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President Obama Must Lead on Climate Change


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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 January 2013, 4:21 PM
The silence is broken, now is the time to act

On Monday, President Obama’s inauguration will officially mark the beginning of his second term, and with it his second chance at finally taking strong action on one of the most important issues of our time, climate change.

Two months ago, on the night of his re-election and in front of an audience hopeful to move forward on so many issues, the president brought climate change back to the forefront of the nation’s mind by listing it as a top priority for his second term. Now, President Obama must go beyond the mere mention of the issue and use his bully pulpit to make the connection between carbon pollution and extreme weather. Just as Franklin Delano Roosevelt used his first inaugural address to declare war on the Great Depression, Obama must use his own confirmation to declare war on another societal ill that threatens to destroy life as we know it.

Of course, the president’s rhetoric will mean nothing if it is not backed by concrete actions in the next four years. And the time for action couldn’t be more urgent.

Scientists have officially deemed 2012 the hottest year on record in the U.S. And a newly released report known as the National Climate Assessment says that the climate is only going to get worse, with increasing risks of asthma, widespread power blackouts, pest outbreaks, record high temperatures and possibly even food shortages.

Meanwhile, the dirty energy industry continues to lead Congress by the nose.

As a result, President Obama has no choice but to step ahead of the fray and march past special interests and their friends in Congress. He must lead a path to a clean energy future by building upon his previous accomplishments such as historic vehicle standards that will cut carbon emissions and double the fuel efficiency of today’s vehicles by 2025.

To start, Obama should use his executive authority and the power of the Clean Air Act to set standards that will cut carbon pollution from America’s aging power plant fleet by at least 25 percent by 2020. These new standards will finally address our nation’s largest source of carbon pollution while creating tens of thousands of clean energy jobs. In addition, the president should also reject dirty fuels like tar sands oil, which leading scientists agree must be kept in the ground if we want to avoid the most catastrophic aspects of a warmer world.

Though he must lead the charge, President Obama need not walk alone in tackling this issue. The resignation of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will leave a void that can be filled by another leader who’s eager to continue using our nation’s environmental laws to slash carbon emissions. Vacancies in the Interior Department and elsewhere may also present opportunities for appointing strong leaders on climate change. In addition to his inner circle, President Obama is backed by a majority of the public who believe climate change is real, humans are the cause and cleaner energy is needed.

Earthjustice, together with more than 70 environmental, civic, health and labor groups, recently pledged to work with Obama every step of the way in tackling the climate crisis and securing a healthy future, so long as he does lead. Leading the charge will not only save the world from catastrophic climate change; it will also reestablish America’s credibility among world leaders who still look to the United States for guidance and direction on this issue.

On the night he was re-elected, President Obama told supporters that “we want our children to live in an America...that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” At the time, the nod to climate change was a hopeful indicator that this issue would finally be taken seriously.

But merely acknowledging the issue is no longer enough. Leaders don’t talk. They do. And if Obama leads the nation on climate change, he will need the support and involvement of everyone who cares about the fate of humanity to stop climate change before it’s too late. It is by those actions that future generations will use to judge the President’s leadership in a time of climate crisis.
 

We MUST stop ruining our planet before it is too late to mend the damage, if not already too late. There is nothing ore important than this. We must be able to live and have an inabitable planet before we can address other pressing issues. Put priorities in the logical order!

I meant "habitable." Type-o!

