MainLine Peace Action/DelMont PDA

February 13, 2011

Peak Oil And Changing Climate

Filed under: economics, environment — Tags: , , , , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 5:41 am

The Nation magazine has started producing a series of videos on this subject.  The first video, linked below, features Noam Chomsky, Bill McKibben, Richard Heinberg and others talking about the decline in the world’s oil supply and the concurrent increase in global warming.  This video is 20 minutes long, but it is important, and you are urged to watch it.

Advertisements

February 5, 2011

Obama As Unfledged Climate Hawk

Filed under: environment — Tags: , , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 8:48 am

The President was widely criticized last week for omitting certain words critical to explaining the State of the Union (see “Obama calls for massive boost in low-carbon energy, but doesn’t mention carbon, climate or warming” and Brulle: “By failing to even rhetorically address climate change, Obama is mortgaging our future and further delaying the necessary work to build a political consensus for real action”).

This weekend, his climate hawkish science adviser, John Holdren, was not so reticent.   Today, in a Penn State speech on energy efficiency, Obama reemerged as a ‘climate eyas’, an unfledged young climate hawk, with these remarks:

 

Right here at Penn State, a university whose motto is “Making Life Better,” you’ve answered the call. Today you’re preparing to lead the way on a hub that will make America home to the most energy-efficient buildings in the world. Now, that may not sound too sexy, “energy-efficient buildings.” But listen. Our homes and our businesses consume 40 percent of the energy we use. Think about that. Everybody focuses on cars and gas prices, and that’s understandable. But our homes and our businesses use 40 percent of the energy. They contribute to 40 percent of the carbon pollution that we produce and that is contributing to climate change. It costs us billions of dollars in energy bills. They waste huge amounts of energy.

The good news is we can change all that. Making our buildings more energy-efficient is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution, and create jobs right here in the United States of America. And that’s what we’re going to do.

As Brad Johnson writes,

Reflecting many of the idea’s in the Center for American Progress’s Rebuilding America proposal, the president’s goal of increasing building energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020 is tied to new tax incentives for commercial building retrofits, expanded loan guarantees, a new competitive grant program for states and municipalities, and new training program and extension service for businesses in energy efficient building technology.

With his strong clean-energy jobs push, President Obama is addressing the crises facing this nation. Steering America to fight climate pollution is his great unmet challenge. He missed the opportunity to teach Americans about the true nature of the severity of the climate crisis in his first two years in office, even as Nashville, Fargo, Russia, Pakistan, Australia, and the rest of the world were pummeled by the hottest, wettest climate on record. He must do more than mention “carbon pollution” in passing before a friendly, collegiate audience, but it’s a start.

You have to squawk, before you can fly….

January 2, 2011

Welcome To The New Normal

Filed under: economics, environment — Tags: , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 7:02 am

The Christmas snowstorm in New York and the city’s response to it may be a vision of the future.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/12/31

December 11, 2009

Why Quit Fossil Fuels?

For those who wonder how to convince resistant people we must move away from fossil fuels due to Climate Change, I have one word of advice: Don’t.

There’s actually no need. Not because Global Warming isn’t real – it is, and the overwhelming evidence is that it’s largely fueled by human actions – but because there are other reasons why we should move away from fossil fuel-based energy. The elegant thing about a multi-pronged approach like this is that you can always find some reason to convince someone with. For example, hard-core conservatives may simply refuse to believe anything people do could affect “God’s perfect world” but they are perfectly willing to accept that we should not be sending half a trillion dollars a year to foreign oil producers who mostly hate us, and who export terrorism along with their oil (#s 4-6).

1. Climate Change: Oil and Coal contribute to global warming and will only do so more as China, India etc. emulate American lifestyles. According to many scientists, we may already be past the temperature “tipping point” where runaway synergistic effects will make warming inevitable, even if we could stop all CO2 production today (which we can’t).

2. Balance of Trade: We import 70% of our oil – $500 billion/year – often from countries that hate us, fund terrorists, and buy our businesses (Citigroup) and infrastructure (Chrysler Building). This is an unsustainable transfer of wealth, which will only make America poorer. We are now paying foreign powers both what we earn personally AND what our companies earn, while they sit back and enjoy the results of their geological luck. Take a look at T. Boone Pickens’ presentation for a more realistic assessment of what exporting our wealth will do to us in 10 years. Or, take a look at post-Columbus Spain, which thought having all the gold in the new world would keep them prosperous forever and allow them to import whatever skills and goods they needed. It didn’t and they couldn’t.

