Here and Now Local News

Obama Speaks to UN on Palestine, Funding the US Solar Industry, Bob Edwards on Today’s Media: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly today as diplomats scramble to craft a deal that would avoid a showdown vote over a Palestinian demand for statehood recognition. The deal reportedly calls for Israel and the Palestinians to begin peace talks towards a two-state solution with Israel accepting its pre-1967 borders and Palestinians recognizing Israel’s Jewish character. Land swaps would be negotiated, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could still deliver his request for statehood recognition to the UN this week but no immediate action would be taken on it. Colum Lynch, UN reporter for the Washington Post, joins us to explain.

1:12pm: Two top executives at the bankrupt California solar energy company, Solyndra, say they will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions when they appear at a House hearing on Friday. Lawyers for the executives say it would be inappropriate to offer testimony since the company is now the focus of a criminal investigation. Solyndra received $528 million in federally-backed loans from the Energy Department in 2009 and the company’s collapse is raising questions about other DOE investments in American solar companies. One of those companies, 1366 Technologies of Lexington, Massachusetts, just this month finalized a deal with DOE to receive $150 million in loan guarantees. While the solar industry is booming, some experts are concerned that American solar companies will face an uphill battle competing against Chinese companies that receive huge government subsidies. We’ll speak with Frank van Mierlo, president of 1366 Technologies Inc., and Erik Sherman, BNET high tech reporter

1:34pm: Some time between tomorrow and Saturday, somewhere between Edmonton, Alberta and Cape Town, South Africa, an out-of-service NASA satellite weighing 1,600 pounds is going to plummet to earth. But scientists say people have little reason to worry — the chance of anyone at all being hit is just one in 3,200. And the chance that it will be you is one in trillions. Kelly Beatty, planetary specialist and senior contributing editor for Sky and Telescope Magazine, joins us to talk about the satellite’s descent.

1:50pm: When Bob Edwards was growing up in a house just off Eastern Parkway near Crittenden Drive, he longed be a radio newsman. He got his start in radio working for WHEL in New Albany, left Louisville in 1969, and wound up in Washington DC where he joined a fledgling broadcast outfit known as National Public Radio. The rest is history — and the subject of Edwards’ new book A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio. He spoke with us about the book, which details, among other things, his feelings about the state of the media, politics and his ouster from NPR after 24 years as the host of Morning Edition.

Environment Local News

Former Air Pollution Chief Off to Copenhagen

The next round of major climate treaty negotiations kicks off today in Copenhagen, Denmark, with more than 100 world leaders slated to attend, including President Barack Obama.  Louisville’s former Air Pollution Control District Director Art Williams will also be in attendance, as part of the Sierra Club’s national delegation.  Williams says the focus will be not only on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also on renewable energy.  In that regard, he says Kentucky’s economy has much at stake.

“The outcomes in Copenhagen and after that will probably make coal additionally more expensive as we price carbon in the energy system to encourage other types of energy use,” says Williams.

As a Sierra Club delegate, Williams will participate not only in formal United Nations meetings but also so-called “side sessions,” where delegates present ideas and discuss solutions in more informal setting.

Blog Archive Environment Blog

Big Climate Meetings Before End of '09

This week, they’re meeting in Geneva, Switzerland for the World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3). The administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jane Lubchenko, heads the U.S. delegation. At the conference, she and the other delegates will be learning more about how best to share climate information with those who need it to make decisions.

The overall goal of the conference – the third of its kind in 30 years – is to work toward developing a global “climate services information system,” bringing together the various climate modeling and prediction efforts worldwide into a single source for climate information, to help policy and decision makers act on that knowledge. In other words, this conference is about managing the risks we know are already here from climate change.

In December, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 15th meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That’s where it’s hoped they’ll come up with a post-Kyoto treaty agreement on a global strategy to mitigate climate change going forward. There have been several negotiation sessions in the run-up to the conference, including in Bonn, Germany this past August. At stake is the extent to which countries agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help developing countries do the same, and participate in the development of strategies and technologies for adapting to climate change.

But it’s not looking good, according to the UNFCCC web site’s account of the closing day at Bonn:

“Briefing the media on the last day of the informal consultations in Bonn, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said that while selective progress had been made to consolidate the huge texts on the table, ‘at this rate, we will not make it.’…Mr. de Boer stressed that ‘a climate deal in Copenhagen this year is an unequivocal requirement to stop climate change from slipping out of control.’”