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The futility of an international climate treaty

Ethan Elkind, director, Climate Program at Berkeley Law | March 27, 2015

Call it Kyoto Syndrome, but each year for the past few decades we hear hopeful things about the upcoming negotiations for the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” These discussions usually take place in some far-flung world capital, but they seem to always result in a nothing sandwich. In 2009, President Obama embarrassed himself … Continue reading »

Don’t know much ’bout climatology

Dan Farber, professor of law | January 22, 2015

Why should we believe the scientists about climate change?  Nobody — not even any individual scientist — understand all the details of the 1552-page “summary” of climate science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). So why buy into the idea that tiny amounts of gases from beneficial energy production can cause devastating global harm? Part of … Continue reading »

Is 2015 the year for a carbon tax?

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | January 5, 2015

Last year, during the holiday season the price of gasoline was at $3.57/gallon, which restricted the financial choices of everyday Americans. Actually from 2005 we consumers gradually adjusted to higher prices of oil. The adjustment wasn’t easy. Many lower-income individuals who purchased new homes far from work realized that they could not pay their mortgages, … Continue reading »

The US and China – New Best Climate Buddies?

David Roland-Holst, Adjunct Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics | November 17, 2014

This week’s climate announcement by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping is certainly momentous. The United States and China account for nearly half of global greenhouse gas emissions, making their joint participation a necessary condition for any successful global response to climate risk. By stepping up together, they are also removing one of the main … Continue reading »

A ray of hope on climate change (breaking news from China)

Dan Farber, professor of law | November 12, 2014

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a major deal on climate change this morning. As summarized by the Washington Post: China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, pledged in the far-reaching agreement to cap its rapidly growing carbon emissions by 2030, or earlier if possible. It also set a daunting goal of … Continue reading »

The future of conservation

Eric Biber, professor of law | November 4, 2014

Earlier this year I wrote critically about a New York Times op-ed that proposed making the restrictions on development in wilderness areas more flexible in order to allow for adaptation to climate change. This week the Times published what I think is a much more helpful op-ed on the topic of how we should address … Continue reading »

Should environmental news coverage be in the science section?

Eric Biber, professor of law | October 16, 2014

A while back I wrote about how the New York Times’ environmental coverage had been in decline. The public editor at the Times has a new article stating that environmental coverage has recently increased substantially. I think that is a great thing. But I want to focus on another element of the public editor’s article. … Continue reading »

Lessons from an epidemic

Dan Farber, professor of law | October 7, 2014

Ebola’s natural reservoirs are animals, if only because human hosts die to too quickly. Outbreaks tend to occur in locations where changes in landscapes have brought animals and humans into closer contact. Thus, there is considerable speculation about whether ecological factors might be related to the current outbreak. (See this New York Times opinion piece.) At … Continue reading »

A clean climate must be a consumer commodity

Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy | September 28, 2014

The United Nations Climate Summit  last week in New York was yet another venue for important scientific releases highlighting the now well-established scientific consensus about both the economic and social severity of inaction on global warming. Equally thoughtful and numerous will be the proposals to move nations to a common ground on a framework for … Continue reading »

Did We Just Find a Cool Trillion Dollars for Green Energy Projects? by Daniel Kammen and Felix Kramer

Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy | September 23, 2014

This post was authored by Daniel Kammen and Felix Kramer. Here’s a big idea that expresses the frustration, discontent, and anger we feel about how hard it ‘s been bring about the changes we need to address climate change.   This proposal shows how easy it can be. We have plenty of practical solutions — we … Continue reading »

The Gathering Storm – Michael Mann & Daniel M. Kammen

Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy | September 19, 2014

This post is coauthored by scientists Michael Mann and Daniel M. Kammen. Winston Churchill saw the gathering storm long before the rest of the world. Europe sacrificed millions of people before it openly acknowledged and then directly confronted the crisis. Yet, even after the Allies responded, the outcome was uncertain. Only when the U.S. entered … Continue reading »

Clean Tech 0 vs. Carbon 1

Santiago Miret, Ph.D. student, materials science & engineering | September 17, 2014

Even though clean energy technologies have experienced substantial rapid growth in recent years, their combined efforts were not enough to prevent the largest single-year increase of atmospheric CO2 release since 1984. In 2013 alone, the atmospheric CO2 concentration jumped by 2.9 parts per million (ppm) to a total of 396 ppm. A consortium of scientists of … Continue reading »

Why defamation suit against climate denialists is the right move

Ethan Elkind, director, Climate Program at Berkeley Law | August 25, 2014

One of the country’s leading climate scientists, Dr. Michael Mann, has been harassed, threatened, and berated for his views that human actions are contributing to global climate change. But not just from anonymous commenters on websites — from leading publications like the National Review Online. After being compared to Jerry Sandusky and having the credibility … Continue reading »

Bad idea: change the Wilderness Act to respond to climate change

Eric Biber, professor of law | July 10, 2014

The Wilderness Act is one of the iconic pieces of environmental legislation, and it is 50 years old this year. It created a process and management standard by which millions of acres of relatively undeveloped federal land were protected from development and most forms of active human management. These lands are to be managed, as … Continue reading »

The ‘Yoga Theorem’ and the EPA’s new carbon-emissions policy

Maximilian Auffhammer, professor, international sustainable development | June 5, 2014

With the historical release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon emissions policy, I took an extra day to comb through and digest the news. I have organized my intermediate microeconomics class around something called the “Yoga Theorem.” This almost universal truth states that the less flexible you are, the more you will suffer.  It holds … Continue reading »

Obamacare’s lessons for the future of EPA’s CO2 rule

Eric Biber, professor of law | June 4, 2014

There has (rightly) been a lot of attention paid to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule controlling greenhouse gas emissions from power plants pursuant to Clean Air Act, Section 111(d). All of that analysis — how effective the rule will be, how it will be implemented, the prospects for successful legal challenges to the rule … Continue reading »

The Pentagon sees climate change as a national-security threat; House Republicans seek to thwart it

Dan Farber, professor of law | May 27, 2014

The military considers climate change to be a threat to national security.  Naturally, that’s news that the House Republicans would like to suppress.  Last week, they tried to do something about it with an appropriations rider. Luckily, the amendment is so poorly drafted that it would accomplish almost nothing. None of the funds authorized to be … Continue reading »

Will smog in China spur climate solutions?

Catherine Wolfram, faculty co-director, Energy Institute at Haas | April 23, 2014

I have read a number of news stories about air pollution in the major Chinese cities recently. A soupy smog of particulates, ozone, sulfur and nitrogen oxides hangs over Beijing, Tianjin and other northern cities. The concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) in Beijing recently registered at 501 μg/m3, more than 15 times the highest recordedvalue in Los … Continue reading »