Opinion | Why Are We Still Looking for Oil and Gas? – By Lee Wasserman – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Wasserman is director of the Rockefeller Family Fund.

CreditCreditIllustration by John J. Custer; Photographs by Julia Wolf and Urs Moritz Ernst/EyeEm, via Getty Images

“If an artist were to choose colors for portraits of public officials to represent their records on climate change, one color would suffice for Donald Trump: charcoal black. How better to capture the president’s efforts to increase the extraction of coal, oil and gas at a time when emissions from these fuels are likely to expose tens of millions of people to life-threatening heat waves, coastal flooding, severe storms and water shortages.

But to be honest, the portraits of most of the world’s progressive leaders wouldn’t be much brighter. The United States was well on its way to becoming the world’s largest producer of fossil fuels before Donald Trump. Even today, with only a few decades left for us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without potentially catastrophic long-term consequences, far too many officials of all political stripes continue to expand the amount of fossil fuels we now extract and burn.

It was President Barack Obama, after all, who described “all of the above” as the preferred nonchoice of energy sources. He enthusiastically embraced the fracking boom that is now primed to unleash a tidal wave of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. His successful effort to end the country’s export ban on fossil fuelsencouraged industry to go after every ounce of oil and gas it could find — and it is finding plenty. Taken together, President Obama’s legacy is a nation that produces more oil and natural gas than Saudi Arabia.

Climate policy can get complicated fast, but there is really only one question to ask when considering an official’s climate bona fides: Will his or her policies lead to an increase or decrease in the amount of fossil fuels coming out of the ground? One peer-reviewed study found that to have a 50 percent chance of meeting the Paris accord’s target of staying “well below” 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of additional warming, we must refrain from burning much of the fossil fuel reserves currently listed as assets on the balance sheets of energy companies.

Opinion | The Republican Climate Closet – By Justin Gillis – The New York Times

Justin Gillis

By 

Mr. Gillis is a contributing opinion writer.

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A group of teenage protesters, demanding action on climate change, gathered in front of the White House in May.
CreditCreditEric Baradat/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“For a political party stocked with people who deny the seriousness of the climate crisis, the Republican Party does some curious things.

Did you know, for instance, that a Republican Congress put an explicit price on emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide? That was in early 2018. Companies can now get a tax credit from the United States government as high as $50 a ton for pumping carbon dioxide into the ground, instead of emitting it into the air.

For years, Congress has also subsidized the installation of low-emission sources of electricity like solar panels and wind turbines, a policy that has helped scale the market and drive their cost down drastically. More recently, it has offered tax incentives for the purchase of electric cars, and their costs are falling, too. Some of these policies were originally adopted when Congress was controlled by the Democrats, but the Republicans declined to kill them in the years when they held both houses.

A huge extension of the wind and solar tax breaks passed Congress in late 2015. Like most of these policies, it sailed through with votes from both parties and little public fighting.”

Under Brazil’s Far Right Leader, Amazon Protections Slashed and Forests Fall – The New York Times

By Letícia Casado and 

“BRASÍLIA — The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.

Protecting the Amazon was at the heart of Brazil’s environmental policy for much of the past two decades. At one point, Brazil’s success in slowing the deforestation rate made it an international example of conservation and the effort to fight climate change.

But with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, a populist who has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations, Brazil has changed course substantially, retreating from the efforts it once made to slow global warming by preserving the world’s largest rain forest.

While campaigning for president last year, Mr. Bolsonaro declared that Brazil’s vast protected lands were an obstacle to economic growth and promised to open them up to commercial exploitation.

Seven months into his term, that is already happening.

Brazil’s part of the Amazon has lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover since Mr. Bolsonaro took office in January, a 39 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the government agency that tracks deforestation.

In June alone, when the cooler, drier season began and cutting trees became easier, the deforestation rate rose drastically, with roughly 80 percent more forest cover lost than in June of last year.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment
This is a depressing but important story, thank you Casado and Londono. The United States should be organizing NATO to pressure Brazil, and if necessary, invade Brazil, and conduct regime change, to protect the Amazon rain forest, since most scientist are in agreement, that we can not survive without it. Since Trump won’t be interested, what is a concerned citizen of the world and environmentalist to do. We can start with a boycott of all things Brazilian, by willing countries, and in the US, by willing citizens. I’ve never liked boycotts, because they are slow and clumsy, and I do no know how to go about it with Brazil. But a boyocott of everything Brazillian, and especially their beef and soy bean producst, would be better than silence and despair.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” (of 18th centuryVietnam) and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | Connect the Dots to See Where Trump’s Taking Us – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“Some of the colds can even get colder, as when a weakened polar vortex, which normally keeps cold air trapped in the Arctic, allows more frigid polar air to push southward into the U.S. At the same time, the hurricanes that are fueled by warmer ocean temperatures get more violent.

