The Sick Ocean


A major new scientific report, “Explaining Ocean Warming” was released on September 5th. It is grim. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, the findings are based upon peer-reviewed research compiled by 80 scientists from 12 countries. It is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken on the subject of warming of the ocean.

Significantly, the ocean has absorbed more than 90% of “enhanced heating from climate change since the 1970s.” In other words, the ocean has been “shielding us” from the extensive affects of global warming. And, the consequences for the ocean are “absolutely massive.”

The “seasons in the ocean” are actually changing as a result.

“The scale of ocean warming is truly staggering with the numbers so large that it is difficult for most people to comprehend,” D. Laffoley, et al, ed. Explaining Ocean Warming, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme, Sept. 2016.

“A useful analysis undertaken by the Grantham Institute in 2015 concluded that if the same amount of heat that has gone into the top 2000m of the ocean between 1955-2010 had gone into the lower 10km of the atmosphere, then the Earth would have seen a warming of 36°C.”

In other words, humanity would be toast.

Here’s one of many dangerous “hooks” mentioned in the report: “Crucially, as evident in the past two years, the heat and CO2 accumulated in the ocean are not permanently locked away, but can be released back into the atmosphere when the ocean surface is anomalously warm, giving a positive rapid feed-back to global warming,” which would entail a decidedly harsh blow to life on the planet.

The 500-page report is all-inclusive with several subsections dealing with individual oceanic issues. Yet, a general overview of the “chain of impacts” is perhaps most relevant to an understanding of the dire consequences of failure to act by halting CO2 fossil fuel emissions as soon as possible.

The “chain of impacts” clearly demonstrates the linear interrelated behavior of ocean warming, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise. Due to a domino effect of one problem cascading into others, key human sectors are now threatened, e.g. fisheries, aquaculture, coastal risks management, general health, and coast tourism.

In point of fact, scientific studies show rapid deterioration throughout the “change of impacts” statement such that an all-out alarm is necessitated. In short, the ole public clarion bells need to start ringing hard and loud because “the impacts on key marine and coastal organisms, ecosystems and ecosystem services are already detectable from high to low latitudes transcending the traditional North/South divide.”

In other words, the entire world oceanic ecosystem is already showing signs of severe stress or oceanic sickness.

Furthermore, the latency affect of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming means the impact of today’s carbon emissions shows up years and years down the line such that, assuming carbon emissions drop to zero tomorrow, global warming continues cruising along for many years to come.

All-important, the ocean is a “climate integrator” that regulates the entire planetary biosphere by absorbing 26% of human-caused CO2 and 93% of additional planetary heat. “Without the ocean, present climate change would thus be far more intense and challenging for human life.”

Meanwhile, the regulating function of the ocean comes with heavy costs, for example, ocean acidification and availability of carbonate ions are disrupted, which are building blocks for marine plants and animals to make skeletons, shells, etc.

This acidification impact is already a factor at the base of the food chain, as tiny pea-sized pteropods, which serve as food stock for everything from krill to salmon to whales, show ultra-thinning of their protective shells necessary for both reproduction and maturation, a problem especially found in the Southern Ocean. This early stage risk to disruption of the food chain is caused by excessive carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbed into the ocean emitted by fossil fuels.

Astonishingly, sea level rise, the most noticeable oceanic impact, has already dramatically increased its rate of increase over the 1901-2010 period as the rate of rise from 1993-2010 accelerated by an astounding 88%. This sea level rise is already felt in cities like Miami where streets are being raised and additional pumping systems installed (Miami Beach is Raising Streets by 2 Feet to Combat Rising Seas, miamibeachrealtor displays a photo of newly raised streets).

Assuming business-as-usual anthropogenic climate change, sources of dietary protein and income for tens of millions of people will likely be severely impacted by mass mortalities. Wherefore, the ole clarion bell needs to ring even louder, waking up citizens to the threat of impending serious food shortages. Fisheries and aquaculture, which are both key for survival for millions, are already at high risk.

Meanwhile, and unfortunately, climate change contemporaneously continues to negatively affect land agriculture, which will likely exacerbate food shortages with the ocean simultaneously stressed. In all, ocean warming is synergistic with other human-induced stresses such as over-exploitation, like drift net fishing, and habitat destruction, e.g., bleached coral, and chemical pollution, for example, Ag runoff.

The report has suggested solutions to ocean stress, as for example: (1) mitigating CO2 emissions by getting off fossil fuels is number no. 1 on the hit list, followed by (2) protecting marine and coastal ecosystems by governmental regulation of “protected areas” and (3) repairing damaged ecosystems with, for example, coral farming, and (4) adapting economic diversification zones and activities.

Importantly, the landmark study emphasizes the fact that “unequivocal scientific evidence shows that impacts on key marine and coastal organisms, ecosystems, and services are already detectable and that high to very high risks of impact are to be expected,” Ibid, page 53.

That statement is as straightforward, pulling no punches, as scientific papers ever get. The evidence is crystal clear that climate change is disrupting the ocean, which is the only ocean we’ve got.

There are no backups.

Here’s hoping Mr. Trump reassesses his “global warming is a hoax” statement. After all, he has a big audience.

Source: Counter Punch

Carbon Emissions Highest They Have Been in 66 Million Years


Environmentalists burn a symbol of carbon dioxide during a 2008 demonstration in front of the Klingenberg power plant in Berlin. (photo: Theo Heimann/AFP/Getty Images) (And they create more CO2....)

Environmentalists burn a symbol of carbon dioxide during a 2008 demonstration in front of the Klingenberg power plant in Berlin. (photo: Theo Heimann/AFP/Getty Images)
(And they create more CO2….)

By Alister Doyle, Scientific American – 27 March 16
Source: Reader Supported News

 

Outpouring of CO2 is 10 times higher than it was when the dinosaurs lived

 

The rate of carbon emissions is higher than at any time in fossil records stretching back 66 million years to the age of the dinosaurs, according to a study on Monday that sounds an alarm about risks to nature from man-made global warming.

Scientists wrote that the pace of emissions even eclipses the onset of the biggest-known natural surge in fossil records, 56 million years ago, that was perhaps driven by a release of frozen stores of greenhouse gases beneath the seabed.

That ancient release, which drove temperatures up by an estimated 5 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) and damaged marine life by making the oceans acidic, is often seen as a parallel to the risks from the current build-up of carbon in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

“Given currently available records, the present anthropogenic carbon release rate is unprecedented during the past 66 million years,” the scientists wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The dinosaurs went extinct about 66 million years ago, perhaps after a giant asteroid struck the Earth.

Lead author Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii said geological records were vague and “it’s not well known if/how much carbon was released” in that cataclysm.

Current carbon emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are about 10 billion tonnes a year, against 1.1 billion a year spread over 4,000 years at the onset of the fast warming 56 million years ago, the study found.

The scientists examined the chemical makeup of fossils of tiny marine organisms in the seabed off the New Jersey in the United States to gauge that ancient warming, known as the Paleoeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

U.N. studies project that temperatures could rise by up to 4.8C this century, causing floods, droughts and more powerful storms, if emissions rise unchecked. Carbon dioxide forms a weak acid in seawater, threatening the ability of creatures such as lobsters or oysters to build protective shells.

“Our results suggest that future ocean acidification and possible effects on marine calcifying organisms will be more severe than during the PETM,” Zeebe said.

“Future ecosystem disruptions are likely to exceed the relatively limited extinctions observed at the PETM,” he said. During the PETM, fish and other creatures may have had longer time to adapt to warming waters through evolution.

Peter Stassen, of the University of Leuven who was not involved in the study, said the study was a step to unravel what happened in the PETM.

The PETM “is a crucial part of our understanding of how the climate system can react to carbon dioxide increases,” he told Reuters.

Does Methane Threaten Life?


Source: CounterPunch

The question of whether methane (CH4) in the atmosphere is a threat to life is extraordinarily complex and generally not well understood. But, yes it is a serious threat, very serious and horribly real.

Okay, but don’t scientists understand this, and why aren’t they speaking out?

They are speaking out but only a very few.

