Category Archives: Global Warming

Aspen’s Green Challenge

When it comes to global warming, writes Brent Garnder Smith, Aspen is probably not as green as it thinks it is.

And it is certainly not as green as it should be.

Smith was writing about the ideas presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

“There is a saying at the Pentagon that a vision without resources is a hallucination,” Friedman said. “And I think right now we are in the middle of a big green hallucination.”

“We’re talking about preventing the doubling of CO in the atmosphere from the pre-industrial age to the year 2050,” he said. To do that, Friedman said, “We have to conserve as much energy as we’re now using as a world.”

Friedman said one way to move forward on the vast scale required to meet that goal is to change the definition of the word “green.” “So I’ve been trying to redefine green as the most capitalistic, patriotic, geo-strategic, pro-American, pro-growth, future-oriented thing you can do, be or say.”

But he said, “Green has not gone down Main Street at all at the scale we need. Not even close.”

And so while Aspen has gotten a lot of positive press coverage for its efforts to combat global warming, Friedman’s speech begs for a reassessment of the community’s efforts.

Read the full article . . .

A New Two-Wheeled Course?

Neal Pearce highlights the posiblities for cycle tracks in U.S. cities in his  July 8 article.   Such infrastructure could address a number of growing concerns from climate change to obesity.  As he writes,

Cycle tracks are actually a separated part of the roadway yet distinct from the roadway, distinct from the sidewalk. In their purest form — Odense, Denmark, where 50 percent of all city journeys are by bicycle — the paths even have their own traffic signals.

What actually separates the cycle track? It can be a long, narrow curb. Or a line of cones or concrete barriers. Or metal stanchions. Or a line of trees and other vegetation (an on-street greenway).

Another solution, tried on relatively wide streets in Bogota, Paris, London and elsewhere, is to move the parking lane several feet from the sidewalk, creating a new lane for cyclists between the sidewalk and parked cars. Brooklyn-based bicycle advocate/blogger Aaron Naparstek has an excellent online video celebrating that solution (www.streetfilms.org/archives/physically-separated-bike-lanes/).

Read the full article . . .

The Power of Green, Thomas Friedman NY Times

“Green is the new red, white and blue.”

California leads the nation on going ‘green’

From solar power to biofuel, state is way ahead of federal government. Read full article by John Larson, NBC News Correspondent  April 2, 2007

Can Detroit Go Green?

Spurred by a Supreme Court ruling this week, environmental activists are stepping up pressure on carmakers to cut down on CO2 emissions. Will Detroit get the message? Backstage at the auto show. Read full Newsweek article by Keith Naughton

Hot and Cold: New York Times Editorial April 8

The world’s scientists are telling us with increasing confidence that the costs of doing nothing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will be far greater than the costs of acting now. Read full editorial.

High court to hear global warming case

 

Role of vehicle emissions in global warming take center stage in Supreme Court case:

A dozen states, large cities argue that emissions need to be regulated

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court hears arguments this week in a case that could determine whether the Bush administration must change course in how it deals with the threat of global warming.

A dozen states as well as environmental groups and large cities are trying to convince the court that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate, as a matter of public health, the amount of carbon dioxide that comes from vehicles.

Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas are burned. It is the principal “greenhouse” gas that many scientists believe is flowing into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, leading to a warming of the earth and widespread ecological changes. One way to reduce those emissions is to have cleaner-burning cars.

The Bush administration intends to argue before the court on Wednesday that the EPA lacks the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The agency contends that even if it did have such authority, it would have discretion under the law on how to address the problem without imposing emissions controls.

The states, led by Massachusetts, and more than a dozen environmental groups insist the 1970 law makes clear that carbon dioxide is a pollutant — much like lead and smog-causing chemicals — that is subject to regulation because its poses a threat to public health.

A sharply divided federal appeals court ruled in favor of the government in 2005. But last June, the Supreme Court decided to take up the case, plunging for the first time into the politically charged debate over global warming. The ruling next year is expected to be one of the court’s most important ever involving the environment.

“Global warming is the most pressing environmental issue of our time and the decision by the court on this case will make a deep and lasting impact for generations to come,” says Massachusetts’ attorney general, Thomas Reilly.

David Bookbinder, a lawyer for the Sierra Club, says a legal clarification of the EPA’s authority could determine whether the current administration must regulate carbon dioxide emissions and whether a future one will be able to demand such limits.

At issue for now is pollution from automobiles. But the ruling indirectly may affect how the agency deals with carbon dioxide that comes from electric power plants.

In a separate lawsuit, the EPA says the Clean Air Act also prevents it from regulating such emissions from those plants. That claim would be undercut, Bookbinder says, if the high court rules in the states’ favor in the auto emissions case.

President Bush has rejected calls to regulate carbon dioxide. He favors voluntary steps by industry and development of new technologies to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

“We still have very strong reservations about an overarching, one-size-fits-all mandate about carbon,” James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, recently told a group of reporters.

The administration says in court papers the EPA should not be required to “embark on the extraordinarily complex and scientifically uncertain task of addressing the global issue of greenhouse gas emissions” when other ways are available to tackle climate change.

The United States accounts for about one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of carbon dioxide from U.S. motor vehicles, power plants and other industry has increased on average by about 1 percent a year since 1990.

Now that Democrats will control the House and Senate in January after their election victories this month, there is expected to be increased pressure in Congress for mandatory limits on carbon emissions.

The election results “have signaled a need to change direction” on dealing with global warming, three Democratic senators who will play leading roles on environmental issues recently wrote the president.

But whether there is such a shift actually may depend, in the end, on the Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs in the suit are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. They were joined by cities such as Baltimore, New York and the District of Columbia; the Pacific island of America Samoa; the Sierra Club; the Union of Concerned Scientists; Greenpeace; and Friends of the Earth.

The case is Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 05-1120.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15909008/