[Note from BenIndy: Same old dog, same old tricks. The only things that seem to change over the years are the euphemistic PAC names used to attack Climate Dems. This PAC, funded by Chevron, Valero, and Marathon (among others), is called the “Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class” in short, but it’s the whole name that gives you the whole picture: “Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class…Including Energy Manufacturing and Technology Companies Who Produce Gas Oil Jobs and Pay Taxes.” So folks, don’t forget to check the fine print on all political mailers before elections. Top funders are often noted in the fine print, but it’s worth some Google sleuthing to see who else is paying for these glossy hit pieces. The nastier they are, the deeper you should look – to assess both truthfulness and your personal alignment with the statements for or against a candidate or measure.]
Politico, by Blanca Begert, Camille Von Keen, and Ariel Gans, with help from Jeremy B. White and Wes Venteicher, February 15, 2024
BLUE OIL: Like crude from a derrick, oil money is gushing into legislative races as the industry looks to elect its favored Democrats.
The principal industry PAC — funded by Chevron, Valero and Marathon — has spent nearly $1.4 million to influence voters in a handful of races this week, according to the Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class’ campaign filings. The spending surge is concentrated on safe blue seats. It’s a familiar tactic: with Republicans sidelined in Sacramento, businesses often look to recruit sympathetic Democrats.
That dynamic is most evident in a Stockton-area state Senate race that’s absorbed the majority of the PAC’s spending so far. The battle to succeed outgoing Sen. Susan Eggman in SD-5 has become a proxy for the larger struggle between business-backed moderate Democrats and more liberal members supported by labor and environmentalists.
The oil PAC has spent $700,000 so far to promote Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua — one of the Legislature’s most conservative Democrats — and to suppress former Rep. Jerry McNerney, who came out of retirement to challenge Villapudua. Meanwhile, a pro-McNerney committee funded by unions, consumer attorneys and green groups has spent more than $400,000.
Beyond SD-5, the industry is spending to boost Adam Perez in the 50th Assembly District; Assemblymember Tim Grayson in the 9th Senate District; Jose Solache in the 62nd Assembly District; Ed Han in the 44th Assembly District; and Karen Mitchoff in the 15th Assembly District, while attacking Jackie Elward in the 3rd Senate District. All are open, blue seats. — JW
BenIndy highly recommends ‘Jumping Into Solutions’
By Pat Toth-Smith, November 7, 2023
I am pleased to announce the locally produced You Tube and Spotify podcast channel, “Jumping into Solutions” has three new episodes to help you GO ELECTRIC in your home. We feature local Benicians’ who have started on their own paths of reducing their carbon footprint by making their homes as energy efficient as possible. The episodes feature local co-hosts Kathy Kerridge and me, Pat Toth-Smith, neighbors and experts in their fields who answer complicated questions like, how does the technology work and can I afford it?
Switch Is On to Electric Heat Pumps | EP. 2
Here’s everything that you need to know about switching to the energy-efficient, electric water heater pumps and electric home heating/cooling pumps. This episode clears up the questions of how new electric heat pumps work, does it cost a lot of money to install, and can I remove my gas system after installing them?
BENEFITS of Home Solar Panels & Solar Battery Storage | EP. 3
This episode talks about the benefits of going solar at a time when reducing our carbon footprint is vital; it answers questions about affordability, rebates, how solar works with your energy provider, solar battery storage functions and how to use your battery in the event of a power outage? And discussions about the new PG&E changes involving NEM 2 and NEM 3.
Switch to Electric Induction Stoves from Gas Stoves | EP. 4
Did you know, induction electric stoves are more energy efficient than gas and electric stoves and can boil water or heat up food faster than both. They also are healthier than gas stoves because gas leaks can occur when idle and/or outgassing when in use. Many adverse health effects are related to this outgassing of toxic gasses that includes Benzene, Carbon Dioxide and also PM2.5, which can cause resp illnesses and other more serious diseases. Induction electric stoves are safer than gas or electric because energy is transferred to the pot by an electromagnetic field, and the stove turns off after the pot is removed. It answers questions like: How does induction work? What toxic, green-house gasses are released? Are there rebates?
No matter how much the world cuts back on carbon emissions, a key and sizable chunk of Antarctica is essentially doomed to an “unavoidable” melt, a new study finds.
