.@ICTBizJournal Q&A with @Koch_Industries CEO Charles Koch skips global warming but includes telling nugget:
Q: Your political views and involvement seem to garner the most headlines nationally these days. Why continue those investments, given the type of coverage it seems to have sparked?
A: It’s like Lee Trevino used to say, somebody asked him, “How are you winning all these golf tournaments?” and he said, “Well somebody has got to win them and it might as well be me.” That’s the way I am on this. There doesn’t seem to be any other large company trying to do this so it might as well be us. Somebody has got to work to save the country and preserve a system of opportunity.
The recent slowdown (or ‘pause’) in global surface temperature rise is a hot topic for climate scientists and the wider public. We discuss how climate scientists have tried to communicate the pause and suggest that ‘many-to-many’ communication offers a key opportunity to directly engage with the public.
We must not fall victim to decontextualized and ahistorical media accounting of climate trends.
Natural variability can explain fluctuations in surface temperatures but can it account for the current slowdown in warming?
Observational data show a continued increase of hot extremes over land during the so-called global warming hiatus. This tendency is greater for the most extreme events and thus more relevant for impacts than changes in global mean temperature.
It is time to acknowledge that global average temperatures are likely to rise above the 2 °C policy target and consider how that deeply troubling prospect should affect priorities for communicating and managing the risks of a dangerously warming climate.
Feelings, Facts, Food & GMOs – A Fresh Look Weds, Feb. 26, 2014 12:00-2:00pm
The role of genetic engineering in agriculture is particularly contentious, with assertions about huge promise or perils often obscuring science. This panel discussion will aim to inform rather than inflame by bringing together a chef focused on conscious cuisine, a food journalist who spent six months investigating claims and counterclaims about GMOs, a law professor and a plant geneticist. The discussion will be moderated by Pace Academy Senior Fellow Andrew Revkin, who has explored the future of food repeatedly on his New York Times blog, Dot Earth.
The discussion will review the science on health and environmental questions, the legal issues related to food labeling and the realities of feeding not just a growing global population, but also one that is becoming more prosperous.
Can GMOs be a part of our vision for a sustainable, equitable, and healthy world?
Free and open to the public. Details online at www.pace.edu/foodyou.
In Person: Pace University, 861, Bedford Road, Butcher Suite, Kessel Student Center, Pleasantville
Andrew Revkin - Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding, Pace University Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, Dot Earth Blogger, The New York Times
Shelley Boris - Executive Chef, Fresh Company, and author of “Fresh Cooking: A Year of Recipes from the Garrison Institute Kitchen”
Jason Czarnezki - Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, Pace Law School
Nathanael Johnson - Food and Environment Reporter, Grist.org
Pamela Ronald - Director, Laboratory for Crop Genetics Innovation at the University of California, Davis, and co-author of “Tomorrow’sTable: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food”
Diplomacy? Sec. Kerry pushes Indonesia to decarbonize as USA energy use emits 17.2 tons CO2/person/yr., Indonesia 1.8. Quote: “It’s not enough for one country or even a few countries to reduce their emissions when other countries continue to fill the atmosphere with carbon pollution as they see fit.” More on Dot Earth.
Big majority of Americans ready for climate action even with cost, finds @yaleclimatecomm. Release:
In Public Support for Climate & Energy Policies, we report that most Americans support national action on global warming:
- Most Americans (83%) say the U.S. should make an effort to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs.
- Majorities of Americans say that corporations and industry (65%), citizens themselves (61%), and the U.S. Congress (52%) should be doing more to address global warming.
- A majority of Americans (71%) say global warming should be a “very high”, “high”, or “medium” priority for the president and Congress.
The survey also found that majorities of Democrats and Republicans support several climate and energy policies. For example:
- Providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (82% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans support this)
- Funding more research into renewable energy sources (84% and 60% respectively)
- Regulating CO2 as a pollutant (85% and 55%)
- Eliminating all subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry (67% and 52%)
The report includes an Executive Summary and the results broken down by political party and Global Warming’s Six Americas. You can download it here.
Adding new @UCSusa book on Fukushima nuclear calamity and lessons for US @NRCgov to my reading heap. Here’s UCS release:
Today is the official publication date for Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (New Press, $27.95), the first comprehensive account of the March 2011 Japanese catastrophe, and it has already elicited glowing reviews. Kirkus Reviews called it “a gripping, suspenseful page turner.” Booklist, in a starred review, described the book as “thriller-like” and “a cautionary analysis of the perils of nuclear power the world over.” And Publisher’s Weekly called it an “eye-opening exposé …[that] points to the scary fact that America can suffer a Fukushima-type event if critical steps are not taken.”
Co-authored by two of America’s leading nuclear power experts and an award-winning journalist, the book provides the most authoritative analysis to date of what happened during one of the worst nuclear disasters of all time. The book, which took nearly two years to research and write, is based on technical analyses, interviews with the principal players, and information gleaned from thousands of pages of documents obtained from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other federal agencies, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)—the plant’s owner—and independent Japanese commissions.
The first half of the book provides the riveting details of the March 11, 2011, disaster triggered by the one-two punch of a magnitude 9 earthquake, which caused Fukushima Daiichi’s six boiling water reactors to lose off-site electric power, and a 50-foot tsunami, which knocked out back-up diesel generators supplying power to five of the reactors and much of the facility’s electrical distribution system. Co-authors David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) Nuclear Safety Project; Edwin Lyman, a UCS senior scientist; and Susan Q. Stranahan, the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, take readers on a guided tour of the harrowing events that followed over days, weeks and months. Along the way, they supply lucid explanations of how the disaster happened and how it could have been averted, profiling the people who went to heroic lengths to try to take control of a runaway catastrophe that still reverberates today. Radioactive contamination has displaced more than 80,000 people, the cost of cleanup and victim compensation could swell to $125 billion, and radioactively contaminated water from the site continues to leak into the ocean. Over time, Fukushima-related cancer deaths are expected to number in the thousands.
But the book is more than a disaster diary. It also provides a clear-eyed look at the Japanese regulatory regime that helped make the disaster all but inevitable, and makes a strong case that U.S. oversight is plagued by the same complacent attitude and undue industry influence. Indeed, the chapters that focus on the NRC’s shortcomings are as disturbing as the Fukushima calamity itself.
“The NRC hasn’t heeded all the lessons of Fukushima and is slow-walking post-Fukushima regulatory changes,” said Lyman, a physicist. “Likewise, the agency has failed to address a number of longstanding threats, including the risks of overcrowded spent fuel pools, unenforced fire protection standards, and inadequate emergency planning.”
Lyman and his co-authors warn that if NRC commissioners insist on watering down the agency post-Fukushima task force’s recommendations for strengthening safeguards, it will only be a matter of time before a similar event happens in the United States. They point out that:
• U.S. nuclear plants are vulnerable to catastrophic natural disasters, multiple system failures, and terrorist attacks;
• U.S. nuclear plants are not much better equipped than Japanese plants to cope with severe accidents; and
• U.S emergency plans are not designed to protect the public in the aftermath of Fukushima-scale accidents or fully address the problem of long-term land contamination.
“Fukushima wasn’t a ‘Japanese’ nuclear accident,” said Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who worked in the industry for 17 years before joining the UCS staff. “It was an accident that happened to occur in Japan. Japanese and U.S. regulators share the same mindset that severe, supposedly ‘low probability’ accidents are unlikely and therefore it is not worth the time and money to protect plants from them. How many Fukushimas will we have to go through before NRC commissioners get it through their heads that it could happen here?”
Can’t wait to track onstage @greenbiz meetup of @Greenpeace & @AsianPulpPaper. (@DotEarth background on pulp fight.) Here’s what’s coming, via Joel @Makower:
The next GreenBiz Forum will examine ”how NGOs and companies interact, in a number of sessions. At the event, we’ll be launching the ‘GreenBiz NGO Report,’ the first annual rating by companies of environmental nonprofits. It will assess which ones are the most credible and the most effective, from the viewpoint of several hundred companies we’ve surveyed.
"We’ll bring that report to life with a panel featuring senior leaders at three NGOs spanning the spectrum of activism, from collaborative (Environmental Defense Fund) to confrontational (Greenpeace). There will also be a mainstage conversation among Asia Pulp & Paper, Greenpeace, and The Forest Trust, which culminated an adversarial campaign one year ago with a breakthrough agreement. (Learn more in this week’s Exit Interview with outgoing Greenpeace USA executive director Phil Radford.)
"There’s more: Neil Hawkins from Dow will discuss it’s partnership with The Nature Conservancy; separately, TNC’s head, Mark Tercek, will talk about its work with Dow and other companies on biodiversity and business opportunity. And a number of other sessions will feature NGO-company partnerships.
"Clearly, these relationships are going to be around for a while, so we might as well get good at them."
It’s very revealing and important reporting, but I can’t see how this additional intelligence - as the Information.dk story suggests - “may have contributed to the Americans getting their way…”
That implies that the U.S. did get its way.
To me, it still seems clear that China, with India and others, were far more adept than the United States at manipulating the proceedings to guarantee no shift toward a binding global commitment to decarbonization. Read Mark Lynas and Der Spiegel.
Can anyone imagine why President Obama would have committed to going to the meeting in person if the administration knew the outcome would be weak gruel?
Postscript 3: Lisa Friedman has an excellent Climate Wire piece noting how inconsequential any NSA monitoring was even if it ended up taking place. Yvo de Boer makes a good point in that piece: ”There is a much bigger debate going on about who is spying on who. But in the climate change negotiations, we should be very much focused on looking forward and building trust, not looking back, not on rehashing things that may or may not have happened in the past,” he said.
Postscript 1: I do agree with Alden Meyer’s concerns about how these revelations will chill dialogue going forward. Even worse odds for significant steps in Paris in 2015.