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Breaking the Climate Procrastination Habit: How to Bring on America the Sustainable


Breaking the Climate Procrastination Habit: How to Bring on America the Sustainable

Emily Schwartz Greco

President Barack Obama calls climate change the greatest “threat to future generations.” To do something about it, he raised fuel-efficiency standards, launched his currently stalled Clean Power Plan, and tucked


Great plan except it's not ever likely to happen. Sea rise alone is going to bankrupt the present civilization we've built. As for keeping the remaining coal, oil and methane in the ground good luck with that considering the enormous power of these countries and Corps.


"But averting what scientist Michael Mann calls “dangerous and irreversible changes in our climate ” will take strong post-Obama White House leadership."

Notice that Mann didn't say it will take someone who claims climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese but that is what we might get.


I like these eight. Here is a ninth suggestion...

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was created in 1975 to address security concerns following the oil embargo of 1973-74. The SPR currently holds about 700 million barrels of crude oil in special underground compartments in Texas and Louisiana. They can be emptied at a maximum rate of a little under 5 million barrels per day.

Of course, spending the “currency” in that national oil savings account would be a climate disaster – so here’s my “keep it in the ground” suggestion. The Federal Government should create a Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve (SRER) to pay off this 700 million barrel debt to mother nature (i.e. permanently seal the underground compartments). Let’s cover just half of that sunny land at the Nevada Test Site (about 700 square miles) with giant solar arrays creating the renewal energy equivalent of 5 million barrels of oil per day in power. Thus, the supposed security concerns addressed by the SPR would be easily covered by the SRER idea. Also, the Federal Government’s need for the weapons testing currently done at the Nevada Test Site would be easily covered on the remaining land. Considering the obvious benefit to the climate, this idea is a national security imperative. It would completely eliminate the need for the SPR and provide about 1% of our nation’s energy needs for as long as the sun shines.


Here is another suggestion ...

Climate change solutions will clearly involve penalizing carbon emissions in some way. Thus, a crucial step right now would be a product lifecycle carbon/greenhouse gasses emissions labeling law. We will never be able to penalize greenhouse gas emissions appropriately unless we know how much everything really contributes over its entire lifecycle. There seems to be wide support for labeling laws on a variety of issues so I have some hope that this first step is actually achievable in the near term.


Bit of a digression, but I eagerly clicked on the electric scooter link. Unfortunately, it is just another of a long, long line of now-defunct electric scooters offered that inexplicably have a top speed artificially limited to only 30 mph. Why do they do this? Would Vespa or Aprilla or Honda limit the speed of their scooters to only 30 mph?

It has nothing to do with the capability of electric scooters or motorcycles to go faster - although it leads the public to believe that. My 6 year old electric scooter by a now-defunct manufacturer goes 65 mph and has 50 mile range. Another older scooter a upgraded to a higher voltage lithium pack, modified the motor controller and improved its speed from 35 mph (zero on steep hills) to 50 mph and at least 30 mph on steep hills. The Zero electric motorcycle can go 120 mph and has over 100 mile range.


And the simplest way to penalize CO2 emissions is to reflect it in the price of the fuel. But oh, the screaming - even on the left - when it is suggested that gasoline in the US should be priced through taxes to levels seen in the UK or Europe (or even just Canada).


Very true. Another way to charge more for cars with high emissions is to charge more for them on toll roads. Here I am thinking about the EZ-pass we have here in the east (FasTrak in California; Good to go in Washington) - when your car goes through a toll booth it charges automatically - so there's no reason they can't vary the charge depending on the type of vehicle.


Most electric/pedal hybrids want to be classified as a bicycle for legal purposes (it means you don't need a license to drive them; you don't have to be an adult to ride one; and they don't have to comply with a series of things that are needed when you go faster). To be classified as a bike, the motor isn't allowed to be more powerful than what would move you at 20 mph on a flat service. Thus, by adding pedal power to the motor you tend to top out at 30-35 mph.


Yes, I'm aware of the rationale, although many places like Pennsylvania and Ontario require "token pedals" for the scooter to be considered a moped. And these low-speed electric moped-scooters are very popular in the central parts of Toronto. But the biggest potential market for these scooters is for people who do have drivers licenses and are willing to pay for license plates and insurance, and live in suburban areas where a speed of at least 45-50 mph (including uphill) is needed to keep up with traffic.

  1. Fund Planned Parenthood or kill yourself.


"Leading contenders to succeed him are, on the one hand, an amateur politician who would double down on fossil fuels at home and plunder them abroad and who has shared his climate change skepticism via Twitter:

"In the other corner: a professional stateswoman promising half a billion solar panels.

So how is it possible that all these millennials cannot tell the difference between Trump and Clinton on climate change? How diametrically different in their views do they have to be for the millennials to make the distinction? Some of these polling results are mind boggling.


Great, another list of solutions but no plan on how to implement.

The biggest challenge to making the necessary change is a change of mindset, mostly among people with power and privilege - white people. There has to be, individually, a deeper, spiritual transformation. People have to practice acts of cooperation, collaboration, and sharing. There has to be a willingness to examine power and privilege, when their structural and institutional manifestations are not readily visible, and decisions to relinquish and share power and to do with less (materially). People have to be willing to take more risks to make change - that means moving outside comfort zones. We have to learn to look forward to change and revel in discomfort.


Item #3 says we have to builder bigger grids.

Actually what needs to happen is the decentralization of energy into smaller units that can be linked to transfer power where it is needed and decoupled to spread the risk and limit the consequences of power brownouts or blackouts.


Exactly - and I think that's just what the author was saying - power generated locally with links to a big smart grid with net metering.


The key is the resilience and adaptability of the systems, not simply the scale.


Good point.


Thanks! Also, the sources of the power need to be spread out, not single large sources. For example, communities of rooftop solar panels vs. a large coal, natural gas, or nuclear powered plant.


Not sure I agree with that completely. Surely there is some trade off between robustness (which favors lots of small resources) and maintenance (which favors larger resources due to economies of scale). I thought a mix of local small community-based facilities combined with regional larger government run facilities could be better overall. (of course I'm not talking about "large coal, natural gas, or nuclear powered plants" here - just the scale issue)


Probably a mix of small community-based and controlled facilities and larger regional facilities makes sense as you say. Control matters, so having the larger facilities run by the government also makes sense (if those with decision-making power look out for and beholden to the collective interests). There is no future for the Duke Energys of the world.