Climate engineering: In from the cold

first_imgWhen the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a pair of reports this month on geoengineering, which involves deliberately intervening in the climate system to counter global warming, discussion of the controversial topic moved into the mainstream science community. The reports concluded that geoengineering is no silver bullet, and that further research is needed.David Keith, Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, has been a leading voice for assessing the risks and implications of large-scale deployment of geoengineering to help cool the planet. Keith’s 2013 book, “A Case for Climate Engineering,” lays out how geoengineering might fit into a larger program for managing climate change (complementing steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and devise adaptation strategies). He recently detailed a potential small-scale solar radiation management experiment in which chemicals would be dispersed in the high atmosphere to reflect sunlight away from the Earth’s surface. He also has suggested a scenario for analyzing the risks and benefits of geoengineering, and proposed frameworks for the governance of geoengineering testing by nation-states.In a question-and-answer session, Keith spoke about what impact the new reports may have on the policy and science of geoengineering. Eliza Grinnell/SEAS CommunicationsQUESTION: What is the significance of the National Academy taking up this topic?KEITH: The academy has dealt with geoengineering as a part of broader energy and climate studies since the late 1970s, but this is the first report devoted to the topic. It serves as a marker of the extent to which solar geoengineering is becoming a more normal part of the science and policy of climate change.QUESTION: Do the NAS studies bring us closer to deployment of small-scale geoengineering experiments?KEITH: By endorsing research on solar geoengineering and explicitly including a discussion of small-scale experiments along with a discussion of their scientific merits and possible regulation, I believe the academy has made it easier for government agencies to fund such research. Many program managers in U.S. government science agencies have been favorably inclined to fund research on solar geoengineering but have been held back by a sense that they needed a high-level political OK. My hope is that this report will, de facto, give program managers the confidence to move ahead with science funding even in the absence of an explicit new program.QUESTION: You’ve made the point that governance of geoengineering is paramount. Do you see a path for establishing international consensus on how to regulate efforts in this area?KEITH: Consensus, no. But little or nothing is done in the international arena with full consensus. A more reasonable goal is alignment of a coalition of countries that represent a reasonable cross-section of the world, north and south, east and west. Such a coalition might support a broad research program through various mechanisms, from a simple memorandum of understanding to information exchange, which could be a useful first step on the road to multilateral control.QUESTION: Geoengineering opponents cite the moral hazard argument — that pursuing these approaches will shift the focus away from efforts to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause warming. Do the NAS reports address this?KEITH: Not in a deep way, but that is a hard ask. The fundamental job of the academy is to provide assessment about the state of science, including social science, and about the prospects for research.QUESTION: To what extent are the obstacles to an informed policy on geoengineering technical, and to what extent are they social or political?KEITH: I think the fundamental obstacles are social and political. There is deep concern that any attention to geoengineering will inevitably weaken the political force needed to cut emissions. This is a sensible concern, but not an excuse for deliberate ignorance. If solar geoengineering can provide a meaningful reduction in climate risks for the most vulnerable people and ecosystems, we must take it seriously. It is plausible that the combination of emissions reductions and geoengineering will provide a substantially better environmental outcome than emission reductions alone, and that this fact will make it easier to develop a sustained commitment to reduce emissions.QUESTION: Some climate engineering proponents argue that approaches like solar radiation management (SRM) have the potential to buy time to make real progress on reducing carbon emissions. Is that the strongest argument for pursuing SRM?KEITH: Absolutely not. I think this is one of the weakest arguments. The strong argument is that solar geoengineering provides the only known way to substantially reduce climate risk over the next half century.last_img read more

Proposed USG position rejected over possible partisan bias

first_imgThe Undergraduate Student Government Senate rejected the bylaw amendment proposal to add a new advocacy director by a vote of 9-3 on Tuesday.Senator Christine Bradshaw spoke at the USG meeting on Tuesday about current projects that USG is developing. Catherine Liang | Daily TrojanThis was the first proposal rejected by the Senate this academic year. The proposed repurposed Director of External Affairs position under the advocacy branch, was meant to increase political engagement among USC students. Many senators feared that the spirit of the position could be corrupted by partisan allegiances.Senator Preston Fregia was vehement in his opposition to the new position. When the position was proposed two weeks ago, he referred to an article from The New Yorker, which described the influence of conservative groups on student governments in many top universities. USC was mentioned in the article, connecting the University’s student government with the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA. A recent Daily Trojan investigation referred to documents that linked USG President Austin Dunn to TPUSA.“[The New Yorker piece] talked about this idea of people being influenced by outside institutions,” Fregia said. “And to be honest, I thought that maybe it could be someone like a senator, but I didn’t know that it was the head of the institution: Austin Dunn.”Senator Natalie Antounian spoke in favor of Dunn and Vice President Morgan Monahan at the meeting, saying that their track record in office for supporting progressive policies spoke for itself.Senator Katie Bolton led the charge in favor of the amendment for the new advocacy director, noting low political involvement among college students as justification for adding this position. Bolton said she consulted directly with Alec Vandenberg, co-director of the Service Student Assembly and architect of the proposal.“Despite the fact that students make up a huge constituency, politicians have little incentive to faithfully represent our interests because we do bother to not involve ourselves in the process,” Bolton said. “We don’t vote and we don’t advocate for ourselves. Unsurprisingly, our priorities are largely neglected.”Senator Blake Ackerman also spoke against the proposal. He voiced concerns regarding partisan bias and how it would be an issue regardless of whether it was conscious bias.“I think that this position would become partisan because at the end of the day, students have their own positions and backgrounds,” Ackerman said. “Our job is not to use our backgrounds or use our positions as leverage.”Bolton continued to press her point regarding student involvement in politics, describing how the new director could help students exercise their desires to become involved.“By having an organizer in place that can facilitate that participation and empower students to make their voices heard, the … barrier to entry is decreased,” Bolton said.Senator Tyler Matheson noted the abundance of questions and reservations regarding the amendment, saying that this was cause for concern. He suggested that the position be moved to programming, but that otherwise it would be unnecessary.“All of advocacy is about issues,” Matheson said. “They advocate on behalf of students on issues and if we have to particularly say that this position can’t do that, it just makes no sense to do this.”last_img read more

Lakers’ Steve Nash open to help with free-agent pitches

first_imgOKLAHOMA CITY >> His arrival in Los Angeles three years ago once set off fireworks, the latest sign that the Lakers could return to championship glory by landing another superstar.But after frustrating the Lakers as a member of the Phoenix Suns, Steve Nash never provided a stunning sequel to “Showtime” with his nifty passes that earned him two NBA MVP awards. Instead, Nash played only 65 games through two seasons and missed the entire 2014-15 campaign amid overlapping nerve issues in his left leg, back and hamstrings. The move may have cost the Lakers $28 million and four draft picks. But Nash still left relishing his Lakers experience because of the front office and training staff providing endless support. So much that Nash said he would help with any free-agent pitches this offseason.“Who knows what the future holds, but I’d love to see the franchise come back in full form,” Nash said at a press conference on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I’m definitely open to helping out.” The Lakers will have enough cap space to pursue a marquee free agent at a max-level contract beginning in July. That might mark the team’s only significant rebuilding tool if it does not land a top five pick. Incidentally, the Lakers will owe any pick that drops out of that slot to Philadelphia as part of the Nash deal with Phoenix. But before that happens, Nash said he will stay active in informally mentoring some of the Lakers’ young players.Nash has mostly held film and workout sessions with Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson. But Nash also added he has mentored Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle and forward Ryan Kelly.“I’m always ready to work with any of the guys,” Nash said. “But they’re so busy. They’re all battling through their own situations and travel. I’m here. It’s harder for them to get the time.”Kelly said he worked out with Nash twice to improve his “biomechanics” after suffering from hamstring injuries earlier this season. “He was helping me with how to use my hips,” Kelly said after the Lakers’ 127-117 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “He brought stuff that is normally done in the weight room and connected it to basketball.”Clarkson said he and Nash plan to work out together sometime after the Lakers conclude their five-game trip next Monday. As far as the rest of Nash’s future? That seems less definitive beyond his plans to stay at his Manhattan Beach residence and remaining the general manager of the Canadian men’s basketball team.“Six or 12 months from now, I might have an answer for you,” Nash said. “It’s important for me to get some distance, to clearly evaluate what’s next.”Medina reported from Oklahoma City. Whicker reported from Los Angeles.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more