The United States’ Carbon Footprint

The latest EPA data show that in 2016,  transportation  in  California,  Texas  and Florida  was  the  source  of  more  carbon  dioxide  pollution than  transportation  in  rest  of  the  United  States.  California,  Texas  and  Louisiana  led  country  in  emissions  from  industry.  Wyoming had  the  most  emissions  on  a  per  capita   basis.  (Double click to enlarge the chart. Source: Politico)

A Focused Green New Deal

By William S. Becker If Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings the Green New Deal to a vote in the Senate this week as he intends, the result will be political theater. It won’t be more than that. Why? Because in its present form, the Green New Deal is a vision articulated in a nonbinding resolution, and the opposition of the Republican-controlled Senate is preordained. Here is what we’re likely to witness: McConnell and his Republican colleagues will try to brand the entire Democratic Party as a big-government socialist cabal. Democrats, who actually represent 50 shades of opinion on the proposals in the Green New Deal, may ask why so many Republicans are still ignoring climate change when half the states with the most weather disasters are “red”. If Senate Democrats have done their homework, they might ask McConnell how denying climate change is good for his constituents in Kentucky. The state ranks 12th the nation for its number of natural disasters. It has averaged more than one disaster declaration a year for the last 66 years. Yet it ranks 48th

23 Charts: Challenges Ahead for a Green New Deal

The Green New Deal proposal in Congress has caused a great deal of buzz, some of it enthusiastic, some of it skeptical and some of it negative. But we should be asking this: If not the Green New Deal, or something like it, then what are our options? There should be no debate about the fact that the United States and the rest of the world must act boldly and quickly to pull back from far more disastrous impacts of climate change than we are experiencing today. This post offers a set of slides that show some of the good news and the bad news about our response to climate change so far. Many of the illustrations come from Statista, a service that analyzes data from more than 22,500 sources to spot trends on a wide variety of topics including energy and climate. Others come from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, PoliticoPro and other data organizations. What we see is this: Although climate change must be addressed by every nation, the United States is in the driver's seat

Vote on the Green New Deal? Game on!

By William S. Becker Some of the Republican Party’s leaders say they love the Green New Deal – not because of its merits, but because they think it will keep Democrats from taking control of Congress and the White House less than two years from now. Sadly, their reaction is not about the jobs an ambitious transition to clean energy would create, or the illnesses and deaths it would prevent, or the need to keep weather disasters from getting worse. As usual, it’s all about the next election. Take Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, for example. “Let’s vote on the Green New Deal!” he tweeted about the plan unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey. “Americans deserve to see what kind of solutions far-left Democrats are offering to deal with climate change.” Sen. Mitch McConnell announced impishly that he’ll schedule a vote on the Deal just to see how many Democrats have the guts to vote for it. The Democrats' first response should be to ask the Republican leaders what their plan is, besides pretending

“We’ve never seen anything like this…”

In case you haven’t noticed, several new words and phrases have become more common in newspapers and on the evening news lately. They are used so often, in fact, that they are replacing “war torn nation” and “’tis the season” as the tritest phrases in the news business. This would be trivial except for one thing: The words reveal something very important about our times and about our upcoming elections. Here are some of them: Unprecedented Record-breaking Not in my lifetime Disaster Tragic Loss Victims Deaths Homeless Floods Heat Wildfire Firefighter Drought Evacuation Everything lost New normal These are part of the emerging lexicon of climate change.  We don’t have to rely on computer models and climatologists anymore to know whether global warming is real. Millions of Americans, as well as billions of people worldwide, are experiencing it first-hand. The people who still deny that climate change is real -- including the President of the United States, his Cabinet and more than half of the members of Congress -- are looking more and more ridiculous, like the proverbial ostriches with

Getting America Back on Course

By William S. Becker With important elections coming up this fall and in 2020, the American people will have opportunities to correct the mistake of putting Donald Trump in the White House, where he has used his office to undermine some of our most important institutions and laws. Trump’s damage has been widespread. Others have spoken about his impact on international relations; the stewardship of public lands; the press and the courts; the government’s divorce from science; and so on. Of special importance to those of us in the environmental sector is Trump’s great leap backward on environmental protection, energy policy and climate change. The question now is what we can do to rebuild what Trump and his minions have weakened or destroyed. On these and other issues, there seems to be three levels of volume in national politics right now. There is virtually no sound coming from the Democratic Party. It seems to have no message beyond an implicit “We’re not Trump”. Perhaps party strategists are content to remain quiet and hope that Trump will hang himself along with

More Mosquito Bites? Blame Coal

By William S. Becker I’ve said it before: If you follow the latest information about global climate change, you’ll get the impression that it might cause everything from swimmers’ itch to male- pattern baldness. The speculation can seem ridiculous. However, it is true that the consequences of climate change are ubiquitous and pervasive. After all, climate determines the weather and the weather is everywhere all the time. The impacts get as small as those mosquito bites you’ll get this summer. That’s the buzz from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of many agencies around the world that monitor “vector-borne diseases”, the illnesses spread by insects such as fleas, mosquitoes and ticks. Climate scientists have warned for many years that warmer weather would allow the insects to thrive in places that used to be too cold for them. As a result, more Americans are falling ill from diseases that we associate with the tropics. The CDC reported this week that the number of Americans who get diseases from these insects has tripled since 2004. About 300,000 people

2018 Substainable Energy in America Factbook

The rapid deployment of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy in 2017 generated economic benefits without requiring increases in energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions. So say Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy in their 2018 energy fact book. Read More

February 21st, 2018|Climate & Energy|

US Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization

In compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement, the Obama Administration issued a mid-century strategy for deep reductions in U.S. carbon emissions. The MCS demonstrates how the United States can meet the growing demands on its energy system and lands while achieving a low-emissions pathway, maintaining a thriving economy, and ensuring a just transition for Americans whose livelihoods are connected to fossil fuel production and use.

February 20th, 2018|Climate & Energy|

Paris Agreement

The American Meteorological Society has issued a new report that explains the extreme weather events of 2015 from a climate perspective. The AMS says its research provides evidence that climate change is altering some extreme event risk. In December 2015 after 21 years of negotiations, 195 nations gathered in Paris and signed off on an international climate action agreement. PARIS – The world made history at approximately 7:25 p.m. Paris time on Saturday when 195 nations did something that had never been done before. They all agreed on something. The “something” is really something: a global commitment to confront global climate change after 21 years of diplomatic wrangling. In the plenary hall at a former airport in Paris, there were tears among the hundreds of delegates and support staff who worked for years toward this achievement, climaxing in more than two weeks of around the clock effort to reach that moment on Saturday. Among them were a tired Secretary of State John Kerry and an obviously delighted Al Gore, who has dedicated years of his life and has taken

February 13th, 2018|Climate & Energy|

Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective

The American Meteorological Society has issued a new report that explains the extreme weather events of 2015 from a climate perspective. The AMS says its research provides evidence that climate change is altering some extreme event risk. Many papers in this year’s report demonstrate that science is capable of separating the effects of natural drivers from the influences of long-term human-induced climate change. click here for more information

January 4th, 2017|Climate & Energy|