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.

Opinion | The Democratic Party Is Trying to Downplay Climate Change. Don’t Let It. – by Justin Gillis- The New York Times

“None of that is enough, apparently, for the Democratic Party to choose to put this issue front-and-center in the primary campaign. Not only did the D.N.C. turn Mr. Inslee down; according to him, the party informed him that he would be banned from party-sponsored debates if he took part in any unofficial candidate debate on climate change.

In a statement, the party declared it would not schedule any single-issue debates, so that voters would “have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance.” That might make sense if the D.N.C. were only planning two or three debates. It is planning 12; surely the party can afford to devote a twelfth of its debate time to the issue that threatens to throw human civilization into crisis.

Infuriating as this latest maneuver is, Democratic fecklessness on the subject of climate change is nothing new. The party has always made that most basic of political calculations — which voters does this issue get us that we don’t already have? — and come up with the answer: none.”

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

Elizabeth Warren Proposes ‘Aggressive Intervention’ to Create Jobs – The New York Times

“Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday proposed an economic program of “aggressive intervention on behalf of American workers,” suggesting that as president she would invest $2 trillion in climate-friendly industries over a decade, create a new cabinet-level Department of Economic Development and even manipulate the dollar to promote exports.

Unveiling a campaign theme of “economic patriotism,” Ms. Warren promised to announce further plans under that banner over the next several months, on issues like trade and Wall Street regulation.

By pledging to intervene in markets to support American manufacturing and promote job creation, Ms. Warren laid out a goal that President Trump has also pursued, albeit by different means, like imposing tariffs on imports from China and Mexico.”

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.

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.”

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

 

 

Exclusive: Presidential hopeful Biden looking for ‘middle ground’ climate policy – Valerie Volcovici – Reuters

by  Valerie Volcovici

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump, according to two sources, carving out a middle ground approach that will likely face heavy resistance from green activists.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden holds a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst /File Photo
The backbone of the policy will likely include the United States re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement and preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency that Trump has sought to undo, according to one of the sources, Heather Zichal, who is part of a team advising Biden on climate change. She previously advised President Barack Obama.

The second source, a former energy department official advising Biden’s campaign who asked not to be named, said the policy could also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limit emissions from coal plants and other industrial facilities.

A spokesman for Biden’s campaign, TJ Ducklo, declined to comment on Biden’s emerging climate policy or his advisers, but said Biden takes climate change seriously. “Joe Biden has called climate change an ‘existential threat,’ and as Vice President was instrumental in orchestrating the Paris Climate Accord,” Ducklo said in an emailed statement.

On Twitter, Biden echoed the statement and said he plans to unveil policies that reflect the urgency of climate change.

“I’ll have more specifics on how America can lead on climate in the coming weeks,” he said.

The approach, which has not been previously reported, will set Biden apart from many of his Democratic rivals for the White House who have embraced much tougher climate agendas, like the Green New Deal calling for an end to U.S. fossil fuels use within 10 years. That could make Biden, vice president under Obama, a target of environmental groups and youth activists ahead of next year’s primary elections.”

Source: Exclusive: Presidential hopeful Biden looking for ‘middle ground’ climate policy – Reuters

Opinion | A Case for a Market-Driven Green New Deal – The New York Times

By Amory B. Lovins and Rushad R. Nanavatty
Mr. Lovins and Mr. Nanavatty work at Rocky Mountain Institute, which is focused on creating a clean, low-carbon energy future.

April 18, 2019

A wind farm in Pomeroy, Iowa.
Credit
Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The best thing to come from the Senate’s floor debate on the Green New Deal late last month may have been these eminently sane remarks, calling on lawmakers of both parties to “move together” in order “to lower emissions, to address the reality of climate change, recognizing that we’ve got an economy we need to keep strong, that we have vulnerable people we need to protect, that we have an environment that we all care about — Republicans and Democrats.”

Who said it? A Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who leads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “My hope is we get beyond the high-fired rhetoric to practical, pragmatic, bipartisan solutions,” she said on the chamber floor.

