All posts in Climate Change

  • oil well
    Peter Jones - April 24, 2014

    Comments on the Great American Divide

    Politicians who accept environmental studies of the world climate as summarized in the IPCC Reports are certain that Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) are the cause of global warming.  Other politicians who reject this causal connection refer to the significant changes in earth’s climate over many millennia. They draw support from some scientists who insist there are too many uncertainties to attribute global warming to this cause.

    The past thirty years have seen wide variations in public opinion polls, which suggests that on the issue of the cause of global warming American voters are undecided who is correct.

    This great divide in US politics coincides with certain philosophical beliefs as to the role of government in a modern economy.  Environmentalists consider that the state (US Government authorities) must enact laws to suppress GHG emissions.  They defend the need for such laws on the ground of a common good that independent minded legislators can recognize and protect, despite a lack of a clear majority in voter opinion.

    The contrary opinion is based on libertarianism. America’s accomplishments come from its absolute commitment to individual liberty.  Enacting laws limiting business activity where there is no clear public recognition of their utility is restrictive of individual rights.  In the long term such laws will erode the entrepreneurial spirit that has made America great.

    Both sides acknowledge that taxation is a necessity for a modern state:  the difference between them is a question of degree. Libertarians regard the current level of taxation as beyond what is reasonable and so an obstacle to the legitimate creation of individual wealth.  The Tea Party, a recent grass-roots political movement, believes that if not checked taxation contributes to a government bureaucracy that is inimical to individual achievement.

    A leading US Senator calls global warming a “hoax”.  US law makers who propose action against global warming are referred to by their opponents as “socialists”. Very recently a leading US environmentalist and former politician referred to global warming sceptics as “immoral, unethical and despicable”, words much stronger than he has used before.   Read more

  • keystone
    Peter Jones - April 21, 2014

    Further Delays for Keystone XL

    You have to follow issues arising in the approval of Transcanada’s Keystone XL pipeline closely to understand the latest delay.

    Two plus years ago TransCanada realized it had to re-route the path of Keystone to avoid fundamental criticism from environmentalists,. The path originally chosen threatened the Oglala aquifer, a critical source of water in the dry American Midwest.

    To expedite a new routing, TransCanada moved quickly, using all legal and commercial means at its disposal.  Unfortunately certain Nebraska farmers were not prepared to be steamrollered. They took their case to court, arguing that the methods TransCanada used were improper.  Late last fall the court delivered its verdict, siding with the farmers.  TransCanada appealed this decision.  Sometime later this year or next the Nebraska Court of Appeal will deliver its judgement.

    In the meantime, the US State Department has extended the period for its administrative review. Until its final review is completed, President Obama will not decide whether Keystone should be approved.

    Supporters of Keystone claim that there is no basis for the decision of the Nebraska Court impacting the President’s decision.  The exact location of the US route is a local and not an international matter.  These supporters demand that the President decide now, and let TransCanada and the Nebraska farmers proceed with their lawsuit. In due course, objections based on state law will be resolved.

    Republican Senators, supported by a handful of Democratic Senators in oil producing states, will attempt to force the President to issue his decision now.  They point out that six years have passed since TransCanada first initiative its request for approval, a delay that they consider to be politically motivated. The Republican Party now controls the House of Representatives, and they will leverage that control to the Party’s advantage.

    The President does have one advantage.  The risks of global warming as a consequence of GHG emissions have been confirmed in recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.   A further IPCC report is due in the fall.  This report will probably emphasize that along with the extraction of fossil fuels, pipeline infrastructure must be scaled back.

    It will be clear what those Reports mean:  “No to Keystone”!

    Recent 4RG Keystone comments:

    April 2014: Stating the Obvious that wasn’t stated!
    January 2014: The Real Issue must be addressed!
    June 2o13 : The Latest in the Keystone XL decision.
    January 2013:  Keystone is dead! 

    For further comments use the site search facility with the search term “Keystone”.

  • renewables
    Peter Jones - April 14, 2014

    Writing on the Wall: the IPCC Fifth Assessment (mitigation)

    The most important statement in the recently released IPCC Report from Working Group III on mitigation is the affirmation that disastrous effects of global warming can still be avoided.

    In practical terms avoidance of disastrous climate change requires international agreement on a price for carbon. The price must reflect the emerging scarcity of disposal space for carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.

    With a price on carbon, fossil fuels will lose their competitive edge over renewable sources of energy. Canada and certain other countries will find that dependence on fossil fuels for energy cannot be sustained.

    There is another consequence for Canada in the displacement of fossil fuels as a source of energy. In future Canada’s fossil fuel resource industry will progressively contribute less and less to our economy.

    Read more

  • Syria
    Peter Jones - April 10, 2014

    An obvious connection: drought and civil war.

    Readers who wish more information on the connection between insurrection, drought and climate change should view the first episode in James Cameron’s series on Climate Change entitled “Years of Living Dangerously”. This episode deals with several countries but most relevant are the interviews and scenes concerning the four years of severe drought in Syria that preceded the civil war in that country.

    This video confirms our conviction that climate change can radically de-stabilize countries.  So we can’t agree with Chris Alexander, the Member of the Canadian Parliament for Scarborough East and now a cabinet minister.  Alexander thinks that terrorism and insurrection is a more important issue than climate change.  He fails to recognize that climate change establishes the conditions for terrorism and insurrection to flourish.

    So we have three areas in Africa and the Middle East – Darfur, Mali and Syria where the connection between drought and war is evident.

    Also remember that the Pentagon considers that climate change raises issues of national security for the United States.  That conclusion should now be obvious to every North American politician.

  • President Obama
    Peter Jones - April 8, 2014

    A human god with feet of clay?

    Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a very effective critic.  His most recent criticism is directed at President Barack Obama, who is a hero to people who look to the US for leadership on climate change.

    Chomsky’s criticism was preceded by his short summary of the world’s bleak situation:

    “But another dire peril casts its shadow over any contemplation of the future – environmental disaster. It’s not clear that there even is an escape, though the longer we delay, the more severe the threat becomes – and not in the distant future.  . . .  “

    Chomsky referred to a speech of President Obama’s two years ago in the oil town of Cushing, Okla., in which the President stated:

     ”Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.”

    Chomsky observed:

    “The corporate sector is carrying out major propaganda campaigns to convince the public that climate change, if happening at all, does not result from human activity. These efforts are aimed at overcoming the excessive rationality of the public, which continues to be concerned about the threats that scientists overwhelmingly regard as near-certain and ominous. To put it bluntly, in the moral calculus of today’s capitalism, a bigger bonus tomorrow outweighs the fate of one’s grandchildren.”

    Chomsky concluded:

    “What are the prospects for survival then? They are not bright. But the achievements of those who have struggled for centuries for greater freedom and justice leave a legacy that can be taken up and carried forward – and must be, and soon, if hopes for decent survival are to be sustained. And nothing can tell us more eloquently what kind of creatures we are.”

    4RG recognizes the terrible dilemma of politicians, who must continue to retain support from a majority of today’s electorate, an electorate that too often is indifferent to solving tomorrow’s problem.    No doubt President Obama has had to wrestle with this dilemma. i

    But as much as we sympathize, we must side with Chomsky.  The prospects of survival of civilization are under threat. Our world leaders must act!

  • borrow
    Peter Jones - March 31, 2014

    Climate change – but no ark in sight!

    The Fifth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released today re-emphasizes the conclusions expressed in previous IPCC Reports.  What is new is a focus on risk.  The Fifth Report sets out the impacts of climate change in considerable detail, with a careful statement of the probability of their occurrence.

    Popular opinion may regard risk consequent on climate change differently from country to country.  People in Northern Temperate Climate Countries may think that global warming can’t be all that bad.  Particularly when they have come through a long, cold winter in which the snowfall compares with winters they experienced as children, oh so long ago – even before the term “climate change” had worked its way into a publicly consciousness. (Does that sound like Canada?)

    Read more