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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Incredible Super Tuesday Write-Up

Good grief, this diary is good.

Here’s what the author says about Colorado:

“We’ve always had this state in Obama’s column, and he had a 2-point advantage in the only recent (though pre-SC) poll, that coming from a pretty good agency in Mason-Dixon. Several factors point to the fact that he might be able to run up the score a little bit. It’s a caucus state in which he’s better organized, he gave a pretty important speech in Denver yesterday, and the Colorado breed of liberalism seems like a good fit for him, with pockets of progressivism and libertarianism, but not as many of the mainline Democrats that tend to favor Hillary. His organization may also help him to pick up the bulk of the Edwards support, which was not insubstantial here.”

Who will Edwards’ supporters (like myself) end up caucusing for?

Read the entire diary – it’s well worth the time.


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Foreclosures and Unemployment

I saw this article yesterday, talking about last year’s record rate of foreclosures.

“The number of foreclosures soared in 2007, with 405,000 households losing their home, according to a report released Tuesday. That’s up 51 percent from the 268,532 homes that were repossessed in 2006.”

So much for the conservatives’ “ownership society”.  670,000 foreclosures in two years is ridiculous.  Of course, according to the “personal responsibility” crowd, it’s the mortgage signers fault for not understanding what they were signing up for.  Such compassion!  Foreclosed families have an effect on the rest of us and the economy.  Where are they staying?  How are they paying their bills?  If they run into trouble, they can’t declare bankruptcy as easily as they could have prior to Bush, either.  The next president is inheriting a ton of trouble.

Another article caught my eye: one dealing with long-term unemployment.  I hate how unemployment is calculated and reported.  It doesn’t reflect the realities of who does and does not have a job, for one.  Second, 5% is being discussed as being ‘moderate’.  Funny, I remember reading 4.6% unemployment was nearly ‘full employment’.  Either way, this quote captures the second problem:

“”You have to understand that 5% unemployment today is worse than 5% unemployment 10-15 years ago,” said Jason Furman, senior fellow, Brookings Institution.”

It’s why the 5% number is bantied around so much.  If they reported actual numbers, people would freak out.  Let’s take a look at some of those numbers, shall we?  The following are from a table of some measures of America when Bush took office and the state of the same now:

1.76 Million jobs per year for 8 years under Clinton     versus      369,000 jobs per year for 7 years under Bush.

Population growth hasn’t slowed down since the 1990′s.  But 1.3 Million fewer jobs per year have been created under Bush.  So how is the unemployment number a ‘modest 5%’?  The math simply doesn’t work out.


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Linkies 1/30/08

James Hansen tells it like it is; Climate Progress has a quote.

A Clean Air Group is suing Xcel over alleged pollution standards. Total estimated cost if guilty? $400 million. Even if Xcel is guilty, there’s no way they’ll end up paying that much money. A settlement is much likelier.

Climate Progress’ take on Bush’s ‘discussion’ of energy during the SOTU.

“The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming.” So says the American Geophysical Union. Any solution? “Mitigation strategies and adaptation responses will call for collaborations across science, technology, industry, and government.” Not going to happen with the Neandertals currently pulling the levers. 2009 and 2010 will be too late. Get ready for a vastly different planet.

More good ideas from Trapper John.


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Other Side of the Story

A few days ago, I wrote about the oil and gas industry threatening to take their ball home, claiming that in the discussions leading up to writing development regulations, they had been left out in the cold. I called b.s. then and now there’s another side to the story.

In fact, it might be the case that the industry decided not to show up to those discussions by their own volition.

“But in a letter to COGA, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Chairman Harris Sherman and Commission Acting Director David Neslin said the energy industry chose not to comment on the creation of a predraft proposal for the new rules. “

The folks in the energy industry are clever – they have practiced handling corporate stenographers for years. They are also good at trying to sway public opinion in their favor. Note all the ‘green action’ ads energy corporations are running recently. Sure, they extract fossil fuels, but they’re trying really hard to help provide renewables to market too. Sure, in the face of record profit quarter after quarter, they’re trying really hard to develop new energy resource infrastructure. Their spending on marketing dwarfs those efforts, but no one in the “media” seems to want to delve into that little detail.

More on the media: they like to run these he said, she said kind of stories as if there’s substance there when really, there isn’t. Shameful.


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And Then There Were Two

It’s official – the Democratic side of the presidential race is down to two people: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

This comes one week ahead of Super Tuesday.

I’ve been an Edwards supporter since his announcement – he has brought into focus the theme of two Americas.  Corporate interests are trying to strong-arm our government and real people are suffering as a result.  At this time, I’m transferring my support to Barack Obama.  I’ve had very little against him – he’s incredible visionary and forward looking.

Hillary Clinton to me represents 20th century politics – she is not an agent of change.  I think the Clintons feel frustration over what they couldn’t accomplish in the 1990′s and want another shot at their agenda.  I just don’t think that agenda accurately reflects where America is right now.  For instance, we don’t need insurance mandates.  We need single-payer universal health care.  We don’t need to treat climate change and the environment as third-rate issues, and I don’t see where Hillary has championed their cause.  We need to stop the occupation of Iraq, not extend our presence.  I don’t see Hillary as the best person to achieve that goal.

It will be interesting to see where things will head.


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State of the Union Science and Energy

Bush talked some about science and energy matters tonight. Some details and my analysis below.

“To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology.”

We apparently must trust in that genius up to the point where his political hack appointees redact every scientific conclusion brought forward and actively work to threaten researchers’ work. But entrepreneurs can get some tax breaks. Heh.

“Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.”

Repeat after me: there is no such thing as clean coal. Solar and wind are cleaner. Let’s work on those, ‘kay?

“Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power.”

Yes to the first. Heck no to the second. True to Republican values, it appears they want to build nuclear (nukular if you’re Bush) plants now and let future generations deal with the nuclear waste.

“And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.”

There’s an international agreement now and we’ve thus far refused to sign onto it. It’s not a matter of one existing or not, it’s a matter of stop acting like a petulant child and working with the rest of the world.

“The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change.”

Bulls***. Maybe the citizens are, but our politicians clearly are not. Bush and Cheney jump when the Saudis say to and leading Republicans maintain climate change is a hoax. That’s not taking things seriously.

“So I ask the Congress to double Federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on earth.”

I enjoy the hypocrisy here. Bush’s budgets have consistently underfunded science research and we’re becoming less dynamic with each day. NREL almost lost their funding in the past couple of years and other labs in Colorado are having their budgets cut this year, following cuts last year. You have to think science is real before you can talk about its funding.

“In November, we witnessed a landmark achievement when scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This breakthrough has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of the past by extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life.”

We still don’t know how useful these manipulated lines will be. Scientists know much more about embryonic stem cells. And when I hear Republicans call for fertilization clinics to be closed, I’ll buy into this ‘human life’ nonsense they bring up.

“So I call on the Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life.”

And no human-animal hybrids. All these things are among the most critical issues we’re facing today.  Almost as important as scary brown people who hate our freedom.


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Let’s Get to Work

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius giving this one.

Gov. Sebelius asks Bush repeatedly to work with Democrats to get the people’s business done. She’s framing Bush and the Republicans as opposition to getting work done. That’s smart. How far will the corporate stenographers let that message get out?

Instead of acting like the bully-deciderer, Gov. Sebelius spoke of hard working Americans facing real problems that Republicans aren’t addressing. That should resonate with most Americans. Note the update at dKos by Georgia10.

In full honesty, Gov. Sebelius appeared wooden and slightly uncomfortable to be in front of the camera.  She was soft-spoken.  I preferred Sen. Webb’s response last year.  Maybe it had more to do with the specifics of Bush’s speech and the lingering excitement over the 2006 election.

I want to point out that Democrats need to move forward with their agenda if Republicans continue to obstruct progress.  Reaching across the aisle sounds good, but Republicans have been operating under a strategy of destroying their opposition no matter the cost for years.  If Republicans don’t want to get to work, Democrats need to show they can and will.


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2008 SOTU Over

This was definitely the least impressive SOTU Bush has given.  His lame-duckedness is really shining through now.  He continued to call for things that he’s called for before, understanding that he won’t get them.  It was interesting to see Bush with a blue tie and Cheney in the background with a red tie.  It was indicative of this whole administration: soft and gentle (yet still manly!) Bush with strong daddy Cheney providing support behind Bush.

There was the typical Iraq, Iraq, terrorism, Iran, evil, Iraq, 9/11 nonsense.  I’d like to see what this joker could have messed up had 9/11 never happened.  What would be his big achievement?  No Child Left Behind?  No human cloning?

It was frustrating to watch Bush rail against earmarks after letting billions of dollars slide by with Republicans in control for 6 years.  Now he wants to act like a big boy and tell Congress they can’t have their earmarks.  I dare him to start vetoing bills with earmarks.  It will hurt Republicans more than Democrats at this point.

Democratic response by Gov. Sebelius coming up.


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2008 State of the Union

The State of the Union is …

Don’t expect to hear much out of the President tonight. I’ve watched these since he took office and have learned not to expect too much out of them. One of the better ones was in 2005 when he called for the dismantling of Social Security. Along with Katrina later that year, this announcement and the resulting fallout really started to pave the path to changing the party in control of government.

We all know the shocking events of the 2006 elections – Republicans and their issues lost up and down ballots across the country. 2008 will continue that trend.

So what things will the president bring up tonight? Do you dare play a drinking game during the event? You could either get hammered or never take a sip, if you only choose one word. Do you select a handful and hope for the best? Assign words to friends? Because you’re not watching this alone, are you? Friends don’t let friends watch Bush alone. What kind of message will the corporate stenographers allow to get through? How manly will Bush look tonight? Fun, fun, fun!
I’m going to try to write about some of the things that are brought up tonight, with more analysis to follow in the days to come. Enjoy!


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Renewable energy in the news

There was a good write-up in Saturday’s Rocky Mountain News Business section about Colorado’s advantages and disadvantages in the developing renewable energy sector. Among the advantages: great location for solar, very good location for wind. It rightly recognizes Gov. Bill Ritter’s leadership on this issue by conveying his vision for possibilities in our state. More big positives: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and all the research universities in the area (Mines, CSU, CU).

Instead of just blindly moving forward without taking into account potential stumbling blocks, the article also details some disadvantages Colorado faces: financial incentives that are unable to compete with Texas, Ohio, or Michigan and cheap labor. The labor part, as first mentioned in the article, fails to acknowledge the underlying issue: lack of qualified laborers. It does go into some detail on this later in the article. The article does go into detail about an advantage areas on the coasts enjoy: large collections of big cities. Denver isn’t all that big and there’s not any big cities within hundreds of miles of it. That’s puts us at a disadvantage compared to Southern California, the Carolinas, Portland to Seattle, or Texas.

Perhaps the biggest gear in this fairly nascent machine is the political will. I don’t think the article did this part justice. Without a populace demanding investment in research and infrastructure, Colorado wouldn’t be as far along the path we’re currently on.

One quick number to demonstrate what’s at stake: Spanish companies plan to spend between $7 and $10 billion in the U.S. during the next few years. That’s just one country. I would argue that Colorado sure could use part of that kind of investment, mostly because I imagine it would act as seed money. The renewable energy sector of our economy is poised for substantial long-term growth. Money spent and invested in developing technologies and bringing them to the market will only benefit us more as time goes on.

Can Colorado make itself look attractive enough for companies to bring their resources? This sector of the economy will be built, there’s no doubt about that. It would benefit the state if we can be nearer the top of that sector than the bottom. Thank goodness we have folks like Gov. Ritter and thousands of hard-working citizens who recognize this.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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