That’s why you’re seeing weird weather extremes in all directions. So, The Washington Post reported that in Montana: “On March 3, the low temperature tanked to a bone-chilling minus-32 in Great Falls. Combined with a high of minus-8, the day finished a whopping 50 degrees below normal.” At the time, the city was in its longest stretch below freezing on record.

Temperatures in Great Falls, Mont., did not rise above freezing for 32 consecutive days between February and March.CreditRion Sanders/Great Falls Tribune

But then The Post reported that on May 11 in a town “near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit” — in May! Near the Arctic! And this happened at the same time that “the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history.” “

David Lindsay: Most Scientists agree that we need to limit our carbon emmissions to no more than 350 parts per million. That is why Bill McKibben calls his organization 350.org.

Unhappy With Findings Agriculture Department Plans to Move Its Economists Out of Town – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — For years, economists at the Agriculture Department have churned out studies that forecast the effects of food trends, environmental changes and trade policy on rural America. But these days, career staff members at the Economic Research Service have been anxiously trying to predict their own futures.

Last year, after an economist with the division presented research that contradicted the Trump administration’s views about the president’s signature tax cuts, the Agriculture Department put into effect new rules about submitting work to peer-reviewed journals. Now, Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, is planning to move the roughly 300-person research unit, along with another division, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, out of Washington and closer to America’s farmers.

Mr. Perdue, who tried to shrink the agencies’ funding early in President Trump’s term, is expected to detail plans to relocate both units to Missouri, Kansas, Indiana or North Carolina, or another location far from the capital. He believes that the move, which could be announced in the coming days, will save money and make research more relevant.

But some critics see the relocation plan as another attempt by the Trump administration to diminish the role of science in government policymaking. Economists at the research service, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their views of the office’s internal dynamics, said they believed they were being shipped out of town as retribution for producing work that clashed with the administration’s agenda.

Opinion | Midterm Climate Report: Partly Cloudy – The New York Times

“The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made it clear that averting the worst consequences of climate changes (lesser consequences are by now all around us) will mean quickly cutting back on the use of fossil fuels that cause global warming.

Big Oil didn’t get the memo.

Faced with what they saw as an existential threat to their businesses, BP, Valero, Phillips 66, the Koch brothers and other members of the fossil fuel fraternity dumped more than $30 million into Washington State to crush a ballot initiative that would have imposed the first taxes in the nation on carbon emissions. Backers of the proposal hoped it would serve as a template for similar action elsewhere and perhaps for the country as a whole. But the theoretical elegance of a carbon tax, which most economists and scientists believe is the surest way to control emissions on a broad scale, was no match even in reliably Democratic Washington for relentless fearmongering about job losses, higher electricity bills and more expensive gasoline.

The defeat in Washington was the most disappointing setback for climate activists in the midterm elections on Tuesday, a day of decidedly mixed messages on climate change in particular and environmental issues more broadly.”

Opinion | What if We’re All Coming Back? – The New York Times

Introducing the newest op-ed writer for the New York Times, Michelle Alexander, who writes:
“I can’t say that I believe in reincarnation, but I understand why some people do. In fact, I had a bizarre experience as a teenager that made me wonder if I had known someone in a past life.”
“, , , , This month, the world’s leading climate scientists released a report warning of catastrophic consequences as soon as 2040 if global warming increases at its current rate. Democratic politicians expressed alarm, yet many continue to accept campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry that is responsible for such a large percentage of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s nearly impossible to imagine that our elected officials would be so indifferent if they knew climate scientists were foretelling a future that they would have to live without any of the privileges they now enjoy.”

 

Opinion |  Donald and the Deadly Deniers – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/opinion/trump-climate-change-deniers-republican.html

“Climate change is a hoax.

Climate change is happening, but it’s not man-made.

Climate change is man-made, but doing anything about it would destroy jobs and kill economic growth.

These are the stages of climate denial. Or maybe it’s wrong to call them stages, since the deniers never really give up an argument, no matter how thoroughly it has been refuted by evidence. They’re better described as cockroach ideas — false claims you may think you’ve gotten rid of, but keep coming back.

Anyway, the Trump administration and its allies — put on the defensive by yet another deadly climate change-enhanced hurricane and an ominous United Nations report — have been making all of these bad arguments over the past few days. I’d say it was a shocking spectacle, except that it’s hard to get shocked these days. But it was a reminder that we’re now ruled by people who are willing to endanger civilization for the sake of political expediency, not to mention increased profits for their fossil-fuel friends.

About those cockroaches: Details aside, the very multiplicity of climate-denial arguments — the deniers’ story keeps changing, but the bottom line that we should do nothing remains the same — is a sign that the opponents of climate action are arguing in bad faith. They aren’t seriously trying to engage with the reality of climate change or the economics of reduced emissions; their goal is to keep polluters free to pollute as long as possible, and they’ll grab onto anything serving that goal.”

Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr:

Everyone please look at the article above.

Amazing, heartbreaking. Caution: intelligent people should be warned that this story might cause depression and despair. The antidote, go see Al Gore’s second film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power. It is full of good news.

Here is my comment at the NYT.

Thank you Nathanial Rich and the NYT. There are real villains in this story. I was unaware that George H W Bush beat Michael Dukakis partly because Dukakis was pro Coal and a climate change denier, and George HW Bush was looking for a way to beat Dukakis in New Hamshire, where the former Governor, John Sununu recommended climate change was popular in his state. These two men are the villains. Sununu almost single handedly, according to this short history, derailed the climate change summit in 1988, that was headed to world action on carbon dioxide pollution. Sununu deserves our disgust and contempt, but he wasn’t the only villain. George HW Bush was an oil and gas man from Texas, and he put as his Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, another oil and gas executive. Both Bush presidents were intellectual light weights. According to this short history, HW Bush didn’t like or let scientist brief him. He preferred getting briefed by his political buddies. Billions of people will probably suffer, and many of them die, in the ugly centuries ahead, even if we get serious about climate change after the next election or two. There will be plenty of blood, on many hands, but there will be a specially hot place in the 9th ring of hell, for John Sununu, Dick Cheney, and the anti-science Bush presidents. Don’t quit, don’t despair. Get environmental patriots to the polls, and to run for office.

David Lindsay Jr. blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

 

 

Opinion | A Prophet of Doom Was Right About the Climate – by Justin Gillis – The New York Times

“June 23 turned out be a blistering day in Washington, and much of the nation was suffering through a drought and heat wave. Dr. Hansen took his seat in a Capitol Hill hearing room and laid out the scientific facts as best he understood them.He had thought up a good line the night before, during the Yankees game, but in the moment he forgot to deliver it.

When the hearing ended, though, reporters surrounded him, and he remembered.  “It is time to stop waffling so much,” he said, “and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.”

His near certainty that human emissions were already altering the climate caught the attention of a sweltering nation, catapulting Dr. Hansen to overnight fame. That year, 1988, would go on to be the hottest in a global temperature record stretching back to the 19th century.With the perspective of three decades, it is fair to ask: How right was his forecast?”

. . . .

“So while his temperature forecast was not flawless, in a larger sense, Dr. Hansen’s 1988 warning has turned out to be entirely on target. As emissions have soared, the planet has warmed relentlessly, just as he said it would; 1988 is not even in the top 20 warmest years now. Every year of this century has been hotter.

The ocean is rising, as Dr. Hansen predicted, and the pace seems to be accelerating. The great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are dumping ever-rising volumes of water into the sea. Coastal flooding is increasing rapidly in the United States. The Arctic Ocean ice cap has shrunk drastically.

If his warning in 1988 had been met with a national policy to reduce emissions, other countries might have followed, and the world would be in much better shape.  . . . . “

David Lindsay:  Thank you Justin Gillis. Here is one of my favorite comments at the NYT.com:

Steve
New Mexico 

Words don’t quite convey just how accurate Hansen’s predictions were. See
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2018/06/30-years-after-han…
for a graph comparing his three scenarios with what actually happened. How anyone can look at that graph and claim Hansen was “wrong” in his predictions, as several commenters here have already done, is beyond me. Science is not a matter of opinion. Human-caused climate change is as real and undeniable as gravity.