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Archive for the 'Environmental Studies' Category

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Developers Don’t Get It: Climate Change Means We Need to Retreat from the Coast

Retreat from a Rising Sea

“It is time for a profound new outlook—where we construct smaller, less expensive and perhaps mobile structures and do not replace buildings destroyed and damaged in storms. It is time we prepare to retreat from the rising sea.”—Orrin H Pilkey, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, and Keith C Pilkey

Earlier this year in an incisive and impassioned op-ed published in The Guardian, Orrin H Pilkey, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis and Keith C Pilkey, authors of Retreat from a Rising Sea: Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change, pointed out the continued folly of developing in coastal areas. 13.1 million people along the U.S. east coast will be at risk of flooding at the end of the century. While such statistics suggest the need to retreat from coastal areas, development continues.

Particularly vulnerable is the Florida coast where multibillion-dollar construction projects are underway. The Pilkeys cite several cities heading down the wrong path, including Miami:

In Miami, a city perilously perched atop a very porous limestone, two multibillion-dollar construction projects are under way, despite the fact that parts of the city routinely flood during high tides and that widespread flooding by the rising sea in a few decades is a virtual certainty. No sea walls, levees or dikes can stop the rising waters from flowing through the underlying spongy limestone and into the city. Miami is ultimately doomed.

Ft. Myers is also adding new hotels and restaurants to its coast using seawalls in the hopes of protecting them from flooding. The authors provide some succinct and much-needed advice on why that’s a bad idea:

If you need to build a seawall to protect your construction project, you should not be building at that site. Remember – seawalls destroy beaches.

(more…)

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Is New York City Prepared for Climate Change? — An Excerpt from Retreat from a Rising Sea

Retreat from a Rising Sea

“New York’s poststorm actions show at this point, the city is best situated to respond to the challenges it faces from climate change and sea-level rise (while also revealing that we are in only the earliest stages of the response).” — From Retreat from a Rising Sea

In the following excerpt from Retreat from a Rising Sea: Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change, Orrin H. Pilkey, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, and Keith C. Pilkey examine the state to which New York City is ready to handle climate change. As they write (see above), New York City is perhaps the best-prepared of all U.S. cities for future threats to coastal areas. While the authors praise former Mayor Bloomberg for the City’s preparedness and response to Hurricane Sandy, there is still much work to be done in terms of planning and the recognition that the New York City might need to “retreat” from the coast.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Orrin Pilkey on the Costs of Ignoring the Rising Sea

Retreat from a Rising Sea

“We can prepare now and respond to the sea-level rise in a planned fashion, or we can act later in response to natural catastrophes (storms). Responding to the rising sea now will be painful, but ignoring the rising sea will produce catastrophic pain.” — Orrin Pilkey

Now that summer is officially here, many of us will undoubtedly be heading to the beach. However, as Orrin Pilkey points out in a recent op-ed in the Fayetteville Observer, many of our coastal areas are in serious danger. Ignoring these problems and continuing to develop these areas, Pilkey warns, will have serious and long-lasting consequences.

Pilkey is most recently the coauthor with Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, and Keith C. Pilkey of Retreat from a Rising Sea: Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change, which examines a variety of coastal areas in danger. In his article for the Fayetteville Observer, “Why N.C. can’t ignore the rising sea,” he focuses on North Carolina’s failure to take any action at all:

In spite of these alarming suggestions, North Carolina has taken virtually no action or done any planning for response to the future sea-level rise. It’s fair to say, viewing the action of the Coastal Resources Commission and other environmental agencies, that the state’s coastal management program has crashed.

The science panel of the CRC was ordered to produce a report on the sea-level rise expected only for the next 30 years. Frank Gorham, CRC chairman, has written that the science panel itself chose that 30-year number, but that is incorrect. The 30-year time limit was a political decision forced upon the science panel to avoid comment on the post 30-year time frame when sea-level rise is expected to accelerate.

The short 30-year time span is out of sync with all other government entities concerned with sea-level rise in the U.S. and globally. By comparison, the UN’s climate change panel (IPCC) looks out 100 years, Holland plans out 200 years and has designed its storm gates for a 10,000-year storm (a bit of a stretch), and Germany looks out 500 years.

