In an effort to put more holes in Virginia soil to extract materials millions of years old, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are renewing their attempts to lift the federal hold on oil and gas drilling in Virginia's coastal waters.
But wait, here comes the political cover! According to The Virginian-Pilot, Warner and Kaine each "vowed" they wouldn't continue their attempts to lift the federal moratorium on oil and gas drilling unless the Commonwealth received a sizable share of the of the oil and gas revenue that would accrue in the future. Under current law, all such profits would go into federal coffers. How this provision came into effect is also a legislative oddity.
For Virginians who are more concerned about the environment than extracting a finite resource that Virginia and the rest of the country could do without, this renewed push by Senators Warner and Kaine come as another disappointing political move by two supposedly "blue" politicians.
The following statement, by the Virginia Sierra Club, basically sums up my views on this one (see video of Senators Warner and Kaine talking about their legislation to to "Expand Offshore Energy Leases"). Given the grave environmental problems posed by fossil fuels (first and foremost being climate change), as well as the rapidly declining costs of solar and wind, as well as the fact that we'd get (by far) more "bang for the buck" from energy efficiency, combined with the risks posed by offshore oil and gas development, I'm not even sure why we're talking about offshore oil drilling (or an "all of the above" strategy). It's simply the wrong approach, the wrong way of thinking, the wrong way to go, the wrong...everything, basically. Ugh.
Statement of Sierra Club-Virginia Chapter Director Glen Besa on announcement of Warner-Kaine support for offshore drilling
"As we saw with the Gulf oil disaster, oil spills decimate tourism and fishing industries. In Virginia, that means risking over $2.5 billion and over 100,000 jobs in industries that depend on healthy ocean and Chesapeake Bay waters and clean beaches," said Glen Besa with the Sierra Club. "It's a risk that remains real as large spills continue to occur around the world and as Congress has yet to pass a single law strengthening federal oversight of offshore oil and gas development."
"It is disappointing that so many Virginian politicians of both parties seem willing to jeopardize our strong coastal tourism and fisheries industries for a policy of drill every where and burn it all now that ignores environmental, climate and national security concerns," said Besa.
P.S. I checked with Rep. Jim Moran's office to see what they thought of this legislation, and they responded, "The Congressman does not support drilling of Virginia's coast."
Actual text [with a little reading between the lines [that is, brackets] from yours truly - [Publius]:
* Reduce excessive regulation [by that job-killing EPA] so that more [fossilized] energy resources can be explored [fracked!] and developed [mountaintops are for the birds!] and more high-paying jobs can be created [in coal & gas executive offices];
* Prevent excessive energy taxes [like those highway maintenance taxes at the gas pump and those silly county coal severance taxes for education] that could destroy [black lung-generating] jobs, cost consumers, and restrict [plundering] development of the Commonwealth's natural resources;
* Fight for Virginia's [Gawd-given] right to [employ the 2nd Amendment to] responsibly explore our abundant offshore [oil & gas] energy resources, and streamline [the elimination of] related regulations so quality jobs [stripping the top off of mountains] can be created in the immediate term; [but it's always too early and too costly to develop off-shore wind, which won't work anyway;]
* Reform or eliminate failed [good for nothing] clean energy programs, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard bonuses, in order to harness [fossilized] private-sector innovation and prevent [someone other than ME...uh, I mean] the government from picking winners and losers;
* Protect the environment, [(don't worry Alpha - just kidding, lol)] while [actually eliminating uh...I mean] balancing this protection with the critical need to increase energy [and sagging coal] production, improve and modernize energy technology, and bolster job creation; [we really need more fossil fuel jobs since jobs in renewable energy far-outstrip fossilized energy job growth;]
* Remove barriers to the timely installation and modernization of critical [new highway lane] infrastructure [but no public money for rail or transit--no, No, NO!]
Ken Cuccinelli just rolled out his energy "plan" (using the word "plan" very loosely), and you could take time examining it if you want. Except that really, all you need to know is where his money comes from: $386,534 from coal mining/processing (including $10,000 from Don Blankenship's now-defunct Massey Coal and $70,875 from Massey's successor company, Alpha Natural Resources - for more on these companies, see Laurence Leamer on Coal Baron Donald Blankenship's Downfall); $263,230 from electric utilities (overwhelmingly nuclear and coal-fired companies like Dominion); $91,160 from natural gas (including $44,750 from Cuccinelli's buddies at Koch Industries); etc.
Given that torrent of money from the absolute dregs of the U.S. energy industry, combined with the fact that Ken Cuccinelli is a climate science denier (that alone should disqualify him from ever holding public office; not to mention his persecution of climate scientist Michael Mann!), you wouldn't expect much from him on energy. And you'd be right. This plan is utterly godawful: "reduce excessive regulation" (translated as "let fossil fuel companies run amok, trashing the environment and endangering public health"), "responsibly explore our abundant offshore energy resources" ("drill baby drill!"); "prevent the government from picking winners and losers" (except for the "winners and losers" favored by Cuccinelli, the Koch brothers, the coal and oil companies, etc.); etc. Actually, I do agree with Cuccinelli on one thing: we should "move away from the wasteful and harmful use of ethanol." Other than that, though...this is not just worthless, but actively and intentionally harmful.
Other than the disastrous environmental and public health consequences (see here for more on that subject) to Cuccinelli's "never left the 1950s" energy policy, it also would be a disaster economically for Virginia. The fact is, Virginia's comparative advantages economically speaking are not in fossil fuels, but in energy efficiency, offshore wind power, and advanced R&D into advanced forms of low-carbon/no-carbon energy sources. As Tim Kaine explained a few months ago, even for those (like Ken Cuccinelli) who don't "believe" in climate science (and 97% of peer-reviewed scientific papers say it's happening, it's still common sense to move ahead aggressively with energy efficiency and clean energy. Unless, of course, opponents of clean energy prefer to ensure that our state and our country lose the race for the burgeoning, multi-trillion-dollar, world market for clean energy in the 21st century. That, apparently, is what Ken Cuccinelli prefers, while burning up the planet in the process. As for the rest of us, we'd be literally insane to go along with that.
Given the news that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have reached 400 parts per million, the highest in "probably more than 3 million years of Earth history," I thought it was appropriate to post some video of former UVA Professor Michael Mann. Recall that Mann was the victim of a relentless, vicious, anti-science witch hunt by Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's modern-day version of the Inquisition against Galileo. For that reason alone, Cuccinelli should be unfit to ever hold ANY public office ANYWHERE in this country, let alone governor of Virginia. His actions have been not just those of an anti-science thug, but his assault on reason and free inquiry is also fundamentally un-American.
In stark contrast, Michael Mann is one of our nation's - and planet's, for that matter - heroes, and should be treated as such. The fact that a guy like Cuccinelli, heavily funded as he is by fossil fuel interests would - shocker! - feel threatened by the massive, overwhelming scientific evidence that fossil fuel combustion is ruining our planet and must be phased out as rapidly as possible, should not be surprising. It should, however, horrify and appall every one of us.
This is absolutely brilliant, I strongly recommend that everyone watch 350.org founder Bill McKibben's sermon delivered on April 28 at the Riverside Church in NY City, on the topic of climate change. I particularly would hope that climate science deniers and "skeptics" like Ken Cuccinelli would listen to people like Bill McKibben, as they are a gazillion times smart, more knowledgeable, and wiser than those fools - and tools of the fossil fuel industry - are. Here are some excerpts from McKibben's brilliant, inspiring sermon:
...Rather, Job has to answer as all mortals did up until our time, because all of a sudden we've gotten rather large. Our first sense of that sudden change in stature came with the detonation of the first atom bomb at Alamagordo in the New Mexico desert. J. Robert Oppenheimer, watching the mushrooming cloud, quoted from the [Bhagvad Gita], from the Hindu scripture - "We are become as gods, destroyers of worlds."
