The Nightmare Continues

You can find all sorts of explanations for the parlous state of our body politic.  The catastrophe of our last national election cycle here was preceded by the irrational Brexit vote (a misguided cry of anger and pain from English nationalists [but not Londoners]), has since been compounded in Europe by the onslaught of the far right in Germany in September and now this week in Austria.  I wrote a paper several years ago that took a long, hard look at the Contemporary American Right in which I posited that right wingers are, in a word, ill.  A distinguished student of conflict, Vamik Volkan, calls them regressed.  (Notice that I don’t dignify the inhabitants of these pathologies as “conservative” – it does them far too much justice.) Continue reading

“It’s the fossil fuels, stupid.”

James Carville, one of the sharper Democratic consultants to come around in several generations, reminded Bill Clinton’s campaign staff that among the three things on which they needed to focus one was:   “The Economy, Stupid.”  This morphed into the expression “It’s the economy, stupid.”  It has become abundantly clear that the message of the present White House administration, along with their Republican party enablers and a few Democrats from fossil fuel-dependent states (like Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota), is that “It’s the fossil fuels, stupid.” Continue reading

World Oceans Day

Today is World Oceans Day.  It is taking place in conjunction with a major international gathering at the UN headquarters in New York:  The Ocean Conference.  This timely conference is meant to highlight the critical importance of our oceans and the crises they are undergoing.  Sustainable Development Goal 14 zeroes in on the marine environment: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Continue reading

Can Trump Destroy the Paris Agreement and Thus the Earth’s Climate System?

I have a Spanish friend who likes to use the expression:  “Is complicate.”  When it comes to the climate crisis, the transition to clean energy, and international politics one can safely say:  “Is complicate.”  I tried to convey a real sense of optimism in my book, A Newer World, and some of the hopeful trends I identified then have proven even more robust than I could have imagined at the time I was researching and writing it.  We are spending a great deal of money, globally, on clean tech, and that’s only going to continue. Continue reading

Finally, A Small But Significant Victory, Courtesy of the Senate

Yes – and it was about bloody time – the Senate finally held up at least a small part of its bargain with the American people: to protect the public health and the environment.

First, a little context: What you see on the left is the flaring of natural gas from oil rigs, in this case in Iraq.  It is a problem all over the world though. Flaring is but one part of the problem of how “fugitive” natural gas greatly exacerbates the climate crisis.   There is an awful lot of anthropogenically produced methane in the world that escapes into the atmosphere every year: about 7.13 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013 according to the excellent Climate Access Indicators Tool (CAIT) of the World Resources Institute.  That was about 15% of the total of all the greenhouse gases produced that year, including those from land use changes like deforestation. Continue reading

The Mainstream

I was in Washington on Thursday and Friday for some interviews for a book I’ve been working on.  (Think meat, fish and feed and the many and complex ins and outs of those.)  My daughter came down on Friday evening so she, my sister-in-law, and I went to the big march on Saturday.  Great day!  A good time was had by all. Continue reading

Science Marches On

for more of these cool posters from New York, click on the photo

I had a great time on Saturday joining the March on Science in New York City.   (I wrote about the march with some background back in February after it was first announced.) Aside from the main march in Washington, DC, there were over 600 satellite marches around the world.  Nice!  There were tens of thousands of people lined up on Central Park West for ten or more blocks.  Relaxed, festive.  Some young, some old, some nerdy, some hip, a good number of scientists, science teachers, activists, and others who are fans of science.  It was all largely apolitical but the message was quite clear: The war on science – and particularly climate science – being waged, let’s face the facts, almost wholly by the Trump Administration and his enablers in the Congress, is not something that people are going to take lying down. Continue reading

Green Roofs

What insulates your building, making it cooler in summer and warmer in winter; helps protect your building from leaks from heavy rain and snow; is aesthetically pleasing; can serve as a vegetable and herb garden and home for honeybees; can enhance the performance of photovoltaic arrays; and boost urban biodiversity by creating avian habitat?  That’s right, you got it in one:  a green roof.  Continue reading