The Green Bubble

SOMETIME AFTER THE release of An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, environmentalism crossed from political movement to cultural moment. Fortune 500 companies pledged to go carbon neutral. Seemingly every magazine in the country, including Sports Illustrated, released a special green issue. Paris dimmed the lights on the Eiffel Tower. Solar investments became hot, even for oil companies. Evangelical ministers preached the gospel of “creation care.” Even archconservative Newt Gingrich published a book demanding action on global warming. Green had moved beyond politics.

Capping Carbon: The Economic Case For Acting Quickly
March 23, 2009

Michael A. Livermore is the executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law. He is the author, along with Richard L. Revesz, of Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health. According to various press reports, the Obama administration and Congress may decide not to push a cap on carbon emissions through this year's budget reconciliation process (meaning any bill would likely need to overcome a difficult filibuster).

The End Of Aviation
August 27, 2008

As the age of cheap oil comes to a close, it's springtime for gloomy futurists. Visions of a brutish world marked by violent squabbles over dwindling reserves, of junkyards littered with abandoned cars, of suburban slums overrun by weeds, of the collapse of industrial agriculture--none of this sounds as outlandish as it once did.

A (partial) Defense Of Kyoto
July 16, 2008

Strange to say, but it's fast becoming conventional wisdom these days to argue that the Kyoto Protocol has been a flop, and that European countries are all cheerfully blowing right past their carbon targets. (I've been sympathetic to that argument in the past, though I hardly think it means that any global agreement—or emissions-trading regime—is pointless.) But over at Global Dashboard, policy analyst David Steven has a long post compiling evidence that Kyoto might be working effectively, after all.

Cultural Devolution
July 09, 2008

Cross over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, head north for half an hour, and you'll reach Mount Tamalpais State Park, home to redwood groves and, a little ways up, panoramic views of the bay. As it turns out, though, the park is also home to large amounts of pollution from Asia--dust, sulfur, trace metals--blowing in from across the Pacific. "We call it the persistent Asian plume," says Steven Cliff, an atmospheric scientist currently working with the California Air Resources Board.

Freedom Freaks
June 25, 2008

Idov: Scenes from the Libertarian Party's tragicomic demise.

Gaming Emissions In The Eu
June 04, 2008

For six months, Europe has been surreptitiously floating a revision to its early and enthusiastic dedication to the Kyoto treaty, which it embraced in 1994 and ratified in 2002. The pledge then committed Europe to a reduction in emissions below 1990 levels; today, however, folks at the European Commission--worried about the body's sluggish pace on its emissions goals for 2020--are trying to move the goalposts, to reducing emissions based not on 1990, but on 2005 levels. Why?

Starting Over Abroad
May 28, 2008

Some of our commenters have pondered how best our civilization—or, better, our governments—can juggle the greening of developing, industrial and post-industrial countries simultaneously. Many contemporary examples (Indian car giant Tata will soon ship the $2500 “people’s car” to customers across the globe) suggest the problem of expanding access to "dirty," high-consumption living is more pressing than ever.

Following The Bali Talks (but Not Too Closely...)
December 04, 2007

There sure are a lot of news reports being filed from Bali—where delegates from some 190 nations are starting to discuss what sort of climate change treaty might follow Kyoto—but there's not much in the way of actual, er, news. The one piece I'd recommend is Alan Zarembo's harsh—but perfectly fair—article in the Los Angeles Times detailing all the ways in which the first Kyoto treaty fell flat.

Second Life
September 24, 2007

Rachel Carson opened Silent Spring, her 1962 polemic against chemical pesticides, with a terrible prophecy: "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." She proceeded to narrate a "Fable for Tomorrow," describing a bucolic American town "where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." The nearby farms flourished, the foxes barked, and the birds sang in a kind of pastoral Eden. "Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community." Cattle died. Children died.