|The Week That Was
July 22, 2000
EPA in the Supreme Court will provide an important Constitutional test,
says NY Law School professor David Schoenbrod in an article in the Financial
In 1998, the U.S. pulled out of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. The remaining partners, the European community, Japan, and Russia agreed on a smaller machine at half the original cost of about $4 billion.
Supporters claim that fusion is the best long-term choice for a safe, clean energy source. U.S. scientists see the project more as a plasma physics experiment rather than as a step towards a power station. But critics have doubts about the commercial feasibility of fusion energy; even after tens of billions of dollars have been spent on R&D. We see no great advantage for fusion energy. Fission works; it is available at competitive prices; and is good for thousands of years. Even if we run out of low-cost uranium, there is always thorium.
Global Warming Impact in NYC
A special conference at Columbia University to discuss future climate impacts brought to light the possibility of a major hurricane passing through New York City at full force 80 years in the future. Speakers said the storm would be so damaging that all power would be out, most waterfront property would be submerged, and water would cover a wide area of the state.
The conference was planned in conjunction with the release of a federally mandated study titled "Climate Change and a Global City: An Assessment of the Metropolitan East Coast Region" (MEC). The MEC conference and report is focused on how to prepare for potential weather disasters. [The MEC conference and report was just one of the 20 making up the "National Scare," the infamous National Assessment of Climate Change.]
The small island of Tuvalu, located 650 miles north of Fiji, has asked New Zealand and other countries in the South Pacific if they would come to the rescue if the island were to be submerged as a result of global warming.
As reported by Reuters (6/20), New Zealand foreign minister Phil Goff said that New Zealand would accept the 3,000 Tuvalans if their home were to become uninhabitable. Goff also said that the situation is being monitored in terms of sea level and that it hasn't deteriorated.
But New Zealand has its own problems: A recent report released by minister of energy Peter Hodgson founds that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from New Zealand's energy and industrial sectors increased approximately 19.2 percent between 1990 and 1999. Looks like the Kiwis will have to hustle to meet the Kyoto requirements. Good luck, fellows
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) will soon endorse the Friends of the Earth (FOE) principle of "environmental equity" in an upcoming report on the phasing out of fossil fuels.
The principle states that everyone should have an equal right to the Earth's resources. FOE feels that this principle should be the "cornerstone of governmental environment, social and economic policies."
The endorsement of the principle by the RCEP means that the United Kingdom would have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050. In doing so, it will protect the world against climate change and "allow developing countries to meet the needs of their peoples' sustainability," said RCEP chairman Sir Tom Blundell
The report is expected to be a considerable challenge to the UK government's energy policy. Let's see how Tony Blair deals with that one.
[But the RCEP also calls for the construction of 46 new nuclear power plants, along with the usual tidal power, wind power etc. By contrast, Germany has decided to phase out its 19 nuclear plants in 32 years. That's a long way away, of course.
In the meantime, Sweden plans to go ahead and close its second Barseback reactor in 2001. That will double the power shortage in southern Sweden to 1000 megawatt. And to make matters more confusing, the European Commission's VP for energy, Mrs. Loyola de Palacio, calls for more nuclear energy to meet the Kyoto requirements. Let's see how Europe deals with that one
As reported in the Washington Bulletin (National Review's Internet Update for June 29), Gore's 1992 tome "Earth in the Balance" called "higher taxes on fossil fuels . . . one of the logical first steps in changing our policies in a matter consistent with a more responsible approach to the environment." Gore recognized that the issue would be unpopular-but claimed that Americans should be willing to "give their leaders permission to challenge the nation to take bold, visionary, and even difficult steps to confront the environmental crisis."
It appears, though, that Gore isn't as excited as he used to be about taking such "bold, visionary" steps. In the Houston Chronicle, Gore is quoted as saying that he is no longer in support of raising taxes on fossil fuels.
This isn't just a flip-flop from 1992; it's a flip-flop from earlier this year, when Gore proudly claimed to stand by everything in his book. It is also untrue --- unless Gore has also withdrawn his support for the Kyoto global-warming treaty, which would entail taxes and controls on energy consumption. Before you know it, Gore will be buying a fleet of new Suburbans.
[But maybe Gore has learned something from his boss. "I am not proposing [energy taxes]. Nor have I at any point IN THIS CAMPAIGN," said Gore. "I have made it clear IN THIS CAMPAIGN that I am not calling for any tax increase on gasoline, on oil, on natural gas, or anything else." [Emphasis added]
[The shape of things to come: Japan proposes a serious carbon tax. On the other side of the globe, British union leader Sir Ken Jackson riles against government imposed taxes that will hurt business and destroy union jobs.]
American Forests (AF) recently introduced a new website [http://www.americanforests.org
The website offers various "vacation scenarios" and the amount of Global ReLeaf trees needed to offset the CO2 emissions produced by the vacation. For example, two people flying 5,000 miles round-trip with luxury accommodations and activities for one week would require the planting of 10 trees.
What is next, climate-neutral jogging? Plant a blade of grass.