Ken Caldeira

Planet Doom
April 28, 2010

For most of the 2.5 million years that humans and their predecessors have been around, the Earth has been a volatile place. Subtle shifts in the planet’s orbit have triggered large temperature swings; glaciers have marched across North America and Europe and then retreated. But, about 10,000 years ago, something unusual happened: The Earth’s climate settled into a relatively stable state, global temperatures started hovering within a narrow band, and sea levels stopped rising and falling so drastically.

How Big A Deal Is Outsourced Pollution?
March 08, 2010

It's fairly straightforward to measure how much carbon dioxide a given country is emitting within its own borders. Just count the factories and power plants and cars and so forth and tally up all that pollution. But what about outsourced emissions? After all, the United States and Europe consume a whole bunch of goods manufactured overseas, and those emissions usually get chalked up to developing countries like China. So who bears the responsibility here? It's a dicey question, though the first step is to get a handle on how much carbon pollution actually gets outsourced.

Does "Superfreakonomics" Need A Do-Over?
October 16, 2009

I enjoyed the original Freakonomics quite a bit. It surveyed some fun-to-read economic research that Steve Levitt had done at the University of Chicago, and while a lot of that work was employed in the service of trifling questions ("Do sumo wrestlers cheat?" "Do game-show participants discriminate?"), it was clear Levitt was a clever economist who could gin up fascinating "natural experiments" to crack open everyday mysteries. So now Levitt and his co-author Stephen Dubner have a sequel, Superfreakonomics, which includes a chapter on climate change.