Month: January 2017

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“Follow the Money” #climatechange #auspol 

‘Follow the money’ with climate change deniers
GREEN BAY – Fake news and too much money in politics are threats to our democracy, our environment and our children’s future. 

From Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump’s pick to head EPA, to Gov. Scott Walker, many prominent politicians insist that the causes for climate change are debatable. 

There’s no bigger fake news than this.

Jim Powell, a science author who served 12 years on the National Science Board, appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, reviewed 13,950 peer-reviewed climate articles published between 1991 and 2012. 

Of the 33,690 authors of those papers, only 34 authors “clearly reject global warming or endorse a cause other than CO2 emissions for observed warming.” 

Only 1 of every 1,000 of those climate scientists reject that climate is changing and/or that humans caused it. Only one-tenth of 1 percent of climate scientists considers climate change or its cause “debatable.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now states on its websites the same fake news that the causes of climate change are debatable. 

When one considers the mountains of money that Walker has received during his many campaigns from the “heavily invested in fossil fuels” Koch Brothers is it any wonder that “the release of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels as the cause for climate change” has been scrubbed from the Walker DNR website? 

Only politicians of the highest integrity would bite the hand that feeds them. It’s enlightening to “follow the money.”
Steven Krings

Press link for more: Green Bay Press

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We’re currently on track for 3C or more Global Warming! #auspol #science

PARIS, France — Expansion of renewable energy cannot by itself stave off catastrophic climate change, scientists warned Monday.
Even if solar and wind capacity continues to grow at breakneck speed, it will not be fast enough to cap global warming under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the target set down in the landmark 2015 Paris climate treaty, they reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“The rapid deployment of wind, solar and electric cars gives some hope,” lead author Glen Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway, told AFP.
“But at this stage, these technologies are not really displacing the growth in fossil fuels or conventional transportation.”

Earth is overheating mainly due to the burning of oil, gas and especially coal to power the global economy.
Barely 1C (1.8F) of warming so far has already led to deadly heat waves, drought and super storms engorged by rising seas.

The 196-nation Paris Agreement set a collective goal to cap warming, but lacks the tools to track progress, especially at the country level.
To provide a better toolkit, Peters and colleagues broke down the energy system into half-a-dozen indicators — GDP growth, energy used per unit of GDP, CO2 emissions per unit of energy, share of fossil fuels in the energy mix, etc.
What emerged was a sobering picture of narrowing options.
Barely a dent
“Wind and solar alone are not sufficient to meet the goals,” Peters said.
The bottom line, the study suggests, is how much carbon pollution seeps into the atmosphere, and on that score renewable have — so far — barely made a dent.
Investment in solar and wind has soared, outstripping fossil fuels for the first time last year. And renewables’ share of global energy consumption has increased five-fold since 2000.
But it still only accounts for less than three percent of the total.
Moreover, the share of fossil fuels — nearly 87 percent — has not budged due to a retreat in nuclear power over the same 15-year period.
Even a renewables Marshall Plan would face an unyielding deadline: To stay under 2C, the global economy must be carbon neutral — producing no more CO2 than can be absorbed by oceans and forests — by mid-century.
Compounding the challenge, other key policies and technologies deemed essential for holding down temperatures remain woefully underdeveloped, the study cautioned.
In particular, the capacity to keep or pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it securely — a cornerstone of end-of-century projections for a climate-safe world — is practically non-existent.
Vetted by the UN’s top climate science panel, these scenarios presume that thousands of industrial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities will be up-and-running by 2030.
As of today, there are only one or two, with a couple of dozen in various stages of construction.
Negative emissions
Another form of clean energy penciled into most medium- and long-term forecasts that does not yet exist on any meaningful scale is carbon-neutral biofuels.
The idea is that CO2 captured while plants grow will compensate for greenhouse gases released when they are burned for energy.
On paper, that carbon pollution will also be captured and stored, resulting in “negative emissions” — a net reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere.
But here again, reality is dragging its feet.
“It is uncertain whether bioenergy can be sustainably produced and made carbon-neutral at the scale required,” the researchers noted.
All of these technologies must come on line if we are to have a fighting chance of keeping a lid of global warming, which is currently on track to heat the planet by 3C to 4C (5.4F to 7.2F), the study concluded.
Market momentum alone is not enough, Peters added.
“There need to be a shift in focus,” he said in an email exchange.
“Politician seem happy to support wind, solar and electric vehicles through subsidies. But they are not willing to put prices” — a carbon tax, for example — “on fossil fuels.”
“Unless the emissions from fossil fuels goes down, the 2C target is an impossibility.”
In an informal survey last week of top climate scientists, virtually all of them said that goal is probably already out of reach. CBB

Press link for more: News info.inquirer

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We Need Vigilance On Climate Change #auspol #science 

We Need Vigilance On Climate Change

An iceberg larger than Delaware is about to break off into the Weddell Sea. 

For the third year in a row, Earth’s average surface temperature was the warmest ever-recorded.

 Across the U.S. 2016 ranked as second hottest year on record with 15 weather-related disasters over $1 billion each, totaling $45 billion in losses.

There is no debate on these issues, but what the Trump administration does need to study is how we get out of this mess and what this really means for the United States and the rest of the world. 

So far all we have seen coming out of the new administration is denial that humans play a role in the changing climate, and the black out of government web pages that document and discuss the climate problem.

NASA estimates the recent strong El Nino boosted 2016 temperature about 25 percent. If climate models are correct, El Nino is going to recur with greater frequency and ferocity as the air continues to warm.

Here in Hawaii, El Nino is a big deal. 

In Honolulu the 2015-2016 El Nino produced 11 record-setting days of rainfall, 24 days of record-setting heat, massive ocean waves, a prolonged failure of the normally cooling trade winds, state-wide coral bleaching and nine months of drought. 

Urban flooding and heat waves characterized the late summer and early fall of 2015 straining our energy utility, emergency responders, and government resources.

 We had 15 tropical cyclones in local waters. 

In an average year we typically see only 3 or 4.
Another historic event happened recently, the American people installed a new administration that, while stating that climate change is real, does not believe humans have significant effects on the climate nor that climate change poses a meaningful threat to our way of life.

This attitude unabashedly ignores facts to the contrary: around the world global warming has increased drought by 10 percent and extreme rainfall 12 percent. 

Record hot days now outnumber cold days by 12 to 1. Nine of the 10 deadliest heat waves in history have occurred since 2000 and is responsible for 140,000 deaths.

The number of insured weather-related loss events has tripled globally over the past three decades, the tropics are expanding and the Arctic is melting. 

Climate-related local extinctions (where species have left historic ranges to move to cooler latitudes and elevations) have already occurred with hundreds of plants and animals.
The global percentage of bleached reefs tripled over the past three decades. 


The West Antarctic ice sheet is retreating much faster than researchers expected, and scientists best estimates of worst case sea level rise by the end of the century have been raised from 3 feet in 2013 to 8 feet today.
As we move forward into a hotter and more dangerous future, led by an administration that denies this reality, the need for a vigilant media to report on climate change has never been more urgent.

Scientists must increase efforts to bring these facts to the public’s attention, and the public must take responsibility for monitoring news of climate change. 

It’s not that hard to raise your level of understanding such that climate change becomes a comfortable topic of discussion.

NGOs, foundations and corporations should step in to the research-funding gap that will likely develop as this administration, and a willing Congress, enacts cuts to federal research in the Earth and environmental sciences.
The renewable energy marketplace has grown more robust, but this status is fragile. 

As former President Obama has pointed out, between 2008 and 2015 national CO2 emissions from the energy sector fell by 9.5 percent while the economy grew by 10 percent. 

This decoupling of greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth signals to the world that in the U.S., combating climate change does not mean lower growth or fewer jobs.

It is estimated that a global temperature increase of 4o degrees, currently projected by late mid-century if greenhouse gases are not rapidly curtailed, will cost the American economy in the form of lost jobs and reduced federal revenue of $340 billion to $690 billion per year.


 In order to achieve the prosperous future that President Trump has promised us all, eventually he must recognize that climate change threatens public safety and the American economy. The sooner he does this, the sooner the world will become a safer place.
If we love our children and grandchildren more than we love ourselves, forward progress on adapting to and mitigating climate change must continue, in fact it must accelerate.

Press link for more: Civil Beat

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Carbon Bubble Sleep Walking to disaster #climatechange #auspol #science

Trump’s Climate Change Denial Could Cost Us $100 Trillion

Like Barack Obama before him, Donald Trump comes to power amid an inherited emergency. When Obama took office in January 2009, the U.S. economy was in freefall. massive housing bubble had burst. Banks were failing, stock markets tumbling. Millions of people were losing their jobs, homes, and life savings. 

The emergency Trump inherits also involves a bubble, but his bubble is made of carbon. This bubble nevertheless threatens many of the same catastrophes Obama’s did, including the evaporation of trillions of dollars worth of wealth and terrible human suffering. Trump seems oblivious to the danger, judging from his nomination of ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson and other fossil fuel champions to his cabinet. But the confirmation hearings that begin this week enable the Senate and the press to publicize the emergency, demand answers, and reject any nominee unfit to manage the crisis.

A financial bubble occurs when the price of a given asset rises well above the asset’s actual value. In the case of the 2008 housing bubble, homebuyers, financial institutions, and other investors embraced the enticing but dubious assumption that U.S. housing prices only went up, never down. This assumption became a self-fulfilling prophecy, for a while, as a surge in investment drove housing values higher. But reality eventually asserted itself. When there were not enough buyers to keep the bubble expanding, housing prices imploded, punishing investors and bringing the economy as a whole to the brink of collapse.

Today’s carbon bubble operates on the same economic principles, as Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has explained. In a landmark 2015 speech to the venerable Lloyd’s of London insurance company, Carney, Britain’s central banker, highlighted the scientific finding that humanity cannot burn most of the earth’s reserves of carbon-based fuels without risking a catastrophic increase in global warming. According to studies by the International Energy Agency and others, said Carney, only about one-third of the remaining oil, gas, and coal can be burned without pushing temperature rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius, the internationally agreed threshold where, scientists warn, climate change may well be unsurvivable. These two-thirds of unburnable reserves are the source of the carbon bubble.


The financial implications of the carbon bubble are immense, dwarfing those of the 2008 housing bubble, according to Carney and the Who’s Who of global financial leaders that have echoed his warnings, including private banks Citigroup and HSBC and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Citigroup estimated in 2015 that the “total value of stranded assets could be over $100 trillion.”
$100 trillion. It’s one of those figures it’s hard to get one’s head around. Just how much money is that? By way of comparison, $100 trillion is nearly five times the size of the losses associated with the housing bubble that nearly crashed the economy in 2008. One hundred trillion dollars is larger than the combined value of all the stock markets on earth. It is nothing to play with.

Meanwhile, a staggering one-third of global wealth is invested in oil, gas, coal, and other “carbon-heavy” companies, Carney has calculated. These companies, including ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel giants, will be vulnerable to significant financial devaluations if governments limit carbon emissions in accordance with the latest scientific findings, as 196 countries agreed to do at the United Nations climate summit in Paris in December 2015. 


The projected devaluations for ExxonMobil and the rest of the fossil fuel industry derive from a peculiar but widespread accounting practice. The financial value and thus the stock market prices of such companies are based largely on the fuel reserves they claim to control and be able to bring to market. A prime example are the reportedly massive reserves in Russia that Putin and Tillerson agreed ExxonMobil would help develop, only to have the deal stalled after the U.S. imposed economic sanctions following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. If large portions of these and other reserves around the world must in fact go unburned, the companies’ valuations will decline accordingly.
As in the housing crisis, a bursting of the carbon bubble will not only punish the companies and investors directly involved. Countless pension funds, mutual funds, and mom-and-pop investors are counting on solid future returns from carbon-based assets that may in fact end up stranded and all but worthless. If Carney is correct that one-third of the world’s wealth is invested in such assets, a devaluation of those assets could crater the entire global economy.
What is Trump’s position on this gigantic threat to economic stability and prosperity? He has spent his adult life in the real estate business, so he certainly knows about bubbles and the havoc they can wreak. Yet he appears to be willfully blind to the perils of the carbon bubble.
Like the fossil fuel advocates chosen for his cabinet, Trump denies the foundational premise for a carbon bubble: the scientific finding that there are strict limits to how much carbon can be released into the atmosphere without imperiling human civilization. If no such limits exist, a carbon bubble by definition cannot arise.
That certainly seems to be Rex Tillerson’s view, judging from his public statements and ExxonMobil’s actions since he became CEO in 2006. Breaking with the company’s past decades of climate denial and deception, Tillerson does not dispute that ExxonMobil’s products will raise global temperatures; he simply insists that the resulting impacts—shifts in food growing areas, harsher droughts and storms, rising seas—will be “manageable” through skillful adaptation. As Tillerson assured the Council on Foreign Relations in 2012, “Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around, we’ll adapt to that. It’s an engineering problem, and it has an engineering solution.” 

That may make sense to an engineer who has spent his entire adult life at ExxonMobil, but no farmer with dirt under his fingernails would voice such nonsense. Sure, in theory a Midwestern farmer could move north as temperatures rise. But doing so would mean leaving behind some of the most fertile soil on earth in favor of some of the poorest. You don’t need a PhD to realize that your crop yields would plummet.
Tillerson, Trump, and their fellow carbon boosters have gotten away with their outlandish views partly because they are not alone in underestimating the climate emergency. Upon his inauguration on January 20, Trump will become the only head of state in the world who denies climate science, the Sierra Club has pointed out. His denialism is shared by virtually every Republican on Capitol Hill, not to mention his other Cabinet nominees—notably Rick Perry for energy secretary and Scott Pruitt for Environmental Protection Agency administrator.
Nor are Republicans the only ones sleepwalking towards disaster. The U.S. news media barely mentioned climate change while covering the 2016 presidential campaign. And even many politicians, journalists, and other opinion leaders who acknowledge the dangers of climate change nevertheless act as if violating the 2 degrees limit is no big deal.
Physics, however, does not compromise. Anyone who believes that the 2 C target is somehow optional should look hard at the climate impacts unfolding today, when temperatures have risen by a “mere” 1 degree C.
To cite but one example: In November, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Antarctica, where he learned that the Pine Island Glacier “is moving very fast, and when it goes, we will see 1.5 meters of sea level rise by 2050,” his aide Jonathan Pershing reported at the UN climate conference in Marakesh. “Five feet of sea level rise in less than 35 years, that is really soon,” Pershing said in an epic understatement. If this scenario indeed comes to pass, houses going “underwater,” as the phrase went during the 2008 housing bubble, will no longer be a mere figure of speech.


Five feet of sea level rise would put huge swaths of New York, Washington, Miami, London, Shanghai and many other coastal cities under water. Erecting sea walls might protect high-value locations, though the engineering and financial challenges of managing five feet of sea level rise would be extraordinary. (Just ask the Dutch, the world’s experts.) But 140 million people around the world live fewer than three feet above sea level, Pershing noted, often in places that have neither the money nor the expertise to manage any amount of sea level rise, much less five feet of it. Many of these people will have no choice but to re-locate, unleashing streams of refugees immeasurably larger than the emigrations seen today. Which is why the U.S. Department of Defense has called climate change a “threat multiplier” that poses “an urgent and growing threat” to national security. 


The rest of the world has long grasped the climate problem, and many governments, businesses, communities, and ordinary people are fast transitioning from carbon-based fuels to solar, wind, and other clean energy alternatives. China, the other climate change superpower along with the U.S., is shifting course at dizzying speed, shutting its coal mines while vastly expanding renewable energy. China expects to create an eye-popping 13 million jobs and construct 1,000 solar power plants by 2020, the government’s National Energy Administration announced last week.
For Trump and his team to accelerate oil, gas and coal production in the face of all these trends would be economically self-defeating and morally indefensible. It would cede leadership of the 21st century clean energy sector to China (and Germany). It would make the U.S. economy the foremost victim when the carbon bubble does eventually burst. Above all, it would make catastrophic climate change that much harder for everyone on earth to avoid. 

The senators conducting this week’s confirmation hearings, as well as the journalists covering them, should demand answers from Tillerson and Trump’s other nominees on how they plan to address the carbon bubble and the emergency it represents. If the answers merely reiterate the climate denial that has caused our current predicament, citizens should pressure their elected representatives to reject these nominations. In 2017, the signs of climate emergency are all around us. Anyone who refuses to see, and to respond accordingly, is not qualified for leadership in Washington.
Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books, including HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.

Press link for more: The Daily Beast

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Trump, Putin & the Pipelines to Nowhere. #auspol #climatechange 

Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere
You can’t understand what Trump’s doing to America without understanding the “Carbon Bubble”

Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere
If you’re an American, you’re likely misinformed about the most dire crisis in our world.
American journalists, pundits and media executives have largely convinced themselves that climate change is not a serious political issue, because they think the polls tell them that. 

A majority of American voters regularly tell pollsters they don’t think climate change is a critically important election issue, so therefore the media decides it must not be an important political issue at all.
Unfortunately, that conventional wisdom blinds us to both to the actual bedrock reality of this era, and to — as I see it — the defining aim of the in-coming Trump administration: delaying climate action.
Trump has surrounded himself with more oil industry and oil industry connected people than any president in history (even George W. Bush). You can’t understand what’s going on with Trump unless you understand the oil industry… and you can’t understand the oil industry without understanding climate change.
Understanding Climate Change
In case you’re just joining us here on Earth, we’re making the planet hotter. 

The science is incontrovertible that by burning fossil fuels, we’re changing the planet’s climate. Because the consequences worsen dramatically as we emit more climate pollution and the planet gets hotter, every nation on Earth agreed last year in Paris to hold that temperature rise to two degrees Celsius (2ºC).
This means we must limit the total amount of CO2 and other greenhouse pollution we put into the sky: we have to meet a “carbon budget.” To meet that budget, we have to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions — burning way less oil, coal and gas — in the next two decades, and set the global economy on a steep path to zero emissions.


Again, the American media has failed to convey the magnitude of the costs of unchecked global warming. Those costs are profound already, today, as the Arctic heatwave, Syrian civil war, bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, worsening storms, droughts, wildfires and freak weather events all show. Those costs will only grow, and they will grow more dire, more quickly as the planet heats.
At the same time, the innovations we need to create zero-carbon prosperity are already here. From plummeting costs for solar, wind, electric vehicles and green buildings to better approaches to urban planning, agriculture and forestry, we already have the tools we need to start building a much more prosperous world, producing hosts of new companies and millions of jobs. Indeed, a giant building boom is what successful climate action looks like.
Because we have no real choice but to act — and, in fact, climate action will make most people not only safer, but better off — big changes are coming, far sooner than most Americans understand.
But some people totally understand: the ones who stand to lose money from these changes.
The Carbon Bubble
The need to keep within our global carbon budget means we must leave most of the coal, oil and gas on the planet unburnt.
But also, we’ve already set in motion extremely serious climate change. Even if we act decisively now, we will be wrestling with the impacts of that pollution for centuries. So one half of our task is to become zero-carbon societies, but the other is to ruggedize in the face of worsening problems, in many cases by abandoning places that cannot be saved and practices that cannot be continued.
Here’s the blunt reality: the pressure to cut emissions and respond to a changing climate are going to alter what we do and don’t see as valuable. Climate action will trigger an enormous shift in the way we value things.


If we can’t burn oil, it’s not worth very much. If we can’t defend coastal real estate from rising seas (or even insure it, for that matter), it’s not worth very much. If the industrial process a company owns exposes them to future climate litigation, it’s not worth very much. The value of those assets is going to plummet, inevitably… and likely, soon.
Currently, though, these assets are valued very highly. Oil is seen as hugely valuable, coastal real estate is seen as hugely valuable, industrial patents are seen as hugely valuable.
When there’s a large difference between how markets think assets should be valued and what they are (or will) actually be worth, we call it a “bubble.”
Experts now call the differences between valuations and worth in fossil fuel corporations, climate-harmful industries and vulnerable physical assets the “Carbon Bubble.” It is still growing.
And here’s the thing about bubbles: they always pop.
People whose job it is to measure risk in financial markets are extremely concerned about the magnitude of the Carbon Bubble and the damage it will do as it bursts. Because when it bursts, trillions of dollars of imaginary assets will simply vanish in a very short time.
Mark Carney thinks the Carbon Bubble is extremely dangerous.


Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England and chair of the Financial Stability Board — the global institution designed to try to prevent market panics and crashes — gave a bombshell talk at Lloyds last year, saying he thought letting the Carbon Bubble continue to grow exposed global markets to a risk on the level of the 2007 subprime crisis.
In other words, one of the most knowledgeable financial authorities on the planet has come to think that the difference between what the high-carbon part of the economy is priced at and what it’s worth is so enormous that letting it grow and then suddenly pop could crash financial markets worldwide.
And he’s far from alone. Scores of experts warn that the Carbon Bubble is one of the biggest threats to the global economy. The way to increase the resilience of global markets, they say, is to act on climate, but to do so with bold-yet-predictable pacing. If we do that — they say — we will still see the Carbon Bubble deflate, but markets should be able to adjust, and panic can be avoided. Climate action will stave off financial disaster as well ecological catastrophe.
This is a win-win for everyone, except those heavily invested in those Carbon Bubble assets now. For these investors, the Carbon Bubble is a good thing: the longer it lasts, the more they reap the benefit of high valuations and large dividends. For them, the larger the Carbon Bubble swells, the more money they make.
The Perception War
There is no long game in high-carbon industries. Their owners know this. They don’t need a long game, though: their investment horizons are years (or even months), not decades. Investors don’t even need successful companies, actually — as we’ve seen time and time again with hostile takeovers, pump-and-dumps, stock buybacks and other financial looting tactics. All they need is the perception of the inevitability of future profit, today. That’s what keeps valuations high.
Here’s something critical it took me a long time (and the patience of a few smart friends) to understand: the Carbon Bubble will pop not when high-carbon practices become impossible, but when their profits cease to be seen as reliable.
As it becomes clear that these assets will not produce profit in the future, their valuations will drop — even if the businesses that own them continue to function for years. The value of oil companies will collapse long before the last barrel of oil is burned; the value of beachfront hotels will collapse long before rising tides flood their lobbies.
Put another way: The pop comes when people understand that growth in these industries is over and that, in fact, these industries are now going to contract. That’s when investors start pulling out and looking for safer bets. As investors begin to flee these companies, others realize more devaluation is on the way, so they want to get out before the drop: a trickle of divestment becomes a flood and the price collapses. What triggers the drop is investors ceasing to believe the company has a strong future.
Because that risk already exists, the pop is way closer than most people understand.
A crisis in investor confidence is the biggest threat to fossil fuel companies — not environmentalists, regulations, clean energy competitors or climate agreements.
The Carbon Lobby and the Trump Gang
For high-carbon industries to continue to be attractive investments, then, they must spin a tale of future growth. They must make potential investors believe that even if there is a Carbon Bubble, it is decades away from popping — that their high profits today will continue for the foreseeable future, so their stock is worth buying.
How would you maintain this confidence?
You’d dispute climate science — making scientists’ predictions seem less certain in the public mind— and work to gut the capacity of scientists to continue their work (by, for instance, defunding NASA’s Earth Sciences program).

You’d attack global climate agreements, making them look unstable and weak, and thus unlikely to impact your businesses.

You’d attack low-carbon competitors politically, attempting to portray the evidence that they can replace high-carbon industries as fraudulent (or at least overly idealistic).

You’d use every leverage point to slow low-carbon industrial progress — for example, by continuing massive subsidies to oil and gas companies, while attacking programs to develop new energy sources.

You’d support putting a price on carbon, since this makes you look moderate and engaged, but you’d make sure that the definition of a “reasonable” price on carbon was so low and took so long to implement that it was no real threat to your business, and at worst would replace the dirtiest fossil fuels with others (switching for example from coal to gas).

You would ally with extremists and other sources of anti-democratic power, in order to be able to fight democratic efforts to cut emissions through the application of threats, instability and violence.

Most of all, you’d invest as heavily as possible in new infrastructure and supply. For oil and gas companies, this means new exploration and new pipelines. Why would you do this, if you know you may have to abandon these assets before they’ve paid off? Two reasons: First, it sends a signal of confidence to markets that you expect to continue to grow in the future. Second, it’s politically harder to force companies to abandon expensive investments than it is to prevent those systems from being built in the first place — the mere existence of a pipeline becomes an argument for continuing to use it. This, too, bolsters investor confidence. (Note that whether these assets are eventually abandoned or not is of little concern to current investors looking to delay devaluations).

Here’s the kicker: If you were going to put in place a presidential administration that was dedicated to taking these actions, it would look exactly like what we have now: a cabinet and chief advisors in which nearly every member is a climate denialist with ties to the Carbon Lobby.

Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin (Wikimedia Commons)

Trump wants ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his Secretary of State. You might remember that Exxon has been a main driver of climate denialism, as well as being one the largest polluters in history. Tillerson also has close ties with Vladimir Putin.
Not long ago, Tillerson was quoted as saying “The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not.” Think that one over. This is the man who would be America’s face to the world.
Trump has also put forward a host of other appointees who are overt climate denialists and generally also have financial ties to industries threatened by the Carbon Bubble. These include Rick Perry, Trump’s choice for Secretary of Energy and a close ally of Big Oil; Scott Pruitt (EPA Administrator — a virulent climate denialist); Nikki Haley (U.N. Ambassador, also known for suppressing climate science as Governor); Steve Bannon (Chief Strategist, and just generally gross); Ryan Zinke (Secretary of Interior — who strongly supports more oil and gas exploration on public lands): Jeff Sessions (Attorney General and climate regulation opponent); Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation, who will be tasked with getting a huge fossil fuel infrastructure plan through Congress, working with her husband, Mitch McConnell); James Mattis (Secretary of Defense, who is not a denialist but does have oil industry ties); Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor — and former oil industry lobbyist); Larry Kudlow (Council of Economic Advisors — a climate denialist and frequent defender of the Koch brothers); Wilbur Ross (Commerce Secretary — holds “hundreds of millions of dollars” in oil and gas investments); even Betsy DeVos (Education Secretary) is sister to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who is investing heavily in African oil and gas fields, “places where he thinks his expertise in providing logistics and security can give him a competitive edge.”
This is a cabinet custom-built to protect carbon industry investors… especially, perhaps, one.
No One Cares More about the Carbon Bubble than Putin
Trump’s ties to Russian espionage suddenly make more sense in this light.
If you were going to ask why a country like Russia would risk a war to interfere with American politics, look at what the Russian economy is.
Russia is a Petrostate (Credit: NPR)

Russia is a petrostate. It’s the number one gas exporter and number two oil exporter in the world, but its economy is otherwise stagnant and out-of-date. Those oil and gas assets are controlled by a small number of oligarchs gathered around Putin, the former head of the KGB. Those oligarchs may be the one group of investors who stands to lose the most from the popping of the Carbon Bubble.
Russia’s major national asset is their potential to develop Arctic oil fields opened up by climate change — which won’t happen if investors pull out of oil. If it’s obvious that this oil is unburnable, there’s no point in building all those oil-drilling platforms and pipelines. But if the perception is that the Carbon Bubble won’t pop for decades, then getting one’s hands on millions of barrels of Arctic oil will pump valuations way up. By one estimate, these oil fields could be worth at least $500 billion.
I don’t have any special insight into what Russia did or didn’t do, but if you’re looking for a reason why they would want to disrupt our election, there’s 500 billion of them.
Now, add in all the other Bubble-expanding projects and ploys, pipelines and hotels, and you begin to see the magnitude of the scam here. The difference between the Carbon Bubble deflating rapidly now and popping spectacularly in a decade or more could mean literally trillions more dollars in profits for the kind of people now helicoptering into Washington.
But that same delay would also bring on climate catastrophe, damage our democracy and bring financial ruin for the investors who are left holding those assets when the bubble pops. If history is any guide, those investors will be pensions and mutual funds and small timers — in other words, regular people.
It is not hyperbole to say that swelling the Carbon Bubble is not only not in the interests of the United States, it increases threats to our economy and national security, puts Americans at risk, undermines our prosperity and weakens our nation. It’s hard to call defending high carbon interests anything but unpatriotic.
Donald Trump is a climate denialist and corrupt af.

People who are looking to understand what the Trump gang is up to would do well to consider his gang’s actions through the lens of the Carbon Bubble. Understand that the amounts of money at stake are vast, nearly inconceivable to most of us, and highly concentrated in the hands of the people in Trump’s cabinet and their close friends and business allies.
Journalists are unused to thinking about climate change as being an economic and financial issue — much less the core political issue of our day — so for a lot of us this whole problem is invisible, despite the credibility of everyone pointing it out. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, frankly, because we are so cognitively unprepared to see the Bubble in front of us. That we are so blind to these risks is a tragedy.
We need to focus: The most serious political fight on the planet — the need to end use of coal, oil and gas — is at the center of America’s current political crisis.

By Alex Steffen 

Press link for more: Thenearlynow.com

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President Trump, or, Climate Change Denier in Chief #auspol 

President Trump, or, ‘Climate Change Denier in Chief’ | Opinion
By JEFF TITTEL
Actions speak louder than words, and during President Trump’s first days in office, he has eliminated work on climate change, approved dangerous pipelines, and stopped funding and programs at the EPA. Trump’s first actions have killed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which has eliminated environmental reviews of governmental actions on their impact on climate change. This includes any rules, regulations, funding and permits for projects like pipelines and oil and gas drilling. The problem is this is just the beginning of his administration’s environmental rollbacks. Between his inaugural address and his first executive actions, our president has basically declared a war on the environment.

Instead of “transferring the power to the people,” Trump is transferring power from the people to Big Oil, Big Gas, and the billionaires. He has reversed President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, while expediting the environmental reviews for pipelines like Dakota Access. This means for state like New Jersey his actions will impede our fights against PennEast and Pilgrim pipeline in New Jersey. People in Hunterdon and Bucks County who had ‘No PennEast’ signs alongside ‘Trump’ signs should know that if it is up to Donald Trump, the pipeline will be pushed through. The Delaware River Basin Commission may even lift the ban on fracking under this Administration, while approving permits for pipelines like PennEast. The South Jersey Gas pipeline through the Pinelands could also be at risk to Trump’s agenda given that the National Park Service has a vote in the decision.

In another assault on the environment, Trump froze regulations and funding at the EPA, while planning to cut the budget by $800 million. By taking aim at the budget, Trump is clearly taking aim at environmental programs. With New Jersey having the most Superfund Sites in the nation, Trump’s actions may put clean-ups throughout the state on hold. By taking away money from states, it will disrupt water quality testing, while stopping efforts to clean up our water supply and retrofit lead pipes. It will mean there will be no money going to resiliency along the shore, restoring the Delaware Bayshore, planting dunes, or upgrading sewer plants. New Jersey could lose money to deal with stormwater, climate change, and implement the Clean Water Act. This freeze is not in a vacuum, it is part of his plan to get rid of these programs and roll back forty five years of environmental progress.

The Trump Administration has even gagged EPA staff from speaking about climate change and removed the website’s climate change page. Trump said climate change is a hoax invented by China, but he is now making us look like a joke because he is the only internationally world leader who is a climate-denier. Instead of coming into office to deal with major issues like dealing with healthcare, re-building our roads and bridges, or create jobs, he is actually putting us at risk. These actions will actually hurt the economy by eliminating green jobs. Instead of the Commander in Chief, our president is really the ‘Climate Denier in Chief.’

While Trump said in his inaugural address that he plans to “harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow,” his plans will do the opposite. He wants to block offshore wind and getting rid of tax credits for clean energy by continuing to promote fossil foolishness of the past. He has promised to eliminate the historic Clean Power Plan, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate impacts like flooding, sea level rise, and severe storms. He even will get rid of resiliency projects that make us stronger against the next storm and allow building in areas vulnerable to sea level rise. In a state that has been so devastated by climate change and Hurricane Sandy, what Trump is doing is reckless.
Instead of draining the swamp, Trump is going to fill it with pipelines and oil rigs. His Cabinet is stacked with gas and oil industry people like Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt who is in lock step with corporate polluters. Pruitt has sued against regulations that he is now in charge to implement like the Clean Water Rule, Mercury Air Toxic Rule as well as the Clean Power Plan. Trump says he wants to heal our country, but he can’t when he wants to hurt the environment, economy, and public health.
Trump’s words are no longer words, they are serious actions that impact all of us. Instead of bringing us together, he is dividing us since the majority of Americans want clean air, clean water, and action on climate change. That is why we the people throughout the United States must stand united against Trump’s rollbacks and destructive energy policies. We have fought to protect the environment for the last 45 years and we must do so again now.
Jeff Tittel is the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

 For more voices brought to you by The Jersey Journal, visit and bookmark nj.com/hudson/voices.

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Women refusing to have children. #Climatechange #auspol 

When Sara Kelly, the 30-year-old founder of SAK PR firm in Philadelphia, posted an article to her Facebook page in December — one describing the growing trend of women refusing to have children for environmental reasons — it received more than 60 impassioned comments, mostly from friends of childbearing age debating the merits of the movement. 

