Sept. 5, 2009 by Douglas Kysar

Lomborg Plays Economist-as-Philosopher-King on Climate Change

Prominent environmental commentator Bjorn Lomborg is at it again, this time convening a blue ribbon panel of five economists to assess the relative merits of different possible methods for addressing climate change.  As reported by Reuters Friday morning, Lomborg's panel concluded that "'climate engineering' projects, such as spraying seawater into the sky to dim sunlight, would be a more effective brake on global warming than increasing taxes on energy."  In a blog entry, The Wall Street Journal added that the economists viewed "any sort of carbon tax" as the least desirable climate policy reviewed and that a "cap-and-trade proposal . . . didn't even make the list." 

It's difficult to evaluate these claims in light of the sparse information actually released thus far about the report.  According to Lomborg's website, the economists relied on background papers concerning each of the proposed climate policies that were prepared by "acknowledged authorities."  Despite being supposedly authoritative, these papers were then "balanced" by a critical "perspective paper" in order to "ensure complete information on each category of solutions."  The names of the authors of these various papers allegedly appear "overleaf" on the final report issued by Lomborg's panel, but that page of …

Sept. 4, 2009 by Ben Somberg

The AP reports:

A federal judge presiding over hundreds of lawsuits against Chinese drywall makers and installers said Thursday that he plans to hold the first trial in January for the cases, which claim the imported products emit sulfur, methane and other chemical compounds that have ruined homes and harmed residents' health.

U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon told attorneys that he expects them to pick six plaintiffs whose cases could be tried in early 2010, with the first trial starting in January.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, in its August drywall update, reported that new complaints continue to come in, and "the majority of the reports continue to be from Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia." And:

To date, CPSC staff has confirmed 6,211,200 sheets of Chinese drywall were imported into the U.S., plus 28,778 sheets imported into Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa during …

Sept. 3, 2009 by Holly Doremus

This item cross-posted by permission from Legal Planet.

We had a flurry of posts on geoengineering a while back (see here, here, here, and here). If you want to learn more about geoengineering, a great resource is this report, just issued by the Royal Society. It clearly explains the background, the approaches being proposed (which divide broadly into technologies for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and technologies for reducing the input of solar radiation), and the risks associated with those approaches. The key conclusions include: (1) geoengineering is not a substitute for reducing GHG emissions; (2) more research should be done on geoengineering and dealing with its risks, in case “it becomes necessary to reduce the rate of warming this century”: (3) because of the risks, “Solar Radiation Management methods should not be applied unless there is a need to rapidly limit or reduce global average …

Sept. 2, 2009 by Rena Steinzor

Those of us worried sick over climate change confronted a depressing piece of excellent reporting in Monday's Washington Post. Environment reporter David Fahrenthold wrote that environmental organizations are getting their proverbial clocks cleaned by a well-organized and pervasive campaign mounted by affected industries in small and mid-size communities throughout America. “It seems that environmentalists are struggling in a fight they have spent years setting up,” Fahrenthold wrote. “Even now, these groups differ on whether to scare the public with predictions of heat waves or woo it with promises of green jobs.”

If scaring the public is the objective, environmentalists don’t have to look very far for hard facts to support the effort. All they really need to do is focus on what the world’s most prominent and reputable scientists keep trying to tell us about the dismal state of the environment that we’re …

Sept. 1, 2009 by Ben Somberg

A recent article on, "China: Where Poisoning People Is Almost Free," gave great examples of just how cheap it often is to pollute in China. And it pointed to potential consequences:

While companies can get away with pollution atrocities for years, the Chinese government, in the long run, may have to pay a high price for allowing it: political instability triggered by the unanswered grievances of pollution victims.

Manufacturers, of course, can and have moved overseas to countries -- China being a major destination -- with light pollution controls.

So if poisoning people in China is 'almost free,' what about here? There are costs to upgrading plant technologies to meet regulations, and costs for the pollution permits themselves, for example. And it's a good thing we have the environmental laws and regulations we do.

But what if you're a non-point source of pollution? Say, the …

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Sept. 25, 2009

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