Archive for January, 2012

Naval Facility

The Future of Global Climate Policy: Slowing Warming by Cutting Methane and Pollutants (Part 5)

By Matthew Stepp, Clean Energy Policy Analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Jesse Jenkins, Director of Climate and Energy Policy at the Breakthrough Institute

It is time to take stock of our current climate trajectory, and consider what it means for climate policy. In Part 1 of this week long series, we argued that our current climate trajectory means we must 1) redouble efforts to reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible, and 2) we must proactively build resilience to the uncertain impacts of a changing climate. Part 2 examined why voluntary economic contraction is a not a viable strategy for reducing emissions “as quickly as possible.” Part 3 explained why implementing a robust clean energy innovation strategy is the key way to making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels, thus enabling the rapid adoption of low-carbon energy sources and drastically reducing CO2 as quickly as possible. Part 4 discussed why adaptation through innovation is central to preparing for the impacts of a warmer world. Finally, Part 5 discusses how reducing a set of non-CO2pollutants and greenhouse gases can make a significant, near-term Read the rest

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The Future of Global Climate Policy: Buying Time and Building Resilience through Climate Adaptation Innovation Policy (Part 4)

By Matthew Stepp, Clean Energy Policy Analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Jesse Jenkins, Director of Climate and Energy Policy at the Breakthrough Institute

It is time to take stock of our current climate trajectory, and consider what it means for climate policy. In Part 1 of this week long series, we argued that our current climate trajectory means we must 1) redouble efforts to reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible, and 2) we must proactively build resilience to the uncertain impacts of a changing climate. Part 2 examined why voluntary economic contraction is a not a viable strategy for reducing emissions “as quickly as possible.” Part 3 explained why implementing a robust clean energy innovation strategy is the key way to making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels, thus enabling the rapid adoption of low-carbon energy sources and drastically reducing CO2 as quickly as possible. Part 4 discusses why adaptation through innovation is central to preparing for the impacts of a warmer world and buying us time to drastically cut emissions.

The door is closed to mitigating away all of the potentially dangerous … Read the rest

Obama waves at SOTU

Good Speech, Good Ideas, Yet More Needed…

The President mentioned many issues ITIF focuses on in his State of the Union address last night. And by in large, we agree with what he said when it comes to economic competitiveness. The President deserves praise for putting these issues, specifically manufacturing, front and center. He helped rally the nation and the Congress to the fact that restoration of competitiveness and a vibrant manufacturing sector are, indeed, the pillars on which rests our economic future. However, in some cases, we wish he had gone just a little further, maybe clarifying, maybe being a little bolder. Here are a few examples: Funding R&D: “Innovation is what America has always been about,” he said. Absolutely. We laud him for prodding Congress to maintain basic research funding budgets. However, the President should have included applied research in his prod. To understand why, look at Germany. Its manufacturing sector accounts for 20% of the country’s GDP as opposed to the United States 11% and German manufacturing workers earn 40% more in hourly wage compensation than U.S. manufacturing workers. Its exports of research-intensive high-tech products are seven times greater than the United States’ as a share of GDP. One reason is that the country spends six times as much on industrial research and production technologies as does the United States.

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The Future of Global Climate Policy: Clean Energy Innovation Imperative (Part 3)

By Matthew Stepp, Clean Energy Policy Analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Jesse Jenkins, Director of Climate and Energy Policy at the Breakthrough Institute 

It is time to take stock of our current climate trajectory, and consider what it means for climate policy. In Part 1 of this week long series, we argued that our current climate trajectory means we must 1) redouble efforts to reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible, and 2) we must proactively build resilience to the uncertain impacts of a changing climate. Part 2 examined why voluntary economic contraction is a not a viable strategy for reducing emissions “as quickly as possible.” Part 3 explains why implementing a robust clean energy innovation strategy is the key way to making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels, thus enable rapid adoption of low-carbon energy sources and drastically reducing CO2 as quickly as possible.

As we wrote in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, our current climate trajectory and global political economy dictates that the only way we can limit potentially dangerous climate change impacts, above the dangerous impacts we’re already … Read the rest

President Obama’s State of the Union Links Middle Class Prosperity and Innovation

President Obama’s State of the Union address last night demonstrated the importance of U.S. science and economic competitiveness to a prosperous and growing middle class. His focus on “keeping the American Dream alive,” invoking core American values of “fair play,” and “shared responsibility,” were inexorably linked to his administration’s past innovation policy actions and proposals for 2012.

This reflects the Obama administration’s clear understanding that innovation is an intrinsic aspect of the American identity, and an indispensable tool to ensuring the future success of our economy and middle class. Indeed, as the president said last night, “innovation is what America has always been about.”

