What are some questions and issues you want Climate Progress to address?

Yes, the news on climate science, solutions, and politics is already coming faster than I can keep up with.

But still, in the coming weeks and months I do want to be as responsive as possible to reader interest. Some readers have already asked me for suggestions on how to reduce their carbon footprint, and I’ve even been asked by a couple folks where I think a good place to live is in a globally warmed world. I hope to get to these topics this month. And yes, I am planning to run a post on biochar … someday.

So give me one or more ideas — and feel free to endorse other people’s ideas.

93 Responses to What are some questions and issues you want Climate Progress to address?

  1. HalC says:

    I would like to see an analysis of recent transmission legislation proposed by the Senate Energy Committee.

  2. john says:

    I would like to see a stake driven into the heart of this “you can make a difference” meme; or into the notion that we can do this through voluntary or community action.

    I love to hold hands and sing Kumbiya as much as the next person, but that train has left the station, and we need — must have — concerted international action that is mandatory and universal. Now.

    Anything else is delusion, and it’s dangerous to boot.

  3. Harrier says:

    I’d like to see an exploration of how to handle greenhouse gas emissions from the developing world, specifically China. It seems to be one of the real Gordian knots of solving climate change.

  4. simp says:

    Hello Joseph!
    That’s such a cool idea. Let me start with telling you how often I check your blog, and always there’s a new post up there. Is this your main occupation??

    I’d love to read more about the psychological implications of the looming climate catastrophe. despair, anger and bitterness can suddenly flip into an electric feeling of great meaning when things are moving in the right direction in front of your eyes.

    Maybe you could do a post on the growing climate movement in the UK, or elsewhere. Climate Camp and Climate Rush are awesome. Things can grow quickly! What’s your stance on protest? Can we expect a world changing shift in attitude in time to avoid the worst? What about the social tipping point?

    I miss the personal stories. oh yes, I need to tell you about

    kind regards
    Young person from Austria

  5. Jeff Green says:

    Utility scale storage. CAES (compressed air energy storage). There are other storage schemes that are also interesting.

  6. Magnus W says:

    I prefer political possibilities and in what way policy is going. I don’t think that the individual is going to be a major player in this… the absolutely most important thing is to get governments to start pressing industry… i think it can even be contra productive to get to far into what “people should and should not do” It is both complicated and easily twisted.

    What are the best solutions?

    What new inventions are coming?

    How much are we going to save if we act now?

  7. Elbarto says:

    What about CO2 toxicity to humans? I have read some things about how constant exposure to >430 ppm CO2 reduces human blood pH (like making the oceans acidic) leading to chronic health effects and reduced life expectancy.

    As if all the indirect effects of global heating at >430ppm aren’t bad enough what if simply breathing air with >430 ppm CO2 24/7 has direct health effects. It is known that high CO2 in enclosed spaces like offices can make you sick (sick building syndrome) but this is generally at >800ppm with exposures of 8h/day. Could exposure to CO2 levels as low as 430ppm 24/7 have similar effects?

    Is this a red herring or a gorilla in the room?

  8. Will Greene says:

    Individuals played a big part in the civil rights movement. We finally start massive protests at coal plants in America and things will change. I agree the easiest way will be for congress to act decisively while we drive our prius’ around and drink soymilk. Joe, a possible topic is do we need another massive education campaign about climate change, and how would that be accomplished?

  9. GFW says:

    I don’t think *Joe* needs to do the following, but can someone point to a site that’s about do-it-yourself green projects and solutions? Like I know there’s a new lightbulb supposedly coming that is basically the old technology of a CRT, but it’s about the same efficiency as a CFL, is slightly less expensive than CFL, and lasts possibly longer. Or is there a way to add insulation without ripping open walls (insulating siding?) … stuff like that. But there has to already be some such place – it doesn’t fit Joe’s expertise.

  10. Linda S says:

    I can’t believe you’re asking this question! I can hardly find time to read all your posts and keep wondering how you find time to research and write them all. And you want suggestions for more? Do you ever sleep as it is?

  11. Rahul B says:

    Thanks so much for this blog. I’m studying an MSc in Carbon Management abroad right now and this helps me stay plugged in to American climate policy.

    Would love to hear more on components of a new global deal from an American perspective, or maybe your thoughts on sectoral/benchmark and credit approaches. Cheers

  12. lgcarey says:

    What Will Greene said. The Prius and the CFLs are hardly better than window dressing, and I’m getting tired of making political contributions and writing emails to my Senators and Representative. AGW is the biggest moral issue of our era (maybe any era), and we need a civil rights movement type of response – without something like that turning up the heat on them (pun intended), the Congress is going to do its usual waffling and bloviating with no result at the end of the day. Congress seems to think they have all the time in the world to address this issue, but the physics and the math say there’s a deadline coming, and it isn’t going to wait until our leaders decide to start acting like adults.

  13. Chris says:

    I think a common problem is collecting all of this information, and presenting it to a denier without them getting bored and moving on. Some attempts at this have been undertaken but it is spotty. Maybe a large effort needs to be documenting and converging all solid evidence into something that simply cannot be out denied. It’s easy to make fun of Al Gore, but maybe not as easy when reams of supporting articles are provided.

    This is inline with the marketing initiative, but how can smaller cities be urged to act as well? Small scale success stories often get featured in local news which helps recruiting and every little bit helps.

    How can public transportation (electric buses, high speed rail, etc) help remove the shackles of oil, improve efficiency AND cost less?

