The G7 members were hosted in Germany this year and made some bold pronouncements relative to the future of energy and the climate system. I am manifestly not a cynic on the progress the world has been making on climate and energy over the past decade or so. That is certainly the premise of my book and this blog: that there are scores of important breakthroughs and initiatives being made every year, most everywhere. I have, however, taken a cautious approach to the importance of the global approach to mitigating greenhouse gases. A consensus has been building and continues to build about the need for action. There is absolutely no doubt about that. But the speed and depth of commitment from some of the leading actors remains in question. Continue reading
The annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner was the venue for one of the funniest, most totally in-your-face performances I’ve ever seen: Stephen Colbert just eviscerating nearly everybody in the room in 2006. (Start at 1:45 to skip the boring introduction.) There is an extensive Wikipedia page just for this performance. Continue reading
What can you say about a publication, the venerable “New Yorker,” that has brought us writers the likes of Rachel Carson, Bill McKibben and Betsy Kolbert? Easy: They’ve got their environmental worldview very nicely in order. But nobody’s perfect, so the editors responsible for accepting a recent essay, questionable (to be kind) in its logic and facts, by the novelist Jonathan Franzen, are to be forgiven.
There was, in fact, another reasonably bone-headed essay on the environmental movement from another distinguished writer, Nicholas Lemann, a couple of years ago that elicited responses from some worthy environmental leaders in whose company I found myself when the magazine printed my letter alongside theirs. Continue reading
Al Gore called them “subprime carbon assets.” More and more banks, companies, countries, pension funds, universities, churches, and many others are beginning to understand the considerable investment risks in the constellations of fossil fuel companies. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), the world’s biggest and most efficient sovereign wealth fund, last week jettisoned 32 coal mining companies, 5 tar sand producers, 2 cement companies and 1 coal-based electricity generator from its $850 billion portfolio. The Guardian quotes a GPFG rep here: “Our risk-based approach means that we exit sectors and areas where we see elevated levels of risk to our investments in the long term.” Continue reading
I went to a cool little rally last evening here in New York City. We were standing across from the David H. Koch theater at Lincoln Center to say “No!” to the KXL. We were there, of course, because the Koch Brothers have been the principal funders in recent years of any number of reactionary organizations, including Americans for Prosperity and ALEC, not to mention the Tea Party itself. Of course, they have a serious vested interest in the Canadian tar sands. By the time I left, we had a good 200 or so people out on a cold night. The excellent folks at 350NYC organized the rally and we knew that there were scores more across the country at the same time. Continue reading
There’s a lot of good energy, as it were, at Columbia University all the time: they’re working on climate and sustainability, and have a wealth of world-class educational programs. I went to this year’s tenth annual energy symposium staged by the students from the business school, law school, and SIPA. I’ve been to a few of these over time, including last year’s.
The night before the symposium, I went over to a “cleantech startups showcase” to check out some really innovative projects. I heard the mini-pitches from folks working on fuel cells and on cellulose for bioplastics. One startup has developed a cheaper and easier way to conduct energy Continue reading
The super motivated students of NYU Divest met with the University Senate yesterday. They marked that important step forward with a great visual display of their intention. I’ve had the pleasure of being involved a bit with these students over the past year. They have a goal, a plan, and are executing it smartly.
It’s Blog Action Day all over the world today and the theme this year is Inequality. From my perspective, the main example of inequality in our world today is energy poverty. This is defined by the International Energy Agency as “…a lack of access to modern energy services. These services are defined as household access to electricity and clean cooking facilities (e.g. fuels and stoves that do not cause air pollution in houses).” 18% of the seven billion of us today don’t have electricity and a whopping 38% don’t have a clean way to cook. Continue reading
Action This Day. That’s what Winston Churchill wrote on many of his memos. It has always worked for me as a call to arms. Action was the persistent theme of the recent UN Climate Summit. I had the good fortune to be there last week and I was, after a fair number of years of observing the environmental scene, somewhat in awe of the tone and timbre of the speeches in support of climate action. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been building support for nearly a year for a successful summit, with leaders of governments, business and civil society in abundance coming to speak and to make commitments. Continue reading
New York City this week and next is the center of the Climate Activist universe. I define activism broadly: it means not only being in the streets and expressing discontent with the pace of change toward decarbonizing and denuclearizing our energy economies to save the climate system, but also doing the hard work of researching, litigating, legislating, organizing, writing, speaking, making movies, teaching, farming, financing, designing, planning, building, regulating, and working, day after day, to create the newer world that we need. I celebrate everybody and all the energy and focus and commitment brought over the past 50 years of the modern environmental movement that has brought us forward. The first environmental journalist, Phil Shabecoff, wrote a great book, A Fierce Green Fire, about the movement. (They made a documentary last year too.)