Archive for the ‘Author: Yulsman, T.’ Category

Historic Declaration by Climate Scientists

December 5th, 2007

Posted by: admin

Just minutes ago, more than 200 climate scientists released an historic declaration at the United Nations Climate Conference in Bali. (Find it here: They warn that unless steps are taken immediately to begin bringing greenhouse gas emissions under control, “many millions of people will be at risk from extreme events such as heat waves, drought, floods and storms, our coasts and cities will be threatened by rising sea levels, and many ecosystems, plants and animal species will be in serious danger of extinction.”

The signatories, who include many scientists we here in Boulder know well, including Caspar Ammann, Beth Holland, Kevin Trenberth, and James White, state that global warming must be kept below 2 degrees C above the pre-industrial temperature. “Based on current scientific understanding, this requires that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by at least 50% below their 1990 levels by the year 2050,” according to the statement. That means “there is no time to lose.” Greenhouse gas emissions must actually peak and begin to drop within the breathtakingly short period of the next 10 to 15 years.


Waxman vs EPA; Hansen vs Carbon

November 8th, 2007

Posted by: admin

Congressman Henry Waxman excoriated EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson yesterday for the agency’s approval of a new coal-fired power plant in Utah, charging that the move “is the climate equivalent of pouring gasoline on a fire.”

In his opening statement at the beginning of a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Waxman said, “The approval of new power plants without carbon controls is irresponsible; it is indefensible; and it is illegal.”

In charging illegal behavior by the EPA, Waxman must be referring to the Supreme Court Decision in April finding that the agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Never mind that the court did not exactly order the EPA to set mandatory limits. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the petitioners ask EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles under §202 of the Clean Air Act? Last I looked, coal power plants were not mobile.


Sustainability: John Stossel versus Anderson Cooper

October 26th, 2007

Posted by: admin

During the past week, ABC and CNN both tackled global environmental issues — but in completely different ways. In a 20/20 segment, John Stossel weighed in on global warming in predictable fashion, using half truths and complete nonsense to make the case that “when the Nobel prize winner says, ‘the debate’s over,’ I say, ‘give me a break!’” Meanwhile, over at CNN, Anderson Cooper, Jeff Corwin and Sanjay Gupta did a shockingly good job with a four-hour documentary titled Planet-in-Peril.

In his 20/20 segment, Stossel copied and pasted the usual exhausted arguments about global warming, including that old one about atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rising hundreds of years after temperatures began to increase when the Earth was emerging from past ice ages. I guess he was trying to convince viewers that greenhouse gases don’t actually warm the planet, almost putting him in the same company as flat Earthers.

Of course he is either willfully ignorant or willfully misleading. At risk of annoying those Prometheus readers who generally don’t want to waste time on issues like this… Scientists have long known that CO2 and other greenhouse gases lag climate change in the ice core record, and they offer a widely accepted explanation. Changes in Earth’s orientation to the sun are believed to initiate the rise in temperature that heralds the end of an ice age. This rise in temperature, in turn, causes greenhouse gases to be emitted into the atmosphere — for example, as permafrost melts, methane is released. And this accentuates the warming. (For an excellent explanation of this idea, see this RealClimate post.)


What a difference a year and maybe a movie makes

January 26th, 2007

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

by Tom Yulsman

Consider this quote: “We believe climate change is a serious issue and that action must be taken.” Last year, that might have been said by an environmentalist in testimony before Congress — or maybe not, because discussion of the issue in Congress was controlled by Republicans who were more interested in what ExxonMobil had to say on climate change. But those words were actually spoken today by Ken Cohen, ExxonMobil’s vice president for public affairs.

In a conference call with bloggers, Cohen outlined the company’s positions on the issue, coming intriguingly close to endorsing one policy response to global warming over another: a carbon tax as opposed to a cap and trade system.


Tom Yulsman: Beyond Balance?

November 13th, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

[This entry is by Tom Yulsman, professor of journalism, University of Colorado. -Ed.]

Last Tuesday, the New York Times published a fascinating story by William Broad about paleoclimate reconstructions stretching back as far as half a billion years. (See: Broad stroy) The article noted that some evidence from the very deep past cast doubt on carbon dioxide’s role in global warming.


What is Science? Reflections on the Dover, Pennsylvania Decision

January 9th, 2006

Posted by: admin

On October 18, 2004, the Dover Area School Board of Directors in Pennsylvania attacked modern knowledge by officially elevating intelligent design to scientific status alongside Darwinian evolution and requiring that it be taught in science classes.
(See more here.)

In his decision in the case challenging this requirement, Federal Judge John E. Jones III ruled last month that the board had violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. In surprisingly pointed terms, the Republican appointee of President George W. Bush swept aside the “breathtaking inanity” of the board’s policy, along with the arguments of intelligent design’s proponents. Writing that “the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity,” the judge found that ID is a religious concept, not a scientific theory, and therefore cannot be taught as science in the Dover public schools. (More here.)

Among other points in his decision, Judge Jones rejected the use of scientific-sounding language by the proponents of intelligent design. To address the constitutional issue, he recognized that ID proponents dress a religious concept in scientific costume to attain a political result.

The judge refers frequently in his opinion to the notorious “Wedge Strategy” from the Center for Science and Culture of Seattle’s Discovery Institute, the leading intelligent design think tank. The strategy is something of a mission statement for the ID movement, and a plan for replacing scientific materialism with a “science” rooted in belief in a Christian god as the creator of all things.