Did Obama Really Sidestep The U.N. At Copenhagen?
December 21, 2009

Analysts are still mulling over the Copenhagen accord, trying to figure out what it means for the fate of global climate politics. The humdrum answer is that it all depends—we'll have to see how individual nations tackle their CO2 emissions in the months and years ahead, and then watch how the next round of international talks shake out. But if it's specifics you want, check out Harvard economist Robert Stavin's analysis. First, a recap of the negotiations that led to the deal: From all reports, the talks were completely deadlocked when U.S.

What Happens When A Muslim U.N. Delegate Actually Agrees That The Holocaust Actually Occurred
December 19, 2009

Well, a very funny thing happens.  Or at least a very funny thing happened when the Sudanese delegate to the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen conceded the reality of the Holocaust. And, no, he wasn't even talking about the "holocaust" visited by the Jews on the Palestinians. According to a Reuters dispatch he was talking about the real Holocaust. But he was comparing it to the plan agreed to by President Obama of the United States and the leaders of China, India, South Africa and Brazil to combat global warming.

Was Copenhagen A Disaster Or Decent First Step?
December 18, 2009

Among environmentalists, there seem to be two emerging schools of thought on the tentative deal that was just struck in Copenhagen. And the rift is pretty similar to the liberal divide we're seeing on the health care bill. On the left, you have folks like Bill McKibben arguing that the weak agreement Obama just cobbled together, with its vague targets, lack of binding commitments, and blanks aplenty, is grossly inadequate to the problems facing the planet and probably worse than nothing. Here's McKibben, livid: [Obama] blew up the United Nations.

Is $500 Billion In Foreign Aid Possible? (Maybe...)
December 14, 2009

This week, National Journal is hosting a useful series of Copenhagen-related roundtable debates that are worth checking out. In this one, Rep. Ed Markey asks how wealthier countries should help poorer ones tackle global warming. It's a timely question, since this is perhaps the biggest quagmire in the climate talks right now. A recent U.N. report estimated that developing countries would need $500 billion to $600 billion per year to get on a path of low-carbon growth, as well as to adapt to a hotter world.

Planet Worth
December 11, 2009

Of all the different industry groups scrambling to shape climate policy in Washington--from electric utilities to Detroit automakers--one stands out as a bit unexpected: Wall Street. Financial giants like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have enlisted, all told, more than 100 lobbyists to roam the Capitol and influence the debate over how to curb greenhouse gases. There’s a reason for that: Any cap-and-trade bill that puts a limit on emissions and allows polluters to buy and sell permits will create a vast carbon market.

Would a Weaker Dollar Lead to a Stronger Economy?
December 08, 2009

When it comes to the value of the dollar, there are clear trade offs between American export competitiveness and import prices. How these opposing forces balance out nationally and across regions is the subject of a great deal of debate but surprisingly little empirical work. Paul Krugman, in a recent post, predicts advantageous outcomes if the dollar depreciates but cites no convincing evidence. Dani Rodrik’s recent paper, which is the most solid and relevant econometric work I’ve seen on the subject, finds that an under-valued currency increases economic growth.

Three Ways The Copenhagen Talks Could Succeed (Or Go Bust)
December 03, 2009

Given that there's virtually no chance a finished climate treaty will come out of the upcoming talks in Copenhagen, one might be forgiven for asking what, exactly, the world's diplomats are actually going to do these next two weeks in Denmark. Already, further talks are scheduled for next year—including yet another big climate summit in Mexico City in 2010.

Bad News for the Axis of Chavez
December 01, 2009

Francisco Toro and Juan Nagel write the Venezuelan news blog Caracas Chronicles. The Honduran crisis surely reached its Rococo stage this week after fresh elections organized by the coupsters' regime saw the election of a conservative rancher as president—while Brazil's nearly sainted left-wing president, Lula da Silva, promptly rejected the poll as undemocratic ... a scant few days after welcoming Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil with open arms. The election of President Lobo has split the international community, and in mostly predictable ways.

The First Palinologist?
December 01, 2009

Sarah Palin isn’t the only person cashing in on her ill-fated bid for the vice-presidency. A whole slew of authors, fashion designers, movie producers, pornographers, cartoonists, and opticians are riding the Palin gravy train. So I was not surprised when a press release landed in my inbox plugging what seemed to be the latest category of Palin profiteer: Academics. The University of Alaska Southeast is now touting one of their political science professors, Clive Thomas, as a one-stop Sarah Palin expert.

Ladies First, Please
November 18, 2009

Is climate change gender-neutral? Not according to the U.N. Population Fund, which earlier today released a report arguing that women suffer disproportionately from the impacts of global warming. Especially in developing countries, they can't flee changes like desertification and sea-level rise as easily as young men, who aren’t as tied to children and households. They're often caught up in civil conflicts ignited by scarce resources.