Recently, I felt some weakness and was concerned that it might be my heart. I called my cardiologist, explained to him my observations and he decided to send me to do echocardiogram testing. I discussed it with another doctor, and he suggested doing an additional test just to be sure. My cardiologist agreed and the tests proved my concerns were unjustified. My heart is in a good shape. It felt good to know that!
I did not argue with my cardiologist, but accepted his professional judgment. I do have a doctorate from UCLA, but it is not in medicine but in Environmental Science. So I leave the professionals in medicine to tell me what to do when it comes to my health. But I do know what Climate Change (CC) is; it is in my field of specialty. And I spend thousands of hours over many years trying to understand the immense, important, and wide research involved.
But everyone and his cousin without one iota of knowledge about Climate Change are jumping on President Obama now when he said that Climate Change is more serious than ISIS.
Climate Change, without a doubt, poses the worse danger to humanity that we ever faced!
Yes, the President is absolutely right. Climate Change is a much more serious danger to humanity than anything like ISIS is, or could be. ISIS contributed to the flow of Syrian refugees, but the main cause of fleeing refugees is the worsening climate (less and less rain) in the Middle East and Africa too. Our Department of Defense calculated a decade ago that Climate Change would cause hundreds of millions of global refugees in the coming decades. We are seeing just the beginning of it now.
Without a doubt, we must destroy ISIS ASAP, they are a menace to the civilized world, however, their impact is negligible compare to what CC is bringing us.
CC is impacting the total world now, heavier rains in wet zones, lower rains in dry zones, for example, and will be worse in the future. The climate of our delicately balanced little Earth is being changed to the worst by our unlimited consumption of fossil fuels. Every year we are emitting globally the unfathomable quantity of 35 billion tones of CO2 (carbon dioxide) gas and this increases the thickness of the blanket around our Earth, thus retaining more heat than nature wants us to have for a sustainable life.
It is very hard to swallow that with all our advanced technology, we are unable to do much to reverse the process. It would be a marvelous success if we could slow it down a little.
It is time for everyone who is not already familiar with CC to study it to their own level of understanding since it is already impacting us and will be even more severe to our children and grandchildren.
I have started a website in 2009 on global warming:
But it is more for more technically inclined people. I have not kept it up to date lately, there is nothing new for me to say, therefore, I suggest you study the issue by googling it to a higher and higher level of complexity. I will be glad to help if you, if you have some questions.
Dr. of Environmental Science and Engineering,
MS Management, Teaching Assistant MIT.
BS. MS. Electrical Engineering,
"I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I was drafting a constitution in the year 2012."
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice.
I fully agree with the Justice because the framers of our Constitution, as wise and outstanding people as they were, were just human, which means: limited. They were unable to foresee the kind of self serving, ineffective, corrupt, money controlled our Congress would be, not to mention the Supreme Court blindness, ruling that Corporations have the same rights as individuals. And the childish game of the Electoral Vote? How can we accept for so long this archaic game that says you can not trust the people?
Congress has now the lowest public support in a long time. And rightly so, it is frozen in partisan politics and its votes are bought by wealth. However, we continue to admire the Constitution that created the failed Congress. Time to look with critical eyes at the Constitution because it has failed us miserably on a number of serious instances. How long did it take us to consider that women are equal citizens that can vote; and the extremely long subjugation of the African - American community?
I will focus here on the most critical issue we have ever faced: severe, rapid, global climate deterioration. Remember, all our lives depend critically on a reasonably stable, foreseeable, moderate climate.
Our Constitution was developed in the horse and buggy days, when it took days to travel between Boston and Philadelphia. It probably was the best achievable at that time. The rapid danger to human survival by global warming could not have been foreseen by any human, and even now it is beyond the grasp of our President, and the majority of Congress. President Obama ran on fighting global warming aggressively. He has done nothing of substance. When the outstanding, dedicated, hard working Congressman Waxman pushed through anti global warming (GW) legislation, nearly every member of the House that signed it forced special legislation into the bill that would benefit them resulting in an ineffective, confusing 1500 page law. And the President did not help at all.
Here is another serious example: A single House member, John Dingell, representing the Detroit auto industry stopped all attempts to increase car gas mileage [Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)] for several decades. He did what every member of Congress tries to do, protect the interests of his district. The fault lies in the House of Representative that allows House Rules to extinguish a very critical national need- to lower our massive consumption of oil and the concurrent flow of immense US wealth to other countries.
"Oil price shocks and price manipulation by OPEC have cost our economy dearly-about $1.9 trillion from 2004 to 2008-and each major shock was followed by a recession." US Dept. of Energy.
When the highly dedicated Senator Boxer tried to develop anti GW legislation, she could not achieve it even with a Democratic majority since most senators looked for their own benefits, not the dire need of our country.
The Senate represents the least Democratic, the most distorted institution of our government. The Founders probably had to include a strong protection of state rights then, but the fact is that the 2 senators of Wyoming, for example, with about half a million people have the same power than the two senators of California representing close to 40 million people. Each citizen of Wyoming has the voice of 80 citizens of California! And this is distorted further by money influence. Because of the smaller population it is considerably easier to "buy" and manipulate senators of small states than of large ones.
And we accept this distorted power distribution as holy, "after all it is part of the Constitution". This is ludicrous. Simply, and utterly wrong and un Democratic. Where is the basic principle of one person one vote? We would scream unfair if a newly liberated country would allow this distorted distribution of power.
Even slow moving England was able to downgrade the power of the House of Lord so drastically that it is mostly a figure head now. "The powers of the modern House of Lords are extremely limited-necessarily so, since the permanent and substantial majority enjoyed there by the Conservative Party would otherwise be incompatible with the principles of representative government" Encyclopedia Britannica. However, we, the modern, liberated, Democratic US are frozen by a few hundred years old Constitution that has passed its time and is seriously damaging our ability to survive.
Our frozen Congress is unwilling and unable to act to slow down GW. Without powerful national laws we can do very little to reduce the catastrophic impacts that GW is bringing us, and all humanity, in an accelerated fashion in the coming years. Without US participation, the rest of the world will not move effectively against GW since we are in the best position to fight GW because of our national wealth.
Even most environmentalists are unable to grasp the gravity we are already in. They want incremental changes that will take decades to make significant impacts. We do not have this time. It is now or never. The greenhouse gases (GHG) already in the atmosphere last for hundreds of years and have already melted much of our summer sea-ice in the North Pole region and most glaciers on earth. This by itself will advance climate deterioration (by positive feedback), and every year we increase the amount of greenhouse gases that destabilize our climate by now some 35 billion tons per year!
We did not wait during WWII for Hitler and Yamamoto to destroy us. Thanks to the leadership of FDR, we jumped into a massive national effort, before and after Pearl Harbor, to help our allies defeat the enemy. Global Warming is a much more powerful enemy of civilization than Germany and Japan were, but we are taking decades just to discuss what should we do. All the effort to date to reduce GHG have been insignificant, too little and too late. Twenty years ago we might have had time to talk, not any longer.
We Americans believe that we are superior beings and most natural laws do not apply to us. We are the winners who conquered the wild American lands and created the most advanced civilization to date. We think individual rights are above community and national needs. We live on flood plans, modify river flow, and build inadequate levees ignoring the force of nature and create vast amount of human suffering. And we believe that with just a little time and technology we will continue to be the richest, most powerful nation on earth. What arrogance, what level of blindness, what level of distortion!
We do not accept reality we do not like what will constrain our personal freedoms. That is why we can not grasp fully how dangerous global warming is to human civilization, to human ability to live with some level of comfort and security.
How can we face reality? How can we overcome rapidly these restraining aspects of the Constitution?
China is becoming the most powerful player in global events. Its economy is projected to overtake the US in less than a decade!
The US and China are the key players in a tightly woven global community and must cooperate and find common paths to help ourselves and the global community.
China is also the largest generator of greenhouse gases and also suffers considerably from global warming. Reducing GW and increasing economic growth are interwoven elements.
This is just a brief exposure of some key differences between the US and China.
China with its rapidly growing GDP of $6 Trillion is often more influential internationally than the US with its 15 Trillion GDP, a quarter of global GDP. We have by far the strongest military power in the world, but economic power is as important, or often more important, than military power. Exerting military power is not a good option in most cases.
The key reasons that China is so powerful are that it has:
1. A strong central authoritarian government that can make decisions relatively quickly
2. A government which actually care to improve the lot of its population,
3. The ability for planning and executing long term national goals
4. Immense foreign exchange reserves of over $3 Trillion; all of which allow China to achieve its goals rapidly.
The Chinese government and their private economic enterprises operate with less moral and ethical constraints than any other influential nation. This allows China to acquire vast long-term - international energy and mineral resources and exerts its economic influence with little regard to its impact on the local population or international concerns think Iran and Sudan. China's economic power is growing rapidly at 10% per year with less moral concerns or self imposed or external limits. China GDP was one trillion dollar in 2000; it is now 6 times larger! These numbers do not show the total story, since its labor costs are so much lower, China can build twice as much infrastructure and housing per dollar as the US.
Although some assessments predict that China's GDP will surpass the US in just five years, it does not seem realistic- there are always unforeseen difficulties. Serious bumps are around the corner, such as a potential housing bubble, (25 million, often expensive, housing units are unoccupied now). Also there are increasing wage demands, and their artificially low currency exchange rate which would not be tolerated for long. China is already planning to change the rate slowly.
There are a lot of negative elements in China: lack of individual freedom, severe corruption, weak rule of law, building empty cities to sustain employment, lack of environmental control, expanding arid areas due to global warming, diminishing water supplies to vast population centers, no social safety net, suppression of native minorities and more. This is all part of the picture of this vast land. However, it is important to note that most Chinese are happy to have these vast economic opportunities, fast rise in their standard of living at the cost of their political freedom.
The US has serious economic problems most of them politically generated:
1. Representative government, in which local interest prevails over national needs.
2. We have huge and growing national and private debts, totaling $50 trillion, 3 and a half times GDP.
3. We do not have a national vision nor national long term or even short term plan.
4. We let short term self-serving financial forces dictate our direction.
5. Both Democratic and Republican administrations and Congress concentrate on benefiting the financial elite, the wealthy upper few percent of the population to the detriment of the lower income half of the population.
The US richest 10 percent control some 2/3 (73%) of our net worth. The lower 90% has only 27%; this is a ratio of 24 to one on a per capita basis. Think about it, for every thousand dollar a person in the lower 90% can spend monthly, a person in the upper 10% can spend twenty four thousand dollars!
Our US government is divisive, polarized, non transparent, and unable to work for the benefit of the country. And because we generally believe that every one should be free to pursue his/her goals, essentially free from central supervision, our widely spread greed burdens the nation by economic collapse, huge national debt ($14 billions, almost equal to GDP) and immense private debts, some $35 trillions. Recently some 20% of our GDP has been generated by the non-productive financial sector, which mostly shuffled immense amount of fabricated capital from hand to hand with no productive benefit for the country but their own short-term financial wealth.
In summary, China concentrates on achieving its long term rapid national growth at the cost of individual freedom and lack of the rule of law. We concentrate on protecting the wealthy, retaining individual freedom, sustaining the rule of law at a sacrifice of our other important national needs.
The impact on morality of overpopulation:
Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.
China is not constrained, nor guided by morality or ethics due largely to its vast population. The more people we have, the less we value each individual. And this is evident especially in China and India. Their population is about 1350 and 1210 millions, respectively; together over a third of the global population.
