Sunday, June 13, 2010

Comparing and contrasting parts of the oilcano and climate change situations

I think many people have trouble developing an accurate mental picture for climate change. Obviously some people refuse to accept it and purposely do not want to get it. But I expect that many people who do accept the scientific consensus that human activities are altering climate still do not have a good "feel" for it. Climate change is very gradual, and the effect lags the cause making them seem disconnected and possibly unrelated. There is no immediate and sudden visual impact that forces recognition and acceptance - there is no Pearl Harbor, Twin Towers, or mushroom cloud.

But I believe the Gulf oilcano can usefully serve as a sort of visual aid for description of climate change.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Now do something

Lisa Murkowski's Dirty Air Amendment was defeated today. Fortunately Senators Dorgan and Conrad voted against it and in doing so did not follow the lead of Representative Pomeroy who introduced in the House something very similar to what Murkowski had.

Some Senators from whom you would expect such absurdity, like James Inhofe and Mitch McConnell, talked about supposed "job-killing" and "power grab" like recent op-ed contributions to the Herald have. But some, including Murkowski herself and Lindsay Graham (who bizarrely and stomach-turningly apparently has turned against the bill he put in much work crafting) voiced the need to do something.

Great. Now do something. Just make that something meaningful. That obviously means not just sitting on our collective hands and squealing that the economy will be destroyed if we try to protect the environment, and it also means not the "spoonful of sugar and dump the medicine" approach of the Lugar bill. Do something real to address both our need for energy and our need for a livable planet, not just for 2010, but also 2100, as well as between and beyond. There are a lot of paths toward doing a lot of what is necessary, but one thing we cannot stick our heads in the sand to ignore or deny is the requirement to dramatically decrease carbon emissions. You cannot defeat physics by closing your eyes or with an economics argument.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Still addressing lies regarding EPA regulation of greenhouse gases

Obviously recent letters were not considered enough shilling for Lisa Murkowski's Dirty Air Amendment. Today we get in the Herald a contribution from Scott Hennen.

First, a note that a very similarly cut letter from Hennen can be found in today's Bismarck Tribune. Maybe it will be freely available on the web longer there. Also of note is that today's Tribune also has a letter from several ND scientists that counters Hennen's letter. Perhaps Hennen spread his letter around the state more than the scientists did with theirs. Perhaps the Herald got the scientists letter too and plan to run it a different day to play the 'journalism is trying to portray a controversy' game more spread out in time. Perhaps the Herald think it is just the turn for rejectionism after publishing another contribution from Dr. Dexter Perkins disputing the ramblings of Dan Hennessy. Who knows?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This week on Who Is Bashing the EPA...

...our host is co-chair of North Dakota Energy Forum, Terry Fleck!

He makes the same 'stop the EPA!' case like from the ND Chamber of Commerce. Fleck's argument is basically that EPA bureaucrats are evil who will magically make energy costs double or triple.

It is quite, let's use the word "cute", to see Fleck aim to take a supposedly noble position as trying to protect "our most vulnerable citizens". You can go to the ND Energy Forum website and read the content which largely tries to instill the idea that we are chained to continuing massive fossil fuel usage, and anything that the fossil fuel industry does not like is claimed going to cost you directly big time plus destroy tons of jobs. Nobody move or the economy gets it!

They do at least have a "Climate Change" section (which is more than half the size of the "Taxes Hurt" section where they beg to not lose any industry tax breaks!), and they do say any policy should be "environmentally effective", whatever they want that to mean. But then all their other demands swing the door wide open to reflexive opposition to any action, which has effectively been their policy. From what I can tell the entirety of their recognition of greenhouse gases warming the climate and the need to address that is this:
Global climate change is extraordinarily complex and challenging because the main source of greenhouse gas emissions is the energy that heats our homes, powers our factories and offices, and gets Americans to school and work.
Sure, you can want to maintain a livable climate, but you will have to give up staying warm and having a job & education!

But enough shooting fish in the barrel of the ND Energy Forum website for now - I want to get back to Fleck's letter and more of its "cute"ness. It is interesting how he expresses that Congress should "hammer out an effective new law to thoughtfully transition America and the world to a carbon-constrained economy" when his organization's contribution to the national discussion on the issue is essentially, "Taxes Hurt".

Most gut-turning is how Fleck just throws the EPA under the bus, tossing around the term "bureaucrats" like an epithet. At least he did not call them "faceless", I suppose. It is not surprising that unsubstantiated claims of skyrocketing energy costs get thrown out to oppose action to protect the climate, but Fleck is not content with just that. He actually criticizes the EPA for having its priority be the environment rather than, say, oil industry profits.

Fleck compares EPA regulatory action to deal with greenhouse gases to being on death row and that it would be a "regulatory juggernaut". Does he mean like how the Minerals Management Service (MMS) came down so harshly on the oil & gas industry over the last decade? Wait, more like the opposite of that is what happened.

The Murkowski "Dirty Air Act" Amendment that Fleck is selling is a theatrical sideshow, not one branch in a momentous fork in the road. The real fork in the road choice we have is between continuing to do nothing while throwing out excuses and road blocks to action so that we commit ourselves to ever greater environmental damages and growing costs, or we can take the needed action to pull our carbon footprint off the greenhouse gas pedal that has us careening toward climate disaster.