PEEK

Fast-tracking global warming

Tara Lohan: A Texas utility giant hopes to be able to emit more CO2 than most countries.
These days if you live in a low-lying island state, like say, Tuvalu, pack your bags. If you live in Bangladesh, pack your bags too, or even coastal areas of Florida. The waters are rising and the waters are warming.

If you are a poor nation and can't build higher dikes to protect your vulnerable coastal cities, pack your bags. And, if you live in New York or London, you're not in the clear either -- watch out for catastrophic storm surges.

Of course it's not just too much water that will be the problem, but also too little. The next few decades will be a bad time to live just about anywhere in Africa. Glaciers from the region's tallest peaks like Mount Kenya, the Rwenzori, and Kilimanjaro have lost nearly all their ice caps.

And similar things are happening in the Himalayas, the Andes, the Alps...

But don't worry; the world is aware of the problem and working on change. Over 150 nations gathered recently in Nairobi to talk about the climate crisis and the U.S., the largest contributor to global warming said via representative Harlan Watson: "I do not see any change in our policy." The "policy" in question is to effectively do nothing. In fact, he added, "We feel very comfortable."

OK, so not everyone is doing something about the problem. Here in the U.S. we are doing something worse than nothing -- we are actively working in the wrong direction.

Never has this been more apparent than in Texas where utility giant TXU Corp. is seeking $11 billion to build 11 new coal-fired power plants in the state.

If these plants are built, TXU will become the country's largest corporate emitter of greenhouse gases. To put this in perspective, TXU would be contributing more greenhouse gas emissions than a combined 21 states and more than entire countries, such as New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden. They will also be negating all of the emissions that Japan had planned to cut and 80 percent of the U.K.'s pledged reduction.

Despite the fact that 79 percent of Texans are in favor of renewable energy and just six percent are in favor of more coal production, TXU's project is being fast-tracked by Gov. Perry (who received more than $80,000 in campaign contributions for TXU interests). By trying to quickly push through the permitting process, Perry will be allowing the state to skip the normally mandated period where alternative energy sources would be considered. But don't worry, it's not like there's a lot of wind or sun in Texas or anything.

Even with Perry's best efforts on behalf of polluting energy, there is still a lot to be done to stop the project: just ask the ever-vigilant folks at Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Sure, Texas might not be in your backyard, but with an international problem like global warming, all of our backyards just got a whole lot bigger.
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.
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