Ep. 192: How to Nationalize US Oil and Gas

afd oil and gas nationalization

Like the single-payer healthcare fight, but for the entire global climate…

 
The beginner’s guide to a pragmatic government purchase of the US oil and gas industry to wind down fossil fuel production rapidly in the global public interest.
People: Bill and Nate Produced: Aug 13th, 2017.

Episode 192 (51 min):
AFD 192

You can find a complete list of our reference materials here.

You might also want to listen to Ep. 178, on climate austerity in a state of emergency, which originally aired in April 2017.

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Apr 26, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 178

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: Which environmental safety regulations and climate rules have Republicans attacked so far in 2017? Will climate emergency lead to climate austerity governments? People: Bill and Jonathan Produced: April 24th, 2017.

Episode 178 (55 min, incl. 5 bonus minutes):
AFD 178

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Op-Ed | Courting the U.S. Environment

This essay originally appeared in The Globalist and was adapted from a speech Bill Humphrey delivered to a Citizens Climate Lobby chapter meeting in Brookline MA.

icebreakers-antarctica

Here is an interesting twist in the annals of U.S. democracy: The country’s federal and state courts are likely to set as much, if not more, of U.S. climate policies as the president, Congress, governors or state legislators.

Broadly speaking, that is because the courts, not the other branches, are the ones who make the decisions interpreting and applying state laws and regulations.

But it is also a direct reflection that the environment remains more of a politically contentious and divisive issue in the Unites States than in any other advanced economy.

All of this became glaringly clear once again in the recent, unprecedented U.S. Supreme Court order, issued shortly before Justice Scalia’s death.

The temporary decision in West Virginia v. EPA blocked implementation of President Obama’s regulations to restrict the emissions of coal-fired power plants.

The courts, now or never

The role of courts on climate policy extends well beyond coal, as the growing number of environmental and climate lawsuits winding their way through U.S. and state courts in recent years makes plain.

This includes a recent suit filed in Massachusetts alleging that the state has not met its legally mandated emissions targets.

Given this lay of the land, it is more important than ever in the United States to pay attention to judicial nominations – whether to the U.S. Supreme Court or to state supreme courts in places that do not elect judges – and assess the candidates from the perspective of their views (and hence potential impact) on global climate change. Read more

Proposed: A Constitutional Right to Safe Air and Water

In this Arsenal For Democracy mini-series, we propose new, progressive Constitutional rights. Part IV: A right to safe air and water, by Bill.

Protecting the environment is not an abstract concept about saving rainforests or polar bears, although these are important in their own way. Environmentalism is fundamentally about people. Whether or not environmental safety is maintained has a tangible, daily effect on millions of lives. Poisoned air and water is responsible for the premature deaths of tens of thousands of Americans each year. The air we breathe and the water we drink must be free from contaminants. That is an inalienable human right.

Sadly, too often, our society has allowed dangerous pollution to be released into our air and water, with enormous health consequences. Disproportionately, those impacts have fallen on low-income and minority individuals and communities. Justice for these crimes has been intermittent at best.

We need to ensure — swiftly and fairly — the elimination of pollution, meaningful and substantial compensation for those affected, and punishment for those responsible.

Environmental public safety should not be taken lightly or be treated as an afterthought corrected by an occasional minor fine. Just as we have taken seriously the public health threat from smoking, so too must we take seriously the daily public health consequences of poor regulation and poor enforcement of environmental public safety.

According to the American Lung Association, the human and financial costs to our society are clear:

Particle pollution also diminishes lung function, causes greater use of asthma medications and increased rates of school absenteeism, emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Other adverse effects can be coughing, wheezing, cardiac arrhythmias and heart attacks. According to the findings from some of the latest studies, short-term increases in particle pollution have been linked to:

– death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes, including strokes;
– increased mortality in infants and young children;
– increased numbers of heart attacks, especially among the elderly and in people with heart conditions;
– inflammation of lung tissue in young, healthy adults;
– increased hospitalization for cardiovascular disease, including strokes and congestive heart failure;
– increased emergency room visits for patients suffering from acute respiratory ailments;
– increased hospitalization for asthma among children; and
-increased severity of asthma attacks in children.

 
By contrast, taking action pays huge dividends:

– Looking at air quality in 545 counties in the U.S. between 2000 and 2007, researchers found that people had approximately four months added to their life expectancy on average due to cleaner air. Women and people who lived in urban and densely populated counties benefited the most.
– Another long-term study of six U.S. cities tracked from 1974 to 2009 added more evidence of the benefits. Their findings suggest that cleaning up particle pollution had almost immediate health benefits. They estimated that the U.S. could prevent approximately 34,000 premature deaths a year if the nation could lower annual levels of particle pollution by 1 µg/m^3

 
Our federal, state, and local governments must guarantee and secure the people’s right to a habitable world, at present and in future, via enforceable law and regulation. In doing so, particularly by transforming our energy and transportation sectors to cleaner modes, we will ensure safe and clean air and water.

Our nation’s constitution ought to enshrine this common-sense governing principle as an amendment. That might read something like this:

“Every person has the right to safe and clean air and water. Congress and the states shall make such laws as are necessary to secure this right to all residents. The federal executive and judiciary and the governments of the states shall implement and enforce these provisions by appropriate action.”

FIFA World Cup Qatar: Ghost of Christmas Future

You’ve probably heard of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar (which never should have been awarded to Qatar) being moved to the winter to avoid scorching stadium temperatures. You might also have heard of the devastating heat waves this past summer from Lebanon to Iran.

Will the Persian Gulf region and Arabian Peninsula be uninhabitably hot later this century (without significant action on climate change soon)? A new study published in Nature Climate Change journal argues so.

Satellite photograph of the Arabian Desert from NASA World Wind 1.4.

Satellite photograph of the Arabian Desert from NASA World Wind 1.4.

“Extreme heatwaves could push Gulf climate beyond human endurance, study shows” – The Guardian:

The study shows the extreme heatwaves, more intense than anything ever experienced on Earth, would kick in after 2070 and that the hottest days of today would by then be a near-daily occurrence.
[…]
They said the future climate for many locations in the Gulf would be like today’s extreme climate in the desert of Northern Afar, on the African side of the Red Sea, where there are no permanent human settlements at all. But the research also showed that cutting greenhouse gas emissions now could avoid this fate.
[…]
The new research examined how a combined measure of temperature and humidity, called wet bulb temperature (WBT), would increase if carbon emissions continue on current trends and the world warms by 4C this century.

At WBTs above 35C, the high heat and humidity make it physically impossible for even the fittest human body to cool itself by sweating, with fatal consequences after six hours. For less fit people, the fatal WBT is below 35C. A WBT temperature of 35C – the combination of 46C heat and 50% humidity – was almost reached in Bandar Mahshahr in Iran in July 2015.
[…]
Air conditioning might be able to protect people indoors and those in wealthy Gulf oil states might be able to afford it, said the scientists, but less wealthy nations would suffer. In Yemen, for example, the WBT would reach 33C.

 

Indonesia is releasing a gigantic amount of trapped CO2

The latest:

A catastrophic milestone has been reached. The carbon-dioxide-rich peat bogs (and tropical forests) being set ablaze in Indonesia to clear land for farming are now producing repeated single-day spikes of emissions exceeding the daily output of the entire U.S. economy, according to the World Resources Institute.

Background information:

79% of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions result from the destruction of its carbon-rich tropical forests and peat bogs for conversion into palm oil plantations, other agricultural uses, or development – according to the World Resources Institute.

This is a critical problem because Indonesia, which only has the world’s 16th-largest economy, is now the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Indonesia also has the third largest tropical forest cover by area. (And lots of marshy peatlands.) Still, this forest cover has rapidly declined in recent decades. For example, the large Indonesian island of Sumatra went from 50% forested to 25% forested between 1985 and 2008.

Troublingly, many of the uses for which this newly cleared land is being diverted (such as palm oil production) could actually be located on other sites with previously degraded or clear-cut land.

Additionally, Indonesia’s September 2015 climate action plan only promises emissions reductions against project 2020 levels, although it does include more pledges to limit deforestation.

This post produced in conjunction with The Globalist Research Center.

Why did Hillary Clinton bring up the big climate talks failure?

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

first-democratic-2016-presidential-debate

I reacted very negatively to Secretary Clinton’s bizarre debate anecdote about the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, but I couldn’t quite remember all the details, other than my generalized and deep disappointment about the results of those talks at the time. This post filled my memory gap in…

“Hillary Clinton Is Living in a Climate Change Fantasy World” – Slate.com

About midway through the [first 2016 Democratic presidential] debate, Clinton staked her climate record on what’s widely perceived to have been one of the biggest diplomatic failures in recent history — the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. After years of anticipation, the meeting of world leaders ended in disarray, with Obama and his aides famously wandering around the convention center, looking for the leaders of China, India, Brazil, and other key nations. The toothless deal struck at the last minute was called a “grudging accord” by the New York Times the next day. Yes, Obama—and Clinton, then his secretary of state—were instrumental to that deal, but it’s hardly something Hillary should be proud of.

So it was pretty strange to hear her comments on Tuesday night. In her first answer on climate change, Clinton said, “I have been on the forefront of dealing with climate change starting in 2009 when President Obama and I crashed a meeting with the Chinese and got them to sign up to the first international agreement to combat climate change that they’d ever joined.”

In reality, the sour legacy of Copenhagen has haunted international climate negotiations ever since. It’s now widely believed that the U.S. never wanted a legally binding climate deal in Copenhagen at all—even though the Democrats controlled the Congress at the time and may have been able to successfully ratify the treaty—opting instead for a mostly empty pledge of billions of dollars in aid to developing nations. Among environmentalists, Clinton has retained only a mediocre reputation on climate change as a result.

Her Copenhagen comment wasn’t just a poor choice of wording, because she brought it up again later in the debate.
[…]
In her expanded version of the story, Clinton and Obama were roaming Copenhagen “literally … hunting for the Chinese.” Once they found them, she said, “We marched up, broke in, and said, ‘We’ve been looking all over for you. Let’s sit down and come up with what we need to do.’” That all sounds very Jason Bourne, but it’s not a good substitute for effective climate policy.