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Environmentalism's Next Generation

Rebroadcast: originally broadcast March 11, 2013.

A new generation of “climate activists” are ready to raise Hell over the Keystone Pipeline and more. We hear from them.

Thousands of protestors gather at the National Mall in Washington calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, as well as act to limit carbon pollution from power plants and “move beyond” coal and natural gas, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP)

Thousands of protestors gather at the National Mall in Washington calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, as well as act to limit carbon pollution from power plants and “move beyond” coal and natural gas, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP)

We’ve been talking about environmental issues for years.  Decades.  And the climate just keeps changing.  Now a new generation is now staring at potentially catastrophic effects of bad energy decisions hitting in their own lifetimes.

Don’t call them “environmentalists,” they say.  That movement, that medicine, apparently wasn’t strong enough.  Call them “climate activists.”  Ready to get out and raise hell.  Over the Keystone pipeline.  For a big divestment push against Old Energy.  Over power and complacency that has failed.

This hour, On Point:  the new edgier, more urgent climate activism.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Dorian Williams, anthropology major in her senior year at Brandeis University. Member of the Divest for Our Future campaign at Brandeis University. Arrested twice in Washington with PowerShift 2011 and once at Keystone demonstrations.

Maura Cowley, executive director of the Energy Action Coalition, which brings together 50 youth groups advocating for clean energy and slowing climate change. (@mauracowley)

Emily Williams, 4th-year undergraduate student in environmental studies at UC Santa Barbara. UCSB’s representative to the state-wide organization, the California Student Sustainability Coalition.

From Tom’s Reading List

Grist “I recently picked up a book that’s been sitting in my must-read pile for a long time: David Halberstam’s The Children, a remarkable account of the African-American students who began the momentous lunch-counter sit-ins in Nashville in February 1960 and went on to risk their lives as Freedom Riders and as movement leaders in Birmingham and Selma. Half a century on, it can be easy to forget that citizens of this country took such risks, and made such sacrifices, in order to gain basic human rights.”

The New York Times “I hope the president turns down the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Who wants the U.S. to facilitate the dirtiest extraction of the dirtiest crude from tar sands in Canada’s far north?) But I don’t think he will. So I hope that Bill McKibben and his 350.org coalition go crazy. I’m talking chain-themselves-to-the-White-House-fence-stop-traffic-at-the-Capitol kind of crazy, because I think if we all make enough noise about this, we might be able to trade a lousy Keystone pipeline for some really good systemic responses to climate change.”

National Geographic “Pipeline opponents garnered national attention last month, when some 40,000 protesters (according to organizers) assembled in Washington, D.C., to urge the White House to take a stand against fossil fuel emissions by vetoing the project. The event was billed as the largest rally ever held in the United States on climate change. Less noticed have been the bitter personal battles being waged in the trenches—literally, those being dug by TransCanada.”

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  • John_in_Amherst

    A recent Tolles editorial cartoon in the Washington Post showed a man carrying a child to a ziggurat belching smoke labeled CO2, with the caption “Our strategy is to sacrifice our children”. What else to say? Except it isn’t just our kids, it’s generations of humans, plants and animals extending far into the future.

    The U.S., with 4% of the globe’s people, produces 25-30% of the world’s pollution, and uses about the same percentage of the planet’s annual resource production. It amounts to war on the environment; our inaction on conservation is criminal negligence. We can only hope the new generation of environmental activists can help redeem us and succeed in mitigating the damage.

    • nj_v2
    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      It’s Tom Toles, one L.

      And if you only see one editorial cartoonist every week, he’s probably the one to take.

      • John_in_Amherst

        point taken. thanks

      • nj_v2

        Good cartoonists are an invaluable combination of artist, writer, observer, philosopher… Toles is among the best.

  • John Cedar

    The big difference between this demonstration and one of the Tea Party’s, is that the Tea Party has some black folks at their demonstrations.

    I wonder if there is even one person at that demonstration that ever passed a university level mathematics or physics course? Nah…

    Do the oil companies help fund these guys? They should…as they help to keep oil up over $100.

    The next time our atmosphere fills with soot from a terrestrial impact or volcanic activity, those tree huggers are going to be wishing they had a few more ppm carbon in the air.

    • sickofthechit

      The problem is not $100/bbl oil, the problem is that the industry is allowed to degrade and rape our environment without ever paying the actual cost of the damage over and over again. Remember the EXXON Valdez?! Remember the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil disaster?! Remember the recent fiery train crash in Canada which killed dozens?! Don’t even get me started on the madness of destroying fresh water supplies to “Frack” out oil and gas! charles a. bowsher

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      A Tea Bagger making an ass out of him and him about someone else’s education?

      That’s rich.

    • PithHelmut

      Koch has an entire building at MIT. Everything is undermined by these polluters. Not only do they pollute the air and water, they pollute knowledge. We are all bribed. We are all part of the problem.

  • 1Brett1

    It is the next generation we will have to depend on more so than previous ones for real and meaningful change. They will turn the tide, hopefully. It is kind of normal for young people to not think so much about the future, both regarding their personal lives and to look outward toward the world around them and beyond. For young people to be getting involved in increasing awareness, activism, and modeling good habits to their peers is encouraging.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I still don’t think things are bad enough for the average person to be willing to make any real sacrifices for the environment. I don’t think enviro-activists or enviro-terrorists will help. In fact I think they will hurt their cause. Joe Sixpack and Charlie lunchpail need THEIR pants on fire before they will make serious changes.

    • nj_v2

      Problem is, if one waits for the house to be fully on fire before trying to put it out, it’s too late. We’re in the smoldering stage.

      • thequietkid10

        If the cost of putting out the smoldering is worse then the house, do you blame them?

      • Shag_Wevera

        I sadly agree.

  • thequietkid10

    I was an environmentalist once, when I was in college living in a dorm (paid for by student loans which I didn’t have to worry about) eating food at upscale dinning halls (with student loan money that I didn’t have to worry about) and going to free social activities provided by the college, (Thanks to the student loans that I didn’t have to worry about).

    Environmentalism is a rich person problem, or at least something that economically stable people worry about. The rest of us have bills to pay.

    • John_in_Amherst

      The myopia belied by this view is as astonishing as it is commonplace. The “tragedy of the commons” hurts us all, directly or indirectly, and often causes the most grievous damage to the health & welfare of the poor. If you are in the class that worries about “paying the bills” (which includes most of us), you do not have disposable income with which to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation. It is a problem of huge proportions, whether or not you choose to stick your head in the sand.

      • thequietkid10

        If I don’t have the income which to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation, then why would I have the income to do anything about it?

        • John_in_Amherst

          it’s a question of values and priorities. Can’t live without a smart phone w/ a data plan? Can’t drive something smaller than a SUV? Can’t get by with the basic cable package? Gotta have the biggest military on the planet to feel safe?

          We are weighing our choices against the future of our children, our grandchildren and on into the future….

          • thequietkid10

            How many of those things do you have?

          • John_in_Amherst

            none, except the military, which I would opt out of if possible

          • thequietkid10

            Must admit, I have the smart phone, but we’re talking on a much bigger scale then that. If you think fighting climate change is as simple as replacing your SUV and advanced cable with a smart car and basic cable your deluding yourself.

          • John_in_Amherst

            I am not deluding myself – it will take huge change to rectify what is going on, the price will be dear, and it will only be worse the longer we delay. A man who fails to plan is planning to fail.

      • sickofthechit

        Personally I pretty much work 7 days a week just to keep the debt wolves at bay. If I had the extra days available and the money for bail I would be first in line to chain myself to the Whitehouse. As it is, I sign petitions, write letters and wish for a better future, a future where there are more informed and open-minded people than we seem to have now…charles a. bowsher

    • nj_v2

      Take some advice from Abe and live up to your screen name: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      For a start, “rich person problems” rarely happen to people living in Cancer Alley.

  • HonestDebate1

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could increase our energy capacity while creating jobs? Wouldn’t it be great if we could expand our energy infrastructure at no cost to the government? Everybody loves infrastructure. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do it with the blessings of environmental impact studies?

    Approve the pipeline,

    • nj_v2

      Wouldn’t it be great if DisHonestMisdebatorGreggg wasn’t a clueless troll?

      • HonestDebate1

        That won’t create jobs and improve the economy.

        • JobExperience

          You seem happily employed by the Carbon Lobby.

          • HonestDebate1

            No, i’m just like you. I depend on fossil fuels to survive.

          • mybrainworks

            We DON’T, filth force us to use it because they are greedy or sycophants of the greedy. We’d be free of fossil fuels if not for the greed mongers.

    • John_in_Amherst

      are you really implying there is no better way?

      The reason the pollution from energy use is so hard to quantify monetarily is that the problem transcends dollars and cents.

      • HonestDebate1

        No, I am a all of the above kind of guy. But I am saying the pipeline has a huge upside we desperately need. As others have pointed out, the fuel will be extracted and spent no matter what so there is no global environmental advantage realized by not building it.

        I would much rather the conversation be centered around pollution without the catastrophic implications of exaggerated fatalism. But doom and gloom always sells.

        • John_in_Amherst

          fear and the catatonia inspired by it sells. Ask FOX.

          • HonestDebate1

            Cute, but the fact remains.

  • thequietkid10

    Regarding global warming, the environmentalist movement can neither produce an economically viable alternative to fossil fuels (would be great if they could but they can’t).

    Nor can they prove that humanity is incapable of adjusting to changing climate and/or that the cost of that adjustment is worse then the cost of radically transforming our economy today.

    Hell, lets pretend we went into a self imposed second great depression to fight climate change (because that’s what I think the economic cost would be) And lets say that we emerge from that depression, more efficient and 100% green energy. Are you positive that we will won’t still have climate challenges to face over the next century?

    • nj_v2

      This is so loaded with bogus assumptions, it’s hard to know where to start, but let’s give it a shot.

      Bogus Assumption 1: Current fossil fuel use is “economically viable.” What the hell do you think is going to happen on the downslope of peak oil/gas/coal?

      Bogus Assumption 2: There’s no need to “prove” that “humanity is incapable of adjusting to changing climate.” Some level of adjustment is possible, but at what cost?

      Bogus Assumption 3: Transitioning to a sustainable use of energy is necessarily economically disastrous. Numerous studies already show that “green” economies are entirely viable.

      Bogus Assumption 4: We shouldn’t do anything to address the worse likely consequences of climate change because there may be other, yet unknown challenges. This is just plain stupid.

      • thequietkid10

        Re:Bogus Assumption 1
        Current fossil fuels are the best source of energy we have. Just because we may run out at some unknown point in the future, doesn’t mean they are not the best right now

        Bogus Assumption 2-Your the ones who want to force us to radically change our lives completely, your the ones who have to prove that the cost benefit analysis is worth it, not us.

        Bogus Assumption 3
        Just because something is viable doesn’t mean it is not a dramatic shift in the current standard of living. People living in the worse parts of Africa live “viable” lives, doesn’t mean I want to switch. There are lots of people out there and through out history who have had “viable” lives, doesn’t mean I want to trade places with them.

        Bogus Assumption 4-You missed my point entirely, because you are only focusing the economic cost of climate change, and not the economic cost of climate change and doing something about climate change. Both are equally tragic.

        • nj_v2

          Illiterate, stupid response; not worth bothering with.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Then why did you reply?

    • sickofthechit

      Thanks to Regan we are still 15-20 years behind on alternative energy from where we would have been. Transfer the subsidies from the oil, gas and coal industry to alternative fuels and see what happens. charles a. bowsher

    • Roy-in-Boise

      @thequietkid10:disqus This sounds like Luddite rhetoric.

      • John_in_Amherst

        spoken by a love child of the Koch brothers and Ayn Rand….

    • John_in_Amherst

      the only reason fossil fuels appear to be economically viable is because we are deferring payment for extracting the fuel and disposing the waste from its use to future generations. Ditto nuclear energy.

      Humans are perhaps the most adaptable specie. We come from a long line of primates, many of whom share our penchant for “fouling our own nests”, except we do it with stuff that doesn’t quickly break down.

      Change is a constant in life. There will always be climate changes and challenges. When they happen on geological time scales, we – and the rest of nature – can cope, albeit with some extinctions. When the changes are of our own making and are hitting the natural world in the foreshortened time frame of a few human generations, the results are catastrophic. We are in the midst of a great dying off, with rates of extinction unparalleled since the end of the dinosaurs, thanks to our exploding population and our thirst for an unsustainable lifestyle.

  • creaker

    People forget the past so quickly – I remember many stories of vandalism, ecoterrorism, spiked trees – the current “climate” of environmentalism is actually quite tame.

  • John_in_Amherst

    What ever became of “The Monkey Wrench Gang”? Where is this generation’s Edward Abbey?

  • ToyYoda

    This is a rebroadcast. I remember when it first aired. Why did they erase all the previous comments?

    • sickofthechit

      To give some of us a chance to be number one for once! charles a. bowsher

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        I’m saying “Disqus fail” for the previous comments having gone into the “bit bucket”.

        I mean, isn’t that a true non-partisan answer we can all agree on?

    • sickofthechit

      Because the environmentalists won! charles a. bowsher

  • andrewgarrett

    If we were concerned about human health and the environment we would be using a lot more nuclear power. Fossil fuels, coal in particular, kill about every 60 days what nuclear killed in 60 years, and warm the planet. Yet we have my fellow environmentalists in Japan and Germany shutting down nuclear plants to use more coal.

    But what to do with the waste? What do you do with your fossil waste? You store it in the atmosphere. At least with nuclear waste we can store it safely in a secure location. If humans are afraid to go there so much the better for wildlife – Chernopyl showed that for wildlife radiation is safer than bullets, and that is not a storage facility but a disaster zone. Scientists will be able to reprocess nuclear waste in the future, or they can just leave it there – again, on a planet of 12 billion people it will be nice for animals if there are a few places where humans don’t go.

    Meantime, environmentalists are promoting gimmicks that result in us using more coal and oil.

    • sickofthechit

      Andrew, I have to strongly disagree with your nuclear push. We have not solved the storage issue because the waste is here for thousands of years. We can’t even properly store waste for decades safely, let alone centuries. charles a. bowsher

      • Gary Trees

        Thorium Reactors would solve this problem. Simply throwing all forms of nuclear in a big bucket and discarding the idea wholesale is naïve.

        • John_in_Amherst

          pebble bed thorium reactors are inherently safer, but still produce radioactive waste and “hot” infrastructure that will take millenia to “cool down”

          • Jim Young

            I thought the thorium waste was far easier to handle and had a shorter half life. I believe it was used in our old reactor in Dalat, Vietnam after our guys got the uranium out. I’m no expert but am a bit more interested than the average joe.

          • John_in_Amherst

            see thorium fuel cycle in wikipedia.

          • Jim Young

            Some of the techs I talked to were fans, and seemed to see part of the article you referred to as a more acceptable trade off. From the wikipedia article, …According to some toxicity studies,[14]
            the thorium cycle can fully recycle actinide wastes and only emit
            fission product wastes, and after a few hundred years, the waste from a
            thorium reactor can be less toxic than the uranium ore that would have been used to produce low enriched uranium fuel for a light water reactor of the same power…

            But then I’m only a casual observer.

          • John_in_Amherst

            I am not a nuke scientist, either, but the section citing the problems of using Thorium as fuel lists several reasons why this type of reactor has yet to be used commercially. It still produces transuranics with half lives in excess of thousands of years, requires extensive and complicated reprocessing regimes, and still leaves large amounts of contaminated junk in the form of the reactor and reprocessing facilities. “Half life” as a measure of relative safety can be misleading. It takes 10 half lives for the original radioactive element to decrease by a factor of approx. 1000. The problem with transuranics is that even small amounts are unacceptable environmental contaminants. So, after ten half lives for a transuranic with a half life of 10,000 years (100,000 years, or 20 times longer than people have had writing), there still remains 1 pound of waste too toxic to allow into the environment. Also, Thorium is unsuitable for use in safer reactor designs like pebble bed reactors, and molten salt reactors are not yet a commercially viable design.
            Sadly, there is no such thing as a “free lunch” with nuclear power.

  • sickofthechit

    DORIAN WILLIAMS – Please stop your campaign on Divestment. Instead you should be encouraging the various Universities to come together and vote their shares in blocks as activist shareholders. If they divest they no longer have a chance of a voice at the table.

    Damn, I just noticed this is a replay, “Never Mind!” Emily LaTilla

  • Art Toegemann

    no fracking, no pipelines!!

    go solar!

  • Ed

    Greed, pure and simple greed, backed up with political contributions and corporations writing our legislation, will be our destruction. It does not only exist in the US it is everywhere. We would find the environment in China intolerable, it is because corporations have gone there to escape our laws to protect ourselves.
    Use social media to boycott company’s that do not do the right thing. Fight the good fight. Corporations are people that will die just like the rest of us when we make our planet uninhabitable.

  • DeJay79

    Say NO to fossil fuels!

    • HonestDebate1

      Impossible.

  • HLB

    Given the choice between active environmentalism {actual action, not speechifying} and improving his golf swing – what do you think Obama would choose?

    Yep. Me, too. We’ll just have to wait for Mother Nature to “fix” things. And her swing is spot on. And deadly.

    Thanks much. Registered Professional Engineer {electric power}

    • John_in_Amherst

      Malthus had it right, except he didn’t include environmental degradation and pollution in the mix.

  • Ian MacDonald

    While I appreciate their passion, I don’t see how numbers of arrests translates into tangible tangible environmental improvements. It gives “street cred” but not solutions. More people should be studying the hard science behind it because there are pervasive misunderstandings about the environment and what. Windmills for example will never meet the baseload of power we DEMAND. And how many of these environmentalists are using the latest smart phone? or wearing blue jeans. Dye manufacture is the dirtiest industrial process for the amount it produces! How many smoke…What’s the impact of tobacco growing? etc…. etc…. Environmentalism has to be built seamlessly into every day life so you don’t notice it. Ramming environmentalism down people’s throats just alienates people from environmentalism and the real solutions that will, over 290 million people, will have bigger effects than getting arrested.

  • Nathan

    What about the discussion that the battery powered cars will ultimately do more damage to the environment as they degrade in a landfill than the current fossil fuel cars. The same goes for ethanol. It is more damaging to produce than gas. There are always trade offs to the green revolution.

  • Mary Ellen Burns

    I am sad to hear an assumed generational divide on this issue, as though people only care about themselves and not their children, their grandchildren, and unnumbered generations to come. I am in my late 50s, and whether or not climate change will make me personally miserable, it seems to me a no-brainer that we need to change the amount and type of energy we use for the sake of our small, shared planet.

  • dt03044

    The caller from des Moines said “we should approve the Keystone pipeline because it’s time to drill here at home”. What she fails to understand is that this pipeline only carries oil from western Canada. It really has nothing to do with domestic drilling. There are a lot of different issues involved with climate change, and it’s easy to confuse them.

    • John_in_Amherst

      KXL will deliver oil from gigantic strip-mining operations and requires much more energy to produce than oil from wells. KXL is about much more than a pipeline.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        The oil will be extracted with or without a pipeline through the US. It will come to the US via train without the pipeline (as it is now) and will also be transported via pipeline to the west coast for direct shipment to China.

        • John_in_Amherst

          you are, unfortunately, probably right. Profligate energy consumption is a global problem. Instead of leading the world in finding more efficient ways to use energy, we are laggards. As spendthrift energy hogs, the US is rightfully earning global disdain. And as you point out, with or without a pipeline, the oil will not flow to consumers in the US, it will go to the world market.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I’m all for energy alternatives but I don’t agree with your analysis. We are making real progress even though it seems slow at times. We could have made even more if progress in nuclear technology wasn’t halted. Mercedes just released a bi-fuel car that runs on CNG and gasoline. It has a 980 mile range if you fill up both tanks.

            What I do know is it is stupid to push idiotic programs like “Cape Wind” that will charge me $.18 to $.37/khw for the power it produces even though I live in northern MA.

  • Tyler Terrell

    I completely agree with your young guest about climate change. As humans we cannot possibly know all the effects of our use of fossil fuels. Despite all the research, no one predicted the killing of the plankton and algae and such which provide most of our oxygen due to the rising carbon levels. Acidification of the oceans, which are a major source of food for humans and a major source of oxygen for all creatures on the planet is just one issue that wasn’t fully realized until just recently. The recent caller who spoke about “not wanting to hear it anymore” should really open their tiny mind a little and try to understand some not-really-all-that-advanced concepts about the future. Not caring simply because you aren’t going to be alive when it happens is a very small-minded and shortsighted view…and it is also quite selfish and ignorant. I’d go so far as to call it stupid. I fully believe we should be pursuing alternate energies as both a driver for changing our use of fossil fuels and for benefitting our economy through the creation of new industries (which is what made capitalism great in the beginning before corporations took hold of it and wrestled control from the common man).

  • PithHelmut

    Those who are complaining about hearing about climate change need to have a good talking to. You may be sick of hearing about it because the effects have been predicted three decades ago! But don’t think it’s not coming your way.soon. Hasn’t anyone heard of the exponential factor? Or the carbon cycle? It would be revealing to see the advertising spending of the fossil fuel industry within the last five years. I bet that has been growing exponentially too. We ignore the damaging effects of fossil fuel manipulations at our peril. Free and abundant energy is all around us. It just needs to be developed for use and that may not take a long time. We need to transition off this fossil fuel addiction. But we don’t have to right now. We will when we get hit with climate response.

  • PithHelmut

    Oh and Dorian and Emily – you’re the bomb! Keep it up! Don’t stop. You are both exemplary.

  • Scientist

    Here’s a question that constantly crosses my mind…If we knew that we were past the tipping point, and that efforts to mitigate climate change would not change the end result of say some dire event, would all of these groups still be pushing so hard? The atmosphere is EXTREMELY complicated, and I feel like a lot of the people (many of which are non scientists) that are fighting climate change have a blind naivete that I just can’t stand behind. I feel like people jump behind this without really knowing what they are fighting for.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Scientists look at the big picture. Yes the system is complicated but the greenhouse effect is real and the extra heat will have its effect one way or the other.

      Just look at the historical correlation of CO2 and temperature. It would be astonishing if the planet doesn’t get a lot hotter at 400 ppm.

      • HonestDebate1

        Temperature rises before CO2 levels not after.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Thanks for the 99,999th repetition of the Official Party Line.

          Nobody who was interested in reality instead of ideology would work so hard at ‘splainin away a very scary correlation.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Gee Tom, it IS the historical record.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            The historical record, which agrees with common sense physics, is high CO2 = high temp. Your fossil-fuel-industry pawn wingnut blogs may muddy the waters enough to fool you, but not me, and not the climate science community.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Then explain 17 years of flat or declining temperatures despite continued increase in CO2.

          • John_in_Amherst

            where DO you get your (mis)information?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            NOAA

          • HonestDebate1

            But the issue is causation, is it not?

        • nj_v2

          ^ Bogus denialist lie.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            How so? Climate scientists disagree with you.

          • HonestDebate1

            At least 97% of them do, probably more.

          • HonestDebate1

            Wow, did you fall for Algores graph? There is a reason he chose his wording so carefully.

            I would have expected the ol’ feedback vicious circle explanation because I figured you at least had a clue. But you doubled down by calling the truth a lie. Temperature rises first.

      • Scientist

        there’s no denying a correlation, I’m just saying that who’s to say that this can be mitigated? We could have already tipped the scale in one direction and no one would know. I guess I’m just a little pessimistic, haha.

      • Scientist

        I admire optimism, but I also believe that it’s important to be realistic. Maybe attacking global warming is not necessarily the best, maybe that is TOO big to tackle. Maybe the best that we can do is mitigate the effects of global warming. I think that these people are attacking the wrong problem and wasting their own energy.

  • Open Letter

    We need to vilify oil and gas companies like we vilified tobacco companies.

    • Sy2502

      Unlike tobacco companies, oil and gas companies offer a vital service. Sad you don’t even recognize something so obvious. Besides, why vilify anyone?

