Obama’s Recent Comments on Climate

via Adam Siegel at GetEnergySmartNow who questions some of the President’s wording, and points to some stronger wording from five years ago. Adam also notes that the New York Times coverage of the press conference does not deign to mention the climate question at all.

In the end the Prez ducks the carbon tax question and bows obediently to the growth shibboleth. We are a long way from a viable public consensus.


  1. Politics is the art of the possible and Obama is just admitting that. Unless scientists are willing to scare the public with the real dangers that we, and not just our children, face then there is no way Obama can get legislation through Congress.

    The sooner the scientists stop emphasising that each hurricane, drought, wild fire, and tornado is just a weather event, and explain that these hurricanes etc. will get worse and more frequent until they occur every year, the better.

    But no doubt the scientists will prefer to blame the stupid politicians or even the public for the lack of action.

  2. Careful statement by Obama ducks the issues, understandably, but not good enough.

    Back in the day, before we all bought our funeral and threw Al Gore under bus, we were encouraged to think about solutions. I don't think my ideas have changed much since then, but the available technology keeps getting better and alternatives cheaper. These ideas are (1) rapid improvement and replacement of the grid with a lot more local transmission (for example, in New England it is possible to get energy from small dams on its abundant rivers, or there is a lot of geothermal here and there, and wave energy is getting more practical), (2) massive implementation of existing improved clean energy which is getting pretty good, (3) improvement of storage, and (4) a massive improvement of public transit. I do wonder about algae too.

    Public transit is particularly egregious as it has become ever worse and ever more expensive, making it impossible to prefer it to cars. Lately it's hard to get past the huge baby carriages parked in the aisles, and at nearly $3 per trip, you can't fault the mothers for acting blind and deaf to the problems they creates. And how stupid is it that babies are multiplying, and how impossible is it to tell anyone not to have children (Mike Mann, Joe Romm have young 'uns, it's part of the human condition).

    In my own life, I'm quite good about the small stuff, but put me in a bigger project and bigger problems, and my waste falls off the cliff of necessity. Anyone who's been sick enough to spend time in hospitals realizes that the culture of waste is deeply imbedded in the way we do things, and fossilized by law as lawsuits multiple. I'm not against lawsuits, but American practices encourage dealing with smaller problems on a huge and expensive scale with excessive regulation, while ignoring the huge problems with inadequate legislation. I'm going further off topic here, so will desist, except to note that Obama is and thinks like a lawyer, which tends to overweight counterfactual information.

    However, until we can be taught to pull together and have regard for reality, I'm on board with the people who now claim 6 degrees C is probable.

    And then there's the water supply, which is getting huge. As long as industry gets cheap water the local people will be screwed as demonstrated here:

    BTW, while I was checking out the Vice videos, was also watching another one on New York City. MT, did you know that they sent 250 tons of toxic sewage sludge a day to Sierra Blanca in West Texas starting in 1991 for over 10 years? (around minute 5 1/2, with some nice stuff on green treatment just after)

  3. Did you see Bob Fischer's recent piece here on public transportation?

    I am a big fan of trains, but the environmental reason is not directly about energy conservation. Rather, they encourage population density which is not only more fun if done right but also greener. In a given commute, the percentage of empty seats makes the actual impact per mile not especially clear. Fans of public transportation will sometimes use the full capacity of the vehicle to skew the debate.

    Also 6 C, maybe eventually if we are really stupid and unlucky. 6 C by 2100? I'm not buying it.

    On the water situation, I completely agree. As for shipping waste from New York here, I'm a bit surprised we put up with Yankee trash. On the other hand, the purpose of Texas has always been to use Texas up.

  4. Will look up Fischer on transit.

    We are stupid and unlucky (depending on how you define luck - we've had the luck to get all kinds of things we don't need in a hurry),* but time will tell. Perhaps not by 2100, but I'd bet on 4C by then (though not here to collect); where did people get the idea that time stops then? I did read the entire Kevin Anderson presentation and found it convincing. Thought I posted it here somewhere but it was RealClimate, here's the link. I couldn't get the MP3 so did the slides:
    Real clothes for the Emperor: Facing the challenges of climate change:
    PowerPoint of slides (PDF):

    Population will plummet as things get really bad and that might help. Exactly which third world populations are supposed not to insist on acquiring western mod cons? In the 80s a baby in Bangladesh was said to use 1/100th the goods a US baby would.

    By public transit I really mean fully shared transit, which means a complete rejiggering of how we do things and how we think, which I realize demonstrates I'm a wishful thinking flibbertigibbet. New York City is the only place I know where a lot of people don't bother with cars. Boston could be a whole lot better. England has been letting transit go, so poor people are just stuck, but they've let the social safety net go and devil take the hindmost.

    My recent exercise in caregiving by generator and fireplace reminded me what people do in a crisis. Fuel goes downhill fast - for fuel after oil/gas there's charcoal, then firewood, then I assume waste/dung etc. in places that's available. I also learned that microwaves use more energy than anything else in the house. Clean hot and cold running water are a luxury. And on and on. But we did this with the trappings of luxury - swimming pool provided water to boil! Desperation doesn't count the minutes much past the present. And I already know people will kill to take care of their children where they might have a few qualms for themselves. What's a starving freezing body to do?

    For example:

  5. Sharing is something that would solve masses of problems. The American house gets bigger and bigger. While I sympathize with the tantrumic adult children who "want their American back" they are obstinately digging our graves. Communal facilities for a variety of functions and smaller dwellings (who needs a 2500 square foot house) for the more private parts of life would go a long way to dealing with our waste dysfunction. Localized central facilities would obviate some of the long-distance problems that trip us up.

  6. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, November 18, 2012 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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