Advertisements

This is What The Resistance Looks Like — Cities, States and Nations Run on 100 Percent Renewable Power

The sparks of resistance to a harmful domination of energy supplies by the fossil fuel industry are out there. They are the lights of clean power generation blooming like stars across a world blackened by smokestack emissions and imperiled by climate change.

****

In the U.S., backward-looking republicans like Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, James Inhofe and Mitch McConnell appear to be gearing up to fight against both a necessary and helpful science that provides us with a life-saving awareness of the threats posed by human caused climate change and a highly beneficial renewable energy renaissance that has now gone global. Trump’s presidential cabinet is filled to the brim with climate change deniers and fossil fuel pushers. Pledges to de-fund climate science, implied threats to fire employees at the Department of Energy who worked on climate and renewable energy related issues, and belligerent boasting about dismantling much-needed policies like the Clean Power Plan, EPA fuel efficiency standards, and the Paris Climate Summit abound.

It’s the great loud, sad, and ignorance-filled reaction against a better future. A political and legislative backlash funded by oil, gas, and coal company campaign donations, advertising dollars, and indirect media investments. One that seeks to remove the possibility for a time when energy does not pollute the air or water — resulting in 7 million premature deaths each year globally. For one when climates are not, by incessant fossil fuel burning, pushed ever-closer to the hothouse extinction states that killed so much of life on Earth in the great long ago.

(There used to be a number of forward-looking republicans who both stood as leaders of their party and provided strong support for clean power. What happened? Where are these clear and reasonable voices now? Arnold calls BS on politicians fighting against clean energy, who like Trump and many current-day republicans, are claiming it’s too costly or difficult to switch away from fossil fuels. Video source: Attn.)

But despite this surge of destructive reactionism on the part of U.S. republicans and in such varied legislative bodies as the UK and Australia, the hopeful movement toward a future which includes the potential for human civilization survival and long-term prosperity continues. It’s a movement powered by individuals, by sustainable industries, by cities, by states and by nations who recognize the need for a more hopeful, more beneficial path than the one the fossil fuel industry and their political cohorts, like Trump, are now seeking to force upon them. They are the base of a very necessary resistance to a malign and yet still powerful global influence. And they are resisting by simply finding a way to shine lights powered by clean energy in the darkness and smog of this dying hydrocarbon age.

Number of U.S. Cities Powered by 100 Percent Renewable Energy Grows

In Las Vegas, Nevada, a city on the brink of a climate change driven chaos of water shortages and worsening droughts, the clean energy lights have switched on. There, city officials have achieved 100 percent renewable power for municipal facilities fed by a 100 MW renewable energy generation source. To be clear, the entire city of Las Vegas isn’t run by renewable energy — yet. But the government buildings, traffic lights, street lights, and public parks are now powered by clean sources.

Las Vegas isn’t the only one. Greensburg, Kansas runs on 100 percent renewable power — including electricity provided to individual residences. Burlington, Vermont and Aspen, Colorado also provide 100 percent renewable energy for city infrastructure, industry and residences. The list of cities already achieving or close to achieving 100 percent renewable power goals goes on to include Columbia, Maryland; East Hampton, New York; Georgetown, Texas; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Greensburg, Kansas; Nassau, New York and Rochester, Minnesota.  In California — a state that governor Jerry Brown has pledged will continue its clean energy progress despite what appear to be a broad array of incoming attacks on renewables by Trump and republicans — Paolo Alto is joined by Lancaster, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Monica as cities that have all achieved or are pursuing 100 percent renewable power generation.

us-solar-energy-leadership

(President Obama is proud of U.S. solar energy and climate leadership. This support helped Obama to create 14 million jobs over the course of his Presidency. Donald Trump appears to be ready to attack one of the U.S.’s few remaining cutting edge industries and along with it middle class jobs. Image source: White House.)

But that’s not all. This week, a new power agreement committed 21 towns in Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod to energy provided by 100 percent renewable sources. These communities banded together with the goal in mind not just to switch to clean energy — but to negotiate favorable rates by leveraging the bargaining power of a large customer base. Such a strategic approach is especially important in regions where energy markets have been deregulated — as it provides the added protection of broad representation.

As with climate scientists, it’s likely that sustainable communities like these will fall on the target lists of republican party leaders allied to a fossil fuel industry that’s increasingly desperate to legislatively capture energy customers — providing them no option to escape from harmful power sources. But many city leaders are fed up and won’t have any of it. To this point, 48 mayors issued an open letter to Donald Trump stating:

The effects of climate change — extreme storms, wildfires and drought; sea level rise and storm surge; choking air pollution in cities; disruption of agricultural supply chains and jobs in rural heartlands; and coastal erosion, to name a few — are a clear and present danger to American interests at home and abroad… As Mayors, we have taken it upon ourselves to take bold action within our cities to tackle the climate crisis head-on. We write today to ask for your partnership in our work to clean our air, strengthen our economy, and ensure that our children inherit a nation healthier and better prepared for the future than it is today.

A Global Resistance to the Harmful Energy Sources that Cause Climate Change

Across the Atlantic, a Scottish golf course constructed by Donald Trump is now receiving power from renewable energy sources like the wind turbines he continues to oppose. Today Scotland generates 72 percent of its electrical energy from non carbon sources. A figure that the Scottish government is aiming to push to 100 percent by 2020. Meanwhile, the European island of Iceland has long received the bulk of its electricity and thermal energy from renewable hydro and geothermal sources.

In nearby mainland Europe, numerous cities now run on 100 percent renewable electrical power. These include Güssing, in Austria; Wildpoldsried, in Germany and Samsø, in Denmark. Germany’s states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, home to 1.6 million Germans, and Schleswig-Holstein with a population of 2.9 million are both renewable energy over-achievers — producing more clean power than they consume. These states instead often export their electricity to various other nearby regions.

In South America, Paraguay produces 10 times the electricity it requires from renewables and exports the excess to its neighbors — many of whom, like Bolivia and Brazil, are already seeing harmful climate impacts resulting from human fossil fuel burning. Further north, Central American Costa Rica has now seen a year pass without the need for further fossil fuel power generation even as it continues to install more renewables. And, finally, Pacific islands are starting to make the switch from expensive diesel power generation to increasingly affordable solar. There, the Pacific island nation of Tokelau had become the first country to be powered by 100 percent solar energy. Meanwhile, Solar City recently enabled an entire island in the American Samoa chain to flip from diesel to near 100 percent solar.

Solar Exceeds Wind For First Time as India Makes Commitment to Halt Coal Plant Construction

Stepping back, we find that this massive transition away from fossil fuel based energy sources is being driven in large part by two new energy providers combining with traditional hydro power generation as a dispatchable base load provider. These two — wind and solar — this year will add a combined approximate 130-140 gigawatts of new generation capacity. Solar, for the first time, is expected to exceed wind by providing 70-76 gigawatts of new capacity during 2016. Meanwhile, wind is expected to hit record or near record installations at around 60-65 gigawatts.

Low prices and superior energy return on energy investment vs traditional fossil fuels as well as much lower overall impacts to human health and the global climate appears to be the primary driver of what is shaping up to be an extraordinarily rapid shift in the world’s electricity markets. Wind has long been considered a low-cost energy source. But in 2016, it appears that solar prices have fallen below those of already inexpensive wind generation. And, according to Bloomberg, solar is now sometimes selling a prices half that of traditional coal. It is these low prices that are enabling cities, communities, states and some small to mid-sized nations to achieve 100 percent renewable power generation. Meanwhile, large states are now enabled to make big commitments to halt construction of the worst-polluting power stations.

On Tuesday, December 20, India — which will soon be the most highly populated country in the world — announced that it would completely halt new coal plant construction through 2027. India faces worsening droughts, glacial outburst floods in the Himalayas, killing heat, and a flood destabilized Bangladesh to its east so long as global temperatures continue to rise. The country is also seeing rapid economic growth and increases in prosperity. But this prosperity is threatened by climate change impacts. For a country faced with destabilization of nations on its borders, inundated coastlines, killing heat in its heartland, and rampant drought as rivers dry up and glaciers disappear finds aspirations for a prosperous future imperiled.

india-majority-renewable-power

(India plans a major revamp of policy by ambitiously pursuing renewables while completely curtailing new coal plant building. Under such a plan, and with Trump coming in as President, one wonders if the U.S. will fall far behind other nations leading the charge into a future powered by clean energy. Will Trump attack the very industries at home that would benefit from India’s drive to seek renewable energy partners? American mainstays like Tesla, Solar City, GE wind, SunPower, and First Solar would all benefit from such a potential relationship. But will Trump’s anti-renewables fossil fuel based ideology blind him to this obvious opportunity to help U.S. business interests abroad? Image provided by Renew Economy.)

India’s response is to rationally cap coal consumption by 2022 while undertaking a massive renewable energy build-out. By 2027, India plans to add 215 gigawatts of renewables, and 39 gigawatts of nuclear and hydro power. Coal plant construction will be limited to those plants that are currently under contract. But the state already predicts that the capacity will be under-utilized, resulting in stranded fossil fuel ‘assets’ — which could produce a drag on markets both at home and abroad.

Under the new plan, India will boast a majority renewable and zero emission power generation capacity by 2027. And this action appears to be laying the groundwork for a larger energy switch as India’s Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has stated a clear goal to “look at a world beyond fossil fuels” and to aim to cut fossil fuel imports.

Clean Power Resistance to Ideologies and Industries Destined for Dramatic Failure

In the end, what we see is a world in which renewable energy is making a great leap forward. A world where the considerable but waning fossil fuel powers are panicking and lashing out as they begin to enter decline. We see this reactionary backlash in climate change denial, in attacks on scientists, in an amoral pandering toward fears, bigotry and extremism, in brazen attempts to erode democratic institutions and attack the Constitutional integrity of the electoral process in the U.S., and in Trump’s and Republicans’ insistence on protecting fading industries destined to fail. We also see it in their attacks against the new and helpful industries and the agencies, like the EPA and NASA, that produce so many beneficial public goods.

What their actions and reactions will produce — by intentionally injecting authoritarianism, chaos and instability — is a delay to the entry of these helpful power sources. A delay that will lock in worse climate harms even as it hobbles the most innovative and helpful segment of emerging industry within the United States. A delay engineered by leveraging all the darker angels of the American psyche. And as with many of the other policies now being promoted by republicans, this subset is as ludicrously out of touch with present day politics, history, societies, and industry as it is brazenly harmful to pretty much everyone.

But the resistance to this darkness and retrenchment has arrived in the form of new opportunity and progressive movement. It has arrived in the form of a very real and clean enlightenment of the global energy production system. One that breaks the ancient ties to destructive extraction and burning. And there could be no better cause than supporting this resistance by doing your part to aid the transition to clean power.

Links:

NASA Climate Change Mitigation

Trump Cabinet Filled to the Brim With Climate Change Deniers

Cape Light Compact Goes 100 Percent Renewable Electricity

White House

Arnold Calls BS on Politicians Claiming Clean Energy is Too Expensive

Los Vegas Goes 100 Percent Renewable Power

Solar Now Produces a Better Energy Return on Investment than Oil

Renew Economy — No New Coal Fired Plants for India

Solar Less Expensive than Coal and Wind

Mayors Letter to Trump on Climate

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

 

Advertisements

Trump’s Promise to be America’s Most Dangerous, Divisive President

Today, both President Obama and President-Elect Trump have urged America to keep calm and united. But despite these overtures, many Americans are experiencing a sensation akin to shock following one of the nastiest, most vitriolic elections in American history. One in which Trump repeatedly scape-goated women and minorities in a bald attempt to pander to some of the most harmful social undercurrents existing in our country.

Given the ugly tone of Trump’s campaign and his loss in the popular vote by 200,000 and growing despite apparent wins in the electoral college, Americans and people abroad alike now feel a very valid sense of deep concern for the future of a fractured Nation and an increasingly threatened world. For what Trump has pledged and promised to do during his Presidential campaign represents a very real risk of severe political, climatalogical, physical, and economic harm for this country, her people, and to the people and living creatures of this world.

(Berkley students chant ‘not my President!’ in protest walk out on November 9th. Across America and the world, similar protests were underway. Michael Moore, meanwhile, was urging continuous acts of civil disobedience in opposition to Trump’s election. Currently, over 100,000 people are protesting in New York City alone.)

Disturbing Threats to Jail Political Opponents

Threatened with incarceration for presumed crimes no-one has convicted her of, Hillary Clinton must be among those feeling the shock. Trump threatened to jail her if he was elected President. And many of his followers took up the cry — posting ‘jail Hillary’ signs on the sides of roads or demanding unjust incarceration of a political opponent loudly on twitter.

Unfortunately, if Trump’s current diplomatic demeanor spoils, these election campaign threats could very easily turn real. Trump has the power to appoint a special prosecutor. The power to appoint an Attorney General who agrees with his views. The power to, in effect, ‘rig’ the judicial and prosecutorial system to favor his opinion that Hillary should be jailed.

