Saturday, July 11, 2015

President Obama: Take On The Nation's Utilities And Climate Change ... by gimleteye

On climate change adaptation, the hour is very late. It was only seven years ago that the mainstream press began reporting on the likelihood that warming temperatures at the arctic extremes could begin releasing vast quantities of methane gas into the atmosphere, potentially doubling in a fast period of time the amount of global warming gases already overloading the atmosphere. With a summer that has produced astoundingly high temperatures and forest fires in arctic north, that hypothesis is coming to pass.
Current fire map, 7/11/2015, at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center

It is no surprise that climate scientists, as a result of data pouring in, are beginning to publicly express what they privately experience: despair.

So what is the single, effective step that President Obama could take on climate change?

Obama has already inveighed in language approaching that of Pope Francis about the risks and moral imperative to recognize climate change as an existential threat. The response by the Republican Congress is to propose legislation prohibiting federal scientists, the Pentagon, and US military from talking about climate change.

President Obama has issued an executive order -- also challenged by Republicans -- to press operating changes on industries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is not enough. Not enough by far.

President Obama must step up to the bully pulpit and demand a fundamental rearrangement of the nation's utilities. Climate change is not waiting for Americans to take incremental steps toward change.

This will be hard because a lot of political capital exchanged between the nation's utilities and the president on his way to the White House. However President Obama does consult the foremost experts on climate change. He reads threat summaries from the military and understand the terrible outcomes for his children's generation and beyond because of global warming.

Unless he takes on the utilities, President Obama will be remembered for not doing enough.

In his ascent to the bully pulpit on this point the president should take energy from states he won in his campaigns. States like Florida have gone backwards on climate change adaptation because of a gerrymandered Republican majority in the state legislature and an intransigent governor, Rick Scott.

Florida Power and Light, for example; a wealthy, stubborn economic elite obstructing consumer adoption of solar energy. In Florida, citizens have been forced to mount a statewide ballot referendum, Floridians for Solar Choice, to compel the legislature to open up consumer availability of solar energy; an incomplete avenue of incentives shuttered by Republicans in the last legislative session.

Some of us blinked our eyes at the recent Fourth of July news that a young Maine man -- to amuse his friends -- lit a firework mortar on his head and killed himself instantly. You want to shake the nearest teenager and ask, how stupid can one be? But isn't that what adults are doing with the politics of climate change and our failure to act? Our willingness to let utilities determine our future course of action based on past financial performance is like lighting a firework mortar on the top of our collective head.

President Obama: take on the nation's utilities now.

There is a reason that solar panels are not on every unused industrial park warehouse in the Sunshine State, like the ones you see when you fly into Miami International Airport. Florida Power and Light is blocking solar energy owned, maintained and transacted by private entities.

Please Mr. President, you have run your final election. Whether it knows it or not, civilization is running for survival. This is the moment to make clear that how our nation produces and consumes electricity and transports goods and services has never been and will never be an affair of the "free market" and less so now, than ever, given the threats. In delivering this message you will have no help from the GOP but you must speak to the American people: this is your last chance as president to define how you will be remembered by every child you kiss and hug for the rest of your life.

Get on the bully pulpit. Take on the nation's utilities.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for "taking the gloves off" in discussion of this issue. When the planet (people, species, countries) are in chaos and peril, we will get no comfort from knowing who the biggest culprits were; like knowing that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, et al set the Middle East ablaze provides us nothing). We will be suffering an scrambling to survive.

Anonymous said...

Corporations have rights but people have more rights.

Caroline Lewis said...

Thank you, and yes, yes, yes - we all must take the gloves off now. The urgency of climate change demands we take every action toward mitigation and adaptation. We need every solution to carbon pollution and we need them all at once.

The actions of utilities and other entities to prevent any of us from taking action are criminal- history is taking names and tribunals will result. These are crimes against humanity...and biodiversity.

It is the time for true leaders to step up