Kyoto

Former Senator Chuck Hagel served in the Senate as a Republican, but you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise this week: Most of the attacks on his potential nomination as Secretary of Defense have come from conservatives troubled by his realist foreign policy views and past statements on Israel. This has led some liberals to rush to his defense. “He wanted the United States to exert influence internationally, but by working with other countries,” John Judis wrote. But Hagel’s belief in international cooperation had its limits.

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The former Republican senator deserves a fair shot to become the next Secretary of Defense.

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Steve Jobs Is A Ninja

File this under "news stories I did not see coming": Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs said he’ll never return to Japan after officials at an airport barred him from taking Ninja throwing stars aboard his private plane, SPA! magazine reported in its latest issue. A security scan at Kansai International Airport, near Osaka, detected the weapons inside the executive’s carry-on luggage in July as he was returning home to the U.S.

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Non-STARTer

Nuclear policy analysts are apoplectic about his "shabby, misleading and … thoroughly ignorant" reasoning, and his arguments have already been rebutted on the merits in a number of places (including here,  here, here, and here). But the question at hand isn't necessarily whether Romney's ghostwriter "has even the vaguest acquaintance with the subject matter." As with the "death panels," Romney's op-ed is an ideological statement, which does not require fealty to facts.

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I didn't get a chance to mention this yesterday, but Robert Byrd's death definitely jumbles the political landscape for climate/energy legislation—though maybe not in the way most people would assume. For a long time, Byrd had been a staunch coal guy (it's West Virginia, after all) who was firmly opposed to doing anything about global warming.

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If you live in a city or suburb, chances are your regional government has tried to get your attention. Did you notice? Many of the issues your regional government is grappling with are actually important to you: the quality of the air you breathe, the quality of public transportation, the availability of green open space, and more. As important as these issues are, I can almost guarantee that planners from your region have had to work extra hard to convince the press -- not to mention the citizens that live and work there -- to pay attention.

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You don't usually hear a whole lot about what individual states are doing to tackle climate change. Surely those efforts, however noble, are just too small to matter—too local, too patchy. The only people who can really make a dent in U.S. energy policy are wandering around Capitol Hill, right? It's Congress or bust? Well, maybe. But that option's not looking too bright these days, given the fog around whether Congress will even pass a climate bill this year (or next year, or…).

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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.

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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.

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Here's one of the slightly-under-the-radar stories at Copenhagen: The Wall Street Journal has a piece about how any eventual climate agreement will likely include a modest tax on "bunker fuel," the low-grade oil that ships use for fuel. Much like airlines, the shipping industry was exempt from the original Kyoto Protocol, but since shipping now accounts for 3 percent to 5 percent of the world's carbon emissions, that won't last.

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