The Hot Zone

Power of shame in solving climate impasse

The world is awash in low-carbon technologies that aim to put the breaks on climate change. But perhaps a more limiting factor in solving the problem is the lack of “social technologies.” From politicians to everyday consumers to corporations, there seems to be a lack of incentives to act green. UK journalist John Whitfield nailed the issue on the head in the latest issue of the journal Nature Climate Change. Whitfield, who has a book coming out next month called, People Will Talk: The... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on October 6, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

Behind the scenes, businesses take climate action

It may seem that global politics will never align to respond seriously about climate change. But businesses see the bottom line and are acting accordingly. A new survey by the UK-based Carbon Disclosure Project finds that for the first time a majority of the world’s largest corporations have climate actions embedded as part of their business strategies. Companies in the Global 500 such as Philips Electronics, BMW, Bank of America and Sony, among others, comprise the 68 percent of respondents... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on September 14, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

Climate cycles influence human conflict

Climate change destabilizes natural ecosystems, but does it also instigate war? A new study in the journal Nature sheds light on the hotly contested debate about whether climate variability plays a role in the onset of violence, especially in poor countries. The researchers led by Solomon Hsiang from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs focused on natural global climate cycles. They found that the arrival of El Niño, which raises temperatures and cuts rainfall... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on August 25, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

California a bright spot on climate change policy

This week’s election results probably have a lot of climate folks holed up in denial or commiserating around water coolers. But there was at least one bright spot on the political landscape. Californians turned down a proposition on the ballot that would have stripped away the state’s climate change legislation, which is the most robust and influential in the nation, not least because it impacts a state whose economy rivals that of France. The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) was... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on November 5, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

Whose climate?

Sometimes I wonder why global warming has played out so differently on the political landscape than the ozone hole. Both are problems related to human induced disruptions of the Earth’s atmosphere. Yet, back in 1987 the world responded to the growing danger of the ozone hole with an exceptional act of international cooperation by enacting the Montreal Protocol, which phased out ozone depleting chemicals. To be fair, the treaty was preceded by more than 10 years of published research and a... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on April 9, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

Small is beautiful

It’s easy to get caught up in the promise of geoengineering. No sacrifice required, no real change in the way we do business. It becomes easy to overlook reachable efforts when a technology fix is all that’s considered needed. But one reachable effort that has no discernibly negative effects deserves more attention: cooking stoves. They’re certainly not as sexy as giant reflectors orbiting the Earth, or pumping CO2 deep underground, but we pretty much know that stoves will work. Much... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on April 2, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change, The man made climate

View from Above

By Alison Hawkes In 2007, the journal Science published a study that concluded that the severe drought in the Amazon in 2005 actually prompted forests to thrive because more sunshine led to a flourishing of plant growth. On the other hand was a IPCC-published claim (from the World Wildlife Fund) that only a small drop in rainfall could cause some 40 percent of the Amazonian forests to die off and switch to savanna. Both of these studies can’t be true. Extreme die-off and plant growth during... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 12, 2010 No Comments »
Category : Climate Science and Scientists, The Politics of Climate Change

Carbon Outsourcing

By Alison Hawkes Everyone points the finger these days to China, which has emerged as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. But come to think of it, that’s a little odd, isn’t it? The Chinese people, themselves, for the most part, live way below Western standards. They just produce many of the goods that we consume in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. So what if we looked at greenhouse gas emissions in a way that shifts the responsibility not on the producer of goods, but... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 10, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

Climate and Her

By Alison Hawkes We all know that the poor, especially in developing countries, will be hardest hit by climate change and yet they are the ones who contribute least to it. Who are the world’s poor? Well, 70 percent of them are women. A UK group, Women’s Environmental Network, released a report this week that takes a closer look at the gender inequalities that climate change is exacerbating. Gender and the Climate Change Agenda finds that women are more likely to die or suffer from climate... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on March 3, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

Good for Business

By Alison Hawkes The U.N. climate change head Yvo de Boer quit his post today, seemingly stung by the abysmal political outcome of the Copenhagen conference in December. He’s now going to work for a business consulting firm, where he says he has a chance to make happen “new partnerships with the business sector.” The switch from high profile political negotiator to back room business consultant will be quite a change for de Boer, but seems to mirror a trend in the climate change... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on February 18, 2010 No Comments »
Category : The Politics of Climate Change

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