White House: ‘We Are Going To Achieve The President’s Goal Of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 17 Percent By 2020’

Obama Knows It is ‘Global Climate Disruption’ And Without Mitigation And Adaptation, All You Get Is ‘Misery’

I attended the Environmental and Clean Energy Inaugural Ball in DC Monday night. That is the smaller, wonkier ball, the one without

A number of White House and Cabinet officials made clear that Obama meant it when he emphasized action on climate and clean energy in his second inaugural. For instance, Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, told the crowd, “Energy and climate policy are going to be a top priority” in Obama’s second term.

Zichal asserted “We are going to achieve the President’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020.” There are really only two plausible ways that can be done with certainty — a carbon tax or aggressive use of EPA authority to control emissions from existing power plants and industrial facilities. And the carbon tax  (presumably as part of some overall deficit or tax reform deal) would need Congressional approval, which makes it far harder.

Zichal did not spell out the details. She told The Hill:

I am not going to get in front of my boss on this one. I think you will, in due time, see a really aggressive agenda on the energy and climate initiative in line with what the president talked about today.

Interestingly, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar promised “more detail about what [Obama] wants to do in the State of the Union” address.

John Holdren speaking at the National Academies of ScienceObama science adviser John Holdren said that “President Obama knows that global warming is a misnomer. It is global climate disruption,” a term he and other scientists have been using for over 15 years.

Holdren repeated his statement that humanity has three choices in the face of global climate disruption — “mitigation, adaptation and suffering” — noting “the more mitigation and adaptation, the less suffering there will be.”

If we keep listening to the disinformers and delayers, we will keep doing little mitigation and adaptation, leaving us with maximum misery. This is just another way of saying what his boss said Monday, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

65 Responses to White House: ‘We Are Going To Achieve The President’s Goal Of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 17 Percent By 2020’

  1. Aggressive use of the EPA’s authority would be a good start. Even if the House tries to block the EPA’s funding, the rules will be in place, destabilizing investments in coal — or at least in U.S. coal plants — and the critical “national conversation” will have begun…at last!

  2. BillD says:

    I’m not sure how the House would block EPA funding for specific programs. I have got to think that anyone who wants to shut down the EPA is a radical far outside the electorate of even very Red States.

  3. Paul Magnus says:

    I dont think 17% reduction is anywhere near enough.

    First thing to do is to set up some sort of task group with a lot of punching weight in science and policy specifically to tackle this problem. Make sure they are at the top of the pyramid.

    We need to get on a war footing immediately if were serious about making a difference.

  4. Roger Lambert says:

    Joe Romm, you have published links here at this site to statements and presentations by climate experts who have said that, in their opinion, we have 5 to 10 years to drop our emissions to zero in order to avoid a +4C hotter planet.

    A reduction of 17% in seven years is not just a pathetically low goal, but if the experts you presented here are correct, such a goal is indicative of policy which will lead to the destruction of humanity by year 2200.

    The first question we need to agree on is how much time do we have to reduce our CO2 emissions (most likely to nearly to zero). Without an answer to that question, we simply can not make an informed decision on how to proceed, it seems to me.

    Joe, you have published reports here that vary enormously as to a proper timetable, the window of opportunity we have as a species to save ourselves from destruction.

    How long is that window of opportunity open for us, if we want to avoid a +4C world?

  5. Francois T says:

    The House nutsos have already tried several times to defund the EPA during the last 2 years.

    They’re not about to stop trying now…unless they have to pay an extreme political price for doing so.

  6. M Tucker says:

    No matter what he tries with EPA I bet he will still approve Keystone.

  7. Joe Romm says:

    The issue is getting off of business-as-usual and enabling a global deal — and while 17% is inadequate, it’s always the best we were going to do. There is no specific “window” per se — it just gets harder and more expensive each year you delay. This target and a global deal would give the nation and the world a shot at avoiding the worst.

