Grappling with climate-change nuance in a toxic political environment
Its a climate-change mystery: As global warming has plateaued, scientists are more certain than ever about the long term trend. But where did the heat go?
Their religion prohibits lawsuits—and the energy companies know it
Their religion prohibits lawsuits—and the energy companies know it.
A judge approves a whole new way to cheat U.S. workers
When I drove to southern West Virginia a few weeks ago to watch Senator Joe Manchin defend his role in pushing gun-control legislation, I was struck to find that at the first of two town hall meetings he held, at the high-ceilinged Wyoming County Courthouse in tiny Pineville, he got not a single critical question about the gun bill.
In August 2008, a week before Barack Obama went to Denver to collect his nomination, Steven Chu stepped onto a stage in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Cox Pavilion. The 60-year-old physicist was a towering presence in his field, a Nobel Prize winner and the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. But he was largely unknown to the Washington-centric crowd of several hundred, in town for a clean energy conference co-hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund.
Berlin, Germany—For years, environmentalists in America have looked longingly to Germany. There, across the Atlantic, lay a small, cold, gray country whose solar energy production dwarfed big, sunny America’s, a nation that last year pledged to get 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by mid-century while Americans proved unable to agree on energy legislation even a fraction as ambitious.
As everyone by now knows, Solyndra, a California-based solar panel manufacturer, has gone bankrupt and defaulted on $535 million in loans, the payment of which was guaranteed by the Department of Energy (DOE). And, as everyone also knows, a White House official, who was connected through his wife to a law firm that worked for Solyndra, may have inappropriately involved himself in the loan process. The apparent conflict of interest inside the administration is inexcusable, of course. And it’s obviously not a happy occasion when a company defaults on government-backed loans.
As the world witnesses the Syrian and Iranian regimes commit countless human rights abuses and, in Iran’s case, move ever closer to perfecting its nuclear capabilities, there’s a common belief that, short of military intervention, there’s nothing that can be done. As it turns out, however, that’s far from the truth—but the majority of the initiative must come from Europe. The European Union has thus far failed to confront the Iranian and Syrian regimes to the full extent of its ability.
Since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in Tripoli, Saddam Hussein’s fall in Baghdad eight years ago and 1,800 miles away has framed much of the way many think about it. Global leaders, reporters, experts, and even Libyan officials have explicitly argued that Libya will not become another Iraq. This is particularly emphasized when addressing oil and natural gas, which not only dominate Libya’s economy but also are important to the global economy.
The bankruptcy of Solyndra, the solar energy company that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, has touched off the predictable partisan food fight, with the Obama administration on the defensive. The release of an August 2009 financial analysis commissioned by the Department of Energy suggesting that the company could run out of cash by September 2011 hasn’t made the administration’s task any easier. This episode fuels the growing sense that “green jobs” is a slogan in search of a policy.
As I was watching the local New York City news coverage of Hurricane Irene before “she” made landfall, I was struck, as I have often been before, by the pleasure of the apocalyptic that the newscasters were so obviously experiencing as they reported on the storm: Potentially the first hurricane to make landfall in New York since the Norfolk and Long Island hurricane of 1821! The storm of a generation! The storm of a century!