Senator Obama, I look forward to seeing you sworn in as President to start your first term about three months from now. On your first day in the Oval Office you can look forward to forty-eight months in office during your first term. The day you assume office all six billion of us on the planet can look forward to ninety-five months remaining to preserve our first planet: Earth. Seeing as Earth is also our only planet, preserving our living world will save your daughters from a hellish future of growing to adulthood in a biosphere perishing from runaway global warming. As their biosphere is the only biosphere we have, all of us still living when your daughters become adults will share their misery — or their salvation. So, Senator Obama: do you have the core integrity to place our survival ahead of your expedient service to Illinois coal megacorps, or will you sacrifice your daughters, the living world, and the rest of us to the "Clean Coal" cult?
"Clean coal" is not an actual invention, a physical thing – it is an advertising slogan. Like "fat-free donuts" or "interest-free loans."
You see, Senator, the methane and other global warming gases bubbling up from our planet’s warming oceans and tundra don’t care that the Republicans made preserving the environment one more enemy of their culture war. Senator, thermodynamics and atmospheric chemistry don’t do focus groups or the "post-partisan" labeling that is part of your campaign’s strategy for defeating your opponent’s campaign. Senator, rising global temperatures don’t care about the electoral votes in coal-producing states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Illinois. The toxins that coal gasification would bring to the Great Lakes’ "Cancer Alley" don’t care about your ambitions.
Everything now hinges on stopping coal. Whether we prevent runaway climate change largely depends on whether we keep using the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Unless we either leave it in the ground or leave the carbon dioxide it produces in the ground, human development will start spiralling backwards. The more coal is burnt, the smaller are our chances of future comfort and prosperity. The industrial revolution has gone into reverse.
Everything…that all campaigners for social justice have ever fought for – food, clean water, shelter, security – is jeopardised by climate change. Those who claim to identify a conflict between environmentalism and humanitarianism have either failed to read the science or have refused to understand it.
You see, Senator, that’s the problem with using the big lie of "Clean Coal" to fuel your ambtions: poison makes a poor ally.
Senator Obama, how do I know you’re spreading the "Clean Coal" poison? Uh…because you made a big deal out of it Wednesday night when you and the wrinkly angry guy played "My inner Maverick is bigger than yours". You remember, right? You and the wrinkly angry guy from the co-dominant political party competed with each other to show us how big your independence is. Remember? That was the thrid time the two of you rebels appeared
(1) before the selected
(2) at the selected venue
(3) in the selected format
[Selections (1)-(3) made by the Commission on Presidential Debates: the wholly-owned creature of the two co-dominant political parties. You know….the ones you and the wrinkly angry guy are so free of. Right?]
Senator, a few nights ago you told us:
Obama: First of all, in terms of standing up to the leaders of my party, the first major bill that I voted on in the Senate was in support of tort reform, which wasn’t very popular with trial lawyers, a major constituency in the Democratic Party. I support…
McCain: An overwhelming vote.
Obama: I support charter schools and pay for performance for teachers. Doesn’t make me popular with the teachers union. I support clean coal technology. Doesn’t make me popular with environmentalists. So I’ve got a history of reaching across the aisle.
[Wow: thanks for the triple Sister Souljah moment, Senator! Standing up to trial lawyers, public education unions, and enviros. That’s what community organizing is all about, right?]
Senator, making a public sacrifice of selected supporters wasn’t the big surprise. After watching a con law lecturer drive FISA amnesty through the Constitution, ritual sacrifice loses novelty. Senator, the big surprise for me on Wednesday night was your bold plan to sacrifice your daughters’ future to the "Clean Coal" cult.
I dunno…maybe the social theorists would see your generous (if subtly presented) support for human sacrifice as a deft and brilliant move against the religious right and a sublime act of psychological warfare, confronting the fundies with the tantalizing prospect of condemming kids to suffering and death wrapped in acts proscribed by the sacred texts they purport to obey.
But all that stuff’s above my simple environmentalist mind. Or maybe I’m just too preoccupied with ever-increasing releases of global warming gases. Or the fact global warming’s accelerating three times faster than anticipated. Or the fact we’re already seeing global warming begin to warm the Arctic tundra and oceans enough to release the powerful global warming gas methane. That’s the beginning of "runaway" global warming that feeds on itself, bringing ever-increasing temperatures that will destroy the agriculture and food supplies we all depend upon.
You see, Senator, the ninety-five month clock to save us and the biosphere from runaway global warming marks a race that began in August: the 100 month deadline to retool global industry and commerce for carbon-neutral technology and energy. Even the Bushie Department of Energy pulled the plug on the "clean coal" demo plant you’ve supported in Mattoon, Illinois. Senator, the fancy name for the "clean coal" technology you supported for Mattoon is "carbon capture and storage", or CCS.
Sorry to break it to you, Senator — but CCS is vaporware.
One leading management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, said in a recent report [PDF] that CCS technology will not be economical until 2030. That will most likely be too late to help avert catastrophic climate change.
Senator, we don’t have the luxury of triangulating the coal state votes until 2030. We have about ninety-eight months. We have until about eight years after you take the Oath of Office in January. We also have the technology to bring carbon-neutral energy on line long before we could build more deadly new coal-fired power plants.
Senator Obama, you have the opportunity to steer America towards a sustainable future – and the responsibility should you fail. You’re already reported to be planning to declare carbon dioxide — coal’s end product — a global warming gas. You can retool America’s industry and energy infrastructure, make millions of green-friendly sustainable jobs, and redirect the wealth we pay for imported oil to our domestic economy. Following that path will give your daughters — and the rest of our kids — the chance to grow up on a sustainable world.
Or you can become the Cheerleader-in-Chief for the ad men’s poisonous cult of "Clean Coal".
You’ve served the telcomms on FISA. You’ve served Wall Street on the 700 billion Paulson/Obama bailout bill. Senator, now it’s our turn: show us some love.
And if you can’t do it for us, do it for your kids. And everyone else’s.