In the United States, North Carolina stands alone in doing basically nothing of consequence in sea-level rise planning and even discourages state employees from mentioning global climate change. New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia are planning, as well as taking baby steps, in an effort to start responding to sea-level rise. These states recognize the huge implications of the rising sea on developed shorelines.

Instead, the response of North Carolina has been to hold the shoreline in place at great cost and even encourage further development. The recent projected sea-level rise virtually dooms much of North Carolina’s beachfront development by this century’s end, especially the Outer Banks.

In even more danger from the rising sea is the northeastern corner of the state behind the Outer Banks. Here, the slope of the land is so gentle that a one-foot sea-level rise could push the water inland four miles or more.

(more…)

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Book Giveaway! “Retreat from a Rising Sea”

This week we are featuring Retreat from a Rising Sea: Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change, by Orrin H. Pilkey, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, and Keith C. Pilkey.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Retreat from a Rising Sea to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, June 24 at 1:00 pm.

In their review of the book Publishers Weekly wrote, “This accessible, impassioned argument considers the scientific, political, and socioeconomic dimensions of climate change and fervently presses for Americans to come to terms with the disastrous changes to the world’s oceans sooner rather than later.”

You can also read the chapter,”Control + Alt + Retreat”:

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Can Business Help Stop Global Warming and the Other Four Horsemen? — Daniel Callahan

The Five Horsmen, Daniel Callahan

“If my other four horsemen can learn anything from the success of the Paris agreement for global warming, it may be that success is possible with the following approach: work diplomatically to gain the cooperation of industry, regardless of how obstructionist it has been in the past; intensify efforts to find technological pathways that work while also lowering prices; develop citizens’ groups at the local level and broader grassroots social movements to break through the barrier that too often succeeds in raising interest and concern but fails to generate action and legislative attention; if there are real dangers and hazards, do not hesitate to evoke them (but do not exaggerate); and, most of all, don’t give up. The problems of the five horsemen are most likely chronic, to be lived with and combatted simultaneously. That can be done.”—Daniel Callahan, The Five Horsemen of the Modern World: Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity

We conclude our week-long focus on Daniel Callahan’s book, The Five Horsemen of the Modern World: Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity with a list of organizations and business-led initiatives that are working to solve the key problems affecting today’s world. As Callahan argues in the final chapter of his book after decades of causing many of these problems, businesses are now increasingly active in trying to combat them. Most of these companies and industry partnerships are focused on ending global warming but the organizations at the bottom are concerned the other issues Callahan discusses in his book. Here is Callahan’s list:

* GreenBiz Group: large-membership group with annual detailed re­ports on global industry and environment efforts
* Risky Business Project: a potent group of U.S. business leaders working to get business to prepare for global warming
* The New Climate Economy: an international group of economists aim­ing to achieve lasting economic growth while also attacking the risks of climate change
* UN Global Compact: UN-business partnerships with voluntary corpo­rate responsibility
* The International Business Leader’s Forum (UK): founded by the prince of Wales to focus on the role of business in society, embracing social responsibility as “core business”
* World Economic Forum: producing studies and reports and holding an annual meeting in Davos combining economic growth and risk of global warming
* The Climate Group and the CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Dis­closure Project): formed RE100 with the aim of getting 100 companies to pledge to switch to 100% renewables
* New York Declaration on Forests: thirty-four companies pledged to cut deforestation
* Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP): twenty-nine consumer businesses that have the goal of getting widespread U.S. bi­partisan energy and climate legislation; its 2013 Climate Declaration gained 800 companies and had 1,000 signatories by September 8, 2014, just before New York climate week and march
* World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): a CEO-led organization of companies working to create a “sustainable” future for business
* United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP): business and envi­ronmental organizations to get national legislation to require signifi­cant emission reductions
* The B-Team: not-for-profit organized “to catalyze a better way of do­ing business for the well-being of people and the planet”
* The Divest-Invest Campaign: led by the Wallace Global Fund to pledge divestment from fossil fuel stocks and move money into clean energy investments; announced gaining 800 global investors with combined assets of $50 billion by 2014, and aiming for $150 billion by 2015
* We Mean Business: a coalition of organizations working with the world’s influential businesses and investors to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy

Here are a few examples pertinent to the other four horsemen. There are not as many organizations doing for four of the horsemen what busi­ness is doing for global warming:

* Anheuser-Busch: SmartBarley benchmarking to improve crop yield through better water efficiency
* Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles: Coca-Cola, requiring its supply-chain members to practice these principles to maintain farm­lands and communities
* Coca-Cola: with Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Founda­tion, collecting water fees from companies operating in the develop­ing world to restore natural ecosystems
* Better Cotton Initiative: founded by partnership between World Wild­life Fund and IKEA to address water-gobbling cotton production
* WATERisLIFE: the Drinkable Book holding twenty filter pages, each capable of filtering up to 100 liters of water at a cost of about 10 cents per page
* Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves: partnering 1,000 groups with 45 national governments to built a sustainable market for clean cooking solutions
* Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation: a CEO-led partnership to reduce obesity, comprising more than 250 active corporations and nonprofits

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Fat: To Be Or Not To Be? — Daniel Callahan

The Five Horsemen of the Modern World, Daniel Callahan

“There is a public health change that needs to be made. If people by the hundreds of thousands are dying from obesity, that tips my judgment toward broadcasting it the way it is: obesity is dangerous, it can kill and cripple you. If saying that bluntly in order to deter those not yet obese offends the already obese, that is inadvertent and a price worth paying.”—Daniel Callahan

The following post is by Daniel Callahan, author of The Five Horsemen of the Modern World: Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity:

Obesity is everywhere. Many of us have obese friends or coworkers. If you, yourself are obese, there is a good chance you have tried to lose weight. It is no less likely that you have found it difficult and aggravating to do so, and exceedingly frustrating when the pounds come back again. You are not alone. Obesity is a world-wide scourge, and one that has grown steadily worse over decades. Of all my five horsemen, it seems to be the most intractable.

An international study reported in April, 2015, in the British medical journal, The Lancet—encompassing 19.2 million participants—came to a stark conclusion: no progress of any significant kind can be found in stemming obesity’s increase, now well into its 40th year. Global obesity has more than doubled since 1980. Some 38 percent of Americans were obese in 2013 and 2014, up from 35 percent in 2011 and 2012—and still rising. At least 2.8 million people already die each year from overweight or obesity, and the US is the most afflicted. While global warming has gained much more attention than obesity, the World Health Organization (WHO) projects an average of 250,000 deaths from obesity per year between 2030 and 2050.

How is it possible to get nowhere with a problem well recognized, amply studied, and right before our eyes? The first policy step years ago seemed the most obvious: education. If people understand how dangerous obesity is—as was happening with smoking—and how possible it is to make some dietary and exercise changes, they can lose weight. Weight loss programs and education campaigns blossomed, for both adults and children, in schools, community centers, and the media. Weight Watchers, now operating in 30 countries, emerged in 1963 as the leader of a business rush to a massive ever-growing market. On the medical side, it was early on believed that there must be a genetic explanation of obesity. An oft-cited figure is that 60% is a likely proportion of the cause, but that insight has not led to treatments. A few weight-reducing drugs are on the market, expensive bariatric surgery is increasing, but is not the solution with the number of the obese in the millions. One of the most disturbing findings is that once a person is obese, even if they can lose weight for a time, only 5-10 percent can keep it off.

(more…)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

An Interview with Daniel Callahan, author of “The Five Horsemen of the Modern World”

The Five Horsemen of the Modern World, Daniel Callahan

“At the heart of the progress problem is that we usually do not want to stop progress, and don’t know how to do so even when we need to try.”—Daniel Callahan

The following is an interview with Daniel Callahan, author of The Five Horsemen of the Modern World: Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity

Question: Why did you write this book?