  14. Nick says:

    I love Climate Progress! If I could see more posts along the lines of your “voodoo economics” posts, your “must-read study” posts, and the “how do we know humans are really causing global warming” post, I’d be happy. But I definitely trust you to
    make the decision between the relevant/useful and not-so-relevant/useful topics. Also Chris makes some good points.

  15. Zed Price says:

    I’m not sure how much you’ve written on this subject, but I would like to see a post on the absolute necessity of reducing or eliminating the consumption of red meat. Beef (and to a lesser extent lamb) plays a SERIOUS role in the emission of greenhouse gasses. Technology-based improvements to electricity production and waste management are very important too, but no plausible solution to climate change can be complete without greatly reducing our cattle stock. And the quickest way to reduce the number of cattle is for individuals to lower the consumption of or refuse to eat beef. I would like to see this stressed on every climate blog and website ever. “Serious about climate change? Eat less meat. Eat no beef!”

  16. David B. Benson says:

    What Elbarto wrote. Except I doubt there is decent data.

    Hope I am wrong.

  17. Sasparilla says:

    Joe this is great idea – I’d like to make a suggestion that you find out if we can tell if (presumably from space via satellite) the methane deposits in the permafrost or some of the clathrates start cooking off and where (localized indications)?

    As far as I can tell we’re just using the general atmospheric amount as the measurement, but it would be very reassuring to know that we can or are watching this from space and could tell when and where things are going bad – since so much of our future depends on these two items specifically. Thanks.

  18. kai says:

    A balanced look at whether transmission is needed or not. Look at distributed vs. centralized energy. Environmental/energy justice issues.

  19. Pangolin says:

    Ground-loop thermal heating and cooling systems are possibly the most effective means of reducing building energy use. Short of major remodels of millions (billions?) of buildings around the world finding a means of keeping existing buildings comfortable while reducing coal burning is absolutely essential.

    We’re not going to wrap every building in the U.S. in blankets of insulation, change every window to triple-pane glass and lift roofs up two feet so we can install effective insulation. If we did all of those things we’d also have to install active ventilation systems.

    We can replace every furnace and domestic hot water heater heater with heat pumps and tie them into ground loops or thermal energy utilities in dense urban areas. Doing this would place total energy needs of most buildings within the production capacity of rooftop solar panels.

    Understanding what the barriers to deployment of this off-the-shelf means of reducing GHG emissions and the advantages or disadvantages of a mass conversion drive would be useful. OR, if it doesn’t work and all that information is wrong get good information out there.

    Write that biochar article. It’s way overdue for this tool to be on the front lines of Climate Change action.

  20. DB says:

    Elbarto and David asked about long-term exposure to elevated carbon dioxide levels. The Navy, in particular, has done work in this area as a nuclear submarine can remain submerged for months at a time.

    For example, this site
    says that “Data collected on nine nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 3,500 ppm with a range of 0-10,600 ppm, and data collected on 10 nuclear-powered attack submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 4,100 ppm with a range of 300-11,300 ppm”

  21. Mariann says:

    The cow tax. And any other public policy ideas for limiting livestock emissions.

  22. Denis says:

    A balanced look on whether the whole idea of climate (as in, a stable system) change is relevant, as opposed to changing weather patterns (as in chaotic systems).

  23. David B. Benson says:

    “Artificial Photosynthesis: Turning Sunlight Into Liquid Fuels Moves A Step Closer”:

    looks promising, scalable.

  24. David B. Benson says:

    Denis — The climate is not a stable system; its just that it changed rather slowly up until the Industiral Revolution was well under way.

  25. Gail says:

    How to address the human population explosion!

  26. DB says:

    Another topic: soot/black carbon.

    Some feel it may be responsible for up to a third of global forcing and efforts to reduce it could be 10-100x more cost effective than straight CO2. It also plays a large role in melting Arctic ice.

  27. K. Nockels says:

    Hey Sasparilla, the sat that would have given us that information didn’t make it into orbit. What a surprise huh? maybe in the next year the Japan Sat will be able to give some info on more specific locations of the sources of methane that are currenty running 400% above 1990 levels. Or help pinpoint the source of the extra 1% raise in CO2 in 2008, my guess is we have hit a tipping point, a carbon sink has become a corbon source. Good Idea Joe, how about doing one on Statosphereic Cooling and its impacts.

  28. david freeman says:

    Gail is right! Population growth needs to be addressed.

  29. David B. Benson says:

    What DB just wrote.

  30. Ned Nurdle says:

    Some of us commenting here should be ashamed of ourselves because, for the most part, we already know what needs to be done. Therefore, my suggestion is a promise. I promise to stop wasting my time reading other peoples dangerous and unfunny pontifications on what they deem to be climate progress. I promise to accept that human population growth will not be stopped. I promise to understand that the biological carrying capacity of earths ecosystem may already have been compromised. I promise to understand that the forces of evolution are greater than the individual. I promise to admit that we are past the point of no return. I promise to stop being naive about what it is I can do. I promise to shut my mouth and get to work. I promise to stand up to stupid people. I promise to never navigate to this blog again. I promise that I will break some of these promises. I promise.

  31. paulm says:

    How about..
    1) Ocean Acidification
    2) Ways forward on adaptaiton now that we are in for 3C+ warming.
    3) Develop a new paradigm not based on the consumer ponzi structure.
    4) Some blogs on the really bad activities – like skiing, olympics, tumble drying and flying etc.

