World environmental news includes dramatic evidence of rising sea levels, acidifying oceans, and shrinking arctic sea ice as well as extreme weather events, massive wildfires, increased flooding, and intense droughts. These conditions threaten people worldwide, causing deaths, spreading disease, and worsening air quality. They also cost Americans billions of dollars.
The most respected scientific bodies identify the reality of climate change as global warming caused by human activities. Natural fluctuations in weather patterns fail to account for the growing intensity of the earth’s warming.
Human-made climate change comes from greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The steadily expanding use of fossil fuels, like coal, oil, and gas, releases most of the heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As the carbon dioxide concentrations build up, the planet becomes warmer, reaching the hottest levels ever recorded between 2000 and 2010. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher now than at any time in measurable history, and predicted to increase dramatically this century.
Given the international scientific consensus regarding global climate change, one would think that the only real debate centers on how fast warming will occur, and how much damage will be done. But a small number of critics continue to deny that climate change exists or that humans cause it.
The political prospects for addressing climate change seem remote. Skepticism or even flat-out denial of global warming has become part of the Republican Party’s core message. A number of Congressional Republicans refuse to even acknowledge the existence of climate change.
In the 2008 presidential election year, Barack Obama and John McCain agreed that climate change was a critical issue demanding immediate attention. But Congress failed to pass a comprehensive climate bill. Yet, in his first term, Obama reduced greenhouse gas emissions by increasing vehicular fuel efficiency standards and regulating emissions for new power plants.
In the 2012 presidential election cycle, Obama and Mitt Romney barely discussed climate change. Now Obama has vowed to make climate change a priority of his second administration. Two big climate demonstrations, the one that occurred in mid-February and the upcoming one on Earth Day (April 22), aim to pressure President Obama to show much stronger environmental leadership.
A recent Pew poll revealed that by a 54 percent to 34 percent margin Americans favor developing alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydrogen rather than increased production of fossil fuels. Additionally, 62 percent favor setting stricter emission limits on power plants to address climate change while 28 percent oppose this.
Power plants, especially coal-fired ones, account for 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emission, not to mention thousands of deaths, heart attacks, and asthma cases every year. Transitioning to a new energy system based on climate-safe alternatives entails a long term commitment and public support. The fossil fuel industry, after all, ranks as the richest business enterprise in history and holds enormous political clout.
The President can use the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act to cut greenhouse gas emissions by regulating all, not just new, power plants, and thereby reduce power plant emissions 26 percent by 2020. He can also deny the Keystone XL pipeline permit. A much more difficult task involves switching the subsidies from traditional to renewable fuels.
Increasing solar, wind, and other renewable sources, improving energy efficiency, and researching experimental technologies can smooth the path to a low-carbon economy. Conservation practices by individuals and businesses provide another way to reduce consumption.
Addressing global warming requires cutting pollution and expanding clean energy. The Obama administration has taken some steps in that direction, but clearly much more needs to be done.
Ralph Scharnau teaches U. S. history at Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta. He holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. His publications include articles on labor history in Iowa and Dubuque. Scharnau, a peace and justice activist, writes monthly op-ed columns for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
After all Sir Mick studied at the London School of Economics. Had that other gig not worked out as it did, perhaps he would have capped his economics career advising David Cameron. Could have done it with a rock ‘n’ roll beat so maybe Brits wouldn’t notice every thing swirling around the crapper. As Republicans keep saying, their message is good, it is how it is being delivered.
Maybe Republicans could get their go to rocker Ted Nugent to whip a little ditty like “Who You Gonna Call After We’ve Taken It All?” or some other message songs.
Getting Their Hands On Social Security
It just occurred to me that the driving force behind every maneuver the right has made in recent years has been to get their hands on the Social Security trust fund. Every crisis they have created since St.Ronald of Reagan was president ended with a negotiating stance that included some form of privatizing Social Security. The biggest reason is the $2 trillion that is in the Social Security Trust Fund. Oh they desperately, desperately want to get their hands on that so they can slowly drain it to their friends on Wall street in the form of charges and fees etc.
And the other thing is that once they break through the last great social safety net, that pretty much destroys everything the Democratic Party stands for. They don’t need to swallow it all at once whole. What they need is a small break, just an opening. Once the barrier is breached, they can slowly tear at it and tear at it until there is nothing left. All they need right now is for the leaders of the Democratic Party (Obama, Reid, Durban) to agree to cut backs in payments such as the CPI. Once SS is up for negotiations, it is forever open to nicks and cuts that will eventually tear the fabric apart.
One of the tactics that is used is the idea that investing in Wall Street will make everybody rich. If you remember history, you will remember that the ones who get rich in all the gold rushes are the ones selling the shovels and pans, not the gold rushers themselves. Same goes here: those selling the securities get rich while the investors get fleeced.
Scalia: What I Know I learned From My Son
Interesting twist to the strange questions and statements that Justice Antonin Scalia makes during discussions of anything gay: his son is a priest who approaches homosexuality as something that may exist but is a behavior that shouldn’t be practiced.
“Insights into Scalia’s understanding of homosexuality (or lack thereof) can perhaps be found through his son, Rev. Paul Scalia, a Catholic priest in Arlington, Virginia. The younger Scalia has worked with the Church’s Courage ministry, which promotes “chastity” for gay Catholics using principles from ex-gay therapy. He has also spoken openly on the topic, and though he’s proven quite capable of reiterating the Church’s anti-gay teachings, a 2005 article reveals just how distorted the family’s view on homosexuality may be.
Writing about labels, Rev. Scalia compares identifying as gay to other school stereotypes like “preps,” “jocks,” and “geeks,” and argues that it’s unhelpful to young people to encourage them to embrace such labels. Challenging the notion that homosexuality even exists, he tries to distinguish between having “homosexual inclinations” or identifying as “a gay,” suggesting that some kids are “just confused.” Of course, his intention is to reduce homosexuality to “behaviors,” inferring that people with same-sex orientations are simply heterosexuals inclined to a special kind of sin. His true goal with this wordplay is to find a way to justify parents’ rejecting their gay children.”
Note that those on the right seldom use the word “gay” but seem to always use “homosexual” to make sure that the word “sex” is used so we don’t forget that it is “sex” we are discussing.
Reminder: Climate Change Will Make Summer Miserable
Even tough winter was more near what a normal winter used to be, I think we can bank on this coming summer to be hot and most likely dry at the worst possible time. Australia just suffered through their hottest summer ever, including temperatures never before reached. Could we survive 130 degrees? We may need to try to survive 110 soon.
Early Prediction: Scott Walker Will Be Republican Presidential Nominee
I am sticking my neck way out here, but I really believe that Scott Walker will be the next republican presidential nominee. My reasoning goes like this:
First: the money, the really big money, is behind him. He has been a very good puppet for them so far.
Second: He is a governor and has been an executive. In that capacity he had royally screwed the poor and busted unions like no other.
Third: He will be a sitting governor because the election in Wisconsin will be rigged and he will win in 2014.
The biggest reason is that he has been a good puppet and has proven that he will go the extra yard to do what the rich want. Follow the money
Final Thought – Has It Always Been Follow The Money?
One thought about politics that has stayed with me from the Nixon days is “follow the money.” Now it seems that if we put that yardstick up against every Republican move, “follow the money” is almost always the working philosophy behind most policy moves. Was that always true? Was “follow the money” the working philosophy behind slavery? Was “follow the money” the working philosophy behind suppressing the colonies?
I have no answer. This is just a question I keep in the back of my mind to muse on when I have time. So far the answer seems to be YES, but there is lots of history yet to ponder.
Oops – One More
Wish I had some kind of “quote of the week award.” Make no doubt about it, Justice Ginsburg made one of the great statements of all time with her comment on 2 types of marriage in the US ”There are two kinds of marriage: full marriage and the sort of skim-milk marriage.” Really summed it up.
Don’t forget to attend and ask questions at your local legislative forums. If you don’t speak out, who will? Find a list of forums here:
For 2013: No More Romney
I hope that there is one promise I can keep. I don’t want to write the name of the lyingest bastard ever to run for president even once more.