Here’s the “speaking out” problem: Leading climate scientists are not willing to honestly expose their greatest fears, as discovered by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! whilst at CO21 in Paris this past December, interviewing one of the world’s leading climate scientists, Kevin Anderson (University of Manchester) of Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research who said: “So far we simply have not been prepared to accept the revolutionary implications of our own findings, and even when we do we are reluctant to voice such thoughts openly… many are ultimately choosing to censor their own research.”

Straightaway, we know from one of the world’s leading authorities on climate change that climate scientists are censoring their own research. But why?

“What we are afraid of doing is putting forward analysis that questions the paradigm, the economic way that we run society today… We fine-tune our analysis so that it fits into the economic reality of our society, the current economic framing. Actually our science now asks fundamental questions about this idea of economic growth in the short term, but we’re very reluctant to say that. In fact, the funding bodies are reluctant to fund research that raises those questions,” Democracy Now! Top Climate Expert: Crisis is Worse Than We Think & Scientists Are Self-Censoring to Downplay Risk, Dec. 8, 2015.

Accordingly, since the current economic framing throughout the world is all about neoliberalism, then it appears this framing does not frame well with climate scientists. One has to wonder why? Maybe it’s only about fossil fuels, but then again, neoliberalism does not leave much room for science. Neoliberalism’s all about “privatizing everything for profits,” removing regulations and let free enterprise (Milton Friedman) determine what’s good for the atmosphere, not science. Alas, climate science is not (underlined twice) profitable. Who needs it?

The scientists that do talk, sans concerns about the current economic paradigm, are openly alarmed by growing evidence of the risk of CH4’s sudden release from the icy protection of the Arctic, knowing humanity is not ready for it.

Those scientists that do speak out, do so in a video, Abrupt Climate Change, The Hard Truth: (The following quotes come from scientists in the video below.)

A major concern amongst scientists is the ongoing meltdown of the Arctic which in turn could release massive quantities of CH4 which in turn feeds into an irreversible feedback loop leading to uncontrollable self-perpetuating rapid planetary temperature rise, the dreaded doomsday scenario, a fireball planet.

“If global average temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius above baseline, what that means is that the interior of large continents heats up at least twice that much, so to 4C, or higher. And that’s where all of the grain is grown, and grain is the basis for civilization… That would be sufficient to have civilization collapse… we’re talking about the type of suffering that goes beyond anything we’ve ever seen before… well beyond what goes on in war… well beyond the plagues of the past.”

“We have already lit the fuse on a giant methane subsea permafrost bomb in the Arctic which can go off at any moment.”

A methane monster idly sets in waiting in the shallow waters of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf where 100s to 1000s of gigatons could release from very shallow water. Scientists who have studied the area for over a decade say it only takes destabilization of 1-2% to create irreversible havoc for the planet.

According to a 2013 NASA satellite observation, methane plumes in the Arctic Ocean 150 kilometers (93 miles) wide were observed bubbling up to surface. That explains the upward sloping chart of CH4 into the atmosphere, a steeper slope than CO2.

“We’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures more than 1,000 metres in diameter. In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed,” Dr. Semiletov said, “We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale. I think on a scale not seen before. Some of the plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere. The concentration was a hundred times higher than normal.” (Igor Semiletov PhD, Pacific Oceanological Institute, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, visiting scientist, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska- not in the video).

How does this vicious cycle end?

First, how did it start? It started by humans burning too much fossil fuel like gasoline for cars and coal for electricity which in turn spews noxious CO2 into the atmosphere which in turn hangs around for centuries acting like a big blanket retaining more and more heat until Mother Earth develops a horrible cough, disrupting her Jet Streams, which brings tropical storms to Boulder, Colorado for the first time ever and loosens up gigatons of CH4 from below the icy cover of the Arctic Ocean, now iceless blue water, into the upper atmosphere to join CO2 as a much larger down-filled blanket which turns up the heat even more.

This cycle likely does not end, assuming noxious emissions do not stop almost cold turkey, rather it expands via vast, continent-wide swaths of climate disruption to the extent that people are forced into pathways of migration, fleeing flooded zones, like Bangladesh (where cities are already sinking), or in search of food sources as desertification overrides local food production, like vast areas of India with 25% already turned to desert, or the drought-stricken eastern Mediterranean (worst drought ever) pushing out more migrants, or entire communities and cities migrating to find sources of water, like Andean communities and cities, e.g., Lima (pop.8.5M) dependent upon glacial water (the World Bank has already warned about this), or a population of 50,000 picking up stakes to move inland, North Carolina’s Outer Banks where portions of the 200-mile island are already at 25% of original width, or crazed upper atmospheric Jet Streams, under the wavering influence of an overheated Arctic, driving endless torrential tropical storms out of the tropics to America’s heartland, like Colorado (2013 Colorado Tropical Storm), as county after county experiences massive flooding, destroying valuable farmland, or when the high tides in Miami are suddenly relabeled “historic flooding.”

Then, a maddening political scramble will ensue to find some way, shape, or form to come to grips with the planet’s rapidly collapsing ecosystem, as angry mobs roam the countryside to hunt down climate change liars to tar and feather. Still, by the time these overwhelmingly large massive bodies of enraged mobs do their dirty work, most of the planet will mirror the dystopian image projected by Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros. 2015). They’ll fit right into the script.

Dr. Peter Gleick (member of the National Academy of Sciences) director of the Pacific Institute of California recently warned, “What is happening in the Arctic now is unprecedented and possibly catastrophic,” Ian Johnston, Arctic Warming: Rapidly Increasing Temperatures are Possibly Catastrophic for Planet, Climate Scientist Warns, Independent, February 25, 2016.

The Solution

Get off fossil fuels as soon as humanly possible and do not elect a president to the White House who denies anthropogenic climate change because that will be tantamount to voluntarily entering a gas chamber, slamming shut the big thick heavy door, and giving thumbs up to the warden!

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

More Than 100 Scientists Ask Leading Science Association to Cut Ties With Exxon


Exxon Valdez

Exxon Valdez

By Natasha Geiling, ThinkProgress
Source: Reader Supported News

More than a hundred scientists have sent a letter to the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the largest association of earth and space scientists in the world, asking it to cut financial ties with Exxon in light of allegations that the fossil fuel company willfully misled the public about climate change for decades.

The letter was initially crafted by three early career scientists from MIT and Harvard, but has since garnered signatures from over 100 prominent scientists, including names like James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, and Michael Mann.

“Our intention is to help rebut the climate misinformation that has been put out, especially by ExxonMobil, by asking the AGU to reject sponsorship from Exxon for its conferences,” Ben Scandella, a PhD candidate at MIT and one of the letter’s original authors, told ThinkProgress. “We’re concerned that by accepting sponsorship from Exxon, AGU is engaging in a serious conflict of interest because it is lending its institutional license to a company that is working publicly to undermine the consensus about anthropogenic climate change that a number of AGU members have worked hard to establish.”

The AGU, which was created to promote the geophysical sciences, claims among its members a number of climate scientists. Of the roughly 104 scientists that have signed the letter, 70 are AGU members.

Posted Monday morning on the science website The Natural History Museum, the letter specifically asks that the AGU reconsider Exxon’s sponsorship of the society’s fall meetings. Exxon has been a primary sponsor of the meeting for years, but has come under increased scrutiny in recent months due to a series of investigations into Exxon’s climate policies published by both InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times earlier this year.

The investigations found that Exxon’s own scientists knew about the dangers associated with climate change as early as 1977, and yet continued to fund misinformation campaigns that questioned the scientific consensus around climate change. In light of the investigations, lawmakers have called for the Department of Justice to launch a formal investigation into Exxon, and several state attorneys general have already initiated criminal investigations. Last week, three lawmakers also asked the Department of Justice to begin investigating Shell, citing a growing body of evidence that suggests there could be “a conspiracy between Shell, ExxonMobil and potentially other companies in the fossil fuel industry.”

The AGU, in its own Organizational Support Policy, states that it will “not accept funding from organizational partners that promote and/or disseminate misinformation of science, or that fund organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science.” That policy was established in the summer of 2015, just months before the allegations against Exxon became public.

