Trying To Warn People

Just sayin’ … you should listen to Dave.
2007: Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Coastal Real Estate Prices,

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?

2010: Real Estate Near The Gulf,

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.

A Fascinating Look At Hurricane Sandy

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.

MUST See – Not Funny Mitt

Mitt Romney made jokes about global warming. Now we really know they were not funny.
See Forecast the Facts | Tell Mitt Romney: Climate Change Isn’t A Joke

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.

Is Hurricane Sandy God’s Punishment For Ignoring Global Warming In Debates?

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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?

RWNJs

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.”

The Rev. Pat Robertson told us that Hurricane Katrina was God’s retribution for legalized abortion.
The Pope made Gerhard Wagner a bishop after he blamed Hurricane Katrina on teh gay.

Another Unprecedented Storm

So here we have another “freak,” “once in a hundred years,” “unprecedented,” “no one has seen this before” storms that we are experiencing all the time now.
The Washington Post the other day, Hurricane Sandy may be unprecedented in East Coast storm history,

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.

Etc. Please read Climate Progress, CNN Bans Term ‘Frankenstorm’, But It’s A Good Metaphor For Warming-Driven Monster: ‘Largest Hurricane In Atlantic History’.

Why Attribute Hurricane Sandy To Global Warming?

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.”

Possibly related: NY Times, Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign,

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.

God’s Punishment

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,”

Please click through to see the accompanying slide show.
Also, Democracy Now: Bill McKibben on Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: “If There Was Ever a Wake-up Call, This Is It”

“The last time we saw anything like this was never.”
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Why Conservative Attacks On Wind And Solar Energy?

There has been a recent flurry of propaganda attacks on wind and solar energy by oil-and-coal-backed conservatives. A vitally important tax credit to help build a renewable energy industry in this country expires at the end of this year without Congressional action, and the old oil and coal industries — along with certain other countries — want to make sure it does expire.

Background

The fossil-fuel industry is fully developed after many decades of government help. Going up against a fully-developed industry like oil and coal is enormously expensive, and the industry is trying to block We, the People from triggering private investment to help get us out from under its grip. It has nothing to do with government interfering in markets, or “picking winners and losers,” this is about us helping offset the enormous competitive advantage oil and coal have due to government investment and assistance in oil and coal in prior decades. We do this because We, the People see the benefits and prosperity that will come to us from developing these alternative energy industries.
Oil and coal are, to put it mildly, entrenched in our economy, and, to put it mildly, make out very, very well because of that. Various forms of government assistance put them there and keeps them there. Aside from direct help like the tax breaks to the companies themselves and keeping taxes low at the pump (compare the cost of gas here to other countries), there are support structures like the cost of the vast military complex that keeps the oil flowing, building roads instead of rail, etc., and then of course there’s the cost to us of that whole “let them dump their waste products into the environment for free” thing.
As a result vast ecosystem supporting the oil and coal industries has been built up over the decades. Delivery systems like pipelines, rail lines, gas stations, etc. are examples of this ecosystem that supports the fossil-fuel industry. Existing refineries were enormously expensive to build. So this industry now rests on decades of capital investment. The investment paid off, provided a vast return, and now offers a competitive advantage over other, newer forms of energy. A barrel of oil comes from the ground from an existing well, or a new well that benefited from decades of technological research and development, much of it helped along by government.
“Renewable” forms of energy do not yet have such an ecosystem. The manufacturing, power grid, etc. are all brand new technologies, that need the kind of investment that lets them build the supply chains, expertise and other things that get them to the trigger point where they can take off. This is enormously expensive to develop — no matter how great the payoff will be. Countries like China get this, and are helping build those manufacturing ecosystems in their countries. Here, however, we have the entrenched political power of the super-wealthy oil and coal companies in the way, fighting tooth and nail to stop the development of this industry. (And, of course, countries like China have every incentive to do what it takes to keep us from developing this industry here.)

Why Tax Breaks?

Instead of just building up the ecosystem of an industry like alternative energy itself, our government helps trigger private investment by providing tax breaks that help overcome the competitive advantage that decades of investment has brought to established industries. Specifically, to help trigger investment in alternatives like solar and wind energy, our government gives tax credits to these industries so their product can compete now with energy products from oil and coal companies that have already made the huge capital investment (with government help) required to build their ecosystems.
Tax breaks help bring the price of a product down versus the product of an entrenched, developed industry, so new companies can grow and their supply chains and expertise and facilities can develop, until such time as they are far enough along to compete on their own. We, the People (government) do this when we feel it is to our benefit for an industry to develop here. We, the People (government) did this with aerospace, semiconductors, computers, biotech and other modern industries. These are examples of how we can trigger this effect, and then prosper because we did.
When We, the People decide that we will benefit from helping a new industry develop, then yes, We, the People pick a winner, because it benefits us and we prosper as a result.
We, the People (government) did this with these tax breaks for alternative energy. Now the entrenched interests are pulling out all the stops to try to get rid of those tax breaks before the alternative energy industry takes off here. They call it “picking winners and losers” and say it is “interfering with the market” when in fact the oil and coal ecosystem currently is “the winner” because of decades of various forms of government assistance. We, the People (government) assisted those industries because at the time we wanted to grow our economy, and now we want to assist alternatives like solar and wind, because being chained to oil and coal is holding us back and harming the environment. This is supposed to be about what We, the People benefit from, not an entrenched, wealthy few and the power they have to influence and control government decision-making.
US News offers some good background information: Wind Energy Tax Credit: More Hot Air or Key Job Creator?,

The federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents/kilowatt hour for the production of electricity from utility-scale wind turbines, and is set to expire on December 31, 2012.
… Without the tax credit, chances are that fewer turbines will be produced and installed. That could have devastating ripple effects on jobs, according to some experts. Last time the PTC was allowed to expire in 2004, installations of new wind turbines dropped as much as 93 percent, according to the American Wind Energy Association, throwing the industry into a perpetual boom-bust cycle that has stunted its growth.
… 37,000. That’s the number of jobs the Obama administration says are at risk without the energy tax credits, not a small number considering millions of Americans remain unemployed.

Conservative Propaganda Attacks

Here are some examples of oil-and-coal-backed (and foreign-backed) conservatives using various forms of trickery to fight againt the development of an alternative-energy industry in the United States.
Heritage Foundation: Morning Bell: Wind Energy Subsidies Are As Useful As VHS Tape Subsidies,

The wind production tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year, which has the industry crying out for continued subsidies. … The credit is a huge handout to wind producers, allowing them to sell their electricity for less than market price. …

Wall Street Journal (note – this outlet is co-owned by a Saudi oil billionaire): The Energy Subsidy Tally,

The problem is that wind and solar still can’t make a go of it without subsidies. Solyndra is merely the most famous of the solar-power failures. Earlier this month United Technologies sold its more than $300 million investment in wind power, with CFO Greg Hayes telling investors, according to press reports that: “We all make mistakes.” He added that the market for renewables like wind “as everyone knows, is stagnating.” Someone alert the White House.
… the coal, oil, and natural gas industries paid more than $10 billion of taxes in 2009. Wind and solar are net drains on the Treasury.
… Why not eliminate all federal energy subsidies? This would get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers—mostly losers.

(Note that companies like Solyndra have failed as the result of countries like China subsidizing the development of alternative-energy industries in their own countries.)
Breitbart.com: DEAR BIG WIND: IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME,

The industry’s taxpayer-funded subsidies are set to expire at the end of this year – and Congress shouldn’t reauthorize. Continuing to subsidize a non-profitable industry to the tune of another $1.6 billion would be throwing good money after bad.
…Meanwhile, other U.S. energy producers are competing in a market where the government has revealed a preference, allowing wind producers to take a 2.2-cent write-off for each kilowatt-hour they produce. But, neither Democrats nor Republicans want to remove the teat from which the wind industry gets its fix.

(Was that written by lobbyists, or just dictated by them?)
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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