  32. Steve L. says:

    I’d like clear direction about the most active, high leverage political and social initiatives that deserve immediate focus. There is so much information, so many initiatives, so many causes…but surely the 80/20 rule applies, and we would be well served by focusing on the very few events where we get the greatest impact for our effort. People like you are in a great position to filter intelligently and get out the call for action.

  33. esldude says:

    If I were forced to bet right now, I would bet we will not get a handle on this situation. That we will not prevent Global catastrophic climate change. That I could take long odds and still have a good bet.

    So, either articles on how to best deal with the changed climate and exactly what it will be like or some detailed doable plans that really would prevent GW despite the overwhelming odds.

    I think one big thing that could stop China/India or whomever from going forward with energy polices that doom everyone, is to develop these solar, wind and geothermal technologies that simply make economic sense. Ways to use these energy systems that just plain are cheaper than the alternative. Not cheaper with a carbon tax, not cheaper if you price the cost of pollution into it (not because pollution isn’t a price, I just don’t see this ever happening), but just plain cheaper. A tech that provides cheap energy that happens to be clean and green will sweep the field. At this stage it is probably the only way to make the change quick enough. I have my doubts that solar cells will manage this in this generation. Concentrated solar might. Wind may. Geothermal may. But this is the golden path. Clean energy so cheap no one can be competitive using anything else. Unfortunately I don’t think this will happen by these green technologies getting cheaper. I think they will improve in quality and reliability, but only take over energy production when coal and oil have increased in price to the point alternatives look attractive. I think the idea we will leave coal and oil in the ground in the next 20-30 years is one heck of a pipedream.

  34. DB says:

    paulm, I don’t know about tumble drying, but tumble flying sounds like a _really_ bad activity. :-)

  35. Maribeth says:

    The graph at the following link suggests that the misleaders are gaining traction (… which is insane.

    I suggest dedicating a post to outlining the major arguments / refulations for a YouTube video… and sending the link to Robert Greenwald.

    Also… I regularly counter a denier on a local listserv. His arguments are so inconsistent I’ve come to wonder whether he’s a paid college student denier. How about offering a reward for anyone coming forward with evidence substantiating a student denier network. I’d donate to the cause.

  36. Gail says:

    Along the lines of what you and Paul Gilding discussed on NPR, I would like to see discussion of what is the source of your “optimism” in other words, how are we going to manage the horrific dislocations of climate refugees who lose food and homes, without convulsive wars over arable land, water, and other resources?

    It seems to me we will need a radical reconstruct of global governance to avoid anarchy and the Mad Max scenario. Where is this going to come from? Who is the source?

    I don’t necessarily believe it’s not possible – au contraire, also, I HOPE it is.

    But the discussion needs to begin.

  37. Anne Mac says:

    I have read quite a bit about “decoupling,” meaning the regulatory reform to separate a utility’s profit-making mechanism from its throughput, but have not reached a definitive conclusion as to whether this is a good idea or not or whether there is a better way to get people to conserve energy through utility rate design, mandatory demand side management programs or the like. I would love it if you would explore this topic like you have on others (like carbon sequestration) to help settle the argument once and for all.

  38. Tim says:

    Tricky one.
    Wouldn’t a forum be good for this.

    I think perhaps setting the site up a bit better?
    I think you could have some pages (subpages) with titles like
    – starting point on CC/GW (I think Greenfyre does this well)
    – facts/figures/science
    – debunking the denialists

    I did something like this on my blog ( – please remember this is nowhere near as detailed or prolific as I am targeting indifferent skiers and boarders in order to save our snow seasons).

    You clearly attract a lot of new readers and make some really technical stuff easy to understand as well as aggregating some excellent reports, so I think these pages would allow people to explore, read, then pass this new learning to their friends.

    Maybe aggregate some EcoGeek stuff – there’s a lot of despair, we need proof of hope. Constant bad news is desensitising. Each new post worst than the last….


  39. PaulK says:

    Pangolin is right on about ground-loop thermal heating and cooling systems. Most people don’t know it is effective even in urban areas. I invite everyone to learn more Friday, April 17 at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago. Dirk Dypold of Advanced Geothermal will give an expert presentation on this exciting fossil replacing technology.

  40. Jason says:

    I’d love (or perhaps tremble) to see more on clathrates and the Great Dying.

    I’m also curious about a recent blurb to the effect that the Amazon could die by the end of the century.

    I’m also very interested in what areas are most likely to remain semi-livable giving something along the following assumptions and requirements:
    – We’re locked into enough warming that desertification becomes common and sea level rise is inevitable (including the eventual complete loss of ice).
    – Secure water supply and decent soil for low scale/subsistence farming. Assume fertilizer is unavailable due to peak NPK.
    – Enough renewable energy potential for some degree of off the grid living. Assume peak energy will come riding on climate change’s heels.
    – Need a strong community that is open to newcomers and progressives – but also to people of faith.
    – Some opportunity to keep contributing to others (e.g. by selling excess food to a nearby city as long as cities survive).
    – Not too expensive.

    It probably doesn’t exist, but I’d love to know. I grew up on a farm, my wife is one generation removed and our girls love the outdoors and animals so we could make it work – but we’d need real community. Otherwise, I’d just move back to my grandpa’s 1800 acres that my dad farms/ranches in central Nebraska.

    Alternatively, can you link to sites that cover questions like how do you insulate a 100 year old house with no wall cavities and a flat roof? The best that I’ve come up with is dropping the upstairs ceiling (they’re at least 9′) to insulate it and building up walls inside the exterior walls just to create wall cavities. But that would be really expensive.

