Climate change increases drought and conflict in Syria

The military has been warning that climate change would be increase conflict around the world.

Syria appears to be a case in point. A prolonged drought has reduced rainfall over the past five years and caused massive crop failures. As farmers and herders have become unable to feed their families, millions have moved into urban areas.  Joining refugees from Palestine and Iraq, the displaced rural dwellers have created a situation that has not been reported until recently because the Assad regime kept journalists away.

http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/06/drought-helped-spark-syrias-civil-war-is-it-the-first-of-many-climate-wars-to-come/

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Clean Energy is Patriotic

A response to a comment that ‘environmentalists are anti-American’.
Top military advisors have repeatedly stated that US dependence on fossil fuels is a serious vulnerability for our national defense for several reasons.
First, the relatively small amount of oil and natural gas reserves on US territory, 4% of the world total, means that the prices and reliable provision of these fuels are not within our control. Wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen and algae fuel could all be manufactured in America, by Americans, and purchased for American security without giving favors to other countries or obligating us to meet their demands.
Second, the disruption of the climate mostly caused by burning fossil fuels is a threat to peace. Increasing droughts, floods, rising seas, acid oceans and fires are reducing food and water supplies and increasing instability, unrest and pressures to emigrate, a serious pressure on our military.

The cost of fuel is another factor. In 2010, army installations spent $2.1 billion on electricity. A $10 rise in the price of a barrel of oil costs the military an extra billion.A strong American industry manufacturing green energy and efficiency technology would be of great benefit to our military. Changing electricity sources for military installations to clean energy would help scale up the industry and reduce prices.

Finally, there is a safety factor. Installing solar panels and insulation on tents to reduce fuel convoys saves troops’ lives. Reducing use of flammable and polluting fuels is better for our health. 

It is thoroughly American to protect the purity of our waters, the stability of our climate,  and the freedom of consumers to choose new and improved products free from unfair competition by entrenched monopolies.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/oct/28/oil-us-military-biofuels

http://bit.ly/11wje2a

http://www.cna.org/EnsuringFreedomofMovement

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/jun/14/climate-change-energy-shocks-nsa-prism

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.

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.

Reduce storm risks with green energy

“Northeastern lawmakers are preparing to push Congress to approve extra spending to pay for repairing the damage wrought by Sandy” according to WSJ article

Response:

As our democracy plans its budget we should consult our most experienced and knowledgeable experts to provide for our security. For over thirty years, scientists have predicted that burning oil, coal and natural gas would raise world temperatures, increase evaporation, and cause weather to become more severe. Now NASA is pointing out the evidence.

It takes a couple decades after we burn coal, oil and gas, for the carbon dioxide (CO2) they emit to raise the world’s temperature. So the emissions of today will cause weather disruption that gets worse and worse over the next 20 years, even if we stop burning fossil fuels today. The damages are likely to be far more that what it would have cost us to create a new green energy economy according to World Bank economist Stern.

It is not too late to make a difference, however. We can reduce the catastrophic nature of climate change by starting to direct all new energy investments now into solar, wind, geothermal, wave, new grids, electric battery and energy saving technology.

Politicians who want to plan for improving the recovery of citizens from future hurricanes should stop subsidizing fossil fuels, give tax credits for investment in green energy, make public buildings and vehicles energy efficient, and fund smart grids to connect new solar and wind installations and keep lights on during storms.

Green Energy Made in America

A columnist  disagrees with President Obama’s decision to add duties to imported Chinese solar panels, claiming that it is “to create an empire of subsidized domestic “green” companies, dub them a “strategic” industry, and ladle out taxpayer dollars and regulatory favors in return for campaign donations.” ‘The Dumbest Trade War…’ by H  Jenkins Oct 12, 2012 WSJ

Response:

The safety of the American people is the primary responsibility of the US government. The 2010 US Quadrennial Military Review says that US dependence on oil is a serious vulnerability, and not just foreign oil, but all oil.  Because the U.S. has only 3% of the world’s reserves of oil and since the U.S. military is the world’s largest single buyer of oil, our foreign policy is subject to pressure from the regimes that sell us $350 billion worth of oil every year.  The big reserves of oil are in Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and more; with every ten cent hike in the price of fuel, those countries get richer. To depend on oil from American territory is not a solution because what we are getting now is increasingly expensive to extract, from under the Arctic Ocean, squeezed out of sand or forced from cracks in rock.

Clean energy is indeed a strategic industry.

Making electricity from solar and wind is now no more expensive in many places  than making it by burning coal or natural gas, and it is getting cheaper.  The cost of installing solar energy, according to Bloomberg’s first quarter Clean Energy Market Briefing was $7 per watt in 2007, $3 in 2010 and is now less than $1 per watt.  Subsidies have helped these industries scale up, but once they are mass-producing the prices drop, and profits increase. In Spain, even after subsidies for clean energy were dropped, the industries continued to operate with 5 to 15% profit.

Using green electricity to replace oil will be increasingly attractive as the price of electric batteries drops. A McKinsey study released in July estimates that mass production and new technology are lowering the cost of batteries and could make the cost of buying and operating an electric vehicles the same as a vehicle running on gasoline within 6 years.  China is promoting swappable batteries, particularly with fleet vehicles as a way to deal with slow charging time, although 20 minute charging is now common.

Almost every car company is now producing electric or hybrid models. They will provide real competition with oil. Most Americans have stopped believing the corporate hype that oil, coal and natural gas are our only options.  Solar, wind and other green technology attracted $260 billion of investors’ funds worldwide in 2011.

Solar panel manufacturers in China used large government loans, by one estimate $18 billion, to buy up domestic and foreign panel manufacturers, drop prices to gain market dominance and plan to set prices higher according to a report in the New York Times.

The  U.S. Commerce Department has responded by imposing 24 to 35% tariffs on solar panels from China.

A better option would be to increase tax credits for purchases of American made solar panels, and help local industries scale up to mass produce, export, and profit from increasing international demand for energy.

Bipartisan Support for Carbon Tax

Bob Inglis, Former Republican Congressman from South Carolina, and Art Laffer, formerly an economic adviser to President Reagan are promoting a revenue neutral tax swap. Through the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, they are calling for an end to subsidies on all fuels, attachment of full  accountability including health, productivity and environmental costs to all fuels, and revenue neutrality. They see this as a campaign to unleash the power of free enterprise to deliver the fuels of the future and to mitigate the risks of a changing climate.

George Shultz, Secretary of State for President Reagan, has expressed confidence that conservatives will support a carbon tax, because all forms of energy should bear their full costs, and not make society bear the burden of their side effects. . He is leading a group studying  threats to national security and how our energy use affects the climate.

Shultz enjoys driving an electric car powered on sunlight from the solar panels on his house that have long since paid for themselves. In an interview,  he quips, “Take that, Ahmadinejad.” He says, “It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact that the globe warming. That’s why we should be looking at ways to lessen our dependence on oil at all.” “I have three great-grandchildren, and I have to do what I can to see they have a decent future. If we let this go on and on.. they’re not going to have one. “