Environmental Issue

Last week, I mentioned a 2004 Reason article by Ronald Bailey advocating an individual mandate. The author's article responds, calling me "the New Republic's chief left-wing ideologue" -- take that, comrade Judis!

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Radley Balko at Reason again leaps to the defense of the Koch brothers. The question at hand is whether liberals are irrational to regard the Kochs as right-wingers and ideological adversaries. I argued that liberals are not irrational to think this way, since the Kochs heavily support Republicans in their political giving, and even their "battle of ideas" donations have a right-leaning tilt: Gillespie's implication is that, if you're horrified by the Bush administration's civil rights record and supportive of gay marriage, the Koch brothers are for you. In fact, they're not.

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Not many Ph.D. students expect their research to generate outrage among Washington pundits decades later, but, as it turns out, that's exactly what happened to Stephen Schneider. Back in 1971, Schneider was studying plasma physics at Columbia and moonlighting as a research assistant at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

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Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to report out climate legislation, with ten Democrats voting yes, one Democrat (Montana’s Sen. Baucus) voting no, and all of the Republicans boycotting. If you look at the vote tally (using Project Vulcan data), you find that the states of senators voting "no" emitted 29.4 tonnes of carbon per capita, and the states of "yes" voters emitted 13.3 tonnes per capita, compared with a national average of 20.9 tonnes per capita. What do you think?

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Bernard Avishai, the author of two excellent, but sometimes misunderstood, books on Israel and on Zionism,  is a professor of business at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and on top of the transformation of the older industrial into a new cyber-industrial economy. Avishai has written a very important article on the electric car for Inc.

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Much is in question today as Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman Barbara Boxer tries to push ahead with work on climate-change legislation, with Republicans threatening a boycott of the markup.

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Nuclear Option

Nukes, nukes, and … nukes. These days, when it comes to energy and climate change, that seems to be all Republicans want to talk about. Throughout last week's hearings on the Senate climate bill, Lamar Alexander kept interjecting that a massive ramp-up of nuclear power was the only real solution to global warming, bringing up the subject at every turn. For many of his colleagues, it's one of the few energy ideas that piques any interest at all.

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At the risk of seeming like I’m kissing up to the boss’s family, I have to flag this great essay by Jonathan Safran Foer in The Wall Street Journal making the Swiftian case for eating dog. After all, pigs are just as smart, but there’s nothing keeping most of us from firing up the spit-roaster. And of course, throughout history many people have taken to canine cuisine. It’s worth pointing out a few highlights from his essay. Here’s the best plank of his argument, the environmental reason for putting Fido on the dinner menu: Three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized annually.

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Last month, the Maldives held its cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the fact that the island nation is at risk of vanishing as global warming causes sea levels to rise. The cabinet members all put on scuba gear, got paired with a diving expert, and had to communicate by writing on whiteboards with nifty waterproof pens. Now the Nepalese government is trying to do one better, announcing its own cabinet meeting on... Mount Everest, in order to draw attention to melting glaciers.

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Now Google is in. In compelling testimony to the Energy and Public Works Committee last week, the director of climate change and energy initiatives for the company's philanthropy (Google.org), Dan Reicher, mounted a powerful argument that the federal government should invest at least $15 billion a year of climate bill revenues in clean energy research and development. Declared Reicher: Putting a price on carbon, while absolutely necessary, is not sufficient to address the climate problem and importantly, will not put the U.S.

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