Climate Data That Sounds Meaningful...But Isn't

June 10, 2011 in Blog

Today's Seattle Times features a story with the headline "Study of 800-year-old tree rings backs global warming." The article notes that snowpack loss in the Western United States has been more severe in recent decades than in the last millennium based on studies of tree rings. There are two key claims here.

City of Seattle Admits (Quietly) Its Carbon Emissions Reports are False

June 3, 2011 in Blog

When launching the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels promised the city would set an example for the nation by meeting the carbon emissions reductions in the Kyoto Protocol. Nickels said the city's emissions would be 7 percent below the 1990 levels by 2012.

On his way out of office in December of 2009, he triumphantly declared victory.

Climate Policy That Creates Dependency: It's Not a Bug...It's a Feature

May 27, 2011 in Blog

One of the most significant problems with current climate policy is that costly failures have been difficult to eliminate. Even when it becomes clear that a policy isn't achieving the promised environmental goals, special interest groups that financially benefit from the policy prevent it from being eliminated.

The best example of this is biofuel policy. Even Al Gore now admits the real damage caused by biofuel subsidies, both to the environment and the federal budget. He admitted:

Were Natural Resources Budgets Cut in the Final Budget?

May 26, 2011 in Blog

One of the persistent claims of the environmental community this year was that natural resources budgets were taking big cuts. Now that the budget has been finalized, the numbers show Natural Resources agencies actually received a slight increase in their overall budget.

The budget increase is primarily due to a big increase for the Department of Fish and Wildlife in funding for Puget Sound efforts and money from the new "Discovery Pass" for parks.

Here are the major agencies and the changes for the next biennium:

State Audit Shows Most "Green" Schools Cost More and Are Less Efficient Than Average School

May 16, 2011 in Blog

Last week, the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC) released its report on the state's green buildings requirements. The title of the report indicates that the "Impact on Energy Use is Mixed." A casual look at the report shows that the word "mixed" is a generous assessment.

Will San Juan's 'Best Available Science' Get Better?

May 10, 2011 in Blog

Two weeks ago, we noted some flaws in San Juan County's "Best Available Science" document for their proposed Critical Areas Ordinance. The document misquoted the science on sea level rise and temperature increases, projecting impacts much higher than the data indicate.

Upon seeing our critique, a San Juan County planner called and we had a good discussion about how to address the concerns I raised.

Friday Environmental Accountability Post

May 6, 2011 in Blog

It's Friday, so here are a couple quick hits on environmental accountability to finish the week.

Sustainable Seattle Speaker Says One Man's Eco-Terrorist is Another's Eco-Patriot

'Cute' Green Technology May Be Politically Popular, But Is Not the Answer

May 5, 2011 in Blog

In an interview with Wired Magazine, Bill Gates notes that many of the trendy environmental technologies we hear about all the time will not make a significant difference in reducing environmental impact.

He tells Wired, "If you’re interested in cuteness, the stuff in the home is the place to go," but real solutions require more innovation. He goes on to tell Wired:

Greens vs. Science: San Juan County's "Best Available Science" on Sea Level Is Pretty Bad

April 27, 2011 in Blog

One of the most commonly cited impacts of climate change is the impact of rising sea levels. As an island county, San Juan County is building those potential impacts into its new Critical Areas Ordinance.

In the document outlining the "Best Available Science for Frequently Flooded Areas," the county makes some pretty basic errors.

First, they make some basic factual mistakes. For instance, they claim:

Free Markets Make Every Day Earth Day

April 22, 2011 in Blog

Each year, Earth Day offers an opportunity for politicians and others to highlight their support for environmental policies. Most of the work of environmental sustainability, however, occurs quietly every day as the free market encourages individuals to conserve energy and resources while planning for future prosperity.

This Earth Day, we celebrate not the public acts of environmental symbolism, but the quiet, everyday acts that have made the real difference in environmental sustainability. Here are five of countless examples that come to mind.

Green Logic on Gas - Monday: Gas Prices are Too High. Friday: Gas Prices are Too Low.

April 20, 2011 in Blog

Earlier this week, Senators Cantwell and Murray called on the federal government to rein in "speculators" in the oil market in an effort to cut gasoline prices. Senator Cantwell sent out a statement saying "Seattle drivers are paying at the pump for excessive oil speculation, while federal regulators have blown off deadlines and failed to act."

King County Executive's Climate Change Chat Shows County is Falling Short of Promises

April 18, 2011 in Blog

King County Executive Dow Constantine hosted an online chat earlier today to highlight the county's efforts to address the risks from climate change. We asked a couple of questions regarding the science behind the county's efforts thus far.

First, Lara Whitely Binder of the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group (CIG) and Ross Macfarlane of the environmental group Climate Solutions argued in the online chat that we are already seeing the impacts of climate change.

Greens vs. Science: Climate Change Through Beer Goggles

April 15, 2011 in Blog

Over at the environmental blog Grist, they have a bit of fun trying to explain the impact of climate change using beer. They show what happens to beer as the temperature increases.

My favorite part of the graphic is the tiny disclaimer at the bottom: "This infographic is loosely based on IPCC's 2007 report." The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN organization that is the go-to source for climate information, especially for the political left.

State Requires You to Comply with CO2 Regulations, But Won't Say How

April 15, 2011 in Blog

A major part of Governor Gregoire's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the risk from climate change is the requirement to calculate the potential increase in CO2 emissions from major projects. This is part of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which requires certain projects to identify all potential environmental impacts.

Prioritizing for Salmon Using Science

April 13, 2011 in Blog

The recently passed House Budget includes a proviso requiring the Department of Fish and Wildlife to prioritize spending on hatcheries using science. Now, the Senate Democrats' budget, released last night, echoes that same sentiment.

The proviso, found on page 89 of the Senate bill, reads: