The Skywriter

Weekly roundup 11/19/10: An economic focus (VIDEO)


Weekly roundup 11/19/10: An economic focus (VIDEO)


This week, we heard from the U.N. climate chief about impending talks in Mexico, some strong arguments for climate change legislation - from our wallet's perspective -- and learned why a national coal survey is long overdue.


AFP reports that Christina Figueres, the U.N. climate chief, expressed her confidence in solidifying deals for climate aid during the world climate talks in Mexico. There's been mass speculation that, with the U.S.'s ailing economy and residual problems from the last talk in Copenhagen, gathering the $100 billion a year in climate aid from all the sources who pledged to contribute may prove difficult. Figueres acknowledges the "political gaps" that would be no small feat to bridge during the UNFCCC, but says compromise is necessary in Mexico. State-side, there have also been positive steps made in U.S. cities responding to climate change.

A local step forward

This week, ICLEI launched Climate Resilient Communities, (CRC) the nation's first comprehensive climate adaption program. This affirms the commitment of eight cities and counties around the U.S. to protect their communities from climate change impacts. Most notably, they'll receive an Adaptation and Database Planning Tool, (ADAPT) that will walk users through assessing regional vulnerabilities, setting residency goals, and developing strategies to integrate into local planning efforts.

This is a powerful step for the participating cities, like Boston, and counties like Miami-Dade in Florida. They'll receive community specific strategies for strengthening infrastructure, assessing vulnerabilities, setting resiliency goals, and developing effective strategies that integrate into existing local planning efforts.

Martin Chávez, ICLEI USA Executive Director, explains,

Local governments have a responsibility to protect people, property, and natural resources, and these leading communities wisely recognize that climate change is happening now…"

Let's hope this effort sets some major trends around the country. ICLEI's CRC page offers a slew of adaptation resources for local governments, even if you don't live in one of the participating cities.

Strong parting words

You're not hearing many people in the GOP coming out strong for climate science these days, and just with our luck -- Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina is on his way out. Republican Rep. Inglis lost the bid for re-election in the primary to a more conservative candidate, but he's not leaving silently. He attributes his belief in climate science as contributing factor to what hurt him in the polls, and publicly expressed his frustration with the climate skepticism that seems to run rampant in the next Republican controlled House.

He voiced his frustration at a House science subcommittee hearing on the science of climate change, making particular reference to, "people who make a lot of money on talk radio and talk TV saying a lot of things... They substitute their judgment for people who have Ph.D.s and work tirelessly." Though he sees flaws in this new House, he affirms that as one door closes, another is waiting - wide open.

I encourage the scientists that are listening out there to get ready for the hearings that are coming up in the next Congress," he said. "Those will be difficult hearings for climate scientists. But I would encourage you to welcome those as fabulous opportunities to teach. Don't come here defensively. Say, 'I'm glad to have an opportunity to explain the science.'"

One of his most significant appeals was to his free enterprise colleagues,

" whether you think it's all a bunch of hooey, what we talk about in this committee -- the Chinese don't, and they plan on eating our lunch in the next century, working on these problems... We may press the pause button for a few years, but China is pressing the fast-forward button."

Inglis's stance is important, and provides a possible key to attracting more skeptics to climate science -- by dangling a financial carrot. Economic gains from manufacturing, job creation and innovation are all waiting; but will we let China take the opportunity off our hands?

Green For All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins spoke on MSNBC with the very same message. There is a new House, but the issues are the same: jobs and economy. If the U.S. leads the big green way with climate and energy legislation, we can put people back to work. Check out Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins has to say about the financial approach to getting tough legislation from an even tougher House. The fight can't just be about climate anymore. "We have to talk about jobs, not climate. It's not about the polar bear, but the American worker. "

Coal: the chunk isn't so cheap

In a new article from Nature Journal, Post Carbon Institute Fellows David Fridley and Richard Heinberg argue the popular notion that coal is a cheap bank of energy is about to be turned on its head. They explain why coal prices are going to start rising sooner than we thought, as global demand has taken a sharp rise. The last US national coal survey hasn't been completed since the 1970's and Heinberg and Fridley say we're long overdue. Read the article here, if you are a subscriber to Nature Journal or listen to the podcast on why the economic shocks from ignoring the fate of coal may be too much for us to bear.

As a reminder today is the last day to sign the 1Sky petition to tell the EPA to crack down on coal ash.

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