It is not surprising, therefore, that most Chinese focus on their own economic progress and ignores the suffering of others. It has been so for a long time. The current news from China is that 18 people saw and ignored the suffering of a 2 years old, severely injured girl in a car incident. They looked, did not lift a finger to help, and if you heard the driver explanation why he did not stop you would be revolted of his inhuman attitude. I am glad that a considerable debate started in China about this sad experience.
I am bringing the MORALITY ISSUE up to illustrate the great significance of China to the struggle to reduce economic suffering and global Warming. China is the key to cutting global Greenhouse gases. No effort by any other country, or a combination of countries, will make much impact compare to the impact that China has now and will increasingly have (plus the negative impacts expected from India economic and population growth.)
China is driven; it can not stand still economically. To retain political stability the central and regional governments must supply jobs and housing to the current 600 million urban population and the 200 million more poor rural people that will be moving to urban areas over the next decade.
China is obviously focusing on its own survival and growth and naturally ignores the needs of other nations. China "conforms" to Western moral standards only when it suits it or required to propagate China's own aims. China is especially reluctant to support UN effort that reduce the ability of dictatorial powers such as Syria and Iran to subdue their population by force since they have been doing it in some cases and will do it again. They are extremely concerned about the desire of some of their minorities for self determination. Up to now local rebelions are unrelated and focus on correcting local wrongs. But China leadership fears a possible coordination of these local upsets and widespread instability if they are not stopped early. This is why they clamp down on small events that to us seem so minor nad unjustified. Even if we do not like it, We must look at it from their point of view in order to coordinate better the global fight against GW. Yes, this ultimate danger to humanity is more important than achieving soon our dream of full human rights.
China's Communist leadership is working hard to improve the lives of the majority of their population, concentrating on its Han majority of 91.5%. China controls the major banks and holds the majority of foreign capital and gives just a minimal political freedom to prevent upsetting the apple cart. I admire what China leadership did after the death of Mao and his immediate successors. It understood realistically the needs of the country; the first one was reducing its rapid population growth. Under Mao China's population grew from 530 millions in 1948 to 800 millions in 1970 at a rate of 2.2%.
China long term goal has been to first achieve a zero population growth and eventually to reduce their population over the next century to some 750 millions. Wise and courageous aims. The one child policy came from that and succeeded very well to limit the growth rate to just 0.5% and cut the expected population by some 400 millions people. But despite this marvelous effort it could not cut the actual population growth - the current population is nearly three times the population of 1948!
In addition, the ability of the central government to influence local affairs, which is the key to actual developments and the rule of some level of law, is limited. Regional leaders are very powerful and influence local development by often making their own rules and even breaking national guidelines.
China not only has cheap labor in combination with low cost capital, it also does not insist on profit. Full employment is the key goal. Therefore, their competitive position borders on illegal product dumping.
In contrast, we must follow long established safety laws, environmental protection laws, pay social security taxes, income tax, sales tax, and many other requirements (which I agree with) undercutting most western industries ability to compete with an industry that ignores almost anything but current minimal salaries to a vast labor pool. Most of their product undercut substantially similar US products.
But much of China low cost products also come with big negatives: internally high pollution, and low quality and even dangerous products. It is not only that the color of a toy will fade faster but that dangerous lead paint will be used in children toys. Or dangerous chemicals will be used to modify milk products killing hundreds. Or the death of hundreds (thousands?) of children when their schools buildings collapsed on them in an earthquake because the concrete was well below specified strength- to increase builder's profits.
I will discuss this important aspect of Chinese products at another time.
DO NOT EXPECT CHINA TO BEHAVE ACCORDING TO OUR WESTERN MORALITY AND OUR THEORETICAL LEVEL OF INTEGRITY. We do not do that fully ourselves.
Our inability to solve any serious national and international problem is partially due to the concentration of power by the few. We the people in the US are represented in Congress by mostly wealthy people who are controlled by wealthier people. Their self interest is more powerful than their interest in solving our key national and international problems.
A century ago Justice Louis Brandeis warned us about the negative impact of concentration of great wealth. The facts below tell us that we are in a deep national and international trouble since the people with that wealth and power are few and concerned mostly about their own well being. With the immense troubles the world is now facing: economic collapse, global warming, rapid and unsustainable population growth, and wide-spread deep poverty, unless something drastic change, humanity is facing troubles we never faced before, and especially because the problems are spread globally, and global solutions are mandatory.
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
Louis D. Brandeis (Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court)
"Between 2003 and 2007, 65 percent of all income growth in the US went to the richest 1 percent of the population. That lopsided distribution means that today, half of the national income goes to the richest 10 percent. In 2007, the top 1 percent controlled 34.6 percent of the wealth- significantly more than the bottom 90 percent, who controlled just 26.9 percent.
That is a huge shift from the post-war decades, whose golden glow may have arisen largely from the era's relative income equality. During the Second World War, and in the four decades that followed, the top 10 percent took home just a third of the national income. The last time the gap between the people on top and everyone else was as large as it is today was during the Roaring '20s.
..The rise of today's super-rich is a global phenomenon. ..."
"These global super-rich work and play together...."
..."These meritocrats are the winners in a winner-take-all world. Among the big political questions of our age are weather they will notice that everyone else is falling behind, and whether they will decide it is in their interest to do something about that".
Chrystia Freeland, Editor, Thompson Reuters Digital, The Atlantic, July/August 2011
It is clear that the majority of international leaders are not willing to risk their positions and cut global warming gases in their countries. Every one expects the others to start. Are they unable to grasp the danger? Verbally they say the right things, especially European leaders, but the reality is that no progress of any significance occurred to date.
The USA is a very sad example of a weak, ignorant Administration, self serving Congress, misleading media, poor public understanding, determined right wing forces that rather sink the country than allow national progress, and weak and uncoordinated environmental movement.
Cutting Greenhouse emission is no complex science, but it is very hard politically. Powerful, wealthy corporations control the political process in most, if not all Democratic countries. What is basically required is rapid increase in energy prices to reduce waste and consumption and shift some generation to low polluting technologies. Reduce demand is the most crucial aspect since alternative energies are highly capital intensive and would take decades to make any impact. And time is not on our side. We are already in the danger zone with clear damage to much of the global environment: melting sea ice and glaciers, sea rise, severe storms, dying forests, increase ocean acidity and temperature, less absorption of carbon dioxide, severe reduction of ocean plankton - the basic element of the ocean food chain. All of these are here now, real and increasing in severity.
Also needed are national energy efficiency laws that would reduce energy demand rapidly. This will drive wide use of conservation and energy efficiency. This will allow phasing out of old coal plants, the largest CO2 emitters in most countries, and the conversion of remaining coal plants to natural gas thus cutting emissions per kWh by half.
These are basic starting points, easily achieved technically, but there is no political will from the US Administration nor Congress. And the Senate is especially weak and in denial on GW. Or in almost any other country. In the US the powerful political influence of the coal industry is strong through a small number of coal dominated states with very little population. This is a different subject but just bear in mind that our political system that gives immense power to small population states in the Senate is hindering any national progress and reduce our ability to fight global warming, the most crucial task we are facing globally.
The rush to subsidize green technologies is wasteful and diverts our attention from the real problem - continuous emission of greenhouse gases. Spending billions for alternative energies are business decisions, delightful to the industry and environmentalists but are so insignificant it would not reduce the damage to the globe by any amount for years to come.
The reasons, seems to me, is that the international leadership of well off countries does not believe that global warming is a serious problem. James Hansen just demonstrated it during his visit to Norway. He believed that that so called Green country, would be willing to listen to reason and on a recent visit there sent a letter to the Norway prime minister suggesting that Norway stop work on its Canadian Tar Sand facilities. Norway is the major owner of this most polluting non-conventional source of fossil fuel. Tar Sands emit the highest amount of CO2 per gallon of fossil fuel since the extraction process is highly energy intensive.
Here is what Dr. Hansen wrote:
"The glib response of Norway's Prime Minister is that we are 'future pessimists'. Clever engineers, he says, will solve the problem, perhaps with carbon capture. Meanwhile it is o.k. to develop tar sands and go after the last drop of oil in the Arctic. This is nonsense of course. Even if they use nuclear power to squeeze the oil from tar sands, the CO2 will come out of tailpipes. Also, the environmental destruction in Canada would never be allowed by Norwegians in Norway."
The way this prime minister think is dangerous and may indicate why no government yet started real reduction in greenhouse after some 20 years of global discussions. They may all think the same: we have a way out of GW; it is not so serious after all.
It is important to note:
This PM calls environmental realists, like Dr. Hansen, and Dr. John Holdren, and many hundreds of climate scientists who know full well the danger we are already in: "future pessimists." It is clear that the PM and the people around him in this pseudo "Green" country do not grasp at all that we are already inside the danger zone and we have very short time to act to reduce some of the more severe damages expected from the rapidly growing global warming.
A relatively small number of national leaders are determining the future sustainability of our world. Their courage, ability and willingness to accept scientific facts determine our future. Don't over estimate them. They are capable to project their image well, but that may be just surface thin. They are normal human being and not the great figures we want to believe in. Leaders have huge egos, which often drive them to think they are wiser and smarter than their advisers. Leaders need more than normal courage to accept the seriousness of the damage to our globe. It is easier for them to escape reality by dismissing amply proven scientific facts.
Dismissing GW as done in Norway may be one of the key obstacles to action. The inability to grasp the seriousness of the situation and the willingness to embrace any unsubstantiated excuse to allow inaction is a way out from the political and even emotional difficulty of facing GW.
The question to each of us is how to add our voice to the struggle. Personal participation in the political process is paramount- write letters make phone calls, donate money. Participate. Be outraged, bind with other activists is a beginning. Start raising your voice, talk to your friends, even if it is inconvenient. Don't be passive expecting the leaders to "save" us.
To read Dr. Hansen original notes:
My wife and I just got the National Democratic Party questioneer about our own top national concerns. Of all the options to choose, there was not even one item related to global warming.
Now, the leaders of the Democratic Party do not see GW as a key national issue. Their level of stupidity is not far behind the Republican Party that rejects the very same subject as if it was invented by the Democrats and therefore bad for the country. The Democrats can not even get all their Senators to agree to support the weak bill offered now in the senate.
The very weak Energy and environment bill that passed the House last year was a sham. It was just a feel good bill that would not reduce global warming by any noticeable level. The Democratic majority was more interested in getting what they wanted individually and not what the country and the world need desperately.
Even the Democrats are now unable to grasp the seriousness of the issue. They do not want to learn what is not beneficial to them individually.
The Senate was not yet able to pass even a weaker bill, and the president is unable even to commit himself to push our nation to accept the gravity of this issue. When he has the clear opportunity to awaken the public and push a viable energy/environment bill in light of the Gulf oil disaster, he just mumbled a few words about energy independence.
Let's be realistic: There is no way to have energy independence for many decades, if at all.
How could the leaders of the two major parties sink so low?
How can our president, who talked at length about the criticality of global warming during his election campaign, drop the ball in the interest of the next election?
How can our nation become so ignorant of reality?
This supposedly great nation is very great in its collective national idiocy, in the face of the greatest national challenge in human history.
As Congress attempts to establish viable energy and environmental laws, it is clear that the political fights have diluted the potential final bill to nearly nothing.
The approved House bill and the potential Senate Kerry- Lieberman bills, after consolidation, would do nearly nothing to slow down US contributions to global warming. The price of carbon would barely make impact on energy use, the potential cuts in GHG are insignificant, some 4% from the 1990 level by 2020, while 30% is needed as a minimum. Read: Kerry - Lieberman bill is a sham.
The Federal Reserve System was created a century ago in response to a series of financial crises and its duties expanded noticeably during the Great Depression.
It was clear a century ago that Congress was unable to respond effectively to varying financial situations that require both immediate response and also long range planning. Congress can not do that.
Energy is the blood life of any modern society, and the global environment is in the midst of rapid deterioration. Members of Congress are subjected to a variety of acute pressures that do not allow them to grasp the complexity of the energy and environment dilemmas and also to develop adequate laws to prevent further deterioration.
We must take these issues away from Congress and create a new FED-like system for energy and environment away as possible from the political constrains. An independent agency that can deal both the immediate crises and set national long term directions.
The standard response would be: you can not get Congress to agree on even very mild energy/environment bills, how would it be possible to create this new agency? After all, Congress has to create this new agency.
I hope there is enough love for the country and the survival of humanity in the heart of most members of Congress that would drive members of both parties to get rid of this political hot potato and give it to a responsible Federal agency.
There is renewed interest in the fact that global warming would cause considerable amount of national and international security risks. One of the main reasons is that rising oceans will cause large population displacements. Simple, obscuring and sanitized words but very crucial to the lives of hundreds of millions who live near oceans. For example, large parts of Bangladesh are very flat and at nearly ocean level. Millions of people live in these zones, and many had to move to higher grounds already.
Large population changes at the rapidity that GW will be driving would cause not only considerable increase in hunger, poverty and human suffering, but international mini wars or even full wars.
Global Warming or not, it is natural for nations to protect their own territories and their economies from foreigners.
We do not know how to deal with this kind of vast population shifts. It is a tragedy waiting to explode.
With this sad reality in mind, which is a minor part of the severe damages expected from GW, just think what has been offered in the US Senate to fight GW:
Senator Kerry just wrote an op-ed about this very national security issue to help him get wider acceptance for his and Senator Lieberman's energy and security legislation. But it is not a new subject at all.
We have known for several years that GW is a severe national security issue; former CIA Director James Woolsey sent me his assessment of it 18 months ago. But the bill that Kerry and Lieberman developed is useless to fight GW. It may be the best they or any senator could achieve but it aims to cuts CO2 by only 4% compare to the yesterday's British proposal to cut it by 30% by 2020.*
Just look how Congress is misleading the American people without any shame:
The proposed international agreement is to cut CO2 levels in comparison to 1990 levels. The US Congress just lied to us by not mentioning too loud that their proposal is using 2005 as the beginning level. 2005 had a much higher level of CO2 than 1990 to start with, and therefore, just a minimal cut in emissions, 4%, is proposed. Europe proposes 30%, we offer 4% on a direct comparison basis!
This bill will require nothing from industry, and allow the electrical utilities to continue to use coal for 50% of their power.
With all due respect to the hard working senators, their bill is a band aid and noting more. And for those who say we can make it more robust later, there is very little time left, as we all should know.
Wishful thinking in this critical time on this crucial issue is not helpful, it is disastrous.
And we want China and India to cut their GHG emissions drastically. Do you think they will listen to us?
To grasp the time-criticality you may want to read:
*"The UK government will push the EU to move to a higher target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It will urge the EU to cut emissions by 30% from 1990 levels by 2020, rather than the current 20% target, partly through more support for renewables."
I am not a friend of big oil, and I am environmentalist by profession and heart, but I look for facts before I decide on a situation. Not so the media and Congress. Their livelihood is based on sensationalism.
I was watching the CNN review of the Congressional heating of the oil spill in the Gulf. Senator Frank Lautenberg of NJ started by gently attacking the three executives of the companies involved, the parent company BP (British petroleum), then the owner and operator of the Oil rig, and then the company responsible for the shut off valve at the sea floor. The three where asked who is responsible for the spill, they all said: we need to find the facts first, what failed, when it failed and so forth.
The CNN commentator laughed at the answers and said: you see they blame each other. Not so fast, they did not, they said let wait for facts. Why? Because billions of dollars are involved and because detail investigation and subsequent legal negotiation will determine who will pay what portion of the cost. First, no one know the full facts of this complex case, and if they say anything now they will be penalized during later negotiation. It is simply too early for Congressional and media hearing.
These answers are proper and justified and also the normal method used in cases with much lower visibility.
However, Congresspersons and the media- CNN, and surely others in the Media, including blogs, will attack these companies and try to paint them as villains.
They are not villains, they were conducting their normal business. Congress set the rules businesses operate in the country and they follow it as they were making profit for their stock holders. They might have erred by selecting the wrong safety approach, or the equipment did not function as expected. I believe they should have used additional safety rigs to increase safety, and reduce the likelihood of massive leak, but this is after the event. They were typical businesses in the vast global oil industry.
Add to it that the government agency controlling these operation has a close relationship with the oil industry it supervises and at the same time lease land and collect fees from them. As the NYT wrote: "On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he planned to cut the agency that oversees the industry, the Minerals Management Service, in two. One office would be responsible for public safety and environmental enforcement and the other in charge of leasing and revenue."
So, many players are involved, no one wanted this tragedy to happened. Certainly the companies involved will be hurt in the market place and lose money and reputation too.
The governmental safety supervision was weak. And we do not know who did what and when to cause this explosion.
And why are we so mad at the oil industry? Because they have supplied us with ample amount of very low cost oil, cheaper than bottled water?
Should we blame them for not charging also for the CO2 created by using oil? Would we have accepted extra charges willingly? Of course not. President Clinton tried just to add a quarter to the price of a gallon of gasoline and all hell broke loose.
The CIA director in the movie The Tree days of The Condor admonished Robert Redford: what will the people do when suddenly they do not have ample supply of oil? Will they care how we get it for them?
We want, we want, that is our culture. And most of the time we elect and support leaders who follow this approach to life.
But just to make it clear, we can not rely on the oil companies to care for the environment. Their key purpose is to make profit, that is the reason they exists. They do cut corners when they can, and do nothing when they can. Only governmnet regulations that are actively monitored can reduce the damage oil and coal extractions actually cause. And for too long our governemt reduced regulations and did have too close relationship with the oil, coal and gas industries. Afterall, they have the money and the power to influence Congress and the Administration too.
Do not trust speaches by the Administration, including the president, or Congress, look for real actions. As the Presisdent said: Trust and verify, so verify that they actually act to save our environment.
Again, back to the sensationalism. We, the majority of the American people, want answers quickly and without any effort. Very few wants to think clearly. The games of Congress and the media shapes so much of our reality that we, the public, jumps to conclusions that were fed to us by sensationalism when we were full of anger at the oil industry. Congress, after presenting anger and admonition, now has free hands to achieve whatever they want to, and often make laws which the lobbyists of the oil industry suggest to them. And these laws would not necessarily be what are in the best inertest of the American people, who are again led down a path of untruth and manipulation.
This, again, is how sensationalism shapes our world views.
Comment by a reader:
Beautiful. You covered everything and more. What is a shame that we don’t we see journalist’s stories and editorials that report what you have just written. Millions should be reading this in a major newspaper editorial, not a few people who happen to see it on your blog. This is the sort of thing that Tom Friedman or Paul Krugman might write in the NY Times, but maybe they would have softened it a bit. I will keep looking for this from them.
I saw the same hearing last night and both my wife and I came to the same conclusion. What are the facts? Shouldn’t we know that first before we blame someone. The CNN reporter showed how each of the companies blames the other, which is par for the course, as you say.
The other thing I have felt for days was the US government was somehow equally liable because it failed to require lots of redundancy to prevent just such an accident. I didn’t know what that was until I learned about the MMS yesterday and guess what, they have the same conflict of interest that the old AEC and the current FAA have, so safety and promotion are under the same roof. No mystery there. What is par for the course on “discoveries” like this is that they are suddenly “discovered” after a terrible accident, and then usually, the feds split the agency in two, so we got the NRC and DOE, but we still have the FAA doing both airline safety and promotion. The “revolving door” and “cozy relationships” of MMS executives and the energy industry is legend.
So, bottom line, no wonder we can’t get anything meaningful done on energy and the environment in our government and why international climate change agreements are even harder to do.
Oh, the other bit of news that I saw in the Bee today was that nearly half of all Americans polled after this oil spill think we should continue with offshore drilling. I don’t know if they also want more stringent oversight. But, when you have to go to such depths to get the oil, stuff happens. It’s a major miracle that we did not see such a big spill in the Gulf before this.
Straight to the point LA Times editorial. The problems we are facing from massive oil spill and coal mine disasters are negligible compare to global warming. Time to get real and focus our attention were it belong- the time-criticality of Global warming.
Climate change is the true crisis
West Virginia's mining disaster and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were disastrous and investigations are justified, but the real threat is much worse.
Dr. John Holdren told us:
"...the current state of knowledge of global warming is sufficiently clear to state that failure to act promptly to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases is overwhelmly likely to lead to changes in climate too extreme and too damaging to be adequately addressed by any adaptation measure that can be foreseen.... "
Every issue we deal with regarding GW must be viewed from this crucial angle: we are moving very fast into a catastrophic event. What would be the most practical approaches that would have the most pronounced reductions in both the speed and the magnitude of GHG
Here are the steps that I would take now to cut GW if I were the US President:
My main goal here would be to achieve full cooperation with China on GW
I. First some basic Facts:
1. No matter how much the developed world would cut its GHG, the growing GHG emissions by the developing world, especially China and India, would overwhelmed all the cuts elsewhere. Over the next two decades their emissions could be 5 to 10 times the combined GHG from developed nations, especially if we will be cutting ours down towards the famous -80% goal of 2050. Therefore we must work now with China especially, and India too, to help them cut their GHG.
2. Europe is willing to cut their GHG faster and further than the US, but they are waiting for the US to act first. They need it politically, but I am stopped by Congress right now. So I will concentrate on the most important partner- China.
3. If the US and China worked jointly and aggressively we could bring the rest of the world together to agree and start fast actions.
II. Actions I would take right now: They can't easily be limited by Congress:
1. Announce to the nation and the world in a very public event that I am going ahead as fast and as far as I can to slow GW as effectively as the presidency allows me.
2. Work with China: Quietly, without political fanfare. Go quietly to China, meet with the Chinese premier and leadership and tell them that I seek maximum cooperation with China on all elements that are possible. I will offer to setup quiet, non political, cooperation effort, with them as equal partners, to share all the knowledge of the issue.
3. Select a director that repot directly to me - the president, for this coordination /education/cooperation effort with China. I will select a leader of utmost abilities, high credibility, humility and integrity to lead this cooperation with china. His technical right-hand man should be Dr. J. Holdren.
4. Above all, we must be honest and open beyond any approach we have been using in the US political arena. China top leaders are more sophisticated than most of the US leadership and we could be destroying any chance of actually cutting GHG effectively if we mislead them.
We are partners; we must respect their long history, culture, and outstanding accomplishments. And we must be humble enough to learn from them too.
5. With China acceptance, send several teams of the best environmental scientists from around the world to spend some time in China to share freely and openly all knowledge with their own scientific leadership on all aspects of GW. China political leadership will listen mostly or solely to their own scientists before taking any significant action. The US should spend all the money needed, no cutting of expenses at this stage since it is the cheapest and most important step. This should be an ongoing effort with no time limit.
