The Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC)

Dear Friend,It couldn’t be clearer that we need more jobs and sources of energy that don’t bring doom and gloom to the planet.Yet we are we are weeks away from losing one of the most successful programs to promote wind energy in the U.S., and tens of t…

Dear Friend,
It couldn’t be clearer that we need more jobs and sources of energy that don’t bring doom and gloom to the planet.
Yet we are we are weeks away from losing one of the most successful programs to promote wind energy in the U.S., and tens of thousands of the jobs that have come with it.
The Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), which expires at the end of the year, has been an unequivocal success since it was enacted in 1992. In addition to helping lower the cost of wind energy by 90% and power the equivalent of 12 million homes, the PTC supports 75,000 wind jobs and helps raise $20 billion in private investment in wind energy each year.1
The PTC should be a no-brainer. But the Koch brothers-linked American Energy Alliance and Americans for Prosperity are waging a major campaign to sink it, and many Republicans are going along.2
These Republicans are cynically claiming that we can’t afford the $1 billion-a-year program, even as the very same Republicans vote repeatedly to protect billions more per year in tax cuts and giveaways for the oil industry.2
Their obstruction could cost an estimated 37,000 wind jobs over the next year, and already wind companies facing the changing economics without the PTC have laid off thousands of workers.3
The PTC is a bipartisan policy originally authored by Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. Even the rabidly anti-climate U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers support the program because it has been and continues to be a terrific investment. So any elected leader who votes against the PTC is doing so for one reason only: to protect polluters, even at the expense of American jobs.
The potential for wind energy in this country is massive — 20% of all our energy could come from wind by 2030, supporting half a million jobs. But the industry can’t grow without predictable policies. The PTC has been allowed to expire three times since 2000, and each time, new installed wind capacity, and jobs in the wind industry, have plummeted.
It should come as no surprise that it is extremely difficult for emerging sources of energy to compete, as the oil, gas and coal industries continue to benefit from nearly a century of government investment, subsidies, giveaways, tax breaks and now even a political system that has been shaped by their influence and money.
But for the sake of our future, clean sources of energy must not just compete, they must surpass fossil fuels. The PTC keeps us moving in the right direction and Congress should renew it right away.
Thank you for working for better energy policies.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager 
CREDO Action from Working Assets


Sandy will be the new normal

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg abruptly reversed course and canceled Sunday’s marathon, a beloved annual race that had become a lightning rod for people frustrated by the disastrous aftermath of megastorm Sandy.The decision …

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg abruptly reversed course and canceled Sunday’s marathon, a beloved annual race that had become a lightning rod for people frustrated by the disastrous aftermath of megastorm Sandy.

The decision on Friday came after a growing number of storm victims, some runners, and other politicians criticized Bloomberg’s decision earlier in the week to go forward with the marathon, one of the world’s most popular sporting events. They said the race, expected to draw more than 40,000 runners, could have diverted police and other resources from recovery efforts.

Bloomberg, hours after he repeated plans for the race to take place, issued a statement saying the event had become a “source of controversy and division” and would be scrubbed. The race will not be run again until next year, organizers said.

The decision removes what could have a been a dark spot on the mayor’s legacy. Public opinion in the past few days had turned against the mayor, with growing numbers saying it was inappropriate to run the race when so many New Yorkers were suffering.

People angered by the marathon plans had set up online petitions calling for runners to boycott the 26.2-mile race, or to run backward from the starting line in protest.

The uproar grew after the New York Road Runners Club, the race organizer, set up generators in Central Park for communications and other operations. It said it had paid for those privately, not with public funds, but some complained that the equipment should have been donated to those without power, electricity or heat.
Some runners, hearing of the cancellation, expressed frustration.

“I have mixed emotions,” said Christopher Miller, 34, of New Rochelle, New York, who would have been running his fourth New York City marathon. “Our hearts go out to people for their suffering, and also to the thousands who came from out of town and will leave without accomplishing what they set out to do months ago.”

BAD RECEPTION FOR RUNNERS?

Another runner said the mayor should have stuck to the original decision, saying the race gives local businesses a boost and was set to raise large amounts for relief efforts.

“This was going to turn into a big recovery and healing event,” said Usama Malik, 37, who works for a hedge fund. “I thought it was great that he (Bloomberg) made the decision to go on with it, to raise funds, to promote healing, and get people’s minds off of everything else that’s going on.”

Sandy, which brought a record storm surge to coastal areas, killed at least 102 people after slamming into the U.S. Northeast on Monday. Forty-one died in New York City, about half of them in Staten Island, which was overrun by a wall of water.

The marathon starts in Staten Island and weaves through all five of the city’s boroughs. Hundreds of thousands of people line the streets to watch the race.

Run every year since 1970, the marathon attracts professional and amateur runners, and is so popular that organizers run a lottery system to determine who can compete. The field features elite runners from around the globe, and is one of the six World Marathon Majors.

Among those who had been set to compete was Wilson Kipsang, the winner of this year’s London Marathon, who had traveled 45 hours from his home in Kenya.

In announcing that the race had been called off, Bloomberg insisted it would not have diverted resources from the recovery effort. Hours earlier he had previously drawn parallels with the decision a decade ago not to cancel or postpone the marathon after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

However, he said, “we cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event – even one as meaningful as this – to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track.”

Mary Wittenberg, the head of the New York Road Runners Club, said that as the controversy grew, she also was concerned about the reception runners may have received along the route.

At a news conference, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said it had become clear that “something that every year brings joy and unity to this city had become divisive and painful, and this is a city that’s had enough pain in the last week and I don’t think we need to add more.”

(Reporting by Martha Graybow, Edith Honan, Emily Flitter, Julian Linden, Michelle Nichols, Anna Louie Sussman and Phil Wahba; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Eric Walsh)


Mice and other specimens were lost when a New York lab flooded and lost power, potentially setting back crucial studies for years

As Hurricane Sandy flooded Lower Manhattan, the staff at New York University’s Langone Medical Center rushed to evacuate 300 patients. At another NYU facility, the Smilow Research Building, thousands of lab mice drowned as the storm surge filled the basement with water. Many tissue samples and other specimens also were lost. “It’s so horrible, you don’t even want to think about it,” said Michelle Krogsgaard, a cancer biologist. “All the work we did, all the time and money, we’re going to have to start all over.” What kinds of research were lost in the storm? Here, a brief guide:

What went wrong?

The so-called Frankenstorm knocked out power to the hospital. When the storm’s record-breaking tides flooded the basement, where many of the research specimens were kept, the backup generators failed, leaving the 13-story research center in the dark. The mice were inundated. Other cells, tissues, and animals used for medical research died slowly in idle refrigerators, freezers, and incubators. Precious enzymes, antibodies, and DNA strands generated by scientists and stored at temperatures as cold as -80 degrees were also almost surely destroyed.


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Frustration grew for superstorm Sandy’s victims in the U.S. Northeast on Friday, many of whom were left with no power, no gasoline and little information about when their shattered lives might return to normal.

While Manhattan prepared to host the annual New York City Marathon on Sunday, acute gasoline shortages in the city’s storm-battered outer boroughs and New Jersey led to long lines and short tempers.

Tankers finally began entering New York Harbor on Thursday, and a tanker carrying 2 million barrels of gasoline arrived at 2 a.m. on Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Sandy, which brought a record storm surge to coastal areas, killed at least 102 people after slamming into the U.S. Northeast on Monday. Forty-one died in New York City, about half of them in Staten Island, which was overrun by a wall of water.

Starting before dawn on Friday, long lines of cars snaked around gasoline stations around the area in scenes reminiscent of the energy shortage of the 1970s.

“The police are stopping people who are trying to cut in the line,” said Steven Golub, 53, an attorney who waited in line for hours at a Manhattan gas station. “There’s no gas anywhere else. There was a guy with diplomatic plates who tried to cut in the line and one of the cab drivers complained so the police actually stopped him.”

Police were in place at many spots to keep the peace between furious, frustrated drivers. In one instance, a man who attempted to cut in line was charged with threatening another driver with a gun on Thursday in the borough of Queens.

“When people cut the line, people are about to stone them,” said Chris Allegretta, who had stood in line for 90 minutes with a gas can at a filling station in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.

Less than 40 percent of all gas stations in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey operated on Thursday because of a combination of power outages and constricted supplies after the storm devastated the energy industry’s ability to move fuel into and around the New York City region.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Richard Serino planned to visit Staten Island on Friday amid angry claims by some survivors that the borough had been ignored.

‘THEY FORGOT ABOUT US’

President Barack Obama, locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, has so far received praise for his handling of storm relief. But scenes of angry storm victims could affect the U.S. political campaign with Election Day four days away.

“They forgot about us,” said Theresa Connor, 42, describing her Staten Island neighborhood as having been “annihilated.” “And Bloomberg said New York is fine. The marathon is on,” she said, referring to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Rising seawater flooded lower Manhattan, much of which still lacked power and subway service on Friday, while midtown and uptown Manhattan were close to normal.

Fury has been escalating throughout New York at Bloomberg’s decision to proceed with the marathon on Sunday, vowing the event – which attracts more than 40,000 runners – would not divert any resources storm victims.

“I just walked past four huge generators. Those could be put to use for people who need them,” said Marjorie Dial, a tourist from Oregon who was shocked to see the generators in Central Park, where the marathon finishes. “What they’ve discovered on Staten Island should have been the tipping point – the bodies.”

New York City Councilman James Oddo said on his Twitter account: “If they take one first responder from Staten Island to cover this marathon, I will scream.”

More than 3.7 million homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast remained without power on Friday.


Dear Friend,
Hurricane Sandy caused terrible devastation and loss. But it is also a teachable moment to educate the public about the connection between extreme weather and oceans that are warming due to fossil-fueled climate change.
But too many major news outlets and reports are still relying on hackneyed weather reporting — windblown “reporters” with microphones on beaches — rather than asking why storms are getting bigger and more dangerous.1
Hurricane Sandy was no mere natural disaster. It was a record-setting killer storm that is becoming the new normal thanks to human-caused climate change — and is a harbinger of much worse to come if we do not change course.
If we are ever to have sufficient will to attack global warming, the public needs to be let in on what many climate scientists are already saying, and the urgent need for action.
Fortunately, there are a few media outlets starting to make the connection — at least raising the question and bringing on thoughtful guests.2
But most of Big Media is relying on lowest-common-denominator weather reporting to cover record-breaking extreme weather.
We deserve better. Much better.
When it comes to confronting climate change, we have a major structural and political problem. Our broken system of campaign finance and lobbying has allowed major polluters to buy off one party and essentially scare the other. The result is gridlock, science denial, and a continuance of policies which subsidize, promote and even invest in fossil fuels for the long-term, when we should be phasing them out as fast as can — maybe faster.
We must, very soon, work to overcome the power of the fossil fuel polluters and their hold on our elected leaders to get the policies we need.
Part of that will be the media fulfilling their obligation to inform the populous in this country, and doing so in a way that is commensurate with the urgency of this crisis. We need to know the whole truth. They must start reporting it.
Thank you for taking a stand.
Michael Kieschnick, President and CEO 
CREDO Action from Working Assets


1. Michael Calderone, “Hurricane Sandy Cable News Coverage Avoids Talk Of Climate Change,” Huffington Post, October 29, 2012
2. Stephen Lacey, “Watch: Television News Starts Covering The Link Between Climate Change And Superstorm Sandy,” ThinkProgress, October 31, 2012
3. Wen Stephenson, “A Convenient Excuse,” The Phoenix, October 31, 2012


Dear Friend,
Words can’t do justice to the fear and peril being experienced by million of people on the East Coast right now.
For those of us who are lucky enough to be out of Sandy’s path, it is difficult to know what to do with ourselves.
What we do know is that this is potentially a big moment in the movement to address global warming. There is growing evidence that storms like Sandy will be the new normal rather than a freak of nature.1
There will always be storms, but as the oceans warm and the Arctic melts, Sandy is a foreboding glimpse of the stronger storms (along with floods, draughts, wildfires, etc.) of the future.
So in between checking on your friends and loved ones if you are able to do so, looking at the latest disaster pics online, refreshing The Weather Channel home page, (or seeing if the polls have changed in Ohio,) here are three things we can all do right now:
  1. Commit to vote against anyone who denies climate science or who expresses doubt that attacking global warming is an urgent priority. The League of Conservation Voters maintains a useful scorecard of our Representatives and Senators’ votes on the environment.2
  2. Donate to a local emergency shelter or to the Red Cross.
  3. Listen to Bill McKibben in conversation with Amy Goodman on Democracy Nowexplain why Sandy should be a wake-up call, and then share it widely with all your friends and family.
We wish safety and the fastest possible recovery to all on the East Coast on this scary night. Thank you for standing with us in the fight for our future.
Micheal Kieschnick, President and CEO 
CREDO Action from Working Assets


1. “New Study Ties Hurricane Strength To Global Warming,” Climate Central, 10-15-12. 
2. Look for vote #2 in the Senate and vote #11 in the House, to repeal the scientific finding by the EPA that greenhouse gases endanger human health and the environment, and to permanently block the EPA from reducing greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

 By 
One of the major unanswered questions about climate change is whether hurricanes have become more frequent and stronger as the world has warmed. Until now, there hasn’t been enough evidence to settle the question, but a report published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences may have changed all that. Using an entirely new method of tallying hurricane power and frequency, a team of scientists say that hurricanes are, indeed, more of a danger when ocean temperatures are higher. “In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years,” the report says.

Until now, the problem with such calculations is that until satellites came along in the 1970’s, nobody knew for sure how many hurricanes formed during a given year. That’s because some hurricanes never strike land, and unless a ship or a plane happened upon one of these storms, nobody might even know it had ever existed, and certainly not how strong it was.

The record from the ’70’s onward is much more complete — but since hurricane numbers wax and wane based on a natural cycle, that’s not long enough to see if there’s a warming-related pattern on top of ordinary fluctuations. Ocean temperatures fluctuate according to natural cycles as well, although studies have shown an overall increase in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, a trend that has been linked to manmade global warming.
But Alex Grinsted of the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues came at the problem in an entirely different way. They looked not at hurricanes themselves, but at the storm surgestropical storms drive before them as they come ashore, and surges have been reliably measured by devices known as tide gauges all the way back to the 1920’s.
“Using surges as an indicator,” Grinsted said in an interview, “we see an increase in all magnitudes of storms when ocean temperatures are warmer.” As ocean temperatures have risen inexorably higher in the general warming of the planet due to human greenhouse-gas emissions, the scientists concluded, hurricane numbers have moved upward as well. The implication: they’ll keep increasing along with global temperatures unless emissions are cut significantly.
There’s one obvious caveat about the new results: not every hurricane creates a storm surge, since they don’t always hit land. And not every storm surge is caused by a hurricane. “The storm surge index,” Grinsted said, “is sensitive to strong winter storms as well.” And it’s quite possible, he said, that the intensity of a given storm surge could be made greater or less by the angle at which a hurricane hits land.
Surges aren’t, in short, a perfect stand-in for hurricanes, but Grinsted said that they’re pretty good. In cases where they could do so, the team has lined up hurricane data with surge data, and, he said, “there are clear correlations. So while our paper might not explain everything, it is still useful.”

Hurricane Sandy

Dear Friend, Hurricane Sandy caused terrible devastation and loss. But it is also a teachable moment to educate the public about the connection between extreme weather and oceans that are warming due to fossil-fueled climate change. But too many major … Continue reading

Dear Friend,

Hurricane Sandy caused terrible devastation and loss. But it is also a teachable moment to educate the public about the connection between extreme weather and oceans that are warming due to fossil-fueled climate change.

But too many major news outlets and reports are still relying on hackneyed weather reporting — windblown “reporters” with microphones on beaches — rather than asking why storms are getting bigger and more dangerous.1

 

Tell major media outlets: Report the connection between climate change and extreme storms. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

 

Hurricane Sandy was no mere natural disaster. It was a record-setting killer storm that is becoming the new normal thanks to human-caused climate change — and is a harbinger of much worse to come if we do not change course.

If we are ever to have sufficient will to attack global warming, the public needs to be let in on what many climate scientists are already saying, and the urgent need for action.

