Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Carbon Confederacy

When we read about the American Civil War, the similarity and parallels between then and today are remarkable. First, the Civil War was America's greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. As of 2015, America is again entering a crisis era, however this time the whole world and 7 billion people will be involved.

Climate Change, as defined by Pope Francis in the Encyclical, is a moral crisis.  Supreme Court rulings, EPA regulations, and President Obama's administrative orders have been challenged as unconstitutional.  A demand for leadership without a quality supply at the federal level has resulted in a political crisis.

September 30, 2015
As a moral crisis, the poor and those most vulnerable to climate change will suffer the worst consequences.  As a constitutional crisis, self-selected states with Republican leaders are going to challenge any federal regulations or mandates.  As a political crisis, the Republican vacuum of leadership is being filled by Donald Trump.

The Carbon Confederacy
by Terry Tamminen

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Climate Change: America Dithered for Decades

Posted: 8/30/2030

Twenty-five years ago, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States.  Eighteen years ago, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane and the second-costliest hurricane.  American attitudes did not change and recognize climate warming as a strategic threat to their very existence.  Before 2020, opinions in the United States varied intensely enough to be considered a culture war.

As the Fourth Turning began in 2008 with the Great Recession, American politicians and the majority of the public had ignored decades of warnings about climate change, beginning with James Hansen’s 1988 testimony before Congress. After Hurricane Sandy, 68 percent of Americans acknowledged “Global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem.” 

Since the Third World War ended in 2028, we have hindsight now to see how the US dithered for decades until a WW Two style mobilization to the climax crisis was forced on America. The US military began warning politicians decades earlier that climate change was a threat multiplier and still they waited until the US was attacked.

Almost 80 years after Pearl Harbor, America finally mobilized again with an all or nothing response to the worldwide destabilization of governments and the hundreds of millions of starving refugees.  

The leading edge of the chaos were the Middle East and Asian civil wars and roving gangs beginning in 2011 in Syria, with a few million refugees displaced, only a few thousand making their way to Europe and America, and by 2015, 300,000 had died in Syria.

Although President Obama launched the Clean Power Plan in 2015 with the goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, that obviously was not nearly sufficient.  Net Zero soon became the new goal.  Then basic survival instincts kicked in.

Just as Germany’s military intentions were clear in 1937, two years before WWII started, Global Climate Change consequences seemed obvious in 2015, well before the beginning of the Third World War.  By 2009, we had moved three-quarters of the way to the two-degree target and experienced unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, sharp sea level rises, dissolving coral reefs, and catastrophic weather events like Sandy.

Like the Nazi's march through Europe, the onslaught 80 years later of global climate change was relentless across the whole world. Back in 2015, we were uncertain how long we could postpone action.  Like the Allies ignored the concentration camps of 1933-1939 in Germany, America and Europe ignored the refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey for Syrians, and the refugee camps in Africa for displaced persons. Soon, however migrants and refugees began moving within North America.  That’s when the USA mobilized, almost too late.

In the 5 years between 2015 and 2020, the US indifference to the civil wars in the Middle East, Africa and Asia was justified by public sentiment. The public just didn’t believe that a climate crisis would happen in America.  Recovering from the severe recession of 2008-2010, and years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Americans turned inward. America seemed secure in the knowledge that thousands of miles of ocean separated us from foreign battlefields. After a decade of economic hardship, citizens were not emotionally prepared for the austerity that war would bring. Then the attack left us no choice.

Prior to 2020, events like the refugees from Syria and hundreds of thousands killed; or Hurricane Sandy deaths and financial damage; or pollution in China causing pre-mature deaths; or aerosols drifting from Asia across the Pacific to the west Coast of America; none of these were sufficient to move Americans to make the sacrifices necessary to curtail global climate change.

Congress did provide some funds necessary to repair the damage from Sandy, but did not call for a national mobilization on the scale last seen when the U.S. entered World War II. Diplomacy by Secretary Kerry was very much the way to deal with holding off disaster approaching from civil wars like Syria, and unstable governments like Iran and North Korea. Appeasement, like 1936-1939, was key the COP21 climate negotiations of 2015. After all, 74 years had passed since Americans were last called upon to sacrifice, and we're not used to to taking extreme steps to protect our selves and our families.

Those were extreme steps America took from 2020 to 2028, but America had gone through something like this before, after we entered World War II. There were extreme hardships but our people adapted and the American economy thrived. We did this again when we viewed global climate change as World War III and mobilized.

A Future Story Based on Foresight
By Richard Turnock

Monday, September 14, 2015

Open Letter to Politicians

September 14, 2015

Governor Kate Brown
Mayor Denny Doyle
Senator Ron Wyden
Senator Jeffrey A. Merkley
Representative Suzanne Bonamici

The consequences of decades of CO2 emissions are already baked into the Earth System.  However, as a consequence of climate change, the human suffering is just beginning. 

The CO2 emissions now in the atmosphere and the oceans have enough momentum to shift the heat energy and chemistry of the Earth System so that many millions of humans are going to suffer.

So what?  Why am I writing this letter?

In western Oregon, especially the Willamette Valley, we are uniquely positioned to have a mild marine climate, plentiful rainfall, a few more hot dry days in the summer, and plentiful farmland for crops and grazing. While the rest of Oregon is under drought declarations, NW Oregon has so far been spared from the extreme consequences.  However that leads us to a future problem, everyone is going to want to move to western Oregon when they run out of water and experience food insecurity.

16.1 percent of people in Oregon experienced food insecurity in 2012-2014 period (per FDA). That means over 630,000 real people did not have enough food at least one day of the year.  But there was growth in that number over time.  Why?

The ones who suffer from the consequences of climate change are those vulnerable to food insecurity.  Pope Frances’ Encyclical makes clear that the world’s poor are going to suffer the worst consequences.

One possible impact of climate change is that migration could shift away from California and up into Oregon, where resources, especially water, are more plentiful (See Reference below).  Climate change refugees will come to Oregon, not just from other countries, but by the thousands from California and Texas, and any other state that suffers from extreme weather, loss of jobs and food insecurity.  There won’t be enough jobs here for them.  We will need to figure out how to feed and provide shelter to what will feel like an invasion.

Unlike the exodus from New Orleans in 2005, where the people with the resources were able to avoid the life threatening disaster.  The exodus from drought areas in California, Arizona and Texas, coming to Oregon will not have jobs here, will not have resources to find shelter and will experience food insecurity.  

There are many unanswered questions:
  • Is Oregon going to be organized, efficient and welcoming like Germany?  Or are we going to be like Hungary and keep them moving into Washington?
  • What principles, values and beliefs are going to be used to justify Oregon’s official actions?
  • Does Oregon have the connections to the Federal resources to be able to get help quickly enough to respond?
  • Where are all these people going to find shelter? Or are we going to concentrate them in migrant camps like we did the Japanese during WWII?
  • Are the climate migrants going to be primarily Hispanic from Mexico, and Central and South America? 
  • Are we going to deport people? There are still at least 10 million undocumented people living in America.  They are the poorest and least able to adapt where they live.

Climate Change Puzzle Pieces (See Reference below)

Carbon Management
  • Energy production transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
  • Transportation transition from internal combustion engine vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, light rail trains, mass transit) to electric vehicles.
  • Energy use transition to upgrade built environment energy efficiency.
  • Agriculture and grazing land management practices to reclaim land from desertification and maintain existing productive land.
  • Forest land management practices.
  • Removing CO2 from the atmosphere and Sequestering carbon.

Consequences of Climate Change require people to adapt, mitigate risks and communicate.
  • Water sources, use and storage.
  • Food security.
  • Refugees migrating across America.
  • Refugees from Mexico, Central and South America.
  • Refugees from other countries.
A Preliminary Exploration, USP 594: Planning in the Pacific Northwest Fall 2011

SOLVING THE PUZZLE:  Researching the Impacts of Climate Change Around the World