Nothing should be under the table. That means leave nothing hidden, the good and the bad about what truly is known and the dangers humanity is moving going towards.
6. Send the best teams of Federal and state regulators (EPA, Energy Dept. CA ARB) to China/India to discuss successes and failures in implementing energy changes. We must be honest and more open than in the political climate in the US. Lying to them, even our typical white lies, would kill cooperation and global ability to progress.We must gain their trust- China is very suspecious of the West.
China basic views of the world and their own political and regulatory system is markedly different than ours. But certainly valid to them. Also their political influences are on different lines than ours, but they still may benefit from our mixed experiences.
As a minimum we must help them to minimize repeating our many major mistakes. This will require some great humility on our part, which is not a readily available commodity in the US political, business, or financial systems. Selecting fine leadership for this cooperative effort, as I mentioned, is critical.
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 1:56 PM
Before you link GW with the healthcare bill and before you link Axelrod with a syrupy "cover", have you given thought to the fact that the parliamentary maneuvering of this healthcare bill is understood only by an esoteric few. If Axelrod would have explained it within the parameters of transparency, probably the only audience left would have been............. MG.
We Americans want simple solutions, kinda like you see in the movies. Remember when the movies showed a passage of time; they showed calendar pages flying off; all you saw was the end results. But during the passage of time, all the angst was never shown.
My answer to him:
I know you are right, but if you saw many of Charlie Rose programs you will see tremendous amount of openness and even personal info. The facts are that we do not trust Congress, may be 20% is a high level recently, partially because we know that a lot of it is misleading and self serving. As long as we are mislead and lied to we can not run a country with the interest of the people as key consideration--my views.
I was watching last night the PBS- Charlie Rose interview of David Axelrod, Senior Adviser to President Obama.
It was a very illuminating discussion of the movement of the Health Care bill thru Congress. It was illuminating not because you learned anything useful. You did not. But because David Axelrod, a highly regarded man and I am sure a good man, was so skilled in avoiding any meaningful answer to the questions Charlie Rose asked.
To some David Axelrod is the best there is; a dedicated man, gentle to the opposition, he praised the president all the time and gave him an aura I doubt any one deserves, even a caring and capable president. He did not reveal any meaningful fact that you could learn from, that can help us understand the operation in Congress. He snowed us, the citizens of the country that should benefit from this bill. We have no better idea of the reality in Congress or the realities of this bill because David Axelrod responsibility is to spread sugar over reality. "Every thing is fine."
David Axelrod is a master of artfully and pleasantly describing events that actually were politically very bloody both within the Democrats in congress and between the two parties. He did not tell you anything of value!
It was such a lovely mask on everything.
What this have to do with global warming? A lot. It is a good example of how we are being snowed with all kind of meaningless facts, with misleading names of Congressional bills because they do not want us to really know how convoluted are the "Energy and Security" bills in congress, and how dishonest they are while satisfying the special interests of many congresspersons.
To get a vote the bill will add new provisions that are neither good for the country, neither reduce GHG. It gives too much special consideration to every member of Congress who's vote is needed.
We have a country of special interest, powerful interests that Congress must satisfy.
How can you reduce GHG when so much misleading information covers us, so much is done below the surface. We have no idea what the bills contain, or what it would actually do. We call it white lies, but they are lying to the American people so much, we have little knowledge of reality.
David Axelrod smooth talking is so admired because he knows how to soften unpleasant reality allowing Congress to satisfy itself first, the American people last.
They treat us like kids, the less we know the better.
A small step was finally taken by Congress to reduce the abuse of some earmarks. Democratic House leaders now realized the public's dislike of unethical financial relationship between donors and private congressional allocations, and took this small step.
Note, only $1.7 B would have been cut of last year budget. The total budget is over $3.5 trillion, about two thousand times bigger [but much of it is non discretionary]. We know that the rest of the budget process is not fully "clean" of abuse. Even when many in congress vote on regular issues their main consideration is reelection, not our national needs.
This "cleaning" is only the tip of the iceberg of unethical actions by Congress. To gain some public confidence, they will have to do much more. Read the article below to get the details. It is worth it.
Leaders in House Block Earmarks to Corporations
WASHINGTON - House Democratic leaders on Wednesday banned budget earmarks to private industry, ending a practice that has steered billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to companies and set off corruption scandals.
The ban is the most forceful step yet in a three-year effort in Congress to curb abuses in the use of earmarks, which allow individual lawmakers to award financing for pet projects to groups and businesses, many of them campaign donors.
But House Republicans, in a quick round of political one-upmanship, tried to outmaneuver Democrats by calling for a ban on earmarks across the board, not just to for-profit companies. Republicans, who expect an intra-party vote on the issue Thursday, called earmarks "a symbol of a broken Washington."
Both parties are seeking to claim the ethical high ground on the issue by racing to rein in a budgeting practice that has become rife with political influence peddling. So far, though, the Senate is not joining in. House Democrats had tried to reach an agreement with their counterparts to ban for-profit earmarks, but the senators balked, Congressional officials said.
Had the ban on for-profit earmarks been in place last year, it would have meant the elimination of about 1,000 awards worth a total of about $1.7 billion, leaders of the House Appropriations Committee said in announcing that, as a matter of policy, they will no longer approve requests for awards to for-profit groups. Many of those earmarks went to military contractors for projects in lawmakers' home districts.
Under the new restrictions, not-for-profit institutions like schools and colleges, state and local governments, research groups, social service centers and others are still free to receive earmarks. The new restrictions, for example, would still allow the type of award to local governmental agencies that became infamous in 2005 with Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere."
The full story at:
To understand why it is so difficult to pass any meaningful energy and global warming laws in congress please read the article below about Washington's politics. It is so sad for the nation to be frozen in Congressional immaturity. It hurt us all, but benefit the few.
Although we know it, and I commented about it before, this article is very revealing how the power of special interest blocks what we need as a nation. Note also the mental games and juvenile behavior of many Congresspersons. It also shows what a powerful and skillful president can do to overcome Congressional inaction. President Obama is either unwilling to risk it, or unable to muster the courage to fight harder. His approach of leaving it to Congressional action does not work.
"For today's legislators, short-term pain for future gain is a nonstarter."
From the Editor: We Need Some Carpenters
By: Jim Toedtman | Source: From the AARP Bulletin print edition | March 1, 2010
Angrily, President Lyndon Johnson went west late in 1964. For the third straight year, Congress had failed to enact a comprehensive health care plan for older people, and he pointedly blamed Republicans and conservative Democrats.
At a California rally, he shared an important Texas truth: "Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one." Nine months later, Congress enacted Medicare.
Four decades later, it's time for another generation of carpenters. Now it's less about revamping the nation's health care system and more about reconstructing our polarized and paralyzed political system. In fact, the federal government seems incapable of making any tough decisions. Grand compromise is a forgotten art. Short-term pain for future gain is a nonstarter. Instead, Capitol Hill politics has become a prelude to combat, when it's supposed to be about problem-solving.
Consider the forces at play:
Election year politics. All 435 House seats and 33 in the Senate are up for grabs. Recent Republican victories have energized Republicans and frightened Democrats. Now both are preoccupied with scoring talking points.
Capitol Hill politics. Members have long memories. Democrats and Republicans both carry grudges from when the other party had the majority. After closed meetings, ignored requests, insulting attacks and presumed slights, it's payback time. All this while American soldiers are losing their lives, 14 million people need jobs, and 30 million lack adequate health insurance.
Special-interest money. The Center for Responsive Politics tracks campaign contributions and lobbying spending on TV ads, town hall rallies, mailings and back-room arm-twisting. With health care reform on the agenda in 2009, no organization spent more on lobbying than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($144.5 million), which successfully opposed mandating employer-provided health insurance and closing a business tax break for health expenses. AARP, which does not contribute to political campaigns, spent $21 million on federal lobbying. The insurance industry, which spent $166.4 million in campaign contributions and lobbying last year, successfully opposed a single-payer system and minimized cuts in Medicare Advantage plans. Trial lawyers, whose contributions and lobbying totaled $63 million, blocked limits on medical malpractice lawsuits.
When Democrats proposed expanding Medicare to people between 55 and 65, hospitals and doctors, whose 2009 campaign and lobbying expenses totaled $200 million, targeted key senators and blocked it. With the nation's obesity problem in mind, another plan would have added a 3-cents-a-bottle excise tax on soft drinks and sugar products. But the food and beverage industry spent $30 million, a 50 percent jump from its 2008 spending, and killed it.
Health care legislation is never easy. But the current battle exposed a larger problem. Today, it's the house of politics and government that needs reconstruction. Bring on the carpenters.
There's plenty to do.
Jim Toedtman is editor of AARP Bulletin.
After his excellent and realistic article in NYT (see my web Sunday) V.P. Al Gore is moving wisely into political activism.
Al Gore organization: Repower America Campaign, is calling for mass phone calls to our senators to approve powerful Senate legislation against global warming. This is an important realization that political activism is critical.
Please do your part and call today and the next two days to your own two senators. Info below.
Phones numbers can be available below.
Call again and again even if their line is busy, so they will know that many are calling. Keep their lines busy as much as you can.
Ask friends to do the same.
Here is Repower America email to me:
This morning we're kicking off an all-out, bare-knuckled, three-day calling campaign to demand the strongest possible climate and clean energy legislation -- with an goal of 20,000 calls from Repower America supporters alone.
Thousands of you took the first step and pledged to call your Senator today. Now, help kick our campaign into high gear by making your pledged call today -- and report it by clicking here so we can track progress toward our goal.
Senator Boxer: 202-224-3553
Senator Feinstein: 202-224-3841
Once you're connected, remember to tell the staff member you're speaking to that:
- You're a constituent
- You want your Senators to pass strong clean energy and climate legislation this year
- You want a strong bill that invests in clean energy, creates millions of jobs and sets a limit on harmful carbon pollution from all sectors of our economy
Then report your call here -- and spread the word about our massive 72-hour calling push by forwarding this email to your friends and family.
Let's blow them away.
The Climate Protection Action Fund's Repower America campaign
P.S. Looking for the phone number for a Senator from another state? Call the Repower America hotline at 1-877-9-REPOWER (1-877-973-7693) and enter your zip code, and you'll get connected right away.
I was just reading a lot of favorable readers' comments on Dr. Joe Romm's Climate Progress website. They were commenting on House member Tom Perriello (D-VA) brave and strong speech about the inaction in the Senate on climate legislation.
Here is part Tom Perriello statement I copied from that site:
"I'm sick of starting with what can we get through the Senate; let's start with what solves the damn problem. Until the Senate gets its head out of its rear end and starts to see the crisis we're in, our country is literally at risk. Our economy is at risk, because these jobs are being created overseas. It should have the same urgency with this problem that it had bailing out Wall Street. We are swearing an oath to do what's necessary to protect this country, not do what's necessary to get a bill through the Senate."
Perriello repeatedly expressed his belief that Congressional inaction on jobs, national security, and scientific "challenge of our era" is due to a lack of courage and responsibility:
"- This is the challenge of our time-the jobs opportunity, the national security challenge, the scientific challenge of our era. Any plan that uses market forces to signal a carbon-constrained environment is going to move us in the right direction. People who don't support this kind of aggressive energy independence are just selling Americans short."
Here is my response to the readers' comments:
The comments of support and admiration of Rep. Tom Perriello are nice and supportive, but with all due respect, achieve nothing. What we need to do is act, that is: send financial contribution to his office to help him fight for his seat and also increase his ability to spread his message.
You see, industry spent last year over 3 million dollars per member of Congress lobbying for their views. Also, every House member has to raise substantial sums for reelection every two years, which takes considerable amount of his time. Typically he has to raise $20,000 to $40,000 PER WEEK, during his 2 years term.
All good congress members who fight global warming need financial support, so help them with money, not words.
I have wrote the above since we need to concentrate not on words but actions that may make a difference. In case of Congress members who represent our views we need to support them with money and letters. That means letters to the editors in your area, and letter directly to the Congress member.
Do not waste your time sending negative letters to those who oppose us, they would not listen, especially if they are Republicans. With negligible exceptions they are unmovable. After you send support to those who are fighting GW, then spend your energy on swing Democrats that may listen. Focus your limited time and energy where is may do the most good!
I have written several times about the flimflam of our Congress.
For those who are unfamiliar with this term here is it:
flimflam - a swindle in which you cheat at gambling or persuade a person to buy worthless property.
That is the way we handle our national problems. And in the past, this self interest was damaging to our national interest but most of us were not hurt too badly by it. Usually "only" the powerless members of our society did. They have little political power. The beneficiaries often were the wealthy, the upper 5% of the population. Over the years they got financial benefits in the trillions. Both Democrats and Republicans are part of this game. The Republicans, clearly more than the Democrats.
But when they are doing the same now with our massive financial problems and the inaction on global warming problems, we all will be suffering because our future looks cloudier.
Here is what the Nobalist Paul Krugman wrote recently about the way Congress is handling our financial problems:
" Don't blame Obama. There's only so much one man can do even if he is in the White House. Blame our political culture instead, a culture that rewards hypocrisy and irresponsibility rather than serious effort to solve America's problems. And blame the filibuster, under which 41 senators can make the country ungovernable, if they choose - and they have so chosen.
I'm sorry to say, but the state of the union, - not the speech, but the thing itself - isn't looking very good."
I fully agree with Dr. Krugman.
What can you, individually, do?
Write your two senators, and phone them, and tell them politely what you think about them. Tell them to think about our national needs first, their own selfishness second.
And ask other people to do the same. Our inaction let's them continue to abuse their power. The power we are giving them.
When many act, they MAY, listen.
USCAP, the lobbying alliance of over two dozen environmental and business groups that was highly influential in shaping the climate bills in Congress, is shrinking. Recently, ConocoPhillips (CP) and BP have dropped from the Climate Action Partnership because the leading bills do not do enough for the oil and gas industries, they claim. And they are right, the bills are giving special privileges to the coal and electric power industries by supporting the illusionary "Clean Coal" and other measures.
From GW point of view, the opportunity of replacing old, highly polluting coal plants with cleaner higher efficiency natural gas is disregarded, and that change could reduce significant amount of GHG more rapidly than "clean coal" may do. These two companies want their share of the high profit that will be generated by the climate bills. Why only support the coal and electric? When you start giving candies around, all the kids want them in equal measures.
Some may look at the demand of CP and BP as unrealistic and disruptive to the already too timid House Bill, I do not.
With all the respect to the heroic effort by Congressmen Waxman and Markey for putting the House bill together, it was immensely inadequate. In order to put something through they had to give special considerations and support to so many Congresspersons that the final bill was a joke. Over one thousand pages long to give these special interests. It did almost nothing to reduce GHG COMPARE TO THE NEED. And that is the thing we need to focus on- will it achieve significant reduction, will it be accepted by other global emitters to induce them to substantial action. And the answer to both is - NO. You may easily mislead the American public, but not foreign governments.
Politics in the art of the possible, they tell us in Congress, we had to compromise that much to get something accomplished. I understand, but do not agree.
When we are facing the continuous AND RAPID escalation of global warming, when we clearly see the rapid melting of the North Pole ice sheets and Greenland's most massive glaciers. When we actually see and measure the rapid decline of glaciers all around the world, when we measure increases in global temperatures of the oceans and air, we know that GW is escalating at a much faster rate than the IPCC projected just three years ago. Again, we are in real troubles already. We do not have time for half measures.
These Congressional half measures that have the deceptive goal of cutting our GHG by just 7% compared to the MINIMAL NEEDED, would have negligible impact on the temperatures rise caused by GW. Several European nations are offering to cut their GHG by 30% by 2020 if we do the same!
When we deal with the upheaval that GW is expected to cause around the world, misleading ourselves is not an option. Our Congress and government often mislead us to believe that their actions are superior and would accomplish all the promises they are stating. We know it is clearly misleading us on GW.
I rather we face reality and deal with that fact than mask it by half measures that would accomplish almost nothing.
Half measures lull us to complacency and inaction.
Henry Paulson, the Secretary of the US Treasury during the end of the Bush administration and the person most responsible to stopping the financial collapse in 2008 just appeared on the Charlie Rose PBS program. He said [my own words] that only when a very big collapse is about to occur there is ability to overcome the lethargy in government and Congress and take decisive action.
We must remember that this is not possible with global warming.
By the time we see clear evidence of damage to our global environment by global warming.
By the time we will know that global fishing deteriorated so much to cause near starvation to millions across the globe.
By the time we know that ten of millions do not have fresh water to drink.
By the time we see mass migration from hot, dry zones to more moderate climates.
By that time there would be very little that could be done.
By that time no legislation, no financial support, and no time will be available to stop the rapid escalation of global temperature and the wide damages caused by it across the globe.
If we do not cut Greenhouse Gases globally very soon, we would not have a second chance.
From a political point of view, many say, there is no way to legislate a carbon tax in the USA. Most businesses want cap & trade to allow them to continue to emit greenhouse gases as long as they can at the minimum cost. And Congress obviously is highly "influenced" by the business lobby. Money speaks lauder than reality in Congress.
We continue to lie to ourselves, and most of the environmental movement is keeping quiet about this issue. But it is bigger than C&T, it is fiction vs., Nature.
It is obvious that carbon tax is a much superior approach to cutting GHG. But it will force the fossil fuel industry and the electric power industry to change their customary ways of large GHG emission, and will reduce their profits. And the financial sector will not be able to speculate profitably with C&T permits. So they all oppose it vigorously.
Lets' summarize the differences: (Good info in Harper Feb. issue by Mark Shapiro)
The superiority of carbon tax is that it is more accurate means of cutting GHG.
It is easier to tax, easier to monitor, and harder to evade. As a result it is easier and faster to implement, requires relatively low administration, and thus less costly to the economy.
In short, you know what you are dealing with, and you can achieve the results our nation needs.
Cap & Trade has all the opposite characteristics: It is considerably more complex, by at least ten to one, very harder to monitor, easier to falsify data- to claim you did more than you actually achieve. And since C&T is very hard to monitor it will NOT cut GHG by the amount expected. Studies of the European experience indicated that the claims were some 30% higher than the real cuts in GHG. It is clear that if businesses will find any loopholes, they will use them extensively: less cuts in GHG, higher cost to the public.
And one of the most appealing aspects to the financial sector of C&T is a very big and hugely profitable financial trading in C&T Permits and Futures. It is estimated to be in the many trillions dollar range - much larger than the recent financial speculation that brought us to the current global economic near-collapse.
The pressure by the all powerful financial industry in the US may be the largest forcing element in the C&T picture. When they are expecting profits in hundreds of billions, no limit is set on their lobbying. The financial sector- now a powerful 20% of our total US economy, has immensely powerful political influence that the environmental sector is unable to comprehend. The financial sector controls our country more than any other sector since it is the largest sector, and the one with the most amount of ready lobbying cash. And the one with a very low morality. (see the recent PBS exposition of the banking industry).
Now add to the above that the IPCC underestimated the speed of global warming, and that we must add a safety factor to the needed reductions- we do not have neither time to delay action and we should not tolerate half measures. Nature does not care about our political games.
And that is what I am leading to; Our country is governed to a large extent by the laws Congress pass. Even the president has limited ability to influence Congress. And it is obvious that Congress is unable to function in the interest of the nation. Congress does not want to do what the country needs - curtail the rise in GHG emission. (Obviously some Congresspersons are much better than others, but the majority rule.)
We need true leadership and we do not have any now: Leadership means willingness to risk, willingness to put the national interest above your own.
As long as Congress does not face the reality of its actions, the reality of nature, as long as Congress continues to mislead itself and believes in convoluted ways represented by Cap and Trade, there is very little likelihood that the US will cut its GHG emissions by the required amount to limit the expected rise in global temperature. We must set a realistic example to the developing world.
Here is an unvarnished email conversation among five friends deeply concerned about GW, three with PhD in science, on the problems of public apathy and Congressional inaction on global warming:
In a message dated 10/28/2009 3:02:45 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Matania Ginosar writes:
We are idiots in the US, playing the game as if there is no urgency. We are trying to solve a serious global threat by old institutions and old thinking. GW is at least a hundred times graver than WWII. If we fought WWII that way we would have lost the war!
Do we think the rest of the world does not grasp our selfishness?
"Ultimately, members of Congress must be able to explain the impact their vote will have on monthly electric bills and a gallon of gasoline," said Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a centrist think tank. The administration gave a nod to the economic trade-offs Tuesday when it sharply narrowed the number of facilities that would be subject to new emission-control rules. "
How ignorant of reality of GW can we be? And these are the good guys, our liberal Federal Gov. claiming to be eager to fight GW
Matania -- The US population is very far from seeing this as 100x WW2. But you know that and your job is to try to get people to see it. I think the disappearance of arctic ice, glaciers, and polar bears are the most likely to convince people in US, but those are not Pearl Harbor. Before Pearl Harbor, the US was 50/50 for or against getting in, maybe even 70/30 against.
On the quote about costs: Yes. That is very bad view of a lot of our fellow citizens and consumers. To fix the world, energy (electricity and also fuels) will have to cost more (30% more?) and food too (20% more? 40% more?)
Subject: RE: Politics as usual re GW - Poll by Pew Research Center
One indication of the view of the U.S. population on global warming is discussed in the articles referenced below. A recent poll by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that:
"There has been a sharp decline over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising. And fewer also see global warming as a very serious problem - 35% say that today, down from 44% in April 2008."
The poll was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4. It included 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, and it claims a margin of error of +/- 3%. According to the Associated Press article on the poll, Jon Krosnick of Stanford University was surprised by the Pew results and described them as "implausible". Krosnick has been conducting surveys on attitudes about global warming since 1993.
Andrew Weaver, a professor of climate analysis at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, in commenting on the poll results said that politics could be drowning out scientific awareness. "It's a combination of poor communication by scientists, a lousy summer in the Eastern United States, people mixing up weather and climate and a full-court press by public relations firms and lobby groups trying to instill a sense of uncertainty and confusion in the public."
See the following URLs for more information:
Associated Press article on the poll results:
Survey Report from the Pew Research Center:
From: Matania Ginosar
One of the reasons is because our politicians are talking about job creation, green energy, about the insignificant cost the energy bills would cost individuals. They have trivialized it.
The media is to blame too since it is sensation oriented.
Who control the media, a small amount of well off people, very few now.
The president to Congress, even the best ones such as Boxer and Waxman, are trivializing it together. They think using the sell methods of small lies by the Republicans is a road to success. "Frame the issue right".....
Tell the truth to the people even if it will shake them-it should shake them. Global warming is real immaterial how much we make it a green-jobs issue.
