As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We Can't Wait for Energy Solutions

The Senate GOP's deep-sixing of two bills designed to slap a windfall profits tax on oil companies and restore tax credits for renewable energy production and conservation is par for the obstructionist course. But as a human being who would like to see life sustained on this planet, I really find it unforgivable. We have two oilmen running the executive branch, and so change on energy issues will probably have to wait until they leave, but the time is extremely short. Thirteen major science academies explain what needs to be done.

On climate, the academies urged the world, led by industrialized countries, to undertake a “transition to a low-carbon society” and also aggressively move to limit impacts from changes in climate that are already under way and impossible to stop. Among other steps, the academies recommended that countries move more aggressively to speed the adoption of new energy technologies and encourage changes in behavior that curb energy appetites and greenhouse-gas emissions. Their menu of recommendations included investing more to improve solar and nuclear energy technologies.

They also recommended prompt investment in projects aimed at capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide from power plants on a large scale — something that many energy experts say has to happen because coal will continue being used as a fuel for decades.

The statements were written by the scientific academies of Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.

This is not part of a set of options, this is what needs to happen starting tomorrow. We're already seeing the effects of increased temperatures and radical climate change. In my home state of California we're in the midst of a drought affecting over 30 million people. You can argue about what strategies are successful or irrelevant given today's technology, but the truth is that all of them must be attempted simultaneously if we're going to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Yet instead of investing immediately in a new energy future and encouraging lifestyle choices that reduce carbon emissions, we nickel and dime renewable energy companies so they cannot function. We clear-cut the Amazon rainforest, known as the world's lungs because of all the carbon dioxide sucked up in the flora. We build more suburbs based on a model of cheap gas instead of moving directly to smarter, denser development strategies. We cannot wait around and be happy that the next President will pay more attention to this issue than George Bush. It's simply too big and too urgent.

Following Senator John McCain's May 12 speech on global warming, many hastily praised the Republican presidential candidate for breaking ranks with President Bush and his own party's orthodoxy by calling for mandatory greenhouse gas reductions. But we should not be so quick to give McCain kudos. While McCain represents an improvement over eight long years of denial and inaction by the Bush administration, being better than the current president is not good enough. In fact, McCain's record and recent proposals raise real questions about his commitment to the bold measures we need to combat global warming [...]

The world's leading climate scientists are absolutely clear climate change is real and the time for action is now. Barack Obama has made bold and comprehensive proposals that will deliver the deep emission reductions scientists say are essential. Although McCain once introduced legislation, his current positions on energy, renewables and a cap and trade program are simply outdated; they have not kept pace with the times.

The obstructionism, the giveaways to lobbyists and special interests, the half-measures justified by "this is the best we can do...", all of this has convinced me that technology and a cultural shift - along with continued high gas prices - is the only way we're going to get out of this self-created mess. I just fear that it won't be soon enough.

UPDATE: Well this is completely unhelpful.

Ten Democratic senators echoed polluters in a letter sent to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) about her filibustered climate change legislation last Friday. The senators, nine of whom supported cloture to end debate and vote on amendments, wrote,

"We commend your leadership in attempting to address one of the most significant threats to this and future generations; however, we cannot support final passage of the Boxer Substitute in its final form." Their letter continues:

To that point we have laid out the following principles and concerns that must be considered and fully addressed in any final legislation.

The senators' letter uses practically the same talking points and specific policy demands as the industry polluters who fought to kill the legislation, in particular the industry lobbying groups American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Sen. Boxer's version of Lieberman-Warner attempted to satisfy these kinds of demands as well as progressive principles espoused by other senators. But the fossil industry and its advocates don't seek compromise — they want complete obeisance. Nine of these senators (Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was consistent in his opposition) want to have it both ways, casting a vote for cloture while undermining the bill by stating their opposition to it. This letter is really nothing more than an exercise in political cowardice. Senators Stabenow, Levin, Pryor, Lincoln, Bayh, Rockefeller, Jim Webb, McCaskill, and Ben Nelson should be ashamed.

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