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David Roberts
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Entries by David Roberts

What We Have and Haven't Learned From 'Climategate'

(143) Comments | Posted March 2, 2011 | 9:59 AM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.


I wrote about the "Climategate" controversy (over emails stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit) once, which is about what it warranted.


My silent protest had no effect whatsoever, of course, and the story followed...

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Rep. Ed Markey makes bid for ranking spot on Natural Resources Committee

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2010 | 12:09 PM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

There's been a lot of jockeying around House committee assignments since the midterms. Republicans are at each other's throats over who gets to run Energy & Commerce, with Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) the presumptive favorite but considered by many to be "too...

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China's top-down energy gigantism and a bottom-up American alternative

(2) Comments | Posted December 1, 2010 | 11:59 AM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

James Fallows has a gracious reply to my earlier post on his Atlantic cover story. This is the gist:

The basic framing of the article is the same as that of most articles I do, namely: here's something...

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So what's EPA up to with its CO2 regulations?

(2) Comments | Posted December 1, 2010 | 11:51 AM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

Ever since EPA announced its plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from "stationary sources" (power plants, factories, etc.), people have been waiting in breathless anticipation to find out how the agency will walk that political tightrope without, well, falling on its face. The...

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On habits and how to change them

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2010 | 11:45 AM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

This week I'm at the Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference in Sacramento, Calif. Climate hawks and policy wonks spend a lot of time thinking about technology and regulation, but not nearly enough thinking about behavior and human motivation. Building...

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Changing behavior: it ain't easy

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2010 | 11:39 AM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

I wrote yesterday about the role of habit in human institutions and culture and the futility of trying to change habits through appeals to the rational mind. A few people asked, "Well then, smartypants, how do we change habits? What works?"...

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Rejecting free savings out of sheer dumbness: common!

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2010 | 3:26 PM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

Grist readers are familiar with the work of social psychologist Robert Cialdini (I've written about his work here and here and interviewed him here). He gave the opening keynote at the Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference,...

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Time for climate hawks to take to the hills?

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2010 | 3:21 PM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

What's the path forward for those who support a robust response to the danger of rising greenhouse emissions? It's always fun to toss ideas around, and I look forward to reading my fellow participants' contributions. To be more than an intellectual exercise,...

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House Republicans battle over committees, reinforce orthodoxy

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2010 | 3:12 PM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

If you're not following the internecine warfare among House Republicans, you should tune in. It's a remarkable illustration of how party discipline is enforced -- and how only one side knows how to do it.

At the center of the action is...

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Why does the American public suddenly believe in climate change less?

(5) Comments | Posted November 30, 2010 | 3:04 PM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

In the U.S., belief in human-caused climate change has dropped off considerably since 2008 or so.

People have come up with some pretty baroque theories around this, but the explanation seems simple enough: the economy has been in the tank and...

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Behavior change causes changes in beliefs, not vice versa

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2010 | 2:53 PM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

There's always been an obsession among climate hawks with polls that measure public acceptance of climate change science. This drives them absolutely batty.

An enormous amount of attention has focused on this metric -- polls, surveys, studies, punditry, and endless elite...

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Taxing Carbon As Part of Responsible, Progressive Fiscal Policy

(4) Comments | Posted November 30, 2010 | 2:25 PM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.


The unemployment rate in the U.S. is at 9.6 percent, and even that wrenching number substantially understates the problem. One in six Americans is being served by a government anti-poverty program. Some 10 million are on...

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Introducing 'Climate Hawks'

(12) Comments | Posted October 20, 2010 | 7:38 PM

Reprinted with permission from Grist.org.

On Monday I asked, "What should we call people who care about climate change and clean energy?" A fantastic discussion ensued, up to 226 comments and counting -- thanks to everybody who weighed in, not only on the site, but on...

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What Should We Call People Who Care About Climate Change and Clean Energy?

(19) Comments | Posted October 19, 2010 | 12:49 PM

This may not be the most important thing in the world, but it drives me crazy: What do you call people who care about climate change and clean energy (PCCCCE)?

The political press still typically uses "environmentalists," but that terminology is woefully outdated and inapt. For one thing, not all...

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Where Do Things Stand on the Kerry-Lieberman Climate Bill?

(16) Comments | Posted May 11, 2010 | 11:52 AM

The Kerry-Lieberman (nee Kerry-Graham-Lieberman) bill is set to be introduced tomorrow. Given all the chaos that's surrounded it for the last few weeks, it's worth taking a step back and taking a broad look at the current political dynamic and the chances for a successful outcome. Here's the one-sentence summary:...

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The Inevitable 'What Does Health Care Reform Mean for Climate Legislation' Post

(38) Comments | Posted March 22, 2010 | 12:37 PM

Originally posted on grist.org.

Health care reform has passed and Obama will sign it into law today or tomorrow. By the end of the week, most experts forecast at least twelve katrillion thumbsucking "what does health care reform mean for X" pieces. This is one of them.

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Open Letter to Sens. Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman: A Bipartisan Path Forward on Energy and Climate

(174) Comments | Posted March 19, 2010 | 2:43 PM

Sens. Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman,

Thank you for the work you're doing to to address America's climate and energy challenges. As you meet with a broader group of stakeholders and begin to structure a bill, you face an enormous challenge of your own: Crafting legislation that can get 60 votes in...

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Dear Vinod Khosla and Tom Friedman: No Amount of Sequestration Will Make Coal "Clean"

(3) Comments | Posted March 9, 2010 | 12:03 PM

Originally posted on grist.org.

Tom Friedman had a column over the weekend lauding a couple of American clean-energy innovators and entrepreneurs. Like almost all his green-focused columns, it's good stuff. However! In the course of accomplishing his worthwhile objective, Friedman and one of his subjects both say something I...

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Does Facebook Deserve the Hell It's Getting from Greenpeace?

(5) Comments | Posted February 22, 2010 | 1:27 PM

Social networking giant Facebook has been taking heat from enviros recently for its decision to site a massive new data center in Prineville, Ore. The issue? Pacific Power, the utility that serves Prineville, gets most of its power from coal, the enemy of the human race. Greenpeace...

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The Hidden Costs and Benefits of Things We Take for Granted: A Response to Raj Patel

(1) Comments | Posted February 9, 2010 | 12:56 PM

Crossposted from grist.org.

Raj Patel has an interesting list of “things that aren't as cheap as you think,” with an always-welcome reminder that many industries and social practices have costs that don't appear in the sticker price. These “externalities” are offloaded to the public; they represent, in effect,...

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