      • Open Letter

        See my response to Kevin above. They offer a “vital service” that they have generated the need for. Furthermore, I wish vilification wasn’t necessary, but being nice hasn’t gotten us anywhere and time is running out.

        • Sy2502

          Your assertion that oil companies “generated” the need for oil is highly debatable. What’s more accurate is to say they saw an opportunity for profit in a new field and exploited it. Simple capitalism and ingenuity. Having said that, now that the global economy runs on oil, pretending that vilifying oil companies will achieve anything other than make you feel better (although anyone who feels better through vilifying others is a sad and sorry human being who needs to find better methods of self gratification) is simply naive.

  • Mark Lanning

    As someone from Des Moines as well, I have to disagree completely with that caller. People only look at what is ‘right now’ and right in front of them.. so the price of gas is what is the most important thing to that caller, but what the caller fails to see or make the connection is that food prices are much more effected by climate change and you buy a LOT more food than you buy gas. Our problem as a country is that we have failed to innovate when it comes to other forms of energy production in cars.. we are addicted to gas and thus the gas price.

    • l84wrk

      Much fossil fuel is expended in the production of food in this country. If the price of fossil fuels rises, it’s a given that food prices will rise. Crops are affected by much more than “climate.”

      • Mark Lanning

        I do agriculture analysis and I would have to disagree.. crops are mostly affected by climate as they are plants.. maybe you meant to say ‘food prices’ are affected by much more than climate… which I would agree to. Climate and crops are a direct link… the severe drought we had which caused food prices to skyrocket was climate related. The issue is that over the last few decades is the weather is getting a lot more extreme where prior to that is was much more muted year to year… with ‘events’ thrown in there. But when you have multiple ‘one in a century’ flooding events in one decade clearly there is something more at play… which is our (humans) own addition to the equation… like the dust bowl which was caused by us.

        • l84wrk

          Mark – you’re exactly right -I wasn’t specific in conveying that I meant “food prices” rather than “crops.” I was too general in my statement; certainly crops themselves are affected by weather and climate, now and how it has always been in the past. Food prices are affected by a myriad of things having nothing to do with climate, one of those being fuel prices. The market is further distorted by subsidies, regulations and other governmental interference – some helpful, some long past their expiration date. Commercial influences are certainly present (Monsanto, etc) as well.

          In the context of today’s show, I was thinking primarily of the rising cost of fossil fuel and the effect it would have on food prices (crops and animal production alike). The guests on the show didn’t seem to understand the impact of rising fuel costs across a spectrum of industries (does she know her water bottle is likely made from a petroleum product?) – and not just the cost of a gallon of gas for your car.

          In listening to these young guests, it just seems naive to me to look at being an activist for “the environment” as being a part of “social justice” when the very actions they espouse would disproportionately adversely affect those to whom they would seek to bring “justice.” Ah, youth – when things are so black and white and it’s so easy to pick a “side.”

          • Mark Lanning

            Funny as I think we agree in general. I am one of those people (from Iowa) that personally think we should NEVER have subsidies on turning food (crops) into fuel. That is just bad. On things that are market competitive yet, sure.. not on fuel companies not on food to fuel and such.
            I think we disagree on some of the social justice.. I think the guests are approaching the matter wrong but they see it black and white like you said.. but the part I disagree with you on is what higher fuel prices will result in. Higher fuel and electricity costs leads to innovation.. ways to reduce fuel or electricity costs or innovate alternatives.

            Sure it will make things that use those assets more expensive until alternatives become available. The only reason shale oil is being done is because fuel prices are high enough that sucking oil out of rocks is profitable.

            Higher fuel costs makes solar profitable, and things like that.

            I don’t think it is the end of the world if we have higher fuel costs.. as we as a global innovative player will come up with other ways to get it done cheaper.

          • l84wrk

            Mark, I actually think you and I agree on most things here! I think corn subsidies for ethanol are a disaster and a waste. It’s increased the price of corn as a food crop and is net neutral, at best IMO in its efficiency as a fuel (taking into account the fuel needed to grow and create ethanol).

            I also agree that innovation can driven by rising costs. It’s also driven by the need for inventors and entrepreneurs to fill and need and market it – for a profit. Rising costs of any particular product can create that niche.

            My beef was with the young guests who seemed to ignore the effects their “radical” activism could have on the population they claim to serve in the name of “social justice.” Policy which would send a sudden spike to oil and gas prices would have an immediate and negative effect on those least able to absorb the sudden and likely sharp increases in prices in everything from food to gas for their cars to consumer goods hauled by trucks. In their youthful enthusiasm, I don’t believe these young activists can envision the big picture.

            I’m an “all of the above” type. But it’s something that must evolve slowly, until someone creates the killer app for clean energy. I personally have a significant investment in pv solar panels to provide power for my home. It’s pretty inefficient (in terms of how much power 48 panels can make and in the initial investment) and won’t pay for itself in my lifetime. It completely powers my home for a few hours on sunny days, based on the backwards-running meter, but I still rely on my power grid for the vast majority of my power. And it won’t do anything at all for my car. I live, as do many people, in an area with no public transportation and where distances are so vast (commuting) that bikes aren’t an option. Electric cars? Do people not realize when you plug one in, it’s likely powered by coal?

            The entire debate regarding climate change and fossil fuels doesn’t lend itself to pithy statements and sound bytes. It’s easy to shout, “NO KEYSTONE!” and maybe that works as a symbol. But this issue is hard to get your arms around, and honestly, the US can’t really solve anything in isolation.

          • Mark Lanning

            Personally I think the keystone pipeline should not be built.. but that is more on the terrible paths it would go through of our country.. and a lot of those areas could not withstand a oil spill… areas out here heavily rely on the underground water sheds. So in that sense I don’t think it should be built. And sucking oil out of rock is just a really bad idea.

            Electric cars have a major problem with using rare earth materials and it takes a lot of energy that you put into the battery to which you get a percentage back… and super capacitors aren’t there yet to use. Battery life on a lithium ion is not so great either. Most cars are pretty recyclable as its mostly aluminum and steel and such.

            But yeah.. this issue is greatly complicated and it was made out to be black and white.. which it is not. So many parties have their skin in the game on every side.. something happening in any direction will effect thing across the board.
            I think my general problem with this sort of thing is that if it is profitable to be a polluter then its just makes good business sense to do it.. like dumping toxic chemicals into the oceans.. if the max fine you can get is 1% of your profits then makes business sense to keep at it. So I would rather see policies that keep push companies into a more sustainable direction.

            I have seen more innovation in lighting in the last 5 years then the last 50 years all due to trying to phase out a very energy inefficient light bulb. I can put a 1000 lumen flashlight in my pocket very easily.. and if only we could push innovations like that in other areas in a way that is drawn out and gets people moving in the right direction.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    So sad. Pity the wasted and deluded youth who have bought into the algorian propaganda.

    • John_in_Amherst

      pity the planet that slides ever quicker into environmental hell.

      • HonestDebate1

        CO2 levels are at a 20 year low.

        • John_in_Amherst

          absolute nonsense.

          • HonestDebate1

            I am happy to inform you it’s true and you can thank the natural gas boom. This is good news, celebrate.

            http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/16/co2-emissions-us-drop-20-year-low/

          • Jim Young

            I haven’t found the Washington times credible from the times I did my own research on some or their stories. I haven’t read anything there lately, and would never do so without some serious Devil’s Advocate checking of other sources.

          • HonestDebate1

            I run into that a lot around here Jim. It seems everyone has someone they don’t trust. It was widely reported. Googling “CO2 20 year low” yields over 54 million results. I always look for an NPR link but they did not report it. The numbers come from DOE. There are links to the sources in the article.

          • Jim Young

            I wish I could trust the DOE more, too, but I keep running into people that give me reasons not to trust anyone completely. Some provide only a partial picture. I try to stick to the ones that have provide the best information, and never steered me wrong.

            Some others consistently provide wrong, or unbalanced information, that requires more follow up. I’ll recheck from time to time, but some are too much of a distraction from following up on useful, actionable information, I get from those I trust more.

          • HonestDebate1

            I suppose I should have made clear I was talking about America which is the only place we can address the “problem”.

