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Ogmius Newsletter

Recent Publications

The “New” Carbon Economy: What's New?

by E. Boyd, M. Boykoff, and P. Newell
Antipode, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2011.00882.x, Published April 15, 2011 [pdf]

Introduction: We now have what is commonly called a carbon economy. However, it is in fact made up of several, increasingly inter-connected, carbon markets. It takes different forms in different parts of the world, but includes systems of emissions trading (in the EU, some states in the USA and emerging schemes in cities, such as Montreal), and the buying and selling of offsets through United Nations-controlled “compliance” markets, most notably though the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) created by the Kyoto Protocol, as well as through “voluntary” markets. The carbon economy has had a turbulent history: its monetary value was affected by global financial meltdown, which also suppressed levels of demand for carbon credits, and its legitimacy questioned amid claims of climate fraud, “toxic carbon”, and acts of (neo)colonial dispossession (Bachram 2004; Friends of the Earth 2009; Lohmann 2005, 2006).
Read more ...


The Role of the Media

by M. Boykoff
Box 16.1: In K. Richardson, W. Steffen, and D. Liverman (Ed.), Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions
pp. 455-458, Cambridge University Press, isbn: 9780521198363, Published March 2011 [pdf]

Science Student Profile: Why I Picked University of Colorado-Boulder

by D.N. Cherney
U.S. News and World Report, Published March 16, 2011 [read article] (see Center News for details)

College and University Environmental Programs as a Policy Problem (Part 1): Integrating Knowledge, Education, and Action for a Better World?

by S.G. Clark, M.B. Rutherford, M.R. Auer, D.N. Cherney, R.L. Wallace, D.J. Mattson, D.A. Clark, L. Foote, N. Krogman, P. Wilshusen, and T. Steelman
Environmental Management, 2011, doi: 10.1007/s00267-011-9619-2 [pdf]

Abstract: The environmental sciences/studies movement, with more than 1000 programs at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, is unified by a common interest—ameliorating environmental problems through empirical enquiry and analytic judgment. Unfortunately, environmental programs have struggled in their efforts to integrate knowledge across disciplines and educate students to become sound problem solvers and leaders. We examine the environmental program movement as a policy problem, looking at overall goals, mapping trends in relation to those goals, identifying the underlying factors contributing to trends, and projecting the future. We argue that despite its shared common interest, the environmental program movement is disparate and fragmented by goal ambiguity, positivistic disciplinary approaches, and poorly rationalized curricula, pedagogies, and educational philosophies. We discuss these challenges and the nature of the changes that are needed in order to overcome them. In a subsequent article (Part 2) we propose specific strategies for improvement. Read more ...


College and University Environmental Programs as a Policy Problem (Part 2): Strategies for Improvement

by S.G. Clark, M.B. Rutherford, M.R. Auer, D.N. Cherney, R.L. Wallace, D.J. Mattson, D.A. Clark, L. Foote, N. Krogman, P. Wilshusen, and T. Steelman
Environmental Management, doi: 10.1007/s00267-011-9635-2 [pdf]

Abstract: Environmental studies and environmental sciences programs in American and Canadian colleges and universities seek to ameliorate environmental problems through empirical enquiry and analytic judgment. In a companion article (Part 1) we describe the environmental program movement (EPM) and discuss factors that have hindered its performance. Here, we complete our analysis by proposing strategies for improvement. We recommend that environmental programs re-organize around three principles. First, adopt as an overriding goal the concept of human dignity-defined as freedom and social justice in healthy, sustainable environments. This clear higher-order goal captures the human and environmental aspirations of the EPM and would provide a more coherent direction for the efforts of diverse participants. Second, employ an explicit, genuinely interdisciplinary analytical framework that facilitates the use of multiple methods to investigate and address environmental and social problems in context. Third, develop educational programs and applied experiences that provide students with the technical knowledge, powers of observation, critical thinking skills and management acumen required for them to become effective professionals and leaders. Organizing around these three principles would build unity in the EPM while at the same time capitalizing on the strengths of the many disciplines and diverse local conditions involved. Read more ...


Ethics, Policy & Environment: A New Name and a Renewed Mission

by B. Hale and A. Light
Ethics, Policy & Environment 14 (1) 1-2, doi: 10.1080/21550085.2011.561581, March 2011 [pdf]

Let There Be More Efficient Light

by R.A. Pielke, Jr.
New York Times, March 10, 2011 [pdf]

Excerpt: Last week Michele Bachmann, a Republican representative from Minnesota, introduced a bill to roll back efficiency standards for light bulbs, which include a phasing out of incandescent bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient bulbs. The “government has no business telling an individual what kind of light bulb to buy,” she declared. Read more ...


The Messy Business of Cleaning Up Carbon Policy (and How to Sell it to the Electorate)

by R.A. Pielke, Jr.
ABC News Australia, April 1, 2011 [read article]

Excerpt: Last week someone leaked the Labor party’s “talking points memo” on the Prime Minister’s proposed carbon tax. The memo, coupled with diametrically opposed messaging from the government illustrates what a mess the Prime Minister has gotten herself and her government into on carbon policy. Read more ...


Shuttle Programme Lifetime Cost

by R.A Pielke, Jr. and R. Byerly
Nature 472 (38), doi: 10.1038/472038d, Published April 7 2011 [pdf]

Excerpt: Some 20 years ago, we found the programme to be slightly over budget and severely short in capability (R. A. Pielke and R. Byerly in Space Policy Alternatives Ch. 14, 223–245; 1992). We used 8 years of cost and schedule experience to predict performance for the subsequent 20 years of the shuttle programme. The US Congress and NASA spent more than US$192 billion (in 2010 dollars) on the shuttle from 1971 to 2010 (see ‘A costly enterprise’). The agency launched 131 flights; two ended in tragedy with the loss of Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. During the operational years from 1982 to 2010, the average cost per launch was about $1.2 billion. Over the life of the programme, this increases to about $1.5 billion per launch (R. A. Pielke Space Policy 10, 78–80; 1994). For the period 1991–2010, we originally projected an average cost per flight of about $800 million. The actual cost was about $1 billion. We overestimated both the flight rate during this time (8 predicted flights versus 4.7 actual) and the annual costs (about $6.2 billion predicted versus $4.7 billion actual). The actual cost for each flight of the programme falls squarely in the middle of the envelope we constructed, with projected uncertainties. Read more ...

Please also see Roger's blog post on Space Shuttle Costs: 1971-2011.


Democracy’s Open Secret

by R.A. Pielke, Jr.
Bridges 29, Published April 2011 [pdf]

Excerpt: [I]t should be far less worrisome that the public or policy makers do not understand this or that information that experts may know well. What should be of more concern is that policy makers appear to lack an understanding of how they can tap into expertise to inform decision making. This situation is akin to flying blind.

Specialized expertise typically does not compel particular decisions, but it does help to make decisions more informed. This distinction lies behind Winston Churchill's oft-cited advice that science should be "on tap, but not on top." Effective governance does not depend upon philosopher kings in governments or in the populace, but rather on the use of effective mechanisms for bringing expertise into the political process.

It is the responsibility - even the special expertise - of policy makers to know how to use the instruments of government to bring experts into the process of governance. Read more ...

See also Roger's blog post on this article.