But the images of those blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were enough to persuade us, so far at least, to go no further down that path, thank god. We could imagine the horror of those titanic explosions. We, so far, have NOT been able to adequately imagine the effect of the explosion of billions of pistons in billions of cylinders every minute of every hour of every day, but those explosions are wrecking the earth just as surely and almost as fast as nuclear war.
Consider that, so far, human beings have burned enough coal and gas and oil to raise the temperature of the planet 1 degree Celsius...the energetic equivalent of exploding 400,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs every day...enough energy so far to melt the Arctic...We've taken one of the largest physical features on earth and we've broken it, and with the others not far behind. The oceans are now 30% more acidic...The atmosphere itself, because warm air holds more water vapor than cold, is now 5% wetter than it was 40 years ago, which loads the dice for drought and for flood...
...This is the largest social justice issue that we have ever faced...When I started this work, one of the things I'd always heard was that environmentalism was something for rich white people who had taken care of their other problems, and if you worried where your next meal was coming from you wouldn't be an environmentalist.
What we found as we worked around the world is exactly the opposite. Rich people tend to feel themselves immune from these changes. Most of the people that we work with around the world are poor and black and brown and Asian and young because that is what most of the world consists of. And what do you know, those people care as much about the future as anybody else, maybe more, so because if you are poor in this world right now, the future bears down harder on you than it does on anybody else...
Faith communities, colleges, schools, local governments and non-profits will find it easier to "go solar" under a law that takes effect in Virginia on July 1. Eligible customers will be able to install solar panels or wind turbines with little or no upfront cost, paying only for the electricity the systems provide. This arrangement, known as a third-party power purchase agreement (PPA), has been the driver for most of the solar projects in the U.S. in recent years, but prior to this year utilities had blocked its use in most of Virginia.
The new law creates a two-year pilot program allowing customers of Dominion Virginia Power to install projects as large as 1 megawatt (1,000 kilowatts) using PPAs financed by private companies. Projects must have a minimum size of 50 kilowatts, so the program can be used by many commercial customers but excludes homeowners, whose solar PV systems more typically fall in the 4-to-8 kilowatt size.
Importantly, however, the 50-kilowatt minimum does not apply to tax-exempt entities. PPAs are one of the only ways available for tax-exempt entities to benefit from the federal 30% tax credit for renewable energy systems; a tax-paying investor actually owns the system and uses the credits, passing along the savings to the customer. Thus the program could open up a new solar market in Virginia focused on what might be considered a natural vanguard for renewable energy: houses of worship, colleges, schools and nonprofits.
PPAs also offer an advantage over buying solar panels outright: even though the solar system is on the customer's roof, someone else actually installs, owns and maintains it. That means less hassle for the customer and no upfront capital cost. The customer only has to pay for the solar power that's produced. With prices for solar systems having fallen dramatically in recent years, customers will generally be able to buy solar energy under a PPA for no more than they now pay for power from non-renewable sources.
...the federal government-which means taxpayers-spent $136 billion total from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2013 on disaster relief. This adds up to an average of nearly $400 per household per year.
Nearly all of this disaster spending was for relief and recovery from these and other smaller natural disasters. Most of these disasters are symptomatic of the man-made climate change resulting from massive amounts of carbon emissions and other pollutants in the atmosphere, which warm the oceans and the Earth. As climate change accelerates, so will federal spending on disaster relief and recovery, which will ultimately be paid for by taxpayers.
The nearly $400 per household spent annually over the past three years could be the beginning of a very costly future as climate-related extreme weather multiplies. This issue brief explores federal spending on disaster relief and offers up recommendations for how we can respond to the potential growth in these expenditures.
So, let's get this story straight. The fossil fuel companies make enormous profits and receive huge taxpayer subsidies. At the same time, they spew enormous amounts of pollution that fuels climate change and intensifies storm severity and damage. Then, we the taxpayers get to shell out of our wallets to clean up the disasters the fossil fuel companies helped create. Great deal, huh? No, didn't think so. Instead, how about the fossil fuel companies reimburse taxpayers some or all of the $136 billion spent between 2011 and 2013 on disaster relief? And, going forward, how about the fossil fuel companies pay for the damages their pollution contributes to, especially as long as they continue to wallow at the taxpayer-funded government trough. Deal?
For months, Sen. Tim Kaine has been publicly undecided on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline - supporting a full and thorough review, backing President Obama's right to make the ultimate decision, and speaking favorably of TransCanada's promises of jobs, while not taking a position himself. But in a recent email to a Virginia supporter of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Kaine says that he's listened to all sides, thought long and hard about the issue, and has made up his mind:
After giving this issue a lot of thought, I do not believe Keystone XL would be in our national interest. I've long believed that energy policy should be about using innovation to produce energy more cleanly tomorrow than we do today. Keystone XL will facilitate the use of tar sands oil that is worse for the environment than conventional petroleum. While we will use fossil fuels for a long time, we should always be striving to get cleaner rather than backsliding.
Additionally, I believe claims about this project's job creation potential, energy security impacts, and impact on U.S. gas prices may be overstated. Gas prices, for instance, are largely driven by the global market for crude oil. The oil that would flow through Keystone XL would be shipped to the global market, not reserved for the U.S. market to lower domestic prices at the pump.
A more effective way to reduce the burden of high gas prices is to design cars that use gas more efficiently so we don't have to buy as much of it. In the last several years, we have made unprecedented improvements in vehicle fuel economy. We have successfully reduced tailpipe emissions, created jobs in engineering and manufacturing, and saved American drivers thousands of dollars over the lives of their vehicles. We don't have to choose between strengthening our economy and saving the environment; we can do both.
"We thank Sen. Kaine for recognizing that Keystone XL is not in our national interest, given how damaging tar sands oil is for the environment," said Keith Thirion, CCAN's Virginia Field Director. "It's time for Sen. Warner to do the same. At every turn, Virginians are showing Sen. Warner that he can't be for a safe climate and for the Keystone XL pipeline at the same time."
Greenhouse gas emissions: EPA points out that if "GHG intensity of oil sands crude is not reduced, over a 50 year period the additional C02-e from oil sands crude transported by the pipeline could be as much as 935 million metric tons." Yet, EPA notes, somehow the State Department's analysis "nevertheless concludes that regardless of whether the Project permit is approved, projected oil sands production will remain substantially unchanged." That doesn't appear to add up.
Alternative rail transport: The State Department's analysis assumes that, regardless of whether or not Keystone XL is built, tar sands oil will find its way to market - by rail or by alternative pipeline routes. This finding, EPA points out, "supports [State's] overall conclusion that approval of the permit will not by itself substantially affect GHG emissions or contribute to climate change." Yet, EPA appears to be suggesting, the assumptions behind this core finding of State's report are questionable, and require "further investigation of rail capacity and costs, recognizing the potential for much higher per barrel rail shipment costs than presented."
Pipeline safety: EPA argues that "the 2010 Enbridge spill of oil sands crude in Michigan," demonstrates that "spills of diluted bitumen (dilbit) may require different response actions or equipment from response actions for conventional oil spills," such as the need for "dredging of bottom sediments...to protect public health and welfare and the environment." Given this evidence, EPA urges further measures be required to "prevent and detect oil discharges," as well as to mitigate any impacts in the event of a spill. This process should include "an independent engineering analysis to review TransCanada's risk assessment of the potential impacts from oil discharges to surface and groundwater resources, as well as TransCanada's current proposals for placing mainline valves along the pipeline route and installing leak detection equipment."
Alternative pipeline routes: EPA is concerned that the State Department's report "does not provide a detailed analysis of the Keystone Corridor Alternative routes, which would parallel the existing Keystone Pipeline and likely further reduce potential environmental impacts to groundwater
The bottom line is that EPA finds the State Department's Keystone XL analysis to be "insufficient." Perhaps the fact that a key portion of the State Department's analysis was prepared by firms with "deep oil industry ties" might have something to do with this?
