Monday, June 19, 2017

Pruitt’s EPA trying to adapt to a fantasy world

The problem of trying to make science political is that a tortuous joining of facts and fantasy only works politically, until it’s exposed as boloney. Then it often creates terrible collateral damage. Social Darwinism and Lysenkoism are two examples where politically motivated pseudoscience crusades ended up in the trash bin of history. Rightly so because both were nonsense on stilts, quite immoral, and wreaked bloody havoc.

Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been working furiously to get the EPA “Back To Basics”, which is to say turning our environmental protection agency upside down so that it views environmental problems through the lens of businesses’ priorities. This stance is ridiculous because most businesses want good stable environmental regulations from which to operate, not cherry-picked, politically-derived rules that simply remove obstacles to pollute. To accomplish his fantasy objectives, Pruitt seems hell-bent on gutting the EPA by asking Congress for a 31% budget cut.

But Congress said, NO!

Congress to Pruitt: We’re Not Cutting EPA Budget to Trump’s Levels House Republicans say they’ll protect programs that affect their districts. That’s a lot of the EPA’s work. Members of the congressional committee responsible for the Environmental Protection Agency's budget—Republican and Democrat alike—made clear Thursday they have no intention of approving the White House's proposal to slash the agency's spending. In a hearing, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt defended the Trump administration's budget plan for the first time on Capitol Hill, insisting that the agency he leads could fulfill its mission under a plan that cuts its budget more than any other federal agency's. (June 15, 2017) Inside Climate News)

However, trying to stop Pruitt from taking away our environmental protections with the power of the purse is not exactly a resolution of the problem. Congress can force Pruitt to take money for EPA, but they cannot make him do his job. Those looking for a silver lining with Pruitt in charge of the EPA should be considering the situation of an impotent EPA from a larger perspective. An environmental agency trying harder to fit their agenda to our life support system does not a sustainable existence make.

The same Congress who could sit on their hands while the Trump administration pulled us out of the Paris Accord is the same body that dare not let go of the environmental protections their constituents have come to expect. While this might seem like a nice compromise politically, it doesn’t solve the problem of stopping our environmental crisis any more than the Compromise of 1850 stopped slavery or war. Rather, trying to quell the storm between contending factions by trying to accommodate the irreconcilable truths of reality (science) with shoddy political scaffolding makes the eventual collapse of our political and environmental problems more inevitable.


Time passes. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Should we thank Trump for galvanizing the US and the world into Climate Change Action?

Thanking Trump for pulling the US out of the Paris Accord because his administration’s anti-environmental policies have galvanized the US and the world to address Climate Change would be like wheel-chairing over to the guy who ran over you with his truck and giving him a bouquet of flowers because your being crippled by what he did spurred you to write the great American novel.

Although the Trump administration’s anti-environmental actions, including ditching the Paris Accord, have crystalized the extremes these people will go to push their insensitive ideology upon the world, there’s absolutely no reason to believe we can, however exercised, overcome the blow of a crippled worldwide agreement. The players in the Trump administration have proven that they will plow through anything to hold on to their power and wealth created from an energy option now proven to be lethal to our life support system. What has not been proven (nor can it) is whether we can overcome the Trump administration’s foot dragging and achieve a sustainable environment.   
Since Trump dumped the Paris Accord, many cities, states, and nations are now stepping up to the plate to address Climate Change. It remains to be seen just how Trump is actually going to accomplish leaving this deal, or whether he can. But the line has been drawn and the world now knows that the US leadership is not on board with the science, justice, and moral issues embedded in Climate Change.

Despite the initial despair of having worked so hard and for so long to get a worldwide binding agreement to address Climate Change only to see it seemingly dumped in an instant, many are finding hope in the recent resolutions by many organizations working an end run around US leadership.

There’s a New Way the U.S. Is Committing to Paris It’s been a week since President Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. In that time, a remarkable transformation has taken place. As the federal government abdicates its responsibility to address climate change, a groundswell of support has sprung up at the state, city and corporate levels. Those sub-national actors are making the case on the international stage that the U.S. will meet its Paris Agreement commitment That includes a first-of-its-kind effort called America’s Pledge, spearheaded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, that’s been dubbed a “societally nationally determined contribution.” States, cities and other groups can sign on to meet the U.S. pledge to the Paris Agreement of reducing carbon pollution 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.David Hart, a political scientist at George Mason University, said that the new initiative bears some similarity to the 1980s anti-nuclear movement when cities and states declared themselves “nuclear-free” zones, but it’s the only time he can recall sub-national action in the U.S. being linked to an international treaty. (June 8, 2017) Climate Central [more on Climate Change in our area]

Rochester addresses Climate Change

Mayor of Rochester, NY, Mayor Lovely A. Warren, joins with other mayors to ramp up addressing Climate Change after Trump dumps Paris. 

NEWS RELEASE - MAYOR WARREN JOINS CLIMATE MAYORS Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced today that she has joined the Mayors National Climate Change Agenda, a coalition of U.S. mayors who have vowed to work together to strengthen local efforts for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and support federal policies that combat climate change and protect the environment. “President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords was reckless and short-sighted,” Mayor Warren said. “Future generations deserve to inherit a healthy planet, therefore I am proud to join with mayors from across the country to support this agenda. As Mayor, I am committed to reducing our city’s carbon footprint and protecting the environment.”  Mayor Warren also signed on to an open letter to President Trump regarding the roll back of U.S. Climate Actions. (June 5, 2017) City of Rochester, NY) [more on Climate Change in our area]

Rochester, NY recognized as a model city planning for Climate Change.

Governor Cuomo Recognizes Rochester as Model City for Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Build Climate Resiliency Rochester Designated New York's 11th Certified Climate Smart Community and 50th Clean Energy Community Supports the Governor's Goal to Reduce Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40 Percent by 2030 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today recognized the City of Rochester as a model municipality for the city's actions to strengthen resiliency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In recognition of this achievement, New York designated Rochester as the 11th Certified Climate Smart Community and the 50th Clean Energy Community in New York State. These achievements support the Governor's aggressive goals to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050. "New York is leading the nation in reducing our carbon footprint, and thanks to Rochester's efforts in building green infrastructure and supporting a more resilient community, we are one step closer to achieving our aggressive climate goals," Governor Cuomo said. "As we continue to bolster our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state, I commend Mayor Warren and the city of Rochester for transforming the Finger Lakes community into a clean energy city and encouraging all of New York's municipalities to become climate smart." (June 9, 2017) GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO

Also, word has it that the City’s Climate Action Plan will soon be passed. This will be an invaluable resource for the City, our local media, and environmental groups to motivate and relate individual initiatives to the overall strategy for addressing this crisis. (Check out my 2016 essay: “Why Climate Action Plans (CAP) are so important for every community”.

This month’s Rochester People’s Climate Coalition (RPCC) newsletter demonstrates how groups in our area are kicking into high gear since Trump abandoned us to the elements. The RPCC, which now has well over 100 local member organizations, is becoming a major player in our region’s efforts to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change. Some of those member groups, including Pachamama, the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club, and Mothers Out Front are themselves ramping up their efforts. Since Sierra Club President Aaron Mair came to town during Earth Month, there is an increased focus on diversity and environmental justice within local environmental issues. Stay tuned, as I learn more. 

We have to go forward

On the one hand we have no choice but to move forward. Even if Trump wakes up for his morning Tweeting Hour and tweets, “Been so wrong on Climate change. From now on giving this issue top priority! Sad. I was bad!” we are running against the clock. Renewable energy businesses and supporters of a green economy have speeded up their efforts but so have the consequences of Climate Change—threating to spiraling out of our ability to adapt.

We are in a transition crisis, transitioning from one energy option to another, as we have over much of humanity’s history. (We don’t burn whale oil for lighting anymore and we ain’t going back.) This means we are not just compelled to move forward because of Climate Change; we are entering a new and exciting energy phase that is cheaper and more accommodating to our lifestyles. Check out this possible scenario by former Executive Director of the Sierra Club:

“I think the solar panels will be built in into the building when it’s built. And I think the heat pump will be built into the building when it’s built and the water recovery system will be part of the system and it'll be called the utility free building. And it'll be, yeah, you’ll be able to borrow more money for your mortgage because the bank will understand which banks have been very slow to understand that if you don't have a utility bill, you can pay for the mortgage and you're less likely to default. So I think it's gonna happen because the builders now, you know, right now they’re saying maybe it cost 7%, 8% more to get rid of the utility bill that's already paying for itself in three or four years. But in five years I think that margin will be much smaller. “(HOW CITIES CAN SOLVE THE CLIMATE CHALLENGE, May 4, 2017, Climate One) 

Unlike the previous transitions in economic development (ironically called creative destruction, where the losers lose all) this new transitions is using this crisis as an opportunity to retrain workers and work with instead of against our environment.  

There’s hope despite Trump’s headlong rampage towards digging up our past to forge our future. It would have been far better if Trump had kept the US in the Paris Accord and avoided making the US a pariah. Nevertheless, there’s still hope because many are exponentially ramping up their efforts to make up for Trump’s mistake. 

There’s no guarantee that we’ll succeed if we all put all our efforts into addressing Climate Change. But there is absolute certainty that we won’t if we don’t.

Time passes.




Monday, June 05, 2017

Speaking out against US Paris Accord withdrawal in Rochester

Friday’s (6/2/2017) rally in front of the Federal Building in Rochester to protest Trump pulling out the US from the Paris Accord was an expression of outrage, then determination, and then inspiration.

Listen to Linda and Abby describe the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition’s reaction to Trump’s “stupid and reckless” move that has been condemned worldwide.

Though thunderstruck by Trump’s recklessness that will have severe consequences to our environment, our economy, and our international relationships, we are more than Trump.  The nations of the world (all but two) that signed on to the Paris Accord must see us not Trump.  

Because of Trump’s reckless decision, people from all walks of life are coming together to address Climate Change with more urgency and resolve than ever.  Despite negative actions of The Unwilling, most of humanity recognizes threat Climate Change presents to us and are willing to do what must be done to make our children’s future possible.

Time is not on our side anymore, as we have passed 410ppm of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Unlike any other issue we face, addressing Climate Change has a deadline. And though we don’t know exactly where that deadline is, we dare not exceed it.


Time passes.