When it comes to climate change, President Obama talks a good game – but there is a serious disconnect between his words and the actions he says he’s willing to take.
The “President’s Climate Action Plan” is certain to encounter stiff opposition from the fossil fuel industry whores in Congress (GOP lawmakers have already attacked it as being a “lawless crusade”) – but that’s the least of its problems. Most of the plan involves “goals,” “incentives,” “leadership,” “negotiations,” “investments” and “partnerships.” However, it’s short on technical details. Part of the plan is about making adaptations and preparations for the impacts of climate change. Again, there are proposals on “supporting communities,” “boosting the resilience of infrastructure” and “rebuilding” – but little on specific actions that would need to be taken.
At this point, it’s mainly about analysis and study. It brings to mind a scene from an old Monty Python film in which John Cleese, when informed of a dire emergency, states emphatically: “Right! This calls for immediate discussion!”
Assuming that practical solutions are engineered and put into place, at best, the President’s plan would lower carbon emissions by 6% over the next fifteen years. According to figures from the UK-based Tyndall Centre on Climate Research, this figure needs to be closer to 10%. However, the real contradiction lies in the gap between President Obama’s words and his recent actions.
The reality is that it is possible for the US to meet all of its energy needs through the use of renewable sources by 2030. That’s according to Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, who teaches Civil and Environmental Engineering and is a Senior Fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University. He’s not alone in his assessment. In 2011, Jacobson, along with Mark Delucci of the Institute for Transportation at the University of California at Davis, published a two-year study demonstrating that the construction of an entire energy infrastructure based solely on renewable sources within 20 years was feasible. The only practical obstacle was the availability of rare earth elements used to manufacture magnets. Rare earth elements such as neodymium, terbium and europium are necessary for much of today’s technology, including wind turbines, solar panels and most electronics. However, Delucci and Jacobson say that such obstacles could be overcome if mining and recycling operations were increased – or new technologies were developed that did not require the use of rare earth metals.
However, in an article appearing on the science website Phys.org, the two researchers acknowledged that “the political bottlenecks may be insurmountable.”
They may be correct. While the President continues to give lip service to finding climate change solutions, the Administration is continuing to allow offshore drilling, while opening up new fields and granting leases to Big Oil. President Obama continues to be indecisive over the Keystone XL Pipeline. Fracking by gas companies continues to poison water supplies and destroy communities. Most of Congress is still in bed with the fossil fuel industry.
In the end, this out-of-control capitalist system may very well wind up killing us all. It won’t spare lawmakers and the CEOs and stockholders of Shell, Exxon-Mobil and BP either – but they’re so blinded by their own greed and lust for control that they won’t see it, even for the sake of their children and grandchildren.