Friday, June 15, 2012
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
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
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
"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
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
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
“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
“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
Monday, March 19, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
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
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
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 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
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
Thursday, February 23, 2012
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 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.