Obama in Berlin foreshadows Coming Epic Battle against Climate Change

President Obama is readying a major policy change on combating climate change. He adverted to it in his Berlin speech yesterday.

In my view, this step is more important than anything else the Obama White House has undertaken. (See my argument here.) Rapid climate change driven by our dumping of billions of metric tons a year of C02 into the atmosphere is to human beings what the Chicxulub meteor strike 60 million years ago was to dinosaurs. The achievement of ending a war in some part of the world is rather cast into the shade if you allow that whole country to be turned into the Sahara desert in a few decades anyway. What good does it do Egypt to have a democratic transition if the whole Delta valley will be under water in 70 years? The tragedy of how Bangladesh garment workers are treated gets headlines but the submerging of the whole country and displacement of 150 million people, which is on the horizon in this century, is ignored.

Channel 4 UK has the full Berlin speech:

Since Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Coal will be profoundly threatened by any new White House policy on these issues, we can expect a political battle royale.

6 Responses

  1. Since Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Coal will be profoundly threatened by any new White House policy on these issues, we can expect a political battle royale.

    We can certainly expect a battle royale, but President Obama’s strategy on this major issues involving multiple big interests has been to divide and conquer – to carve one target out from the herd, and appease the ones left standing enough that they won’t interfere when he takes down his selected victim.

    For example, the PPACA singled out the health insurance industry for regulation that made AHIP (the health insurers’ trade organization) howl, while treating the drug makers, hospitals, and doctors in a much friendlier manner.

    Similarly, during his first term, the administration cracked down hard on coal-fired power plants, while being relatively friendly to the gas and oil industries.

    I would predict something similar here. Limits on carbon emissions from power plants, for instance, would hit the coal-fired plants very heavily, while being much easier for the gas-fired plants (which reduce carbon emissions by half per unit of energy) much less, if at all.

    Since coal fired power plants generate 40% of American carbon emissions, that certainly makes sense as a place to start.

    • I agree with what you’re saying about 0 it will either turn out as you say or no deal will be reached but the potus can say at lest he tried but they wouldn’t let. That’s his other part of the dog & pony show of the belt way.

  2. Actually I differ on the proposition that climate change is the greatest threat to the dignity and conservation of human life today.

    It is rather our obscene dependence on reliable, high speed communications carriers and networks that are essentially in the hands of corporate interest acting to maximize their profit potential — and our failure (as a global community) to build security and redundancy into these systems — which threatens the economic infrastructure, and the political systems dependent on it throughout most of the world.

    The rapid expansion of the world’s population in the last 30 to 50 years has been made possible by the financial and trade relations it supports.

    If it is seriously degraded, or collapses, billions would be threatened — and the threat is not incremental, like global warming.

    • But a collapse of communications systems would not cause the irreversible destruction of all non-human life. It might even be a temporary salvation for plants and animals for humans to suffer such a catastrophe.

      On the other hand, if the planetary ecosystem breaks down and ocean life is seriously damaged, the effects will spread across all forms of life, and we don’t have the means to keep many of us alive on what would become Mars.

      It’s simple. If methane hydrates are beginning to evaporate in the oceans, nothing can stop it, and nothing can save us. We just don’t know.

    • You need to study climate change a bit. It is already occurring and to those being impacted, it is not “incremental”. It is only “incremental” to those who believe they are not being impacted even though they are. It is very comforting to ignore Africa, Pacific Islanders, people in Bangladesh and million so others for whom “incremental” is here. Two yrs ago, Russia stopped exporting grain as production was directly impacted by climate change. Massive areas of US crop land are being impacted right now which will be seen in supermarkets in a few months. Americans will go hungry next winter.

      And if we get sudden massive methane releases, the change could happen in a decade or two. I just watched a program talking about change in fifty yrs. What is not discussed is things don’t stay the same and, suddenly, at fifty yrs flip to a new state.

    • The effects of global warming are only “incremental” if you look at them in the aggregate, but in practices, they manifest themselves suddenly and dramatically.

      For instance, a 2cm increase in local ocean levels at some city may sound incremental, but if that means the difference between the sea wall being overtopped by a storm and not, then the difference is not incremental.

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