Inside Opinion

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Tag: climate change


The environmental case for the Keystone pipeline

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

A massive new environmental study strengthens the case for building the Keystone XL oil pipeline. That’s good news for the Pacific Northwest.

The State Department’s new environmental impact assessment concluded that Alberta’s tar sand oil is going to find a way to international markets. It also pointed out the obvious: The planned pipeline is both safer and cleaner than the probable alternatives, which include relentless rail shipments to a fleet of tankers in Northwest waters.

The Keystone pipeline – which would allow shipments of crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries – has become the bete noire of many American environmentalists. Its critics raise many objections, including the risk of spills.

But pipelines – as opposed to trucks, rail cars and ships – are the least risky way to move petroleum and natural gas. The United States is already laced with 2.6 million miles of pipelines; a 1,700-mile addition with state-of-the-art safety features would pose no special threat to the lands it passes through.

The real concern is that most of the petroleum from Alberta’s vast tar sands formations would ultimately be burned as fuel, thus contributing to climate change. Many pipeline opponents believe that if they stop the Keystone project, they can keep that crude locked in the earth.

Not so. As the assessment concludes, Canada can find other ways to transport its tar sands oil to willing buyers. It doesn’t need Keystone, which requires approval by President Obama.
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Superstorm Sandy leaves questions in its wake

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The Northeast is only starting to clean up and assess the damage caused by the most devastating, costly storm to hit the region in many years. But it’s not too early to start seeking answers to some of the questions left in Sandy’s aftermath.

• Will this finally get the presidential candidates to talk about climate change? And what can be done to better protect coastal populations?

Many scientists have linked the increasing number of extreme weather events to global warming. It’s unclear if Sandy is one of those events, but with melting polar ice and rising seas, what is more clear is that coastal cities like New York will be increasingly vulnerable to future such storms.
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Hot enough for you? Expect it to get worse in coming years

After months of drought, many creeks and ponds in the Midwest are dry or close to it, like this one in central Illinois. (Seth Perlman/The Associated Press)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

It’s getting harder and harder to be a climate-change denier. July was the hottest month on record in the United States – the previous record was in July 1936 at the height of the Dust Bowl disaster – and much of the country is experiencing the worst drought in memory.

It won’t stop some from insisting that nature, not man, is to blame for hotter temperatures. But climate experts increasingly are coming to believe that although some droughts are part of natural cycles, the hotter temperatures are largely human-caused – and they’re making the droughts worse than they otherwise would be.

The consequences are dire – and expected to worsen in the next decades. This year’s U.S. corn crop has been devastated and is expected to be down at least 13 percent from last year, even though a record number of acres were planted. The soybean crop is similarly affected. Read more »


Climate change: At least science admits its errors

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

One of science’s great strengths is its tendency to self-correct. That strength is on display this year as climatologists respond to some tough attacks on the way they’ve presented global warming to the public.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change got the world’s attention in 2007 when it concluded that the planet was indeed heating up and human industrial activity was indeed the chief cause. These findings reflected immense research and the combined authority of hundreds of leading scientists.

But winning over scientists can be a lot easier than winning over public opinion. Most citizens aren’t likely to pore through hundreds of studies and evaluate the credentials of their authors. Americans in particular are hard-wired to distrust official dictates and scientific orthodoxies.

So the cause of reducing greenhouse gas emissions has taken some devastating hits as skeptics have gleefully pounced on errors and overstatements in the 2007 report to the United Nations.

The most embarrassing was an assertion that the Himalayan glaciers could be entirely melted in 2035 – an unsubstantiated factoid that appears to have found its way to the IPCC by way of environmental zealots.
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Climate pact needs Obama’s salesmanship

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Barack Obama demonstrated a surprising potential for bipartisan leadership in Norway Thursday when he forcefully defended America in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

Next stop, Copenhagen. He’ll have to milk that gift for all it’s worth to eventually get a serious climate-change treaty through the Senate.
The Copenhagen climate conference now in progress will not produce a binding agreement on greenhouse gas reduction; with any luck, it will produce a framework of means and ends the world can buy into.

At times like this, “international community” looks like an oxymoron. Different nations often have conflicting interests, even in addressing a common problem.

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Prefab opinion on climate change

From Editor & Publisher magazine comes this global warming editorial that dozens of newspapers are reprinting verbatim.

Someone must not have heard the term “groupthink.” Or else they wanted to provide the perfect illustration of it.

56 Papers in 45 Countries Publish Joint Editorial

Published: December 06, 2009

NEW YORK Tomorrow 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the perhaps unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. Many if not most will publish it on the front page, warning of a “profound emergency.”

The Guardian of London, which helped draft the editorial, published it today, with a note at the end. Here it is:

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.
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Climate change science doesn’t need idea police

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A formidable majority of atmospheric scientists believe that planet Earth is slowly heating up and that human industry bears much of the blame. That’s good reason to worry about global warming and do something to stop it.

It’s not good reason to suppress the views of scientists who challenge the majority view. Science could hardly survive without its contrarians and skeptics.

The Do Something camp was thrown on the defensive a few days ago after anonymous hackers released thousands of e-mails and other documents that – at first blush – put some researchers in a nasty light. Stolen from a British university, the messages point to deliberate efforts to shut up dissenting scientists, even cripple their careers.

In one exchange, the director of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit talks about keeping papers from two skeptics out of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the pre-eminent scientific forum on global warming.

“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report,” wrote Phil Jones to Michael Mann of Penn State. “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is.”

Translation: Before we’ll tolerate dissent that meets the ground rules for scientific publication, we’ll change the ground rules.
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