Brian Kahn

Brian Kahn

Posts by This Writer

8 years 12 months ago

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released an analysis of the Senate climate change bill, the American Power Act. The results show that the cost for Americans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is low. How exactly will it work and what exactly will it cost?

There are two mechanisms in the climate bill that will reduce emissions. The main mechanism for reducing emissions is a cap and trade system. The other is adding...

9 years 18 hours ago

Is the public coming around to believe in the causes and effects of climate change again? Two recent polls from Stanford University’s Woods Institute and Yale and George Mason Universities show perhaps so. What the polls also show, though, is a fundamental hang up in how to reduce the causes and effects of climate change.

In both polls, majorities of Americans believe the Earth is warming and that human activities are the cause. Each poll also showed that 76% of Americans favor limitations of greenhouse gases. Tellingly, though, in the Stanford...

9 years 5 days ago

This is part of an ongoing series on the language of climate change.

Skeptics and believers both use individual weather events as proof that climate change is fake or real. This is patently wrong. No single event is caused by any single factor in the climate system. There are a number of factors that affect individual single weather events, seasons, and even longer time spans. While climate change is a factor in the longer run, natural variability is also extremely important both in the present and the future.

Natural variability has been around as long...

9 years 1 week ago

What constitutes a forest? If you care about climate change, the answer is very important. A recent study from researchers at the University of Oklahoma shows that if the goal is to sequester carbon using forests, then native vegetation does best.

Forests have played an increasingly important role in climate change negotiations. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program received a major boost of support at Copenhagen this past December. It was one of the only things all parties could agree as on as...

9 years 2 weeks ago

Deepwater Horizon by BP.  It sounds so futuristic, doesn't it?  A good sci-fi movie in the making!  (Maybe about averting climate change!)  Featuring the Top Kill! Maybe even a nuclear detonation! If only that were the case.  Instead, by some estimates, it's the worst oil spill in US history.

There's plenty of blame to go around. However, it might be more important to consider the wider implications of how we get our energy and the ways that global climate change will intersect with local environmental...

9 years 3 weeks ago

This is part two in a two part series that examines the causes and effects of hurricanes, including climate change, and their impacts.

The first part of this series examined the underlying causes of hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin and why 2010 is likely to be an intense hurricane season. Though climate change is not likely a major culprit, other factors are conspiring to possibly make this a very active season. This year there are two worrisome possibilities worth examining in more detail.


Just because...

9 years 3 weeks ago

This is part one in a two part series that will examine the causes of hurricanes, including climate change, and their impacts.

It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week in the US. This hurricane season, which officially begins June 1, is predicted to be the most active season since 2005. Some might chalk it up to climate change, but the reasons are a little more complex than that.

To refresh your memory, in 2005 there were so many named storms that meteorologists exhausted the Roman alphabet and switched to Greek. This year, most reputable sources are...

9 years 3 weeks ago

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill isn’t a direct cause of climate change. However, one of the methods being used to deal with it is a large source of carbon emissions in developing countries that could easily be reduced.

BP recently inserted a pipe into the leaking well. In addition to oil, the pipe BP is sending gases such as methane and natural gas to the surface as well. Rather than capturing them along with the oil, they’re being burned in a process called gas flaring. It represents a major global and...

9 years 1 month ago

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has appointed a new Secretary. The leading candidate to replace Yvo de Boer, the outgoing Secretary, was South African tourism minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk. However, the new leader of the UNFCCC will be Christiana Figueres, a negotiator for Costa Rica at UN climate change negotiations since 1995.

The push for Ms. Figueres came only recently and from an interesting source. Leaders from small island developing states (SIDS) urged the UN’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to select...

9 years 1 month ago

Are scientists finally figuring out how to effectively combat climate change skeptics? The lead letter for Science magazine’s latest issue, signed by 255 leading climate scientists, seems to indicate their on the right track, confronting skeptics head on with a strong argument for climate science and scientists and an excellent explanation of the role of uncertainty in science.

The number of signatories alone isn’t what gives the letter its “oomph.” Rather, the letter stands strong on three other, more important merits: it’s explanation of the scientific process, the role of uncertainty, and the lack of politics in the statement. The letter also...