Deregulation, Normal Accidents, and the Airborne Toxic Event
What can we learn from the East Palestine train wreck?
Source: Wikimedia Commons The East Palestine train derailment is the story that won’t go away. Images of enraged residents shouting at company executives and government officials about the inadequacy of the response remind us all that across our vast industrial economy accidents of one sort or another are always waiting to happen while private firms …
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Cutting 290,000 Tons of Water Pollution a Year, One Coal Plant at a Time
Coal is a dirty fuel. It’s not just air pollution or climate change.
EPA proposed new regulations next week to reduce the water pollution impacts of coal-fired power plants. As EPA regulations go, these count as fairly minor. They got a bit of news coverage in coal country and industry publications. But they will eliminate the discharge of thousands of tons of pollutants, including a lot of metals …
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The Great-Great-Grandmother of Climate Science
Herein of the now-forgotten woman who discovered the warming effect of CO2.
The first climate science ever published was in 1856 by Eunice Newton Foote, who discovered that CO2 and water vapor trapped the sun’s heat. Her paper was read at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That paper, along with another paper of hers, were the only physics papers by …
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Should There Be a ‘Non-Use’ Agreement on Solar Geoengineering?
Why I signed the call for a non-use agreement, and what that might mean for research.
Although I’m a newbie at the Emmett Institute, I have been working on geoengineering for a decade now. I have heard countless arguments over whether and how solar geoengineering could be useful in the struggle to manage climate change. I have seen deeply misleading claims by both its supporters and detractors, many trying to coopt …
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This Climate Debate is a lot of Hot Air
Geoengineering is having a moment. But much of the media coverage is failing to capture the actual debate.
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about geoengineering – the various scientific theories and governance ideas that could eventually lead to technological interventions to help cool the planet. A weather balloon stunt in Mexico by a small startup called Make Sunsets generated a lot of hot headlines, even though that solar geoengineering “experiment” was so …
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Is Bipartisanship Possible?
It’s not easy in today’s polarized politics. But maybe it’s not completely off the table.
We are now, as so often, in a time of divided government. That makes bipartisan cooperation necessary. We are also in a time of hyper-partisanship. The problem may be compounded by the concessions made by McCarthy to the far Right in order to become Speaker. Nevertheless, there may be some opportunities for cooperation across party …
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A Dangerous Disruption
A startup firm proposes to sell dubious carbon credits from stratospheric aerosol injection
Last week, MIT’s “Technology Review” reported that a small startup firm is proposing to spray reflective aerosols in the stratosphere commercially as a climate corrective. (Stratospheric Aerosol Injection or SAI.) Previously announced online in the Google Geoengineering Group, the firm is small and new, operating with a claimed total of $750K of venture financing. They …
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Keep on Trucking
A new rule will clean up exhaust from new diesels, a major health threat.
Last week, EPA finalized its new rule imposing emission limits on new heavy trucks. The new regulation was clearly a massive undertaking. EPA’s formal announcement of the new rule is 1100 pages long. The accompanying summary of comments on the proposed rule and EPA’s responses is another 2000 pages. This is partly due to the …
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Stanford’s Sustainability School: A Good Model?
There are pros and cons, but it makes sense to bring the university org. chart into the 21st century.
In my last post, I wrote about universities like Stanford that are creating new programs in sustainability. Stanford’s move may inspire others to follow. There are pros and cons, but it seems inevitable that the organization of universities will ultimately take account of one of the biggest problems facing humanity. Administrative reorganizations, whether in government, …
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The Revolution, the Enlightenment and the Climate Crisis
The Founding Era’s belief in facts and science has too often been replaced with political identity as a test of truth.
The Declaration of Independence is a document deeply rooted in the Enlightenment. The Declaration begins with a note of cosmopolitanism, referring to “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” There is then the famous passage declaring “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator …
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