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Lawyers for Coal

Laurence Tribe – popularly known as “President Obama’s old law professor” – is testifying today against the Clean Power Plan before the House Subcommittee on Energy & Power, on behalf of Peabody Energy. But here he’s not acting as a teacher- he’s a lawyer fiercely advocating for his paying client.  We have a full preview of how he will distort the case against CO2 regulation from the comments he co-wrote with Peabody Energy on December 1, 2014. Read More

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Book Review: How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate by Andrew Hoffman

A few years ago, my colleagues and I worked with Andrew Hoffman, the director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, to host a forum on increasing public understanding of climate change. The event sticks with me because the participants came from so many different backgrounds: environmental justice, Creation care, energy production, social science, media, climate science, and service in Congress.

Hoffman has condensed the myriad approaches to climate communication we discussed that day — and much more — into an indispensable guide. At a slim 100 pages, Hoffman’s book offers a fine distillation of the growing body of social science that explains our curious and conflicting approaches to climate issues. In addition to identifying the problematic ways we often approach climate change, he also suggests several potential ways forward that can restore the climate debate to what he calls a “more civilized plane.” Read More

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Risking Our Clean Energy Future by Gambling with an Overreliance on Natural Gas

Many U.S. electric utilities are doubling down on natural gas to generate power as they retire aging and polluting coal plants. While this unprecedented shift does provides some near-term benefits, dramatically expanding our use of natural gas to generate electricity is an ill-advised gamble that poses complex economic, public health, and climate risks. Read More

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Will the Clean Power Plan Enable a Risky Over-dependence on Natural Gas?

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a significant opportunity to accelerate a transition to a cleaner, more climate-friendly power system. But the final rule, due out this summer, must include improvements and safeguards that constrain the role of natural gas. The Natural Gas Gamble, a new UCS report released today, points out that deploying more renewable energy and energy efficiency can help limit the economic and climate risks of an over-dependence on natural gas. Read More

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Tallahassee, We Have a Problem: The Harm Done by Florida’s Climate Leadership Void

What could justify the Governor of Florida, a state widely considered “ground-zero” for climate change in the U.S., to prohibit the use of that term by state staff? Read More

Categories: Global Warming  

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Can Republican Politicians Change Their Tune on Climate and Energy?

When former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) ran for president in 2011, he flatly rejected climate science and even claimed that scientists had manipulated climate data. But last week, in response to a question about climate and energy issues at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he touted his environmental record, instead. Read More

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Days of Haze: How Palm Oil and Landscape Fires Affect Health in Southeast Asia

On a recent trip to Singapore, after the day’s discussion about how best to stop deforestation in Southeast Asia had ceased and the jet-lag was just beginning to take a hold of me, I hopped into bed to fall asleep. Or probably more accurately, I collapsed into bed. I turned on the television and what I saw on the screen was surprising. Read More

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Smothering Snow, Spiking Sea Levels, and Other Climate Plot Twists: Expecting the Unexpected in the Northeast

When I first started digging into climate impacts, I used to think that the northeastern U.S., where I live, was a pretty good place to have landed. I still think so. It’s unlikely we’ll see historic mega-droughts, like those forecast by some for the U.S. Southwest. We’ll see heat that we’re far from prepared for, but it’ll be hotter still in the South. Our forests are expected to change, but they’re not under pressure like those in the Mountain West, nor are they currently experiencing rising risks of wildfire. We have our own problems, to be sure, like coastal vulnerability and trends in extreme precipitation.

But this week in the news there are two new studies that reminded me to expect the unexpected. While we understand the general pathway of change, the shorter-term directions the climate can take along the way can take us by surprise. Read More

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Rep. Grijalva’s Requests and the Real Problem with Conflict of Interest Disclosure

On Tuesday, Arizona’s U.S. representative Raul Grijalva asked seven academics for their sources of funding and earlier drafts of testimony they have delivered before congressional committees. Since then, many have debated whether the requests cross the line into harassment or witch hunts or McCarthyism. Lost in the discussion around whether the requests are too broad is a bigger question to address: Why don’t we already know who funds the work of those who testify before Congress? Read More

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Counting the Benefits of Agroecology: We Have the Tools, Let’s Use Them

With global challenges such as diminishing environmental quality and public health, combined with accelerating climate change, we need more than ever to know how to confront many problems at once. Since plants inhale carbon dioxide and soils store carbon, there are numerous reasons to expect agriculture to play a significant role for improving the human prospect. Indeed, scientific research documents that we have tools to achieve ecological and climatic sustainability, but here’s the catch—we have to use them. Read More

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