Associated Press, by Seth Borenstein, AP video produced by Teresa de Miguel, October 23, 2023
No matter how much the world cuts back on carbon emissions, a key and sizable chunk of Antarctica is essentially doomed to an “unavoidable” melt, a new study found.
Though the full melt will take hundreds of years, slowly adding nearly 6 feet (1.8 meters) to sea levels, it will be enough to reshape where and how people live in the future, the study’s lead author said.
Researchers used computer simulations to calculate future melting of protective ice shelves jutting over Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea in western Antarctica. The study in Monday’s journal Nature Climate Change found even if future warming was limited to just a few tenths of a degree more – an international goal that many scientists say is unlikely to be met – it would have “limited power to prevent ocean warming that could lead to the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.”
“Our main question here was: How much control do we still have over ice shelf melting? How much melting can still be prevented by reducing emissions?” said study lead author Kaitlin Naughten, an oceanographer at the British Antarctic Survey. “Unfortunately, it’s not great news. Our simulations suggest that we are now committed to the rapid increase in the rate of ocean warming and ice shelf melting over the rest of the century.”
While past studies have talked about how dire the situation is, Naughten was the first to use computer simulations to study the key melting component of warm water melting ice from below, and the work looked at four different scenarios for how much carbon dioxide the world pumps into the atmosphere. In each case, ocean warming was just too much for this section of the ice sheet to survive, the study found.
Naughten looked at melting gatekeeper ice shelves, which float over the ocean in this area of Antarctica that is already below sea level. Once these ice shelves melt, there’s nothing to stop the glaciers behind them from flowing into the sea.
Naughten’s study concentrated on the part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that is most at risk from melting from below, near the Amundsen Sea. It includes the massive Thwaites ice shelf that is melting so fast it got the nickname “the Doomsday Glacier.” West Antarctica is only one-tenth of the southern continent but is more unstable than the larger eastern side.
That part of Antarctica “is doomed,” said University of California Irvine ice scientist Eric Rignot, who wasn’t part of the study. “The damage has already been done.”
University of Colorado ice scientist Ted Scambos, who also wasn’t part of the study, said this ice sheet “eventually is going to collapse. It’s not a happy conclusion and it is one that I’m only saying reluctantly.”
Naughten doesn’t like to use the word “doomed,” because she said 100 years from now the world might not just stop but reverse carbon levels in the air and global warming. But she said what’s happening now on the ground is a slow collapse that can’t be stopped, at least not in this century.
“I think it’s unavoidable that some of this area is lost. It’s unavoidable that the problem gets worse,” Naughten told The Associated Press. “It isn’t unavoidable that we lose all of it because sea level rise happens over the very long term. I only looked in this study up to 2100. So after 2100, we probably have some control still.’’
No matter what words are used, Naughten said she and other scientists studying the area in previous research conclude that this part of Antarctica “couldn’t be saved or a lot of it couldn’t be saved.”
Naughten’s study did not calculate how much ice would be lost, how much sea level would rise and at what speed. But she estimated that the amount of ice in the area most at risk if it all melted would raise sea levels by about 1.8 meters (5.9 feet).
However, she said, that is a slow process that would play out through the next few hundred years through the 2300s, 2400s and 2500s.
Naughten said that may seem like a long way away, but noted that if the Victorians of the 1800s had done something to drastically change the shape of our world, we would not look well on them.
This type of sea level rise would be “absolutely devastating” if it happened over 200 years, but if it could be stretched out over 2,000 years, humanity could adapt, Naughten said.
“Coastal communities will either have to build around or be abandoned,” Naughten said.
While this part of Antarctica’s ice sheet is destined to be lost, other vulnerable sections of Earth’s environment can still be saved by reducing heat-trapping emissions so there is reason to still cut back on carbon pollution, Naughten said.
Twila Moon, deputy chief scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center who wasn’t part of the research, said she worries that most people will see nothing but doom and gloom in the research.
“I don’t see a lot of hope,” Naughten said. “But it’s what the science tells me. So that’s what I have to communicate to the world.”
Naughten quoted former NASA scientist Kate Marvel, saying “when it comes to climate change we need courage and not hope. Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending.”
[Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: This is a long read, but a good one. After the first installment of Ted Parson’s three-part series introduced climate overshoot as a concept and offered a quick history of the Climate Overshoot Commission, these two follow-up parts explain just what is so interesting – and potentially so radical– in the Commission’s recently released report. As someone who studied the Montreal Protocol (briefly), I always wondered what was so different about the rules, systems, and concepts our global society deployed to reduce ozone-destroying CFCs (et al.) and the rules, systems, and concepts we are using now in our fight against the fossil fuels–induced climate crisis. “Money! Dump-trucks of money!” is of course the most obvious answer to any and all questions, but there’s more potential overlap for success that awaits you in this fascinating two-part finish to Parson’s analysis. I have emphasized key lines through this post to assist fellow skimmers, and marked when I have done so, but I hope many of you read the whole thing.]
Pt. 2, A Radical Proposal Hidden in Plain Sight in the Overshoot Commission Report
The Commission’s recommendations on emissions include a fossil phaseout much stronger than anything now proposed, which could materially advance climate action.
Continuing my discussion of the report of the Climate Overshoot Commission released last week, today I dig into their recommendations on mitigation. As you may recall, the Commission’s informal (but serious) job description was to speak of elephants in the room and unclothed emperors: to say things that are true and important about climate risks and responses that other, more political constrained bodies cannot. If you take this job description for statements and apply it to recommendations, it would suggest recommending things that are not politically feasible – at least not now – or that even lie outside the range of current debate. This does not mean making recommendations so outlandish or implausible that they can readily be ignored or arbitrarily rejected, of course. But if the job is to move the range of acceptable arguments and proposals – moving the Overton window, as the political scientists say – the most effective recommendations may well lie beyond the boundary of what could be adopted now. This perspective is especially relevant to the Commission’s recommendations on mitigation.
Mitigation – deep rapid cuts to worldwide emissions – is the first, essential element of effective climate response. I don’t think there’s anyone thinking seriously about climate change who disagrees with this. In the Commission’s words, mitigation is the “foundational strategy.” Yet when the Commission began its work, it first planned not to speak about mitigation – not because they didn’t recognize its primary importance, but because they thought there wasn’t much for them to add to what’s already being said, particularly given the tight time limit on their work. But partway through, the Commissioners realized that not speaking on mitigation would risk them being mistakenly seen to not accord it the needed priority, so they changed course – correctly, even necessarily, in my view. But in making this decision, they also resolved that their messages on mitigation had to cut through the noise and move the debate, and thus sought to make their recommendations radical. I think they succeeded at this, although it’s not clear from the initial reactions to their report that their radicalism has been noticed – yet.
Their mitigation recommendations include calls to adopt stronger national and international accountability mechanisms for emissions cuts; policy and financing innovations to promote faster deployment of zero-emissions technologies; and for countries to recognize each other’s climate policies and reflect them in trade measures. They also call for cutting short-lived climate forcers even faster than now being pursued. These are strong recommendations, persuasive and well conceived. But they also could plausibly be adopted within a few years if governments are serious about ramping up their ambition, so do not necessarily meet the aim of proposing something radical enough to move the debate.
So, where’s the radicalism?
It’s in their very first mitigation recommendation, for a “graduated, differentiated phaseout” in production and consumption of fossil fuels. Wait a second, you might say, what’s so radical about that? Isn’t it obvious that the world needs to get rid of fossil fuels, and haven’t a bunch of people called for it? Well, yes. But the Commission’s proposal is vastly stronger than either the weak language adopted at Glasgow – which calls on parties to “… accelerat(e) efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies …” or the language now being discussed for the coming COP28, which speaks of phasing out unabated fossil fuels. The word “unabated” has been used frequently in recent months by Sultan al-Jaber of the United Arab Emirates who is overseeing this year’s COP; it was included in a draft document by EU countries; and it appears in the mitigation findings of the global stocktake released earlier this month. The Commission’s proposal is also substantially stronger, and at the same time more practical, than the most ambitious fossil-fuel proposals being promoted by activist nations: the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance.
What makes the Commission’s proposal so radical is the combination of its ambition; its inclusion of key design elements that make it plausibly operationalizable; and the stature of the Commission. No mitigation proposal remotely this strong has been advanced in policy debate, certainly not by any body with stature similar to the Commission’s.
It is these elements taken together that make the Commission’s proposal radical.