Friday, June 15, 2012

Coal Is on a Roll

While in the United States coal is rapidly being replaced with other fuels, particularly natural gas, globally coal’s share of the world energy market is higher than it has been for the last four decades, reaching 30%. Conversely, the fuel with the largest share of the energy market, oil, has been losing market share and now accounts for 33% of the market, the lowest since 1965. Since burning coal produces about double the greenhouse gas emissions as burning oil, these statistics, which come from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, are another indication that efforts to address climate change globally are going nowhere. Not only is the burning of coal for energy increasing in China and India, as would be suspected, but surprisingly coal burning has also been increasing in Europe.

Perhaps the most important thing for Americans to take away from this is that when hearing hear about the declining use of coal in the US is to realize that the US is the exception not the rule. Rather than being on its last legs, coal use is surging and continues to be the main driver of globing warming.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Economic Recession May Be Needed to Slow Down Global Warming

It’s hard to imagine any politician calling for a recession but that might be what is needed to fight global warming according to the results of a study that compared year-to-year changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels with four factors: volcanic eruptions, the El NiƱo Southern oscillation, world population, and the world economy. The factor that best correlated with CO2 increases was above-trend economic activity as measured by gross domestic product. The level of CO2 deviated from the trend by about one half part per million for each trillion in U.S. dollars that the GDP deviated from the trend. Tapia Granados, a University of Michigan researcher who participated in the study, which was published on-line in the journal Environmental Science and Policy, told the University of Michigan News Service that “If ‘business as usual’ conditions continue, economic contractions the size of the Great Recession or even bigger will be needed to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2.”

This is not the first time that research results have indicated the need for economic contraction to fight global warming. A study released by Britain’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change in 2009 reached the same conclusion (see Lower Standard of Living Called for to Fight Climate Change). The Tyndall study called for a reduction in living standards in the wealthier countries over the next 10 to 15 years. Obviously this would be political poison. As it is, masses of people have been out in the streets of several European countries protesting austerity measures and here in the US the main issue in the presidential election battle is how to rebound from the economic collapse of 2008 by creating more economic growth. And Japan is still reeling economically from a tsunami as well as the effects of a nuclear power plant disaster. Slowing down global warming simply may not be possible politically.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Global Warming Flip-Flopper Mitt Romney Will Probably Flip-Flop Again if Elected

It is well documented that Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on global warming, going from a believer to a denier. A recently discovered letter written by Romney, then governor of Massachusetts, to fellow Republican George Pataki, then governor of New York, with regard to setting up a regional system to regulate greenhouse gases which eventually became the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), stated that Romney agreed with Pataki regarding the need to “reduce the power plant pollution that is harming our climate” and that cap-and-trade was “an effective approach” for dealing with climate change. Fastforward about 8 years and Romney now running for the Republican nomination for president said “We don't know what's causing climate change, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try and reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” Of course, there is wide agreement among climate scientists that we do know with near certainty what is causing climate change, and it is mainly greenhouse gas emissions from human sources.

It seems safe to assume that if Romney defeats Obama that he will maintain his nonsensical position that we don’t the know cause of climate change until he is sworn in next January. Many conservatives of course fear that Romney would after some time revert back to attributing climate change to humans and their fears are probably well justified. There will be tremendous pressure on Romney to recognize humans as the main cause of climate change from leaders all over the world, and particularly leaders in Europe. The tension caused by Romney’s present view will prove too troublesome in international relations. Even George W. Bush, a staunch climate change denier, eventually conceded and acknowledged that global warming is real and is attributable to humans. To satisfy his conservative base, Bush set up an alternative world forum on climate change that focused on voluntary commitments, in effect, undermining the UN process of trying to obtain legally binding commitments to reduce emissions. It seems likely that Romney would follow this same course and focus on voluntary commitments, again undermining attempts to obtain legally binding commitments among nations. As long as the Republican base continues to deny reality and favors irrationalism over reason it is difficult to see how any Republican president can do much more and still remain politically viable.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Americans Elect Frontrunner Buddy Roemer Has a Muddled View on Global Warming