  41. JeffFa says:

    I’m not a scientist, but permafrost thawing seems to me to be the most immediate tipping point threat that the world seems to be facing. I would like to see something about how fast we might expect to see atmospheric methane levels increase if we have triggered runaway warming due to permafrost thawing. In other words, what should the slope or curve of the graph of methane concentration look like over the next few years and how does that compare to what we have seen so far.

  42. Bob Wallace says:


    Utility scale storage (Jeff)
    Lighting (GFW)
    Ground loop heating/cooling (Panolin)
    Dry rock geothermal
    Slow flow hydro

    What I’d like is not so much blog articles, but a wiki-type site which:

    1) presents a “state of the art” summary on each of the solutions,

    2) allows discussion on each topic, and

    3) is rewritten on a regular basis by a knowledgeable person in order that the useful information from the discussions might be incorporated.

    That would turn us all into information gatherers and fact testers.

    In the last few days we would have been able to bring to the site information on:

    1) an apparent major breakthrough in lithium battery manufacturing which would allow for extremely rapid charging. (Think 5 minutes.)

    2) Progress in organic dyes for printed solar cells which raises the efficiency rate to almost 10% (9.8%).

  43. Solar thermal and desalinization. I first learned about CSP maybe 18 months ago. When I saw they were talking about heat storage and having solar power at night, it struck me that this is a beautiful energy solution. Then I started reading this blog and Joe confirmed for me that CSP is uniquely qualified as an energy source.

    California has serious water problems already. The only solution I can see is for Southern California to build desalinization plants.
    So what are the chances or feasability of using solar thermal plants to provide power and desalininzation for So-Cal?
    I’m thinking maybe east of San Diego.

    Geography and terrain would be the biggest issues I believe.
    We already send huge amounts of water from the S.F. Bay Delta to LA via the California Aqueduct which gets pumped over the Grapevine ( Tejas Pass) into the LA basin.
    Pipe seawater to the CSP plants and pipe freshwater back to the cities.

  44. One more thought on desalinization with CSP.

    What other areas of the world would benefit from this? This could be a huge selling point for solar thermal around the world.

    I’m aware of the TREC proposal for the Mediterranean which takes advantage of this as well as using it for combined hot water and power.

  45. Joe says:

    More than I expected.
    Well, I won’t get to all of these, but it gives me a great flavor for the kind of stuff folks are looking for.

  46. Perhaps you could address the issue of e-waste and electronic “recycling,” and the impact this has on other societies such as China who take in the majority of our waste. The fact that Americans are constantly accumulating new technologies just to throw out their year old electronics calls into question about where all this electronic waste goes. I did a research paper on the topic and I think it’s well worth the investigation on what this means to our climate and global warming, since the trend to having the most up-to-date technology is not likely to slow or reverse.

  47. RB says:

    Industrial agriculture exists because of cheap fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas. Industrial agriculture is responsible for 10 to 20% of GHG emissions. However, good farming an agricultural practices can reduce atmosphere CO2 by sequestering CO2 in the soil. As a bonus, good farming practices produce healthier food. So I would like to see Climate Progress report more about how agriculture can contribute to solving the global warming problem and ways the current agricultural practices are contributing to the problem. Agriculture needs to be one of the wedges in solving global warming, not part of the problem.

  48. Tim says:

    Bob’s idea re: a Wiki is brilliant. Just brilliant.
    A Wiki with solutions with pros and cons of each one would get each of us to do a lot of reading and naturally peer review the facts against the sources.

    I would love to be an admin on that.

    Also Joe. That post about Young Climate Bloggers on Real Climate.
    I put a post up on the Effects of Climate CHange and had my first skeptic attack:
    His post can be seen there….same old denialist stuff.
    What I’d LOVE to see is a “How – to” debunk a denialist according to certain points they bring up again and again


  49. Marie says:

    Perhaps you could write/distill more on the costs of inaction, research spelling that out for local, state, and federal agencies and the general public. I also want to learn about and become equipped to perform public education; as it turns out, I am the most informed (sad as that is) in my family, church, and local community, and probably a decent part of my professional community, among certain public agencies and the research sector that serves them. Please continue compiling your key slides and take it a step further to facilitate presentations.

    We need to figure out what public policy changes are needed sooner rather than later, with good info on costs and benefits attached to those. A lot of this info would be “if/then”, but these things need to be considered and entered into the public discourse via some implications about cost, whenever possible. I’m surprised there isn’t more research on this point. Are people reluctant to make projections? Is rapidly increasing climate change too recent?

    (Bob Wallace’s suggestion is great. I like Richard M.’s, Elbarto’s, Sasparilla’s, Pangolin’s, JeffFa’s and Kai’s questions too, and would like to read more about moving away from the ponzi structure, eliminating the really bad activities, as PaulM says, identifying the best)

  50. Bob Wallace says:

    Thanks Tim and Marie.

    Joe’s blogs are great, but they post and then fade off into the sunset.

    I think we need some “sticky” information.

    We need not only solution pages, but also “talk to denier” pages, and current data pages. Ones that are kept current and objective.

    Look at the excellent graph that Joe presented some weeks back. The one that showed the last few decades, year by year ranked on annual temperatures. That one graph gave lie to the claim that the globe is not heating post 1978. But now that graph has drifted far into the back pages.

    I’d love a page that presented that graph along with the latest Hadley and NASA/NOAA graphs.

    Look at the very good presentations on the cost of new nuclear which have now disappeared.

    Love to see all that information pulled together in one place and kept current.

    And another page on ocean levels.


    I’m not sure that running something like this is Joe’s cup of tea, but perhaps he knows someone or someone here knows someone.

    It would be a great addition to this site. Joe could write his insightful and informative articles and we could add to what he presents and update the wiki.

  51. Julian D says:

    Hi Joe,

    My ideas:

    – I second the notion of an article about the population issue

    – I’m a UN nut so I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the organization, specifically with regards to the effectiveness of UNEP and the “One UN” policy for environmental cohesiveness

    – Is fusion a possibility at all? That recent Popular Science article on the “General Fusion” company got me pretty excited.

    – I keep hearing about frozen methane deposits and also badly they could screw things over if they melt. Could you elaborate?

    Thanks in advance, keep up the excellent work!!

  52. Harrier says:

    Instead of doing a post entirely about biochar, why not a post that examines the general effort to find ways to remove CO2 from the air? You could include your planned biochar writing in that, but also cover the other options that have recently begun to present themselves.

  53. Andy Heninger says:


    I think you run a good balance between science/technical and political coverage already. I’d try to keep that balance; that said, there are a lot of good suggestions for science topics in the preceding comments.

    The most important thing is, I think, your coverage of the press and of politics. It is here that change has to come. Quiet individual good deeds alone are not capable of solving the problem. We all have to be noisy; the liars need to be called out, the immorality of their positions constantly played up. Too much is at stake.

    — Andy

    — Andy

  54. Pangolin says:

    We seem to have missed transportation. My first priority would be really cheap rail. “Light rail” seems to be relatively expensive. The very-light rail of the 1910 era trolley systems don’t seem to be in use. Personal Rapid Transit schemes based upon amusement park technology appear feasible on paper but aren’t installed anywhere.

    Really fast rail is well understood as is heavy rail. Motivating the installation is a question there.

    How do we get people and product from place to place without relying on cars, trucks, airplanes and 40 foot wide asphalt or concrete roads? How does that get built into existing infrastructure in declining resource environments?

  55. frosty says:

    I’d love to hear your opinion on what places might be most livable in a globally-warmed world. How about Alaska? The ecological footprint of living here now is high because we ship everything up and we fly ourselves back and forth. We’ll have water, but we don’t have much agriculture here now. Although people are resourceful, they’re also conservative and our levels of violence are generally higher than elsewhere…

  56. jorleh says:

    As to the place to live 2100 is Finland. The world´s number 1 democracy. Between 60 and 70 degrees northern latitude. Two thousand miles of sea coast, ten thousand if you count the sea isles. Ground going up 0.7 meters after the last glacial maximum. Fresh water volume per capita number 1 in the world. 180 000 lakes. And so on. Perfect.

  57. jorleh says:

    PS: 0.7 meters per century.

  58. Thomas says:

    Personally, I think there is not nearly enough talk about how rich countries must come up with the funds to help poor countries adapt/develop in a warming world. I find the media and individuals always yakking about “India/China”, but on a current per capita base the U.S. and Western Europe are still the great (and historical) offenders. It’s almost ridiculous how much people talk about China and India – obviously their emissions as nations are high, they both are home to over one billion people. What counts is per capita. The US and the EU are the most responsible and the most able to deal with climate change. That means they must lead and they must help developing countries mitigate and adapt to this crisis. It’s a matter of justice: you cause the mess, you are responsible to clean it up.

    If we don’t address this issue of global justice, it’s clear what will happen: They will spend billions to save Venice or New Orleans while subsistence farmers in nations like Bangladesh literally drown.

  59. ken levenson says:

    biochar a core climate solution?

  60. DB says:

    Another topic: geo-engineering. As there is always a chance we’re not going to get a WW2-type effort or a change in world governance, we need to have an idea of possible backup plans. Biochar? Deep ocean sequestration? Orbiting umbrellas?

  61. ken levenson says:


    While I sympathize and share your sense of global justice/injustice – your bifurcation is wrong headed and I’d suggest akin to the first class passengers being distraught over the fate of those in steerage on the Titanic.

    It is a false separation.

    Yes we must do more to lessen the blow on those most vulnerable – but ultimately all our children are Bangladeshis.

    Until we realize we are all literally in the same boat as the Bangladeshis – I fear – we will do nothing remotely up to the task that is required of us.

  62. Ben Lieberman says:

    How about more on a practical strategy for expanding a movement that demands effective change now beyond the usual suspects? Would this require a single broad strategy or a more targeted strategy?
    Thanks for the great blog.

  63. Lewis says:

    Help with refuting denialist blathering points is available here:

    Also this page from realclimate is helpful:

    And this is also one I found useful:

    What you really have to do though is make sure you save and organize your links and your rebuttals so that you can use them again.

    The denialists will keep coming back to the same arguments again and again. Also be careful to read their links they cherry pick and it is easy to use their own articles against them.

    The easiest bunk is ‘global cooling.’ Just show them this

    and ask them how that illustrates cooling.

    I occasionally am unable to ‘let it go’ in some of the forums I participate in when denialist bunk comes up. I try in those instances to make sure I’m going after those on the fence or preaching to the choir, sometimes they’ll sing for you. Ignore personal attacks, especially the ones on Al Gore, and don’t make them yourself.

    My favorite coup de grace:

  64. Lewis says:

    I’d like more on how to fit mitigation into the conservative/libertarian ideology.

    It occurs to me that what a bunch of folks might be looking for in help with denialists is a ‘party line.’ If more and more of us use the same ‘message’ when nonsense comes up it will stick.

    Everytime there is a ‘big lie’ it needs answered with a ‘small truth’ — something so inconsequential it can’t be anything but true.

  65. Nancy says:

    “King Corn” editorial in the Boston Globe Friday morning talks about the agribusiness’ influence in Washington. I would like to see you write more about the influence of “King Corn” on climate policy.

  66. Florifulgurator says:

    What RB wrote: agriculture!
    Save climate and food supply by massive small-scale farming (incl. biochar producing fireplaces)?

  67. Like RB, I would like a post about the agriculture role in absorbing CO2.
    And also a marketing, or psychological analyzis, how to get people involved instead of being in denial of this clear threat.

  68. Tomas Martin says:

    I’d like to see some analysis of current technology in renewables compared to coal, gas, nuclear etc – in particular with regards to cost. I believe the solar and wind industries are close to the point where they will not need to advocated purely on environmental grounds – they will become cheaper than many alternatives over the next 10 years, making it inevitable they will be chosen for many installations. I’m interested what the site thinks of this possibility.

  69. NFJM says:

    Joe, as you come from an energy oriented background, I would like to see more posts on heavy industries.

    By 2020, around 11% of CO2 emissions will be from the cement sector. Do you really think we wil let this sector emitt long term and forever 4 to 5 Gt per year? We need to push down the global emissions to zero

    And let me spare you my sermon about steel and aluminum. The truth is: we will need to not only produce these materials more efficiently (this will not suffice), we will also need to:
    * use heavy industry products more efficiently.
    * substitute partly these products by others.
    * renounce part of our present uses for these products.

    In turn, there should be a specific cap for these industries. They too need to contribute on a meaningful scale to climate change mitigation.

    I am ready to help you on such topics.

  70. Greg N says:

    To be honest, I think another book would be great, rather than blogging!

  71. Wes Rolley says:

    To NFJM.. there is already a pilot plant in operation that produces up to 10 tones of cement per day while capturing the CO2 from a gas fired electric power plant. Yes, something can be done regarding cement. See Calera Corp.

    To Joe… Tom Friedman has devoted his last 2 columns in the NY Times to the idea that growth is not sustainable. He asks if we have not already “hit the wall”. So the real question is whether we can solve global warming and return to a growth economy at the same time. My gut says no.

    Wes Rolley CoChair, EcoAction Committee, Green Party US

  72. Greg Robie says:

    I’m gonna be headed off-line for the immediate future so I’ve grabbed this web page to read later. In the meantime, and affirming an early comment above, the psychology of the “inertia” that needs to be “lessened” (from the six key messages of the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change) deserves more coverage–and a move from #6 to #1 (IMHO).

    In the same vein, I would like to see–if it is not motivated reasoning–the economics behind the assertions that the economy can afford the shock of pricing carbon (and I am not discounting the catastrophic cost of not acting). I would value seeing how the US dollar, which predominately gains the status it has as the global reserve currency, and its strength, from OPEC’s denominating its’ oil sales in US dollars, can be used to pay for a move away from the carbon-based, credit-financed dynamics of global capitalism.

  73. Christine says:

    This site is wonderful first off. I’d like to endorse two ideas raised earlier: where to live that will endure the coming changes and how to cope with the psychological aspect of what’s coming. I have 3 kids under 3. I live daily with the internal conflict of being ecstatic to have a family, and terrified for their future to the point of sometimes feeling guilty for having them. While I think the thrust of most of this site’s content is technical I’m curious as to how people reconcile tucking their kids in at night and dealing with all this.

  74. jon eden says:

    Hi Joe…..thanks for all you do…..this consumption paradigm is broken. The ecological footprint work makes that very clear. I would like to see the CO2 discussion woven into the broader context of over consumption and the necessity for a paradigm shift.

    I guess all the fine work that Meadows et al did in Limits to Growth in explaining all the lag factors doesn’t need any further elucidation than what is provided by the daily news…..Thanks again…Jon

  75. I second Bob Wallace’s suggestion of wiki format to organize sticky information. especially regarding technical issues. To make an impact on policy, it should be something written at a level that would be accessible to ordinary readers. Lots of science for dummies.

    What is lacking is readily available information on solutions. Corn ethanol and hydrogen cars used to look pretty good until not long ago, and they continue to be promoted and funded even though informed people know better. A site that would hasten the death of stupid ideas, like CO2 sequestration underground, would be a big contribution.

    It would be good to give people some idea of the SCALE of the problem and of various solutions. Conservation is always a good idea (at least for other people), but how much will a few eco-Puritans help if China and India don’t conserve? How about the scalability of various “clean coal” solutions? Maybe they can work with a pure stream of CO2 in small quantities in a laboratory, but how about post-combustion capture at pulverized coal plants, which is where baseload power comes from in China and India and the US. For example, chemical carbon capture and mineralization (the Calera process). How much can biofuels help, given their low energy density and the cost of transportation?

    Explain baseload power — a very important concept to understand if we are to have an intelligent discussion of solutions. Explain a fuel cell, as you did so well in your book. Explain how water shortages affect thermal power plants.

  76. max says:

    From reading your blog I get the impression that to preserve a livable climate ultimately some technologies will need to be used to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Could you address the question what strategies exist and how feasible they are-the two I know about are Wallace Broecker’s enhanced mineralization and possibly a strategy similar to the Calera Corporation’s method of making cement? Thanks MAX

  77. Theodore says:

    People make the assumption that all power plants get decommissioned eventually. Look carefully at the reasons for decommisioning coal and nuclear power plants. What you will find is that none of these reasons apply to solar power plants of modular design. By “modular design” I mean a design that is made such that every module can be replaced by digging it out right down to the footings and replaced without shutting down the rest of the plant. Such a modular power plant could last indefinitely. Each new module would be either an exact replacement, a modified design, or a completely new design. The only restriction would be that its external characteristics be compatible with the rest of the modules. This is analogous to object-oriented software design.

