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A recent post by Steve Weissman of Berkeley Law on Legal Planet, an environmental law and policy blog, highlights a chart that looks like a duck. The duck chart was produced by the California Independent System Operator, the organization in charge of managing the state's power grid. Weissman calls it the "Duck of Doom" -- with good reason.
Over 100 countries have adopted national renewable power targets, with particular focus on wind and solar power (WSP). WSP offers many socioeconomic and environmental benefits but it has two major drawbacks: 1) it's comparatively costly and 2) it's not always available when we need it (i.e. intermittency).
Why are some societies rich and others poor? On this subject, Nobel Laureate Robert Lucas wrote, "The consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else." The topic is a fascinating one, no doubt, and legions of social scientists have devoted careers to it. But it is quite secondary to a far more fundamental question: Why are some people happy and others not?
On Monday, one week in advance of the climate-themed G8 Summit in Japan, the Indian government released its first ever national climate change action plan. In line with previous statements by India and other developing countries, no specific emission targets or timetables were presented.
Three months ago, the finance ministers of the U.S., UK, and Japan introduced a Clean Technology Fund to be administered by the World Bank in an effort to "help developing countries bridge the gap between dirty and clean technology."1 Smart and strategic use of limited clean technology financing is absolutely critical if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.
On the eve of Earth Day, a new Gallup poll finds that Americans "just can't seem to get worked up" about global warming. While 61% believe the effects of global warming have already begun, just 37% worry about it a "great deal."1 The latter figure has remained basically unchanged for the past 20 years.
The World Bank recently invited Harvard economist Marty Weitzman to present his latest work on catastrophic climate change, with federal judge Richard Posner, millionaire math whiz John Seo, and Nobel Laureate Tom Schelling providing comment. Since Weitzman's paper is an important insight into the uncertainty of economic analysis of global warming, it deserves some investigation -- as does the appropriate role and necessary modesty of economists with respect to climate change more generally.
Besides the official negotiations and speeches, the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali that I've been attending also provided opportunities for sharing new research and ideas. Two subjects dominated the schedule: adaptation and forestry (no doubt reflecting the preferences of our Indonesian hosts). Here I briefly discuss the use of climate models in adaptation -- a critical issue for those in the development community. [In a separate post to follow I'll note some new efforts in the measurement and monitoring of forest carbon.]