You can lie to some of the people some of the time but you can not lie to most of the people most of the time. And that what we are doing now.
Remember Boxer @ Waxman are running for re-election in 2010. It's Platitude Time! Only when you are running against an incumbent is the Earth going to hell in a hand basket if you retain that person. When one is in office all's well that ends well if you re-elect me. (I'm just full of clichés)
From: Matania Ginosar
A person with integrity and wisdom knows that he/she are not the center of the earth and this issue is more important than their position. But very few of us are so dedicated and willing to give our power and comfort. But that is the essential cause of the global warming problem. Every one think about their own benefit and the hell with the rest of the world. Remember the financial and housing crises? Me first the hell with the rest. We will go down the drain with GW if we proceed this way. And it is very possible that we are on this path already. Human are very limited creatures.
Mat, it sure is hard to ignore these emails. You have discovered the true "cause" of human caused GW. To use one of Howard's pithy sayings, "We have met the enemy and they is...US!"
I think you hit the nail on the head when you asked, "Who among us is so dedicated and willing to give (up) our power and comfort?"
I think Buddhist psychology would say that we tend to personalize this problem and then it is all about "me" and not about "us". You are saying that the "default" position of humans is to be self-centered and not compassionate. I hear you. I understand what you are saying. So now that we both "know" this and both believe it to be more or less true, what can we do about it, or can we do anything about it? Or is it mainly dealing with ourselves and those around us, since we can't really influence these others that we don't come into contact with to change their behavior? I guess I am thinking of climate change in Buddhist terms.
A few days ago the political director of the highly respected environmental organization NRDC made very positive remarks about the "accomplishments" in Copenhagen. The credentials of the man are outstanding, but with all due respect to him and NRDC I believe he is way off base. The failure to face reality and agree on some 30% reduction, from the 1990 level, by 2020 is setting us back tragically.
May be it was unrealistic to expect this commitment across the board, but at least the Europeans and the US and other developed countries should have agreed on it. We have produced the largest amount of GHG to date. We have accelerated global warming more than all other nations combined. And it would be the easiest for us to reduce our GHG. Remember, each kWh we cut reduce the input energy by 3 kWh.
Optimists about Copenhagen may not like to face the current reality of GW, or they may think that positive thinking would somehow change the situation, or think it may lead us to action instead of despair. I do not believe this approach is effective. Unless we face the increasingly more dangerous reality of GW we will placate ourselves to accept minor "solutions" that would not reduce the danger to humanity from GW.
It is evidently clear that while we are giving positive spin to our international failures, GHG emissions are rapidly increasing. The improving global economics will soon wipe out any past slowdown in the rise of GHG.
President Obama is not involved enough - it is critical that we have a powerful national leader to push our effort against the Status Quo. However, the president does not personally grasp the seriousness of GW. He may grasp it intellectually, but it did not touch his gut yet. You have to feel GW to move to real action, and to take the needed political risk.
Let's be realistic for a change: We are in immense environmental trouble and the evidence is that the IPCC estimates have been too conservative. And we have nothing of value to date.
There is another serious problem, the poor effectiveness of the environmental organizations in the US. Businesses trying to retain the fossil fuel industry have spent some $100 million in lobbying Congress in 2009. They achieved their goal - nothing has changed. The environmental groups have collectively a budget of several hundred millions! What did these organizations accomplish with these immense resources? Very little. The environmental organizations and most of their staff are dedicated and want to reduce GW. But, the environmental movement, the President, and Congress are operating in the Business As Usual mode because:
AS LONG AS THE PRESIDENT, CONGRESS AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT ARE NOT RISKING THEIR POSITIONS AND LIVELIHOOD, AS LONG AS THEY ARE BOUND BY THEIR NEED FOR INCOME, POSITIONS, OR POWER - THEY WOULD BE INEFFECTIVE IN THEIR STRUGGLE TO SERIOUSLY CURTAIL GLOBAL WARMING.
We need massive grassroots pressure on swing member of Congress. I would like to know why the environmental movement does not use its immense financial resources to create systematic grassroots pressure across the country.
They know about this method, I also discussed it with some of the top people in this movement. They said they are doing it - have you seen any evidence of it? I have not.
They have the money. They have millions of members - where are these people? Why Congress members do not hear from them on a mass scale?
The environmental movement failed us to date.
When will they wake up to the time-criticality of global warming?
The House of Representatives is an institution that does not serve us well. To a large extent it is a failure, especially as far as the fight against global warming is concerned.
We have a strong sentimental attachment to our national institutions but it is time to wake up. Our Congress was developed in the horse- and -buggy days when things moved very slowly. A letter took weeks to arrive. A trip to Europe took a month, nuclear weapons were not even a dream, and global warming did not exist.
There are many good people in Congress but they have little influence. Congress is unable to deal effectively with today's rapidly changing world. Most of its members are self-centered and focuse their attention to a large extent on reelection and personal power. Global warming is a clear and dangerous example. Every year we find that climate changes accelerate faster than was calculated.
Just two examples of Congressional failures:
1. With all due respect to Congressman Waxman and Markey and their deep dedication to fight GW, the bill they crafted to reduce GW is some 1400 page long. This excessive length indicates how nearly impossible it is to get an effective bill to fight GW through the House. Nearly every Congressperson that supported their bill had the ability to add his/her own special provisions to the bill- which weakened the bill considerably. Some say it is nearly useless to make any impact on the fast accelerating climate change.
The end result is that we got a bill that misleads us to believe it can fight GW. In fact the goal they set to cut our GHG emission 20% by 2020 is a fake - a sleight of hand. The IPCC stated that we need to cut our GHG by a MINIMUM of 20% compare to 1990. So this bill just changed the starting point by FIFTEEN years, to 2005. By doing so they in effect cut our commitment to just 7%.
This action is tantamount to a pure lie!
And many scientists believe that 20% reduction by 2020 is far too low to reduce the danger of GW sufficiently. European leaders volunteered to reduce their GHG by 30% by 2020 compare to 1990 if the US will do the same.
The Senate is even unable to do as little as the House did on global warming legislation.
2. I want to focus here on the ability of Congressman Dingle to stop any increase in the average car mileage for many years. One single House member can do so much damage because the House allowed him to do so.
Mr. Dingle is representing the Auto Industry from Michigan for about a half a century (1956) and received some $600,000 donations from the three American auto makers in the last ten years or so.
He was very influential in the House because of his seniority and his very safe seat. He was the Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee for years and even before that stopped attempts to increase our auto industry CAFÉ standard-that is, the corporate average fuel efficiency standard. Congressman Waxman, an outstanding liberal man, fought him and repalced him. This should have been done many years ago.
Some numerical facts: A quarter of US energy input comes from oil for transportation. That is, almost one quarter of our GHG emissions comes from the great inefficiency of our car and truck fleet. (Oil emits less GHG than coal, which is about 22% of our energy input, almost a wash)
This is not just a bad act of Mr. Dingle part; it is a profound malady of the House. He was in power for too long and should have been removed from his powerful position long ago. Most House members supported his power to do so because he could send favors their way from his senior position.
He was also cleaver to be pro environment which allowed him to outsmart even the environmental movement that gave him an award for his liberal environmental stand, while in the same time Mr. Dingle did one of the largest environmental damage in the world. He- with the support of many members of the House - was able to sustain the extreme increase in GW from our use of large, gas guzzlers cars.
Here is the duplicity of the House: (The Senate too) While most Congresspersons were shouting that we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil to increase our military security and financial security, they actually allowed Dingle to increase our dependence on foreign oil, on foreign governments and increase our balance of payment problem by sending hundreds of billions a year to buy oil.
We do have the best Congress money can buy.
No wonder just 20% of the public trusts it.
And we do nothing about it. We don't trust them and we forget about them. Smart? STUPID.
We behave like small children, we pout.
Time to act.
What you can do?
Contact your 3 members of Congress regularly and tell them briefly your views.
Without your action they only hear the lobbyists.
How is it possible that Chancellor Angela Markel, of Germany, Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of England, and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France could offer at Copenhagen to reduce their greenhouse gases by 30% by 2020 while President Barak Obama can offer only 5% reduction?
It is because the European leaders have the support of their people and president Obama does not have it. Why? Because the Europeans are more global citizens; they have suffered through many wars, they are not naïve, and they are also more interested and more aware of the rest of the world. However, the majority of our American people are nice, simple, caring people, but they are also quite naïve. We have had it quite easy. We did not suffer any destruction from the time of our civil war, and even during WWII our losses were the least by far of any major participant in the war. And our economy benefited from the war effort. We think we are special and invincible.
The problem is not primarily lack of knowledge and understanding of facts by many of our leaders. It is also, or may be mostly, an emotional and psychological dilemma. It is very hard to acknowledge within your own soul that humanity is on a verge of irreparable damage. It took me several years before this reality broke my own emotional resistance; and I have been educated as an environmental scientist. I also have been aware of global warming for decades and spent years developed alternative energies against it.
From the ending of the last ice age we had it relatively easy. We never experienced any global danger of this magnitude before. It is not only Republicans that deny GW, many Democrats in Congress and across the country are more interested in their reelection than the survival of humanity. They are unable to grasp reality. It is not that they are bad people, they are too limited, too self absorbed, and do not have enough courage to brake with their "business as usual" mode. In the same time we have some outstanding industry leaders that are willing to be pioneers and stake their position and income to push for a more aggressive fight against global warming, such as the presidents of Duke Power and PG&E utilities.
I believe our president is not able to grasp the full reality of global warming despite the advice of some good people around him. He may understand it intellectually but when it is critical to act and go beyond his political comfort zone, he is not willing to risk his political future to fully alert the American people to the danger we are facing. His political advisers are not grasping the global reality yet.
It is not sufficient to be better than president Bush. President Obama did not show yet the characteristics of a leader of substance, and of a leader suitable to these critical times.
We are not willing to accept that global warming is posing real danger to all the people of the world. Even those who are against global warming have been doing little to change the political status-quo. They have not gone beyond their comfort zone to protest, to create massive political pressure or any thing else that would make a difference. They feel good that they are against global warming. But beyond a small minority of activists do you see any great movement doing anything of substance? I do not.
America is such a vast country it is hard to see beyond it. We are so focused on our own community, state and country as if the rest of the world does not exist. Most of the American public is unsophisticated, and unaware of what is going on in the rest of the world. At the same time poles find that we are now have the most isolationists' attitude from the time of WWII. We do not grasp within our guts that global warming has no boundaries and we are all in the same boat.
We have been accustomed to think that the American strength will get us everything, from the latest I Phone to an easy conquest of Iraq. After all we have the strongest military power in the world, and we have the largest economy. But we also are the most lied to, mislead people on earth both by business and our own government and politicians. No wonder we regress to be so self-centered, so self-involved we can not see nor accept reality.
And the power of money (essentially legal bribes) in our politics is so powerful, Congress can not pass any meaningful bill that benefits the majority of the people.
I just watched again a two hour documentary on the US Advertisement Industry. Amazing how they have developed the most appealing, powerful mind-bending approaches to force us to buy almost anything they want to sell us. We are so much lied to in business, so many in the banking and real estate business justify their lies by: "every body does it" that it was natural for many of us to participate in the mass lies that produce the financial collapse of the last few years. The financial industry used the same tools if bending facts to mislead people to buy and commit and speculated to such an extent that the economy tanked. But the people on the top remain very wealthy.
