UPDATE: Yes, bad coverage by big media, including the NYT‘s Revkin, is one reason there has been a modest decline since April 2008 in the number of Americans who know that there is solid (in fact, overwhelming) evidence the Earth is warming and humans are the primary cause (see here). Big media “did” the global warming story in 2006 and 2007 when Gore’s movie came out and then throughout 2007 when the IPCC released its four major summary reports. Looking for a new angle, the NY Times and others played up the global cooling myth. Now couple that with a ramped up disinformation campaign from the deniers who keep repeating the global cooling myth and continued lame messaging from the scientific community (see “Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1“) and a progressive community filled with people who have been persuaded by bad analysis that they shouldn’t even talk about “global warming” (see Messaging 101b: EcoAmerica’s phrase ‘our deteriorating atmosphere’ isn’t going to replace ‘global warming’ “” and that’s a good thing). That’s a recipe for an underinformed public.
“¦ let’s be clear that, first, for the most part, the allocation of allowances affects neither the environmental performance of the cap-and-trade system nor its aggregate social cost“¦.
Third, we should be honest that the legislation, for all its flaws, is by no means the “massive corporate give-away” that it has been labeled. On the contrary, more than 80% of the value of allowances accrue to consumers and public purposes, and less than 20% accrue to covered, private industry. This split is roughly consistent with the recommendations of independent economic research.
The above quote is from a May analysis of the Waxman-Markey clean energy and climate bill by Harvard University’s Robert Stavins “” who is certainly not anyone’s idea of a progressive economist (see here and here), although he is obviously one of the country’s leading economic experts on cap-and-trade.
Some commenters here and elsewhere have described the allocation distribution in the climate bill as a big giveaway to polluters. The most credible progressive experts I know on energy economics dispute that description (see “Preventing windfalls for polluters but preserving prices “” Waxman-Markey gets it right“).
Today, Stavins posted “Confusion in the Senate Regarding Allowance Allocation,” which notes:
Our guest blogger is Jonathan Aronchick, an intern with the Energy Opportunity team at the Center for American Progress.
The burning of coal and oil is killing 20,000 Americans each year, a new Congressional report has found. After the Senate completes its work on health insurance reform, it will have the chance to pass major legislation to further improve our nation’s health, with the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs Act. The National Research Council (NRC), an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, recently found that the United States is paying a heavy price in health and lives lost for its dependence on fossil fuels. In the newly released report, “The Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use,” the NRC explores the “externalities” of energy use, costs that are not factored into its market price. Requested by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the report monetizes these unseen energy costs at $120 billion annually by tracing the full cycle of our energy use—extraction, development, deployment, and waste:
Based on the results of external-cost studies published in the 1990s, we focused especially on air pollution. In particular, we evaluated effects related to emissions of particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which form criteria air pollutants. We monetized effects of those pollutants on human health, grain crop and timber yields, building materials, recreation, and visibility of outdoor vistas. Health damages, which include premature mortality and morbidity (such as chronic bronchitis and asthma), constituted the vast majority of monetized damages, with premature mortality being the single largest health-damage category.
Shockingly, the NRC’s estimates for the death toll of a school bus worth of Americans every day are very conservative — a 2004 report by the Clean Air Task Force estimated 24,000 people died prematurely due to coal pollution alone.
Most of the hidden costs of energy use come from coal-fired electricity generation ($62 billion a year) and motor vehicle transportation ($56 billion a year). The NRC did not take into account the cost of global warming pollution, including only the estimates for some of the non-climatic costs imposed by our energy use, specifically those costs related to health, agriculture, and built infrastructure. Although other pernicious side-effects of our dependence on dirty fuels — such as ecosystem disruption, mercury contamination, and national security risks — were examined in the report, they were excluded from the final cost figures.
Comparatively, the report shows that renewable energy such as wind, solar, geothermal power costs us very little in external damages. If we cannot direct our use of energy towards those forms that do not carry hidden burdens, we better hope that Americans have good health insurance.
NRC: Burning fossil fuels costs the U.S. $120 billion a year — not counting mercury or climate impacts!
A new report from the National Research Council examines and, when possible, estimates “hidden” costs of energy production and use — such as the damage air pollution imposes on human health — that are not reflected in market prices of coal, oil, other energy sources, or the electricity and gasoline produced from them. The report estimates dollar values for several major components of these costs. The damages the committee was able to quantify were an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, a number that reflects primarily health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation. The figure does not include damages from climate change, harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security, which the report examines but does not monetize.
As the Senate gears up to discuss clean energy legislation this fall, the Senate may have””despite its awareness””another healthcare debate on its hands. If we cannot direct our use of energy towards those forms that do not carry hidden burdens, we better hope that Americans have good health insurance.
The National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, recently found that our current level of energy use is costing us a lot more than our environment””it is also costing us our health. In the newly released “The Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use,” the NRC explores the external costs of energy, costs that are certainly not factored into its market price. Requested by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the report reveals that there are substantial “hidden” costs to our energy production and use, primarily reflected in damages to human health. The report monetizes these unseen energy costs at $120 billion annually by tracing the full cycle of our energy use””extraction, development, deployment, and waste. These costs result in the death of 20,000 people each year“”10,000 due to coal alone.
