April 22, 2014

Another Earth Day, a few thoughts

It's not a special anniversary Earth Day, but with things like the continued  delay in a Keystone XL decision by Team Obama, even as Dear Leader continues to push the Trans Pacific Partnership, I'll put a few thoughts on blogging paper.

First, though, a look back at my life at a few of those special anniversaries.

For me, 1995 was the first Earth Day special anniversary I really remember. At 25, it was a big one. Sure, Newt Gingrich and gang had just taken over the House. However, the CFC accord to protect the ozone layer was good news and global warming was not yet even a small cloud on most of our horizons. So, things were looking good then.

Next, on to 2000. Global warming was at least a small cloud on more horizons by then. Bill Clinton had negotiated the Kyoto Accords to address this. Unfortunately, he had not submitted them to the Senate. Doubly unfortunately, it was clear they would fail if he did, and that probably no more than half of Democrats, even those not up for re-election in 2000, would support them.

Then things got worse.

In 2005, for the 35th anniversary, we had President Bush having officially rejected Kyoto. After talking about carbon dioxide as a pollutant on the 2000 campaign trail, he had totally ditched that. He had also ditched EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman for actually taking him at his 2000 campaign word. Meanwhile, evidence for global warming and broader climate change, and its potential severity, continue to mount.

Then, 2010. Things seemed better with a Democrat in the White House, even though the economy was distracting from too many environmental concerns.

And now, today.

First, Keystone XL. President Obama is clearly, in my book, going to delay a decision until after the midterm elections, then approve it. If you deeply believe otherwise, I've got a sub-95 day in July in Phoenix to sell you.

Second, the Trans Pacific Partnership. How does this relate to climate change?

Simple. "Free" trade treaties that encourage additional international trade without the carbon tariffs to have the globe pay the environmental cost of all the shipping involved are inherently anti-environmental, as well as the labor issues they cause, and the environmental issues in countries such as China with low environmental regulatory standards. And, like the original NAFTA and WTO deals, transnational companies would have a shot at overriding US environmental regulations. Much more here.

Things have changed since 2005, or even 2010, in other ways. We're continuing to improve our degree of certainty on how much human activity is going to affect mean temperature increases across our planet. We're starting to figure out more of how climate change is related to large but sub-global seasonal weather issues, such as the "clipper" that gave the US Northeast a snow-heavy winter while exacerbating drought in California.

There's a third issue which I've briefly blogged about before.

The National Park Service's centennial is in 2016, and so far, I've heard very little "noise" from the White House about the run-up to this, celebratory plans, etc.

I'm afraid that what eventually gets wheeled out will be corporate heavy, too.

I'm not a James Kunstler, but I do sometimes have my degree of despair over the future of our planet. Climate change, as we mark another Earth Day, is one of the main drivers of such, though not the only one.

Add in the deniers, minimizers and skeptics. Add in the fact that Obama seems to have the least amount of focus on environmental issues of any Democratic president since Harry Truman. None of this helps.

Add in that minimizers and skeptics, to the degree they accept anthropogenic climate change, then switch gears to what I have previously called "salvific technologism." That's the belief in technology's saving (salvific) power, so much so that said belief in technology becomes an "-ism."

Well, the human ability to adapt is constrained by something that didn't exist in the Younger Dryas, or even, for the most part, in the Little Ice Age, or its predecessor, the Medieval Warm Period (which is still a bit cooler than we are today), and that's the modern big city, let alone the megacity. It's hard to "pack up and move" 20 million people in greater New York City, London, Los Angeles, Shanghai or other spots. And, all but L.A. of those four cities face definite worries over rising sea levels.

Meanwhile, "Earth Day" isn't even on Google News' list of top "trending" items, as of 1:30 p.m. Central Time.

Add to it the "gang green" environmental groups deciding at the start of the Clinton Administration that cozying up to Democrats for political "access" was more important than being firmer on stances. Then, we have the topper, several years ago, of Sierra Club selling the rights to its name, for branding and marketing, to Clorox. There were certainly a few questions about Clorox's environmental commitment, and a boatload of unquestionable facts on its low standards on labor issues. I blogged more here and here about how this exposed authoritarian tactics of Sierra's national board and then-CEO Carl Pope.

But, when a big, rich (yes, relatively) environmental group pays just $33K a year for copy editors for its magazine, with a job based in downtown San Francisco, we know which "green" is speaking. That's even more true with the made-in-China tchotchkes combined with the wasteful amount of mail, snail mail, not email, sent for solicitation efforts.

I'll stop now before I get into the territory of a new blog post, which I will soon enough anyway.

Perry has a few related thoughts.

As for those other issues of despair? It seems like racial issues in America have slowed to about the  same glacial rate of progress.

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