Brian Kahn

Brian Kahn

Posts by This Writer

9 years 11 months ago

Bolivia has played an interesting role in climate change negotiations. At the climate change conference in Copenhagen last December, Bolivia was one of only seven countries to not sign onto the Copenhagen Accord. President Morales, chose not to sign onto the Copenhagen Accord because he viewed it as an inadequate deal that put undue strain on the world’s poorest people. This resulted in Britain pulling $3.5 million from Bolivia in climate aid. The US also announced in April that it would be reneging on $3 million in climate-related aid for Bolivia.

This doesn’t mean Bolivia isn...

9 years 11 months ago

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report chronicling climate change in the US. Using 24 indicators, the report lays out the case for both the causes and effects of climate change. By examining climate change on a national scale, the EPA's report sidesteps some of the problems with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which fails to capture the local picture. The EPA report also acknowledges the weaknesses of some of the indicators, which is a welcome move towards more openly presenting the limitations of climate science and data sets out there.

The EPA report, called Climate...

9 years 11 months ago

On Friday John Kerry (D-MA) announced his intent to unveil a new and improved Senate  climate bill. It had ìtri-partisanî support from Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Just a day later, Senator Graham announced that he would not support the legislation if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) decided to put immigration reform ahead of the proposed climate bill.

Iím a little torn about how I feel. On the one hand, passing a climate bill is an incredibly important component of US policy. Though Americans may have lost some...

9 years 11 months ago

Order has been somewhat restored to the aviation industry in Europe now that Volcano Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland has quieted somewhat.  A few questions remain not just about climate science but also about climate policy, particularly in regards to carbon emissions from air travel.

One the climate science side, there are questions about what the volcanic activity and accompanying sulfur dioxide emissions might do to cool the Earth.  The short answer is not much.  In the atmosphere, sulfur dioxide can act as a coolant, absorbing some of the incoming ultraviolet rays...

9 years 11 months ago

Earth Day. Is this another ill-fated event that does nothing to confront climate change? As some of my regular readers may have noted, I tend to take issue with fluffy events that claim to put environmental issues first but do little to advance their cause.

You might be surprised to hear that I think Earth Day isn’t one of those events. I actually have a major soft spot for Earth Day. As a six-year old living just outside Boston, I remember a local tree nursery was giving away free trees...

10 years 23 hours ago

Just like any profession, climate science and policy each have specific languages that can be confusing to outsiders. I touched on this a little in a series on communicating climate change. But given that some of these terms repeatedly appear in the media (and in this editorial section for that matter), I think its worth exploring them in more detail in the interest of furthering the debate on how to cope with climate change.

Some of the terms might seem intuitive (a refresher never hurts, does it?), others not so much. If there are...

10 years 1 day ago

James Hansen, NASA’s preeminent climate scientist, has long advocated for reducing carbon emissions below 350 parts per million.  For this work, he was recently awarded the Sophie Prize.  The Prize is awarded to an organization or individual who "has created awareness of alternatives to modern-day development and/or initiated such alternatives in a pioneering or particularly inventive...

10 years 1 week ago

What is the state of the planet in 2010?  The Economist, The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Ericsson held a conference last week in an attempt to answer that question.  Climate change showed up in each of the four sessions, which covered poverty, economic recovery, and international systems as well.  What were the experts talking about?

Three main themes emerged from the panels.  They included the need to communicate better with the public about the effects and science of climate change, region-specific clean energy technology, and how to craft an effective global climate...

10 years 2 weeks ago

Did you turn off your lights for Earth Hour to show your belief in climate change? I have friends that diligently read by candle light and others that went for a walk to marvel at the Empire State Building being dark.  They identify themselves as people who care about the environment and take climate change very seriously.

For the duration of Earth Hour, I chopped vegetables in my kitchen.  I had a compact fluorescent light to keep me from cutting my fingers off.   I’d characterize myself as...

10 years 3 weeks ago

The earthquake in Haiti was one of the largest scale natural disasters in history.  The rainy season, which begins in April, could make it even worse.

The rainy season has two peaks: one from April to June and the other from August to November.

Other climate factors will affect the rainy season as well. Right now we're in an El Nino, which is bad news since Haiti tends to receive above normal rainfall.  In the worst case scenario, El Nino could switch to La Nina later in the summer.  During a La Nina, there's an increased chance of hurricanes in the...