“The topic comes up at least once a week,” Kelly told Salon. “People on both sides are having to put a lot more thought into their reasons than ever before. 

We’re forced to weigh the impact of climate change more than any generation before us.

 At dinner, cocktail hours, birthday parties. . . it’s on everyone’s mind.”

And increasingly, it’s on everyone’s newsfeed. 

With the UN announcing that the global population will hit nearly 10 billion people by 2050, and experts warning that man-made climate change will strain resources to a dire extent, 2016 became the year of the population-related think-piece, each one raising the question: Is having babies bad?

Every time a story like this is published, its comment section predictably devolves into a digital screaming match — on one side are parents and would-be parents espousing the primal human instinct to reproduce, and the folly of denying that drive. 

On the other side are activists who, like Kelly, believe the way to best protect our children is by not having more. 

Or, put another way, if you want to preserve the planet for future generations, shoot the stork. 

Caught in the middle? Twenty- and thirty-somethings torn between the desire to start a family and guilt over doing so.
So, in the great population debate of 2016, who came out on top: the pro-baby set, or population-control enthusiasts?

 It doesn’t really matter, some experts contend, because we’re having the wrong conversation.
“We have a generation of people whose decisions are deeply and painfully complicated by climate change,” 

Josephine Ferorelli, co-founder of the nonprofit Conceivable Future, which frames global warming as a reproductive justice issue, told Salon. “There isn’t a correct answer here — it’s an impossible choice. 

So we’re trying to refocus the conversation to something larger.”
That “something larger” is not whether women should forego having children based on a planet in crisis, but the systems in place that have put this planet in crisis — like the continued use of fossil fuel over renewable technologies.

 In other words, forget for a moment where you stand on kids in the age of climate change.

 Instead, get fired up that you have to factor it in at all.

“What people are experiencing now isn’t just your average do-I-want-to-be-a-parent hand wringing,” Conceivable Future co-founder Meghan Kallman, PhD, told Salon. “Reproductive sovereignty is yet another thing being curtailed by massive corporate interests, and if this makes you angry, that’s okay. 

The relevant question isn’t population but, rather, what are people in power privileging over a habitable future?”

Conceivable Future — a network that welcomes parents as well as non-parents — encourages women of every experience to share their struggles in an attempt to put political will behind emotion. 

So far, they have more than 70 testimonials and counting. 

While they’re often mistaken for a population control advocacy group, this isn’t the case, largely because discussions of population control, they believe, are often rooted in classist ideology. 

Because it’s women in developing countries who tend to have more children, it’s these women who are often targeted. 

In reality, the largest per capita carbon emissions come from America. (And Australia)

According to Mother Jones, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s daughter Zahara will likely produce 45,000 pounds of CO2 yearly, but that number would shrink to 221 pounds had Zahara stayed in Ethiopia.
It’s this discrepancy that’s increasingly shaping the plans of future mothers. 

Take Mary Sullivan, a 31-year-old school teacher from Newton, New Jersey, who has decided to foster children rather than have her own. “Climate change is already killing children in the developing world, and soon we will see the effects on the most vulnerable citizens of our country,” she told Salon. “Arguably, we are already.


 I don’t consider myself especially vulnerable, but I also don’t think I’ll ever be in a financial position to guarantee my child’s safety in the midst of a global crisis. 

With that in mind, yes, it does make me angry that there are people in the world who don’t even have to think about this — and these are often the very people making the decisions causing this disaster or refusing to address the problem.”
Refocusing this reproductive discussion away from population and toward social systems (and those who implement them) is difficult.

 When Erle Ellis, PhD, Professor of Geography & Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, presented the idea in a New York Times editorial in 2013, he received widespread backlash.
“It’s not about how many people are in a society,” Ellis told Salon. “It’s about how these societies use resources. For instance, there’s worry about how we’re going to feed 11 billion people, which is where experts think we might top out during this century. But the reason people starve is not because there isn’t enough food in the world — it’s about how that food is distributed. This has nothing to do with productivity. It’s a social problem.”
If you’re still feeling climate change-induced despair over the decision to have children, take heart.
“Make a choice that’s best for you,” Kallman told Salon. “There’s a wide range of experiences, and we honor and affirm all of them. The only recommendation we make is to get involved. Whatever you decide, it’s not the end of this fight.”

Press link for more: salon.com

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Strong evidence human-caused climate change intensified heat waves #auspol

Scientists: Strong evidence that human-caused climate change intensified 2015 heat waves
Human-caused climate change very likely increased the severity of heat waves that plagued India, Pakistan, Europe, East Africa, East Asia, and Australia in 2015 and helped make it the warmest year on record, according to new research published today in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

The fifth edition of Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspectiveoffsite link presents 25 peer-reviewed research papers that examine episodes of extreme weather of 2015 over five continents and two oceans. It features the research of 116 scientists from 18 countries analyzing both historical observations and changing trends along with model results to determine whether and how climate change may have influenced the event.
The strongest evidence for a human influence was found for temperature-related events — the increased intensity of numerous heat waves, diminished snowpack in the Cascades, record-low Arctic sea ice extent in March and the extraordinary extent and duration of Alaska wildfires.

“After five years of the BAMS Explaining Extreme Events report, we’re seeing mounting evidence that climate change is making heat waves more extreme in many regions around the world,” said lead editor Stephanie C. Herring, a scientist with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “As we get better at distinguishing the influence of climate change from natural variability, the local significance and impacts of this global phenomenon are becoming clearer.”
Evidence of climate change in 2015 flooding, fires – and sunshine
Numerous other events of 2015 were made more extreme by climate change, the report found. The probability of “sunny day” tidal flooding events in the Miami area, like the one that inundated coastal areas that September, has risen 500 percent since 1994, according to one study. Human-induced climate change likely contributed to the record high intensity of west North Pacific typhoons and the record amount of winter sunshine in the United Kingdom.

But researchers found no evidence of an overall climate change signal in the delayed onset of the Nigerian spring rainy season or in the extreme daily rainfall totals that inundated Chennai, India in December. There was likewise no evidence that the extreme cold winter conditions over the northeast United States in 2015 were made more likely by human-induced climate change.
Lessons learned over the past five years
More than 100 papers examining extreme events have been accepted for publication in this special report since its inaugural issue in 2012. These studies take a place-based and event-specific approach to identifying the role of climate change, and answer the question of how much a particular recent event’s likelihood of recurrence or intensity has changed relative to the past.
While there’s mounting evidence in the role of climate change in amplifying the severity of heat waves, evidence of a climate change signal has not been found in a majority of extreme precipitation studies published in this special edition, Herring said.

