published Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Climate change finally gets attention

President Barack Obama wipes sweat from his head during a speech on climate change at Georgetown University in Washington.
President Barack Obama wipes sweat from his head during a speech on climate change at Georgetown University in Washington.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Finally there is a plan to begin moving this country away from the continued generation of carbon dioxide emissions and jump-start the work to slow climate change.

President Obama's announcement last week to use his executive authority to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants and finalize rules for new plants got lost amid news from the Supreme Court.

But the president's action to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to draft standards limiting carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning industries and power plants is a long-overdue game changer.

At least we need to hope so, because we are running out of time. Actually, we're running out of our children's and grandchildren's time.

The dangers of climate change are rising as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation over the globe increase atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

In March that concentration passed 400 parts per million -- a measure not seen for several million years, according to scientists analyzing the best available evidence in core drillings at sea and on land. The carbon concentration rise is on pace to climb far higher in coming decades unless emissions are curbed.

The sad news is that this effort must come through presidential use of executive power because Congress is being Congress: Partisan, belligerent, dysfunctional, dithering -- choose your descriptor.

Even power companies -- the biggest carbon makers -- have seen the handwriting in the steam of their coal scrubbers (not to mention the rising red ink on cleanup costs from things like coal ash spills).

The Tennessee Valley Authority has been preparing for some time, albeit with the added incentive of states' and environment groups' lawsuits. TVA has reduced emissions by 23 percent since 2005.

Obama's goal -- cut emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 -- are modest, perhaps too modest. But it's a beginning, and that's something more than Congress has been able to cobble together in its sad efforts beginning in early 1990s when President George Bush pioneered a cap-and-trade system to deal with acid rain.

Serious climate change watchers have long advocated a price on carbon to reflect the damage to society caused by carbon emissions. Those advocates have called for a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax -- whatever politicians wanted to call it.

In effect, that extra cost would make low-carbon technologies more attractive in the marketplace while deterring the use of carbon-intensive fuels such as coal.

TVA, like all cost-conscious businesses, looked to its bottom line when deciding to convert several coal units to natural gas some years ago. But Congress continued to play games. In 2009, a cap-and-trade bill passed the House barely, but the Senate couldn't pass the companion bill.

The congressional follies continue today. Now House Speaker John Boehner calls such a plan "job killing" regulation and a "fleecing of the middle class."

Obama had to act, because this Congress can't find its way to the corner, let alone home. This Congress would throw out the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, so we certainly couldn't expect these good elected men and women to come together on a Save-the-World-As-We-Know-It Act.

We certainly can expect the president's effort to meet with opposition. Without question, his use of executive authority will just infuriate many congressional members. Some already have suggested that combating climate change is a "war on coal."

Hardly. We all like to turn on our light switches, but coal isn't the only tool we have. More importantly, it's no longer the cheapest tool we have, even before any carbon taxes or other carbon pricing method is devised.

If Congress won't get behind the president on this effort, the nation can. Come mid-term elections, we can vote.

In the meantime, Obama's action is welcome.

As he said: "We don't have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society."

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gjuster said...

The Flat Earth Society is made up of the warmists that believe man has caused global warming. Science and records tell a different story. Average global temperature has stayed steady or fallen over the last 15 years, tornadoes and hurricanes are way down. Scientists in Japan and Russia believe we are on the edge of a cooling period. Climate models have been proven wrong every single time - yet people like Pam believe like flat earthers - the sky is falling.

June 30, 2013 at 4:33 p.m.
MyGen said...

As an avid outdoorsman, I am very appreciative of our natural resources. I am a huge proponent of recycling, alternative forms of energy and being a good steward. But as a guy who's watched local businesses fight to survive, the overhead costs like electricity are huge. Right now, it's not the smartest move to attack the industries who provide the majority of our source of energy in the world, coal and oil. The exact same thought process behind this is with the Bloomberg ban on the Big Gulp. Whether it's spying on my email, telling how big a soft drink I can buy or forcing certain types of energy out of business, the daddy government is on the scene.

July 1, 2013 at 9:15 a.m.
conservative said...

I will admit that I have not read the article.

I did do a search and DID NOT find any reference to warming or global warming.

The kooks have seemed to abandoned the global warming ruse.

Also, no comment from nucanuck who spouts global warming gibberish while claiming to be consuming 2.3 earths!

July 1, 2013 at 9:29 a.m.
joneses said...

The lie started out as global warming then went to man made global warming until they found out the globe was not warming and man does not have an effect on the earths climate and now they have made the lie climate change to force ridiculous rules and laws to control all of us. Ask yourself this: If the oceans are rising then why did Al Gore purchase a house on the ocean? This is not about climate change it is about control.

July 1, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.
conservative said...

The 3 main characteristics of Liberals is that they are liars, hypocrites and Socialists.

Prompted by joneses comment, I did a quick search on Al Gore's beachfront homes.

Their are so many articles detailing Al Gore's homes and their annual power consumption. He is such a hypocrite.

It is mind boggling! It is soo funny!

People are such sheep!

July 1, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

The Flat Earth Society is comprised of a small number of kooks who literally believe that the earth is flat, motionless in space, and non-heliocentric. They scoff at science for the most part and dispute its findings that have proven throughout the ages that the world is indeed round and it revolves around the sun. Most people think that the term "flat earthers" is just a joke. They don't realize that it really is an official organization that takes itself seriously.

The other day in his speech on global warming Obama made a passing reference to the Flat Earthers when he said, "We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.” Apparently Obama himself was unaware that some of its members do believe in anthropogenic global warming. Actually it’s Daniel Shenton, the president of the society, who claims to believe that climate change is primarily human induced. He said that he "can’t speak for the Society as a whole regarding climate change.” There is no official stance by the Society on this issue. But as a whole they completely deny the centuries of scientific study and, more recently, space travel, that have confirmed, reconfirmed, and re-re-reconfirmed ad infinitum that the earth is indeed round, but they somehow accept the findings of science when it comes to global warming. Go figure! Yes, they are about as kooky as they come but even a blind squirrel stumbles upon an acorn of truth once in a while. I know many Bible literalists who are stupid enough (yes, STUPID – there’s no other word for it) to believe that the earth was created 6000 – 8000 years ago by a grand wizard, God, in a matter of 6 days but they at least have the good sense to know that 2+2=4. Just because they’re so hopelessly dense as to take the Bible literally, that doesn’t mean that they’re equally stupid in every other facet of their lives and that we therefore ought to second-guess ourselves about basic math, which we all agree to be true.

The theory of AGW might not be as certain or simple as 2+2=4 but the vast majority (97%-98%) of climate scientists world-wide are of a consensus that it is indeed caused primarily by more than a century’s worth of fossil fuel usage by us humans. Gjuster, when you say that “science and records tell a different story” you are cherry picking and listening to only those “scientists” that you want to listen to in order to support your bias. Those that you and the other deniers are giving ear to are the shills, pundits, fringe scientists, and pseudo-scientists who are in cahoots with the oil companies and related interests or they are driven by their conservative ideology which would rather see corporate profits continue to soar rather than the necessary cap and trade or curtailing of fossil fuel usage imposed by a government which they/you think should have no say in the matter in the first place.

July 1, 2013 at 12:26 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Continued...

I'm an unabashed liberal but I try not to view the phenomenon of global warming in a left/right, liberal/conservative context. I’m concerned only with arriving at the truth. I have followed the writings and reportings of the science of it for years and the evidence of it as being primarily caused by the use of fossil fuels is overwhelming – that is, if you listen to the actual CLIMATE SCIENTISTS and not the wackos that you deniers give such credence to. I find it amazing that you completely dismiss the findings of decades-long research that the dedicated climate scientists have provided, that you make the bodacious and juvenile claim that they are all, collectively, involved in a massive liberal conspiracy, and you choose to listen instead to those who lack the credentials or expertise to know what the hell they are talking about.

Gjuster, you go on to say that “climate models have been proven wrong every single time.” But again, you are cherry picking which models you give credence to. I don’t know of one climate scientist who has abandoned ship and said that he/she was wrong, that climate change is not man-made. To the contrary, more of them not only continue to confirm their beliefs, based on their continued research, but they are becoming more and more convinced that it is happening more quickly and on a much more pervasive scale than they had originally thought.

