Worrying about the near term

Much is being made of a new paper in Nature Geoscience in which the authors recalculate “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C.” Whether the authors are justified in their marginally optimistic conclusions — and there’s plenty of debate about that — there really isn’t much in the way of policy…

The data gap problem

“The monitoring of the atmosphere, of the surface of the Earth, of what’s going on in the ocean and under the ice — all of that is overwhelmingly funded by the federal government.” — Former Obama science adviser John Holdren The other day a friend of mine who works in Beijing as a foreign correspondent…

The Conference Board of Canada, usually described as a business-friendly think tank, has come out with a report that is refreshingly honest, and even a bit subversive — especially if you pay extra attention to some sidebars, consider what the authors deliberately left out, and are at least a little familiar with the science of power…

The limits of adaptation

The release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels is, conceiveably, the most important environmental issue in the world today. — “Costs and benefits of carbon dioxide,” Nature, May 3, 1979 Actually, the scientific understanding of the dangers posed by rising CO2 levels date back much further — at least…

The most charitable comment I can come up with for the just-released Department of Energy Staff Report to the Secretary on Electricity Markets and Reliability is the refusal of the authors to use what is surely a candidate for Most Overused Term of the Year: resilience. Not that resilience isn’t important, but it’s to their…

The number of people who still aren’t worried about climate change — or the number of voters willing to elect someone who feels that way, which is pretty much the same thing — is still depressingly high. But many others have long since moved on to the practical issues of how to respond to the consequent…

An Inconvenient Review

ILLUSTRATION: THE CLIMATE PROJECT Eleven years ago David Guggenheim and Laurie David managed to turn a documentary about a most unlikely subject — a slide show by a man famous for being too dull to be elected president — into an Oscar-winning international hit. The reaction to An Inconvenient Truth convinced the film’s star to assemble and…

In what New York Magazine is calling the most-read article in the publication’s history,  David Wallace-Wells writes about what will happen if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels soon. In a nutshell: the climate “will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us.” This has made more than a few climatologists rather…

How many kids should you have? Used to be the answer was “none of anyone’s damn business.” But that’s not the approach a pair of sustainability experts took in a new paper that concludes the single-most powerful thing anyone can do about climate change is having fewer offspring. In “The climate mitigation gap: education and…

A study published in Science at the end of June should have found its way onto the front pages and screens of every community newspaper and local news program in the country. But it didn’t. At least, not around these parts. Which is a shame, because it’s precisely the kind of story we’ve been waiting…