Climate Change: People and Cities

Monday, December 14, 2009

Many of the world’s mayors, including NYC’s Mike Bloomberg, are participating in the Mayors’ Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen this week. Stephen Hammer, director of the Urban Energy Program at Columbia University's Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy, talks about what are they hoping to accomplish and what it means for NYC. Plus, Shahzeen Attari, Earth Institute postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions reports on her recent presentation at the conference about human behavior in regard to climate change.


Shahzeen Attari and Stephen Hammer

Comments [24]

Leon Freilich from Park Slope

Polar ice may vanish in 5-7 years--AP headline

On Wall Street and in Greenwich

The plutocrat reads and thinks

All's well in this blessed world

As long as there's ice for his drinks.

Dec. 14 2009 07:48 PM
Jon P. from The Garden State

Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Why do you keep labeling me as a liberal? I would be ashamed to be called a conservative or a liberal these days. I think the UN is useless, I don’t care how many guns you own (its your constitutional right) and I’m not pigeon holing anything. I’m just trying to get a realistic concrete answer from you but you’re only capable of spewing angry Obama rhetoric that is getting old and I really don’t care about. It seems you have pigeonholed me.

End of transmission? So you can’t answer my simple but very real question? takes more knowledge, independant thinking and amagination then your capable of? So your just going to run away? Sounds pretty week to me. Maybe Cheneys Face is correct...

No happy Hanukkah or merry x-mass for you until you honestly and realistically answer my question. Santa doesn’t like people who only speak “cut and pasts” from other people’s blogs because they cant speak or think for themselves…

Dec. 14 2009 03:45 PM
Cheneys Face

Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VAis a leftist provocateur trying to make the right look ignorant.

Dec. 14 2009 03:15 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Jon P. - Like most liberals, UNers, pro-abortion, anti-gun folk, etc. you like to limit the discussion and pigeon hole people and issues to try and tweak an answer of your own desires.

Sorry if I can't comply. We need to attack the national and global energy problem on all fronts. There are no perfect solutions as someone’s ox is going to be gored (not Al Gored) one way or another.

I too would like to live in a perfect world that works for everyone, but it ain't going to happen. Invading Iraq was a good idea, badly executed, not because we killed so many people, but because we didn’t kill enough people quickly enough as in Gulf I.

Sometimes good men have to kill bad men (with collateral damage) so that you can continue to live in your own little dream world.

I suggest you start walking and biking as Obama promised America gas at $8-12 per gallon and many fools still voted for him. But, in their defense 80% of the media failed to mention such things and of course none of Obama’s $800,000,000.00+ in campaign spending mentioned it either. Lol.

Happy Hanukkah and/or Merry Christmas.

End Transmission.

Dec. 14 2009 02:37 PM
Jon P. from The Garden State

Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA ,

If you where a true conservative then you would be against our addiction to foreign oil because it’s not fiscally conservative. Its bad business to get most of your oil from a very unstable and constantly fluctuating market. I think that you only care about the economy and not people. Remember all the people who died in 9/11 and all the US troops that have died while trying to stabilize the Middle East for oil (after all, it’s just a desert and has no other value to us)so you can fill up your gas tank?

I specifically said no Obama rhetoric and the 2nd paragraph is all Obama rhetoric. I don’t care about that and you still didn’t answer my question. I believe you’re the one not living in the real world. You keep on insisting in drilling for more oil when we have already determined you can’t get enough oil in all those places you point out to keep our country running. I can’t put coal, natural gas or hydro power in my car’s gas tank to make it go. So what’s your plan, magic pixy dust to make my car run on coal, natural gas and hydro power? Who’s going to pay for all the infrastructure required to make my car run on coal, natural gas, or hydro power? Remember, no Marxist government to step in. Are you going to write letters to BP with your great solution and hopefully they will pick up the tab?

So I ask you again, (agian, no rhetoric Obama stuff or simple answer that cant be realistically implemented anytime soon like natural gas, coal or Nuke power in my car) how do we get off foreign oil today (not with technology 10 years from now) that does not involve drilling for more oil (Russia and south America are off the table because they are just as unstable if not more then the middle east)?

Dec. 14 2009 02:17 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Jon P. - the difference between you and me is that I live in the real world. We can do what ever we please, if we have the strength of conviction to do it.

The current admin is trying to implement theoretical solutions to real world problems and they have a radical anti-American pro-one world socialist bias. Their neo-Marxist, Maoist and National Socialist Statist solutions have also already failed, to the cost of 100s of millions of murdered people and 100s of millions more of wasted lives. We can do what ever we please, if we have the strength of conviction to do it.

Still, I agree that Bush and others have not done enough to address the issue of alternative energy. And I want to protect the environment, but not at the cost of our strong economy. When I said drill here, drill now I meant all of it - oil, gas, coal, thermal, shale here, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean (cutting out Cuba & China), etc. I would also build more dams, no matter how many fish died.

Liberals care about fish - conservatives care about human beings.

Dec. 14 2009 01:20 PM
Jon P. from The Garden State

Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

You didn’t answer my question. I didn’t say it was Bush’s problem. If we had listened to your other anti Christ, Jimmy Carter, we would have been off foreign oil more then 10 years ago and probably would have not had 9/11 or 2 wars in the Middle East. It’s well documented on all sides of the issue that even if you put a oil well in everyone’s front yard in this country and covered the sea with oil wells there would still not even be close to enough oil. We can only produce not even 40% of the oil we use. The Oil in Iraq is a commodity, it goes right into the international oil demand. Declaring all Iraq oil as ours has never been an option under any circumstances. Neither is the oil in our own country. You don’t get to choose where the oil comes from when you go fill up your gas tank. I specifically said no nuke power, they are very heavily subsidized. Let me repeat that, they are heavily subsidized so they are not cost effective at all!!!

So please answer my question, How do we get off foreign oil (remember we already determined` drilling wont even come close to doing it and nuclear power wont work either)?

Dec. 14 2009 12:35 PM
Mike from Inwood

kai from NJ-NYC [14]: Look into the science a bit more. When CO2 emissions are calculated, they look at coal and oil, but not at the burning of wood or dung, which is how much of the thrid world gets its energy. Just as coal emits more than oil per BTU of energy generated, wood emits more then coal, and dung emits more than wood. That haze over third world cities DOES consist of green house gases. Because these gases consist of larger particles, they do not rise as high into the atmosphere and only stay airborne for 40 years or so instead of 60 years or so, like the fumes of unleaded gasoline. Greenhouse gases do not distribute themselves equally throughout the world, they depend on the wind and emissions that do not get into the upper atmosphere do not travel as far. The pollution in the Himalayas is, by and large, not coming from the US or Europe; it is coming from India and China. Because the wind over the Pacific Ocean travels east, between a quarter and a third of the air pollution in California comes from China.

Dec. 14 2009 12:14 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Jon P. -- I agree that Bush did not do enough to get us off foreign oil. He should have started drilling by executive order all over America and offshore. He should have also secured the Iraqi oil fields at any cost necessary and started pumping them dry. No President has acted on this issue since the first oil crisis under Ford. This was a foreign challenge to America at the time of our greatest Constitutional crisis.

Ford, Carter, and everyone since has not done enough to drill enough here, build refining plants, build new nuclear reactors (like in France) and develop clean alternatives sources. Clinton didn’t add one gallon of oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when the retail price was 99 cents. But, he was busy getting busy. He also forgot to save a million Black Rwandans from being murdered, another fun Dem fact conveniently forgotten by the liberal media.

The energy problem isn't a Bush problem, it is everyone's fault - but, let's not change the world because of a hoax. The cost of such will just be too hard to bear by most Americans. Please note - 31,000 scientists have signed on against the hoax - even before the hoax was exposed two weeks ago.

PS - Obama doesn't bother me. We are a nation of laws, not of men. His radical policies do bother me as they now bother an increasing majority of Americans. He will be out of power soon. He made a great corrupt Ill. State Senator and maybe after he gets out of jail he will be re-elected to that job by the folks in Chicago. Lol.

Dec. 14 2009 11:56 AM
Mike from Inwood

Shame on Brian Lehrer! You have these windbags spouting about justice and the environment and you fail to ask them about the 'justice' of India and China each having more people than the entire population of the earth a scant 100 years ago. If everyone in the US had 10 kids and our per capita pollution was lower, would that be more just?

Dec. 14 2009 11:51 AM
kai from NJ-NYC

John - A note: The quality of the Delhi's air is not necessarily connected to the total quantity of emissions but to the cleanliness of those emissions. In Delhi and much of the developing world, while they emit less the lack of cleaner burning fuels, power plant scrubbers, catalytic converters on cars, etc. all contribute to lower air quality. In other words, the pollutant CO2 can't be seen in the air while fossil fuel impurities (which most of the developed world "scrubs" out) can be seen and felt in the lungs, for instance.

Dec. 14 2009 11:22 AM
Jon P. from The Garden State

Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

I have a question for you. For just a minute, put your global warming conspiracy idea completely to the side. The pentagon has considered our oil dependence in the Middle East to be a great national threat while George Bush was still in office. So considering we have not been even close to supplying our own oil for several decades right now and even if we dotted all of Alaska with new oil wells we still would not even come close to having enough oil to drive our economy without severe oil rations. Don’t you think our number one priority should be to get off oil as soon as possible for national security? How do you think we should get off oil? (Nuclear power does not count because it is heavily subsidized so it’s actually quite a bit more expensive then coal at the end of the day)?

Please no anti Obama rhetoric. This is a George Bush era question, before Obama made your life so miserable. .

Dec. 14 2009 10:58 AM
kai from NJ-NYC

George - Many of the people in the US deny climate change against all reason and facts because they are used to the US being dominant in all phases world processes, especially with regard to economics. These deniers are afraid that any further shift away from the status quo, as we would have by moving away from fossil fuels, will ravage the US economy and subjugate the country to a lower tier (see "Calls'em" above for this type). This is unsubstantiated paranoia.

Little do they know that human society and economy are embedded in the environment and that any future development and prosperity are tied to sustainability on all fronts.

Dec. 14 2009 10:47 AM
artista from greenpoint

just a thought. Hammer began with an unnecessary bit of boilerplate puffery for Bloomberg, so much so I thought he was a member of the Bloomberg admin. No, or not at present, but here's from his Columbia bio:
'In addition to teaching at Columbia University, Dr. Hammer provides research, regulatory, technical and project management support to public and private sector organizations. Past clients include ... the City of New York, leading international NGOs, and hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses around the U.S. and the Caribbean.'
So, he's got lucrative entrepreneurial sidelines; wooing Bllomberg?
Your other guest, as it happens, is also at Columbia.
It is hard to know how to listen to these 2 institutional participants. Perhaps invite on the show people from outside the 'establishment' side?

Dec. 14 2009 10:43 AM
John from Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Very interesting point about Delhi's low emission levels- but how is that possible? I was recently there and was struck by the incredibly poor air quality.

Dec. 14 2009 10:41 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

There is a fundamental problem with the US approach. Unlike the Europeans, the US -- like a spoiled brat -- refuses to do anything unless other nations do likewise. The Europeans are working to make changes regardless of what the rest of the world does.

Dec. 14 2009 10:41 AM
nat from Brooklyn

I understand why the developing world is fed up with the climate talks. The tone that is set by most people in the developed world is the need for sweeping global system level changes; but these discussions leave out any personal responsibility for our unsustainable lifestyle choice.

In all of the climate talks and climate change media coverage the most basic question is missing. How do we justify a lifestyle that consumes all resources at a rate so great that we couldn't offer it to the rest of the human population because we would need several new worlds to make it possible?

There is an underlying bias, particularly in the US when we talk about climate change. It stems from two assumptions; the problem isn't basing an economy on burning through resources at a cancerous rate, and we could possibly consume our way out of this crises.

