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View Diary: A taxing compromise on Keystone XL (26 comments)

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  •  I have no problems with stopping Keystone (0+ / 0-)

    however do it for the right reasons, and don't oversell it.

    Articles like this: Record High for Global Carbon Emissions


    ec. 2, 2012 — Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are set to rise again in 2012, reaching a record high of 35.6 billion tonnes -- according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project, co-led by researchers from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
    make it abundantly clear that Keystone and the Tarsands themselves are minutia in the larger scheme of things (heck, global emissions increased MORE in one year than the fully developed tarsands!!)

    The bottom line is that the battle against global warming has been lost.

    We really, really need to shift our focus towards something like a stiff carbon tax that will provide funding to mitigate the current and in the future escalating costs associated with global climate change.

    •  I've usually argued better forestry would help (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark Mywurtz

      If we could stop the fires that regularly savage Sumatra and Borneo peatswamps, we'd be hugely better off, but that's hard to do from Minnesota.

      However, a huge amount of Tar Sands are moving through Minnesota. We can stop that!

      We could also try to manage public lands and state forests for climate, biodiversity as well as resource extraction to make $ for schools, or carve out some sort of deal that puts MN state forests into a carbon sequestration scheme that generates state revenue for schools, and replaces the logging/mining revenues that cause state lands to be spoiled in pursuit of dollars. Public land managers should be cut into this tax, or any cap and dividend scheme, to pursuit mitigation for greenhouse gas emissions.

      Pipelines are obviously dangerous and easy to mobilize opposition against them. Harder to educate people to the catastrophic loss of biodiversity and the human misdirection of photosynthetic potential on 40%+ of all terrestrial lands now in agricultural production, etc.

      Tim Flannery has useful ideas and provokes other serious scientists and some strong policy recommendations:

      “Trees for Security” explains how trees get rid of CO2 pollution already in the atmosphere. Plants are astonishingly effective as carbon eaters, able to remove approximately 8% of atmospheric carbon per year (p 65). But plants die and rot, releasing the carbon again. In northern parts, forests can actually contribute to global warming, that is, if a dark forest replaces snow-covered land its effect in sequestering carbon would be more than offset by its greater absorption of sunlight (p 67). Tropical forests accordingly are especially important for carbon sequestration. Yet in just one century half the tropical rain forests have disappeared. In some countries, like Papua New Guinea, de-forestation is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions (p 68). Flannery recommends sponsorship of projects to preserve rain forests, to be managed through the Internet, with the results on reliability made available (p 70).

      In “Revolution in the Feedlot,” Flannery makes a pitch for pyrolysis, or charcoal production, arguing that it not only generates energy, but the charcoal improves soil and sequesters carbon permanently (p 77). A study published in 2008 in Nature gives the numbers, which are encouraging, but the process is expensive (p 82).

      Flannery’s “Animal Solutions” chapter argues for holistic management techniques, giving as an example those pioneered by Allan Savory. In this method cattle are moved periodically in small paddocks; they eat everything in their grazing area and leave dung, which enriches the soil for future growth. Larger numbers of cattle can be raised on the same amount of land, and with less use of medicines, for the moving about breaks the parasite cycle (p 87).

      In “Farm-based Ecological Efficiency” Flannery makes similar arguments for “sustainable enterprise,” combining the production of eggs, broilers, beef, hogs and rabbits, citing the practices of Joel Salatin (p 94). “Eggmobiles” are moved about over the land; the chicken manure enriches the soil and pigs turn it over. Certainly what Flannery describes is a far better life for the animals concerned, and he condemns conventional feedlot intensive farming (p 97). But he calls vegetarianism “faddism” (p 98).

      His final chapter, “Age of Sustainability?” gives Flannery’s sad estimate of a better than even chance that humanity will pass the point of no return (p 100). He suggests that the 8th commandment, not to steal, should also forbid stealing from future generations (p 103). He ends with another look at Gaia. The injustices, conflict and pestilence of the 21st century will not be its defining challenge, which rather is “to bring sustainability to a species that has not known such a condition since it manufactured its first tool” (p 107). He hopes that Gaia “will achieve intelligent control” of the world, or the blind watchmaker may tinker on as in the last 4 billion years. “If we fail, all of our species’ great triumphs, all of our efforts, will have been for naught” (p 107).

      Peter Singer’s response to the book tackles Flannery’s pro-meat analysis, arguing no less than that not eating beef is the best way for people in affluent nations to achieve a rapid reduction in their contributions to climate change (p 132).

      Emphasis is mine.
      •  Do you want massive amounts of tar sands (0+ / 0-)

        to be moving through Minnesota by rail instead?

        To me, that's not * that * much of an improvement!

        And is the Peter Singer that you're quoting the same one that is against abortion but OK with infanticide?   While I totally am on board with an anti-meat agenda - somehow the movement needs a better spokesperson than that!!

        •  It is possible to stop Tar Sands (0+ / 0-)

          And yes, based on our experience with the 1979 Bemidji pipeline spill, rail is safer, more likely to be cleaned up than pipelines.

          All pipelines spill, and engineering shortcuts take place in pipelines. Until we can turn of tar sands flow via rail cars, rail cars better than new pipelines.

          •  Besides funding green energy (0+ / 0-)

            A pipeline tax will need to fund public costs from from pipeline leaks and breaks, and enough inspectors to try to prevent that from happening. But mostly it needs to fund oil's eventual replacement.

            •  I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion (0+ / 0-)

              even when all evidence is to the contrary . . .

              Sixteen environmental groups signed a letter sent to Canadian National CEO Claude Mongeau this week to express opposition to any plans to ship product from the Alberta oil sands west by rail

              “Unfortunately, ... there are far greater fatality, injury and environmental risks when transporting crude oil by rail than by pipeline,” the letter said.

              “Should CN decide to try to move forward with its proposal, it would face major opposition and risks to the company. We urge you to stop any forward movement with shipping tar sands oil by rail through British Columbia.”

              It cites a study last year by the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning American think tank that has endorsed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast after comparing the safety and accident statistics of rail, road and pipelines.


              Just saying, when environmental groups and right wing think tanks agree on something, methinks you have to have pretty strong empirical evidence to dispute their combined conclusions.

              Because really, when do those two groups agree on * anything * ?

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