Natural Disaster

California's Snowpack Problem
February 02, 2009

From the department of ominous ledes: "State officials reported a Sierra Nevada snowpack smaller than normal on Thursday and said California may be at the beginning of its worst drought in modern history." Uh oh. Okay, so is this the onset of perennial drought in California or is it just year-to-year variability? There's evidence that what's going on now is somewhat flukish: One big culprit appears to be La Nina, which has been pushing winter storms further north, past California and up to Washington and Canada. But this could also be a sign of things to come.

How Much Urgency Can We Really Take?
January 23, 2009

Yesterday I mentioned a new Pew poll suggesting that most Americans don't consider global warming too pressing of a priority. Today, Andy Revkin writes up the report in the print edition of The New York Times, and solicits some thoughtful responses about what the results might mean for Obama's energy and climate policies: But some experts in climate and energy policy say, given Americans' continuing concern about filling their gas tanks and lighting their homes, Mr.

Are Moderates Really Pragmatists?
January 09, 2009

Matt Yglesias takes aim at the notion that centrism and pragmatism are one and the same: In the United States, slavish adherence to “moderate” positions is often construed as exhibited “pragmatism” that’s in distinction to the more “ideological” views of people with less centrist views. In fact, moderation can reflect ideology ever bit as much as extremism can. This is certainly right, up to a point.

Surveying The Wreckage At Epa
January 07, 2009

This came out in early December, but John Shiffman and John Sullivan's long Philadelphia Inquirer profile of Stephen Johnson, Bush's last (and perhaps most controversial) EPA head, is absolutely fantastic.

The Economic Crisis Is The Health Care Crisis, Part 2
December 30, 2008

A few weeks ago, when President-Elect Obama introduced his health care advising team, he addressed critics who say dealing with the economic crisis necessarily means postponing health care reform. The economic crisis and the health care crisis are not separate, he explained. They are closely related. Among other things, when people lose jobs, they frequently lose their health insurance. Here in Massachusetts, where I've been spending the holidays, we now have (more) evidence of how true that is.

The Economic Crisis Is The Health Care Crisis, Cont'd
December 30, 2008

A few weeks ago, when President-Elect Obama introduced his health care advising team, he addressed critics who say dealing with the economic crisis necessarily means postponing health care reform. The economic crisis and the health care crisis are not separate, he explained. They are closely related. Among other things, when people lose jobs, they frequently lose their health insurance. Here in Massachusetts, where I've been spending the holidays, we now have (more) evidence of how true that is.

What Obama's Security Team Means For Energy
December 01, 2008

Over at The Washington Independent, Spencer Ackerman wonders why Barack Obama didn't name an energy secretary as part of his newly designated security team today, and it's a fair question. After all, Obama himself has underscored the connection between energy security and national security before (alas, that linked speech also includes some wrongheaded pandering to the Governor's Ethanol Coalition), and he touched on this theme again in his remarks today.

Has *any* Country Had Luck Cutting Emissions?
November 19, 2008

Next month, international talks for a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol will kick off in Poland. But whatever happened with the last treaty? First, the good news: According to new U.N. data, the world is on pace to meet its Kyoto targets—right now, the 39 signatory states have reduced their greenhouse-gas emissions, on average, about 17 percent below 1990 levels. (The treaty calls for the states to be, on average, 5 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.) Sounds good, huh?

No, Obama Didn't Win A "mandate"
November 18, 2008

Gerald Seib and Sara Murray of the Wall Street Journal link to my latest TRB column: There’s been much post-election discussion about whether the size of President-elect Barack Obama’s win gives him a “mandate” to govern the way he sees fit. Jonathan Chait of The New Republic weighs in, answering that question with a clear “yes.” I certainly can't blame Seib and Murray for reaching this conclusion, in part because the headline on the website reads "He Won a Mandate," but my column actually does not argue that Obama won a mandate.

Obama Babies
November 06, 2008

So a handful of newborns in Kenya have apparently been named in honor of Barack Obama. After an election night of revelry in San Francisco's Misson District, a pal calls with a story assignment for an American analogue--albeit one we'd have to wait nine months to identify: Will the celebrations of Tuesday night lead, like the blizzard of '96, to its own Obama Baby boom? There's nothing like the combination of jubilliation and new faith in the future to prompt a couple to conceive. Well, there's one thing: The combination of copious drinking and unplanned fellow-travelling hookups.

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