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.