Daniel Callahan: Most people write books because they have something to say: a careful analysis, a heated conviction, or a message to spread. Most scholarly savants usually spend years thinking through a topic and then put it all in a book. I don’t seem to fall easily into any of those categories. I wrote The Five Horsemen out of sheer curiosity, knowing something about some of my five horsemen but almost nothing about others; and not knowing where it would lead me. My curiosity was stimulated by what seemed to me a troubling similarity: a rare group of global problems, each seemingly different, that were all getting worse not better. How has that happened, and could it be that they do share some traits

Q: Do you offer solutions to the global threats posed by the five horsemen?

DC: My flat, candid answer to that question is: no! Initially, I naively thought, I could, being the kind of smart guy who thinks he can solve all human problems if simply given the chance to do so. It soon became obvious that I could not do that, but was consoled to notice that no one else could either. I should have seen at once that problems festering for forty or more years, that had consumed billions of dollars in research and policy efforts, that evoke deep ideological and political differences, and that display a wide range of disparate convictions in public opinion, do not lend themselves to easy solutions. If you don’t believe that, read the book. That is not to say there is an absence of ideas. It is that most have not worked, and those that have are not sufficient.

Q: Why are they so hard to solve?

DC: At the root of each of the horsemen is the modern value of progress, but reaching back to the eighteenth century. At its core is the belief that through reason and science the human condition can be improved. There is no end of the possibilities. Global warming is the result of economic progress, bringing millions out of poverty and affluence to many more. It also pollutes our atmosphere. Food shortages are in great part due to population growth, a result of medical progress keeping people alive much longer. Waters shortages also result from population growth and great agricultural gains (70% of water consumption is for agriculture). Chronic illness is heavily due to aging populations, another fruit of medical progress. Obesity is a function of the availability of cheaper but less health foods. At the heart of the progress problem is that we usually do not want to stop progress, and don’t know how to do so even when we need to try.

(more…)

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Book Giveaway! The Five Horsemen of the Modern World, by Daniel Callahan

This week we are featuring The Five Horsemen of the Modern World: Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity, by Daniel Callahan.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of The Five Horsemen of the Modern World to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, May 27 at 1:00 pm.

Barron H. Lerner, author of The Good Doctor: A Father, A Son and the Evolution of Medical Ethics, writes:

“It is hard enough to write a wise book on a single major social problem, but Daniel Callahan has written a wise book about five of them, ultimately proposing important suggestions for moving forward. The Five Horsemen should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in climate change, food distribution, the water supply, chronic illness or obesity…. This book challenges us to look at the global and local ramifications of everything we know and do.”

You can also read the chapter,”Our Overheating, Fraying Planet”:

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

“One of the Things We Need to Rethink Weirdly Is Time.” — Timothy Morton

Dark Ecology, Timothy Morton

“One of the things we need to rethink weirdly is time. If future coexistence includes nonhumans—and Dark Ecology is showing why this must be the case—it might be best to see history as a nested series of catastrophes that are still playing out rather than as a sequence of events based on a conception of time as a succession of atomic instants.”—Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology

We continue our week-long feature on Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence, by Timothy Morton, with an excerpt from the book’s “Second Thread”. In the excerpt below, Morton considers the necessity for rethinking our conceptions of time as we grapple with ecological concerns and the posthuman:

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Timothy Morton and Olafur Eliasson

The intellectual range of Timothy Morton, author of Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence, is rare among today’s academic. In addition to his important theoretical and philosophical work, he has also collaborated with visual artists and musicians, including Bjork. In the following video, Morton talks with noted contemporary artist Olafur Eliasson.

Morton and Eliasson’s interests intersect in many ways, ranging from man’s evolving relationship to nature to the role of art in such a society. In the following talk, Morton and Eliasson discuss these issues and more:

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Book Giveaway! “Dark Ecology,” by Timothy Morton

Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology

This week our featured book is Dark Ecology
For a Logic of Future Coexistence
, by Timothy Morton.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Dark Ecology to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, April 15th at 1:00 pm.

Imre Szeman writes, “Timothy Morton’s Dark Ecology is a brave, brilliant interrogation of the presumptions that have driven our approach to the ecological and environmental challenges of our era.”

For more on the book, here is the chapter “The First Thread”:

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

VIDEO: Jeffrey T. Kiehl on What Earth’s Past Tells Us About the Future of Climate Change

In the following video, Jeffrey T. Kiehl, author of Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future, discusses how we can learn about future climate from Earth’s deep past. He offers a warning about the current trajectory we are on in terms of climate change:

“If we don’t start seriously working toward a reduction of carbon emissions, we are putting our planet on a trajectory that the human species has never experienced. We will have committed human civilization to living in a different world for multiple generations.”

(more…)

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

The Psychology of Climate Change — Jeffrey T. Kiehl

Facing Climate Change, Jeffrey Kiehl

The following post is by Jeffrey T. Kiehl, author of Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future:

Our reliance on fossil fuels as the main source to address our energy needs is untenable. The burning of these fuels is causing carbon dioxide levels to rapidly increase and thus warm the planet via the greenhouse effect. The burning of coal is destroying local air quality and placing many thousands at direct health risk. We are experiencing human caused climate change now. If we continue on our current path, planetary warming will reach unprecedented levels within decades. We can no longer afford to deny, ignore or diminish the problem of climate change. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence for climate change we continue to burn these fuels and in the United States we continue to turn away from the warnings of what is happening to our world.

Denial is a classic way to avoid dealing with a disturbing issue. You can probably remember either consciously or unconsciously using this strategy to avoid or postpone action on a pressing problem. Disturbing information or situations evoke a sense of anxious dread within us. We feel overwhelmed by facing the situation and procrastinate. We all do this. Often when we actually do face the problem it turns out that addressing it was less painful than imagined. Our expectation of loss created a deep sense of fear that amplified the actual situation. Understanding the psychological processes that occur in situations of denial can actually help us penetrate the barriers preventing us from moving beyond the problem. This is why it is so important to explore the psychological dimensions of climate change. We can learn much from the experiences of clinical psychology, social psychology and neuroscience. These fields have delved into the many ways we make decisions and avoid making decisions. They shine a light of understanding on the darker shadow regions of denial, ignorance and diminishment. For example, the emotional reactions experienced around the issue of climate change mirror those of a physical or psychological trauma. Thus, the vast knowledge of trauma and its treatment can aid in dealing with the resistance to addressing the state of our climate system.

The physical, chemical and biological sciences have provided us with a comprehensive picture of climate change and our integral role in this problem. The manifold dimensions of psychology can provide ways to actually address the problem. By combining the studies of climate and psyche we not only see what is happening to our world and why, but also, how we can move beyond the problem to create a more flourishing world for future generations.

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Book Giveaway! “Facing Climate Change,” by Jeffrey T. Kiehl

This week we are featuring Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future, by Jeffrey T. Kiehl.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, April 1 at 1:00 pm.

Here’s what Michael Mann says about the book:

Facing Climate Change is a must-read for anyone concerned about human-caused climate change and how we get past the psychological barriers standing between us and a solution to this existential threat.”

You can also read the chapter, “A Journey from Climate Science to Psychology”:

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

An Interview with David J. Helfand, author of “A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age”

A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age

The following is an interview with David J. Helfand, author of A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age: Scientific Habits of Mind:

Question: Most people think we are living in the Information Age. Why the contrarian “Misinformation Age” in your title?

David J. Helfand: It is certainly true that the amount of information at our disposal is unprecedented, and the Internet democratizes access to this information in ways that are unique in human history. But we are now generating, worldwide, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. If printed as standard characters, that represents the equivalent of 450,000 pages of text per person per day. Obviously, more than 99.99% of this “information” is not edited or vetted for accuracy. And the corollary of open access to the web for downloading information is that uploading information is equally unfiltered. The result? Unlimited opportunities for the propagation of misinformation, and unfettered access for individuals and organizations wishing to spread disinformation.

Q: Surely misinformation isn’t new, nor is the motivation of some to spread disinformation to advance vested interests. Why do you suppose the problem is greater today?

DJH: During the first 97% of the time members of the species homo sapiens have roamed the Earth, information was very limited but the important bits were generally of high quality. The member of the hunter-gatherer tribe who regularly led hunting parties toward the hungry lions instead of the zebras was quickly ignored (or eaten and eliminated from the gene pool; likewise with the one that gathered poisonous fruits). The sources of information—your clansmen—were unambiguous and there was an existential premium on good information.