  8. Paul, I agree that “17% reduction is [not] anywhere near enough,” though it partly depends 17% relative to when.

    I’d like to see something like at least a 30% reduction relative to 2010, the most recent EPA emissions totals for the US – which should be doable – while a 40-50% reduction by 2020 would be great for the climate – if difficult to achieve at this point.

    I also think that getting onto a serious reductions path, with serious long term elements, is more initially crucial than the number. _Initially_. So I heartily applaud the new burst of “climate speaking” (as opposed to climate silence) from Obama and staff.

    At the same time, I’m also concerned that the confidence behind Heather Zichal’s comment might be based on the glib embrace of misleading EIA numbers, as I wrote about in Climate Progress earlier, which make progress to date – and the “all of the above” energy fallacy – look better than they really are:

    I think it is time for a U.S. National Climate Plan to get our climate change responses organized.

  9. I’d suggest respectfully that the rather new study described here starts to define the near-bookend of a response window, when holding climate to 2 degrees C of increase becomes economically unfeasible:

    “However, delaying emissions limits from 2020 to 2025 would bring the chance of success down to 34%, and the authors found no scenario in which a feasible increase in carbon price or improvements in energy technology could make up for these five years of delay.”

    And the far end of a response window could be defined as when the remaining absolute CO2e budget has all been spent – i.e. all released into the atmosphere – at which point holding climate to 2 degrees C of increase becomes physically unfeasible.

  10. Roger, why 4C? My gist of the research is above 2C, the likelihood or self-reinforcing warming feedback becomes overwhelming.

    Aside from random politics, that’s the serious reason the world has agreed in theory to hold at 2C.

  11. Joan Savage says:


    U.S. President Barack Obama won praise abroad on Tuesday for his pledge to lead the fight against climate change, which has faltered as nations argue over who should foot the bill to lower carbon emissions.

  12. Joan Savage says:

    “Great strong words on climate… The U.S. President could not commit stronger to delivering now,” Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate commissioner, wrote on Twitter.

    “We have got work to do on climate change and President Obama was very forthright about the need to tackle climate change,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters.”

  13. Happened across this recent mainstream report which details why we really don’t want to get to 4 degrees C of global warming:

  14. Agree, 17% is not enough, but also agree that the strategic value of getting any systematic, policy-driven reductions off the ground is far higher.

    The goal should be to preserve the Arctic ice cap. The symbolic value of this is incalculable. Losing the ice cap–inverting the Arctic overnight from heat reflector to heat sink–may immediately send the weather into the disrupted patterns noted above.

    Anyone who has witnessed ice-out on a lake knows how quick it happens. The same could happen one summer to the ice cap. One day, a million square miles of ice. Two weeks later, all gone.

    Once it’s gone, would it ever recover? Or would the death spiral have begun in earnest, with each winter generating successively less new ice, so that the summer open sea lasted that much longer? It may already be too late, but if we can bend the CO2 accumulation curve soon, we may get lucky.

    The psychological impact of losing the ice cap, even just for a few weeks, is greatly underestimated. If the scientists then tell us it’s not recoverable, the social fallout will be very grave. Basically, it would be a death knell, with all the negative psychological reverberations that implies.

    Save the ice cap.

  15. SecularAnimist says:

    The 17 percent reduction is from what baseline?

  16. Gestur says:

    Secular, quoting from the RFF October 2012 report, “US Status on Climate Change Mitigation”, where these authors are making reference to The President’s 2009 pledge in Copenhaven, which were relative to emissions in 2005: “The president’s pledge did not specify whether the reductions would apply to the entire economy or only a set of covered sectors within the economy. We assume that the reductions would apply only to emissions produced by the sectors covered by the Waxman–Markey cap-and-trade bill (H.R. 2454). These covered sectors—including electric generators, fossil-fueled transportation, and industrial sources, as well as other large emitters—composed approximately 84.5 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2005.”

    I think we can assume that the spokesperson quoted here by Joe was referring to that as well. That RFF report is worth reading, I believe.

  17. Mark E says:

    Instead of saying they will REDUCE 2020 emissions by 17%, they should instead say that in 2020 we will still be pumping out 83% of annual emmissions, and oh by the way, it stays in the air for 1000 years, so each additional year’s-worth of 83% will just get added to the prior year’s 83%.

    Exponential growth in accumulated atmosphereic ppm, overall, is still exponential growth.

    BUT…. there is a lot to be said for the breaking the ice with the first carbon tax, and the first new round of EPA regs. As more people see that the effects are obvious and RIGHT NOW, the converation can turn to intensifying these policies.

    Here on Joe’s blog we all agree it is as urgent as ICBM’s already over the N Pole. But politics in the real world is the art of the possible, right? They could say the goal is 3% and still usher in these new ideas as far as I’m concerned. And then, once the inititiaives are going, do more.

  18. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Why are we still worrying about economics and money? The USA has been printing money for a whole range of what may be deemed quite trivial matters compared to what we confront. Why can’t you do it when it really counts? ME

  19. Sasparilla says:

    I’d like to think he wouldn’t, but my money is on what you said M.

  20. Gillian says:

    David Roberts in Grist argues that we’re wrong to focus so much on what the President can do. I guess that he sees non-legislative action as trivial compared with legislation and, as he says, Congress has full responsibility for legislation.

    Maybe we focus so much on the President because there’s only one of him and he’s an easier target.

  21. Superman1 says:

    The experts are understating the problem. Their numbers are based on models with no positive feedbacks. Where is the evidence that 0.8 C is not the start of ‘runaway’ temperature?

  22. Joan Savage says:

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to consider an appeal by Asarco LLC over how much authority a top federal environmental regulator should have in setting air quality standards.

    Asarco LLC, which operates one of the three main U.S. copper smelters, was appealing a July decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the Environmental Protection Agency’s new national ambient air quality standard for sulfur dioxide.

  23. Sasparilla says:

    I agree with what you’re saying Change – that should be the goal, we should be in the midst of an all out war to save the arctic ice cap (and keeping the permafrost frozen around the top of the globe), but that isn’t what is being talked about, nor even contemplated…the Administration is probably talking about letting the EPA tighten some of its regulations to shut down some coal plants. Real regulations are impossible with the House and many Dems in the senate wouldn’t go for it either.

    Sadly I think the summer arctic ice cap is consigned to oblivion (how long for the winter one after that?) and has been for a while (even if we stopped all CO2 today the globe would still keep warming up for 30-40 years), I can only hope that when it disappears it does actually cause a psychological reaction among the voters to demand serious action gets taken – I’m not optimistic about that, but I hope you’re right on that account.

  24. Sasparilla says:

    Nice news Joan, thanks for that.

  25. Joan Savage says:

    RE climate change

    We should strenuously object to sulfur dioxide as a geo-engineering tool for cooling, and uphold EPA regulation. Sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain and damages the ozone layer if it is mixed high into the atmosphere.

    Although sulfur dioxide from volcanoes leads to atmospheric cooling, that effect typically lasts less than two years, while simultaneously producing acid rain and diminishing the ozone layer.

  26. Sasparilla says:

    Well, my expectations with this administration on climate change is so low, it can only go up. Presumably, since legislative action is dead in the House, the Administration is talking about allowing the EPA to implement cleaner air standards which will close out some Coal plants – benefitting from the cheap price of natural gas, via fracking, which has displaced coal power plants as the the source of choice….reducing emissions.

    It makes me wonder if these emissions calculations will include all the methane leaked from the gas and oil fracking fields (as well as all the methane flared off at the oil fracking sites on a massive scale) and the additional emissions from all the tar oil already being burned in U.S. cars from the Keystone and Alberta Clipper pipelines (and throw in the capacity of the XL expansion tar oil emissions if the President approves that) – we’d want to include the from the ground emissions on those of course.

    But any stance of working towards climate change action by the President is better than what we’ve had, but I’d bet the calculations won’t include the fracking emissions and the tar oil emissions….and they definitely should. They can do -17% with the new fracking and tar oil emissions (from the mountain side) and I will be impressed.

  27. David Goldstein says:

    Let’s do some rough math: We are at 100% of carbon emissions now (obviously…though it is reduced a bit recently-but maybe not with the newly quantified methane emissions around fracking). We apparently need to reduce about 5.3% per year EVERY year til 2050 to have a shot at stability. So- 100 ‘units’ 2013, 94.7 2014, 89.7 2015, 84.9 2016 80.4, 76.1 2017, 72.1 2018, 68.4 2019, 64.7 2020. That would entail a 35 % reduction by 2020. And, of course, the U.S. and other developed countries is just the ‘easy’ beginning= China has almost DOUBLED our carbon output already (incredible!). So…considering that at the very least the U.S. must ‘set the pace’ and then some as the greatest historical benifitter of GHGs…well…you can see why this is such a daunting situation! Even the most ””progressive””’ president we may be likely to get these days is ‘reaching for the stars’ in a manner that won’t even get us (let alone the world) half way there.

  28. Lisa Wright says:

    From another cool Joe (Bageant, may he RIP!)
    Joe Bageant: “Even the threat of toasting planetary life is not enough to shake Americans loose from this disconnect. As Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Guy R. McPherson points out, “79.6% of respondents to a Scientific American poll are unwilling to forgo even a single penny to forestall the risk of catastrophic climate change. Scientific American readers undoubtedly are better informed than the general populace. And yet they won’t pay a thing to avoid extinction of our species. Kinda makes you warm and fuzzy all over, doesn’t it?” Let us pray the next generation is a tad sharper.”

  29. Joe Romm and we who use his site seem to be among the few who realize that it’ll take a WW2-style effort, starting now, with all the implied sacrifice and common purpose, to avoid catastrophe.

    I keep hoping someone at the highest levels of government does an FDR (or a Churchill) and rallies America to the cause, which would set an example for the world. I cling to that optimism because the alternative is despair.

    But in my darkest moments, I realize that the ice cap will almost surely go before anything of the required magnitude is even discussed in a broader forum.

    Even then, in the ensuing weather chaos (which will drive agricultural, economic, and social chaos, in one big, ugly, sudden dynamic) the forces of reaction will press for more, not less, fossil fuel use to buttress America in the international tensions that are sure to follow. It will become traitorous to do anything that gives another country a short-term advantage.

    I can easily see terrorism against fossil fuel facilities, power plants, and the like driving us about 10 levels deeper into the ugly, fearful mentality that we exhibited after 9/11.

    I sincerely hope I have an overactive imagination.

  30. prokaryotes says:

    Does this number include all gov departments?

  31. Solar Jim says:

    Quite right. The planet’s thermal response to radiative forcing lags by decades. Today’s emissions have increased by an order of magnitude during that period. Any so-called response to “climate change” that does not remove carbonic acid (gas or liquid) from the biosphere may be “too little too late.”

    Then it becomes an extinction event.

  32. Joe Romm says:

    This poll was gamed by the deniers.

  33. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Paul – I’d agree that 17% is not remotely near enough, but actually the goal is far worse than that.

    In March 2009, long before the circus of denial was up to speed, Obama chose to renege on the US signature of the UNFCCC and its 1990 emissions baseline, and adopt Bush’s unilateral 2005 baseline instead. The pledge he then chose of 17% off 2005 by 2020 was a mere 3.67% off the 1990 baseline on which the world negotiates, and was far lower and eight years later that the US Kyoto commitment on which Bush reneged. Spread over the years it averages an utterly pathetic, and obstructive, 0.33% cut per year off 1990 – way below the margin of error.

    The claim of a 17% cut is simple deception of the 80% of the American public wanting action, for which Obama should be called to account. If the staffers at the Inaugural Ball had the integrity they were born with, they’d have been promising only that in 2016 when Obama retires the US would be on track to meet its pledge in 2020 of 3.67% off its 1990 emissions.

    Consider its critical impact on other nations’ will to negotiate cuts – first, with two presidents in succession reneging on the UNFCCC, why would we trust anything the US promises, even as a solemn treaty signature ? Second, without confidence in the US keeping its word, why would we press ahead with exemplary cuts ?

    This latter point has already caused damage: the recent effort to raise the EU 2020 goal from 20% off 1990 to 30% has been blocked owing largely to the evident lack of White House commitment, meaning that EU commercial competitiveness would be highly vulnerable.

    These dynamics are not news to the US State department, which has to be very well aware that US conduct since 2009 has to date signalled to govts worldwide a clear US intention to prevent the agreement of a climate treaty. Undermining diplomatic confidence, adopting a derisory pledge, and then pretending that the president lacks large majority support so he can’t give more than lip-service on climate, are no accident: they are aspects of an intentional diplomatic position.

    Those interested in just why the US would pursue such a course may find an answer in the recent paper: “Food Security: Near future projections of the impact of drought in Asia” ( available online at ).

    Excerpt from the press release:
    “Research released today shows that within the next 10 years large parts of Asia can expect increased risk of more severe droughts, which will impact regional and possibly even global food security. The report, led by the University of Leeds and published by the UK-based Centre for Low Carbon Futures, highlights China, Pakistan and Turkey as the most seriously affected major producers of wheat and maize and urges policymakers to focus attention on climate change adaptation to avert an imminent food crisis.

    On average, across Asia, droughts lasting longer than three months will be more than twice as severe in terms of their soil moisture deficit compared to the 1990-2005 period. This is cause for concern as China and India have the world’s largest populations and are Asia’s largest food producers.

    The research was led by Professor Piers Forster from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, who is also a lead author on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.”



  34. Paul Klinkman says:

    17% is “the best we were going to do” only because so many leaders are standing behind the door whenever someone is handing out the climate change innovations.

    Why would I expect myself to be the only inventor available? I hear rumors of all sorts of tinkerers and their progress.

  35. Solar Jim says:

    The framing of “who should foot the bill” is a misnomer. World governments are subsidizing “fossil fuels,” and therefore climate change, at upwards of one trillion dollars per year (Oil Change International). Therefore, changing policy would be a fiscal savings, and resultant private clean energy “costs” are called “investment.” Entrenched fossil investors would face “stranded assets” and “restructuring.” That is where the rubber meets the road, politically speaking.

  36. Paul Klinkman says:

    One tactic to save the Arctic Ocean’s pack ice is to facilitate the transfer of heat from the Arctic Ocean to Arctic winter air. The temperature differential is striking, so it isn’t the hardest task. By generally chilling the Arctic Ocean, pack ice grows naturally on the ocean’s surface each winter.

    A second tactic is to proactively cover the nearby lands with snow, which reflects light back into space. This artificially generated snow would simulate a normal polar spring and fall.

    Each of these jobs requires the mass production of millions of moderately large gadgets, something that robots are good at doing. It can be done at a relatively reasonable cost, reasonable compared to even one 200 mph hurricane.

  37. David Goldstein says:

    I do not think you that you do- the scenario you have laid out feels not at all unlikely to occur. It seems we have been building toward this point as a species; where our disregard of consequence, where our self-important and fallacious separation from nature come home to roost.

  38. Solar Jim says:

    The entire US economy is gamed. Carbonic acid gas and radiological poisons are us – fuels of war for a war economy. Along with tens of trillions of cash and credit speculator “bailouts” and the same sitting in “offshore tax havens.”

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    So correct, and I’d be betting that the 17% will not be achieved if there is a real economic recovery. Mind you, if, as I suspect, the global capitalist implosion takes another leg down, it might be met. What we need, to actually survive as a civilization, which one would have thought would be a priority for all sane individuals, is 100% reduction in emissions, as fast as humanly possible. Nothing less will do.

  40. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Long, long, before 2200, Roger. We’ll be lucky to see 2100 as an organised civilization. If collapse leads to generalised war, as is quite possible, our species may self-extirpate.

  41. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The fossil fuel kleptos can be given useful employment in ecological remediation, so that they don’t go hungry. Provided, of course, that they have not broken any laws, current and prospective, regarding crimes against humanity committed by engaging in knowingly false denialism. In that case they could keep working, but in nifty orange overalls.

  42. Solar Jim says:

    Based on this it seems the administration has a very shallow understanding of “climate change.” Kind of like backing off a boiler or two after the iceberg has been sited with bare eyes. (Note: Titanic lookouts had no binoculars as it sped in the night.)

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    If despairing individuals do not engage in violent action against the engines of climate destabilsation, you can bet that the fossil fiends and their friends in the corridors of power will provide the necessary ‘false flag’ ‘green terrorist outrages’ they need to justify a crackdown on environmentalists. For some years now the local MSM has been engaged in a truly vicious hate campaign aimed at all environmentalists. The Murdoch sewer has, naturally, led the way, and it has been co-ordinated with Big Business and the hard Right State regimes, who, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, have gutted all environmental law and launched attacks on renewable energy while pushing hard on coal-mining, export and coal-powered energy, even brown coal, the most emissions intense form. In fact Australia apes the worst phantasies of the craziest Republicans, with Tony ‘Climate Change is Crap’ Abbott waiting in the wings.

  44. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s what you inevitably get with neo-liberal capitalism. Kakistocracy, the rule of the worst people in society.

  45. Solar Jim says:

    The president’s “all of the above” fossil policy along with “let’s do something” rhetoric is astoundingly hypocritical. The politics of investor-government is a reality of unfolding extinction. We are way, way behind the climate curve, or climate momentum.

  46. Sasparilla says:

    So well said Mark.

  47. Sasparilla says:

    I like the fashion suggestion Mulga, the Koch Bros would look great in matching pairs of those…although that’ll be way past their time…

  48. Sasparilla says:

    I believe its for the whole country (all agencies), however I doubt it includes all the methane flaring and leaking at the oil and gas fracking drill sites throughout the U.S. (virtually none of the methane is recovered in the shale oil fields as its not worth the cost and is just flared off at the well head). And I doubt it includes all the extra emissions associated with the tar oil feeding the midwest refineries from the Keystone and Alberta Clipper tar oil pipelines (& the XL if it gets approved).

  49. Sasparilla says:

    Ugh, I just read through it…Solar Jim you said. Anyone want to have your balloon deflated go read prokaryotes link to Obama’s press secretary fielding questions on his speech (search for climate change on the page). Basically Obama’s press secretary is back pedaling immediately cause the reporters are actually taking him at his word and thinking he’s going to be doing something so they ask questions based on that.

    My take on the Administration response is that: 1.) we did so much in the 1st term on climate change (are they really that deluded?) 2.) we’ll only do stuff that won’t adversely affect existing industries / employment (won’t rock the boat)…. The following nugget says it all:

    “Climate change is not — you don’t pursue action that helps deal with that problem just because of the problem itself, but because there are huge opportunities there in alternative energy. “

  50. Artful Dodger says:

    Hi Bill,

    Well they keep trying. For instance, the House defunded the White House Energy and Climate Office.

  51. Aussie John says:

    No significant remedial action on climate will occur unless sufficient “external” pressure is applied at ground level by informed world citizens.
    If politicians and business’ are left to their own devices they will muddle through as they always have, with compromises that ensure the selfish ‘status quo’ is maintained; i.e. their own survival with minimum discomfort.
    The ‘environment’ and ‘human well-being’ are not factors in commercial balance sheets – long term affects of achieving today’s growth and profits are somebody else’s future problem.
    That is why it is essential for all climate change concerned citizens to demonstrate their support of the science by action on the ground; it is needed to encourage forward looking leaders struggling against the current of big business influence to persist.
    If Democracy can’t shake off the shackles of greed and corporate dominance it will be seen to have failed humanity.
    Democracy should be ‘from the people for the people’; not just another form of governance for unbridled capitalism to buy and irresponsibly dominate to suit their own ends.
    It is time for all ‘climate’ aware citizens to demand some practical meaningful action from their leaders.
    Support org.350 type action; send emails, sign petitions, demonstrate on your feet at every opportunity, don’t silently accept glib denialist comments from friends, challenge misleading statements by your local politician – show solidarity with science!
    Better to be considered rude than be complicit in this compounding environmental evil.
    Following the second world war, after Germany’s Nazi racist holocaust atrocity was exposed to the world, many questioned how such evil prevail without intervention from the many “good” people who either participated or were otherwise aware of the unmistakable and observable signs that a great evil was occurring.
    Many chose not to speak out because it was easier to deny or ignore the evil, it was certainly not in their personal best interest to object.
    Self interest triumphed over moral integrity.

    Today, we ‘climate change aware’ citizens are in an almost parallel predicament; we know something bad is happening right under our nose, we know some pain will be endured in moving to correct it – but we also know the solution does not lie in denial.
    There is an overriding moral obligation on all citizens not to destroy our planet’s life support system.
    I do not intend to be one of those that ‘looked the other way’ at this moment of humanities dire need; it affects not only future generations, but all earthly life.

    If there is a good leader who dares to stand up for the common good, let’s all get behind and support them; they need our help to survive, just as we need their strong uncorrupted leadership.

  52. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Oh I don’t know. A calorifically restricted diet is supposed to be good for you and it certainly wouldn’t hurt some of our mining, still walking, monuments to Australian food, ME

  53. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I realize the Arctic is important for people in the N hemisphere as is the albedo and I hope you are right about its symbolic value. However, this is a planetary emergency with Antarctic glaciers cracking up fast and island nations facing oblivion right now. If we had to have one goal only, surely it should be international cooperation for urgent action everywhere, ME

  54. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Thanks Mulga –

    A nuanced variation I’d suggest is
    “. . . As fast as humanely possible”
    since a callous imposition of cuts on impoverished populations could be predicted to generate resistance in non-linear fashion, thus undermining the viability of the whole effort. In this sense a readily demonstrable basis of equity in the national allocations of emission rights is key not only to the treaty’s negotiability but also to its durability.

    US govt conduct is of course subject to diverse pressures and thus more than hard to predict. At one end of the spectrum US supremacists are likely appalled at China’s approach to global economic dominance while the US economy flounders – and thus will press to maintain the bipartisan policy of a brinkmanship of inaction at least until unrest due to food shortages actually hits the Chinese govt;
    – while at the other end the ongoing cryosphere decline and arctic albedo loss are destabilizing the Jetstream, resulting in serious and mounting US losses – those of 2012 reportedly almost match US GDP growth – The pressure to acknowledge that the bipartisan policy was based on grossly flawed assumptions of relative US advantage under climate destabilization have to be growing steadily, as it’s increasingly obvious that the policy is economically unsustainable and thus counterproductive to its objective of maintaining US global economic dominance.

    Given the long trend of rising heat energy being carried up the US east coast by the Gulf Stream, beside the 12-yr trend of an increasing ‘resident summer high’ over the Greenland Ice Cap, it seems predictable that some hurricane is going to head north, flourish on the Gulf Stream’s warmth and then be steered west, smack into the Jersey Shore, again. Whether there’s a large low pressure storm system neatly positioned to merge is serendipity, but they are fairly common in the autumn.

    If we had the ‘luck’ of such an impact before Sandy’s damages are restored, I suspect it could have a pivotal effect on the balance of opinion within the establishment over the urgency of getting a commensurate treaty, as well as on the popular tolerance of WH inaction.

    Given the extraordinary unwillingness among so many US progressives even to question their president’s intentions, let alone to impose furious critique and protest at his conduct, it may be that a timely arrival of Sandy’s implacable Big Sister is our best propect of seeing an early effective treaty.

    That’s in the lap of the Gods – but maybe those progressives might actually wake up to what’s being done in their name without such a disastrous drumbeat ? While there’s life there’s hope I suppose.



  55. biogasnow says:

    It should be the policy of the United States to harvest, to the maximum extent possible, every major known source of biogas/methane. It is free fuel going to waste while contributing to climate change. Every sewerage treatment plant, every sanitary landfill, every CAFO, every associated gas flare site should be evaluated for the best solution (digesters, fuel cells, microturbines, injection into the n.g. grid, etc.) by the Army Corps of Engineers(?). Make participation and implementation voluntary, but incentivize it to the point where you get wide acceptance. This should be easy since the captured/converted gas energy has long term value that would easily offset up-front costs.

    Does methane need to be a criteria pollutant to accomplish this?

    Would there be significant political opposition to such a program?

    Of course, it isn’t enough in itself. But, it is real, dynamic action that begins to establish in the minds of the general population a sense of urgency, and an appreciation of the scale of effort that needs to take place.

    I know there are ongoing activities along these lines, however, if climate action organizations really had their act together, this would be a crash program going on right now, worldwide.

  56. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Of course, Lewis. Humanity is absolutely essential to the success of decarbonisation and the construction of a ‘steady-state’ economy that can last into the far future. There must be radical redistribution of wealth away from the kleptocrats to the people who make all wealth. In other words the wealth producers must get their just desserts, and the wealth extractors must be disempowered, forever. I’m very aware of what that means in terms of social stress, but there is no alternative, as Thatcher used to say.

  57. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Twenty trillion plus to rescue the banksters. Imagine what that would do in ecological repair.

  58. Paul Magnus says:

    Totally agree there. As we warm and the extreme events pile up… there will be many people desperate that something be done.

  59. Paul Magnus says:

    There will be sharp falls in carbon emission, mainly be driven by climate disruption to our global society/economy.

    The collapse of the stock market as we know it is just around the corner.

    I would start disinvesting in stock if you have any. Especially those that will be initially impacted by extreme weather/climate events. Its not when they occur, but when the big investors realize whats at stake…

    Even sea level rise will start impacting the stock market big time soon. In fact it has already started impacting property investments on the coast world wide. Do you live near Miami? Sell up as soon as you can.

    The stock market is all about confidence and once the reality of GW and CC are absorbed by the finance sector – that will be it. I recon another 1yr max 2yrs for this to happen.

    The insurance industry is pretty much toast now. They cant beat the odds even at 0.8C warming.

    And most people in the know have come to realize this. Just a matter of time for joe the investor to catch on.

    There go all our pension funds….

  60. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Well spotted –

    “Climate change is not — you don’t pursue action that helps deal with that problem just because of the problem itself, but because there are huge opportunities there in alternative energy. “

    There’s a thread here worth pulling. The WH from Holdren down has to know that behind the hype renewable energy is irrelevant to reducing current global CO2e outputs – since any FFs locally displaced are being and will be bought and burnt elsewhere – until a global climate treaty has bedded in. And that is currently slated for around 2025, most of a decade after Obama leaves office.

    Alongside the RE hype is the focus on maximizing liquid & gas fuels security – by substantial expansion of oil leases, by the unobstructed fracking boom, and by raising the CAFE standards for 2025 to equal those of Europe in the 1990s.

    From this perspective the title “Environment & Clean Energy Inaugural Ball” looks like a pointer to a sub-text of WH pesentation – that the inclusion of some RE under an official priority of raising energy security can be spun as current action on climate to placate progressives, when in fact it is nothing of the sort: it doesn’t sterilize a single tonne of FF reserves, and it doesn’t advance the agreement of the requisite global treaty by one day.

    “All of the above” is not a centrist slogan, it’s an expression of an unwillingness to address global warming in preference to the paramount policy priority of trying to maintain US global economic dominance.

    The spokesman’s statement is quite telling once it’s put in context.



  61. John McCormick says:

    Paul, straight talk! We need more of this.

    The hope thing is wearing thin. People have to prepare themselves, family, children for what is now, and has been for fifty years, coming right at us. From .8 to 1.2 C in a matter of a decade.

    Arctic and Amazon are weather machines humans are destroying.

  62. paul magnus magnus says:

    Well said mate

  63. paul magnus magnus says:

    It’s already happening in Canada…

  64. Sasparilla says:

    Nicely said Lewis….so depressing to see this after the speech…reality, from the administration, is right there waiting for us.