Buddy Roemer, former governor of Louisiana and former Republican, has a commanding lead among the declared candidates in the Americans Elect nominating process for president. Ron Paul has far more votes but he is a drafted candidate and may choose not to participate in this process of nominating a candidate using the Internet. Global warming has pretty much become a toxic subject in national politics so few candidates are saying much but Roemer has responded to this question: "Are humans substantially responsible for global climate change?" His answer from a YouTube video of an interview with Skeptics Guide to Government was posted on the website

"I think the globe is warming – beyond scientific curiosity now it’s a scientific fact. The cause of it is probably more than one thing. There are cycles in the Earth’s history where temperature rises and falls. We might be on one of those cycles. But I don’t think there is any question that man’s effect on his environment is also a factor. So we need to be commonsensical. We need to be – we need to plan out how to ameliorate, how to diffuse man’s effect. Maybe man has nothing to do with it. How can we take the risk?"

What are voters to make of this response? There is something for everybody. It could be due to a natural cycle, man is a factor, maybe man has nothing to do with it. His view is closer to that of scientists than the view of outright deniers, but do we really want this man whose thoughts seem to be so mixed up on this issue to be leading the country?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Presidential Candidate Rocky Anderson Has a 15-Point Plan to Stabilize the Climate

It’s been 20 years since the nations of the world met at the Rio Conference to address the problem of global warming and little has happened other than the problem has grown much worse. One of the reasons for this lack of a response is the failure of US leadership. Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, a former mayor of Salt Lake City, claims he can provide such leadership. His campaign lists a 15-point plan for accomplishing this.

1. Put the United States on course for a zero-net-carbon economy by mid-century.

2. End all taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels and shift the revenues to a crash program of research, development, and commercialization of clean and renewable energy resources. This includes subsidies for carbon capture and sequestration.

3. Insist on full funding and scientific integrity in the national climate change science program, as well as U.S. support for the ongoing research of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

4. Champion a market-based approach to reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, but support and defend the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions if market mechanisms are not promptly put in place by Congress or prove insufficient.

5. Fully use the authorities past Congresses have granted the President to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from government operations and to aggressive goals for government use of low-carbon materials and resources. Fight for sufficient funding by Congress to make the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense, leaders in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

6. Direct appropriate federal agencies to modify their grant and loan programs to support low-carbon development and climate adaptation measures by state and local governments and the private sector.

7. Use the bully pulpit to push for greater economy-wide transparency on climate risks.

8. Reinstate FEMA’s Project Impact, a program under the Clinton Administration that helped communities create public-private partnerships to prevent and respond to natural disasters.

9. Institute policies to make carbon “visible”, including carbon-impact statements for federally funded projects and carbon-impact analysis of federal agency budget requests.

10. Make the reduction of America’s carbon debt as high a priority as reducing its financial debt; and deliver a “State of the Nation’s Ecosystems” address to a joint session of Congress each Earth Day.

11. Direct the EPA and Energy Information Administration to count the carbon impact of America’s imports when they calculate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

12. Direct America’s National Laboratories to increase their collaboration with U.S. industry in the development of critical carbon-cutting technologies, including advanced batteries, utility-scale energy storage, cellulosic ethanol and low-wind-speed turbines.

13. Make the United States a constructive and proactive leader in the effort to negotiate an effective and enforceable international treaty that reduces the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, conserves the world’s forests, and transfers clean energy technologies to developing nations.

14. Champion reforms in national transportation policy to favor funding for mass transit and non-vehicular mobility over funding for roads.

15. Direct the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation to develop guidelines for designs and materials that reduce the carbon footprints and increase the resilience of America’s infrastructure, particularly as it is repaired and modernized in the years ahead.

That’s an ambitious program and makes far more sense than President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy which he has been recently trying to sell to the country.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Only 38 Years Until 3C Global Warming?

While we usually think of severe climate change being something that people under age 20 might have to deal with much later in their lives, the findings of a new study suggest that even people now in their 40s or 50s may have to deal with the extreme weather of a world warmed up by 3C. Those planning to retire in the south or southwest perhaps should perhaps reconsider. Maine might be a wiser choice.

The study was the biggest climate computer simulation study ever carried out. It included 10,000 simulations which were run on home computers. The large number of simulations increased the accuracy of the study. The 3C increase is 0.8C higher than the maximum temperature increase of 2.2C by 2050 projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Scientists are extremely concerned about reaching 2C. At the recent Planet Under Pressure conference in London, Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University's climate change institute, called for radical action to combat climate change. He said "We can...cap temperature rise at two degrees, or cross the threshold beyond which the system shifts to a much hotter state.” He also noted "Under a worst-case scenario, it's very likely, I think, that the Earth's system will move to a new state of some sort, with a very severe challenge to contemporary civilization…Some people have even talked about a collapse."

All of this seems lost on our politicians representing us in Washington. The gap between science and politics could hardly be any wider. President Obama sounded like he was going to try to close it when he campaigned for office in 2008 but now four years later we are still waiting for him to act on his words.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Obama “Thumbs His Nose” at Climate Activists in Oklahoma Energy Policy Speech

Standing at a Keystone XL pipeline site in Cushing, Oklahoma on March 22nd, President Barack Obama sounded an awful lot like a “drill baby drill” Republican as he gave a speech:

“Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years…Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some…So we are drilling all over the place -- right now…So, yes, we’re going to keep on drilling. Yes, we’re going to keep on emphasizing production. Yes, we’re going to make sure that we can get oil to where it’s needed.”

Obama appeared to be sticking it to the 1,200 climate activists who were arrested in front of the White House and the 5,000 climate activists who later encircled the White House and had claimed a rare victory as a result of their protests against the pipeline when he explained why he delayed the decision on the pipeline making it clear that the main factor was the route through Nebraska (not climate change):

“This whole issue of the Keystone pipeline had generated, obviously, a lot of controversy and a lot of politics. And that’s because the original route from Canada into the United States was planned through an area in Nebraska that supplies some drinking water for nearly 2 million Americans, and irrigation for a good portion of America's croplands. And Nebraskans of all political stripes -- including the Republican governor there -- raised some concerns about the safety and wisdom of that route.
So to be extra careful that the construction of the pipeline in an area like that wouldn’t put the health and the safety of the American people at risk, our experts said that we needed a certain amount of time to review the project.”

Of course Obama knows what environmentalists fear the most is a Republican winning the presidential election since that means many hard-won environmental regulations will be gutted or not enforced so he has little problem in combating Republican criticism by shifting toward the right. Also, it probably helps keep campaign money flowing in from Big Oil. With the present two-party system now making it virtually impossible for a third party candidate to win the presidency and therefore impossible for someone willing to take on the fossil fuel industry (e.g., Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson) to win, it is difficult to see how this can end other than the planet heating up to temperatures that eventually threaten global civilization. We can see the train wreck coming but still cannot act.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bill McKibben Finally Gets it: Obama Is in Favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline

For months environmental activist and writer Bill McKibben has been claiming that the pressure from grassroots climate activists whom he organized was responsible for President Obama first delaying a decision on the pipeline that would bring tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. and then for turning down the pipeline. However, Obama never mentioned climate change as playing a role in his decisions and he never said that he was actually against the pipeline being built. He said he delayed his decision because the route through Nebraska needed to be changed and then he turned down the project because the State Department didn’t have enough time to review the revised route. A revised version of the pipeline proposal now has a southern section from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas which would be built first and Obama is going to Cushing to give a speech on his energy policy. The choice of this site for the speech has finally made it clear to McKibben that Obama really is in favor of the pipeline being built. At Huffingtonpost McKibben says:

“He [Obama] responded to the largest outpouring of environmental enthusiasm so far this millennium and denied a permit for the main Keystone XL pipe from Canada's tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico. Cynics said he did so just to avoid disappointing young people before the election, and pointed out that he invited pipeline proponent Transcanada to reapply for the permit. It's hard not to wonder if those cynics might be right, now that he's going to Oklahoma to laud the southern half of the project just as Transcanada executives have requested. True, the most critical part of the pipeline still can't be built…the connection to Canada remains blocked…But the sense grows that Obama may be setting us up for a bitter disappointment -- that his real allegiance is to the carbon barons.”

Perhaps McKibben’s realization that his climate change activism may have had no effect on Obama will convince him that the only way forward is via a third party. If he can somehow channel the energy of grassroots activists toward electing a president from a third party maybe we will finally start to get somewhere.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Global Warming Denier Ron Paul is the Leading Vote Getter in Americans Elect Nomination Process

He may be getting regularly whomped in the Republican primaries but Ron Paul has surged ahead of the field in race for the presidential nomination at Americans Elect. This hardly instills confidence that the Americans Elect process is going to result in selecting a nominee who is qualified to be president. Dr. Paul has called global warming “the greatest hoax I think that has been around for many, many years.” With an assessment like that one has to wonder how Paul got through his biology, chemistry, and physics courses in college and the basic science curriculum in medical school. Did he also conclude that the germ theory was a hoax? For a person whose chosen profession, medicine, is based on science, to call global warming a hoax is somewhat mind-boggling. Is his source of information on global warming Oklahoma senator James Inhofe who famously stood in front of the Senate and called global warming a hoax and has even written a book entitled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future? Paul surely cannot be getting his information from climate scientists.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Third Party “Green” Candidates Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein Vie to Replace Obama

Probably only a small minority of Americans have ever heard of Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein, but both are running for President of the United States. Anderson is running on the newly formed Justice Party ticket and Stein is leading by a large margin in the primaries of the Green Party. Anderson is a former trial lawyer who served as mayor of Salt Lake City from 2000-2008. Stein is a physician who has been particularly interested in the effects of the environment on human health. One stark difference between these two “green” candidates is their experience in political office or lack thereof. Having served as mayor of a large city for 8 years Anderson has considerable executive experience in running a government whereas Stein only served as co-chair of the local recycling committee in Lexington, Massachusetts. Although Stein seems to have many admirable qualities based on her bio posted on her website she doesn’t seem to have enough experience in government or other comparable experience to seriously consider her for the presidency. Rocky Anderson on the other hand should be given serious consideration with a long record as a big-city mayor to run on. During his time in office he was considered to be perhaps America’s greenest mayor.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Will Americans Elect Give Us a Presidential Candidate Who Is Willing to Act on Climate Change?

For Americans who want to vote for somebody other than the Democratic and Republican nominees for president the nonpartisan organization Americans Elect is conducting a nomination process on the Internet. Americans Elect has secured a place on the ballot for all 50 states so whomever wins will be on the ballot in all states. One unusual requirement is that the ticket must be balanced meaning that two Democrats or two Republicans cannot be on the ticket. There can be one of each or a Democrat or Republican and an independent or two independents. The final ticket will be selected during a virtual convention. The leading declared candidate at the moment is Buddy Roemer. While Roemer doesn’t offer any hope on climate change, Rocky Anderson, a strong advocate for action on climate change, declared himself to be a candidate a few days ago.

The idea of a balanced ticket seems to make little sense. Shouldn’t Americans be choosing which way to go rather than choosing two people on opposite sides? Here is the explanation from the Americans Elect website:

“American voters are tired of politics as usual and tired of government failing to solve our problems. They want leadership that will work together to develop fresh ideas and real solutions that will tackle the serious challenges facing our country. Americans Elect is open to candidates from any party—and when they choose their running mates, they'll be required to choose one from a party other than their own. This will help produce candidates that don't just say they'll work with the other side, but ones who already are. This election, you have the power to help break the gridlock in Washington and make government more responsive to the people.”

It sounds like the only way this could possibly work is to wind up with two centrist candidates. However, that would seem to guarantee a victory for the status quo. In other words, continued corporate domination of the political process.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Race for the White House: Rocky Anderson versus Barack Obama on Climate Change

It only takes a brief look at the websites of these two candidates for President of the United States to see stark differences between them on the issue of climate change. On the home page of Anderson’s website there is a statement that says he will provide “international leadership by the U.S. to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate disruption.” On Obama’s website under the issue of “Energy and the Environment” there is not even a mention of climate change or global warming. According to the website, he is “moving us toward energy independence, investing in clean energy jobs, and taking steps to improve the quality of our air and water.” No mention of anything resembling “catastrophic consequences of climate disruption.” Helping us escape reality should be the job of Hollywood, not the President of the United States.

It should be clear that we cannot count on Barack Obama to aggressively deal with climate change if he is re-elected. If he even mentions it during a State of the Union address that would be a plus. How many Americans are going to help solve the climate crisis if their president doesn’t tell them that we have a crisis? How is the crisis ever going to be dealt with? It is hard to negotiate with other countries about reducing greenhouse gas emissions when you don’t tell the people of your own country how urgent it is to reduce these emissions. Rocky Anderson appears to be someone who will not mince words when it comes to global warming. If we are going to avoid extreme droughts, rising seas, mass extinctions, and the other predicted drastic consequences of climate change he seems to be the type of person we need to lead the way.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Obama Equals More than 2C of Global Warming

The night Barack Obama was declared the winner over John McCain in the presidential election of 2008 there were probably many sighs of relief by environmentalists who were sure there would finally be a science-based policy to deal with climate change. And when Obama later appointed his chief science adviser and Secretary of Energy that must have seemed like confirmation. But now that Obama has served as president for more than three years most of the sighs of relief have probably turned into cries of frustration. Not only is there no science-based policy (e.g., reducing emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 in developed countries) but Obama rarely even mentions the climate crisis. Moreover, he boasts of increased oil drilling as if he ran on the crazy drill-baby-drill platform of the Republicans. Where is the man we elected who promised to deal with global warming and was advocating a cap and trade program to help accomplish the goal?

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the nations of the world must begin stringent action before 2017 to have any reasonable chance of keeping the warming to less than 2C, considered by many climate scientists the threshold for dangerous climate change (although many others say the threshold may be even lower). The IEA says that so many fossil fuel power plants and industrial facilities will be built by 2017 that it will be virtually impossible to stay below 2C if the type of action needed has not been started by then. But Obama has agreed with other countries not to start legally binding action until 2020 and the nature of the action has not been specified, it might not include reducing emissions. It therefore appears that regardless of whether Obama is re-elected in the upcoming presidential election or his Republican opponent the world will probably experience dangerous climate change in the not too distant future. What a choice!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Will Bill McKibben Support Rocky Anderson for President?

Bill McKibben wrote the first popular book on global warming over a quarter of a century ago and since then he has written other books on the subject as well as numerous articles and essays. More recently he has become a climate activist as he founded the grassroots organization and helped organize many protest rallies and most recently nonviolent civil disobedience protests which got him and others arrested. He has held to the belief that if you can get enough people together to fight for the cause of preventing dangerous climate change and returning atmospheric carbon dioxide to a safe level (below 350 parts per million) the government will be pressured to act. This belief seems to have been given some validity when after McKibben-led protests President Obama delayed a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring tar sands oil into the United States from Canada and then turned down the pipeline when the Republicans forced him to make an early decision. However, Obama claimed that he delayed the decision because the route of pipeline through Nebraska might result in pollution of a large aquifer. He never mentioned McKibben’s main concern about the project which was the tar sands were a huge source of carbon that should not be mined for oil because of all carbon dioxide that would be released from the burning of the oil. And when Obama turned down the pipeline he said it was because the State Department did not have enough time to review the changes that were made to the route. Again, no mention of concerns about climate change. So did McKibben’s protests play a role? Perhaps, but it seems unclear. One thing that does seem clear is that Obama has been playing down the global warming issue for political reasons, almost never mentioning it even though he talks a lot about energy. The effect so far of grassroots organizing by McKibben and others to fight global warming at the federal level seems to be minimal at best.