Today the sources are anonymous, or at least often unknown to you, and their motivation for providing accurate information is negligible; there are no consequences for misinformation nearly as severe as the lions. Thus, if mis- or dis-information serves one’s purposes—either for accumulating money or power, or for the strong innate motivation of reinforcing group identity—there’s no barrier to broadcasting it. Couple this with the viral capacity of social media and the instant accessibility of nonsense for all, and you have what I think should rightly be called the Misinformation Age.

(more…)

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Book Giveaway! “A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age,” by David J. Helfand

This week we are featuring A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age: Scientific Habits of Mind, by David J. Helfand.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age: Scientific Habits of Mind to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, March 4th at 1:00 pm.

Here’s what Neil deGrasse Tyson says about the book:

A Survival Guide for the Misinformation Age is an impassioned plea for science literacy. Given the state of the world today, in which scientifically underinformed voters elect scientifically illiterate politicians, David Helfand has written the right book at the right time with the right message. Read it now. The future of our civilization may depend on it.”
You can also read the chapter “A Walk in the Park”:

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Are You Resolved to Eat More Insects in 2016? — The Insect Cookbook

With The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet now available in paper and given that many of us have resolved to eat better, or at least differently, in 2016, we are re-posting Marcel Dicke’s TED Talk. In the video,Dicke, coauthor of The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet, discusses the environmental and nutritional importance of eating insects:

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Michael Mann on the Assault on Climate Science

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, Michael Mann

“Let’s end the McCarthy-like assault on science led by the Lamar Smiths of the world. Our nation is better than that.”—Michael Mann, New York Times

Yesterday, we linked to Michael Mann’s important op-ed in the New York Times on social media but also wanted to feature it here on our blog. In his piece, The Assault on Climate Science, Mann describes the recent efforts of Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, to challenge and obfuscate the findings of scientists regarding climate change. Smith, a climate-change-denier, has “issued various subpoenas to Kathryn D. Sullivan, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, demanding all internal notes, emails and correspondence concerning a study its scientists published in the journal Science.” As Mann argues that while Smith is entitled to ask for all pertinent scientific data and findings — and should do so — asking for correspondence between scientists risks the confidentiality that is crucial for frank discourse.

As Mann points out, this kind of intimidation of scientists is not new — Mann himself was the victim of it in 2005. At the time, many politicians — both Republicans and Democrats — came to his defense. The picture in 2015 is far bleaker as Republicans have done nothing to rein in the actions of Lamar Smith.

Mann concludes by writing:

While there is no doubt climate change is real and caused by humans, there is absolutely a debate to be had about the details of climate policy, and there are prominent Republicans participating constructively in that discourse. Let’s hear more from these sensible voices. And let’s end the McCarthy-like assault on science led by the Lamar Smiths of the world. Our nation is better than that.

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Mark L. Clifford on The Greening of Asia

Mark L. Clifford, author of The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency, will be talking about issues relating to climate change in Asia at an event today at the China Institute. For those that can’t make it, here is a video of Clifford discussing the book:

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

International Climate Negotiations

Green Capital

“Over the years, the agendas for climate conferences have tackled new issues, even though the negotiations may have been at a standstill or even backsliding in terms of coordinating actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. New topics, such as climate change adaptation, the transfer of low-carbon technology, and innovative financial mechanisms, have been introduced through ad hoc working groups without really opening up new perspectives. The march toward increased cooperation in reducing emissions will be facilitated if these general categories are linked to specific questions that participants have raised, by suggesting they join concrete action programs to come up with solutions.” — de Perthuis and Jouvet

This week, our featured book is Green Capital: A New Perspective on Growth, by Christian de Perthuis and Pierre-André Jouvet, translated by Michael Westlake. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11 of this year. De Perthuis and Jouvet look back at the complicated history of international climate negotiations and try to outline the contours of the “ideal” future climate agreement in the thirteenth chapter of their book, which we have excerpted here.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Green Capital!