Who Pays For The Consequences Of Not Dealing With Climate Change?
I've only been to one state banquet at the White House in my life. It was for Czech President Vaclav Havel and the only reason I was invited was because it was pre-Google and I was the only one in President Clinton's rolodex who knew the difference between Lou Rawls and Lou Reed. It was the first time I got to meet so many people I write about here at DWT so often: from arch-villains like Charles Koch, Henry Kissinger, Jane Harman, Erskine Bowles, and Tipper Gore to some passing political figures of the day like Pat Danner (D-MO), Vic Fazio (D-CA), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Norman Dicks (D-WA), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Douglas Bereuter (R-NE), Samuel Gejdenson (D-CT), and William Roth, the Roth IRA guy (R-DE) to a handful of more interesting, if extraneous, figures like Kurt Vonnegut, Mia Farrow, Eric Holder, Stevie Wonder, chess grand master Lubomir Kavalek-- and my old friend Ric Ocasek who I hadn't seen in years and who had originally helped launch my career as a record mogul by producing one of my bands, Romeo Void, on a whim. The whole guest list was geared to President Havel. (I don't think he was a Cars fan but Ocasek was married to Czech model Paulina Porizkova.) Lou Reed was the entertainment that night and Havel had long credited his band, the Velvet Underground, with being the inspiration for Havel's own fortitude in breaking free from the Soviet Union. And there were a ton of Czech officials, although not Milos Zeman.
Saturday, Zeman, a former prime minister, was elected-- the first by popular vote-- president of the Czech Republic. The American media is calling him a leftist but he's also a fanatic Islamaphobe on a level with our own Steve King (R-IA) and as much a Climate Change denier as any pea-size brain Republican. (Last week Florida GOP chimpanzee Marco Rubio said he isn't worried about the climate crisis since "There's a lot of things government can do but changing the weather isn't one of them.") Even the NY Times, which you might expect to know better, was celebrating Zeman's election for signaling "the end of the era of Vaclav Klaus, the Czech president for the past 10 years, whose vociferous skepticism of the European Union and scorn for the battle against climate change made him a sometimes awkward partner in Europe and the United States. " They seem blissfully unaware that Klaus and Zeman are allied and that both scorn the battle against climate change.
Over the weekend, Chris Hayes was tweeting that Obama is "the most powerful person in the world who says he's committed to averting climate disaster" and that future generations will only remember us for how we deal with the Climate Crisis. (He should invite Presidents Klaus and Zeman to make a joint appearance on his show-- along with Marco Rubio and the Koch brothers.) That video up top has nothing to do with the Czech Republic. It's from Hayes' Sunday morning MSNBC show, during which he talked about why Keystone XL is so important in terms of Climate Change.
The State Department is reportedly close to completing a review of a proposed extension of the Keystone Pipeline, to transport oil from Canadian oil sands to the United States. The pipeline is controversial to be sure, and environmentalists contend that, in order for President Obama to remain faithful to his renewed commitment to combat climate change, he must reject the pipeline proposal. Famed NASA climatologist James Hansen has said that moving to oil sands would be “a step in exactly the opposite direction” of what President Obama claims he wants to do in his second term.
So, just how bad are Canadian oil sands for the planet? According to a report published by the Congressional Research Service in June of last year, Canadian oil sands are dirtier-- and emit more greenhouse gases-- than pretty much every other major source of crude oil. Production emissions from Canadian oil sands are 102% higher than emissions from Middle Eastern crude oil, 92% higher than emissions from Venezuelan crude oil and 53% higher than emissions from Mexican crude oil.
And here’s an eye-opening statistic: Production emissions from Canadian oil sands are a stunning 134% greater than production emissions from domestic crude oil. So even “drill, baby, drill” is more climate-friendly than the oil we would get from the Keystone Pipeline.