    It seems to me that in the long term, this is a way to reduce the cost of electric power to the absolute minimum. Long after the original costs are paid off, the ongoing expenses (ignore taxes and distribution) would include only operations, maintenance and renewal. All of these costs would be covered by current income. I think the modesty of these costs would surprise those who are accustomed to pricing electricity with the limited life of the power plant in mind.

    Is it possible that solar energy is cheaper than coal and has been all along? Perhaps we just don’t recognize the long term reality.

    Somebody should develop this concept further. Write a book or something. It should be good for at least one article in Climate Progress.

  78. Rahul B says:

    I commented earlier but am reposting as I am very seriously concerned at the lack of interest surrounding US engagement in Copenhagen.

    While it would be great to hear your take on many of the mentioned ideas, some discussion around policy issues surrounding the global deal we desperately need to negotiate in December would be very heneficial. With your experience it would be great to hear not only how the US can fit in post-Kyoto, but what the successor might look like. What kind of teeth…any WTO inclusions…consumption vs production and embodied carbon arguments?

    I’d also be keen to hear what kind of transfers we can expect to see (financial, technological, capacity) in order to get all the big boys at the table. Cheers

  79. David says:

    Recently discovered this blog via Friedman’s NYT column – what an incredible resource! While I’m encouraged that we finally have a president that comprehends the enormity of the challenge we face and the necessity of drastic and immediate measures, I fear that the significant number of Americans that continue to believe that climate change impacts are overstated, or worse an outright hoax, will serve to delay or water down imperative regulations and legislation. Sadly the denier camp appears to splinter off roughly along political party affiliation, so any attempts by a Democratic administration to bring about change will be viewed by many in a cynical light.

    Part of the problem, I believe, is that climate change is always cast as a problem of such epic proportions that the average citizen feels utterly powerless to do anything about it. Sure we can use compact fluorescent light bulbs and drive less, but for those not inclined towards civic activism, people can easily feel relegated to waiting and hoping that government and industry leaders can solve the problem. That is why I like the analogy to WWII. Even those that weren’t fighting on the front lines had an outlet to contribute to the cause – be it growing a victory garden or volunteering in some capacity on the home front.

    I believe we need to foster, what Friedman refers to in “Hot, Flat, and Crowded”, as a “national ethic of conservation”. I recall at lecture I attended the former Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy (yes it was one position then) spoke about the nearly universal sense of obligation to recycle in his country. If you were to visit any local recycling center in Denmark you would see people from all demographic groups and income levels (admittedly a narrower spectrum than in the US) dropping off their newspapers and bottles – once they were re-used the mandatory 2-3 times of course.

    The point is that we must find a way to break the polarizing mindset that permeates conservative (ironic?) America where “thinking green” is ridiculed as a recreational activity for yuppies, hippies, and liberal Al Gore acolytes. The effects of climate change are not going to spare NASCAR fans anymore than Sierra Club members should we choose as a society not to proceed aggressively. Perhaps if more people felt their own actions and decisions were contributing in some small way to a cause greater than themselves, they would be less inclined to fall back on cynicism and denial as a coping technique for something they may privately have genuine concern and/or fear.

    The best way I can think to go about this is to recast the fight against climate change as a patriotic endeavor that transcends political and demographic boundaries, much like WWII and the immediate post 9/11 after math. The question is can this national ethic be realized before a catastrophe of enormous proportions that can be unambiguously linked to climate change arrives.

  80. Nom_de_Guerre says:

    I’d like to know what sort of actions you take on your everyday life (transportation, diet, waste, etc) in order to be sustainable.

    Also, like many others have said: Agriculture, Agriculture, Agriculture- which implies another : Diet.

  81. bicultural says:

    REDD and how to compensate Brazil and Indonesia for the ecoservices their rain forests provide (or in other words how to pay them not to cut)

  82. bicultural says:

    This blog is fantastic!!!

  83. Bob Wallace says:

    “I second Bob Wallace’s suggestion of wiki format to organize sticky information. especially regarding technical issues. To make an impact on policy, it should be something written at a level that would be accessible to ordinary readers. Lots of science for dummies.”

    (Yes, I’m pimping my idea. ;o)

    It needs to be written on at least three levels.

    It needs to be written at an elementary school level – ten year olds should be able to understand the world in which they are going to be living. They are going to be much more hurt by inaction or improper action than are us in the latter years of our lives.

    It needs to be written for the general public – understandable by someone with a high school education. But it should not be dumbed down for them. Leave in the real meat but write it with a minimum of technical terms and give good links to explain more complex concepts.

    It needs to be written for people with higher levels of education, especially those with background in the specific areas of discussion – the people who are most capable of sorting the wheat from the chaff. We need these people with specialized skills and knowledge to discuss ideas and provide a reality filter to ideas that might sound good to the rest of us but are in some way flawed.

    Discussion at this latter level would provide a place for inter discipline interaction. A place for chemists to talk to economists. A few good science teachers could translate the more complex discussions for the rest of us.

    Look at each of the topics suggested above. We’ve got everything from population levels to biochar to desalinization to clean coal.

    Where does one now go to learn the latest state of each issue?

