Today an article by five co-authors and me was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. It’s on “Ruminants, climate change and climate policy,” and makes the point that political and business leaders concerned about global warming have missed an important part of the problem. This missing piece of the puzzle is the emissions – mostly of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times as powerful as CO2 – that come from ruminant livestock, which include sheep, goats, water buffalo, and most importantly cattle. Read More
December 20th, 2013
December 17th, 2013
Yesterday I read in the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business blog that it is silly for UCS to suggest that consumers are “being tricked, bullied or seduced into burning fossil fuels…” Economist Severin Borenstein responded to an article in the recent edition of the UCS e-newsletter regarding groundbreaking new research that documents that 90 private companies or state-sponsored enterprises produced two-thirds of the carbon that has been released since the Industrial Revolution. Borenstein’s critique is one of many different reactions to this research so far. He raises some new points and he echoes others raised by Andy Revkin and some commenters on our website. So perhaps it’s time we address these interpretations of the work. Read More
December 17th, 2013
Respected UC Berkeley economist Dr. Severin Borenstein released a blog yesterday that included at least one point we can agree on: fossil fuels are cheap. But Borenstein missed the boat in dismissing significant new research that traces 63 percent of heat-trapping emissions to just 90 institutions, including oil giants Exxon-Mobil, BP, and California-based Chevron, suggesting that holding fossil fuel producers accountable is a “copout.” Read More
December 12th, 2013
Earlier this week we put on our website a page that explains the best estimate of what percentage of global warming pollution comes from deforestation. The percentage — 10 percent — updates the consensus estimate of 15 percent that scientists and organizations, including UCS, released at the Barcelona climate conference in November 2009. It also explains why the decrease only represents progress in reducing deforestation to a limited extent. Read More
December 11th, 2013
Part three of a three-part blog series.
Last week some colleagues and I published an article in the Electricity Journal showing that almost 60 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired generators could be candidates for closure based on their poor economic profile relative to competing cleaner options like natural gas and wind. We also found that a modest carbon price of $20/ton of CO2 would more than double that figure to nearly 138 GW, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 745.7 million tons. You can read more about our analysis here and in blog posts by my colleagues Jeff Deyette and Steve Clemmer. Read More
December 10th, 2013
Part two of a three-part blog series.
Yesterday, we released an update of our 2012 Ripe for Retirement study that was published in the Electricity Journal, which analyzed the economic viability of updating the nation’s coal fleet compared to investing in cleaner alternatives. (For more details on the study, see this blog by my colleague Jeff Deyette.) Thanks to new technology developments that have lowered the costs of new wind projects and increased electricity production, our new analysis shows wind power could play an even greater role than natural gas in replacing existing coal plants. Read More
December 5th, 2013
The day after Thanksgiving around our house this year, as usual, involved cleaning up from the festivities of the day before, harvesting a tree, and stringing the lights. The scrumptious desserts at our celebration on Thursday may have added to my weight (I promise to exercise more, really), and the tree may have involved a little slice of temporary deforestation (though I know the Christmas tree farms plant more).
But thanks to LED technologies, the part about the holiday lights involves a whole lot less electricity — and carbon — than it used to. Read More
December 2nd, 2013
A new, misleading report on wind power has emerged from the Institute for Energy Research. This small single-issue group has released an analysis of a single federal tax policy – the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) – and hidden an awful lot of relevant information in the process, including the group’s history of payments from fossil fuel interests and its distortions of renewable energy facts. Read More
December 2nd, 2013
The Heartland Institute—you know, the friendly folks behind the ads comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber—is at it again. In an email sent Thanksgiving week, the organization attempted to use the good name of the American Meteorological Society to misrepresent the views of society members regarding global warming science. It’s the latest in a series of attempts by groups such as Heartland to hide behind the names of legitimate scientific organizations to influence public understanding of climate science. Read More
Director, Shored Up; Owner, Mangrove Media
November 22nd, 2013
Over the past few days I’ve had to consider the definition of several words that haven’t been part of my daily vocabulary, the biggest one being the word ‘banned.’ I’m the director of the documentary Shored Up, which has until now been a relatively uncontroversial film addressing coastal development, sea level rise, and the threat that climate change is bringing to our coastlines. Read More