Opinion | What if All That Flying Is Good for the Planet? – By Costas Christ – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Christ is the founder of Beyond Green Travel.

Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

“A growing movement known as “flight shame” and popularized by well-meaning climate activists is gaining momentum around the world. Its premise: Flying is bad for the climate, so if you care about life on Earth, don’t fly. The movement, which began in Scandinavia, has ballooned into protests to disrupt flights at London’s Heathrow Airport and social media campaigns outing celebrities and others for planning long-haul trips.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many climate-conscious people may be wondering: Is my planned vacation for the other side of the world ethically indefensible? But let’s try another question: If we really did all stop flying, would that save the planet?

The counterintuitive answer is that it might actually do the opposite.

The tourism industry depends on air travel, and increasingly, saving nature is directly linked to tourism’s economic clout. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, one in 10 people are employed in the travel and tourism industry, representing more than 10 percent of the global economy. In many countries, nature-based tourism is a top foreign exchange earner.

At the same time, aviation accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of human-induced C0₂ emissions. By contrast, deforestation, according to some estimates, contributes nearly 20 percent, about as much as all forms of transportation combined. If we want to truly take a clean sweep at reducing global greenhouse gases, then we must stop clear-cutting the world’s forests.

Don’t get me wrong. As a conservationist and sustainable tourism expert, I am an advocate for a more responsible approach to tourism. Although I began my career as a wildlife ecologist, my work in the tourism industry is focused on transforming travel to be more environmentally friendly. While I recognize that flying is harmful to the climate, I also know what will happen if, in their understandable concern for climate change, travelers stop booking trips to go on a wildlife safari to Africa or decide to forgo that bucket list vacation to South America. Conservation and poverty alleviation will suffer twin blows.

By 2030, tourism to Africa is projected to generate more than $260 billion annually. Subtract that from Africa’s economy and not only will it plunge an entire continent into more poverty (millions of Africans rely on tourism as their economic lifeline), but it will also undermine hard-won efforts to protect some of the world’s most endangered species. Save the elephants? Forget about it. Rhinos, ditto.”

‘Worse Than Anyone Expected’: Air Travel Emissions Vastly Outpace Predictions – By Hiroko Tabuchi – The New York Times

Credit…Steve Parsons/PA Images, via Getty Images

“Greenhouse gas emissions from commercial air travel are growing at a faster clip than predicted in previous, already dire, projections, according to new research — putting pressure on airline regulators to take stronger action as they prepare for a summit next week.

The United Nations aviation body forecasts that airplane emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, will reach just over 900 million metric tons in 2018, and then triple by 2050.

But the new research, from the International Council on Clean Transportation, found that emissions from global air travel may be increasing more than 1.5 times as fast as the U.N. estimate. The researchers analyzed nearly 40 million flights around the world last year.

“Airlines, for all intents and purposes, are becoming more fuel efficient. But we’re seeing demand outstrip any of that,” said Brandon Graver, who led the new study. “The climate challenge for aviation is worse than anyone expected.”

Airlines in recent years have invested in lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft, and have explored powering their planes with biofuel.

Over all, air travel accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions — a far smaller share than emissions from passenger cars or power plants. Still, one study found that the rapid growth in plane emissions could mean that by 2050, aviation could take up a quarter of the world’s “carbon budget,” or the amount of carbon dioxide emissions permitted to keep global temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.”

Opinion | Why Walmart and Other Companies Are Sticking With the Paris Climate Deal – By Kathleen McLaughlin and Andrew Steer – The New York Times

By Kathleen McLaughlin and 

Ms. McLaughlin is an executive vice president of Walmart. Mr. Steer is president of the World Resources Institute.

Credit…Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The Trump administration’s announcement this week that it would follow through with its plan to officially withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement is deeply unfortunate. Leaving the accord will hamper America’s economic competitiveness and put Americans and people around the world at greater risk for climate-related disasters.

That’s why Walmart is one of over 3,800 American businesses, states, cities and other entities that have joined together in the coalition We Are Still In to continue our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Together, these entities represent nearly 70 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and two-thirds of its population. If this group were a country, it would be the world’s second-largest economy — behind the United States but ahead of China.

Why is the Paris Agreement so important? Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global response. Although the commitments are voluntary, the agreement sets a clear course toward a low-carbon future, with nearly 200 countries working together and playing by the same rules. The Paris Agreement provides the context for national and global policies in areas like agriculture and energy, which have direct implications for businesses with customers and suppliers around the world.

A decade ago, many people viewed climate action and economic growth as being in conflict. Now it’s clear that long-term growth and climate action are inextricably linked. For example, a report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate found that bold action on protecting the climate could generate over $26 trillion in benefits through 2030.”

How Does Your State Make Electricity? – The New York Times

Overall, fossil fuels still dominate electricity generation in the United States. But the shift from coal to natural gas has helped to lower carbon dioxide emissions and other pollution. Last year, coal was the main source of electricity generation for 18 states, down from 32 states in 2001.

Top Source of Electricity Generation In Every State

Opinion | It’s the Environment- Stupid – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By 

Opinion Columnist

“I don’t know who sold progressive Democrats on the idea that the way to beat Donald Trump is to abolish the private health insurance of 160 million Americans and offer instead “Medicare for all” (and Mexico will pay for it), but it’s a political loser and an easy target for Trump to feast on. A much better campaign theme is hiding in plain sight. I call it “the Earth Race.”

In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy energized the country behind a “space race”: to make America the first nation to put a man on the moon. Democrats need to run against Trump on the Earth Race: to make America the leader in all policies and technologies that help men and women everywhere live sustainably here on Earth?

Yes, I know, mitigating climate change and saving the environment never poll well. But times change, and it depends how you frame the issue. Mother Nature is forcing herself onto the ballot, and Trump’s efforts to roll back more than 80 rules and standards protecting clean air, water, climate, parks and wilderness make him uniquely vulnerable. He can’t pivot away from what he’s doing. He owns it, and it’s villainous. This time is different.

In this era when so much activism is online, when was the last time you saw a bottom-up, mass movement of young people in America and across the world — some four million in all — take to the streets on every continent as they did last week to demand action to stop the heating of our planet? These young people are telling us, and their voting parents, that this issue is a political winner — theirs is a movement in search of courageous political leaders.

I am not saying that the Earth Race is the only issue to run on. I’m all for strengthening Obamacare and even adding a public health insurance option. But if I were running for president against Trump, I’d be leading with the Earth Race as an economic opportunity, a national security necessity, a health emergency, an environmental urgency and a moral obligation. No other issue can combine those five.

I’d pound Trump every day with this message: “Trump says he cares about you. Well, that’s funny, because he clearly doesn’t care about the water you drink. He just revoked a rule that prohibited coal mining debris from being dumped into local streams — among other actions to weaken the Clean Water Act — so that pro-Trump coal companies can make more money while they make you sick. What kind of president does that?”

Climate Town Hall: Several Democratic Candidates Embrace a Carbon Tax – The New York Times

“. . . . In order to push her proposals through Capitol Hill, Ms. Harris called for another signature proposal of Mr. Inslee’s: ending the Senate filibuster, a century-old legislative institution, in order to overcome Republican opposition and push through new climate change laws.

Mr. Obama also sought to enact a sweeping climate bill that would have effectively placed a tax on carbon pollution, but it failed even when both chambers of Congress were controlled by Democrats because it could not overcome the 60-vote threshold required by the Senate’s filibuster rule in order to advance a bill through the chamber.

Mr. Inslee has called for abolishing the Senate filibuster — a move that would transform the way laws are made in the United States. Most of the presidential candidates have avoided calling for such a move, but analysts say that without it, their bold climate change plans — especially their calls for lavish spending — will remain unrealized.

CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

But abolishing the filibuster could also make laws vulnerable to quickly being undone by a new Senate majority, leading to an unstable whipsaw effect as laws are signed by one president and quickly undone by another.

Mr. Sanders acknowledged the political hurdle of pushing aggressive climate change policy through the Senate, but has not backed eliminating the filibuster. Instead, he proposed pushing climate change policy into must-pass budget legislation, which under Senate rules requires a simple 51-vote majority to pass.

Democrats used the same method to push through Mr. Obama’s sweeping 2010 health care reform bill.”

Opinion | Black Women Are Leaders in the Climate Movement – The New York Times

By 

Mrs. Toney is the national field director of Moms Clean Air Force.

  • Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, an environmental activist, is one of the founders of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance.
CreditCreditAudra Melton for The New York Times

“Before the first Democratic debate, I watched one of my favorite shows, MSNBC’s AM Joy, excited to see not one, but three people of color tapped to talk about climate change and how candidates were discussing it along the campaign trail. My heart dropped when Tiffany Cross, a guest commentator on the show, stated that while climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color, it’s an issue only in very “niche groups” of those communities. She wasn’t claiming that the issue wasn’t important, but that your average black person didn’t see it as an everyday thing.

Despite stereotypes of a lack of interest in environmental issues among African-Americans, black women, particularly Southern black women, are no strangers to environmental activism. Many of us live in communities with polluted air and water, work in industries from housekeeping to hairdressing where we are surrounded by toxic chemicals and have limited food options that are often impacted by pesticides.

Environmentalism, in other words, is a black issue.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Mildred McClain has been fighting to protect and educate communities of color in Savannah, Ga. When the air was thick with pollution from the shipping channels in the Savannah port in 2018, Dr. McClain convened community meetingsso that people were part of the solution. She encouraged African-Americans in her community to become certified in environmental fields like hazardous waste removal, soil remediation and air monitoring.

Dr. Beverly Wright, a professor of sociology, has been training leaders from our country’s historically black colleges and universities in the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. She started the HBCU Climate Change Consortium and the HBCU-CBO Gulf Equity Consortium, where her students assisted Hurricane Katrina victims, researched climate impacts on vulnerable communities and took their brilliance to places like the COP21 in Paris to witness the negotiation of the Paris Climate Accord.”

Opinion | Maybe We’re Not Doomed After All – by Jon Gertner – The New York Times

“Glaciers and sea ice are melting at an alarming rate; temperatures are rising at a steady clip. To make matters worse, the Trump administration’s recent efforts to ignore a fact-based, scientific approach — rejecting, for instance, the use of computer projections to assess how a warming world might look after 2040 — leads me to worry that climate denialism is moving from the scientific fringes to the institutional center.

Still, it’s worth considering that things may not be as bad as they appear. I say this with a full understanding that most indicators are pointing in the wrong direction. Yet I also feel we’re in danger of losing sight of two crucial and encouraging aspects of our predicament.

The first is the extraordinary value of the climate knowledge we’ve amassed over the past 100 years — a vast archive of data and wisdom that gives us a fine-grained understanding of how the planet is warming and how we can change the trajectory we’re on.

The second is the emergence of potential solutions, the products of a half-century of technological innovation, which may help us avert the worst impacts of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we continue to release into the atmosphere. (Last year carbon dioxide emissions were the highest ever recorded.)”

Our military can help lead the fight in combating climate change – By Elizabeth Warren

By Elizabeth Warren

“Last year, Hurricane Florence ripped through North Carolina, damaging Camp Lejeune. Hurricane Michael tore through Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, leaving airplane hangars that housed our fifth-generation aircraft shredded and largely roofless. At Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, floodwaters swamped more than one million square feet of buildings, forcing military personnel to scramble to save sensitive equipment and munitions. The total cost to repair just three bases? In the billions.

Climate change is already impacting the way the Pentagon operates — its training, equipment, supply chains, construction, maintenance, and deployments. More and more, accomplishing the mission depends on our ability to continue operations in the face of floods, drought, wildfires, and desertification. The changing climate has geopolitical implications, as well. It’s what the Pentagon calls a “threat multiplier,” exacerbating the dangers posed by everything from infectious diseases to terrorism. In the Arctic, for example, melting ice has made previously closed sea routes easier to navigate, creating greater chances for competition and conflict over access to these waters and natural resources. In Southeast Asia, rising seas are forcing thousands of people to migrate from their homes, increasing the risk of ethnic and political strife.

In short, climate change is real, it is worsening by the day, and it is undermining our military readiness. And instead of meeting this threat head-on, Washington is ignoring it — and making it worse.

We have the most capable military in the world. It’s also the single largestgovernment consumer of energy, and it’s dependent on fossil fuels. The Pentagon spends about $4 billion a year to power its bases at fixed locations and consumes tens of billions of barrels of fuel per year. An Arleigh-Burke class destroyer can consume 1,000 gallons of fuel in an hour while underway. It cost the Pentagon as much as $400 per gallon to transport the gas needed to keep bases operational at the height of the war in Afghanistan; in Iraq, convoys transporting oil and gas were vulnerable targets for insurgent attacks. And our non-combat bases often depend on a commercial power grid that can go down for any number of reasons: old infrastructure, extreme weather, cyber-attacks. When the power’s out, it costs the Pentagon real money — more than $179,000 each day.”

Source: Our military can help lead the fight in combating climate change

Joe Biden Issues Climate Plan That Aims Beyond Obama’s Goal – The New York Times

“The chief policy goals of Mr. Biden’s plan are similar to the contours of the Green New Deal, the sweeping and ambitious climate change proposal put forward by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, in February. Most specifically, Mr. Biden’s plan calls for the United States to entirely eliminate its net emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution by 2050.

By comparison, Mr. Biden’s former boss, President Barack Obama, had pledged to the world that the United States would lower its emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

“This definitely goes further than the Obama administration in terms of aspiration,” said Robert N. Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard.

Mr. Biden would also call for an investment of $1.7 trillion over 10 years into clean energy and other initiatives. Like the Green New Deal, Mr. Biden’s plan calls broadly for “environmental justice,” programs designed to help poor people and minorities who face disproportionate economic harm from environmental pollution, and to provide retraining and new economic opportunities for coal, oil, gas and other industrial workers displaced by the decline of the fossil fuel economy.

The campaign said the spending would be paid for by rolling back President Trump’s tax breaks for corporations.”

DL: He also calls for a tax on carbon, and tarriffs against foreign goods that created unacceptable pollution.