However, she cautioned that the lack of clear evidence of a climate signal did not necessarily mean climate change played no role in an event. A “null” result could mean the event fell within the bounds of natural variability. It could also mean that the framing of the research question or the method of analysis chosen requires further refinement and development.
Identifying analytical methods that work better than others
Contributing authors choose the event they wish to study, so the new studies are neither a random sample nor a comprehensive survey of extreme weather events. They do illustrate how various methods can be applied to extreme event analysis, she said, and in cases where multiple groups look at the same event, the relative skill of different approaches can be compared.
“With this report, we continue to document scientists’ growing ability to identify how climate change influences today’s weather,” said Jeff Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which independently conducts the peer reviews for studies included in this special report. “These accessible and brief papers show the scientific community and the public that once seemingly impossible insights about climate impacts are now within the capability of timely, rigorous science.”
Five NOAA scientists served as editors of Explaining Extreme Events of 2015 from a Climate Perspective: Herring, James Kossin, and Carl Schreck III of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information along with Martin P. Hoerling and Andrew Hoell with NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory. Peter A. Stott with the UK Met Office Hadley Centre also served as an editor.

Press link for more: Kokomoperspective.com

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Coal kills people Mr Trump #auspol #genocide 

Donald Trump has pronounced solar power “too expensive” and has pledged to revive the use of coal.

 The former is a falsehood, the latter a genocide.

 (Coal kills people [through] lung disease and global warming). 


 Moreover, Trump keeps complaining that China is eating Americans’ lunch with regard to bilateral trade. But if he doesn’t back American solar industry, he’ll be giving the economy of the future away to . . . China.
Amazingly enough, renewables companies in the US aren’t pessimistic about what they can accomplish while Trump is in power. 

Prices of renewable power sources have fallen 80% in a decade and probably the prices will go on down from there.

 Prices can fall for several reasons– better efficiency, cheaper materials, innovative technology. 

 Solar is already cheaper on paper than the least expensive of the hydrocarbons, coal, and so looking 10 or 15 years out, fossil fuels are dead without their investors or owners knowing it or perhaps being willing to admit it. 

 (If people believed what I just wrote, Exxon-Mobil’s stock price would fall to zero tomorrow; which it should).

Moreover, even if the Federal government turns hostile to solar, states and municipalities are often putting in incentives for it. 
Not to mention that the Chinese government is highly committed to renewables.

 In fact, it was largely owing to Chinese investment and research and development that solar costs have fallen 80%.

 In fact, China is able to reduce its subsidies to renewables because solar panel prices have fallen 30% this year alone! 

 The world is one market, with some lags, so if Chinese panels fall dramatically in cost (they will) it cuts costs for everyone.


 The problem is that then it is the Chinese who get the profits on this $100 billion sector (which will grow in size), not American companies.

 What Trump and the GOP may actually accomplish is to create a loud whooshing sound of American energy dollars hurtling toward Beijing, while we are left with old costly inefficient coal and natural gas plants.


How fast the solar transition can take place out in the real world is demonstrated by India. 

 Indian minister for energy and mines Piyush Goyal observed that everyone laughed at India when it said it would reach 100GW of solar power by 2022. 

 PV-Tech writes, “Speaking at the ‘Energy Conservation day’ in Delhi, he said: ‘They thought it is impossible that a country like India can expand by 40 times from 2,400MW, that we had in 2014, to 100,000MW by 2022.’”

In fact, India already has 9,000 megawatts of solar in 2016 and plausibly hopes to be at 20,000 MW next year this time. A lot of this progress is at the level of utility-scale solar, as with the just-opened Kamuthi solar facility in Tamil Nadu. It has a capacity of 550 MW and was built in only 8 months. 
India is now the third-largest solar market after China and the US. Will it use Chinese panels and other technology? Or American? The US government’s policies will help decide the answer to this question, on which the issue of American economic and technological supremacy in the 21st century will hang. The answer is in Trump’s cabinet appointments, all of them deeply entangled in the 19th century technology of bubbling crude.
That China will be the leader on solar tech will give its companies the edge in buying up promising new technologies on the world market. Thus, Thermal Focus of China has just bought a proven Australian heliostat technology that uses lots of small mirrors to boil water to turn turbines. With every Chinese innovation and every such purchase, it gets further ahead of the United States in this field.

So if you look out at the big world, where 78% of global GDP is produced, you’d have to be very bullish on solar and very bearish on Trump, Tillerson and his other grimy fossil-fuel fossils.

 What is tragic is that Americans over time will have fewer jobs, less money, more expensive energy, and more lung disease because of the reckless decision they made in November.

Press link for more: Truthdig.com

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Is it Game Over on the Climate? #auspol

Is it game over on the climate?

By Bill McKibben

One possibility is, we’ve lost. It’s a real possibility, and we should consider it carefully instead of ignoring it because it’s emotionally unpalatable.
I think the argument would go like this: The idea that humans would move quickly enough off coal and oil and gas to salvage the planet’s climate was always a long shot. When I wrote the first book on all of this back in 1989, I interviewed a political scientist who said “it’s the problem from hell,” with so many interests at odds, and so much money invested in the status quo, that it was hard to see a real path forward.

And that was back when we thought global warming would roll out somewhat slowly — when we feared the consequences that would unfold in the second half of this century. 

The scientists, it turns out, had been much too conservative, and so “ahead of schedule” became the watchword for everything from polar melt to ocean acidification. Already, only 17 years into the millennium, the planet is profoundly changed: half the ice missing from the polar north, for instance, which in turn is shifting weather patterns around the globe.

That galloping momentum of warming (building on itself, as white ice gives way to blue ocean and as fires in drought-stricken forests send clouds of carbon aloft) scares me. It should scare everyone; for a decade now, it has threatened to take this crisis beyond the reach of politics. To catch up with the physics of climate change we’d need a truly stunning commitment to change, an all-out, planetwide decision to push as hard as we’ve ever pushed to spread clean energy and shut down the dirty stuff.

The closest we’ve gotten to that — and in truth, it wasn’t all that close — was the Paris Agreement, that went into effect last November 4. It committed all the nations of the world to holding the planet’s temperature increase to as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible, and by all means below 2 degrees. It lacked enforcement mechanisms and strict timetables, but it did at least signal the planet’s willingness to go to work. And it helped conjure up the counter-momentum that was beginning to take hold: renewable energy was suddenly outpacing fossil fuel in many places. Carbon emissions were starting to stabilize.

Four days later, Donald J. Trump was elected.
He has promised, of course, to scrap the Paris accords, but even if he doesn’t do that, he and his team will do all they can to slow that building momentum. And since pace is everything here, that might well be enough. Our not-verygood in-any-event chance just got much, much harder.
But — and I say this with a certain weary sadness — the chances have not gotten so much harder that one can justify giving up. There definitely are days when I wish one could simply say “that’s that” and walk away, and since I don’t live next to a refinery I suppose I have that luxury. Doing so would require, however, ignoring a few realities that shouldn’t be ignored.
One is the almost unbelievable fall in the price of renewable energy, which is continuing apace. Each passing month brings cheaper solar panels, more efficient wind turbines, more powerful batteries at lower cost, shinier electric cars. The pieces are there, and in a few spots they’re actually being used: If Denmark can generate half its power from the wind, then so can lots of other places. If India can build the world’s largest solar farm in a matter of months, then there’s no reason others couldn’t follow. The engineering breakthroughs of the last decade have made rapid conversion technologically plausible; as Mark Jacobson and his Stanford team have demonstrated, you can make the numbers work — they’ve shown stateby state that getting to 80 percent clean power in the U.S. by 2030 isn’t easy, but it is possible.

The other reality is darker, but no less real: Global warming will happen on a spectrum. It’s not like everything is okay up to 2 degrees, and then everything is hell. Hell is breaking loose now, and we’re barely past 1 degree. Two degrees will be exponentially tougher — but 3 degrees will be exponentially tougher than that. The battle never really ends: You just keep falling back to the next redoubt, finding some new weapon with which to fight, yielding no more ground than you must. We’re never going to reach the point where it can’t get any worse. It can get worse, and it will if we don’t battle.


Where, then, will the battle be fought?
To some degree, in Washington. That’s been the center of the environmental fight these last eight years, with defeats (cap-and-trade) and victories (the Keystone XL pipeline) and constant, focused lobbying. In fact, we’ve lost at least as much as we’ve won: Even as we greet the Trump disaster, it’s important to account honestly for the Obama years, when America passed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the greatest oil and gas nation on earth. Yes, good organizing helped break the back of the coal industry, but that carbon-spewing anthracite was mostly replaced by methane leaking fracked gas; depending on how you count the warming effect of that CH4, it’s entirely possible America’s greenhouse gas emissions went up during the Obama era. Still, D.C. was a place you could stand and fight: Obama had promised to do something about climate change, and you could try and hold him to that promise.

Trump has promised just the opposite, and there’s no real leverage to hold over him. As his Cabinet appointments have made entirely clear, he’s going to gut the EPA and turn the Department of Energy into a playground for the oil industry. (And who knows what he and Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin are cooking up for Russia.) At least for now, there’s only defense to be played, but defense is half of any game. If the filibuster remains in place and the Democrats can round up 40 votes, the worst damage can perhaps be avoided. That’s why we’ll muster and march: After the inauguration weekend’s Women’s March, a giant climate justice gathering on April 29 figures to be the next crucial date on the movement calendar. My guess, however, is that most of the action will be outside the Beltway in the next few years — that Sacramento and Albany will be capitals of almost equal significance as we struggle to keep the energy revolution going. California is the world’s sixth largest economy, and it has begun to prosper from a tide of clean energy investment; success there will help drive investment in the right direction. New York is halfway into the most ambitious utility restructuring plan on the continent. Assuming that Gov. Andrew Cuomo stays the course (and as a pol with an eye on bigger things, that seems a reasonable bet), the Empire State will demonstrate what a modern energy system might look like. That won’t turn off the dirty power plants in the rest of the country
— they’ve been granted a reprieve by Trump’s election — but it will keep Wall Street paying attention. And even across the middle of the country, sense keeps breaking out. Iowa is largely windpowered now; even Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, recently refused to scrap renewable energy targets.
In this new landscape, the large, sprawling, diverse climate movement that has sprung up in the last decade can push the process in many useful ways.


Take, for instance, the ongoing battles against new fossil fuel infrastructure, exemplified in the last few years by the battles over the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Those were crucial fights, and only in part because they slowed the construction of particular pipelines. They also scrambled the investment thinking of multinationals, banks, and investors. Canada’s tar sands, for instance, may have been dealt a fatal blow by the various pipeline battles — even if they’re eventually built, billions of dollars in new mining operations were deferred or canceled in the meantime. The idea that tar sands output would triple or quadruple has vanished; even Exxon is facing the likely need to write off its investment in the north.
The battle waged at Standing Rock over the Dakota Access pipeline was a particularly powerful chapter in this fight, and not just because it made crystal clear to the larger public what many of us have known for years: that frontline communities, and in particular Native Americans, are leading much of this struggle. Standing Rock also demonstrated that most of the nation’s (and many of the planet’s) big banks were still in the business of underwriting fossil fuel. That means new targets, and ones vulnerable to consumer pressure — the bank-lobby sit-ins that have taken place across the country are just the first wave, I’d wager.

In fact, the fossil fuel divestment movement will see a new surge of organizing. It’s already enormous, the biggest campaign of its kind in history, with endowments and portfolios worth more than $5 trillion pulling out of some or all of the fossil fuel stocks. And it’s already done damage — as Peabody Coal went bankrupt, it explained to the SEC that damage from the divestment campaign was one big reason. Now it becomes an even more compelling place to act: With the system jammed in D.C., the pressure will inevitably build elsewhere. And increasingly, divestment campaigners are taking on iconic targets, places like the Nobel Foundation or the planet’s great museums, making the case that our culture simply can’t survive the coming meltdown.
That’s crucial, because in the end the real fight is not over a pipeline or a windmill or even a carbon tax. The real fight — all real fights — are over the zeitgeist. They’re about who controls the vision of the future.
Donald Trump and his band of fellow travelers won the vision battle by staring backwards — the key word in their ballcap slogan is “again,” and understandably, because the world around us is scary. It’s much nicer (at least for white people) to pretend we don’t have to deal with reality, that we can somehow turn things back to an earlier day.
But defying reality is a hard trick, day in and day out. Mother Nature is doing her best to break the spell all the time— sooner or later, even distracting presidential tweets can’t crowd out the brute actuality of drought and flood and heat. And there’s a gentle reality that’s spreading as well: Each solar panel means someone else seeing firsthand what the new world might look like.
The zeitgeist can’t be rewritten by environmentalists alone. Though there’s no technical reason why environmental protection should be a “progressive” idea, it’s clear that in our day and age the Republican Party and the conservative movement have chosen to go with the fossil fuel industry. (They’ve been bought, and they’ve stayed bought). That leaves those who care about the climate standing with those who care about the poor, about racial justice, about immigrants, about peace. And at bottom that’s the right fit: A renewably powered world would be far more localized, democratic and fair. It’s the opposite of planet Koch in every way.
Which means, in turn, that one goal of our fight must simply be to break the power of Trumpism and all that it represents. If you want good news, here it is: Trump and his crew have pushed all their bets onto fossil fuel. There’s no Obama-esque hedging and half measures. Which means that if they fall, then climate denial should fall with them. Fossil fuel worship should fall with them. Their backward-looking vision should tumble down around them.
That’s if they fall. We’ve got our work cut out for us.
Bill McKibben is an author and environmental leader who lives in Ripton.