Big Issue #2 – Confronting Climate Change

Harry Potter fans know that referring to Lord Voldemort is taboo and he is often referenced by “he who shall not be named.” I use this example as the White House Counsel on the Environment under President George W. Bush would order the deletion of any references to global warming or climate change in scientific papers under his purview. Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida had edicts that prevented any staffers from mentioning global warming or climate change in the press or public appearances.

Taking a page from this real life book, our President-Elect has appointed Myron Ebell, a non-scientist and climate change denier as the head of his EPA transition team. He has also noted that he will rescind US involvement in the Paris Climate Change Accord signed by 195 countries, a campaign promise that did not get enough media attention. So, climate change has now become the new Lord Voldemort, so it should not be mentioned in the new administration.

The President-Elect’s stance on climate change and environmental issues have been the most troubling parts of his candidacy and future Presidency. The World Economic Forum in its 2015 and 2016 Global Risk Reports cited insufficient action to confront climate change as one of the top two risks facing our planet in the next ten years. The other is our global water crisis, which is made more concerning with climate change as water resources will evaporate at a greater clip, drought areas will be more dry, forest fires will be more intense and fossil fuel energy acquisition and production uses so much water, not all of which can be recaptured.

At this time, our President-Elect’s stance on climate change is of great concern to folks around the world as he is being beseeched by major countries like China, France and Germany and major global companies not to rescind the US involvement in the Paris Climate Change Accord. Should he move forward with his campaign promise, China will take the global lead in tackling climate change and our government will not play a role.

Irrespective of his position, we have fortunately passed a tipping point on renewable energy as the cost has become more on par with fossil fuel sources. Plus, renewable energy has a virtuous cycle that will make it even more cost-effective, in that energy does not have to be used to make more energy. This virtuous cycle is important, as utilities will be less inclined to invest in huge fossil-fuel fired plants, if a long term cost-effective way of delivering energy exists.

In the absence of our government’s involvement, groups like The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, will likely take our place at the table working with other nations. I envision climate change leaders coming to our country, not to visit with our new President, but to visit with coalitions and companies who are investing in our renewable energy future. By itself, California is one of the more prolific solar energy providers in the world and Texas and plains states are heavily invested in wind energy. What troubles me is we need to increase our efforts, not just continue them, which is why our government needs to remain invested in these areas, as well.

And, we need to shoot straight with people over actual data and not artificial data on questionable websites. The solar energy industry in the US is growing jobs at a double-digit annual rate with well over 200,000 US jobs. Coal energy has been on the demise for several years in large part due to cheaper natural gas, but also due to the growth in renewable energy. It pains me to see politicians who have not been truthful with coal workers who now number in the 60,000 range. Those jobs have been retrenching for years and will continue to do so and these politicians know that. The key reason is the impact on our planet, but also the ongoing cost to maintain coal ash sites long after the coal was used to create energy.

So, we can continue to lead this effort and remain allied with 97% of scientists, every major scientific organization on the planet and our own Department of Defense, who says climate change is a major threat to national security. Or, our leaders can retrench on the issue and let China, Germany and others play a lead. If we want a place at the global table, then we might want to follow the science. There is no Planet B.

26 thoughts on “Big Issue #2 – Confronting Climate Change

  1. Keith I have to take a break until after surgery. Your knowledgeable (if spelt correctly) blog fills with anger and fear I need to become calm and relaxed for Monday so I will read your words after my surgery. I am concerned with the affairs in our government but it is stressful.

  2. I truly admire your tenacity. It seems abundantly clear that our new president and his cohorts will trash all restrictions to continued rape of the environment. Our hope is that the rest of the world together with some individual states will take up the challenge and continue to work together to save the planet.

    • Hugh, thanks. Thomas Friedman noted on Bill Maher’s show that if the US backpedaled on the Paris Climate Change Accord, the backlash may be embarrassingly severe. DT does not like being shamed, so it will be interesting to see if you changes his position. Thanks, Keith

  3. Dear Keith and friends,

    I am not giving our president-elect any more kumbaya time. He has already shown his hand.He is either beholden to the oil companies propaganda or the well being of the American peoples. When it comes to climate change, he can’t be both.

    Ciao, Gronda

    • Gronda, he is not making good decisions, adding Jeff Sessions to the mix, whose racist past will be brought up at his confirmation hearing. See my comment herein about what Thomas Friedman said about not supporting climate change fight. Keith

  4. Dear Keith and friends,

    This climate change issue and the dismantling of the EPA are big deals. I do not agree with burdensome regulations but addressing climate change and having a well run, effective EPA is crucial. All Americans including the non haters who voted for DT want their children to be able to have a clean environment. Those hard working folks who are hurting have children too.

    For me, this is a line in the sand I plan to relieve my youth by being active in an insurgency v the Trump administration.
    Ciao, Gronda.

    • Gronda, this is a major issue, I agree. We cannot retrench on the EPA or battling climate change. Ironically, the EPA may be Nixon’s greatest achievement. Keith

  5. Note to Readers: One of my frustrations is when leaders know better, but act politically. Even with Trump’s public climate denial stance, his coastal golf course in Ireland formally petitioned the Irish government for permission to build a sea wall to protect against rising seas due to climate change.

    • This tidbit about the golf course is one of the very few LOL things about DT and climate change. I suspect that Clinton might have done better if she had aired a climate change ad broadly similar to the daisy/nukes ad that LBJ used against Goldwater.

      • Agreed on all counts. There are many things that HRC could have emphasized more. A key part of the Trump strategy was to keep her off issues and on the defensive. If the millennials knew Trump’s position on climate change, they may have been more invested in the election. I also would have preferred Senator Corey Booker as her VP as he is an extremely articulate legislator who would have appealed to a greater audience than HRC by herself.

      • I do not recall that any of HRC’s ads targeted DT’s loony positions on climate (or taxes). Hitting DT’s sleaziness and itchy trigger finger was appropriate but may have left the impression that there was nothing else wrong with him.

        Yes, many millenials were maddeningly apathetic. Emphasis on climate could well have helped with them. With those noncollege working class males (who were not so put off by macho sleaziness), telling them the many ways that DT wants to shaft them AND their children might also have helped.

      • All good points. I read today that HRC took states like Wisconsin for granted and made no visits after the Convention. She also tended to go to more urban sites, where Trump went to more rural areas. The fact he and his party are the least likely to help those rural voters matters not. His attendance there mattered.

      • HRC was virtually invisible in Minnesota from where I sit. I do believe she fumbled the political football — perhaps taking too much for granted?

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