    Where is the reliable site that one can use for decision making? Be that person a politician, reporter, or concerned citizen.

  84. Pangolin says:

    I like the idea of Bob’s WIKI. If you used a combination fractal model with controls like Google:Earth has it could get the levels of simplicity:complexity wanted on one apparent page. Using node # references like Energy Bulletin would make it easy to quote.

    The surface explanation would be basic issues and statements. Hit the magnification button at any point and the center of the screen or cursor point expands to the level of complexity desired. Using the word “biochar” as an example it might not be referenced at all on the face page, appear on the second level as an expansion of carbon sequestration, have a section on it’s own still deeper and a forum and bibliography at the basement level.

    Ok, a bit much for this blog but maybe somebody from Google is reading this. Frankly I think we have all the know-how we need but access and understanding is the missing ingredient.

  85. Charlie says:

    Smart grid. The use of demand management to create virtual electricity storage is essential to expand the use of wind and PV. Otherwise, solar-thermal-electric is the only viable renewable source. In keeping with the theme here of what could we do now, as opposed to what might be possible in the future, this ranks as a core climate solution that we must move ahead with rapidly. No other way of storing electricity is viable on a large scale. (Pumped hydro is viable, and is in use, and its use could be expanded some, but there are limited sites available.)

    A recent technology review article on this was excellent:

  86. Harry Applin says:

    The physics of ocean temperature, since the ocean temperature is increasing…how much energy does that take over air temperature and seasonal axis shift as the mass from Greenland and the Antarctic distribute around the world.

  87. Andy Gunther says:


    You are to be congratulated for the number of suggestions here; please take it as proof of the value and importance of Climate Progress! I join others in thanking you for your work.

    I agree with Bob Wallace about creating a section of CP that is a resource, but I think there are already resources out their for issues such dealing with denier talking points (including so many of your original posts…people should also check out Peter Sinclair’s You Tube Channel on the “Denier Crock of the Week”).

    What I would like to see is an evolving wedge analysis – as more information is available you revise and build this section to clarify what experts are saying about the potential for various wedges to grow. While Pacala and Socolow identified options that “can save a billion tons by 2050,” I think what is most important is “what options can be ‘multiple wedges.'” Certainly the recent work of the Mackenzie Global Institute puts energy efficiency at the 3-5 wedge size. Is Gore’s goal of 100% carbon free electricity in 10 years realistic…the ACP analysis has some issues addressed, but not others (interstate transmission siting, among others)

    As the information develops, this section of CP would be revised. I’d go for more of a “managed wiki.” My experience with wiki’s is that many edits and editions make them harder and harder to use as the number of pages proliferate. You could solicit information from your readers in a form that could be easy for you to add.

    This is a big piece, I know, but it seems important to policy and to “hope mongering”

  88. Phillip Huggan says:

    Right now I’m trying to cost future AGW effects to get an idea for ideal carbon price/cap.
    For example, the property exposure of cities to 1/100 yr floods will rise from $3T now to $35T in 2070, mainly because of AGW. Ignoring discounting this will be a $320B annual.
    Other cost estimates may not have been estimated for:
    1) Himalayas meltaway (will cost $1.5T/yr if it renders China/India GDP flat)
    2) % farmland exposed to sea level rise.
    3) Annual harvest lost to increased extreme weather events.
    4) Ocean acidification effect (kills food chain base) on long-term circulation.
    5) Ocean temp rise “” “” “” “”…
    6) Effect of new ocean dead-zones “” “” “” “”….
    7) Melting glaciers/ice-caps on “” “” “” “”….
    8) Crop losses from misplanted land (due to climate volatility).
    9) Crop gains from increased CO2.
    10) AGW-ed increased disease rates.
    11) Cost of major glacier sudden losses (Greenland, W.Antarctic)
    12) Cost dwindling water/food resource wars.

    Which of these cost more than $1T/yr in the future?

  89. paulm says:

    Globalization/Protectionism and Community – their relation to a sustainable paradigm and CO2 emissions…

  90. Sarah Risser says:

    1) More information on Feed-In Tariffs. Specifically, how and where they got off the ground in the United States.

    2) Nuclear – the problems with and why so many foreign countries seem interested/excited in pursuing this option.

  91. Joe,

    Thanks for your excellent talk at the Museum of Natural History last Thursday.

    You said at that talk that by 2100, climate change will be the only issue of today that people will care about. You also predicted that very rapid change would not occur until we witness some sort of catastrophe.

    Please address in your blog:
    How could we rally together the spiritual energy that will drive major action, now, in advance of catastrophe?
    What events or actions by young people or by any people who care might transform the present political climate?
    How could the internet help them?

    Thank you for your writing and for your advocacy for rapid action.

  92. Phillip Huggan says:

    “Phillip Huggan Says:
    March 14th, 2009 at 2:01 pm…
    …1) Himalayas meltaway (will cost $1.5T/yr if it renders China/India GDP flat)”

    Update. Desalinated sea water cost about $1/m^3 and about as much to transport (uphill I assume) inland. So if freshwater use originating from Himalayan meltwater will be one trillion m^3 annually, that is maybe $1-2T annual increased costs if the Himalayas melt. This has to be 75% likely by 2200 under business as usual. The are many other costs but also many prospective tech innovations. Depending on how you discount time my March 14th estimate is about 3x too high. This is assuming greatly increased investment in water saving and water desalination technologies and assumes no loss of life or economic activity when Himalayan water is replaced by sea water.
    Still cheaper not to melt world glaciers in the first place.