Economics, Environment

The Critical MIssing Piece from the U.S. Energy Transition

At the outset, the United States was blessed with enormous tracts of land (that it stole from the natives) and a considerable labor force (that it enslaved from Africa) to achieve economic success based largely on growing things. The next leap forward—into the industrial era—was facilitated by large deposits of coal and oil. A century… Continue reading The Critical MIssing Piece from the U.S. Energy Transition

Environment, Europe

Greening Transatlantic Relations

From a foreign policy perspective, transatlantic relations appear to have reached new heights. The United States and European Union both support Ukraine’s efforts to expel Russian troops from its territory. On the military front, NATO is enjoying boom times thanks to the reemergence of a ‘common enemy’ and the addition of new members like Finland.… Continue reading Greening Transatlantic Relations

China, Economics, Environment, Korea

The Mineral Rush

Entrepreneurs and adventurers have long traveled the world in search of gold. European empires looted Latin America for its silver and tin. Diamonds attracted the rapacious to Africa. Oil has built enormous empires of wealth in the Gulf states. Today, an entirely different scramble for natural resources is taking place. These “critical raw materials” play… Continue reading The Mineral Rush

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

How Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens the Planet

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has resulted in the deaths so far of more than 8,700 Ukrainian civilians, including more than 500 children. It has caused a massive drop in the country’s economic output, with GDP declining by 29.1 percent. And it has had widespread consequences for the environment: inside Ukraine, in surrounding countries,… Continue reading How Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens the Planet

Economics, Environment

How to Rapidly Reduce Fossil Fuel Use

The burning of fossil fuels—oil, coal, natural gas—is responsible for nearly 90 percent of global carbon emissions. Despite almost-universal recognition of the need to reduce the use of those fossil fuels, the industrialized world is having the hardest time breaking its addiction. The economic rebound from the COVID-19 shutdowns generated the largest ever increase in… Continue reading How to Rapidly Reduce Fossil Fuel Use

Economics, Environment

Free Trade or Just Green Trade

The global economy hit a new milestone in 2022 by surpassing $100 trillion. This expansion, which has experienced only the occasional setback such as the 2020 COVID shutdowns, has been accelerated by trade. The world trade volume experienced 4,300 percent growth from 1950 to 2021, an average 4 percent increase every year. This linked growth… Continue reading Free Trade or Just Green Trade

Environment

United in Climate Suffering, Divided in Climate Solutions

There’s nothing like a climate crisis to make everyone realize that they are living on the same planet. Wars, even international conflicts, are generally confined to one region. Economic downturns are sometimes so confined within national borders that they don’t even affect neighbors: consider North Korea’s “arduous march” of the 1990s and its lack of… Continue reading United in Climate Suffering, Divided in Climate Solutions

Environment

The Green New Deal Goes Local

Ithaca, a city of 30,000 people in the Southern Tier of New York state, has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2030. The city government is leading the way by implementing a strategy to achieve full decarbonization, including all areas of the economy. That means vehicles, buildings, the electric grid, waste, and land use. “It’s a… Continue reading The Green New Deal Goes Local

Environment, Latin America

Latin America’s New New Left

Perhaps the most radical statement from Gustavo Petro, the newly elected president of Colombia, has been his promise to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Petro has said that he will not issue any new licenses for hydrocarbon exploration, will stop fracking pilot projects, and will end the development of offshore drilling. Petro has called… Continue reading Latin America’s New New Left

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

No Victory Day

Imagine an Olympic final in basketball, not unlike the one last summer between the United States and France. The score is tied in the final minutes, and tension is mounting among the flag-waving partisans in the stands. France is in possession of the ball when something strange happens. A sudden fog descends upon the play.… Continue reading No Victory Day

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

The Five Plagues Testing Humanity

Once upon a time, the tutelary gods of nationalism and internationalism met for a chat. They had a superb perch above the clouds. From there, they could see everything happening on the Earth below and they set to arguing, as they so often did. Sophia, the goddess of internationalism, began by proudly pointing to the… Continue reading The Five Plagues Testing Humanity

China, Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

Russia and China’s Dirty Partnership

The leaders of Russia and China are joining forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing for the Winter Olympics to show solidarity with his largest trade partner at an event that the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia are boycotting diplomatically. The statement that Putin signed with Chinese leader Xi Jinping confirms their… Continue reading Russia and China’s Dirty Partnership

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

Protests at the Pump

The first major protest of the post-Communist era in Eastern Europe was not about corruption. It wasn’t about disappointments with democracy. It was about gas. In October 1990, furious at the new liberal government for raising gas prices by 65 percent, taxi drivers in Hungary set up barricades and established roadblocks that brought transportation to… Continue reading Protests at the Pump

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

Russian Green Deal: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

In October 2021, the Russian government finally released its plan to achieve carbon neutrality—by 2060. That’s 10 years after the target date most other countries have adopted. The plan relies more on offsets—like forests that absorb carbon dioxide—rather than significant cuts in emissions. But for the world’s fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide—and the world’s… Continue reading Russian Green Deal: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Economics, Environment

The “Selling” of Degrowth

Over the last three decades, a growing number of scientists and ecologists have argued that economic growth has long outstripped the capacity of the planetary ecosystem. They have developed numerous sophisticated models to demonstrate their point. They have boiled down the technical information—about the availability of mineral resources, the limits of energy generation, the constraints… Continue reading The “Selling” of Degrowth

Environment

Climate of Delusion

There is an astonishing statistic in a Pew research study released in 2020 on perceptions of how different countries handled COVID-19. Only 15 percent of people in a dozen countries around the world thought the United States was doing a good job of addressing the pandemic. That sharply contrasted with how Americans felt: 47 percent… Continue reading Climate of Delusion

Environment, Highlighted, US Domestic Policy

Revisiting the Goldilocks Apocalypse, TomDispatch

Imagine for a moment that Hillary Clinton had won the presidential election in 2016. Imagine, in other words, that the “blue wall” of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania had held firm four years ago. Claiming election fraud, Donald Trump would have insisted on a recount and Election Day would then, too, have stretched into election week… Continue reading Revisiting the Goldilocks Apocalypse, TomDispatch

Environment

The Ungreening of Obama

Barack Obama was green when he entered the Oval Office. He was a relative newcomer to politics. He was also the most successful fundraiser in presidential history, hauling in more green than the two Democratic and Republican candidates in 2004 combined. And he was, more or less, an environmentalist. Back in 2004, Amanda Little dug… Continue reading The Ungreening of Obama