From the U.K. Guardian, here.
It’s a real shame that Prez Obama did not hit the ground running as potus with a green energy jobs program instead of a bail out wall street program. We could have let the bankers sink, let the global economy sink a bit as well and then led the way to a slow economic recovery based on reduced expectations, less income and wealth inequality and a lot less CO2e production. People can blame Trump if that makes them feel better, but I think our ship left port in 2009. I read in the Guardian that we have 12 years now to make big changes. 12 years is a long time in US politics, but kinda last minute in terms of climate change. 5 or 6 election cycles!
I think the American people are willing to do whatever it takes to address this problem as long as it doesn’t mean loss of jobs or any significant change in the way we live.
[Response: Reminds me of a line from Oscar Wilde’s “Picture of Dorian Gray” — “I would do anything to recover my lost youth and health, except, of course, diet and regular exercise.”]
Mike, you really are a dull, broken tool.
1) Obama never had the support to undertake a program like this. He barely had the support to ram through rudimentary healthcare reform, and it cost him both houses of Congress to get that! Hell, lofty lefties like you turned on him even before he was sworn in!
2) Obama was a centrist. To expect the first black man to reach the Presidency to be a bomb throwing radical merely demonstrates how out of touch with reality you are.
3) It is a complete misreading of the problem of climate change to say, “We’re too late.” No matter how late, our actions can always make the problem better or make it worse.
Mike: “I believe Obama had an FDR moment dropped in his lap with the financial crisis.”
Spoken like a man who has never cracked a history book:
1) By 1932, the US had been in recession on and off for 4 years.
2) The level of desperation was sufficiently high that there was serious talk of people turning to socialism.
3) Roosevelt trounced Hoover, the latter winning only 4 states. It was undeniable he had a mandate to act.
4) Roosevelt had large majorities in both the House and the Senate.
5) Roosevelt had a free hand to craft a policy.
6) The US national debt was less than 20% of GDP.
None of this applied to Obama in 2008. He never had the support of “centrist Democrats”, who opposed any significant action on health insurance, financial reform or climate. And he had nearly half the Congress who actually said out loud that their number one priority was to make Obama a one-term President.
And over and above this, Barrack Obama was not Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was not a child of privilege and nephew of a President who had been groomed for the office from boyhood. He was not wealthy. He was the first black man to even be nominated by a major political party in a country where ~30% of the people are openly racist.
And despite all of this, he achieved more with respect to climate than any other President–so much that even nearly 2 years in, Trump has still not overturned everything he did! Something to consider, Mike. Maybe, just maybe the reason Presidents have had so much difficulty making progress against climate change is because it is actually difficult. And maybe, just maybe you should learn how things actually get done in the US political process so that you won’t keep making the naive assumption that a President can merely dictate policy.
You know best, Snark. I am but a dull, broken tool.
The “American Clean Energy and Security Act” was introduced like 3 months into Obama’s presidency and passed the House not long after the 2009 recovery bill. CBO analysis predicted a small but negative impact on the economy over 10 years. It included a green jobs program (and directed emissions permits revenues to lots of related things) in addition to the green investment aspects of the recovery bill (~$27B which is on the order of the annual budget for the NIH by comparison).
Along with the recovery act and obamacare, this was one of Obama’s top 3 legislative priorities and it got further than any other carbon cap-and-trade attempt.
But yeah, blame Obama instead of the 3 senators (Kerry, Graham and Lieberman) who decided it was DOA in the senate and waited almost a year to introduce an alternative way too late to be passed and reconciled with the house bill before the next Congress.
I believe Obama had an FDR moment dropped in his lap with the financial crisis. You can all defend Obama if you are so inclined, and you can engage in ad hominem attacks on Obama’s critics, but the record speaks for itself.
Why Do We Care About the First 100 Days?
Obama’s overly-cautious centrism and service to Wall Street over Main Street set the stage for the swings in the House and Senate that happened during his presidencies and for the election of Trump.
I think it makes sense to do as much as we can to reduce the impact of AGW for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and all living things on this planet, but US efforts and progress are ground through the 2 year election cycle and when an opportunity arises to make substantial progress, the POTUS has the most bully pulpit in this country to pressure senators and congresspeople to deliver effective legislation for signature and implementation.
I don’t think any sane person expects Prez Trump to do anything to reduce the impact of AGW, his perverse inclinations are to increase the impact. Prez Obama’s inclinations were to do something about AGW, and he had two years with a democratic house and senate and they produced very little imho.
If you believe Prez Obama did fine on AGW, did everything he could do, I am happy for you. I don’t share your opinion, but I am not inclined to call you names. We just disagree.
If 1.5 degrees in temp rise could have been avoided, we would have needed to have done some heavy lifting before today, when anyone chooses to discuss Trump’s plan to handle climate change. Can we avoid 1.5 degree rise? Gavin Schmidt addresses that question at Real Climate and says:
“… my answer is… no.”
So, this is where we are in the second year of the Trump presidency. The crisis that we may face with AGW is gathering steam with this awful president, but every president before Trump carries responsibility for our situation and the responsibility increases with each successive presidency. Prez Carter is not as responsible as Clinton/Bush/Obama/Trump because the clarity of the science and the scope of the risk has become more clear each year.
Maybe I am a dull tool and have that calculated incorrectly, but when partisans start hammering on Trump and acting like Obama did a good job on the climate, I am inclined to disagree. I find Obama’s accomplishments on the climate to be quite underwhelming. The buck stops where?
Given that the lofty lefties like you had turned on Obama even before he was sworn in, that didn’t give him much chance, did it?
I think that a post-mortem on Obama’s climate legacy is unlikely to teach us much, and fighting about it, still less. (If anyone cares–and I’m not sure anyone should–I was disappointed in his first term from a climate perspective, and much happier with his second.)
But there is a point that IMO may be worth bringing out. While TARP and such are generally perceived to have been ‘bailing out banks’ and protecting the rich at the expense of ordinary folks, the reality is that had the financial system as a whole had been allowed to collapse as happened in the crash of ’29 et seq., the suffering of ordinary folks would have been exponentially greater. It wouldn’t have been a benign ‘reduction in consumption’; it would have been masses of internally displaced people, starvation and international trauma on a scale that hasn’t been seen since my parent’s generation.
(And it would have been worse on average; rural America was then relatively self-sufficient; as my mother used to say about those days, “We were poor, but then so was everybody, and we always had enough to eat because we could raise food ourselves.” Then, rural communities comprised about 44% of the population. It’s under 20% today.)
True, a new Depression would have led to a more prolonged trough in emissions. But it also would have basically put paid to efforts to transition toward a more sustainable energy; created inequality levels that dwarf even the current (and IMO already disastrous) American ones; shredded international cooperation, spawning war and yet more genocide and ethnic cleansing than we’ve already seen; and put climate action firmly on the back burner (at best) for a decade. Personally, I don’t think the silver lining would have been worth the cloud.
to Doc: I think you may be right that argument about Obama’s climate record is generally non-productive. My disappointment with Obama’s first term was bitter, but I did not expect much from him. Had Gore carried Florida, we might have once had a president who had some commitment to addressing climate change, but that was not to be. I get a little agitated when folks react so virulently to Trump’s “climate plan.” The dems have generally been very bad and the repubs have been even worse. I think the correct frame is to consider the US climate plan. That means to consider it within the context of hyper-partisan politics that are fueled by unlimited $$ and produce body counts every two years.
Again to Doc: yes, again, I agree with you that the fallout of a global economic collapse from the banking collapse of 2007-8 would have been very, very bad. Many people would have suffered. I think we simply postponed the suffering and shifted it to a slightly different population by propping up the Wall Street economic system and in the interim from 2007 forward, we have continued a global economic engine that increases atmospheric CO2 by around 2.4 ppm each year, so in addition to merely postponing the suffering that is likely to happen as we deconstruct this destructive CO2 economic engine, we have also increased the eventual suffering by not seizing the moment to let the brakes get slammed on the CO2 engine by an economic collapse. A green jobs program might have lessened US suffering a bit and set up a new, less destructive economic engine, but that was not to be.
If we don’t review the past critically important opportunities to address AGW, then we will not be prepared and have the vision to seize a similar opportunity in the future. Does history repeat? no, but it rhymes.
I think a non-partisan based overview of the ecosystem collapse driven by AGW might be useful to help the US overcome its reluctance to address the problem, I am not particularly optimistic about that possibility, but I hope it might be true. Otherwise, we are back in the Oscar Wilde conundrum, where we will do whatever it takes as long as it does inconvenience us. How is that working so far?
What was our concentration of CO2 in 2008 when we might have suffered through an economic collapse that would have changed the rate of increase going forwar? Maybe 382 ppm? Now above 405 ppm ten years later. We pushed the suffering out to the margins of our existence. We pushed it to poor folks who can’t evacuate from North Carolina and Houston and we pushed it on our children and grandchildren. That is not the Trump or Obama plan for climate change, that is the US plan for climate change. I think we should do better than that. I guess that makes me a dull tool because I repeat that sad mantra on occasion.
sbm, funny you should mention the whole ‘green jobs’ thing:
“Total jobs for the renewable energy industry topped 10 million for the first time, with China alone being responsible for 43 percent of the positions.”
Probably based on:
There’s an energy revolution going on… and it wouldn’t have happened had the system imploded in 2008-9. Personally, I also think that it’s extremely unlikely that, had we had that implosion, everyone would have said, “Hey, look, emissions are way down! Cool! Let’s go with that!” More likely, you’d have had most people looking for short-term economic growth at any cost.
To be clear, none of the above references should be taken to imply that we’re “all good”. While RE deployment is large enough to have begun to slow emissions growth, it still needs something like 5-6x increase to meet our needs. That won’t happen without money–lots and lots of it.
I know that some ecosocialists, not to mention the radical simplification folks (think “Killian” at RC), think that all of that is at best a waste of time, because capitalism is the essence of the problem. Anything accepting, proceeding from, or (God forbid) propping up capitalism is therefore at best a distraction, a delay, or a delusion. But I find no reason to think that we can completely restructure our society on the basis of a fundamentally rebuilt economic system before 2030. And if we can’t, then we need to lower emissions in some more ad hoc way, and use the time we gain to figure out what true sustainability looks like. As SR 1.5 makes clear, that is a task already daunting enough.
To Doc: we don’t always agree, but I think we are always polite and respectful towards each other and that is a treasure on the internet. Thanks for that.
We don’t get to rewind history and run it over to check out other paths. We don’t get to take mulligans until we get it right. We just have to keep working on an ad hoc basis to reduce damage and to move the needle in the right direction. You and I agree that we are not “all good” because we avoided a global economic meltdown ten years ago. The lookback thing is generally a dead end unless we can identify and learn from past mistakes. I am not certain that our species can identify and learn from past mistakes, but I hold out hope that such might be the case.
China is surging as a global power and force. It’s amazing to see the US treat renewable energy like it’s a socialist conspiracy and double down on coal. Trump and his “climate policy” are just one particularly low point in the roller coaster of US public policy, and this low point has allowed China to catch up and move past the US in global leadership on some important matters. The roller coaster of US policy has it’s ups and downs, but so far it stays on its tracks and keeps rolling, even if lots of us want to try something different. 8 years of Obama were a relatively high point on the roller coaster, but I don’t see how this roller coaster ride ends well. I feel really bad for my kids and grandkids about the warming planet we are handing off to them. I feel really bad for the folks in Florida who got flattened by Hurricane Michael. This is what global warming looks like. We have entered the era of US climate displacement and refugees. No worries, the Orange One says we are wonderfully prepared, or some such nonsense. Heckuva job, orangie.
As I’ve said before, I appreciate the chance for dialog because it makes me think, so thanks in return.
Plus, speaking as a reader, most name-calling is pretty boring when you get down to it. The verbally aggressive elegance of an Oscar Wilde or a Dorothy Parker isn’t a common gift! (Heck, most of us can’t even fake Don Rickles for fifteen seconds.)
“China is surging as a global power and force. It’s amazing to see the US treat renewable energy like it’s a socialist conspiracy and double down on coal.”
Yes. I go back and forth in my mind about China’s prospects; on the one hand, I have to love the way that they are attempting to create a new energy economy and the emphasis placed on education and scholarship, as well as technology. On the other hand, they are also apparently moving still farther away from anything like democracy at present, have weak rule of law, and have dug themselves a very deep environmental hole (with, IMO, fresh water being a big potential Achilles heel.)
I don’t know how these factors will balance out, or develop in the future, but it does seem that the Trump administration is doing everything it can to try and hand the baton of global leadership to them on a velvet cushion.
The comic could apply to every single person who claims there own emissions aren’t part of the problem.
As long as folk continue with high emissions and keep voting D and R, none of this will change, we’ll only see change when voters change. As Dennis Meadows points out, voters lead, politicans follow.
With all due respect to Dennis Meadows, donors lead, politicians follow.
“…and keep voting D and R…”
No. Tamino, IMO, is right. At present the first thing to do is precisely to vote ‘D’ whenever and wherever possible. Despite the obvious policy shortcomings of Democratic energy and climate policy, there is an order of magnitude difference at least between the two.
Second, get involved with the party of your choice to shape policy–while thinking strategically about that choice. Maybe it means building up your local Green party, so that it can begin to play more than a spoiler’s role. Maybe it involves getting yourself onto a Democratic committee writing platforms.
Voters lead, but not by making the perfect the enemy of the good–or even the less bad.
Voting D is the most important thing we can do in the next few weeks to make things better. Voting D is simply a tool and it is the right tool right now, but it doesn’t mean that every one who votes D is a D. It’s the tool of choice for right now.
If enough of us vote, in the right places and our votes are counted, change could come. It is not a level playing field, it is heavily tilted to the Rs. It probably makes strategic sense to be talking with our friends and family in the swing states and districts to vote climate now. I live in a reliably blue state, but we have a chance to push an R congressperson aside in WA District 3. I hope it happens.
The first problem to solve(the first step) is to change people into voters. Trump won because most Americans did not vote at all. Trump stepped on the bandwagon of a well organized Republican Minority. They know what they want and how to get it. As long as the majority stays at home nothing will change. We have seeen it with Obama. He signed Paris but never even tried to get the support of the Senat. Trump could get rid of Paris simply by decree.
In my opinion:
1) There is no “Trump plan”, because the so-called president is in fact a tool of the oligarchs currently running the country by setting legislative goals and directions via their donations, lobbying machine, propaganda arms (AKA ‘media’, particularly right-wing outlets such as Fox or Breitbart), and ‘respectable’ think-tanks and institutions;
2) The concerted, strategic and prolonged effort to reconstruct American society by the Koch donor network and similar allied actors (as documented by multiple authors, notably Jane Mayer in her Pulitzer-winning “Dark Money”) has resulted in a deep denial of reality on the part of both the manipulated and the manipulators–that is, American society (and to an extent global society) has largely left the ‘reality-based community’ and could reasonably be termed ‘delusional’;
3) The primary motivation all along for the oligarchs’ actions was the desire to prolong and maximize the profitability of their fossil-fuel-dependent business lines; this is why there is no higher priority today for the Administration and Congress than furthering the fossil fuel industry and their allies (as demonstrated by their actions and choices.) This desire has made use of, and even sometimes fused with, cultural issues such as protecting patriarchal power; the ‘war on women’ is not accidental, for many deep reasons. But–again, IMO–the money came first, and has continued to drive the train. Just as the Special Report on 1.5 Degrees identifies many synergies between emissions mitigation and social justice/development goals, for the oligarchs there are many ‘synergies’ among xenophobia, misogyny, political repression, and environmental devastation.
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