Obama on Upcoming Alaska Trip, Climate, Oil and the Arctic

August 30, 2015

Transcript here.

About that Arctic drilling thing:

This is all real. This is happening to our fellow Americans right now. In fact, Alaska’s governor recently told me that four villages are in “imminent danger” and have to be relocated. Already, rising sea levels are beginning to swallow one island community.Think about that. If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Climate change poses the same threat, right now.

President Obama discussed his upcoming three-day trip to Alaska in this morning’s weekly address, tying the visit tightly to the dangers and challenges of climate change. And while he lauded the nation’s efforts to move to clean energy, he spoke of the need to continue to rely on less-than-clean sources—which led him to discuss his adminstration’s recent decision about letting Shell into the Arctic:

Now even as we accelerate this transition, our economy still has to rely on oil and gas. As long as that’s the case, I believe we should rely more on domestic production than on foreign imports, and we should demand the highest safety standards in the industry – our own. Still, I know there are Americans who are concerned about oil companies drilling in environmentally sensitive waters. Some are also concerned with my administration’s decision to approve Shell’s application to drill a well off the Alaskan coast, using leases they purchased before I took office. I share people’s concerns about offshore drilling. I remember the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico all too well.

His administration, he told listeners, has “made it clear that Shell has to meet our high standards in how they conduct their operations – and it’s a testament to how rigorous we’ve applied those standards that Shell has delayed and limited its exploration off Alaska while trying to meet them.”

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19 Responses to “Obama on Upcoming Alaska Trip, Climate, Oil and the Arctic”

  1. 1happywoman Says:

    I just sent an email to President Obama from the Contact the White House page:

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

    I thanked him for keeping the spotlight on climate change and told him I appreciated his explanation of why his administration approved Shell’s drilling application, although I still believe the decision was wrong.

    And yes, all of you go ahead now and mock me for imagining this action might have any impact at all.

    But we don’t know the effects of our actions, whether the immediate effects or the ones downstream.

    Here’s the ethical lens through which I view every decision: If everybody took this particular action I’m considering, what kind of world would result?

    (Climbing down off self-righteous soapbox now . . . .)

    • greenman3610 Says:

      When people ask me what is the most important thing they can do about climate change – my answer is “Tell someone.”
      Tell someone you are concerned, and the reasons why. Tell your neighbors, tell your friends, and the people at the dog park. Tell people in your church, your coffee klatsch, garden club, service club, at the grocery store.
      Especially tell your local representatives, your newspaper editor, and influential people in your area.
      the more we talk about this issue, the more we bring it into the open – there are a majority of us now who are concerned, but feel hopeless or unable to
      open up. There is a lot of misinformation out there. It’s our job to correct it.
      When I do these videos I just get out of the way and let the scientists speak, so they can be a credible resource. Use them.
      If there is any way I can help, contact me.
      So thanks for doing this, and I hope it sets an example for everyone else that might see it.

      • 1happywoman Says:

        Peter,

        A distinction I just now got: When the people I tell respond fatalistically that there’s nothing any of us can do, what I should be telling THEM is what you just told us, i.e., sharing your concern and why you’re concerned is what you can do!

        I think the key is to get people to shift climate change from what Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People called the Circle of Concern (things over which people have no control) to the Circle of Influence (things people can do something about).

        Many people have internalized the Concern/Influence distinction over the 25 years since that book was first published–and Covey’s examples of each. I think climate change shows up for most people as being in the Circle of Concern, not the Circle of Influence.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          1Happy,

          Quick! Take the antidote to all that psychobabble about the power of positive thinking, the 7 habits, and all that other self-delusional crap that has everyone stuck in the first stage of Kubler-Ross—-denial.

          Read “Brightsided” by Barbara Ehrenreich for the cure. A terrific book by a smart woman who has written many insightful pieces. “Brightsided” is subtitled “How positive thinking is undermining America”, and explains how wishful thinking is the enemy of all who would seek truth.

          IMO, the key to a shift on climate change is to emphasize the REALITY of the SCIENCE and FACTS underlying AGW, followed by the idea that it is economically more sound to do something now rather than delay, AND that there still is (or may be) enough time to save the planet and the human race.

          Climate change for most people is now in the Circle of CONFUSION because they are too anthropocentric and self-absorbed to pay attention to science.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Nothing to mock, Linda, and no self-righteousness involved or apology needed.

      If “everyone took particular actions”, things might happen. I sign many petitions, make many public comments to government agencies, and send emails off and make phone calls to my representatives and to Obama, as well as to corporations.

      Many of them are under the auspices of some action group and have tens or hundreds of thousands of signatories. They DO tally them up and pay attention, and some have met with success. I know of one that I personally sent to Obama that he acted on within a couple of days, but he didn’t quite get it right and embarrassed himself a bit. It was a “catchy” thing, and one of the mail screeners must have seen that and pushed it up the line.

      Keep on climbing on the soapbox and trying in whatever ways you can to make a difference.

      • 1happywoman Says:

        DOG,

        Thank you for being kind and encouraging here in the Man Cave. 🙂

        And I’m not Linda–that would be LindaPlano. Just call me 1Happy.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          OOOOPS! Sorry about that, 1Happy. I have no excuse but that my tired old brain simply picked the wrong woman’s name out of its dark recesses.

          (And the alleged “man cave” is receptive to ALL who demonstrate intelligence and ethical behavior, no matter what their gender).


        • Welcome to the Man Cave. (Still laughing) Sending thoughtful emails to the POTUS is effective. Even though, he only reads 10/day, so the rumor goes, somebody reads them. Politicians are very influenced those somebodies.

          • 1happywoman Says:

            Charles,

            Thank you for buoying my spirits with your belief that SOMEBODY reads those emails and is telling the POTUS. I believe that, too.


          • It’s not a belief. I know some of those somebodies. 🙂

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I don’t know any of the “somebodies” personally, but I HAVE engaged many of them in conversation during phone calls. If they are to be believed, they take note of EVERY expression of opinion they receive, even if it’s just making a tally mark on a “scoresheet”.

            And if you want to maximize your chances of being heard, personalize any petitions you sign, don’t be too wordy in emails, and most effective of all, send a hard copy letter in an envelope.

            I’ve read that the White House gets ~20,000 communications from the public every day and that they ARE screened because they have to look for threats. My understanding is that many of the primary screeners are volunteers, and they route the messages up the pyramid.

            My particular message to Obama that I believe was passed on was about the flap over his failure to properly acknowledge and respect the Marine guards as he entered and left his helicopter. (It was similar to the “Obama feet on the desk in the oval office” situation that the Repugs maundered on about until the pics of W doing the same appeared). A fraternity brother who retired as a USMC Colonel sent me some email clips from a comment group he belonged to—-retired officers, many of them generals and admirals. They were absolutely livid that Obama was so disrespectful of the Marine guards.

            I sent a short email to the White House to the effect that a couple of hundred high ranking retired and conservative military in the John Birch country of CA and AZ were rabid in their condemnation of Obama over this. and that it would be easy to shut them down. Obama should simply make sure he returned salutes, perhaps make brief eye contact, and even on occasion engage the Marines in brief conversations.

            Only a day or two later, Obama did as I suggested, except that he screwed it up. A Marine was saluting as Obama exited the chopper, and while the Marine was saluting and without returning the salute, Obama stopped and engaged him in a conversation. Anyone who has served knows that one first returns the salute and THEN engages in conversation. The poor Marine just stood there holding the salute and looking uncomfortable. I am sure that someone saw my email and passed it on, that Obama saw it and said “easy enough to do and will shut the fools down”, and he DID NOT think to ask one of his military attaches about how to do it.

            The upshot was that the conservative officers group spent some time complaining about Obama “not doing it right”, but soon agreed that he was an amateur and civilian that didn’t know any better, and moved on to complaining about how his foreign policy and defense stances sucked. Someone on his staff apparently did talk to him and he got it right after that.

            So, 1Happy, keep sending things—“someone” will read them.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      From what I’ve been hearing, he barely mentioned climate change when in New Orleans a few days ago, essentially kowtowing to that moron Jindal, who’s only barely smarter and just as much a hypocrite as the rest of the GOP rightwingnuts.

      • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

        New Orleans and Katrina already silently scream climate change.
        These decisions are carefully thought out – I think it would have been inappropriate to mention CC when the focus was on the lives lost and the damage sustained.

        Obama’s statement now goes beyond everything said so far by unequivocally saying that fossil fuels need to be phased out and redoubling efforts to transition too alternative energies.

        Still not enough, but the political momentum is gathering and it’ll be a major campaign issue next year.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    A portion of a comment I made on another thread has some relevance here.

    “I mentioned the book Rust, which has a chapter on the Alyeska pipeline and the problems they have monitoring its condition and maintaining it. A great chapter titled “Pigging the Pipe” describes how they send robotic cleaning and sensing machines (called pigs) down the pipe, each one taking nearly a month to make the journey. The pipe gets encrusted with wax from the oil and scraper pigs are sent through continuously to clean that out and also push out the water that gathers in low spots. I wonder how often and how thoroughly Enbridge “pigs” the Mackinaw?”

    “A very interesting fact in “Rust” is that if the oil flow in the pipeline stops for a few days, the whole pipeline will freeze solid “like an 800 mile long popsicle”, and will have to be abandoned. As the North Slope fields are depleted, the flow in the pipeline is dropping down to and below the 300-400,000 barrel per day rate that is needed to keep things warm enough to avoid the “popsicle”.

    “One of the reasons Obama may be allowing drilling in the Arctic is that any oil found there will be sent through the pipeline and get the flow rate back up to optimum. Same with the AWR. So it all may be a “conspiracy” to keep the Alaska pipeline alive—-the fat cats DID spend a lot of money to build it, made a lot from it, and CAN keep making more IF they get some help from their politician friends”.

    So, Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth—-the need to “rely more on domestic production” is his out, and I predict that my “conspiracy” theory about the need to keep oil flowing into the Alaska pipeline will prove true. Let’s hope that we don’t also have a disaster up there that shows how low the “standards” are and how Shell is only making a PR effort to “meet” them.

  3. redskylite Says:

    Bonnie Scotland can do it, so why cannot every other democracy follow their example (including my own country), if we could all do that we could lick this juggernaut.

    It’s time everyone realizes that climate change is vastly BIGGER than mere politics . . .

    Party leaders in Scotland make climate change pledge

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-34102208

  4. redskylite Says:

    The most sensible words I’ve read for a log time from a Californian symposium.

    “What we’re beginning to understand is that there’s no way out,” said Susanne Moser, a leading Santa Cruz-based climate change researcher. “We need transformational change. We don’t need more studies as much as we need to communicate the urgency and make solid changes. We need to not debate forever.

    “It’s hot and it’s getting hotter. It’s not looking good. It’s not going to get a lot easier. We’re just beginning to understand the most catastrophic situations, and we’re starting to sound like TV evangelists in what we’re trying to say.”

    Yes they are being to sound like T.V evangelists and there is a big reason why.

    We have debated for far too long communicating the science is more important than further research, except for a more realistic estimation of sea level rise. We know species are going extinct, we know forest fires are on the increase, we know species are migrating.

    California climate researchers sound the alarm at symposium: ‘There’s no way out’

    We know we have to wean ourselves from coal and other fossils . . . other cash cows

    http://www.dailybreeze.com/environment-and-nature/20150825/california-climate-researchers-sound-the-alarm-at-symposium-theres-no-way-out

  5. redskylite Says:

    Timely & powerful story in the Chicago Tribune . . . . and this is just the beginning

    “There is no space left to build homes for the living. The dead are now flown to the mainland so the ocean won’t encroach upon their graves. Most here agree that the town should be relocated; where, when and who will pay for it are the big questions. The Army Corps of Engineers figures Kivalina will be underwater in the next decade or so. ”

    This is climate change: Alaskan villagers struggle as island is chewed up by the sea

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-arctic-obama-20150830-story.html#

  6. j4zonian Says:

    “Now even as we accelerate this transition, our economy still has to rely on oil and gas. ”

    In the time it will take to drill and transport a small amount of oil (and most likely leak a significant part of that oil and gas into the Arctic) we could build enough wind generators, solar panels and efficiency infrastructure, and reduce consumption through conservation enough to more than make that risky rig unnecessary. Obama has ways to make that happen. He’s chosen not to.

    How is that not a crime against humanity and the Earth? Maybe we should write and ask him. Maybe we should ask that in newspapers and legal journals, in blogs and on soapboxes.

    Why has he not signed the pledge? Maybe that’s something worth writing him about.

    http://www.theclimatemobilization.org/sign_the_pledge

  7. 1happywoman Says:

    j4zonian,

    Thank you for that link.


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