Fortunately, there are a few media outlets starting to make the connection — at least raising the question and bringing on thoughtful guests.2

But most of Big Media is relying on lowest-common-denominator weather reporting to cover record-breaking extreme weather.

We deserve better. Much better.

Tell CBS, ABC, the NY Times, Washington Post, Fox, and even NPR to report the connection between climate change and extreme storms. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

When it comes to confronting climate change, we have a major structural and political problem. Our broken system of campaign finance and lobbying has allowed major polluters to buy off one party and essentially scare the other. The result is gridlock, science denial, and a continuance of policies which subsidize, promote and even invest in fossil fuels for the long-term, when we should be phasing them out as fast as can — maybe faster.

We must, very soon, work to overcome the power of the fossil fuel polluters and their hold on our elected leaders to get the policies we need.

Part of that will be the media fulfilling their obligation to inform the populous in this country, and doing so in a way that is commensurate with the urgency of this crisis. We need to know the whole truth. They must start reporting it.

Click below to automatically sign the petition:
http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6988814&p=sandy_media&id=49882-5154581-OqDk41x&t=10

Thank you for taking a stand.

Michael Kieschnick, President and CEO
CREDO Action from Working Assets

 

1. Michael Calderone, “Hurricane Sandy Cable News Coverage Avoids Talk Of Climate Change,” Huffington Post, October 29, 2012
2. Stephen Lacey, “Watch: Television News Starts Covering The Link Between Climate Change And Superstorm Sandy,” ThinkProgress, October 31, 2012
3. Wen Stephenson, “A Convenient Excuse,” The Phoenix, October 31, 2012

At least 40 people have been killed, millions are without power and transport across the north-eastern US has been severely disrupted as storm Sandy heads north for Canada.

In New York City, 18 people have been killed and the public transport system remains closed until further notice.

More than 18,000 flights were cancelled, the flight-tracking website FlightAware estimates.

Earlier, Sandy killed more than 60 people as it hit the Caribbean.

Sandy brought a record storm surge of almost 14ft (4.2m) to central Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet (3m) during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

The storm was causing heavy snowfalls over the Appalachian mountains on Tuesday afternoon. It was expected to turn towards western New York state during the evening before moving into Canada on Wednesday, the forecaster said.

At least eight million homes and businesses are without power because of the storm, says the US Department of Energy.

The New York Stock Exchange says it will re-open on Wednesday after two days’ closure, as will the Nasdaq exchange. The last time the stock exchange shut down for two days was in 1888.

New York’s subway system sustained the worst damage in its 108-year history, said Joseph Lhota, head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).

Subway tunnels were flooded and electrical equipment will have to be cleaned before the network can re-open.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there was “no timeline” for when the subway would restart, but he hoped buses could begin running again on Wednesday.

All New York’s major airports are closed as their runways are flooded.

It is likely to be two or three days before power is restored to most of the city, Mr Bloomberg said.

The Path commuter train service, which links New Jersey and New York City, is likely to remain suspended for seven to 10 days, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told a news conference.

The tidal surge from the storm left fields of debris 7ft (2.25m) high and carried small railway goods cars onto elevated sections of the New Jersey Turnpike, he said.

Dear Friend,

Words can’t do justice to the fear and peril being experienced by million of people on the East Coast right now.

For those of us who are lucky enough to be out of Sandy’s path, it is difficult to know what to do with ourselves.

What we do know is that this is potentially a big moment in the movement to address global warming. There is growing evidence that storms like Sandy will be the new normal rather than a freak of nature.1

There will always be storms, but as the oceans warm and the Arctic melts, Sandy is a foreboding glimpse of the stronger storms (along with floods, draughts, wildfires, etc.) of the future.

So in between checking on your friends and loved ones if you are able to do so, looking at the latest disaster pics online, refreshing The Weather Channel home page, (or seeing if the polls have changed in Ohio,) here are three things we can all do right now:

  1. Commit to vote against anyone who denies climate science or who expresses doubt that attacking global warming is an urgent priority. The League of Conservation Voters maintains a useful scorecard of our Representatives and Senators’ votes on the environment.2
  2. Donate to a local emergency shelter or to the Red Cross.
  3. Listen to Bill McKibben in conversation with Amy Goodman on Democracy Nowexplain why Sandy should be a wake-up call, and then share it widely with all your friends and family.