“Exxon’s track record, with respect to climate science, is long and troubling and entirely inconsistent with [the AGU’s] policy and the society’s climate statement, which is clear and unequivocal about supporting deep reductions in emissions,” Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who also signed the letter, told ThinkProgress. “We set up a policy. We need to implement in a clear way, and we need to have a conversation about Exxon and other companies that misinform in order to avoid regulation with regard to climate.”

Margaret Leinen, AGU president, responded to the questions about the society’s relationship with Exxon in a blog post published on the AGU website, saying that “ExxonMobil’s current public statements and activities were not inconsistent with AGU’s positions and the scientific consensus.” In light of the recent letter, however, Leinen updated the post to add that the AGU Board of Directors will look closely into the matter during an upcoming April meeting.

To be truly reflective of Exxon’s policies, however, many argue that the AGU would need to go beyond public statements and consider the private actions the company has taken to fuel public misinformation.

“If you’re looking at public statements, it’s hard to find because they are funneling their misinformation campaigns through dark money organizations,” Scandella said.

In a study published last November, Yale University sociologist Justin Farrell found a strong connection between the private funding actions of companies like Exxon and the overall polarization of climate change as a topic in the United States. According to Farrell’s research, groups that accepted money from Exxon were more likely to produce texts stressing things like the idea that climate change is a long-term cycle or that carbon dioxide is in fact good for the planet, key tenets of a climate misinformation campaign.

According to both Scandella and Frumhoff, it’s that misinformation — not the fact that Exxon is a fossil fuel company — that has led scientists to voice concerns with the company’s role in funding the AGU’s meetings. Fossil fuels have had a long relationship with earth and geosciences, Frumhoff explained, pointing to petroleum geology as an example. The concern, he added, is that by allowing Exxon to support the AGU’s meetings, the AGU is lending an air of credibility to the company. It’s a public relations tactic known as “greenwashing,” where organizations publicly fund campaigns or events that run counter to their private actions or interests.

“The letter isn’t about saying that Exxon scientists or Exxon-funded scientists have no place in society. The letter is about saying we shouldn’t be advertising Exxon as a good corporate citizen by accepting their funding when their behavior is so unequivocally inconsistent with scientific integrity and our commitment to address climate change,” Frumhoff said.

The Arctic Is Melting and Big Business is Chomping at the Bit to Dig In


arctic drilling

By Alejandro Davila Fragoso, Think Progress – 27 January 16
Source: Readers Supported News

Standing at a podium before the World Economic Forum, Leonardo DiCaprio briefly smiled as he received an award for his leadership in tackling climate change. Once settled under the spotlight, he quickly moved away from his grateful statements, and began railing on corporate avarice.

“We simply cannot allow the corporate greed of the coal, oil, and gas industries to determine the future of humanity,” said DiCaprio last week while at Davos, Switzerland, where some 2,500 top global business leaders, politicians, and intellectuals gathered to discuss politics, economics, and social issues.

Fossil fuels must be kept in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change, he continued. “Enough is enough. You know better. The world knows better.”

But while DiCaprio was cheered Wednesday as he stepped off the stage with his Crystal award, the international business community appears interested in venturing into new areas despite potential ecological costs. In fact, a day after recognizing environmental leadership, a World Economic Forum advisory group launched the Arctic Investment Protocol, and with that came a tacit push for extracting resources from one of the least-developed areas of the world.

The Arctic Investment Protocol is a voluntary set of guidelines for nations looking to do business where diminished ice coverage from man-made climate change is allowing access to once-unreachable sea routes as well as vast mineral and fossil fuel reservoirs.

The protocol calls for building resilient societies through economic development, pursuing measures to protect the Arctic environment, and respecting and including local communities, to name a few. The Guggenheim Partners, a major global investment and financial services firm, quickly endorsed the protocol, saying the Arctic represents one of the last great economic frontiers.

With more than $240 billion in assets, Guggenheim Partners was the first major firm to endorse these guidelines. In doing so, it also gave a strong indication of where global business is headed as South America, Asia, and Africa receive increasing investment. “The Arctic Investment Protocol is an important step forward and a solid foundation upon which to build for the future,” said Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, in a statement.

On the one hand, such a business trend would bring economic prosperity and infrastructure that experts say is lacking in many Arctic communities. On the other, human history shows that economic development is very often intertwined with ecological costs.

Exponential Arctic development thus raises serious environmental questions involving a region known for its fragile endemic species, where maritime environmental protection codes are in infancy, and so remote that pollution cleanup operations are difficult and costly. Not to mention the major role the Arctic plays in global climate since its already receding ice reflects a large amount of solar radiation, all while holding onto CO2 that if released would accelerate global warming.

And yet the northernmost region of the world has seen its share of development for many years. Researchers reached said the Arctic became part of the global economy at least two centuries ago with the emergence of the whaling industry, followed by oil and gas exploration. Researchers noted, however, that a new boom is taking place because the area is more accessible, and that Guggenheim could be a watershed for even more investment.

This comes as studies have found that Arctic ice is receding and thinning at an accelerated pace. Annual mean ice thickness has decreased from nearly 12 feet in 1975 to some four feet in 2012, a 65 percent reduction, according to a 2015 study. Moreover, the Arctic warms twice as fast (or more) than the Earth as a whole does.

“You can say that it is the era of [the] Arctic,” said Mohamed A. Essallamy, an expert in Arctic maritime issues and a professor at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, via email to ThinkProgress.

In 2009, only five cargo ships went through the Russian Northern Sea Route, according to a recent study by the Council on Foreign Relations. By 2013, that figured climbed to 71. Meanwhile, investment in the Arctic could potentially exceed $100 billion within the next six years, according to a 2012 Arctic Opening report by Lloyd’s of London Ltd, the world’s oldest insurance market.

Profiting from the Arctic is costly, however. In a statement, Guggenheim Partners said the Arctic needs about $1 trillion in infrastructure. The firm said it’s working with international partners to establish the Arctic infrastructure inventory to identify and prioritize such needs across the region.

“There is a great need for infrastructure,” said Jessica M. Shadian, a researcher and professor at Iceland’s University of Akureyri, in a phone interview with ThinkProgress. Telecommunications, affordable energy, but also more basic infrastructure like sewage and potable water is lacking in many areas, she said.

“People want economic development in the Arctic, in the north, just as much as anyone does anywhere else,” said Shadian, who like many noted that local support for economic development is abundant, even if that development means unearthing fossil fuels.

The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, she said, are just two large examples of organizations owned by Arctic communities that back resource extraction. Environmentalists in the Arctic and elsewhere have questioned development for years as well, saying extraction will industrialize land, pollute water, and generate greenhouse gas pollution.

Just last week, Greenpeace Norway director Truls Gulowsen told Climate Home that the group aims to challenge oil development in Norwegian courts. “We have already discovered more fossil fuels than it is safe to burn in a 1.5°C or 2°C scenario,” he said.

Last year governments agreed on a framework that puts the world on track to limit global warming to no more than 2°C, a threshold many in the scientific community say will prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. By some estimates, this threshold requires keeping as much as two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

For the Arctic, moreover, development may come at time of serious local environmental frailty. In recent research, Essallamy explained that many Arctic species live long and produce only a few offspring, making them particularly sensitive to any change that could affect mortality. He further noted that slow biological processes lead to slow revegetation, so for instance, impacts on tundra from heavy vehicles may be observed for decades. And then there are invasive species that ships could bring and the unavoidable leakages of lubricant and fuel oils.

All these effects would come as maritime environmental protection codes are barely developing, and when laws in the high seas are difficult to enforce to begin with. In fact, a code for ships operating in polar waters is yet to be applied. The International Maritime Organization has adopted regulations in the last couple of years and more are expected, Essallamy said, but the earliest polar code will come into force in 2017.

Still, the notion that the Arctic is lawless is deceptive, experts said. For more than two decades the Arctic Council, a high level intergovernmental forum including arctic governments and indigenous communities, has been meeting to promote coordination. It has eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

“The fortunate aspect about a lot of parts of the Arctic is that they are in highly developed countries,” said Shadian, “and so you are not going to really see just extracting resources at any cost because there are a lot of environmental standards.”

Drue Pearce, a former Alaska State senator, said in an email to ThinkProgress that in Alaska the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 that regulates development, “and the rest of every permitting process, is more rigorous than anywhere else in the world.”

The Arctic region has nonetheless suffered ecological damages for years. Russia has struggled to enforce its environmental standards, although it holds stringent environmental laws, experts said. According to published reports, environmentalist and experts agreed that at least 1 percent of Russia’s annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. Much of the spillage reportedly happens in the oil-rich Russian Arctic.

Alaska too, has had its share of issues with oil, most notably during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in the 1980s. Responding to environmentalist catastrophes — and other emergencies — is quite difficult and costly, experts said, and many resources need to be concentrated in developing safety systems.

Two Russian oil workers use a boat and shovels to gather oil and mud from the waters of a small river, a tributary of the Kolva River, some 37 miles north of Usinsk, an Arctic town six miles from the Arctic Circle in Russia, Friday, Oct. 28, 1994. (photo: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Two Russian oil workers use a boat and shovels to gather oil and mud from the waters
of a small river, a tributary of the Kolva River, some 37 miles north of Usinsk,
an Arctic town six miles from the Arctic Circle in Russia, Friday, Oct. 28, 1994.
(photo: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Yet Shadian said local communities that have inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years still don’t necessarily agree that their development should be discounted, particularly over climate change. The brunt of climate change, she said, didn’t originate in the Arctic. “What happens in the south doesn’t stay in the south, it goes straight to the Arctic.”

And with that, Shadian touched on how the world may be unfairly weighing on development and the environmental costs associated with climate change, an issue that has received increased attention in recent times. During the Paris climate talks for instance, the issue of how rich nations have benefited from fossil fuels while passing many of the costs to developing countries was front and center. This in turn emboldened the argument that resource demand in some areas drives resource extraction elsewhere, which when ill-managed exacerbates climate change and increases the risk for ecological disasters.

For the Arctic, this argument and the ecological paradox it carries is no different, and in part places the responsibility of what happens in the Arctic on the global consumer. That’s because economic theory says demand largely drives supply, and if that’s the case, then global demand will establish the rate of Arctic development, not the other way around.

Indeed, as commodity prices continue declining in value, costly Arctic development may very well be following the same trend, at least in the short term. “Right now mineral and oil and gas prices are so low that a little bit of a hype in the Arctic is dying down,” said Shadian, who like many others who’ve lived in the region, welcomed Arctic development, so long it’s environmentally responsible and sensible to local control.

“The Arctic is not any different when it comes to development or the right to do so,” said Inuuteq Holm Olsen, a Greenland diplomat, in an email to ThinkProgress. “For us, it is not a choice between development or the environment. The right to development is a universally recognized principle and that applies to the Arctic as well.”

Bernie Sanders: Combating Climate Change to Save the Planet


Sen. Bernie Sanders joined marchers on September 21, 2014 for the People's Climate March for action on climate change in New York City. (Photo: Sanders Office)

Sen. Bernie Sanders joined marchers on September 21, 2014 for the People’s Climate March for action on climate change in New York City. (Photo: Sanders Office)

By Bernie Sanders,
Source: Reader Supported News

07 December 15

Right now, we have an energy policy that is rigged to boost the profits of big oil companies like Exxon, BP, and Shell at the expense of average Americans. CEO’s are raking in record profits while climate change ravages our planet and our people — all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into complacency in the face of climate change. Enough is enough. It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy, and finally puts people before the profits of polluters.

                                                                                                — Senator Bernie Sanders

The Problem

Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. The debate is over, and the scientific jury is in: global climate change is real, it is caused mainly by emissions released from burning fossil fuels and it poses a catastrophic threat to the long-term longevity of our planet. If we do nothing, the planet will heat up five to ten degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. That would cause enough sea level rise from melting glaciers to put cities like New York and Miami underwater – along with more frequent asthma attacks, higher food prices, insufficient drinking water and more infectious diseases.

But this isn’t just a problem for the future – the impacts of climate change are apparent here and now. Whether it’s more intense forest fires on the West Coast, or more frequent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, or damaging flash floods in California, climate change is here and it’s already causing devastating human suffering. The worst part is this: people who live in low-income and minority communities will bear the most severe consequences of society’s addiction to fossil fuels.

This is every kind of issue all at once: the financial cost of climate change makes it an economic issue, its effect on clean air and water quality make it a public health problem, its role in exacerbating global conflict and terrorism makes it a national security challenge and its disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities and on our children and grandchildren make acting on climate change a moral obligation. We have got to solve this problem before it’s too late.

Why Haven’t We Solved it Yet?

Solving this should be straightforward. After all, the majority of Americans understand the seriousness of climate change, and they demand action. 97 percent of scientists agree about the urgent need to act and the vocal minority who don’t are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. More and more countries around the world are beginning to do their part, by stepping up to significantly curb their use of fossil fuels to become part of the solution. If our democracy worked the way it’s supposed to, that would be enough – the debate would be over, the facts would be heard and lawmakers would obey the will of the people.

But that’s where the billionaire class comes in. Instead of engaging on this issue in good faith and allowing democracy to play out, executives and lobbyists for coal, oil, and gas companies have blocked every attempt to make progress on climate change, and thrown unprecedented amounts of money at elected officials to buy their loyalty. Recent reporting even shows that executives at Exxon pioneered the research on climate change before anyone else did, but may have deliberately lied about it to spread disinformation and confusion to protect their bottom line. It’s eerily reminiscent of the fight over tobacco regulation, when executives from the tobacco companies repeatedly testified before Congress that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. Recently leaked internal documents show that even they knew they were lying.

Let’s be clear: the reason we haven’t solved climate change isn’t because we aren’t doing our part, it’s because a small subsection of the one percent are hell-bent on doing everything in their power to block action. Sadly, they have deliberately chosen to put their profits ahead of the health of our people and planet.

The Future

The debate is over. The vast majority of the scientific community has spoken. Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already causing devastating harm here in the United States, and to people all around the globe. So what are we going to do about it? We will act boldly to move our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal because we have a moral responsibility to leave our kids a planet that is healthy and habitable.

                                                                                                — Senator Bernie Sanders

Here’s the good news: our society is already moving in the right direction. Solar panels cost 80 percent less than they did in 2008 and they’re popping up on rooftops everywhere. In fact, nearly a full quarter of the world’s electricity today comes from clean, sustainable resources like the sun and wind. The leaders of the seven major industrialized nations, including the United States, agreed in the summer of 2015 to a long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuels entirely and moving to an economy powered entirely by clean energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. We’re already transitioning to a clean energy economy – but scientists say we need to do it faster and we need to do it right.

Doing it right means ensuring that workers have the skills, equipment, and training they need to succeed in a clean energy economy. It also means workers need to be able to organize and advocate for good wages and safe working conditions. Bernie knows these workers do some of the most important work in America and we need to ensure without a doubt that their livelihoods will be helped – not hurt – by the transition to clean energy. That’s why Bernie is introducing the Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act to provide comprehensive benefits to workers as they transition to making the solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries of tomorrow.

The key is to stop funding the problem by subsidizing fossil fuels and instead accelerate our path to progress by showcasing our American innovation to accelerate the transition. This is important, because the support of the American people can make an enormous difference. In the 60’s, President Kennedy set a goal that many said was impossible – but by the end of that decade, Neil Armstrong had successfully taken his giant leap for humanity. Our government needs to think that big today and commit to prioritizing the transition to an economy powered by more than 80 percent clean energy sources by 2050. That starts with simple, commonsense steps: instead of subsidizing massive fossil fuel corporations, we can create millions of jobs for working families by investing in clean energy. The answer is clear and affordable. The solutions are within our reach – we just need average Americans to come together to make it happen.

The Goals

Bernie’s comprehensive plan to combat climate change and make sure our planet is habitable and safe for our kids and grandkids will:

    • Cut U.S. carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2030 and by over 80 percent by 2050 by putting a tax on carbon pollution, repealing fossil fuel subsidies and making massive investments in energy efficiency and clean, sustainable energy such as wind and solar power.
    • Create a Clean-Energy Workforce of 10 million good-paying jobs by creating a 100% clean energy system. Transitioning toward a completely nuclear-free clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation is not only possible and affordable it will create millions of good jobs, clean up our air and water, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
    • Return billions of dollars to consumers impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change. Bernie will tax polluters causing the climate crisis, and return billions of dollars to working families to ensure the fossil fuel companies don’t subject us to unfair rate hikes. Bernie knows that climate change will not affect everyone equally – disenfranchised minority communities and the working poor will be hardest hit. The carbon tax will also protect those most impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change.

The Plan

Reclaim our Democracy from the Billionaire Fossil Fuel Lobby

The fossil fuel industry spends billions and billions of dollars lobbying and buying candidates to block virtually all progress on climate change. At the national level where companies have to report what they spend on lobbying and campaign contributions, the oil companies, coal companies and electric utilities spent a staggering $2.26 billion in federal lobbying since 2009 and another $330 million in federal campaign contributions. Even in Washington, that’s a lot of money.

But that’s just the part we know about. Thanks to the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the fossil fuel industry can pour unlimited amounts of money into the political system without having to disclose how much or where they spend it.

So what does the fossil fuel industry get in exchange for all that money? They get friends who help them keep $135 billion dollars in tax subsidies and corporate welfare over the next decade. They write legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. They block efforts to move us beyond oil by blocking the development and deployment of clean, sustainable energy.

This makes it harder to take action to fight climate change. But the solutions are possible. Together there is nothing we can’t achieve.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Ban fossil fuels lobbyists from working in the White House. Massive lobbying and unlimited super PAC donations by the fossil fuel industry gives these profitable companies disproportionate influence on our elected leaders. This practice is business as usual in Washington and it is not acceptable. Heavy-handed lobbying causes climate change skepticism. It has no place in the executive office.
      • End the huge subsidies that benefit fossil fuel companies. When fossil-fuel companies are racking up record profits, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies to pad their already enormous earnings. After all, it is immoral that some in Congress advocate harsh cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while those same people vote to preserve billions in tax breaks for the most profitable corporations in America.
      • Create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities. Low-income and minority neighborhoods will continue to be the hardest hit if we don’t act to stop climate change now. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast, flooding 80 percent of the city of New Orleans. Some areas of the city were submerged in as much as 10 feet of water, and 28 percent of residents had no way to leave the city. Almost 100,000 African American residents who left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina never returned. The reality of the impacts of the storm on the African American community in New Orleans exposed the broader trend that low-income and minority communities face the brunt of climate change impacts first and worst.
      • Bring climate deniers to justice so we can aggressively tackle climate change. It is an embarrassment that Republican politicians, with few exceptions, refuse to even recognize the reality of climate change, let alone are prepared to do anything about it. The reality is that the fossil fuel industry is to blame for much of the climate change skepticism in America. Bernie recently called for the Department of Justice to investigate Exxon Mobil, which may have not only known about the dangers of climate change, but has spent millions of dollars to spread doubt about the causes and impacts of burning fossil fuels.
      • Fight to overturn Citizens United. In a 5-4 decision in 2010 in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations and the super wealthy to spend unlimited and undisclosed money to buy our elected officials. The Supreme Court essentially declared that corporations, including fossil fuel corporations, have the same rights as natural-born human beings. This decision has enabled billionaires and special interests to increasingly control the political campaign finance system, and amounts to legalized bribery.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced a constitutional amendment that prohibits for-profit corporations from making contributions or expenditures into political campaigns. In other words, Bernie’s amendment reaffirms what’s already in the Constitution: the right to vote belongs to people, and not corporate entities whose money is drowning out the rest of us.

      • Back legislation to publicly finance elections. Bernie wants to move toward public funding of elections to promote a more even playing field where anyone can run for office without having to beg for money from the wealthy and the powerful. Public funding of elections increases voter participation, helps lower the influence of outside money and lowers the amount of time politicians spend fundraising, allowing them to implement solutions, as they were elected to do. He envisions a future of inclusivity that would restore our American democracy by ensuring each citizen has equal power in determining the future leaders of our nation.

Accelerate a Just Transition Away from Fossil Fuels

Scientists warn us if we continue burning fossil fuels, we will experience cataclysmic change, in terms of more disease, more hunger, more drought, more famine, rising sea levels, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances and more human suffering. That means we must leave the vast majority of global reserves of coal, natural gas and oil in the ground.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie recently co-sponsored the Keep It in the Ground Act to ban future fossil fuel leases on our public lands. His legislation would keep over 90 percent of the potential carbon emissions from fossil fuels on our federal lands and waters underground forever.

Bernie believes we must transition away from fossil fuel consumption to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. But our transition away from fossil fuels must be fair to those currently working in the energy sector, which means those workers and their families must be able to depend on safe, living-wage jobs.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Embrace a science-based standard for carbon pollution emissions reductions. We have a very limited window of time to transition away from fossil fuels toward clean energy for all Americans to prevent a global temperature increase that will cause cataclysmic impacts. Bernie knows that to maintain a safe and healthy planet for our kids and grandchildren we must listen to the scientists who say we must decrease carbon pollution emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
      • Put a price on carbon. Bernie agrees with leading economists on both ends of the political spectrum: a tax on carbon is one of the most straightforward and cost-effective strategies for quickly fighting climate change.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie is introducing the gold standard climate change bill that will tax polluters causing the climate crisis and return billions of dollars to working families to ensure the fossil fuel companies don’t subject Americans to unfair rate hikes. The carbon tax will also protect low-income and minority communities that are most impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change.

      • Protect the health of our children. Kids are uniquely threatened by air pollution from sources like coal plants and oil refineries. Children’s lungs are more sensitive to air pollution than adults. Climate change exacerbates existing air pollution problems, which will only increase the health impacts on children, especially those with respiratory diseases like asthma. As a father of four and a grandfather of seven, Bernie cares about leaving clean air and a healthy, livable planet for all of our kids and grandchildren.
      • Create clean, domestic energy alternatives to power our cars and trucks. The transportation sector accounts for about 26 percent of carbon pollution emissions. We must move our transportation sector beyond oil by running our cars and trucks on electricity generated by solar and wind power. We need efficient public transportation, advanced renewable fuels and high-speed passenger and cargo rail.
      • Ban Arctic oil drilling. Bernie knows that drilling in the Arctic Circle and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at a time when we face a serious climate emergency is unthinkable. Research shows that drilling in the Arctic is inconsistent with efforts to prevent catastrophic global temperature increases. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which spans 19.6 million acres in Alaska and boasts the greatest biodiversity of any protected area north of the Arctic Circle, is too precious to put at risk from the detrimental consequences of oil production and extraction.
      • Ban offshore drilling. If we are serious about moving beyond oil toward energy independence, lowering the cost of energy, combatting climate change and cutting carbon pollution emissions, then we must ban offshore drilling. If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, it is that Congress must not open new areas to offshore oil drilling.
      • Stop dirty pipeline projects like the Keystone XL. Back in August 2011, Bernie was the first national politician to publicly oppose Keystone XL, because he saw that it would move us in exactly the wrong direction, toward greater dependence on fossil fuels, specifically tar sands oil, but also on one of the dirtiest and most expensive fossil fuels imaginable. Bernie was again the first presidential candidate to oppose the Bakken oil pipeline that would cross Iowa and the first to oppose the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline that would bring fracked natural gas through New Hampshire. We need to invest in clean energy infrastructure not lock ourselves into long-term payments and significant carbon pollution emissions for a pipelines that could cause disastrous oil spills.
      • Stop exports of liquefied natural gas and crude oil. The Department of Energy has found that exporting even half of the natural gas already approved for export could raise U.S. prices by up to 54 percent. Oil and natural gas exports must be in the interest of consumers, the economy, our manufacturing sector and national security – not merely the interest of fossil fuel companies’ bottom line. Especially while we still import oil, we should be transitioning toward clean, sustainable energy instead of incentivizing more extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.
      • Stand with Vermont and other states to ban fracking for natural gas. Fracking threatens our air and water. Disposal of wastewater from fracking causes earthquakes. Oklahoma became the number one place for earthquakes on Earth this year because gas companies inject fracking fluid back into the ground. Fracking is a large-scale industrial process that doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard or deserve exemption from laws that protect the health of our children. That’s why communities all over the country from New York to California and Texas to Colorado have stood up to the oil and gas industry and said they don’t want fracking in their backyards. Bernie was very proud when Vermont became the first state to ban fracking. We have clean energy solutions to climate change, and fracking is not one of them.
      • Ban mountaintop removal coal mining and invest in Appalachian communities. Across the Appalachian Mountain Range, coal companies are blowing up entire mountaintops to get at the thin coal seams below. The communities in the region are paying for this destructive practice in their health, their culture and their natural heritage. Bernie is in staunch opposition to this dirty and damaging practice and believes we must invest in Appalachian communities to help them transition to a clean, prosperous, and healthy future.
      • Close the loopholes that allow the chemical, oil and gas industries to pollute our air and water. Bernie served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, which sits on one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, Lake Champlain. Bernie understands the importance of clean water practices and recognizes how it impacts communities. The federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act have reduced pollution, but they are always under attack by polluters who put profits before the health of our children and grandchildren.
      • Increase fuel economy standards to 65 miles per gallon by 2025. Recent fuel economy standards put us on track to reach 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025, which moves us in right direction, but still leaves us lagging behind the rest of the world. Japan is set to reach that level five years before us, and Europe will do even better, reaching over 65 miles per gallon by 2020. Bernie knows we can do more and make our cars internationally competitive by raising our fuel economy standards to 65 miles per gallon by model year 2025. This will save car owners money at the pump, cut carbon pollution emissions and create good-paying American jobs.
      • Protect public lands by promoting natural resource conservation and habitat preservation. Conservation of our public lands such as our National Parks and Forests are an American tradition and a vehicle for economic growth. Our conserved public land also serves an important role in not only preventing climate change but also in mitigating the catastrophic effects of climate change like floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather that have been increasing in frequency. Bernie is committed to ensuring that Americans have access to urban, suburban and rural recreational green space that are vital to our national heritage and our country’s tradition of recreation and conservation.

Investing in Clean, Sustainable Energy

Choosing to lead the clean energy technology revolution to stop the worst effects of climate change means America will remain a worldwide leader in job creation, domestic manufacturing, local community revitalization and clean energy technology development and implementation.

The solar industry is adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy. Solar industry employment has grown by 86 percent in the past five years, resulting in nearly 80,000 domestic living-wage jobs.

For every dollar invested in energy efficiency, families and businesses can enjoy up to $4 in energy savings, and for every billion dollars invested in energy efficiency upgrades we can create up to 7,000-8,000 new jobs, roughly ten times as many jobs as we would create from the same investments in coal. Investments in clean energy technologies will also keep jobs in America and prevent harm to the economy by preventing the worst impacts of climate change.

Bernie strongly supports efforts to develop and deploy clean, sustainable energy technologies like energy efficiency, solar, wind and geothermal.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Work toward a 100 percent clean energy system and create millions of jobs. Scientists tell us we have a short time to make an aggressive cut in our carbon pollution emissions. Transitioning toward a completely clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation is not only possible and affordable it will create millions of good jobs, clean up our air and water and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
      • Invest in clean, sustainable energy sources powered by the sun, wind and Earth’s heat. Massive and sustained investment in clean energy technology development and implementation can get us where scientists tell us we need to be. It’s no great secret that clean energy technologies are a good investment. We actually get more energy out of the money invested in sustainable energy technologies than we do out of fossil fuel. Clean energy technology has no associated fuel costs, which means there are no price spikes like we see with oil and gas. The cost of deploying solar panels has gone down by more than 80 percent since 2008, thanks to tax credits and federally funded research and development. Our national solar capacity will soon provide enough energy to power four million homes.

        Similarly, wind tax credits spurred the development of wind farms that now provide enough power for 16.7 million American homes. In fact, wind provided almost 30 percent of all new domestic power capacity in the last five years. Last year, nearly 30 percent of the electricity used in Iowa came from the wind. The decreasing cost of wind and solar demonstrates that we can have a 100 percent clean energy future.

      • Invest in advanced renewable fuels and keep our energy dollars at home. Renewable fuels have become a key component of our national strategy to move beyond oil in the fight against climate change. Renewable fuels must be produced in a way that achieves our environmental and energy security goals. We must both ensure that our renewable fuels production is truly sustainable, and we must also prevent the oil companies from derailing our progress in developing cleaner and more sustainable alternatives to gasoline and diesel. We should emphasize new, clean technologies like cellulosic ethanol and algae-based fuels. Advanced biofuels have enormous potential to deliver dramatic reductions in carbon pollution and strengthen rural economies, all while keeping our energy dollars here at home instead of sending them overseas to oil oligarchs in Russia and the Middle East.
      • Invest in solar energy and put money back in the pockets of consumers. Bernie believes that solar energy is one of the most promising sources of clean energy for America’s future. That’s why he supports making billions of dollars of investments in renewable energy, like solar. Bernie recently introduced the Low Income Solar Act to increase low-income families’ access to solar energy by making it more affordable for people who own their own home and incentivize access to community solar projects. Investing in solar energy is just as important for the economy as it is for the Earth. Bernie supports solar net metering, which means that people who invest in solar should be able to offset the cost – or in some cases even make money – on their electric utility bill. He recognizes that as we lower the cost of solar energy and increase our use of solar, we can create hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing and installation careers in this country.
      • Invest in making all American homes more energy efficient. Energy Efficiency is a “low-hanging fruit” because the investments made in energy efficiency are so effective in reducing carbon pollution emissions, and the return on investment is so quick. For every dollar invested in energy efficiency technologies, like weatherization and efficient light bulbs, energy customers can enjoy up to four dollars in savings. Bernie has long been a champion of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that help rural and low-income families make their homes more energy efficient and lower their energy bills. At a time when we spend on average of $350 billion a year on foreign oil, we must take every possible step to invest in cheaper energy here in the United States. That’s why Bernie recently introduced the Residential Energy Savings Act to provide federal loans to states to perform energy efficiency updates to provide homeowners with valuable energy savings.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie secured $3.2 billion dollars for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant initiative in the stimulus bill, which was consistently rated a top-15 job creating program in the years after it was implemented. This grant helped to install over 9,500 solar systems and perform energy upgrades on approximately 86,000 buildings, which is saving consumers many billions of dollars in energy costs while also making our air cleaner by reducing pollution.

      • Support American workers moving into clean energy jobs. Our transition to a clean energy economy has created hundreds of thousands of jobs all over the United States, and Bernie’s climate change plan will create millions more. But we must ensure our transition from fossil fuels to clean energy is a just transition for workers. That’s why Bernie is introducing the Clean Energy Workers Just Transition Act, which provides the most comprehensive package of benefits for workers, including extended unemployment benefits, education opportunities, health care and job training for those transitioning to a career in the clean energy industry. Additionally, the bill ensures that workers in the clean energy industry will be able to organize a union to ensure living wages and safe working conditions. It also makes billions of dollars of investments in communities most affected by a transition to a clean energy future.
      • Invest in an affordable energy storage solution that will allow us to fulfill our clean energy needs. Affordable energy storage technologies like batteries allow clean energy technologies like wind and solar to be integrated onto the electric grid – even when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Effective storage systems can affordably balance energy supply with demand by capturing energy at times when there is excess energy on the system for use during hours of high demand. Battery storage continues to develop and is becoming increasingly more affordable for families all over the country.
      • Build geothermal power plants to create full time family-wage jobs for operations, engineering, maintenance, and administration. Bernie believes that geothermal energy should play an important role in our country’s future energy portfolio. Geothermal systems can use the constant underground heat to provide heating when it is cool outside and to pull heat from buildings when it is warm outside. Geothermal energy power plants are less expensive than new modern natural gas plants and can be called on to produce power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Geothermal conserves energy, reduces pollution and saves money all at once.
      • Utility-Scale Clean Energy Generation. There are hundreds of thousands of roofs with solar panels, but research and technology developments have significantly improved sustainable energy technologies that are making large-scale clean energy an affordable reality. For example, advancements in utility-scale concentrated solar allows power from the sun to be stored for later use, even when the sun is not shining. Most importantly, concentrated solar power installations create permanent jobs and provide economic support for surrounding communities, which tend to be rural.
      • Enable greater consumer choice in energy. Americans should have the ability to choose affordable clean technologies for their home and businesses. Additionally, the electric utilities and fossil fuel industries should not be able to get in the way of that choice. Grid modernization technologies enable greater consumer choice and ultimately utility bill savings by making it easier for families to connect clean energy resources to the grid.
      • Begin a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States. Bernie believes that solar, wind, geothermal power and energy efficiency are proven and more cost-effective than nuclear – even without tax incentives – and that the toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology’s benefit. Especially in light of lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima meltdown, Bernie has also raised questions about why the federal government invests billions into federal subsidies for the nuclear industry. We can have an affordable carbon-free, nuclear-free energy system and we must work for a safe, healthy future for all Americans.
      • Provide global clean energy funding to vulnerable countries. The United States should lead the international community in funding technology development and deployment solutions for the most vulnerable developing countries as part of any international agreement.