    • nj_v2

      So sad. Pity the head-up-the-butt denialists who act a a dead weight on potential solutions to serious problems.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Solutions? Like Cape Wind which will charge me $.37/kwh for their power? Yes, that will do wonders for economic growth. A very scalable solution indeed.

  • Jim

    I don’t know who it was, either Dorian or Emily… but when she said she cannot afford to accept the status quo and baby boomers accepting cheap gasoline at the expense of externalities taxed on every tax payers, I say you have just witnessed our next leaders in this generation. NO one including our politicians is willing or have the guts to take on energy change in this country.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Have to wonder if the rebroadcast of this show was in response to ZERO people showing up at a OFA climate change rally on Tuesday.

    http://freebeacon.com/ofa-gets-zero-attendance-for-climate-change-rally/

    • HonestDebate1

      That’s hilarious and it’s Obama’s own organization. I can’t imagine why his scientifically enlightening tweet didn’t draw the masses:

      “Gravity exists. The Earth is round. Climate change is happening.”

      He has no credibility left.

    • Jim Young

      “Damning with faint praise” comes to mind when Obama comes looking for support from people who think he does too much damage with too weak a response to the real problems.

      I want better than Obama, Feinstein, Pelosi, etc, but don’t want the door opened for even worse stewards of our future on some critical issues. Even the best intended stewards need massive public backing, more like what Roosevelt got, even from many of the bankers who saw the need for regulations that restored stable growth.

  • skelly74

    I don’t know, I can’t take anyone seriously who ends every sentence in an upwards inflexion, indicating an essence of confusion. Do people who talk like that unconsciously look for guidance and truth?

  • lolexecs

    FYI: we import more oil from Mexico + Canada than the ‘persian gulf’

    2012 Oil Imports
    Persian Gulf – 787,398 (SA = 497,570)
    Canada – 1,081,385
    Mexico – 377,350

    In fact, we import more from Central and Latin America than we do from Saudi Arabia (Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela).

    Source: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_m.htm

  • John_Hamilton

    I wouldn’t get too carried away about this new urgency being a generational thing. The problems posed for the future of our species, to say nothing of all others, are not confined to the young.
    I am retired, and don’t have the health or energy to get out and protest. I am able to give small amounts of money to Occupy and 350.org, Greenpeace and a few others, but would like to do more. Mostly I write.
    Something the young shoud be aware of is what they are up against. CEOs, politicians and police are in occupations that attract psychopaths. Google it – psychopaths among us, or psychopaths jobs occupations. They don’t care about you and don’t like you. Don’t appeal to their higher “angels.” They don’t have any. Don’t be shocked and outraged at police brutality – expect it and deal with it. They like cracking heads and maiming people. You can outsmart and finesse police. Take them to court.
    Also, whenever ANYONE advocates vioence, you can safely assume they are agents provocateur from government agencies. If some group appears that starts doing violent things, YOU have to stop them. They are there to destroy your movement, and it will happen time after time.
    We have a corrupt system, which is actively preventing the changes these young people are advocating. The ongoing crisis of climate change isn’t going away. We will all be dealing with it for the rest of our lives. Your efforts are very much needed and appreciated. Stay well, and long may you run. youtube.com/watch?v=WYna-UAt75c

  • TomK_in_Boston

    It’s way overdue for the next generation to stop being so passive. Student loan debt, tax policy that funnels all the wealth to the top, corporate greed, the financial sector running wild, fossil fuel use changing the climate…..c’mon, kids, time to break some windows, or worse.

    • HonestDebate1

      Advocating vandalism and possibly violence (“or worse”) if spoiled brats don’t get paid off is sick. You should be ashamed.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        “spoiled brats don’t get paid off”?
        look in the mirror when you say “sick”

      • John_in_Amherst

        standing idly by while the likes of the Kochs, Exxon, BP, Petrogas, the Saudi royals, etc., reap fantastic wealth by willfully destroying the environment for perpetuity is a sin of omission. The tragedy of this degradation is lost on those who feel no shame.

        • HonestDebate1

          The government makes more money per gallon than the oil companies who fuel the economic engine of the world. We should thank them.

          • Jim Young

            Then they are part of the petro-pushers, too?

            All new “unconventional” oil and gas will be far more expensive to extract, and will be exported far more than most have been mislead to believe. We already past the peak for conventional oil, by the way.

            In 1931 Thomas Edison told Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford we should start moving to renewable energy.

            Take a look at http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/03/12/world-energy-consumption-since-1820-in-charts/ and see if you are as surprised as I was about how short our conventional oil boom has been (really only starting to get big in the 50s) and how unlikely it is to last as the rest of the world tries to match our per capita use. We have actually started reducing our per capita use, but it won’t mean a whole lot as the world tries to use so much more of the 3 or 4 times as expensive to extract “unconventional oil” (in just direct costs, not even considering the far greater environmental damage, and mcuh higher cost for what water can still be saved).

          • HonestDebate1

            Yes, they are defacto petro-pushers. I liken it to taxes on cigarettes which bring in a lot of revenue. The governments position is they want to discourage smoking but they make a lot of money from smokers. In that sense they want smokers. But I’m just pointing out the gas companies operate on a very small profit margin relative to most businesses.

            And I get your point about the higher gas prices making other methods suddenly viable but it doesn’t end there. Once they are viable the dynamic changes. New reserves are discovered that we weren’t even looking for before. Technology and innovation kick in.

            And not to nit-pick but I don’t think anyone has any idea how much oil is out there. I don’t put that much stock in the notion that we have reached peak for conventional oil.

          • Jim Young

            The insiders do, and they put it at as much as 5 times the developed resources as of around 2005. I was/am a fan of Robert Galvin, once CEO of Motorola, after starting out in its mail room (as his father wanted him to learn all parts of the company and the mail room had him visiting as much as possible). He is an example of egalitarian capitalists, but has , as Herbert Hoover did, ended up having his work unintentionally provide cover for what Hoover came to call “anarchical capitalists.” He supported CRADAs (Cooperative Research and Development Agreements) such as the one that had Sandia Labs find the huge untapped oil resources. I should point out that these resources were far beyond the economically viable (affordable recovery at the time) resources the CIA non-classified reports restricted themselves to. While not as extreme as the Nazi dreams of recovering gold from ocean waters, it was an example of resources that cost more to extract than they might be worth.

            I wonder how much the ocean gold recovery scheme would have cost in collateral damage compared to the extreme (IMHO) unconventional extraction techniques we’re bringing on line in this country, and how water resources/cost (direct and indirect) will fare.

    • Jim Young

      More activism is needed since the polite and “proper” channels no longer work, but resorting to vandalism causes more problems than it solves, and can be exactly what the powerful want to discredit a movement. I suspect most calls for such law breaking beyond civil disobediance is actually by provocateurs, or naive, younger people.
      The most “successful” violence and vandals are those paid for by the powerful, as in the Hard Hat Riot, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Hat_Riot

  • Matthew Kern

    Great Show Tom. I would for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (http://www.labucketbrigade.org/), an environmental health and justice organization who fights to protect our community from industrial pollution. We’re working in the belly of the oil industry, Louisiana refines 20% of the nations oil and creates almost 1/5 of all the worlds chemicals. The oil refineries have on average 6 accidents week, just yesterday there was a leak of at least 16,000 lbs of Butadiene and a large number of people in Baton Rouge smelled it yet our state government consistently downplays the impacts while touting the industry’s economic benefits. (http://bit.ly/1cImhKx) The lack of enforcement and regulation on these industries are a joke and when they are caught the fines are never economical enough to change behavior.
    We need more people involved in this fight. Just 3 years ago, I was on a college campus talking about these issue and received almost as much ambivalence as you might find in your average suburban sprawl. Many things have changed and divestment is a great way to approach this problem but over all our generation has to get organized. We need to get in the face of real people to peal back the lies and rhetoric laid down by industry and many of our government officials. Write, blog, facebook, get in the streets and protest, but also go talk to your neighbor you don’t know or someone isn’t coming from an upper middle class background enrolled in Brandeis. People like us have the privilege to care about these issues and can get arrested and pay for the fines, but the movement will require a broad majority to address them moving forward. That is the downfall of the major green organizations, they have stepped away from the people to fight with the big guys on capitol hill and only come down here when they need us to renew our membership. We need to fight together, not someone to fight for us.

  • nj_v2

    The motivation and dedication of the guests is admirable, as is their grasp of the issues, as far as it goes.

    My issues with the program and what the guests were saying…

    I’m not sure it makes sense to create generational differences in social/political movements. There are people of all ages working on these issues, as there always have been.

    I don’t think the guests are framing the issue in the broader terms and context that is needed. Environmental issues are political issues are spiritual issues are moral issues. They touched on social-justice connections of the environmental movement, but not much on the political and institutional, apart from passing mention of Obama.

    On the one hand, they still think they can encourage or pressure Obama to do the right thing on the pipeline while the express “disappointment” that the guy they helped elect is supporting increased fossil fuel extraction.

    Tom tried mightily to get them to articulate why pseudo-environmentalist Obama would proffer this policy, and the best they could do was imply that he was getting bad information from the industry.

    This kind of naivety of the political/economic system is a bit disappointing for presumed leaders of the upcoming movement generation.

    Unless they understand and recognize the systemic corruption of the political system by corporate and monied interests and spend as much time and energy on that as targeting specific development projects, they’re just playing Whack-a-Mole.

    • Jim Young

      It is indeed a multi-front war, and the fight against the perversion of the 14th amendment (used many more times by corporations than for the original intent regarding emancipated slaves (as outrageously corrupted by the Citizens United interpretation) is, to me the single most important battle to win. Disclosure is already far under enforced on existing law, and needs to be the highest priority, with the least Constitutional impediments (IMHO). Most people I ask, though would rather have spending limits to simply get legislators back to work instead of scrambling for money.

  • Don Welty

    One of my biggest regrets is that my generation and my parents’ generation helped cause these problems. I rode a bicycle for years to minimize pollution. We have serious problems that will take 50 years to solve. It is going to be painful in the short term but that is better than seeing coastal cities disappear.

    • tbphkm33

      Don’t worry, us humans might have poisoned our environment, but in a few hundred thousand years, the Earth will bounce back without any sign we were ever here.

  • tbphkm33

    I do not know if it is as much today’s college students being more “fundamental” activist, as it is the reality that college students tend to project social movement and public opinion before other elements of U.S. society. A much “harsher,” or as a lot of us would say, a much more balanced public outlook on environmental degradation is emerging and will be mainstream in about ten years. College campus activism has propelled social movements this way since the 1960s.

  • cognitomom

    Great that students are protesting university investments in fossil fuels. But go after them for leasing university land for drilling, as well!

    • Sy2502

      Are these the same students that are the major consumers of electronic equipment, which is made with some of the most toxic and polluting substances known to man?

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    You are lucky. I paid $3.74 yesterday in New Hampshire for the lowest octane grade.

    I’ve been driving a hybrid Camry since 2006 and love it.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    The latest studies show that methane hydrate alarmism is pure scare mongering. So you can now sleep well.

  • Sy2502

    Very well said! The problem I have with environmentalists is that while they obviously mean well, their common sense and practical sense are dismal.

    • Jim Young

      Compared to whom?

      • Sy2502

        Compared to me obviously

        :)

        • Jim Young

          I know at least one engineer who started in Petroleum geology, then went through water systems that can point out so many of the false claims made by those in his old fields. To me, he has seen both sides in depth and knows where the better balance is. I listen when people like him and the many lower tier people, I try to touch bases with, point out the emperor’s new clothes are not what they are told. They are not all babes in the woods, but even the babes in the woods can see mismatches between claims and reality.

  • Jim Young

    Extraction costs have risen dramatically from “unconventional” extraction (triple in a single decade, for a blend of conventional and unconventional extraction) now that we are past peak conventional extraction. Jeremy Grantham made that simple argument on a recent Charley Rose show.

    Gas prices took a very temporary spike downward in the last 6 months of Bush, bottoming in January 2009 just before Obama’s inauguration, but they will never go down again without another financial disaster on the scale of the end of Cheney/Bush.

    I agree with the other arguments, but there are too many who want to believe that this “drilling” is anything like the old drilling, and likely to keep gas prices low.

    I’m most concerned about the rush to do so much of this so fast, as if they are in a rush to keep us from starting to effectively switch to more sustainable energy sources, and the PR/legislative manipulation campaigns to distort the balance. It seems they are flaring off far more of the inconvenient gas (too low a price until they can start massive exporting of it. This wasting also fails to capture irreplaceable, and a strategic resource, Helium that can be extracted from natural gas. (We used to lead the world in Helium, at least until Christopher Cox helped sell off the Strategic Helium Reserves starting in the 90s.)

    • HonestDebate1

      When Bush ended the offshore drilling ban the price of a barrel of oil dropped $9.26 as he was speaking… and it kept falling.

      • Jim Young

        I talked to a few lower tier oil workers (back when they not as likely to get fired for talking out of school) and some management types. I can certainly see the prices would drop on that news, but was told it was like venting a little pressure to keep from blowing up the plant.

        Bush also let his buddies fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with oil priced up to $127 dollars above the legally mandated maximum price of $40. It was filled to within a half percent of everything it could hold, and most of the tankers were full of oil they couldn’t offload anywhere for lack of room. The Saudis cut their production to something like 70 percent simply because they couldn’t send it anywhere if they produced it faster than it was being used.

        One of the insiders had given me advice I have never forgotten, “If they are advertising oil stocks, run the other way, if they were a good investment, they would be doing it themselves. To me, they had sold futures with what the insider told me were what they called “Hype Sheets”, great for selling to suckers, but not fooling many savvy investors.

        How do you know the price didn’t fall so dramatically because they realized the bubble was going to burst, with claims of shortages, while actually having an oversupply that couldn’t be any higher?

        We saw people do the same thing in the Housing market. Our friends in real estate started getting out as early as 2004,with the push for liar loans,etc by those private mortgage originators that claimed they could provide better products than Fannie or Freddie (who actually had far more durable lending standards). Some like us hung on until 2006, thinking they must surely retreat from the garbage loans they let the newly freed up sub-prime lenders make. Despite the delay, our friends were trying to compete ethically, and quit when they could see where it was headed, a year or more before it all fell apart.

        Some persisted, saying they knew what was coming, but they still had room to make more money until the public caught on. They made the most money and got out at the “right” time for maximum profit (a little late for our consciences,as we were unwilling to play along).

        My answer to you is that I suspect you want to believe the best about the people investing in oil (as we did want to believe the same for our friends in real estate), but the savvy investors tended too much towards the less than egalitarian. A lot of them really knew what the game was, and at least like some of our friends, played it to the point of maximum profit, letting the suckers suffer the consequences of the drop in price.

        That is what I think of the investors who only think of the money to be made. The sad part was the rest of society paid higher prices up to the record in July 2008. They might have been lower for a while with a little less speculation (President threatening to release SPR as was done before). Oil they never went after before, simply because it was too expensive for the “unconventional” techniques needed, started becoming possible since people were still willing to buy gas at higher and higher prices (that justify the expense, if not the environmental consequences).

        The only thing Bush did with the end of the offshore drilling ban, was pop the unsustainable bubble while claiming, as one oil trader described as a about as accurate relation ship to cause and effect as that of a rooster claiming to have made the sun rise.

        I doubt many minds will change, but I hope you do your own exploration of what the lower tier people and contrarian investors (Jeremy Grantham can tell you. Advice I follow as part of. “Don’t believe everything you think.”

        • HonestDebate1

          Bush didn’t just end the ban he dramatically increased permits issued on federal land and he did that before the bubble. The same thing happened, the oil takes years to come online but the expansion of permits dropped the price in 2006-7.

          I’ll defer to you on savvy investments, I’m just making a simple point. I understand speculators speculate and geo-politics influences but at the end of the day supply and demand rule.

          • Jim Young

            I agree, but fear the damage to be caused by warping the demand while suppressing the alternatives, enjoying tax advantaged profits, and subsidies while keeping us on too much of a declining energy source.

