We’ve Got to Wake Up Song

Be careful, you’ll be humming it for days. 



Policies for a Green Energy Economy

An e-mail survey came today from the Democratic Party asking for thoughts about how we should move forward.

What do you think of this answer???

With thanks for the progress made toward a greener economy, I would like the President to make leadership for a new energy economy his top priority.  The price of a transition to efficiency and clean energy would be much less than the cost to our society of continuing to burn oil, coal and natural gas.

Americans know that burning fossil fuels increases catastrophic weather damage and risks future economic collapse. We have good alternatives, just in time to help us preserve our economy and our resources.

This plan would result in revitalization of our economy, increased employment, lower energy costs, export profits, and a safer world.

We need the administration to:

1. Support Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rulings based on climate science and a political policy imperative to end the burning of all fossil fuels

2. Increase Department of Energy (DOE) support for energy efficiency, and clean energy research, development and marketing

3. Cancel tariffs on foreign on clean energy technology and subsidize American clean energy production, (maybe with Department of Defense (DOD) funds, as military say our dependency on fossil fuels is a vulnerability,) Set carbon related tariffs on imported products from countries without a carbon tax.

4. Mandate all government facilities retrofit for energy efficiency and double required energy efficiency standards in new buildings

5. Mandate all new purchases of government vehicles be electric or hybrid, and continue research into non-food biofuels for aviation

6. Deny permits for additional oil or gas drilling, pipelines, or export terminals for coal, oil, gas or liquid natural gas

7. Support legislation for a carbon fee and dividend, energy standard, an end to subsidies for fossil fuel, tax credits for solar, wind, wave and geothermal energy production and other steps to incentivize investment in green energy, energy efficiency and conservation. The legislative goal should be for all new investments in energy to go into development of clean energy, not more oil, coal or natural gas. (Please note that the EPA has not determined that natural gas is better for the climate, and studies measuring unavoidable leakage and venting of gas/methane indicate that it is as bad as coal and oil. )

The Obama administration has helped the transition to a green energy economy, but worldwide carbon emissions are increasing. U.S. leadership could turn the tide.

Prices Should Include the Full Costs of Production

Ever feel like all your efforts to lower your carbon footprint are just not solving the climate problem? Bret Weinstein, agrees, it is not enough, in a TEDX talk on the “Personal Responsibility Vortex,

Our society lets corporations make money without taking responsibility for covering all their costs. As long as they can dump garbage, pollute air, land and water with toxics, waste resources, and overheat the climate without having to pay for these costs and damages, they will do it.

We expect businesses to add value to our society by creating products or processes that are helpful. However, many businesses do only what is in their own interest, regardless of the cost to society. Since these self-interested businesses tend be more competitive, they gradually push the beneficial businesses to focus more on short-term profit and the system evolves toward ruthlessness. Since the economy spills over into politics, the dynamic also concentrates wealth and power in people who are then able to veto any attempt to change the status quo.

We need to do two things, first require that all businesses engage in full cost accounting, putting every cost, every damage, every external consequence of production on public balance sheets. Then, require businesses to include all those costs in the prices of their products.

For individuals to choose low carbon options without working to change the system, feeds the vortex.

Weinstein suggests that if the founding fathers had been able to look into the future and see the mountaintop removal, deep sea drilling and high line logging, they would have put sustainability into the bill of rights.

We need to direct our efforts to “collective action that can restructure incentives that surround the market” and change the system.

Green Economy can Reduce Long Term Health Care Costs

We can reduce worldwide health care costs by transitioning to low carbon energy that does not overheat the planet, according to a new study.

Climate related health issues include illness from diarrheal disease estimated to kill 2.5 million people per year now, and half again that many by 2030. The warming   climate is also expected to raise death rates from extreme heat by 20%,  from malaria by 15%, and from meningitis by 25%. Agricultural and water losses are expected to raise deaths from hunger by  42% by 2030.

Adding climate related losses to industry, natural resources and habitat to these health costs is expected depress the world gross domestic product by 3.2% per year by 2030 according to the Climate Vulnerability Monitor.  

However, with an investment of  0.5% of GDP, one sixth the expected losses from global warming,  in low carbon policies like clean energy, energy efficiency, and forest conservation, we could stabilize the climate, strengthen our economy and reduce human suffering.

This study is chaired by the founder of the Club of Madrid, and advised by  international expertise in economics, resource and risk management, science and energy.   

Coal shipments from Montana to China not good for the economy

The Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies are holding hearings on proposals to take coal by train from Wyoming and Montana through Idaho, Oregon and Washington to terminals on the Washington and Oregon Coast for shipment to China. More information at the Power Past Coal Campaign.

Testimony we submitted: 

As part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)  for the proposed coal terminal, please include data detailing the results of shipping and burning that coal on climate, on human health, the environment and the economy.

If a government official has control of a loaded gun, someone asks if they can pass it to another person, the official agrees and it’s used for murder, the official and the government become part of that crime. We are asking you to make our government take responsibility for the results of its actions.

Building a terminal to ship coal will result in an increase in global warming. Emissions from burning and shipping  fossil fuel kill 5 million people a year now, through drought, flood, hunger, disease and trauma according to the  DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor.

If the EIS considers the economy and employment, it needs to include study of how global warming reduces productivity now and over the coming decades and the alternative of a green energy economy.

According to DARA, continued burning of fossil fuels will shrink the gross domestic product, costing us 6 times more than it would cost us to invest in energy efficiency and clean technology and reduce the risks of global warming.

The fossil fuel industry is spending its ample profits on intense lobbying and public relations to keep their 85% monopoly of the energy market, We have a responsibility to resist, to champion competitiveness. Society should no longer pick up the tab for the many external costs of fossil fuel or give permission for hazardous investments.

The cost of wind and solar electricity has been dropping steadily over the past decades and is already competitive with electricity generated by gas or coal in many places. By the time the terminal would be completed, solar electricity will clearly be a cheaper option.

Why would China then want to buy our coal?  China is already producing wind power for as low as 7 cents a kilowatt-hour and overflowing with cheap solar panel production. Green technology, including batteries, grids and efficiency innovations manufactured in America are the key to a stronger economy, increased exports and profits to our communities. 

Carbon Fee and Dividend to Spur Innovation and Jobs

Bill McKibben’s Letter 12/13/2012, excerpts:   “We need a simple honest flat across-the- board fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels, collected from fossil fuel companies at the domestic mine or port of entry, the fee gradually rising over time, the funds distributed 100 percent to the public, equal amounts to all legal residents, not one dime to the government, no enlargement of government. Such a “fee-and-dividend” system would cause fossil fuel CO2 emissions to rapidly decline, most coal and unconventional fossil fuels would be left in the ground. For example, economic modeling for the U.S. shows that a $10/tonCO2 fee, rising $10 each year, would reduce emissions 30 percent after a decade,…

“We have tremendous potential for innovation that will be spurred once there is a rising carbon price. New products, more jobs. As the carbon price rises, tipping points will be reached where low-carbon or no-carbon alternatives phase in rapidly, leaving fossil fuels in the ground….

“We need building standards, we should not produce electronic goods that draw energy even when not in use, etc. Such things will be easier to achieve, and partly self-enforced, by an underlying steadily rising carbon price….

“Only a few nations need agree on a carbon fee. They will place a border duty on products from countries that do not have an equivalent carbon fee. …This approach provides a tremendous incentive for other nations to adopt a similar domestic carbon fee, so they can collect it themselves rather than lose it as a border duty…”


Citizens Climate Lobby helps citizens lobby for national carbon fee and dividend legislation because it “will put us on the path of a sustainable climate by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning us to a clean energy economy.” Check out their introductory call every Wednesday.


Competitive Green Technology for a Strong America

A U.S. National Intelligence Council report predicts that before 2030 Asia will have more gross domestic product, military spending and technological investment than North America and Europe.

A new study by IEA , “Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012, says that renewable electricity generation should expand by 1,840 TWh between 2011 and 2017, almost 60% above the 1,160 TWh growth registered between 2005 and 2011. Renewable generation will increasingly shift from the OECD to new markets, with non-OECD countries accounting for two-thirds of this growth. Of the 710 GW of new global renewable electricity capacity expected, China accounts for almost 40%.”

Saudi Arabia has announced  that it plans to power 30% of its country’s growing energy needs with solar by 2030 on their sunny deserts.  Now they burn a third of the oil they produce to cool buildings in their 122oF summer months. Their oil, being a lighter crude, has a lower carbon footprint than oil from the Canadian oil sands.

It is time for America to exert its leadership, and turn its formidable talent for innovation and business development to industries that will play a pivotal role in this century’s economy, manufacturing  solar, wind, geothermal, battery, grid and other green technology. The rewards will be high.

The consequence of rejecting this opportunity and continuing to develop coal, oil, and natural gas, is increased  frequency of  record breaking weather events ,  damages to our coastal cities, agriculture, and international social instability. We can do better.