Revolutionize our Electric and Transportation Infrastructure

In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for about 26 percent of carbon pollution emissions. That’s the second largest contribution to our total carbon emissions after the electricity sector, which accounts for about 31 percent.

When we built out our state-of-the-art rail system in the early 1860’s we became global leaders. But now our rail system pales in comparison to Japan, Germany and even China in terms of our high-speed passenger and cargo rail systems. Bernie will invest in interstate and intercity high-speed rail systems to bring people and commodities to their destinations more efficiently to save time and money.

We must also invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, just as we built an interstate highway system in the 1950s and 1960s. Many customers are interested in moving beyond oil toward an electric car, but the concerns of cost and whether there will be access to a charging station prevent many people from being able to choose this low-carbon option.

Both our transportation and electricity infrastructures must be updated. We still have electric lines and bridges that were built around the time Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Modernizing the electrical grid helps balance higher amounts of clean energy, decreases outages and improves efficiency.

Bernie believes that infrastructure investments can create jobs and lead to a cleaner future.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Build electric vehicle charging stations. In a country where nearly 30 percent of carbon pollution emissions come from the transportation sector, it is imperative that we end our dependence on gasoline. Vehicles that run on electricity are more efficient than internal combustion engines and can be powered with renewable energy resources like wind and solar. We need to support the development of vehicle charging stations that will allow us to drive cleanly and sustainably.
      • Build high-speed passenger and cargo rail. Our nation’s rail system is largely obsolete, even though our energy-efficient railroads move more freight than ever, and Amtrak’s ridership has never been higher. While Amtrak’s fastest train travels at an average speed of just 65 mph, high-speed rail now crisscrosses most of Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China with trains that run up to 200 mph. Once we have a state-of-the-art rail system, we will not only be able to move passengers and cargo faster and more efficiently, we will make significant cuts in carbon pollution emissions that cause climate change and create millions of permanent family-wage jobs for electricians, pipe fitters and sheet-metal workers.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced the Rebuild America Act to invest $15 billion to improve rail so America can begin to catch up with the rest of the world.

    • Make our cities more walkable and take more cars off the road. Public transit can move more people in fewer vehicles, which is good for clean air and reducing carbon pollution emissions. Public transportation saves enough electricity to power nearly 5 million homes in the United States. Despite the potential for public transit and biking to save Americans money and reduce emissions, the United States has a long way to go to make the roads safe for those who choose these alternative modes of transportation.
  • Update and modernize the energy grid. Some of our grid infrastructure has not been updated since it was first built in the 1920s and 1930s. This causes hundreds of avoidable power failures and interruptions each year. Today, power failures cost the economy $164 billion annually, stemming from impacts like lost productivity and wasted food. Those costs are only expected to increase as climate change causes more extreme weather, which can knock the power out. Additionally, our grid is highly centralized and therefore susceptible to cyber and physical attacks. Technology development in clean energy resources and electric grid improvements have enabled “smart” technologies, programs and policies to create a safer, more sustainable energy system. The “smart grid” offers real benefits for consumers and the environment.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced the Rebuild America Act, which would invest $10 billion a year for power transmission, distribution and modernization projects that will improve the reliability and resiliency of our ever more complex electrical grid. The bill will also help increase access to broadband internet, which can also enable better, safer and more reliable electrical service.

Lead the International Community to Solve Climate Change and Prevent International Conflict.

Climate change is not just an “environmental issue,” but a global security issue as well. Climate change is an international crisis that threatens vulnerable communities all over the world.

The CIA and the Department of Defense both say that climate change is one of the great security issues facing this planet. As we see more and more drought, as people around the world are unable to grow the food they need to survive, people will migrate for survival. Instability can cause international conflict.

The United States must lead the world by working with China, Russia, India and the rest of the international community to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. We need a global commitment to reduce carbon pollution emissions.

The U.S. needs to lead the international community in the fight against climate change to maintain American economic strength and global security.

The United States has a unique opportunity to lead the international community in innovating strategies to cut climate pollution to avoid the most devastating damage of global climate change and adapt to the impacts that we cannot avoid. Our progress in reducing pollution levels over the last ten years has given us the credibility to demand that major developing nations also take bold action. In the past year, we have seen historic new commitments from countries like China and India who are for the first time putting forth their own aggressive climate agendas.

As president, Bernie will:

    • Convene a climate summit with the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities in his first 100 days. The United Nations Paris climate talks in December are an important milestone toward solving climate change, but even optimistic outcomes of these talks will not put the world on the path needed to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change. We must think beyond Paris. In the first 100 days of Bernie’s Presidency, he will convene a summit of the world’s best climate experts to chart a course toward the healthy future we all want for our families and communities.
    • Lead countries in cutting climate change. Climate change is the greatest global challenge, and must be met with global solutions. The United States has contributed greatly to climate change, but also has the greatest opportunity and know-how to lead in implementing climate change solutions. The argument that we shouldn’t act until other countries do is falling by the wayside as China, India and many other countries have come to the table with initial commitments to take significant action to solve climate change.
  • Plan for peace to avoid international climate-fueled conflict. Changes in rainfall patterns, higher temperatures and more frequent natural disasters such as droughts and flooding due to climate change pose a direct threat to our global food and energy supply. In the United States, this could mean higher food and energy prices. In some developing countries, the effects could be even worse, and lead to temporary or more permanent situations where not enough food or water is available for everyone. This has the potential to result in an international climate-fueled conflict. Bernie believes that we must plan for peace now in order to prepare for this sort of dire conflict that is already beginning to unfold in parts of the world.

 

Environmental Terrorists Meet In Paris


 

Activists of global anti-poverty charity Oxfam, wearing masks depicting some of the world leaders, stage a protest ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, known as the COP21 summit, in Paris, France, November 28, 2015. (photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

Activists of global anti-poverty charity Oxfam, wearing masks depicting some of the world leaders, stage a protest ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, known as the COP21 summit, in Paris, France, November 28, 2015. (photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News – 03 December 15

 

World “leaders” hold world hostage, no release seen soon

 

Maybe that sub-head is too bleak, maybe it’s unjustified, maybe there is an invisible political will to survive more than the next fiscal quarter or election. If COP21, the UN climate conference that began November 30, actually manages to provide some reason to believe the world will not continue to stumble deliberately toward self-incineration, that would beat present expectations. But even that unlikely result would be far short of the profound changes needed to prevent the world from heating more than the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) already considered inevitable – and calamitous.

COP21 stands for the 21st session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty established in 1992 (at the Rio Earth Summit) “to consider what they could do to limit global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with its impacts.” Like the UN, UNFCCC is dominated by the richest and most powerful countries, whose perceived interests give little weight to the needs of the poorest or most vulnerable countries. 

That underlying structural problem of power imbalance is amplified at COP21 by sheer numbers. COP 21 has at least 36,276 registered individual participants. Of these, 23,161 people represent 198 countries (two of which are only observers). There are another 1,236 observer organizations, including 36 units of the UN, 71 intergovernmental organizations, and 1,109 non-governmental organizations, altogether represented by 9,411 people. And there are 1,366 media organizations with 3,704 registered participants. All of them (and all of us) will have to slog through jargon and Orwellian language which have the effect of obscuring meaning, not exposing it. 

The official goal of this gathering of world leaders is: “COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.”

COP21 is theatre of the absurd, diverting the frogs as the water boils

What passes for global “leadership” has already pissed away more than three decades since climate change was identified as a clear and present danger to life on earth. Even now the world’s leaders appear content to lounge in their comfortable bubbles of denial of reality and conflicts of interest that reinforce that useful denial. We live in a time when shameful leaders almost everywhere appear to lack the capacity for shame, much less the capacity to change their shameful behavior.

They aim to achieve a legally binding agreement on climate? If they wanted a legally binding agreement, or even an agreement that worked, they would have had one long since. 

They aim to achieve a universal agreement on climate? They don’t need a universal agreement on climate, they need only to agree among the powerful few and the agreement would then be universal.  

Those making a globe-saving agreement unlikely, if not impossible, are the ones who brought the globe to the climate brink in the first place. These are the governments that have for decades subsidized their oil and coal companies, whose social conscience is exemplified by Exxon. Almost 40 years ago, in 1977, Exxon learned that carbon dioxide produced by burning oil and gas was warming the planet and could threaten humanity. Exxon immediately blew the whistle – on sharing that information. Continuing to accept government subsidies, Exxon poured millions of dollars into a decades-long disinformation campaign debunking the climate change it knew to be real. In effect, even after the government knew through other sources about global warming, government continued to subsidize Exxon’s possibly criminal lies to the government and the public. Forbes magazine defends Exxon, arguing that Exxon was right because global warming has increased more slowly than predicted by some.

Corporate polluters embedded in UNFCCC (go ahead, pronounce it)

Exxon and its ilk have long had a heavy hand in UN activities to address climate change and they are well-represented at COP21. It is not in their interest to have the conference reach an enforceable and universal agreement, because most of their corporate assets are oil and coal in the ground and they can’t cash in on the value of those assets without burning them, no matter what they do to the planet. 

When a society, in this case a global society, sets out to confront criminal behavior, if they’re serious, they don’t convene a conference of criminals. Assuming that planetary destruction is at least a crime against humanity (this is controversial in some circles) what earthly sense does it make to have the world’s global plunderers, governmental and corporate, choose themselves to figure out how to reduce their plunder without reducing their profits and power?

Having absolute authority to take ameliorative steps on their own initiative, the plunderers swamp the credulous media with claims that an unwieldy conference with a track record of 23 years of failure is the only possible way to find a solution to the dangers of climate change. To emphasize that opinion, the plunderers exclude the most articulate voices against plunder from their conference. Those are the lucky ones. The less lucky are deposed by military coup and jailed, while the US is quick to recognize the coup government of the Maldives as it promptly issues offshore oil leases, showing their willingness to see their own people drown sooner or later. Like the Marshall Islands (under US “protection”), the Maldives are a looming test case of whether the world prefers long term humanity over short term profit. 

The Marshall Islands were the subject of a long, lavishly illustrated page one piece in the December 2 New York Times fatalistically headlined “Pacific Island Nation Struggles Against Relentless Rising Sea (and worse online: “The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing”). The story is strangely disconnected from COP21, as if assuming there’s nothing that can be done to save the Marshall Islands. The Times even characterizes foreign minister Tony A. deBrum as somewhat unconcerned with saving his country:  

Mr. deBrum’s focus is squarely on the West’s wallets – recouping “loss and damage,” in negotiators’ parlance, for the destruction wrought by the rich nations’ industrial might on the global environment. Many other low-lying nations are just as threatened by rising seas.… But the Marshall Islands holds an important card: Under a 1986 compact, the roughly 70,000 residents of the Marshalls, because of their long military ties to Washington, are free to emigrate to the United States, a pass that will become more enticing as the water rises on the islands’ shores.

Speaking, as it typically does, in the voice of the plundering class, the Times frames the destruction of a sovereign nation in terms of issues that matter to the plunderers: they want our money, and they want to come here – the horror. But the full moral squalor of the Times as plunderer mouthpiece comes later. The Times describes neighborhoods in the Marshall Islands that already suffer periodic flooding with salt water and raw sewage, followed by sickness and disease, fever and dysentery, in a cycle that will only repeat more quickly as warming continues. Such health conditions would be forbidden in the US. The Times, sounding like Marie Antoinette with the monstrous detachment of the rich and unaffected, worries only that Marshall Islanders “could see their homes unfit for human habitation within the coming decades.”

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”

The plunderers also ban peaceful protest against plundering, using the “terrorism” threat as an excuse to prevent protest against the eco-terrorism of the plunderers. When the plunderers’ gag on free speech is met with non-violent protest, the plunderers’ police respond with a violent put down and 200 arrests. This is Paris now. The local police state also used the “terrorism” smear to raid the homes of climate change activists, putting them in house arrest without charges. French President François Hollande, a head of a leading plunderer state, lied about the police actions this way:

This is why these protests are not authorized. We knew there would be troublemakers, who by the way have nothing to do with climate activists, or those who want the conference to succeed, and who are there only to create problems. That’s why they were put under house arrest. And it’s doubly unfortunate, I’d even say scandalous, Place de la Republique, where there are all these flowers and also candles placed in memory of those who were killed by the bullets of terrorists.

While Hollande’s first remarks are commonly dishonest, unprovable smears of unnamed and uncharged citizens, his last remark is a callous, demagogic lie. Video of the police attack shows that the memorial at the Place de la Republique was protected by the protesters and trashed by the police.

As with past UN climate meetings, peaceful protesters have been kept away from the eyes and ears of registered participants. What does it say about the participants’ arguments about climate change to see that they need police to protect them from counter-arguments? As one protester said, commenting on their exclusion from any meaningful part in the process: “If you’re not at the table, you are on the menu. So, we want to be at the table.”

Do the people at the table care what happens after they’re dead?

If the people at the table actually thought and felt in global terms, if they actually thought and felt in generational terms, they could not possibly act as they do, fecklessly, ineffectively, self-servingly and soullessly. Their terrorism is magnitudes larger than the “terrorism” they pretend to “protect” us against with their creeping totalitarian controls. If it were otherwise, there would not be so many casualties among climate change action advocates. Another such excluded expert is Pablo Solon, a former chief negotiator for Bolivia, now denied a seat at the table. He went to Paris to protest against the scripted charade of COP21, where there is no negotiation of unenforceable national promises to reduce emissions. Perhaps the conference would be better named COP-OUT21, if Solon is right:  

There is an official document from the UNFCCC that says,… we are going to be increasing the temperature between 2.7 to 3.9 degrees Celsius…. And now to be speaking about [global warming of] four degrees or five degrees Celsius is, to put it in other terms, to burn the planet. So the Paris agreement is an agreement that will see the planet burn.

For that prediction to be wrong, our global “leaders” need to change their behavior in radical ways that they have so far shown every intention of resisting. More likely Paris is another sham. It’s as if a ship captain with a vessel taking on water demands that the crew bail faster, and viciously punishes anyone trying to plug the hole. Faced with the need to reverse course to avoid calamity, the captains of our ships of state have gathered to discuss only the possibility of slowing down, while maintaining the same course.

    • 50% of the world’s population, the poorer half, cause only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

  • 10% of the world’s population, the richest 10%, cause almost 50% of greenhouse gas emissions.   

The plunderers show little interest in sacrificing their wealth to save the poor, or the planet. Among US presidential candidates so far, only Bernie Sanders has acknowledged that climate change is the most serious national security issue this (or any other) country faces. His campaign is predicated on the possibility of a political revolution from below, which might allow the possibility of US actions consistent with protecting the planet. It’s not that the ways to protect the planet are unknown or unachievable. But the best ways to protect the planet – especially keeping fossil fuels in the ground – are fundamentally unacceptable to those whose present interests are in conflict with efforts to keep the planet from burning. And the plunderers still control the game at the top.