ALEC: Let’s Put The Pressure On
ALEC just had their winter meeting in Washington. We need to put pressure on those in the Iowa legislature who show feality to ALEC and not to Iowa. I believe we can start at the top with Gov. Branstad and SoS Matt (on the job training) Schultz.
Bain Dumping Clear Channel?
One of the worst things to come out of the Clinton presidency was the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This was the final nail in the structure of that media consolidation was built on. Clear Channel was able to take on more than 1200 radio stations at the height of their consolidation. But new media and bad management caused Clear Channel to shed some of their losers a few years back. Eventually, Bain Capital (yep the Vultures) bought CC trying to work their “magic.” Friday Clear Channel/Bain went through a huge layoff. My guess is this is yet another stop gap measure on their way to bankruptcy. Keep an eye out, there may be some cheap radio properties available next year.
Limbaugh Gets Some Credit
In the demise of Clear Channel, I believe Limbaugh gets some credit. Limbaugh actually works for CC subsidiary Premiere Networks. His loss of advertising has been one of the biggest reasons that CC is in huge trouble. Limbaugh is still getting his huge salary of an estimated $38 million per year. Maybe he should do what he tells unions to do and take a pay cut.
Speaking Of Demises
Not that these companies are going out of business, but restaurant chains that publically bucked the coming of Obamacare seem to be paying a price for their obstinance. Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden) has apparently lost a chunk of business. It also looks like Papa John’s Pizza took a huge hit in the reputation column, also. Gee whiz, filthy rich owners, is it that hard to treat your employees decently? It never hurts to vote with your dollars.
Speaking of Treating Employees Well
Walmart and its subsidiary Sam’s Club, is notorious for its low wages and employees being forced to use Medicaid for its health care and food stamps to afford to eat. On the other end of the employer spectrum is Costco, which pays its employees well, offers a good health care plan and retirement. These contrasting styles of management have been studied over and over. In every instance I have seen, Costco kicks Sam’s Club to the curb. I am sure this is true in nearly every instance where the focus is on employee costs. When will American employers learn?
As I write this it is Dec. 7. This is of course a day that has much baggage. Most important is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. This is of course the final straw that pulled the US into World War 2. December 7th is also the launch date of Apollo 17 in 1972. This eventually became the final trip to the moon for America. Seems to me that without grand goals, America seems to have lost its way. As many others have said, we need an Apollo program type effort to restore America’s infrastructure to prepare for the future and to face the threat of climate change which will be the toughest foe man has ever faced.
I swear, the way some people treat this planet they seem to think humans can hop in a boat or spaceship or something and in a couple of days they will be on another habitable planet just waiting to be plundered. We can’t. Of course, most of those seem to be the same rich and powerful that not only run most everything in this country but also run the whole world.
The lack of a grounding in reality that the Republican Party has exhibited for the past 30 years has infected our country. At one time some of their antics were comical at best, but the delay they have caused in addressing quite serious long range issues is now forcing humanity to come face to face with grave consequences.
We recently took a little trip south to Mississippi. During our trip we had to cross the river of the same name. The Mississippi River, the nation’s highway for over 200 years, is so low that it is about to be closed to barge traffic. This will cause a huge bottle neck in the nation’s commerce, especially moving farm products to port. At the same time reports are coming out that the Ogallala Aquifer has maybe a few decades of water left at the current rates of usage. The Ogallala is used mostly for irrigation, so as it dies, so does much of the farming in the plains.
The water in the Ogallala does not appear through some miracle. Water just isn’t dumped into underground storage through the act of some super human entity. No, it is refilled by a very slow trickle through the ground process that will take tens of thousand years or more. There is no other way. The rate of rainfall that will be used to recharge the aquifer is slowing due to climate change. Thus the recharge may take even longer.
The Great Lakes are losing water also. All are down many inches, which is billions of gallons of water. Governments around the Great lakes have already formed a sort of defense force to keep their precious resource from being stolen from them. Water is slowly becoming the forefront of the climate change. At some point decisions will have to be made on who will get the most precious resource we need to live, next to oxygen.
The problem has been slowly coming to a head. Rather than initiating some tough policies to slow or stop the waste and loss of our water, we have as a people chosen to ignore the problem. Like many I thought we may still have some wiggle room until I read this op-ed on Juan Cole’s Informed Consent blog this morning. Briefly, guest poster Tom Giesen cites a potentially much warmer climate coming much faster than we expected. So what we thought was some wiggle room has disappeared. While we have been talking of a 2degC rise in temperatures in a century, changes of 4degC or more may happen in a few short decades.
Here are some excerpts, but I recommend you read the entire story.
“Global warming’s disasters once seemed far off and science-fictional. It is now becoming clear to the scientific community that, to the contrary, very bad things could happen beginning relatively soon. For Baby Boomers, from the the Cuban Missile Crisis or the assassination of John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s till now does not seem like such a long period of time. But in a similar span of years, taking us to about 2060, the world could well experience an increase in global average temperatures of some 4 degrees Centigrade. If we consider the likely effects of this steep warming trend carefully, it becomes clear that the resulting “four degrees” world (as scientists call it) is far less hospitable for humans than our own, a world so inhospitable that we must avoid creating it at any cost.
Consider these scenarios, thought highly likely by scientists:
A temperature increase of 4 degrees C. will cause a 40% reduction in corn and rice crops, and loss of other agricultural produce, as well. The world doesn’t have fewer mouths to feed over time, and a decline in these key staples will likely produce widespread starvation..
People will be forced from their homes, like so many Syrian refugees, on a grand scale — from coastal areas because of rising seas; from areas no longer habitable due to high temperatures or drought; and from changing industrial and commercial practices.
Other effects include ice melting, weather extremes, ocean acidification, loss of coral reefs, changes in stream flows, large losses in biodiversity, water shortages, forest dieback and fires, and so on – the list is very long.
A temperature increase of 4 degrees C is now thought likely to cause the disintegration of an organized global community. A four degree world will likely be so altered that human society cannot adapt to it.”
Wish I had some comforting words, but I do not. Science has known of climate change for a hundred years. Lyndon Johnson warned of the effects of climate change nearly 50 years ago and urged action then. We were warned and have done nothing thanks in major part to those who make money effectively stopping any action.
Last Monday was the eleventh anniversary of the August 6th, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing titled “Bin Laden determined to strike in the United States.” Most can recall that then Pres. George W. Bush was on a brush cleaning vacation in Texas. He brushed off the PDB with a curt “Alright you’ve covered your ass.”
Next month we will be remembering the eleventh anniversary of the attacks on New York, supposedly master-minded by Bin Laden. National Security Advisor Condoleza Rice couldn’t connect those two dots. Many of the members of the Bush Administration foreign policy team are on the inside of the Romney campaign including Dan Senor and John Bolton. Should they get a do-over? Scares the hell out of me, how about you?
Romney Wants a Truce?
Romney To Obama: Please Stop Attacking My Business Record, Taxes
Seriously, Mitt. You made your business record the focal point of your campaign. So Obama helped you on that score. Now you are crying foul because Obama did just that? Seriously. Have you forgotten that you are ashamed of your record in your one political office, governor of Massachusetts?
Romney Spokesperson Endorses Romneycare
Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul endorsed Romneycare (and Obamacare by definition?) Thursday prompting Ann Coulter to blast off for Mars to visit the rover Curiosity. Have a nice trip, Ann. Soon former Romney spokes people will have enough to form a group psychology session. BTW if anyone knows where a former spokesperson can pick up a little work…… accidentally told the truth once.
Scary News From The Arctic
Humans have done their best to ignore climate change. But the past two decades and especially the past two years are making it more and more apparent that we proceed doing so at our own peril. Recent news from the arctic is scary. Stated simply, as the Arctic changes, so does the world. The floods and droughts that we have experienced over the past couple decades will become the norm.
Of course this may not be such a big deal if it weren’t reeking havoc with food crops all over the world. With the human race at over 7 billion in number, lack of food looks like it may be the catalyst for some major global problems coming soon.
Obviously many of our politicians are more than happy to sacrifice the many to satisfy the few who are filling their pockets with money. And it is not like our leaders haven’t heard this. All this was laid out in clear unmistakable words in early 2007 by a think tank working for the Pentagon.
We Need Some Levity
With the worst candidate ever running for president (Romney, you Bozo) and dire news in the climate area we could use some levity. Here goes:
Watch to the very end.
Forecast the Facts petition: Tell Secretary Vilsack: Farmers Deserve the Facts about Climate Change and Drought
“The US is facing one of the worst droughts in our history, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he doesn’t want to ‘opine’ as to the role of climate change.* That is not acceptable. The scientific links between climate change and drought are well established by his own Department, and it’s Secretary Vilsack’s responsibility to share that information with farmers and the American public.”
Sign this petition to tell Secretary Vilsack to help America’s farmers by giving them the truth about manmade climate change.
Here’s what Secretary Vilsack said at a White House briefing:
Q: Could you talk a little bit about the drought itself? Is it very unusual? Did anyone see it coming? Is it from climate change? Is there anything you can do to prepare?
SECRETARY VILSACK: I’m not a scientist so I’m not going to opine as to the cause of this. All we know is that right now there are a lot of farmers and ranchers who are struggling. And it’s important and necessary for them to know, rather than trying to focus on what’s causing this, what can we do to help them. And what we can do to help them is lower interest rates, expand access to grazing and haying opportunities, lower the penalties associated with that, and encourage Congress to help and work with us to provide additional assistance. And that’s where our focus is.
Long term, we will continue to look at weather patterns, and we’ll continue to do research and to make sure that we work with our seed companies to create the kinds of seeds that will be more effective in dealing with adverse weather conditions.
It’s one of the reasons — because they have done that, it’s one of the reasons why we’re still uncertain as to the impact of this drought in terms of its bottom line because some seeds are drought-resistant and drought-tolerant, and it may be that the yields in some cases are better than we’d expected because of the seed technology….
Q: Mr. Secretary, I want to follow through on the climate change question. Is there any long-range thinking at the Department that — you had the wildfires and the heat wave and the rise in sea levels, and now this drought — that there’s something more going on here than just one year of a bad crop, and you need more than better seeds, maybe do something about climate change?
SECRETARY VILSACK: Our focus, to be honest with you, in a situation like this is on the near term and the immediate, because there’s a lot of pressure on these producers. You take the dairy industry, for example. We’ve lost nearly half of our dairy producers in the last 10 years. They were just getting back to a place where there was profitability and now they’re faced with some serious issues and, again, no assistance in terms of disaster assistance.
So that’s our near-term focus. Long term, we obviously are engaged in research projects; we’re obviously working with seed companies. Don’t discount the capacity of the seed companies. These technologies do make a difference. And it’s one of the reasons why, at least based on the yields today, we’re looking at potentially the third largest corn crop in our history. Now, that may be adjusted downward, it may be adjusted upward — depends on the rain, depends on circumstances. But even with the difficulties we’re experiencing, we’re still looking at a pretty good crop as of today. Tomorrow it could change, obviously. (click here to read more)
Here’s what Vilsack said in an interview by Jeremy Hobson on Marketplace Morning Report:
… Hobson: Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you one more question before I let you go. This is — as you said – the worst drought in decades, the first half of this year, according to the government, was the hottest in 118 years of record keeping across the country, the U.K. just had its wettest June since records began there. Is it the view of theU.S.government that this is climate change?
VILSACK: Well, I’m not an expert on climate change so it probably wouldn’t be appropriate for me to respond specifically to that question. My focus and I think the focus of the USDA and the President, right now is on making sure that we get help to these folks, making sure, for example, that people know that they got to contact their insurance agent, if they have crop insurance, that they may have a damaged crop so that they won’t lose rights under their policy, that’s our focus.
It’s not to trying to figure out, today, what may be causing this or what may be impacting it. We know it is impacting farmers and ranchers. Our hearts go out to their families and these hard working folks. We just want to be able to provide them some help and assistance.