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This morning, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) what his plan was “to create some recovery in the stock market.” McCain replied:
Keep taxes low, cut spending, create jobs with alternative energy including nuclear power plants, including drilling offshore, wind, tide, solar, free us from our sending $700 billion or whatever it is across to countries that don’t like us very much, free up credit.
Even though the term “alternative energy” is vague, under no rational interpretation does the entirely conventional practice of offshore oil drilling qualify. As the ExxonMobil website describes the offshore areas that were formerly covered by the 27-year moratorium lifted this month, those reserves are “conventional“: Read more
… please consider these lines from deep inside the latest posting from the nation’s top climate scientist:
… the most serious effects will be visited upon the young and the unborn, the generations that bear no responsibility for the problem. The most important effects, I believe, will be those that are irreversible for all practical purposes, specifically (1) extermination of species, and (2) ice sheet disintegration and sea level rise. If we continue business-as-usual energy policy, using more and more fossil fuels, it is likely that we will have:
(1) rapid climate change that will combine with other pressures on species to cause the rate of extinction of plants and animals to increase markedly, leading in some cases to ecosystem collapse, snowballing extinctions, and a more desolate planet for future generations.
(2) meter-scale sea level rise this century, and ice sheets in a state of disintegration that guarantees future sea level rise in the 10-meter-scale, with a continual reworking of future global coastlines out of humanity’s control.
I would add that the planetary desolation our continued inaction would leave our children includes the loss of the inland glaciers that provide fresh water for a billion people and desertification across one third of the globe (see “Is 450 ppm politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction“).
The time to act is now.
In a few days, James Hansen and several other leading climate scientists will release a major new study, “Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?” in the Open Atmospheric Sciences Journal. You can read a first draft of the study and my commentary on it here: Hansen (et al) must read: Get back to 350 ppm or risk an ice-free planet. Hansen has just put online a draft press release and FAQ (reprinted below).
First, though, Hansen responds to those of us who were critical of his earlier statement that “neither presidential candidate ‘gets it’, based on their enthusiasm for ‘clean coal’ and ‘carbon cap and trade.’ No Naderite he, says, the NASA scientist: “The vice presidential choices should jolt even the most jaded and somnolent into getting their fannies to the polls, if they retain any concern about life and the planet left for our children.”
Back to the draft press release, which warns:
Humanity must find a path to reduced atmospheric carbon dioxide, to less than the amount in the air today, if climate disasters are to be averted, according to a study to be published in Open Atmospheric Science Journal by a group of ten scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom and France. They argue that such a path is feasible, but requires a prompt moratorium on new coal use that does not capture CO2 and phase-out of existing coal emissions by 2030….
… if coal emissions were thus phased out between 2010 and 2030, and if emissions from unconventional fossil fuels such as tar shale were minimized, atmospheric CO2 would peak at 400-425 ppm and then slowly decline.
The authors conclude that “humanity today, collectively, must face the uncomfortable fact that industrial civilization itself has become the principal driver of global climate…. [T]he most difficult task, phase-out over the next 20-25 years of coal use that does not capture CO2, is Herculean, yet feasible when compared with the efforts that went into World War II. The stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis. The greatest danger is continued ignorance and denial, which could make tragic consequences unavoidable.”
I reiterate that if you agree with Hansen’s analysis of climate science and its implications for concentrations and emissions, then a CO2 price — whether imposed by a tax as Hansen recommends or achieved through a cap-and-trade — is simply beside the point.
Obama makes a slight gaffe when, instead of saying “Hello, Tallahassee,” he says “John McCain is clearly the better candidate.”
TALLAHASSEE, FL–In a campaign gaffe that could potentially jeopardize Sen. Barack Obama’s White House bid, the Democratic presidential nominee told nearly 8,000 supporters Tuesday that, if elected, he would be a terrible president.
The blunder, captured by all major media outlets and broadcast live on CNN, occurred when the typically polished Obama fielded a question about his health care policy. Obama answered by saying he would give small business owners a tax credit to help them provide health care for their employees, and then added, “Now, I’m not completely certain that my plan would work because, overall, I think I would make a bad president.”
According to sources, before those on hand could fully process what Obama had said, the Illinois senator continued to stumble, claiming that, were he to win the general election, he’d have absolutely no idea what to do.
“My youth and inexperience would definitely make me an awful president,” said Obama, whose seven-minute misstep was further exacerbated when he called himself “no expert” on the economy. “To be perfectly honest, I’d be worried about putting me in charge of the most powerful military in the world because I’m not any good when it comes to making important decisions. Also, I’m not sure how much I care about keeping this great nation of ours safe.”
“I’m an elitist, I hate Israel, and I want to lose the war in Iraq,” Obama concluded, and then, seemingly unaware of the magnitude of his blunder, smiled, gave a thumbs-up to the stunned crowd, and urged his supporters to get out and vote on Nov. 4.
When you watch this staggering piece of deception, just remember:
Fortunately, the ad seems so desperate I can’t actually see it winning any votes. Indeed, it shows bipartisanship on the part of Obama.
And on the very positive side, it helps make clear that whoever wins the presidency has a genuine mandate to take regulatory action on climate.
UPDATE: The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has released “a report detailing the frightening possible major regulatory rule changes the Bush administration could make in its final days.”
Until January 21, nobody in this country is safe from the lemming-in-chief. Unsatisfied with blocking all serious national and global action on climate change, the Bush administration is intent on leaving the next president with a variety of pollution-accelerating regulations that will be difficult to reverse quickly. As the Washington Post reports today:
The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.
The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.
Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.
Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.
The Post article is titled, “A Last Push To Deregulate.” Given the financial and economic havoc wreaked upon this country by deregulation, this headline may well be the epitaph for the Bush administration.
While this blog focuses primarily on the climate impact of increased emissions, the facts are clear that allowing more pollution increases cardiovascular illness and lowers developmental scores for children (see “Study: If you want smarter kids, shut coal plants“).
So what are the Bushies actually doing in their final orgy of destruction?
One of world’s leading scientific journals, Nature, has made a presidential endorsement, which I print below in its entirety:
The election of a US president almost always seems like a crossroads, but the choice to be made on 4 November feels unusual, and daunting, in its national and global significance.
Science and the research enterprise offer powerful tools for addressing key challenges that face America and the world, and it is heartening that both John McCain and Barack Obama have had thoughtful things to say about them. Obama has been more forthcoming in his discussion of research goals, but both have engaged with the issues. McCain deserves particular credit for taking a stance on carbon emissions that is at odds with that of a significant proportion of his party.
There is no open-and-shut case for preferring one man or the other on the basis of their views on these matters. This is as it should be: for science to be a narrow sectional interest bundled up in a single party would be a terrible thing. Both sides recognize science’s inspirational value and ability to help achieve national and global goals. That is common ground to be prized, and a scientific journal’s discussion of these matters might be expected to stop right there.
But science is bound by, and committed to, a set of normative values — values that have application to political questions. Placing a disinterested view of the world as it is ahead of our views of how it should be; recognizing that ideas should be tested in as systematic a way as possible; appreciating that there are experts whose views and criticisms need to be taken seriously: these are all attributes of good science that can be usefully applied when making decisions about the world of which science is but a part. Writ larger, the core values of science are those of open debate within a free society that have come down to us from the Enlightenment in many forms, not the least of which is the constitution of the United States.
On a range of topics, science included, Obama has surrounded himself with a wider and more able cadre of advisers than McCain.
Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) gave a speech on energy policy at a solar energy company, in her words, “in a manner with much substance.” She repeatedly went off the script of her prepared remarks (as Jed Lewison and Ana Marie Cox have noted), using many of her favorite locutions. One of her most common rogue phrases was a call for tapping into various sources of, well, just about anything. Her approach exposes the conservative ideology that all forms of energy are created equal; that details like cost, pollution, and long-term consequences are immaterial.
For those watching at home, here’s the list:
|Palin’s Top Eight For The Tapping|
|Some technology that will allow our nation to be firmly put on that path towards energy independence|
|Hundreds of trillions of cubic feet [of natural gas]|
|Hungry markets flowing our resources into those hungry markets|
|Energy supplies [safely, ethically]|
|100 new plants [of nucular energy]|
|Many, many alternative sources|
Of that list, only natural gas is a resource that can be literally “tapped into.” Palin’s use of an oil industry metaphor to describe all forms of energy and innovation is consistent with the mindset of supply-side exploitation, a dangerously simplistic approach to energy policy that only considers the short-term profit interests of energy corporations. Some of her off-script “tapping” remarks had some policy “meat,” such as her attack on solar energy:
We have many many alternative sources that have not yet been tapped into and allowed to become economic and reliable. That’s the key, of course, is the reliability of these alternative sources.
An intriguing story from Greenwire (subs. req’d):
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said yesterday on a late-night comedy show that global warming cannot be solved without participation from Republicans, and he pledged to work with his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, on the issue no matter who wins the White House on Tuesday.
Appearing on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Obama cited climate change as an issue on which he and McCain could find common ground after this year’s bitter presidential campaign concludes.
“I hope that after the election, however way it turns out, that we can work together, because some of the problems are ones that we’re not going to be able to solve with one party just trying to dictate a solution to the problems,” Obama said via satellite from Sunrise, Fla., where his campaign held one in a series of rallies in the battleground state.
The Illinois senator then brought up climate change.
Pollster.com has an interesting piece on the confusing disparity among all of the polling being done for this election. In particular, “likely voter model design depends significantly on judgments that pollsters make about how to model the likelihood that any voter sampled will actually turn out and vote in the election.”
The author, Clark A. Miller, an Associate Professor at Arizona State University, notes that “the trials and tribulations of climate modelers — and also their approaches to addressing skepticism about their judgments — offer three useful insights for pollsters working with likely voter models”:
As Politico’s Jonathan Martin tells us, “Iron Dog champ Todd Palin makes his direct mail debut in a piece aimed straight at the gut of a rural Mainers.” The letter warns snowmobiling Mainers, “Obama’s Extreme Environmental Policies” could make this “The Last Winter To Ride In Our National Parks?” The Maine Republican Party flier includes this edited quote from a Sierra Club blogger Pat Joseph:
In the end, the point that snowmobiles are loud and obnoxious and polluting seems obvious to everyone save perhaps the person actually astraddle the beast. . . . They just don’t have any business in our national parks.
Todd Palin’s flier dives straight into a barrel of red herrings.
In this flier, Palin is attempting to stoke a culture war between freedom-loving snowmobilers and tree-hugging environmentalists. But snowmobilers care about pollution and preserving the outdoors. And environmentalists love having fun. See how the flier edits the Sierra Club quote? Here’s what that dot-dot-dot eliminated from Pat Joseph’s criticism of snowmobiles in National Parks:
They are also fun. No doubt about it, they’re an absolute blast.
Mr. Palin says his wife and Senator McCain will protect snowmobile access with “practical standards.” But they don’t believe in regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, even though global warming has meant the Iron Dog competitors have raced in the rain — and in 2003, the race was even totally cancelled because of the extreme heat. It’s sure hard to protect the fun of snowmobiling if your “standards” mean the end to snow. Read more
If I could know only one thing about a presidential candidate’s understanding of energy, it is whether they get that energy efficiency is the “first fuel.” If efficiency is not the cornerstone of their energy independence and climate strategy, they will fail. It’s that simple (see “Energy efficiency is THE core climate solution, Part 1: The biggest low-carbon resource by far“).
How delightful, then, to see Obama use valuable time in his expensive half-hour political infomercial — his closing economic argument to millions of Americans — to tout McKinstry, a company that does energy efficiency retrofits.
Now efficiency is far less visually sexy than wind turbines or solar panels. That’s why anti-cleantech greenwashers from, oh, I don’t know, say Arizona and Alaska, invariably use renewable energy company backdrops — the visuals overwhelm any factual debunking of their policies that the media might do (assuming for the moment we had a media that actually ever did that kind of debunking).
So you know the candidate is serious about energy in general and efficiency in particular when they visit an energy efficiency company and then tell the nation about it:
Okay. The chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee didn’t quite say that, at least not directly. But E&E PM reports (subs. req’d):
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) expects to take her cues on climate in the 111th Congress from the next president.
The chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee told reporters here today that the next administration — whether led by a Democrat or a Republican — will likely set the pace when it comes to moving a greenhouse gas reduction bill through the House and Senate.
“It all depends on what the president wants,” said Boxer, in response to a question on whether she would reintroduce her own bill. “If the president wants the same bill back, we do it.”
Her plan is to reach out to the next administration “the day after Election Day” to talk principles on climate legislation, she said. Whether the chief executive is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) or Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) matters little on global warming, she added, as she expects “a friendly administration either way.”
But would she have said that if Obama weren’t 6 points ahead in the polls? After all, McCain’s proposed climate plan is far, far weaker than Boxer’s (see “McCain speech, Part 2: Relying on offsets = Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic“). And even that assumes climate regulation remains a priority for McCain (see “Palin shocker: McCain won’t regulate greenhouse gas emissions“). Fortunately, the point should be moot in 6 days. Here’s the rest of the story:
Our guest blogger is Jason Burnett. Burnett was most recently the Associate Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he coordinated energy and climate change policy across the EPA and led the development of greenhouse gases regulations.
As head of climate and energy policy for the Environmental Protection Agency, I witnessed first-hand the dangers of a Vice President who has a disregard for the balance of powers in our Constitution and a disdain for inconvenient facts.
Vice President Cheney has worked hard to cast doubt on the science of climate change. The Vice President’s office wanted my help censoring the Congressional testimony from the Centers for Disease Control to eliminate any references to how climate change endangers human health. I refused. The Vice President’s office later wanted me to water down congressional testimony on the strength of the science by not acknowledging that greenhouse gases “harm” the environment by causing climate change. Again I refused.
Having heard the words “the Vice President’s office is on the phone” many times over the past few years I could not agree more when Senator Joe Biden called them “the eight most dreaded words in the English language” for those trying to uphold our nation’s laws and respect our Constitution.
Given my experience with the dangers of an unaccountable Vice President, it sent shivers down my spine during the Vice Presidential debate when I heard Governor Palin say she’s “thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the Vice President also, if that Vice President so chose to exert it, in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president’s policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.” A bit more authority than our current Vice President has wrestled away from the President and Congress?
A strong Vice President is a great thing, but that strength should primarily come from being a trusted advisor to the President, not a separate power center somewhere between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch. Governor Palin is fortunate her smile and wink won’t remind voters of Vice President Cheney’s smirk and grimace; maybe people won’t notice that her dismissal of science and views on the power of the office are quite similar to Vice President Cheney’s? Read more
Conservative think tanks remain oblivious and impervious to the facts. They cling to global warming denial and delay even in the face of the remarkable advances both in scientific understanding about global warming and in clean technology solutions.
We have seen that the Cato Institute remains intellectually bankrupt on both the urgency of the climate problem and the availability of cost-effective solutions. The Competitive Enterprise Institute actually runs ad campaigns aimed at destroying the climate for centuries.
Now Kenneth Green, resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, has weighed in with a speech Monday to the International Oxygen Manufacturers Association (!) betraying a willful ignorance of science and technology.
On the technology front, he simply asserts with no evidence whatsoever that:
No matter what you’ve been told, the technology to significantly reduce emissions is decades away and extremely costly.
ClimateProgress readers know that statement is utterly false (see “An introduction to the core climate solutions“). As do all those who believe in science. The latest multi-year synthesis of the peer-reviewed literature by the world’s top scientists and technologists — signed off by every major government including the Bush Administration — says that we have the needed technology today or are in the process of commercializing it and that the economic cost of strong action will be at most 0.1% of GDP per year, far less than the cost of inaction (see “Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly“).
But Green asserts “My science is value-neutral–I just try to figure out what the science really says, and look past the hype.” Actually, it is very easy to figure out what the science really says — just read the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But that, of course, would shatter his carefully crafted ideologically-driven worldview.
Instead, Green — how’s that for an ironic name? — distorts climate science with these amazing anti-scientific assertions about “the state of the science”:
It’s time to stop trying to guess whether the latest McCain campaign
gaffe revision on global warming means the Arizonan has walked away from his previous support for mandatory government control of greenhouse gases. He has.
That should have been clear from McCain’s repeated rejection of the word “mandatory” to describe his program, his choice of a global warming denier for vice president, and his failure to even mention global warming during his acceptance speech. Most recently, his chief economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said on Sunday that McCain does not agree with the Supreme Court decision that labels carbon dioxide a pollutant and requiring EPA to regulate it. He labels Obama’s decision to obey the Supreme Court decision “a draconian regulatory approach.”
Now the McCain campaign has decided to eliminate the ambiguity entirely in the desperate and erratic final days of his campaign. In her big greenwashing energy speech at an Ohio solar energy company, Palin was as blunt as possible in her prepared (and delivered) remarks:
UPDATE: At Climate Progress, Joe Romm notes that Palin’s prepared remarks make it unambiguous that McCain won’t regulate global warming pollution.
UPDATE II: We’ve updated the text with her speech as delivered. Jed Lewison notes one of her more amusing revisions. Gristmill‘s David Roberts calls the speech “bizarre.” Ana Marie Cox describes the travails of the teleprompter operator.
UPDATE III: Former vice president Al Gore will be delivering a true energy policy speech tonight, in a live webcast at 8:30 PM as part of the Energy Action Coalition’s Power Vote campaign for youth climate activism.
Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) just completed a “major” speech on energy policy, in which she offered no new policy, nor recognized the existence of global warming. She delivered her speech at the headquarters of the Xunlight Corporation in Toledo, Ohio, a producer of flexible thin-film photovoltaic solar panels — despite her earlier mockery of such technology:
Alternative-energy solutions are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop.
This hypocritical choice is just following the lead of her running mate. In May, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) delivered a speech on global warming at the U.S. headquarters of a Danish wind turbine manufacturer, after decades of opposition to the domestic renewable energy industry.
Below is the text of her prepared remarks — a half-hour love letter to Big Oil. Please note, however, that Palin went off-script repeatedly, throwing in such catchphrases from the campaign as “Drill, baby, drill,” “He’s got the scars to prove it,” “Maverick of the Senate,” and several digs at journalists.
UPDATE: Palin’s off-script remarks are in red.
Thank you all very much. I appreciate the hospitality of Xunlight Energy, and all the people of Toledo. The folks at Xunlight are doing great work for this community and our country. I’m so excited about this, Thank you for your hospitality, again doctor, thank you. Good, good things being said about this corporation as you’re progressing with the solar panels and understanding alternative energy sources. So necessary as a piece of the puzzle that we’re working on. I know my state of Alaska is certainly working on this. All that we can do to put the pieces together to allow our nation to become energy secure.
The NYT Caucus Blog reports:
Gov. Sarah Palin will make her second policy speech as the Republican vice-presidential nominee on Wednesday morning, focusing on energy security, a campaign aide said. She will deliver the speech in Toledo, Ohio, at Xunlight Corporation, a company that manufactures solar power implements.
I guess it is mavericky to give an energy speech using the greenwashing backdrop of a popular clean energy technology your ticket has always opposed (see “Anti-wind McCain delivers climate remarks at foreign wind company“).
Remember, McCain has a record that is as strongly anti-solar and anti-renewable as that of Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the global-warming denier from the U.S. oil-patch (see here). McCain voted with Inhofe and against clean energy a staggering 42 out of 44 times in the past two decades.
Why does McCain vote against solar and other renewables even though he comes from a state that could supply the country’s electricity needs by itself with solar energy? Because, as he asserted last year, he believes that solar is among the “clean technologies [that] don’t work.” Similarly, Palin said in August:
That’s right. She’s appearing at a solar energy company even though she thinks alternative energy would take more than 10 years to develop.
If conservatives like McCain had succeeded in the mid-1990s and shut down all clean energy R&D at the Department of Energy (DOE) where I worked, the kind of second-generation thin film solar technology that Xunlight has commercialized would never have happened, because it was the DOE that helped usher that technology into the market.
As for Palin’s specific remarks, no doubt she will repeat and expand upon the multiple lies and distortions she made in her acceptance speech: