Sleeping with a Secessionist …

My beat around here is Global Warming and Energy. The choice come November could not be starker in these arenas (that is, at least in fact not media framing). The contrast also could not be starker… across a wide range of issues.

Among these, John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin has added a searing 2845238839_ff63b978fd_m.jpgissue to the table:

Do we want a separatist with easy access to the centers of power in the nation?

What would it mean to have a Vice President (likely President) sleeping with a separatist?

This question is essentially absent from the pages of traditional media.

Imagine if Michelle Obama were a registered member of the Black Panthers until 2002? Imagine the drumbeat of outrage that all Americans would hear. About Todd "My Guy" Palin’s separatist credentials? Crickets chirping in the night …

Fellow Traveler Sarah?

Sarah Palin has not just been sleeping with a separatist but clearly seems to be in the realm of fellow traveler.

Note that she speaks in this video of Alaska as a "self-sufficient state".


Why Is Environmental Defense’s Krupp Calling On Green Groups To Avoid Talking About Global Warming?

hurricane-map.jpgIn the past, I asked what I saw as a stinging question: Whose "environment" is Environmental Defense defending? When it came to the Lieberman-Warner Coal-Subsidy Act, Environmental Defense and I were clearly on far different sides: ED wanting something in legislation, now, no matter how inadequate it might be, while I argue that the question was not seeking perfect, but simply demanding barely adequate as a minimum, and that it was unacceptable to support anything that did not provide a plausible path toward creating the conditions for averting catastrophic climate change.

With restraint, I’ve held my tongue and my fingers since then about ED. But, I am wondering why.

A few days ago, I read about how an environmental leader sent a long email to the leaders of the environmental community arguing that everyone should avoid linking Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna (which I am preparing for right now) to Global Warming. While I wondered who it came from, my reaction (to put it politely as possible): WTF!!!!!

Reality: Hurricanes are natural events. But, time is long past in which they (or other ‘natural’ weather events) occur absent consideration of Global Warming. Storm intensities are increasing as scientific analysis and modeling said would occur. And, the real-world data is suggesting ever more clearly that frequency of major storms are increasing as well.

Let us be clear: Damage from storms (or wildfires or floods or …) cannot be isolated to the impact of Global Warming. There would have been storms (even if weaker and perhaps less frequently) even without humanity playing a role. And, taking out wetlands, poor building codes, and other human activity help foster ever increasing potential for damage from storms.

But … BUT … BUT!!!!!!!

The reality is that these storms are related to Global Warming. And, with great focus given to them, these storms provide an opportunity to educate people about the very real impact that Global Warming is already having on our lives and the impacts that will come and the catastrophic changes that might come if we do not change course. (more…)

Pickens’ Plan vs Pickens’ Problem?

There is The Pickens Plan. 2437203139_9cbe2810ed_m.jpg

And, there is The Pickens Problem.

Too often, the two are not talked about in combination as is merited.

While The Pickens Plan has its problems, The Pickens Problem sadly raises questions about how seriously one should take T Boone Pickens’ words about The Pickens Plan. I would welcome the ability to engage openly and with trust with The Pickens Plan, but as long as The Pickens Problem remains unresolved and unaddressed, any engagement will have to be reserved, guarded, and cautious.

T. Boone Pickens speaks to the need to end America’s oil addiction, to move off oil. T Boone Pickens’ political contributions speak to continuing the status quo, to drilling the hole deeper when it comes to oil addiction.

The Pickens Problem is undermining the chances that The Pickens Plan will ever see fruition. (more…)

What Fraction Of America’s $4+/Gallon Gasoline Is Due To The War In Iraq?

383359478_3dd94a0fdf_m.jpgJust how much of the pump price of gasoline is attributable to the war in Iraq? A dollar? Three dollars? None. That conversation recently swirled around me and, one one point, someone commented that well over half (or more than $2) of America’s $4.10 gallon of gas is due to the war. Another person asked "Is that right?" And, after pulling out some hair from my head, my response was both short and then long.

The short:

Two dollars a gallon is, perhaps, as good a swag as anyone’s.

I think.

And, the long:


Picking at Pickens’ Plan

Have you heard? Oilman T. Boone Pickens is not only committed to planting the world’s largest wind farm in the fertile soil of Texas. He is not only committed to working to stringing a meaningful electrical grid to move electricity from that wind farm to lush markets for harvesting serious profits. T. Boone has a plan to save America (while making a bundle) and has committed some serious dough to convincing Americans that his plan is the path to a better future. T. Boone restates forcefully what George W Bush said in the 2006 State of the Union address about America’s oil addiction. According to T. Boone,

America is addicted to foreign oil.

It’s an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. It touches every part of our daily lives and ties our hands as a nation and a people.

The addiction has worsened for decades and now it’s reached a point of crisis.

Here is one of the nation’s leading oil men, a fossil fuel fortune-maker, laying out quite clearly that America’s oil habit is a centerpiece of risk for the nation in the years ahead. Is the addiction’s solution to be found in Newt’s Drill Here! Drill Now! Pay Less (a decade from now … maybe)? Not according to T. Boone:

Can’t we just produce more oil?

World oil production peaked in 2005. Despite growing demand and an unprecedented increase in prices, oil production has fallen over the last three years. Oil is getting more expensive to produce, harder to find and there just isn’t enough of it to keep up with demand.

The simple truth is that cheap and easy oil is gone.

Maybe Newt and the Republicans should be listening to people who actually know at least something about energy?

Let us be absolutely clear: Legendary conservative oilman T. Boone Pickens says oil is a dead end!

Oil is dead, T. Boone tells us (the US), what should we do?

T. Boone Pickens isn’t stopping with defining a problem, he is outlining (forcefully) a proposed solution path. The PickensPlan is a concept for reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, to carve into the $700 billion+ per year heading out of the United States to ensure topped-off McSUVs. As T. Boone expresses it, "the largest transfer of wealth in human history." The PickensPlan has a mixture of extremely good and important elements, and concepts that simply don’t comport with energy reality. Let’s take a brief look at some of this.

The Power Of 350 … Spreading The Word

Prior to the industrial era, the atmosphere was at about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Now, we are about 387 and growing at nearly 2 ppm per year.

The ‘old’ (a few years ago) scientific consideration was that it seemed we could stabilize, without utterly catastrophic risk, at 450 ppm or below. This is the guiding thinking behind cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Jim Hansen, NASA and one of the strongest voices in climate research, came out with work stating that we must fall to 350 ppm to avoid catastrophic climate change, considering the impacts that we are already seeing globally.

350 is required, Hansen tells us,

If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.

We face a simple challenge, as a society (and species): 350 or bust! (from the same people who Stepped it Up) is organizing ralies around the globe, from the Great Wall to the Eiffel Tower, from your backyard to mine, to call attention to the critical challenge and the opportunities created through addressing climate change.

As Bill McKibben wrote last month,

All of a sudden it isn’t morning in America, it’s dusk on planet Earth.

"Dusk on planet Earth …" Bill has a way with words, words to communicate the seriousness of the threat we face and the challenges we can surmount.

There’s a number — a new number — that makes this point most powerfully. It may now be the most important number on Earth: 350. As in parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Forget inflation rate. Forget price of gasoline. Forget grade point average. 350 is about survival of the globe’s biodiversity and, potentially, survivability of a modern human society.

our last chance; you just can’t do this one lightbulb at a time.

Change those lightbulbs but forget about patting yourself on the back for having done so. (more…)

500-Year Events? Perhaps in Dog Years

floods.jpgHave you noticed? Right now, much of Iowa and the Midwest is suffering through a 500-year flooding event. Does it seem like 100- and 500-year events are becoming ever more frequent? If your answer is yes, your impression fits with the scientific analysis.

Now, we have to be careful (extremely careful) in the face of denialist tendency to pounce on a single apostrophe or word out of place, but looking toward the changing weather events and their real impacts, you have to be a fool not to be scratching your head wondering whether there is something larger going on here.

Now, as per always, it is near impossible to state that Iowa floods are hitting due to Global Warming. It is, however, reality that these floods are within the predictions for the types of weather events and extremes to be expected with ever increasing Global Warming.

As written for last year’s wildfires:

When discussing any particular disaster and its relationship to Global Warming, one needs to be cautious, to avoid saying “Global Warming caused X” as it is quite difficult to show a direct cause and effect relationship with a global trend to any particular activity. Thus, stronger storms are correlated with rising temperature which correlated with a storm like Katrina. Did Global Warming cause Katrina? Who knows? Was Katrina’s strength, differentiation from past storms, within what Global Warming analysis/modeling suggests could happen? Yes.

Well, be careful if anyone says that Global Waming “caused” the California fires. On the other hand, it seems clear that Global Warming is a contributing factor to the conditions in which the storms have occurred.

Repace "California fires" with "Iowa floods" and this statement remains true.


Eco-Friendly McCain: Disdain From All Sides

2496422563_dc6ff1dd70_m.jpgThe McCain campaign’s greenwashing efforts are getting hit from all sides and could actually provide a unifying factor across the political spectrum: everyone finds it absurd. As per EarthFirst, Finally, Something the Righties and Lefties All Agree On: McCain Needs to Stop this Environment Crap.

Greenwashing is the unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image, sell a product or a policy, or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy.

John McCain’s campaign is going GREEN … and even trying to raise some funds via this greening. As a reach out to Birkenstock wearing eco-terrorists, it seems, the McCain campaign website now had eco-friendly items" for sale. You too can have your "Bamboo Pique" "Go Green McCain Embroidered Polo Shirt with New Recycle Logo" in stone color, for just $50. A ladies bamboo T-Shirt will run your $25. An "unstructured organic cotton canvas" "Go Green McCain Visor" will run you $15. Time to raid your piggy-banks, you eco-terrorists, to help fund the "eco-friendly" McCain campaign.

$15 too much? Well, there is always the $8 note book with that new recycle logo. "The lined sheets and notebook covers are colored with organic based inks."

There are some things that fall beyond satire.

Who do they think they’re kidding? Rebranding McCain as Mr. Environment? Rebranding the Republican Party as the Eco-Friendly choice? The McCain campaign must have a real disdain for the intellect of the American voting public.

While those concerned about seeing that nation (and global community) rise up to address the challenges of Global Warming with enough seriousness are concerned over the inadequacies of McCain’s proposals and find the concept of "eco-friendly (more…)

Mark “Energy Smart” Begich

This year could be a breakthrough year to truly 2433470044_b51d088ed2_m.jpgchange the nature of dialogue and action in Washington, DC, and nationwide. On the tip of the tongue question: Will there be a super majority in the Senate (59 Democratic Party, One Socialist (Sanders), and the only Connecticut for Lieberman Senator)? One of those seemingly long-shot, now truly competitive races that could help achieve this change: the race for Alaska’s next Senator.

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) is embroiled in controversy (and perhaps more). That is not the subject of this post.

Instead it is a moment to focus on his opponent, the next Senator from Alaska, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich with whom I just participated in a short bloggers’ call.

Two questions from me.

The first had nothing to do with energy, but instead about Senator Inouye’s fundraising for Ted Stevens: What have you heard from the national party, from the DSCC, and what do you expect? Begich certainly was on top of this. From that response (somewhat paraphrased):

Inouye and Ted Stevens are close friends. They are part of the 85-plus club, they’re part of a bunch of guys who’ve been around a hundred years.

When I heard about this, I waited 24 hours to calm down and then I called and left a message for Senator Schumer. … After all, do they want a 60 Senator majority or not? … When I do talk to Senator Schumer, I’ll let him know that whatever Inouye raises for Stevens, I’ll expect them to double it.

A straightforward, powerful response that recognizes the long-term Inouye/Stevens relationship but also clearly shows some backbone in desiring sensible national Democratic Party responses to the implications of that relationship.

Begich and Energy
To be honest, there are a lot of races, a lot of people out there. My life, 24/7, is not doing race analysis. (more…)

Energy Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest …

My six-year old son is addicted to the Berenstein Bears. One of his first books_ready.jpgsuccessfully read books: Ready, Get Set, Go which teaches adjectives and suggests that no one is best at everything. How many times read between us? 10? 25? Maybe 50? As any parent can tell you, a favored book like that becomes imprinted in your brain.

"Good, Better, Best …" is the tag line in Ready, Get Set, Go. Well, in the past few days, we’ve seen an example of this in reverse, something more from the film world. When it comes to politics and energy, we’ve had a display of Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest.

Clinton, McCain, Bush.

Energy Dumb. Energy Dumber, Energy Dumbest.