Obama, Sanders and the Republicans on Climate Change. Not Edifying.

From a Lukewarmer standpoint, when climate change is discussed by politicians running for office, little good is done. Precious little knowledge is displayed. No judgement at all is discerned.

On the other hand, when a politician no longer is running for office, we can see where her or his priorities lie. Thus, when several newspapers reported today that President Obama is unveiling his new and more robust EPA Plan for reducing U.S. emissions we can see several interesting themes.

First, his plan is indeed a war on coal. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is correct with his label. I support this war on coal, however–I am of the opinion that developed countries should move away from coal as quickly as possible. In part this is to give leeway to developing countries to continue using coal as they develop. In part it is to take the lead on developing alternatives. But in part it is because I believe that coal kills, even in rich countries. Coal kills miners, but it also kills through pollution via fly ash, mercury and simple emissions. It is an archaic fuel that served us well for a long time. But it’s time to say goodbye to it as a major fuel source.

Second, President Obama, who I support, respect and admire, is choosing to play politics with his proffered solutions. Setting a minimum of 28% of generating capacity from renewables and not including hydropower or nuclear as part of the renewable portfolio is ‘picking winners’, something government is not really very good at. Setting emission targets at 32% lower than 2005 by 2030 is not a big deal–I think we’ll make that with room to spare. But pushing states away from natural gas and towards more costly wind and solar isn’t going to help.

Third, by reviving the zombie of Cap and Trade (albeit a modified version of intrastate markets), President Obama is bowing to lobbyists for industry sectors not even associated with energy to help make money. Cap and Trade is unlikely to work. Even if it works it won’t work as well as a carbon tax. It will increase bureaucracy and skew incentives.

It shows Obama once again as a pragmatic Democrat who is doing what Democrats do–going out of their way to satisfy party stakeholders, even at the expense of the nation’s best interests. I’m a Democrat and I’m willing to put up with some of these games to get coal out of the picture–but this is very close to going too far.

But in contrast, Democrat Bernie Sanders and the gaggle of Republican candidates for the role of Obama’s replacement are incredibly worse. Here is a sample of their foolishness:

Bernie Sanders: ““Climate change is the greatest threat facing the planet,” Sanders said. He added that “the debate is over.” Fail. The planet faces a dozen threats greater than climate change and the debate has barely begun.

Dammit, I’m with Sanders on a lot of issues–I really am a confirmed leftist and I like the guy. This ritual obeisance to the party line on climate change is stupid–he’s more than willing to confront the party elders on other issues. There’s no reason apart from ignorance that he would accept the exaggerations of the Konsensus.

As bad as that is, the Republicans are worse:

“Rick Santorum calls climate change “a beautifully concocted scheme.””

No, climate change is real. It has been observed for decades. The planet has warmed and we have contributed.

“Senator Ted Cruz contends that no climate change has been recorded in the last 15 years, bluntly declaring, “It hasn’t happened.””

This is reminiscent of the Know Nothing nonsense of prior centuries. Global warming has stalled. But we do have records that go back more than 15 years. The world has warmed by 0.8 C since 1880 and 0.5C of that is since 1950.

“Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon, has said, “We may be warming. We may be cooling.””

No, Dr. Carson, we have been warming. We’re in a pause right now. We are not cooling.

“Former Florida governor Jeb Bush grants that climate change is real, but he is unwilling to say it is caused by humans.”

Bush is obviously the best politician here–what he says is the least offensive of the statements, but only because he doesn’t say that humans haven’t contributed to global warming.
“Donald Trump, meanwhile, sees a conspiracy: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing noncompetitive.””

Donald Trump is insane. I don’t know how else to characterize him. He’s insane about immigration. He’s insane about John McCain. He’s insane about the Chinese creating the concept of global warming. People are saying his candidaccy might be the equivalent of Perot’s quixotic play for the presidency, which gave a victory to a Clinton at the expense of a Bush. But really, Trump’s bombast and obvious ignorance of just about everything really is more reminiscent of another politician from an earlier era:


That’s Benito Mussolini, for younger readers.


16 responses to “Obama, Sanders and the Republicans on Climate Change. Not Edifying.

  1. As you know, I think the “Business as Usual” scenario depicted in the ipcc rcp8.5 pathway isn’t possible. I also think the USA plans won’t amount to much because other countries will increase emissions.

    However, I was curious as to what would happen, so I compared the co2 concentrations resulting from the gradual emission cuts caused by fossil fuel depletion (the case I wrote up in “Burn Baby Burn”), and the concentrations which result if all countries follow the EU, Obama, and China proposals (I called it “Obama-China + Europe CO2 Plan Results”). I grouped countries into three groups, EU by itself, Obama like, and China like. I assumed the China like group would follow the Obama like group with a 15 year delay. After all that effort the global average temperature difference between the two cases was 0.2 degrees C by 2050 (using a conservative tcr I got from Clive Best).

    I didn’t push the blog post beyond that point because the fossil fuel depletion case depends on market forces, and I have trouble predicting what happens after we hit peak oil, natural gas, and coal (I think the world is going to see wars and conflicts unless we get this problem fixed ahead of time).

    Anyway, it seems to me all of this effort is mostly a big waste of time, and it would make more sense to finance hydropower in a sensible fashion wherever it’s possible, plant low methane emissions rice, cut soot emissions, use a small CO2 tax, discourage urban sprawl and encourage mass transit, etc.

  2. Tom, You admit Obama and Sanders are both lying, misrepresenting the situation, the risk and the possible issues, then give them both a pass.
    Simply because you like their politics.
    “Climate change is real”.
    I have a serious question:
    Just what does “cliamte change is real” actually mean?
    Where is a non-circular objective definition for that posted?

    • Hiya hunter

      Climate change is real. Recent climate change almost certainly includes a human contribution.

      Are Obama and Sanders lying or listening to the people paid to advise them? Assuming as I do they have not studied climate science at all, are they crazy to listen to the IPCC, the EPA,, the bazillion organizations that have said that human caused climate change is an issue?

      I certainly don’t think so. I just think they’re wrong about the extent and immediacy of the problem.

      • If its real, there must be a succinct definition. After all of these years I am actually uncertain of what that definition is. And what was the justification for all of us to move from global warming or AGW to cliamte change?

      • Tom,
        In a social madness, yes the experts that have bought into the madness are not to be trusted.
        My question about defining “climate” and “climate change” is serious.
        Google for a definition and read the selection.
        There is not a good definition for either. Nor a good explanation for the branding change.
        Think about it. Hundreds of billions spent on something that has not even been well defined to this date.

  3. And as to illegal immigration, move on back to the US, live near the Mexican border and let us know just how crazy Trump is.

    • Hi again, hunter. You think immigration is an issue only in the U.S.? It’s a worldwide issue. And in almost every country the people who sound like Trump are from the fringe far right. From Hungary to Italy, it’s always the same clowns.

      Normal people are concerned about immigration and its effects. But there’s a mile’s worth of difference between them and Trump.

      • I’m opposed to illegal immigration. And I suspect it will doom the democrats as the problem gets worse. I don’t know what Trump says, but very soon we should see other candidates bring up the issue. They don’t have to be extreme about it, just say they’ll build more fences and enforce the existing laws.

      • Tom, that was not much of an answer.
        I do not think that the desire of an enforceable border and the enforcement of reasonable immigration policy is a far right or fringe issue.
        Calling people who would like good borders “clowns” is a reactionary and non-productive approach.

      • I’m not against enforceable borders or consistent administration. Few are. I’m against driving hysteria by saying all Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers.

      • He never said “all”. Only the media (the same media that has deceived so effectively on climate) implies he says that.

      • You’re right hunter. This is what he actually said: ““When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

        It’s bats**t crazy to think that Mexico is sending people at all.

    • Tom,
      The Mexican government has published guides on how to sneak into the US successfully. Members of the Mexican Government are involved in the human traffic and drug smuggling that is part and parcel of illegal immigration.

      I know you are a long way from the US and not seeing this up close like some of us.
      I have met one of the leaders of this organization:
      She is Hispanic and her brother was murdered by an illegal.
      She was outraged at the callousness with her brother’s widow and the rest of the family were treated with by government authorities.
      This led her to help start this group.
      I do not find her crazed, unbalanced, or extreme.

  4. Streamline nuclear regulations. Build some proof of concept next generation nuclear plants. This looks like where the best prospects are.

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