We wish safety and the fastest possible recovery to all on the East Coast on this scary night. Thank you for standing with us in the fight for our future.

Micheal Kieschnick, President and CEO
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. “New Study Ties Hurricane Strength To Global Warming,” Climate Central, 10-15-12.
2. Look for vote #2 in the Senate and vote #11 in the House, to repeal the scientific finding by the EPA that greenhouse gases endanger human health and the environment, and to permanently block the EPA from reducing greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Whatever you want to call it, the East Coast is bracing for Hurricane Sandy, a “rare hybrid storm” that is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge to the mid-Atlantic coast, Long Island Sound and New York harbor, forecasters say, with winds expected to be at or near hurricane force when it makes landfall sometime on Monday.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the Category 1 hurricane was centered about 280 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and 485 miles south of New York City early Sunday, carrying maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and moving northeast at 15 mph.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal forecasters say when Hurricane Sandy turns in to what some call “Frankenstorm,” it will smack the East Coast harder and wider than last year’s damaging Irene.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday that wherever the storm comes ashore, there will be 10 inches of rain and extreme storm surges. Up to 2 feet of snow should fall on West Virginia, with lighter snow in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Forecasters expect wind damage, power outages and flooding.
Hurricane Sandy is now near the Bahamas. It’s expected to move up the coast and collide with a winter storm moving across the country and frigid air from Canada.
The hurricane is forecast to turn inland around Delaware, but it could still hit as far north as New York.

perfectly logical but totally insane

DATE: December 12, 1991TO: DistributionFR: Lawrence H. SummersSubject: GEP’Dirty’ Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? I can think o…

DATE: December 12, 1991
TO: Distribution
FR: Lawrence H. Summers
Subject: GEP

‘Dirty’ Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? I can think of three reasons:

1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.

3) The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate[sic] cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate[sic] cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is 200 per thousand. Also, much of the concern over industrial atmosphere discharge is about visibility impairing particulates. These discharges may have very little direct health impact. Clearly trade in goods that embody aesthetic pollution concerns could be welfare enhancing. While production is mobile the consumption of pretty air is a non-tradable.

The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.
—Lawrence Summers

The Summers memo was a 1991 memo on trade liberalization that was written by Lant Pritchett and signed by Lawrence Summers while the latter was Chief Economist of the World Bank. It included a section that both Summers and Pritchett say was sarcastic that suggested dumping toxic waste in third-world countries for perceived economic benefits.[1]

After the material was leaked, Pritchett (who worked under Summers) stated that he had written the memo and Summers had only signed it, and that it was intended to be “sarcastic”.[2] According to Pritchett, the memo as leaked was doctored to remove context and intended irony, and was “a deliberate fraud and forgery to discredit Larry and the World Bank.”[3] This interpretation is strengthened by the final sentence of the leaked excerpt, which points out that “The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs… could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.” That is, it appears to be a Reductio ad absurdum of the arguments of orthodox free-market economists that were in vogue at the time the memo was written.

Daniel Hausman and Michael McPherson have argued that the satirical section might seem to be based in economics as a science, but in fact contains strong moral premises which cannot be removed and still leave the argument intact.[4] Brazilian Secretary of the Environment Jose Lutzenberger argued that it demonstrated “the arrogant ignorance of many conventional ‘economists’ concerning the nature of the world we live in.”

Postscript

After the memo became public in February 1992, Brazil’s then-Secretary of the Environment Jose Lutzenburger wrote back to Summers:

Your reasoning is perfectly logical but totally insane… Your thoughts [provide] a concrete example of the unbelievable alienation, reductionist thinking, social ruthlessness and the arrogant ignorance of many conventional ‘economists’ concerning the nature of the world we live in… If the World Bank keeps you as vice president it will lose all credibility. To me it would confirm what I often said… the best thing that could happen would be for the Bank to disappear.” 

Sadly, Mr. Lutzenburger was fired shortly after writing this letter.

Mr. Summers, on the other hand, was appointed the U.S. Treasury Secretary on July 2nd, 1999, and served through the remainder of the Clinton Admistration. Afterwards, he was named president of Harvard University.