Monthly Archives: June 2013

Obama’s climate change plan: Some reactions

Here is a small selection of responses and reactions to President Obama’s climate change speech.

Michael Mann: ‘The most aggressive and promising climate plan’ from ‘executive branch in years’

Michael Mann is director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center, and a genuine hero, who has been attacked by the climate denial nexus, which has tried to destroy his career. And he is fighting back. His brief statement on President Obama’s climate speech needs to be read in its entirety, but here are some key points…

President Obama acts on climate change by enforcing the law

The centerpiece of the plan is the announcement that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, in addition to the rules already in draft form that are set to regulate emissions from new power plants. The White House released a video to explain the importance of these steps in addressing climate change by decarbonizing the economy.

Climate change: time for action, at last?

Ultimately, we need a comprehensive energy and climate policy that prices carbon pollution and levels the playing field for renewable sources of energy that are not degrading our climate and planet. But given that we have an intransigent congress (the current House Science committee leadership continues to deny even the existence of human-caused climate change), the president has been forced to turn to executive actions. His call for carbon emission limits on *all* coal-fired power plants, not just newly built plants, is a bold step forward. It will go some way to stemming our growing carbon emissions, and the impact they are having on our climate.

Artful and Delphic: Obama on Keystone Pipeline Is All Things at Once

As media tries to make sense of Obama’s obscure remarks on Keystone, the president becomes both an opponent and supporter of the project.

The photo, from NOAA, is a human settlement in/on a marsh in Florida. How much sea level rise, and what kind of storm, will it take to make those houses into nice fishing grounds?

Does idling a car or truck save gas?

In the old days, it was believed that you would save gas by leaving your car running if you planned to use it again within a few minutes. That has probably become less true over time as cars have gotten more and more efficient over time. Apparently, idling your car for even something like 10 seconds uses more gas than turning it off and on again. This is caused by the use of fancy fuel systems that cars use now. This technology is, of course, leveraged in hybrids which turn their internal combustion engines off and on as needed.

Anyway, here is an infographic that provides the details. The simple answer is, no, idling the vehicle is generally not a good idea, so stop doing that.


Historic Heat Wave in the US West Next Week

This is just a weather prediction, so it is subject to revision, but the National Weather Service is expecting an historic heatwave in the American West next week, probably peaking next weekend. Temperatures in Death Valley will approach 130 degrees F, and Las Vegas will top 115 degrees F, if predictions pan out. The heat wave may extend to the Canadian Border.

From Andrew Freedman at Climate Central:

The furnace-like heat is coming courtesy of a “stuck” weather pattern that is setting up across the U.S. and Canada. By early next week, the jet stream — a fast-moving river of air at airliner altitudes that is responsible for steering weather systems — will form the shape of a massive, slithering snake with what meteorologists refer to as a deep “ridge” across the Western states, and an equally deep trough seting up across the Central and Eastern states.

One study, published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences in 2012, found that the odds of extremely hot summers have significantly increased in tandem with global temperatures. Those odds, the study found, were about 1-in-300 during the 1951-1980 timeframe, but that had increased to nearly 1-in-10 by 1981-2010.

Records may be broken. Drink plenty of fluids!

Obama’s Climate Change Speech FTW

No time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.
No time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.

“I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it is not going to protect you from the coming storm. Ultimately we will be judges as a people and as a society and as a country on where we go from here … push back on misinformation, speak up for the facts, broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future, convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution … invest, divest … remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.”

This particular speech by President Barack Obama could be used as an example of how to give a policy speech that includes specific initiatives, will rile the opposition, must inspire the base, and makes great use of the bully pulpit.

President Obama started his speech by underscoring the extra heat caused by global warming: he took off his jacket and invited everyone else to do the same. He noted, rightly, that what we do now about climate will have profound impacts on the younger generation and beyond. He then made reference to the famous Apollo photograph of the Earth, which reminded us that we live on a tiny blue dot. He noted that the basic idea of greenhouse gasses as a thing was not new back when that photograph was taken, and that the idea that our planet’s climate is changing is good science, reviewed and developed over decades. He spent a fair amount of time discussing the effects of climate change on life, livelihood, health and economy, and made a strong statement on indirect costs of climate change.

He discussed what has been done so far by his administration regarding climate and energy policy, but acknowledged that there was more to do. He noted that he had already asked Congress to come up with a plan, and reiterated this request. Which they have not done.