Trump’s uttering of these words during the campaign has already been deeply damaging. Never before in modern memory has one U.S. Presidential opponent publicly threatened to jail another. But carrying out such an action would be as unprecedented as it would have a terribly chilling effect on U.S. democracy.

An Angry Finger on the Nuclear Button

As Clinton reflects on Trump’s threats to haul her off to trial, others around the world are looking fearfully back at the rage-filled rhetoric of a man who is soon to be equipped with the full might of America’s considerable arsenal. During the campaign, Trump claimed to ‘love war,’ asked, multiple times, during security briefings why the U.S. doesn’t use nuclear weapons, and pledged to ‘bomb the shit’ out of Isis and steal their oil. He’s expressed a desire to turn NATO into a protection racket meant to extort fees from allies. And he’s shown a disturbing affinity toward other aggressive leaders like Vladimir Putin.

If Trump’s belligerence and seeming lack of sense continues post-campaign, there’s a valid concern that he might order a nuclear strike with little in the way of provocation. The President does hold the nuclear codes. And though aides, advisers and a substantial military chain of command provide a buffer between a bad decision and disaster, the fact that a hot-headed Trump ignorant to the devastating consequences of the use of such weapons is the final say in the matter is a serious worry.

Killing Climate Treaties, Promoting Fossil Fuels

As nations around the world look to the U.S. with fear and concern, a number of climate bad actors stand to be empowered by a Trump Presidency. Trump has effectively pledged to cut all funding to climate science and renewable energy research and development. In one fell swoop, this action would remove NASA and NOAA’s ability to track climate change even as the main competitors to fossil fuels — wind, solar, and vehicle battery technology — are effectively stymied. It’s a 1-2 punch that would dramatically harm this nation’s already flagging resilience to a rapidly worsening global climate crisis.

Meanwhile, his board of energy advisers are hand-picked from these bad actor fossil fuel companies and include a long list of climate change deniers. Trump has pledged to bring back coal while heightening U.S. oil and gas production and consumption. He has also promised to kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan, de-fund the EPA, and back out of the Paris Climate Treaty.

earth-under-fire

(Trump, according to Joe Romm over at Climate Progress, appears likely to go down in history as the man who single-handedly pulled the plug on the potential for a livable climate. I agree with Joe’s lucid but stark assessment — without some kind of significant outside action, we are in a very tough spot now due to this set-back by Trump. We really have been given no rational cause to hope otherwise. Image source: Ring of Fire Network.)

Combined, these actions would have a devastating effect on the currently building but still not sufficient global response to climate change. Backsliding by the U.S. will likely also cost reduced commitments by such varied states as India and China even as other countries like the UK, Australia, and Canada are likely to take U.S. climate inaction as their own excuse to renege on past emissions reduction goals.

Overall, a Trump Presidency that follows through on its anti-stable-climate agenda could cost the world as much as 1-2 C in additional warming this Century (on top of what’s already locked in) by keeping the U.S. and other nations on a business as usual emissions path longer and essentially dismantling much of the progress that was achieved under the Obama Administration. To be very clear, current bad climate outcomes are occurring under just 1 C above 1880s level warming. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas reduction commitments under Paris are setting the world on a path to about 3 C warming by the end of this Century. Trump’s policies, when all is said and done, could easily push that to 4 C or more — which would be utterly devastating.

Prospects for escalating climate policies to achieve a less than 2 C warming this Century are now also pretty bleak as Trump rolls in. In my opinion, it would take a wholesale rebellion by energy investors through the necessary act of divestment in fossil fuel industries and reinvestment in renewables to achieve this goal — first by sapping the political power of the agencies that keep putting people like Trump into office and also by removing capital for current and future projects.

David Roberts over at Vox is rather less sanguine:

The truth is, hitting the 2-degree target (much less 1.5 degrees) was always a long shot. It would require all the world’s countries to effectively turn on a dime and send their emissions plunging at never-before-seen rates.

It was implausible, but at least there was a story to tell. That story began with strong US leadership, which brought China to the table, which in turn cleared the way for Paris. The election of Hillary Clinton would have signaled to the world a determination to meet or exceed the targets the US promised in Paris, along with four years of efforts to create bilateral or multilateral partnerships that pushed progress faster…

 That story is gone now. Dead. The US will not provide leadership — it will be an active, and very powerful, impediment. Under unified Republican leadership, progress on lowering emissions in the US will halt and reverse and US participation in international efforts to combat climate change will cease.

Deregulation + Trickle-Down Isolationism is Bad Economic Policy

Following the Great Recession, Obama and a number of effective economic leaders managed to save the world from complete financial disaster. Helpful polices by Obama and the democrats, including the maintenance of Wall Street oversight, now serve as a thin veil protecting the U.S. and the world from another financial collapse. However, Trump’s pledges to bring back pretty much all of the failed republican economic policies promoted by the Bush Administration that were so destructive while adding still more of his own trouble to the brew risks severe economic consequences.

Trump has pledged to deregulate Wall Street — enabling economic bad actors to have the same free reign that set up conditions for the financial crash back during 2008. He has threatened trade wars with China and other partners — a policy that would have a chilling impact on global markets. He and his republican allies have promoted policies that would hobble the Federal Reserve in ways that would deeply undermine the national economy. And he has promised to produce a massive tax cut for the wealthy while slashing supports for the faltering middle class and poor in this country — further worsening the systemic inequality that has already so deeply harmed and divided our nation.

Economist Paul Krugman is not optimistic — warning of a global recession arising from a Trump Presidency:

Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in, eight years after the great financial crisis… So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.

While the threat of a new global recession may not be immediately imminent, Trump’s overall economic stance doesn’t provide much in the way of benefit to anyone but the super-rich while adding to the risk that bad actor financial agencies will again crash the markets at some near or long term future date.

Building the Wall

Related to this likely damaging set of economic views is Trump’s continued pledge to deport millions of Hispanics while erecting a physical barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. Following through with the promise would turn the U.S. into a closed society for the first time in its history as a nation even as it risks the economic collapse of a country along our southern border. And just the expectation of fallout after Trump’s election today has already sent the Peso into free-fall.

Historically welcoming to immigrants, U.S. innovation and competitiveness has been driven by a constant influx of new people, new cultures, new ideas. Trump, like the rest of us, hails from immigrant roots. Following through with such a walling off of our neighbors and the creation of a ‘fortress America’ would steer away from a policy of openness to neighbors that has lasted for the better part of two Centuries. And while trade agreements with Mexico should certainly be managed to keep the needs of the American people (and not international corporations) firmly in mind, a wholesale shutting off of our relationship with that large and developing neighbor would ultimately be harmful to U.S. interests.

No Electoral Mandate

In the spirit of unity, I’ve done my best to strike a conciliatory tone. But this is difficult when there is so much at stake and when so many greedy corporate hands are now ready to manipulate majority republican congressmen, senators, and the President. To be very clear, Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary. So this country didn’t elect Trump. As with Bush in 2000, the electoral college did the deed. This means that more people in this country wanted Hillary’s presidency and policies than those who wanted Trump’s agenda. As a result, Trump can claim no solid electoral mandate.

Overall, despite a pause in the hostilities coming from Trump, severe underlying policy dangers present themselves from a Trump Presidency. An enabling majority in Congress amplifies the risk that these dangerous policies will emerge and that an electorate that has been at least somewhat disenfranchised by Gerrymandering, voter suppression on the part of republicans, and overall intimidation and abuse, will continue to generate harmful and worsening fractures in American society. As with everything else, a worsening climate crisis further threatens to exacerbate these problems even as it generates serious issues all on its own. And the ushering in of yet one more climate change denier into office only serves to create more of a disconnect with public desires for renewable energy access and climate change related action.

Overall, this is a tragic day for America and the world. One with ever-more threatening clouds on the horizon.

Links:

Donald Trump Could Jail Hillary Clinton

Exxon Concedes it May Need to Declare Lower Value for Oil in the Ground

Economic Fallout From a Trump Presidency

Trump Lost the Popular Vote

Trump Already Having a Damaging Effect on Mexico

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to Climate Hawk

(Note this is RS post #1000. One that will live in infamy.)

Playing Chicken With Hothouse Extinction — Obama’s Shameful Shell Drilling Approval

Earlier this week President Obama made one of the worst decisions of his presidency. He decided to ignore the concerns of thousands of protesters and more than 60 percent of the American public over the issue of climate change. He decided to approve a dangerous plunging of new wells into unstable, clathrate-laden seabeds in the Arctic. Effectively, he’s deciding to play a dangerous game of chicken with a natural world that’s been riled and wounded by climate change. And in this game he puts us all at risk.

It’s a bad move that sends all the wrong signals. It demonstrates an attachment to the old, limited resource dominance based, policies that cause so many problems and that keep us dependent on fossil fuels for far too long.

Shell Drilling approved for Arctic

(Shell is now approved to poke holes into the Arctic seabed in a mad, climate-destroying, quest for oil. The Arctic, overall, is a terribly risky place for drilling. Ice, storms, and drilling regions laden with explosive and warming clathrate all result in increased risks for blow outs, destruction of equipment, loss of life and related oil spills. But the worst threat of all comes from the resource itself. The future of a life-sustaining world and the future of continued fossil fuel burning are completely incompatible. Image source: Greenpeace/Mark Meyer.)

To this point, each new productive well, each new coal plant, each new gas fired plant, each new internal combustion engine extends the lifespan of fossil fuel burning. And that’s something we shouldn’t be investing in at the moment. We are pushing well past the dangerous 400 parts per million CO2 threshold. Adding all other greenhouse gasses together, the gross heat trapping is now equivalent to nearly 485 parts per million CO2e. Even maintaining these thresholds will raise the world’s temperatures by as much as 3.8 C over 500 years (and possibly break the 2 C threshold this Century). And that’s if the world’s carbons stores, long buried in ice beneath glaciers, permafrost and cooler seas, long kept safe within healthy forests, do not release through the warming and burning that will come under such a major jump in temperatures.

We have a window now. A brief window where we can draw down carbon emissions fast enough to allow some of that excess of heat trapping gasses to fall out. To give our ailing oceans and biosphere the chance to take up some of that carbon and prevent this very high risk scenario. But taking advantage of that window involves saying farewell to the age of fossil fuel burning.

So it’s the height of shame and short-sightedness for Obama to have approved the Shell project, especially after so many worked so hard to put his feet to the fire. So many people — who put their necks on the line in acts of noble, nonviolent protest to protect their children and loved ones from more carbon spewing oil wells sunk into the warming Arctic seabed — just got the message loud and clear from Obama: ‘we’re not really too concerned about our future.’

Portland Protest

(During late July and early August, protesters in Portland managed to briefly delay Shell’s drilling expedition. It was a loud and clear signal from the public to Obama — we don’t want the future climate wreckage Shell is attempting to help lock in. It was a noble plea Obama has now blithely ignored. Image source: Greenpeace/Tim Aubrey.)

Playing Dangerous Games of Climate Chicken

Obama has done many good things with regards to climate change. Many things madcatter, drill, baby, drill republicans would have never done. He’s using the EPA to regulate carbon, he’s committed to cutting overall carbon emissions by more than 30 percent through 2030 (which is, I have to say a good move, but not fast enough), he’s pushed CAFE standards through the roof, and he’s helped to drive solar energy prices lower even faster than they would have been lowered otherwise. He’s at least helped to delay the Keystone Pipeline.

But, sometimes, as with fracking, as with other new pipeline construction, and as with the Shell Arctic drilling expedition, his policies cut against the grain of a necessarily rapid reduction in carbon emissions. Such backsliding is shameful and there is, at this time when human caused climate change is displacing people, on average at the rate of 8,000 each day, when heatwaves are now killers that stretch hospitals to the breaking point, when we have crossed or are crossing the Eemian boundary which implies a 20-25 feet of sea level rise for our cities and islands, when James Hansen’s storms are brewing in the North Atlantic, and when a monster El Nino is cracking wide the Pacific to ooze out yet more heat, there is absolutely no excuse for it.

Obama is not like republicans. He, unlike that mad beyond nightmares political set, is at least influenceable, at least somewhat sensitive to the great dangers we’ve stoked to new life. For his support relies, in large part, on those of us who are very concerned about climate change. And for the backward action of the Shell approval our appropriate response is shaming. We need a leader who’s a climate hawk — not someone who’s going to risk our future and our children’s future in a dangerously irresponsible game of climate chicken.

Links:

Obama Gives Shell Final OK to Drill in the Arctic

Portland Activists Force Shell to Turn Around

Greenpeace

Mark Meyer

Tim Aubrey

Hat Tip to Caroline

Northern Hemisphere On Fire: Large Smoke Clouds Still Blanketing World’s Roof

After days and, in some cases, weeks of ongoing burning, immense fires still raged over the Northwest Territory, the US Northwest and Russia today as massive clouds of smoke continued to spread over the Northern Hemisphere.

