The August 10 2013 cover story in The Economist and Washington Post White House reporter Juliet Eilperin’s August 10 on the second-term Obama White House and climate change should be ‘must reads’…sand between your toes or not.
It’s the waning and listless (?) days of mid-August and late summer, leading up to the rush of fall, the return to school, and the scheduled September 27 4 a.m. Eastern Time official release of the first component of the IPCC’s “AR5 ….”
Beach or mountains or otherwise, they’re no excuse for missing at least two essential “must-read” pieces on climate change.
The Best and the Worst of China
One is “The world’s worst polluter: Can China clean up fast enough?” four-page cover story in the August 10 issue of The Economist, one of a dwindling number of mainstream weeklies sill doing generally outstanding coverage on climate change and a range of other vital issues.
“The world’s worst polluter is also the biggest investor in green energy,” the magazine teases in its table of contents blurb, illustrating just one of a wide range of enigmas that make China and climate change so critically intertwined … and important.
“The fetid smog that settled on Beijing in January 2013 could join the ranks of these game-changing environmental disruptions” leading to major foundational overhauls, the magazine reports. “You could smell, taste, and choke on it.” That “airpocalypse” added new urgency to local environmental anxieties challenging the country’s burgeoning population and their leaders, prompting a $275-billion (Billion!) five-year air cleanup initiative.
“None of the challenges facing the new generation of [Chinese] leaders is bigger than those posed by the environment,” The Economist reports.
A turning point? Perhaps, but “there is something else in the air, less immediately damaging but with a far bigger global impact” … China’s GHG emissions, now nearly one-third the world’s total (up from 10 percent in 1990).
“Since 2000 China alone has accounted for two-thirds of the global growth in carbon dioxide emissions,” the magazine reports.
“China has a huge domestic market, cheap capital and sunny, windy deserts: the ideal environment to build a zero-carbon energy system. It is the silver lining of a very dark cloud. If China cannot do it, no one can.”
That’s just one morsel among many in the article illustrating why it’s so obvious that: Without China … there’s no climate change problem. And without China, there’s not a climate change solution.
Read it and weep. But most of all … read it and learn … and be impressed, and maybe a tad depressed too.
Climate on the White House Beat
And then track down White House reporter Juliet Eilperin’s “In His Second Term, Obama Becomes Bolder on the Environment.”
Told by newly confirmed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that Obama sees climate change “as a necessary part of his legacy,” Eilperin wanders from one federal agency to another and finds the often newly confirmed agency heads going well beyond what appeared the case in the first Obama administration, leaving some likely adversarial industry lobbyists recalculating their own next steps.
Eilperin quoted Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, founder with California Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of the congressional Safe Climate Caucus as saying he sees a “sea change” since Obama’s June 2013 climate speech at Georgetown University.
“It does not appear to be ‘just make a speech and walk away,'” Whitehouse told her in an interview. “It appears to be a lasting and real policy shift.”
Among other things, the Eilperin story is notable because of her having only recently moved to the White House from the paper’s key environmental reporting slot. Some had wondered how and whether her environmental experience might play-out on the larger beat, and this may be one encouraging sign.
It comes, mind you, at a time when the beat overall continues to suffer, including the loss of more and more veteran science and environmental reporters at metropolitan dailies: Just this week, respected veteran environmental reporter Perry Beeman announced he is leaving journalism and his long-time Des Moines Register post to take up a public relations position with Grinnell College.
The excellence of The Economist cover story and of the Eilperin reporting, that is to say, does nothing to brighten the dim light of mainstream media climate coverage overall.