Saturday, January 21, 2017

Monbiot assesses Trump's energy policy

Once again George Monbiot has written a brutally honest article assessing what we (American citizens and voters) have allowed to happen to our government.  How we're going to recover from this, I don't know.  But, I do know that honestly assessing the situation is a requirement if there's to be any hope at all.    
I thank Mr. Monbiot for his permission to repost his incisive article.
Posted: 20 Jan 2017 01:50 AM PST

Dirty industries spend more on politics, keeping us in the fossil age.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 19th January 2017

Make America Wait Again. That’s what Donald Trump’s energy policy amounts to. Stop all the clocks, put the technological revolution on hold, ensure that the transition from fossil fuels to clean power is delayed for as long as possible.

Trump is the president corporate Luddites have dreamt of; the man who will let them squeeze every last cent from their oil and coal reserves before they become worthless. They need him because science, technology and people’s demands for a safe and stable world have left them stranded. There is no fair fight that they can win, so their last hope lies with a government that will rig the competition.

To this end, Trump has appointed to his cabinet some of those responsible for a universal crime: inflicted not on particular nations or groups, but on everyone.

Recent research suggests that – if drastic action of the kind envisaged by the Paris agreement on climate change is not taken – ice loss in Antarctica alone could raise sea levels by a metre this century, and by 15 metres in subsequent centuries. Combine this with the melting in Greenland and the thermal expansion of seawater, and you discover that many of the world’s great cities are at existential risk.

The climatic disruption of crucial agricultural zones – in North and Central America, the Middle East, Africa and much of Asia – presents a security threat that could dwarf all others. The civil war in Syria, unless resolute policies are adopted, looks like a glimpse of a possible global future.

These are not, if the risks materialise, shifts to which we can adapt. These crises will be bigger than our capacity to respond to them. They could lead to the rapid and radical simplification of society, which means, to put it brutally, the end of civilisations and many of the people they support. If this happens, it will amount to the greatest crime ever committed. And members of Trump’s proposed cabinet are among the leading perpetrators.

In their careers so far, they have championed the fossil fuel industry while contesting the measures intended to prevent climate breakdown. They appear to have considered the need of a few exceedingly rich people to protect their foolish investments for a few more years, weighed it against the benign climatic conditions that have allowed humanity to flourish, and decided that the foolish investments are more important.


By appointing Rex Tillerson, chief executive of the oil company ExxonMobil, as secretary of state, Trump not only assures the fossil economy that it sits next to his heart; he also provides comfort to  another supporter: Vladimir Putin. It was Tillerson who brokered the $500 billion deal between Exxon and the state-owned Russian company Rosneft to exploit oil reserves in the Arctic. As a result he was presented with the Russian Order of Friendship by Mr Putin.


The deal was stopped under the sanctions the US imposed when Russia invaded Ukraine. The probability of these sanctions in their current form surviving a Trump government is, to the nearest decimal place, a snowball’s chance in hell. If Russia did interfere in the US election, it will be handsomely rewarded when the deal goes ahead.

Trump’s nominations for energy secretary and interior secretary are both climate change deniers, who – quite coincidentally – have a long history of sponsorship by the fossil fuel industry. His proposed attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, allegedly failed to disclose in his declaration of interests that he leases land to an oil company.


The man nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has spent much of his working life campaigning against … the Environmental Protection Agency. As the attorney general in Oklahoma, he launched 14 lawsuits against the EPA, seeking, among other aims, to strike down its Clean Power Plan, its limits on the mercury and other heavy metals released by coal plants and its protection of drinking water supplies and wildlife. Thirteen of these suits were said to include as co-parties companies that had contributed to his campaign funds or to political campaign committees affiliated to him.

Trump’s appointments reflect what I call the Pollution Paradox. The more polluting a company is, the more money it must spend on politics to ensure it is not regulated out of existence. Campaign finance therefore comes to be dominated by dirty companies, ensuring that they wield the greatest influence, crowding out their cleaner rivals. Trump’s cabinet is stuffed with people who owe their political careers to filth.


It was once possible to argue, rightly or wrongly, that the human benefits of developing fossil fuel reserves might outweigh the harm. But a combination of more refined climate science, that now presents the risks in stark terms, and the plummeting costs of clean technologies renders this argument as obsolete as a coal-fired power station.

As the US burrows into the past, China is investing massively in renewable energy, electric cars and new battery technologies. The Chinese government claims that this new industrial revolution will generate 13 million jobs. This, by contrast to Trump’s promise to create millions of jobs through reanimating coal, at least has a chance of materialising. It’s not just that returning to an old technology when better ones are available is difficult; it’s also that coal mining has been automated to the extent that it now supports few jobs. Trump’s attempt to revive the fossil era will serve no one but the coal barons.

