An International Renewable Energy Agency

Prometheus and Nature News report that on January 26th, 75 nations signed an agreement calling for the creation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).  Its mission is to become  "the main driving force in promoting a rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy on a global scale. Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, IRENA will provide practical advice and support for both industrialized and developing co...

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Ocean Acidification and the Clean Water Act

Dan's post today on ocean acidification discusses findings by an international scientific panel that ocean acidification is a very serious problem.  This week, according to the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the U.S. EPA just agreed to review whether and how the federal Clean Water Act can or should be used to address ocean acidifcation.  According to CBD's media release, EPA’s formal response to the Center’s petition sets out a public process to...

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When the Seas Turn Sour

Just in case you didn't have enough to worry about, the New York Times reports there is growing concern about the impact of CO2 levels on the oceans: The oceans have long buffered the effects of climate changeby absorbing a substantial portion of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. But this benefit has a catch: as the gas dissolves, it makes seawater more acidic. Now an international panel of marine scientists says this acidity is accelerating so fast it threatens the sur...

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A Jolt to the Economy

Perhaps unavoidably, the stimulus package that passed the House on Wednesday authorizes broad investment goals, but offers few details. In some instances, this leaves us with much opportunity for honest debate. Consider, for instance, the various authorizations related to improvement and expansion of the electric grid. With up to $8 billion in loan guarantees, $6.5 billion for federally-owned transmission expansion, and $4.5 billion for grid modernization, that is up to...

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Jody Freeman to White House

According to press reports, Jody Freeman, a Harvard Law School professor, will be the counselor for energy and climate change in the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change -- in other words, a senior advisor to Carol Browner.  Jody is well known to all of us, having been a long-time member of the UCLA faculty before she went to Harvard.  She is also the coauthor with Dan Farber and Ann Carlson of a leading enviromental law casebook. Congratulations, Jody!...

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Federal scientists could get increased whistleblower protection

Before it passed the economic stimulus bill on Wednesday, the House grafted on the text of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, H.R. 985, from the previous Congress.  That bill, which passed the House last year, would (among other things) have extended whistleblower protection to federal workers who reveal the dissemination of "false or misleading" scientific information or actions that "compromise the validity" of federal research or analysis. Enhanced protec...

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Gobama Bounce?

Two days ago, the Emmett Center hosted what we thought would be a tidy, manageable panel and "roundtable discussion" on SB 375, California's new anti-sprawl law and the state's latest legislative attempt to tackle GHG emissions from passenger vehicles.  In line with turnout to similar past events, we booked a room that holds 90 people and crossed our fingers that we'd fill it. After more than 260 people (community members, local city staffers, environmental lawyers, jo...

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New Jungles for Old?

The New York Times has an interesting article about the growth of new forests as poor people abandon farms and move to the cities in less developed countries.  Carbon storage is complicated, so we don't really know yet just how much effect this might have on climate.  But it's obviously a very interesting development. As the Times reports: Here, and in other tropical countries around the world, small holdings like Ms. Ortega de Wing's - and much larger swaths of farml...

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The Bathtub Effect: A sobering assessment of where we are on climate change (but what does this mean for adaptation efforts?)

Andrew Revkin of the New York Times has posted an important essay discussing implications of the recent report by Dr. Susan Solomon and others documenting the profoundly serious impacts that will result from letting GHG concentrations in the atmosphere get too high before they are stabilized (the subject of this post below by Dan and this one by Holly).  The conclusion: we have to act big, and act now, to reduce our impacts on the climate.  What is less obvious is what...

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Conflicting data need not make environmental controversies worse

Anyone interested in the resolution of environmental controversies featuring conflicting or incomplete scientific accounts (and what interesting environmental conflict doesn't fit in that category?) should read this article by Biggs et al. in the January issue of BioScience (subscription required). As the authors explain, the fact that two scientific studies produce conflicting results or lead to differing conclusions does not mean that one must be wrong or fraudulent w...

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