SocraticGadfly: 3/12/06 - 3/19/06

March 17, 2006

California pollution control gets a boost

Good news for environmentalists: California’s tougher vehicle emission standards should keep their independence, the government’s National Research Council said.

While not a direct ruling on California’s efforts two years ago to set its own CO2 standards, the council’s ruling should certainly bolster that regulatory item against attacks from both the Big Three and also, sadly, the Japanese automakers.

March 16, 2006

Global warming: We’re at the tipping point

So says a meta-analysis of climate change studies just done by the World Resources Institute.

The WRI says that global warming would continue even if we cut off the greenhouse gases flood:
“It would keep on warming even though we have stopped the cause, which is greenhouse gases from the combustion of fossil fuels,” David Jhirad of the Washington-based World Resources Institute said on Wednesday.

The rate of warming would be slower, Jhirad said in a telephone interview, but a kind of thermal inertia would ensure that global temperatures continue their upward trend.

He referred to a report released by the nonprofit institute this week that analyzed research reports on climate change for 2005.

“Taken collectively, they suggest that the world may well have moved past a key physical tipping point,” the institute wrote.

We know BushCo still won’t do anything; but, as WRI works with industrial as well as environmental groups, how much will big business speak up? And, will another climate-driven hurricane season, coming just before midterm Congressional elections, ramp up national political dialogue?

March 14, 2006

Ozone: now a global warming culprit, too

And another problem, in addition to the post immediately below, fueling Arctic warming:

NASA says ozone is contributing to Arctic warming.
Globally, ozone accounts for perhaps one-seventh of the global warming and climate change that carbon dioxide does, Shindell said. However, a new study of climate change over the past 100 years indicates that ozone may be responsible for as much as 50 percent of the warming in the Arctic zone.

Question: While CFCs continue to be phased out, how much ground-level ozone from things such as automobile exhaust survives to be a factor in this cycle?

Climatic tipping point?

Winter in parts of Canada has been as much as 6 degrees above normal — six degrees Celsius, that is, or about 11 degrees Fahrenheit.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories were more than 6 degrees above normal, the story says.

Just a jet stream aberration? At least in part due to global warming?

Or, a climatic tipping point from global warming?

March 13, 2006

President Milquetoast of South Dakota?

Isn’t this all the Democratic Party needs — a candidate with even less backbone against Republican attacks than John Kerry? Well, former Majority Leader Milquetoast, ex-Sen. Tom Daschle from South Dakota, is considering entering the 2008 presidential fray.

I don’t know what’s worse — his McKinleyesque chocolate éclair backbone, or his cluelessness about that and its effect on his electoral chances.

Khalilzad goes even further off the BushCo reservation on Iraq?

As if saying there’s a possibility of an Iraq civil war weren’t bad enough (see post immediately below) now our man Friday in Baghdad, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, supposedly is asking Iran for help calming the situation in Iraq.
Britain's Sunday Times newspaper said journalists in Tehran had been shown a letter by a senior Iranian intelligence agent that was purportedly from U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, and which invited Iran to send representatives to talks in Iraq.

Please note Zalmay’s careful nondenial of the letter’s existence:
Khalilzad told CNN there had been no meetings between Iranian and U.S. officials.

However, he said nothing about whether a letter might have invited Iranian leaders to such meetings that haven’t yet taken place.

I put a question mark on the title of this post because I’m just not believing that Khalilzad did this one on his own inititative, even though this sounds like a sensible thing to do, which would theoretically rule out an initiative from BushCo inside the Beltway. The stakes just seem too high for this to be a freelance job.