Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 29, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE CLIMATE CHARADE....Apparently nobody outside the U.S. was fooled for a minute by George Bush's "climate summit." The Guardian reports:

European ministers, diplomats and officials attending the Washington conference were scathing, particularly in private, over Mr Bush's failure once again to commit to binding action on climate change.

....The conference, attended by more than 20 countries, including China, India, Britain, France and Germany, broke up with the US isolated, according to non-Americans attending. One of those present said even China and India, two of the biggest polluters, accepted that the voluntary approach proposed by the US was untenable and favoured binding measures, even though they disagreed with the Europeans over how this would be achieved.

A senior European diplomat attending the conference, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the meeting confirmed European suspicions that it had been intended by Mr Bush as a spoiler for a major UN conference on climate change in Bali in December.

"It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade," the diplomat said. "I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader. He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership. It was a total failure."

Of course, there was an easier way to tell that nobody in the White House was taking this thing seriously: it was named the "Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change." When it's a real initiative they take the time to come up with a snappy name and a nifty acronym. This time, they didn't bother.

Kevin Drum 4:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (86)

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And this is news? In 50 years, it will be the rich who will eminent domain your home so they can have a place to live. No skin off their nose that their shore-front home is now 20 feet under. Why would corporate owners care if 200million will be displaced by global warming, since they won't be in that number.

This isn't even news.

Posted by: Aaron on September 29, 2007 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

they're fine palm beach homes will be under water, that's why

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 29, 2007 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is unaware that MEME-SCC is redneck for Mama-Sucker, or MotherFu%*%#, which is Bush's opinion of all the conference attendees.

Posted by: absent observer on September 29, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

When it's a real initiative they take the time to come up with a snappy name and a nifty acronym.

I think "Meeting on Energy Savings and Security" fits the bill, at least if the Bushies are in charge.

Posted by: RSA on September 29, 2007 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

It strikes me as naive in the extreme for diplomats to act as though the speech was intended to demonstrate actual global leadership, but failed.

Who but a fool believes that Bush gave this speech for any other reason than to appear to take environmentalism with a modicum of seriousness to domestic audiences?

Really, Bush's contempt for the rest of the world is complete and perfect. He gives only less of a damn about it now that it has spurned him than he did beforehand.

Diplomats, I'd think, should know this.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 29, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

While we are all waiting for the government to do something about the biggest problem the world faces, how about committing indivually to a radical change in life style? Without that, nothing Bush and his predecessors say or do will make much of a difference.

Ready to give up your car? Leave behind that house in the suburbs? Cut way back on meat eating? Stick to locally grown foods? Driving a Prius doesn't get you any points, because its battery is an overall negative for the earth.

If even the activists are reluctant to make such changes, there's really no hope that others will, until it becomes absolutely unavoidable. There isn't much time left, I'm afraid. If I were young, I would be thinking hard about whether to bring more children into the world we face.

Posted by: Wataru Tenga on September 29, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

That was great, Lovejesus! Thanks for the comedy...

Posted by: john manyjars on September 29, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

...so that the Christian God can fill the world with His message of peace and love.

But if God is omnipotent, why can't he do that anyway? I don't understand. Is your God a slacker?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 29, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

After almost 7 years of this nonsense, who can honestly say they were taken in anymore? They all went along, just like the Dems go along with anything the Bushes come up with. Then they get to go home and say it was the idiot Bushes fault, nothing they could do about it.

Posted by: jussumbody on September 29, 2007 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

He Blue Girl, God (PBUH) has the right to your respect and complete submission. Don't violate that or God (PBUH) will report to the higher authorities to enforce His rights.

Posted by: gregor on September 29, 2007 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wataru Tenga - in the last year, I've:

- stoppped driving to work, instead carpooled or took the bus (no need to sell the car, I just drive it 1/10th as much now

- stopped going out to eat for lunch at work (it almost always was something with meat; I'm eating healthier, eating a lot less meat and saving money too)

- replaced all the windows in the house with double-pane ones. Super-expensive, but it should pay off in the long run.

I'm not an "activist", I'm just a slacker.

Posted by: anonymous on September 29, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl - I installed the monkey plugin, but I can't get the script to work... Some people here are really asking for pie...

Posted by: anonymous on September 29, 2007 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, KEvin.

LOL!!! There is no pleaseing you people, is there!

Finally, Bush practivally bends over backwards to accomodate you liberals, and try to throw you a bone for the environment, and you complain about that, too?!

It's like the little spoiled brat who begs and begs for a toy, and finally the poor mother gives in and buys them the toy, and then they complain that its not good enough! Really, thats what you guys sound like right now.

Bush didn't have to call that conference, you know. He could have said screw it, what are the liberals going to do for me, anyway. But he's the President of the United States during a time of war, and he's doing anything he can to get the country united.

Also, Kevin misrepresents the international assessment. Many countries applauded Mr. Bush's efforts. Poland's minister was "ecstatic" about it, and Saudi Arabia was fully on board, as were some other countries.

Nice try, though

Posted by: egbert on September 29, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ready to give up your car?

I bought an Escape hybrid after a non-injury MVA totaled the five-year-old four cylinder Ford I had been driving. I took possession on Jan 18, 2006 and the thing has less than 5000 miles on it. I take the bus, bike, or walk most everywhere I go.

Leave behind that house in the suburbs?

Bought an urban renewal coop unit in January. It employed a lot of green technology in the rehab, and is tax abated for that reason.

Cut way back on meat eating? Stick to locally grown foods?

Yep. The meat we eat, we killed ourselves. Except Buffalo. I buy that at McGonigles. I have been promoting Slow Food USA for ages, as well as "The Hundred Mile Diet." And when the question is "paper or plastic?" I say "Neither. I brought my own."


Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 29, 2007 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Off topic: GO HUSKIES GO!!!!

Posted by: Mazurka on September 29, 2007 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

The "international community" isn't interested in any solutions that don't include massive amounts of loot sucked out of the Western nations.

California's "pie in the sky" approach will blow up in their face, like Kyoto did for Europe. Look for these limits to be quietly removed in a year or two, or face a state that imports all its energy and exports its industries.

Posted by: harry on September 29, 2007 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Captain Dubya sez: "So what are all those other countries gonna do about it? Declare war on the United States? BWAHAHAHA!!!"

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 29, 2007 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody from Al Gore on down is taking climate seriously. The climate model that Gore presented in his movie shows that there cannot be anywhere enough reduction in worldwide CO2 to prevent catastrophe. Our only two hopes are that either the model is wrong or that science comes up with some yet undiscovered way to prevent global warming.

In short, the Dems, like the Reps, have no real world solution of how to deal with global warming. Nevertheless, this issue can be used to attack Republicans. Saving the world might be nice, but winning the next election is what really counts.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 29, 2007 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

I installed the monkey plugin, but I can't get the script to work... Some people here are really asking for pie...

Have you restarted Firefox since the install? (I might have restarted my computer...it has been a long time...)

If that doesn't work, maybe I can help you via email. The one on the BG,RS sidebar is my regular email. The one I use here is the group email for the group blog. I'm trustworthy.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 29, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

This time, they didn't bother.

It's like they don't even care.

Posted by: Swan on September 29, 2007 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Nevertheless, this issue can be used to attack Republicans.

Only if Republicans cooperate by consistently denying reality, which they seem eager to do.

The "international community" isn't interested in any solutions that don't include massive amounts of loot sucked out of the Western nations.

Seems fair, since for several hundred years the tide has been running the other way.

Posted by: craigie on September 29, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, on grocery bags and other things we all use:

http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php?id=7

Posted by: anonymous on September 29, 2007 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

I applaud those of you who are individually taking action to reduce your own carbon footprint. I am also making changes in my lifestyle but view these changes as being symbolic rather than having any real impact on the problem. I wonder how many people in the US could even tell you what global warming is or how they contribute to it other than by driving. Consumerism is a major culprit. The energy needed to manufacture ANYTHING, clothes, TVs, tennis rackets, you name it, is pouring carbon into the atmosphere. If the tipping point has been reached (as I think it probably has) then no amount of human intervention will change the release of CO2 and methane from deep ocean clathrates and vast terrestrial bogs in Siberia and the Arctic. Bush's whole idea of addressing global warming in a way that doesn't hurt the economy is on its face impossible.

Posted by: nepeta on September 30, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

"He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no sign of leadership."

This pretty much sums up everything about this president and his administration.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on September 30, 2007 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

And yet, the U.S. has actually reduced its consumption of fossil fuels since 2005, and has a strong expansion of renewable energy supplies underway. If present trends continue, the U.S. will have a considerably different energy mix in 10 years than it has now. And let's not forget that some avowed proponents of alternative supplies in general actually oppose them in most particular cases (Kennedys vs. the Nantucket Wind project, for example, or the Sierra Club vs. almost any construction, or Californians against expanding the wind farm in San Gorgonio Pass.) Balancing energy use and reforestation, the U.S. is not a net contributor of CO2 anyway, unlike Japan, the E.U., China and India.

I especially like the bit about China and the EU not agreeing what to do next, while nevertheless agreeing that Bush is insincere. The U.S. has, in toto, better programs than either of those, though that is admittedly not really strong praise.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on September 30, 2007 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a nice item about Kohl's putting PV panels on its rooftops. As they used to say about money: 35 million kilowatts here, 35 million kilowatts there, and pretty soon you're talking about real energy.

http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Kohl_Activates_Largest_Rooftop_Solar_Rollout_In_US_History_999.html

check back in 10 years: wind farms, PV farms, concentrated solar heat engines, cellulosic ethanol and butanol, biodiesel, nuclear plants under construction. When you buy Dell computers and components you can buy the carbon offsets along with the computer, should you choose to do so. It doesn't always look like much when viewed piecemeal (or ignored outright, as KD does), but the U.S. is making major changes to its energy portfolio.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on September 30, 2007 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

No skin off their nose that their shore-front home is now 20 feet under.

Isn't the 100-year forecast for a 3-foot rise?

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on September 30, 2007 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

35 million kilowatts

oops: should be 35 thousand kilowatts.

the 35 million kilowatts will take a few more years and more companies.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on September 30, 2007 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

this one highlights Germany:

http://www.solardaily.com/reports/German_National_Holiday_Celebration_Features_Local_Renewable_Energy_Industry_999.html

However, the U.S. installed more wind and solar in 2006-2007 (so far) than Germany, and it isn't clear which nation will in fact have the highest rate of growth of renewables in the next 10 years. One of the companies building up German manufacturing capacity in E. Germany is American, and German companies are heavily invested in the U.S. as well.

This is a good story to keep following for the next 10 years.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on September 30, 2007 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

egsmell: "LOL!!! There is no pleaseing you people, is there!"

You people? By that I guess mean there's no "pleaseing" Americans. If you don't like it here, feel free to leave.

Posted by: Kenji on September 30, 2007 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

I flipped over to salon and read an interview with Peter Goldmark, leading climate researcher, who said it well: "I would really be hard pressed to give this administration credit for anything but words," as he discussed,and as salon noted, how Bush is actually defying headwinds progress on controlling greenhouse gases.

Ah, Egbert, Bush's continued deceptions and poses. Not one to let facts get in the way of his objectives, right? One of his minions was on CSPAN's Washington Journal program very recently misleading about Bush's long-standing interest in global warming, saying Bush has done more than any other president to help with climate change.

JOSEPH GOEBBELS (German "Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda," 1897-1945) :
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it..."


Posted by: consider wisely always on September 30, 2007 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

P.S. Rolling Stone Magazine launched an investigation and examined innumerable internal documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and interviewed many people-- further revealing the Cheney and Rove-led campaign to actively mislead the public on global warming.

So, Rolling Stone Magazine has a well documented, superb article in the June 29, 2007 issue 1029 on Bush's do-nothing policy since he took office--exposing lie by lie, the white house intent to deny global warming, entitled " Six Years of Deceit." by Tim Dickinson.

This article is right in between one by Eric Bates and Jeff Goodell--the interview with Al Gore on building the movement to stop global warming, and a scholarly article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, on "What Must Be Done."
A special report on the climate crisis.

MUST READING! I have the issue itself. See if you can get these exposes online at rollingstone.com

Great artwork too, on 'Uncle Dick and Junior's amazing half truths-- Clean! Healthy! Voluntary!!'

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 30, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

It doesn't ring true to me to say that the US is decreasing fossil fuel use.

And, it also sounds false to say that the US will come close to European countries in utilization of renewables.

Fossil fuel reduction comes from three efforts:

1. Personal decisions
2. Innovative enterprise
3. Public policy and regulation

Innovative enterprise, especially those that offer savings resulting from effective (rather than PR) energy savings, will provide the lion's share of impacts.

If anything, the old money energy businesses exert an ANTI-COMPETITIVE influence in the energy economy currently.

But, without real global regulation (not volunteerism) and then consistently applied in each nation, the prospect of materially reduced greenhouse gas emissions is REMOTE.

Posted by: Richard Witty on September 30, 2007 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Do not really understand the dustup of Shrub's aides presenting his speech to him for the:

"Mimimal Effort Meeting on Evading Solutions to Climate Change"

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 30, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Can anyone give me the name of an environmentalist that doesn't consume fossil fuels at a rate that the self same enviromentalist believes will result in world catastrophy?

I'll take global warming seriously as soon as someone can give just one name......

Posted by: mark on September 30, 2007 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

"Balancing energy use and reforestation, the U.S. is not a net contributor of CO2 anyway, unlike Japan, the E.U., China and India."

hardly. US carbon sequestration absorbs more than the natural co2 output of the US but the net deficit of the natural co2 cycles only covered 11% of the manmade co2 emissions in 2003. Leaving the US as a huge net contributor.

Posted by: KB on September 30, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

I'll take global warming seriously as soon as someone can give just one name......

David Cole of Palo Alto, CA. He drives an electric car which is charged from his solar panels and other certified renewable resources, like wind and hydro. He is 100% carbon neutral. I know a few others who are probably close.

On board yet, Mark?

Posted by: Jeff S. on September 30, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I'll take global warming seriously as soon as someone can give just one name......

Ed Begley Jr
Me

Welcome aboard!

Posted by: craigie on September 30, 2007 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I'll take global warming seriously as soon as

Ya know. This kind of inherent obstreperousness just pisses me off. Leaonardo DiCaprio flew on a jet last week, so you are absolved? Sorry, but that's pathetic. Take a fucking canvas bag to the grocery store, carpool or take public transit just once a week, because it is an exercise in social responsibility. There are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them. I haven't done the math, but I think we could offset the few with very modest efforts on our part, just by virtues of our greater numbers.

And you want a name? Amory Lovens.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 30, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

The whole Bush Presidency has been a charade.

Tax cuts for the rich disguised as something different, WMD in Iraq, Saddam 9/11 connection, fake symapthy for those sent to die in Iraq, fake religosity, etc. etc. have all been charades.

Bushies have been able to get away with it because the self described left-of-the-center liberals have been too easy on them.

Posted by: gregor on September 30, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Oh - and me. As detailed above.

So let me join with my pal Craigie and welcome you aboard!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 30, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Craigie, Jeff:

Nonsense. The C used just to build an electric car is more than the lifetime allotment of C that the so called enviromentalist state will result in global destruction. Name me one AL or FE foundry that runs on solar power.

By the way, the US health care system ALONE consumes more C than the enviromentalist's state will result in the destruction of the planet.

Sadly you are both deluding yourselves.

Posted by: mark on September 30, 2007 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Craigie, Jeff, BGRS:

If you want a model of what a C neutral lifestyle looks like, think of the show 'Little House on the Prairie'.

Posted by: mark on September 30, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Craigie, Jeff, BGRS:

Actually a C neutal life style would have to be a vegan version of 'Little House on the Prairie' without using animal labor labor or fire.

mark

Posted by: mark on September 30, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

After living in France for a year, my personal carbon footprint is Yeti-sized, but I was interested to discover just how far ahead of the US the French are in terms of alternate energy; They are probably 20-30 years ahead of the US. They already have in place the expectation that government will provide competent leadership, don't hold the delusion that individual inspiration, good fortune and the free market will solve every problems, enjoy a lifestyle and climate that allows people to walk or ride bikes easily, have invested in an extraordinary public rail system and all agree that conserving energy is a good thing to do.

France gets 80% of its energy from nuclear (although that wouldn't be my preferred solution.) What also fascinated me was the number and size of windmill farms in the southwest, at least. One even finds windmills in the Black Mountains just outside of Carcassonne, the famous medieval city and premiere tourist destination.

The French economy has been sluggish for a while now, but they are in a much, much better position for the future than either China or the US. Bushco's absence of leadership on this over the past years is worse than incompetence. It is criminal.

Posted by: PTate (back in MN, sigh) on September 30, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

PTate,

Nuclear energy would be a wise partial solution to reducing CO2.

It's important to remember though that the US would have to commission a new 1GW nuclear plant a week for the next 25 years to replace our current suite of generation units - and we can't even build 1.

It would take anther 30 years, commissioning a 1GW nuclear plant per week, to move to a transportation system based on H.

mark

It is all Bush's fault - yeah.

Posted by: mark on September 30, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Actually a C neutal life style would have to be a vegan version of 'Little House on the Prairie' without using animal labor labor or fire.

Bullshit. The biological carbon cycle is self-regulating and balances naturally. It is the geologic carbon cycle that is the problem. By the way, I never claimed a zero footprint - I claimed, rightly so, a drastically reduced footprint. We may have reached the tipping point already. It might be that all we can do is slow the slide. It is incumbent upon all of us to do what we can to that end. You live on this planet, don't you? Take some personal responsibility. Aren't the wingers all about that anyway? Or is that self-reliance platform only applicable when it comes to social programs?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 30, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

mark: Can anyone give me the name of an environmentalist..

That condition was filled multiple times, mark, yet..

Name me one AL or FE foundry..

..you attempt to move the goalposts again. So are you now taking global warming seriously, as you said you would, or do you just want to admit that you were lying in the first place and that your only purpose here is to be an anti-environment troll.

Posted by: grape_crush on September 30, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone give me the name of an environmentalist that doesn't consume fossil fuels at a rate that the self same enviromentalist believes will result in world catastrophy?

I suspect that list of names would be longer than those of college Republicans who have enlisted to fight in a war that, by their view, is about the survival of civilization itself.

Posted by: RSA on September 30, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

You seem to be coming from a "Why bother?" position that is not only short-sighted and untenable, it also exhibits a tremendous level of ignorance - of the sort that only be classified as " willful" when there is so much solid, peer-reviewed, verified information readily available.

And anyway, we gave you names.

Welcome aboard. OR are you backpeddling?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 30, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS:

Being vulgar does not help your argument.

You state that you have a drastically reduced your C footprint - NONSENSE!

Even if Americans stopped using all cars, trucks, trains, planes and mass transit systems, we would still use about 4X the C that enviromentalists state will destroy the planet.

The vegan, no animal labor or fire 'Little House on the Prairie' analogy is correct.

mark

Posted by: mar on September 30, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

There are about 2 billion people on this planet that do live C neutral lives.

These are the worlds poor, that by UN poverty standards, live on less that $3 per day.

Nobody reading this blog is anywhere close to being C neutral.

Go to go. Packers game starts in 5 minutes.

Posted by: mark on September 30, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

More charades with the orwellian "Healthy Forests" and "Clear Skies" initiatives of Mr. James Connaughton, chairman of CEQ, who himself functioned as a lobbyist and claims were that he "helped polluters skirt toxic-waste clean-up."

"Lowering air quality became the Clear Skies Initiative," while allowing timber companies to step up their clear cutting was dubbed the "Healthy Forests Initiatives." (Tim Dickinson)

Interesting:
Christine Todd Whitman said Bush made no effort to mask his bureaucratic ignorance when he blankly asked "What's the CEQ?" when she asked him if the EPA would be able to call its own shots without deferring to the Council on Environmental Quality--the CEQ

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 30, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'll be nicer when you get smarter.

You haven't seen vulgar from me yet. Trust me. I am proudly and unapologetically a "vituperative, foul-mouthed blogger of the left" and not likely to put up with slack-jawed stupidity the likes of which you display. Fuckwit.

grape_crush is exactly right. You are only here to be an anti-environment troll. You are not only wrong, you are sadly misinformed. And those who are only here to troll aren't conducive to discussion, and as far as trolling goes, you are a sad imitation of some of our flaming fuckwits. You are a minor fuckwit. You have a long way to go before you are a dispenser of prime nuttery. Study up and try again later. You are just embarrassing yourself and you aren't even smart enough to realize it. Now I am done with your ignorant ass.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 30, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

**

Posted by: mhr on September 30, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Mark:

By supporting the Green Bay Packing Co., you show what a real twit you are. The poor aren't necessarily carbon neutral, as many burn wood and dung that contributed mightily to carbon dioxide build-up. Your selfish attitude of "you show me first and then I will get on board" exemplifies the modern Republican Party - a failed exercise in organized selfishness. I hope you don't have any children. The world doesn't need any more like you.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 30, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Reagan's policies dispatched the Soviet Union to the ash heap of history while liberals kept busy attacking him as a war monger.

What a deluded moron you are. The Soviets were on the way out anyway. He damned near bankrupted this country hastening the inevitable by maybe 18 months.

The Strategic Air Command, with an able assist from McDonalds and Levi's consigned the Soviet union tot he ash heap of history.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 30, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

what a wasted opportunity. these diplomats could have embarrassed that jackass on the world stage had they organized a walkout when he began his speech.

Posted by: linda on September 30, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Its amazing how we have degenerated into a "show me the person who has not sinned" argument.

Obtaining personally neutral C footprints is irrelevant. Natural processes are absorbing perhaps a quarter of what we are spewing out (it used to be half, but we are overwhelming these forces), so we need only save about 3/4 of todays output -thats a whole lot easier than the whole shooting match. What matters is getting world emissions down to reasonable levels. Cutting one's personal C footprint by this amount (over current average American rates) is pretty simple, and only requires modest lifestyle changes, such as driving smaller cars less frequently, using the right sorts of lightbulbs, buying carbon offsets etc. That is very far from LittleHouse on the Praire stuff. In fact a goodly part is becoming an early adopter of fancy new technology, which is usually fun anyway.

In any case Bush's approach is to say the major part of the solution is improving technology (which is largely true). Then quietly opposing research, and approving massive subsidies for big-oil companies.

The crux problem is that we have to improve the carbon efficiency of the economy considerably faster than the economy grows. For that it will take concerted leadership. Of course we can expect severe resistance from the libertarians, they hate GW precisely because it requires some social engineering inorder to get the economic system to price in the externalities of their selfish actions.

Posted by: bigTom on September 30, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bush claims that voluntary measures are sufficient. It seems to me that rudimentary economic considerations prove that voluntary measures are nonsense. There are two ways of reducing greenhouse gases: (1) Conservation, or (2) Carbon removal.

As for conservation, I don't see any third alternative. As for the first one, it seems painfully obvious to me that voluntary measures cannot make any significant difference at all. If a large fraction of the consumers of fossil fuels voluntarily start using less, then that will result in a price drop for fossil fuels, which will in turn increase the demand. If it's cheaper then those who don't participate in voluntary conservation measures will just consume more.

As for active efforts to remove carbon from the air, how in the world could you expect private companies to fund such massively expensive programs, if there is no direct benefit to them?

Voluntary measures taken by business is almost an oxymoron. If it's economically advantageous to do something, they are probably already doing it. If it's not advantageous, then they aren't going to do, at least not enough to make a difference.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on September 30, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.)"Take a fucking canvas bag to the grocery store, carpool or take public transit just once a week, because it is an exercise in social responsibility. There are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them. I haven't done the math, but I think we could offset the few with very modest efforts on our part, just by virtues of our greater numbers."

We must have government leadership to deal with the environment disaster ahead. I don't think modest efforts by many individuals will be able to offset the damage caused by the few because our institutions and lifestyle are built on cheap carbon-spewing oil. I remember in the 70s when friends would build vast McMansions in the distant suburbs while patting themselves on the back for using energy efficient lightbulbs.

But you are totally right to talk about social responsiblity, because what the many can do is transform the paradigm. The change has to come from the bottom up, and the more we insist, the more people will sign on. At some point, when enough people are on board, US society will hit a tipping point and at an individual level, high carbon lifestyles will become disgusting, not a high-status lifestyle option. When the US reaches that point, the necessary radical systemic change led by the government will become possible.

Imho, the reason Bush gave this lame speech was because he can feel the pressure building, but his immutable oilman's paradigm and conservative "let's-just-rearrange-the-deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic" delusions prevent him from providing any meaningful leadership. Like all hardcore conservatives, he still believes that "free market" solutions and individual choice are the solution, not the problem.

Meanwhile, I'm going to buy a bicycle and use that as a primary means of transportation as long as the MN weather allows. My son is an inspiration. He rides his bike all the time, even in blizzards and when the windchill is in the negative double digits. What is horrifying is the hostility he has experienced from auto drivers (from name-calling to opening doors in his face.) My town needs more than "bike lanes," we need commuter streets that are closed to cars. The change to a more bike-safe city will require government-level action. Individuals can only do so much.

Posted by: PTate (back in MN, sigh) on September 30, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand why we have police, when we could just have voluntary following of the law. Come to that, why invade Iraq, when we could just have voluntary, um, whatever it is that we invaded Iraq to prevent.

This voluntary business doesn't seem very, you know, serious to me.

Posted by: craigie on September 30, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

PTate

You didn't mention other French factors in energy conservation.

Gasoline is highly taxed. Diesels, which are up to 40% more efficient, are 70% of the new car market, because the government tilts the tax regime that way.

France has the best high speed train system in the world, the TGVs. So for medium distances in France (up to 500 miles) people don't fly, they take the train, as a matter of course.

French cities by and large have good public transport. Grenoble for example built a new, and excellent, tram/streetcar system.

French cities have walkable downtowns. And Paris has introduced a rent by the hour bicycle system which has been very successful in improving usage of bicycles.

France subsidises small farmers, so France produces a wider variety of produce locally than Britain or the US do.

An important lesson, perhaps, is that France did this originally for reasons of national security in the 1970s. France is energy poor: even the coal mines are mostly shut down. So France imports 90% of its fossil fuel energy.

France's electric power and public transport strategies are about protecting France from external economic disruption-- another oil crisis.

Posted by: Valuethinker on September 30, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I should add as a consequence of all this, the average Frenchman emits about 1/3rd the greenhouse gases of the average American, (and less than the average Brit or German), but GDP per head is over 80% of the US number, and productivity (per hour worked: Frenchman only work 2/3rds as many hours in a year as Americans) is higher.

Posted by: Valuethinker on September 30, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

bigTom: "Its amazing how we have degenerated into a "show me the person who has not sinned" argument."

Actually, that's the Bush/Rush crowd's number-one MO. They assail the (they think) alleged purity of someone criticizing the status quo -- as in, "You drove to the meeting on reducing CO2 emissions. Hah!" -- and thereby moot the entire argument. And the "liberal" media buys it.

Posted by: Kenji on September 30, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of walk-outs on Bush, (Linda, 1:29 p.m.comment above), I am certain that I saw the contingent of diplomats from Cuba walk out when Bush made disparaging remarks relative to
Cuba during his UN speech this past week.
The CSPAN camera had routinely panned to each seated delegation when he mentioned the name of a country, and about seven people appeared to grab their things and leave in a huff. One by one.

Other groups of diplomats looked miserable, or serious, had arms folded, not so receptive, understandably...there he was hypocritically talking about repression, torture, lack of democratic principles, etc...

Posted by: consider wisely always on September 30, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

harry at 10:32 PM
The "international community" isn't interested in any solutions that don't include massive amounts of loot sucked out of the Western nations…
All those big polluters, why they are victims, victims I tell you, of the underdeveloped, exploited international community.

ex-lax at 10:59 PM
Nobody ….is taking climate seriously…. Our only two hopes are that either the model is wrong or that science comes up with some yet undiscovered way to prevent global warming. … the Dems, like the Reps, have no real world solution of how to deal with global warming…
No Republican is taking the issue seriously, however, other, saner, people are, and those saner people are not relying on some technological Deus ex machina for a solution, but demanding a reduction of pollutants and an increase in usage of renewal energy sources to improve the situation.

MatthewRmarler at 2:12 AM
…the U.S. has actually reduced its consumption of fossil fuels since 2005….The U.S. has, in toto, better programs than either of those…
Please provide citations.

Posted by: Mike on September 30, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Valuethinker: "You didn't mention other French factors in energy conservation."

Thank you for adding excellent points to my original argument. The bottom line for Americans is that the French have a better lifestyle than Americans do AND they are consuming less energy. Why are we so afraid about what we will lose when it is clear that by not acting we are going to lose everything?

mark: "Nuclear energy would be a wise partial solution to reducing CO2."

It has definitely worked for the French, but I think the objections to nuclear energy remain greater than the advantages.

For me, the biggest objection is that even if the US could build all the nuclear reactors that conservatives want to meet the insatiable consumption of its growing population, that alternate form of energy is not available to most of the world. Do we really want to encourage ~185 nations--Iran, for example--to develop nuclear energy to replace fossil fuels? No, we need to find alternate energy sources that cannot be used to make weapons of mass destruction.

Posted by: PTate (back in MN, sigh) on September 30, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

PTate: Great postings! Very reality based. This is rare on Drum's blog and certaily in the comments section. I work in the energy sector and my pet peeve is the average enviromentalist that thinks that all we have to do is change to florescent bulbs and use mass transit (and dump Bush) and all the worlds enviromentatl problems will disappear.

I do agree with you objections to nuclear power. Maybe nuclear power could be restricted to democracies......

Even though the French consume 2/3 the C that the US does, this still is about 4 or 5 times the amount of C that enviromentalists say will result in the death of billions of people in the next decade or two. I know that the French also have fast trains but 90% of all travel in France is still via automobile.

I like that RB Peterson - he's tough! Wish we had him. I think the Vikings weakness is mainly the coach.

Mark in Madison, WI :)

Posted by: mark on September 30, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

mark is of course correct that 1/3 of current US per capita emmisions for the whole population of the earth would still swamp the climate system. Getting to where France currently is is a measure to buy time, not a desirable endstate. That will require transitioning to a carbon neutral (or even carbon negative -it is possible) world economy. Technologically that should be possible. Technology is the primary means to get there. But it will only work if we have the will to make it work, i.e. even if the low-tech high-polluting method is cheaper, we use the high-tech low-polluting method anyway. That is the inconvenient anti-libertarian truth, that we have to embrace.

Posted by: bigTom on September 30, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Kevin is unaware that MEME-SCC is redneck for Mama-Sucker, or MotherFu%*%#, which is Bush's opinion of all the conference attendees."

No, it is MEMES CC -- Carbon Copy Memes.

Posted by: Ross Best on September 30, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: those saner people are not relying on some technological Deus ex machina for a solution, but demanding a reduction of pollutants and an increase in usage of renewal energy sources to improve the situation.

Only to a very limited degree. If some American President threatened nuclear attack unless China stopped increasing their CO2 production and instead reduced it by X%, that would be a demand. A real demand will never happen (nor should it). Currently there's barely a hint that China should reduce their CO2. There's no realistic possibility that they will do so.

Sorry Mike, all that's being discussed by the most ardent global warming believers is minor CO2 reductions in a handful of countries. And, even these will not be achieved. That's the grim reality.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 30, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Knowing how corrupt the Bush administration is and how contrarian to reality they really are, I would not have been surprised to hear it called "White House Conference on Global Cooling."

Posted by: The Oracle on September 30, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

PTate. Have to admire your son. I am strictly fair weather, 50F+, and the thought of snow and slush and ice . . . !

I can't talk about France but in the UK diesel and petrol are priced fairly similarly. The reason everyone is jumping into diesels (for many years now) is that you get significantly greater mpg with diesel. How does 48+/US gallon grab you? In a car that's fun to drive.

Pricing a particular product higher will not in itself crash an economy.

Why do Western Europeans and Japan have broadly comparable economies as the US but use significantly less energy per capita to achieve same? 70 or 60% as measured in oil equivalent.
Yes, they don't "have" to drive so far but that's only a small part of the answer. And yes, they use public transport far more. They have consistently priced energy higher which concentrates the mind wonderfully. All the governments decided independently and long ago it was in their interest to discourage inefficient use, particularly of petroleum products which represented capital outflow, so these are and have been generally 2-3 times as expensive as here. Hence the smaller, gas/diesel-efficient cars

Why has this not adversely affected their economies? Because it is only a bias in the economy. Taxes raised on gas means lower taxes elsewhere (disregarding their overall higher tax rates).

As long as the pricing change is not dislocating, the economy will adjust smoothly just as it has here as gas has moved from $1 to $3 the last few years.

Electricity is obviously the neatest vehicular solution but with severe restrictions so far, and the obvious "clean" sources are wind, wave, tide, hydro, solar and geothermal. Carbon-based production can include sequestration or biological CO2 capture.

Whatever the source, including nuclear, looking at the CO2 footprint, one must look at the whole cost, from birth to death, building to demolishing/recycling of the plant, the costs of the other waste -- whether spent nuclear fuel or mercury or particulates -- as well as the process cost during production.

The best way to do this is to have an effective CO2 (or pollution) tax which feeds through everything. That would mean higher taxes on petroleum, natural gas, coal and all forms of energy production that produces CO2 (or pollution).

The stimulus would be to reduce demand for those fuels unless they could effectively recapture the CO2, and to build cheaper sources of energy that do not produce CO2.

Given that we need to stabilize the CO2 levels of the planet, it is CO2 that is the target, not the method of energy production. So this tax needs to rise over time until the goal is achieved. That's market economics.

And every industrialized and industrializing economy needs to follow this path. It's the agrement of differing goals for the developed and developing countries, and the pricing mechanisms to be followed to reach those goals, along with monitoring and sanctions for non-achievement that requires all the heavy lifting.

Our kids' world depends on it.

Good thing we have a real world leader here.

Hah! 8 years wasted.

Posted by: notthere on October 1, 2007 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

Questions:

What effect does solar activitiy on the sun have on the earths global temperature? I hear similar global warming is happening on Mars.

What effect does percipitation have on the climate change? No current model on global warming includes this.

What effect does the shifting magnetic core of the earth have on global climate change.

What is the normal temperature of the earth and what is the normal variation?

Why was it actually warmer in the 1800's?

If you were a NASA scientist offered $750,000 would you be willing to say that we are go through global warming?

When you can answer these simple questions and Al Gore and Leo decide the problem with global warming is bad enough to change their travel and home environments, I'll change.

By the way, George Bush is closer to being carbon neutral than Al Gore or Leo. Just of few of the methods he uses are a cystern and a geo thermal pump. As far as I know, he owns one house which is probably smaller and requires less heat/air than any one of the homes Al or Leo owns. Hypocrits!

Posted by: JD on October 1, 2007 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK

Questions:

What effect does solar activitiy on the sun have on the earths global temperature? I hear similar global warming is happening on Mars.


What effect does percipitation have on the climate change? No current model on global warming includes this.

What effect does the shifting magnetic core of the earth have on global climate change.

Posted by: jd on October 1, 2007 at 7:26 AM | PERMALINK

You're wasting your time asking tough questions like that here, JD. One thing I've learned after lurking here a while is that the people that hang out here can only answer your questions with facts and rational thought. They just don't understand the power of wishful thinking, the Secret, or the Prayer of Jabez. Hell, many of them even believe in evolution.

Posted by: Nemo on October 1, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Well, we have only 30 years of data collected on solar activity. But Stanford has some good data - in their models, and they are very generous in their allowances - they determined that the natural solar cycles are responsible for, at most, one quarter of the actual, physical changes observed. Other sources put that much lower. I'll see if I can find one of them.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on October 1, 2007 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

What effect does solar activitiy on the sun have on the earths global temperature? I hear similar global warming is happening on Mars.

Yeah, there's a real problem with rising sea levels there. [eyeroll]

Posted by: Gregory on October 1, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

notthere: "How does 48+/US gallon grab you? In a car that's fun to drive."

Yep. that's the mileage we got in the car we drove in France, a 3-series BMW. Unbelieveable, really.

One returns to the US with more visceral indignation about how terrible bad awful Republican "leadership" has been, how much they have cost us. Eight years and billions of dollars doing the wrong things. Americans have no idea.

Posted by: PTate in MN on October 1, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Also, Kevin misrepresents the international assessment. Many countries applauded Mr. Bush's efforts. Poland's minister was "ecstatic" about it, and Saudi Arabia was fully on board, as were some other countries.

What are some of the other countries? 2 does not equal many. And Saudi Arabia will applaud whatever Bush does, news flash - Bush is kind of tight with the Saudi elite, and the Saudi elite are rich because of American oil consumption. They know Bush's meeting is all smoke and mirrors, and that is because that's how they want it. So of course they're gonna applaud it.

Posted by: Joshua on October 1, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Slow news day, huh? The GUARDIAN reports that some unnamed Eurocrats thought they're just morally better than the US. They've seen right through the Administration's latest whatever... Ooooo-wee. There are about 100 such thumbsuckers written every single day of the year in the Europress.

Posted by: Simon on October 1, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl --

If JD -- or is it jd? Or are there 2 entities? -- was interested in facts and rational thought he would look it up himself, but he's too busy mixing the Kool-Aid and making tinfoil hats for his fellow non-thinking buddies.

Posted by: notthere on October 1, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

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