Skip to main content

View Diary: The U.S. is ground zero for climate change (172 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  No, look at the numbers. (0+ / 0-)

    That article projects a worst case by 2020 of about 400 million tons of CO2/year from Alberta tar sands oil.

    Current world emissions are about 30,000 million tons CO2/year.

    So worst case the tar sands would account for perhaps 1.3% of emitted CO2, and at that only be displacing oil from some other source, so the total CO2 reduction would be inconsequential.

    I'll continue to call that "a drop in the bucket" . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 05:58:11 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  We need to be cutting emissions, not growing them (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Emmy, play jurist

      Your approach would have us suffer death by 1000 cuts. The XL is but one of the pathways out of the tar sands that  needs to be stopped. The whole damn tar sands deposit needs to stay in the ground. Digging them up will likely create methane producing sludge ponds - a continuous long-term GHG source.

      Here's the source for the Guardian's numbers.

      You really need to change your perspective to understand what needs to be done to avoid massive damage to the world's crop production by drought and heat.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 06:59:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your approach (0+ / 0-)

        guarantees runaway global warming while blathering about a pipeline that won't make a dimes worth of difference in world CO2 production in the few remaining few years that matter.  A pipeline that has nothing to do with "drought and heat" (which are coming whether it gets built or not).  A pipeline the absense of which will reduce worldwide oil consumption not at all.

        It's a pipeline that is simply inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

        That's my "perspective" . . . that we need to be addressing the real problem on a scale that really matters rather than pandering to the "feel good" delusions that won't actually fix anything.

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 07:27:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Large amounts of natural gas are burned up (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Emmy, play jurist

          to produce dilbit from the tar sands. Vast areas of forest are destroyed. Vast amounts of water are polluted. Thousands upon thousands of animals are killed by habitat destruction. It's not just the f!n oil. and this isn't even oil. It's far more abrasive, far more toxic and much harder to clean up when it spills which it will do more than regular crude does because it's so abrasive..

          I'm all for cutting demand but you are missing many parts of the picture here.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

          by FishOutofWater on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:11:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, I'm not (0+ / 0-)

            "missing many parts of the picture here" . . . and I do wish you'd stop with the insults . . . you know far less, both about me and what I know about "the picture here" than you seem to imagine that you do . . .

            Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

            by Deward Hastings on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:31:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This argument is rediculously bad. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          letsgetreal, AoT

          Ok, third comment on the same point, but it's really an important point. You're repeating a talking point that derives from poor reporting on a recent Nature study. Here's how the media covered it:

          But here's how the actual scientist who published the study sees things:

          Your drop in the bucket argument starts from bad assumptions of business as usual. Neil Swart actually shows on his website that if we exploit all of the tar sands it will represent around 75% of our share of emissions in a 2c scenario. That's not insignificant. Yes, we should have other priorities too and I do believe the Blockade movement is going to target coal export terminals as well as new pipelines. However, downplaying the tar sands is sort of like saying "I don't see what the big deal about where you sit on the bus is" during the civil rights struggle. Yeah, there were worse things about Jim Crow. So what. That's not really the point.

          Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

          by play jurist on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 03:53:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mispelled "ridiculous"... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Also, that's not the most civil way to put my point. Sorry. I get fired up about this issue. I know you're arguing in good faith.

            Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

            by play jurist on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:13:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's OK . . . (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I (mis)spell it that way myself sometimes.  But there are several other things that you’ve written that are more significantly wrong.  For one I don’t read the Huffington Post, so I don’t get any “talking points” there (or anywhere else, for that matter ) . . . I’m calling it as I see it, based on a fairly wide ranging reading of current literature and my own understanding of the physics of the situation.  And of Human folly . . .

              Second:  the problem is immediate.  It doesn’t really matter what happens “if we exploit all of the tar sands” . . . that eventuality, were it to occur, would be so far in the future as to make no difference.  Global warming is happening now, in a world with minimal tar sands production, and will continue unabated (absent other changes) if there is no tar sand production at all.  Granted that tar sand production is “dirty”, and worse in many ways than most of the alternatives.  But the “worseness” is relative, not absolute . . . and it’s a small fraction of the real problem, the consumption of fossil fuels overall.

              Third:  the problem is global.  While the US has historically been the worst contributor to greenhouse gasses, and remains among the worst of the worst, the problem has grown.  It is hard (for me, anyway) to argue that Americans are somehow “entitled” to a greater per-capita energy consumption than any of the other 6 billion plus people on the planet, and most of those “other” people see it that way too.  They want what we have . . . and if we don’t want them to get it the way we did (burning coal and oil) then it’s incumbent on US to help them get it in some less destructive way.

              And fourth:  the problem is a crisis.  We are past the proverbial “tipping point”, perhaps not so far past that we cannot, with presently available technology, claw our way back over to the “safe” side, but awfully close to that far past.  Any “solution” that talks about 2050 is too little, too late, and if sequestration is not a major part of that “solution” it won’t matter anyway.

              My “issue” with Keystone is not that I think it should be built . . . of course it shouldn’t, and the tar sands should not be exploited (sorry, Canada).  But stopping Keystone is not “the answer”.  Stopping Keystone doesn’t even really matter.  If what actually needs to be done is done then the whole tar sands endeavor will collapse under its own weight, and Keystone will simply become unnecessary.  It is a symptom, not the disease, and “protesting” it is rather like taking cough medicine for lung cancer.

              Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

              by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:19:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you for this clear exposition of your POV (0+ / 0-)

                Now I understand you better.

                look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

                by FishOutofWater on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:24:02 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  That all makes sense... (0+ / 0-)

                but it doesn't do anything to help your claim that the tar sands are a drop in the bucket, which I think I pretty effectively refuted.

                Also, I don't think anyone says that stopping any one pipeline is "the answer." Maybe you can provide some links or quotes indicating who you're arguing against.

                Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

                by play jurist on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 07:39:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not "refuted" at all . . . (0+ / 0-)

                  and not a "claim" either . . . just do the arithmetic.  Compare CO2 from Athabasca with CO2 worldwide, and tell me that it's more that a "drop".

                  Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                  by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:05:24 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Wrong number, as I said. (0+ / 0-)

                    Compare CO2 from tar sands with CO2 we can emit and stay at 2c.

                    At least try to adress the actual counter-argument I'm giving. I get that you don't read HuffPo. That was hardly my point. What you keep repeating is the media take-away from a recent Nature study; HuffPo was just the first one I saw. However, it's not the only relevant number. I provided a link to one of the author's website explaining and providing more context and more relevant numbers than were chosen for reporting. To repeat, the tar sands are around 75% of our fair share of remaining CO2 sequester in a 2c scenario. Your number assumes business as usual, which is to say it assumes as a premise that we don't solve the problem then derives as a conclusion that stopping the tar sands won't solve the problem. That's kind of a trivial point. We have to start with a scenario in which the problem is solved, and that's got to involve nations at least aiming to hit their fair share numbers. Politically, that's going to involve some global compromise because we're way, way over under the status quo, but the fair share number has to be a baseline for understanding the issue.

                    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

                    by play jurist on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:12:38 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't read "media take-aways" either . . . (0+ / 0-)

                      there's not much in the secondary (or is it tertiary) literature that is anything but pablum for popular consumption, and it is written mostly by "reporters" who themselves have not a clue (and great editorial pressure to misreport if they do).  I have no use whatsoever for the "2c scenario", either . . . it doesn't, and won't, work that way . . . as that presumes some sort of attainable equilibrium point that doesn't exist.

                      As for "the tar sands are around 75% of our fair share" that's a hypothetical piled on a hypothetical . . . the tar sands are not the only source of oil, so the size of that particular resource doesn't matter.  Climate change will have overwhelmed us long before it gets close to total exploitation.  Shutting down the tar sands operation would/will have exactly no effect on oil consumption over the next 20 years.

                      And as for our "fair share" . . . if global warming matters at all it is zero.   As in none.  It's negative, actually, if we take responsibility for the CO2 that we have emitted already, and act to remediate it.    

                      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                      by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:55:02 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

      •  What I don't understand (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is why you post like this when you obviously know better.

        You included the "Arctic ice death spiral", so you must know that the Keystone pipeline, whether built or not, will not change the zero date by a week, one way or another.  The Keystone pipeline, whether built or not, will not change atmospheric CO2 concentration by even 1 ppm over the next 50 years.  It is not the problem.

        The "death by 1000 cuts" to which you refer is in fact "death by a thousand pointless protests" . . . protests which misdirect attention and dissipate energies that should be directed toward real solutions to the very real problem that we face.

        I have long since "got it" that the "popular position" here on dKos is to understate the problem so that the then proferred "we've got to do something" solution doesn't seem so . . . absurd. Maybe that's where you're coming from, a sort of "they can't handle the truth" perspective that that hopes to lead them on without scaring them so much that they turn away.  But I don't believe that works any more . . . it becomes just another form of denialism.

        "It's not so bad that we can't fix it with half-way measures" just doesn't do it for me any more . . .

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:26:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Honestly, I don't know how fast it will get bad (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I've seen stuff on Arctic CO2 and methane that scares the crap out of me. You might be right that this is too small an effort to make a significant impact, but I know we have to get traction and start somewhere.

          If you surmise that I have been holding back on the really extreme possibilities, well, you're right. It's very hard to figure the odds on them. I read the posts on the Arctic Methane Emergency Group's pages and I just don't know how to get a handle on it.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

          by FishOutofWater on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:57:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  AMEG is hard . . . (0+ / 0-)

            Nevin's "Arctic Sea Ice" blog is probably better for fleshing our a (slightly) more "moderate" extremist position.  It's true that we don't have much of a handle on when the clathrate and permafrost methane releases will begin their own spiral, but it's unlikely that it will be more than a decade or two.  It's also true that multi-year sea ice is a "dead man walking" . . . it's not over to the last cube quite yet, but it might as well be.

            I'd say that the "safe" bet is that the first "ice free" week in the Arctic Ocean  is three years out, and the first "ice free" month is five.  After that all the energy that has been going to melting the last of the mult-year ice will turn to warming water (increasing the ice-free time) and melting . . . yep . . . permafrost and clathrates.  It will (probably) take a decade or two for the methane increase to become itself a major contributor to warming (there's still a lot of cold water and cold dirt up there), but 400 ppm CO2 (and rising) is by itself more than enough.  And that means that all the "drought and bad weather" that you talk about is already locked in . . . it's too late to do anything about it.

            So where are all the nuclear plants that could be displacing coal and producing carbon-neutral synfuels and getting us started on the path to sequestration?  Oh, sorry, maintaining the anti-nuclear religion is more important than actually saving "the world as we knew it" . . . we'll just protest a pipeline instead (and get our oil somewhere else).  And build some more windmills (if we can figure out where the wind will be after the Arctic ice is all gone).

            Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

            by Deward Hastings on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 09:29:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  WPPS & financial meltdown at TMI did in U.S. nukes (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wordwraith, jfromga

              Extreme mismanagement by incompetent utilities did what a modest number of protesters could never do. They made the financial risks of nuclear power unacceptable to investors.

              Russian incompetence at Chernobyl soured European public opinion on nuclear power.

              We're not talking about minor management mistakes.

              We're talking about full bore driving-that-train-high-on-cocaine catastrophic failures.

              NNadir is right about fossil fuel pollution killing millions but nothing says disaster like Chernobyl.

              look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

              by FishOutofWater on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 05:49:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nothing says "disaster" (0+ / 0-)

                like an ice free Arctic Ocean.

                And that won't get "fixed" with windmills (or by "stopping Keystone").

                Band Aids and other "feel good" efforts that (perhaps) salve the conscience but won't solve the problem are, from my point of view, just another form of denial and defeatism.

                Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:29:54 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  I don't know (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I'm paying up front for some nuclear plants backed by the federal government and it is still nothing but delays and bad news for finishing on time and on budget.


              Building these things is a major engineering undertaking, one that I suspect pushes the edge of our ability.  Latest delay, the reactor vessel was delivered, but the rail line has problems getting it out of port because of the size and need to keep alignment of the cars carrying it, and they got stuck and returned to port.

        •  I await your diary that explains what exactly (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          play jurist, AoT

          that we should be doing, because all I see you doing is complaining that stopping keystone is a waste of time.

          great - what wouldn't be a waste of time ?

          big badda boom : GRB 090423

          by squarewheel on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 10:55:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  BTDT (0+ / 0-)

            although granted in comments not in diaries.  Can't help it if you don't read them, and really, it shouldn't be necessary for me to even explain . . . if I can figure it out other (smarter) people can (and many have).

            The "problem" with oil (from a climate perspective) is not the production, but the consumption.  Stop Keystone and the oil will be mined somewhere else.  Stop burning the stuff and Keystone won't matter.

            Did you really need me to tell you that?

            The "Keystone" alternative?  Tax extracted oil.  $1/gallon immediate (on gas, diesel and heating oil), incrementing up by 25 cents/year, ongoing.  Exempt carbon-neutral syn-fuel.  The result, I expect, would be a rapid adoption of more efficient cars (and transportation in general), and a proliferation of sources of "alternate" (carbon neutral) fuels.  And no pipeline . . .

            Not much different for coal . . . alternatives exist, so shut it down.

            And we need to get cracking on large-scale sequestration . . .

            Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

            by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 06:56:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  ok - a carbon tax - that works (0+ / 0-)

              I think you are missing the point that keystone, and tar sands, are a particular disaster environmentally because it requires putting carbon into the air to mine it.

              and sequestration ? really ?  never gonna work.  it's a way to make the coal producing states feel like they will always produce coal - when it's one of the first things we should get rid of.

              gotta find the replacement energy though - and instead of doing that we're screwing around wasting valuable time and money and idiocies like sequestration.

              big badda boom : GRB 090423

              by squarewheel on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 08:58:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You don't seem to grasp (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                either the meaning or the necessity of "sequestration".  400 ppm is too much.  350 ppm is probably too much.  We have to remove what we have dumped into the atmosphere already.

                It is not enough to just stop adding more.

                Oh, and, "putting carbon into the air to mine it"?  I guess you've never seen a well-head flair.  Sure, tar sand mining wastes even more, but it's a marginal issue.  Stop oil consumption and it goes away anyway.

                Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

                by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:11:28 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (125)
  • Community (58)
  • 2016 (45)
  • Elections (37)
  • Environment (35)
  • Media (34)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (33)
  • Republicans (31)
  • Hillary Clinton (30)
  • Law (28)
  • Barack Obama (27)
  • Iraq (27)
  • Civil Rights (25)
  • Climate Change (24)
  • Jeb Bush (24)
  • Culture (23)
  • Economy (20)
  • Bernie Sanders (18)
  • Labor (18)
  • White House (16)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site