… go to http://www.energybill2007.us and sign the petition. As we’ve seen, the bill is hanging by thread with a threatened presidential veto and partisan squabbling in the Senate. Still, if Bush is going to threaten a veto, best to actually make him do so, and force the key issues, fuel economy standards and a renewable portfolio standard, into the public eye and hopefully the presidential campaign.
Last month at the Clinton Global Initiative (covered by Climate Progress), Van Jones, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, California, announced the initiative Green for All. The goal of the initative is to secure “job training for 250,000 workers from urban communities for the emerging green job market.”
Today Van Jones is featured in Thomas Friedman’s NYT op-ed column: The Green-Collar Solution.
And if you’re in D.C. and interested in the issue of green jobs and the socio-political aspect of building a low-carbon economy, I’d highly recommend checking out the event at the Center for American Progress on Monday. – Go here to view details and the invitation.
We will post videos from the event when they become available.
E&E Daily (subs. req’d) reports
The new [Warner-Lieberman] bill includes a 15 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 compared with 2005 levels. A draft circulated in August called for cuts of 10 percent in 2020.
Lieberman and Warner also have agreed to drop the free distribution of pollution credits for manufacturers after 2036 in favor of including the industrial sector in an auction where they must compete with power plants, petroleum refiners and others. Manufacturers under the draft bill would have been given free credits until 2050.
Sounds like improvements to a good bill, whose ultimate goal is an overall cut of 70 percent by mid-century. Still, the environmental community is torn. Environmental Defense likes it, while “Clean Air Watch and U.S. PIRG contend the Lieberman-Warner plan moves too far from their goals.”
In related news, American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Xcel Energy and several other electric utilities have joined together to ask the senators to attach a “safety valve” to climate legislation because of the “protection it would provide for our customers.” Boo! What about the protection it would cost future generations??
As for an update on where the energy bill stands …
Ocean acidification from human emissions of carbon dioxide is a very serious problem, as I have noted. Now Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies has issued a new warning:
The world’s oceans are becoming more acid, with potentially devastating consequences for corals and the marine organisms that build reefs and provide much of the Earth’s breathable oxygen.
The acidity is caused by the gradual buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, dissolving into the oceans. Scientists fear it could be lethal for animals with chalky skeletons which make up more than a third of the planet’s marine life….
Corals and plankton with chalky skeletons are at the base of the marine food web. They rely on sea water saturated with calcium carbonate to form their skeletons. However, as acidity intensifies, the saturation declines, making it harder for the animals to form their skeletal structures (calcify).
“Analysis of coral cores shows a steady drop in calcification over the last 20 years,” says Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of CoECRS and the University of Queensland. “There’s not much debate about how it happens: put more CO2 into the air above and it dissolves into the oceans.
“When CO2 levels in the atmosphere reach about 500 parts per million, you put calcification out of business in the oceans.” (Atmospheric CO2 levels are presently 385 ppm, up from 305 in 1960.)
On our current emissions path, we will hit 500 shortly after mid-century, sooner if we don’t act in time to prevent the carbon cycle amplifying feedbacks from kicking in. In fact, ocean acidification is itself a potentially deadly feedback:
While the federal government remains mired in conservative obstructionism — and may not even deliver us a new energy bill — California continues to take real, newsworthy action. As e-Newswire reports today:
Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Stack of Energy and Water Efficiency Bills
On October 12, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a stack of energy and water efficiency bills, including AB 1470, which provides incentives for the installation of 200,000 solar water heaters in the state by 2017. Freshman Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), formerly a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, authored four of the seven bills signed by the governor in a ceremony at Cal/EPA headquarters. Two days later, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed three bills (AB 35, AB 888 and AB 1058), which would have established green building standards and best practices for state, residential and commercial buildings.
Here’s an overview of the signed bills, courtesy of the governor’s office:
You’ll never guess which passionate climate change partisan said this:
Mankind has a record of reacting after a disaster strikes. Dams are built after floods, not before. So far in human history, disasters have not taken place on a global scale. Therefore we don’t really have a tested mechanism for dealing with global threats, such as a long-range, worldwide degradation of the environment. If we ignore the present warning signs and wait for an ecological disaster to strike, it will probably be too late.
The distinguished biologist Garrett Hardin has pointed out how very difficult it is psychologically to really believe that a disaster is impending. “How can one believe in something – particularly an unpleasant something – that has never happened before?” This must have been a terrible problem for Noah. Can’t we just hear his complacent compatriots: “Something has always happened to save us.” or “Don’t worry about the rising waters, Noah; our advanced technology will surely discover a substitute for breathing.” Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t tell us much about Noah’s psychological trials and tribulations. But if it was wisdom that enabled Noah to believe in the `never-yet-happened,’ we could use some of that wisdom now.
The answer will surprise you–and no cheating with Google!
Many GOP contenders acknowledge that humans probably play some role in recent climate change — but that’s as far as the agreement goes, as the NY Times explained today:
Senator John McCain of Arizona is calling for capping gas emissions linked to warming and higher fuel economy standards. Others, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, are refraining from advocating such limits and are instead emphasizing a push toward clean coal and other alternative energy sources. All agree that nuclear power should be greatly expanded.
McCain recently said, “I have had enough experience and enough knowledge to believe that unless we reverse what is happening on this planet, my dear friends, we are going to hand our children a planet that is badly damaged.”
Mr. Romney and Mr. Giuliani say little about the potential dangers of climate change and almost nothing about curbing emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. They talk almost exclusively about the need for independence from foreign oil as a necessity for national security.
Fred Thompson, after mocking the threat in April, said more recently that “climate change is real” and suggested a measured approach until more was known about it.
You can read about all the candidates’ views (from both parties) at the N.Y. Times election guide on climate change. Hillary will be announcing her energy plan next week, and we’ve already seen Obama’s terrific plan. Since Rudy appears more and more likely to be the Republican nominee, let’s look a bit more at where he stands (and at why even the NY Times coverage of the subject remains as frustrating as ever):
Drought is one of the most pernicious impacts of global warming. Because it often doesn’t get the attention from big media that it deserves, I try to report on it regularly.
The drought in the Southeast is so brutal, though, it has come to the attention of the New York Times and AP – not that it would occur to either to even mention the possibility that climate change is playing a role in such a profound drought, or that such droughts are likely to become much more common (standard fare from the NYT, as we’ve seen).
And count on the media (AP) to even find an upside to even such a catastrophe. But first, the downside, from the NYT:
For the first time in more than 100 years, much of the Southeast has reached the most severe category of drought, climatologists said Monday, creating an emergency so serious that some cities are just months away from running out of water….
In the Atlanta metropolitan area, which has more than four million people, worst-case analyses show that the city’s main source of water, Lake Lanier, could be drained dry in 90 to 121 days….
The situation has gotten so bad that by all of [state climatologist David] Stooksbury’s measures — the percentage of moisture in the soil, the flow rate of rivers, inches of rain — this drought has broken every record in Georgia’s history….
Within two weeks, Carol Couch, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, is expected to send Gov. Sonny Perdue recommendations on tightening water restrictions, which may include mandatory cutbacks on commercial and industrial users.
If that happens, experts at the National Drought Mitigation Center said, it would be the first time a major metropolitan area in the United States had been forced to take such drastic action to save its water supply.
So how could there be any upside? Never fear, the AP is here:
The Tide Turns for Gore – The Washington Post. Letter to the Editor: “Wouldn’t this be poetic justice? Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, and Florida disappears into the Atlantic Ocean.”
Bush: Kyoto approach on climate is “bad policy” – Reuters. “President George W. Bush said on Monday his administration’s approach of emphasizing voluntary approaches to address climate change was working and he denounced Kyoto-style mandatory caps as ‘bad policy.’ ” When Bush doesn’t change his position, it is a dog-bites-man story, but some (deluded) people held out a (very, very, very) faint hope Gore’s Nobel might move the President. As if!
Gray Wall Dims Hopes of ‘Green’ Games: China Has Vowed to Curb Pollution Before ’08 Olympics, but Its Secrecy Is Feeding Skepticism — The Washington Post. Good article on the impending disaster from holding the Summer Olympics in one of the most polluted cities in the world. The Chinese are apparently unable or unwilling to restrain their rapacious growth for even a few weeks to made the air more hospitable for the world’s top athletes.
Va. Tech, Investor Aim To Cut Area Energy Use — The Washington Post. “Virginia Tech officials announced plans yesterday to give some of the Washington area’s buildings a sweeping green makeover, using $500 million from an investor to pay for energy-saving upgrades at 100 or more properties throughout the region.” And you thought I only reported bad news!