Thursday, November 20, 2008

Barack Obama and climate change

Few challenges facing America — and the world — are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.
Well, indeed. Quite a few challenges are more urgent than climate change: pretty much all of them. The science is, by definition, never beyond dispute. But it is true that some facts are established pretty well. They just seem to disagree with Mr Obama's statements.

For example, the sea levels continue to be rising by 2-3 millimeters a year, about 10 times slower than how they were (naturally) rising between 15,000 and 8,000 years ago. Coastlines are generally not shrinking and those that are changing are more affected by geological processes, erosion, and by the local human activity than by the climate.

We haven't seen record droughts. The famines generally seem to belong to the history as the national economies grow stronger. The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season was 1.5 times stronger than the 2006 and 2007 seasons but it was still 1.5 times weaker than the 2005 season. Sometimes things go up, sometimes they go down. There seem to be no statistically significant trends in the hurricane activity. Even theoretically, it is very unclear what the sign of such a hypothetical trend should be.
Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.
Climate change cannot continue to do something if it hasn't yet started to do it. The dependence of countries on foreign oil is a function of objective circumstances, especially their own reserves relatively to other countries' reserves.

These geographical facts are usually pretty much constant as a function of time, so they cannot contribute to any weakening or strengthening of economies. The economies and trade patterns adapt to whatever external conditions they face. Moreover, as a commenter points out, the dependence is always mutual.

The dependence of a country on other countries may pose a threat to its security and independence but this threat is never infinite and a sensible politician should never try to pay an infinite price for changing the situation. Incidentally, the oil price dropped below $50 today, near 1/3 of the peak price from July 2008. Chances are for a drop towards $30. These are the developments about oil that actually matter.
I know many of you are working to confront this challenge. In particular, I want to commend Governor Sebelius, Governor Doyle, Governor Crist, Governor Blagojevich and your host, Governor Schwarzenegger – all of you have shown true leadership in the fight to combat global warming. And we’ve also seen a number of businesses doing their part by investing in clean energy technologies.
Indeed, many kinds of people and institutions are deeply immersed in this rubbish. I want to commend Václav Klaus, James Inhofe - who was reelected into his office, and others.
But too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.
America should be ready to a new, somewhat unprecedented global situation in which it will stand on the political left side from the rest of the world and no one will be interested in its extreme policies. In the Asia-Pacific region and Europe, the support for all kinds of climate regulation is evaporating rapidly these days.

Germany is pretty much joining Italy and the Eastern Europe in rejecting any specific post-Kyoto regulations and other regions seem to follow a similar evolution. The Czech prime minister - who will probably take over the EU since January 2009 - announced today that he will reject proposals that would increase energy prices. He also opposes a "brutal" introduction of carbon indulgence markets that would be useless because other countries will ignore it.
That will start with a federal cap and trade system. We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80% by 2050.
God bless America. If new economically viable alternatives emerge, there won't be any need to dictate such reductions. On the other hand, if they won't, such regulations will mean a decrease of the GDP that will be qualitatively comparable to those 80% because under normal circumstances, the inflation-adjusted GDP growth and the CO2 emission growth don't differ by more than 1-2% a year.
Further, we will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future. We will invest in solar power, wind power, and next generation biofuels. We will tap nuclear power, while making sure it’s safe. And we will develop clean coal technologies.
"Next generation biofuels" is a bizarre term that reflects a wishful thinking rather than existing and usable new technologies. Solar and wind power are ludicrous fads. By the way, the production of solar panels causes a huge amount of the greenhouse effect (via NF3 used for cleaning).

"Making sure that nuclear energy is safe" is just a different way of saying that President Obama might be open to the sentiments of anti-nuclear critics who may bury any conceivable future nuclear development of the U.S. at the time when nuclear energy is the only known, economically viable alternative to the fossil fuels.
This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.
Well, they can be surely paid from the increasing U.S. debt if the country decides to pay millions of parasites who pretend to be doing useful work. But such a hot air economy will collapse soon or later.

The green jobs clearly don't bring any profit to the citizens that would make them voluntarily pay trillions of dollars. The only way how these millions of jobs can exist is that the people will be forced to pay them, either directly (for useless expensive "services" replacing the good old - but banned - energy sector) or indirectly by ballooning green budgets.
But the truth is, the United States cannot meet this challenge alone. Solving this problem will require all of us working together. I understand that your meeting is being attended by government officials from over a dozen countries, including the UK, Canada and Mexico, Brazil and Chile, Poland and Australia, India and Indonesia. And I look forward to working with all nations to meet this challenge in the coming years.
Don't expect any smooth sailing. The inclusion of Poland that critically depends on coal and that simply won't give it up is very entertaining but the other nations will oppose similar dictates, too, as soon as they realize that the projects to regulate the economies are becoming real rather than abstract nonsense used to bash America - which is what they have been so far.
Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather at Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet. While I won’t be President at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one President at a time, I’ve asked Members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there.
I am still not sure whether I will attend this conference in Poland, as some of the plans envisioned, because I should probably start to prepare a powerful talk in the case of Yes. ;-)
And once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.
You should primarily check e.g. that the intelligence services will protect your life against the people in the Middle East who think that you are a Muslim traitor who has to be executed according to the rules of Islam. For ordinary infidels, the execution is optional. ;-) Also, the transition period is an ideal time for a possible new terrorist attack. See Al Qaeda's al-Zawahiri's brand new 10-minute speech dedicated to Obama's victory.
Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.
Well, delay and "denial" are not only options but they're the preferred ones, at least in democratic Europe.
Stopping climate change won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But I promise you this: When I am President, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America. Thank you.
Stopping climate change will be hard, indeed. You may practice - try to first stop the Earth's rotation. It's very nice to promise special advantages to companies who are going to support your ideology and politics - this approach to the state-corporation relations is usually called corruption - but be ready that not everyone will be happy to join this movement, and even for those who will join, you will not have enough resources to show all these trucklers how good an ally you are because America, its economy, and its comparative advantages are finite.


  1. Proven reserves are one thing.

    Available resources, in the USA, are quite another (and, those are just the highlights).

    Only politicians stand in the way.

    The data prove that ANWR alone would have been capable of preventing the GLOBAL price spikes of 2008.

  2. Luboš,

    1) Thanks for publishing my comment.

    2) There are two links in my comment. On my computer, the text for those links is not discernibly different in color, making the links far from obvious. If you want links within comments to be more visible, you may want to adjust the color scheme.