"Inter Planetary Time Shares"
Unless you are fortunate enough to have a "Time Share" on another Planet, you had better recognize that we DO NOT live on a Planet with “Infinite” Open Space to be used as someone’s PROFIT GENERATING, PRIVATE PLAYGROUND.
All Nations must survive under NATURE’S, one and only, BIO-DOME, an Atmospherically “Finite”, "Closed System". Where, if anything is broken or corrupted, it cannot be fixed or replaced! As with our Two(2) most Essential, Un-Fixable and Irreplaceable Components: the Air we Breath and the Water we Drink. Once gone, these two components are, not only Gone, but Gone Forever! Man-Made Pollution, aided by Global Warming -whose causes may be argued but whose presence cannot be, are inflicting, and will continue to inflict, an insidious toll on our supply of Breathable Air and Drinkable Water.
As All Nations do reside under this one, GLOBAL BIO-DOME, ergo, when any Nation Pollutes, sooner or later, all Nations will eventually suffer the consequences of that Pollution! THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE POLLUTION SPEWED INTO THE AIR BY THE BURNING OF COAL, or other types of Pollution, IN CHINA OR HERE, IS THE TIME IT WILL TAKE FOR THAT POLLUTION TO ACCUMULATE AND BE MOVED BY PREVAILING WINDS OR OCEAN TIDES UNDER THE "DOME", FROM CHINA TO HERE or elsewhere! AND WE ARE DOWNWIND FROM CHINA!
NATURE’S BIO-DOME is filling up inexorably, bottom to top, faster than we can pump it out. Even if we could possibly pump it out, there would be no place to pump it to?
We are becoming a planetary "Titanic". And that legendary "Iceberg" is getting inexorably closer every day of continued world-wide Pollution!
Due to obsessive GREED and Ignorance, we have long abandoned any and all respect for our Environment. And Mother Nature will never cease to retaliate against our sociopathic disdain for her Balanced Environment. We had better wake up to the fact that alternative, renewable, non-polluting Energy sources are a MUST and are needed NOW! Because Mother Nature never sleeps and she is growing weary of our attempts to destroy the Environmental Balance she worked centuries to perfect!
There is little question that the Petroleum and Coal industries, with their Billions of dollars of under ground inventory, will not find any form of Renewable Energy sources to their liking.
Be that as it may, they, as all us, must eventually accept the Maxim that: "Change is, and always will be, the only constant."
We had better cease worrying about too much Federal Spending and leaving our Grand Children with burdensome Indebtedness. We should be worrying about leaving them a Planet with Air and Water that they can survive on!
Tom Nass
5th Marine Division - WWII

The renewable energy industry's problem is lack of ambition and vision: nothing less than "Running the World on Renewables" -- plus probably some degree of nuclear, now difficult to assess -- will suffice. If that were our goal, as Americans and engineers and businessfolk and humans, we could look beyond the electricity grid as our apparently only means for transmission, storage, distribution and delivery of the large, stranded (far from markets, with no transmission) renewable energy resources we will need to "run the world on renewables".

Therefore, we should now seriously consider alternatives to electricity: carbon-free gaseous hydrogen (GH2) and liquid anhydrous ammonia (NH3) fuels transmitted via underground pipelines, with low-cost, large-scale energy storage in deep solution-mined salt caverns (for GH2) and large surface tanks (for NH3). Now, we're distributing and delivering these C-free fuels in urban and other large markets, for CHP (combined heat and power) on-site electricity generation and space heating / cooling, and for transportation fuel. The ICE, CT, and fuel cell operate well and efficiently on both fuels.

See presentations at: www.leightyfoundation.org/earth.php

We Either Change or Get Out of the Way..................

Lead on climate change!

Good morning to you Mr. President of USA, I'm with you all the ways and the people's that work for the people's should do the same for the people's like me and you and thank you for your second term we need someone like you Mr. President

Take action on climate change. Why? Check out Bill McKibben's www.350.org. Check out NOAA's James Hansen. Check out the latest government report.

The way to go is not Natural Gas and Fracking, or Arctic drilling, or tar-sands but more electric-vehicles, and battery-swapping stations from www.betterplace.com ; and more recharging kiosks from www.aerovironment.com (evsc@avinc.com ). And electricity generated by parabolic-mirror solar-thermal collectors from 6 companies: www.zenithsolar.com ; www.solel.com ; www.sopogy.com ; www.suntrough.com ; www.ausra.com ; www.arevasolar.com ; and a 7th: www.sunfurnace.com Pass a law requiring gasoline-filling stations to install aerovironment re-charging stalls, at their oil-company supplier’s expense, by 2020 ; and battery-swapping stations from BetterPlace by 2025, which can be paid for by Green-Energy Victory Bonds. The gasoline stations that do not do so, to have a 50% of fuel-list price per gallon surtax, the proceeds to go into a revolving-loan fund at an annual interest rate equal to the COLA, which is to be used exclusively for such retro-fitting.

Also, the green movement should change its position on cam-N-trade to: Fee and dividend:

The People vs. Cap-and-Trade

Tom Kuna is changing his position from pro-cap and trade to pro-fee-and-dividend, as proposed by climate scientist James Hansen in the Jan. 13, 2010 Issue of SolveClimate, as reprinted in www.CommonDreams.org of that date, under the above title.

Tom freely quotes from that article:

Whether you believe that global warming is real or not, (and Scripture says it is: since it warns that “the nations shall be distraught at the roaring of the sea and its waves” [Luke 21:25]), or man-caused (anthropo-genic) or not, we can all agree that dirty fuels emit pollution of air, water and land, and that the technologies for clean-energy are already available, and that the only thing hindering us from rapid deployment of clean-energy is special vested interests in the old, dirty energy.

However, Cap-and-trade is NOT the solution.

“Cap-and-trade is a hidden tax. An accurate description would be cap-and-tax,” [for the benefit of International Finance capital, which has been plundering Haiti since 1910, and has begun to openly plunder the US tax-payers and home-buyers] “ because cap-and-trade increases the cost of energy for the public, as utilities and other industries purchase the right to pollute with one hand, adding it to fuel prices, while with the other hand they take back most of the permit revenues from the government. Costs and profits of the trading infrastructure are also added to the public’s energy bill.

“Fee-and-dividend, in contrast, is a non-tax. The fee collected at the first sale of oil, gas and coal in the country does increase the price of fossil fuel energy. But 100 % of the fee is distributed monthly to the public as electronic deposits to the bank account or debit card of all legal residents, with half shares for children, up to two children per family.

“The dividend keeps families whole while providing an economic stimulus to boot. By the time the fee reaches $115 per ton of carbon dioxide (equivalent to $1 per gallon of gasoline) the dividend will be $2,000-$3,000 per legal resident per year – $6,000-$9000 for a family with two or more children.

“People who keep their carbon footprint smaller than average will make money. The fee will rise gradually so people have a chance to choose more efficient vehicles, insulate their homes, and so on. The dividend will help people afford these investments. Jobs will be created as society retools the economy from high-carbon to low.

Basic fact: As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy their use will continue and even increase.

“Consider the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated at a prior UN climate meeting in 1997. National emissions of signatory countries were capped at some agreed levels. Nations evaded these limits by purchasing “offsets” – putative but often illusory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries. Offsets destroy the effectiveness of the agreement, because the scientific requirement for stabilizing climate is that fossil fuel emissions are phased down rapidly. And some nations just ignored the limits, because there was no realistic way to enforce them. However, the funda-mental problem was that “Kyoto” did not increase the price of fossil fuels relative to non-carbon energies.

“The handful of nations that claimed to have reduced their carbon emissions were joshing their citizens and everybody else. They were just pretending to be “green”. Manufacture of products based heavily on fossil fuels simply moved to developing countries, which had no cap. Then products were flown to the developing countries, while burning aircraft fuel that is untaxed because of the 1940s agreement to support the fledgling airline industry.

“Prior to “Kyoto”, global fossil fuel emissions were increasing 1.5 % a year. Afterward, they increased 3 % a year. Kyoto may not have caused the increase (although shifting production to developing countries, often by coal-fired inefficient industries, with shipping to developed countries, did not help), but it certainly did not stop it. [In other words, G.W. Bush was right not to sign on to “Kyoto”).

“Now let’s address the 3 main arguments [often] wielded by proponents of cap-and-trade.

Argument # 1: Cap-and-trade is the only way to get an agreement rapidly.

“That is a myth. In fact, every cap-and-trade regime has taken years to hammer out. Kyoto negotiations dragged on a decade and were not completed. Individual countries had to be bribed to participate, yet some still would not. And the result was not successful, as we have seen.

“Proposed cap-and-trade within the US would be even more complex than “Kyoto”. The Waxman-Markey and Boxer-Kerry cap-and-trade bills in Congress are larded with 2,000 pages of give-aways to special interests, soaking the public who must pay higher energy prices.

“Fee-and-dividend, in contrast, is defined by a single number: the fee (tax) rate that the fossil fuel companies must hand over at the first sale of oil, gas or coal. All the government must do is divide this collected revenue by the number of legal residents and punch a button monthly to deliver the dividend to the public.

“What is the chance that a US cap-and-trade law could be a precursor for a global agreement? Zero. There is no chance that China will accept a cap. Nor should they. They are still in the early phase of their economic development.

“But would China be willing to place a carbon fee on their fossil fuels? Yes, for many reasons. First, China wants to avoid, or at least minimize, the problems of fossil fuel addiction that plague the United States, such as the need for military protection of global supply lines. Second, China would be hit hardest by climate change, with several hundred million people living close to sea level and a still-enormous agrarian population. Third, air and water pollution from fossil fuels are a huge problem in China.

“China is taking the right steps. They are investing heavily in energy efficiency, renewable energy... threatening to take over technical and economic leadership as the US continues to dawdle. The Chinese government knows that replacement of fossil fuels with energy efficient, renewable energies ... requires a price signal (in addition to other more-target policies and investments).

“Compare the difficulty of negotiating national carbon fee (tax) rates with the difficulty of convincing China that they should have a Waxman-Markey-like cap-and-trade. Because of our historical energy profligacy, vs. China’s energy penury, a US cap – even expressed as a %age reduction – has no moral standing in China. On the other hand, the Chinese leadership appears to be smart enough to realize that a rising carbon price is just what their country needs as the underpinning to policies aimed at a clean energy future.

‘International agreement require principally that the US and China [and India] agree to apply such internal fees across the board on fossil fuels at the mine or port of entry. Agreement on such action is in the best interest of all 3 countries, making it far easier to reach than agreements on caps.

“With the US and China [and India] acting on a carbon fee, Europe, Japan and other nations would surely follow. Import duties based on standard amounts of fossil fuels used in production could be applied to products from countries that did not have a carbon fee, removing any competitive disadvantage from the fee and providing strong incentive for participation in the carbon fee.

Argument # 2 often raised by proponents of cap-and-trade:

“Proponents of cap-and-trade say that the fee-and-dividend Hansen proposes is “essentially equivalent to cap-and-trade. We do not dispute the economic theory that a cap and a fee are, in principle, equivalent. But cap-and-trade’s complexity allows special interests to take over, killing its effectiveness.

“The devil is in the implementations, as Hansen discusses in his book “Storms of My Grandchildren”. He believes lay people can appreciate the differences. Cap-and-trade’s complexity is a breeding ground for special interests. A fee at the mine, wellhead or port of entry, with distribution of proceeds to the public, has a great advantage in simplicity. Let us not here its superiority in transparency and fairness.

“One can appreciate the difference in transparency by comparing the 2,000-page Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill with the simplicity of a single fee (tax) rate on fossil fuels. With a fee-and-dividend we know who gets the money – equal amounts to legal residents. But try reading the Waxman-Markey 2,00-page bill to figure out who would get the money! Why do those special interests deserve it anyhow? [Kuna adds here that he would deduct 5-10% of the fee from the dividend payout and have that go to funding the retraining of coal, oil and natural-gas workers to own, build and manage de-centralized solar-thermal power plants throughout the nations using the solar-thermal technology developed by www.ausra.com . And that in companies 1/3 worker-owned; 1/3 stockholder-owned; and1/3 government owned (by the cities, counties and States (or Provinces) and Nations where such Ausra type plants may be built]

“Regarding fairness, Hansen notes that there is a variant of fee-and-dividend preferred by Al gore. He would use the money collected by the fee to reduce payroll taxes, rather than give US residents a dividend. It seems to Hansen and Kuna that a payroll tax deduction fails the fairness text, because half of adults are not on payrolls, being either retired or out of work involuntarily.

“However, some economist also prefer a payroll tax deduction. Their argument is that reducing taxes on employment creates jobs and stimulates the economy. [It seems to Kuna that a payroll tax deduction gives the dividend mainly to the employed at highly paid jobs, to the rich, and none whatever to the many workers who are in low-paying jobs, and who have families, and so get a 100% refund on their income taxes already anyway, and so would not benefit from the dividend payout from the fee. But they have houses that need insulating and thermal windows and CFL or LED light-bulbs, and they use cars, too!] [However, Hansen] supposes that using half the collected fee to reduce payroll taxes would be an acceptable compromise. However, it would be important to be certain that the payroll tax deduction is real and matches the fee collection. With a dividend it is easier to be sure that the government is coughing up the full amount.

Argument # 3 of the cap-and-trade proponents

[Hansen and Kuna say that carbon-trading will be an open invitation to Wall Street to again pillage the financial system]. Proponents of cap-and-trade say our point “is bizarre”. What is bizarre, in our opinion is their implicit assumption that government regulators can [or will even always try] to outwit Wall Street executives.

“Congress can write a cap-and-trade bill that tries to exclude Wall Street. But to think that Wall Street will not get involved in carbon profits, directly or indirectly, is naïve. This is a free country. Wall Street banks can buy the companies most effected by carbon price.

“Notice what happened after we bailed out the big banks? They decided the chump-change in loans to home-owners wasn’t worth their trouble. Instead they went to trading – in the stock market – making billions. Their secretive trading units are good, very good; there is a reason that they get big bonuses.

“Wall Street and the big banks took us to the cleaners once – shame on them. If we allow Congress to pass cap-and-trade, letting the banks do it to us again – shame on us.

“Trading schemes make sense only when they provide added value. Carbon trading provides mostly added cost. What we need is a transparent, honest approach that benefits the public.

The Fundamental Requirement

“We can cure our fossil fuel addiction and in the process reduce emissions that cause climate change [faster than it happens by the natural Milankovitch cycle]. It requires that we take actions for the public interest, not for special interests.

“What we need is an approach that addresses the fundamental fact that keeps us addicted to fossil fuels: they are [partly because of hidden tax-loopholes that must be closed] the cheapest form of energy, provided their prices do not have to include the damage they do to human health, the environment and the future of our children.

“For the sake of the people, especially young people, there should be a rising price on carbon emissions. The price should rise at a known economically sensible rate, so that businesses have time to plan investments accordingly. The money collected should be put in the hands of the public, so that they are able to make the purchases necessary to reduce their carbon footprint.

“The money collected should not be used by Congress to invest in energy R&D. It has been shown time and again that Congress does not invest efficiently, and certainly not compared to the private sector. Pri-vate sector investments will be made if a rising price of carbon emissions is legislated through a carbon fee that makes the rising price explicit. The government already has resources to support research – it should not steal fee-and-dividend money from the public.

“Contrary to claims of mainstream environmental groups and others politically invested in cap-and-trade, the legislative train has not left the station. There is time to negotiate and pass a simple transpar-ent bill that is in the interest of the public. It should be a bi-partisan bill that can be supported by conservatives.

“Congress is accustomed to working with special interests. There is a revolving door between Congress and lobbyists. Ex-members know the Washington ropes. The lobbyists wrote most of the pages in the 2,000-page bills in Congress.

“We, the public, cannot allow politics-as-usual to steamroll this topic. It is too important for the health of our economy, our children and the other life on the planet [which is mainly migrating northward due to global warming]. Fortunately, there are members of Congress who are beginning to understand the problem and move in the direction to address it.

“Rep. John Larson’s bill, with a rising carbon fee, addresses half the task. The rate at which the fee rises in this bill is perhaps too slow, but the important point is to provide the business community and the public some certainty that carbon prices will rise so they can make decisions and investments accordingly,

“Sen. Maria Cantwell’s cap-and-dividend bill also addresses half the solution – distributing 100 % of the proceeds to the public as a dividend. However, it is just as important to dispense with the “cap” approach, still present in the Cantwell bill, as it is with the “trade” aspect.

“A cap is more complex than a fee (dollars per ton of CO2, applied uniformly at the source), so a cap is more subject to jerry-rigging by special interests. But the fundamental reasons to remain dead-set against the cap approach are these:

“(1) Caps inherently cause prices to fluctuate wildly. Even if legislators attempt to outsmart the market by building in limits on the fluctuations, there is still uncertainty in the impact on energy prices. Business people need to have confidence about how prices will change in the future. Ditto, the public. If they expect prices to be fluctuating they are not as likely to make the lifestyle decisions that are needed to move us toward the cleaner future beyond fossil fuels.

“(2) A cap-and-dividend approach is not a route to a global agreement. There is no way that developing countries such as China or India can accept a cap, given their state of development. The US should be a global leader. The way to do that is to demonstrate an understanding of the global problem and provide leadership by example in solving it.”

(See the article in www.CommonDreams.org for links to further information.

The whole planet desperately needs President Obama to take the lead on stopping irreversible climate change. Time is running out. History will not be kind to current leaders who have not stepped up to the plate, when there was still a possiblity of averting disaster. Unbelievably there are still people out there who are so blinded by short-term self-interest that they are prepared to ignore the future health and well-being of their own children and grand-children, let alone anyone else's. Only a couragous and visionary leader, in what is still the most powerful country in the world, could make the difference. Come on Mr President, you made history once, you can do it again!

Old Coyote Knose... that exponental growth of the human/baboony population... and the global consumer economy... on Planet Over-Birth Earth, a HOST ORGANISM of finite space and finite material resources, cannot be sustained. Exponential growth in a closed loop system (the Earth) is NOT progress. It is cancer! Full blown cancer!

The baboony civilization trundles down a dangerous road headed for a dead end called... EXTINCTION. This happens when a culture of rapacious corp-rat grrreeed, institutional corruption and collective denial of the general populous (as we presently $uffer in faster poo-food Amerika) trumps a culture of honesty, integrity and truth.

Hey! When you see a man wearing a corp-rat coat over a 'dog collared shirt' and a 'dog leash tie', you're seeing a god damn liar! A corp-rat! Or a poliitician. Maybe a preacher.

Not that I would trust the 'blue collar baboonies' either. Most unfortunately... it's not the nature of most humans see beyond their sex organs. And some baboonies can't even see that far... simply because their bloated sugar-pop bellies blocks the view for the sake of diabetes born from Coke, Pepsi, Mountain 'Doo-Doo', etc. Not to mention the mystery meat being hawked by the child molester clown at McFondals (and other faster poo-food outlets).

Old Coyote Knose.... that humans beings (a.k.a.: 'ewe-man-unkind') are colorful, creative and imaginative... but they lack honesty, prescience and common sense. That is why the United $tates of Perpetual War Profiteering will cease to exist (as we presently recognize it) by 2050 or 2060. And the remainder of the violent and willfully ignorant baboony civilization will be perched at the edge of EXTINCTION by 2100.

BEWARE! BEWARE! My 'Court Jester' pen can '$hake-spear' and also '$hak-esp-ear'. It can make manifest the word! And ewe-folks... are getting it here! Yesss... Old Coyote Knose that time runs short for 'ewe-folks'.

R.R.R.

WELL SAID!! Let's hope he's listening, and has the courage and ability to do the right thing, THE ESSENTIAL thing!!!!

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