Today it is the June 25th, 2013. President Obama made a major speech addressing climate change. There were some very encouraging things in there, some things that require questioning and some things that I feel aren’t quite right. The first one that I would say is a question, is the possible cessation or lack of permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline which will bring tar sands from Canada down to Texas to be refined. It’s known that it’s terribly difficult material to get oil from: in fact it takes more energy to get oil of there than there is energy received back in the end. The point is, President Obama stated that if that pipeline is proved to be adding carbon into the atmosphere then he won’t permit it to be built. There is a fair number of outcries from that. Canada for example who stands to benefit financially from this deal of course is one in that number, but one of the most disingenuous arguments about that is that it doesn’t matter whether President Obama permits or not, it will still go ahead, so what’s basically being said there that they don’t care if the carbon dioxide is being emitted, but they’re going to do it anyway. I don’t lay that one at President Obama’s feet but that sort of statement is not correct, nor moral.
The point is, is that the fact that President Obama has addressed climate change in a major way, the first time he’s done that since attempting to be elected in the first place is very encouraging. I haven’t read the whole speech yet, just the summary from the White House, and there are a good number of good things in there – we have a lot to be thankful for here. Even if this just sparks up many debates everywhere is a good thing.
Another thing that is stated in there is that it is human activity that is creating more carbon dioxide that is polluting the atmosphere and causing climate change. It wasn’t that long ago that many corporations that were paying money to have lies spread around, which resulted in Climate Gate, so this is very good news. I’m very encouraged by it and I’m sure that all those who have been working tirelessly on this subject for years, way beyond my involvement, like Bill McKibben, are also encouraged by it.
President Obama also spoke of creating more funding for renewables and also ways to prepare parts of the United States for the effects of climate change, because even if we do anything else, we’re going to face 2 degrees of climate change no matter what. We are going to face different weather patterns as well.
One thing did make me sit and think. Obama spoke of assisting agriculture with more technological and scientific assistance. I’m not against science, but I do know that one thing we do need to do, those of us who are privileged enough to have access to some sort of land where we can grow things to eat, we need to do that – that’s a much more powerful solution than bringing more science into agriculture and I think as Alexandra has pointed out, Russia is doing that, in a very big movement that’s feeding a lot of the population there. Whether science can help agriculture, well that’s a different subject, but I do know that people growing their own foods locally, and sharing it with others where they can do that, is the most important thing we can do at this stage.
I will add one more comment from an article I just read on the National Geographic web site, it related to biofuels which is a subject we covered in a different blog post. This article mentioned a “start-up” in Mississippi which has a process to take pine wood chips and create a fuel from that, which is in essence petroleum. That company is called KiOR and I noted some numbers from it, as follows. “The target was for U.S. drivers to be putting 500 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels into their gas tanks in 2012, up to 1 billion gallons in 2013, and 16 billion gallons by 2022. Instead, only20,069 gallons of cellulosic biofuel were produced in the United States in 2012, according to U.S. EPA data.” Also 18.5 million barrels—777 million gallons—of petroleum products äre consumed each day in the United States.” There are two points here; biofuels are not an answer for reasons of volume as shown here but more importantly because it is a desperate and futile attempt to preserve a human way of life which cannot be preserved. It is not just fossil fuels that are finite but everything we depend in our current unsustainable life-styles.