Will McKibben conclude that he can’t beat Big Oil and Big Coal with his strategy of mobilizing the grassroots as long as a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House and switch his strategy to backing a third party candidate for president such as former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson who doesn’t take any contributions from corporations and limits donations from individuals to $100? Since McKibben has been blaming Big Oil and Big Coal for the lack of progress on global warming such a switch in strategy would seem to make sense logically. But does Anderson have any realistic chance of winning? Can a candidate relying mainly on Facebook and Twitter to spread his message have any chance against candidates spending millions on TV ads? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Wacky World of the Keystone XL Pipeline Proposal

The saga of the Keystone XL pipeline seems to have more twists than The Da Vinci Code. Just when it seems that the project to bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in our leading greenhouse gas producing state, Texas, has been rejected it invariably regains life in some new form. You just can’t kill this thing. Yet another Wach-A-Mole project to keep climate activists like Bill McKibben wacking away. McKibben actually is probably partly responsible for beginning these strange turn of events when he and about 1,200 other people got arrested in front of the White House protesting the pipeline which must have put the project on Barack Obama’s political radar screen. To make sure the president got the message McKibben later got about 5,000 people to surround the White House in another protest. Also, much of the state of Nebraska making noise about what this potentially polluting pipeline could do the aquifer that they rely on for water was heard by Obama. Then after Obama decided to delay the decision to after the election the Republicans came up with the bright idea of attaching approval of the pipeline to bills that Obama wants to sign. On their first attempt Obama turned down the project, saying there was not enough time to review the changes, so the Republicans simply keep attaching it to more bills. And now the never-say-die company that wants to build the pipeline, TransCanada, came up with their own bright idea, to break the project into two parts. The southern part would extend from Oklahoma to Texas and since it would not cross the border from Canada it will not need State Department approval making life much easier for TransCanada.

Somehow it looks like this thing will be built, or will it? Waiting in the wings just in case TransCanada or the Republicans eventually give up is an existing pipeline that goes from Portland, Maine to Montreal. This pipeline now brings oil from Maine to Canada but if the flow is reversed a pipeline from Alberta to Montreal could be built and no State Department approval would be needed to get the tar sands oil to Portland. Wack! Wack! Wack!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Will Al Gore Endorse Rocky Anderson for President?

No nonscientist is more associated with urging action to fight global warming than Al Gore. His film An Inconvenient Truth woke up the nation to the dangers of global warming in 2006 and ever since he has been trying get out the message that urgent action is needed. Will the profound understanding he has about the urgency of the situation make it difficult for him to endorse Barack Obama for president? Ever since he took office in 2009 Obama has been sort of sleepwalking through the climate crisis. He hasn’t given a hint of urgency and rarely even acknowledges the problem. So how can Gore possibly endorse him for another term when it means four more years of inaction? A win by Obama pretty much guarantees that the battle Gore has been waging will be lost. Sure decisive action can be started ten, or even twenty years from now but catastrophic climate change will almost surely occur if we have to wait that long. Therefore, is it conceivable that instead Gore will endorse Rocky Anderson, the Justice Party candidate, who claims he will put aggressive leadership on climate change high of his agenda? Anderson’s extraordinary track record of reducing greenhouse gases when he was mayor of Salt Lake City suggests he will do as he says. Gore seems to be part of mainstream politics and endorsing a third party candidate would appear to be a stretch for him but maybe, just maybe, he will break out of the mainstream mold and endorse Anderson.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We Need the Justice Party

The need for a third party became much clearer to me when I read Jeffrey Sachs’ new book The Price of Civilization. The creation of a third party that is not dependent on taking large sums of money from corporations appears to be the only way to peacefully change the system so that the government primarily serves the people of the United States as it is supposed to do. It was shortly after finishing that book that I found out about the Justice Party, which was formed late last year by Rocky Anderson, a former two-term mayor of Salt Lake City. Anderson was a member of the Democratic Party until this past August. In an interview on a radio show he said "We've been voting as a nation against our own interests year after year. Most Americans — whether they consider themselves on the right, left, center, whatever — understand that their interests have been undermined by these folks in Washington, both in the White House and in Congress, who are acting as if they're on retainer with their largest campaign contributors rather than doing what's in the public's interest." That is a sentiment that seems now widespread and growing.

The Justice Party stands for economic, environmental, and social and civic justice. Since Anderson decided to make a run for president the party could have an immediate impact on this year’s election. With the window of opportunity closing on effective action to prevent dangerous climate change it is reassuring that Anderson makes a statement on the first page of his website which says “Climate Protection Leader=The Candidate You Have Been Waiting For.” He points out that he has been called “The Greenest Mayor” and “One of the 15 Greenest Politicians in the World.” With the system completely stacked against someone like that winning the presidency it would be foolish to raise expectations, but it would also be foolish to give up all hope. If we want to live on a planet that remains suitable for human habitation we cannot just submit to living in a corporatocracy which has replaced our democracy. If a third party is the only vehicle that can get us out of this quagmire then hopping aboard seems to be the way to go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rocky Anderson for President

The high expectations that President Obama would lead the world to a meaningful agreement to prevent dangerous climate change have been totally shattered. He has now been in office for more than three years and has yet to give even a single major speech on climate change. Even when comprehensive climate change legislation was stalled in the Senate in 2010 he said virtually nothing to move the legislation toward passage. In his State of the Union address in 2011 he didn’t even mention climate change and in his State of the Union address earlier this year he mentioned it only once, saying that it was not possible to pass such legislation at this time. In 2009 many people expected that a legally binding agreement would result from the climate summit in Copenhagen but all Obama got was an agreement for voluntary reductions. Expectations were lower in 2011 at the climate summit in Durban, South Africa and all that was achieved was a vague agreement for something legally binding beginning in 2020. While Obama has some notable accomplishments in improving the gas mileage standards for cars and trucks, and stimulating growth of renewable energy he has become an advocate for offshore oil drilling, sending large amounts of coal to China, and “clean coal.” He also seems to have a favorable attitude toward tar sands oil and shale gas obtained by fracking. All in all, Obama is not protecting the climate as he promised during his campaign and is unlikely to do so if he is elected for another four years. Of course, the Republican Party is only offering candidates for president who are professed global warming deniers. Whether or not they really don’t believe in global warming is besides the point, they have to deny it to remain viable candidates. In a two-party system that leaves us with no one to vote for who will assume a leadership role in dealing with the climate crisis. Just the way Big Oil wants it. The big bucks they have contributed to political candidates have paid off big time. The only hope in this despair-filled situation appears to be the longest of long shots, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson who is running for president as the candidate of the newly formed Justice Party. By not taking any corporate money and limiting contributions from individuals to $100 Anderson provides a glimmer of hope that the plutocracy that has taken control of our government can be vanquished and democracy of the people restored. On the issue of global warming Anderson’s credentials are almost off the chart. Here is how these credentials are described on his website:
“Rocky Anderson is the only candidate who has won the EPA’s Climate Protection Award, the World Leadership Award (for climate protection programs), the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Respect the Earth Planet Defender Award. Rocky was named by Business Week as one of the top twenty activists in the world on climate change and served on the Newsweek Global Environmental Leadership Advisory Committee. Anderson is the only US mayor who has presented in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conferences in New Delhi, Buenos Aires, and Bali. He consulted in London with the assistants to heads of state in preparation for the 2005 G8 Conference, at which climate change was one of only two major agenda items. A founder and co-host of “Sundance Summit: A Mayors’ Gathering on Climate Protection,” Anderson has also presented at numerous conferences throughout the US, as well as in Australia, Canada, China, and Sweden.”
The choice is clear. Rocky Anderson for president.