Kolbert: Keystone XL is ‘Just Another Step On The March To Disaster’

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"Kolbert: Keystone XL is ‘Just Another Step On The March To Disaster’"

Elizabeth Kolbert is one of the most thoughtful climate journalists. Her terrific 2006 book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, famously ends, “It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”

Seven years later, we’re still doing it (see “Into The Valley Of 400 PPM Rode The 7 Billion“). Kolbert has a great New Yorker piece this week, “Lines in The Sand,” on crossing the 400 parts per million threshold of CO2, as measured at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa observatory.

She quotes one marine geologist who said that hitting 400 ppm, “feels like the inevitable march toward disaster.” Of course, it isn’t inevitable, which was the point of Kolbert’s quote above — it is a choice.

That said, most people do feel powerless to change direction, since the choice to avert disaster isn’t directly in our hands. It is in the hands of the most powerful opinion makers and political leaders, like President Obama.

Kolbert concludes her piece:

Were we to burn through all known fossil-fuel reserves, the results would be unimaginably bleak: major cities would be flooded out, a large portion of the world’s arable land would be transformed into deserts, and the oceans would be turned into liquid dead zones. If we take the future at all seriously, which is to say as a time period that someone is going to have to live in, then we need to leave a big percentage of the planet’s coal and oil and natural gas in the ground. These basic facts have been established for decades, and every President since George Bush senior has vowed to do something to avert catastrophe. The numbers from Mauna Loa show that they have failed.

In rejecting Keystone, President Obama would not solve the underlying problem, which, as pipeline proponents correctly point out, is consumption. Nor would he halt exploitation of the tar sands. But he would put a brake on the process. After all, if getting tar-sands oil to China were easy, the Canadians wouldn’t be applying so much pressure on the White House. Once Keystone is built, there will be no putting the tar back in the sands. The pipeline isn’t inevitable, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s just another step on the march to disaster.

Hear! Hear!

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67 Responses to Kolbert: Keystone XL is ‘Just Another Step On The March To Disaster’

    • Superman1 says:

      “I personally believe that 2 degrees is too generous a number based on current reality”. As does Kevin Anderson and many in the climate science community; they believe 1 C is a far better target, and if we based this number on occurrence of critical phenomena, we would find that 0.5 C is a far better ceiling. So why do you (and Kevin Anderson) do computations based on 2 C?

      • Superman1 says:

        Is it because if you (and Kevin Anderson) based your computations on 1 C ceiling or lower, you would show that we can’t get there from here? If that’s the reality, why not lay it out for the world to see? Maybe that will stimulate some really serious thinking, and calls for really serious actions.

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    How many times …?

    As I mentioned yesterday, tomorrow (March 27) is the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’, the classic album that included, as its first song, ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.

    “How many times must a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

    In my view, such questions and sentiments are important enough that we should pause and reflect: it’s been fifty years since Bob Dylan put the questions so well. They are more timely than ever today.

    There are other fantastic, profound, and thought-provoking songs on the album as well. One of them — ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’ — is not only a wonderful and classic song, but many of its lyrics foreshadow climate change and the sorts of damage it will cause in rather amazing ways. The whole album is (very well) worth listening to, again and again, and I’ll be doing that (while gardening and tending the bees) tomorrow. If you haven’t heard the whole album, or if it has been forty or fifty years since you have, I’d recommend it highly.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

    • Jeff Huggins says:

      Sorry, I meant May 27 (tomorrow) of course.

      Be Well,

      Jeff

    • Gestur says:

      Thanks, again, Jeff, for this lyrical, important reminder. And thanks, too, for your parenthetical ‘while gardening’ comment, which has been my preoccupation these past few weeks and this morning as well. And while I’m never seen tending any bees out back, about this time of year I do harvest the rhubarb and put it up in many jars of savory rhubarb marmalade. But I’ll tell ya what: a bit later I’ll raise a toast to your bees, as I wouldn’t have much in my vast veg and herb garden without ‘em.

  2. Paul Magnus says:

    “major cities would be flooded out, a large portion of the world’s arable land would be transformed into deserts, and the oceans would be turned into liquid dead zones.”

    These thing are set to happen at around 2C. Which means they are happening now and will be no matter what action is taken. I don’t know why people who wirte for media like nyt don’t sort these facts out properly.

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      Paul – I’d well agree that journalists need to sort out the actual prognosis for continued inaction -

      but it isn’t true to say that catastrophic effects will occur “no matter what action is taken”. Stringent emissions control cutting CO2 output to near-zero by 2050 doesn’t peak anthro-warming until around 2080 – after the 30yr timelag – which would obviously take us well past 2.0C.

      I think it’s time we faced that fact and face up to the reality that we cannot avoid catastophic outcomes without the additional use of geo-engineering – in both the Albedo Restoration and Carbon Recovery modes.

      The proposal that we should deploy stingent emissions control and then hope for the best is to pretend that neither the loss of the sulphate parasol nor the interactive acceleration of the warming feedbacks would take us well beyond a habitable planet. I guess we owe it to our successors to find the courage to face this reality, and to act on it.

      Regards,

      Lewis

      • Mike Roddy says:

        Lewis, I’d be interested in seeing some data on the cost and effectiveness of albedo restoration. I’m not saying this to denigrate your comment, but wonder how much the details have been explored.

        • Superman1 says:

          Look at the Arctic Methane Group proposals for geo-engineering. One STRONG requirement is continued fossil emissions. Cleverdon et al have extracted one non-fossil component, including the option of non-fossil powering of the Flettner rotors, and are presenting that as a viable proposal. Fantasy at its best.

      • Lewis Cleverdon says:

        Mike – with regard to the level of study of Albedo Restoration in general and Cloud Brightening in particular, it seems very substantial. On the latter, if you open google, click ‘more’ on the options bar, then click ‘even more’, then scroll down to ‘scholar’ and click it, then type ‘cloud brightening, Salter, Latham’ – it shows 63 entries of which a good few are PDH and accessible. Salter and Latham are the leading scientists in the field but there are many others besides them.

        Two recent papers of interest by Salter (who is immensely widely cited both for his work on cloud brightening and his pre-eminence in wave energy) are:

        http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/366/1882/3989.short

        http://meetings.copernicus.org/www.cosis.net/abstracts/EGU2008/06887/EGU2008-A-06887.pdf

        A good comprehensive overview is available in the book “Geoengineering Responses to Climate Change: Selected entries from the encyclopedia of sustainability science and technology”
        by Timothy Lenton, (Univ Exeter) and Naomi Vaughan (Univ East Anglia), which includes an intro, 3 chapters on AR including one on MCB, 3 chapters on CR including one on Biochar, and an 8th chapter on the critical Governance issues.

        On the remote chance that some CP readers might be distracted by an apathy troll’s trash of claiming to know better than both world class scientists and those acting as reviewers for a journal such as “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society”, I’d remark that the reason the proposed cloud brightening vessels are intendedly windpowered is not simply to avoid an insignificantly minor fossil CO2 output, but to be able to remain operational at sea without refuelling.

        Regards,

        Lewis

        • Superman1 says:

          ” claiming to know better than both world class scientists”. ‘Knowing better’ is not the issue. How much did you agree with the proposals made by Edward Teller, Fred Singer, et al? They were far more ‘world-class’ than the ones you mention.

          • Superman1 says:

            You also neglected to address that the Arctic Methane Group’s proposal REQUIRES a strong fossil emissions component for feasibility, which somehow got lost on the way to your proposal.

          • Raul M. says:

            My, there may be a substantial fossil fuel emmissions made by the continental shelf. Hence the suggestion of using methane fuel cells to capture the methane with a reduction of co2 emissions compared to other means of making electricity and heat. A possible use of methane hydrate flux while people are there trying to figure out what to do with all that “natural” emissions. Some fuel cells show a comparable emissions value of 40 and 50% less than other elec. and heat generations systems of round the clock ability.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Fred Singer, ‘world-class’. Strangely true, but in a negative manner.

          • Superman1 says:

            Mulga, In 65 years of research, Singer has published 282 papers in the peer reviewed literature (Science Citation Index); Salter has published fifteen in forty years. The point of my comment is that because someone has made substantial contributions to science, we don’t ipso facto buy off on everything they propose.

          • Superman1 says:

            I am uncomfortable that Salter has lent his name to the Arctic Methane Group proposal that requires the strong fossil emissions component for ‘feasibility’, and at the same time (according to Cleverdon) has lent his name to the Cleverdon proposal sans strong fossil fuel emissions required. Which is it, or do we get different ‘feasible’ proposals for different audiences?

          • Superman1 says:

            Why don’t we get Salter to post an article here describing his whole package, so we can see exactly what he is proposing without the ‘value-added’ of the spin artists? Lest we forget: the package needs to satisfy the three-legged stool to be credible: technical/economic/sociopolitical.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Stratospheric albedo restoration seems fraught with the dangers of unintended consequences. I have no idea about its effectiveness, but I have always been interested in ground-level albedo restoration, say by painting roofs and other surfaces reflective colours. Would that work? It has long been the custom in many torrid zones to paint houses white, so why not on a vast scale?

          • Superman1 says:

            There have been myriad comments by experts on the unintended consequences of Albedo Restoration and other geo-engineering schemes. That said, we may have to end up trying these in a last ditch effort to save the biosphere. It’s the high fossil emission requirement of the Arctic Methane Group proposal that bothers me, and its absence from the Cleverdon clone.

          • Raul M. says:

            Biogas fuel cells are making the news as having no emissions. Apple and Microsift think there are advantages to acting on the information and installing fuel cell power plants. That is far from using methane flux in the Arctic, though, there is hope that the new societies of the Arctic will see the power capabilities of methane to power the new vest needs of the storm shelters of the future. Umm aquaculture could be one use.

          • Raul M. says:

            Honda has made progress with a solar power station to power hydrogen fuel cell home and car.

  3. BobbyL says:

    Many supporters of the Tea Party would strongly disagree that our fate with regard to climate change is in the hands of powerful opinion makers and political leaders. They would argue that our fate is in the hands of God. Some Tea Party rallies such as the Glenn Beck rallies are extremely religious. Global warming has stirred up the old science versus religion debate and conservative politicians are well aware of this.

    • yphilj says:

      I think you’re right. We may even underestimate this sentiment because many are not transparent about it for fear that they’ll be ridiculed. The messaging challenge with these folks is huge because it’s not simply an argument about evidence; it gets into theological issues as well.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        See Speech by Whitehouse (below) – denial is not based on religion or morality, ME

        • BobbyL says:

          I agree with Whitehouse’s statement with regard to the mortality part but not with regard to religion. Some religious people have very extreme views about the role of God, such as God can control everything including the earth’s temperature, or whatever happens is God’s will, or God will take care of us. These are probably mostly the same people who say the earth was created 6,000 years ago and that humans were created by God and did not evolve from animals. I don’t think these people are going to be particularly interested what Hansen, Trenberth, Mann, Anderson, etc have to say.

        • Mal Adapted says:

          ME, AGW-denial is a big tent. Some prominent scientific “skeptics” like Roy Spencer and John Christy appear to be motivated more by evangelical Christian faith than by self-aggrandizement. Spencer and Christy are signatories to An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, although the organization that promulgated the statement, the Cornwall Alliance, has free-market-Libertarian underpinnings as well.

          • Mal Adapted says:

            My http-foo is weak, but the links do work.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            They are right about the ‘self correcting’ Mal. She is going to get rid of her latest plague species, us, ME

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      That’s not ‘religion’. That’s the ego-projection of the pathopsychologically morbid allayed to ignorant superstition (so much yuckier than intelligent superstition)with fear and hatred of others and general dread of death thrown in. A real bitches’ brew, totally immune to reason, reflection or humanity and fellow-feeling, except within the in-group, and only then so long as the more paranoid elements do not detect apostasy and heresy. Nothing to hope for from these, which is a pity, and very, very, much to fear. As a general type they are as far from the Nazarene as it is possible to imagine, so they are constantly re-imagining him.

      • BobbyL says:

        Read the Torah or the Christian Bible. It is religion and follows the scripture. Western religion is full of the supernaturural and the mystical and miracles. I think global warming denial in the US is closely tied to fundamentalist religion as well as corporate greed and an extreme right wing versions of rugged individualism and individual freedom.

  4. Ed Leaver says:

    “These basic facts have been established for decades…”
    Indeed. I recall ’twas at least twenty years ago when a Big Ahl exec (Exxon, I think) was asked when we would run out of oil: “In a practical sense, never. We’ll run out of atmosphere in which to dump the carbon dioxide long before we run out of oil.”

  5. Bill Wilson says:

    Please demand an answer as I can’t get one. What international standards were used to design and build the pipe that would be capablbe of carring a toxic liquid like sandpaper under high heat and pressure and how could the tests if any not show the many many spills? Leak detection systems that would let 100000 gal. of it flow freely in kalamazoo, Mi and MAYFLOWER? Our State Dept. and government seems to be using industry supplied bogus data and the government should shut the tarsands down as far as a lethal and know carcenogenic substance planed to be pumped through the heart of America while using our courts and gov. to steal land. This is a crime against humanity and not needed.

    • kermit says:

      They didn’t need international standards for reassurance. They know from the experience of many hundreds of spills over the years, some quite large, that they will never be held responsible for the real cost. Small fines at most, and the newspapers will distract the readers a few days later with more celebrity gossip.

      Business as usual: socialized costs, and privatized profits.

  6. Paul Klinkman says:

    Citizens have four options:

    1. Ostrich.

    2. Personally lower your consumption of nonrenewable fuels. This may have an effect on your neighbors. In the grand scheme of things, not that far from ostrich.

    3. Throw your politicians out. Then throw the next batch out. Repeat until you get to someone sane. This process takes way too much time but it could help.

    4. Drive the cost of solar down below the cost of fossil fuels. This option involves touching a dark evil thing, monopoly power, and probably getting bitten by it. It probably has rabies. However, this strategy can work at a reasonable speed. If you’re going to have your planet destroyed anyways, you might as well die with your hiking boots on. If you just can’t hack number 4 here, and many people can’t, maybe you can go back to number 3.

    5. Get a convoluted ideology and become a terrorist? One more ostrich.

    • Paul Klinkman says:

      If you call 1-800-Joe-4-oil you’ll get Joe Kennedy III’s heating oil service for poor people. That’s good of him, but there’s no 800 number if you want cheap solar. That’s because nobody bothered to organize a company to provide cheap solar. I guess that people’s immediate oil needs are important. If switching to solar isn’t important, then marching onward to disaster isn’t important. Is it?

      Contradiction city!

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      I’m afraid, Paul, that Rupert Murdoch’s droogs in Australia are ahead of the game. In a move that even I, with my finely honed cynicism and deep belief in the Right’s innate malignancy, did not see coming, ‘The Australian’ had a story on the weekend, apparently recommending that those who have installed solar power should be taxed for having done so. I’m afraid that I haven’t read the article, only a letter concerning it in today (Monday’s) rag, complaining that people ought not to be penalised for spending money to save polluting the atmosphere-in other words, from a despised ‘do-gooder’, ‘Lefty water-melon’ or ‘bleeding-heart’. The oily rag is behind a paywall, so unless I pop in to the library, I might be spared the details, until this latest horror gets a head of steam up.

      • Mulga, I have been reading stuff at The Drum (web site / blog) for ABC. It seems to be much more progressive than the average pol in your country. What happens there when Gillard is ousted? Can ABC withstand political pressures?

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Wesley, when Abbott ascends the most Rightwing regime in our history will show its true spots, after the now obligatory pre-election period of lying through its teeth about its intentions. It will have the assistance and encouragement of the most Rightwing crop of state regimes ever, who are particularly notable for ferocious hatred of environmentalists and environmentalism. The anti-solar power proposals I briefly outlined above have been proposed or enacted in Queensland, which is pushing the envelope in extreme Rightwing, anti-environmental, policy for the country. In the midst of a more and more plain ecological crisis, evident here and globally, the hard Right in this country are acting in the only way that their type ever have, since the dawn of time. They are reacting belligerently and bellicosely, bullying and throwing their usually not inconsiderable weight around, as if they can intimidate Nature into submitting to their power. As Nature yawns with indifference, the Right take out their fury on Greenies (and the poor, welfare recipients, refugees, trade unionists, workers in low paid jobs, gays who want to get married etc)and push on with coal and gas mining, sabotaging renewable energy at every opportunity and generally acting as if nothing has, or ever will, change. It’s the most perfect proof that ‘democracy’ when operated in a capitalist system, without some sort of process for evaluating the moral, spiritual and intellectual fitness of the candidates and voters, will always lead to disaster.
          As for the ABC, it was ‘Howardised’ under John Howard, and has been hard Right ever since. The non-ABC Right still declare it ‘Left’, which shows just how deep is their psychopathy and so furious their hatred of other opinions. They primp and preen that they have won the ‘battle of ideas’, which famous Pyrrhic victory was handed to them by the likes of Murdoch, and achieved by rejecting science and the very Enlightenment values that they, risibly and sinisterly, claim as their own. The Right are increasingly calling for the ABC and SBS to be privatised, which as I say, is unnecessary, but will probably occur, out of sheer, vicious lust for vengeance for totally imaginary ‘Thought Crime’.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            And we will fight like feral cats, as we always do, to stop that privatization and retain it as one of the best in the world, ME

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I have just heard your President talk about the latest ‘natural disaster’. Given we know that all such disasters contain a component of human intervention, could we start calling them unnatural disasters? ME

    • BobbyL says:

      Better read your insurance policy first.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Of course, put $ before anything else! I am thinking about the education job and besides, plenty of people can’t even get insurance anymore, ME

  8. katy says:

    Papantonio: Corporations Cashing In On Climate Change (VIDEO)
    Posted on May 24, 2013 by Gary Bentley •

    Recent studies have proven that climate change is real, occurring now, and is being caused by human activity. But rather than try to fix things, corporate America has decided that climate change is a great way to make a quick buck, so they’re cashing in on the projected devastation. Ring of Fire host Mike Papantonio fills in for Ed Schultz to talk about this with author and journalist Alex Zaitchik.
    http://www.ringoffireradio.com/2013/05/24/papantonio-corporations-cashing-in-on-climate-change-video/

  9. Tony says:

    Were we to burn through all known fossil-fuel reserves, the results would be unimaginably bleak

    That’s not particularly helpful, since there is absolutely no way that we will burn through all the known fossil-fuel reserves. Economies throughout the world will have crashed, or at least severely contracted, long before that milestone. I think it’s unlikely that we’d burn through half of those reserves as remaining reserves will become far to expensive to extract for anyone to be able to afford them.

    What needs to be described is what happens in a more realistic scenario: that fossil-fuel burning peaks over the next decade or two, then begins a jagged slow decline. That will be bad enough, as it is; there is no need to invoke unrealistic scenarios.

    • Superman1 says:

      It depends on the location of the climate cliff. International agreements were signed based on 2 C, but Kevin Anderson believes the community consensus is 1 C.

      • Superman1 says:

        If we terminated use of fossil fuels today, without parallel rapid carbon recovery or low-risk low-fossil geo-engineering, estimates are we would peak somewhere in the range of 1.5 to 3 C in three or four decades. That’s deep within the Extremely Dangerous region.

        • Superman1 says:

          The net energy imbalance is going into heating the atmosphere, heating the ocean (especially the deep ocean), and endothermic processes like melting ice. This allows existing positive feedback processes throughout the biosphere to be accelerated, and new ones to be initiated. It is Mother Nature’s ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy for neutralizing the biosphere.

  10. robert says:

    The President and Congress are bit players, and we’re treating them like leading roles. Whether or not Keystone is built is OUR choice, not theirs.

    We choose to actively resist this pipeline, and to actively promote alternative ways of constructing our society… or not. WE. CHOOSE.

    • Superman1 says:

      That’s not what the Amen Corner wants to hear. It’s either the fault of the politicians or the media or the fossil energy companies; anyone but us!

      • Mike Roddy says:

        Yeah, blame the victims, Superman.

        • Superman1 says:

          Mike, nobody’s hands are clean here, and there is plenty of shared blame to go around. But, if we ignore the role of the electorate in causing climate change, we’ll never make progress on solving the problem. After all, it is the electorate driving those cars on the clogged highways, getting on the airplanes for leisure flights, etc.

  11. Reuben Deumling says:

    “most people do feel powerless to change direction, since the choice to avert disaster isn’t directly in our hands. It is in the hands of the most powerful opinion makers and political leaders, like President Obama.”

    Curious that you keep saying this, Joe. I find it self-fulfilling and disempowering.

    (1) We have already had ample opportunity to observe that those in whose hands you would put this decision (what decision exactly?) are disinclined to do anything useful or helpful about it. Pass buck.

    (2) Not only are they not doing anything at the policy level, their torpor, their lack of imagination about what to do may be in part because they too have zero experience with reducing (not to say all but eliminating) their own reliance on fossil fuels. So they figure it is up to someone else to solve this problem. Pass buck.

    (3) Then you come along with the same timeworn understanding of how this works: We’re screwed; we can do nothing about it; experts will solve it if we keep shaming them–> but experts do nothing; now we’re doubly screwed. Why stuck in this rut!? Surely we can think of a more interesting, more constructive, more inspiring approach to this problem. Each and every one of us (with very few exceptions) uses fossil fuels every day, directly and indirectly. We could–and some of us are–working on scaling back our reliance on fossil fuels. Not only does this turn out to be this doable. If you work on this long-term project with others it can be fun, even exhilarating. It can lead to the discovery of community solutions to problems we long ago farmed out to fossil fuels.

    (4) But this is too little, too late, you say; the problem is so much bigger than individual actions, and how long till we scale those up? It can’t work.

    I’ll just say that your ‘we must wait for the politicians to do the right thing’ (what was it they were going to do again?) not only hasn’t worked; it has almost zero prospect of actually causing GHG emissions to plummet and the damn stuff to stay in the ground. I’d say that approach is too little too late; plus it gives the rest of us nothing to do in the meantime but weep and gnash our teeth.

    • Superman1 says:

      Reuben, the politicians have two audiences: the wealthy donors that finance their campaigns, and the electorate. The former, for obvious reasons, are satisfied with the status quo, and most of the latter are not willing to give up their high energy intensity lifestyles enabled by the availability of ‘cheap’ fossil fuels.

      • Superman1 says:

        Therefore, the politicians, who tend to follow their audiences rather than lead, have no incentives to push for reduction of fossil fuels. Until the electorate demands reductions (which I personally don’t see on the horizon), I see the politicians continuing business as usual.

    • BobbyL says:

      I think scaling back fossil use often involves financial obstacles for individuals. The most impact people can generally make in reducing their carbon footprint is retrofitting their homes to make them much more energy efficient. Things such as adding insulation, replacing boilers, replacing the duct system etc or whatever the energy auditors say needs to be done. However, this can be very costly, often $15,000 I think or more and the payback takes quite a few years. Buying the most energy efficient refrigerator or air conditioner also adds extra costs. As does buying hybrid or all electric automobiles. Another thing people could do is move closer to work to cut down on driving mileage but for at least people in the exburbs this generally involves having to buy much higher priced real estate which is what got them to live in the exburbs in the first place. Basically, we need our elected representatives to put price on carbon to really get our carbon footprints down since otherwise except for some rare self-sacrificing individuals carbon footprints are not going to drop enough to make a real difference.

      • Superman1 says:

        “I think scaling back fossil use often involves financial obstacles for individuals.” If we want to have a glimmer of hope to save the biosphere, we need to be prepared to make the most draconian sacrifices. Our collective attitude must be: WHATEVER IT TAKES; NO STRINGS ATTACHED!

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        What you need is radically less inequality and more social justice, in order to give immiserated working families the ‘market power’ to make sensible choices. So you need to redistribute the larcenously acquired loot of the 1% of kleptocrats to the 99%, then people will be able to afford to protect their children from Hell on Earth.

        • Reuben Deumling says:

          Unhelpfully the standard approach to reducing our household level emission of greenhouse gases is framed as energy efficiency: Buy lots of gadgets. But there are other ways that are both vastly cheaper and closer to the mark. You can spend umpteen thousand dollars on energy efficient goodies you mentioned: boilers, ducts, fridges, hybrid cars, air conditioners. But not using some or all of those can be a short cut. The reason I suggest this isn’t to ruin anyone’s fun but most of those things still run on fossil fuels, so improving the efficiency does nothing for leaving the coal and oil and natural gas in the ground, it just stretches out the time over which it is used. Not helpful.
          Figuring out how to substitute other sources of energy, other kinds of devices for those we’ve grown accustomed to takes time and knowledge we may no longer possess, but it isn’t impossible. Clothes lines, bicycles, wearing an extra layer, growing more of your own food, chopping wood, all used to work, and if we put our minds to it could again. The list is endless, and can be fun.

          • Reuben Deumling says:

            the above was supposed to be a reply to BobbyL. Still figuring out the layout here.

    • Joe Romm says:

      I didn’t say they were powerless, only that they feel that way.