And the problem with global warming is that our politicians and leaders across much of the country are using the same proven techniques to mislead us to believe whatever they want to.
As long as we will continue to be so self absorbed, so uninterested in the reality around us, so unaware of the world beyond the US, then our destiny would be to be the most disliked country on earth, and with a good reason, we are not willing to reduce our standard of living one iota to allow some of the poorest people on earth to have just one decent meal daily.
WE are not so strong any longer and our unwillingness to participate in the fight against global warming will backfire on us from all sides.
The physical world will survive with much higher temperatures but the people will suffer endlessly unless we cut our greenhouse gases drastically and soon. And we are the country that emitted the maximum amount to date and that continue to emit some twenty tones of CO2 per person per year. If China did that it would emit four times what it emits today. And four and a half times more than we do now.
What may be the answer?
Without US leadership and example China would not reduce its emissions as needed. The US must cut its emissions of all GHG by at least 30% by 2020 as the Europeans are willing to do. We have so much energy waste that it is not too difficult to do it if our political system pass the right laws without catering to the interests of the coal and power industry, but the interest of humanity.
We can not escape from our responsibility and let the global climate deteriorate even more rapidly than it does now. Our leaders must rise to the occasion, and I do not know how to force them unless we get involved in political pressure on a wide scale. No environmental organization has done anything of substance in this area yet. Only their leadership is involved as if mass grassroots pressure is ineffective or not possible to create.
It would be impracticable to wait until the general public sees and grasps the damage and then panic into action. It would be too late to reverse the escalating climate deterioration.
Create EFFECTIVE political pressure on Congress
In the first part I concluded that to reduce the immense amount of GHG emissions in the US we will need enormous efforts, and will require trillions, way above the size of the Second World War.
In the second part I concluded that individual energy reductions are helpful and satisfying, but achieve insignificant reduction in the US GHG emission.
Secondly, to make significant impact on GHG Congress must make many mandatory laws such as conservation laws and also forcing most GHG emitters to reduce their emissions.
We are not creating effective political pressure on Congress at present to make these laws. The House passed bill is a compromised so diluted to attract support, it is ineffective and would not bring us to the targets needed to slow global warming noticeably. The Senate pending bills may be even worse.
Creating effective political pressure requires sophisticated, systematic ways. Experience demonstrates that a relatively small number of active people can create significant counterbalance to the powerful influence of lobbyists on members of Congress. Most of us do not create pressure our Congressional delegation. And the grassroots pressure by environmental groups is ineffective.
How do I know this, I organized pressure on Congress for a decade on another liberal issue. I directed a citizen lobbying effort in several states concurrently as head of a national organization "TARGET CONGRESS" and it was successful when we did it with dedication.
People can influence some of their Congresspersons. Especially those who are on the margin (swings), those that are not yet sure how to respond to GW. We can not wait until the damage to our climate is so obvious that they will finally act. It could be too late.
Let's look at Congress quickly:
Many things that I will be saying here may apply to most members of Congress, obviously not all; some are outstanding.
All politics is local, said the famous leader of the House Tip O'Neill. We need to accept that and build our pressure on that fact.
The most powerful force influencing members of Congress is their desire for power. It is intoxicating. Think about it, each member of the House "represents" the desire of three quarter of a million Americans!
Their desire for power keeps them running for office again and again despite the extremely difficult demands on them and their families.
To retain their seats they will do many things to satisfy the people in power in their region. Congresspeople actually believe that they are doing the best for the majority of their constituents even when they vote for the sheer benefits of the selected few.
Most members of Congress vote according to their needs for reelection. To continue to retain their powerful position.
I have seen it in action; I have met privately with several and talked to the staff of more of them. We all know that, we have seen it again and again.
One of the key tools they need for reelection is the short, 30 seconds TV ads. These ads cost millions and that is why they have to seek vast amount of financial support for their reelection. The extreme Left and Right voters are not influenced much by ads. The targets of these ads are the undecided voters.
Without going further into the complexity of the election process, let's see what pressure is exerted now by us, the people who believe GW is dangerous to humanity.
Here is the limited way many environmental groups are lobbying Congress now:
1. Environmental organizations together have millions of members and have a total budget of hundreds of millions. Considering the potential power we have there we have achieved very little because very few members do any thing politically.
2. Each organization has its own lobbyists that work hard and diligently to educate members of Congress on the energy and global warming issues. But, they are not backed up by noticeable pressure on Congress from their own members.
Environmental organizations are using mass emailing techniques most of the time. They send emails to their supporters and ask them to click to send automatic email to their Congress members. The idea is to make it very easy to supporters to act, since most do not.
Congress members ignore this type of mass emailing since these auto emails are externally motivated and do not represent the individual and ingrained views of their constituents.
When I discussed this with a very high level staff of a national environmental group he justified this ineffective technique by saying that it helps the organization find potential activists and to raise more money.
Sometimes environmental organizations suggest that you use your own words instead of the canned message. It has little impact too since the Congressional staff receiving the messages can easily see that this is an organized effort. These auto emails are better than nothing, but not by much.
And here is a sad example of wasted efforts:
V.P. Al Gore, which I respect and admire, heads an organization: Repower America. What they do lately with great fanfare is putting your views on a common video site. It is personally satisfying but this does not pressure Congress members to action.
There is a significant difference between something sounding good and being good.
Here is what we need to do now:
We must focus our grassroots pressure on our own members of the House and the Senate. We must pressure them by individual methods on a regular basis. Tell them to vote to reduce GHG drastically and soon.
Since very few people are doing it, your combined effort suggested below represent to the Congressional staff the views of a thousand inactive people.
When you get an alert by email, or when it is on your mind, instead of taking the easy way out, force yourself to make very brief personal phone calls to your two senators and House member.
Call their Washington DC office.
And call their district office.
And write a one paragraph letter to these two locations.
And send a brief personal email to their DC and local offices -separately.
They do not correlate all of these messages and will count them as if coming from many people.
Motivate others to do the same.
This 20 minutes effort, once or twice a month, is more effective than the mass emailing and other less political methods we now used.
And that is a little price to pay to fight global warming.
A major split between developing countries has emerged at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.
From: Developing countries split on CO2 by Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Copenhagen
Small island states and poor African nations vulnerable to climate impacts laid out demands for a legally-binding deal tougher than the Kyoto Protocol.
This was opposed by richer developing states such as China, which fear tougher action would curb their growth.
Tuvalu demanded - and got - a suspension of negotiations until the issue could be resolved.
The split within the developing country bloc is highly unusual, as it tends to speak with a united voice.
" Our future rests on the outcome of this meeting "
Ian Fry, Tuvalu delegate
After talks resumed in the afternoon, the Tuvalu delegation walked out when it appeared that the issue might be sidelined.
Private discussions will now continue behind the scenes among a small group of concerned countries.
Tuvalu's negotiator Ian Fry made clear that his country could accept nothing less than full discussion of its proposal for a new legal protocol, which was submitted to the UN climate convention six months ago.
"My prime minister and many other heads of state have the clear intention of coming to Copenhagen to sign on to a legally binding deal," Mr Fry said.
"Tuvalu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, and our future rests on the outcome of this meeting."
The call was backed by other members of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), including the Cook Islands, Barbados and Fiji, and by some poor African countries including Sierra Leone, Senegal and Cape Verde.
Several re-iterated the demand of small island developing states that the rise in the global average temperature be limited to 1.5C, and greenhouse gas concentrations stabilised at 350 parts per million (ppm) rather than the 450ppm favoured by developed countries and some major developing nations.......
My reflections on the above:
Marvelous! I am so glad the split is now in the open.
These small nations are not afraid to tell us the reality of GW. Their survival is in real danger.
The problem is our own future is in danger but we can not yet see it. "It will happen to them, not us" we think.
If we do not fight GW with all means we have our children would not be able to have a reasonable life. The unrealistic goal of 450 ppm would cause immense damage to the global climate in addition to possssibly triggering one of several catastrophic events we would not be able to control.
We may not be able to go back in the foreseeable future to 350 ppm but setting a fictitious goal of 450 ppm that presumably will let us live safely with the rapidly deteriorating natural world is misleading us to complacency.
We have a serious failure of the imagination, as the 9/11 Committee told us. It is very hard to comprehend the future under GW. It is beyond human experience. We want to believe it would not be serious and we could control it.
It is time to open our eyes and minds to the facts we already see and to the pending dangers ahead.
We are continuing to wish for "controlled" and "limited" temperature increase. We are playing with fire and this fire is the future of a sustainable climate.
We must do all that is possible to reduce GW. We have no other option that would not cause immense human suffering on a scale we can not imagine yet.
The Associated Press wrote today an article showing the opposition of the fossil fuel industry, the power industry, National Association of Manufacturers, the Edison Electric Institutive, and the notorious US Chamber of Commerce to the President's decision to let the EPA work to reduce our immense emission of greenhouse gases.
Of course these groups would not want the now science-guided EPA to curtail the vast US GHG emissions. These groups are the main, and by far, the greatest emitters of GHG in the US. Any movement toward lower GHG and green energy would reduce their empire, their profits, their control over the US economy and over our Congress!
The Sacramento Bee, a main newspaper of Northern California, selected to print this misguided article in its business section and titled it:: EPA view gets chilly reaction, in very big letters.
I wrote the following letter to the editor of the Bee. I would have used much stronger terms and a longer discussion, but I was bound by the rules for letters to the editor. I would not be surprised if it would not be printed since it critic the Bee, and my past experience is that they do not like it too much.
"I wonder who selected and titled the main article on EPA in your Business section. How can a tile like that and the article be printed especially when all nations are struggling now in Copenhagen to find a common path to save our world from drastic increase in global temperature and the damages from it?
The Bee is supposed to be managed by sensible people who understand global warming. While we are fighting for humanity survival this title represents the misguided views of the coal, oil, gas and power industries that consider profit the crucial ingredient in life and certainly do not care much about civilization's survival.
These profit oriented groups are the ones who lobbied so aggressively against any meaningful energy/environment laws in Congress. They succeeded to make GW laws in Congress so ineffective for so long. And both the House Bill that narrowly passed and the Senate bill that did not yet pass suffer from inadequate regulations.
For the editors to go along with it shows a very narrow understanding how stories and titles of this nature impact public perception of this serious issue.
The Bee editors should have shown the importance, the wise move and the support that the scientific community and environmental movement give to this EPA action and the reduction in global warming it may be able to achieve."
Dr. matania Ginosar
Environmental Scientist & Electrical Engineer
Prev. Mgr. of the Solar Office CA Energy Commission
In the first part I described some critical issues that have powerful influence of fighting GW, concluding that the effort is of immense magnitude and will require trillions. Both governments and the private sector must work together to achive it. We must push them to do so.
Part II. To achive reduction in GHG citizens must participate - politically.
Some of the key steps needed:
A - Reduce energy demand by mandatory conservation and efficiency laws,
B - Reduce GHG by reducing the emissions a from coal power plants,
C - Increase the cost of fossil fuels,
D - Increase the cost of electricity,
C - Put on line as many (near) cost-effective "green" technologies as possible.
D - Invest in R & D of new technologies
2. First we must substantially increase the cost of fossil fuels as soon as possible by taxing them at the source, or point of entry. The current approach of Cap & Trade system is highly complex, inefficient, and prone to abuse. Also the public does not trust it and does not trust the people who support it, from Congress to big business, especially the main beneficiaries, the coal industry that received free credits to allow them to operate now in a business-as-usual mode; as if we have spare time to combat GHG.
