Monday, March 09, 2009

Are we making Climate Progress?

For all the efforts, it would seem that we are beginning to get somewhere. It feels like we are when Tom Friedman refers to Joe Romm's Climate Progress as the "indispensable blog".

Still, I am beginning to wonder if blogging, and twittering is not the new opiate of the people, making them feel good about doing something while the real power is applied behind the scenes to achieve other goals. Yes, I know that I am blogging about this, but the irony is that this is the one outlet that is open to me.

While Friedman is referring his readers to Climate Progress, Times reporter Andrew Revkin has an article on the Heartland Institute sponsored International Conference on Climate Change (Denial). It was a pretty one-sided gathering, reported honestly. What Revkin showed is that there is a large group of people who listen to a minority of scientists and are willing to swallow anything.
Many participants said that any division or dissent was minor and that the global recession and a series of years with cooler temperatures would help them in combating changes in energy policy in Washington.
It appears that the real goal is to not change policies, rather than to understand what is really happening.

At the same time, those of Friedman's readers who follow his link to Climate Progress will find that Romm is a Sr. Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Thus, the name of the blog... Climate Progress. If they were willing to dig around a bit, they might find their way to Romm's opinions on the future of coal or on advisability of pursuing Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) as a way to continue the use of coal despite its proven contributions to greenhouse gas emission.
But I am against anybody thinking that CCS is going to be practical or affordable anytime soon, against people relying on the “false sense of security,” as the Economist put it, that CCS is likely to be a major contributor to national or global CO2 emissions reductions before, say, 2030
While Romm, the scientist, is writing this, the Center for American Progress where he is a Senior Fellow, is making the case for CCS as good policy. Carbon Capture and Sequestration 101 is more than the tutorial that it's title makes it appear. It is a statement of policy imperatives.
Widespread CCS deployment—in combination with other policies to reduce CO2 emissions and diversify energy sources—could be invaluable in meeting our emission reduction goals for greenhouse gases and would encourage the export of CCS technology around the world, particularly to developing nations such as China and India, many of which are depending on low-cost coal to fuel economic growth. The Bush administration’s discontinuation of FutureGen, a power plant employing IGCC, set the process back, as it would have been the world’s first functioning power plant to demonstrate the feasibility of CCS technology. To take the reins on this emerging technology, we must start now with an aggressive program of proper legislation, demonstration projects, and funding backed by political will.
There is a big difference between Romm (a physicist with experience in climate research) and Kenneth Berlin or Robert Sussman. The latter are high powered Washington Lawyers. Berlin's practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has been to represent corporations who were trying to minimize the effects of environmental regulation.

I will believe that we are truly making progress when the Center for American Progress (CAP) puts Romm front and center, rather than their top notch legal protection team. Given the close connection between CAP and the Obama administration, I fully expect to see Romm ignored and the lawyers prevail, carrying us one step closer to Climaticide.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Romm is a politician now, not a scientist.

Having the lawyers take over just at the time when ideals turn into policy is the road to hell (paved with good intentions):

Cap-and-trade will do more environmental and economic harm than good. The process will corrupt and destroy environmental progress as we know it. We are talking trillions in allotments, taxes, trading, etc. it will make the wall street bailout look like a picnic.

Be very wary.