$1 Billion on Climate Resilience? What about Prevention?

              Last week President Obama came out with a plant to spend $1 Billion on climate resilience. I am still a little unclear what this plan entails, but the whole fact that this plan is based on RESILIENCE instead of PREVENTION is a clear sign that we have gone over the cliff of trying to solve the climate issue and now we are going to continue to mess up our climate and learn to live with it. While some folks may see this move by Obama as a bold move towards the climate issue, I see it as an act of defeat. Obama is going to continue to promote fracking. Obama is going to continue to drill for oil domestically. Obama is going to approve the Keystone Pipeline. In an attempt to placate the environmentalists, he has put forth this huge amount towards climate change – but it is going to the WRONG place.

              With any addiction, you do not want to feed the addiction or give anyone who is addicted that the substance they’re addicted to is okay. We are addicted to fossil fuels. This addiction has cost us our climate, our environment, our water, and our health. I don’t have to list all the ways we are being affected – but it is costing us. Wouldn’t it make more sense to try to PREVENT these things from happening rather than these proven detrimental things to continue to happen? Couldn’t this $1billion go towards renewable energy or carbon reduction? How about MAKING money by taxing these dirty industries that are costing us rather than giving them subsidies?

              Let’s put this in another perspective. Climate change could very likely cause the next apocalypse. What’s amazing is that we are doing this to ourselves. Willingly. But that’s beside the point. Let’s replace “climate change apocalypse” with “zombie apocalypse.” Then this “$1 Billion Climate Resilience Fund” becomes the “$1 Billion Zombie Resilience Fund.” Obama is budgeting to help communities to prepare for zombies and to fund research and technology to protect against them. Sounds ridiculous right? Well so does the fact that we are knowingly causing our own demise and doing squat about it.

              We have the technology and resources out there to bring climate change to a grinding halt. It is not going to happen overnight, but it we can slow it down and do something about it. New technology is being born every day. There are children out there that are winning science fairs that have created tech that can clean oceans of plastic. We have light bulbs that last longer and use less energy. New renewable tech is out every day. Better, more fuel efficient cars are being made every day. We, as the people, need to create a demand for these products and for our world to be a better place. We cannot let these dirty industries and fuels win. If we do, we move beyond the brink.
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Keystone Pipeline – We Shall Overcome

              Yesterday I joined hundreds of people all over the United States at 270 sites across the nation to come together to let President Obama know that building the Keystone Pipeline is not acceptable. I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it given that my area was getting a torrent of snow, but I stubbornly trudged through two miles of deep snow to the local train station to get into New York City. This is a cause I believe in and I’ll be damned if a little bit of snow keeps me from it.
              I am glad I donned my Antarctic parka (which in hindsight might have been a bit of an overkill, but I was toasty the entire time) and made my trek into the City. I have been feeling overall pessimistic about the Keystone Pipeline, as evident in my last two posts. There’s something about being in a group of like-minded people that share your passion that electrifies the spirit and gives you hope.
              At the end of the vigil we sang the classic, “We Shall Overcome,” which given Pete Seeger’s recent passing made me really take in the song more than I ever have in the past. I felt Pete’s presence there with us as I know if he were alive he would have been there or at a KXL protest nearest him. The song is a quiet, enduring, steadfast song of peace meant to be sung in unity. It is the epitome of everything Pete stood for.
              It is also the epitome of everything we are fighting for when we fight for the rejection of the Keystone Pipeline. We shall overcome the Keystone Pipeline someday. Someday we will look back and say we did not put that pipeline in the ground and bring that dirty oil down from Canada. We can look back on that accomplishment in pride. And if they reject the pipeline and they want to bring it by rail, we will still be there to block their way and we will overcome that as well. Deep in our hearts we know this. We will walk hand in hand in peace until we drive those forces of dirty energy set to destroy our environment away from our borders. We are not afraid. Deep in our heart, we do believe, we shall overcome some day.

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Keystone Pipeline Verdict – A Disgrace

Like many in the environmental movement I was disheartened when I heard the news about the State Department’s report, but not surprised. I expected our government, which is blinded by greed, to not put our planet first. By putting our planet first they would be putting people first. But I have figured out that is not how things are run in society. In modern society they put money first. The cost? Everything – citizens, our children, the Earth, our future.

One just has to look at pictures of the area being developed by the Tarsands to see that there IS an environmental impact. Its desolation and wasteland. At first glance you don’t even see oil – you see sand. Where is this precious black gold that people seek? This used to be a pristine ecosystem of boreal forests. Bears, moose, wolves and deer used to graze over these lands. Migratory birds used to stop over here. Now when they stop over here they land in toxic sludge ponds and die. How can you say there’s no environmental impact?

ImageThe State Department’s report specifically looked at the impact of the Keystone Pipeline would have on climate. I imagine they just completely ignored the impact that the Tarsands already have on climate in their study. Oil sands production emits 3 to 4 times more greenhouse gases than producing conventional crude oil. Without a doubt this makes it one of the world’s dirtiest forms of fuel. It is for this reason that Canada will continue to fail to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals in the future. It is also ridiculously difficult to extract oil from sand and uses a ton of valuable other resources. While I don’t condone using natural gas as a resource, more than 600 million cubic feet of natural gas are used per day to extract and upgrade the oil from the tar sands. What if we used this elsewhere? It could heat more than 3 million homes every day!

Right now there is a devastating drought in California. There are farmers that were not able to plant crops this year – this is going to affect everyone, not just California. There are people that have to recycle shower water to water plants and garden. It is very serious. But in the Tarsands, they use roughly 170,000,000 cubic meters of water per year to extract bitumen. And that water cannot even be recycled! 95% of the water used in Tarsands is so polluted it has to be put into toxic sludge pits. But little is done to keep these sludge pits away from wildlife – moose, deer, and other animals come to drink from them. Birds come to try and land in them. Anything that comes near them dies. Not only that, they’re not well managed and the toxic waste seeps out into the Athabasca River. But, there is no environmental impact, so they say.

The reason there is no impact is because the oil is going to come no matter what. If it is not coming by pipeline, it will come by rail. Or trucks. And the jobs this pipeline they are promising it will create? A tiny amount of temporary jobs for a year. Permanent? 50. Just 50 permanent jobs. So what is the driving force here? Money. Canada has a 70billion profit to gain from the Tarsands. They will continue to turn a landmass the size of Florida to look like this:

ImageThey say that it will have no climate impact. But it will have an impact. This pipeline is going to be going through people’s homes, people’s farms, and people’s lands. It is going to have environmental impact. Why are we not building this pipeline through populous areas? Why not go down the west coast, or the east coast? Because we are once again giving the low-income people the short end of the stick. And no impact? There’s been more oil spills on land in this last year than ever before. Our government just chooses to keep them quiet. There were over 300 in North Dakota alone. How many in other states? Oh right, we have to stay quiet about that. Saying Keystone XL won’t impact the climate is like saying no single touchdown will impact who wins the Super Bowl. Doesn’t work.

CONTINUE THE FIGHT! There will be vigil with 350.org on Monday February 03, 2014 at 6:00 PM outside the White House

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Year of Climate Progress

Dear Obama,

One cannot say they are fighting climate change when they are producing more oil and natural gas in their own nation than ever before. One cannot say they are moving forward on climate when they are opening our national parks for oil exploitation, drilling for gas in people’s backyards, and when we are still behind on renewable energy. Look at other developed countries – heck, look at undeveloped countries, Kenya just announced they will be 50% solar by 2016 – they are miles ahead of us. And we’re supposed to be the #1 country in the world? Not even close.

I had several issues with the climate portion of your speech. I do appreciate that you did state that climate change is a fact (doubtless to piss off several conservatives) – however it is also a fact that you are doing little to combat it. In fact, with you drilling away for oil more than ever before you are exacerbating the situation. Speaking of oil, there was no mention of the Keystone Pipeline. But given your dedication to the oil industry, I imagine you plan is to approve it. Especially since part of it is already flowing. Never mind all of the various pipeline leaks and oil spills (if there’s 300 in North Dakota unreported, how many are there in other parts of the country?) that hint that this is not a safe nor clean fuel option.

However the most disappointing part of your speech was the blatant promotion of hydraulic fracturing. Water is already an invaluable resource on this planet that is taken for granted. There are currently people in California whose livelihoods are being threatened due to lack of water. But we are using water, mixing it with hundreds of dangerous chemicals, and poisoning it to further abuse our environment and waterways. It takes 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracking job. Couldn’t this water be used for better means? Couldn’t it be used to grow our food in California? Water people in undeveloped countries?

Sure, you have made some advances in the climate fight. You have imposed some limits on carbon emissions, which has helped (however there are other countries that have done better in that department, we are not #1 as you stated in your speech). Also it is true that solar power was the 2nd largest source of new power in 2013 – but it is sandwiched between natural gas (dwarfed by natural gas is more like it) and coal. Coal? Can I ask why we are still opening coal power plants at all? This is such an archaic form of energy that is dangerous and dirty. Didn’t you say too at some point that you were shutting down coal, not investing in it?

I have voted for you twice. The first time I voted for you because I thought you were the symbol of hope and that you were going to change things. I campaigned hard for you. The second time I voted for you because ‘you were better than that other guy’ (way better), but I was much less enthused with my vote. There is nothing holding you back now to make a real difference. I really wish I could go back to the man I saw at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and bring him out. I don’t think that man would have approved of hydraulic fracturing. I don’t think that man would be waffling on the Keystone Pipeline. That man had a vision.