One of our favorite climate sites, Desmogblog, has made it to the finals in two categories — and your vote might make the difference:
A friend just sent me this remarkable story, “Former Air Force official joins leading coal-liquids developer,” which appears in the little-known Aim Points, “A daily summary of news, messages and communication tactics to help AF people tell the AF story.”
It looks like the “tactic” AF people are being told about is the good-ol’ revolving door:
Ron Sega, up until last year the Air Force’s chief energy executive, has joined the board of directors of coal-to-liquids (CTL) fuel developer Rentech, Inc., on Dec. 18, according to a statement issued by the company. Rentech develops synthetic fuels for the Air Force alternative fuels program, using coal and other feedstocks.
Sega resigned as Air Force under secretary in August 2007, after in part leading an effort within the Air Force to develop alternative fuels not based on petroleum and thereby reduce dependence on imported energy supplies.
“As the Air Force’s chief energy executive, Dr. Sega led the creation of a new energy strategy for the Air Force,” a strategy that addressed “demand-side energy efficiencies, supply-side energy assurance options and the establishment of a culture of conservation,” according to the Rentech statement.
The statement cites Sega as saying: “I am exited to be joining Rentech, a company that is committed to using a wide array of domestic resources to produce environmentally sound fuels that will help ensure our nation’s energy security.”
The Air Force aims to act as a catalyst for the synthetic fuels industry by using its huge buying power to guarantee demand, service officials have said. Officials say that in the near term, coal is the only feedstock that can provide sufficient energy output from synthetic fuels, and will therefore be the dominant feedstock in the so-called “synfuels” program for the time-being.
CTL fuels have drawn criticism from environmentalists, who fear that without carbon capture and sequestration during the manufacturing phase, CTL technology could release twice the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that petroleum-based fuels do. In response to these fears, the Air Force has committed itself to buy only CTL fuels that are no worse for the environment than conventional fuels, in effect requiring carbon capture and reuse or sequestration.
Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it. Note to Air Force: “Carbon capture and reuse” is not bloody likely, unless maybe the AF wants to get into the carbonated beverage business.
The final paragraph has one of those laughable claims that make you wish some people were hooked up to lie detectors as if life were some sort of reality show, rather than the surreality show it really is:
Another clear statement from the nation’s top climate scientist of the scientific need for a dramatic change in global coal policy — this time addressed to the German Chancellor, a fellow physicist. He points out that:
The fact that energy and climate advisors, in Germany, the United States, and elsewhere, do not understand the problem is starkly illustrated by repetition of goals to reduce CO2 emissions by a percentage (say 40% by 2020, 80% by 2050, or other numbers), while at the same time allowing construction of new, more efficient, coal-fired power plants that do not capture and sequester CO2…. this approach spells doom for life on the planet.
Why are political leaders pursuing mutually contradictory policies? Well, we all know solid carbon diamonds are forever — the corollary is that much atmospheric carbon is, too:
Part of the difficulty in grasping the problem may be the common misstatement that the atmospheric lifetime of fossil fuel emissions is 50-200 years (Maiken finds this error in a current U.S. EPA document). In point of fact, a large fraction of the CO2 increment remains in the air for more than 1000 years, and the mean lifetime, dominated by this long tail, is about 30,000 years (D. Archer, “Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time,” J. Geophys. Res. 110, 2005).
To “preserve climate resembling that in which civilization developed” what must be done?
The upshot, which I am confident Dr. Merkel will understand, is that we must have a prompt moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants that do not capture CO2, and we must phase-out existing coal-fired power plants over the next two decades. It is foolish to build new plants with the knowledge that they will have to be bull-dozed in the near future.
The Washington Post has a good article today on the explosion in the use of the term “green-collar” jobs. You will no doubt be hearing much more of term since it is a favorite of Clinton and Edwards; Climate Progress and the Center for American Progress are on the bandwagon; and even the super trend-spotting Tom Friedman has glommed onto it.
No, it’s not a perfect term. G-C jobs — my effort to coin the ultimate eco-buzzword — won’t get you a green uniform and green power-ring like the Green Lantern Corps, although you will, coincidentally enough, be promoting green power. As the Post notes:
… while white-collar and blue-collar bring distinctive images to mind — the mutual fund manager screaming into his BlackBerry, the coal miner coming home, coughing from a long day — such iconic imagery is hard to find with the green-collar worker.
Still, the term, popularized by social activists like Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center, does have a powerful ring to it [sorry about that], so I expect it will be around for a while. Climate Progress will try to limit use to, say, once a month.