In Washington, the state’s largest fire on record — The Carlton Complex Fire — was declared a federal disaster area by President Obama today as more than 2,000 firefighters continued to struggle to get the blaze under control. As of this afternoon, the 400 square mile fire was just 16% contained, though a bout of rain and moisture were aiding firefighters in their efforts.

About the fires, Obama noted:

A lot of it has to do with drought, a lot of it has to do with changing precipitation patterns, and a lot of that has to do with climate change.

More than 200 homes have been consumed by the fire and the loss of one life is attributed to it. With many residences still at risk, the situation remains very dangerous. The Carlton blaze was just one of scores of fires igniting over the US Northwest this week, scorching nearly a million acres and spurring the call-up of nearly 10,000 firefighting personnel.

Major Northwest Territory Fires Still Ongoing

Meanwhile, in Canada, fires still raged over the Northwest Territory, casting 1,000 mile streams of smoke into an atmosphere already heavily laden from the ongoing burning. It is a kind of smoke soup hanging in the air that has become all too common for this Arctic region:

NWT fires July 23

(1,000 + mile stream of smoke issuing from very large fires still raging over the Northwest Territory in Canada on July 23, 2014. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Provinces remained at a level 4 alert status (out of a range of 1-5) indicating a high-to-extreme risk of continued fires. In total, 904,000 hectares (2,334,000 acres) have burned in the Northwest Territory so far this year compared to the typical ten-year average at 142,000 hectares. Throughout Canada, a total of 2,914 fires have been reported with 1,404,000 hectares burned. Over 800 fire fighters, more than 50 helicopters, and 5 fixed wing aircraft were involved in the ongoing response to these extraordinary blazes.

Epic Russian Fires The Worst of the Lot

In Russia, states of emergency remained in place along with continued travel restrictions over broad sections of Yakutia as a very large swath of Siberian tundra continued to belch immense billows of smoke. Numerous fires of over 400 square miles in size are plainly visible in the satellite shot. Massive streams of smoke continue to issue from these blazes blanketing more than 2,000 miles of sky.

Siberian Fires July 23

(Very large fires burning in Yakutia on July 23, 2014. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 2,000 miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Yakutia is a region of Russia sitting atop a massive pile of thawing permafrost, perhaps the most carbon-rich zone in all of the Arctic Northern Hemisphere. The fires there seem to burn both woodlands and ground, lingering for many weeks and are only extinguished by the most powerful of downpours. Wildfires in these shots appear to rival the massive blazes ripping through a nearby region during Russia’s worst fire season — 2012. The massive plumes of very dense smoke and explosive blazes — reminiscent of a record-setting year.

Very Intense fires burning in Yakutia

(Close up of very intense fires beneath dense pallor of smoke in Yakutia. For reference, bottom edge of frame is 120 miles. Together, these fires easily cover an area rivaling that of a moderate-sized state. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Warming for this region of the world is among the fastest for the globe, proceeding at a pace of 0.5 C per decade or more than double the average. Due to its very large carbon store – both in boreal forest stock as well as thawing tundra — Yakutia remains one of the locations on watch for severe CO2 and methane releases as an amplifying feedback due to human-caused climate change. Inefficient burning during the current blazes appears to have unlocked some of the methane stored in soils there, lacing cloud tops with CH4 readings of 200-300 ppb higher than the global average.

Northern Hemisphere ‘On Fire,’ Wind Blows Smoke Away From Sea Ice, For Now

University of Maryland physicist Dr. Raymond Hoffman seemed stunned by the scope of the fires burning over the roof of the world this week saying: “The Northern Hemisphere is on fire,” in a blog post on Sunday. Dr. Hoffman described the scene as a “hazy, smokey mess” and seemed taken aback by the sheer scale of the area affected remarking that it is rare to see so much smoke painting the northern skies. The kind of smoke stew that we’ve seen all too much of in recent years.

Fortunately, winds out of the north in both Canada and Russia blew the smoke plumes southward over the past couple of days, sparing both sea ice and ice sheets a rain of melt-inducing black carbon. Over the next few days, winds are forecast to return to a south-originating direction, putting the ice once again in the firing line.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

National Interagency Fire Center

Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center

The Northern Hemisphere is on Fire

State of Emergency in Siberia’s Largest Permafrost Region Due to Wildfires

Obama Declares Washington Wildfire Emergency

 

 

 

Obama Team Not Open to Carbon Tax? So How Best to Move Forward on Climate Change?

Today, White House spokesman Jay Carney at a press briefing told reporters that the Obama Administration would not consider a carbon tax to help reduce US carbon emissions. Carney stated:

“We would never propose a carbon tax and have no intention of proposing one. The point the president was making is that our focus right now is the same as the American people’s focus, which is on the need to extend economic growth, expand job creation.”

Carney then went on to talk about how the Administration was primarily focused on US jobs creation efforts and that any climate change measures would have to fit into the larger jobs growth and economy puzzle.

Unfortunately, Carney seems to think that the notion of a carbon tax and economic growth are incompatible. A notion the 75 billion dollar and growing disaster that was Superstorm Sandy, an idea the 75+ billion dollar drought in the heartland, both well belie. A notion that the, ever-increasing, cost of fossil fuel extraction also drastically undermines. But Carney is, likely, just denying republicans and others who support low tax rates for the wealthy a way to transfer more of the tax burden onto middle and lower income Americans.

In recent weeks, it appears republicans were tinkering with the carbon tax as a means to increase the tax burden for working Americans while lowering it for the wealthy. And this is an effort to certainly be avoided. The problem lies in just how a carbon tax would be implemented. Would it be, primarily, a punitive tax on energy consumption? In such a case, it would almost certainly harm the prospects of working Americans, unless, of course, the taxes were re-invested in the economy in a way that benefited workers and middle class families.

With world climate agencies noting that civilization-wrecking climate impacts emerge if we burn just 20-30 percent of the world’s current fossil fuel reserves, it does, indeed, appear that a major disincentive for burning fossil fuels should be in the offing. And that such a disincentive would preserve the possibility of growth and prosperity, rather than undermine it.

If the Administration were to re-consider the notion of a carbon tax, they could very well employ such a tax in a growth neutral or even pro-growth fashion. In a way that didn’t harm working families, but helped. In such a case, the tax would not just be punitive, it would be an incentive. James Hansen’s tax and transfer plan would result in a carbon tax at the well-head or point of sale being directly transferred to individuals as a subsidy. The result would be, on the one hand, increasing carbon costs, and, on the other hand, money in the pockets of Americans incentivized to purchase low or no carbon fuels and technologies. The result would be a gradual phasing out of carbon based energy without an overall punitive impact to US growth. If transfer is an unsavory notion for politicians, then the money generated from taxes could be directly invested in renewable, zero-carbon, energy systems and in re-training programs for persons who may lose their jobs in high-carbon industries. Such programs would both create new jobs and reduce or eliminate losses from old industries.

The fact that such basic notions aren’t obvious is somewhat disconcerting. Loss of coal mining jobs, for instance, may be a forgone conclusion. But if these workers can be re-trained to work on wind and solar facilities, then the result is a net gain. Especially when you consider the fact that each renewable energy dollar spent results in three times the amount of jobs stimulus as each fossil fuel dollar spent. Such increases in labor may not result in the kind of concentrations of profits as the old oil and coal industries. But the effects of such wealth hoarding have already proven very damaging to the US economy as a whole.

That said, and to the Obama Administration’s credit, they may well be attempting to avoid maintaining lower tax rates on the wealthiest Americans through the vehicle of a carbon tax. And, in such a case, it is obvious why that kind of trade-off should be avoided.

However, if a carbon tax is off the table, there are a number of other measures that can still be pursued. Below are just a few examples:

Renew the Production Tax Credit

The first would be the immediate renewal of the production tax credit for wind and solar energy. Preferably, this renewal would be for a full decade. Such a long-term renewal would provide stability for the growing US wind and solar industries and spur investment in these key technologies, keeping the rate of adoption high. Growth in these critical industries would result in a powerful engine for generating new jobs.

Cut Tax Incentives for the Fossil Fuel Industry

Over 40 billion dollars in tax incentives have gone to the oil and gas industry. Yet the industry continues to produce record profits. Given this clear math, such incentives are entirely unnecessary and wasteful.

Provide Subsidy and Incentive For Smart Grid and Energy Storage

Thousands of jobs could be created through wise investments in both a smart grid and in powerful new energy storage technologies. Both will be necessary if we are to smoothly handle a growing portion of our energy coming from renewables. This powerful new infrastructure will serve as a mechanism to enhance economic growth for decades to come.

Establish a Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Fund

Set aside a portion of savings from winding down the war in Afghanistan, from levelized military spending, and from removing tax incentives for the fossil fuel industry for two purposes. The first would be for direct investment in critical new clean energy technologies (wind, solar, evs, low-carbon farming, new energy systems, economic and non-damaging carbon capture). The second would be for hardening the nation’s infrastructure to the potential new harms caused by climate change. Research into new farming techniques more adapted to a drier climate and deployment of more resilient coastal infrastructure are examples. Care must be noted that mitigation should receive equal or greater funding as it is impossible to adapt to the worst instances of human caused climate change.

Retraining Initiatives for New Industries

Provide funding for individuals who have lost their jobs to train in critical new industries related to mitigating climate change, responding to climate emergencies, and to adapting to a changing climate. Funds should be targeted to jobless college graduates and to workers who lose their jobs in fossil fuel based industries. A portion of this funding would go to establishing relationships with new industry players and facilitating employment.

Establishing Wind and Solar Energy Corridors in Farm and Fossil Fuel Country

Provide incentive for the development of alternative energy in areas where economies were previously dominated by fossil fuels. This diversification would result in economic resilience in these regions, providing a source of new jobs and added stability. Particularly critical is developing these new energy sources for the Appalachian region where workers have been victimized by exploitative coal barons such as Massey. Also useful would be the development of clean energy technologies in farming regions. The result would be the preservation of lands used for food production as well as providing a safety net for these regions in the event of extended harm to farming due to drought.

Use the EPA to Regulate and Reduce Carbon

Provide base-lines for carbon reductions from key industries via the EPA. Increase these base-lines over time. Use the EPA to provide efficiency standards for appliances, vehicles and other equipment. Push efficiency standards higher over time.

Provide a Fund For Renewable Energy Laboratories at the Nation’s Public Schools

Invest public money in incentivizing purchases of solar panels for public schools. Establish science curriculum at these schools that involve students directly in the management of the school’s solar energy resources. Teach the science of clean energy and environmental stewardship at these schools.

Provide and Maintain Tax Incentives for Home Owners and Businesses to Install Solar Panels, Purchase Electric Vehicles

Set aside monies that incentivize the installation of solar panels for US homes and businesses. Set aside and maintain similar incentives for electric vehicles.

Shut Down Dirty Coal Plants, Sell Public Land Coal, Fossil Fuels at Higher Prices

About 6% of US electricity production comes from old, dirty plants. Use the EPA to rapidly phase these plants out. Furthermore, many fossil fuel companies purchase mining rights for US coal, oil, and natural gas on public lands at a pittance. Increase the royalty payments required to access those resources.

Remove Regulatory Hurdles for the Installation of Wind and Solar on US Homes and Businesses

In many regions, the regulatory hurdles for installing wind and solar for US homes and businesses is punitive and prohibitive. Remove these hurdles to increase the rate of home owner and business new technology adoption.

Require that all New Homes and Buildings include Solar

Requiring that every new home and building in the US include solar energy systems would greatly enhance solar energy adoption in the US.

Require EV Recharge Station Installation for all New Streets and Parking Lots

Requiring that all new parking facilities and refurbished streets require EV charging stations would rapidly increase the adoption potential for US electric vehicles.

Set a Carbon Tariff on Goods Produced by High-Carbon Economies Coming Into the US

Set a tariff on goods produced by countries with high-carbon economies. Provide exceptions if those goods come from facilities that switch to low-carbon or zero carbon energy sources. Such a carbon tariff would help to leverage the US’s strength as importer to reduce global carbon emissions.

These are just a few initiatives that could be pursued that will incentivize US jobs growth while also resulting in the rapid deployment of high-efficiency and zero-carbon technologies.

UPDATE:

It appears that the climate blogosphere is somewhat abuzz with outrage over Obama’s not supporting a carbon tax. There’s some good discussion on the issue here:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/11/16/1206321/new-york-times-slams-obama-for-lame-flip-flop-on-economic-benefit-of-climate-action/

Two in Five Voters Give Obama Mandate to Confront Climate Change, ‘Destructive Power of a Warming Planet’

According to CBS exit polls, 2 in 5 Americans considered Superstorm Sandy and President Obama’s handling of the disaster a crucial factor in deciding who to vote for on election day. According to the survey, the storm was the most important factor for 15% of those polled. Twenty six percent of those polled considered the storm an important factor.

If this is true, millions of votes, perhaps as much as 20 million, can be directly attributed to the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

Obama seemed to sense this mandate Tuesday night. In his victory speech Obama proclaimed:

We want our children to live in an America that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.

Republicans, flailing for someone or something to blame for their loss, have also targeted Sandy. Numerous pundits blamed the storm for Romney’s slide in the polls. And it is appropriate that a party which continues to brazenly deny the effects of and needed responses to human caused global warming should suffer a loss due to a problem they are ignoring and, through policies supporting increased fossil fuel use, make worse.

This result has given rise to calls for Obama to become a climate change hawk. Joe Romm stated on election day:

Obama’s legacy — and indeed the legacy of all 21st century presidents, starting with George W. Bush — will be determined primarily by whether we avert catastrophic climate change.

And it is, indeed critical that Obama take point on this key issue during his last four years as President. New reports show that, for the world to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst insults of climate change, carbon intensity must fall by 5% per year for each year from now to 2050. Unfortunately, current carbon intensity is falling by just .8% each year, less than 1/6th the level needed.

In fact, scientists are arguing against more research into clean energy in favor of a deploy now and deploy big strategy. The new sources — wind and solar — are established enough to provide reliable energy for humanity. And critical transportation technologies like electric vehicles are already well established as viable. The time is now to rapidly increase the scale and penetration of these key alternative energy technologies. Such increases will require new government policy measures to encourage rapid adoption and deployment. One such policy called Tax and Transfer has been submitted as a possible solution by NASA scientist James Hansen. Other countries such as Germany, Sweden, and Scotland have provided impressive models for rapid transfers away from fossil fuel based energy sources.

The President would be well served to enlist the help of luminaries like James Hansen, Joe Romm, Michael Mann, and Bill McKibben to form an emergency task force on climate change to recommend solutions to our growing problem. Such a response, combined with clear, effective policy measures for reducing carbon pollution as well as partnering with foreign countries to speed such a transition are absolutely necessary to prevent an increasingly dangerous climate.

Links:

http://wkzo.com/news/articles/2012/nov/06/cbs-news-early-exit-poll-information-has-economy-at-60-percent-as-voters-most-important-issue/

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/11/06/1147341/obama-wins-reelection-now-must-become-a-climate-hawk-to-avoid-dust-bin-of-history-dust-bowl-for-america/

http://www.pwc.com/en_GX/gx/low-carbon-economy-index/assets/pwc-low-carbon-economy-index-2012.pdf

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/tomtoles/2010/07/almost_a_perfect_record.html

“Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” Romney Attacks GM in Final Days of Election; GM Defends Record From Romney Lies, Calls Them ‘Fantasy’

Before we get into the new morass of mud and muck dredged up by the Romney campaign and slung at the US auto industry, it’s important to establish a few facts. This effort is useful as the Romney campaign, with its almost daily distortions and flip-flops, has been the most fact-free bid for the Presidency of any election cycle in modern memory. Romney’s most recent smear campaign, waged against the US auto industry and, by extension, American workers, is just the newest in a daily stream of distortions, gimmicks, smears, and attempts to terrorize the US electorate.

First, in an op-ed to the New York Times entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” Mitt Romney, in his opening sentence, stated:

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.

Coming into office and facing the worst economic decline since the Great Depression left behind by the Bush Administration, President Obama decided to act to save over 2 million American jobs by directly supporting the auto industry bailout. Though far less expensive than the TARP program to bail out the US financial sector, the auto bailout provided much more direct support to the US middle class by ensuring that auto industry and supply chain jobs were not lost and that key US industries did not collapse. Conservatives of every stripe immediately howled that such government intervention would result in an US auto industry ‘doomsday.’ And Mitt Romney added his voice to those claiming US automakers would fail if they accepted government assistance during the worst of times.

As the years passed, Mitt Romney and conservatives have been proven drastically wrong. The US auto industry has recovered. GM is again the number 1 seller of automobiles in the world. And the industry is in the process of adding US jobs and repatriating jobs from overseas. This dramatic success belies republican and Romney drama to the contrary. It shows that the leadership role Obama took to save the US auto industry is now beginning to pay off. And, most glaringly, it shows the deep, systemic, failure of the current, rigid republican economic ideology.

Meanwhile, the corporation Romney built — Bain Capital — is now preparing to dismantle a factory that manufactures sensors for the auto industry in Freeport Illinois and ship their jobs overseas. Nearly 200 workers at the Sensata factory which Bain bought-out will find their jobs outsourced to China before the end of this year. This is a result of the outsourcing and off-shoring legacy that Romney pioneered while head of Bain Capital. (See more about Sensata here.)

This dual narrative of Obama’s leadership and success combined with Romney still profiting from liquidating US factories and sending the jobs overseas has had devastating effect for Romney in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan who know all too well how damaging outsourcing and off-shoring have been to their economies. Loss of critical factories like the one at Sensata has resulted in the gutting of entire communities. Whole neighborhoods in Detroit are now ghost towns as a result of the kind of outsourcing Mitt Romney pioneered at Bain Capital. Some of these lost jobs may never come back, captured by 99 cent an hour Chinese workers and a country that is unwilling to establish laws to protect its own people from the abuses of vulture capitalists like Romney. China may as well have foisted a sign emblazoned ‘Robber Barons R’ Us.’ And, Romney, among many others, came flocking to exploit the slave wage labor there by dismantling US factories and sending them overseas.

Perhaps too late, Romney has realized how damaging these methods of employing equities firms and off-shoring practices to accumulate personal profit have become. But the realization appears to have now stuck with a vengeance. And, in typical Romney fashion, Romney is now waging a media campaign against the very business Obama was so successful in saving and that, since late 2009, has directly added thousands of US jobs.

The Romney campaign is now running a malicious and false advertisement claiming that Jeep plans to ship US jobs overseas to China. The ad comes as Jeep revealed plans to build two manufacturing plants in China over the coming years. But, contrary to Romney’s false assertion, Jeep’s China expansion is not coming at the cost of any US manufacturing. Unlike Romney’s Sensata, no Jeep facilities are being shut down. No workers are being forced to train their Chinese replacements, as Romney’s Bain is forcing Sensata workers to do so. In fact, Jeep and GM have pledged to take profits from the Chinese operation and use it to create more jobs in the US. It’s almost the exact reverse of the Romney model. Call it in-sourcing, or re-sourcing, or repatriating, or even re-shoring. But it’s definitely not the Romney/Bain model for outsourcing and off-shoring.

Since late 2009, Jeep alone has added over 4600 US jobs, showing, in fact, that Romney’s claims are patently false.

GM was quick to defend its record from Romney’s false attacks:

“We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said. “No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”

Crysler CEO Sergio Marchionne in an email to employees refuted Romney’s claims by simply laying out the facts:

“Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,” Marchionne stated in the e-mail. “The numbers tell the story,” followed by specific investments Chrysler has made in Detroit, Toledo and Belvidere, Ill. “Those include more than $1.7 billion to produce the successor of the Jeep Liberty and hire about 1,100 workers on a second shift by 2013.”

The additional 1100 jobs are on top of the 4600 jobs Jeep has already added. In contrast, Romney’s Bain will, in the next couple months, send another 200 jobs to China. So the contrast couldn’t be more stark.

And the media is starting to pick up on Romney’s egregious assault of lies against the US auto industry and US workers. The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently called the Romney advertisements attacking the auto industry ‘economic terrorism.’ The Detroit Free Press has published this in-depth piece exposing Romney’s false claims. The conservative-leaning US News and World Report posted an analysis showing how the US auto expansion in China was helping to support jobs expansion at home. And FactCheck.org labeled Romney’s recent advertising blitz “flat wrong” stating:

“It’s misleading to suggest that Chrysler’s decision to expand into China will cost U.S. jobs — especially after the company has said it would have no impact on its U.S. operations.”

The fact-checking website noted a report from Bloomberg that Chrysler was considering “adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.” Meanwhile Chrysler, in a dramatic refutation of Romney’s doomsday prediction for the US auto industry, just reported a third quarter profit of $381 million, up 80 percent from a year ago.

It seems likely that the Romney misinformation machine may have just bitten off more than it can chew. Considering the wide-ranging backlash taking shape from both the US auto industry and the broader media, it appears that Romney’s false attacks against GM and Jeep are about to erupt in his face. The US auto industry is firmly on its path to recovery, with each new report showing positive results. Further, the US auto industry is in the process of adding thousands of jobs here in America. Both of these points prove Romney dramatically wrong. Wrong in his ‘Let Detroit go Bankrupt’ op-ed and wrong now. Finally, these attacks only serve to call attention to Romney’s own record of sending US jobs overseas, the most recent example of which is Sensata.

Links:

http://www.freep.com/article/20121031/NEWS15/310310091/GM-and-Chrysler-Romney-is-wrong

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/opinion/19romney.html?_r=0

http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2012/10/31/gm-on-romney-campaign-politics-at-its-cynical-worst/

http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/rick-newman/2012/10/31/memo-to-mitt-romney-gms-success-in-china-is-good-for-america

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-34222_162-57542993/gm-like-chrysler-refutes-romneys-auto-industry-ad/

http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/10/gm-aide-romney-ads-part-of-parallel-universe-147753.html

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/10/30/GM-Gap-between-Romney-ad-and-reality/UPI-56761351637557/

Romney Economic Policy Risks Simultaneous Deficit Explosion, Double Dip Recession

Though it has been difficult to pin down Romney’s economic policies in the public arena, they remain readily available via his campaign website. And what Romney proposes creates severe risk of economic decline as bad or worse than that resulting from Bush’s failed economic policies.

His signature economic policy is what he terms as a ‘20% across the board’ tax cut. Digging into the numbers we find that families making over a million dollars per year gain an additional 175,000 dollars or more in income. In addition, according to Bloomberg, Romney’s policies result in far less benefit for the upper middle class (about 1500 dollars), almost no benefit for the middle class, and an actual increase in taxes for the lower middle class and poor.

As an economic stimulus measure, this policy is extraordinarily weak. It gives additional money to the wealthy who have a noted tendency to hoard wealth or to send it overseas. The result is that very little of this tax cut is likely to be spent increasing economic activity in the US economy and is much more likely to be sitting somewhere in a globalized blind trust. Since the benefits to the middle class are relatively small, any additional spending by reduced taxes will likely be off set by the destabilizing effect of expanding deficits.

And the total deficit expansion under such a cut is huge. About 5 trillion dollars over the course of ten years.

So Romney’s signature tax cut provides little overall benefit to the US economy while it creates an inevitable deficit expansion.

Romney’s second signature policy is to increase military spending by indexing it to 4% of GDP. This would elevate defense spending to 900 Billion dollars per year and result in a 2 trillion dollar increase to the federal deficit, further hampering the US’s long term economic outlook. And while such an increase in defense spending may be somewhat stimulative, it is no-where near as stimulative as direct spending by government on economic programs that have direct benefit to the economy. Programs such as research and development or seed funding like that which helped to double US alternative energy production under Obama proved far more effective at creating sustained American jobs and industries independent of government spending. The military, on the other hand, will always be dependent on government spending as it is a non self-supportive enterprise.

But the real risk comes from both Romney’s and the Republican party’s tendency to cut spending and incentive programs that benefit the middle class. As governor, Romney cut taxes while radically increasing fees and penalties. The net effect of this policy was to reduce taxes on the wealthy while increasing expenses for the middle and lower classes. Romney has hinted through his numerous ‘closing loopholes’ statement that such a shifting of the tax burden to middle class homeowners may well be in the works. Such a policy would have a negative overall effect on economic growth. In addition, both Romney and Ryan have show a tendency to push for reducing government programs that help the middle class. Ending funding to Planned Parenthood would have a severe negative economic consequence for many women. Cutting social services funding would harm many working Americans. Cutting, voucherizing, or block granting Medicare would harm middle class families. Cutting food stamps would harm the already poor, especially the working poor, many of who live in red states. Cutting government overall would remove access to a pool of good-paying jobs. Lowering or abolishing the minimum wage would harm household income. Continuing to enable tax incentives for shipping jobs overseas would harm the middle class. Abolishing Obamacare would do severe harm to many American families by drastically increasing both their medical expenses and their risk of medical bankruptcy.

Enacting any or all of these ideologically driven programs would have a net negative stimulus effect on the US economy and the risk is that even as irresponsible Romney fiscal policy explodes the deficit, ideologically driven ‘anti-government’ policies targeting programs that help the middle class would result in both poor and middle class families spending less and deflating the US economy. The result would be a combined deficit explosion and double dip recession that could lead to Depression. A potential Romney depression to follow the Bush great recession.

That’s the risk of returning to trickle down, voodoo economics. Something we can avoid by re-electing the President who got us out of Bush’s mess in the first place.

Links:

http://www.economist.com/economist-asks/are-mitt-romneys-economic-policies-right-america

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/simon-jackman/house-effects-by-back-by-_b_2007907.html?utm_hp_ref=@pollster

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/paul-krugman-mitt-romney-recession_n_2008847.html?ref=topbar

Huffington Post Serves as Proxy for Former Romney Adviser and CEO Steve Lombardo

In the world of today’s media you have liberal sources, conservative sources, somewhat unbiased sources that are still mostly owned by large media corporations (and therefore beholden to corporate special interests), and then you have just outright strange sources.

One such location is the Huffington Post where you can find a plethora of primarily ‘liberal’ views, a smattering of corporate slant pieces, a few features that seem to make fun of liberals lighting their hair on fire or even encouraging them to do so, and, now and again, something like this.

If you follow the link, what you will find is a typical spin piece of the kind you would find on Fox News or any other major conservative media outlet. The article attempts to deflate any enthusiasm for Obama that may have appeared from last night’s debate win and create a sense that a Romney victory is inevitable.

Given the message, the article would be immediately suspect. However, once you consider the source, it becomes clear that the article is laughably biased. First, Steve Lombardo is a the CEO of a major Washington PR firm. As a CEO, he’s already part of a group that traditionally leans conservative and would usually draw suspicion of bias. However, Lombardo was also a major campaign adviser for Romney during his Presidential run back in 2008. And now, we find Lombardo out spinning for Romney on a supposedly liberal media site.

This behavior by Huffington Post makes it highly suspect that it is, actually, what it claims or appears to be. Liberal media would never host former or current Romney spin doctors to post. And the conservative drift, especially during the election, seen on the Huffington Post and other major news sites (Yahoo, etc) has become extraordinarily concerning. This sort of drift happened at Fox News launch about 20 years ago when it attempted to bill itself as ‘moderate’ and ‘balanced.’  Rush Limbaugh also attempted to appear moderate at first couching conservatism in a load of ‘warm and fuzzy’ language reassuring ‘liberals’ that major social programs weren’t the target of conservatives who only wanted ‘sound fiscal policy’ and ‘a strong national defense.’

Now both Rush and Fox are so rabidly conservative that they regularly assault all tenets of social equality, women’s rights, safety nets for seniors and the disenfranchised even as they pursue economic policies that will lead to fiscal disintegration and a war footing which looks for enemies to create rather than aims to defend this country as a whole. What seems to have happened is that increasing corporate control of the media has resulted in the purveying and dissemination of an increasingly extreme and destructive conservative agenda. Rupert Murdoch is a prime example. But even Mitt Romney reaches his investment tentacles into huge media outlets to exert influence.

Returning to the Huffington Post, we find conservative spin on what is supposed to be a liberal media site. The purveyor of that spin is a right-wing CEO with ties to Mitt Romney. So Huffington Post rises onto the radar screen as insincerely liberal and instead serves simply to gather liberals into a kind of shooting gallery of liberals where the likes of Lumbardo can pick them off at leisure. Sad fact. But that’s what we get for giving corporations too much power to manipulate and control media.

Oily Spectre of Climate Silence Casts Long Shadow Over American Politics

For more than a century, the fossil fuels industry has exerted extraordinary influence over American politics. This has been true since the boom days of Standard Oil and continues today. At first, this influence was only destructive in that it created a privileged, monopolistic status for a single, albeit important, industry. Yet, today, the destructive nature of oil, gas and coal special interest influence over American politics is coming home to roost.

This year saw three major events that made seriously addressing the problem of human-caused of global warming mandatory to America’s future prosperity. The first was the revelation by a growing number of climate scientists that extreme weather, increasing in frequency and severity since  the 1980s, was directly linked to human-caused global warming. This revelation came during a year when the US experienced its most extreme weather ever recorded, its hottest year ever recorded and its most damaging fire season ever recorded. The second event, linked to the first, was a massive and ongoing drought, the worst in 55 years, that halted Mississippi river traffic, devastated the US corn crop, and now threatens US winter wheat. The current drought came at a time when the US West is experiencing its fifth driest period in 500 years and on the heels of a devastating drought just last year in Texas and Oklahoma. Scientists also linked the current drought to global warming — showing in climate models how drought grows worse and worse as human caused global warming intensifies.

But the third and probably most important event was, likely, one that most Americans ignored. This year, Arctic sea ice area fell to its lowest level ever recorded and is, according to many scientists, within a decade of melting out entirely.

These three events sent a climate shock-wave around the world causing NASA scientist James Hansen to state that we are experiencing a ‘global climate emergency.’ It is an emergency that risks violent and freakish events. It is a crisis that will almost certainly lead to the devastation of US agriculture, long term. And it is a crisis in which rising sea levels are more and more certain as the years advance.

Yet both the cause of this crisis — our incessant burning of fossil fuels — and its solutions — reducing and eliminating fossil fuel consumption — as well as the crisis itself remain largely off the political radar. Even worse, in a horrific display of ignorance and pandering to fossil fuel special interests, Mitt Romney proudly proclaimed he doesn’t believe in human caused global warming. Given the insurmountable pile of scientific evidence, he may as well have proclaimed he doesn’t believe in gravity.

But the actions of President Obama have also been far from comforting. Just this week at the Presidential debate Obama got into a rhetorical pissing contest with Romney over whether or not he had increased drilling. And though Obama was correct to assert that drilling had increased under his watch, contesting with Romney over who promotes drilling the most sends a very bad signal at a time when US fossil fuel use needs to start scaling back if we are to prevent a decades-long agricultural catastrophe that would make the Dust Bowl years seem but a prelude.

It is important to note that Obama does vigorously support solutions to the climate crisis. That he has developed wind, solar, electric vehicles and biofuels more than any other president in modern memory. He pushed CAFE standards to 55 mpg, a level Romney has vowed to repeal. Renewable energy production has doubled under Obama’s watch and US carbon emissions are beginning to decline.In addition, largely thanks to Obama’s policies, US energy independence is within reach for the first time in two generations.

In policy, he is decidedly not in the oil, gas and coal companies’ pockets. And for this reason alone, it appears that most of these companies are fighting tooth and nail to make certain Obama is not re-elected. A dirty ‘energy vote’ website and campaign has been started and oil companies are both implicitly and explicitly campaigning for a Romney Administration entirely willing to deny global warming reality in support of more oil, gas, and coal exploitation even as he cuts wind, solar, EVs and efficiencies. Millions and millions of dollars in campaign donations and in SuperPAC advertisements just keep flooding in. Furthermore, a constant stream of misinforming advertisements appears on public TV stations and the internet in a bid by oil, gas, and coal companies to keep the public misinformed.

Perhaps the only corollary to this type of public misinformation campaign is what occurred with cigarettes back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. As scientific evidence mounted showing tobacco products resulted in a drastically elevated risk of lung cancer, cigarette corporations funded advertisements to re-brand themselves, to misinform the public of health risks, and to prevent any government action to inform the public of risks or to curtail smoking in public places where second-hand smoke could harm non-smokers. Eventually the public interest won out. But it took massive and ongoing efforts to surmount the resistance put up by cigarette manufacturers.

But the damage caused by an unrelenting use of fossil fuels will be far, far more harmful than that caused by cigarettes, should oil, gas, and coal special interests continue to dominate both the political debate, the public media sphere and, most importantly, the energy policy creation process. And it is important to note that the power of these fossil fuel corporations is much, much greater than that of the cigarette companies who preceded them. The companies operate on a global scale and many have revenue streams larger than entire nations. We would have to go back to the slave trade, which was a primary contributor to the first US civil war, to find an industry with such wide-ranging political power and influence.

So it should not be a surprise that the American political system, which has been removed of all protection to special interest influence by the extremist conservatives of the Supreme Court in The Citizen’s United decision, is wracked and distorted by fossil fuel special interest money. So we should be more deeply concerned that so heavy a pall of silence over the ongoing harm caused by human global warming has settled upon Washington and casts such a long shadow on the current US election. It is the reason we find Obama forced to contest a political opponent junked up on fossil fuel campaign money in the darkness and in the quiet over an issue so important to both US and world prospects.

Many have blamed the Obama campaign for not speaking out. But this blame is misplaced. The people we should blame are the oil, gas, and coal companies who have poisoned the discourse, who have funded climate change denial at every level, and who are, at every level, trying to gag politicians and prevent them from speaking out on the most important issue of the 21rst century. They are the cause of the current crisis. They are the ones deliberately altering our politics in a blatant attempt to prevent responsible action. And they are the ones forcing this terrible code of silence upon US media and politics even as they attempt to turn the candidates into puppets for their interests.

Presidential Debate Round #2: The 47%, 8 Trillion Arithmetic, A Binder Full of Women and an “Act of Terror”

Binders and fact checks and smears oh my!

Last night’s Presidential debate, round #2 of 3, was nothing like the first. A fiery and compassionate Obama took firm command of the forum from the start and, with few exceptions, dominated the debate with clarity and candor. In direct contrast, Mitt Romney seemed lost in a tangle of the misinformation web he’d spun for himself.

47% vs the Outsourcing Pioneer

Obama set the tone by immediately calling Romney out for his 47% remarks, illustrating clearly that character is what you are in the dark or, in this case, what you are in a locked room full of millionaires and billionaires. He also returned frequently to the subject of outsourcing, rightly labeling Romney an ‘outsourcing pioneer’ and alluding to the offshoring activities Romney first innovated at Bain Capital. Activities the company Romney founded is continuing to implement (see Sensata).

Sketchy 8 Trillion Arithmetic

Obama also was quick to hold Romney accountable for the tax policy his campaign website says he’s running to implement. During the debate, Romney frequently denied the assertion that his tax cut would cut rates for top earners. Almost as frequently, he said that he wants to lower rates on the middle class. These debate ‘faux pas’ (nice word for lies) directly contradict information put out by his own campaign which still states Romney seeks an across the board 20% tax cut, including a very large and lucrative cut for top earners and very small and piddly cuts for the middle class.

Obama, rightly, ignored Romney’s false claims and continued to debate based on the facts, rather than attempt to muddle around in the smoke Romney was producing in prodigious quantities all evening long. Obama re-asserted the Arithmetic showing how Romney’s across the board cuts, when combined with a 2 trillion increase in defense spending and a 1 trillion dollar extension of the Bush tax cut f0r the wealthy, would blow another 8 Trillion dollar hole in the deficit on top of the debt already piling up from the lingering remains of Bush’s failed policies. (Failed policies the republican Congress has continued to enforce through its vow to Grover Norquist never to repeal.)

Binder Full of Women

In perhaps the most bizarre exchange of the night, Romney, when asked about how he would help women gain a more equal footing in the workplace, hearkened back to a time when his management team had no women. In his, disproven by facts, anecdote, Romney claimed he produced a ‘binder full of women’ from which to select female candidates for positions in the management staff which, Romney admitted, was largely composed of men. Reaction to this comment from women has been shrill and this particular Romneyism seemed to especially grate against the sensibilities of most women who rightly felt subtly insulted and objectified.

What is interesting to note about this particular Mitt-tale is the fact that the ‘binder’ he refers to was produced by a political organization called Mass-GAP which noted the dearth of women holding leadership positions in Massachusetts. So Romney wasn’t responsible for the recommendations of these women, it was produced by a political organization concerned about the lack of women in leadership. However, to Romney’s credit, he did appoint women from the Mass-GAP list so that fully 42% of the positions held at the start of his administration were women filled. But the story doesn’t end here. Romney apparently only filled positions which he thought were unimportant with people from the Mass-GAP program. In addition, the number of women holding positions within Massachusetts government, overall, declined by 3% during the time that Romney served. Hardly a stunning record of someone attempting to appear to care for women’s jobs.

What was most glaring, however, was his failure to mention the Fair Pay Act and, instead, rely on a mostly untrue and bumbling anecdote. I would venture a guess that women aren’t as concerned about a President picking women from a binder for cabinet positions as they are about equal access to jobs and access to a fair compensation at work. And though representation in the cabinet is important (Obama has appointed many women to these positions including political rival Hillary), what is more important is that those visible values fill out in larger society.

Obama noted he supported The Fair Pay Act and spoke for minutes passionately about the role of women in all aspects of American life. No binders. Just  policies to help women. Even more importantly, Obama alluded to women’s rights which would likely come under fire during a Romney Administration. Two Supreme Court justices and a VP nominee who has lead a crusade in Congress to overturn Roe could very well spell an end to women’s reproductive rights in our country. In addition, Obama pointed out that Romney’s past statements about ‘ending Planned Parenthood’ was another assault on women’s freedoms and access to family planning services. To this point Obama rightly noted that it’s not just about women, it’s about families too, a point that appeared lost on Romney.

The ‘Act of Terror’

Perhaps the most poignant event in the debate occurred when Romney began to assert that Obama had failed to identify the Libya attacks as a terrorist incident. This line of attack follows the presumptuous rhetoric that republicans and Romney have followed ever since the Benghazi Consulate was over-run. The day after the attacks, Romney held a press conference accusing the Obama administration of ‘failures.’ This political capitalism has also included a number of, rather fake, teary eyed speeches about those lost in the attacks. Romney’s overplaying of these speeches has lead family members of deceased security and diplomatic personnel to publicly ask Romney to stop using their family members deaths as political props. And though Romney appears to have toned down the rhetoric on diplomatic service member’s deaths, he has continued to presume that the Obama Administration is entirely responsible and at fault for these attacks, making bald and outrageous assertions before any evidence is produced.

Obama rightly called out Romney for his politicization of American deaths saying in a sharp tone that invoked all the power of the Commander and Chief of US forces: “It is offensive!”

And it is, this smarmy politicking over the deaths of Americans, this failure to stand behind American government’s effort to get to the bottom of the terrorist attacks, and the blatant betrayal of US forces by a party who only seems to care about political gain. But Romney continued up this dark path of demonization and unsupported claims. In his, not the first, allusion to misinformation produced by Fox News, Romney glommed onto the false claim that the Obama Administration didn’t recognize the Benghazi incident as a terrorist attack until two weeks afterward.

In reply to this skewed claim, Obama noted that he held a speech in the Rose Garden about the attacks, claiming that he stated ‘no act of terror would go unpunished.’ Romney refuted the President directly, saying the President said no such thing. Crowley, who appeared to be well prepared to deal with the issues in this debate, had a transcript of the President’s speech on hand and confirmed, to audience applause, that the President had indeed said what he claimed and that Romney was making an incorrect assertion.

Revelation of the Least Truthful Presidential Bid in Modern Memory

This direct fact-checking of Romney’s false statements and visible deconstruction of his entirely political and self-serving rhetoric seemed to crystallize the public’s view of Romney last night. Romney has been accused on all fronts, from Newt Gingrich to Ron Paul, from Rick Perry to Rick Santorum and, finally, to Obama himself, as running a dishonest campaign. He has visibly contradicted himself and changed positions on key policies time and time again. His campaign staff famously labeled this tactic ‘etch e sketch.’ And the informed public seems to view what Romney says as general ‘malarkey.’

But the malarkey reached a new level of ugliness when Romney began to make up stories about diplomatic security forces in Benghazi and official US response to attacks there. His self-serving rhetoric directly harmed the families involved even as it undermined ongoing government efforts to determine the attacks’ cause, reduce risk of future attacks, and care for the bereaved families of those who were lost. Further, republican efforts to de-fund diplomatic security were entirely off the radar as Romney and republicans used every trick in their attempt to turn the Benghazi attacks into a political silver bullet aimed at the President.

This ‘ugly lie’ grew and took a life of its own. Endlessly parroted by right wing outlets, the political right engaged in a war of words to degrade and denigrate US diplomatic forces. And this act and abetment by a politician running for the highest political office in the land is unforgivable.

What we witnessed last night was the unraveling of that extraordinarily damaging lie. This event is likely to send deep fractures through the Romney campaign, through the republican party itself, and to those billionaires, like the Kochs and the Murdochs, who have done so much harm to the American people. It is not the end to their ‘Castle in the Sand’ empires, but it may well be a sign of the start of their disintegration. (The final blows will come from the rising tide of climate change itself, but that is a subject for another article).

Closing Statement: The Eloquence of Obama Returns

At the end of a debate that, often, seemed to balance on the edge of a knife, Obama reclaimed his oratory eloquence to deliver this impassioned final appeal to the American people.

Barry, I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this nation that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer.

That’s not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known.

I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that’s how our economy’s grown. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle class.

And — and that is part of what’s at stake in this election. There’s a fundamentally different vision about how we move our country forward.

I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.

Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.

When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.

Links:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/2012-presidential-debate-full-transcript-oct-16/story?id=17493848&page=11#.UH75A4ZWIfw

http://blog.thephoenix.com/BLOGS/talkingpolitics/archive/2012/10/16/mind-the-binder.aspx

Romney’s 5 Trillion Dollar Tax Cut By Numbers: The Arithmetic of Avarice

Silliness continues to ensue over Romney’s 5 trillion dollar tax cut. Fact checkers, again and again, have shown how Romney’s claims on his redux of the vastly unpopular Bush tax cut are ‘mostly false.’ In one example FackCheck.org, managed by the conservative Annenberg Foundation, noted:

“Romney has failed to produce evidence that what he promises is possible. And we judge that the weight of evidence and expert opinion is clear — it’s not possible.”

However, given the fact that the $5 trillion dollar number is based on some very accessible figures, it shouldn’t be difficult for anyone with a little bit of time to check and confirm that Romney is, indeed, misrepresenting himself.

First, it’s important to note where the $5 trillion number came from. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center showed that Romney’s tax plan would cost about $480 billion dollars per year by 2015. What the Obama administration did was average this number over ten years to get about 5 trillion dollars. This isn’t fuzzy math at all, since budget planning usually looks at ten year periods and decade intervals.

Here’s an overview of the math:

Cost of Romney’s tax cut this year would equal 2.1 trillion in tax revenues x .2 (a 20% tax cut) to get 420 billion dollars in lost revenue this year. Cost of Romney’s tax cut in 2015 would equal the projected revenue of 2.4 trillion x .2 to get 480 billion dollars for that year (the number the Tax Policy Center came up with). And cost of Romney’s tax cut in 2020 would be 2.8 trillion x.2 to get 560 billion dollars. Averaged over ten years, these numbers amount to around 5 trillion. So by the math, Obama’s assertion is correct. Romney creates another 5 trillion hole in the budget even before he can start filling in the deficit hole through his promised ‘cuts.’

And Romney’s 5 trillion tax cut would add to the already large 3.6 trillion dollar (per decade) tax cut enacted by President Bush, which Romney has also pledged to keep.

That’s 4.2 trillion dollars added to the debt, so far, via the Bush tax cut. Add in the 9 trillion hole caused by the Bush recession and another 5 trillion via Bush’s unpaid wars and we get to the current debt figure of about 16 trillion. When combined with republican sabotage of Obama’s $4 trillion deficit reduction proposal, it isn’t an understatement to claim the republican party wholly owns this debt problem, even if the news media has failed to identify this, rather clear, fact. And, now, to top it all off, Romney trots along with another $5 trillion over the next decade and an extension of the Bush tax cut to total $8.6 trillion or greater.

Are you beginning to feel the voodoo yet?

What’s most damning about the Romney policy, so far, is the fact that his campaign offers almost no substantive plans for where the added revenue would come from if it were to be ‘deficit neutral’ as the Romney campaign claims. In his famous ‘Big Bird’ gaffe during the most recent Presidential debate, Romney claimed he’d cut things like PBS funding. But at around 400 million per year, PBS cuts cover only 1/1000th of the revenue gap he’s created. Romney may also dump on homeowners by cutting mortgage deductions or disincentive charity by cutting reductions to charitable donations. And although these policies may fill a decent chunk of that $5 trillion dollar hole, they’re not going to fill it entirely. Meanwhile, removing those deductions greatly reduce the number of American homeowners while resulting in a severe blow to America’s charity organizations. The remainder of the money would likely come from Medicare, Social Security, and from structural tax increases to the middle class.

Fact Check’s analysis of just one piece of Romney’s plan shows how convoluted, murky, and factually devoid it is:

“The campaign hasn’t revealed where Romney would even get [the first] $500 billion in cuts. The Romney website lays out spending reductions that total $319.6 billion, which come from privatizing Amtrak, cutting funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities and foreign aid, eliminating family planning funding, cutting the federal workforce and compensation, block-granting Medicaid and work retraining to the states, and reducing “waste and fraud.” Romney also counts $95 billion a year for repealing the federal health care law. But that’s only the spending in the law, which also includes $569 billion over 10 years of new revenues that would be lost, plus another $161 billion in revenue from the individual mandate tax and penalties on employers.”

What this paragraph reveals is that Romney’s cuts come out as a potential net negative — meaning that the cuts result in more revenues lost long-term (especially when taking into account the Affordable Care Act’s repeal). Futhermore, block granting Medicaid to the states would likely result in devastating losses to seniors and the disabled who rely on Medicaid during times of health hardship. This would result in additional costs to society that would likely ripple through any budget. Loss of family planning money would hurt the already reeling poor and harm families ability to care for their future. Cutting federal workforce compensation attacks one of the pillars of the American middle class, reducing wages for hundreds of thousands. And all of this damage and sacrifice by regular Americans just to deal with the first 8% taken by Romney’s tax cut.

And what do we get for this new massive hole blown in the budget? What do we get for this sacrifice that must be born by America’s families, by the sick, and by the elderly? In a basic break down here are the cut’s results:

“The analysis concludes that Romney’s tax cuts would predominantly favor upper-income taxpayers. Those with incomes of more than $1 million would see their after-tax income increased by 8.3 percent (for an average tax cut of about $175,000). Taxpayers with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 would see somewhat smaller increases of about 2.4 percent (for an average tax cut of $1,800), while the after-tax income of taxpayers earning less than $30,000 would actually decrease by about 0.9 percent (for an average tax increase of about $130).” — Bloomberg

In the end, according to Bloomberg, taxes are raised on those members of the middle class most near to poverty, taxes are barely cut for the middle and upper middle class. Meanwhile, the already wealthy and those in no need of help gain a huge income increase — $175,000 or more each year. So on both ends of the cut, the middle class gets hit while the wealthy, who need no help whatsoever, get another hand-out.

If this narrative sounds familiar, it should. We heard it under Bush. And Romney, rather than deciding to count losses, has instead doubled down on a policy that was a major contributor to the exploding deficit and this country’s increasing and intensifying climate of class warfare. Were Romney’s policy to push through, poverty would likely increase, the deficit would explode, critical programs would be cut (Medicaid, Obamacare, middle class salaries etc.), and tensions between the rich and the rest would only continue to rise. Romney’s plan is to double down on class warfare with another vastly unfair and destructive tax cut. Simply put, it is an arithmetic of avarice.

Links:

http://factcheck.org/2012/09/romneys-economic-exaggerations-2/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-01/surprise-romney-tax-plan-favors-the-rich.html

https://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=startdown&id=4363

Mitt Romney’s Enormous Lie On Green Energy Reveals Assault On Key US Industry

(Imagine Mitt Romney holding a match under this image)

It’s really no news that republicans hate US alternative energy. Across the country over the past few years they’ve done everything a political party can do to fight renewables. They’ve blocked legislation, they’ve waged verbal and political campaigns against the new technologies, and they’ve jiggered laws and legislation in an attempt to dissuade people from adopting alternative energy sources at every turn. The Volt, as just one example, has turned into a political whipping boy of the right blamed and smeared with each new success. Solyndra, in another example, is a strawman that has ridden shotgun with Mitt Romney all over the campaign trail.

Republicans, clearly divested of their fake jobs interest, have targeted an industry that directly supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs, 3 times the average number of jobs per dollar spent when compared to fossil fuels, and indirectly supports over 8.5 million jobs. But, it’s pretty clear, given republicans’ actual policies, removed from rhetoric, that they don’t care one whit about these jobs or any other so long as they’ve got a political axe to grind.

Enter yesterday’s presidential debates when Mitt Romney, telling a lie a minute, suddenly opened all guns on alternative energy in this off-color and patently false statement:

“And these [clean energy] businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in, have gone out of business.”

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only has renewable energy production doubled since Obama began his term in 2009, of the 34 alternative energy companies having received government loans through the stimulus program, only 3 are now in bankruptcy. Nine percent does not make half. But since when did arithmetic ever bother Mitt once he’d gotten onto the whopper roll?

Romney’s false claim goes further than even its blatant and gross exaggeration would indicate. It creates an impression that alternative energy in the US is an abject failure. An implication which couldn’t be further from the truth. And with new US wind installations outpacing every other form of new energy except the, soon to go bust, natural gas, Romney has decided to level a vicious political assault against a sector that is critical to current US energy security as well as economic growth.

We all know that republicans like Romney believe that more drilling can power the entire US and achieve energy independence all in one go. It can’t. The costs for the new fuels are too high, the rate of consumption is too great, and the rate of overall depletion is too high. The republican push for reliance on these depleting fuels would only set the US for another bubble and bust. Even now, many natural gas companies are financially struggling due to the climbing costs of fractured shale production. On the side of oil, fracked extraction of that resource requires prices higher than $90 per barrel to remain profitable. A high price Romney smugly blames on Obama even though it is a simple reality of the market force of depletion acting on the fossil energy sources Romney wants us to be reliant on.

Yet these internal dynamics don’t even take into account the dramatic and growing impact of fossil fuel emissions on climate change. Nor do they consider that the cost of renewable energy, year over year, just keeps going down.

Just this year, another 20% of sea ice was lost in the Arctic. At the current rate of decline, ice-free summers will be seen in the Arctic within this decade. The impacts of this event are twofold — ever more extreme and prolonged extreme weather conditions in the northern hemisphere and enhanced melt in Greenland as it loses its insulating barrier of sea ice. But Mitt Romney doesn’t believe in climate change, remember?

Also this year, solar energy prices fell by over 65%. Now that’s change we can believe in. And as Mitt so snippetly noted, oil prices are high on average overall. Yet Mitt wants to bet the farm and the country, for that matter, on an increasingly expensive and difficult to extract resource.

Romney’s assault on the legitimacy of renewable energy is not only an assault on increasingly less expensive energy and on dealing responsibly with climate change, it is an assault on the American dream. Imagine if Romney’s false vision of half US alternative energy industries going bankrupt came true. Imagine all the lost jobs and livelihoods. Imagine all the failed innovations. Imagine how far back both the US and the world will be pushed if that dark vision becomes reality.

Perhaps Mitt Romney wasn’t lying entirely when he made this statement after all. Perhaps he was instead telegraphing his own plan to drive half of US alternative energy industries into bankruptcy even as he pushes for greater dependence on the dirty dangerous and depleting oil, gas, and coal. It’s really funny how neurotic people with bad intentions tend to project in this way. So we have to wonder, was Mitt foreshadowing the result of a Romney presidency?

Perhaps Mitt Romney’s wish for alternatives is as it was with GM:

“Let them go bankrupt.”

Considering Mitt profited so much from American bankruptcies over the course of his career, I suppose he’d like that. Who knows, maybe his equity firms could still get a part of that action. US middle class alternative energy jobs going to China for more Romney bucks, anyone?

Romney, in Apology Tour of Lies, Seeks to Profit Politically From Harm to Americans

Ever since extremist-perpetrated attacks on US Embassies in the Middle East began, Romney has endlessly accused Obama of ‘apologizing for America.’ And despite every fact-checker across the political spectrum calling Romney a ‘liar, liar, pants on fire,’ he has continued to repeat this false statement over and over again.

The irresponsibility of Romney’s use of harm and danger to Americans as a political football is difficult to over-emphasize. Political adults, left and right, set aside partisan bickering to present a united front to America’s enemies at a time of national crisis, and especially during a time when war-like violence is being waged against America’s citizens abroad. The reason for presenting a unified front to our enemies is that it serves to deter further assault. It shows that we are resolved. That we will not back down. That we are not divided one against the other and, therefore, easy to take advantage of as a nation.

Romney has decidedly failed in this most basic act of patriotism. And in doing so, he empowers our enemies.

So far, at least nine Americans have been killed in this rash of unconscionable violence. We will never know how many of the attackers felt empowered by the fact that a man who could be President stood apart from those condemning the violence and instead leveled a rhetorical assault against our Commander-in-Chief. We will never know how much the crisis has been enflamed by his verbal attacks. Nor will we know how much damage he has done to the institution of the President and of national defense in his failure to behave responsibly.

Had his political attacks been true, there could, at least, be a shred of excuse for Romney’s vicious assault on US foreign policy. But Romney, in a propagandist and vitriolic manner has endlessly repeated a lie. Only in Romney’s insane political conversation with an invisible Obama in an empty chair has Obama apologized for America. Only Romney’s imaginary straw-man Obama which is as unreal as Romney’s sense of how to employ political speech to defend American interests or to defuse dangerous situations abroad. Yet now, the image grows even darker. For the empty seat Romney hurls his insults at may well harbor the ghost of an American diplomat.

If Romney were a soldier he would be placed under arrest for insubordination and risking the safety of the unit during a time of war. Instead, Romney plays the part of a chicken-hawk politician who, in a far safer position than any of the brave diplomats at these Middle Eastern embassies, imagines himself to possess a knowledge of foreign policy as great as a whale compared to its ant actuality.

And so he blunders about in a fierce, horrible, Godzilla-like fashion, leaving in his wake a bizarre and grotesque wreckage. And so his loose-cannon antics do their damage without a shred of accountability or repercussion.

During the writing of this blog, two more Americans have died. Two more American lives lost amounting to nothing more than a political tool for Romney’s personal advancement. As Americans we should not allow such crass and heartless political profiteering to the detriment of national security. As Americans we should not stand by and let a person of such high position use the national narrative and the political process for such a hollow personal gain. As Americans we should not stand by as Romney turns the deaths of Americans into a bloody political football.

Please join me in signing this petition to Stop Romney’s Apology Tour of Lies.

Halt the nonsense. Stand aside. And give America’s foreign policy and national security professionals a chance to do their work.

Bill Clinton’s Stunning Truth Telling at Democratic Convention Unmasks ‘Republican Alternative Universe,’ Provides Overwhelming Case for Obama Re-Election

We all know that Bill Clinton had personal reasons to be upset about Obama’s defeat of his wife Hillary in 2008. That said, Bill’s own passion for America’s future has long out-weighed his personal concerns and he has been a stalwart supporter of Obama ever since his election.

Now, Bill adds passion and truth-telling of historical value in order to support an American revival and rejection of republican policies that only benefit the wealthy and which have caused so much harm over the last 12 years.

Clinton’s resolute ballad was not a speech of glittering generalities and platitudes. Clinton instead delivered with passion, verve, grace, and eloquence a number of stunning facts the likes of which should make even the fact-immune Paul Ryan stand up and pay attention.

Clinton began his speech by noting the stunning difference between jobs growth of Republican and Democratic administrations, showing that Democrats are twice as effective at jobs creation as Republicans over the last fifty years. Clinton continues by chiding Republicans for their obvious hatred of Democrats and stunning failure to work with Democrats over the past four years of devastating obstructionist policies.

Clinton noted “I’m working all the time with Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We focus on seizing opportunities and not fighting all the time… The politics of constant conflict… doesn’t work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation.”

Cooperation, not conflict and competition, was a running theme throughout Clinton’s speech.

“Los Angeles is getting Green… because Republicans and Democrats are working together.”

“Unfortunately the faction that now dominates the Republican party doesn’t see it that way. They think government is always the enemy they’re always right and that compromise is weakness… They beat a republican Congressman with almost a 100% voting record on every conservation score because he said he realized he didn’t have to hate the President to disagree with him. Boy that was a non-starter and they threw him out.”

“One of the main reasons we should re-elect Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation.”

Clinton gracefully connected the concept of cooperation to the highest aspirations of democracy. He appealed for a democracy that was “an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.”

Clinton continued to reveal the stunning lack of cooperation of republicans, noting that they’d turned democracy into a blood sport when they claimed their #1 goal, two years before the election, was to make certain Obama didn’t get re-elected.

Clinton then turned to celebrate the massive number of successes achieved by President Obama. He noted his skillful halting of a recession that could have been as bad as the Great Depression. He noted the numerous months of jobs growth. He showed how Obamacare was already helping, how it had extended the life of Medicare.

“When President Obama took office the economy was in free fall, it had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP, we were losing 750,000 jobs per month. Are we doing better than that. The answer is yes!”

Clinton relentlessly reapplied a job scoring set of facts that showed how damaging republican policies had been to US employment, showing that Republicans blocked a bill that would have resulted in a million extra jobs created just last year even as they opposed the rescue of the auto industry that saved 1.1 million jobs and created over 250,000 additional jobs since 2009.

But Clinton didn’t only criticize. From point to point he pivoted to supporting solutions. To providing a clear rationale and policy platform for continued recovery. He supported Obama’s student loan policies, he supported his recovery efforts, he supported Obama’s immigration reform policies, and he celebrated the principles of inclusion and equality in the American system.

Perhaps most eloquent was his defense of Obamacare:

“Let’s take a look at what’s actually happened so far. First, individuals and businesses have already gotten more than a billion dollars in refunds from insurance companies because of a little law that requires 80-85 percent of your premium to go to health care not profits or promotions. And the gains are even greater than that because a bunch of insurance companies have applied to lower their rates to comply with the requirement. Second, more than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents policies can cover them. Third, millions of seniors are receiving preventive care all the way from breast cancer screenings to tests for heart problems and scores of other things and young people are getting them too. Fourth, soon insurance companies, not the government, the insurance companies will have millions of new customers many of them middle class people with preexisting conditions who never could get insurance before.

“Finally for the last two years… after going up at 3 times the rate of inflation for a decade, for the last two years healthcare costs have been under 4% in both years for the first time in fifty years. So, let me ask you something. Are we better off because President Obama fought for Health Care reform? You bet we are!!”

Clinton went on to gracefully deconstruct the Republican’s lies about cuts to Medicare by 716 billion dollars.

“That’s the same attack they leveled against Congress in 2010 and they got a lot of votes for it. But it’s not true. Here’s what really happened. You be the judge. There were no cuts to benefits at all. None. What the President did was, to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals. To cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service. And instead of raiding Medicare, he used the savings to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program. And to add eight years to the Medicare trust fund so it is solvent until 2024.

“So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare. They strengthened Medicare.”

Clinton continues by showing that Ryan’s plan keeps the same savings, but, more darkly, Romney’s does not. So, in the end, Romney makes Medicare insolvent, through his plan, by 2016.

Listening to Clinton’s speech it is impossible to continue to take seriously almost any of the Republican’s assertions during this election. They are revealed for what they are. Blatant falsehoods. But, more important, these falsehoods are destructive in so many ways it takes a 45 minute speech by Clinton to lightly, albeit gracefully, and with strength, touch on just how destructive.

Clinton showed pathos for all those who would lose their coverage. Who would lose their hopes for decent health care. Who would be unfairly taxed under republican policies. And his passion in this fight shows that he has transcended the role of political leader and taken a solid stand for economic justice in the United States.

The man who led the strongest economic expansion in United States history makes a very compelling case. If you haven’t yet seen his speech, I urge you to watch and to share with your friends. His speech is a matter of historic importance. For he clearly defines our paths — one that offers very real hope, and another that offers little more than decline.

The Republicans Turned Obama into an Invisible Man; And Now You Can Follow Him on Twitter

Perhaps the most bizarre event at this week’s republican convention was Clint Eastwood’s surprise speech. The supposed republican ace in the hole. Their coupe de gras. Their outflanking maneuver to send the democrats running.

Yet this speech was both far more and far less than what they intended. Instead of sending democrats running in route, the surprise speech was, instead, a self-inflicted wound. And the speech was nothing short of surprising. It included, among other things, a down-talking ramble to an invisible Obama sitting in a chair on stage.

Clint asked the invisible, mute, captive Obama a number of off-color and degrading questions. It was a sort of odd massacre of beat-nick humor, stand-up comedy, acrid politics, and ad-lib all recast to appeal to the narrow persuasions of the Republican Convention audience.

Clint’s invention of the invisible Obama is like an odd melding of the sock puppet, the effigy, and the straw man. All are tools that republicans would be familiar with. The first being the oft-seen anonymous troll in political chat rooms who seems to endlessly spout, line-for-line and without deviation the most recently packaged set of republican misinformation. In this case, however, the sock puppet was produced to serve as an object of mockery. A mental outcast of Clint Eastwood and a reflection of republicans deep denigration of Obama.

As such, Invisible Obama absorbed the painted faces held aloft by tea party supporters, becoming a form of grotesque mental effigy that accurately portrayed the cognitive dissonance projected by a party motivated by disdain, increasingly disconnected from reality. Which brings us full circle to the ‘straw man.’ Poor invisible Obama was just an empty chair erected to contain all the fallacious arguments Clint or other republicans might dream up to throw at an imaginary object. One with no ability to respond to the oft-tossed barb.

In short, Invisible Obama is the dream opponent for republicans. He conforms to all their darkest fantasies. He doesn’t talk back. He looks as scarey as they can imagine in their most horrifying nightmares. And, last of all, he doesn’t respond. He is their invisible, mute, derided, painted punching bag.

But the deepest irony of Invisible Obama is an unintentional channeling of the seminal literary masterpiece by Ralph Ellison. The Invisible Man is a story about a man robbed of identity by an adversarial culture. A man whose achievements, brilliance, and talents go unrecognized. A man forced to live like a troglodyte, underground.

A more perfect allegory to what republicans have attempted to do to Obama could not have been crafted by the political and literary geniuses of our time. It took Clint Eastwood to tell the truth. To summarize for us all the detractions of Obama’s critical achievements, to reveal for us their downplaying of his eloquence, to unmask their denial of his sound and solid leadership. First they character assassinated him. Now they turn him into a wraith whom they exhibit, circus-like at their convention.

It took Clint Eastwood to unintentionally part the curtain on the republican psyche and reveal for us its ugly, bizarre and repressive inner workings. It took Clint Eastwood to show that the man republicans are running against isn’t our president at all, that it is, instead, a mute, invisible, hated contrivance. A Gollum-like creature enslaved, corrupted, and made permanently invisible. A fantasy foe for a party that can’t quite come to terms with the reality of Obama our President.

But perhaps the republicans have unintentionally invented something worthwhile here. Worthwhile at least in the way The Onion may find worthwhile. An Invisible Obama does have a certain appeal as parody of the republican psyche. As a revelation of their fears, racism, narrow-mindedness, and great lack of capacity to handle change. And, for this reason, it is likely that Invisible Obama has received over 45,000 followers on Twitter.

Romney’s Plan For 12 Million Jobs — Take Credit for the Work Done by Obama

During an arguably well-delivered speech at the Republican National Convention, Romney, unfortunately, served up a number of glaring whoppers. The first was his making light of an increasingly real, damaging, and dangerous climate crisis. This bald denial of an event affecting farmers all throughout the heartland was just the first of many statements that don’t quite jibe with facts, reality, or even decency.