3. Green Jobs: Germany has created 250,000 new green jobs in its solar industry, which supplies 13% of its electric needs. We need to replace oil, coal and nuclear producing jobs with wind and solar installation and maintenance jobs. (It takes 10 years to build a nuclear plant and 2 years to build a solar thermal field).

4. National Security: We must not depend on foreign powers to supply us with vital energy, which is as critical to modern society as food and shelter. Even if we drill the arctic for oil (home to up to 25% of the world’s reserves, according to US Geological Survey), we will have to defend those new wells not only from nature, but from Russia, Canada, Denmark (Greenland), and others with a claim to the high north, leading to unnecessary conflict with these countries. Clearly, ANWR has never been about the tiny bit of land off northern Alaska that would supply just 2 years of oil for America; it’s been about opening up the entire Arctic to exploration. We cannot afford to defend such a large and inhospitable region from other regional players with as large or larger geological claims.

5. The Oil Curse: Countries that depend on natural resources to make money, and not people, are the most corrupt, despotic, self-righteous and anti-human rights regimes on Earth. China does not seem to care where their oil comes from, encouraging rogue states like Sudan, Iran, Burma and Venezuela, where human rights barely exist. This is a naïve and ultimately counter-productive strategy for China but not one we should be encouraging again either (see: the downfall of the Shah of Iran).

6. Military Overreach: America cannot afford to defend oil fields. The Iraq war is, at least partly, a subsidy for Big Oil. Lives are being lost and resources are being spent ($12 Billion/month) so that – maybe, eventually – we can get more oil out of Iraq (estimated to be 2 or 3 largest holder of oil reserves). Meanwhile, Iraq does not even use $79 billion surplus to pay for its own infrastructure needs, while here in the U.S. our bridge collapse from lack of care (Minnesota) and our electrical grid blacks out.

7. Peak Oil: We are probably only seeing peak geopolitical oil, not peak geological oil, now, but it will only get more expensive to drill oil. Most estimates put peak oil within 10 years, and since global demand has exceeded earlier estimates, we may be even closer. The perversion of the OPEC dominated oil market means that they will drill LESS, not MORE, as the price goes up, since they literally collect more money than they know what to do with already, and they want to stretch out their supply. It’s only when the price of oil goes DOWN that OPEC members are tempted to cheat on their quotas because their dysfunctional economies become desperate for cash. Right now, they want to sell oil only a trickle at a time.

8. Local Environmental Damage: If we drill everywhere, we will eventually have oil wells all over the west (instead of wind turbines), and even in the (newly melted) arctic. These high-risk drilling areas will be more likely to see oil spills, soot, and CO2 damage and the further eradication of local animal (Polar Bears) and plant life. Already, regional water tables are being polluted by accidents and poisoness chemicals involved in the drilling industry. This is especially true of the Natural Gas and Coal industries, which use and pollute prodigious amounts of scare water resources. The cost to clean up the toxic coal ash release in Harriman, Tennessee has been estimated to be as high as $800 million higher than President Obama’s entire stimulus bill. This “pond” was merely average out of hundreds of similar ponds located all over the south and west.

9. We eat too much oil: Oil goes into fertilizer, which goes into corn, which goes into EVERYTHING we eat, including meat. Omega 6 fatty acids (the bad kind) are higher in factory-fed beef. Omega 3 fatty acids (the good kind) are higher in grass-fed beef and almost as high as in fish, according to Michael Pollen (the Omnivore’s Dilemma). Oil-based Corn-fed meat is making us fat and raising the national health bill. Cattle, pigs, chickens live a cruel, short life in tight, economical confines because it is cheaper to make them do so than to let them live on the open range. Even an omnivore must realize there is a difference for an animal to be raised humanely and then killed for food then one that is tortured in a CAFO its entire life and then killed. Each wind turbine pays farmers $5,000-$10,000 annually and allows livestock to graze in their shade, making natural grass-fed meat economically competitive again. This synergy could make us healthier AND wean us off imported oil. It would also make our streams, rivers and the Gulf of Mexico healthier by reducing fertilizer runoff.

10. Loss of American’s position as Innovation Leader: The oil and automotive industries were born here over 100 years ago. It is time for America to lead the world into the renewable era with Zero Emission Vehicles and renewable energy. If not us, then China or some other countries will take our place and America will become a second-rate power dependent on others for everything.

Take action — click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Support Energy Independence

Click here to see the most recent messages sent to congressional reps and local newspapers

Scott Baker is a Senior Editor and Writer at Op Ed News, a Writer for DailyKos