manufacture concrete. We are, therefore, not only biological, we are geological.

We humans are a force of nature – while yet a part of nature. Because we have the ability to remember, to reason, to develop and to accumulate knowledge, unlike other parts of the natural world, we have the ability to make decisions that influence the future of our environment. Therefore, our role in nature, in the natural world, is unique. To be clear, that uniqueness is not in our ability to change the environment, but in our ability to understand the consequences of those changes and the ability to anticipate and influence the future.


Something New in the Past Decade? Organizing U.S. Climate Modeling

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Something New in the Past Decade? Organizing U.S. Climate Modeling

Update: The report referred to in the original blog was released on September 7, 2012: National Academy of Sciences Report, A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling (2012).

In 1999 I was part of a small group of people that was asked to write a report on climate modeling and supercomputing, and in particular, what needed to be done to make U.S. Federal efforts more effective. The report was published in 2000, and it is still available on line at the USGCRP website. (U.S. Global Change Research Program) Now in 2011 a panel is being convened to write about “A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling.” (link) In this entry I want to return to the older report and think about what is different from 10 years ago.

When my co-authors and I wrote this report, we presented the results to several panels of distinguished people. Over the years, people have continued to send comments to me about the report. I contend that this report was different from a lot of other reports. I think it is safe to say that the authors of the report were chosen because of a willingness to look beyond their home agencies. Also we included as an author a sociologist who is expert in organizations and how to make organizations function.


Facilitating Disruption

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”

Yesterday I got into an exchange with a person who posted a comment wishing the curse of a pox to the students writing on the UoMichigan COP15 Blog . It reminded me of Joseph Welch’s question to Senator Joe McCarthy, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” (Welch-McCarthy Exchange from American Rhetoric)

In the United States we devolve into something that is more like tribalism with sides taken based on the color of your uniform or who pays you the most. Discussion is based not on ideas and solutions, but on who makes a statement. Issues are advocated, and ideas are placed into extremes that take on attributes such as good and evil, for and against. The other side is wrong, and their intentions are of hidden control or hidden profit. This threatens our credibility and our viability.

US Senators pursue an investigation of climate science based upon the stolen and published correspondence of a small clutch of prominent scientists. Here at the Conference of Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen the news says that we should anticipate a visit by Congressman Sensenbrenner to call for the end of “climate fascism.” This will place this US political tribe in solid alliance with, perhaps, Saudi Arabia. (more…)

Sustainability, Climate Change, and the Role of the University

Friday, October 30th, 2009

This post is something in the spirit of an essay. These are a few introductory paragraphs on a big picture view of sustainability, climate, global warming, and, ultimately perhaps, on the expanded role that I think educational institutions will have to take going forward.

Sustainability, Climate Change, and the Role of the University

Cultures, civilizations, and nations have evolved in the past 5000 years within a temperate climate with stable sea level. The accelerated growth of economies and population since the European Renaissance has relied on ready sources of energy and the ability to discover and utilize new sources of minerals and ecosystems. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-nineteenth century, we have been able to change, on a global scale, the basic physical and biological characteristics of the land surface and the composition of atmosphere and the ocean. These anthropogenic changes are significant enough that we now influence the mean state of the environment on local, continental, and global scales. Air quality is a defined and managed resource. Decisions made in land use and land management influence local and regional temperature, precipitation, ground water replenishment and water runoff. The increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have and will warm the surface of the Earth; melt the abundance of fresh water held in snow, glaciers, and ice sheets; lead to rises in sea level that are unprecedented in human experience; and cause more violent storms, more flooding rains, and more severe droughts. Humans and the enterprise of humans are an integral part of the energy balance that is the Earth’s climate. Moving forward a sustainable planet will require us to take responsibility for managing the climate. No longer can we count on the discovery of new lands for resources – and no longer can we dispose of our waste into the atmosphere and ocean without regards to the consequences of our behavior.


A Healthy Way to Travel

Monday, August 24th, 2009

The use of the automobile for personal transportation brings considerable benefits to individuals, such as the ability to travel quickly, easily and independently over long distances. However, car travel also contributes to health problems and societal threats such as physical inactivity, obesity, air pollution, climate change, habitat degradation, oil dependence, political instability, and economic insecurity.

These problems are particularly pronounced in the USA, which currently consumes roughly 27% of global oil production and produces approximately 25% of global carbon emissions, and where roughly 65% of adults are overweight or obese. Other countries throughout the world that replicate or hope to replicate the automobile-based lifestyle of the USA face similar problems now or in the near future.