Dancing in the Dark: The Danger of Letting Business Lead on Climate Protection

In a candid session on energy and the environment at the Clinton Global Initiative yesterday, the world’s lead climate negotiator Christiana Figueres explained why her organization, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), had made so little progress in establishing international climate protection regulations.

Privatizing Climate Protection?

With comprehensive government action on climate change stalling, the UN climate chief is meeting with business leaders to plot a new way forward.

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Plugging the Leak Update

Bad news: the cap didn't work.  The 40-foot-tall, 98-ton, iron cap that BP was hoping to use to clog the leak over the weekend has become clogged itself, by "deep-sea crystals...a slushy mix of gas and water, and been tossed aside.

As Yahoo notes, the cap took two weeks to build and 3 days to put into place.  During that time 85,000 barrels of oil have spilled into the Gulf.

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Plugging the Leak

The BBC is reporting a possible short-term solution that BP is cooking up to stem the oil geyser in the Gulf of Mexico -- a rusty metal box.  The 40-foot-tall, 98-ton iron cap -- being built by Wild Well Control...no joke -- will be lowered onto the leaky valve and the oil will be funneled up to a ship on the surface, hopefully as soon as the end of the week.

Grab a paintbrush and geo-engineer

In addition to planting fake plastic trees, another simple "geo-engineering" measure, suggests Brad Plumer (via Yglesias), is to "paint all our roofs white, reflecting more of the sun’s heat and cooling the Earth."

This obviously makes sense, and along with other standard home modification measures (solar panels, high-efficiency lighting, etc.), as well as some that are probably more instinctively unpopular -- the fetish of having a perfectly green lawn (and not in the environmental sense) is not lying to die out soon -- painting roofs while is indeed a "total no-brainer" in terms of reducing our environmental impact. The problem, as Matt recognizes, is that the farther that the geo-engineering scale tips toward the drastic (or the ridiculous), the less vigorously politicians feel compelled to push for costly reductions in carbon emissions.

The point of trying to reclaim the term "geo-engineering" from the province of futuristic tubes pumping sulfur dioxide into the air does seem worthwhile. If it's about painting houses, everyone can be a "geo-engineer," and maybe we won't have to worry as much about those rogue environmentalist billionaires.