“The principle of nonintervention touches on fundamental conservation wisdom. But we find ourselves in a world where the welfare of humans and the biosphere faces considerable threats — climate change, invasive species and altered biogeochemical cycles, to name a few. Where no place on the planet is untouched by humans, faith in nonintervention makes little sense. We have already altered nature’s course everywhere. Our future relationship with nature will be more complicated. Stepping in will sometimes be wise, but not always. Navigating that complexity without hubris will be a great challenge.”
James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist, is one of the most impassioned and trusted voices on global warming. People listen closely to what he says about how drastically the climate is changing.
But when Hansen suggests what to do about it, many of those same people tune him out. Some even roll their eyes. What message is he peddling that few seemingly want to hear? It’s twofold: No. 1, solar and wind power cannot meet the world’s voracious demand for energy, especially given the projected needs of emerging economies like India and China, and No. 2, nuclear power is our best hope to get off of fossil fuels, which are primarily responsible for the heat-trapping gases cooking the planet.
I’m actually not at all a Friedman fan, but he does make at least some good points, of which this is definitely one:
I am struck by how many liberals insist on reducing carbon emissions immediately, but, on the deficit, say there is no urgency because no interest rates rises are in sight. And I am struck by how many conservatives insist we must reduce the deficit immediately, but, on climate, say there is no urgency because, so far, temperature rise has been slight. (Although 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental U.S.) One reason interest rates are so low is that they are being suppressed by the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing. That won’t last. As for the climate, well, “Mother Nature doesn’t do quantitative easing,” said Harvey. Beware of nonlinear moves in both…
A carbon tax would reinforce and make both strategies easier. According to a September 2012 study by the Congressional Research Service, a small carbon tax of $20 per ton — escalating by 5.6 percent annually — could cut the projected 10-year deficit by roughly 50 percent (from $2.3 trillion down to $1.1 trillion).
The official website for the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission has launched a fabulous webmapping resource enabling users to stay involved and informed regarding the plight of the polar bear.
… policy itself is more or less the opposite of thinking. It implies the development of a set of rules or guidelines that shape and direct actions. In fact, however, policy is designed to help keep people who aren’t actually policymakers from doing any thinking at all at critical moments.
Over the course of the recent presidential campaign, there was a localized undercurrent of debate over coal. Those not paying close attention may have missed the ads that ran on repeat in southern Ohio and western Virginia: Obama repeatedly citing Romney’s anti-coal rhetoric from his time as governor; Romney picking up the argument that Obama has launched a “war on coal,” a mantra of the industry.
That “war on coal,” manifested in harsh EPA action on coal pollution, is, according to the slogan’s progenitors, why coal is collapsing. It isn’t. Given that the EPA’s mercury and greenhouse gas regulations aren’t in effect and that Obama killed any tightened smog regulation, the claim is factually inaccurate and willfully misleading. It’s expense that’s closing coal plants, not the government. But the EPA and its efforts to halt the intangible, distant “climate change” offers the coal industry its best chance at pointing the finger elsewhere.
[Images: World Bank, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences]
What was Mr. Rubio’s complaint about science teaching? That it might undermine children’s faith in what their parents told them to believe. And right there you have the modern G.O.P.’s attitude, not just toward biology, but toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence.