What's New ?
What's new? Publication News Talk Blog

09 Aug 2018

The August 5th edition of the New York Times Magazine has been fully dedicated to climate changes. More precisely, how we could have averted it altogether. Nathaniel Rich investigated actions taken by visionary scientists and aids to policymakers in the decade 1979-1989. The science of climate change/greenhouse warming was known by then and many scientists had already been convinced of the potentially catastrophic impact that increased greenhouse gas emission would have on our environment, our economy, ourselves. Yet, the idea had to percolate to governing bodies. Rich makes the point - among others - that at the time, petroleum companies and other fossil-fuel-burning big companies were more interested in understanding the effect than in lobbying against its reality (as they quite efficiently do today). Therefore there was a brief window of opportunity during which US politicans could have been convinced that it is of strategic importance to lower carbon dioxyde emissions and take strong measures towards a sustainable energy future. I’m not sure it is comforting to hear that, were it not for Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, we could have limited global warming to less than one degree. Not to mention that by now the energy transition would be almost completed - we would have a safe, reliable, sustainable supply of energy for generations to come. Particularly intriguing is this excerpt :

“After the election, Reagan considered plans to close the Energy Department, increase coal production on federal land and deregulate surface coal mining. Once in office, he appointed James Watt, the president of a legal firm that fought to open public lands to mining and drilling, to run the Interior Department. “We’re deliriously happy,” the president of the National Coal Association was reported to have said. Reagan preserved the E.P.A. but named as its administrator Anne Gorsuch, an anti-regulation zealot who proceeded to cut the agency’s staff and budget by about a quarter. In the midst of this carnage, the Council on Environmental Quality submitted a report to the White House warning that fossil fuels could “permanently and disastrously” alter Earth’s atmosphere, leading to “a warming of the Earth, possibly with very serious effects.” Reagan did not act on the council’s advice. Instead, his administration considered eliminating the council.”

Sadly enough, it looks like Trump did not invent anything…

Link to the NYT Magazine :