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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.