Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Democratic Party Campaign to Keep Burning Carbon


It will now take one of these — large, dark and next to impossible to find — to keep our species from a rendezvous with Exxon's mandated future. Welcome to the post-Sanders-endorsement-of-Clinton world.

by Gaius Publius

In keeping with the theme of the week — Sanders' pivot to endorsing Clinton, the Democratic Party's "pivot" to supporting TPP — I'm going to pivot from the scripted faux-drama of the prologue to the next four years ... to climate. In fact, that pivot has already started:

Because, and I'm being literal here, with the almost certain failure of Bernie Sanders to capture the 2016 Democratic nomination, nothing else much matters.

That is to say, it's now almost certain, barring a black swan event like a catastrophic and totally disruptive collapse in carbon prices — which could happen — that unless we see a dramatic slowdown in carbon emissions, we'll reach the "too late" point sometime in the next two presidential terms. It's also almost certain that both of the candidates on offer, either Hillary Clinton or any Republican, will force us most ungently into that hard night. Without a backward glance.

So consider: If indeed we are self-fated to hit the "it's over for sure" point in the next 5–10 years, is there a more important story in the world to write about?

Or perhaps you'd prefer to read even more about Clinton-defending James Comey and ponder his reputation for integrity. For today's piece, for example, we could weigh his supposed "integrity" against his despicable past as one of the principals who literally destroyed Jose Padilla's mind for partisan political gain in the Bush II era:
At the close of his speech, Comey—much like he did when approving the torture techniques used by the Bush administration—justified rights violations. He said that because of Padilla's military detention and interrogation, "what we have learned confirms that the president of the United States made the right call and that that call saved lives."

But it turned out Padilla was never charged with the list of crimes and criminal associations pinned on him by Comey.
And via Amy Goodman's Democracy Now:
What happened at the brig [during Jose Padilla's long imprisonment and torture] was essentially the destruction of a human being's mind. That's what happened at the brig. His personality was [deliberately] deconstructed and reformed.
Does the story of what one despicable man, James Comey, was willing to do to another human being seem more important, especially given Comey's more recent appearance as Hillary Clinton's "no indictment" gate-keeper? Or not.

Jose Padilla on a sensory-deprivation trip to the dentist (source). They're destroying his mind on the way to good dental care. This is James Comey's doing.

Perhaps there are stories that seem, if not more important, at least interesting. Still, in light of what just happened — Sanders' apparent loss plus the events detailed below — I'm not sure chasing the latest interesting wrinkle in this day's warp and woof makes a ton of sense. So here we go, keeping it real for you.

"Carbon Now, Carbon Till You Make Us Stop"

Let me bring together a couple of stories that touch on (a) global warming, (b) the need to dead-stop emissions at the fastest possible rate, and (c) the determination of Hillary Clinton's Democratic Party to prevent that.

First from The Hill, we learn that even the weakest of solutions to global warming ("let the incentivized free market fix it") is being rejected by Hillary Clinton (my emphasis throughout):
Clinton campaign rejects Dem plan for carbon price

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is stepping away from a plank in the Democratic platform endorsing a price for greenhouse gas emissions.

In a concession to supporters of Clinton’s primary rival, Bernie Sanders, the party platform committee this weekend embraced language calling for a price on greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, a measure some environmentalists and greens see as key to cutting down on climate change-causing emissions.

Clinton, though, has not said she supports such a policy, and her personal climate change plan does not include a carbon price of any kind.

After the platform committee met this weekend, one of her advisers repeated that she won’t push the measure as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

“Her plan is clearly articulated on her website," Clinton energy policy adviser Trevor Houser said, The Associated Press reports. "It's not her plan."
Next from Morning Consult we find that the current free market president, also a Clinton-supporting Democrat, says through his science advisor that we can expect to be burning natural gas (methane, a greenhouse-gas-producing carbon fuel) ... for "decades," meaning for the "next 30-40 years":
Obama Adviser: Keep-It-in-the-Ground Movement ‘Unrealistic’

President Obama’s top science adviser on Monday said natural gas will be an important bridge fuel for decades and called the “keep-it-in-the-ground” movement unrealistic.

His gradual, modest vision for moving away from fossil fuels differs greatly in tone from some more liberal environmentalists.

The administration is dedicated to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but it also believes natural gas has a role to play in the fight against climate change, said John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, at the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s annual conference.

“The notion that we’re going to keep it all in the ground is unrealistic,” Holdren said. “We are still a very heavily fossil-fuel dependent world.”

In addition to the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels, Holdren pointed to natural gas’s role in helping cut greenhouse gas emissions, at least when compared with coal. Holdren said natural gas will be a net positive, in terms of cutting emissions, for the next “30 or 40 years.”
Shorter Democratic Party: "Carbon now, carbon till you make us stop (cashing their checks)."

Also, I hope you understand that all buildout of methane power plants closes out space for the buildout of plants that use reusable sources: solar, wind and so forth. But the Democratic Party finds it "unrealistic" to stop promoting methane. Because, frankly, that's just not where the campaign-finance money is.

Will the Next Black Swan Land Before It's Too Late, or Afterward?

Again, barring a timely black swan event — collapse of prices in the oil market, a Typhoon Haiyan-like event in Florida (click to see what that would look like), or a similar unforeseeable wake-up call — the next 10 years will likely see written the most important story of our lifetime — our certain exit from 12,000 years of stable, civilization-enabling climate, and our forced emergence into a constantly warming, unstable, multi-millennia future. Our species won't see the current climate again for thousands of years, if ever.

On the other hand, the Clinton-led Democratic Party will be able to raise plenty of cash for the next election cycle, so there's that. Fair trade? They must think so.

I wish this weren't so literally true. I also wish I had something more trivial to write about. Something about kittens, perhaps.

But the last few days have put me in a more honest, one might say more literal, frame of mind.


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At 11:31 AM, Blogger Fiddlin Bill said...

There is no such thing as a wake up call. Proof of that fact is the national response to the Sandy Hook massacre. Also, we've already passed the point of "no return" with regard to human assisted climate change. This not to say that we shouldn't stop using carbon based fuels immediately. It would eventually help. But all the warnings didn't succeed in turning the ship. That's the facts.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger QAdams said...

Thank you, GP. I'm very glad to hear you're finally making this pivot. Party politics means next to nothing compared to the ugly future that is staring us in the face -- thanks to the capitalistic carbon worshippers of both left and right.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Gaius Publius said...

You're welcome, QAdams.


At 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

coupla things:

Comey and $hillbillary and obamanation and the DNC (and cheney, Rumsfeld, PNAC, big oil, war street and the RNC) are of a single mind and we should all just come to terms with this. They will destroy every single arbitrary mind, person, wedding party, funeral, city, state and continent in order to make it safe to be raped by American capitalists.

It's already too late. climate change is resonant and will continue to become worse even if humans stop burning shit for power. humans would not only have to stop dumping carbon into the atmosphere, it would have to embark in an immediate and massive effort to start SINKING carbon from the atmosphere back to the ground. Nobody even mentions this. Why?

Because human behavior won't change. Humankind as a mass cannot and will not change behavior. You can observe all the "black swan" events you want or could imagine and nothing will change.

One person can be pensive and prescient about such things. Two and more become imbeciles.

Since all public policy is driven by profit motive and corruption, there will NEVER be a political solution (or even a mirage of one, like all the carbon tax/ free market things mentioned).

Even if fossil fuels are not BURNED, they will still be used to make all manner of ubiquitous products, chief among them being plastics and fertilizers (to feed humankind. see below), which release carbon. All industry is based on the cheap and easy supply of oil for these things.

Price of oil is irrelevant. Prices could crash or inflate and industry would just pay it since to convert to other sources of hydrocarbons would be extremely expensive and take years to do.

And the basis of the problem, which humankind also refuses to understand, is that there are just too goddamn many humans on the planet. They all breathe, eat, drink, defecate, urinate and yearn for some kind of domicile with heat and a/c and so forth. And they SHALL NOT curb their abuse of humans' excess reproductive capacity, which means 7B+ now will become 9B+ very soon and on and on.

So... what to do? Well, for one, if you are of reproductive age... don't. Unless you are a Koch or a DNC/RNC money whore, your kids face a very uncomfortable (at least) future. If you have any influence over anyone else, convince them to NOT create future family misery too.

Beyone that... vote for Jill Stein and be very informed about down-ballot names before you vote there too.

nothing else is possible.

At 6:36 AM, Blogger QAdams said...

I agree with just about everything in the comment above (from Anonymous). I do not think, however, that I personally feel the same sort of anger about it all. It seems to me that humans, being a toxic and maladaptive species, are pretty much getting what's coming to us. We've already screwed things up so bad, triggered so many irreversible climate feedbacks, that it's simply too late now. We're in the fast lane to extinction, no matter what, and that's just fine. Good riddance, I say.

At 7:39 AM, Blogger jvb2718 said...

extinction... probably no. But our numbers will be massively reduced and the quality of life of the survivors? unknown, but it's impossible to imagine it being very good.

But it's the scale of the misery along the way to whatever the end point is. Wars, hunger, thirst, disease, weather disasters that make Katrina look like a mosquito fart... all these and more.

I just find it amusing and disgusting that humans, with all our intellectual capacity, are so incapable of dealing with these issues. We can discover and describe so much about the universe by using logic, reason and the scientific method... yet we still fervently believe in imaginary fairies that want each and every one of us to be the center of the universe. And that belief supersedes our use of thought and reason.

Reason tells us that this planet cannot support more than a couple billion humans without depletion. Nobody can talk about it because of religious fervency that is anathema to these facts.

If the facts do not conform to the myth, they must be ignored.


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