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Courtney Ridenhour
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This interview underscores the importance of grassroots efforts and talking to voters on a community level. Often the issue both policymakers and voters face is a lack of factual information. The reporter and Tejada mention the failed cap-and-trade bill in 2010, suggesting a lack of support and knowledge from the bottom may have been to blame. Tejada says a lack of grassroots efforts have “been a major reason why some things haven’t been successful over the last five or ten years, why the environmental community has lost on some really big issues. We didn’t put the time or the resources or the effort into building a true grassroots foundation for our advocacy platform.” Policy tends to be reactive. We can talk about the normative endlessly – what should be done, when it should be done – but until scientists, activists and politicians start sharing their findings and ideas with the general public, most policies won’t make it beyond the House. Until then, there will be a disconnect.
Between the ambitious timeline and the promise of near-zero carbon emissions, the study by scientists at Cornell University and the University of California-Davis seems to be a perfect solution. Except both the press release and post on e360 forget one important detail – how much would this cost? In order to determine if this is a viable and rational option for New York State, policymakers need that side of the equation. Realistically speaking, Schrag’s suggestion of a diversified energy portfolio that includes coal and natural gas along with renewables seems to be the best solution in the near future.
Katy brings up an excellent point about the effect of air pollution on productivity. High PM levels also have implications for health impacts. An MIT study published in March 2011 looked at changes in PM from 1975 to 2005 and their corresponding health costs. In 1975, costs were around $22 billion. In 2005, they had quintupled to $112 billion. It’s important to note that because of China’s rapidly expanding economy, health damage costs from air pollution are proportionally smaller than they were in 1975. I’d be interested to see how PM levels have changed since MIT conducted their research, and how damage costs have varied with a growing population. Here’s the link to the MIT Study: http://globalchange.mit.edu/research/publications/2142
Toggle Commented Mar 4, 2013 on Off The Charts at Jolly Green General
Doherty’s study further reinforces that what we face isn’t entirely a consumption problem. As we discussed in class, we face a coal problem. With an estimated 400+ years of coal reserves, and energy use in developing countries is predicted to increase fivefold, coal poses a greater problem. The new information on the damage costs of black carbon further this point. The study found coal is a “potent source of warming from soot.” A forest fire produces black carbon and organic carbon molecules – the latter offsets the warming from the former. This is not the case for burning coal. There is no counterbalancing effect, driving the costs only higher.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2013 on Worse than we thought.... at Jolly Green General
When I first read that 80 percent of Americans believe global warming would be at least a somewhat serious issue if left unaddressed, I was a little surprised. Most articles about global warming frame the subject as a two-sided issue that remains unresolved. But that is the nature of how news is presented. In a number of my journalism classes, we’ve discussed this very subject. As Emily points out, 99 percent of scientists acknowledge that global warming is a serious problem, but the other one percent still gets media attention. The reason? Journalists are repeatedly told to present both sides of an issue. It is done in the name of neutrality. But what if the dissenters are in a clear minority? What treatment should they be given? This problem is frequently mulled over in the field of journalism ethics. It’s an interesting question to ask. In this case, coverage of global warming can be misleading to the public. Hence my initial reaction to the figure Silver presents. That being said, disproportionate media coverage may be a factor influencing the 20 percent of Americans who do not see global warming as a threat if left unaddressed.
A number of comments acknowledge the negative connotation of the term ‘tax.’ The paper by Buchanan and Tullock that Zetland introduces a Wicksellian framework – “a two-sided tax subsidy arrangement” – as a policy option that could combat that stigma and industry-driven resistance to Pigouvian taxes. Pigouvian taxes result in capital losses for producers in the short-run. Under the Wicksellian model, the revenues from the implementation of the tax would subsidize those subjected to the tax. If the subsidies are not tied to the individual producers’ rates of output, the policy can achieve both popular support and efficiency.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2013 on My Bad..... at Jolly Green General
I looked around on Bernie Sanders’ website and his office’s brief summary came out the day after John Whitehead posted about Sanders’ proposed climate bill. In addition to charging a fee to the most egregious polluters, Sanders called for “historic investment in efficiency, sustainable energy, advanced transportation infrastructure, and clean energy research and development. The measure also would end fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks.” The proposition is a sweeping one – clean energy, altered transportation, R&D, and a change in subsidies and the tax code. So is it politically viable? The assumption, as Zack Colman of The Hill points out, is that Republicans would block environmental legislation in both the Senate and the House. Operating under this hypothesis, Sanders’ proposal would not make it too far. A more conservative measure – one that say just addressed the fee for polluters – would have a greater likelihood of succeeding. That being said, the value of the discussion Sanders’ proposal creates on both Capitol Hill and in the public forum might be more powerful. It’s an interesting problem to have – do you try and tackle climate change all at once, or, instead, do you make incremental changes? Would public opinion sway legislators to making dramatic changes, and, if so, how quickly? Summary from Sen. Sanders’ website: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=9c355769-b4e0-4138-8018-921bc3129a3b Zack Colman’s article on The Hill: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/276985-sierra-club-starts-campaign-to-push-obama-on-climate
Toggle Commented Jan 15, 2013 on Rumor has it..... at Jolly Green General
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Jan 14, 2013