A Bulletin year in climate change

By Dawn Stover | December 25, 2014


Although the year came to a close with some movement toward global climate action—including a US-China accord on limiting greenhouse gas emissions—there is still an enormous gap between what is currently planned in terms of emissions reductions and what is necessary to stave off dangerous warming. In 2014, the Bulletin strove to look beyond the incessant stream of incremental headlines and political tirades and instead explore deeper reasons for climate inaction, the connection between global warming and other existential threats, and thoughtful solutions to the climate problem.

This approach produced a trove of deep and original analysis and reportage; here are a few of our favorite pieces:

Climate change: If we pretend it isn’t happening, will it go away?

By Lawrence M. Krauss

Astrophysicist and author Lawrence M. Krauss analyzes the mindset of politicians in Australia and the United States who ignore empirical evidence of global warming and undermine further scientific study by withholding government funding from it.

Mind and habitat: Nuclear and climate threats, and the possibility of hope

By Robert Jay Lifton

Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, best known for his studies of war, explains why nuclear weapons and climate change are inseparable existential threats and points to hopeful signs of a climate consciousness "swerve" that could spur humans to protect their threatened home.

A modest proposal on climate: Public disengagement

By Lucien Crowder

Bulletin senior editor Lucien Crowder also explores the ways in which people respond to climate and nuclear threats but pokes holes in the notion that public understanding is the key to action. In this provocative piece, Crowder argues that good policy often flows from public obliviousness—to disarmament bureaucrats, for example—and that “benign neglect from the public might be just what the climate needs.”

A Catholic approach to climate

By Celia Deane-Drummond

Bureaucrats and the public alike are feeling the influence of Pope Francis, who has made climate action one of his priorities for 2015—calling it a moral responsibility, warning that time is running out, and prodding world leaders to work together. In anticipation of an upcoming papal encyclical on climate change, Catholic theologian Celia Deane-Drummond explains the religious underpinnings of the Pope’s climate campaign.

The Bulletin’s authoritative climate change coverage—from 1978

By Dan Drollette Jr.

Climate change has become a subject of widespread media coverage within the past few years. But as Bulletin associate editor Dan Drollette Jr. shows, in a retrospective that provides some rare historical context, today’s scientific findings are eerily similar to warnings dating back more than 36 years.

The EPA carbon plan: Coal loses, but nuclear doesn’t win

By Mark Cooper

Looking forward rather than backward, economic analyst Mark Cooper dissects the US Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants and concludes that they will not alter the “dismal prospects” of nuclear energy.

Combating climate change with ammonia-fueled vehicles

By Doo Won Kang

Another forward-looking article, part of the Bulletin’s “Voices of Tomorrow” series, tackles a huge energy sector that gets far less media attention than power plants: transportation. High school student Doo Won Kang makes a case for running cars and trucks on ammonia to reduce emissions.

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