Many of us have been...let's just say "irritated" at Sen. Mark Warner recently for his misguided emphasis on austerity, as well as his votes on issues ranging from guns (he voted the right way on watered-down background checks, but the wrong way on several other important gun issues) to energy/environment (the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline disaster, first and foremost). So, it was much to my surprise - and pleasure - to see this morning's editorial by Sen. Warner in Politico, entitled "Reboot Earth Day."
Frankly, when I saw the title and who wrote it, I was thinking it was going to be a Warner's usual drivel about how we needed an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy, even as the science tells that we need to sharply slash fossil fuel consumption, starting ASAP, and drastically ramp up clean energy, including the biggest bang for the buck - energy efficiency. But then...that's not what he wrote at all. Check this out.
So, how do we save and move Earth Day into the 21st century?
For starters, we need to get smarter about our governing policies, and create cross-industry standards that support the environment, promote clean energy, and drive economic growth. It's critical that we recognize stewardship and growth not as mutually exclusive, but as complementary goals.
Exactly! Now THIS is the Mark Warner I used to believe "got it" on energy and environmental issues, in this case debunking the commonly-heard, but utterly false, meme that protecting our planet is somehow antithetical to economic "growth" (whatever that means, exactly). Even better, Warner starts sounding like, well, ME of all people, extolling the virtues of energy efficiency (he calls it "energy productivity," which actually might be an even better description of what we're talking about here), and even encouraging policies with that goal in mind. Here's Warner:
Among other terrible stuff that happened this past week, the worst in terms of death and destruction wasn't in Boston - as bad and horrifying as that was - but in West, Texas.
At least 13 people, including firefighters and emergency medical workers, were killed and about 200 more injured in the massive explosion and fire at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, according to officials.
The number of deaths and injuries could still grow as search and recovery efforts continue at the site of the plant, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
The explosion rocked the rural Texas town Wednesday night, flattening buildings for blocks around the fertilizer plant. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
Why was the destruction and carnage from this accident so bad? As Kos points out - and this is almost impossible to believe if you think about it for 2 seconds - "There were actually houses across the street from this plant, and not just houses, but two of the town's three school."
Who in their right mind would approve putting a plant that deals with highly explosive materials (as Kos notes, "Fertilizer is a well-known component of homemade bombs for a reason - it's extremely explosive) right next to houses, schools, and a nursing home? Simple: "Texas being Texas, apparently the 'freedom' to set up shop next to a bomb trumps everything else-including the lives and properties of far too many in West." That, of course, is the "libertarian" economic worldview to a "t" - let industry do its thing with minimal, if any, government regulation, and the all-knowing market will take care of the rest. Obviously, you can see how that worked out in West, Texas. But of course it's not just confined to Texas; it's in many other states as well, and increasingly in the country as a whole, as Republicans push their "let industry do ANYTHING and if the public suffers, oh well" agenda. Same thing with "fracking" (which threatens public health and water supplies, also is driving demand for potentially explosive ammonia factories) and many other industrial activities...
Meanwhile, the Washington Post quotes a resident of West, TX as saying, "You can't really blame anyone...Only God knows why this happened."
On April 24, Virginia's State Corporation Commission (SCC) will consider a proposal from Dominion Virginia Power to build a new natural gas-fueled generating plant, the second of three it wants to add to its holdings. Its first plant, now under construction in Warren County, generated little opposition because it will replace old coal boilers that Dominion needs to retire.
But the latest proposal for a plant in Brunswick has come in for fierce criticism, and for good reason: we don't need another gas plant. Dominion has exaggerated the growth in demand that it says justifies the plant, and the company could more cheaply meet its actual needs with energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Moreover, the world is changing, and the energy model of big utilities running big baseload power plants is becoming outdated. If Dominion builds another of these, Virginia could end up stuck with a giant concrete paperweight. The SCC owes it to customers not to let this happen.
Every year Dominion tells regulators it expects demand to increase by 1.5% to 2% per year indefinitely, but its actual energy sales have been essentially flat since 2006. Sure, the recent recession threw everyone a curveball, but Dominion's tendency to overstate future demand goes back decades. The company seems not to have anticipated widespread changes like more efficient appliances and better building codes that let consumers use less electricity even while we're buying more gadgets.
With a little effort, we could save even more energy. Virginia ranks in the bottom half of states for energy efficiency, and Dominion is not on track to meet even the modest efficiency goals of the Virginia Energy Plan.
Per Meteor Blades at Daily Kos, the anti-democratic (small "d") thugs at ExxonMobil really REALLY don't like being criticized for destroying our planet while raking in record profits in the history of said planet. In this case, they actually sent a cease and desist letter and threatened legal action if the ad ran on ABC, NBC and Fox affiliates in Little Rock, Arkansas. Of course, the cowardly corporate media caved. Shocker, huh? Sadly, it's not at all shocking. Anyway, here's the response from the ExxonHatesYour Children coalition that put the ad together, which pretty much nails it.
"Exxon is and will always be a bully," said David Turnbull, campaigns director of Oil Change International. "Instead of engaging their critics appropriately, Exxon uses its billions to hire high-priced lawyers to make scary-sounding but unsupported legal claims to suppress criticism. It's a window into how they have preserved billions in taxpayer handouts for their industry for so many years."
Oh, and they also spend millions of dollars on climate science denial and in buying up our (Republican mostly) politicians. Yeah, ExxonMobil hates your children, but they LOVE them some Republican tools!
P.S. I suggest you all send this ad far and wide, giving it MUCH wider reach than it ever would have had if ExxonMobil hadn't resorted to its thuggish tactics. Thanks.
On Sunday, April 14, hundreds of Virginians will call on the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to put efficiency and clean energy first rather than allow continued investments in fossil fuels by Dominion Virginia Power. Participants will dance the popular 1980s dance known as the Electric Slide in front of Dominion's Richmond headquarters [Editor's note: please click on the image to "embiggen"].
Dominion has proposed another major investment in fossil fuels, this time a $1.1 billion dollar natural gas plant in Brunswick County. On April 24th, Dominion will seek the required Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) permit to construct and operate the Brunswick plant from the SCC at a hearing in Richmond.
The $1.1 billion plant is more about securing a market for Dominion's own products than serving Virginia's families. Dominion has consistently overestimated how much energy we really need because it is significantly invested in the natural gas industry. Company executives use this bad math to justify building new plants, when the Commonwealth's energy demands could be met with affordable and reliable efficiency and clean energy. Recent expert testimony to the SCC demonstrated that energy efficiency would be a cheaper, safer option for meeting the state's power needs. While multiple organizations in preparation for this hearing have argued that Dominion has failed to prove the plant is even necessary.
Dominion is pushing forward a risky proposal for an unnecessary investment that could cost families and businesses big money over the next several decades. If approved, this plant could stick customer with volatile electricity bills, rising fuel costs and ownership of a plant they don't need despite viable options. Dominion persists because it believes building new power plants is an easier way to make more money for its shareholders.
A new Gallup poll shows worry about global warming and acceptance of the climate science consensus is up sharply in the last two years. Those spikes are not being fueled by Democrats or independents - they're being fueled by Republicans.
But the political conventional wisdom in Washington presents a very real obstacle to this reality breaking through. The same pundits who bemoan partisan polarization in one breath perpetuate it the next - all Democrats hate coal, and all Republicans hate clean air! The nuance of rank-and-file Republicans disagreeing with Republican party leadership stands little chance of breaking through these stereotypes.
Let's dig into the poll numbers. You could make the case that Republicans are just cooling off from the heated fight over clean energy & climate legislation that had party leaders, polluters, and conservative media telling them that they had to oppose climate action to support the team.
But we're just coming off an election year in which Republican candidates went after climate science and clean energy with renewed fury, yet rank-and-file Republican acceptance of the climate science consensus went up anyway. What's really going on here?
Cross posted from Scaling Green, in part because this analysis VERY much applies to Dominion Virginia Power. Check it out and gain a better understanding of why Dominion has resisted energy efficiency measures, net metering, decoupling, mandatory renewable portfolio standards, etc.
As usual, David Roberts of Grist is on top of important developments in the energy industry that the traditional media has mostly ignored. In this case, it's a new study by the Edison Electric Institute - the industry group which represent 70% of the U.S. electric power industry - titled "Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business." If that sounds dry, how about we go with David Roberts' more exciting headline: "Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities." And no, this is not - as Roberts explains - "wild-eyed hippie talk," but "the assessment of the utilities themselves." And, Roberts adds: "It is one of the most prescient and brutally frank things I've ever read about the power sector. It is a rare thing to hear an industry tell the tale of its own incipient obsolescence."
Roberts' article got my curiosity going, so I read the study myself. My conclusion? Roberts is absolutely correct that this is an important study, one that provides a window into the utility industry's thinking about distributed, renewable energy and its implications for the utilities' traditional business model. Robert is also correct in his other findings. We'll get to those in a minute. First, thought, here's the lead paragraph of the EEI report's Executive Summary, which provides a concise summary of the report's main findings (bolding added by me for emphasis):
"If these are the early stages, I shudder to think what's on the path ahead."
Two things brought that thought to mind.
One is my own aging. Aches and pains, stiffer muscles, presbyopia, diminished energy. As I approach my 67th birthday, I can imagine the kind of hard experience that led Bette Davis to say that old age isn't for sissies. It's no small challenge to come to terms with the ancient truth that the uphill part of life's cycle is followed by the downhill.
As a way of coming to terms with personal deterioration, we can always take the larger view in which we see ourselves as part of the circle of life. We have children; we have grandchildren; life renews itself. Although as individuals we may come and go, we are part of something bigger than ourselves that carries forward the stream of life.
But now that larger view of life has also become disturbing. That same alarming thought --If these are the early stages, what the heck is on the path ahead? - has come to mind in relation to another reality: the early stages of climate change.
Like what happened last June, when an unpredicted enormous wind swept across the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic, knocking down trees for hundreds of miles, including some right around our house in the Shenandoah Valley. Just a few months later, Hurricane Sandy -- whose eye never approached within hundreds of miles of us -- attacked our area with 24 hours of hard-driving rain that found its way onto our wood floors and into the homes of our neighbors. Sandy's winds took down still more trees.
Extreme weather has become far more frequent, just as scientists predicted.
A brand new survey by Yale and George Mason Universities looks at the attitudes of Republicans and "Republican-leaning Independent" voters towards energy and climate change. The results are highly encouraging for those of us who support a rapid transition towards clean energy and away from carbon-based fuels. Here are a few highlights.
Only 22% of respondents believe that the United States should use more fossil fuel in the future, while 51% believe we should use "less" fossil fuel.
Support for increased renewable energy is overwhelming, with 77% of respondents saying the U.S. should use "more" renewables in the future, versus just 9% who say "less."
"A majority of respondents believe that taking steps to reduce our use of fossil fuels will benefit the nation in a number of ways - for example, by helping free us from dependence on foreign oil (66%), saving resources for our children and grandchildren to use (57%), and providing a better life for our children and grandchildren (56%) - while none of the potential costs associated with taking action were seen as likely by a majority of respondents."
"Respondents selected more benefits of reducing fossil fuels than costs (51% of benefits were selected vs. 33% of costs were selected, on average)."
"When presented with one of two conservative arguments saying America should respond to climate change, a solid majority (62%) say America absolutely should (23%) or probably should (39%) take steps to address climate change."
Those are strong numbers for both clean energy and action on climate change, although they're muddied somewhat by other numbers which show both support for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would worsen global warming, and also an upward trend in global warming. Still, the Yale numbers are encouraging, and are consistent with numerous other surveys showing that Americans of all political persuasions prefer a clean future.
See the Chesapeake Climate Action Network for more about how "Dominion is taking us in the wrong direction" and not providing the leadership we need to move towards a sustainable, efficient, clean energy future as rapidly as possible.
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