Foreign Policy Blogs

More Bits and Bobs (Autumn Edition)

Here's a smattering of recent articles that are not uninteresting.

The estimable Fiona Harvey, on the environmental beat for the "FT," has a good overview and analysis of the meetings last week in Washington on climate change – Yo, Kyoto.  She has some of the same sort of barbed quotes I referenced in my last post below.  Try this, for instance, from Phil Clapp, president of the US National Environmental Trust:  "There is about an ounce of action to every 200 pounds of rhetoric."  Harvey however also noted "even many of those sceptical of Mr Bush's motives agreed that last week's meetings at least marked a reversal of his attitude during his early period in office"  This article is a good look at where we are internationally after last week's cornucopia of climate change discussions and before Bali in December.  It's definitely worth reading. 

In an over-pessimistic and somewhat loopy article, Why Climate Change Can't Be Stopped from "Foreign Policy," two veterans of the present Bush administration's State Department assert that we're too late.  It's a new take on climate change "skepticism" , we're past the "tipping point" and so we shouldn't bother to spend too much on halting, and even perhaps reversing, the warming.  It's time to spend money on mitigating the impacts.  Those damn hippie "environmental advocates don't like to concede this point.  Eager to force deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, many of them hype the consequences of climate change‚ in some cases, well beyond what is supported by the facts‚ to build political support."  Okay, we're past the point of no return on climate change, but the consequences are being hyped.  So, don't try to deal with the problem of the emissions and the deforestation and other contributors because it's too expensive, and besides it's not going to be that bad anyway, so just build some levees and that'll take care of that.

That's enough time spent on that argument.

Andrew Revkin, equally as admirable as Fiona Harvey, and who has been covering global warming for the "NY Times" for a number of years, has an admittedly depressing but thoughtful and well-balanced take here – Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts.  (I wrote about the Arctic story back in August – The Arctic Heats Up in the News.)  "While experts debate details, many agree that the vanishing act of the sea ice this year was probably caused by superimposed forces including heat-trapping clouds and water vapor in the air, as well as the ocean-heating influence of unusually sunny skies in June and July."  There's a lot here to consider.  This is science reporting at its best.   

Finally, Tom Friedman also writing in the "NY Times," describes how Toyota, who likes to bill itself as a very green company, and sells a lot of cars based on that image and, not incidentally, on the reality of the high MPG those cars get, is trying, along with the American car makers, to water down the CAFE upgrade in the draft energy legislation from the Senate.  See his Et Tu, Toyota?  In July, in Energy Legislation in the House, I wrote:  "Here's my question?  Doesn't anyone in Detroit think that they might sell more cars if they had better gas mileage performance?  It sure seems to work for the Japanese!"  Friedman's theory seems to be that Toyota wants the American car industry to stay behind the eight ball.  "Toyota wants to keep its green halo and beat G.M. in the big trucks, too," Friedman quotes an expert from NRDC. 



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change