09 April 2010

Dot Earth 2.0

Andy Revkin's Dot Earth has moved to the NYT opinion page. Congrats to Andy and to the NYT. Judging from Andy's first post, we can expect some of the most thoughtful commentary on the subject anywhere on or off the web, and the NYT's capacity on this topic has just taken a big step forward.

Here is an excerpt:
. . . if I had to choose one of two bumper stickers for our car — CLIMATE CRISIS or ENERGY QUEST — I’d choose the latter. This doesn’t mean I reject the idea that we face a climate crisis. I just don’t think that phrase is a productive way to frame this challenge, particularly as defined over the last few years in the heated policy debate. . .

The world is not remotely engaged in the kind of energy quest that would be required to fill the gaps defined above. I’m talking about a sustained quest, from the household light socket to the boardroom, the laboratory to the classroom, the smart post-industrial American city to the struggling, (literally) powerless sub-Saharan village. This is not some onerous task, but an active, positive assertion that the ways we harvest and use energy — an asset long taken for granted and priced in ways that mask its broader costs — really do matter. Dry places do this with water all the time. In Israel, there is no toilet without two flush options. It’s not some goofball green concept; it’s just the way things are done.

You’ve heard a lot about an energy revolution of late, involving a (temporary) burst of spending from the stimulus legislation. But it’s building from a paltry base of both public and private investment in the energy arenas where breakthroughs could really expand the menu of energy options required to sustain a prospering, healthy planet as the human growth spurt crests. I’m not saying that a sustained investment in scientific research is remotely sufficient, on its own, to drive an energy transformation. But I do see levels of investment in such inquiry as a proxy for our overall interest in this issue.

Check it out.


  1. I'm surprised Mr. Rivkin would limit his choices to "either or." Why not get on-board with the efforts to strangle one to promote the other? http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/apArticle/id/D9EV6I302/

    "Plans to sell 91,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota were put on hold Thursday by federal land managers who say they need to study the climate change impacts of oilfield activities.

    The move comes three weeks after the Bureau of Land Management agreed to suspend activity on 38,000 acres of leases sold in 2008. That came as part of a settlement between the agency and environmental groups that filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to block the sale."

  2. WTF? Nine Billion people? When did UN projections become established fact?

    Oh wait...

  3. This is a significant back down on his part. While we will never likely see an apology for his being a direct pipeline for some of the most inflammatroy fear mongering in recent history irt climate, he is at least gracefully seeking a path to reality.

  4. "WTF? Nine Billion people? When did UN projections become established fact?"

    Fertility is falling and families are shrinking in places— such as Brazil, Indonesia, and even parts of India—that people think of as teeming with children. As our briefing shows, the fertility rate of half the world is now 2.1 or less—the magic number that is consistent with a stable population and is usually called “the replacement rate of fertility”. Sometime between 2020 and 2050 the world’s fertility rate will fall below the global replacement rate


  5. "Nine Billion people? When did UN projections become established fact?"

    What do you think the human population is going to be mid-century?

  6. 5-How should I know? Nobody does. Why not just use current population figures instead of something that hasn't happened yet and might not ever happen?

    And wouldn't Andy have just as much egg on his face if it turned out there are were 20 billion people as if there were only seven billion?

  7. "if I had to choose one of two bumper stickers for our car — CLIMATE CRISIS or ENERGY QUEST"

    If there was a climate crisis in which civilisation was under threat from evil corporations, there would be public protests. There are none.

    Despite the authority of an army of bought and paid for academics and countless millions of dollars in government and corporate propaganda, no one believes you.

    Is Andrew Revkin, the last collaborator to be pulled into the helicopter from the roof of the embassy building ? Is global warming the Vietnam of public policy ?

    Let's call it energy quest.

    Journalism - another day, another lie.

  8. Blame the yanks ?

    Confidential document reveals Obama's hardline US climate talk strategy
    Document outlines key messages the Obama administration wants to convey in the run-up to UN climate talks in Mexico in November

    Titled Strategic Communications Objectives and dated 11 March 2010, it outlines the key messages that the Obama administration wants to convey to its critics and to the world media in the run-up to the vital UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico in November. (You can read the document text below).

    Top of the list of objectives is to: "Reinforce the perception that the US is constructively engaged in UN negotiations in an effort to produce a global regime to combat climate change." It also talks of "managing expectations" of the outcome of the Cancun meeting and bypassing traditional media outlets by using podcasts and "intimate meetings" with the chief US negotiator to disarm the US's harsher critics.

    But the key phrase is in paragraph 3 where the author writes: "Create a clear understanding of the CA's [Copenhagen accord's] standing and the importance of operationalising ALL elements."
    This is the clearest signal that the US will refuse to negotiate on separate elements of the controversial accord, but intends to push it through the UN process as a single "take it or leave it" text.

    The accord is the last-minute agreement reached at the chaotic Copenhagen summit in December. Over 110 countries are now "associated" with the accord but it has not been adopted by the 192-nation UN climate convention. The US has denied aid to some countries that do not support the accord.


  9. The only reliable long term world demographic projections were made by Walt Rostow about 10 years ago and he concluded that world population would peak at ~9 billion sometime around the middle of this century, for the reasons for the well-established reasons cited by eric144 above. Once this tipping pont is reached, the main geopolitical agenda will have to focus on how to deal with the surplus of riches than mankind can and will create. I'll not be there to enjoy this (unless biotechnology advances enough to give me periodic re-boots) but my children and their children will be. In many ways, I think that these descendants of mine will look back on he 1950-2050 period as the "Dark Ages" of scientific non-enquiry, where "modern" versions of alchemy and faith-based theory prevailed over proper examination of the facts.

  10. I have always liked Revkin's column and admired his work, for the most part.

    I was disappointed that he did not write a full disclosure of his close encounters with the CRU/ClimateGate crowd, giving us the real inside scoop of their attempts to influence his reporting.

    For that and other reasons, I have long felt that his column belonged on the Opinion page and not in the science section.