The path is there, if our leaders will only choose to take it. In 2011, Reinventing Fire, an energy study by Rocky Mountain Institute, where we work, showed how a business-led transition could triple energy efficiency, quintuple renewables and sustain an American economy 2.6 times larger in 2050 than it was in 2010 with no oil, coal or nuclear energy, and one-third less natural gas. The net cost was $5 trillion less than business-as-usual — or even more valuable if a price was put on carbon emissions.

Any serious energy transformation effort — whether the Green New Deal or “pragmatic, bipartisan solutions” called for by Senator Murkowski — will need to harness America’s immensely powerful and creative economic engine, not dismantle it. This means unleashing the market in sectors where we already know how to profitably reduce emissions (electricity, transportation, buildings), creating markets for solutions in areas where there aren’t yet enough answers (heavy industry, agriculture) and fixing market failures (unpriced carbon, for instance, or rewarding utilities for selling more electricity rather than cutting your bill).

Here’s how:

First, we should let competition and flexibility rule our electricity system. Abundant market data show that a renewably powered future would cost less than our current system. Electricity providers have gotten the memo, even if Washington hasn’t. To save their customers money, utilities in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Utah are phasing out old coal and nuclear plants and replacing them with wind and solar. Clean energy portfolios — including affordable battery storage and other flexible resources — are starting to displace natural gas in California and New York.

Concerns about round-the-clock availability of electricity from a highly renewable grid, a common fear, are mostly misplaced. The Department of Energy has assessed that renewables “that are commercially available today,” combined with a more flexible electric grid, can reliably supply up to 80 percent of our electricity in 2050 (and these technologies are advancing every year). Four European countries with modest or no hydropower get from 46 percent to 71 percent of their electricity from renewables, with grids more reliable than those in the United States.

In America, Iowa and Texas are leading the way on wind. Over 35 percent of Iowa’s electricity is wind-generated. This has provided a second source of income to farmers whose lands host turbines and given Iowans among the lowest power prices in the nation. Over all, the estimated $476 billion needed to build a flexible grid that integrates renewables would yield $2 trillion in saved energy and reliability benefits.

Second, correcting our biggest market failure by putting a price on carbon by taxing it and then rebating the revenues equally to all citizens would be “the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the necessary scale and speed,” according to a recent statement signed by more than 3,500 economists, including 27 Nobel laureates. Combining carbon pricing with border tax adjustments and rebates for citizens would ensure we didn’t export our emissions or hurt working-class Americans. Clearer price signals could drive cheaper and cleaner practices if we eliminated market barriers that are obstacles to efficiency and clean energy.

For sectors with fewer market-ready substitutes and less sensitivity to fuel prices, like industry and agriculture, we need other approaches. Hence our third point:

We need to take advantage of the world’s most successful research and development organization — the federal government — to solve our remaining technology challenges. Government R&D helped develop the internet, the Global Positioning System, fracking, many vital drugs and, more recently, breakthrough battery technologies. The government now needs to apply its early-stage investment muscle, in concert with private enterprise, to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in these harder-to-abate sectors.

Failures should outnumber successes, as in any sound early-stage investment portfolio. But just a handful of big wins can deliver potentially incalculable value to our economy and planet. Which brings us to our final point.

We should base investment decisions on net value, not cost alone.

Green New Deal critics often look at only one side of the accounting ledger. A columnist for The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently pointed to the $400 billion estimated cost of retrofitting American buildings without mentioning the $1.4 trillion net value (retrofit costs minus saved energy costs) of doing so.

Much of this value can accrue to working Americans who need it most. Nationally, the average energy burden for low-income families is three times greater than for the rest of the country. Low-income families tend to rely more on expensive heating fuels, and have older, less efficient furnaces, appliances and homes. They are likelier to get sick from living near fossil fuel production. Consequently, they can benefit the most from lower-cost renewable energy, phasing out fossil fuels and improved buildings.”