Friday, June 06, 2014

The tyranny of reducing carbon pollution


CCTryingEarlier this week, Obama and the EPA released a plan to cut 30% of carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030. China has followed suit with its own plan to cap CO2 emissions . This might be seen as a turning point in the Paris 2015 climate talks. (China plans absolute CO2 cap for first time: government adviser China, June 3, 2014 Reuters). Without China and the US agreeing on something substantive, the Paris talks would be just another attempt, maybe the last, for a worldwide binding agreement on controlling greenhouse gases (GHG) at a level that will matter.

These plans are part of a growing worldwide realization that something on a grand scale must be done to avert the disasters coming if we continue business as usual. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fifth Assessment Report in April, which “put greater emphasis on assessing the socio-economic aspects of climate change and its implications for sustainable development”1. In May, the US released its National Climate Assessment (NCA) which “provides an in-depth look at climate change impacts on the U.S. It details the multitude of ways climate change is already affecting and will increasingly affect the lives of Americans.”2.

Already comments are coming in from groups in favor of and against Obama’s carbon reduction plan. Some Democrats, trying to get elected or re-elected in 2014, think Obama plan is throwing them under a bus and are buckling under political pressure by carping about it. Some groups think Obama’ plan, given the political climate, is a good start. Others think, despite the political climate, the plan is “sadly insufficient” and isn’t robust enough to do the job:

“EPA's proposal is remarkable given the relative paralysis on climate action in Washington, but it would not budge the world's ever-rising emissions trajectory. That's because climate change is a global problem, and addressing it would require concerted action by all nations, heavy investments in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and near-zero emissions before 2050.” Obama Climate Rules Not Enough to Fight Global Warming  (June 3, 2014,Scientific American)

Then, of course, there are those who will fight Obama’s plan tooth and nail simply because it attempts to do anything to address a worldwide crisis they don’t believe in. Or maybe it’s because of their new-found concern for the poor and elderly. This strategy to cripple Climate Change solutions is breathtakingly craven in its hypocrisy:

Citing Concern For The Poor, GOP Senators Ask Obama To Ax EPA Climate Rule Forty-one Republican Senators asked the Obama Administration on Wednesday to abandon its new rules limiting carbon emissions from coal plants, saying their “primary concern” is how the rules will harm the poor and the elderly. “Our primary concern is that the rule as proposed will result in significant electricity rate increases and additional energy costs for consumers,” the senators wrote, citing a thoroughly debunked study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “These costs will, as always, fall most heavily on the elderly, the poor and those on fixed incomes.” (Climate Progress, June 4, 2014)

Whatever side you come down on, Obama’s plan to limit carbon pollution is forward movement on Climate Change. We don’t make it easy. We, ‘we the people’, require of our leaders impossible tactical contortions so that they can protect our environment, our very life support system. We want all our rights, all our privileges, and ever more energy, more stuff, and more freedoms. At the same time we display a callous disregard for what all this will entail.

For example: Pages 138-139 of the National Climate Assessment contains one of the most important sentences of the report. It refers to adapting our transportation systems during Climate Change, but it can pertain to all our infrastructures—water, telecommunications, drainage, etc. It’s a rather dull, wonky kind of sentence that says volumes. Here it is: “By incorporating climate change routinely into the planning process, governments can reduce the vulnerability to climate change impacts and take actions that enhance the resilience of the transportation system to adverse weather conditions.”

What’s important about this sentence is that if we do not have a federal government that believes in Climate Change helping and advising governmental agencies at all levels, we will not be incorporating Climate Change impacts routinely into the planning process. Given our track record, ‘we the people’ are not projected to vote for anyone who actually tries to do what the NCA advises.

The sentence says that not only must the denial of Climate Change end; it gets at the heart of understanding what Climate Change means right now. If deniers are running the show we will not be properly prepared for our immediate future, let alone our long-term future. If we do not support the inconvenient and expensive measures that need to be taken now to address Climate Change, it will be too late to address them later. We aren’t just kicking the can down the road; we are kicking it off a cliff into an irretrievable abyss. We have allowed the merchants of doubt to characterize Climate Change as a political issue.

The tyranny of Climate Change is that it does not abide any excuses. If we don’t get our GHG’s down, we boil. We have never been up against such a global situation before, but we’d better cop a different ‘tude soon.

Don’t be political, don’t be selfish; get moving. Below is the information you need to back Obama’s plan to save us from ourselves, however puny or inadequate it may be. If it only gets countries like China to step up to the plate, that’s a major accomplishment. Support those leaders who are trying to solve Climate Change. Kick the bums out who are thwarting us.

Here’s a full description of Obama’s carbon pollution plan and how you can help move it along. This was provided in a recent EPA emailing:

Clean Power Plan. EPA's new proposal will cut carbon pollution from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030. Find out more about this proposal, how you can comment, and what you can do to #ActOnClimate.

· News release:

· Administrator Gina McCarthy’s blog post:

· Video explaining the proposal:

· How to comment on the proposal:

· More info:

· What you can do about climate change:

· Gina McCarthy, "A Day in the Life" photos:

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