Climate

Obama at MIT: “From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation…. There are going to be those who make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.”

The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized. But I think it’s important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we’ll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we’re engaged in. There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy — when it’s the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs.

As always, if you want to hear the best progressive messaging on energy and climate “” if you want to know the best phrases and framing “” look no further than the master messenger in the Oval Office.  This time, Obama spoke at my alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (full text here — I’ll have the YouTube video up soon).

Like no President before him “” indeed, like no major U.S. politician since Robert F. Kennedy “” he has stated again and again that our current path is unsustainable and doomed to fail, using language very similar to the global economy is a Ponzi scheme metaphor:

  • “I want us all to think about new and creative ways to “¦ encourage young people to create and build and invent “” to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.” (4/27)
  • “The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice we face is between prosperity and decline.” (4/22)
  • “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand.”  (4/14)
  • “We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for our lasting prosperity.” (3/19)

Those in the media and elsewhere who don’t think Obama will use all the power of his office to get a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill on his desk next year are simply not listening to him.

This speech is a good bookend to his UN speech on climate change.  Interestingly, if the Senate does not finish its work in time for a vote this year, the vote would be in late January or early February — so Obama would probably talk about clean energy and global warming in the State of the Union address!

The whole speech is worth reading:

Thank you very much. Please, have a seat. Thank you. Thank you, MIT. (Applause.) I am — I am hugely honored to be here. It’s always been a dream of mine to visit the most prestigious school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Applause.) Hold on a second — certainly the most prestigious school in this part of Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Laughter.) And I’ll probably be here for a while — I understand a bunch of engineering students put my motorcade on top of Building 10. (Laughter.)This tells you something about MIT — everybody hands out periodic tables. (Laughter.) What’s up with that? (Laughter.)

I want I want to thank all of you for the warm welcome and for the work all of you are doing to generate and test new ideas that hold so much promise for our economy and for our lives. And in particular, I want to thank two outstanding MIT professors, Eric Lander, a person you just heard from, Ernie Moniz, for their service on my council of advisors on science and technology. And they have been hugely helpful to us already on looking at, for example, how the federal government can most effectively respond to the threat of the H1N1 virus. So I’m very grateful to them.

We’ve got some other special guests here I just want to acknowledge very briefly. First of all, my great friend and a champion of science and technology here in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, my friend Deval Patrick is here. (Applause.) Our Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray is here. (Applause.) Attorney General Martha Coakley is here. (Applause.) Auditor of the Commonwealth, Joe DeNucci is here. (Applause.) The Mayor of the great City of Cambridge, Denise Simmons is in the house. (Applause.) The Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino, is not here, but he met me at the airport and he is doing great; he sends best wishes.

Somebody who really has been an all-star in Capitol Hill over the last 20 years, but certainly over the last year, on a whole range of issues — everything from Afghanistan to clean energy — a great friend, John Kerry. Please give John Kerry a round of applause. (Applause.)

And a wonderful member of Congress — I believe this is your district, is that correct, Mike? Mike Capuano. Please give Mike a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Now, Dr. Moniz is also the Director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, called MITEI. And he and President Hockfield just showed me some of the extraordinary energy research being conducted at this institute: windows that generate electricity by directing light to solar cells; light-weight, high-power batteries that aren’t built, but are grown — that was neat stuff; engineering viruses to create — to create batteries; more efficient lighting systems that rely on nanotechnology; innovative engineering that will make it possible for offshore wind power plants to deliver electricity even when the air is still.

And it’s a reminder that all of you are heirs to a legacy of innovation — not just here but across America — that has improved our health and our wellbeing and helped us achieve unparalleled prosperity. I was telling John and Deval on the ride over here, you just get excited being here and seeing these extraordinary young people and the extraordinary leadership of Professor Hockfield because it taps into something essential about America — it’s the legacy of daring men and women who put their talents and their efforts into the pursuit of discovery. And it’s the legacy of a nation that supported those intrepid few willing to take risks on an idea that might fail — but might also change the world.

