Thursday, June 27, 2013

Obama on Climate Change

Good start, Obama, but not nearly enough. I know I don't think the way much of America does, but I think you spent too much time apologizing for the need to do anything about climate change and were too weak on the solutions.

You do spend the first nine minutes on climate change and how it's real and dangerous. At 10:45, you start talking about "carbon pollution," but it's clear to me that you are talking about carbon dioxide and ignoring methane. At minute 14, I think you do mention methane, but you ignore the methane that is leaked into the air through the extraction of natural gas. It may burn cleaner than coal, but it's not cheaper, cleaner, or safer to extract and produce.

At minute 20, you tell us that we don't "have to choose between the health of our children or the health of our economy. The old rules may say we can't protect our environment and promote economic growth at the same time but [technology will save us]." You say that by using more renewable energy and wasting less, we can continue and our economy can grow. I think you're wrong.

At around 23:45 you say that "allowing the Keystone Pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so" will not "significantly exacerbate" the health of the climate. I don't trust that our definitions of "significantly exacerbate" are in the same ballpark. You say again that you want to "make sure we're not seeing methane emissions" around minute 25. Again, I don't believe you'll pay attention to that science. I want to believe it, but I am pretty damn skeptical.

You promise that our "federal government will consume 20% of its electricity from renewable resources" in the near future around 28:45. That does sound pretty great. It's a strong part of your three point plan to:
1. use less dirty energy
2. transition to cleaner energy
3. waste less

But it's not enough. 20% of an unnamed and increasingly growing number (or amount of total energy) is not sustainable. It barely puts a dent. You want the economy to grow, which with current models requires our energy consumption to grow... and which encourages our consumption to grow as we promote a hedonistic, wasteful, sinful, arrogant, immoral Western way of life (which I live and enjoy myself every single day).

Around minute 33, you do talk about the unavoidable climate change we're already facing and that we have to mitigate. You talk about the threat to security we'll face with more floods and weird weather occurrences. I think you know, Mr. President, that these things are happening. I hope that you face an internal struggle between a) telling it like it is and injecting a little hope and b) lying blatantly and paying just enough lip service to keep some of the environmentalist wackos at bay. I think you're leaning toward the latter but I'm hoping that you, a lame duck, have the courage to do the former. I don't trust the government to lead me this way, but a lot of the country still loves you, sir. A lot of the country still believes in this corporate capitalist conspiracy we pretend to call a representative democracy. We largely avoid direct democracy as much as possible. It's what we were born into. It's hard to get out of. And do we even want to.

That's no longer the question, or it won't be soon. I think the economy will continue to get worse. And if for some reason it doesn't I think that climate change will just happen faster and faster. We can't have both. And my guess is that we probably can't have either.

I still love my life and I think it's very good. But, as Derrick Jensen has said, we're pretty fucked.

No comments: