Category Archives: emissions

The power of 350 … spreading the word

Prior to the industrial era, the atmosphere was at about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide.  Now, we are about 387 and growing at nearly 2 ppm per year.

The ‘old’ (a few years ago) scientific consideration was that it seemed we could stabilize, without utterly catastrophic risk, at 450 ppm or below.  This is the guiding thinking behind cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Jim Hansen, NASA and one of the strongest voices in climate research, came out with work stating that we must fall to 350 ppm to avoid catastrophic climate change, considering the impacts that we are already seeing globally. 350 is required, Hansen tells us,

If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.

We face a simple challenge, as a society (and species):  350 or bust!
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Will-fully Ignorant

We could easily ask: Washington Post editors, are you idiots? In publishing George F. Will’s Carbon Power Brokers, the Post editorial board is complicit in the dissemination of deceptiveness and falsehoods surrounding policy making on what likely will be the most significant issue of the 21st century. The Post published this deceptive drivel the day before the US Senate begins debating the Lieberman-Warner Climate inSecurity Act. While, clearly, I have quite serious problems with the CiSA and do not support its passage, this debate and discussion should be on the basis of fact and truth, rather then deceit and truthiness.

As an example of a direct falsehood, Will writes that John McCain supports the bill. Oops, BUZZ, false.  John McCain has mouthed some strong words on Global Warming but has managed to be AWOL on every vote that matters when it comes to clean technology and environmental issues in the past year. His staff has already announced that this won’t be an exception to that rule.  John McCain doesn’t support Lieberman-Warner (his two biggest Senate supporters) and won’t be there to vote on the billMcFlip McFlop McSame McCain‘s deceptive sleight of hand continues: listen to what I say, don’t watch what I do when it comes to the reality of Global Warming. That is, unless you’re in the reality-denial world, then ignore what I say and watch what I do. There seems to be an expression for this. What is it? Oh, yeah, “McCain wants to have his cake and eat it too.”  To share that cake with George W Bush no matter what storms hit America’s shores.

Join me for a stroll through Will’s willful ignorance …

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Chambering a round against future commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues its deceptive campaign tour to fight any meaningful efforts to deal with Global Warming.

Last week, the USCOC joined up with Senator George Voinovich in Columbus, Ohio, for the session deceptively entitled “Comprehensive Approach to Energy and Climate Change“. From the speech by USCOC President Thomas J. Donohue, he described the USCOC opposition to the Lieberman-Warner Coal-Subsidy Act because:

“its targets and mandates are simply not realistic or achievable.”

I might agree that they are not realistic. Lieberman-Warner’s targets are not realistic because they do not do what is required to give a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

“Not … achievable.” That claim is beyond ridicule and disgust. It is willful deceit. Achieving much stronger reductions that outlined in the CISA is achievable, it simply requires the will (political) to set serious targets and work toward them.

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One hand clapping: Coal Subsidy Act to fail?

The latest news suggests that the Lieberman-Warner Coal Subsidy Act (the Climate InSecurity Act, CISA) has moved from critical condition to the morgue.  As it will require 60 votes to get past any threatened filibuster (not that the Senate Democratic Party leadership could force a filibuster on anyone other than their own Senators fighting for Americans’ privacy rights),  corraling enough Senators to vote for even the CISA’s inadequate measures looks to be an impossible task.  As Joe Romm phrased it at Climate Progress,

Serious climate legislation had been in critical condition for some months.  Doctors and family members finally pulled the plug this week, and the patient appeared to lose all vital signs. The coroner listed the cause of death as “apathy.”

While disagreeing with Joe about whether to call Lieberman-Warner serious or seriously dangerous, apathy in face of ever mounting evidence of the existing damage from Global Warming and looming threats of more damage to come is moving toward reckless endangerment of America’s and humanity’s future prospects.

What is truly sad, truly, is that so much of what is necessary can fall into a no regret strategy, with ‘win-win’ categories. We can ‘geo-engineer’ to a better planetary environment with biochar and white roofing, gaining other benefits at the same time, win-win-win paths.  We can pursue greater energy efficiency, leading toward more comfortable lives while creating good jobs, reducing pollution, and spending less money on energy.  With each day that passes, renewable energy is becoming more cost competitive with fossil fuel energy, even before we discuss making “external” costs internal to the calculation of energy prices.  We can do so much good … even without considering the climate benefits. 

Thus, one hand clapping:  the Coal-Subsidy Act (fundamentally inadequate in face of the threat before us, before the US) seems unlikely to muster enough support to pass.  The hand not clapping:  that it won’t pass because Senators are engaged in reckless endangerment and acting as if it is too strong a measure.

Sigh …

In the face of apathy, angst over the future.

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Bethesda Bagels vs County Executive’s SUV?

Two Washington Post articles in the past week provide an interesting little localized contrast of the challenges related to finding a path toward an Energy Smart future.
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Husband or Wife on framing environmental issues

How should environmental organizations and prominent “environmental” politicians speak to supporters when it comes to environmental issues and when it comes to the Lieberman-Warner Climate (In)Security Act? This is a serious issue that can get some blood boiling. Privately, some have sent complaints that Plumbing Lieberman-Warner’s Shortfalls Doesn’t Meet Scientific Requirements wasn’t fair since it did not fully quote all the materials that a group sends out, cherry-picking from opening paragraphs to supporters without dealing with all the qualifications that were in the following paragraphs.

It is time to be a bit sexist for a moment, let us think about what message framing looks might look like in a domestic setting.

  • If a husband were to tell his wife: “Wow, honey, you’re really beautiful but you might look better if you lost a few pounds” that might be a disaster of an approach 99+% of the time. The first words would disappear and a fight would ensue … time for the marriage counselor.
  • If a wife were to tell her husband, “Wow, honey, you’re really handsome but you might look better if you lost a few pounds” then he probably stops listening with “but” and would smile brodly as he opened the next beer and opened another bag of chips.

Which is the right model from domestic life to talk about in terms of those who receive mass mailings?   I see all these press release/such that say ‘L-W is wonderful’ and, by the way, we need to strengthen it. If we’re talking “wives”, then the focus will be on “by the way”. If we’re talking “husbands”, then focus will be on “wonderful”. Reality is, there are both on the receiving end, but there are far too many “husbands” for this to be the best framing approach.

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Plumbing Lieberman-Warner’s shortfalls: doesn’t meet scientific requirements

As one who has voiced, repeatedly, criticism of S-2191, the Lieberman-Warner Coal-Subsidy Act, it is important to occasionally return to facts (rather than rhetoric) to underline its weakness. Thus, climate legislation Principle #1 is “Scientific integrity”, that climate legislation is line with what science says is required. Let’s plumb the depths of Lieberman-Warner’s failures just a little bit in this domain and highlight how some institutions are greenwashing those failures.
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Dominion CEO Disconnected from Reality

“Those who seek to demonize coal or eliminate its use are, quite honestly, disconnected from reality.”  Dominion Resources CEO Thomas F Farrell, II 

What is the reality that we are disconnected from?

I’d ask “what planet do you live on, Tom”, but really the question is: 

What planet do you want my and your children to live in?

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WE … WashPost Reporting Balanced vs Objective

Tomorrow, Al Gore and the Alliance for Climate Protection are launching a $300 million advertising campaign to mobilize American support for serious action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in “one of the most ambitious and costly public advocacy campaigns in U.S. history.”

One of the real challenges when it comes to press reporting on Global Warming issues is the desire for “balance” in reporting, the desire to have all sides represented.  This balance, of course, can be contrasted (balanced) by the question of objectivity, of focusing on facts.  With the first, Flat Earth society members would be quoted in any discussion of NASA programs.  With objective reporting, they wouldn’t even be in the reporter’s rolodex.  Sadly, as Al Gore highlighted in An Inconvenient Truth, “balance” is more prevalent than “objective” when it comes to Global Warming reporting, truthiness rather than truth.

With that context, let us look at the prominent Washington Post article on the We campaign, by staff reporter Juliet Eilperin.  This was (is) a relatively good article that discusses the campaign’s approach and objectives, with the desire to change the way the public thinks about Global Warming, options for moving forward, and translating this into impetus for serious Congressional action: Continue reading

Dominion … the truthiness continues … forever?

Coal is a booming business, with price increases even exceeding those seen for oil. Fossil Fuels and the polluting of the atmosphere are, we can hope, burning their last embers of extravagant enthusiasm.

While coal is a booming business, it is also a business under fire, with people like Governor Sibelius standing tall in the fight against coal-plant expansions and plant after plant being canceled as, for example, the financial industry wakes up to the real risk with investing in such polluting infrastructure.  This reality seems to have a difficult time penetrating the dense barriers to reality that seem to exist in the great Commonwealth of Virginia, fostered by heavy investments in truthiness by Dominion Virginia Power.  Bit by bit, it seems, the veil shielding that truthiness is being lifted, for example in this Richmond Times Dispatch story: Utility reaches deal on plant: Dominion Va. Power loses proposed bonus for clean-burning facility.  Dominion had been pursuing a deal to have a proposed plant get a 1 percent bonus for being ready to be ‘clean’ via CCS, the regulatory body rejected that and took away the bonus. Poor Dominion VA Power.  For their aggressive pursuit of a polluting future, they will have to be satisfied with a guaranteed 12.12% profit, rather than a 13.12% profit.  Still my heart as the world’s smallest violin plays a song of mourning for Dominion Virginia Power and their serial polluting practices while the world sheds a tear.

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