Washington is embroiled in a round of budget-cutting fervor. There is a “budget conference” going on. There are rumors that “deals” are being made behind closed doors. How much to cut? Who to hurt? Who to lay off or furlough next?
Here’s the thing. The American Majority wants jobs. They want Congress working on jobs. (They also want Congress working on jobs for more than 5 days this month.)
Here’s a fresh, new idea: hire some people to fix the aging infrastructure. Ever since the Reagan tax cuts the country has been deferring essential maintenance. Everyone said, “If you do this, later you’ll be sorry.” Now it’s later, and we’re really sorry. Bridges are falling down. The power grid is ridiculous, as in “worthy of ridicule.” Etc., etc. We’re $3.6 trillion behind — $3.6 trillion that went out to the wealthy as tax cuts instead of used for infrastructure investment. P.S. click that link.
How many people would be hired if we just caught up to doing that deferred infrastructure maintenance — never mind crisp, new, modern, energy-efficient, 21st-century power grid and ports and roads and rail that would increase our country’s competitiveness internationally? $3.6 trillion of work that has to be done anyway, and we really need to employ Americans today. The longer we hold off, the more it costs and the more damage is done.
It isn’t hard to realize this. In fact, not hiring people to fix the infrastructure now is intentional. It’s about keeping unemployment high and taxes on the wealthy low. Desperate, hungry people don’t ask for raises, and don’t demand their rights. They’ll take any nasty, humiliating, low-wage job they can find and will be told they should be thankful to have it.
This week the EPA a nnounced new rules for CO2 emmissions in new coal-powered plants. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is up in arms, saying this could mean the end of coal as a power source.
So you’d think that the “clean coal” organization would be praising these new rules, because they are all about “clean coal,” right?
People who say we should not develop nuclear power because of the risk are severely underestimating the impact that global warming will have on climate and humanity.
Take the Fukishima Daiichi disaster. A large area has been evacuated and is contaminated. There could be as many as 100 deaths from radiation and associated cancers. Combine this with Chernobyl where a large area is contaminated and there were at least 31 deaths, with between 6,000 and 50,000 thyroid cancers expected (92-96% survivable.)
Suppose every reactor of the older type still operating melted down. And suppose all the waste from all those nuclear reactors got into the environment.
Then suppose we built enough new reactors to let the world stop burning coal for power. (Note that the new designs pretty much can’t melt down, many designs use safer fuels, and many designs burn enough of the material that there is much less of a waste problem.) But suppose ALL of those reactors had disasters, too. Every one.
This adds up to nothing compared to what is coming if we do not stop burning coal (some of which is coming already because of the CO2 we have already put into the air.)
The evacuated, contaminated areas from all of those nuclear disasters won’t add up to a fraction of the coastal land that will be submerged. The uninhabitable areas don’t add up to a fraction of the land mass that will be uninhabitable if we pass 2 degrees centigrade and keep putting carbon into the air. The number of people killed if every one of those reactors blows up doesn’t add up to a fraction of the number who will die from famine and other causes if we don’t stop burning coal.
So get serious and be afraid of the right things. We shold replace every coal plant with nuclear as fast as we can, and then phase out the nuclear if we want to, replacing them with alternatives.
The “Tea Party” was started and funded by Koch Oil and its owners. But now the Tea Party in Georgia supports free market alternatives to oil monopolies, and Koch Oil is fighting them.
Summary: Georgia Power wants to expand its use of solar energy as the price of solar goes down. Georgia’s Tea Party likes the idea because it means consumers will get free-market choices. Of course Koch Oil has been fighting solar, wind, high-speed rail, electric cars and efforts to fight climate change because all of those hurt their lucrative oil business, and their front group Americans For Prosperity — the group behind the Tea Party in the first place — has launched a typical misleading smear campaign.
Tea Party members supporting the solar expansion see it as a simple free market issue. They believe consumers have the right to choose where their electricity comes from and shouldn’t be forced to remain dependent on a single source, especially in light of the rapidly declining cost of solar.
Despite the Tea Party’s support, Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the Koch brothers, came out against the proposed solar measure last week — launching what it calls “a multi-pronged, grassroots driven initiative” urging activists to pressure members of the PSC to reject the solar expansion.
In an email to its 50,000 members across the state, AFP Georgia director Virginia Galloway asks, “What if I told you something you’re not even hearing about in the news is about to raise your electricity bill by more than 40 percent and reduce the reliability of every appliance and electronics gadget in your home? That’s what will happen when your Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) votes on July 11th if you don’t take action today!”
People still buy real estate that will be underwater in a few decades. Think about that.
… Think about what will happen to real estate prices in coastal areas when we do start taking global warming seriously. How much will people pay for real estate that is going to be under water in a few decades?
I was already concerned with the effect of global warming on real estate prices when it suddenly sinks in that a lot of land is going to be underwater. Seriously, would YOU buy a house anywhere in a coastal area that has an altitude lower than maybe 30 feet? One of these days everyone is going to realize what that means – all at the same time.
Wow, watch this! A big-picture look at Sandy, what made it so big, and what it means:
Owen Kelley, a research scientist at NASA Goddard, works with data from the TRMM satellite to image the insides of storms. TRMM looked into the eye of Sandy the day before it made landfall and saw something surprising. Satellites also took snapshots of Sandy. J. Marshall Shepherd, president-elect of the American Meteorological Society and the director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, explains some of Sandy’s unusual features.
Much of the nation is reeling from Superstorm Sandy. As families rebuild from Sandy’s destruction, our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific, fossil-fueled storm.
When Gov. Mitt Romney made climate change a punch line at the Republican National Convention, he mocked a real threat to the lives of Americans.
We can’t let Mitt get away with his laughing dismissal of the threat of rising seas caused by the carbon polluters who fund his campaign. Share this ad with friends and family to tell Romney: climate change isn’t a joke.
How about everyone who understands what climate change is sell their coastal property to people who believe it is a hoax! You can still get good prices …
… and maybe the oil companies will even subsidize their purchases!
Conservatives and the Christian Right regularly blame hurricanes on abortion, liberals, government and “teh gay.” But Hurricane Sandy actually is an “unprecedented.” This “Frankenstorm,” with a gale-force wind diameter of 1040 miles, is the largest hurricane in Atlantic history, with the lowest barometric pressure. So we really should ask the question: is Hurricane Sandy actually God’s punishment for not bringing up climate change in the presidential debates?
Here are just a few samples of what a few of the many right-wing nut jobs (RWNJs) (“the base”) have had to say about hurricanes:
Michelle Bachman said that Hurricane Irene was God’s punishment for our having a government that provides services to our people, (seriously, she said it):
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
With computer models locked in on the eventuality of a punishing blow for East Coast from Hurricane Sandy (with the latest model runs favoring the northern mid-Atlantic), analyses suggest this storm may be unlike anything the region has ever experienced.
The term “climate change” is used to refer to the fact that the … uh …climate is … uh … changing. This is a result of the warming of the atmosphere that results from putting massive amounts of CO2 into the air, primarily by burning coal and oil as an energy source. The CO2 acts like a layer of glass to trap heat in the atmosphere that would previously have bounced off the earth and into space. This trapping effect acts just like the way the glass in a greenhouse traps heat inside. This is why CO2 is called “greenhouse gas.”
The trapped heat eventually changes the patterns of the weather, and melts ice that then causes the oceans levels to rise. This change in weather patterns is what we are beginning — just beginning — to experience. Flood, massive “freak storms, terrible heat waves that go on and on with higher temperatures, increased severity of hurricanes, droughts, huge regional fires, and all the rest of the “weird weather” people are talking about…
The scientifically predicted changes in the climate include:
Severity: The increased heat from global warming puts more energy into storms, so they are stronger.
Rain and snowfall: Storms, including hurricanes, will be loaded with extra moisture, so higher rainfall will make flooding more frequent and worse.
Rising seas: melting ice slowly increases sea levels, so storm surges, etc., will be worse.
The Campaign Mostly Silent On Climate Change
Climate change was not much of an issue in the Presidential debates, except in the extent to which the candidates promoted more drilling for oil and more mining of coal, hence increasing the problem. In the first debate Mitt Romney actually mocked people who are warning about climate change and sea-level rise, and criticized President Obama for investing $90 billion in wind and solar — and just lied, saying that half of the investments had gone bankrupt.
However, in an interview on MTV President Obama was asked about climate change, and said (TPM),
“We’re not moving as fast as we need to,” Obama said. “This is an issue that future generations, MTV viewers, are going to have to be dealing with even more than the older generation is. So this is a critical issue — and there’s a huge contrast in this campaign between myself and Governor Romney. I’m surprised it didn’t come up in the debates.”
Obama said Romney “says he believes in climate change….but he says he’s not sure that man-made causes are the reason” As for his own views, “I believe scientists who say we’re putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it’s heating the planet and its going to have a severe effect.”
The American Petroleum Institute, backed by the nation’s largest oil and gas companies, is the top energy spender this year with its “I’m an energy voter” campaign. Although the ads avoid explicitly endorsing any candidate, they clearly echo policy stands taken by Mr. Romney and the Republicans: opposing regulations that might slow down drilling and denouncing Mr. Obama’s proposal to eliminate oil industry subsidies.
The Terrifying Math Of Global Warming
Here is the climate problem in a nutshell. As Bill McKibben explained in Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math:
1) We have to try to hold warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we’re at .8 of that now with huge storms, drought, floods and all kinds of effects. It gets dramatically worse from here – heading towards crop failure, famine, running out of water, rising seas, mass extinctions …
2) To hold at 2 degrees we can put no more than 565 gigatons CO2 into atmosphere.
3) Current proven coal, oil and gas reserves is 2,795 gigatons even if we discover no more. That is 5 times what we can burn and stay at 2 degrees. But that is worth $20 trillion in oil company assets, they will fight to the death to be able to burn that carbon.
No matter what you consider “God” to mean, clearly this “unprecedented” hurricane, arriving just before the election is a signal to all of us that we must stop ignoring this problem. Things might be “unprecedented” now, but are projected to get much, much worse.
Here is Grist’s David Roberts explaining that “Climate change is simple: We do something or we’re screwed,”