Thursday, July 26, 2018

There's A Reason The Bible Didn't Include Climate Change As One Of The 10 Plagues


Andrew Wheeler by Nancy Ohanian

This isn't Climate Change:

This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die. […] The LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt; hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.

— Exodus 9:13–24

I'm watching an interesting Norweigian TV series now, Okkupert (in English, Occupied. Although it was made before Trump left the Paris climate accord, the U.S. has left NATO but climate change is so out of control, that Norway has elected a government to shut down its gas and oil industry. The EU freaks out and allows/encourages the Russians to take over the country to restart oil and gas exports. The Norwegian prime minister, Jesper Berg, reminds me of Bill McKibben, a climate expert/activist and founding fellow of the Sanders Institute. This is a video they just released and very much worth watching even before you watch Okkupert.

Here's how the Sanders Institute introduced the video-- almost making me think that they've been watching Okkupert!
There are a number of actions that our country could be taking to reduce our carbon footprint and lessen the progress of climate change, however, there are significant barriers in place that hinder these efforts.

Many of these barriers stem from corporate action. Companies that benefit from the continued use of energy sources that contribute to climate change have a vested interest in hindering the progress of solutions that will move us away from the status quo. Below are a few examples of how corporations have done this:

In the six years prior to 2017, rooftop solar panel installations grew by as much as 900% in the United States. Each year, more and more Americans were taking steps to install solar panels on their roofs, lessen their carbon footprint, and contribute excess energy back into the grid to further diminish the carbon footprint of others who could not afford solar panels. The New York Times reports that in 2017, growth in solar panel installations came “to a shuttering stop.” This was largely because of “a concerted and well-funded lobbying campaign by traditional utilities, which have been working in state capitals across the country to reverse incentives for homeowners to install solar panels.”

In addition, Instead of cutting residents a break for helping solve the climate crisis, the utility companies-- led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Edison Electric Institute (whose lobbying efforts ratepayers actually underwrite)-- are lobbying for the end of “net-metering” laws that let customers sell excess power they generate back to the grid.

Moreover, lobbying is frequently combined with political contributions to, and coordination with politicians.  Arizona, whose capital lies in the “Valley of the Sun,” has incredible potential for solar power. However, according to, last year in May, "A federal grand jury has indicted a former state utility regulator and his wife for taking bribes.” The former regulator took those bribes for approving a rate hike for the areas utility company. Despite this indictment, coordination between politicians and utilities in Arizona has not stopped. For instance, environmental groups in Arizona have proposed a constitutional amendment to the Arizona ballot that would require that 50% of Arizona’s energy needs be met with renewable energy sources by 2030.Inside Climate News reports that “a senate committee passed a separate bill—- which an APS spokeswoman said the utility had proposed—- that would add a second ballot initiative with a nearly identical title” The most recent bill has similar language to the one proposed by environmentalists but includes a “safety valve” that would not allow full implementation of the bill. This approach is designed to confuse and halt progress toward renewable energy.

Arizona is not the only state that has experienced corporate lobbying against climate change solutions, nor is net metering the only issue where corporations have succeeded in moving forward with policies and activities that demonstratively harm the environment. For instance, fracking continues despite numerous studies that show significant damage to  the environment and public health.

There are a number of ways that we can hold corporations accountable and stop actions that negatively affect the environment.

Get Money Out of Politics

Too frequently, our politicians are able to be swayed by campaign contributions that lead to decisions that harm the American people, and put the future of our planet in jeopardy.  It is all too easy to find the enormous contributions made by companies that contribute to our carbon footprint:

According to Open Secrets: Oil and gas companies have so far contributed over $14 million to all candidates in the 2018 election cycle, electric utilities have contributed over $11 million, natural gas pipeline companies have contributed almost $2 million, and coal mining companies have contributed over $800 thousand.

If we get money out of politics legislators might be more likely to vote for policies and ideas that benefit their constituents, the environment, and the world.

• Taxes That Reflect The True Cost of Pollution

A “Carbon Tax” is traditionally considered an “economist’s solution” to fighting climate change. In short, the Carbon Tax Center describes that “A carbon tax is a fee imposed on the burning of carbon-based fuels.” There are two strong arguments for why a carbon tax is both necessary and would work.

1- It holds carbon producers and consumers accountable for the damage that their actions have on the environment. To put that damage in perspective, National Geographic reports that “Extreme weather, made worse by climate change, along with the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, has cost the U.S. economy at least $240 billion a year over the past ten years.”Economics Help describes that “The idea of a tax is to make consumers and producers pay the full social cost of producing pollution.” Money raised by the government from this tax could be used to finance initiatives that will further reduce carbon emissions (e.g. subsidizing renewable energy or carbon capture.)

2- It creates incentives to for both consumers and producers to act in ways that will reduce their carbon footprint. Producers may invest in ideas that will reduce their carbon emissions to avoid paying as much in taxes. Price increases on items or utilities that include this carbon tax may result in consumers looking to alternative energy sources, or consuming less...

• Get the Incentives Right

Each year, the U.S. government subsidizes a range of economic activities. It is important that those subsidies encourage economic activity that will help reduce our carbon footprint and climate change.

Unfortunately, many subsidies support industries that are contributing to climate change. Researchers at Oil Change International recently found that “Government giveaways in the form of permanent tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry-- one of which is over a century old-- are seven times larger than those to the renewable energy sector.” These fossil fuel subsidies, including both federal subsidies and state subsidies, total to $20 billion annually.

That said, the renewable energy industry has also received a number of subsidies through the years (varying though different administrations and not to the level of those for the fossil fuel industry). These subsidies have contributed to substantial growth in the renewable energy sector. Eighteen percent of the United States energy needs are now provided by renewable energy. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute states that the U.S. has reduced its emissions “by about 760 million metric tons since 2005.” The increase in renewable energy usage has contributed significantly to that reduction.

These subsidies for renewable energy There are also other benefits to renewable energy subsidies. Quartz Media reported that “the fossil fuels not burnt because of wind and solar energy helped avoid between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths in the US between 2007 and 2015” and that “the US saved between $35 billion and $220 billion in that period because of avoided deaths, fewer sick days, and climate-change mitigation.”

Incentives need to reflect economic activities that will help the environment, Americans, and the world, not harm them.

• Get the Penalties Right

While incentives are important for companies that are working to help the environment, it is equally important to include penalties for companies that are harming the environment.

Most Americans are familiar with the largest oil spills in the United States like the BP oil spill, also called the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in 2010. However, large spills that get covered in the news are only a portion of the problem. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, excluding the BP oil spill, 287,416 barrels of oil (or 12 million gallons of oil) were spilled in the U.S. between 1964 and 2015. That equals over two hundred thousand gallons of oil a year. The BP oil spill added another 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled, totaling over two hundred million gallons of oil. (There are 42 gallons of oil in a barrel.)

A number of news organizations reported in 2015 that BP would pay more than $20 billion in settlement claims as punishment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Justice Department called the settlement historic and quoted Attorney General Loretta Lynch in saying “Building on prior actions against BP and its subsidiaries by the Department of Justice, this historic resolution is a strong and fitting response to the worst environmental disaster in American history...BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region.”

However, when you dig deeper into that settlement, that “historic” amount of money isn’t so large when you take into account U.S. tax laws that allow corporations to write off natural resource damage payments, restoration, and reimbursement of government costs. Forbes reports that ultimately “BP should be able to deduct the vast majority, a whopping $15.3 billion, on its U.S. tax return. That means American taxpayers are contributing quite a lot to this settlement, whether they know it or not.”

In other cases, companies are given penalties that can be considered negligible when their annual earnings are taken into account. The Real News reports that “In the last 12 years, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, who manage one of the largest petroleum pipeline networks in the U.S., has had 61 incidents... including recent spill of 42,000 gallons of diesel. In the same week they had to pay A fine of three hundred thousand dollars for another spill last year.” In reference to this three hundred thousand dollar fine, Sierra Club’s Jodi Perras pointed out that Marathon is “a 13.8 billion dollar company.... they will expect to have a 330 million dollar profit this year. And so they are paying $335,000 for that spill in 2016. That's pennies to a company like that.” Ultimately, Marathon Petroleum Corporation is being fined 0.001% of their annual profits.

Penalties should be large enough to encourage constructive steps towards reducing future accidents and harm to the environment, and when they are large enough, the burden to pay them should be placed on the company, not taxpayers.
Alan Grayson (D-FL) backs backs up the Institute's assertions about Big Money and Climate Change. "This is true," he told us. "Here in Florida, the Land of Sunshine, the utilities spent millions of dollars to thwart a rooftop solar initiative. Big Pollution is simply an arm of Big Money, looking to preserve its perks at the expense of everyone else. Also yesterday, writing for the New Republic Emily Atkin asked a simple 21st Century question: Why are some major news outlets still covering extreme weather like it's an act of God? "The science," she wrote, "is clear: Heat-trapping greenhouse gases have artificially increased the average temperature across the globe, making extreme heat events more likely. This has also increased the risk of frequent and more devastating wildfires, as prolonged heat dries soil and turns vegetation into tinder. And yet, despite these facts, there’s no climate connection to be found in much news coverage of extreme weather events across the globe-- even in historically climate-conscious outlets like NPR and the New York Times. These omissions, critics say, can affect how Americans view global warming and its impact on their lives. Major broadcast TV networks are the most glaring offenders.
[T]hough the issue is rising in priority for many young and Hispanic voters, polling experts still don’t think the issue will be an important factor in the November midterm elections. Addressing the crisis will require getting more people to care about it in the first place. The scientific community is doing its part by providing the evidence that climate change is real, and that it’s making extreme storms, droughts, wildfires and other weather more likely. It’s up to journalists to convey those truths to public at large.
Last night J.D. Scholten, the progressive Democrat running for the Iowa seat climate change denier Steven King is occupying, told me that "We saw a scary report come out yesterday from the Des Moines Register
By mid-century, projections show five-day heat-wave temperatures in Iowa increasing by about 7 degrees for the average year and by 13 degrees once per decade compared to heat waves in the late 20th century. These are really scary numbers that would have negative consequences for the elderly, the economy, for corn and soybeans, as well as beef, hogs and poultry even under sheltered confinement.
Congress needs to stop kicking the can down the road on climate change and make addressing it an urgent priority before its impacts on our weather and agriculture are irreversible."

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At 5:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason the bible doesn't mention climate change is because god is a fucking moron who can't see the future because he was so busy killing people and causing chaos for others... because he is an evil fuck.

Or possibly it's because bronze age humans who wrote that shit were ignorant.

While it might be satisfying to write all the ways that americans are being colossal dumbfucktards on this, it's pointless in the end. It's been too late now for maybe a half century to affect changes that would moderate the future carnage to a manageable degree. It is what it is. Not like the bible which is fiction that was written to be purely allegorical.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first two videos embedded in this post were worthwhile, but the last was absolute rubbish.

Space based solar power may be a technocrat’s dream, but it’s an environmentalist’s nightmare. Microwave transmission at the level needed to beam solar power to earth from orbiting power stations would be very dangerous. And the costs would be prohibitive anyway. I’m sure Chip Proser means well, and I know he’s done an excellent video on single payer health care, as well as some nice campaign videos for Beto O’Rourke. But on space based solar, he’s absolutely delusional!

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Why are some major news outlets still covering extreme weather like it's an act of God?

Because no one can demand that "God" explain himself. "It's a mystery" the fake preachers will proclaim while demand that their followers display faith that "God" knows what he's doing. Without verifiable facts, these charlatans can twist the narrative anye way they desire for their nefarious ends.

And if "God" truly existed in the form and persona these fools believe, would He not smite them and strike them down for daring to usurp His prerogatives? Is that not the story of Exodus in regards to the Egyptians? Yet for some strange reason beyond belief it doesn't ever seem to happen any more. It probably never did.

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a perfect example of a fake preacher lying about that "God" Wants.

At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:11, **ALL** examples of preachers talking about what gawd wants are perfect lies.

The problem with such obvious lies are NOT he who lies nor the lie itself. It is the masses of idiots and fools who believe the lies.

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Okkupert clip has the Norwegian PM offering to share their "Thorium" technology rather than have their nation taken over for the benefit of fossil fuel companies. Most Americans have no clue about the uses Thorium can be put to.

Check this out:

Another name for Thorium, which the nuclear industry doesn't want you to understand, is U-233. It is the basic element used in the Indian nuclear arsenal.

Thorium is incredibly widespread compared to weapons-grade Uranium or Plutonium, and it isn't considered as efficient an explosive as those elements, but there is little stopping any nation from developing their own nukes using that material (see: India). Processing Thorium into weapons-grade material does have its problems, but they aren't insurmountable as the video of an American bomb test from 1955 demonstrates. It makes a pretty big boom when it goes off.

Therefore, if I were the Norwegian PM in under these conditions, I'd go along with the program rather than offer to expand the growth of nuclear arsenals. It is the lesser of two evils. Humanity apparently can't process calculations involving more variables than that.


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