Monday, June 28th, 2010
Last week, we took another big step forward in the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage more sustainable development as we announced $100 million for our new Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program to encourage regions to integrate economic development, land use, and transportation investments – which will help to tie the quality and location of housing to broader opportunities such as access to good jobs, quality schools, and safe streets.
For all the implications of “sprawl”—from job loss (more…)
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
On Wednesday, President Obama will meet with a bipartisan group of Senators to discuss the need for comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year. Following that meeting, Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, will host a live chat on WhiteHouse.gov to take your questions on energy and climate change legislation.
You can watch the chat live starting at 3 PM EDT on Wednesday June 23, right here on WhiteHouse.gov/live (more…)
Monday, June 14th, 2010
For years, free-market fundamentalists opposed to government regulation have sought to create doubt in the public’s mind about the dangers of smoking, acid rain, and ozone depletion. Now they have turned those same tactics on the issue of global warming and on climate scientists, with significant success.
In recent months, a group called the Cooler Heads Coalition — a creation of the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) — has fostered a public image of climate science as a criminal conspiracy. The CEI itself has accused NASA, the largest funder of climate science, of faking important climate data sets. In February, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, whose positions are frequently cited and promoted by CEI, called for a criminal investigation of 17 climate scientists from a variety of institutions for allegedly falsifying or distorting data used in taxpayer-funded research. (more…)
Friday, June 11th, 2010
With the clock ticking down on the legislative calendar, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are jockeying to get an energy bill onto the stage that will find the required votes for passage. The goals couldn’t be more clear: enact policy that will save energy, curb greenhouse gas emissions and encourage the production of green alternatives that will reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. In the wake of the national catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, one might think that characteristic partisan interests and knee-jerk procedural bickering might be put aside in favor of compelling national unity. Yet the legislative waters on the issue remain, for now, murky as usual.
Friday, June 11th, 2010
No, says a new report from the Global Justice Ecology Project, the Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch called “Wood-based Bioenergy: The Green Lie”.
Burning wood – even fast-growing, genetically engineered trees designed to be used for fuel – merely increases the dangers of climate change, especially among the poorest nations, where much of the tree-growing takes place.
Growers argue that the tree plantations are growing on “marginal” land, but there is no such thing as marginal land in a poor country like Borneo, for example, where such land is used for grazing livestock, gathering wild plants for food or medicine, or as housing space.
Even the argument itself is specious. Some of these monoculture plantations are encroaching on arable land, or invading old-growth forests, a process that ends up displacing indigenous forest people (more…)
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
During President Obama’s speech this week at Carnegie Mellon University, he signaled emphatically that he would go after the votes to pass a clean energy bill this year, assuring that while “the votes may not be there right now… I intend to find them in the coming months… and we will get it done.”This is exactly the sort of presidential resolve that’s needed. The president went on to say,
[T]he only way the transition to clean energy will succeed is if the private sector is fully invested in this future – if capital comes off the sidelines and the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs is unleashed. And the only way to do that is by finally putting a price on carbon pollution.
He got it exactly right – investors are waiting to see what Congress decides. And once we do set a price for carbon pollution, a huge amount of money will be back in play to invest in clean energy. (more…)
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
Adapting to climate change is a complex matter for human communities, as Mark Carey makes abundantly clear in his newly published book In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society. Carey is a historian and explores nearly sixty years of disaster response in Peru since the beginning of his story in 1941 when an outburst flood from a glacier lake in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range sent a massive wave of destruction on the city of Huarez, obliterating a third of the city and killing an estimated 5000 people.
There have been further disasters since that one. Peruvians have, Carey points out, suffered the wrath of melting glaciers like no other society on earth. Further outburst floods followed in 1945 and 1950, and glacier avalanches in 1962 and 1970 (the latter following an earthquake) killed many thousands. (more…)
Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
Environmentalist David Orr says the easy part of helping the United States live within its ecological limits may be passing laws, such as one that puts a price on carbon. The hard part, he maintains in an interview with Yale Environment 360, is changing a culture of consumption that causes extensive environmental damage — and unhappiness.
Long before buzzwords like “carbon footprint” entered the general lexicon, David W. Orr was working on ways to help humanity lighten its impact on the natural world. A professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College and the author of six books, including Ecological Literacy, Orr has focused on how to best educate students about using the Earth’s resources prudently. He also has been a leading proponent of sustainable design on the country’s college campuses, and was the driving force behind building Oberlin’s $7 million Environmental Studies Center, considered a model of green architecture in the U.S. (more…)
Monday, May 24th, 2010
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Costa Rican expert on climate change, Christiana Figueres, as the new U.N. climate chief on May 17th. She will replace Yvo de Boer as executive secretary of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) on July 1st.
De Boer, of the Netherlands, announced his resignation last February after the Copenhagen climate summit where 120 world leaders failed to come to a binding agreement on global warming.
Figueres, 53, is the first person in this U.N. position to come from a developing country. She has been a member of Costa Rica’s negotiating team on climate change since 1995. She represented the Caribbean and Latin American on the Executive Board of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism in 2007, and from 2008 to 2009, Figueres served as vice president of the Bureau of the Convention.