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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Democrats Shouldn’t Squander Their One Advantage.
By Bill McKibben, The Boston Globe
07 January 17

he Democrats were given one great gift last year. Even as they lost state legislatures and control of the Senate, even as they surrendered governors’ mansions and somehow turned over the White House to a moral midget, one thing broke their way. And if they squander it now, as their establishment leadership seems inclined to do, then shame on them.

That one great gift was the cascade of young voters that poured out in support of Bernie Sanders. Early in the primary campaign, I introduced the Vermont senator to a crowd of nearly 30,000 people in a big-city convention hall. They were almost all millennials, and they were roaring — any fear I had about the supposed apathy of youth vanished that night. That scene repeated itself across America. By the time primary season was over, Sanders hadn’t just swamped Clinton among young voters — he’d gotten 35 percent more young voters than Clinton and Trump combined. Nothing like that has happened in my political lifetime.

It demonstrates that an honest, bold message, paired with a leader who passes the authenticity test, can move young people into political action. And that should thrill Democrats. Broken as the party is at the moment, demographics means that, indeed, young people are the future. And cynical as they are about politics, they are not lost to the party.

Which is why it was exciting to watch Keith Ellison’s candidacy for party leader take off this fall. Not only did he work closely with Sanders (who remains America’s most popular politician) but he’s cut of the same cloth. Not literally — he’s short, black, and Muslim, instead of tall, white (and white-haired), and Jewish. But he speaks the same language and with the same urgency — he understands the depth of the problems faced by young and working people.

I got to watch him up close during the marathon hearings and negotiations over the Democratic platform last spring. Some of the participants in that process were, to put it politely, veterans of Democratic politics, repeating bromides that had perhaps worked once but no longer do. (Having watched that process, I was not surprised by the lackluster presidential campaign.) Ellison — a sitting member of Congress — was polite, respectful, and attentive. But he was also firm and urgent. He wasn’t going through the motions.

Which is, I think, why the most ingrained parts of the party establishment are now trying to break his momentum. They’ve put forward Thomas Perez, a perfectly good man but from the ruling wing, not the organizing wing, of the party (he’s never been elected to anything above a county council). And, sadly, they’re playing dirty, or at least cynical, digging up “controversies” like ancient parking tickets from Ellison’s past, or a newspaper column he wrote in college defending the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakahn. Voters in his congressional district have thoroughly rejected such nonsense, and so should the DNC members, but the same party machinery that clearly disliked the Sanders challenge (remember those e-mails showing senior officials debating whether it would be more effective to smear him as a Jew or an atheist?) is now trying to derail Ellison.

These insiders view the Democratic party as a club or an institution, not as an organizing platform. And we’re not in an age when institutions are particularly useful — we’re in an era when institutions, without an infusion of new blood and ideas, simply fade away. I know this in part because I’m a Methodist, once perhaps America’s most vital Christian denomination. But over time its energy bled away — despite plenty of vibrant local congregations, and despite sporadic attempts at top-down rejuvenation, it has steadily ebbed. The average age of a Methodist is now 57.

One way to imagine the Sanders campaign, then, is as a series of revival meetings, conducted in every corner of the country. There was nothing shallow about them — Sanders’ unique form of charisma stemmed from his slightly grumpy seriousness. And so the support he received demonstrated a fervent desire to participate, especially among young Americans. They were serious about change.

That energy won’t disappear — it’s already powering the new civil rights movement and the fight for climate justice. But it will disappear from the Democratic Party if the party doesn’t seize the opportunity that Ellison offers. It won’t be the fault of the Russians or the FBI. And it may not come again.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

California is destined to be the anti-Trump like Texas was the anti-Obama.
Take notice – California is the Fifth largest economy in the World and its legislature does not want Trump to mess it up.

California braces for a Trump presidency by tapping former U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder for legal counsel.

By Melanie MasonMelanie Mason, Contact Reporter based in Sacramento, The Los Angeles Times.

Bracing for an adversarial relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, the California Legislature has selected former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as outside counsel to advise the state’s legal strategy against the incoming administration.


The unusual arrangement will give Holder, leading a team of attorneys from the firm Covington & Burling, a broad portfolio covering potential conflicts between California and the federal government.

“He will be our lead litigator, and he will have a legal team of expert lawyers on the issues of climate change, women and civil rights, the environment, immigration, voting rights — to name just a few,” Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in an interview.

Such a task typically falls to the state attorney general. On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown formally nominated Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra to replace former Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who now serves in the U.S. Senate. Becerra, whose nomination hearings in the Legislature begin next week, is expected to be easily confirmed.

But De León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon began contemplating hiring outside legal counsel for the Legislature almost immediately after Trump’s election, in hopes of protecting existing state policies that are at odds with the president-elect’s stated positions.

“While we don’t yet know the harmful proposals the next administration will put forward, thanks to Donald Trump’s campaign, cabinet appointments and Twitter feed, we do have an idea of what we will be dealing with,” Rendon said in a statement.

“The Covington team will be an important resource as we work with the governor and the attorney general to protect Californians,” he added.

The two legislative leaders have taken an unabashedly combative posture against Trump.
Rendon, in remarks last month at a swearing-in ceremony for lawmakers, described the incoming administration as a “major existential threat,” and asserted “Californians do not need healing. We need to fight.”

De León said the additional counsel would offer “more legal firepower” that would complement and bring additional heft to the state attorney general’s efforts.

“Hiring the former attorney general — the nation’s top lawyer — it shows that we’re very serious in protecting the values of the people of California against any attempt to undermine the policies that has made us the fifth-largest economy in the world,” De León said.

Bringing on outside counsel is not unprecedented for the Legislature. The state Senate hired special counsel for a select committee investigating price manipulation in the wholesale energy market by Enron in the early 2000s. The Senate also sought outside counsel to sort through the federal investigation of former Democratic state Sen. Ron Calderon, who later pleaded guilty to corruption charges.


Updates from Sacramento:

But it is far more unorthodox for both houses to join together in retaining counsel in a preemptive bid to prepare for as-yet-unknown litigation and policy-making at the federal level. Much of the arrangement remains murky, including how Holder’s efforts will differ from or align with Becerra’s.

Also unclear: the price tag. Aides to legislative leaders declined to specify how much Covington & Burling’s services will cost the state, citing still-unfinished contracts, but said the payment would come out of both chambers’ operating budgets and would not require additional state funds.

Holder, who was a partner at Covington from 2001 until 2009 before rejoining the firm in 2015, will direct the efforts from the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. The firm, which has a long-established presence in the nation’s capital, has in recent years expanded its footprint in California. Covington’s Los Angeles office, which will play a major role in working with the Legislature, was launched in part by former federal prosecutor Dan Shallman, whose brother, John Shallman, is a prominent Democratic strategist whose clients include De León.

“I am honored that the legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal advisor as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California’s residents and policy priorities,” Holder said in a statement provided by De León’s office.

“I am confident that our expertise across a wide array of federal legal and regulatory issues will be a great resource for the legislature.”

Holder, a close friend of President Obama, left the Justice Department in 2015. As one of the most liberal figures in the Obama administration, his tenure was defined by a focus on civil rights and criminal justice reform and was marked by a tumultuous relationship with Congress and scandal stemming from the failed gun-trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious.

Representing California lawmakers against Trump won’t be Holder’s sole foray into politics in the coming years. He is also overseeing a Democratic campaign focused on redistricting, the process of redrawing political maps that, in recent years, has tilted state legislative and congressional landscapes in the Republicans’ favor.

—————————————-
 melanie.mason at latimes.com

Follow @melmason on Twitter for the latest on California politics.

ALSO

California is itching to take on Trump. Here are the prominent figures leading the charge.
Texas was Obama’s chief antagonist. In Trump’s America, California is eager for the part.

California’s new legislative session begins with a message: We’re ready to fight Trump.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

What to Expect in China Policy During the First 100 Days of Donald Trump’s Presidency
Young China Watchers and the Center on U.S.-China Relations of the New York City based Asia Society, present Daniel Rosen and Orville Schell.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Asia Society
725 Park Ave., New York, NY, 10021

With the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States fast approaching, nominations for most of the highest cabinet appointments and many senior staff positions announced, and months of frenetic media coverage of President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team behind us, it is worth assessing how Trump’s world view and that of his advisors is likely to shape American policy toward China.

By establishing contact with the Taiwanese leader and openly questioning the “One China” policy, Trump has already signaled that he is willing to turn the U.S.-China relationship as we know it on its head. Daniel Rosen, co-founder of the Rhodium Group, and Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations Orville Schell will discuss what it all means for the future of U.S.-China relations.

SPEAKERS:

Daniel H. Rosen is a co-founding Partner of the Rhodium Group (RHG), and leads the firm’s work on China and the world economy. His is currently focused on China’s reform challenges, patterns in Chinese direct investment, and the impact of nationalistic technology policies on Chinese welfare. Mr. Rosen has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University since 2001, and he is affiliated with a number of preeminent American think tanks. Since 1992, he has authored more than a dozen books and reports on aspects of China’s economic and commercial development. He served on the White House National Economic and Security Councils in 2000-01.

Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York. He is a former professor and Dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of numerous books on China, most recently Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century. Schell was born in New York City, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in Far Eastern History, was an exchange student at National Taiwan University in the 1960s, and earned a Ph.D. (Abd) at the University of California, Berkeley in Chinese History.


LIVE WEBCAST:
Can’t make it to this program? Tune in Wednesday, January 18, at 6:30p.m. New York time for a free live video webcast. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions to  moderator at asiasociety.org or via Twitter by using the hashtag #AsiaSocietyLIVE.
 AsiaSociety.org
/Live

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Co-organized by Young China Watchers and the Center on U.S.-China Relations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 31st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Trump Could Be Fighting Obama’s Climate Policies for Years

By Timothy Cama, The Hill
30 December 16

President-elect Donald Trump’s energy agenda is shaping up to be a years-long effort to undo President Obama’s policies.

Supporters of Trump and industries that have opposed Obama’s regulatory actions say turning back the clock is the most important thing the president-elect can do to help businesses succeed.

But it won’t be easy to undo many of the energy and climate regulations that Obama has put in place.

Under federal law, reversing major regulations requires a time-consuming process that can drag on for months and sometimes years. And even after new rules are issued, they can be challenged in court — something environmental groups are already vowing to do.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has in recent weeks added to Trump’s list of targets by issuing a new coal-mining regulation and offshore drilling bans in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Obama also created controversial national monuments in Utah and Nevada that Republicans are pushing Trump to repeal, something Obama says is not in Trump’s power to do.

“Some actions they will be able to do in relatively short order. Other major rules will take time to meet the burden of regulatory process,” said Scott Segal, a lobbyist at Bracewell who represents numerous energy companies.

“The next administration needs to be careful, transparent and follow the rule of law, or else they’ll have potential trouble in front of a reviewing court,” Segal said. “Because there’s no doubt that the environmental community would sue to prevent these actions.”

Still, much of Obama’s environmental agenda was enacted through executive actions, which are within Trump’s power to quickly reverse.

The Republican Congress can also help undo some of Obama’s recent rules by using the Congressional Review Act, which provides for the expedited repeal of regulations.

“The Obama administration has done a lot unilaterally, and the silver lining of that is that it can be undone unilaterally,” said Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

What seems clear is that Trump is dedicated to the fight.

While Trump has given a few nods to the green movement — Trump met separately with climate activists Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio after the election — his Cabinet picks are vocal critics of Obama’s agenda.

Trump’s selections include Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) to lead the Interior Department and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to lead the Energy Department.

William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, said an aggressive fight against Obama’s policies is a welcome change and something to be expected when the White House changes hands.

“It is not uncommon whenever there’s a change of party, given how much policy emanates from the executive branch these days, for recension to be of the order for the incoming president,” he said. “When policy emanates from the executive, and there’s a change in the executive, policy is supposed to reflect that.”

During the campaign, Trump ran in part on an aggressive deregulatory plan, saying in September that he would pursue “the elimination of all unnecessary regulations and a temporary moratorium on new regulations not compelled by Congress or public safety.”

Trump has specifically pledged to undo the Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the United States rule, Interior’s stream protection rule and the moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land.

He’s also promised to stop all payments to international climate efforts, to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, and to open more federal land and water to oil and natural gas drilling.

The Trump transition website promises that the next administration “will unleash an energy revolution that will transform us into a net energy exporter, leading to the creation of millions of new jobs, while protecting the country’s most valuable resources — our clean air, clean water, and natural habitats.”

Environmentalists and other Trump opponents say many of Obama’s actions are popular with the public and should be preserved. They accuse the Republican of focusing solely on reversing Obama, rather than putting forward energy and environmental plans of his own.

“If President-elect Trump decides to go in the direction that it appears he is, trying to undermine a full range of environmental protections, weakening or eliminating a move to a clean-energy economy, there will be a very strong reaction,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Goldston compared Trump’s plans to those of presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, as well as that of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). All three came to power with broad deregulatory promises but failed to overcome opposition, he said.

“There was a strong vocal backlash, and they eventually decided this was not worth their effort. And we expect that to be the case again,” he said.

James Goodwin, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform, said he is optimistic that the country will continue to move toward clean energy sources like wind and solar, no matter what Trump does.

“There’s only so much you can do with policy that’s going to change the way we’re headed,” he said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 8th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEW YORK MAGAZINE / THE NATIONAL INTEREST
September 7, 2016

Matt Lauer’s Pathetic Interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Is the Scariest Thing I’ve Seen in This Campaign
By Jonathan Chait


A frightening case study in journalistic failure.

I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major-party candidates. Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists. I not only consume a lot of news, since it’s my job, I also tend to focus on elite print-news sources. Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.

Lauer focused a third of his questioning time on Clinton’s private email server. Her decision to follow Colin Powell’s advice is a legitimate blot on her record. But Lauer did not move the ball forward on the question in any meaningful way:

The word judgment has been used a lot around you, Secretary Clinton, over the last year and a half. And in particular concerning your use of your personal email and server to communicate while you were secretary of state. You have said it’s a mistake.

“You said you made not the best choice.”

“You were communicating on highly sensitive topics. Why wasn’t it more than a mistake? Why wasn’t it disqualifying, if you want to be commander-in-chief?”

Lauer followed up with four more email-related questions. The impression an uninformed or even moderately informed viewer would receive from this interview is that the email issue represents a sinister crime, perhaps completely disqualifying from office, rather than an unjustifiable but routine act of government non-transparency.

The email exchange would not by itself be so alarming except when viewed in juxtaposition with Lauer’s hapless interview of Trump. Trump began the interview by boldly insisting, “I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004. You can look at before that.” This is a lie. Trump has been quoted supporting the invasion beforehand and even afterward. Nobody has produced any evidence of Trump contradicting his support for the war before it started. His line to Lauer was transparently ridiculous – how could a 2004 interview supply evidence of having opposed a war that began in 2003? But Lauer did not try even a single follow-up.

Trump Lies About Iraq War Opposition, Lauer Moves to Next Question

Trump Offers Peace Through Strength – and Craziness

Trump went on to make a series of wild and dangerous statements. He praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong, effective, and popular leader. Lauer did press him on this point, and when he did, Trump offered the astonishing rebuttal, saying President Obama had done equivalently brutish things. Lauer did not press Trump on his claim that the president of the United States behaves in a fundamentally similar way to a dictator who imprisons and kills political critics and journalists. Trump likewise reiterated his belief that “to the victor go the spoils” is the proper basis for American foreign policy, specifically with regard to his long-standing lament that the United States failed to steal Iraq’s oil after the 2003 invasion.

Lauer’s attempt to press Trump was the completely ineffectual technique of asking repeatedly if he is ready to serve as commander-in-chief. Lauer probably believes the answer is no, but nothing about this question would drive home Trump’s extraordinary lack of knowledge. Instead it allowed him to performatively demonstrate his confident, alpha-male reality-show character as a prospective chief executive.

Both of these beliefs stun and appall foreign-policy experts in both parties, as readers of the Washington Post or the New York Times know. But the average undecided voter isn’t reading those newspapers. The average undecided voter is getting snippets of news from television personalities like Lauer, who are failing to convey the fact that the election pits a normal politician with normal political failings against an ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 26th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Those interested in how a near 0 economy could be achieved using existing technology may find this chapter, available at papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?a…

Integrating Vehicles and the Electricity Grid to Store and Use Renewable Energy by David Hodas :

 SSRNpapers.ssrn.com

The world could be powered by renewable energy: more energy from the sun hits the earth in one hour than all of the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year.

In Delivering Energy Policy in the EU and US: A Multi-Disciplinary Reader, (Heffron and Little, eds.) (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)

Widener University Delaware Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 16-13


Abstract:


The world could be powered by renewable energy: more energy from the sun hits the earth in one hour than all of the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year.


Achieving a low-carbon economy is less technology dependent than it is dependent on new, well-designed energy law that broadly shifts private incentives towards efficient use of renewable energy using of “game-changing” technology such as Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) motor vehicles that could shift the world to a low-carbon economy.

V2G vehicles integrate separate energy conversion systems: the electricity grid and light vehicle transportation fleet by storing electricity from the grid when it is not needed and returning it to the grid when it is needed.

The total U.S. light vehicle fleet power capacity is about 39 times the power generation capacity of the U.S. electrical generation system.

The grid could use power stored in idle V2G batteries whenever needed, yet each vehicle would be tapped only within the constraints of its drivers’ specific schedule and driving needs. 20,000,000 V2G cars (just 10% of the U.S. fleet) with an average peak power rating of only 50 Kw, would have the combined power capacity equivalent to the entire U.S. Electric grid. This fleet would be the backup system for a fully renewable (e.g., solar and wind) energy generation system.

The benefits of a V2G system could be enormous: dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions and the adverse health effects of air pollution from burning fossil fuels and a more robust electric grid. A renewable energy V2G system could replace fossil fuels in many regions of the world.

David R. Hodas
Distinguished Professor of Law
Widener University
Delaware Law School

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE 19803-0474

302 477 2186 (tel)
302 477 2257 (fax)
 drhodas at widener.edu

 papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsBy…
 works.bepress.com/david_hodas/

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE NEW YORK TIMES – SCIENCE

English Village Becomes Climate Leader by Quietly Cleaning Up Its Own Patch

By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERGAUG. 21, 2016

ASHTON HAYES, England — This small village of about 1,000 people looks like any other nestled in the countryside.

But Ashton Hayes is different in an important way when it comes to one of the world’s most pressing issues: climate change.

Hundreds of residents have banded together to cut greenhouse emissions — they use clotheslines instead of dryers, take fewer flights, install solar panels and glaze windows to better insulate their homes.

The effort, reaching its 10th anniversary this year, has led to a 24 percent cut in emissions, according to surveys by a professor of environmental sustainability who lives here.

But what makes Ashton Hayes unusual is its approach — the residents have done it themselves, without prodding from government. About 200 towns, cities and counties around the world — including Notteroy, Norway; Upper Saddle River, N.J.; and Changhua County, Taiwan — have reached out to learn how the villagers here did it.


As climate science has become more accepted, and the effects of a warming planet are becoming increasingly clear, Ashton Hayes is a case study for the next phase of battling climate change: getting people to change their habits.

“We just think everyone should try to clean up their patch,” said Rosemary Dossett, a resident of the village. “And rather than going out and shouting about it, we just do it.”

One of their secrets, it seems, is that the people of Ashton Hayes feel in charge, rather than following government policies. When the member of Parliament who represents the village showed up at their first public meeting in January 2006, he was told he could not make any speeches.

“We said, ‘This is not about you tonight, this is about us, and you can listen to what we’ve got to say for a change,’” said Kate Harrison, a resident and early member of the group.

No politician has been allowed to address the group since. The village has kept the effort separate from party politics, which residents thought would only divide them along ideological lines.


The project was started by Garry Charnock, a former journalist who trained as a hydrologist and has lived in the village for about 30 years. He got the idea a little more than a decade ago after attending a lecture about climate change at the Hay Festival, an annual literary gathering in Wales. He decided to try to get Ashton Hayes to become, as he put it, “Britain’s first carbon-neutral village.”


“But even if we don’t,” he recalls thinking at the time, “let’s try to have a little fun.”

Sometimes, efforts to reduce greenhouse gases involve guilt-tripping or doomsday scenarios that make people feel as if the problem is too overwhelming to tackle.

In Ashton Hayes — about 25 miles southeast of Liverpool, with a 19th-century Anglican church and a community-owned shop that doubles as a post office — the villagers have lightened the mood.

They hold public wine-and-cheese meetings in the biggest houses in town, “so everyone can have a look around,” and see how the wealthier people live, said Mr. Charnock, the executive director of RSK, an environmental consulting company. “We don’t ever finger-wag in Ashton Hayes.”

About 650 people — more than half of the village’s residents — showed up to the first meeting, Mr. Charnock said. Some in the village were less keen, but little by little, they began to participate.

Some have gone further. When they were looking to build their energy-efficient home and heard about Ashton Hayes’s carbon-neutral project, Ms. Dossett and her husband, Ian, thought it might be the perfect village for them.

They moved from nearby South Warrington and found two old farm cottages, which they converted into a two-story brick house, and installed huge triple-glazed windows, photovoltaic cells on the roof, a geothermal heat pump that heats the home and its water, and an underground cistern to hold rainwater for toilets and the garden.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to think we live in a mud hut,” Ms. Dossett said, sitting on a couch in her warm, well-lit living room.

The Dossetts also have a vegetable garden, grow grapes for wine, brew beer and keep two cows, which mow the lawn and may also eventually become food in a few years. They pay about 500 pounds (about $650) a year for electricity and heating.

The success of the carbon-neutral project seems to have inspired other community efforts in Ashton Hayes. The residents, for example, have built a new playing field with a solar-powered pavilion, which is the home of a community cafe three days a week. They have also put photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the primary school.

Other towns and cities around the world hope to copy Ashton Hayes. Their representatives have contacted the project’s leaders, asking for help in setting up similar initiatives, according to the diary the Ashton Hayes group keeps about the project, chronicling almost everything they have done over the past 10 years.


Eden Mills, a small community in Ontario, Canada, is one of them. Charles Simon traveled to Ashton Hayes in 2007 to learn how to translate their approach to his town, adopting the apolitical, voluntary, fun method.

“Some of the changes are so easy,” Mr. Simon said. “Just put on a sweater instead of turning on the heat.”


Eden Mills has cut emissions by about 14 percent, Mr. Simon said, and has plans to do more. Residents have been working with experts from the nearby University of Guelph, planting trees in the village forest to help absorb the carbon dioxide the town emits, Mr. Simon said.

Janet Gullvaag, a councilwoman in Notteroy, Norway, an island municipality of about 21,000 people, reached out to Ashton Hayes about nine years ago after her political party decided to include reducing carbon dioxide emissions in its platform.

“I think that the idea that Ashton Hayes had — to make caring for the environment fun, without pointing fingers — was quite revolutionary,” Ms. Gullvaag said.

Though her community’s approach is decidedly more political, Ms. Gullvaag said that adopting Ashton Hayes’s mantra of fun had paid dividends: She has seen changes in her community, she said, as people buy more electric cars and bicycles, and convert their home heating from oil to more environmentally friendly sources.

“Whatever you’re trying to do, if you can create enthusiasm and spread knowledge, normally, people will react in a positive way,” she added.

Though deep cuts across the globe are still required to make broader progress, actions to reduce emissions, even by small towns, are a step in the right direction, say experts who study community action on climate change.

“The community-building element of all this has been as important as the environmental impact so far,” said Sarah Darby, a researcher at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

She added that Ashton Hayes was in a good position to take on these kinds of projects — it is a small village of well-off and well-educated people, so simply taking fewer flights each year can have a big effect.

Residents were able to cut emissions by about 20 percent in the first year alone, according to surveys used to calculate carbon footprints that were developed by Roy Alexander, a local professor, and his students.

Some have had even more significant reductions: Households that participated in surveys in both the first and 10th years shrank their energy use by about 40 percent.

Mr. Charnock said he thought the village could get the cuts in its 2006 carbon footprint to 80 percent in the next few years with the help of grant money to buy and install solar panels on the local school and other buildings.

The next thing they have to do, he said, is to get the county government to be as committed to cutting emissions as Ashton Hayes is.

“There’s so much apathy,” Mr. Charnock said. “We need to squeeze that layer of apathy jelly and get it out.”

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A version of this article appears in print on August 22, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: An English Village Leads a Climate Revolution.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Opinion Pages of The New York Times | An OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR


How the ‘Stupid Party’ Created Donald Trump

By MAX BOOT, JULY 31, 2016

It’s hard to know exactly when the Republican Party assumed the mantle of the “stupid party.”

Stupidity is not an accusation that could be hurled against such prominent early Republicans as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root and Charles Evans Hughes. But by the 1950s, it had become an established shibboleth that the “eggheads” were for Adlai Stevenson and the “boobs” for Dwight D. Eisenhower — a view endorsed by Richard Hofstadter’s 1963 book “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,” which contrasted Stevenson, “a politician of uncommon mind and style, whose appeal to intellectuals overshadowed anything in recent history,” with Eisenhower — “conventional in mind, relatively inarticulate.” The John F. Kennedy presidency, with its glittering court of Camelot, cemented the impression that it was the Democrats who represented the thinking men and women of America.


Rather than run away from the anti-intellectual label, Republicans embraced it for their own political purposes. In his “time for choosing” speech, Ronald Reagan said that the issue in the 1964 election was “whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant Capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” Richard M. Nixon appealed to the “silent majority” and the “hard hats,” while his vice president, Spiro T. Agnew, issued slashing attacks on an “effete core of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”


William F. Buckley Jr. famously said, “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the 2,000 faculty members of Harvard University.” More recently, George W. Bush joked at a Yale commencement: “To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say, well done. And to the C students I say, you, too, can be president of the United States.”

Many Democrats took all this at face value and congratulated themselves for being smarter than the benighted Republicans. Here’s the thing, though: The Republican embrace of anti-intellectualism was, to a large extent, a put-on. At least until now.

Eisenhower may have played the part of an amiable duffer, but he may have been the best prepared president we have ever had — a five-star general with an unparalleled knowledge of national security affairs. When he resorted to gobbledygook in public, it was in order to preserve his political room to maneuver. Reagan may have come across as a dumb thespian, but he spent decades honing his views on public policy and writing his own speeches. Nixon may have burned with resentment of “Harvard men,” but he turned over foreign policy and domestic policy to two Harvard professors, Henry A. Kissinger and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, while his own knowledge of foreign affairs was second only to Ike’s.


There is no evidence that Republican leaders have been demonstrably dumber than their Democratic counterparts. During the Reagan years, the G.O.P. briefly became known as the “party of ideas,” because it harvested so effectively the intellectual labor of conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation and publications like The Wall Street Journal editorial page and Commentary. Scholarly policy makers like George P. Shultz, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick and Bill Bennett held prominent posts in the Reagan administration, a tradition that continued into the George W. Bush administration — amply stocked with the likes of Paul D. Wolfowitz, John J. Dilulio Jr. and Condoleezza Rice.

In recent years, however, the Republicans’ relationship to the realm of ideas has become more and more attenuated as talk-radio hosts and television personalities have taken over the role of defining the conservative movement that once belonged to thinkers like Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz and George F. Will. The Tea Party represented a populist revolt against what its activists saw as out-of-touch Republican elites in Washington.

There are still some thoughtful Republican leaders exemplified by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who devised an impressive new budget plan for his party. But the primary vibe from the G.O.P. has become one of indiscriminate, unthinking, all-consuming anger.

The trend has now culminated in the nomination of Donald J. Trump, a presidential candidate who truly is the know-nothing his Republican predecessors only pretended to be.

Mr. Trump doesn’t know the difference between the Quds Force and the Kurds. He can’t identify the nuclear triad, the American strategic nuclear arsenal’s delivery system. He had never heard of Brexit until a few weeks before the vote. He thinks the Constitution has 12 Articles rather than seven. He uses the vocabulary of a fifth grader. Most damning of all, he traffics in off-the-wall conspiracy theories by insinuating that President Obama was born in Kenya and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. It is hardly surprising to read Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter for Mr. Trump’s best seller “The Art of the Deal,” say, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.”

Mr. Trump even appears proud of his lack of learning. He told The Washington Post that he reached decisions “with very little knowledge,” but on the strength of his “common sense” and his “business ability.” Reading long documents is a waste of time because of his rapid ability to get to the gist of an issue, he said: “I’m a very efficient guy.” What little Mr. Trump does know seems to come from television: Asked where he got military advice, he replied, “I watch the shows.”

Mr. Trump promotes a nativist, isolationist, anti-trade agenda that is supported by few if any serious scholars. He called for tariff increases that experts warn will cost millions of jobs and plunge the country into a recession. He claimed that Mexican immigrants were “bringing crime” even though research consistently shows that immigrants have a lower crime rate than the native-born. He promised that Mexico would pay for a border wall, even though no regional expert thinks that will ever happen.

Mr. Trump also proposed barring Muslims from entering the country despite terrorism researchers, myself included, warning that his plan would likely backfire, feeding the Islamic State’s narrative that the war on terrorism is really a war on Islam. He has since revised that proposal and would now bar visitors from countries that have a “proven history of terrorism” — overlooking that pretty much every country, including every major American ally, has a history of terrorism.

Recently, he declared that he would not necessarily come to the aid of the Baltic republics if they were attacked by Russia, apparently not knowing or caring that Article 5 of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty obliges the United States to defend any NATO member under attack. Last week, Mr. Trump even invited Russia’s intelligence agencies to hack the emails of a former secretary of state — something impossible to imagine any previous presidential nominee doing. It is genuinely terrifying that someone who advances such offensive and ridiculous proposals could win the nomination of a party once led by Teddy Roosevelt, who wrote more books than Mr. Trump has probably read. It’s one thing to appeal to voters by pretending to be an average guy. It’s another to be an average guy who doesn’t know the first thing about governing or public policy.

The Trump acolytes claim it doesn’t matter; he can hire experts to advise him. But experts always disagree with one another and it is the president alone who must make the most difficult decisions in the world. That’s not something he can do since he lacks the most basic grounding in the issues and is prey to fundamental misconceptions.

—————————-
1
COMMENT
In a way, the joke’s on the Republican Party: After decades of masquerading as the “stupid party,” that’s what it has become. But if an unapologetic ignoramus wins the presidency, the consequences will be no laughing matter.

Even if we can avoid the calamity of a Trump presidency, however, the G.O.P. still has a lot of soul-searching to do. Mr. Trump is as much a symptom as a cause of the party’s anti-intellectual drift. The party needs to rethink its growing anti-intellectual bias and its reflexive aversion to elites. Catering to populist anger with extremist proposals that are certain to fail is not a viable strategy for political success.

Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a foreign policy adviser to the presidential campaigns of John McCain, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Kurt Vonnegut’s 1988 Letter to the Future More Relevant Today Than Ever Before
By Kick Kennedy, EcoWatch
31 July 16

n 1988, my then Hyannis Port neighbor the late Kurt Vonnegut wrote a prescient letter to the Earth’s planetary citizens of 2088 for Volkswagen’s TIME magazine ad campaign. His seven points of advice are perhaps more relevant today than at any time in human history. We should keep this advice in mind this election year and adopt Vonnegut’s recommendations while we still can.

Here’s his letter:

Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088:

It has been suggested that you might welcome words of wisdom from the past, and that several of us in the twentieth century should send you some. Do you know this advice from Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: ‘This above all: to thine own self be true’? Or what about these instructions from St. John the Divine: ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment has come’? The best advice from my own era for you or for just about anybody anytime, I guess, is a prayer first used by alcoholics who hoped to never take a drink again: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’

Our century hasn’t been as free with words of wisdom as some others, I think, because we were the first to get reliable information about the human situation: how many of us there were, how much food we could raise or gather, how fast we were reproducing, what made us sick, what made us die, how much damage we were doing to the air and water and topsoil on which most life forms depended, how violent and heartless nature can be, and on and on. Who could wax wise with so much bad news pouring in?

For me, the most paralyzing news was that Nature was no conservationist. It needed no help from us in taking the planet apart and putting it back together some different way, not necessarily improving it from the viewpoint of living things. It set fire to forests with lightning bolts. It paved vast tracts of arable land with lava, which could no more support life than big-city parking lots. It had in the past sent glaciers down from the North Pole to grind up major portions of Asia, Europe, and North America. Nor was there any reason to think that it wouldn’t do that again someday. At this very moment it is turning African farms to deserts, and can be expected to heave up tidal waves or shower down white-hot boulders from outer space at any time. It has not only exterminated exquisitely evolved species in a twinkling, but drained oceans and drowned continents as well. If people think Nature is their friend, then they sure don’t need an enemy.

Yes, and as you people a hundred years from now must know full well, and as your grandchildren will know even better: Nature is ruthless when it comes to matching the quantity of life in any given place at any given time to the quantity of nourishment available. So what have you and Nature done about overpopulation? Back here in 1988, we were seeing ourselves as a new sort of glacier, warm-blooded and clever, unstoppable, about to gobble up everything and then make love—and then double in size again.

On second thought, I am not sure I could bear to hear what you and Nature may have done about too many people for too small a food supply.

And here is a crazy idea I would like to try on you: Is it possible that we aimed rockets with hydrogen bomb warheads at each other, all set to go, in order to take our minds off the deeper problem—how cruelly Nature can be expected to treat us, Nature being Nature, in the by-and-by?

Now that we can discuss the mess we are in with some precision, I hope you have stopped choosing abysmally ignorant optimists for positions of leadership. They were useful only so long as nobody had a clue as to what was really going on—during the past seven million years or so. In my time they have been catastrophic as heads of sophisticated institutions with real work to do.

The sort of leaders we need now are not those who promise ultimate victory over Nature through perseverance in living as we do right now, but those with the courage and intelligence to present to the world what appears to be Nature’s stern but reasonable surrender terms:

Reduce and stabilize your population.

Stop poisoning the air, the water, and the topsoil.

Stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems.

Teach your kids, and yourselves, too, while you’re at it, how to inhabit a small planet without helping to kill it.

Stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars.

Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship. That is really mean, and stupid.

And so on. Or else.


Am I too pessimistic about life a hundred years from now? Maybe I have spent too much time with scientists and not enough time with speechwriters for politicians. For all I know, even bag ladies and bag gentlemen will have their own personal helicopters or rocket belts in A.D. 2088. Nobody will have to leave home to go to work or school, or even stop watching television. Everybody will sit around all day punching the keys of computer terminals connected to everything there is, and sip orange drink through straws like the astronauts.

Cheers,
Kurt Vonnegut

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 31st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘Vote for Leaders Who Understand the Science and Urgency of Climate Change’
By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch
30 July 16

For environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, it is very clear why you can not stay home this Nov. 8.
Following 14 consecutive months of record-high temperatures, the United Nations declared last week that 2016 is officially going to be the hottest year ever.

The alarming report prompted the Oscar-winning actor to send out this tweet encouraging his followers to flex their civic duty: Follow Leonardo DiCaprio ? @LeoDiCaprio

Another reminder of why it’s so important to get out there and vote this year. twitter.com/guardianeco/status/7…
7:03 PM – 28 Jul 2016 (2,077 2,077 Retweets 6,159 6,159 likes)

He further dove into this important political topic on his Instagram page.

“It’s time to vote for leaders in every community who understand the science and urgency of climate change,” the post states. “Take a stand and vote.”

The post included a photo of the Riau Rainforest in Indonesia being cleared for a palm oil operations, which is a major driver of deforestation that releases greenhouse gases and leads to biodiversity loss.

It’s time to vote for leaders in every community who understand the science and urgency of climate change. Take a stand and vote. #Regram #RG @everydayclimatechange: everydayclimatechange photo by John Novis @johnnovis for @everydayclimatechange Forest Clearance in Riau Rainforest clearance and burning in the RAPP concession (Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper) in Giam Siak Kecil area to clear land for plantation establishment. The rapid conversion of forests and peatlands for oil palm and pulp plantations, and logging, is a major driver of deforestation in Indonesia. The carbon released by these activities make Indonesia the third largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss and the loss of livelihoods of forest-dependent peoples.

While he hasn’t explicitly said so, DiCaprio has virtually endorsed Hillary Clinton, who’s now officially the Democratic presidential nominee. The Hollywood A-lister has donated at least $2,700 to her campaign and he has also supported past presidential campaigns for John Kerry and Barack Obama.

“I believe in science. I believe that climatechange is real…” – said HillaryClinton — The time is now. Vote.
6:01 PM – 29 Jul 2016 (2,857 2,857 Retweets 9,983 9,983 likes)

DiCaprio also had glowing words to say about Clinton’s Democratic presidential rival, Bernie Sanders, especially for his environmental bonafides.

“Look, not to get political, but listening to Bernie Sanders at that first presidential debate was pretty inspiring—to hear what he said about the environment,” DiCaprio told Wired in December. “Who knows which candidate is going to become our next president, but we need to create a dialogue about it. I mean, when they asked each of the candidates what the most important issue facing our planet is, Bernie Sanders simply said climate change. To me that’s inspiring.”

Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump believes that global warming is a hoax. A vote for Trump would essentially be a vote for dirty energy, continued dismissal of science and, as Stephen Hawking noted, a more dangerous world. If elected president, Trump would be the only world leader who does not acknowledge the dangers and science of climate change.

Last night, accepting her nomination for president, Clinton said she is “proud” of the Paris climate agreement and pledged to hold every country accountable to their commitments to climate action, including the U.S. One of her best lines, which was met with loud cheers and applause, was a clear poke at Trump and other climate deniers: “I believe in science.”

DiCaprio is a longtime environmental champion. His eponymous foundation recently held its third annual fundraising gala in St. Tropez, France, setting a new fundraising record of $45 million that will go towards preserving Earth and its inhabitants.

“While we are the first generation that has the technology, the scientific knowledge and the global will to build a truly sustainable economic future for all of humanity—we are the last generation that has a chance to stop climate change before it is too late,” DiCaprio said in a speech at the gala.
DiCaprio celebrated Thursday on Instagram a major victory of one of his foundation’s partners, the Wildlife Direct and Elephant Crisis Fund in Kenya.

Last week, Feisal Mohamed Ali—a notorious illegal ivory kingpin—was sentenced 20 years in jail and fined 20 million shillings ($200,000) by a Kenyan court.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Why Is LA Toxic?

By Mark Ruffalo, Reader Supported News
Friday, 13 May 2016


With 840 miles of beautiful coastline and palm trees swaying in the breeze, “toxic” is not the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of California. Yet, in spite of its reputation as a progressive environmental state, California’s toxic affair with oil and gas has been hiding in plain sight.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Los Angeles, the nation’s largest urban oil field. Though it is the second most populous city in the country, L.A. is still the wild, wild west when it comes to oil development. Active oil wells dot the cityscape, connected by a spider web of pipelines carrying oil, explosive fumes, and corrosive acids directly under homes. Worst of all, these oil wells have a devastating impact on Angelenos’ long-term health.

I went on a “toxic tour” of L.A. and witnessed what it looks like when extreme fossil fuel extraction collides with the places where people live, work, and play. Our reliance on fossil fuels puts real communities at risk across the city. Extreme oil extraction injects a toxic mixture of chemicals into the ground to stimulate oil wells in a manner similar to fracking, and the emissions can cause headaches, nosebleeds, respiratory ailments, inter-generational reproductive harm, and even cancer for surrounding neighbors.

Last year, the state of California mandated an independent scientific assessment of oil and gas development. They found that in areas of high population density — such as South Los Angeles — oil drilling poses elevated health risks because more people are exposed to toxic air contaminants. The 580,000 Angelenos living less than a quarter mile from an oil well are subjected to the dangers of neighborhood drilling every single day. L.A.’s oil problem is more than just a problem; it’s a crisis of human health and safety.


On that eye-opening tour, I met young Nalleli Cobo — a South L.A. teenager who has been fighting neighborhood drilling since she was sickened at age nine by the AllenCo Energy drill site across the street from her home. For years, she was in and out of hospitals trying to get answers to the long list of symptoms she experienced daily. On some days, Nalleli had to be carried to the car to go to the doctor because painful body spasms made it difficult to move.


After hundreds of community complaints, USEPA investigators finally conducted an inspection — only to fall ill immediately upon entering the drill site. Though they were temporarily forced to shut down, AllenCo is now working to reopen the drilling site this year.

Make no mistake about it, L.A.’s oil drilling is toxic.

Shockingly, Nalleli’s story isn’t unique. California is the third largest oil producing state in the nation and over 75% of the active oil wells in Los Angeles are within 2,000 feet of homes, schools, or hospitals, where they pose the gravest threat to human health.

Concrete walls may try to shield extreme extraction from neighbors’ eyes, but they are useless at protecting them from poisonous fumes. It’s common to see workers in hazmat suits monitoring rigs on one side of a wall, while families on the other side remain completely unprotected sitting around their dinner table.

That’s why Nalleli, fueled by her sense of duty to protect her neighbors and fellow Angelenos, wants to hold her elected leaders accountable for allowing the oil industry to pollute her community. As a member of the coalition called Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling (STAND-L.A.), she has spoken at press conferences with Senator Barbara Boxer, organized health surveys to track symptoms in her community, and serves as a youth plaintiff in a lawsuit against the City of L.A. for violating her civil rights. Nalleli has even taken the fight to Pope Francis, asking him to urge the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to stop leasing their land to AllenCo Energy and other oil companies.

Fortunately, Nalleli is not alone in this fight. This Saturday, thousands of Californians will gather to support the communities on the front lines of neighborhood drilling at the March to Break Free from Fossil Fuels. They will gather at Los Angeles City Hall to call on Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson to put an end to urban oil drilling.


Confronting the mighty oil industry is not an easy task, but Mayor Garcetti and President Wesson need only follow the courageous lead of Nalleli and others in STAND-L.A. who have been fighting for years. L.A.’s elected leaders have the opportunity to send a clear signal to the rest of the nation with a victory in this climate battle. We must keep oil in the ground. Stand with Nalleli and families like hers on the front lines at this critical moment in history.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 2nd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BREAK FREE NORTHEAST – MAY 14, 2016

“The average global temperature change for the first three months of 2016 was 1.48°C, essentially equaling the 1.5°C warming threshold agreed to by COP 21 negotiators.”
Earth Flirts with a 1.5-Degree Celsius Global Warming Threshold, Climate Central, 4/20/16

This is an emergency. We need to act like it!

Buses from NYC and Brooklyn. Sign up now!

In Albany, on May 14th, as part of a global week of fossil fuel resistance, thousands of people will stand in the way of the fossil fuel industry in North America. Many of us will participate in direct action, and many more will come to rally and stand in solidarity. How you participate is up to you, but please be there. We need to demand a different world!

Representing a coalition from across the northeast, we will gather with frontline communities, including Ezra Prentice Homes, and others living in the oil train blast zone.

This act of mass civil disobedience against oil trains will also stand against fracked gas infrastructure and pipelines like AIM, and other fossil fuel projects like the Pilgrim Pipeline and Indian Point.

Gathering pipeline-fighters, power plant fighters and compression station resisters from across the region, we’ll join together to say it’s time to stop investing in the ways of the past.

Join to Break Free from Fossil Fuels in Albany on May 14th

SEE Map of Break Free actions around the world: breakfree2016.org

Break Free Albany Action Camp – Housing provided.

If you can go to the training camp in Troy there will be a civil disobedience training on Friday 5/13.

Or you can join us for a Break Free Training in NYC:
Non-violent Civil Disobedience Training
Saturday, May 7th
9am – 12:30pm
New York Society for Ethical Culture
Social Room, 2 W. 64th St.
New York, NY, 10025
Hosted by 350NYC and 350Brooklyn

This is an important moment: it is clearer than ever that we need a powerful movement able to make the changes needed. Throughout our history, few acts have been more powerful than conscientious civil disobedience. Break Free Northeast is an opportunity to put our bodies where our mouths are, and inspire a new wave of resistance.

We know the solution. Keep fossil fuels in the ground, stop funding climate change, and make an immediate and rapid transition to 100% Renewables Now.

Please join us is Albany on May 14th to Keep it in the Ground

In peace,
The 350NYC Team

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

80 new coal power plants for Turkey?

from Bahad?r Do?utürk and 350.org
Find out why Turkey is joining Break Free.

This May, thousands of people from all over the world will join a global wave of resistance to keep coal oil and gas in the ground called Break Free from Fossil Fuels. The fossil fuel industry harms people all over the world, and we wanted to share with you some of those stories in the lead up to these actions. You can find out more and join an action near you here.

Friend,

Right now the Turkish government is planning to build around 80 new coal power plants across the country. Four of those will be in my home of Alia?a.

Alia?a is already struggling with extensive pollution due to existing coal plants, and four new power plants will make the problem even worse. At a time when the world could be transitioning to clean energy, the government of Turkey is asking us to sacrifice even more of our health and our environment for this dirty industry.

Coal in Turkey already causes 2,876 premature deaths per year. Imagine the impact of adding 80 new coal power plants on top of the existing 21. And it’s not only the air we breathe; the ?zdemir coal plant in Alia?a currently produces 150 thousand tonnes of coal ash per year, which contaminates our food and our water. There are plans to add a second unit to this plant. This would mean 300,000 tonnes of coal ash per year, not to mention the irreversible damage to our climate.

We decided to join our forces as groups fighting against coal all over Turkey to stop every single new coal plant in our country. On the 15th of May, we are mobilising hundreds of people at the gates of the major ash pond in our area to clearly show that there’s no place for new coal infrastructure here, or anywhere.

We know that the impacts of these new power stations go well beyond Alia?a and Turkey. Coal is the world’s dirtiest power source and the source of carbon emissions and with global temperatures rising faster than anyone predicted the planet can not afford 80 new coal power plants. And we can not afford another coal plant in our town.

Will you stand with me and people all over the world as we fight to keep fossil fuels the only place they are safe: in the ground?

There has never been a better time to break free from fossil fuels.
People all over the world are planning bold actions of their own, which will keep fossil fuels in the ground and demand the transition to clean energy we know is possible.
Click here to find out more and to join an action near you: breakfree2016.org

signed:
Bahad?r Do?utürk

 350.org is building a global climate movement. You can connect with them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and become a sustaining donor to keep this movement strong and growing.

===========================

Please note that giant Peabody Coal Company of the USA declared bankruptcy today – as use of coal is dropping these days.
Sorry to say – but obviously this makes happy those that in the past clashed with the hold this company had on US governments.

==========================

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Union of Concerne Scientists
ACTION ALERT
Questions to the Presidential Candidates

Dear Pincas,

The next president will be leading a nation that is facing critical and complex challenges. That’s why we’re working with Science Debate to elevate discussion of science in the presidential election—and we want you to be a part of it.

Science Debate is crowd sourcing questions to submit to the candidates. We need candidates who are prepared to put forward proactive, evidence-based plans to address the most serious issues facing Americans today, including climate change, nuclear arms, food security, and energy and vehicle development.

For instance, here at the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, we think that the candidates should address scientific integrity in government and fighting attacks on the scientific foundation of public protection laws such as the Clean Air Act.

Starting next week, I’ll join a Science Debate team that will narrow down the questions to send the presidential candidates. You can vote for the scientific integrity and public protections questions, or another that you think is best. You can also submit your own question.

In 2008 and 2012, we got all major party presidential candidates on record supporting strong scientific integrity standards in government, leading to President Obama’s pledge to “restore science to its rightful place” in policy making. Help us do it again.

Sincerely,
MichaelHalpern_jpg
Michael Halpern
Program Manager, Strategy and Innovation
Center for Science and Democracy
Union of Concerned Scientists

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 31st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Two Parties Are (Still) Not The Same On Climate Change
March 30, 2016

by Bill Scher, of www.ourfuture.org


It may be that Hillary Clinton is not as progressive as Bernie Sanders. And it may be that Donald Trump holds some positions, such as opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that hold sway with economic populist.

But when it comes to the climate, there’s no debate. Clinton and Sanders are on the side of addressing climate change, and the Republican candidates are on the side of doing nothing.

I’ve written before about the nuances that separate the two Democratic candidates’ position on climate: Sanders proposing more ambitious goals and Clinton offering a more politically pragmatic approach.

And I’ve written about how Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are outright climate science deniers, while John Kasich merely refuses to give up coal.

With Trump you could never be completely sure if what he says yesterday will be consistent with what he says today. But he has been consistent for a long time about climate change: in 2013 and 2014 he declared global warming a “hoax.” He said in 2012, inaccurately of course, that, “wind farms are hurting the country” and “solar, as you know, hasn’t caught on because, I mean, a solar panel takes 32 years — it’s a 32-year payback.”


Now Trump and Cruz have filled out a survey for the fossil fuel-friendly American Energy Alliance in which they line up perfectly with right-wing orthodoxy on energy issues.


They oppose Obama’s Clean Power Plan to limit emissions from power plants. They oppose calculating the social cost of carbon emission when determining the cost of government regulations. They oppose subsidies for renewable energy. They oppose a carbon tax.


Sanders and Clinton have their differences, but their differences are over how best to combat climate change, not whether to do it at all.


Perhaps some day, we’ll have a Republican Party that accepts science so we can debate with their leaders the finer points of how to contain carbon emissions. But that day is not today.

==============================================================

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 21st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From our friend Jay Hauben of Columbia University – Hi,

Many peoples get spirit from celebrating the changes of season. The Jewish people celebrate the start of a new year with the coming of fall and the harvest. Many people in Asia celebrate a new year with a Spring Festival just before the coming of spring and the time for planting. People in the Persian tradition celebrate the new year called Norooz at the Spring Equinox. This year Norooz falls on March 20.

Ronda and I send you warm greetings for Norooz and for the whole year to come. May all of us learn from nature a way of renewing our lives, seeing the light instead the dark and uniting with all that is good.

Norooz is celebrated as the start of a new year by 350 million or more people worldwide. It is an ancient Zoroastrian celebration and was spread by the first Persian Empire established by Cyrus The Great over 2,500 years ago, around 550 BC. A later Persian empire even included parts of what is now the western Xinjiang province in China. That area was within the Sassanid Empire’s borders, around 450 A.D. Even today people there still celebrate Norooz.

Last year, after I sent out my Norooz greeting, a Korean friend answered that people in Asia consider every human being part of great Nature as is every tree or bird or even the wind. He said they try not to conquer Nature rather keep intact as a part of our body. I heard from a friend in Japan that it is also a Japanese tradition to celebrate the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes. A friend in Norway told me that “Nowruz – is deeply indo-european, it is New (in Norwegian Ny), the word rooz or ruz has rich associations in the direction of (new/re) birth, flowering, (spring out), in slavic languages rodzenia, rust (birth, growth). We need some of that in the world now, the Arab Spring did not quite get as far as I had hoped.”

An Iranian friend wrote to me. “We spell it No Ruz (New Day) but the double “o” is OK too- When in Iran everything closes and people picnic everywhere for 13 days, even stopping by the side of a main highway and pitching a colorful tent. Iran is certainly a major player as the most stable country in the region and has always had the respect of its neighbors-well, most of them…”

A neighbor in Manhattan wrote, “I love nature [when it’s not violent] and do learn from it when i can. unfortunately, we city-folks are not immersed in it; the little i see is from my window: the birds, the sky, the amazing view of the snow-filled trees, and central park; we all must go there soon.”

A friend in China responded to my Norooz message, “How nice to learn about the Norooz and the Zoroastrian religion of so many people of the earth village. I like definitely as you said: the way of life seeing the light instead the dark and uniting with all that is good. But to our common misfortune, there are always the powers who see the world as a neighborhood to control and to fight with rather than to respect and live in peace.” A friend living in Thailand observed that “Nature is pure and simple, human politics is complicated and insane.” And wished me and Ronda Happy Norooz.

Also, one of my cousins wrote to me that he is “familiar with the fact that many civilizations celebrate the solar equinox, which was and still is the start of renewing (spring and planting), the new yearly start of fertility, both plant and animal alike.” He reminded me that Jewish people celebrate Passover at this time and Christians celebrate Easter. It shows me that we people everywhere are really more the same than different.

Last year Ronda and I attended the UN celebration of Norooz. It consisted of short speeches and videos from twelve nations: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The theme of all the speeches was that Norooz reconnects humans and nature every year. That we all should learn from nature to renew our lives. That Norooz transcends ethnicity and religion and geography. The spirit of Norooz is good neighborliness. Translated into international diplomacy that means respect for cultural diversity and national sovereignty. I found such statements valuable even though I agree with my friend in China that there are dominant nations who see the world as a neighborhood to control not to respect.

Ronda and I hope you are and can stay well and that Spring will make everyone’s life a bit easier and more pleasant.

Happy Norooz, Happy Easter! Happy Passover!
Happy Spring!

Take care.
Hello from Ronda.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The idea driving the protests is that climate change can be blunted only by moving to renewable energy and capping any growth of fossil fuels.

The New York Times – Environment

Environmental Activists Take to Local Protests for Global Results

By JOHN SCHWARTZ – MARCH 19, 2016

READING, N.Y. — They came here to get arrested.

Nearly 60 protesters blocked the driveway of a storage plant for natural gas on March 7. Its owners want to expand the facility, which the opponents say would endanger nearby Seneca Lake. But their concerns were global, as well.

“There’s a climate emergency happening,” one of the protesters, Coby Schultz, said. “It’s a life-or-death struggle.”

The demonstration here was part of a wave of actions across the nation that combines traditional not-in-my-backyard protests against fossil-fuel projects with an overarching concern about climate change.


Activists have been energized by successes on several fronts, including the decision last week by President Obama to block offshore drilling along the Atlantic Seaboard; his decision in November to reject the Keystone XL pipeline; and the Paris climate agreement.

Bound together through social media, networks of far-flung activists are opposing virtually all new oil, gas and coal infrastructure projects — a process that has been called “Keystone-ization.”

As the climate evangelist Bill McKibben put it in a Twitter post after Paris negotiators agreed on a goal of limiting global temperature increases: “We’re damn well going to hold them to it. Every pipeline, every mine.”

Regulators almost always approve such projects, though often with modifications, said Donald F. Santa Jr., chief executive of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Still, the protests are having some impact. The engineering consultants Black and Veatch recently published a report that said the most significant barrier to building new pipeline capacity was “delay from opposition groups.”

Activists regularly protest at the headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, but there have also been sizable protests in places like St. Paul and across the Northeast.

In Portland, Ore., where protesters conducted a “kayaktivist” blockade in July to keep Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs from leaving port, the City Council passed a resolution opposing the expansion of facilities for the storage and transportation of fossil fuels.

Greg Yost, a math teacher in North Carolina who works with the group NC PowerForward, said the activists emboldened one another.

“When we pick up the ball and run with it here in North Carolina, we’re well aware of what’s going on in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island,” he said. “The fight we’re doing here, it bears on what happens elsewhere — we’re all in this together, we feel like.”

The movement extends well beyond the United States. In May, a wave of protests and acts of civil disobedience, under an umbrella campaign called Break Free 2016, is scheduled around the world to urge governments and fossil fuel companies to “keep coal, oil and gas in the ground.”

This approach — think globally, protest locally — is captured in the words of Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and a scholar in residence at Ithaca College who helped organize the demonstration at the storage plant near Seneca Lake: “This driveway is a battleground, and there are driveways like this all over the world.”

The idea driving the protests is that climate change can be blunted only by moving to renewable energy and capping any growth of fossil fuels.

Speaking to the crowd at Seneca Lake, Mr. McKibben, who had come from his home in Vermont, said, “Our job on behalf of the planet is to slow them down.”

He added, “If we can hold them off for two or three years, there’s no way any of this stuff can be built again.”

But the issues are not so clear cut. The protests aimed at natural gas pipelines, for example, may conflict with policies intended to fight climate change and pollution by reducing reliance on dirtier fossil fuels.

“The irony is this,” said Phil West, a spokesman for Spectra Energy, whose pipeline projects, including those in New York State, have come under attack. “The shift to additional natural gas use is a key contributor to helping the U.S. reduce energy-related emissions and improve air quality.”

Those who oppose natural gas pipelines say the science is on their side.

They note that methane, the chief component of natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas in the short term, with more than 80 times the effect of carbon dioxide in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

The Obama administration is issuing regulations to reduce leaks, but environmental opposition to fracking, and events like the huge methane plume released at a storage facility in the Porter Ranch neighborhood near Los Angeles, have helped embolden the movement.

Once new natural gas pipelines and plants are in place, opponents argue, they will operate for decades, blocking the shift to solar and wind power.

“It’s not a bridge to renewable energy — it’s a competitor,” said Patrick Robbins, co-director of the Sane Energy Project, which protests pipeline development and is based in New York.

Such logic does not convince Michael A. Levi, an energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Saying no to gas doesn’t miraculously lead to the substitution of wind and solar — it may lead to the continued operation of coal-fired plants,” he said, noting that when the price of natural gas is not competitive, owners take the plants, which are relatively cheap to build, out of service.

“There is enormous uncertainty about how quickly you can build out renewable energy systems, about what the cost will be and what the consequences will be for the electricity network,” Mr. Levi said.

Even some who believe that natural gas has a continuing role to play say that not every gas project makes sense.

N. Jonathan Peress, an expert on electricity and natural gas markets at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that while companies push to add capacity, the long-term need might not materialize.

“There is a disconnect between the perception of the need for massive amounts of new pipeline capacity and the reality,” he said.

Market forces, regulatory assumptions and business habits favor the building of new pipelines even though an evolving electrical grid and patterns of power use suggest that the demand for gas will, in many cases, decrease.

Even now, only 6 percent of gas-fired plants run at greater than 80 percent of their capacity, according to the United States Energy Information Administration, and nearly half of such plants run at an average load factor of just 17 percent.

“The electricity grid is evolving in a way that strongly suggests what’s necessary today won’t be necessary in another 20 years, let alone 10 or 15,” Mr. Peress said.

Back at Seneca Lake, the protesters cheered when Schuyler County sheriff’s vans showed up. The group had protested before, and so the arrests had the friendly familiarity of a contra dance. As one deputy, A.W. Yessman, placed zip-tie cuffs on Catherine Rossiter, he asked jovially, “Is this three, or four?”

She beamed. “You remember me!”

Brad Bacon, a spokesman for the owner of the plant at Seneca Lake, Crestwood Equity Partners, acknowledged that it had become more burdensome to get approval to build energy infrastructure in the Northeast even though regulatory experts have tended not to be persuaded by the protesters’ environmental arguments.

The protesters, in turn, disagree with the regulators, and forcefully.

As he was being handcuffed, Mr. McKibben called the morning “a good scene.” The actions against fossil fuels, he said, will continue. “There’s 15 places like this around the world today,” he said. “There will be 15 more tomorrow, and the day after that.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 15th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Oregon Becomes First State in Nation to Sign Bill That Phases Out Coal, Ramps Up Renewables

By Ben Jervey, DeSmogBlog

15 March 2016

The Oregon legislature just put another nail in the coffin of the coal era.

On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law one of the most ambitious and sweeping pieces of energy legislation in the country’s history, one which will eradicate the use of coal for electricity generation entirely within two decades.

The pioneering law makes Oregon the first state in the nation to legislate a ban on coal for the electric supply, while also mandating that utilities provide half of their electricity from new renewable sources by 2040.

Add those new renewables to Oregon’s existing hydropower resources and, in less than 25 years, the state’s electric sector will be between 70 and 90 percent carbon-free, one of the cleanest energy portfolios in the country.

Currently, coal supplies roughly 30 percent of the state’s electricity.

“Knowing how important it is to Oregonians to act on climate change, a wide range of stakeholders came to the table around Oregonians’ investments in coal and renewable energy,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “Working together, they found a path to best equip our state with the energy resource mix of the future. Now, Oregon will be less reliant on fossil fuels and shift our focus to clean energy. I’m proud to sign a bill that moves Oregon forward, together with the shared values of current and future generations.”

In Blue Oregon, Nick Abraham of Oil Check Northwest described this remarkable coalition of groups that came together to push for the law, an alliance that included ratepayer advocates, green groups and the utilities themselves.

“CUB believes that this a big victory for utility customers. Coal is a huge financial risk and we are mitigating this risk by moving away from coal and investing in clean energy instead,” said Bob Jenks, executive director of the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon, the ratepayer advocacy group.

Still, the legislation was fought tooth and nail by clean energy opponents in the state senate, particularly Republican Ted Ferrioli (who, according to Abraham, “takes tens of thousand from oil, gas and coal companies” every year). But, again, the utilities impacted by the law support the measure.

“Our company has been reducing reliance on coal generation and expanding our renewable energy portfolio for the past 10 years as market forces, regulation and evolving customer preference continue to drive change in the way electricity is generated and delivered,” stated Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power. “This landmark legislation allows us to effectively manage Oregon’s transition to a clean energy future in a manner that protects customers from cost impacts, ensures grid reliability and allows us to meet all of our responsibilities to the communities we serve.”

This sentiment was echoed by Jim Piro, president and CEO of Portland General Electric, the state’s largest electric utility.

“The path forward was forged through a collaborative process where we all tried to balance stakeholder needs,” said Piro in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Public Utility Commission and all of our stakeholders to implement this policy in a way that benefits the environment, manages price impacts for our customers and ensures that the reliability of the electric grid is not compromised.”

Clean energy advocates who fought for passage of the bill are celebrating. “Oregon had a clear choice to make: do we want to power our homes with coal or with clean energy? Today it is clear we chose clean,” said Oregon Environmental Council Executive Director Andrea Durbin in a press release. “Kissing coal goodbye and doubling renewable energy will give Oregon some of the cleanest power? in the country, delivers clean energy for all Oregon families and re-establishes our state as a leader in green.”

It will also effectively clean up the grid in neighboring states. Because of how the utilities procure their power, the impacts of the law will be felt throughout the whole northwest, as Noah Long and Angus Duncan explain on NRDC’s Switchboard:

“Although one-third of Oregon’s electricity today comes from coal-fired plants, the only in-state facility was already slated to retire by 2020. However, the two affected utilities supply power to Oregon from coal facilities they own in Utah, Wyoming and Montana. By ending Oregon’s investments, the market for dirty energy will shrink—which should speed the retirement of those aging plants.

“At the same time, the law doubles the amount of energy from new renewable resources that Pacific Power and Portland General Electric must provide to their Oregon customers. Therefore, the utilities will be obliged to look first to wind, solar and other clean energy sources—and not new base-load natural gas turbines—to replace those aged coal plants.”

Many state and national clean energy advocates have upheld the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan as a precedent setting model for other states to follow.

“This landmark climate legislation puts Oregon on a bold new course,” said Kristen Sheeran, Oregon director of Climate Solutions. “Moving away from coal and oil toward clean, renewable electricity raises the bar for clean energy in other states.”

Indeed, no other state has yet legislated an end to coal-powered electricity. (Though Hawaii and Vermont do boast electric grids that already operate free of coal).

The renewable energy standards that the transition plan mandates put Oregon amongst the small handful of states that have renewable standards of 50 percent of more. Hawaii, again a leader, will require a full 100 percent by 2045; California and New York now both require 50 percent within 25 years; Massachusetts is demanding a 1 percent annual increase indefinitely, until it reaches the full electric portfolio.

Now, given the state’s mandate to scrap coal from its electric mix, if the “thin green line” of Cascadia activists can continue to block coal exports from the state’s ports, Oregon can effectively bid adieu to coal entirely.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 13th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Markets – NPR

The U.S. Is Pumping All This Oil, So Where Are The Benefits?

March 12, 2016 5:00 PM ET

The U.S. has joined Saudi Arabia and Russia as one of the world’s top oil producers. But the benefits that many forecasters predicted have not materialized.

In 2015 – Russia produced 10.3 millions of barrels of oil per day; Saudi Arabia 10.1 mb/d; and the US 9.4 mb/d.

The U.S. has ramped up oil production so dramatically that it’s joined Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s third largest producer.

Since this surge began in 2008, American production rocketed from 5 million barrels a day to nearly 10 million barrels a day at the high point last year.

More importantly, oil analysts confidently predicted that a tide of benefits would flow as freely as the oil now coming out of the ground.

First, the U.S. economy would get a boost that would include a renaissance in manufacturing. Second, the U.S. would be far less dependent on the vagaries of foreign energy producers. And third, America could shrink its footprint in the volatile Middle East.

Yet none of this has happened. Why not?


Forecast No. 1: An Economic Boost

The boom, fueled by shale oil fields in places like North Dakota, was supposed to turbo-charge the economy. Energy would be abundant and cheap. Consumers would have more money to spend on other stuff.

And that’s all true. You see it in places like convenience stores. When it costs drivers less to fill up the tank, they buy more soda. Good for Coke. Good for Pepsi.

But many forecasters failed to see the other side of the equation. More American companies and workers are now linked directly or indirectly to the oil industry, and they get hurt when prices go down.

“Actually, oil has become more important to the U.S. economy because of this almost doubling of U.S. oil production,” said Daniel Yergin, the author of best-selling books on the industry, including The Prize and The Quest.

Americans used to worry only about high oil prices, he noted. But now the country needs to consider what happens when prices go down.

“You have people working all across the United States that are in effect part of the supply chains. So when the oil price goes down, and companies cut spending, this reverberates in Illinois, Ohio and many other states,” said Yergin, who is vice chairman of the economics firm IHS.

The U.S. economy has grown steadily since the 2008-2009 recession. But that growth has been modest compared to previous recoveries. Since oil prices crashed in the summer of 2014, going from more than $100 a barrel to around $30 today, the economy has continued at roughly the same pace.

So what’s the overall impact of cheap oil? Yergin describes it as a “titter-totter.” Some gains here, some losses there, but overall, pretty neutral.


Forecast No. 2: Energy Independence

U.S. imports have dropped dramatically, but this really hasn’t set the U.S. free in the ways anticipated.

All this new American oil contributes to the current worldwide glut and the low prices. And neither the U.S. nor any other country wants to be the one that cuts back and sacrifices its own production for the greater good.

“Someone has to cry uncle,” says oil analyst Steve LeVine, who writes for Quartz and teaches at Georgetown University. “The conventional wisdom is that American shale oil producers will be the ones. And they are in trouble.”

The reason is cost. Saudi Arabia and other low-cost producers still make a profit when oil is $30 a barrel. Much of the U.S. production is relatively high-cost, and many companies are losing money at the current price.

Every day, world production of oil exceeds demand by more than 1 million barrels. Many countries are running low on places to store the excess.

In the U.S., that place is Cushing, Oklahoma, home of huge and rapidly filling storage tanks, LeVine says.

Some 500 million barrels of oil are in storage around the world, says LeVine.

“That’s the largest volume in storage since the Great Depression,” he notes, adding that some forecasters are predicting that if storage runs out, oil could go below $20 a barrel.


Forecast No. 3: U.S. Pulls Back In The Middle East

Forecasters also argued that more U.S. oil would mean a reduced American need to resolve conflicts in the Middle East. Oil was, after all, the main reason the U.S. was drawn into the region decades ago.

But here’s the catch: Cheap oil can destabilize Middle Eastern countries that depend almost entirely on oil revenue.

Consider Iraq. It’s desperately short of cash as it fights the Islamic State and tries to stay current on salaries to millions of government workers.

President Obama pledged to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he has withdrawn the large contingents of U.S. large ground forces. Yet in Obama’s final year in office, the U.S. is still engaged in three regional wars — Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria — and dealing with instability throughout the region.

All the forecasts looked at the potential upside of more American oil, but never fully factored in the downside.

—————–
Greg Myre is the international editor of NPR.org. Follow him @gregmyre1.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The stakes are high. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on 2016 Presidential Elections
– The Risk I Will Not Take.

March 7, 2016 5:00 PM EST
By Michael R. Bloomberg

Americans today face a profound challenge to preserve our common values and national promise.

Wage stagnation at home and our declining influence abroad have left Americans angry and frustrated. And yet Washington, D.C., offers nothing but gridlock and partisan finger-pointing.

Worse, the current presidential candidates are offering scapegoats instead of solutions, and they are promising results that they can’t possibly deliver. Rather than explaining how they will break the fever of partisanship that is crippling Washington, they are doubling down on dysfunction.

Over the course of American history, both parties have tended to nominate presidential candidates who stay close to and build from the center. But that tradition may be breaking down. Extremism is on the march, and unless we stop it, our problems at home and abroad will grow worse.

Many Americans are understandably dismayed by this, and I share their concerns. The leading Democratic candidates have attacked policies that spurred growth and opportunity under President Bill Clinton — support for trade, charter schools, deficit reduction and the financial sector. Meanwhile, the leading Republican candidates have attacked policies that spurred growth and opportunity under President Ronald Reagan, including immigration reform, compromise on taxes and entitlement reform, and support for bipartisan budgets. Both presidents were problem-solvers, not ideological purists. And both moved the country forward in important ways.

Over the last several months, many Americans have urged me to run for president as an independent, and some who don’t like the current candidates have said it is my patriotic duty to do so. I appreciate their appeals, and I have given the question serious consideration. The deadline to answer it is now, because of ballot access requirements.

My parents taught me about the importance of giving back, and public service has been an important part of my life. After 12 years as mayor of New York City, I know the personal sacrifices that campaigns and elected office require, and I would gladly make them again in order to help the country I love.

I’ve always been drawn to impossible challenges, and none today is greater or more important than ending the partisan war in Washington and making government work for the American people — not lobbyists and campaign donors. Bringing about this change will require electing leaders who are more focused on getting results than winning re-election, who have experience building small businesses and creating jobs, who know how to balance budgets and manage large organizations, who aren’t beholden to special interests — and who are honest with the public at every turn. I’m flattered that some think I could provide this kind of leadership.

But when I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win. I believe I could win a number of diverse states — but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency.

In a three-way race, it’s unlikely any candidate would win a majority of electoral votes, and then the power to choose the president would be taken out of the hands of the American people and thrown to Congress. The fact is, even if I were to receive the most popular votes and the most electoral votes, victory would be highly unlikely, because most members of Congress would vote for their party’s nominee. Party loyalists in Congress — not the American people or the Electoral College — would determine the next president.

As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience.

I have known Mr. Trump casually for many years, and we have always been on friendly terms. I even agreed to appear on “The Apprentice” — twice. But he has run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears. Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican Party, appealed to our “better angels.” Trump appeals to our worst impulses.

Threatening to bar foreign Muslims from entering the country is a direct assault on two of the core values that gave rise to our nation: religious tolerance and the separation of church and state. Attacking and promising to deport millions of Mexicans, feigning ignorance of white supremacists, and threatening China and Japan with a trade war are all dangerously wrong, too. These moves would divide us at home and compromise our moral leadership around the world. The end result would be to embolden our enemies, threaten the security of our allies, and put our own men and women in uniform at greater risk.

Senator Cruz’s pandering on immigration may lack Trump’s rhetorical excess, but it is no less extreme. His refusal to oppose banning foreigners based on their religion may be less bombastic than Trump’s position, but it is no less divisive.

We cannot “make America great again” by turning our backs on the values that made us the world’s greatest nation in the first place. I love our country too much to play a role in electing a candidate who would weaken our unity and darken our future — and so I will not enter the race for president of the United States.

However, nor will I stay silent about the threat that partisan extremism poses to our nation. I am not ready to endorse any candidate, but I will continue urging all voters to reject divisive appeals and demanding that candidates offer intelligent, specific and realistic ideas for bridging divides, solving problems, and giving us the honest and capable government we deserve.

For most Americans, citizenship requires little more than paying taxes. But many have given their lives to defend our nation — and all of us have an obligation as voters to stand up on behalf of ideas and principles that, as Lincoln said, represent “the last best hope of earth.” I hope and pray I’m doing that.

———————-

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
David Shipley at  davidshipley at bloomberg.net

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