Certainly, technology can be a double-edged sword. It creates, as the president said, “new American jobs, and new American industries,” but “technology… also [makes] some jobs obsolete.” The only way to sieze the upsides and mitigate the downsides of inevitable technological change is to keep our economy on the cutting edge by investing in the building blocks of innovation—the assets our businesses, workers, and industries need to stay best in class. The blueprint the president unveiled last night outlined a robust vision to invest in those … Read the rest

TomFriedman

Note to Tom Friedman: Technology Creates, Not Destroys, Jobs

I should just get a macro for my computer so that when I type “Control T” it writes “Tom Friedman is wrong because” since he so often is, as I pointed out here. But in Today’s New York Times Op-Ed he does it again, only maybe even worse; blaming technology for joblessness.  When will he and others realize this is not the case. He writes that information technology “is more rapidly replacing labor with machines.” Well, if this were true, how does he explain the fact that productivity growth rates were much higher in the last five years of the 1990s than the last five years of the 2000s? And yet, unemployment was much lower in the 1990s period.

He then goes on to quote Davidson’s equally incorrect article in The Atlantic which rightly points to the devastating loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs in the last decade and blames technology. No. As we point out, it was the loss output due to decline in U.S. competitiveness, not automation, that was responsible for the big loss of manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing experienced about the same rate of productivity growth in … Read the rest

pirate-cyberlock-blog

There Be Pirates In These Clouds!

The U.S. Department of Justice announced in a statement that a grand jury had indicted seven individuals and two corporations with running an “international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyright works.” Notably, law enforcement officials arrested top executives of Megaupload, including the infamous Kim Dotcom who was previously convicted of insider trading and embezzlement (and who had to be cut out of his mansion’s panic room where he hid with a sawed-off shotgun). Law enforcement also seized the domain and approximately $50 million in assets in the United States and eight other countries. So what are the takeaways from the MegaUpload indictment? And what are the implications for other cyberlocker services and cloud storage providers?

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What I would like to hear in the State of the Union

According to all indications, the President will use tonight’s State of the Union to hit on economic themes.  Look for exhortations to Congress to pass the payroll tax cut extension and other Obama Administration proposals.  With the head of the IMF now talking about a “1930′s moment” in Europe, there are clearly some short term economic issues to be addressed.  But on the long term issues, what I expect to hear tonight is an expanded variation of the following:

We need to increase our investments in basic research, education and infrastructure – and bring back manufacturing.

As I’ve noted before, that is all well and good.  But here is what I would like to hear next (using my wording from a number of reports and blog postings I’ve written over the past few years):

This is not the first time we have faced economic challenges.  In the 1980′s, the U.S. confronted a series of challenges to our economic competitiveness.  By working together, we overcame those challenges.  We can do the same today.

But we need to recognize that today’s challenges are different.  The nature of our economy has changed.… Read the rest

global warming costs

The Future of Global Climate Policy: Is Economic Contraction a Climate Solution (Part 2)

By Matthew Stepp, Clean Energy Policy Analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Jesse Jenkins, Director of Climate and Energy Policy at the Breakthrough Institute

It is time to take stock of our current climate trajectory, and consider what it means for climate policy. In Part 1 of this week long series, we argued that our current climate trajectory means we must 1) redouble efforts to reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible, and 2) we must proactively build resilience to the uncertain impacts of a changing climate. Part 2 in this series examines whether voluntary economic contraction is a key strategy in reducing emissions “as quickly as possible.”

In a recent commentary, Grist’s David Roberts notes that our current climate trajectory puts us on a path to dangerous climate impacts, demanding that we must reduce emissions dramatically over the near-term. His proposed strategy to reduce emissions as quickly as possible constitutes an “all-hands-on-deck mobilization” (including a carbon tax, efficiency standards, subsidies, tech development). He also argues that the time has come to consider “shared sacrifice” in the world’s wealthiest nations: a course of voluntary economic … Read the rest

The Future of Global Climate Policy: Taking Stock of Our Climate Outlook (Part 1)

By Matthew Stepp, Clean Energy Policy Analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Jesse Jenkins, Director of Climate and Energy Policy at the Breakthrough Institute

Significantly limiting humanity’s impact on the global climate is quite simply an enormous task. Unfortunately, thanks to budget austerity and federal gridlock, any hope of implementing sweeping U.S. climate/energy policy has been optimistically pushed back to 2013 or beyond (though some incremental improvement is possible). And even the most hopeful observers of the recent global climate negotiations in Durban find little real progress towards reducing emissions. Now more than ever, it is time to take a hard look at where we stand and figure out how to match our policies to our climate goals.

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Amongst climate scientists and advocates of climate policy, a growing recognition is taking hold that the current trajectory of global emissions will almost certainly lead us to a world of dangerous climate change impacts. For some, this means coming to terms with the fact that holding total global warming to less than 2°C, a commonly adopted “line in the sand” drawn by many climate advocates, has become nigh-impossible.… Read the rest