How Will Romney Address Climate Change?

Well if you look on Mitt’s Mitt Romneywebsite, the answer seems to be ignore it. After all, he is in favor of that last-nail-in-our-collective-coffin tar sands pipeline. That’s the one that brings the dirty oil across America to its ports and gives Canada fantabulous access to the international fossil fuel market. Take that energy independence.

But, let’s all ask Mitt these two questions directly to see if he will give a response:

  • Do you disagree with the scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet?
  • If not, what do you plan to do to solve the climate crisis if you are elected President.

You can sign a petition from 350.org to ask those questions right here.

Or go to http://act.350.org/sign/Mitt_and_climate .

 

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Climate Change: Game Over or Just Beginning

James Hansen giving testimony before the Unite...

As the latest climate data reports show, the period from May 2011 to April 2012 was the warmest ever recorded in the United States. The average temperature over the 12-month stretch was nearly three degrees Fahrenheit above last century’s average. This news comes on the heals of the record-breaking heat of the warmest March on record.

And as NASA James Hansen tells us in what should be a call to action for everyone reading this op-ed in the New York Times today,

“The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events — they were caused by human-induced climate change.”

Hansen reiterates, as he’s told us his book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, that if Canada continues to develop it’s tar sands extraction for fossil fuels, “it will be game over for the climate.” Hansen, being one of the world’s imminent climatologists, doesn’t choose his words lightly.

NASA Scientist James Hansen Arrested, August 2...

NASA Scientist James Hansen Arrested, August 29, 2011 Photo Credit: Ben Powless (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Club of Rome, a global network of independent thinkers, has also issued a new report this week:

The Report says the main cause of future problems is the excessively short-term predominant political and economic model. “We need a system of governance that takes a more long-term view”, said Professor Randers, speaking in Rotterdam. “It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate friendly solutions, and must not assume that markets will work for the benefit of humankind”.

“We already live in a manner that cannot be continued for generations without major change. Humanity has overshot the earth’s resources, and in some cases we will see local collapse before 2052 – we are emitting twice as much greenhouse gas every year as can be absorbed by the world’s forests and oceans.”

So where does this leave us?  In Grist, this week, a “young, liberal, idealist” quoting a paper from 2004, pronounced the environmental movement dead. But is it really dead?

On May 5th, 350.org held a global day of action to Connect the Dots between extreme weather events and climate change. You can check out their impactful video of events from around the world below.

Further, in a ground-breaking lawsuit, teenagers are taking climate change to the courts. Katherine Ellison writes in the Atlantic that Alec Loorz, 18, “and four other juvenile plaintiffs want government officials to do more to prevent the risks of climate change — the dangerous storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, and food-supply disruptions that scientists warn will threaten their generation absent a major turnabout in global energy policy. Specifically, the students are demanding that the U.S. government start reducing national emissions of carbon dioxide by at least six percent per year beginning in 2013.

“I think a lot of young people realize that this is an urgent time, and that we’re not going to solve this problem just by riding our bikes more,” Loorz said in an interview.”

So, I would say that the in the face of this this increasingly dismal scientific data, we have no choice but to join those already taking action in the climate movement and organize together like never before- like our lives depended on it (because they pretty much do). Denial and depression or fear are emotions that we don’t have the luxury of time for.

Take Action:

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NASA Scientist to President Obama: we must find someone who is worthy of our dreams

 

“We had a dream that the new president would understand the intergenerational injustice of human-made climate change. That he would recognize our duty to be caretakers of creation, of the land, of the life on our planet. And that he would exercise hands on leadership, taking the matter to the public, avoiding back-room, crippling deals with special interests.

But we will not give up. There can be no law or no regulation that stops us from acting on our dreams. Have no doubt that if the tar sands pipeline is approved, we will be back and our numbers will grow.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren we must find someone who is worthy of our dreams.”…NASA Scientist James Hansen at the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline protest in Washington DC.

People Gather in front of White House

Image by tarsandsaction via Flickr

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American Heroes Protest Tar Sands Pipeline

Tar Sands Action PosterOver the next two weeks, from August 20- September 3, heroes from all over America will be taking part in acts of civil disobedience in front of the White House to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline . The proposed pipeline would run 1500 miles from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, allowing the Canadian government to connect the tar sands oil project to the United States and foreign markets. Plans are also in the works for the pipeline to crisscross America’s farmlands from coast to coast.

The Alberta tar sands project, visible from outer space, has led to the destruction of an area the size of Florida or the country of England. Most of this area is the Canadian boreal forest, one of the last remaining pristine forest on the earth.

  • The Alberta tar sands project uses more water per day than a city of two million people. It uses 3 barrels of water to extract one barrel of oil.
  • It produces 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per day.
  • It emits more greenhouse gases per day than 1.3 million cars.
  • The Alberta tar sands leaks eleven million liters of toxic waste into ground water every day. The pipeline will traverse the Ogallala aquifer which is the source of drinking water for 2 million Americans.
  • NASA’s top climatologist James Hansen says that if we continue to on the road of developing and burning the tar sands oil that it is “essentially game over” for the climate. We will push the earth’s climate system past a tipping point.

So, why would President Obama consider signing off on such a project? Well, its also the largest capital investment project and biggest energy project on the planet today. Oil companies have invested 120 billion dollars in tar sands development. Climate scientist, Jason Box stated “If Obama authorizes this pipeline, it will prove that the power of oil is greater than the power of reason.”

The tar sands pipeline is a form of collective suicide. Suicide because burning all the dirty coal and fossil fuel will send our climate past the point of no return- that’s a planet not inhabitable for civilization. That’s why NASA’s James Hansen calls it “game over”. Collective because in this game, not paying attention or inaction is the same as agreeing to the end game.

If you can’t be part of the civil disobedience in Washington, please take action by signing the petition at:

http://www.tarsandsaction.org/obama-petition/.

“After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I’ve come to the conclusion that if we burn all the reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate that runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe, the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.” James Hansen in  Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity-page 236.

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James Hansen on Cap-and-Trade, Tipping Points and Where We Go From Here

Image in public domain from NASA. http://www.n...

Image via Wikipedia

In a recent interview, post- the COP15 Conference, the nation’s top climate scientist and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen discussed his views on cap and trade, tipping points and how we can move forward in the aftermath of Copenhagen.

Hansen also has a new book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity where he discusses these issues at length.

The entire interview with Amy Goodman is visible at the end of this post. I’ve pulled out some highlights.

Hansen says, “I’m actually quite pleased with what happened at Copenhagen, because now we have basically a blank slate. We have China and the United States talking to each other, and it’s absolutely essential. Those are the two big players that have to come to an agreement. But it has to be an honest agreement, one which addresses the basic problem. And that is that fossil fuels are the cheapest source of energy on the planet. And unless we address that and put a price on the emissions, we can’t solve the problem.”

On Cap and Trade: “Cap and trade, they attempt to put a cap on different sources of carbon dioxide emissions. They say there’s a limit on how much a given industry in a country can emit. But the problem is that the emissions just go someplace else. That’s what happened after Kyoto, and that’s what would happen again, if—as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will be burned someplace. You know, the Europeans thought they actually reduced their emissions after Kyoto, but what happened was the products that had been made in their countries began to be made in other countries, which were burning the cheapest form of fossil fuel, so the total emissions actually increased.”

But what you need to do—and many people call that a tax, but in fact the way that it should be done is to give all of the money that’s collected in a fee, that should be across the board on oil, gas and coal, collect that money at the mine or at the port of entry from the fossil fuel companies, and then distribute that to the public on a per capita basis to legal residents of the country. Then the person that does—that has less than average carbon emissions would actually make money from the process, and it would stimulate the economy. It would give the public the funds that they need in order to invest in low-carbon technologies. The next time they buy a vehicle, they should get a low-emission one. They should insulate their homes. Such actions. And those people who do that will come out ahead. That’s—the economists agree that that’s the way you should address the problem, with a price on carbon. Otherwise, the emissions will just continue to go up.”

On Tipping Points: “Well, there are tipping points in the climate system, where we can push the system beyond a point where the dynamics begins to take over. For example, in the case of an ice sheet, once it begins to disintegrate and slide into the ocean, you’ve passed the point where you can stop it. So that’s what we have to avoid.

Another tipping point is in the survival of species. As we begin to put pressure on species and move the climate zone so that some of the species can’t survive because they can only live within certain climate parameters, because species depend upon each other, you can drive an ecosystem such that when some species go extinct, then the entire ecosystem will collapse. So you don’t want to push the system that far.

And these tipping points are not hypothetical. We know from the earth’s history that these have happened in the past, especially when we’ve had large global warmings. We’ve driven more than half the species on the planet to extinction. And then, over hundreds of thousands and millions of years, new species come into being. But for any time scale that we can imagine, we would be leaving a much more desolate planet for our children and grandchildren and future generations. So we don’t want to pass those tipping points.”

On Atmospheric CO2:What we have now is 387 parts per million. But we’re going to have to bring that down to 350 parts per million or less. And that’s still possible, provided we phase out coal emissions over the next few decades. That’s possible. We would also have to prohibit unconventional fossil fuels like tar sands and oil shale.”

On Moving Forward: “What needs to happen right now—we have this great opportunity this spring, I would say, to have discussions in the House and Senate about what really needs to be done to solve this problem. And it’s not cap and trade with offsets. We can prove that that’s completely ineffectual. What we have to do is put a price on carbon, and the money that’s collected needs to be given to the public, not used for boondoggles, like Congress is taking—plans to take the money from cap and trade that’s collected in selling the permits to pollute and to use that money for things like clean coal or to give the money back to the polluters. That won’t solve the problem. We have to give the money to the public.”

“There were a couple of encouraging things in Copenhagen. For one thing, Al Gore made a clear statement that a carbon price is a better solution than cap and trade. And John Kerry also indicated that he had an open mind on that question. So that’s why I say the discussions in the next few months are very important, because the way the United States goes is going to determine the way the world goes, I think.”

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