Monday, January 19, 2009

Fast track climate change

Obama can make a number of executive decisions to immediately address climate change.  The favorites of environmentalists are:

    * Direct U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to let California and other states regulate greenhouse gas pollutants from cars.

* Direct EPA to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from power plants.

    * Offer national carbon reduction targets.

    * Direct Transportation Department to set aggressive auto fuel-efficiency targets for 2011-2015 model years.

    * Make government procurement changes to increase federal use of alternative energy, building efficiency -- and put solar panels on the White House.

I look to Jackson, not Obama, to announce the first two.  The last two seem like an executive order later in February.  The targets need to be discussed with Congress -- we might start by realigning the discussion ala Hansen's 1 degree, 350 ppm target.

January 19, 2009 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

State of the World 2009

For those of you teaching climate change, this year's State of the World may be particularly helpful:

Published annually in 28 languages, State of the World is long established as the most authoritative and accessible annual guide to our progress towards a sustainable future. Intended to inject new inspiration and energy into national and international climate negotiations, this 26th edition of State of the World examines the steps we urgently need to take to prevent a global catastrophe while adapting to the now inevitable climatic shifts already set in motion.

Read the full press release ‘Heat and Hope: Time Running Out For Steep Emissions Cuts’ composed by Worldwatch Institute:

Visit the book’s webpage:

Visit the Worldwatch Institute webpage:

To request a review copy of the book contact:

January 19, 2009 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Findlaw Environmental Law Case Summaries January 19




• US v. Hagerman
• Birke v. Oakwood Worldwide
• Paduano v. Am. Honda Co., Inc.

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U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, January 15, 2009
US v. Hagerman, No. 07-3874
Conviction for making materially false statements in reports that defendant was required to file under the Clean Water Act is affirmed where: 1) evidence of uncharged offenses could not be feasibly separated out from evidence for the charged offenses; 2) the judge's language in a jury instruction was a correct interpretation of a permit, and the meaning of the permit presented an issue of law that the judge was entitled to determine; and 3) the judge did not abuse his discretion in imposing a prison sentence on defendant. Read more...

California Appellate Districts, January 12, 2009
Birke v. Oakwood Worldwide, No. b203093
In a nuisance case over an apartment complex's obligation to eliminate second hand smoke, grant of demurrer is affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded where plaintiff properly pleaded a public nuisance complaint by alleging that: 1) defendant, by failing to act, created a condition that was harmful to health or obstructed the free use of the common areas of the apartment complex so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property; 2) the condition affected a substantial number of people at the same time; 3) an ordinary person would be reasonably annoyed or disturbed by the condition; 4) the seriousness of the harm outweighed the social utility of defendant's conduct; 5) neither plaintiff (a minor) nor her parents consented to the conduct; 6) plaintiff suffered harm that was different from the type of harm suffered by the general public because she was a resident of the complex unable to enjoy its outdoor facilities; and 7) defendant's conduct was a ! substantial factor in causing plaintiff's harm. Read more...

California Appellate Districts, January 12, 2009
Paduano v. Am. Honda Co., Inc., No. d050112
In a breach of warranty and deceptive advertising case over the fuel efficiency of a Honda Civic Hybrid, summary judgment for defendant was affirmed in part and reversed in part where: 1) genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether advertisements indicating one can drive a Civic Hybrid in the same manner as a conventional vehicle and achieve the fuel economy stated in Honda's EPA estimates are deceptive and/or misleading; and 2) federal laws regarding EPA fuel economy estimates do not preempt plaintiffs' claims of deceptive and/or misleading advertising under Consumer Legal Remedies Act or under unfair competition law. Read more...

January 19, 2009 in Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Cape Wind EIS Completed

According to MarketWatch, Jim Gordon of Cape Wind Associates, the developer of the controversial Cape Wind wind farm off the coast of Nantucket, plans to begin construction as early as 2010 now that the Cape Wind project has cleared a years-long environmental review by the federal government.  The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service has issued a 2800 page final EIS, estimating that the $1.2 billion plan to build 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound would reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change by 880,000 tons per year, create hundreds of jobs and ultimately supply most of the electricity needs for Cape Cod.  The Record of Decision is expected roughly  30 days after issuance of the FEIS.   

