Four Examples from the Last Week Prove Obama Is Full of Hot Air on Climate Protection
A lot has happened in the last week. The Earth hit the 400 parts per million CO2 threshold for the first time in human history. Scientists tell us this is bad news if we want to prevent runaway climate change. "If we continue to burn fossil fuels at accelerating rates, if we continue with business as usual, we will cross the 450 parts per million limit in a matter of maybe a couple decades," scientist Michael Mann told Democracy Now! "We believe that with that amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, we commit to what can truly be described as dangerous and irreversible changes in our climate."
If you didn't know this already, we should be listening to Mann and to other scientists. I thought this was settled a long time ago, but someone keeps giving print space to climate deniers, so a new survey of 12,000 peer-reviewed studies on the climate was just completed and the not-so-shocking conclusion was this, as Mother Nature Network reports:
Published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the analysis shows an overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that humans are a key contributor to climate change, while a "vanishingly small proportion" defy this consensus. Most of the climate papers didn't specifically address humanity's involvement -- likely because it's considered a given in scientific circles, the survey's authors point out -- but of the 4,014 that did, 3,896 shared the mainstream outlook that people are largely to blame.
In light of this news, it makes it even more infuriating to see that the Obama administration has spent the week prostrating to the fossil fuel lobby. Here are four disturbing things the administration's been up to.
1. Moniz Hearts Fracking
Obama tapped nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz to head the Energy Department and the Senate gave a big thumbs-up to Moniz on Thursday. Many environmental groups had concerns that Moniz was too pro-fracking, and those concerns are clearly warranted. Moniz's first order of business Friday was to clear the way for 20 years of liquified natural gas exports via Freeport LNG Terminal on Quintana Island, Texas.
Of course, we've already been sold the story that we're suposed to frack the crap out of the country in the name of energy security, but we knew all along it was for industry profit, right? Brad Jacobson recently detailed for AlterNet about how Congress members are clamoring for export plans to be fast-tracked -- although what Americans will get out of the deal will be higher gas prices and less energy security.
2. Thanks for Nothing, Sally
While the nomination of Moniz disappointed many environmentalists, some were cheered by REI exec Sally Jewell taking over the Interior Department. Those same folks might not be cheering after Jewell announced the Bureau of Land Management's newest regulations (or lack thereof) for fracking on our public lands.
As Sierra Club's Michael Brune reported Friday:
The new rules are disappointing for many reasons: Drillers won't be required to disclose what chemicals they're using, there is no requirement for baseline water testing, and there are no setback requirements to govern how close to homes and schools drilling can happen. Once again, though, the policy documents an even bigger failure to grasp a fundamental principle: If we're serious about the climate crisis, then the last thing we should be doing is opening up still more federal land to drilling and fracking for fossil fuels.
3. No Time for Farmers
The group Bold Nebraska reported this week that Obama turned down an invitation to hear from Nebraska farmers and ranchers about their concerns that the Keystone XL pipeline could destroy their livelihoods. Of course, the President is a busy guy, right? And besides, the White House said he was not "taking any meetings on the pipeline."
Or is he? The group writes:
Bold Nebraska was therefore surprised the President is meeting with staff at Ellicott Dredges, a company that just testified in Congress in support of Keystone XL and makes equipment that creates the tailing ponds, which are massive bodies of polluted water and a byproduct of the tar sands mining process.
"I simply do not understand why President Obama can find the time to visit a company that helps hold 12 million liters of toxic tar sands water but cannot find the time to visit ranchers who put over $12 billion of Nebraska-grown food on Americans' dinner tables every year," said Meghan Hammond, a young farmer whose family land is at risk with the current route in Nebraska.
4. Who Needs the Arctic? (Hint: We Do)
Subhankar Banerjee, a photographer and longtime Arctic activist, was recently appalled by a new report from the Obama administration on the future of the Arctic. And the rest of us should be, too. Banerjee writes about the report:
“Our pioneering spirit is naturally drawn to this region, for the economic opportunities it presents…” President Obama hides his excitement for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean by carefully choosing the euphemism—“economic opportunities.” In page 7 the true intent of the report is finally revealed: “The region holds sizable proved and potential oil and natural gas resources that will likely continue to provide valuable supplies to meet U.S. energy needs.” Of course the report mentions protecting the environment, but gives no specific details.
We know that Obama talks a good talk about climate protection, but his second term has proven thus far that he's completely out of touch with reality. You can't hit 400 ppm CO2 and still think "all of the above" is a rationale energy strategy.