Ten Things President Obama Needs You To Know Right Now

chicagoskylineWhile the rest of America has been transfixed by the spiraling, ever-worsening economic crisis, the auto industry bailout and the Obama transition team leaks about Hillary Clinton and John McCain’s new roles in the Administration, I’ve been in Chicago engrossed in meetings with people I promised I’d never admit having met with.  So lets just say I went for the blues and the BBQ.

music_bluesAlong with the pulled pork I enjoyed finding out that these Chicago guys are smart enough to know what’s really going on out there and sharp enough to know they’ve got to get the rest of the country up to speed before January 20th rolls around.

It’s not like they gave me any secret briefing information or anything.  And it’s not like they told me what to write – not in so many words anyway.  But if you’d like to help the President hit the ground running – and be able to keep up with him along the way – here’s what you need to know.

#1  This Economic Crisis?  It’s Kid Stuff Compared To What’s Happening With The Climate Change

2008-08-02-great_depression_soup_lineLet me make it real simple for you.  The economic crisis which has lowered the value of our homes, made our banks and financial institutions unstable and caused companies to lay off tens of thousands of people can all be solved with one thing – money.

We can print more money and we can run deficits from now till doomsday.  Deficit spending has been around for a long, long time.  Don’t believe that fairytale about it being put on the credit card for our kids and grandkids to pay.  They’ll just make the minimum monthly payment like most people do and pass the bill on down the road.  What the hell… it’s only money.  And that’s my point.

But it doesn’t work that way with the climate.  That’s no such thing as a “just print more money” option with the climate. Some people already believe we’re past the point of no return and it won’t matter what we do now. Some folks are already pretty sure that we are already toast.

080828_obamagym22I choose to believe we have one last great hurrah of a chance.  I embrace the notion of change on a bigger-than-life scale.

But in order to change that much you’ve got to know what you’re really up against if you don’t.  And what we’re up against is merely the end of civilization as we now know it.  Sure, some might say not much of a loss, but your Greenius and a bunch of dudes I hung with in Chi-town says otherwise.

So here’s what you need to know about what we’re up against, climate-wise.   As usual, I’m telling it the way it is.  And as the late, great Casey Stengel used to say, “You could look it up.”

I’m the Greenius and I’ve got links and backup evidence.  It’s not like I had to do any of the original research.  All I had to do was read.  Now, when you’re done reading this you will have everything you need to be ready to help me and Barack out with a few things.

house-on-fireFirst things first.  The roof.  The roof.  The roof is on fire.

Let’s just start with the news in today’s paper.  You know how much I love the National Parks? Well that’s how much Bush and their supporters hate these crown jewels of our nation.  Check this out from today’s Los Angeles Times:

The Environmental Protection Agency is completing new air quality rules that will make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, despite the fact that half of the EPA’s 10 regional administrators have formally dissented from the decision and another four have criticized the move in writing.

Documents obtained by the Washington Post show that the Bush administration’s push to weaken Clean Air Act protections for “Class 1 areas” nationwide has sparked fierce resistance from senior agency officials.

Make no mistake about it, there are many groups of people throughout the EPA who hate how their agency – which is supposed to be protecting us – has been used like a tool and hijacked to do more harm than good.  These people will come out of the woodwork come Jan 20.  But there’s a couple of months between now and then.  Plenty of time for destroyers to wreck more of their havoc.

A Last Push To Deregulate

Here’s a few more evil deeds they’re taking care of on their way out the door:

The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.

earth_atlantic

Apparently Bush and Cheney haven’t yet fulfilled their pact with Satan.  Who knew?

Climate change puts U.S. way of life at risk: EPA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under fire for apparently discounting the impact of climate change, on Thursday said global warming poses real risk to human health and the American way of life.

Risks include more heat-related deaths, more heart and lung diseases due to increased ozone and health problems related to hurricanes, extreme precipitation and wildfires, the agency said in a new report.

You have to love how these guys, who have been in denial since the day Bush took office have suddenly awaken from their coma and can now smell the smoke from the fire they’re standing in the middle of.

wyoming-yellowstone-national-park-wyyel1

Report: Climate change affects Yellowstone

From Walden Pond in Massachusetts to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, climate change has begun to dramatically affect the flora and fauna of these American treasures, according to two studies in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The studies show that the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past few decades has caused a loss of many of the flowers that Henry David Thoreau recorded in his book Walden and also has contributed to a decline in several species of native animals once common in Yellowstone.

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Acid Test: Can We Save Our Oceans from CO2?

The problem is one of many associated with ocean acidification. That change is well underway – a consequence of warming that has already happened and fossil-fuel emissions that have long since been dumped into the atmosphere.

In absorbing those emissions the oceans have buffered humanity from the worst effects of climate change. But in doing so ocean chemistry has changed, acidifying to levels not seen in 800,000 years.

The result, according to a new report issued today by Oceana, is that today’s ocean chemistry is already hostile for many creatures fundamental to the marine food web. The world’s oceans – for so long a neat and invisible sink for humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions – are about to extract a price for all that waste.

Don’t even get me started about the huge and growing dead zones in the oceans or the ginomous floating continent-sized mass of plastic bigger than the state of Texas.

plastic-ocean-trash

deadzone_how061007

Marine dead zones set to expand rapidly

Rising levels of carbon dioxide could increase the volume of oxygen-depleted ‘dead zones’ in tropical oceans by as much as 50% before the end of the century — with dire consequences for the health of ecosystems in some of the world’s most productive fishing grounds.

Right now as I write this we’re still sweeping up ash from the wildfires that are burning all around us.  We had us a small 10 acre fire here on the Peninsula last weekend but they put it out pretty quickly.  But as bad as they are, these fires are peanuts compared to what’s coming…  Fire season is now year round here.

California gets dire warning on global warming

southern-california-wildfire-jj-002

Global warming will have a broad and devastating impact on California’s economy over the next century, according to a report released Thursday.

Roads and bridges, the water supply, agriculture, public health and even winter skiing all will be affected by global climate change, said the report by University of California-Berkeley agricultural and resource economics professors David Roland-Holst and Fredrich Kahrl.

The report said damage could reach many billions of dollars per year. In real estate alone, up to $2.5 trillion of the state’s $4 trillion worth of homes and other buildings are at risk from rising sea levels, wildfires and other extreme weather events occurring as the world gets warmer, it said.

If that all sounds like problems that won’t be here for many, many years, then you probably missed the story just last Friday that was headlined:

California ordered to prepare for sea-level rise

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered preparations for rising sea levels from global warming, a startling prospect for the most populous U.S. state with a Pacific Ocean coastline stretching more than 800 miles.

Why is this happening?  And not just in California but all around the word? It’s the C02 stupid…

fierce_skies1

#2  C02 Levels Have Risen Much Faster, Much Higher Than We Feared.

C02 levels must be returned to 350 ppm or you’re not going to want to see what happens.  I’ve been writing about this for over a year now and I’m passing on information I learned from much smarter people.  People like Joe Romm at ClimateProgress.com.  The truth is out there and so accessible you’d still find it if you were blind, or deaf or had no hands or feet.

We’re already in the danger zone and anyone talking about doing any more drilling or using any more coal is a fool or a con artist.  If you think I’m wrong about this then you haven’t been doing your homework.  This is no longer a debate.  Here are the facts:

c_10162007_520Stabilize at 350 ppm or risk ice-free planet, warn NASA, Yale, Sheffield, Versailles, Boston et al

Present policies, with continued construction of coal-fired power plants without CO2 capture, suggest that decision-makers do not appreciate the gravity of the situation. We must begin to move now toward the era beyond fossil fuels. Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions, for just another decade, practically eliminates the possibility of near-term return of atmospheric composition beneath the tipping level for catastrophic effects.

“Carbon Emissions Shock Researchers”

Here’s what the first four paragraphs said:

“The world pumped up emissions of the chief human-produced global warming gas last year, setting a course that could push beyond leading scientists’ projected worst-case scenario, international researchers said Thursday.

The new numbers, which some scientists called “scary,” were a surprise because experts thought an economic downturn would slow energy use. Instead, carbon dioxide output rose 3% from 2006 to 2007.

That amount exceeds the most dire outlook for emissions from burning coal and oil and related activities as projected by a Nobel Prize-winning group of international scientists in 2007.

Meanwhile, forests and oceans, which suck up carbon dioxide, are doing so at lower rates, scientists said. If those trends continue, the world will be on track for the highest predicted rises in temperature and sea level.”

Study warns of environmental crisis

From those know-nothing’s at that school for dopes, Yale University.  I’m sure no one at Harvard is worried…

Yale Daily News:

An international team of 10 researchers — including Yale professors of geology and geophysics Mark Pagani and Robert Berner — determined that current levels of carbon dioxide have already surpassed the estimated cutoff level that would cause damage to the planet. The study also found that this threshold level is actually much lower than previously estimated. Still, one Yale climate expert said it would be impossible to implement policies to reach the goal the study sets out.

Past research on greenhouse gases indicated that 450 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 would be the “tipping point” beyond which the effects of global warming would begin to rapidly escalate. But the study, which was headed by James Hansen, a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies at Columbia University and NASA’s lead climate scientist, revised this theory, showing that this threshold level is closer to 350 ppm. The level of CO2 found in the atmosphere — 385 ppm — is already higher than this, and is increasing annually by two ppm.

polar-bear-looking-for-ice

#3  The Impacts You’ve Been Warned About In The Future Are Already Happening Today

Every single day I research this subject more dire news comes out.  Like today’s news that last month was the second warmest October in recorded history and that the “coming decade” (2010 to 2020) is poised to be the warmest on record, globally.

That’s right in line for the other dare-I-say “sobering” news I’ve read in the last 60 days:

6a00e554fbbc02883400e554e0dd1e8833-800wiRead This About The Ice Melting,

Click On This To Check Out How Sea Levels Are Now Rising,

Find Out Here About How Screwed The Polar Bears Already Are

Did You Read This About The Permafrost Now Melting?

How About This About Peat Bogs Drying Up And How Badly That Sucks For You?

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

British scientists have discovered hundreds more methane “plumes” bubbling up from the Arctic seabed, in an area to the west of the Norwegian island of Svalbard. It is the second time in a week that scientists have reported methane emissions from the Arctic.

Methane is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and the latest findings from two separate teams of scientists suggest it is being released in significant amounts from within the Arctic Circle.

arcticicemelt

Did I mention that arctic ice is likely at a record low volume?

Any one of these stories would be bad news for us by themselves.  All of them in combination are as serious as a heart attack.

You know those people who say these are all just natural occurrences and nothing to be worried about?  They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

If you read only this Creative Greenius post and the evidence I’ve linked to you wouldn’t need to wonder one second longer what’s going on or what we have to do about it.  But just in case you’d like me to spell it out for you so you can spell it out for the people you’re now going to straighten out, here it is:

#4  Urgent Need For A Green Shift Away from Fossil Fuels

green_jobs_nowThe more gasoline we burn in our cars and coal we burn in power plants the further we put ourselves from reducing C02 to levels that won’t destroy our way of life.

This fact makes many decisions now facing us pretty damn easy.  Even if burning fossil fuels wasn’t cooking the atmosphere, the pollution it causes also costs us big bucks in health costs and other damage to our environment.  If you’re at all pro-life you’ve got to be anti-fossil fuel.  That’s only logical.

Replacing fossil fuels with green, renewable energy – solar, wind, geothermal – all of which are ready right now to generate clean power – not only solves the environmental and health problems it creates a new green economy building the renewable power infrastructure.  Taking the lead in these areas starting now, gives the USA the chance to be the leader in these categories who can then sell its solutions and expertise to the rest of the world.

The stars have aligned to achieve the impossible:

*  The climate crisis requires a world-wide, game-changing shift away from producing greenhouse gasses.

* The economic crisis gives us a once-in-lifetime chance to seize this moment and make the game-changing changes we need.

* The election of Obama gives us another golden opportunity.

* And so does this ruling that happened just last week:

Forcing Coal Plants To Limit Their CO2 – Or Take Your Clean Coal & Shove It

Good thing for us the the EPA’s appeal board isn’t under the same screws the Bush administration has put to other parts of the organization.  Just last week that board ruled the EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit from new coal-fired power plants the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming.  The decision means that all new and proposed coal plants nationwide must go back and address their carbon dioxide emissions.  And that means no more new coal fired plants here in the USA.

“Today’s decision opens the way for meaningful action to fight global warming and is a major step in bringing about a clean energy economy,” said Joanne Spalding, Sierra Club Senior Attorney who argued the case. “This is one more sign that we must begin repowering, refueling and rebuilding America.”

“The EAB rejected every Bush Administration excuse for failing to regulate the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States.  This decision gives the Obama Administration a clean slate to begin building our clean energy economy for the 21st century,” continued Spalding

So no new coal plants.  And the EPA is going to be hard pressed to justify keeping any of the existing coal plant operating.  If they’re not employing magical fantasy “clean coal” technology that keeps them from adding to greenhouse gasses then they should be shut down and replaced with clean energy.

energy_main_385

#5 100% Renewable Energy For US Electric + A New Smart Grid & Plug In Cars

Al Gore is right on with his call for 100% of the USA’s energy to come from clean, renewable sources in ten years from now.   We should spend the necessary money on building those clean power supplies and the nationwide smart electrical grid that will not only allow us to transmit the wind and solar energy to the homes that need then, but also allow two way of transmission of electricity to allow vehicle to grid charging and storage.

And those plug-in cars, both in full electric and plug-in hybrid form should come from the US Auto industry who should be forced to ditch their internal combustion line of products for plug-ins starting immediately.

With these failing dinosaurs teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and begging hat-in-hand for a “bridge loan” bailout, we have more leverage than we’ll ever have.  Lets use it to force the changes they will never make without our direction. Monumental failures like the clueless and arrogant Rick the Dick Wagoner at GM should be fired with no severance.  Dump most of the management and replace them with the leaders of the plug-in car movement.  Dr. Andrew Frank’s drivetrain technology should be employed starting today. People like Dr Tom Turrentine of UC Davis, the fabulous Dan Reicher of Google, and Mark Duvall of the Electric Power Research Institute, EPRI.

#6 Chindia, A Tale of Power Plants and Automobiles

tata-texas-lemon-lawChina & India are both adding coal fired power plants and cars faster than the climate can handle.  How can we stop them?  By selling them the solution.

Both India and China are at great risk from the impact of climate change, specifically rising seas.  Not just their own, but their neighbors who stand to send millions of refugees their way.  Neither of these mega countries wants to kill and sicken their own people either.  And the more the quality of life improves for individuals in both these nations the more the people will fight to keep those lives healthy and long-lasting.

So first we’ve got to become the shining example of clean, renewable, state of the art energy and plug-in cars and then we’ve got to use ourselves as the greatest marketing example for the rest of the world.  We can sell the green fossil free lifestyle as well as we sold the American way of life following World War II.

It’s not like we’d be introducing these markets to a brand new concept.  China, India, Pakistan and most of Asia are already working overtime innovating, inventing and producing new energy efficient lighting, solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars, next generation batteries and all manner of renewable energy products.

#7  Climate Change, Infrastructure & Mass Transit

traffic-jamWe need to begin a nationwide public works infrastructure building project on a New Deal era scale.  Our economy needs both the jobs and the work those jobs will produce.  We need more roads, highways bridges and mass transportation not just because our current system is overwhelmed and falling apart but also because with population growth projections and with the flood of clean, nonpolluting electric cars soon to be on the road everyone today’s system is already out of date.

When everyone has an electric car and can charge it anywhere they park, then folks won’t have any reasons NOT to drive – everywhere they go.  But if the roads are gridlocked – and they’re going to be, then we’re going to need new green light rail and other forms of handy mass transportation that actually takes people where they need and want to go.  Imagine that.

#8  Climate Change is Also A Health Issue

You probably didn’t think that climate change was one of the reasons we need to have National Health Care system in place, but it is.  Here’s what the folks at the World Health Organization have to say:

ccfig

The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that there is overwhelming evidence that humans are affecting the global climate, and highlighted a wide range of implications for human health. Climate variability and change cause death and disease through natural disasters, such as heatwaves, floods and droughts. In addition, many important diseases are highly sensitive to changing temperatures and precipitation. These include common vector- borne diseases such as malaria and dengue; as well as other major killers such as malnutrition and diarrhoea. Climate change already contributes to the global burden of disease, and this contribution is expected to grow in the future.

Are you understanding why I think climate change trumps all other issues when it comes to sense of urgency?  But wait, there’s more… It’s not just health, you need to understand the security implications of climate change too –

#9  Climate Change Is a Serious Military Concern

ocpa20050907173042

US Military Worried About Climate Change

As a new administration committed to addressing climate change takes office, intelligence and defense officials are laying plans to address the national security implications of a warmer planet.

In recent months, U.S. military planners have discussed the impact on personnel, equipment and installations of extreme weather events, rising ocean temperatures, shifts in rainfall patterns and stresses on natural resources.

Among the concerns: 63 U.S. coastal military facilities and several nuclear reactors are in danger of flooding from storm surges, said Tom Fingar, the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis.

President-elect Barack Obama next month will receive a key intelligence report, Global Trends 2025. Sources who reviewed the document for the government but asked not to be named said the report gives top priority to climate change.

That’s from the conservative Washington Times.  It must kill them to have the military admit this stuff.  Check out this piece from Wired with the following headline:

Climate Change May Sap Military, Intel Chief Says

Climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years,” Fingar noted, as he presented an open summary of a classified National Intelligence Assessment on the effects of global warming. But the biggest impact is likely to be overseas, where “climate change… will worsen existing problems — such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions. [That] could threaten domestic stability in some states, potentially contributing to intra- or, less likely, interstate conflict, particularly over access to increasingly scarce water resources.” America will almost invariably have to cope with the consequences.

By now you no doubt get it.  And you can dig why your Greenius went to this great length to lay it all out for you.  I know my new pals in Chicago appreciate it.  And now that you know what condition your condition is in…

#10 Now For The Good News!

Obama Gets It & Change IS Coming

If you wondered just how important this election was, there’s your answer.  Barack Obama was the only candidate running who would have made this statement and who will back it up with action.

It’s too bad he’s not in office this very day.  We can’t afford to waste the next two months.

But don’t worry, your Greenius won’t!

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3 thoughts on “Ten Things President Obama Needs You To Know Right Now

  1. As our friend, Paul Erlich, has pointed out, the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the climate. If we don’t get climate things changed, we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet economically.

  2. Hello there,
    It’s me, Amita from Nepal. I found this really good work.. Realizing and motivating, at least urging the man in position to take action RIght NOW!!
    I hope this will be crucial. For others also, it is worthy to know more about global warming and climate change.
    I along with my friends are working in Nepal through our network called Nepalese Youth for Climate Action (NYCA) in the area of Climate Change. Currently we are doing awareness and advocacy campaigns on climate change.

    Look forward for more work in coming days for this global issue that needs to be started from our local level..

    Let us lead towards green!

    Greenius:
    Greetings from Southern California, Amita, it’s a real pleasure to have you visit us from the other side of the planet. Thank you so very much for your kind words and praise and thank you even more for the work you’re doing with the Nepalese Youth for Climate Action. I visited your website and left a comment on the blog.
    Without a doubt we are linked by the consequences of climate change and I’m excited to learn that we are also linked by our work to educate the public and motivate our neighbors locally and across the globe to action.

  3. Great work! We need to WORRY about what we are doing. Latin America “Infrarrealistas” (Under-realists) said: Things don’t happen, we allow them to happen…
    I am developing a project to produce biocoal from agave biomass at a cheaper price than coal (US$50 per tonne), and with the same energy density and specs, to be used at electricity genmerating facilities all around. As you all know, coal is the worst!
    One hectare of Agave produces 3X the sugars in sugarcane, 4X the cellulose in eucalyptus and 10X the biomass in GMO poplar tree, it doesn’t need watering, nor agrochemicals, thrives in marginal land -in semiarid and temperate climatres-, is easy to cultivate and cheap to produce.
    I also want to produce agave-derived biochar, and sequester CO2 in the soils for thousands of years, whilst raising its fertility several times.
    Agave could be cultivated in 2/3 of the Eath’s habitable land.
    Best!
    Arturo velez
    agaveproject2@gmail.com

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