Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and Climate Change

Linking to an interesting NPR interview this morning with David Folkenflik, author of the book, Murdoch’s World, and not surprisingly the storyline that tends to portray the strong influence exerted by Murdoch over his news outlets, such as News Corp, i.e., the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, on stories such as climate change.  I heard the interview this morning on my commute into DC.  Interesting, it just so happens that, although Murdoch’s outlets convey strong skepticism of anthropogenic global warming, he himself believes the matter serious enough that, in 2007, he declared News Corp would become “carbon neutral” in five years.   Continue reading

Connecting the Dots, Collecting the Drops

global-water-volume-freshI love this picture – as it puts into perspective the importance of Earth’s finite water resources.  The largest, blue sphere represents the total volume of all water on Earth.  The medium size one over Kentucky represents all useable freshwater, including surface and groundwater.  And the tiniest one over Atlanta, hardly visible, represents the amount of water in lakes and streams, the same water that gets recycled and filtered everyday through biological systems and has been available to sustain life for millions of years.  It’s limited, that’s all there is.  Just think, the water you drink from your tap was at one time filtered through the kidneys of dinosaur.  Someone’s waste is another’s treasure or, in this case, water.   Continue reading

Climate Skeptics May, In Fact, Be Good For The Earth

I bring your attention to a great article by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus as the IPCC releases this week its latest report on climate change.  Pointing to the work of Robert Bryce, Steve Hayward, and even the Koch Brothers, the article begins,

Over the last decade, progressives have successfully painted conservative climate skepticism as the major stumbling block to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Exxon and the Koch brothers, the story goes, fund conservative think tanks to sow doubt about climate change and block legislative action. As evidence mounts that anthropogenic global warming is underway, conservatives’ flight from reason is putting us all at risk.

This week’s release of a new United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report opens another front in the climate wars. But beneath the bellowing, name-calling, and cherry-picking of data that have become the hallmark of contemporary climate politics lies a paradox: the energy technologies favored by the climate-skeptical Right are doing far more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than the ones favored by the climate-apocalyptic Left.  [continue reading]

Lest you dismiss this criticism of the climate-apocalyptic Left, Nordhaus and Shellenberger are dyed-in-the-wool liberal, environmentalists.  The article is well worth the read.

Our National Treasures – Was Secretary Watt Correct?

Interesting article in American Spectator this week by Robert Smith titled, An Environmentalist Deception, wherein Smith takes issue with fellow conservatives at the R Street Institute for celebrating the anniversary of Reagan’s establishment of Mount St.imagesCAOFESOR Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Here’s what prompted Smith’s retort:

R Street Associate Fellow Ryan Cooper pointed to research from the Headwaters Economics showing that since the monument’s establishment, the surrounding region has seen population grow by 30 percent, real personal income has grown by 62 percent, total jobs have grown by 42 percent and real per-capita income grew by 24 percent. Headwaters’ data suggests that in many cases, employers have explicitly chosen the area for its beauty, a major drawing point for highly skilled employees. Continue reading

Coase and Environmental Externalities

With the recent passing of Ronald Coase, much tribute has rightly been given to his inordinate contributions to the world of economics, here by Peter Boetkke and here by Patrick Lyons of the NYT.  I’m not an economist and don’t even pretend to be one on TV, but have followed and appreciated Coase’s contributions to the scholarship of environmental policy involving the economic problem of environmental externalities.  Most modern economists, save Coase, believe that environmental pollution is the result of market failure.  Adler has a good piece today on Coase’s rejection of the concept of externalities and corrects those who may misunderstand or misinterpret Coase’s argument.  According to Coase, when property rights are clear and well-defined, contracting parties, including the polluter, will allocate resources effectively and efficiently, as the economic benefits and costs – read environmental – are fully borne by the effected parties.  This idea was coined the Coase TheoremContinue reading

The Decline of GOP Environmentalism or Decline of Environmentalism Itself

Paul Sabin has an article in this weekend’s Boston Globe titled “The Decline of Republican Environmentalism.” Sabin, a professor of history at Yale and author of “The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future,” makes a compelling case for the country’s current deadlock on forging solutions to important environmental matters, including climate change.  However, I think the article could aptly have been titled the “Decline of Environmentalism” or “The Failed Gamble of Environmentalism,” rather than painting the GOP into a corner.  According to Sabin,

Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, from the sunny decks of an excursion boat touring Boston Harbor, George H.W. Bush, then the Republican candidate for president, launched a fierce attack on Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee. Bush said that Boston’s polluted waters — “the dirtiest harbor” in America — symbolized Dukakis’s failed leadership. He “will say that he will do for America what he’s done for Massachusetts,” Bush declared. “That’s why I fear for the country.” By delaying a major cleanup of the harbor, Bush said, Dukakis had cost taxpayers billions of dollars and allowed the pollution to continue, making “the most expensive public policy mistake in the history of New England.”

Bush’s attack on Dukakis stands out as perhaps the last time a prominent national Republican turned an environmental cause into a weapon against a Democratic opponent. And in that 25-year gap lies a lost path and a giant missed opportunity. Republicans no longer seriously contest the environmental vote; instead, they have run from it. Largely as a result, national environmental policy-making has become one-sided, polarized, and stuck. Republican politicians mostly deny the threat of climate disruption and block legislative solutions, while President Obama tries to go it alone with a shaky patchwork of executive actions. A middle ground on environmental policy remains a mirage. Continue reading

More Chicken Wings = More Environmental Challenges

chickensWe have a lot of chickens in Maryland.  And, in fact, we humans are outnumbered 1,000 to 1 along Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Lots of chickens also means lots of chicken poop – something you probably don’t care to think about as you’re nibbling on that chicken wing.  And fact, most of the chicken manure (a/k/a chicken litter as it’s called locally) is land-applied, which is also what’s affecting the quality of water in the Chesapeake Bay.  More manure equals more algae, equals less oxygen for fish, crabs and other aquatic critters.  But, as a vital nutrient resource that keeps on giving, it can also be transformed into a renewable energy source as discussed below. Continue reading