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Intentional Ignorance

November 6, 2012

I wrote this essay to offer some essential information about our world and the future of our species, adding my voice to the many cries of alarm over the environmental crisis (lately reaching criticality). [More…]

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energy policy

Establishment Politicians Be Damned. The People Have Had Enough.

The U.S. presidential election has finally demonstrated that the people have had it. They are rising up in large numbers to let establishment politicians know they won’t take it anymore. The surge of Donald Trump to the head of the Republican Party has confounded nearly everyone. But his populist appeal has won the day—with however crazy the vessel of that anger might be to thinking adults.

Crowd of peopleThe amazing crowds also drawn to Bernie Sanders rallies in the Democratic Party make the same point, with a similar message: We’ve had it with traditional politicians who line their pockets with huge financial gifts from wealthy donors determined to bend public policy toward their greed for money and power.

But in the most important area of all, the first of these protest movements misses the mark while the second is right on target. That is the likelihood of massive environmental, political, and violent disruptions at the hands of global warming. These may bring civilization to the brink of collapse in a few decades, if much more serious action to combat it is not taken now, quickly, and with massive changes in the way that civilization powers itself.

In consequence, a massive set of public protests, demonstrations, gatherings, and stunts is kicking off around the globe this month.  BREAKFREE has started a massive global series of actions to convince the world to abandon fossil fuels, leaving them safely in the ground, while switching to energy efficiency and renewable energy. These actions are being taken in the hopes of staving off the scourge of global warming now reaching epic proportions. The severe consequences of rampant, uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions are proceeding unabated—even accelerating—with dire consequences for the future of humanity.

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Phasing Down Fossil Fuel Emissions

James Hansen 20 OCT 2014

The essential spur required to phase down fossil fuel emissions is a rising carbon fee.  Only a few major nations must agree, e.g., China and the United States.  Most of the world would follow, induced by the desire to avoid border duties and modernize energy infrastructure.  

Other things are needed, especially technology development, but those things will be hastened by a rising carbon fee.

So why is an agreement on a carbon fee at [the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21]* in Paris in December 2015 not a foregone conclusion?

The old excuse, that it would be costly, has been shot down.  A steadily rising carbon fee, if it is revenue neutral via 100% dispersal of the funds to the public, stimulates the economy, increasing jobs and the GDP (see REMI study commissioned by Citizens Climate Lobby).

(For more, go to this link.)

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*The 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 11) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol**. The conference objective is to achieve alegally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. Leadership of the negotiations is yet to be determined.

**The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 Parties to the Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to ‘a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. The Protocol is based on the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

For the New Year: Straight Talk on Global Warming

The Kyoto Protocol on Global Warming has occupied a large number of people for many years. The background is amply presented by Wikipedia.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as Wiki explains it, “sets binding obligations on industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving the ‘stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.’ “

The Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of September 2011, 191 states had signed and ratified the protocol. The United States signed but did not ratify the Protocol and Canada withdrew from it in 2011.  Many environmentalists had hoped it would lead most nations to solid action to reverse global warming.  Certainly the Protocol detailed a lot of research to understand the scientific and engineering aspects of the causes, effects, and useful actions to reverse the process. But it has not led to the right kind of action at the scale that is needed.

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