Dr. John Holdren on Letterman

November 27, 2014

Dr. John Holdren is Science Advisor to President Obama.

whatabout

The minimal moral litmus for any generation is, – did they leave the planetary life support system in at least as good a condition as they found it?
Climate change threatens to insure a degraded biosphere for the next 10,000 generations of human beings. This is a moral issue above all else, and it is because that moral issue is taking root in the American mind, that the pendulum has swung decisively in favor of climate action.

National Catholic Reporter:

The Vatican is considering calling a meeting of religious leaders to bring awareness to the current state of the climate and social inequalities resulting from a warming, technologizing planet, ahead of two key United Nations meetings on climate and sustainability set for 2015.

The news came toward the end of a speech by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who in London Nov. 10 gave the annual Pope Paul VI lecture for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) — the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales.

Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, said in the CAFOD talk that “2015 could be a decisive year in history,” with the U.N. having a “unique opportunity” at two separate events to establish a sustainable course for the global economy: in September the Sustainable Development Goals summit, and in December the Paris climate negotiations.

“The problem of climate change has become a major social and moral problem, and mentalities can only be changed on moral and religious grounds,” he said.

From that position, the bishop said the academy gave its support to Pope Francis “to publish an encyclical or another such important document on climate and social inclusion to influence next year’s crucial decisions.

“In fact, the idea is to convene a meeting with the religious leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion starting from the biblical message that man is the steward of nature and of its environmental and human development according to its potential and not against it, as Paul IV intended,” Sorondo said.

David Ignatius in the Washington Post:

The politics of selfishness was embraced enthusiastically last week by Sen. Mitch McConnell. In dismissing President Obama’s deal with China to reduce carbon emissions, the incoming Senate majority leader said “carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states around the country” by undermining economic interests.

For McConnell (Ky.) and other GOP critics, regulation of carbon emissions is a pocketbook issue where constituents’ short-term interests must prevail. They reject or minimize the arguments of leading scientists that such emissions are directly linked to global warming and climate change and could have catastrophic long-term consequences. The doubters question the data, to be sure. But their basic argument is political: Action to protect the environment will hurt “my state.”

But what if the climate change problem were instead treated as a moral issue — a matter like civil rights where the usual horse-trading logic of politics has been replaced by a debate about what’s right and wrong?

Joe Romm in Climate Progress:

Now, Obama is finally starting to get it right. That became clear in his second inaugural address, when the president framed climate action and inaction in moral terms, as a betrayal of future generations.

And in his big Wednesday speech, the President went full climate hawk, with an extensive discussion of climate science, extreme weather impacts, the absurdity of denial, and the moral urgency of action.

The centrality of the moral argument was underscored when Politico published team Obama’s talking points:

TALKING POINTS — STAY AWAY FROM ECONOMIC ARGUMENT: A set of talking points issued by a coalition of Obama supporters recommends downplaying some of the economic and jobs benefits of a climate action plan he rolled out yesterday and instead focus on the harm that Americans are suffering. The “message guidance” to a network of Obama advocates contained a table listing “Dos and Don’ts” that suggested campaigners should not “lead with straight economic arguments” or to “try to suggest net job increases.” Darren Goode again: http://politico.pro/17Bkp52

Yes, the messaging has flipped entirely:

Read the rest of this entry »

Among many self-styled “conservatives”, the idea that we could provide for ourselves more cheaply and efficiently, produce energy from the free flow of the sun and wind, or become independent of the giant energy corporations that control our lives, (and fund so many politicians), is considered a dangerous subversion.

We see it at both the Federal, and State level.

Columbus Dispatch:

A state agency paid almost $435,000 for a survey to tally clean-energy jobs in Ohio but never released the results.

The Ohio Development Services Agency says the study went unused because it was based on dubious methods and came to flawed conclusions.

Others, including experts in survey methods, disagree with this assessment and are perplexed by the criticism.

The report, not seen by the public until today, sat on a shelf at a time when its subject matter was relevant to a heated legislative debate about whether to change standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
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Among its findings:

• Ohio had 31,322 jobs in the state’s “alternative energy economy” as of 2012, a number that is larger than other commonly cited studies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Above, Skip Pruss served as Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Special Advisor for Renewable Energy and the Environment, Michigan’s Chief Energy Officer, and Chair of the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council.   He is  co-founder and principal of 5 Lakes Energy.

Predicting the future or new energy used to be hard. Now, thanks to the Energy Information Agency, and a host of fossil fuel industry experts, more skillful predictions can be made of renewable energy deployment.
The technique is, you take whatever they say for renewable energy output, multiply the amount by 10, cut the deployment time by half, and there’s your ballpark number.

pruss_slide2

Moreover, what stands out is the arrogant and completely insulated-from-reality mindset of the self styled practical “grown-ups” of the energy establishment.
The quintessential example from the past would be Amory Lovins’ 1976 predictions of future US energy use, which were radically lower than the mainstream view at the time – and rather stunningly accurate.

That pattern has continued to the present day – curiously, (or not), always skewed in the direction of the Oil, Coal, Gas, and Nuclear narrative.

Utility Dive:

(White House Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Dan) Utech referenced a recent chart comparing projections for global wind and solar deployment from Greenpeace, often regarded as too biased to be authoritative, and from the International Energy Agency, long a globally respected source on energy statistics.

“Greenpeace nailed it and the IEA woefully underestimated it,” Utech said. “It is a reminder that though there are significant challenges, the renewables industries have a track record of beating expectations.”

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Wind Turbines offer rural communities a model for development, besides what has normally been the only offering in recent decades, (at least in my state) – new prisons.
Keeping rural communities vital is a valuable hedge against sprawl, preserves valuable farmland, and keeps families and communities intact.  Our small town folk need all the help they can get.

Research is showing that support for wind turbines rises in communities that actually have them.

Michigan’s Thumb:

“That landowner is receiving … $8,000 to $10,000 for that turbine and access road to be there,” The (Michigan Department of Agriculture) looks at $200 an acre as net farm income typically. If they’re getting $8,000 to $10,000 for half an acre, that’s why the farmers are doing it.”

(in a study)Titled “Farming the Wind: Preserving Agriculture through Wind Energy Development,”

(University of Michigan doctoral student Sarah) Mills sought answers to the following questions:

• Do revenues rural landowners receive from wind energy projects change their on-farm investments or long-term succession plans?

• How does proximity to a wind farm impact residential demand for farmland?

• How do zoning ordinances affect availability of developable land in the area surrounding a wind farm?

sunturbine1small

Wind Turbines, Gratiot County, MI

Mills said she also spoke with township supervisors, assessors, realtors and auctioneers. In doing so, she heard a “really interesting” prospect.

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Includes cute arctic squirrels!

In the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow”, warm water from the Gulf Stream get’s shut off in a perverse impact of global warming, leading to worldwide catastrophe.
No in is predicting that – at all. But, there is this weird thing in the North Atlantic right now…

(you’ll have to fullscreen it to see the action)

Below, the 2004 movie “The Day After Tomorrow” took a North Atlantic shutdown as a trigger for global disaster. In this clip, they get a lot wrong, including the backwards circulation of the ocean currents – and science does not consider this scenario very probable any time soon. Still, a mystery unfolding.  A well known oceanographer writes me, “The current big blue blob has been there since mid-2013 if you look at the monthly GISS anomalies, but it is a much longer-term feature also shown in the AR4 and AR5 global temperature trend maps.”

I’m told there is some probably-not-quite-so-dramatic science in the publication pipeline on this.  Read the rest of this entry »

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