The President said we should use less dirty energy, use more clean energy, waste less energy. He made the specific proposal that we make use of the Clean Air Act, which as he noted passed the Senate unanimously and the house with only one dissenting vote, and signed into law by a Republican president; we will incorporate regulation on “Carbon Pollution” (That’s what we will be calling it from now on) in the existing regulation. New and existing power plants will now be regulated vis-a-vis CO2 output.

He noted that naysayers would claim that all sorts of bad things would happen with these new regulatory applications, but noted that this had been said before whenever major pollution-stemming actions were proposed, and these doomsday scenarios never happened. President Obama made specific reference to earlier uses of the clean air act, removing lead from gasoline, cancer-causing compounds in plastics, and automobile fuel standards. In short, he said we should not bet against American industry or workers, or falsely believe that we must choose between the health of future generations and business.

On the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, Obama quickly reviewed the current process and noted that in order to build it it would have to be “in our national interest” and our national interest would only be served if the project’s net effects did not increase carbon pollution. This seems a good indicator that the pipeline won’t be built, because it would have such effects. We shall see.

President Obama wants to use Natural Gas as a “Transition fuel.” That’s OK, but it may increase the use of Fracking, so again, we’ll see. President Obama noted that over the last four years we’ve doubled the amount of energy we produce with solar and wind power, and that costs have reduced for these technology and that this has created jobs. He noted that 75% of the jobs created by these industries are in Republican districts despite national-level Republican opposition to creating these jobs. The President proposed greenlighting the development of renewable energy technology on public lands sufficient to power 60 million homes by 2020. That seems like a lot, which is good.

He note that he has directed the Department of Defense to install major renewable energy production technology.

One of the most interesting aspects of the new policy is President Obama’s call for Congress to end tax breaks for carbon-polluting industries and invest instead in clean energy. This will require changing the composition of Congress, which can happen during the next midterm election.

The President is calling for new efficiency standards in vehicles, homes, business, and industry. He also called for the federal government to expand its use of renewable energy to 20% over the next seven years. I wonder if this will mean putting solar panels back on the White House!

He then spoke about mitigation. This is what we do because we’ve already messed up the planet too much to avoid severe negative effects. He talked about building better storm-proofing for homes, power grids, coastlines, etc. His proposals include both executive action and budget items that will require Congressional action. So again, the composition of Congress is important.

Internationally, the President discussed various aspects of development that will have strong impacts on climate in the near and medium future, and the increased vulnerably of developing nations to climate change effects. He called for an end to public financing of inefficient or polluting coal plants in developing countries, and global free trade in clean energy technologies.

It is notable that the leader of the free world frequently referred to the basic habitability of the planet a number of times.

He talked about international agreements and the importance of developing an ambitious and inclusive, yet flexible, international plan.

When he completed announcing his plan there was spontaneous extensive and thunderous applause.

President Obama then took up the bully pulpit, encouraging businesses, engineers, etc. to get on board. He then said that those in power (like himself) need to be “…less concerned with the judgement of special interests and well connected donors and more concerned with the judgement of prosperity” because future generations will have to live with the consequences of our decisions. He noted (for the second or third time in the speech) that climate change and related concerns were not always, in the past, a partisan issue. He put in a strong plug for his EPA head nominee, Gina McCarthy, whose appointment is being held up by Senate Republicans for no good reason. This also elicited thunderous applause.

The coolest part of his speech was when he said this:

I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. [spontaneous thunderous applause, laughter, hooting] Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it is not going to protect you from the coming storm. Ultimately we will be judges as a people and as a society and as a country on where we go from here.

He also encouraged people to bring this issue to their own social and professional circles as a matter of discussion. He said “…push back on misinformation, speak up for the facts, broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future, convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution … invest, divest … remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.”

The speech was substantive, effective, impressive, and inspiring. It may have been the best speech President Obama has ever given, and he’s given some darn good ones.

Now, let’s get to work.

If you saw the speech on TV you should know that, depending on which network you watched, various parts were cut out or interrupted. Here is the uncut version:

The President and his people produced the Largest Infographic Ever Seen, so large that it can be seen from the International Space Station when it flies over, on the new climate change policies. Here it is.

The White House has produced a number of infographics that outline the plan, which you can see here

Californial Prop 8 Struck Down by Scotus

From Mercury News:

In a ruling that assures further legal battles, the high court found that backers of Proposition 8 did not have the legal right to defend the voter-approved gay marriage ban in place of the governor and attorney general, who have refused to press appeals of a federal judge’s 2010 ruling finding the law unconstitutional.

It was a 5-4 decision, usual suspects.

Reminder: Who is on the Supreme Court matters.

Reminder: Who is in the White House matters to who is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: Which party controls the Senate matters to the ability of whomever is in the White House to determine who is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: The Senate has boneheaded rules so the above reminder isn’t just about a majority, but about a “supermajority” of 60/100.

Reminder: The Republicans want to restrict marriage, what you do in your bedroom, and reproductive rights of women. The Democrats don’t.

Reminder: Party politics is important, ignore that at your peril.

“DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons”

The Supreme Court of the United States has truck down the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” as unconstitutional. It was a 5-4 decision. A ruling on California Prop 8 is expected soon.

From NPR:

Section 3 of the law defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and a spouse as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” That provision had been struck down by eight lower courts before the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in United States v. Windsor.

This decision means that legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples.

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito dissented.

Reminder: Who is on the Supreme Court matters.

Reminder: Who is in the White House matters to who is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: Which party controls the Senate matters to the ability of whomever is in the White House to determine who is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: The Senate has boneheaded rules so the above reminder isn’t just about a majority, but about a “supermajority” of 60/100.

Reminder: The Republicans want to restrict marriage, what you do in your bedroom, and reproductive rights of women. The Democrats don’t.

Reminder: Party politics is important, ignore that at your peril.

A Republican Failure in Massachusetts

And a win for everyone else. Ed Markey is projected to win the special election for the Senate seat recently vacated by John Kerry, who is now Secretary of State. When Hilary Clinton first announced that she’d be leaving that position, Republicans promised to stop Susan Rice from getting that seat, for totally bogus reasons. The real reason was to increase the chances that Kerry would be appointed in that position, so they could take that Senate seat in Massachusetts.

They didn’t.

Twin Cities June 21st Mega-Storm

The video below has meteorologist Paul Douglas talking about the big storm we had in the Twin Cities a few days ago (from his excellent series of climate change and weather related videos). The storm actually followed on a number of days with a fair amount of rain, and up here in the northern part of the Twin Cities, we had a pretty bad blow with high wind gusts and lots of rain the day before. But on the 21st, a storm swept mainly through the Western Suburbs and Minneapolis, but actually a much wider area than that. I drove down to pick up Julia near Roseville yesterday, a couple of days after the storm went through, and had to change directions four times because of roads being closed, three of those due to the storm (one had to do with a stuck semi, I think unrelated). At present over 10,000 Twin Cities people are without power, and we are having a heat wave. At least one major grocery store in the Western Suburbs (probably several but I only have direct knowledge of one) had to throw out huge quantities of food that they could not refrigerate. Many areas of the city of Minneapolis were left essentially un-navigable, due to down trees and power lines. As Paul points out in his video this was roughly like a 20+ mile wide F0 tornado passing through the area. That’s a great analogy for Twin Cities people because we have tornadoes here. As a person from the East Coast, I might also say it was roughly like a somewhat diminutive Category I hurricane going through (though the hurricane would have lasted an hour or more rather than 20 minutes or more at that intensity).

Anyway, have a look at the video, which is produced by Weather Nation‘s Paul Douglas:

Welcome to the new normal.

Photo from the Pioneer Press.


And this is not a very big if, I think. I’ve only just learned of this, and don’t have details and have not thought about it much but you need to know: It is said that President Obama will nix the Keystone XL Pipeline in the event that the State Department’s study can not prove that it will not increase greenhouse gas emissions. Which is impossible, so ….

We shall see.

Listen to today’s speech to find out what really happens.

More later, of course. Meanwhile, spread it around that he’s gonna say no, then he’ll HAVE to say no. I saw them do that on the West Wing once and it worked great.

Statement on Uttarakhand Catastrophe by India Climate Justice.

The following is a statement from India Climate Justice

We cannot ignore the climate crisis anymore!

25 June 2013

The India Climate Justice collective notes with deep anguish the devastating loss of life, livelihoods, and homes in Uttarakhand and beyond. The death toll is likely in the thousands, way beyond current official figures. We extend our deep condolences to the families and friends of those killed, and our support to those still fighting for survival, and to local populations whose livelihoods will take years to rebuild.

