Environment

Is This What The Climate-Change Debate Has Come To?
February 10, 2011

Spend enough time listening to doubters and deniers of climate science speak, and you start to recognize certain familiar tics and tropes. There's the personal conversion story, for one. The skeptic explains how, once upon a time, he, too, blindly accepted everything climatologists have to say about how human activity is heating the planet.

Mark Kirk: Al Gore's Personal Life Disproves Global Warming
February 02, 2011

Here's how Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) explains his big about-face on climate change over the past year: "The consensus behind the climate change bill collapsed and then further deteriorated with the personal and political collapse of Vice President [Al] Gore," Kirk said in a brief interview last week. It was Gore's fault! Once upon a time, Kirk was one of the handful of Republicans who believed in climate change.

The New Fable of the Bees
January 26, 2011

Thomas Seeley, an entomologist at Cornell University who studies honeybees, has made important contributions to this growing body of work on group dec

Is The EPA Confrontational Enough?
December 07, 2010

Here's a quick sketch of how environmental policy will get made for the next two years. Congress won't pass any new laws. The EPA will try to use the authority it already has to mop up pollution from coal plants, factories, and vehicles (and the agency has a fair bit of existing authority to do so). Industry groups, Republicans, and more than a few Democrats will moan about the costs. And the Obama administration will then have to decide just how much confrontation it can really stomach.

The End of Automania
November 23, 2010

In January 1973, William Ruckelhaus, the administrator of the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency, traveled to Los Angeles to break the bad news to residents: They were going to have to drive less. Automobile smog was choking the city, in stark violation of the Clean Air Act, and the EPA had hatched a plan to clear the air, by promoting mass transit, parking fees, high-occupancy lanes, and gasoline rationing. The reaction from car-loving Californians was a combination of shock and outright rage. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," fumed one resident.

Is The Environment Doomed Once Republicans Take Congress?
October 25, 2010

This is the third in an occasional series examining how Republican control of Congress might affect policy debates in the next two years. (Part 1, Part 2) First, a question: Have the last two years, with Obama in the White House and Democrats running Congress, really been that great for environmental policy? It depends how you look at it. There was that debacle in the Gulf, which obviously wasn't handled well. Then the Senate failed to pass a climate bill, and the Copenhagen talks dragged along without much resolution.

Cap and Charade
October 14, 2010

In August 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama traveled to Lansing, Michigan, to lay out an ambitious ten-year plan for revitalizing, and fundamentally altering, the American economy. His administration, he vowed, would midwife new clean-energy industries, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and create five million green jobs. “Will America watch as the clean-energy jobs and industries of the future flourish in countries like Spain, Japan, or Germany?” Obama asked.

Just a Mess
October 13, 2010

Bill McKibben has penned a more-in-sorrow-than-anger piece (“Hot Mess”) in the current issue of the magazine, shaking his head at conservatives’ failure to adopt his position on global warming. (It is an almost exact recapitulation of Al Gore’s argument in TNR a few months ago, to which I also replied).

Did The White House Kill The Climate Bill?
October 04, 2010

In this week's New Yorker, Ryan Lizza has a long, truly excellent reported piece on how the climate bill died in the Senate. The big question is to what extent the White House deserves the blame: “I believe Barack Obama understands that fifty years from now no one’s going to know about health care,” the lobbyist said. “Economic historians will know that we had a recession at this time. Everybody is going to be thinking about whether Barack Obama was the James Buchanan of climate change.” Now, as Jonathan Zasloff notes, this isn't the most precise historical analogy of all time.

Politics and the Planet
February 11, 2010

Like many global-warming skeptics, Hansen has sharp disagreements with the mainstream consensus on climate change. Unlike the deniers, however, he bel

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