Even in the darkest of times this nation has seen, it has always sought a brighter horizon. Think about it. In the middle of the Civil War, President Lincoln designated a system of land grant colleges, including MIT, which helped open the doors of higher education to millions of people. A year — a full year before the end of World War II, President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill which helped unleash a wave of strong and broadly shared economic growth. And after the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, the United States went about winning the Space Race by investing in science and technology, leading not only to small steps on the moon but also to tremendous economic benefits here on Earth.

So the truth is, we have always been about innovation, we have always been about discovery. That’s in our DNA. The truth is we also face more complex challenges than generations past. A medical system that holds the promise of unlocking new cures is attached to a health care system that has the potential to bankrupt families and businesses and our government. A global marketplace that links the trader on Wall Street to the homeowner on Main Street to the factory worker in China — an economy in which we all share opportunity is also an economy in which we all share crisis. We face threats to our security that seek — there are threats to our security that are based on those who would seek to exploit the very interconnectedness and openness that’s so essential to our prosperity. The system of energy that powers our economy also undermines our security and endangers our planet.

Now, while the challenges today are different, we have to draw on the same spirit of innovation that’s always been central to our success. And that’s especially true when it comes to energy. There may be plenty of room for debate as to how we transition from fossil fuels to renewable fuels — we all understand there’s no silver bullet to do it. There’s going to be a lot of debate about how we move from an economy that’s importing oil to one that’s exporting clean energy technology; how we harness the innovative potential on display here at MIT to create millions of new jobs; and how we will lead the world to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. There are going to be all sorts of debates, both in the laboratory and on Capitol Hill. But there’s no question that we must do all these things.

Countries on every corner of this Earth now recognize that energy supplies are growing scarcer, energy demands are growing larger, and rising energy use imperils the planet we will leave to future generations. And that’s why the world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century. From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation. It’s that simple. (Applause.)

That’s why the Recovery Act that we passed back in January makes the largest investment in clean energy in history, not just to help end this recession, but to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity. The Recovery Act includes $80 billion to put tens of thousands of Americans to work developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles; modernizing the electric grid; making our homes and businesses more energy efficient; doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity. These are creating private-sector jobs weatherizing homes; manufacturing cars and trucks; upgrading to smart electric meters; installing solar panels; assembling wind turbines; building new facilities and factories and laboratories all across America. And, by the way, helping to finance extraordinary research.

In fact, in just a few weeks, right here in Boston, workers will break ground on a new Wind Technology Testing Center, a project made possible through a $25 million Recovery Act investment as well as through the support of Massachusetts and its partners. And I want everybody to understand — Governor Patrick’s leadership and vision made this happen. He was bragging about Massachusetts on the way over here — I told him, you don’t have to be a booster, I already love the state. (Applause.) But he helped make this happen.

Hundreds of people will be put to work building this new testing facility, but the benefits will extend far beyond these jobs. For the first time, researchers in the United States will be able to test the world’s newest and largest wind turbine blades — blades roughly the length of a football field — and that in turn will make it possible for American businesses to develop more efficient and effective turbines, and to lead a market estimated at more than $2 trillion over the next two decades.

This grant follows other Recovery Act investments right here in Massachusetts that will help create clean energy jobs in this commonwealth and across the country. And this only builds on the work of your governor, who has endeavored to make Massachusetts a clean energy leader — from increasing the supply of renewable electricity, to quadrupling solar capacity, to tripling the commonwealth’s investment in energy efficiency, all of which helps to draw new jobs and new industries. (Applause.) That’s worth applause.

Now, even as we’re investing in technologies that exist today, we’re also investing in the science that will produce the technologies of tomorrow. The Recovery Act provides the largest single boost in scientific research in history. Let me repeat that: The Recovery Act, the stimulus bill represents the largest single boost in scientific research in history. (Applause.) An increase — that’s an increase in funding that’s already making a difference right here on this campus. And my budget also makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent — a tax credit that spurs innovation and jobs, adding $2 to the economy for every dollar that it costs.

And all of this must culminate in the passage of comprehensive legislation that will finally make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America. John Kerry is working on this legislation right now, and he’s doing a terrific job reaching out across the other side of the aisle because this should not be a partisan issue. Everybody in America should have a stake — (applause) — everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system into one that’s far more efficient, far cleaner, and provide energy independence for America — making the best use of resources we have in abundance, everything from figuring out how to use the fossil fuels that inevitably we are going to be using for several decades, things like coal and oil and natural gas; figuring out how we use those as cleanly and efficiently as possible; creating safe nuclear power; sustainable — sustainably grown biofuels; and then the energy that we can harness from wind and the waves and the sun. It is a transformation that will be made as swiftly and as carefully as possible, to ensure that we are doing what it takes to grow this economy in the short, medium, and long term. And I do believe that a consensus is growing to achieve exactly that.

The Pentagon has declared our dependence on fossil fuels a security threat. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are traveling the country as part of Operation Free, campaigning to end our dependence on oil — (applause) — we have a few of these folks here today, right there. (Applause.) The young people of this country — that I’ve met all across America — they understand that this is the challenge of their generation.

Leaders in the business community are standing with leaders in the environmental community to protect the economy and the planet we leave for our children. The House of Representatives has already passed historic legislation, due in large part to the efforts of Massachusetts’ own Ed Markey, he deserves a big round of applause. (Applause.) We’re now seeing prominent Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham joining forces with long-time leaders John Kerry on this issue, to swiftly pass a bill through the Senate as well. In fact, the Energy Committee, thanks to the work of its Chair, Senator Jeff Bingaman, has already passed key provisions of comprehensive legislation.

So we are seeing a convergence. The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized. But I think it’s important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we’ll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we’re engaged in. There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy — when it’s the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those who cynically claim — make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.

So we’re going to have to work on those folks. But understand there’s also another myth that we have to dispel, and this one is far more dangerous because we’re all somewhat complicit in it. It’s far more dangerous than any attack made by those who wish to stand in the way progress — and that’s the idea that there is nothing or little that we can do. It’s pessimism. It’s the pessimistic notion that our politics are too broken and our people too unwilling to make hard choices for us to actually deal with this energy issue that we’re facing. And implicit in this argument is the sense that somehow we’ve lost something important — that fighting American spirit, that willingness to tackle hard challenges, that determination to see those challenges to the end, that we can solve problems, that we can act collectively, that somehow that is something of the past.

I reject that argument. I reject it because of what I’ve seen here at MIT. Because of what I have seen across America. Because of what we know we are capable of achieving when called upon to achieve it. This is the nation that harnessed electricity and the energy contained in the atom, that developed the steamboat and the modern solar cell. This is the nation that pushed westward and looked skyward. We have always sought out new frontiers and this generation is no different.

Today’s frontiers can’t be found on a map. They’re being explored in our classrooms and our laboratories, in our start-ups and our factories. And today’s pioneers are not traveling to some far flung place. These pioneers are all around us — the entrepreneurs and the inventors, the researchers, the engineers — helping to lead us into the future, just as they have in the past. This is the nation that has led the world for two centuries in the pursuit of discovery. This is the nation that will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow, so long as all of us remember what we have achieved in the past and we use that to inspire us to achieve even more in the future.

I am confident that’s what’s happening right here at this extraordinary institution. And if you will join us in what is sure to be a difficult fight in the months and years ahead, I am confident that all of America is going to be pulling in one direction to make sure that we are the energy leader that we need to be.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Related Post:

26 Responses to Obama at MIT: “From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation…. There are going to be those who make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.”

  1. John Nolan says:

    And again, there is barely a word about the implications of inaction. Nothing of sea level rise, nor desertification, nothing on the costs of relocating populations and transit systems, nor discussion of death tolls and species loss. There was certainly nothing on MIT’s models projecting 9oF of warming during this century on our current track. I do not understand this strategy! Why doesn’t our nation’s leader portray a picture of our future based on our best scientific projections? He is morally obligated to do so. So what am I missing here? (and I am proud to have voted for our president, don’t misread me.)

    [JR: This was his clean energy speech at MIT. He gave a major climate speech last month:

    “No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples – our prosperity, our health, our safety – are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

    There will be more to come.]

  2. Jody says:

    John,

    If you’ve ever worked in sales, then you know the best strategy is to extoll the best attributes of whatever it is you’re selling. The readers here understanding the consequences of inaction, however that’s not (in of itself) going to sell the American people on clean energy legislation. For example, look at yesterday’s piece on the declining rate of Americans that “believe” in climate change. I think the President understands perfectly well that trying to scare people is not the best way to sell anything (except maybe life insurance?). His sales strategy is brilliant….American Jobs, American technology, and American pride.

    This speech and strategy needs to be handed to every representative and senator and then taken back home to the town hall meetings.

  3. The video replay (Flash and Windoze media versions) is linked from CapitalClimate.

  4. R says:

    Isn’t it a bit concerning that Obama’s speech seems to focus completely on renewable energy, to the exclusion of broader climate legislation and market-based mitigation strategies? Cap and trade wasn’t mentioned at all, and the word “climate” only appears once (whereas “energy” is all over the place). If he is indeed trying to stump for the cap-and-trade system which is the centerpiece of Congress’s current climate legislation, he’s doing it in an extremely roundabout way…

  5. Nancy says:

    I was there today and thought the speech was excellent.It was my first time seeing the President in person. He came to MIT to see the research they’re doing into alternative energy and technology. That was the focus of the speech…..how the US can be a leader in the world for alternative energy development. The money has to be spent at the country’s leading universities to do the research, or we will be left behind. He wants the US to lead the way. He was not speaking to politicians – there were mostly MIT people in the audience, scientists and researchers.

  6. James says:

    To be a little tetchy, Nancy: shouldn’t the money go to whoever gets the best results (or whose work promises the best results), rather than simply at the leading US universities? The two will usually be the same…but not always.

  7. Nancy says:

    James, As long as the results get us away from fossil fuels, it doesn’t matter to me where the ideas come from. MIT is doing a lot of good work, but I am sure similar research is happening all around the country.

    Nancy

  8. Cugel says:

    Five comments in and already there’s carping about what President Obama didn’t say. As Joe Romm said, this was a clean energy speech, focused and to the point. I thought it was a stormer.

    I particularly liked the way Obama got his retaliation in first on the deniers and delayers and ideologically hog-tied. Taking the fight to them for a change. I can hear the whining already …

  9. paulm says:

    50 days to go for Obama to save the world!

  10. Cugel says:

    James : Who’s going to pick the winners from here? US Universities are on the case already, and money is also going to commercial research (not that the two are mutually exclusive). If the US Govt gets into picking the specific projects its a recipe for inaction and lobbyist heaven.

  11. Cindy says:

    Good speech, but it would be a lot more beneficial if he gave this kind of speech in front of the American public– on national TV! It’s scarey to me that this issue seems to be such a non-issue; it’s barely mentioned on TV or the news. My mom says, ” I don’t know about this GW issue– I never hear anything on TV about it”. Her preacher has her convinced that the wild fires out west are set by terrorists! This is a global emergency and yet leaders and the media barely mention it!!

  12. My dream is that some day the national mood will have changed enough that Obama will be saying the same thing Bobby Kennedy said in the speech you linked to: that the GNP (today, the GDP) is not an indicator of well-being.

    (In this speech, he did talk about new frontiers, which I suppose is a step in the Kennedy direction.)

  13. fwhite says:

    Obama says: “There’s going to be a lot of debate about how we move from an economy that’s importing oil to one that’s exporting clean energy technology;”

    Obama neglected to mention that much of that imported oil is dirty tar sands bitumen from Alberta.

    Tomorrow night (October 24) a group of Windsor activists will gather on the banks of the Detroit River and direct their flashlights across that river to shine a light on the air- and water-polluting Marathon Refinery, one of many destinations on the Great Lakes for Canada’s dirty oil. Our reputation as the world’s “Carbon Bully” is deservedly won, thanks in large measure to America’s gluttonous appetite for our dirty oil.

    Obama’s crude deeds do not always match his refined words.

  14. Phil Eisner says:

    I am a MIT alumnus; I was very pleased that president Obama spoke at MIT. There is another way to look at this speech, different from the comments so far and that is Obama tried to show this academic and student crowd that politics and politicians are important and can be on their side, important colleagues in their research, so to speak. I found it significant that he introduced many of their political representatives and they received considerable applause. It is probably true that virtually the entire MIT community voted for Obama, but, nevertheless he must keep them on his side and further enthuse them to produce great R&D. In that sense this was a pep talk, not exactly a campaign pep talk for votes, but a pep talk for future scientific and engineering greatness!

  15. Phil Clarke says:

    Off Topic but The UK Science Museum is running an online poll/petition…

    “”I’ve seen the evidence. And I want the government to prove they’re serious about climate change by negotiating a strong, effective, fair deal at Copenhagen.”

    You can choose to Count Me In or Cout Me Out, the resulting totals will be sent to the UK Government….

    Now since the US ‘sceptical’ website WattsUpWithThat featured the poll there has been a surge in the Count me Out numbers – even though the petition is for strong representation at Copenhagen by the UK Government.

    So… cast your vote here … http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/proveit.aspx

  16. pete best says:

    The politics and the speeches are all very well but I cannot see any of this adding up in the time frames required. Cant anyone talk numbers like science usually does rather than just having fantastic oratory skills.

    The USA consumes 3000 TWh of electricity per annum and a single present day 2 MW wind turbine can at best produce 5 GWh of electricity per annum (30% efficiency if the wind blows all the time). If you divide one into the other that requires 600,000 of these turbines just to replace electricity usage. How many wind turbines can the USA make and deploy in a year: 10,000 lets say (in dream land of course) and hence thats 60 years to renew electricity consumption only. I know that my figues are a little silly as we have many alternative energy sources to tap into but energy demand is increasing by 2%-3% per annum when times are back to BAU so its more likely that renewables will only replace our increased energy demand.

    I know that humans get off on nice speeches but we have to face the realit of scale and how the baseload/peak demand works and where is the STRATEGIC PLAN FOR ALL OF THIS !!! Oh there is not one, its all down to free market economics, stimulus from government and policy change.

    Its time someone told the president (MIT perhaps) about the true scale of the problem.

    The USA as of 2005 consumed 29,000 TWh of energy.

  17. Leif says:

    Pete Best, # 16: Of course it is daunting, we all know that. However just think about this a moment. If 100 years ago you were charged with melting the Arctic Polar Ice Cap in 100 years, the life time of one long lived individual, what would you have said. Agreed, we have not quite made it but we have made a good obvious start and thrown in a large part of the worlds glaciers to boot. Missing by only 20 or 30 years! Without even trying I might add!!! The alternatives to trying look to be few and dismal. We ether succeed or let the status quo proceed and let the natural systems reboot and shake us off like so much dandruff. The earth will be a far different place for millions of years, and possiably without humans, but hay, it won’t be the first time. So which side of the fight do you want to take?
    Got kids by the by??? What do you want for them?

  18. David Lewis says:

    What kind of President is Obama? The question came up during a recent New Yorker magazine discussion, The Political Scene.

    Dorothy Wickenden, New Yorker magazine executive editor…. “so, Rick, let me start with you, what kind of President do you think Obama is shaping up to be? Is he going to be more moderate in the mold of Bill Clinton, or do you still think there are FDR like goals he can aspire to?”

    Hendrick Hertzberg, (senior editor and staff writer for the New Yorker) “…. I admit it, I’m still in love. And so, my hopes and predictions tend to get mixed up in ways that are probably not terribly useful for my predictive powers. I can’t face life without believing that he’s going to be a transformative President, let’s put it that way….”

  19. wulfmankarl says:

    Funny – Dead Economist Adam Smith Rants About Obama’s Energy Speech at MIT

    http://02e56fa.netsolhost.com/blog1/index.php/2009/10/24/adam-smith-rants-about-obama-s-energy-sp

  20. windansea says:

    President Obama will almost certainly not travel to the Copenhagen climate change summit in December and may instead use his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to set out US environmental goals, The Times has learnt.

    With healthcare reform clogging his domestic agenda and no prospect of a comprehensive climate treaty in Copenhagen, Mr Obama may disappoint campaigners and foreign leaders, including Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, who have urged him to attend to boost the hopes of a breakthrough.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6888165.ece

  21. Maija says:

    Pete Best: First of all, your energy consumption rise projection is questionable in the same way stock market projections are questionable: the fact that something has expanded by 2-3% every year until now does not mean that it will continue to do so indefinitely. Part of the green challenge is to cut the current consumption by developing more efficient technologies on both household and industrial scale. If this is done efficiently, consumption will actually start to fall. Point Nr.2 is the general “great challenge problem”: whenever you start to tackle something huge – be it supermarathon or global warming, it is important to just start moving forward. If you just stand there at the start line and account for all the ways how huge the challenge is, you will never make it to finish. If you start taking steps – one after another – eventually you will get there. And I think that’s exactly what Obama is doing – he is encouraging people to start moving in the right direction. If we’re lucky, there will be a tipping point and eventually a momentum will build itself to escalate the green technology much further at a much faster pace. Yeah, there is the obvious threat of not getting to the finish line in time. But nothing can be worse than just standing still because the challenge is/seems too big.

  22. Stephan says:

    Very impressive speach. One of many of course as we are used to from Obama. Copenhagen, here we come.

    For more info on the environment, have a look at this Green News.

  23. James Newberry says:

    We all hope the president is a good and wise man. However, as a longtime clean energy advocate and practioner I must say I perceive a number of confused and poorly thought out statements about renewable energy. So far, I will chalk these up to poor advice on the part of his White House advisors. On the whole, this administration is bringing some light to America where the previous administration only allowed darkness.

  24. David B. Benson says:

    James Newberry (23) — Please do send a thoughtfully conposed e-mail to John Holdren.

    That will help.

  25. Though I completely agree with Pres. Obama that we must work to find ways to effectively use the coal, oil, and natural gas that we will have for decades to come, I urge caution. To plunge headlong down every wacko path that comes up is clearly not helpful. In fact it is very alienating to the general public and thus harmful to the process of analyzing and implementing seriously useful measures. The ethanol falacy is a clear story of poorly considered actions. Each chapter of that book seems to open serious questions. Electricity as a energy carrier for transportation seems quite flawed as well.

    It is widely stated that there are many solutions that are needed which will work together to accomplish the needed CO2 reduction. Maybe so, but poorly thought out measures get in the way of careful consideration and adoption of meaningful progress.

    An example is that of electric cars. Without a doubt, these will shift the energy source for transportation from oil to something else that can be provided by our own resources. That is fine, but when fully considered it turns out that the “something else” will actually be coal for decades to come. This is a clear conclusion from the IEA study at http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/weo2009/climate_change_excerpt.pdf
    see page 26, Figs. 14-15. In their 2030 USA scenario there is still substantial coal generated power in spite of heavy investment in renewables. At the same time many cars are hybrids, but many of the cars are plug-in hybrids or all electric. This is an electric load that makes much of that coal fired power necessary. If the electric cars and plug-ins were good hybrids instead, this electric load would not be there. Of course, it would increase what they call “on-road” emissions, but the magnitude of these increased on-road emissions would be less than the magnitude of decreased CO2 emissions due to coal fired power.

    [JR: I’m getting tired of this. Plug ins running on grid electricity have lower emissions than regular cars today. Plug ins have lower emissions than the best hybrids today in California. In the scenario in which we are in the 450 ppm path, your statements are utterly false. Plug in hybrid-electric cars in fact are a critical component of that scenario. In the scenario in which we don’t solve the problem, well, then it doesn’t really matter what cars we drive does it. I’m snipping the rest so that you don’t waste anyone else’s time reading it besides me.]

  26. Eric says:

    JR: The link to the obama text is no longer functioning.

    This one works out

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-challenging-americans-lead-global-economy-clean-energy

    Thanks