Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

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Climate Change Solutions – Where We Need To Go

Climate change is a monumental problem.  I characterize it by saying that it is our species’ greatest confirmed threat.  Nuclear war?  Possible but unlikely in any given decade.  An asteroid/comet collision with Earth resulting in an extinction level event?  Possible but unlikely in any given decade.  I would, however, rate the asteroid/comet threat above nuclear war.  One day, the former will happen, we just don’t know when; the latter can be held off and eliminated based on our own decision making.  In a way, climate change combines aspects of both of these threats.  Climate change (at a level that will challenge our civilizations) is both possible and likely in a given decade; it is currently happening and its magnitude will only increase each decade during the rest of this century unless and until we decide to do something about it.

It should not be surprising then that, given the sheer magnitude of catastrophic climate change, solutions addressing it are also monumental in scale.  That’s the root of why so many climate change activists have been calling for a “climate-Manhattan Project” or a “climate Apollo Project”.  My view on climate change actions has shifted somewhat from thinking a bunch of personal actions will eventually accumulate enough inertia to reduce our climate forcing to recognizing that the number of actions will require large-scale policy shifts – something that requires governments to act.  That’s why the U.S. Senate’s recent failure to seriously address this developing crisis is so maddening.  The status quo approach to policy will not work with climate change, mostly because we’re dealing with physical systems that respond to forcing, not people’s tender egos and greed.

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Broomfield, CO Con Lashes Out At Denver Post Editorial

Via a tweet, I found this letter to the editor, trying to argue against the inclusion of a public option in legislation this year.  The Denver Post had previously written a short take in favor of Congress passing a public option.

First, the DP Ed board is pretty conservative.  That said, I agree with the Post – the public option bill won’t pass this year.

Second, what is the Broomfield Con arguing?  It’s actually pretty hard to tell.  Something about “government controlling everything”.  Eye-roll.  He cites the government’s control of the American auto industry, the finance industry, the banking industry, and then tries to scare readers into thinking Congress wants to control the energy industry too!!!  Oh noes!

This letter-writer obviously has no problem with the government controlling the war industry.  How many of his taxpayer dollars were physically lost in Iraq and Afghanistan?  I’m not talking about the supplementals funding the occupation; I’m talking about the physical bills that were well and truly lost – by Bush’s government, if it makes any difference to the writer.

The auto industry isn’t any more controlled by the government than the energy industry would be if the pathetic energy bill now being considered passes.  Unfortunately, private corporations will still control the lion’s share of the generation and transmission of energy across the entire country.  By the way, letter-writer, we pay dearly for that dirty energy immersed in the most inefficient infrastructure possible, just as we pay for the lack of care (but bountiful private management!) and massive inefficiencies in our health care system.

After the Bush government gave away more billions of dollars to the largest banks in the land, did this person write a letter of protest?  I doubt it.  Guess what those private entitie did with our taxpayer dollars, Mr. Letter-Writer.  They bought smaller banks.  They still aren’t lending the money to those who would help the economy to grow again – us.  They’re sitting on it all, waiting until the broken economy (which they broke, by the way), finally turns around.  Just as many honest observers pointed out back in 2008, the plan to dole out our tax dollars to unaccountable private industries wouldn’t pan out.  Yet you sit there defending them!

If a government entity can help provide  energy, or health care, or directly loan money to people who actually need it, I’m all for it.  There’s an advantage in that approach, actually.  Governments, unlike obscenely profitable corporations, can be held accountable.  Neither you nor I can hold Bank of America or United Health or Xcel or Halliburton as accountable as we can our Representatives and Senators.

If you truly believed in the power of private industry, Mr. Letter-Writer, you would be begging for the government to offer a public option.  Because if private industry was as smart and powerful as you seem to think it is, that public option would have no chance in surviving.  Your attack against the editors and a public option indicates that you recognize that health care isn’t being delivered by our private entity dominated industry.  Why are you rooting for failure and profiteering, Mr. Con?  Are you one of the billionaires running one of those corporations?

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No Shock Here: Obama’s Bailout Guy Lets Obscene Bank Bonuses By

Given this news, I continue to think the Obama adminstration still hasn’t accepted the public’s anger at the taxpayer-funded bailouts that the immoral banks received, no matter how quickly they’re paid back; no matter how much interest is paid on top of them.

Why?  Because the banksters have given themselves Billions of dollars in bonuses while millions of Americans still have no job.

The “Pay Czar” wasn’t given legal authority to stop obscene bonuses from being paid to the banksters.  It was said last year that had that authority been given, those “in charge” of the banks would leave and the banks wouldn’t be able to conduct their business.  Bo0-freaking-hoo.

It’s not the banksters who will be held accountable (Obama and Congressional Democrats made sure of that); it’s not Obama’s advisers, including men who came straight from some of these same banks to whisper sweet policy nothings in Obama’s ears, who will be held accountable; it’s those Congresspeople who will be held accountable this November.  Good luck with that agenda next year, Obama!

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More Electric Car Charging Stations To Come

This is good news in a time when “natural gas vehicles” are being pushed by some in the dirty energy industry:

Only a few hundred public chargers exist now, but several government grants totaling more than $115 million will help add thousands more, including in San Diego, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Bellevue, Wash.

Electric vehicle advocates hope more will be built by private retailers and restaurants, using the charging stations to draw in customers the same way coffee shops offer Wi-Fi.

Those grants are puny in comparison to the scale needed to develop this new industry, especially in light of President Obama’s stated goal of 1 million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015.  Still, I suppose some small grant are better than none at all.

Once electric vehicles become a growing portion of the transportation marketplace, efforts to stop building dirty energy facilities and build up clean energy facilities will also become commonplace.  I look forward to that day.

BetterPlace continues to make progress around the world implementing their vision for deploying electric vehicles.

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Will Obama’s 2010 Message Resonate?

I don’t think it will.

The Obama administration’s new message:

Republicans caused the nation’s economic troubles, but he and the Democrats are starting to fix them. So stick with the Democrats and don’t go back to the GOP.

On a factual level, the first sentence is absolutely true.  On a messaging level, the second will have a hard time resonating.

For activists such as myself, it won’t resonate because we know Obama and his team made the decision to take the easy road.  They didn’t want to fight with the Cons that drove us all into the metaphorical ditch Obama is talking about.  Heck, the Obama crew did everything they could to try to get the Cons to work the shift pedal while they worked the gas pedal.  Guess what happened?  The Cons kept their promise and didn’t work with the Dems.

To expand on Obama’s framing, the car has lurched all over the road, giving Americans whiplash and bruised limbs.  We voted for Democrats in 2008 because they said they would fight for us.  Backroom deals for industries has rendered signature legislation toothless and ineffectual.  And instead of fighting for us, the Dems have done everything they could to not fight with the Cons.

For Americans that aren’t activists and don’t follow policy developments closely, Obama’s message will have a hard time resonating because they simply haven’t seen many positive results of giving Democrats massive Congressional majorities and the White House – something that has happened every few decades.  Those Americans might not know the extent to which the stimulus was pared back or how little the Health Insurance Reform Giveaway will change their lives in the future.  All they see is, as week after week slides by, their lives aren’t changing for the better.  When you’re barely treading water, or in the process of drowning, “Stay Pat” doesn’t solve those problems.  You can’t tread for years; how possible is it to recover from drowning?

The worst part for Americans is the big projected Democratic losses will occur in the place where the best and most solutions have originated: the House.  It’s the Senate that’s broken.  It’s the White House that decided not to aggressively pursue policies.  Yet it could very well be the House members who take the brunt of the electorate’s frustration.  If there are fewer Democrats in 2011-2012, will the solutions we need be crafted?  One thing is for sure, it will be a lot harder to do so.  More importantly, if the Democrats don’t fix the broken Senate, it doesn’t matter how many Democrats lose their House seats.  More necessary legislation will continue to die in the upper chamber.

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Obama White House Continues Right-Wing Pandering & Left-Wing Slamming

President Obama’s administration had better start figuring out who helped propel them into office and who will never vote for them.

In the wake of the Obama administration’s largest initiative failure to date, an administration official ran crying to the tone-deaf Politico, telling them that it was all the enviros fault that a climate and energy bill won’t be taken up in the dysfunctional, anti-democratic Senate this year.

While Obama’s team keeps asking, “How high?” every time Fox Propaganda and Rush think about telling them to jump, action on issue after issue is reduced to a hollow shell and progressives are kicked to the bottom of the ditch by the side of the road.

The biggest problem with this whole scenario isn’t Obama or Sen. Reid or the right-wing disinformation and smear bloc – it’s unelected yo-yos like this official who just like to see their b.s. in D.C.-based media.  These clowns don’t care what the science says; they don’t care what Americans outside of D.C. think or want.  They’re attention whores and they’ll gladly sabotage any initiative that leans slightly left of the tea-baggers.

“They didn’t deliver a single Republican,” the official told POLITICO. “They spent like $100 million and they weren’t able to get a single Republican convert on the bill.”

In this idiot’s world, the administration is supposed to sit back and let issue groups write legislation and decide who needs to be targeted to pass it.  The President has the biggest bully pulpit in this country, but it’s people like this official who are holding him and this country back from the greatness we can achieve.

How much did the dirty energy corporations spend to water down the House legislation and water down the Senate Committee version even further? A lot more than $100 million, I assure you.  Which amounts to round-off error for corporations posting the biggest profits in the history of the world.

Politico does provide some context for how monumental this failure really is for the Obama administration:

Eighteen months ago, Barack Obama took office pledging to deal with a “planet in peril.”

His party held big majorities in Congress, and the House answered by passing a tough cap-and-trade bill. A massive climate conference in Copenhagen, with Obama at the center of the action, focused the world on the need to address global warming.

Then came the nation’s worst-ever environmental disaster, an oil spill in the Gulf that put momentum behind environmentalists and scarred the image of big, polluting industries.

Add in a summer of record-high temperatures, and it would seem the stars had been aligned like never before for climate legislation.

Climate legislation that the cowardly Dems have decided not to pursue this year.  Because there’s always next year, or maybe 2012 would be better … no, there’s a Presidential election that year – we wouldn’t want the Dems to have to make tough decisions while running for re-election.  Well, there’s always 2013, right?  I mean, big parts of the Health Insurance Reform Giveaway won’t even take effect until 2013 or 2014.  The Dems could certainly take up at least a small climate/energy bill in 2013 or so.

By all means, keep putting the most important issue our species faces until it’s a sure thing politically.  It’s not like this country faces any kind of negative consequences as a result of your continued inaction incompetence.

Just don’t take progressives’ votes and hard work for granted after you keep slapping us aside.


Cowardly Democrats & Climate

If you follow this policy topic, by no doubt you’ve already heard or read somewhere that elected Democrats have decided not to even try to put together a climate and energy bill in 2010.  I don’t know when they think they’ll take it up.  I don’t think they know when they’ll take it up.  What I do know right now is outside of Nancy Pelosi, a number of Democratic “leaders” have done anything but lead and should be voted out of office (or positions of responsibility) as soon as possible.  Sen. Reid. Sen. Schumer and Sen. Durbin are on that list.  President Obama very well could be.

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