Year 4, Month 1, Day 8: My Heart Goes Where The Wild Goose Goes

What could possibly go wrong? Time Magazine:

As terrible as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was, one element worked in the favor of rescuers and cleanup personnel: location. The Gulf of Mexico is the nerve center of the U.S. offshore oil industry, which made it that much easier for BP and the federal government to respond quickly to the spill. The warm Gulf environment also simplified operations and accelerated the natural dispersal of the oil. As one environmentalist noted at the time, having an oil spill in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico was like having a heart attack in the middle of a hospital. It’s still a heart attack, but at least you won’t have to wait long for treatment.

Now imagine the opposite — a heart attack far, far away from the closest medical care. That’s what’s unfolding this week in Alaska, where a Shell drilling rig called the Kulluk broke free from a tow ship in stormy seas on New Year’s Eve before running aground on the southeast coast of Sitkalidak Island, near the larger island of Kodiak. It’s not clear yet how much if any of the rig’s more than 150,000 gal. of diesel fuel and lubricants might have spilled into the freezing cold waters. And because the ship was in transit rather than actively drilling, there’s no danger of a major oil blowout similar to the Deepwater Horizon spill. But the accident and the struggles that Shell and the U.S. Coast Guard have already experienced trying to save the rig underscores just how difficult and dangerous drilling in Arctic waters will be — which should be worrying since the oil industry and the Obama Administration are counting on the bounty promised in the far north.

Fucking delusional idiots. Sent January 3:

Einstein’s definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result,” is perfectly applied to Shell Oil’s current Arctic debacle. For decades Shell and its Big Oil peers have botched every aspect of their business: exploration and extraction leave gaping wounds on the Earth’s surface; transportation spills toxic crude in oceans and aquifers, devastating local and regional ecosystems; refineries waste huge quantities of raw material as pollution. Meanwhile oil’s business practices enrich a small coterie of executive while feeding at the public trough and fostering a culture of dependency among consumers; oil’s geopolitics leads us into war after war at an immeasurable cost; oil’s PR funds the denial of science and muddies the national conversation on climate change, the gravest crisis in humankind’s history.

Perhaps entrusting the future of our energy economy to demonstrably incompetent and untrustworthy corporations wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 9, Day 24: You Never Give Me Your Money…

The Macon, GA, Telegraph runs a story on the role of climate questions on the campaign trail. Several paragraphs are devoted to the cognitive dissonance of Republican environmentalists. Let’s all quiet down and stop giggling.

Romney has said previously that he believes climate change is occurring and that human activity is a contributing factor. During the Republican primary season, though, he said he didn’t believe it was the right course to spend “trillions and trillions” to reduce carbon emissions. More recently, he said in a questionnaire submitted to Science Debate, a non-profit organization focusing on science issues in the presidential campaign, that he believes human activity contributes to global warming and that policymakers should consider the risk of negative consequences.

Frank Maisano, a lobbyist whose firm represents energy interests and who has been involved in climate change discussions for 15 years, cautioned not to read too much into Romney’s dig about the rise of the oceans. It was designed to show Obama is “a little bit out of touch,” he said.

“Right now, you need someone who cares about you rather than these larger, soaring rhetorical issues,” Maisano said.

Jim DiPeso of ConservAmerica had the same reaction.

“(Romney) acknowledged that science has shown there is a human role in global warming,” said DiPeso, who represents a national grassroots organization of conservation-minded Republicans who would like to see a fiscally conservative approach to capping carbon emissions.

DiPeso said he hopes Romney’s acknowledgement will give Republicans lower down on the ticket the freedom to talk about climate change, an issue that once had Republican support. Policymakers may differ on how to address emissions, but carbon dioxide molecules are apolitical, he said.

“Because we’ve gotten to the point where a good Republican can’t acknowledge the real science that backs up climate change without being cast as some sort of infidel, or somebody who’s not a real conservative,” he said.

Poor puppies. Sent September 17:

I wouldn’t read too much into Mitt Romney’s statements about the human causes of climate change; the erstwhile Massachusetts governor is widely known for his ability to take multiple contradictory positions on any issue. And while it’s good to know that there are some conservatives out there who are genuinely concerned about the looming climate crisis, it must be hard for them to reconcile their free-market fetishism with the tough transformations the next century will demand of America’s energy economy.

The grotesquely inflated subsidies and tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry need to end. These taxpayer dollars would be far better spent on preparing American infrastructure for a century of devastating storms and increasingly unpredictable weather, and our national investment in renewable energy needs to increase by many orders of magnitude over the next decade. These requirements won’t be solved with the economic pixie-dust of the “free market,” but through the collective will of hundreds of millions of Americans demanding that their government work once again in their best interests, instead of the corporate welfare recipients in the oil and coal industries.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 8, Day 29: He Said WHAT?

The Waltham News-Tribune (MA) notes that Ed Markey (MA-O7) has some harsh words for candidate Romney’s ludicrous energy plan:


U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, lambasted Mitt Romney for his just-released energy plan that he said was a gift to the oil industry and would put alternative energy in jeopardy.

“Mitt Romney has finally released his energy plan and not surprisingly given the fact that he met with the oil barons just two days ago in Texas, it is a plan which says that it is not ‘all of the above,’ but ‘oil above all,’ that it is a plan that gives the oil industry everything that it has ever dreamed of,” Markey said on Thursday.

The Malden Democrat said the former Massachusetts governor’s plan would “do away with the tax breaks for the wind industry” while keeping the $4 billion in tax breaks given to the oil industry.

“Which industry does not need a tax break?” Markey asked reporters in front of the State House.

In a speech in New Mexico on Thursday, the Republican presidential candidate laid out his energy plan, which reportedly would give states more responsibility for oil drilling permits on federal lands and sets a goal of energy independence by the end of a second term.

That’s my congressman! Sent August 24:

Ed Markey’s remarks about Romney’s energy plan are right on target. While ordinary Americans are struggling to get by, big oil and big coal are already the world’s most profitable industries, raking in billions — and Romney wants to give them even more tax breaks, effectively asking the public to subsidize more multimillion dollar bonuses for their executives.

Let’s not forget that these industries have a lengthy rap sheet of safety and environmental violations — but Mitt would loosen even the poorly enforced regulations currently in place. Notice that the rest of the world’s developed and developing nations are investing heavily in renewable energy sources — while this retrogressive proposal does the opposite.

Finally, consider the overwhelming scientific evidence linking fossil fuels to global climate change. As a world leader, America’s energy economy should be an example of responsible planetary stewardship — not Romney’s reckless glorification of waste and inefficiency.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 8, Day 23: If This Had Been A Real Emergency, You Would Have Received Instructions…

The Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune assesses the grim situation:

In drought-scorched parts of the country these days, some farmland bears a resemblance to NASA’s photos of Mars’ barren plains.

Here on Earth, crops are suffering. On Friday, the federal Department of Agriculture cut by 17 percent its estimate for the corn crop and said the U.S. soybean crop is expected to drop, too. Soaring prices are forecast.

The drought stems from a number of causes, science suggests. But some of it appears to be consistent with the kind of long-term drying patterns seen in global-warming climate models.

Furthermore, James E. Hansen, a NASA expert in the field, issued a report last week tying man-made climate change to three severe heat outbreaks from 2003 to 2011.

These latest developments won’t resolve long-running arguments over global warming or its causes. But they heighten the sense that precious time to address the problem is evaporating.

There’s no mystery as to what needs to be done: Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel must be cut.

The fossil-fuel industry is an ichneumon wasp which has laid its eggs inside our civilization. Ick. Sent August 12:

Why is our political system unable to address climate change in anything approaching a responsibly adult manner? The answer rests in the synergy of three separate forces, interacting to produce paralysis: fossil fuel money, politicians’ cupidity, and media irresponsibility.

Taking full advantage of our compromised campaign finance system, the oil and coal industries use their huge financial resources to purchase the loyalty of as many lawmakers as possible. More of that same money funds conservative “think tanks” and “institutes” which generate spurious studies using cherry-picked data and misinterpreted statistics — and also produce telegenic pundits trained to deliver denialist talking points on cue. Hewing to the doctrine that there are two exactly equivalent sides to every story, our print and broadcast media then allow equal time to worried climatologists and petrol-funded shills — reinforcing the notion that “the debate on climate change isn’t settled.” Purchased politicians seize on this false notion as an excuse for continued inaction, which is all Big Oil and Big Coal require.

Repeat and fade.

Warren Senders


Year 3, Month 4, Day 5: My God! It’s Actually A Cookbook!

The Boston Globe, reporting on the readiness of our state’s Junior senator to do the bidding of his paymasters:

Senator Scott Brown joined with Senate Republicans on Thursday to foil President Obama’s plan to strip $24 billion in tax subsidies from the country’s largest oil companies, a stance that Democrats immediately focused on as an issue in the Massachusetts Senate race.

In voting against the bill, Brown contended the measure did not address the most pressing problem.

“I do not support this bill in its current form because it will do nothing to reduce prices at the pump,’’ Brown said.

Which, in a nutshell, is why you (and I) should be donating to Elizabeth Warren. Brown is an idiot. And he’s a Republican.

But I repeat myself.

Sent March 30:

In following the rest of his Republican colleagues in voting to sustain subsidies to oil companies, Scott Brown defies both common sense and the principles of Massachusetts residents. Ignoring the scientific consensus on climate change, our junior senator advocates for continuing our current levels of fossil fuel consumption — loading the climatic dice for a costly and dangerous future of extreme weather.

While Senator Brown’s rejection of environmentally ethical fiscal policy may be antithetical to our state’s values, his vote helps us clarify who he really represents. Unlike Bay State voters, Scott Brown’s big oil constituents get four billion dollars in subsidies and tax breaks every year. That’s seven thousand dollars a minute — a powerful political motivator!

At a time when America should be transforming its energy economy into a model of sustainability, Senator Brown and the GOP offer regressive policies that are both environmentally unsound and fiscally irresponsible.

Warren Senders

Month 8, Day 5: Many Happy Returns!

Bill McKibben wrote this absolutely kick-ass piece, which went up in a bunch of places. I was inspired. Then I read Bob Cesca’s piece at Huffington Post and was further inspired. So I combined the two in a long letter to POTUS, who hasn’t heard from me for at least a week.

Dear President Obama,

The oil flowing from the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has finally been stopped, and for that we are all deeply grateful. But there is another spill which has not been capped — and if this one doesn’t get dealt with, all of us will be the losers.

I’m talking about the uncontrolled gusher of misrepresentations, evasions and equivocations that come from the mouths of BP spokesmen, from the PR outlets of Big Oil, from the offices of Senators and Representatives who have been taken over by petroleum interests…and, alas, from your own administration.

It is surely tempting to sugar-coat unpleasant facts; time and again we have learned that the political process is unkind to those who speak the truth bluntly and accurately. But there is a time for the actual truth, and now is that time.

The truth is — that BP spilled almost five million barrels of oil. If they’ve cleaned up three-quarters of it, that leaves about fifty-three million gallons, which is five times the size of the Exxon Valdez.

The truth is — that BP lied from the beginning about how much was flowing; far from cooperating in the cleanup process, they have done as much as they could to hide the details, restrict the flow of information, and make it impossible for accurate measurements to be taken.

The truth is — that the toxic dispersants they’ve used haven’t evaporated; they’ve dissolved into the seawater along with the oil. That doesn’t make the oil go away; it just hides it, and leaves the waters of the Gulf of Mexico a toxic chemical stew that will destroy ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.

The truth is — that BP was criminally careless in their handling of the Deepwater Horizon platform, and criminally careless in their handling of the disaster.

The truth is — that carelessness and mendacity are part and parcel of the strategic toolkit of Big Oil, day in and day out.

The truth is — that nobody in the United States should take anything an oil company representative utters at face value. To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, “Every word is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’ “

The truth is — that global climate change is a slow-motion disaster unfolding before our horrified eyes, and it has been made possible by the malfeasance of our energy sector.

The truth is — that Americans need to hear the truth, and they need to hear it from their elected representatives.

And the truth is, Mr. President — that means you.

We can’t afford happy talk right now. We need to know how bad it’s gotten if we’re going to find ways to stop it from getting worse.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

PS — Happy Birthday!

Month 3, Day 28: Keeping the Pressure On

This goes off to John Kerry. Now I’m just anxious that the Senate will actually DO some climate legislation…and that it won’t be just another industry giveaway.

Dear Senator Kerry,

Now that health care legislation has been passed (and congratulations and thanks for your advocacy on this landmark achievement!) it’s time for the next chapters of the Democratic agenda. I understand that next on the legislative menu will be financial reform, which I think is an excellent choice. The misbehavior of the big banks and investment firms is all too obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention. The only worry we have is that the bill will contain too many loopholes and giveaways to the fiduciary miscreants who got us into this mess in the first place.

Interestingly enough, that’s the same worry I have with the climate legislation you are developing with Senators Graham and Lieberman. Will the worst polluters in the world be given concessions that allow them to continue their environmentally destructive behavior in the years to come? Make no mistake, to allow this (in the name of “maintaining a positive relationship with the business community” or some similar phrasing) will be to doom any efforts to address climate change responsibly. We need to get atmospheric CO2 down to 350 ppm or less; we need to take immediate action to deal with the two unresolved dilemmas of the climate crisis — oceanic acidification and polar methane.

This is as grave a crisis as humanity has ever faced. Regardless of what we do, it’s a given that the lives of our grandchildren will be unimaginably different. If we take the right action now, their lives may be different in a positive way: sustainable, frugal, globally responsible. If we fail, their lives may be something we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. The short-sighted and irresponsible behavior of big oil and big coal (and of the US Chamber of Commerce, among others) should ensure that these parties no longer deserve a seat at the negotiating table. Their contributions to climate change legislation are guaranteed to weaken its effect and impede its implementation.

It is time to put planet over profit. No more concessions to the Carbon Lobby!

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders