Wednesday, February 19, 2014

John Kerry's Clarion Call for Climate Action - And Confronting U.S. Hypocrisy

Secretary of State John Kerry's recent calls for action on climate change were notable as he referred to climate change as "the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction". In this he wasn't exaggerating, not one bit, despite the fact oblivious 'Muricans (in a recent poll) rated global warming - climate change is only 19th on the list of Americans' concerns.   This is pathetic, but I'm not terribly surprised given that too many fellow citizens remain woefully uninformed, or mal-informed!

In his speech in Jakarta, Indonesia, addressing a group of students and government officials, Kerry also said that  scientists predicted that melting ice caps could push sea levels up by more than three feet by the end of the century, putting half of Jakarta underwater and displacing hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Also, changes in ocean temperatures and acidification of the seas could also reduce fish catches in Indonesia by as much as 40 percent, he said, while typhoons such as the one that struck the Philippines last year could become the norm and “wipe out entire communities.”

All of which is true, and not an issue of contention for 97% of climate scientists, researchers. Indeed, Kerry took pains to identify and isolate those yahoo researchers who aren't serious when he referred to those who denied the evidence of climate change as “shoddy scientists and extreme ideologues.”

Though I am not sure about "shoddy" scientists, it's more like bought out scientists!  See e.g.

Kerry also went on to say:

"It’s absolutely true that industrialized countries have to play a leading role in reducing emissions, but that doesn’t mean other nations have the right to repeat the mistakes of the past. It’s not enough for one country or even a few countries to reduce emissions when other countries continue to fill the atmosphere with carbon pollution as they see fit

If even one or two major economies neglects to respond to this threat, it will counteract all of the good work that the rest of the world does. When I say we need a global solution, I mean we need a global solution.”

Which elicits the question of why he more or less overlooked the U.S. own shoddy record on climate change.  I mean, we're senselessly fracking so much land now, with injection wells, that there's a definite tie in to the 94 earthquakes Oklahoma experienced last month alone - if Rachel Maddow's report last night is to be believed. 

Then there is the disturbing recent report, 'How the U.S. Exports Global Warming' in Rolling Stone, (Feb. 13, p.32.).  the U.S. is now outsourcing, exporting high polluting, cut-rate, climate damaging fuels to other nations! In other words, while we portray ourselves as the cleaner and cleaner nice guys, we are happy to foul up the rest of the planet as we embrace the error that "there's no fossil fuel we will leave in the ground".

I've already noted the fracking obsession which is destroying the country from one end to the other, polluting water sources (even in drought-stricken areas like here in Colo.) as well as ravaging the landscape and fouling the air. For more on that see:


In the RS piece, we learn (p. 32):

"Despite the controversy over Keystone XL - the stalled pipeline project that would move diluted tar sands bitumen to refineries on the Gulf coast - the Canadian crude is already a large and growing part of our energy mix. American refineries, primarily in the Midwest, processed 1.65 billion barrels a day in 2012, up 40 percent from 2010."

How many even know of this? Until reading the RS article, I didn't!  And let's get clear what we are talking about here, some of the most vile stuff ever to emerge from the ground. Think of tons of coal, then think of it being melted and pumped out. That is what you have with this crap.  The RS piece referred to its evidence in play as "heaping piles along the Calumet River". It's the latest toxic effluent, that goes by the name "pet -coke" for petroleum coke - a "filthy byproduct of refining gasoline and diesel from Canadian tar sands."

The article goes on to note:

"Petcoke is like concentrated coal - denser and dirtier than anything that comes out of a mine. It can be burned just like coal to produce power, but petcoke emits up to 15 percent more climate pollution. It also contains up to 12 times as much sulfur not to mention a slew of heavy metals."

The article notes that in Canada "the stuff is largely treated as a waste product, the country has stockpiled nearly 80 million tons of it".


"Here in the U..S., petcoke is sometimes burned in coal plants, but it's so filthy the EPA has stopped issuing any new licenses for its use as fuel. Literally, "it's the dirtiest fuel on the planet".

So where does this crap go if it's of no use, or legal use, here?  Well, it's exported overseas!

As noted (ibid.)

"American companies have seized on the substance as a coal alternative to export. The market price is about one third that for coal"

In other words, the perfect fuel to dump on poor nations that can't afford anything better....or other nations that want to build their industrial base on cheap energy. According to RS (ibid.) : "Petcoke exports have surged by one third since 2008 to 33.4 million metric tons. China is now the top consumer and the demand is exploding."

Now, before anyone jumps on China's ass here, let's try to get our bearings.  China is the largest holder of U.S. debt and also anything they can buy from us, lowers our debt burden with respect to them. Hence, one can easily see why the administration would go for broke in selling this petcoke as a means to minimize trading liability. It's a way to also offset the tons of stuff Americans buy, made in China.

While the monetary factors are partly understandable, the article points out that "despite the dangers of petcoke, the Obama administration turned a blind eye to its proliferation". The piece also references a 2011 State Dept. report that actually "treated petcoke as if it were an inert byproduct".

The gist of it is that Kerry's speech in Jakarta rings hollow if these things aren't known - or (as the case here) they ARE known and nothing is done about it. (Kerry certainly had to be aware of the State Dept. report treating petcoke as an inert product. And if he's able to spiel on climate change, one presumes he knows that's false!)

If indeed, the State Dept. and Kerry are serious about climate change being "the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction" then what about petcoke exports?  Given it's the "dirtiest fuel on the planet" why do we continue to export it which, in effect, means we are offloading massive CO2 loads to other nations?

If Mr. Kerry (or anyone else in this country) is going to next bloviate about the dangers of climate change, especially the rest of the world's responsibilities, they better damned well make sure our own house is in order first!

That means NO more petcoke exports!

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