Let’s Get Real About This Stuff

Anchorage 6/6/17

Trump announcing the U.S. will begin pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change is a signal for those who are capable of growing up to do so. You’re just being a baby if you keep whining and pouting about this lout. It takes years to pull out of this deal, and there is an active move for local (likely including our own Mayor in Anchorage) and state governments to step into the agreement under its “NAZCA” provisions.

Far more important is the administration’s federal budget, which de-funds all sorts of arctic research and monitoring. That’s the damage. It cripples scientists trying to actually do something about the planet’s albedo loss. It harms the tools the policy sector will need to take action.

Could the grownups in the room please just keep their eyes on the ball?

Aside from hand wringing and political maneuvering, what can we actually do, and what are the steps to begin doing it? Some people know. It’s time to pay attention to them and begin moving toward doing these things.

What are these things? Is it 350 ppm CO2 we should aim for? What actually has traction for reducing albedo loss? Changing the U.S. tax code and the way fossil fuel reserves are accounted for? Implementing the Arctic Council agreement on black carbon? Bio char? Ecosystem management that increases biodiversity and hence puts carbon back into the biosphere? A carbon tax and rebate system (already supported by most oil and gas majors)? Changing urban design standards and the way federal transportation funds (already a kind of carbon tax) are allocated? Carbon neutral building design standards? Continuing the methane leakage standards for oil and gas production facilities (the ones Congress refused to allow Trump to cancel)? Supporting the insurance underwriting industry’s push to incentivize the risks of higher carbon emissions? Requiring the cost of carbon sequestration to be calculated into the rate base of electrical power utilities? How many of these solutions do you know anything about? Where are there good analyses of any of them? How do we track their status? It’s not easy. The trade press and the business press are usually the best sources, sometimes the science press. I find advocacy groups unreliable sources. They are prone to spin and often reduce their communication to talking points.

Why do we hear so little about the things that would actually get results? Everybody seems to prefer drama and finger pointing.


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