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."And via Amy Goodman's Democracy Now:
But it turned out Padilla was never charged with the list of crimes and criminal associations pinned on him by Comey.
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 priceNext 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":
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."
Obama Adviser: Keep-It-in-the-Ground Movement ‘Unrealistic’Shorter Democratic Party: "Carbon now, carbon till you make us stop (cashing their checks)."
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.”
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.