Can There Be This Much Climate News?

"Reports to the Contrary" by Chester Arnold
"Reports to the Contrary" by Chester Arnold

Some weeks it seems like KQED could fill up its entire “news hole” with climate-related stories (thank goodness we don’t). Last week was a prime example.

Monday: A keynote speaker at U.C. Berkeley’s annual Energy Symposium said that we need a “Fed” for energy policy. John Hofmeister, a former executive at Shell Oil and founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy, told the lunch crowd that the only way to overcome the current two-year “policy cycle” (the length of a congressional term) is with an autonomous policy group like the Federal Reserve Board, which can take a longer view.

Tuesday: PG&E announced a massive new solar power initiative (it was brought to my attention this week that no news story is complete these days without the word “massive”–at least when there’s no opportunity to use “deadly”). If approved by state regulators, the project will provide 500 megawatts of photovoltaic energy by 2015. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the plan is that instead of, say, taking over huge tracts of the Mojave, the project will rely heavily on “solar infill;” making use of property already owned by the company, where they can conveniently access the grid.

Wednesday: Senator Barbara Boxer chaired a hearing of the Energy and Public Works Committee to update members on the latest climate science. They heard testimony from four experts, including Christopher Field of Stanford, who essentially said things are worse than you think. Ranking minority member James Inhofe of Oklahoma seized the moment to decry a $6.7 trillion “climate bailout,” a reference to upcoming federal climate legislation and costs associated with an aggressive plan to fight global warming. You can watch the entire two-and-a-half hour webcast for the gory details.

And of course also on Wednesday, the Coen Brothers rolled out their TV ad for The Reality Coalition, assailing the concept of “clean coal.”

Thursday: The California Air Resources Control Board rolled out new regulations to control some of the lesser known (but highly potent) greenhouse gases, including sulfur hexaflouride, used in the manufacture of computer chips. CARB says a pound of it has the same atmospheric warming potential as ten metric tons of CO2. The board also unveiled a new drought page on its website.

Friday: The Governor issued the latest in a series of drought declarations, this one proclaiming a state of emergency and called on cities to reduce their water use by 20%.

And this week wasn’t all that unusual.

Monday, another week begins with the winter’s third survey of the Sierra snowpack. While recent storms will no doubt have raised the water content from last month’s 61% of normal, it should be something of an anticlimax, especially given that the Governor didn’t wait for the numbers to make his drought declaration last week.

Can There Be This Much Climate News? 28 February,2009Craig Miller

2 thoughts on “Can There Be This Much Climate News?”

  1. While experts fill us in on the snowpack and reservoir stats, population increases, outdated infrastructure, and behavior change stress the overall distribution of water. We need multiple solutions; some, with citizens taking initiative by saving water with grey water and rainwater harvesting. We can look to Australia for how they have handled their (massive) water and fire issues. But we need more headlines about those creating systems and solutions; and ultimately, policy changes in California to change outdated building codes.

  2. A massively cogent comment, Janet. Lots of points to consider here but yes, it has always boggled my mind how slowly cities have come around to permitting gray water use in the garden, for instance. We’ll be seeking some of these solutions as we build out our new water page. Even more mind-boggling (as you can tell, my mind is well boggled by now) is that there remain good-sized cities in California that don’t even have water meters.

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Craig Miller

Craig is a former KQED Science editor, specializing in weather, climate, water & energy issues, with a little seismology thrown in just to shake things up. Prior to that, he launched and led the station's award-winning multimedia project, Climate Watch. Craig is also an accomplished writer/producer of television documentaries, with a focus on natural resource issues.

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