grist.org — The United States is in the midst of significant changes in our energy outlook. We are producing and burning more natural gas for electricity, while reducing coal use. Domestic oil production is at a 15-year high while oil imports are at a 15-year low. Renewable electricity doubled over the past four years, while worldwide carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change grow. The next president will face these and other serious challenges posed by a changing energy world. President Barack Obama’s first term featured the adoption of essential toxic and carbon pollution reduction measures to protect public health. In addition, he modernized fuel-economy standards for the first time in two decades, which also helped the auto industry; invested in energy efficiency and renewable electricity; and created tens of thousands of jobs. Gov. Mitt Romney’s energy agenda couldn’t be more different.
grist.org — In these first days of autumn, temperatures are finally starting to break after the country’s third-hottest summer on record. But meanwhile, most of the country is still locked in terrible drought, rebuilding after wildfires, or drying out after Hurricane Issac. And after endless calls from scientists and signs that the public is shifting on climate change in response to extreme weather, climate-minded Democrats are seeing an opportunity to lampoon House Republicans as climate skeptics in the runup to November’s general election. Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the legislators behind Congress’ first (and failed) big stab at carbon pricing legislation, yesterday released a study that lays out the case for why global warming is a predictor of more severe and frequent weather disasters.
grist.org — The “war on coal” argument, like the argument from fossil fuel companies, is that the president’s policies on energy development hurt the economy, that the effort to reduce pollution from fossil fuels costs jobs. The argument is much more commonly made during debate on the House floor and at campaign rallies than it is by economists — for good reason. It doesn’t hold up.
salon.com — Summer is over, but temperatures are still rising, and at least some voters still seem to care. On Monday, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released the results of a survey suggesting that undecided voters “say that the presidential candidates’ positions on global warming will be one of several important factors determining how they cast their votes on November 6.” Therefore: “candidates may wish to communicate and clarify their position on climate change as election day approaches.” The catch: Large majorities of undecided voters, according to the Yale Project, believe that global warming is happening and that humans are causing it. But the vast majority of voters who have already decided to cast their ballot for Mitt Romney think otherwise. So there you go, the strong, if unstated, implication of the Yale report: To make inroads with the remaining undecideds, Obama should ramp up his climate change rhetoric! It could seal the deal!
grist.org — The most extreme climate “alarmists” in U.S. politics are not nearly alarmed enough. The chances of avoiding catastrophic global temperature rise are not nil, exactly, but they are slim-to-nil, according to a new analysis prepared for the U.K. government. Remember, climate change is simple. We’re trying to avoid temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, because anything over that risks severe, irreversible, and overwhelmingly negative impacts. Currently we’re around 0.8 degrees above historical levels. If current trends continue, we could hit up to 6 degrees by 2100. That would likely exceed our ability to adapt, which is a polite way of saying it would lead to massive human die-off. That, in a nutshell, is (as I like to say) the brutal logic of climate change. How much can we feasibly limit temperature rise at this late date? A new research paper tries to answer that question.
understory.ran.org — As international trade negotiators gathered this week at a posh golf resort in rural Virginia to hammer out details of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), they sought to project an image of inclusion and receptivity to public input. In reality, this high-stakes global corporate pact, now in its 14th round of discussions, is heavily guarded by paramilitary teams with machine guns and helicopters as it is developed behind closed doors under a dangerous and unprecedented veil of secrecy. What the hell is the TPP, you may ask? While it is among the largest and potentially most important ‘free trade’ agreements the world has ever seen, one can hardly be blamed for not being familiar with it yet. The corporate cabal behind it, including names like Cargill, Pfizer, Nike and WalMart, has done an exceptional job of maintaining an almost total lack of transparency as they literally design the future we will all inhabit.
thinkprogress.org — This summer, as the melting Arctic turned into an hourglass marking the time we have left to address climate change, it became obvious we have reached that “Pearl Harbor moment” on global warming. Actually, it’s been more of a “Pearl Harbor year” — unusually warm winter, destructive wildfires out West, corn-killing drought in the Midwest, record-breaking high temperatures, flooding from Hurricane Isaac. But even if we’re having a Pearl Harbor year with extreme weather, it will have little impact on national policy if most people don’t know where the bombs are coming from. In order for Congress to declare war on greenhouse gases, constituents will need to be keenly aware of the role climate change is playing in these disasters and demand that their legislators apply the brakes on global warming. So, who’s going to connect the dots for everyone?