Opponents of the project include Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and other residents in the area.  Kennedy vowed to continue their fight against the project, arguing that the 400-foot turbines would kill birds, threaten sea life, and hurt tourism and fishing.  "I do not believe that this action by the Interior Department will be sustained," Kennedy said. "By taking this action, the Interior Department has virtually assured years of continued public conflict and contentious litigation."    

January 19, 2009 in Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, Law, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Best Blogs:2008 Weblog Awards Finalists

                                            Here is a complete list of the finalists for The 2008 Weblog Awards, including the full list of best science blogs and best law blogs.

Best Blog
Best New Blog Best Individual Blogger Best Humor Blog Best Comic Strip Best Online Community Best Liberal Blog Best Conservative Blog Best Political Coverage Best Celebrity Blogger Best Technology Blog Best Sports Blog Best Military Blog Best Law Blog Best Business Blog Best LGBT Blog Best Parenting Blog Best Education Blog Best Science Blog Best Medical/Health Issues Blog Best Religious Blog Best Pet Blog Best Food Blog Best Blog Design Best Photo Blog Best Culture Blog Best Literature Blog Best Fashion Blog Best Travel Blog Best Diarist Best Gossip Blog Best Music Blog Best Podcast Best Video Blog Best Canadian Blog Best UK Blog Best European Blog (Non UK) Best Asian Blog Best Middle East or Africa Blog Best Australia or New Zealand Blog Best Latino, Caribbean, or South American Blog Best Major Blog (Authority over 1001) Best Very Large Blog (Authority between 501 and 1,000) Best Large Blog (Authority between 301 and 500) Best Midsize Blog (Authority between 201 and 300) Best Small Blog (Authority between 101 and 200) Best Up And Coming Blog (Authority between 51 and 100) Best Hidden Gem (Authority between 0 and 50)

January 19, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

RealClimate deserves best science blog award

RealClimate is a finalist for "Best Science Blog" in this year's Weblog awards. In my opinion, it deserves it.  If you agree, be sure to cast your vote.

As in years past, we are happy to have this chance to widen our readership over the voting period and we welcome anyone who is visiting for the first time. To get an idea of what we are about, start with the 'start here' button, or look at the index for climate-related topics that you might find interesting. Our goal is to add more context to climate stories that you might see - something that is often missing in mainstream coverage - and give some insight into what the climate science community is thinking and talking about.

As for this poll, historically winners appear to be mostly determined by whose devotees are most adept at voting from multiple machines or writing scripts, so we aren't too concerned about our eventual placement (and we are especially eager not to emulate last years contest).  [Update: We should note that security updates in this year's poll should prevent that scripting hack from working, and that we aren't encouraging people to find new ways around the system.]. The voting widget is below the fold (you are allowed to once every 24 hours from a single IP address), and don't forget to check out other blogs nominated in other categories that you might find interesting.

Finally, a comment on the nature of science blogging: Science is the process of winnowing through plausible ideas, testing them against observations and continually refining our understanding. It is not generally marked by hasty jumping to conclusions; accusations of bad faith, fraud and conspiracy; continual and deliberate confusions of basic concepts (climate vs weather for instance); and the persistent cherry-picking of datasets to bolster pre-existing opinions. Science blogging can play a role in improving science - whether through education, communication or through harnessing the collective endeavors of 'citizen scientists' - but the kind of vituperative tone that dominates some blogs greatly diminishes any positive contribution they might make. Science (even climate science) should be about light, not heat. Online voters might want to bear that in mind.


January 19, 2009 in Climate Change, Physical Science | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Oregon continues its work on global warming

Not withstanding the Washington buzz, Oregon continues to develop its own strategy to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to global warming.  Obviously, Oregon and other states have been the leaders in this area and do not seem content to sit on the sidelines awaiting federal climate change legislation.  Thus, Oregon governor Kulongowski has an ambitious package of global warming bills, Oregon environmental groups hope to establish authority for a state cap-and-trade program this spring, and the Oregon Global Warming Commission continues its work.

The integration of federal climate change legislation with state legislation remains a difficult issue not addressed particularly well by existing federal legislative proposals.

Continue reading

January 19, 2009 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Seas are Rising

EPA reports sea levels on the United States' mid-Atlantic coast are rising faster than the global average because of global warming, threatening the future of coastal communities.  Coastal waters from New York to North Carolina have crept up by an average of 2.4 to 4.4 millimeters (0.09 to 0.17 inches) a year, compared with an average global increase of 1.7 millimeters (0.07 inches) a year.  As a result, sea levels along the East Coast rose about a foot over the past century.  EPA Sea Level Assessment and Adaptation Report

The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report indicated that the rate of sea level rise has accelerated and, by the end of the century, global sea levels could be seven to 23 inches higher.  Readers should remember that this IPCC estimate excludes the contribution of Antarctic and Greenland ice because of uncertainties about ice stability and dynamics at the time the Working Group I report was drafted.  In the last two years, additional scientific research has begun to identify a more reliable range of sea level rise associated with those areas of ice, dramatically increasing the estimate of likely global sea level rise by 2100.

EPA had focused on the mid-Atlantic region because it "will likely see the greatest impacts due to rising waters, coastal storms, and a high concentration of population along the coastline." Higher sea levels erode beaches and drastically change the habitats of species, often at a pace too fast for species to adapt and survive. Communities in the area are at greater risk of flooding as a "higher sea level provides an elevated base for storm surges to build upon and diminishes the rate at which low-lying areas drain."  Floods will probably cause more damage in the future as higher sea levels gradually erode and wash away dunes, beaches and wetlands that serve as a protective barrier. Consequently, homes and businesses would be closer to the water's edge and more likely to be damaged in extreme storm events that other scientists predict are increasing with global warming.

Rising sea levels have implications beyond the mid-Atlantic region.  Ports challenged by rising waters could slow the transport of goods across the country, and disappearing beaches could hurt resorts and affect tourism revenue, damaging an already fragile U.S. economy.

EPA, NOAA, and USGS recommend:

  • Federal, state and local governments should step in now to prepare for the rising seas
  • Governments should protect residents through policies that preserve public beaches and coastal ecosystems and encourage retrofits of buildings to make them higher
  • Engineering rules for coastal areas be revised because those used today are based on current sea levels
  • Flood insurance rates also could be adjusted to accommodate risk from rising sea levels

January 19, 2009 in Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Land Use, Legislation, North America, Physical Science, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Short-list Agenda for Carol Browner

1.  Maximize the energy/environment piece of the pie in the stimulus bill and let Congress allocate it
2.  Make a deal with Hillary Clinton about how Browner is going to be involved in high level international negotiations regarding climate change
3.  Have Obama issue an executive order requiring departments create processes to  (1) ensure that departmental decisions are reviewed for consistency with Administration policy and deviations are explained, (2) assure that departmental policy/decisions will be based on agency expertise and scientific information rather than rewritten to conform policy positions, and (3) review Bush administration
decisions made since January 2008 for compliance with law and consistency with Administration policy. Suspend rules issued since May/June 2008 until Congress has an opportunity to review them under the Congressional Review Act.
4.   Work with OMB and departments to adjust the departmental budgets to address Administration priorities
5.  Chair a weekly luncheon with undersecretaries responsible for every significant energy/environment agency to do agenda-setting and early issue identification/conflict resolution.   Chair a high level domestic policy council subcommittee includes chairs for the key presidential advisors, including her, as well as all of the relevant E & E departments.
6.  Have framework for climate change legislation agreed upon with Congressional leadership before Copenhagen -- and moving through Congress.

January 19, 2009 in Governance/Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)