This tragedy was triggered by extreme unseasonal rains in North India, 2-3 weeks in advance of what is normal for this region. The Director of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Dehradun, said that 340 mm fell in a single day at Dehradun, a record not seen for five decades. Such extreme and unseasonal rainfall seems to us to indicate a global warming induced climate change phenomenon. Warmer air due to global warming has the capacity to hold more moisture, leading to more intense bursts of rainfall. The natural monsoon cycle in India has already been badly disrupted, and a new cycle of extreme rainfall events and prolonged droughts have been reported from all over the country in the recent past. Thus, contrary to statements by senior politicians, the Uttarakhand disaster is not natural: it is no less man-made than the other contributors to the tragedy. And if it is indeed induced by global warming, similar catastrophes could recur with increasing frequency and intensity anywhere in the country in the coming years.

In Uttarakhand, a chaotic process of ‘development’ that goes back many years exacerbated the effects of this extreme rain. Extensive deforestation of mountain tracts, by the state and more recently due to ‘development’ projects, led to soil erosion and water run-off, thus destabilizing mountain slopes and contributing to more intense and frequent landslides and floods. Unchecked hill tourism has resulted in the huge growth of vehicular traffic, spread of roads not suitable to this mountainous terrain, and the construction of poorly designed and unregulated hotels and structures, many near rivers. Sand mining along river banks has intensified water flows into rivers.

Most of all, the construction and planning of hundreds of small, medium and large dams across the Himalayan states from Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the northern Himalayas to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the east, have destabilized an already fragile ecosystem and threatened biodiversity. A staggering 680 dams are in various stages of planning, or construction in Uttarakhand alone! These dams have a direct connection with the extent of the damage that can be caused in such flooding events, in that the tunnelling and excavation in the so-called run-of-the-river projects cause huge and unregulated dumping of excavated debris into river basins, leading to increased siltation, and in turn aggravating the flood situation. The electrical power generated by these dams will be consumed by urban elites elsewhere. It is ironic that these dam projects, while adversely impacting people’s access to their river commons, claim to be climate change solutions in the guise of renewable and green energy, and have already made huge profits by fraudulently claiming CDM (clean development mechanism) status. In 2009, the CAG had warned the government of Uttarakhand that the “potential cumulative effect of multiple run-of-the-river projects can turn out to be environmentally damaging”. Like many other warnings by environmentalists and local community groups in the past, this was also ignored. And now we are facing one of the biggest disasters that the country has seen in decades.

The central government of India and various state governments, including the govt of Uttarakhand, have prepared action plans for combating climate change. Any such plan ought to include the establishment of a disaster-prediction and warning mechanism. The Uttarakhand government has taken no measures to prepare for this kind of eventuality, though it has paid lip service to climate action plans over the last three years. In the present case, the IMD issued inadequate warning, which was disregarded by the state government. An urgent prior warning could have ensured that pilgrims don’t move forward and retreat to relative safety, that locals reduce their exposure to risk to the extent possible. Thousands of pilgrims from different states, locals, workers in hotels and dharamshalas, and transport animals have been killed. Cars with people inside them were washed away. Those who have survived had to go without food for several days. Thousands are still stranded at different points, or in forests, and we are still counting the dead.

There has also been extensive devastation of local lives and the regional economy. Serious devastation has been reported from over 200 villages, so far. Innumerable locals, including agricultural workers, drowned in the raging waters or were submerged under mud and debris. Houses have collapsed or been washed away. Tourism and the local employment it generates have been hit indefinitely at the peak of the tourist season. Floods, landslides and debris have devastated agriculture along the rivers. Irrespective of whether these extreme rains are due to climate change or not, this is what a climate change world in the Himalayas looks like. This devastation is a glimpse into a climate uncertain future.

We see this tragedy as a result of cumulative and widespread injustice and wrongdoing: not only against the Himalayan environment, but also against mountain communities whose survival depends on that environment. This tragedy is also a crime, because our policy makers and administrators are also part of the larger climate injustice at a global scale that threatens, displaces and kills the marginal and the poor everywhere. On another plane, they simply let it happen. We believe that adaptation to disasters does not just mean desperate rescue work during and after the event, but also reducing vulnerability and risk before. Effective adaptation involves a series of measures that need to be adopted on a war footing. The sustainable development of a hill economy, and equity – not profit for a few – should be at its core.

India Climate Justice demands:

  • That the governments at the central and state level retreat to a low carbon pathway of development that has equity, decent employment, and sustainability at its core.
  • That the planning and construction of dams in the entire Indian Himalayas be reviewed, and all construction be halted until such a review is carried out.
  • That the use of explosives in all such infrastructure development works is completely stopped.
  • That, given the likelihood of extreme rainfall events and other climate extremes in the future, extensive and sub-regional warning systems are put in place urgently across all the Himalayan states, the coastal areas and beyond.
  • That a proper assessment of the carrying capacity of specific ecosystems is carried out.
  • That the stretch from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi be declared an eco-sensitive zone without further delay.
  • That a river regulation zone be enforced such that no permanent structures are allowed to be constructed within 100 metres of any river.
  • That the residents and their organizations are thoroughly consulted in a democratic plan on climate change, in the revival of the local hill economy, and the generation of decent employment.
  • That all working people be compensated for the loss of life and livelihood, and that urgent plans are put in place for the revival of local livelihoods and agriculture.
  • That the central government learn from the Uttarakhand catastrophe to put in place prior adaptation measures not just for the mountainous regions but beyond, for coastal and the drought-prone interiors as well.


Endorsing Organizations

All India Forum of Forest Movements; Pairvi; Beyond Copenhagen; South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People; National Alliance of People’s Movements; Himalaya Niti Abhiyan; New Trade Union Initiative; All-India Union of Forest Working People; Chintan; Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha; Toxics Watch Alliance; Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh; Rural Volunteers Centre, Assam; Vettiver Collective, Chennai; Himal Prakriti, Uttarakhand; Maati, Uttarakhand; Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti; River Basin Friends (NE); India Youth Climate Network; Intercultural Resources; Kabani, Kerala; Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh; National Cyclists Union, India; Equations; Posco Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi; Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives; Science for Society, Bihar; Nagarik Mancha; SADED; JJBA, Jharkhand; BIRSA; Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee; Adivasi Mulvasi Astitva Raksha Manch; National Adivasi Alliance; Bank Information Centre; Focus on the Global South; Jatiyo Sramik Jote, Dhaka; Jharkhand Jungle Bachao Andolan; People’s Union for Democratic Rights; All India Students Association; All India Progressive Women’s Association


Badri Raina, Kamal Mahendroo, Benny Kuruvilla, Subrat Sahu, Arun Bidani, Saurav Shome, Amitava Guha

India Climate Justice is a collective comprising social movements, trade unions, other organizations and individuals. It was formed in 2009 to respond to the growing climate crisis, from a perspective of justice and equity.

Climate Change Items

A few climate change related items I know you will be interested in, especially since you will want to be very current for the big event Tuesday.

There is now a new profession: Extreme Weather Architect. (Hat tip: Paul Douglas)

You may hear again and again that climate change is over, that warming has stopped. This is wrong in many many ways, and I’ve written about that here. Dana Nuccitelli has this important piece as well: We haven’t hit the global warming pause button. Also, see this brand new item for a detailed discussion of how surface warming varies across time.

You’ve heard of the Heartland Institute, the fake think tank that gained notoriety when it claimed years ago that smoking tobacco was harmless, and more recently by equating people concerned with the environment to the Unibomber. One of their “experts” has apparently claimed a link to and Australian university. He seems to have been making that up. Which, of course, qualifies him to be an expert at a fake think tank, I suppose!

Speaking of the Heartland Institute:

Last year Heartland put up a billboard in downtown Chicago comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber. They made it worse online by calling scientists “murderers, tyrants and madmen.” Eventually the group had to pull the billboard down after a public outcry, and promptly lost a great deal of its corporate funding.

Not willing to let sleeping dogs lie, however, Heartland has now landed itself in yet another scandal of its own making, though this time on the other side of the planet. And, unlike American scientists who have largely stopped paying attention to Heartland’s anti-science stunts, the Chinese Academy of Sciences is anything but amused.

Yes, they decided to mess with the Chinese. It is not going well for them.

Meanwhile over on Fox, climate expert Donald Trump explains why global warming is not real.

Addressing Climate Change is Legacy Building Stuff. YOUR Legacy.

On Tuesday, President Obama will make a speech outlining his administration’s plans to address climate change. The Right Wing has already responded by calling those concerned with climate change “Terrorists.” How have the progressive and left wings responded? Badly. Very badly. Here is a selection, some paraphrased to ensure anonymity (though these are all public), of comments by people that I know are well meaning climate change activists or otherwise concerned about global warming and such.

  • Obama’s speeches and verbal plans make no difference. It’s what he DOES that counts.

  • He’ll say: “I will see to it that the State Dept. will approve the XL Pipeline so nothing else I’ve said means shit”

  • If his past proclamations are indicative don’t expect much action.

  • Don’t hold your breath. He wont do a thing that would make the Oil guys uphappy

  • Or these strong words and some targeted actions in the near term will allow him to OK Keystone XL

  • NOTHING will happen under Wbama’s “leadership”. He IS a shill for the CorpoRats.

  • politicians. They are parasites

Some of these statements, maybe all of them, express perfectly legitimate concerns. The thing is, of all the statements I’ve seen on public media in response to this announcement, almost all of them are of this type. Hardly anyone has said:

“Great, let’s find out what President Obama is going to push for, and make sure he understands that we activists will strongly support this, and work towards those goals.”

In fact, we need to do more than that. I assure you of the following: President Obama and his people both in the White House and in the political machine are watching. If they see strong and effective support for initiatives announced on Tuesday, this will give them a clue that if the administration ends up nixing Keystone XL, that they will get support for that as well.

Or, they could see a lot of belly aching and whining like we are seeing so far, and not gain the resolve they would need to have in order to do the right thing on Keystone.

Having said that, I don’t want to give you the impression that this is all about Keystone. It is about whatever it is that is announced. Regardless of Keystone, we want better and more effective regulations on coal burning plants, even if Ben Stein sees fit to call those of us who want that “terrorists.” Regardless of Keystone, we want far more effort put into developing alternatives and renewables. Regardless of Keystone, we want new efficiency standards. And so on.

It might be true that the Obama administration has done much less than we would like about climate change. I say “might” because I’m thinking that you’re thinking that the Obama administration has done nothing at all, and you’d be wrong. They’ve actually done things, and perhaps you just don’t know about them. It is also true (no qualification here) that we are concerned that the Obama administration will not nix Keystone XL. But, again (OK, so there is a qualification) you might be thinking that the delay in addressing Keystone means that they are just putting off the bad news, and Obama fully intends to support it. In that case, you would be wrong again; we simply do not know what is going to happen with Keystone, and the delay is not (necessarily) a political strategy, but rather, more or less, process. You can pretend there is no process but there is one.

Here’s the thing: In a couple of days from now, President Obama is going to announce some things. These will be good things. You might not think they are good enough, you might think they mean nothing if Keystone is not addressed, you might think all sorts of other things. But, if you are actually, truly, interested in addressing climate change and concerned about global warming and our planet’s future, not to mention our species’ future, then you will need to get over yourself.

This is not about you and your dissatisfaction with the government, politicians, Washington, or a particular president. So, please stop making this about you. Make this about the planet, and the future, and our children’s future. In order to prepare yourself for this, I offer the following evaluative quiz:

TODAY’S QUIZ. (Fill in the blank/multiple choice)

People interested in serious, effective climate change activism will take what happens on Tuesday and _________

Select only one answer to complete this statement:

  • a) whine and moan about Obama
  • b) carry out the most effective possible actions to increase the likelihood that pro-environment and pro-energy efficiency and anti-global warming initiatives come to fruition, which might involve fighting congress, will involve fighting the deniers, and will involve fighting the oil companies.

Correct answer: b

Listen: The right wing is already off the mark. They are running full steam down the field intent on intercepting this particular pass. Meanwhile, the progressives are sitting on the bench crying in their beers and feeling sorry for themselves. This is not good, and frankly, it is more than a little embarrassing.

Time to put on the big boy pants, people! When opportunity knocks, that is not a cue to complain about the door knocker.

You might consider signing this petition.

Obama’s National Plan To Address Climate Change

On Tuesday, just after 1:30 PM Eastern Time, at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama will announce a vision for future steps to address and prepare for ongoing and future climate change. Below is a video teaser for the address, but first, this is what is likely to be in the plan:

  • New EPA rules on emissions from power plants
  • <li>Increased use of public lands to develop renewable energy</li>
    <li>New efficiency standards.</li>
    <li>Climate disaster related preparedness.</li>
    <li>He'll probably review recent administration actions as well.</li>
    <li>Regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline, the president is not expected to say anything at all, or at least, not anything substantive, because that project (which he should reject) is still under review.</li></ul>

    I’m mostly guessing here, and extrapolating from the video and the brief statement that came out with the video.

    Here is’s Bill McKibben’s statement on the upcoming talk:

    “It’s awfully good to see the president starting to move forward on climate action–after the hottest year in American history, it’s appropriate that the White House would move to act. And the solutions agenda they’ve begun to advance moves the country in a sane direction.

    “Today’s announcement also makes me think it’s more likely the White House will reject the Keystone Pipeline, which is the biggest environmental battle in a generation–the president is a logical man, and taking two steps forward only to take two back would make no sense.

    “The world desperately needs climate leadership, and today Barack Obama showed he might turn out to be the guy who provided it.”