Monday, December 10, 2012

When in doubt, just make shit up

So USA State Department climate envoy Todd Stern goes to Doha.  And since the record he must defend is indefensible, he just lies.  And while lying over at State is apparently as routine as breathing, lying about science or climate matters is a pathetic waste of time.  Instrumentation will show up falsehoods very quickly—which means Stern's lies are of the-dog-ate-my-homework variety.

You gotta wonder what poor career move Stern made at State to get such an  embarrassing assignment.  Perhaps it was something simple like he isn't one of the folks with family money.  Maybe he even believes what he says.  All I know is that I am furious that my country is represented by such a buffoon.  Just once before I die, I would like to see USA out in front of some important issue instead of wasting everyone's time—time we clearly do not have.

US envoy's cutting remark on CO2 emissions fails to add up

Todd Stern seems to overlook even his own government's reports that indicate US would be nowhere 16.3% cut by 2020

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, 6 December 2012

The Obama administration has been vigorously defending its climate record at the Doha conference in Qatar. But it appears that Todd Stern, the US state department climate envoy, has been rather selective with his facts.

In his sole press conference at the meeting, Stern told reporters the US was on track to meet its commitment on cutting emissions by 2020, citing a report by the Resources for the Future thinktank.
The report said that incoming Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal-fired power plants, along with other measures, could lead to a 16.3% cut in emissions by 2020.

"The US has done quite significant things in the president's first four years, in his first term," Stern said. "I saw just the other day actually a report by Resources for the Future which is a quite good kind of environmental economic thinktank in Washington that projects us to be on track for about a 16.5% reduction based on the policies that we have in place now."

That figure is not far off Barack Obama's admittedly modest target of 17% cut on emissions from 2005 levels, which he offered to the UN climate meeting at Copenhagen in 2009. The problem was, however, that Stern overlooked official US government reports indicating the US would be nowhere near a 16% cut by 2020. He also overlooked several different cautions included in the RFF report (pdf).

Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who first drew reporters' attention to the gap, said the most accurate projections indicate America is well short of meeting even the modest commitment Obama made in 2009 for cutting the emissions that cause climate change.

The 2013 outlook from the Energy Information Administration, released just this week, gives a far less rosy picture than Stern. The government agency projected only a 9% reduction in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 – and emissions would then creep back up again by 2040.

Meyer said Stern's colleagues at the White House Council for Environmental Quality told him at Doha that US emissions would be down about 10% from 2005 levels. "So clearly the gap to be closed is a significant one, requiring further domestic initiatives," Meyer said in an email.

A State Department official responded to a requests for clarification by quoting from the RFF report, which said: "The United States is about on track to achieve President Obama's Copenhagen pledge with respect to mitigation goals."

However, the State Department official also acknowledged that the RFF report assumed actions not yet taken by the EPA. The current EPA actions, on their own, would not bring the US up to the target.

"The RFF estimate assumes additional regulatory action beyond what has occurred to date," the official said in an email. more


  1. I think you are being too harsh on USA.

    I agree that there were poor decisions made in the past such as neglecting the public transportation system that has led to higher pollution levels. However there are efforts being made in the right direction that are helping. It is not easy to undo past poor decisions.

    Other countries such as China and India were recently starting to build their infrastructure. They had an excellent opportunity to show the world that it is possible to develop a society that is modern and environmentally friendly. There were several press releases from these countries showing wind and solar farms and mass transit systems. The same counties are one of the fastest growing polluters.

    Another side of the coin that is being ignored here is the CO2 absorption levels. USA and Canada have made major efforts in maintaining their forests. The state of forest, rivers and other natural resources in India and China is absolutely shocking. Even if humanity was to completely disappear from these countries, it would take hundreds of years for the toxic pollutants to dissipate.

    On the other hand if the US was to magically cut their CO2 emissions by half that would only reduce the world wide emissions by 9%. In other words it is a worldwide problem. US could put enormous amount of resources to reduce their CO2 emissions and yet not see any impact in the global CO2 numbers.

    I think USA is doing the right thing. All other counties are setting up lofty rducion targets while the actual numbers show that their pollution levels are increasing. USA has set realistic target and the question is if they will get to 17% reduction or only 10%.

  2. The Arctic Ocean is melting. The Corn Belt is on its way to becoming a desert. Actually reducing CO2 is extremely difficult and will require huge amounts of effort and money. We have no option but to solve this problem or we destroy the plant's ability to support us.

    We have known about the threats posed by climate change since at least 1988. We could have at least gotten a good start on some solutions. But noooooo. Every time anyone suggests we get to work, there are always people who think we should spend our energy coming up with excuses for why nothing should be done. I have been associated with difficult projects quite often in life. I certainly don't know everything but I do know for certain that there is no bigger obstacle to progress than wasting time making excuses for doing nothing.

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