            I do have friends and have met several people trying to make the best use of what we still use, but I want the balance to shift far more towards renewables (and overall demand reduction or efficiency improvements for what we do really “need”). See http://www.aecom.com/What+We+Do/Energy/_projectsList/California+State+University+San+Bernardino+%28CSUSB%29,+Energy+Efficiency+and+Infrastructure+Upgrade for an example of one facility I toured. I like the more local generation, and stunning efficiency improvements, but worry that the very low natural gas prices will not last long for most of us, once they have the infrastructure in place to start exporting it. And, the increased demand has terrible consequences I can see with queries of locals in the areas with far more mismatches between independent citizen monitors and what industry seems to self-report to ineffective regulator/monitors.

            I am interested in what other countries are doing, and sense that their energy companies my be less devious in their use and promotion. See http://tvnz.co.nz/seven-sharp/solving-worlds-co2-problem-video-5534333
            as one example, but it might be taken out of context as an excuse to keep
            encouraging excessive and wasteful usage,and dangerous extraction.)

            Add http://sustainability.csusb.edu/Performance/conservation.html to see the steady improvements (37%)

          • HonestDebate1

            I don’t really think it’s quite that extreme. I don’t think the technology for many of these alternatives is at a place where they can compete. I don’t argue there may be an element of what you suggest but I wouldn’t call it suppressed. Our green energy initiative has been a disaster investment wise. We threw a ton of money into it. Boone Pickens couldn’t do it either in the private sector. Europe is paying out the nose and Spain is relaxing the push a bit. Germany is trying to go nuke free but it’s not working well. Meanwhile the engine keeps running and demand rises.

            The argument can be made that government should pioneer the transition with subsidies and tax incentives but I just don’t think the there is there…yet. And with regards to what government does for the oil industry, again, the profit margin is still low relative to most businesses despite it. But the big thing is fossil fuels work and have the capacity to fulfill our needs.

            Thanks for the links. I’ll check them out.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          The peak price of oil in the US was $145, in July 2008, so somehow I doubt we paid $167 at any time -especially since most of the reserve is lower grade oil.

          • Jim Young

            I added the correction in a noted edit

  • jim

    Maybe the energy protesters expend on what’s wrong with the state of things could be better spent leading the drive to find replacements for the fuels that currently drive our world. It is easy to find fault and point fingers, but do these people have the fortitude to envision solutions instead of dystopia?

  • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHHartmann Matthew H. Hartmann

    I applaud these young folks. Gasoline is too cheap at $4 as I see people wasting it constantly. We are not entitled to $4 gasoline as we are not responsible enough to conserve it and to burn fewer fossil fuels. Another substantial gas tax where the funds would be used to explore solutions may be a good idea, but we are too immature and irresponsible of a society to pull it off.

    • HonestDebate1

      I certainly disagree but I appreciate your honesty. Many feel the same way and want to artificially raise the cost to change behavior but it’s hardly a policy that sells. Maybe that’s what you mean by “immature and irresponsible”. Gas prices don’t have to be this high, it is by design but nobody wants to own it. High gas prices affect everything. I am in favor of cheap gas.

      • John Parker

        Gasoline prices are actually artificially kept low- we do not see the actual cost of the product at the pump. Pump prices do not factor in the massive expenditure by the Pentagon to keep shipping lanes open for oil transportation or the tax deductions major oil producers and refiners surely receive for a variety of reasons. If we saw the true cost of a gallon of gas at the pump, I imagine we would be somewhat more careful in our use of the product.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          All the more reason to open up domestic supplies like the Keystone so we will no longer need to keep shipping lanes open.

          • Shark2007

            Keystone tar will be shipped to refiners in the U.S. From there the products will be shipped to the world, if the rest of the world is willing to pay more than the US. We will pay the costs from leaking pipes and the companies will keep the profits. US refiners already happily sell their products to foreigners when they are willing to pay more than the US market will pay.

        • HonestDebate1

          You could say the same thing about every item in every shipping container that travels the seven seas. It’s the cost of freedom.

          By artificial I mean things like moratoriums on drilling or taxes levied. Anything that interferes with the market. One can say it’s a good idea but it’s artificial.

          • northeaster17

            Yeah like if China decided to not make sneakers we’d sent in the Marines.

  • Sad

    All for so called green energy lets quit using fossil fuels ,But show us the tech. It is not there I am all for saving the earth but not the cost Enslaving the human race. same old B.S. wipe out the humans to save the earth. To what point?

    • northeaster17

      Who said wipe out the humans? Foxtopia spins the strangest yarns.

  • VinceD2

    Yes, this is a huge problem but as long as the oil companies are profiting from CO2 emissions, it will not change. It’s great that these young folks are protesting, but the vast majority of the younger generation drive their cars to go 2 blocks to get cigarettes. Sad, but that is what I observe every day in a college town.

    Finally, we need to address our population if we are going to make ANY environmental progress. The Senate immigration bill will add 100 million citizens to the US population over a generation. At that rate environmental improvement is impossible.

  • http://synapse9.com/signals Jessie Henshaw

    There is actual new science on how to transform the economic
    system to follow the “standard plan” for successful system
    building. It’s common sense, really, and used by sensible people as well as all of natures most wonderful organic
    and ecological systems.

    It’s elementally simple too, that first you use the profits of a
    system to build it by bigger and bigger steps, THEN you change the investment plan, and turn the profits to caring for what you built. A very simple and practical method and path of
    organizing real transformative change.

    To do it with a finance guided economy is not so difficult
    either. It will need your radical insight and unwavering idealism to pull off in the modern world, though, as our culture was built around a fantasy of limitless doubling of money, seeing that
    as “decoupled” from the limitless doubling of consuming the earth and reorganizing our own lives faster and faster to do it!

    What’s physiologically necessary, from a hard science of systems view, is that fundamental shift in investment strategy. We actually need for the “unearned income”, the system profits of the economy, to stop being used for concentrating wealth and multiplying the scale of the economy. Why? Because what you choose to invest in is what physically steers an economy!!

    Using the system profits to care for the system and its environment, is THE TOTALLY NATURAL WAY to transform a growth system to make it sustainable. My blog on the systems science of nature has lots on it.

    Development goals for common needs
    - http://www.synapse9.com/signals/2013/07/01/un-devel-goals-omit-common-needs/
    Growing profit then steady profits
    - http://www.synapse9.com/signals/2013/03/01/sustainability-growing-profit-then-steady-profit/
    or we need 8 whole earths in next 100 years
    - http://www.synapse9.com/signals/2013/02/19/we-need-8-whole-earths-by-2100/

  • Arlingtron

    Why is the anti-climate change movement backed by shrill airheads? The passion is nice but this issue is way too important to be represented by those not ready with facts to answer hard questions from journalists.

  • Solarlover

    It’s good to see young people participating passionately for
    the future of their world. A good future piece might be one about the Boomers who are risking arrest against the KXL Pipeline and for climate justice. We have reached the sweet stage of life where it doesn’t matter if we are arrested repeatedly in peaceful protest. We have established ourselves socially, are not looking for new employment, and don’t care what our jail records looks like. The jails won’t want to detain geezers with our special needs and long list of necessary medications. What will our legal system do with us? America may be about to experience something unprecedented…Grammies and Gramps by the hundreds being arrested in unselfish acts of caring for the generations who will follow them.

  • Anton_Chehov

    1. There is no such thing as “CO2 pollution”. CO2 is not a pollutant, it is actually a necessary ingredient of all our food

    2. There is no physical possibility to get rid of fossil fuels and maintain the current living standards for all people on Earth. Even if we cover all available land with solar panels and wind turbines, we still will not be able to produce the amount of energy being produced now from coal and gas. Short of massive adoption of nuclear energy, getting rid of fossil fuels mean reducing the majority of Earth population to subsistence levels

    3. Current enviro-radicals are not different from all other revolutionaries. They know better than us what we need, and nothing will stop them from achieving their goals. The fact that a former supporter of Weather Underground phoned in is symbolic

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Please, spare me the semantics. CO2 traps heat. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Heat will have its way.

      It is high time we shook the enviro-criminals out of their comfort zone, along with the financial criminals and offshorers. Up against the wall, Kochsuckas.

      • HonestDebate1

        No heat traps CO2, get your science right.

        Do you have any outrage for the billions of dollars thrown down the solar rat hole? Do you have any outrage for hundreds and hundred of thousands of birds killed by windmills every year? Do you agree with the decision not to fine wind companies for killing tens of thousands of Eagles while they fine oil companies a gazillion for killing any bird?

        • TomK_in_Boston

          What is wrong with you? “No heat traps CO2″ is a nonsense statement. CO2 traps heat. The greenhouse effect was explained in the 19′th century.

          • HonestDebate1

            You’re wrong, science has come a long way since the 19th century.

          • Shark2007

            Perhaps you would like to remind us of how our understanding of the radiative properties of CO2 has changed since Svante Arrhenius published his original work on the wavelengths of light that CO2 transmits versus absorbes.

          • HonestDebate1

            I’m not smart enough. But I do know that throughout history the temperature rises then a century or so later CO2 levels follow.

          • Anton_Chehov

            No, it wasn’t. 19′th century science cannot explain why adding CO2 increases the greenhouse effect. The real explanation came only in 1960′s, after the development radiative heat transfer computer codes (like HITRAN), paid for (surprise!) by the Air Force.

            http://www.aip.org/history/climate/pdf/Radmath.pdf

            Lefties are an ignorant bunch, but they should at least know the basics of their own religion :)

          • Shark2007

            The radiative properties of CO2 were determined at the end of the 19th century.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius
            This physics is incorporated into models of atmospheric radiative transfer like LOTRAN, MODTRAN, 6S and others. The small increase in warming caused directly by CO2 is amplified because warmer air holds more moisture than cooler air and water vapor is also a greenhouse gas.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          I was once a big ‘fan’ of wind farms until I looked at the economics. In most cases they don’t make any sense. And unlike solar they are ‘mature’ technology without hope for great leap in technological improvements.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Water vapor is a much more potent green house gas vs. CO2. Should water vapor (like those contrails we see out of jet liners) be classified as a pollutant?

    • DeJay79

      1. Sugar is not a poison but to much of it in your body will kill you. So Anton your first point is inaccurate, just look at Venus (the planet not the Greek goddess) tell us all how you would like to live in that atmosphere.

      2. The real and truthful answer is yes, There is way more then enough clean energy on this planet than the current population could ever want. http://www.carbonnationmovie.com/

      3. based on your proven lack of knowledge this point is akin to a first year math student who just learned to subtract telling people to not let Einstein speak because we might achieve his goals.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Are you saying 400ppm CO2 is too much for healthy plant growth? Hmmm.

        Since you are concerned with the CO2 levels then you must be a big fan of nuclear power and must be sorely disappointed that enviro-activists effectively stopped all development and improvements in nuclear technology over the last 45 years.

        • DeJay79

          I love how you like to make assumptions about I am a fan of.

          “Healthy plant growth” due to the lack or abundance of CO2 is not the issue that humanity has when it comes to the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere. I have not heard anyone say that it is. In an analogy it would be as if the problem was you ran a factory that produced bottled water (Plastic bottles+Water+machinery=product) and I came and said sir we have to much water and the factory is going to stop working to which you reply “well we put water in bottles right so more water is better, get me more water”, then the factory floods and the machinery breaks and we can’t bottle water.

          Yes, CO2 is one ingredient that plants use grow but they also need nutrients, water, sunlight, proper temperatures, other creatures to help them reproduce. Many other things much of which are negatively effected by the increase in CO2.

          I am not a Big fan of Nuclear Power, I feel, as many people do, that I would not a nuclear plant in my back yard. They can do an amazing amount of power generation with very little material input. But they have a very real and grave danger (Chernobyl, Fukushima). Those disasters are possible anywhere and they can windup effecting the whole planet. As a species we should be very careful when it comes to using radiated material.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Well, you said Anton’s first point was not accurate and since Anton was suggesting that CO2 is necessary for plant life….

            CO2 is not a pollutant by any standard definition. It is not even clear if current levels warming is an issue. It is fairly obvious that reverting to extreme cooling (ie, another ice age) would be far more damaging.

            Regarding nuclear, sure nuclear should be respected and safe but advancements to make nuclear safer (like LFTR) were stopped in their tracks by ignorant activists. Fortunately, other countries like China, are taking our technology and advancing it for the good of mankind. Too bad we are being left behind in this country.

    • Darkness690

      1. No, you’re wrong. Almost anything can be a pollutant in the right situation.

      2. Yes, we can produce more than enough energy, it’s just economically unfeasible.

      • Anton_Chehov

        “Yes, we can produce more than enough energy, it’s just economically unfeasible.”

        This is an absolutely hilarious statement! Sums up very well the attitude of eco-radicals towards this pesky reality!

        • Darkness690

          No, it just proves that you’re simply uninformed. Of course we can’t just suddenly stop using fossil fuels and instantly replace it with green energy methods without having an effect on the economy. No rational person is arguing otherwise.

          • Anton_Chehov

            Suddenly?
            In 1956, speaking at the 20-th Soviet Communist Party Congress, Nikita Khrushchev said that by 1980 Soviet people will live under communism.

            If we start counting from 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the global warming craze has been going for 21 years. Hundreds of billions have been spent (or rather squandered). The results? Not a SINGLE “green energy” technology can economically exist without massive government subsidies and onerous regulations. Not even one. At least one country, Spain, has been almost bankrupted by subsidies to solar energy industry, and had eventually to cut them drastically. Similar fate is awaiting Germany and Holland a few years down the road.

            Only 3 more years left until renewable communism’s coming. I can’t wait

          • northeaster17

            Yes and the colonies stood no chance against the British. Neither did India.
            Another modern Tory expressing fidelity with the kings of carbon.

          • dreaddead1

            Best not to poke the crazy. He posted this on the original broadcast:

            “I see this program as part of a campaign by left-wing media to influence the decision on Keystone pipeline project.

            These people are just common hooligans who, in their own words, try to circumvent a proper democratic process and force the will of a small militant minority upon a much larger, but silent, majority. A classic Bolshevik tactics.”

          • HonestDebate1

            If you are concerned about the democratic process then you cannot possibly be an Obama supporter.

  • HonestDebate1

    Assault? Nobody showed up.

    And no, Obama owns everything. Bus is long gone.

  • Jim Young

    Do you mean like self destructive third world countries?

    “My observation is that there are no hungry environmentalists. Those who
    hold lofty environmental goals are not hungry or jobless. The
    hungry/jobless do what is necessary to survive.”

    We seem to be taking the same course here as we’ve seen fail in other countries.

  • Michele
  • Anton_Chehov

    “Imagine what would have happened had Gore been declared president”

    Oh, that’s easy. Look at Great Britain. Gasoline at 8$/gallon.. Fracking being squashed by government regulations, so no cheap natural gas. Result – a lot of people becoming energy poor, just like in Britain:

    http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/policy/fuel-poverty.html

  • Open Letter

    How is it hypocritical when those companies control that need? It’s hard to change the demand for fossil fuels when the suppliers of those fuels have the political power to make their energy source cheaper than renewables.

  • Matt2525

    Real impressive specimens interviewed here. One of these girls can barely construct sentences and sounds like she’s missed a few doses of Xanax. I’m sure middle America’s going to love being pushed around by hysterical little nazis like these

    • Vigilarus

      Yes, they should ignore scientific concensus because some young environmentalists are not so articulate. Leave a time capsule for grandchildren explaing this- I’m sure they’ll understand despite climate refugee camps, food shortages, and devastating weather.

  • Shark2007

    For those actually interested in the science of AGW, check out these web sites:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/topic.cfm?id=global-warming-and-climate-change

    http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/

    For the latest data check out this:

    http://climate.nasa.gov/

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 25, 2014
President Barack Obama and ASIMO, an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative MObility, bow to each other during a youth science event at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, known as the Miraikan, in Tokyo, Thursday, April 24, 2014. (AP)

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Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Covina at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, April 21, 2014. Hernandez proposed a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to again allow public colleges to use race and ethnicity when considering college applicants. The proposal stalled this year after backlash from Asian Americans. (AP)

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