3. To start significant reduction in the emission of GHG in the US we will need national mandatory laws that dictate first of all large, nation-wide, reduction in our energy consumption. Significant conservation laws and increased efficiency standards are required as the first step in any effort to reduce GHG globally. And especially in the US since we are almost the highest per capita (average per person) emitters of GHG. And we already contributed the most GHG to the accumulated total of GHG in the atmosphere. For example: India is one of the lowest per capita emitters, (about one twentieth, 5%, of ours) and we want them to reduce their total GHG emissions significantly? They can't.
I wrote the above to give you a feeling of how big is the problem and how complex it is. It is almost beyond our grasp. Piecemeal changes would not make any difference!
You may say: you are telling me it is so huge, it is so complex that average citizen can not impact the problem in any meaningful way. So, what this has to do with me and what can I do about it?.
A very good question. So, what are our options as citizens?
The normal approach by good people who care about GW is to cut our own consumption of energy and material. Good steps. Every TV we buy produce GHG in China, using the dirtiest power source, coal power plants. So, we should cut your consumption. There are many suggestions from most environmental organizations what we can do. My wife and I have done it in our home for decades. Our electricity consumption is one third of most of our neighbors, according to our utility. But these steps are not enough by a long stretch.
It feels good, we know we did your part.
But is this the issue? Can I and any one else make a difference by our individual energy reduction? As sad as it is and as frustrated we may be, our individual energy reduction is insignificant in reality. We think that millions in the US are doing what we are doing, cutting their energy use, and the cumulative effect eventually will mater. The number of people purposely reducing their energy consumption in a significant amount is very low. It does not show in any national energy statistics. We are continuously increasing the per-capita-the average per person-use of energy.
You see, may be our friends are reducing their consumption, and we hear so much about it we get the impression that it is wide spread. It is not- data shows that most of the population are not doing it and will not do it unless forced to do so. The huge purchases of large screen TV's despite the bad economy should open our eyes to the basic American desire for MORE and More.
Most people do not change their self-centered behavior unless forced to. And only national mandatory conservation laws will make significant conservation and efficiency reduction a reality.
We can not go along the old high-consumption path and reduce our GHG emissions. It is just not possible. Green energy would not be able to do it either.
How do we get national, mandatory conservation, by pressuring Congress to do so. And each of us can only pressure our own three Congressional delegates: our two Senators and one House member. This is where we could make the needed impact.
I am well aware that we do not trust Congress. We all know the negative influence of lobbyists, and the money often associated with them, on Congressional votes. We know the corruption of some members of Congress, but that should not stop us because that is the only way open to us individually to actually impact global warming.
Experience demonstrated that a relatively small number of people can create significant counterbalance to the powerful influence of contact and money on member of Congress. Most of us do not do any effort to pressure our Congressional delegation.
How do I know this, I have organized pressure on Congress for a decade on another liberal issue. I directed a citizen lobbying effort is several states concurrently as head of a national organization and it was successful when we did it with dedication and eagerness. People can influence some of their Congresspersons. Not all Congresspersons by any means, but those who are on the margin, those that are not yet sure how to respond to GW.
This is a separate subject that I will detail in the next part.
The key is to be open is the reality that concentrating on individual energy reduction is a nice thing to do and also satisfying, but it is insignificant and would not help us at all to reduce global warming on the mass scale that it must be done.
End of part 2.
Part 3 soon.
I plan to show here that the most important action we, as individuals, can take fighting GW is to pressure our three representatives in Congress. I will do that in two parts. The first one is an overview of the complexity and magnitude of the task the US faces in changing our reliance on cheap fossil fuels. It would not discuss alternative technologies but the approaches open to us. I want to leave you with the deep impression that this is an awesome task and we have to be realistic and focused in order to change our life-long energy-wasteful culture we have grown to depend on in the USA.
In the second part I plan to show: A. What the US must do and B. Why our individual pressure on Congress is so critical and the most effective way for each of us to help reduce the blotted US energy consumption and our huge Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
Change our attitude- open our eyes: In order to make a significant impact we must look at reality with clear eyes and do our best to face facts we do not want to see or to accept. Opening our eyes clearly is a powerful challenge to all of us since that is not the way we usually look at the world now. We continuously mislead ourselves, and many of our leaders mislead themselves and us too. Our world is inundated by misleading political and economic announcements that make it very difficult for us to distinguish between realities and make- belief. Very few experts dare to expose us to the full reality of GW because they fear they would be labeled "extremists" even by fellow scientists who are aware of the gravity of GW.
Let's focus our attention on what we need to accomplish - on our real target- massive and rapid reduction in GHG, and from that derive the practical path we need to take to reduce the intensity of GW. And I am not talking here about the technical elements or which alternative energy we should embrace. I am talking about how each of us can maximize her/his impact to improve the situation in the USA. As individuals we have no power to impact the rest of the world. But by our impact on our own government we would also impact the rest of the world.
Let's recap the essential issues to help us grasp the magnitude of the effort:
1. Humanity never faced any thing of this magnitude and severity before. Our climate is changing rapidly and we have to adapt to these changes and minimize the likelihood of more severe changes.
We do not have previous experience to rely on. It will shake our foundation and requires new approaches we never tried.
2. Fighting GW is larger than any previous human endeavor, much larger than WWII. It will demand efforts and sacrifices of a similar caliber to the size of the problem.
3. The assumption that we will not be individually impacted and we can live with ever increasing standard of living is unrealistic. We will have to make sacrifices in the U.S. to reduce the intensity of GW.
4. GW is an international problem, all nations are emitting greenhouse gases to a lesser or larger degree. Therefore, global cooperation is a must. Some nations will have to give more than others.
5. The current largest emitters are China, USA, the burning forests in Borneo and Brazil, Europe. India is fast emerging, and all other countries contribute too. Even burning of wood in poor Africa is a significant GW problem.
6. The global population of 6.7 billion is projected to increase to 9.5 billion by 2050, in just 40 years. This rapid population growth is a major contributor to GW
7. Global population continues to demand a higher standard of living that is not sustainable because of the increase demand for martial, for energy, and the associated increased in GHG emissions.
8. Over 200 million poor, rural Chinese that now consume little energy will be moving into the middle class in the next ten to fifteen years. Some 200 million Indians are expected to move to higher consumption too. This increase consumption by 400 million and additional people around the globe, will significantly increase the demand for material goods and for energy accelerating GW. Before the mid century this shift could be increase demand for material and energy of a similar magnitude to the EU and the USA combined.
9. The majority of stories about the coming negative impacts of GW mainly point to the poor nations in Africa and Asia. But this is misleading us to believe that somehow the US will be spared from any significant impacts.
Yes, we think, we may have some rising sea levels and it will impact some one else in Florida and the flat Golf Coast. Yes, the draughts in the Southwest will expand but we will find a solution. Don't worry. The dramatic changes in rain patterns, or more severe floods here, less water there, are not worrisome to us. Our leaders will find a practical solution and our taxes will not increase. And so many more nonsense of this form. However, several extensive studies show that this is not true. We will be impacted, each one of us and our families in the US.
10. We talk as if technology will save us by some magic. New technologies are not a magical solution since few practical options are available. We use so much energy and consume so much fossil fuel that most people, even professionals, are unable to fully grasp the magnitudes involved. Some professionals project so many options of green energies without grasping the immense amount of capital, the immense amount of material, the large amount of manufacturing capabilities needed, the long time required to build the vast infrastructures involved. They do not grasp the delays in our political systems, the need for approvals, for environmental impact studies, the imperfection of our political system, the opposition for changes from normal citizens, and the corruption in our everyday political structure. They forget the twisting of facts by our political and economic systems, to name just a few of the real hindrances to changing our energy structure. Not in my back yard is a real problem.
It took a century to develop and create our vast electrical system. It took a century to build the complex infrastructure, refineries, pipelines, distribution centers, gas stations, to supply 200 million cars in the US. It took a century to build the vast distribution system for natural gas to reach much of the housing and industry in the country. And the combined capital is in the trillions of dollars. Yes, thousands of billions.
I will leave with this question: Do you believe that our individual reduction in energy consumption, as useful and satisfying it is to us, can make even a minor dent in this global picture?
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE BY GOVERNMENT AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR:
President Obama has done very little, in my opinion, to move Congress on GW because his key POLITICAL advisers do not yet grasp the gravity of the situation. He is not willing to risk his popularity on an issue he may not fully grasp. And if you understand it only intellectually, you have not grasped it.
Obama political advisers are very bright and believe they are smarter than the "alarming" scientists and a delay on GW is an acceptable risk. His own reelection and the election of members of Congress are important, and they determine the political strategy that keeps the president essentially mute on GW. It is clear that the economy has to be stabilized first; without a solid economy we can not invest in the tools needed to fight GW effectively. And that will take a lot of money. It would not be the price of a postage stamp and it will cause suffering for the people whose income depends on fossil fuels. That is a given, change of this immense nature will cause winners and losers. However, we can not continue on the old pathway. We do not have an alternative to starting a tremendous global change
I do believe that Secretary Chu and Dr. Holdren are not allowed to say what they do what to do, scream about the urgency. Just look at their faces during interviews and read the small amount they are allowed to write.
The GW problem is even more serious than normally described even in most predictions. according to most scientific articles I have read. We have almost no time left to slow down the accelerating deterioration of our climate. I just heard the head of the IPCC Dr. Pachuri commenting on the dire situation in his country, India, with the rapid melting of the Himalayas glaciers supplying water to hundreds of millions of people in India. What will happen to them? They will be facing death. You can not relocate so many people. And the same thirst is facing China.
Almost all other advanced countries are willing to participate in the fight against GW, their leaders grasp it. We in the US have the mentality of: "me first the rest of the world second". Do not expect a change of heart among us. We are inherently very selfish. We have caused, our economic system have caused a global economic misery that created a $2.7 Trillions in markdowns of global assents that caused the economic collapse. More than a million Americans participated willingly in this game. Wall Street used illegal and semi illegal means to increase its profit. It is nor just a few managers on the top. It is wide spread. And Wall Street is expected to give $20 billions in bonuses this year its employees!
How can you expect to change the Business As Usual attitude of many in the nation and especially in Congress? Their reelection is the key to their lives. I have talked to some of them, and they were the good ones.
To make an real impact we must pressure our Congress members. All the talks, all these discussions on the media and the web are insignificant if they do not move people to pressure Congress. We make not like them, we may not trust them, but Congresspersons make the laws we must live under. And we need new laws to curb GW. Congress is the only tool we have and we rarely use it. I have spent nine full years directing staff in several states on both coasts organizing liberal people to pressure Congress. I talked with over a thousand selected liberal people personally. We had the best tools and met them personally in small groups. Their desire to move was flowing like molasses since most liberals just like to feel good by having the "correct attitude" about an issue. For them it is enough "action." They are not motivated by anger, like the Right - so they do not act. They do not trust Congresspersons, so they do not move to write a letter or make a phone call. "Why bother" is their motto.
Information does not lead to action, especially with the mild manners, good people that liberals usually are.
WE WHO WRITE, WE WHO UNDERSTAND AND CARE, MUST MOTIVATE THEM TO PRESSURE CONGRESS AGAIN AND AGAIN. OTHERWISE ALL OUR WORDS ARE FOR NAUGHT. IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY.