Buy a Clue on Climate from Michael

Newark     Whether Trump is on the air talking about meeting with Kanye or some other distraction, the scrolls across CNN in the airport are in capital letters:  WIDESPREAD, CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE ACROSS FLORIDA PANHANDLE.  The eyebrow above the headline says simply:  Hurricane Michael.

The reports indicated that this was the worse storm to hit the Florida panhandle stretching from the Alabama border and Pensacola over towards Panama City in more than 160 years since records have been kept.  The damage from the storm surge was expected to be huge.  Early reports indicated it was at 5 feet over high tide even before landfall.  Water had risen in Lake Ponchartrain on the northern border of New Orleans several feet above normal and city services were suspended in far east New Orleans at a great distance west of the storm.  The forward edge of the front being pushed by Michael meant bumpy skies flying into and landing in Newark airport in New Jersey far to the north.  Rain and wind have meant a steady stream of announcements on delayed flights.

Michael is only one recent storm.  The death count is now over 2000 people on Sulawesi, one of the larger islands in the Indonesian chain after a fierce tsunami there.  Earlier the Philippines had also been hammered.  Puerto Rico is still a long way from recovery.  Usually in the US, the hurricane season is effectively over by October, but there is no such thing as “usually” anymore.

The recent United Nations report warned that we can expect more wildfires, worst hurricanes, and sea rising by 2040 unless something changes drastically.  2040 is only a bit more than 20 years from now, relatively speaking less than the blink of an eye in geological and atmospheric terms.

What does it take for Hurricane Michael to give a clue to the White House and the climate-resistance cabal of the Congressional Republican Taliban?  If even Exxon is trying to get ahead of the wave, how can the immediacy of the crisis and the fear of its impact not be sweeping away everything in its way?

Meanwhile recent news indicates that FEMA, the one federal agency that should know better since they are the paymaster and mop-up crew for all of the mess that climate change brings, reportedly is paying hundreds of millions to allow rebuilding in low lying and previously storm damaged areas.  One incredible example was the construction of a prison in an area where there were frequently mandated evacuations on the justification that “the sheriff wanted it.”

The new mayor in New Orleans is facing a fight over a proposal that some part of the tax revenues currently promoting tourism, the convention center and the stadium be used to upgrade the water and sewerage system.  The system needs hundreds of million in repairs potentially, and the city’s Water Plan, that includes rain gardens and bioswales, would likely cost over $6 billion. Yet, the hospitality industry in that city feels entitled to the tax revenue subsidizing private business and consumers, so the proposal may be doomed politically. As if there would be tourism in New Orleans without drastic expenditures on climate change and infrastructure upgrades?

One example of many on the refusal of government and corporate elites continuing to need a weatherman to see which way the wind of climate change is blowing, even when it is hurricane force and devastating everything in its path.


If Exxon Is for Carbon Tax, Should We Oppose It?

New Orleans   The reversal of Exxon Mobil’s position on climate change is important.  This is potentially a crack in the wall of industrial and political opposition to this grave threat to the future of the world and its people.  The sign of change that is raising interest and eyebrows is the announcement of a $1 million contribution to a 501c4 advocacy organization, Americans for Carbon Dividends.

Before we get the banners out for the parade, we need to spend some time looking the gift horse in the mouth.

This group has as its co-chair, Trent Lott, the former Senate Majority leader from Mississippi.  It is promoting a carbon tax-dividend program first proposed by two former US Secretaries of State, James Baker III and George Schultz, all charter members of the Republican establishment in the era before Trump.  Baker, an attorney based in Houston, has been a mainstay of the Texas oil industry for decades, so his involvement particularly has to keep you’re your eyebrows raised and holding back your cheers.

The basic proposal is a tax on carbon emissions with the tax paying dividends to consumers in lower prices.  Why is Exxon in favor of this?

The simple answer is that they are in the famous words of an old friend, “clutching a viper to their breast.”  They are savvy enough to know that climate is literally going to hell, so despite Trumpian denials, more – and for them – worst regulations are coming. They are hoping by accepting some tax and this plan that they can semi-swallow they will be able to trade that agreement for something they fear worse:  more regulations.  And, not only, more regulations but a patchwork from state to state, and maybe even country to country, that makes it harder, and frankly, more expensive for them to follow.

Let’s also remember who and what Exxon has been.  For decades the company has funded studies in climate change denial and paid for countless ads denying it was a problem.  They have paid a battery of lawyers to defend themselves against claims that their own scientists were reporting to them internally about environmental dangers at the same time they were denying it in public.

If Exxon is trying to help lead and control its own regulation through a carbon tax, it has to strain credibility to believe that the tax will do the job it should do which is significantly and urgently curb carbon emissions.  One-hundred companies are responsible for 70% of global emissions.  More than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities.

Exxon is one of these companies.  We have to demand more, or we will end up with tragically less.


Please enjoy Gone by Cleargreen.

Thanks to KABF.