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The Pope on Climate Change, Science, and Morality: Can His Message Change the Conversation?

Pope Francis has something important to say about climate change, and deniers who have used religion as their last bastion should take note. In this Pope’s world, science and religion are calling in harmony – and with urgency – for action on climate. The Pope is a leader of many firsts: the first Latin American pontiff, the first Jesuit, likely the first with a chemistry degree, and the first to issue a formal teaching for Catholics around the world that equates climate action with caring for one another. A recent poll indicates he will reach a very receptive audience. Read More

Categories: Global Warming  

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Remembering Jay Fay

In my first year at UCS, I learned that several extraordinary individuals have left unmistakable and enduring marks on this organization. James “Jay” Fay, a long-time member of the UCS Board of Directors, was one of them. He died last week at age 91. Read More

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Land-Sector Actions in U.S. Climate Policy—and at the UNFCCC

In early April I wrote a blog post on the U.S. INDC (“Intended Nationally Determined Contribution”) which was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). I focused on how it treated the land sector (agriculture and forests). In mid-April this analysis, along with similar consideration of the INDCs of Mexico and the European Union, was written up in a White Paper, and a few days ago we presented the results of this White Paper at a UNFCCC side event in Bonn.

Later in April, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Senior Presidential Advisor Brian Deese announced the Department of Agriculture’s Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry. In this blog post I’ll describe those building blocks, as well as the elements of the President’s Climate Action Plan (released in June 2013) that relate to the land sector.

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EIA Analysis Shows the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Is Affordable, Renewable Energy Makes a Key Contribution

A new Energy Information Administration (EIA) analysis shows that renewable energy sources make the biggest contribution to achieving the EPA’s proposed emission reduction targets for existing power plants across a wide range of scenarios, while avoiding an overreliance on natural gas. Despite using pessimistic and outdated assumptions for energy efficiency and many renewables, EIA’s analysis also shows that the EPA’s emission reduction targets can be achieved at modest costs. Updating these assumptions and accounting for the public health and environment benefits of reducing carbon and other emissions would result in net savings and support even stronger emission reduction targets. Read More

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States Sue the EPA Over Clean Power Plan, Disprove Their Own Argument with Existing Efforts to Reduce Carbon Emissions

The near-term timeline and trajectory for states to make cuts in power plant emissions under the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) is achievable, according to a new UCS analysis released today. In fact, a majority of states (31) have already made key clean energy decisions that will get them most or all of the way to meeting the CPP’s near-term (and non-binding) 2020 benchmarks. Ironically, this list includes nearly all of the 14 states that are now suing the EPA to stop the CPP. Despite their ‘can’t do’ rhetoric, these states are disproving their own case and successfully taking action to reduce their power plant carbon emissions. Read More

Categories: Energy, Fossil Fuels, Global Warming  

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Wind Power: A Great American Resource

I don’t usually go to trade association conferences. I’m not a big fan of the back patting, the bland “inspirational” speeches, or the exhibit booths populated by eager salespeople.

But when I was invited to speak on federal policy at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conference in Orlando this week, I put all that aside.

I’m glad I did. Read More

Categories: Energy, Global Warming  

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Will Shell Leave ALEC? An Executive Hints At An Exit

Ask and you shell receive? (Sorry. Had to take that one.) It may be so. Last week, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden hinted that the company may leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) by not renewing its membership, according to an interview with the Guardian. The statement comes after increasing pressure on Shell to leave the climate-misinformation-spreading lobbying organization. Read More

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2015 Wildfire Season in Oregon: Dangerously High Risks Underscore Need for Action on Climate Change

Like much of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon is facing the risk of a bad wildfire season this summer. With 86 percent of the state in drought and 34 percent experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions, Governor Kate Brown has declared a drought emergency for 15 counties. The state’s May water supply outlook predicts that, with sixty percent of the monitoring sites setting records for the lowest peak snowpack levels in 30 years, it is likely that there will be water shortages this summer. Capping carbon emissions, as proposed in HB 3470, is an important contribution Oregon can make toward limiting future climate risks, including from drought and wildfires. Read More

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Jeb Bush on Climate Change: What Do We Really Want Politicians to Debate?

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) described the certainty of scientific knowledge on climate change as “convoluted” yesterday. Specifically, he said that it’s unclear “what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural.”

He also claimed that people who say the science is “decided on” are “arrogant.” Read More

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Palm Oil and the Art of Procrastination

“Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.”  – Ellen DeGeneres

Procrastination is a funny thing. While procrastination is theoretically acknowledged to be negative, people seem to delight in the concept. The internet is full of commentary on procrastination from web comics to a classification system to funny sayings. In fact, I bet a number of you just might be reading this blog to procrastinate some other work – am I right?! Read More

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