Energy and Global Warming News for October 22: Southeast most exposed to climate change impacts; Thinking solar power? It’s never been cheaper
Poverty and climate hazards make the southeast United States the country’s most vulnerable area to climate change impact, Oxfam America said on Wednesday.
A report released by the relief organization identified high-risk “hotspots” across 13 southeast states from Arkansas to Virginia where poverty factors combined with high risk of drought, flooding, hurricanes and sea-level rise.
“Social factors like income and race do not determine who will be hit by a natural disaster, but they do determine a population’s ability to prepare, respond, and recover when disaster does strike,” Oxfam America President Raymond Offenheiser said in a statement accompanying the report.
“As climate change increases and intensifies floods, storms, and heat waves, many of the world’s poorest communities, from Biloxi (Mississippi) to Bangladesh, will experience unprecedented stress,” Offenheiser added.
Oxfam said the study, using a method developed by experts from the University of South Carolina’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, for the first time overlaid risk of climate hazards with social variables….
The Oxfam report, available at www.oxfamamerica.org/adapt, includes layered maps that depict different levels of social and climate change-related hazard vulnerability in the U.S. southeast, which accounts for roughly 80 percent of all U.S. counties that experience persistent poverty….
For example, one identified high-risk area was Iberia Parish in Louisiana, which had some of the highest hazard exposures — 76.8 percent of land in a flood zone, 78.9 percent in the extreme drought zone, 56 percent in a sea-level rise zone, and all within a hurricane wind zone.
It also had some of the highest social vulnerability scores, due to its growing Latino population with young children, racial inequalities, and employment dependencies on industries like fishing, oil, and gas….
Poor families were among the worst affected when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in Louisiana in 2005.
Miami-Dade County in Florida — a state viewed by many as a playground for the rich — was also qualified by the report as a high-risk area,
This guest repost is by CAP’s Andrew Light, Julian L. Wong, and Sabina Dewan. Above, Secretary of State Clinton and India’s Junior Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh discuss climate change during Clinton’s visit to India in July.
Most of the attention in the lead up to the December United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen has been focused on the United States and China””the two biggest annual emitters of greenhouse gases. But India may be the country that provides the necessary breakthrough in international negotiations to help developed and developing countries reach an agreement. Indian Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh is urging the Indian government to commit to action without the promise of financial and technological assistance, and subject its domestic efforts to international scrutiny. And this change of position could not come at a more critical time.
U.N. climate talks in trouble
Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is continuing his effort to limit the scope and spending of a solar technology bill headed to the House floor today with an amendment that would limit the length of the program and cut its funding levels.
Broun has proposed a new amendment to H.R. 3585 that would provide $750 million to the program over three years rather than $2.5 billion over five.
The United States created the solar cell industry and literally launched it into space 50 years ago. And, yes, solar PV is going to be one of the largest job-creating industries of the century, projected to grow “from a $20 billion industry in 2007 to $74 billion by 2017.”
Back in the June debate over the climate bill, Broun received applause on the House floor for calling global warming a ‘hoax’, asserting:
Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.
That is, of course, nonsense, as yesterday’s letter to Senators by 18 leading scientific organizations makes clear.
But while conservatives work hard to kill the clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill that is America’s only real hope of remaining globally competitive, the rest of the world eats our lunch, a lunch we were kind enough to cook for them using on our own no-longer-secret recipe (see “China begins transition to a clean-energy economy” and “Why other countries kick our butt on clean energy: A primer“).
Sadly, whenever conservatives have the presidency or control of Congress, they have gutted or blocked funding for clean energy:
This followup to “a genuinely ballooning effort to achieve 350 ppm” is by guest blogger and long-time commenter Joe Galliani aka Creative Greenius. Galliani is chair of the South Bay 350 Climate Action Group, which has an event “on the beach in Manhattan Beach on October 24, 2009 in support of 350.org’s International Day of Climate Action.”
I started feeling it on October 10 and I song-Tweeted the feeling via my blip.fm Twitter plug-in. That song from West Side Story, “Something’s Coming,” kept playing in my head, and I couldn’t get it out. So I shared it with my small group of Twitter followers, because even though I reference show tunes from over 50 years ago, I do it via social media to friends all around the worldwide web.
It was on October 10 that we could all sense it. What had started just three months earlier as a meeting at the Community Church with 25 local people to brainstorm ideas for a South Bay 350 climate action event, had now become a Los Angeles County-wide event at the beach. And you could just smell that it was destined to keep getting bigger.
And that’s exactly what has happened because there is a hunger to get involved that is palpable with everyone we reach out to. Every individual, every group, every elected official, every city, every school, every church, every professional we asked to donate their special skills and talents. They all just kept saying “Yes.” And then they say, “What else can I do? How can I help make this a success? Do you need any money?”