Understandably, commentators have been seeking glimpses of light in Trump’s position. But there are none. He couldn’t have made it clearer, through his public statements, the Republican platform and his appointments, that he intends to the greatest extent possible to shut down funding for both climate science and clean energy, rip up the Paris agreement, sustain fossil fuel subsidies and annul the laws that protect people and the rest of the living world from the impacts of dirty energy.


His candidacy was represented as an insurgency, challenging established power. But his position on climate change reveals what should have been obvious from the beginning: he and his team represent the incumbents, fighting off insurgent technologies and political challenges to moribund business models. They will hold back the tide of change for as long as they can. And then the barrier will burst.

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Here's another interesting assessment:

Donald The Unready, Paul Krugman

REJECT REX TILLERSON - SIGN PETITION, MAKE PHONE CALLS

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a vote on Rex Tillerson’s (the just retired, lifetime EXXON man) confirmation on Monday to head our US State Department and we cannot afford to let up the pressure. {Also make your voice count, call your Senator, below you can find a list of the Foreign Relations Committee members}


In Tillerson’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 11, the ex-CEO of oil-and-gas-giant Exxon Mobil gave an unacceptable series of non-answers on issues ranging from man-made climate change to whether Russia’s Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. He may have even perjured himself by lying about Exxon Mobil’s documented history of lobbying against Russian sanctions.

Tillerson recently left his position at Exxon Mobil with a $180 million retirement package, just two months ahead of his scheduled retirement.1 We don’t need another climate-denying corporate executive in Washington – especially as the nation’s top diplomat.


Tillerson has led Exxon Mobil in public lie after public lie about the reality of climate change.2 Not only has he personally been outspoken about his false belief that scientists largely disagree about climate change and its connection to human action, he has used his position and influence as CEO of the oil and gas company to promote lies and propaganda denying the role burning fossil fuels plays in heating our planet. The company is currently under investigation by several state Attorneys General for lying and misleading investors and the public about the risks of climate change.3 Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil continues to fund climate denial groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, despite commitments from Tillerson to stop funding climate deniers.4

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have expressed concern about Tillerson’s deep ties to Russia and his personal relationship with Vladimir Putin. In 2013, after the two negotiated an oil drilling deal reportedly worth $500 billion, Putin gave Tillerson one of the highest honors Russia gives to foreigners: the Order of Friendship. The Order of Friendship can be bestowed on someone who makes a "great contribution" to "large-scale economic projects" in Russia.5 Tillerson built his career and success at Exxon on close relationships and business deals to drill oil in Russia – and he has refused to release his tax returns that would show his true financial ties to Russia.

With mounting evidence that Russia interfered in the presidential election, now is not the time to install someone with deep financial ties to Vladimir Putin as the nation’s top diplomat. It’s time for the Senate to take a stand and commit to blocking his confirmation.

Thank you for everything you do,
Tessa Levine, Campaign Manager

Sign the petition at:
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But, can we get real.  SERIOUS AMERICANS NEED TO DO MORE, MUCH MORE ! 
PERSONALLY CONTACT YOUR SENATORS IS A GOOD START.
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Members, 115th Congress
Majority (Republicans)

 • Bob Corker, Tennessee Chairman

Minority (Democrats)
 • Ben Cardin, Maryland, Ranking Member
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References:
2 McKenzie Funk, “Did Exxon Lie About Global Warming?” Rolling Stone, June 30, 2016.
3 Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss, “Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies by New York Attorney General,” The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2015.
4 Lee Wasserman, “What Rex Tillerson's Exxon Mobil track record tells us,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 3, 2017.
5 Matt Egan, Julia Horowitz and Chris Isidore, “Behind the deep ties between Exxon's Rex Tillerson and Russia,” CNN Money, Dec. 11, 2016.

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Reject Rex Tillerson, EXXON's Russian Obligate Oil Guy - Here's why.

Senator Gardner - Democratic decency requires NO VOTE on Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State
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Tips on Calling Your Member of Congress

When you dial 202-224-3121 you are directed to an operator at the Capitol switchboard. This switchboard can direct you to both senators as well as representatives.

Once the operator answers, ask to be connected to whomever you are trying to reach. They will send you to your senator's or representative's office line, and a legislative assistant will answer the phone.

It is important to let them know why you are calling and what issue you are calling about. You will sometimes be able to speak directly to your senator or representative, but more often you will speak to a staff person in the member's office. This person keeps track of how many people called and their positions on issues, and provides a summary to the member. Be assured that your call does count, even if you are not able to speak directly to your senator or representative.

* You can also find the direct number to any member's office by consulting the



How to be effective about contacting your senator: 
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump's Attack on Climate Science Begins - within minutes of inauguration.

For starters Trump wants to eliminate all mention of Climate Science and Obama's initiatives.  Fortunately, it's too late for that.  The records can be found here" 
https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-record/climate, for the details read on.

The muzzling is already beginning.

Trump’s White House Website Now Only Mentions "Climate" in His Plans to Ax Obama’s Policies


Today, the peaceful transition of power took place, with President Barack Obama passing the White House baton over to President Donald Trump. 
Behind the glitz and glamor and pomp and circumstance came another key White House transition: the Trump White House has gotten rid of the climate change section of the White House website. The URL www.whitehouse.gov/energy/climate-change now takes those surfing the internet to a page which “could not be found.”

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Diary 1/19/2017 and "Trump's Promises Score Card"

For those of you who are into keeping score on how well, or poorly, Trump is at keeping his many promises, you'll want to bookmark this link https://thinkprogress.org/trump-made-a-lot-of-promises-about-what-he-will-do-as-president-weve-documented-663-of-them-3d28f0131e7f#.x7ni4arpr because ThinkProgress had put together a list and a team of journalists who will be keeping track.  My intended short introduction turned into a full on essay of sortsafter which I have much more information about the ThinkProgress "Trump Promise Score Card."

* You'll have to forgive me for not giving Trump any benefit of the doubt.  He has repeatedly shown that he lives within a narcissistic bubble detached from down to Earth reality.  I have yet to see the slightest indication he possesses any scruples or empathy.  Trump doesn't read and beyond money and marketing appears to know nothing, no history, no science, no geography, no evolution, nor any philosophy beyond,
"The Golden Rule"  ~  The man with the gold makes the rules! 
No different from a few thousand tribal warlords and emperors who came before, to dominate, destroy, get destroyed.  When I was a kid, we had this idea going around that humanity may finally be able to learn from that repetition of historic lessons.  How wrong we were.  I think my generation lost our focus.  We learned to detach and take it all for granted.  For the most part we were all too willing to turn our backs on the lessons of the 70s - namely, that we as a global society needed to power down a bit.  Less baby making.  Wiser resource consumption with an eye toward sustainable systems.  (For instance why couldn't tire manufactures lease their tires, then repurpose returning tires?  Same with batteries and other such short duration resource rich items?  Simple things like that.)  Also, incorporating an appreciation for the profound impacts increasing our planet's atmospheric insulation was sure to have on the biosphere we depend on.

Future, long term survival was dependent on a mature appreciation for this planet Earth and the myriad of biological systems and subsystems along with our global climate engine all interwoven in amazing ways.  But, fast cars, fast food, kick ass movies and music and sports and fantasizing about having riches and ever increasing profits became all we needed.  At best it was a Faustian Bargain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Columbia Journalism Review - open letter to Trump - Jan 17, 2017

I'm working on EM Debate #14, unfortunately now he attacks Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth with clear-cut nonsense - exposing himself as either very gullible or not the serious student he projects.  Since I'm sick of all the stupidity I've come across regarding Gore's IT errors, I'm reviewing the endlessly repeated and mimicked Contrarian Lord's "35 Scientific Errors (or Intentional Lies) in An Inconvenient Truth" - and it's eating up precious hours I don't have near enough of.  But, I'll get er done, yet.

In the mean time I came across an excellent letter to Mr. Trump written by "The Press Corp" that’s worth sharing over here - It seems that along with many other America's they have woken up, taken stock of what happened this past year and are now ready to go forward into our self-inflicted frightening new political reality with a renewed sense of purpose and mission.

Welcome back America's once grand Fourth Estate, we certainly need you more than ever, I hope it's not too late.

Columbia Journalism Review

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT ELECT:
In these final days before your inauguration, we thought it might be helpful to clarify how we see the relationship between your administration and the American press corps.

It will come as no surprise to you that we see the relationship as strained. Reports over the last few days that your press secretary is considering pulling news media offices out of the White House are the latest in a pattern of behavior that has persisted throughout the campaign: 
You’ve banned news organizations from covering you. 
You’ve taken to Twitter to taunt and threaten individual reporters and encouraged your supporters to do the same. You’ve advocated for looser libel laws 
and threatened numerous lawsuits of your own, 
none of which has materialized. 

You’ve avoided the press when you could and flouted the norms of pool reporting and regular press conferences. You’ve ridiculed a reporter who wrote something you didn’t like because he has a disability.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

#13 Debating GOP Disconnect AGW - self-interest vs. objective learning?

Here I respond to EM's points #14 to #17, no fireworks, still I found it interesting in that it nudges the dialogue towards the question of 'motivated learning.'  For instance, my life long pursuit of Earth and climate learning is driven by my need to understand this wondrous planet I was born into as well as possible. Whereas EM, and I dare say, the entire Republican pursuit of climate science is driven by its threat to their short-term economic/political "interests".

It helps explain why they can so easily ignore the overwhelming evidence in favor of the established scientific "consensus."  We are fools not to recognize this.  We are but at the beginning of the human fossil fuels burning warming trajectory and unless we rearrange our priorities in a hurry, or there will be hell to pay.  

To finish this installment I provide some sources that make plain that infrastructure and life destroying extreme weather events are being driven by an increasingly warming global climate engine and that Republicans minimize the threat at all of our own peril.  (Some touch up edits Monday morning)

National Summary Information - December 2016
Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Table of Events

National Climate Assessment - 2014

The National Academy of Sciences
ATTRIBUTION OF Extreme Weather Events
IN THE CONTEXT OF Climate Change

American Meteorological Society
State of the Climate in 2015

NOT JUST THE KOCH BROTHERS: 
NEW DREXEL STUDY REVEALS FUNDERS BEHIND THE CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL EFFORT
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  1. EM’s point #14, quoting me:  If you look at this blog you’ll see plenty of very specific critiques, were I offer objective supporting evidence for my claims.  I know what I’m talking about and ignoring my critiques doesn’t make their substance go away.
    1. EM responds:  I have neither the time nor the desire to read all of your blog posts, as this site is not easy to navigate and I have other things to do than read through all of your (all pretty much the same) posts. 
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With all due respect, then you haven’t looked very far.  As for quality of presentation, I agree it leaves much to be desired.  But I’m no professional blogger, doing the best I can with what I have, in the limited moments I can spare from the rest of my day to days.  
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    1. EM responds:  I don’t argue with the evidence you present; because I’m not arguing AGW’s existence or the fact that rising global temperature is a net-negative for the planet. 
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Actually you are, in that you are dismissing AGW’s already clear and present impacts on our global society and biosphere.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Senator Gardner - Democratic decency requires NO VOTE on Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State

Since Colorado’s own Senator Gardner is on the Committee of Foreign Relations and is hearing Rex Tillerson’s nomination I decided to send his staff this open letter that I hope they’ll pass along.  I've sent it to our Durango Telegraph as 'letter to the editor' and I want to share it over here.  It might help some gather their own thoughts for sending messages to their own senators.  It's all we have right now, so everyone that cares needs to make an effort. http://civilrights.org/action_center/resources/calling-congress.html 
{Sorry about that early posting screw up}    It's been noted that mine is not the most diplomatic of opening paragraphs.  So be it.  It's not like Republicans have been anything but ruthlessly hostile to anyone on the other side of their world outlook divide.  Maybe, it's time they stop being so absolutist and progressive types stop being so accommodating !

Honorable Senator Gardner and staff,

Please take the time to think about the many objections to Rex Tillerson becoming our country’s Secretary of State. 

You’ll note right away that I can be categorized (and discarded) as a “tree hugger” type.  Indeed, I have hugged a few in my day.  I know too well how my kind is easily vilified and dismissed by Republicans.  Still I would beg you to consider the reality that we very much depend on a healthy climate and biosphere for everything we have and love.  

No matter what your personal religion tells you about your God, the basic inescapable reality is that we were born of this Earth and shall die back into it.  It is a beautiful reality, once you grow to appreciate evolution and understand what a fantastical pageant you are part of.

But, I digress.  What I really want to beg of you and your staff to consider is all the reasons Rex Tillerson, great oil-businessman though he may be, he should never be allowed to become USA’s Secretary of State.  A position demanding respect for our Constitution and a much broader understanding than a dedicated oil man(42+years), someone who knows nothing but drilling for profits is capable of acquiring.  No insult, fundamental reality.  Secretary of State requires immensely broad and deep understanding of governmental matters and a different sphere of relevant matter than a pure cold blooded businessman like Rex can acquire.

No matter now many big shot deals he may have closed, he’s unfit for the State Department!  Why can’t America at least get an experienced individual?  As for ‘outsider’ that just means he doesn’t know what’s going on.  That may work in the movies, but this is real life and there’s no going back.