If we get lucky on November 3, climate advocates will be confronted with a dramatically different political landscape in 2021. For the first time in at least a decade — and arguably for the first time ever — public will and politics in the United States will align behind climate protection. The U.S. will be a country led by a Congress and President open to enacting major climate legislation and buoyed by strong public support. Public will for action on climate change will no longer be latent. It will be empowered.

In such a landscape the main task for climate…

The climate plan released yesterday by House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis is a thoughtful, detailed plan. But it is not a plan for limiting global warming to 1.5˚C. The plan just doesn’t cut carbon pollution fast enough.

The final global temperature we reach depends on the total carbon pollution emitted between today and the day that global emissions finally reach zero (or net zero).

So, near-term carbon emissions (and reductions) matter. Limiting warming to 1.5˚C is not just about the date by which zero emissions is finally reached.

In the near-term, the House Select Committee plan would reduce…

Where police violence is invisible

San Francisco police have a long and brutal history of killing, a practice of murder by law enforcement that extends right up to the present. But you wouldn’t know it from talking to most of the white and wealthy residents who make up much of this city. For them, corrupt policing that promotes officers who murder is something that happens elsewhere, not in progressive San Francisco.

Sidewalk chalk art, Sunset District, San Francisco, 1 of 2

This surreal blind spot hit me once again during the George Floyd protests when I saw his name spring up, along with Black Lives Matters, on window signs across…

That’s A Good Thing

The Yale Project on Climate Change tests public opinion on global warming. A dive into the thick report issued this week surfaces new data that relates to one of the longest running and most frustrating debates in the work to stop climate change: “is hope or fear the more powerful emotion for mobilizing public action on global warming?”

TLDR: The answer is that neither hope nor fear is the key. Rather anger is the most powerful emotion for mobilizing Americans. And that’s good news because the data released this week indicates that there are a LOT…

Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been widely criticized recently for his plan to address climate change. One prominent climate group went so far as to grade the plan as an F. However, others have supported Biden’s plan, while Biden himself has defended his plan as “ambitious enough to tackle the crisis.”

Ambition is an interesting yardstick for evaluating Biden’s climate plan. Centering the essential question on ambition sidesteps distracting choices about particular policy options and gets to the heart of the matter: will Biden do enough to stop climate change while there is still a lot left to save?


Selling the City to Uber

Today San Francisco voters will decide the fate of Prop D., a ballot measure to enact a very small sales tax on Uber and Lyft rides. While the measure requires a two-thirds majority to win approval, it appears poised for victory with virtually every local leader on board, with the exception of a small handful of environmental champions and the San Francisco Green Party.

Interestingly, Lyft and Uber are all-in on the sales tax, too. …

The Expanding Bullsh*t Effect

Tropical storm Barry has provided another opportunity to roll out the latest fancy for the climate confused, a new meme called the “expanding bull’s eye effect” that downplays the role of climate change in extreme weather disasters.

The meme is built around a nifty (if misleading) graphical concept that illustrates the idea quite well. Unfortunately, while the graphical framing is new, the concept is quite old. It’s a long de-bunked argument dressed up with a new metaphor. But score one for recycling.

The bull’s-eye concept focuses on the impact of increasing wealth in long-term damage trends…

NYT Magazine’s Nathaniel Rich Goes Full Pogo

According to Jake Silverstein, the editor in chief of the New York Times Magazine, “the August 5 issue of @NYTmag will be dedicated entirely to a single story, a captivating, revelatory history about the decade we almost stopped climate change, but didn’t.”

And the breathless hype doesn’t stop there, Silverstein lauds the author, Nathaniel Rich, tweeting the piece as: “a remarkable piece of historical journalism that will change the way you think about global warming.”

Unfortunately the early hints suggest that Rich’s piece will do anything but that.

On April 20, Rich spoke at a Boston University Symposium where he…

What We Know

It may be months, if ever, before a formal modeling study is conducted to quantify exactly how much global warming fueled the unprecedented rainfall that drove the historic floods in Houston.

However, we already know quite a lot about how climate change is currently driving trends in extreme precipitation and affecting tropical storms generally. By looking at the trends behind Harvey and examining the simple physics involved, a pretty clear picture emerges — and it is extremely disturbing. One preliminary expert estimate puts the contribution of global warming to the record rainfall at up to 30%.


By Hunter Cutting

After decades of carbon pollution and deforestation, record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather are now part of the new normal. From the flooding in the Carolinas to the wildfires in California, the landscape of our lives has changed.

Soberanes wildfire, the costliest wildfire fight in U.S. history at more than $250 million

We see the signs of warming everywhere: in temperature readings, satellite measurements, disappearing sea ice, vanishing glaciers, melting ice sheets, changing seasons, migrating species, and the accelerating rise of the oceans as the seas warm and expand. At last count, there are more than 26,500 such signals.

We are now also living with dramatic changes in extreme weather and its…

Hunter Cutting

A writer working, sailing, and raising a family in San Francisco @huntercutting

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