I love to cook; but I hate to wash the dishes. I love woodworking; but I hate to sweep the shop. I love to tend our horses; but mucking stalls is another matter entirely. I love a good night’s sleep; but make the bed? Maybe later.
Am I alone in this? If so, at least I’ve passed it on to my kids.
But I think I’m a lot like you. You know that cleaning up is part of every activity, but maybe mom will come along and do it for you – or maybe your wife, or your roommate, or someone.
|Cooking is fun. This is not!|
These were their messes. They were grown-ups. SOMEONE had to clean up. And we weren’t their mom.
Well, now a conservative spokesman has started speaking like a responsible adult to his fellow conservatives. Bob Inglis, Republican former congressman from South Carolina, is telling conservatives that it’s anti-conservative to expect someone else to clean up our oil & coal mess. In a free market, says Inglis, oil, gas and coal will contain all their costs – including the cost of clean-up.
“Conservatives say that free enterprise, not government mandates, can deliver innovation,” said Inglis, in an article published in USA Today (full text below). “But we’ve been waiting since 1973 to be freed from foreign oil. Maybe that’s because all the costs aren’t ‘in’ the petroleum – the national security risk, the costs of protecting the supply lines out of the Middle East, the cost of the pollution from tailpipes and the cost of tax subsidies for petroleum. If those costs were paid at the pump and not out of sight, we’d be aware of our need, and America’s entrepreneurs would meet our need with new fuels.”
Of course, you can already hear the screams of the oil and coal industry and the many politicians who rely on them for funding: He’s calling for new taxes!!
Not so. Someone bears the costs of wars in petro-states. Someone pays the health costs of the soaring asthma epidemic. Someone pays for the massive tax subsidies we give to oil companies. Someone pays the costs of floods, droughts, sea-level rise, and crop failures associated with climate change.
|Hell with the lid off: Pittsburgh before EPA regs|
Today, the price of your car contains the cost of steel made without polluting our rivers. The price of your house contains the cost of insulation that doesn’t destroy the ozone layer. The cost of a dozen eggs is enough to prevent manure from running off into our lakes. These aren’t taxes. They’re the cost of behaving like adults.
But the cost of a gallon of gas? Well that’s another matter. And the oil and coal tycoons want to keep it that way. They’re hoping that mom – or someone – will bear the cost of their clean-up. As we do today.
Here’s Republican Congressman Inglis’ appeal to fellow conservatives. No matter your political leanings, I think you’ll like what he has to say.
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.
|Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC)|
Perry asserts, and many conservatives believe, that the flow of grants have produced a corresponding flow of studies indicating human causes of climate change. Skepticism is warranted, but it’s relieved by an observation: Scientists become famous by disproving the consensus, not by parroting it. You don’t get a theory named for yourself by writing papers that say, “Yeah, like he said.” You become famous (and, for the pure of heart, you advance science) by breaking through with new understandings.
In the zeal of our disproof, many conservatives have latched on to the outliers to create the appearance of uncertainty where little uncertainty exists. Accordingly, only 15% of the public knows that 97% of climate scientists have concluded that the planet is rapidly warming as a result of human activity…
Many conservatives believe that, even if climate change is caused by human activity, the costs of correction outweigh the benefits. What does that calculation say about our objectivity, our commitment to accountability and our belief in free markets?
Conservatives say that free enterprise, not government mandates, can deliver innovation. But we’ve been waiting since 1973 to be freed from foreign oil. Maybe that’s because all the costs aren’t “in” the petroleum – the national security risk, the costs of protecting the supply lines out of the Middle East, the cost of the pollution from tailpipes and the cost of tax subsidies for petroleum. If those costs were paid at the pump and not out of sight, we’d be aware of our need, and America’s entrepreneurs would meet our need with new fuels.
But markets can’t respond when some fuels escape accountability. If the coal industry, for instance, were held accountable for all of coal’s costs – including health effects – we’d build emission-free nuclear power plants instead of coal-fired plants. Electricity rates would rise because we’d be paying all of coal’s cost at the meter, but health insurance premiums would fall. In such an all-costs-in scenario, the profit motive would drive innovation just as it drove innovation with the Internet and the PC – without clumsy government mandates.
Conservatives can restore our objectivity by acknowledging that Americans are already paying all the hidden costs of energy. We can prove our commitment to accountability by properly attaching all costs to all fuels. We can prove our belief in free markets by eliminating all subsidies and letting the free enterprise system sort out winners and losers among competing fuels.
Or, more cynically, we can attempt to disprove science, protect the fossilized and deprive America of a muscular, free enterprise, no-growth-of-government alternative to cap and trade.
And it’s dripping with corporate money. Exxon, Shell, Valero, TransCanada; some of the richest companies in the world are pushing all out to get it approved. They bought the State Department’s key person in charge of approving the project, and he’s been lobbying his buddies all-out to reward his new benefactors.
And in case you need any reminders, here are a few things we think we’ve made clear about the tar sands, and the KXL pipeline that will make them so much more deadly:
- Tar sands mining will devastate boreal forests in Canada the size of the state of Florida.
- Tar sands production consumes 12 barrels of water for every one barrel of crude, and contaminates 4 barrels of water, which then slowly leak toxic chemicals from vast, black containment lakes visible from space.
- Indigenous people living in the tar sands region face sharp increases in all kinds of rare cancers, and the loss of ancestral lands and waterways, carrying the shameful specter of indigenous genocide into the 21st century.
- Tar sands oil generates life-cycle greenhouse gases 82% worse than conventional oils. As such, your hybrid Prius, with tar sands gasoline, is the equivalent of the most gluttonous SUVs running on conventional gas.
- Tar sands oils are unusually corrosive and highly pressurized in the pipeline, which runs through the huge Ogallala aquifer from Canada to the Gulf, threatening Midwest communities all along the way.
- The oil industry’s cynical promise of new jobs is a cruel illusion for desperate people: overstating by far the employment benefits; and ignoring entirely the jobs that will be lost due to inevitable oil contamination, continued reliance on foreign oil, and the increasingly severe effects of climate change on our businesses and farms.
- And most sinister of all is the promise of energy independence. We already have tar sands oil being pumped to the Midwest. This pipeline will take it straight through the heartland to export terminals on the Gulf Coast, where foreign oil companies can sell it to the highest bidders on world markets.
- And for those who care about “global catastrophe” falling on their children, America’s leading climate scientist – NASA’s James Hansen – has warned that if the Alberta tar sands get produced, then “it’s essentially game over for the climate.”
They’ve bought Congress. They’ve bought the State Department. We must stop them at the Oval Office.
For the sake of our children. For the sake of billions around the world. For the sake of our Lord, to whom all of us belong.
|Cold winters protect the pines from beetle infestations.|
The Rocky Mountain seasons and winter snowpack have also done their part in maintaining the balance between beetle and pine. Cold winters – with occasional cold snaps reaching 30-40 degrees below – would reliably wipe out 80% of pine beetle larvae. And cool summers would assure prolonged snow melt, providing moisture to keep the pines healthy during their summer-long struggle against the manageably-few surviving beetles.
But something’s changed in the Mountain West: From Arizona to British Columbia the pine beetles are going nuts. And the pine forests are suffering unimaginable devastation.
|A lifetime’s work: Furnish observing still-healthy forests|
What Furnish is describing is a pine-forest die-off of epic proportions. Pine beetles are overwhelming the forest defenses, resulting in rust-red dead pines almost beyond measuring. The scale is astounding: The dead or dying forests cover an area in North America the size of Wisconsin; or for easterners, the combined areas of Virginia and Maryland. You could fit five New Jerseys into the beetle kill zone.
And while foresters like Furnish can attest to the freak nature of the infestation in recent history, researchers have traced the record back much further. According to British Columbia analyst Ben Parfitt, the forest die-off “is probably the biggest landscape-level change since the Ice Age.”
Apparently, God’s symphonic masterpiece has begun playing out of tune. What happened?
|Not autumn colors: The red is dead. Gray/white skeletons died earlier|
There’s actually not all that much mystery. The climate in the West has been undergoing sustained changes not seen in tens of thousands of years. The average winter lows in much of the Mountain West have warmed by 4-6 degrees in the last half-century. The cold that used to reliably kill off most pine beetle larvae every few years “just doesn’t happen anymore,” says Steven Running of University of Montana. Winter conditions that use to kill 80% of beetle larvae now kill only 10%. “It’s game over,” said Running.
Faced with exploding beetle populations and drier mountain conditions, there’s only so much that the Forest Service can do. “We don’t have any tools at our disposal to keep it from happening,” says Furnish. “It’s just racing across the landscape. Humans are just watching it all.”
|Life & death: Gray & green strands tally the casualties|
And where is it racing to, we wonder? Forest Service entomologist Bob Cain says the beetle infestations are moving north and east. A freak wind storm in 2006 blew the beetles eastward from British Columbia into northern Alberta for the first time, where they have set to work on the boreal forests spanning the Canadian northlands. Colorado’s beetles have appeared in Nebraska. And they are acquiring a taste for previously unaffected species, like the jack pine, threatening forests that never developed natural defenses.
So if God’s beautiful symphony brought together the seasons and the snows to balance the needs of trees and beetles, what does our disharmony sound like in the new world of climate change? Here’s an extremely limited sampling:
- Dead and weakened forests in the Southwest are burning at an unprecedented pace. Texas, New Mexico and Arizona have lost millions of acres of forests and thousands of homes this summer to explosive wildfires.
- Many Southwest forests are not recovering, but converting to unproductive heat-tolerant scrub and grasslands due to new, drier climate conditions. These lands cannot begin to hold the amount of carbon – or provide habitat to wildlife – that forests can.
- 80 percent of British Columbia’s massive western lodgepole forests have been devastated by the beetle infestation. And it’s headed eastward across Canada, a country that accounts for one-third of the world’s forested area.
- Beetle-killed forests are tinderboxes, and after 5-10 years, the shallow-rooted trees simply fall over, blocking roads, destroying power lines, and endangering humans.
- Many Rocky Mountain recreational destinations like Steamboat Springs are now surrounded by dead forests. Communities will have to live through the red forest stage, followed by a grey moonscape after the dead needles all fall. And for a decade or more, falling trees will render it unsafe to go into the woods.
|Almost pretty: Red hues disguise the horror of mass mortality in B.C.|
- Falling dead pines disrupt the forest soil structure, giving rise to erosion which chokes streams and reservoirs, and imperils community water supplies.
- The forest die-offs are both the result and the cause of rising greenhouse gas concentrations, as dead or burning forests emit far more CO2 than they absorb. It’s an example of the many positive feedback loops that make climate change so tricky to forecast, and often drive unpleasant, un-forecasted surprises.
|Nice vacation? Dead lodgepole forest up close.|
|Are Alberta’s boreal forests next?|
|Limbaugh: The LRA are Christians|
|Dr. Jennifer Myhre: 20 years saving the poorest children|
All of them have felt the chilling horror wreaked by the LRA on innocent Ugandans, Congolese and South Sudanese.
|Dr. Scott Myhre with AIDS victims and their babies|
|At grave of colleague, killed treating Ebola outbreak|
|U.S. Army tanker is a soft target for insurgent IEDs|
Thanks, General. For better or worse, some of us are skeptical of scientists and activists. But when a soldier speaks this clearly, maybe it’s time to listen.
Actually, Mr. (or Ms.) President, that what we’ve got today. Canada is our largest supplier of oil, and it gets piped right into the Midwest, reducing oil costs in our heartland.
|Valero’s tar sands oil is going overseas|
|Total S.A. hardly sells anything in the U.S., with heavy focus on Europe|
Oh, and what about President Obama? Well, he’s poised to sign the pipeline permit before year end.
|Where’s the Gulf refinery oil going? Latin America and Europe|
|Valero’s tar-sands oil will go to diesel-thirsty Europe|