Tales from the Trail

Green energy aspirations for Obama’s India visit

INDIAWhen Barack Obama heads for India next month, he’ll be carrying a heavy policy agenda — questions over the handling of nuclear material, the outsourcing of U.S. jobs and India’s status as a growing economic power, along with regional relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Rajendra Pachauri, the Nobel Peace laureate who heads the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, hopes the U.S. president has time to focus on clean energy too.

Even as Pachauri and the U.N. panel evolve — and as Pachauri himself weathers pressure from some quarters to resign — he urged Obama to work on U.S.-India projects that he said would enhance global energy security.

Given India’s red-hot economic growth rate — 8 or 9 percent a year, Pachauri told reporters during a telephone briefing — he said it makes sense for the United States to work with India to head off an expected soaring demand for fossil fuels.

MEXICO/Over the next two decades, Pachauri said, “If we continue on a business-as-usual path, India will be importing something like 750 million tons (that’s about 5.25 million barrels) of oil a year … and possibly over 1,000 million tons of coal. So I think India has to make some very radical shifts and bring about a movement towards cleaner energy technology.”

While the two countries have launched a few initial programs in this area, Pachauri acknowledged that “nothing of great substance has been achieved so far.” Obama’s passage to India could change that, he said on the call, which was set up by the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council.

Amidst the shivering in Washington, the case for global warming

WEATHER/OK, it’s cold in Washington. It’s really cold. And snowy. And blizzardy. It’s hard to recall that long-ago moment — what was it, six days ago? — when you could go for a walk without cross-country skis and a flask of brandy. But just because it’s winter doesn’t mean global warming is a myth.

But the storms gave conservatives fresh fodder for mocking former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts on global climate change.  Senator Jim DeMint tweeted “It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle’,” Politico reported.

For decades, scientists have struggled to explain the difference between weather, which changes in the short term, and climate, which changes over the long term. There’s a good explanation at the new government Climate Service Web site called “Short term cooling on a warming planet.” The new site went up this week, between blizzards, and is supposed to guide consumers and businesses so they can adapt to climate change. The Climate Service itself is expected to be up and running by the start of the next U.S. fiscal year that begins on October 1.

Sarah Palin, climate science and e-mail

USA/Sarah Palin’s bylined opinion piece in today’s Washington Post drew fire from the Center for American Progress, which also took aim at the Post for publishing “falsehood-filled … tabloid nonsense.” Take a look at the liberal think-tank’s take here.

Like others who question the scientific evidence for human-generated climate change, Palin — former Alaska governor, ex-Republican vice presidential candidate and now best-selling author — targets hacked e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain. Climate skeptics have cited this correspondence as a sign that the science of climate change has been tainted with politics and maintain the e-mails show repression of data that does not fit the climate change case. The scientists themselves, and others around the world, have said the e-mail comments were taken out of context and reflect an open exchange of ideas.

The e-mails came to light in the weeks leading up to the climate conference in Denmark. Since then, the scientific journal Nature defended the scientists at East Anglia in an editorial that called the hack-attack and the subsequent heated rhetoric by climate deniers “harrassment.”  The Guardian newspaper reported that the climate scientists have received torrents of abuse and even death threats.