Holdren’s high hopes for China

Holdren.jpgPhysicist John Holdren is President Obama’s chief science advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Interviewed recently for Yale’s Environment 360 by Elizabeth Kolbert, he stuck to the theme that the administration plans to convert the U.S. “from the laggard that it has been in this domain” into “the leader that the world needs” on global warming. In a lengthy interview his comments on China struck me as particularly significant at this stage of international discussions.  He has recently visited China with Todd Stern, the Secretary of State’s Special Envoy on Climate Change. Kolbert asked him to speak about what he heard from the Chinese and what he thought the U.S. can do to persuade countries like China and India to agree to some action that will be politically palatable at the Copenhagen conference. Continue reading “Holdren’s high hopes for China”

Geoengineering on the table


John Holdren, recently confirmed as President Obama’s science adviser, has said in an interview that discussions at the White House include looking at geoengineering options to reduce the effects of global warming. He stressed that it would be a last resort, but can’t be ruled out of discussion if the failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions continues. He is concerned that several tipping points could be fast approaching, with chances of “really intolerable consequences”, instancing the possible loss of Arctic summer sea ice within six years, the release of frozen methane from thawing permafrost in Siberia, and more and bigger wildfires worldwide. He would much prefer to see the problem solved by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, but global warming is happening so fast that geoengineering has to be looked at. “We don’t have the luxury … of ruling any approach off the table.”

Continue reading “Geoengineering on the table”