Climate Change Special Issue in Yesterday’s WaPo Outlook

Posted on November 23, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The Washington Post isn’t always equated with progressive commentary on climate change.  At least one regular columnist has been known to mis-interpret and mis-report the science of climate change. Nevertheless, yesterday’s Outlook special issue on climate change featured some decent coverage on the issue.

The contributors included Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, Ralph Izzo, CEO of the Public Service Enterprise Group, and Bill McKibben, one of the founders of, as well as Washington Post writers that contributed columns on the topic.

Izzo’s article, “Let’s go with Cap and Innovate” talked about the efforts his energy company, PSEG, is taking to stay ahead of the curve on carbon cutting initiatives inlcuding energy efficiency program and solar and wind technologies. Izzo advocates a national carbon tax as envisioned in the house and senate climate legislation as a way to move forward on an international agreement and encourage domestic innovation and technological adaptation.

McKibben’s piece urged President Obama to “feel the heat” of climate change and to respond to it with the same vigor he expressed during his campaign. Although he acknowledged that Obama has done more to advance the US response to climate change than his predeccesors, but

“But doing more than George W. Bush on global warming is like doing more than George Wallace on racial healing. It gives you political cover, but the melting arctic ice is unimpressed.”

McKibben contrasts Obama with President Nasheed of the Maldives, another young, well-spoken and “change” oriented politician. Nasheed’s response to climate change has been inventive and vigorous, at least partly due to his small country’s precarious position in the middle of the ocean, highly vulnerable to any rise in the sea-level. McKibben applauds Nasheed’s enthusiasm inlcuding a recent underwater cabinet summit committing pledging to make the country carbon neutral by 2020. In his opinion, Obama could take a lesson from Nasheed and use rhetorical and presentation skills to get some fire back into the climate change policy.

He states:

“They both may go to the U.N.-sponsored climate conference in Copenhagen next month, but Nasheed will be there to say: Seize the moment. And if Obama makes it, he will be there to spin, to say, no doubt elegantly: Chill.”

Brown’s article warned about the consequences of climate change on global food supply which could lead to global instability.

Another interesting article looked at Germany’s climate change legislation and how it effected a blue-collar family in a small former coal town. The family was benefitting from green jobs, but had a hard time keeping up with high energy costs associated with being on the grid because they were unable to invest in solar or geothermal due to high up-front costs.

The section also featured a section look at ads that have been designed by various groups to try to convince diverse audiences to take action on climate change.

Here is one from the WWF:

You can view the rest of the ads here.


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