The developing world will be hit with the brunt of the negative effect of our lifestyle. We are not really honest with ourselves about the problem, I wouldn't want to negotiate from that position either.

Dec. 14 2009 10:40 AM
George from astoria

Ive talked to people from all over the world but only in america are their groups of people that completely dismiss global climate change. Why? What do they gain from this denial.

Dec. 14 2009 10:36 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

Stephen Hammer leaves out the fact that rich people everywhere use more than poor. Ask Bloomberg why he needs $120 million of personal housing. Why he needs 3 SUVs to take him to work.

Also, while it may be true ON AVERAGE, that the average urban resident uses less per capita than the average rural resident, it is also true that it is entirely possible for rural residents to use less by going solar, by insulating better, by biking instead of driving, by car-pooling, etc.

Dec. 14 2009 10:35 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

Global warming is just ONE of numerous environmental issues. Leonard Lopate had Yale's John Wargo a little over a month ago. Wargo detailed many of the poisons that are not just in our environment but are not even regulated.

For example, every person now listening or speaking on The Brian Lehrer Show has radioactive Strontium-90 in his or her bones because of US bomb tests from the 40s through the 60s.

Here's a prediction: IF the US will not take the lead and take some responsibility for being the MOST wasteful nation of the past 60 years, the HUMAN SPECIES WILL BE EXTINCT in 1000 years or fewer.

Dec. 14 2009 10:32 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

has there been any talk of high speed rail in this country at the copenhagen talks?

Dec. 14 2009 10:30 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Now that the Developing Nations (DNs) including China and India are boycotting the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, it is clear that the “climate warming” fraud has been about the transfer of wealth and power from day one.

The DNs and their minions (over one thousand arrested by Danish police) are demanding
deeper cuts of the developed nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Why? Climate change is a fraud. Cap & Trade will cost the average American family thousands of dollars per year, they don’t have.

DN reps from 135 nations are boycotting the other 57 nations at the meeting. The poor nations want to screw the rich nations by extending the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which imposed penalties on rich nations if they did not comply with its strict emissions limits.

Lead by African DNs who want more money. Yes that’s a good idea. The American taxpayer under a socialist assault by its own temporary leadership should throw money at nations run by sh-tass dictators whose corruption knows no bounds.

The industrial nations now know that (1) they are in financial trouble, (2) climate change is a fraud, (3) they were cutting back their own cap & trade programs and (4) they won’t be getting help from America which is going down a Marxist and Maoist path and wants to destroy the industrialized west as much as the DNs do; but Obama and Congress now know they will be thrown out of office if Cap & Trade is signed into law - so the conference was likely to kill the Kyoto Protocol. Americans know that the US withdrew from Kyoto over concerns that it would harm the U.S. economy and that China, India and other major greenhouse gas emitters were not required to take action.

We need more industry in the west, not less. We need to use and develop clean technologies, but not slit our own throats to help dictatorships and oligarchies - who are using a fake issue to defraud the world and shift power and wealth to create a new world order.

Dec. 14 2009 10:29 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

More than a little hypocritical for Bloomberg to attend a climate summit as he has supported end runs around Environmental Impact Statements for Atlantic Yards, the west side stadium, and so on.

Bloomberg is fighting the EPA on Gowanus Canal, not out of any concern for the environment, but out of concern for wealthy friends who want to make a quick buck selling poisonous land for development.

Bloomberg has done nothing to improve bicycling in the city.

He treated with his standard sneering contempt concerns about trees along the East River during Olafur Eliasson's Waterfalls project. The trees were killed, contrary to Bloomberg's bluster.

Bloomberg's personal carbon footprint with FIVE multimillion dollar mansions must be equal to SEVERAL THOUSAND average New Yorkers.

Dec. 14 2009 10:16 AM

can business activity solve every problem? bloomberg thinks so. billionaire's brilliance -- or fatal flaw?

Dec. 14 2009 09:52 AM

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