Unfortunately for both Romney and the rest of us, Romney’s climate change denial was only his first fault. His second error had to deal with, not making light of a serious problem that needs addressing, but with attempting to do nothing and take credit for the hard work of others. In his speech, Romney claimed that his administration would create 12 million jobs. On its face, it sounds like an ambitious plan. But let’s take a little time to analyze this promise.

The sad, sorry, rough truth is that world economic conditions aren’t so hot when it comes to jobs. We have a number of powerful corporations ranging the globe searching for ever-more-productive workers for an ever-decreasing relative wage. The net effect of this endless flight to lower paying jobs is a world-wide pressure on all middle class and, for that matter, living wage jobs. Pervasive corporate worker exploitation on a global scale has made it increasingly difficult for people to find decent-paying jobs since the 1980s.

This growing jobs crisis reached a boiling point during the great recession when states began to adopt austerity programs. These programs drastically cut the number of decent-paying government jobs available. Now workers were faced with the tough reality that even governments weren’t likely to provide nearly as much in the way of worthwhile work. Austerity resulted in a geological shift in the employment market that drastically reduced the pool of living wage jobs. And it is, perhaps, ironic to note that the same corporations and political forces pushing lower wage market jobs were the same forces pushing for austerity in many countries, including the US.

The net result is that economic prospects, unless you’re the modern version of a robber-baron, aren’t so hot globally.

The US has been somewhat insulated to this hard reality through the efforts of President Obama. He pushed a stimulus program that was vital in reducing jobs losses and in restoring the opportunity for job creation. He has recoiled against republican efforts to force austerity on the United States. As such, he has preserved many well-paying jobs that would otherwise have been cut. However, since republicans dominate the House of Representatives and hold most US Governor’s seats, they have been successful in cutting public service rolls at the state and federal level. Less firefighters, teachers, researchers, police officers, and scientists means less decent-paying jobs available. A college graduate with a science degree might be forced, instead, to take a minimum wage, bad benefits job at Staples, for example.

But despite these political pressures and the predatory corporate practices resulting in an extremely adverse world jobs climate, Obama has managed to push through a number of policies that stabilized the US jobs situation. His first efforts stopped jobs losses at the rate of 750,000 per month during the last days of Bush. And his next efforts began the hard work of creating new jobs in an extremely adverse political and economic climate. These efforts resulted in a .84% increase in jobs so far throughout his administration. This increase, ironically, is equal to the percent of US jobs lost under Bush’s second term. It is more than the jobs created under Bush’s first term. It is also more than the number of jobs created under Bush senior or even the number of jobs created during the second term of Eisenhower.

After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and in the current terrible world jobs climate, this work amounts to serious heavy lifting. But looking forward, the real benefit of Obama’s jobs policies becomes even clearer. According to a recent report by Moody’s Analytics, over the next four years 12 million jobs will be created in the US. This is the more positive jobs climate Obama worked so hard to establish. And even if no further policy measures are implemented to create jobs, according to Moody’s, those 12 million jobs will be there.

And this, at last, brings us to Romney. It seems that climate change isn’t the only thing he and his fellow republicans are in denial of. It appears he’s in denial of the plain fact that Obama’s job creation policies actually worked. But his denial isn’t so deep as to disallow a cynical attempt to steal credit for the Obama Administration’s successes. This action is similar to that of a middle level corporate manager who waits for an enterprising employee to make a breakthrough and, essentially, steals his idea. So we can see where Romney’s corporate experience is starting to ‘shine through’ during this election process. But stealing an idea from a standing President isn’t so easy as from a victimized employee. The facts, as we have noted, are plainly visible for all should they care enough to look.

As for Romney’s so-called jobs ‘policy?’ According to fact checkers it is nothing short of a vague list of notions that don’t amount to any solid position at all. Nothing more than advertising and posturing mascaraing as serious political action. The Romney paper was so lacking in substance that analytic organizations had no means to score it for potential jobs created or lost. In short, it’s a puff paper.

So what, in the end, is Romney’s jobs policy?

Do nothing. Set America adrift. Take credit for other people’s work.

Convention Speech: Romney Makes Light of Global Warming During Hottest US Year On Record

For Mitt Romney, usually a less than stunning speaker, tonight’s speech was surprising in its passion and delivery. Pundits noted this speech was likely his best. He delivered a number of compelling lines including ones that don’t quite ring true for the most obstructionist republican party in seven decades. Lines like: ‘I wish President Obama had succeeded.’ I wonder if a party that reinvented the term filibuster can honestly say they agree? If Romney felt such a sentiment, it was a good one. Sorry to see it hasn’t born out among the vast majority of republicans.

That said, the most out-of-context reference in the entire speech occurred when Romney made light of the issue of global warming. Romney, in a rhetorical jab at Obama, poked fun at Obama’s promise to help stop sea level rise and begin to heal the planet. This jab is especially concerning when one looks at Romney’s energy plan which could well be described as coughing carbon dioxide. His promise to double down on fossil fuels, including coal, will certainly do further harm to an already fragile world climate.

These assaults on the validity of global warming science fly directly in the face of fact and reality. Romney’s loud whistle past the climate change graveyard happens during a year of unprecedented sea ice melt, during the hottest year on record in America, during the worst drought in fifty years and during a year of record fires around the world.

This belittling of an issue that is sure to have ever-increasing impact is nothing short of blatant irresponsibility. Romney claims to be concerned for families, for our future. But an ever-increasing amount of harm will come to our families and our future should we fail to respond to the very real danger of climate change.

Yet the most poignant note of the convention, for me, was watching children playing in the balloon drop. What will happen to them if their republican parents are wrong in their assertions? What will happen to them if the worst potentials of climate change are brought on by a sudden increase in dependence on fossil fuels? What happens to them in 20 years when the US farmlands are even drier than they are today? What happens if coastlines start to destabilize? How much poorer, more desperate and afraid will they be in such an uncertain and increasingly hostile place?

Romney speaks of the future even as he seeks to force dependence on the energy sources that may ruin it. And he brazenly laughs at the very climate change increasing use of those fuels would intensify. History will judge Romney very harshly on these points. And such judgement will be far more harsh should a Romney Presidency steer us full-speed into the teeth of climate change.

Obama Fights For Renewable Energy Future, Runs on Superb Energy Record

Today, in a campaign speech at Colorado State University, Obama stated:

“You believed we could use less foreign oil and reduce the carbon pollution that threatens our planet. And in just four years, we have doubled the generation of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar. We developed new fuel standards for our cars so that cars are going to get 55 miles a gallon next decade. That will save you money at the pump.  It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a level roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of carbon emissions from all the cars in the world put together.”

“If your friends or neighbors are concerned about energy, you tell them, do we want an energy plan written by and for big oil companies?”

“Or do we want an all-of-the-above energy strategy for America — renewable sources of energy. Governor Romney calls them ‘imaginary.’ Congressman Ryan calls them a ‘fad.’ I think they’re the future. I think they’re worth fighting for.”

And Obama is correct. Correct in that he has achieved a stunning transformation in US energy policy. Correct in that he has increased US energy independence since taking office. And Correct in that Romney’s energy plan is one drafted entirely to cater to the interests of oil, gas, and coal companies.

Taking a look at the data, we can find evidence of this amazing progress. Since 2008, the US capacity for alternative energy generation has nearly doubled from 10,508 gigawatthours in 2008 to 18,777 gigawatthours by the end of the first half of this year. In total, renewable energy generation now accounts for 14.76% of all US power sources. This is more than nuclear but less than coal and natural gas.

New installations for wind and solar energy have soared over the period. Solar energy grew by 285% and wind energy grew by 171%. New installations for renewable energy are outpacing every energy source except natural gas. As a share of new energy installations, renewable energy accounts for 38% of the total while natural gas accounts for 42%.

This stunning surge in renewable energy capacity and its ability to compete, increasingly, with coal, gas, and nuclear, can be credited, in large part, to Obama’s energy policy. Obama pushed for measures to encourage new alternative energy installation. He pushed for stimulus funds for alternative energy programs. And he risked severe political backlash from powerful fossil fuel industries as he pushed for these new sources.

And the backlash came. It came from campaign contributions from oil special interests to republican rivals. It came in the form of an endless series of advertisements aimed at spreading oil, gas, and coal focused messaging. It came in the form of a republican party transformed to almost entirely represent fossil fuel interests even as it has denied climate change. Last of all, it came in the form of vicious attacks directed at the wind, solar, and electric vehicle industries.

But Obama’s push didn’t end with alternative energy. Obama provided a major push for increasing US fuel efficiency standards. Pushing competitiveness of US automakers in key areas while vastly reducing US dependence on foreign oil. These new efficiency standards have already taken a bite out of oil imports. Under Obama US oil imports have plummeted by 2 million barrels per day from 12.9 million barrels per day in 2008 to 10.9 million barrels per day this year. These reductions in oil imports are bound to continue as Obama’s policy results in fuel efficiency standards rising to 55 miles per gallon by the 2020s. It results in more electric and plug in hybrid electric vehicles on the road. It results in the US auto industry becoming leaders in this key new technology. All these results are signs of progress Americans can feel proud of. All these results are signs of a burgeoning independence that, if continued, will result in a far stronger America.

By contrast, Obama’s rival would cut renewable energy incentives and slash efficiency standards. This would not only increase dependence on fossil fuels at a time of amplifying global warming. It will also increase US dependence on foreign energy sources at a time when the world is increasingly competing for every available export. Romney’s policy will result in higher emissions, higher energy prices, and higher profits for oil, gas, and coal companies. It is a policy that aims to rig the game in favor of those interests and turns a blind eye to all the external harm such a policy would cause. It is a policy that will result in a weaker America that will likely attempt to dominate other countries in order to pursue energy security. It is a policy that will likely result in more costly foreign wars. It is a policy that will result in the expansion of both the trade deficit and the current public debt.

Obama, on the other hand, can proudly show that he fought for America’s energy future. A future with the potential for both energy independence and independence from the dirty, dangerous, and depleting fossil fuels. A future that may give us a glimmer of hope for being leaders against the powerful forces of climate change. A difficult future we may equip ourselves to navigate if we continue in the example set by Obama.

Links:

http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbblpd_a.htm

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/08/renewable-energy-sees-explosive-growth-during-obama-administration

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/29/765131/renewable-electricity-nearly-doubles-under-obama-i-think-theyre-the-future-theyre-worth-fighting-for/

March Heatwave — Among Most Extreme in US History — Fuels Potential for Catastrophic Flooding

This afternoon the National Weather Service issued a catastrophic flood warning for the areas of Eastern Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, Western Louisiana, and Southwest Missouri. The NWS predicted that widespread and potentially catastrophic areal and river flooding were possible in the region today. An enormous, slow-moving low pressure system is colliding with the moistest air mass ever recorded for the central US during March.

The NWS in Minneapolis Minnesota measured the highest levels of moisture ever recorded so early in the year flowing northwards into Minnesota along the cold front yesterday. A large trough of low pressure is now lifting this massive volume of moisture aloft and is expected to dump from 4-8 inches of rain with isolated amounts measuring as high as 15 inches in the warning areas.

Image

Fueling this storm is an extreme record heat-wave that has pumped massive volumes of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico over the central US. This heat wave was spurred by a Pacific La Nina weather pattern combined with abnormal heat and moisture fueled by global climate change.

All throughout the Midwest, records have been shattered with many cities showing the warmest March in history. In Illinois, republican climate change deniers vying for primary voters were greeted with seven days straight of 80 degree weather.

Obama, in a recent chat with Oprah today said “It’s warm every place. It gets you a little nervous about what’s happening to global temperatures. But when it’s 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March it gets you thinking…”

Oprah replied: “Something’s wrong.”Image

The March heat wave is producing a huge swatch of extreme temperatures with North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio all seeing temperatures 20-25 degrees or more above average for this time of year.

From Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro: “This remarkable warmth is associated with a bulging ridge of high pressure aloft that is exceptionally strong and long-lasting for March. While natural factors are contributing to this warm spell, given the nature of it and its context with other extreme weather events and patterns in recent years there is a high probability that global warming is having an influence upon its extremity.”

UPDATE: Storm system sparks flash flooding, severe storms, tornadoes across the warning region (more information available at http://www.weather.com/)

UPDATE: According to reports from The Weather Channel, and the National Weather Service, storms last night dumped up to 12 inches of rain over the warning area, with one area reporting 15 inches. The storm is currently advancing, creating the threat of up to 5 inches of rain in eastern Louisiana and western Mississippi today.

UPDATE: The current heat wave has resulted in over 3,000 record high temperatures over the US.

UPDATE: Weather Channel’s Stu Ostro says extreme weather linked to climate change.

Sources:

Wunderground: http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2055

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/

The Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com/

Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/green/issue/

 

Please help support our continuing efforts.

Please help support our continuing efforts.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: