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For those of you who missed Meet the Press yesterday, the interview by Tom Brokaw with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi largely revolved around energy. Watch the clip HERE (last I heard, we can't embed them here yet). The juicy bits to which I refer begin about 15 minutes in.

Brokaw seemed to have a bone to pick about the Dem's reversal on offshore drilling in response to the public in general supporting it in current polling. Overall, Pelosi did a decent job addressing Brokaw's repeated attacks on this issue.

However, when the topic shifted to natural gas, that's when Pelosi blew it as she repeatedly referred to natural gas as "a good alternative to fossil fuels."

This NY Times article highlights the non-renewable, carbon-based aspect of natural gas in its 2nd paragraph:

Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel, releasing less of the emissions that cause global warming than coal or oil.

What I'm sure Speaker Pelosi meant to say when she repeatedly called it "alternative to fossil fuels" was an alternative to coal and oil. But the fact that she, at least unconsciously, has blurred the reality that natural gas is also a limited fossil fuel source that leads to global warming is problematic. The fact that Brokaw didn't find the need to correct her repeated misspeakings makes the issue more disturbing.

Call this youthful angst (I am only 37 years old), but simple gaffes like this illustrate the fact that these relative geezers don't seem to fully grasp the enormity of the problems we must face with dire urgency.

Using non-renewable fuels is killing the planet.

And not simply because they add carbon to our atmosphere.

Granted, any sensible energy plan must include an increase in natural gas. But this shift is beginning to look like getting a heroin junkie to switch to "safer" crack cocaine.

The fact that our Speaker invests in the new gas projects make me skeptical that we will be able to do what truly needs to be done, something along the lines of Al Gore's 10 year plan.

There are many risks involved with natural gas too.

"We see natural gas as potentially a very important transitional fuel, but we can’t use it at the expense of our natural resources," said Kate Sinding, a senior lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who warned that water-intensive drilling in shale could threaten local water supplies and aquifers.

Much of the geopolitical strife facing the world in the 21st century is often pinned on the battles over these various types of fossil fuel. Despite that Afghanistan is utterly devoid of oil, its importance as being merely a potential transit route for natural gas is often cited as the reason war has raged there for most of the past 3 decades.

Any long term energy plan which relies heavily on natural gas will merely slow our demise. Sure, a slower destruction of the planet is better in the big picture. But the goal is to reverse the effects of global warming, not postpone them by a decade or two.

Originally posted to The Laughing Planet on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 01:41 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for a visionary energy policy (12+ / 0-)

    as opposed to dinosaur thinking and fossil fuels.

    "A noun, a verb, P.O.W." John McCain vs. Sick Kids

    by LaughingPlanet on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 01:42:45 AM PDT

  •  The joke's on you, Laughing Planet... (3+ / 0-)

    The Devil planted that "fossil fuel" to fool you.

  •  I was wondering why she was saying that (6+ / 0-)

    at the time. It certainly seemed like a fairly feeble defense when Brokaw called her on her investments.

    "Families is where are nation finds hope, where wings take dream." - George Bush Jr

    by bobcatster on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 01:55:21 AM PDT

  •  I really can't fucking stand her (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, farleftcoast, Jagger

    There.  I said it.

    She might as well be a Repub for all the good she does the Democrats.  And the country.  And the planet.

  •  Geezer here (6+ / 0-)

    born in the olden days of 1955.  

    But I share your angst at the sloppy rhetoric I constantly hear.  I have sort of given up on everyone.  

    But no, I must have hope.  Here are my gripes at the energy rhetoric:

    Avoiding carbon based fuels is one issue.

    Developing renewable sources of energy is a separate issue.

    A sustainable energy plan is the overall issue.

    The timetable of an energy plann is important, as in, which idea can be implemented within the shortest time, to make big changes quickly, and then which idea is much better, but will take decades to put in place.

    Initial cost, and long term cost in maintenance, of the machinery of energy production, and of better vehicles, is a separate issue.

    Every discussion of energy and global warming should include what I just wrote.  I have never seen any such listing of issues, and stating them as being separate.  Just me.

    And, less meat consumption.

    And, contraception, contraception, contraception.

    Without effective contraception, all the other ideas collapse in disaster.

  •  Democrats need to be open about this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auapplemac, rmonroe, LaughingPlanet

    We've got to accept the fact that not all of these fuel alternatives are going to be perfect. What we do is we use natural gas, we use nuclear until we're able to get by on solar and wind.

    •  to stop global warming (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      natural gas is perfectly useless. It's just another CO2-emitting fossil fuel we need to stop burning, no matter how much it might cost Nancy Pelosi or T. Boone Pickens personally. Or you.

      It's possible to get sun and wind going a lot more quickly than it is to build more nuclear plants.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 02:27:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's probably a lot more expensive (0+ / 0-)

        I'm a wrong?

        •  Nukes Are HUGELY Expensive (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It is much cheaper to build solar and wind.


          The Bushiter's Iraq 2004 - 1268 Dead, about 25K Medivacs and 9000 Maimed... It's the Bushiter Way, wasting other people's money and lives. And it's worse now.

          by RedMeatDem on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 06:37:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  We're not gonna stop global warming (5+ / 0-)

        The whole world is in denial right now.

        What are those five stages again?

        Maybe we're in the "bargaining" stage.  We still think there's gotta be something we can do to make it not happen.  Quick!  Change a lightbulb!  Buy a prius!

        Ain't gonna have any affect.  The train's already left the station.

        What we need to be talking about is how we're going to survive and how civilization is going to look in a radically different ecosystem, one where the ice caps are gone, the ocean currents are completely different, and there are massive displacements of huge populations of desperate people.

        But nobody wants to talk about that because that's SCARY and admits that we're powerless.

        And no politician wants to admit that we're powerless.

        •  Oh, I don't think we're (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard, JG in MD


          I just think we're focusing on the wrong things right now.

          As I understand it, even if we completely stopped every carbon-producing activity right now, world wide, there's still so much carbon in the air that the climate change would still happen.

          And yet people focus on reducing the amount of carbon we put out.  It's not a bad idea, but as stated, will do nothing to prevent global warming.

          We should instead, be focusing on technological solutions to reduce or mitigate the amount of carbon in the air.

          I refuse to accept there's not a technological way to "scrub" the air of carbon.  All we have to do is find it.

          This country will NOT survive President McCain. Repeat until you get it.

          by Whimsical on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 04:46:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good luck with that. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JG in MD, Inky99

            The problem is no human will. The lag time makes global warming very deceptive. Most people still don't believe it's happening no less that they should change their whole lives to slow it down.

            •  That's because most GW people (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jagger, Inky99, LaughingPlanet

              are irritating scolds and come across as : "You are an EVIL person who is DOOMING the Earth. You must immediately give up well pretty much everything you enjoy, from late nights on the computer (uses too much electricity, dontcha know) to the weekend drives to Atlantic City (in a GAS powered car you wretch!), and you must give them up for-ev-er." And then they wonder why they don't get listened to.

              First, find a technological way to "scrub" carbon from the air; then ask people to temporarily reduce their carbon output by a percentage while that technology is implemented and I guarantee you'll get a much more positive answer.

              This country will NOT survive President McCain. Repeat until you get it.

              by Whimsical on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 07:21:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  True dat. (0+ / 0-)

                A book called "Break Through" addressing this type of whiner env'al policy as one of the reasons we have lost the battles and are losing the war thus far.

                It's useful to have things be shaped in the way of a positive message as oppose to "Don't this & reduce that".

                Barack does a great job of this, BTW, with his 5 million green jobs speech. He is more optimistic than Gore, at least from my perspective.

                "A noun, a verb, P.O.W." John McCain vs. Sick Kids

                by LaughingPlanet on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 09:37:57 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  There are these things called "trees" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                that are excellent at reducing CO2 and pumping good fresh O2 into the air.

                Unfortunately we're cut down a great many of them.

                God put everything on this earth that we need.  But we've stuck out our tongues at him/her, thinking we can do better.

                We're all guilty.  And we're all victims at the same time.

                I didn't choose this civilization.  But ironically, unless I'm rich I can't reduce my carbon footprint very much.  Hardly any of us can.

                I would love to put solar panels on my house (I rent), I would love to own a house that I can engineer to be completely carbon neutral (did I mention that I rent?) and I would love to not have to drive a car anywhere (I live in California and work freelance all over Southern Cal).  

                We're all basically stuck.

              •  there aren't many friendly, nice ways (0+ / 0-)

                to tell either a human or a society that they are in the process of committing suicide and that the choice is to choose massive and immediate change or have a worse fate imposed.

                Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                by alizard on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 06:39:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's because that statement isn't credible. (0+ / 0-)

                  People have been parroting a version of that statement since the days of Thomas Malthus.

                  Our entire history can be viewed as a race been knowledge (technology) and extinction.  Knowledge/Technology has won that race every single time so far, and now all of a sudden you're trying to tell me it can't win this time? Hogwash. I don't buy it for a nanosecond.

                  And before accusations start flying: I fully accept man made climate change; but I also understand human nature. To wit: you will never get enough people world wide to lower their carbon levels to prevent climate change. It's a fine idea but it will never be accepted enough to solve the problem so making it your main focus is a serious mistake.

                  I repeat what I said above: we need to make the main focus finding a technological way to duplicate what trees do on a larger and quicker scale in terms of scrubbing carbon from the air.  I have a friend who works in a "clean" room assembling computer components. They have a system that removes 99.99% of contaminants (including carbon) from the air. Don't tell me there's not a way to do something similar on a country, if not a planetwide scale.

                  Technology is key: scrub the air, offer people better alternatives to carbon that will let them do most, if not all of the same things they do now, and you'll have a winning message that will be embraced by the public.

                  Keep scolding people and offering nothing in return, and society really will collapse, because no one will pay attention to you. After the past eight years, we've all had a bellyful of despair, and we simply wont listen to anyone who offers nothing but more of it.

                  This country will NOT survive President McCain. Repeat until you get it.

                  by Whimsical on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 08:57:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  not credible? (0+ / 0-)

                    If your "trusted" information sources on what's going on in climate are Exxon-Mobil's, that's to be expected.

                    Personally, I think Hansen and Lovelock are more credible than your people handing out faked climate happy-news that you believe, and I think the climate bad news (North Pole and Greenland meltdown, Iowa floods) you are carefully avoiding tells us that global-warming based problems are outrunning the bad news from the studies.

                    You sound like Neville Chamberlain's appeasement party during the runup to WW2, calling Churchill's comments about Hitler hysterical and telling the world that Hitler was a reasonable guy we could do business with.

                    For the same reasons, because you and people like you have the emotional need for happy spin on bad news and attacking the people who bring bad news and there are always politicians who prefer to pander to people like you than participate in serious discussions on how the hell we can get out of this mess.

                    So far, the democracies have survived the people who've tried to substitute happy spin for truth because we've been in situations less dangerous than the current one and even delayed responses could be effective.

                    Don't tell me there's not a way to do something similar on a country, if not a planetwide scale.

                    OK, I won't, since you've demonstrated you prefer truthiness to truth.

                    As for carbon-scrubbing solutions that are actually possible... look up geoengineering. The problem here is coming up with answers that don't have side effects worse than the original problem. And unless we reduce our carbon input into the atmosphere, none of these possible approaches have the slightest chance of working.

                    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                    by alizard on Tue Aug 26, 2008 at 12:58:52 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Wow, what a complete and utter (0+ / 0-)

                      misunderstanding of my response. And an excellent demonstration of the sneering, snotty tone that gets doomers ignored.

                      I don't find Hansen and Lovelock particularly credible I admit, but that's a) because they're doomers- they start from the basic premise that we are doomed, which I, and most of the people you will have to convince, immediately and intrinsically reject because it isn't true (we aren't doomed, we just haven't solved the problem yet and I have faith we will), b)they fail your "answers that don't have side effects worse than the original problem" test and c)they offer NO workable solutions - the idea that you will get people to reduce their energy usage by the amount they demand is simply ludicrous.

                      But just because I reject your doomer scenario hardly means that I prefer truthiness, that I'm Neville Chamberlain or that any one of your pathetic ad hominems hit even remotely close to home.

                      I believe that climate change is real, I believe that climate change is serious. And I know that doomers like you with their snotty attitudes and insistence on unworkable solutions are standing in the way of getting the problem solved. You bring nothing to the table, and you really need to sit down, shut up, and let the grownups solve the problem.

                      Find technological solutions to both scrub and take the place of carbon, and then ask the public to reduce their carbon output by a percentage while they're being implemented and you will be embraced. Keep being snotty scolds who lecture us on how we HAVE to give up pretty much everything we like (while ignoring the fact that no one else will do the same)and you will be rightfully ignored. And when technology solves the problem, you'll look damn foolish to boot.

                      Your call.

                      This country will NOT survive President McCain. Repeat until you get it.

                      by Whimsical on Tue Aug 26, 2008 at 05:46:59 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  you just flunked Energy Policy 101 (0+ / 0-)

                        Your post demonstrates an ignorance so complete that I'm not going to try any more to bring light into it.

                        I probably qualify as an expert on green technology in general and am looking for financing for a new low-cost carbon-neutral biofuel production technology.

                        Your suggesting that since it's possible to purify the air in a large enclosed space at a cost of over $1B (that's what a Class 5 wafer fab with ultra-clean room facilities costs), that these techniques can be scaled to clean up the atmosphere as a whole is just one of the points that convinced me that you really should have stayed awake in those boring science classes you needed to pass in order to do whatever non-sci-tech field you got a degree in. Were you a liberal arts major?

                        The solutions for global warming require technologists like me to create them (the easy part) and the political will to pay for them, which will not be created by people like you who say 'global warming isn't really a threat'.

                        If you want to stop global warming, the only possible contributions you can make are to STFU and quit spreading your ignorance and releasing methane-laced hot air into the environment from the asshole you're talking through, and if you want to go further, you can get spiritual advice from here.

                        You have the right to freedom of speech. You do not have the right to have your blithering nonsense treated with respect. You have no more right to be treated with respect in a reality-based forum than any freeper has.

                        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                        by alizard on Tue Aug 26, 2008 at 02:28:51 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You just flunked Reading Comprehension 101 (0+ / 0-)

                          I've never said 'global warming isn't a threat'.  I have said that people who just blather on about how we're doomed and offer no workable solutions other than unrealistic and unachievable demands for sacrifice (that other countries will not follow) will be ignored, and rightly so while people who present workable technological solutions will be embraced, and rightly so.

                          You obviously have no intelligent rebuttal to that as you continue to present straw men by focusing on things I've never said or twisting things I did say as well as  meaningless ad hominem attacks (which only serve to underscore the utter weakness of your position); so given that you have no rebuttal of any worth, I'm done with you.

                          By all means continue to cry "DOOOOOOOOOOM" and nothing else, in as snotty a tone as possible as much as you like; as you said- you have the right of free speech.  I'll be over with the people actually interested in workable, passable, technological solutions, and yes we are laughing AT you, not WITH you. And when we solve the problem and your doomsday doesn't come to pass, that will be the sound that will ring in your ears till your dying day.

                          This country will NOT survive President McCain. Repeat until you get it.

                          by Whimsical on Tue Aug 26, 2008 at 07:02:17 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  your best contribution towards fixing global (0+ / 0-)

                            warming would be to do the world and the Democratic Party a favor and commit suicide. The people you consider your friends would probably heave a sigh of relief if you did.

                            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                            by alizard on Tue Aug 26, 2008 at 08:13:55 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

        •  harm reduction is still possible (0+ / 0-)

          the key is immediate, serious, and effective action.

          If we don't do something about CO2, the situation will keep getting worse until there is no longer a significant number of people burning fossil fuel or anything else. The last worldwide extinction appears to have been triggered by too much CO2 left in the air for too long.

          If we make the necessary investments (if Obama increases his budget for new energy infrastructure to $300+B/year instead of $15B, I'll assume he's decided to take it seriously), things will eventually get better.

          Things will get worse for a while regardless, there's enough crap in the pipeline to assure that.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 06:04:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well, NG isn't *that* bad (3+ / 0-)

        It's far from useless, and it's a lot better than burning coal.  Natural gas (CH4) has four hydrogen connected to each carbon atom, so you get vastly more energy per pound of carbon than burning coal, which has a single H atom per  C.  And with natural gas you don't get any of that nasty sulfur released in to the atmosphere causing acid rain.  And lastly, combined cycle NG plants are 89% efficient vs. about 60% for coal plants.  

        It is a lot faster to get solar and wind going vs. a nuclear plant.  But where are you going to get baseload power from?  CSP provides a pretty good alternative, but you'd better be ready to sacrifice hundreds of square miles of desert in the SW USA to provide that electricity.  And once capacity factor is considered, the price of nuclear is actually about the same as solar, wind, & CSP.

        On the front lines of the energy crisis.
        Peak Oil Hawaii

        by Arclite on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 03:03:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Natural Gas is not technically a fossil fuel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD, Roger Roger

    Natural gas is the product of bacterial action in dinosaur intestines which, when leaked, sunk into cracks and collected underground.  These "dinosaur farts" (if you will) were produced before the dinosaurs died and fossilized, so cannot be considered "fossil fuels."  If you sniff natural gas, you can still detect the unmistakable odor of decayed equisetum arvense (horsetail).  

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I must don full pirate regalia so that I may pray to the noodled one.  

    Arrrgh.  Fare the well, lads and lasses!

    On the front lines of the energy crisis.
    Peak Oil Hawaii

    by Arclite on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 02:55:36 AM PDT

  •  Speaking of natural gas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    or, more specifically, LNG......
    here'sthe fight du jour on my area.

  •  I knew it. How could gas not be a fossil fuel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sorry I have to run to the Senate floor to abolish torture.

    by bten on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 05:45:30 AM PDT

  •  As one of those 'geezers', (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD, LaughingPlanet

    I personally represent resent this, "Call this youthful angst (I am only 37 years old), but simple gaffes like this illustrate the fact that these relative geezers don't seem to fully grasp the enormity of the problems we must face with dire urgency."

    But then, being as how you are so young, I suppose your ignorance and misplaced self-assurance can be forgiven!

    Cheers:)  (And for what it is worth, yes, it was a Pelosi gaffe.)

    Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

    by wgard on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 06:04:53 AM PDT

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