Four noteworthy articles on climate change in the Washington Post

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Climate in the Court (November 26, Editorial).  “On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in…a challenge by states and environmental groups to the Bush administration’s refusal to regulate greenhouse gases as pollution.”

Science a la Joe Camel (November 26, Sunday Outlook section).  “It’s bad enough when a company tries to sell junk science to a bunch of grown-ups. But, like a tobacco company using cartoons to peddle cigarettes, Exxon Mobil is going after our kids, too.”

On the Move to Outrun Climate Change: Self-Preservation Forcing Wild Species, Businesses, Planning Officials to Act (November 26, National News, p. A3)

Energy Firms Come to Terms With Climate Change (November 25, front page).  “While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nations largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable.”

The Washington Post takes the prize for climate change newspaper coverage this weekend, with these two news articles, editorial, and guest viewpoint. A few excerpts, but read the entire articles—

Climate in the Court
The justices take up global warming.
Sunday, November 26, 2006; B06
Editorial

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in what could prove to be one of the most fateful environmental cases in a generation—or not, depending on what the justices do with it. Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency is a challenge by states and environmental groups to the Bush administration’s refusal to regulate greenhouse gases as pollution.

The question of how to handle global warming is the chief environmental issue of our era. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency has refused to assume regulatory authority over greenhouse emissions….

The tricky legal question is whether the states and environmental groups—or anyone else, for that matter—have standing to bring the case….Depending on how the justices treat this question, the case could peter out.

That would be frustrating and unfortunate. Nowhere is this administration’s resistance to action on global climate change more aggravating than in its persistent refusal to use the legal powers already at hand. What an irony it would be if its lawless inaction survived judicial review because the problem is too big.

Science a la Joe Camel
How Inconvenient

By Laurie David
Sunday, November 26, 2006; Page B01
(Sunday Outlook section)

At hundreds of screenings this year of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.

The producers of former vice president Al Gore’s film about global warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.

The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said….

[M]aybe the NSTA just being extra cautious. But there was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.” One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp….

It’s bad enough when a company tries to sell junk science to a bunch of grown-ups. But, like a tobacco company using cartoons to peddle cigarettes, Exxon Mobil is going after our kids, too….

In the past year alone, according to its Web site, Exxon Mobil’s foundation gave $42 million to key organizations that influence the way children learn about science, from kindergarten until they graduate from high school….

NSTA’s list of corporate donors also includes Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute (API), which funds NSTA’s Web site on the science of energy….

An API memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 succinctly explains why the association is angling to infiltrate the classroom: “Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.”…

On the Move to Outrun Climate Change
Self-Preservation Forcing Wild Species, Businesses, Planning Officials to Act

By Blaine Harden and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 26, 2006; A03
National News article (full half-page above the fold and continued after a jump to p. A10)

SEATTLE—As the Bush administration debates much of the world about what to do about global warming, butterflies and ski-lift operators, polar bears and hydroelectric planners are on the move.

In their separate ways, wild creatures, business executives and regional planners are responding to climate changes that are rapidly recalibrating their chances for survival, for profit and for effective delivery of public services.

Butterflies are voting with their wings, abandoning southern Europe and flying north to the more amenable climes of Finland. Ski-lift operators in the West are lobbying for leases on federal land higher up in the Rockies, trying to outclimb snowlines that creep steadily upward.

Polar bears along Hudson Bay are losing weight and declining in number as the ice shelf melts and their feeding season shrinks. Power planners in the Pacific Northwest, which gets three-quarters of its electricity from hydroelectric dams, are meeting in brainstorming sessions and making contingency plans for early snow melts, increased wintertime rainfall, lower summertime river flows and electricity shortfalls during hotter, drier summers.

With the issue of a warming planet shifting rapidly from scientific projection to on-the-ground reality, animals and plants are being compelled, along with businesses and bureaucracies, to take action aimed at self-preservation. They are doing so even as the Bush administration eschews regulations, laws or international treaties that would require limits on carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists say are the main cause of global warming….

Energy Firms Come to Terms With Climate Change

By Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 25, 2006; A01

While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation’s largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable.

The Democratic takeover of Congress makes it more likely that the federal government will attempt to regulate emissions. The companies have been hiring new lobbyists who they hope can help fashion a national approach that would avert a patchwork of state plans now in the works. They are also working to change some company practices in anticipation of the regulation.

“We have to deal with greenhouse gases,” John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., said in a recent speech at the National Press Club. “From Shell’s point of view, the debate is over. When 98 percent of scientists agree, who is Shell to say, ‘Let’s debate the science’?”

Hofmeister and other top energy company leaders, such as Duke Energy Corp.‘s chief executive, James E. Rogers, back a proposal that would cap greenhouse gas emissions and allow firms to trade their quotas.

Copyright 2006 The Washington Post Company

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