Joe Biden Looks to Revive Obama’s Climate Plan. Scientists Say That’s Not Good Enough

By Alexander C. Kaufman, Senior Business Editor at The Huffington Post, and Chris D’Angeloa, Associate Editor at HuffPost Hawaii Cross-posted from Grist, as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

At a moment when mounting reports from the world’s top scientists indicate humanity is barrelling toward climate catastrophe and ecological collapse, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is preparing a climate policy that appears to put the United States back on the pre-Trump trajectory.

The former vice president’s proposal is anchored in resetting the clock to 2016 by rejoining the Paris climate accord and reinstating Obama-era regulations on power plant and vehicle emissions, according to a Reuters report published Friday. The policy is expected to maintain a role for fossil fuels, and veer away from the Green New Deal framework that most of Biden’s top rivals for his party’s 2020 presidential nomination have embraced.

“Reheating the Obama administration’s regulations-plus-Paris approach will be totally insufficient,” said Joseph Majkut, a climate scientist and policy expert at the center-right think tank Niskanen Center.

TJ Ducklo, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign, said in an email statement that the former vice president “knows how high the stakes are” and noted his record on addressing climate change.

“As president, Biden would enact a bold policy to tackle climate change in a meaningful and lasting way, and will be discussing the specifics of that plan in the near future,” he said. “Any assertions otherwise are not accurate.”

The descriptions of the forthcoming policy offer only a first glance at Biden’s proposal to address a global crisis that, over the past year, has surged to the top of Democratic primary voters’ concerns. But the position appears dangerously out of step with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The world’s leading climate science body warned in October that governments must cut global emission by nearly half and begin removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to keep warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the havoc wreaked by extreme weather and sea-level rise is expected to cost $54 trillion and kill millions.

The finding, confirmed a month later by 13 federal agencies in the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, cast a shadow over the Obama administration’s climate legacy. While the 44th president forged the first global emissions-cutting deal to include the United States and China, his administration oversaw the rapid expansion of U.S. oil and gas production, a fact about which Obama boasted last November. Expanded U.S. drilling threatens to add 1,000 coal plants’ worth of greenhouse gases by the middle of the century, according to a January analysis by researchers at more than a dozen environmental groups. That will make the emissions reductions set out by the IPCC all but impossible to meet, and discourage countries like China, India and Indonesia — whose emissions are growing at a rapid clip — from adopting cleaner development strategies as the world’s richest nation and biggest historic emitter fails to set an example.

“The greatest fault in his proposal is the suggestion that natural gas can be part of the solution,” Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said by email. “The solution to a problem created by burning fossil fuels cannot be the burning of fossil fuels.”

Biden has called climate change an “existential” threat. And during a campaign speech in Iowa earlier this month, he noted that he was “one of the first guys to introduce a climate change bill, way, way back in ’87.” PolitiFact looked into the claim and found it to be true.

Yet, in a speech last month, the former vice president parroted a familiar oil and gas industry line, declaring, “North American energy makes us independent.” And, according to Reuters, he picked Heather Zichal as a climate adviser. Zichal, 42, who advised in the Obama administration, served on the board of liquified natural gas giant Cheniere Energy Partners from 2014 until last year.

Zichal came to Biden’s defense in a post to Twitter on Friday afternoon, saying “Reuters got it wrong.”

“There may have been a chance for modest, ‘all of the above,’ ‘middle ground’ climate strategies 20 years ago but we’ve passed that point now,” said Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and co-founder of California’s Pacific Institute. He added that “many politicians still fail to understand or accept the severity of the climate crisis or the speed with which we now have to act.”

Of the nearly two dozen Democrats vying for president in 2020, only two — Washington Governor Jay Inslee and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke — have laid out detailed climate policies, as The Guardian reported this week. But the plans set a far different course from what former President Barack Obama envisioned.

O’Rourke, who climate activists criticized for pro-fossil fuel votes in the past, proposed a sweeping $5 trillion plan to beef up infrastructure and make the United States carbon neutral by 2050.

Inslee, who’s making climate change the sole focus of his White House bid, went further, outlining a detailed vision to eliminate emissions from power plants, passenger vehicles and new buildings by 2030.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) vowed to ban new fossil fuel leases on federal lands and waters and increase renewable energy generation on public acreage by nearly tenfold.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) threw his weight behind the Green New Deal resolution that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released in February, which calls for a sweeping national industrial plan to decarbonize the United States and expand the social safety net over the next 10 years. Roughly half the 21 Democrats running for president pledged to reject donations from the fossil fuel industry.

“In an election where more than half the field had pledges to reject fossil fuel money, Biden has a fossil fuel bird member leading his climate policy development,” David Turnbull, a spokesman for the nonprofit Oil Change U.S., said by email. “This is not a good look, and worse yet will lead to terrible policy stuck in the past.”

Andrew Dessler, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University, said the policies described in the Reuters story “do not sound very ambitious” and would likely blow past the additional degree of average temperature rise the Paris Agreement aimed to cap global warming.

“My rough intuition is that this approach would be more in line with stabilizing at 3 to 4 degrees C of warming, rather than staying below 2 degrees C,” he said by email. “So I would categorize this as a bit disappointing.”

Yet he said it may be a “politically savvy” appeal to draw voters who elected President Donald Trump in 2016. That may be a strength in the general election, but the proposal drew fierce criticism from Democratic activists who could influence the primary election.

“I’m a Woolsey Fire survivor,” RL Miller, political director of the political action committee Climate Hawks Vote, said referring to one of the historic wildfires that blazed in California last year. “Does Biden mean that the next wildfire will compromise with me which half of my home emerges unscathed?”

Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash, whose youth-focused group led the protests that propelled the Green New Deal into the national conversation last year, called Biden’s “middle ground” policy “a death sentence for our generation and the millions of people on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

The Green New Deal remains the only framework on the scope of the crisis, and the movement to enact it initially drew stunning bipartisan support. A December poll from Yale and George Mason universities found 81 percent of voters, including 64 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of conservative Republicans favored the policies outlined under such a program. But months of negative coverage on right-wing media outlets like Fox News — which routinely smeared the Green New Deal by falsely claiming it would ban hamburgers, trigger genocide against white men, or set the stage for Stalinist government policy — dramatically eroded support among Republicans, new polling shows.

Labor unions, a key constituency for Democrats, are divided on the Green New Deal. The building and construction trade unions, a powerful force in the labor movement, rely on the fossil fuel industry for lucrative jobs with coal trains and pipelines, and as such have opposed proposals that threatened those sectors.

Yet proponents of the Green New Deal say a Democratic leader with strong appeal to unions could help bridge that divide by promoting the policy’s potential to generate unionized clean energy jobs.

“It’s a false tradeoff to say that we have to seek moderate climate policy in order to appeal to both the environmental left and the labor movement,” said Greg Carlock, the researcher who authored the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress’ Green New Deal blueprint last year. “We can decarbonize our economy and we can grow good jobs.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Loneprotester

    Wow. So much paranoia and misinformation in one post. Where to begin? It’s Mother’s Day, so I don’t have much time. I’ll keep it simple. There is no SCIENCE in this piece, just a lot of assertions by political operatives going all in on the GND as a bottomless coffee cup of goodies for the left. Obama left office 2 years ago. The Paris Accord did not ask anything of the world’s biggest contributors to GHG, China and India. And those who did sign it are not making their goals (though the US, which did not sign, is). Cranking up the climate hysteria to 11 all the time will not work because people will go mad or tune it out. Oh, and the Niskanen Center is not “center-right” except if you are standing way far off the map to the left. Good talking.

    1. Michael

      If you have read the findings of the IPCC October, 2018 report that specifically stated that unless the people of the planet reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and 100% by 2050 they face a greater than 1.5 degree Celsius average global temperature and an unstoppable runaway climate, this article makes perfect sense. It is merely reiterating the obvious.

      The IPCC October report confirms the consensus of the climate scientist community regarding the apocalyptic future we face if immediate action is not taken. There is no “middle ground”, as that train left the station several decades ago. Nature does not care about public opinion.

    2. Benjamin Wolf

      I’ll keep it simple.

      Right-wingists do like it simple.

      There is no SCIENCE in this piece

      There doesn’t need to be. Just because you can’t be bothered to read the thousands of sources available doesn’t mean others are responsible for your lack of knowledge.

      Obama left office 2 years ago.


      The Paris Accord did not ask anything of the world’s biggest contributors to GHG, China and India.

      In an article about Joe Biden’s climate policy, you’re focused on something else. This is called misdirection and you’re doing it to attempt to derail discussion.

      And those who did sign it are not making their goals (though the US, which did not sign, is).

      There you go again.

      Cranking up the climate hysteria to 11 all the time will not work because people will go mad or tune it out.

      Do you boo.

      Oh, and the Niskanen Center is not “center-right”. . .

      Prove it. Also, nobody cares.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      @ Loneprotester,

      Dear Loneprotester,

      Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are always happy to hear from you. Please let us know if you have any other concerns.

  2. TG

    Joe Biden will champion the imposition of regressive taxes and restrictions on the working class, and claim it’s to ‘save the environment.’ What he will not do, is in any way inconvenience big business or do anything to actually reduce the overall environmental impact of our society.

    Because you’ve got to have your priorities.

    1. Ian Ollmann

      Everyone pays for this one, I’m afraid. We all live here. Runaway climate itself will hurt the poor disproportionately. It doesn’t mean there can’t be other programs to help the poor, but much, much higher prices at the pump and additional transportation surcharges on everyday items until the trucking fleet electrifies, etc. are a given.

      The house is burning down. It is time to stop arguing over who has to pay for the fire extinguisher.

    2. jrs

      I rather doubt Biden will do anything and claim it is for the environment, it’s really not his issue. Too bad as it needs to be everyone’s issue. He’ll be gone, and well he’ll be gone, anyone younger than Biden might still be here.

  3. Oh

    Andrew Dessler, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University, said the policies described in the Reuters story “do not sound very ambitious” and would likely blow past the additional degree of average temperature rise the Paris Agreement aimed to cap global warming.

    “My rough intuition is that this approach would be more in line with stabilizing at 3 to 4 degrees C of warming, rather than staying below 2 degrees C,” he said by email. “So I would categorize this as a bit disappointing.”

    What’s rough intuition? A bit disappointing? LOL

    1. pretzelattack

      if you consider “near catastrophic” to be a bit disappointing; he is using understatement.

  4. Edward

    “…a lot of assertions by political operatives going all in on the GND as a bottomless coffee cup of goodies for the left.”

    This statement about the GND being a bottomless cup is itself an assertion without evidence. Critics of the GND like to claim it is unrealistic or too expensive. Really, though, it is the problems it wants to address that are too expensive: global warming, inadequate salaries, or overpriced, extortionate health care.

    The Obama/Biden administration obstructed efforts to tackle global warming.

    1. Loneprotester

      There is no Green New Deal really. It’s a slogan and a price tag. It lacks any semblance of a policy agenda at this point. The fact that you can cite three completely distinct “goals,” only one of which directly touches upon “green” issues, tells me everything I need to know about the state of the debate. It is either in its infancy or utterly infantile. I’m not sure yet which.

      1. Edward

        I see the GND as an attempt to open the policy discussion to some left ideas that have been shut out; I would call it more then a slogan. It is too early to say how this will play out but I support what AOC and Markey are trying to do.

      2. Grumpy Engineer


        I wouldn’t call all of the GND a slogan. After all, the “Medicare for All” portion would mostly be an expansion of today’s Medicare that serves seniors. Could Congress somehow botch that expansion and make it more expensive and less effective? I don’t doubt it. But at least here we have some idea of what we’d be getting.

        Other parts, though, are completely lacking in detail. Will the energy portion of the GND include nuclear power? At present, this is unknown. There was briefly a FAQ that said the legacy nuclear would be kept around for the short term, but this FAQ was declared “erroneous” and unceremoniously dumped from the website shortly after its release. For energy policy, the GND is indeed just a slogan. And unfortunately, most members of Congress have no idea what it would take to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in this country.

        And the jobs guarantee portion is also severely lacking in details. Who will decide what jobs will be available? Will these jobs be available in the poorer communities that need them the most, or will people have to move? If people find they aren’t qualified for the posting or have objections to the work they’d do, will alternate jobs be created for them? What happens if too many people apply for the pleasant jobs (like writing employee newsletters) and not enough people apply for the difficult and unpleasant ones (like crawling into attics to add insulation)? Will part-time jobs be available for people who can’t (or don’t want to) work full time? What will prevent politicians from abusing the system and creating jobs that help their political backers (like road beautification on the way to Amazon headquarters)?

        In its infancy? Definitely. Infantile? Unknown until we get more details.

  5. Denis Drew

    Thermonuclear fusion anybody? It may take 100 years to get here (it looks like) — but may be 50 or even (possibly) 25 if we go all out and invest every possible dollar in it. Certainly wont cost five trillion.

    We have to pay for it all eventually anyway — why not move it all up to maximum investment? The fast the better — may be the planets only realistic hope.

    A book with a nondescript title but fairly meaty on the power issue in general (not just thermonuclear):
    The Future of Fusion Energy (Popular Science) by Jason Parisi

    1. Ian Ollmann

      Sounds great. Let’s do that. However we don’t have time for a research program with at least one (magic happens here) step to reach fruition and become widely distributed. Solar on every roof, batteries in every garage sounds like a much better thing we can do now, and will continue to be useful in a fusion future. The constraints for that are merely production and labor.

      1. Denis Drew

        Actually, the beginning of the book pretty much disallows that we are going to get the bulk of our power from anything but carbon fuels or thermonuclear in the future — in very basic physics equations.

  6. Pat

    This is stupid on Biden’s part, he can’t really use the Obama playbook of promises that sound good but have no foundation. When Obama was using that there was no record so the listener was free to imagine what they wanted the hyperbole to intend. There is now a record, a distinctly lacking record. Better to lie about both the record and the plan. Say flat out that everyone in the Obama administration considered that they were just the start of a longer and more extensive set of changes and actions to address climate change. They expected any administration to follow them to see and understand the science and to build on the base they had provided. Unfortunately the current administration spits on science and the undeniable evidence that we are facing catastrophic climate changes and have destroyed that base and made our future ability to delay and weather the current changes even more precarious. First we will rebuild the base then aggressively move to confront the challenge we face…” And then list a few pie in the sky GND level items to show they are serious.

    But his choices highlight the bubble that Joe and many of our leading Democrats live in regarding their record and the voters growing disenchantment with both that record and the party’s disregard of their problems and concerns.

  7. TimR

    Ice core samples show that long term the earth has vacillated between hot and cool periods, and we happen to currently be in an upswing. The hype and propaganda to feed public hysteria is clearly motivated by extra-scientific concerns. Those at the top, want to cut off access to fuel and energy and the (yes) benefits of industry, for those of us on the bottom.

    1. Edward

      The basic idea behind global warming is that greenhouse gases do not block sunlight but do block heat; it is an invisible blanket surrounding the entire planet, trapping heat. It is true there are other factors influencing the climate, such as cloud cover, and that the climate has been hotter at times in the past, with more atmospheric greenhouse gases. Where are the stable points, where the climate stops changing?

    2. Susan the other`

      Well, I don’t expect Uncle Joe to start talking real facts anytime soon. He’s just a schmoozer and a BSer and has been on the take his entire career. He’s a dottering old fool these days. I’m sure his mission is to slow down the GND and the lefty threat of Bernie and others, Liz is also too left now for the democrats. The climate is going to turn them all upside down. I don’t think there’s any way the old democrats can maintain control; Joe is just a good soldier and he will pretend to be a wise, benign force for good when he, in fact and record, is nothing of the sort. Joe is nothing more than a spoiler. If he was an early climate/environmentalist, he has clearly proven that he has done all he could to maintain the status quo. Hopefully somebody will confront him with some tomatoes.

    3. sj

      am I to understand that you do not believe that human activity (production of CO2 on a massive scale) is changing the climate of the planet?

    4. Brooklin Bridge

      Did I forget to turn up my snark-0-meter?

      Those at the top, want to cut off access to fuel and energy and the (yes) benefits of industry, for those of us on the bottom.

      Care to explain? Why (in the world) would those at the top want to cut off corporate profits of energy industries (never mind the benefits of industry)??? Are they socialist pinkos parading as CIA? Have they infiltrated the WH?? Is Trump Safe?? Any links?

      1. Susan the other`

        tinfoil hat talking here: It occurred to me that since the big oil companies knew with a certainty that CO2 was rapidly warming the planet, they actually put it to good use – in their minds. It was a time (50s and 60s) when everyone was anticipating the Earth tipping into a new ice age. It was time, geologically, and the thought was sending everyone scurrying around trying to figure just how it would happen, what to expect and how to live with it. It now, in retrospect, seems a pretty logical explanation, that government and the oil companies together decided CO2 would be a good thing to keep the planet warmer longer.
        That would explain how, fully informed about CO2, they did nothing about it. Of course they got very rich doing so, but that might not have been the incentive. It’s a pointless speculation because we are here now and we’ve got to deal with what we’ve got. But, just thinkin’.

        1. Ian Ollmann

          The tobacco industry paradigm seems more plausible to me. It goes like this: We know it is bad, in general, but we make money, so it is good for us.

          This is not a new thing. Upton Sinclair: “Nothing is so difficult for a man to understand as something that his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

          I kind of wish there were not so many double negatives in there but there you have it. For worse, and not better, people are very corrupt in this way. Extrapolate as needed.

    5. Joe Well

      A lot of climate change deniers coming by to visit today.

      Does NC get hit by a lot of vaccine or evolution deniers, too?

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      Heat Death Extinction is what the 1% want to give to us 90% at the bottom. And Heat Death Extinction is not a benefit.

      If you feel that global heatering is “not a problem”, you have any number of Southern State Coastal Zones to move to and live in. If you really believe what you wrote.

  8. Scott1

    We need another war. We need a UN with an armed forces that declares an international ban on the bomb & WMDs. This Gov. of Govs. would then be in a state of permanent war to eliminate the bomb & through the Institution’s war acquire an MMT principled bank fund that would, concurrent to its war on WMDs & the nations that cleave to them, finance all necessary transformation in energy sourcing.
    Fat chance Biden would ever support a government of governments, or the goal of eliminating WMDs.
    I am using Machiavelli thought. I am using obverse thinking of Mearsheimer. I am basing my thinking around a globalism that is nationalist attempting to make of a global war nationalism as global.
    Leninism and Communist Party internationalism failed. So far it looks as if fractured globalism is a maintained nationalism since the world is still too big to be loved as much as the smaller nation one was born into.
    Trying is an ethical duty. “I don’t fight fascism because I will win, I fight fascists because they are fascists.” Arthur Koestler (I think) Koestler may have had one of his doomed characters say it.

  9. Maxfinger

    Of the nearly two dozen Democrats vying for president in 2020, only two — Washington Governor Jay Inslee and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke — have laid out detailed climate policies, as The Guardian reported this week. But the plans set a far different course from what former President Barack Obama envisioned.

    very hard to find any of these links in search engines [can you win 2020 without search engine results)

    1. jrs

      Inslee is serious about climate change, and also supports the GND. I hope he makes the debates.

      Beto who knows what he wants but at least he’s flapping about in a better direction than before (more than anyone could ever say about Biden, Biden is just the worst).

  10. Temporarily Sane

    Yikes. The denial is thick in this thread. The more tangible global warming becomes, the more panicked the deniers sound. The Real News Network just did a story on how the media downplays or ignores outright the reality of a warming planet and the head-in-the-sand crowd was out in full force over there, too.

  11. Synoia

    I like the republican climate change plan, although that’s not what the republicans call it.

    Global Thermonuclear war.

    – Reduces the population
    – Cools the earth
    – Make America Great again (for a year or so)
    – Eliminates traded deficits (by eliminating trade)

    What’s not to like? /s

    We cannot revert to an 18 Century economy and maintain the population we have.

    1. Isotope_C14

      I don’t understand why this always comes to “We can’t live like the 18th Century”.

      We have the technological capabilities to do mass urban/vertical farms, a transition to 100% local production, and even aquaponics. A drastic change could be made, but it won’t, because of the capitalist education system has eliminated creativity in nearly 99% of the population.

      This is why we are in the predicament we are in. The capitalists have to make money off of food, and banks/corporations of land ownership. They have no interest in giving the “poors” control.

      The Venus project and the Zeitgeist movement have been around a while. The rich just don’t want to have a habitable planet, as long as they can sleep on a pile of money.

      1. Joe Well

        Agreed. Our problem is that we’re living with the 18th century’s political systems, which apparently can’t handle 21st century society’s existential threats. The US Constitution, in particular, was designed in large part to prevent a civil war and universal manhood suffrage…both of which already happened over 150 years ago.

    2. polecat

      But we WILL revert to an 18 Century (or earlier) economy and maintain the population as a reduced one, either intentionally by us, or by Gaia, come Hell or high water, or both !!
      Currently, the score looks like it is Gaia – 1 vs Humans – 0 … so I guess we’ll see who eventually crosses which goal first.

      And, incidentally, considering current geopolitical happenings, I believe the motto might be MAGA – as in ‘Make America GLOW Again’ ….

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Wait . . . what? I thought Global Thermonuclear War was the Hillary Clinton plan. That’s why she and her fellow elites were working so hard to sell Russia as a Hate Object. To get the Global Thermonuclear War started in due time.

  12. Synoia

    The new rules are simple:

    1. To travel, you walk.
    2. To work, you walk to work.
    3,. Everything you use, wear, must be made within 20 miles of your home.
    4. Gardens are for food

    Back to the middle ages.

    1. Ian Ollmann

      Personally, I plan to install solar (done), drive an EV (done) and continue to work 17 miles away. With any luck, my sons can just telecommute, just like I don’t have to wear a necktie. If you want to go back to the Middle Ages, that is fabulous! However, I don’t see this as necessary.

      The way forward is forward.

    2. polecat

      5. You pay the appropriate tribute to your local Laird .. or Warlord ….. or else !

  13. Math is Your Friend

    “We can decarbonize our economy and we can grow good jobs.”


    This sounds suspiciously like an idea that keeps cropping up, that somehow switching to ‘approved green renewable energy sources’ will somehow magically invigorate the economy and make us all happier, richer, and healthier, at our new ‘green jobs’.

    So far, such ‘green jobs’ seem to last as long as the lavish tax supported subsidies. Then the industries supported and sheltered from economic realities tend to go bankrupt, and the jobs vanish, leaving everyone paying more for less power, while jobs and industries decamp for less expensive markets.

    There’s a bit of a catch-22 here. Dealing with climate change will take resources and capabilities and cash… all of which will be reduced by excessive and arbitrary reliance on unreliable or sub-optimal power sources. Too early a push for reducing carbon may impair other necessary adaptive projects.

    Of course, we can have lots and lots of low carbon power if we just start mass producing hundreds of identical, type approved, nuclear plants… but that would involve dealing with the irrational fear of nuclear power that too many people harbour, and then streamlining the entire process to massively reduce delays.

    1. Edward

      How many lavish subsidies are there on fossil fuels and nuclear power? The Canadian government bought the tar sands industry and fracking depends on bank loans. Public lands are given away to companies for a pittance. These dirty energy sources come with an environmental cost paid for by society and future generations– another type of subsidy.

    2. Phillip Allen

      “the irrational fear of nuclear power”

      I submit that what is irrational is assuming that homo sapiens is capable of finding the unicorn technofixes that will permit the safe storage of nuclear waste for as long as necessary (or even a short period of a few human lifetimes or so, given the crapification of everything that is the feature of our age). It is irrational to assume that simply building nuclear power plants will resolve any of the other critical resources in depletion upon which the very building and operation of nuclear power plants are dependent. Industrial ‘civilization’ is a dead end that can either be wound down consciously to minimize the inevitable difficulties, or humanity can waste time, attention and resources trying to sustain a losing game and reap truly horrific results for the effort.

  14. Telee

    It’s all about the money, people be damned. Biden is their choice to protect the oligarchs. He’ll probably be defeated by Trump. However the old guard democrats would rather lose the election, have Trump as president rather than have Sanders or Warren jeopardize their gravy train. Senator Pelosi has promised the health care insureres that she will protect them against Medicare for All! Their priority is to do nothing about global warming- it might hurt the fossil fuel industry, medical care, it might hurt the health insurers, nothing about economic disparity, health care, pollution, dealing with the military industrial complex, and so on.

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