On the other hand, there is this from one of the most outspoken critics of AGW: Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist had always contended that global warming was in no way caused by humans. But in 2010 he launched the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project to review the temperature data that underpinned global warming claims. He was convinced that his findings would confirm his already held beliefs that the “models” of the climate scientists were wrong. The Koch brothers were gung-ho with this project, to the tune of $150,000 worth of funding (so nobody can make the claim that Dr. Muller was influenced by government funding;. Quite the contrary, he was more likely to have been influenced to tilt his findings in favor of what corporatists and conservatives wanted him to find). In the end he came to this conclusion: “Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.”

July 1, 2013 at 12:31 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

In conclusion...

I know that he is just one man, but he is one among many who acknowledges that global warming is primarily the result of our over-indulgence in fossil fuels. And I’m curious as to how you deniers can so easily dismiss the vast amount of research that supports AGW. If you were truly objective and not driven by ideology alone you would have to admit that there is at least room for doubt. Yet you deniers don’t entertain even a shred of skepticism, you just jump whole-hog on the bandwagon of complete denial and call it all a “liberal hoax.” I at least admit that I myself do not know for sure (I’m only a layman after all) but I do accept the research of the actual climate scientists who are in a position to know better than any of us. Oh, but I keep forgetting….they are all involved in that “liberal hoax,” aren’t they? They are no doubt swayed by all that money they are getting from the government and not one of them can be trusted. Better to trust the ones who are getting their money from Big Oil, right? Or the right-wing talk-show pundits. Or the high school chemistry teachers or home-town meteorologists who thrown in their two-cents’ worth. Silly me.

July 1, 2013 at 12:33 p.m.
joneses said...

All these liberal lies about global warming, man made global warming or climate change or whatever the new title is today harp about a list of scientist that support this BS. However they do not speak of the list of scientist that disagree with this lie.

Rickeroo fails to mention all the money Al Gore gets from big oil and big corporations. What a bunch of BS he took time to spread.

July 1, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Joneses...you whine about the "liberal lies" and the "BS" but you deniers spread the BS and the lies and deceit better than anybody. That "list" of scientists who disagree with what you call "this lie" was proved a fraud and rendered meaningless a long time ago. It was comprised of over 30,000 people who signed a petition saying that they did not believe in anthropogenic global warming. At first it was targeted towards anyone with a degree in any scientific field but it soon degenerated into a web-based petition which anyone could sign. In the end there were supposedly over 9,000 who held PhDs (though most of those PhDs were in fields like math, medicine, and anything other than climate science)and only 1%-2% signees who were actual climate scientists. Most of the signees didn't even have a full-fledged degree in any science field whatsoever, nor had any of them done any extensive research into global warming at all. That is the "list" that most of you deniers refer to when you claim that there are thousands of "scientists" who refute the science behind AGW.

As for Al Gore, I cannot speak for what he does or what motivates him. The facts of AGW do not depend on how he conducts his life. The facts stand for themselves. And though you right-wing boot-licking ass-kissing corporate worshipers keep defending the status quo and placing profits over necessary and inevitable renewable energy expansion, our use of fossil fuels is a dinosaur that is fated for extinction whether you like it or not. We can either take the initiative and facilitate the change in a way that will lessen the pain and the costs or we can keep kicking the can down the road and pay dearly in terms of more money, more lives lost and hardships endured, not just for us but for our children and grandchildren especially.

July 1, 2013 at 5:52 p.m.
anticorp said...

Thank you Rickaroo for a cogent reply to these corporatists. No one can be that ignorant. They are engaging in literary graffiti.

Knowing I was chasing a lie I ran down Al Gore's supposed waterfront property purchase. This is what I found: "For those of you who don’t live in California, let us explain local real estate terminology.

“Peekaboo ocean view” means you can see the ocean if you stand on a chair and look out the kitchen window.

“Ocean view” means you can see a patch of blue without standing on the chair.

“Oceanfront” means there are actual waves lapping at your back door.

Some people wonder why a man as wealthy as Gore didn’t spring for an oceanfront house.

Well, the fact is that Al Gore is just plain smarter than we common folk. He knows that as the oceans rise, his new house will eventually become oceanfront. He bought an ocean-view villa on 1.5 acres with a swimming pool, spa and fountains, a real estate source familiar with the deal confirms."

Of course this means nothing to the graffiti gang. They will just ignore it and keep on with their horrific lying messages.

July 1, 2013 at 5:55 p.m.
gypsylady said...

Let's just pretend for a moment that there is no such thing as man-made global warming. Why should I, Jane Q Taxpayer, pay for industries that won't clean up after themselves? They are simply passing their costs on to the rest of us. Air pollution - asthma copays. Water pollution - we have to pay for it to be made drinkable. Stormwater run off - at some point the taxpayers or those downstream pick up the tab. I could run my home more cheaply if I simply took my trash and dumped it somewhere else and that is what these coal plants have been doing for decades and they've had decades to clean it up. Now's not a good time? When is a good time? If a polluters business model won't work if they have to clean up their garbage then maybe it's time for them to rethink that model. It may cause their product to rise to a truer cost, but then the innovators can come in. Who do you think pays to clean up a Superfund site? Santa?

July 1, 2013 at 6:09 p.m.
gjuster said...

Rickaroo - I enjoyed reading your response - now, please tell me which climate models reflect what truly has been recorded. There are none that I have seen. The 97% of climate scientist that agree with AGW is another bull that has been perpetrated. Anticorp - I am dead set against the economic fascism that exists today between the giant corporations and government. Their goal is to drive out the entrepreneurs and smaller corporations so they have no competition. Please don't call me a corporatist.

July 1, 2013 at 6:51 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"The 97% of climate scientist that agree with AGW is another bull that has been perpetrated." - gjuster

That statement reveals the extent of your ideological bias. I admitted that I myself can't know for certain whether global warming is due primarily to humans' use of fossil fuels. After all, I'm not a scientist and have not conducted any research on it. Like 99% of the population I'm just a layman who relies on the specialists in their field to keep us informed. But in weighing the evidence over the years, trying to be free of any liberal/conservative bias, and trying to weed out the BS from the truth, I have come down on the side of believing what the climate scientists are saying.

I don't know if it's the 97% figure you're skeptical of or if you're just skeptical of ALL climate scientists, but the vast majority of them, world-wide, are telling us that climate change is real and that it is being caused primarily from greenhouse gases. All you have to do is Google climate change and you can be directed to any website you want, whether it's one that supports the climate scientists or one that tries to discredit them. In the end we all have to decide what is the truth and what is not.

For whatever reason, you are choosing to believe that the research of the actual climate scientists is baloney and that of those who reject it is the real deal. Most deniers are quick to claim that the climate scientists are all influenced by government funding and thus their research is skewed, but they/you conveniently turn a blind eye to the vast amount of funding from Big Oil and other corporate owners that is influencing their own in-house "scientists" to come up with the findings that they want to see, namely that it's okay for them to keep on polluting because there's nothing we can do about it anyway.

What is happening today is not unlike what happened when it was first discovered that cigarette smoking causes cancer. The tobacco companies spared no expense in paying their own "scientists" to dispel that notion. It was nothing but a huge propaganda campaign. But in the end the truth came out. The science behind global warming is much more complex, with many more variables, and only time will tell what the truth of it really is. But to say with such emphatic, close-minded certainty that the science behind AGW is BS and not even entertain some healthy skepticism both ways...well, frankly I just don't get it. How is it that you deniers can KNOW FOR A FACT that our spewing zillions upon zillions of tons of pollution into the atmosphere ever since the dawn of the Industrial Age, with exponentially increasing amounts in the past 100 years, is having NO EFFECT whatsoever on the planet? One need not be a scientist to at least wonder about that and question whether or not that could be having some deleterious effects. But then, that's just me. I seem to lack the certitude or the vast, all-knowing intelligence of you deniers.

July 2, 2013 at 3:22 p.m.
gjuster said...

Rickaroo - I am not a skeptic - I believe in science. There hasn't been any debate about the science. My problem is that all the climate models that the 97% climate scientists have developed have been wrong. I believe in facts and statistics - man affects the climate. Some through heat islands in cities. Some through soot pollution. CO2 does not appear to effect the climate - it is a beneficial gas. Our government and the UN are willing to bankrupt the world for climate change.

July 3, 2013 at 9:59 p.m.
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