We Should be Outraged!

455 PPM and counting...

Recent reports from Australia saying that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) final Assessment due out Nov. 7 will show that we have already eclipsed the CO2 concentration of 450 PPM CO2, that we had previously hoped to remain under. The report will show that we have played the waiting game for too long. It will show that the politicians introducing mediocre measures for hopeful mitigation that will take decades to accomplish is simply too little too late.

The time has come to take the gloves off in the way we treat the politicians and people who continue to acquiesce to the industries and those responsible for staying this apparently do nothing course.

Sure it is important to reduce our emissions of CO2 by at least 80% by 2050 but reaching that goal some 42 years from today will leave us in a huge quandary as a species unless we begin to make substantial headway in those reductions immediately.

From my perspective that means:

1. We must universally call for a moratorium on all new coal plants, whether they claim to be Capture and Sequestration ready or not. The only exception might be the FutureGen facility which is the taxpayer funded project designed to demonstrate the veracity of their claim of zero emissions. All other coal proposals should be universally opposed if we are going to make any headway in this most serious issue. It is certain that no new coal plants should be built unless they are not only equipped but can capture 100% of their carbon emissions and store them permanently.

2. Existing coal plants should be completely phased out over the next twenty years, beginning with the oldest first, while allowing research on ways to capture the carbon emissions from those newer plants. Once, we have proven that pulverized coal can be adapted for carbon capture, then we must use the demonstrated technology to sequester it that is proven by FutureGen to immediately capture and store the carbon from those plants. If it is not economical or physically practical to do that, then those plants should also be taken out of service, perhaps mothballed until the economics or the technology allows then to return to service without emitting carbon.

3. We must undertake a massive program to educate people of the seriousness of the climate change issue and the importance of their personal commitment to conserving energy and reducing their personal carbon footprint. We need to change the paradigm that conservation is some relic from 1975 or World War 2 and that the only way that we can maintain even a semblance of our current wasteful lifestyles will be to eliminate wasteful consumption and attitudes universally throughout the world.

4. We must demand increased production and end-use energy efficiency, pushing congress to pass mandatory efficiency standards that are significantly higher than those in place today. While the market should probably force the necessary changes, once we have accomplished #3, it will probably require some sort of government backed “incentives” to encourage development of new technologies that will supplant existing wasteful living.

5. As people who are demanding a better way, we, the environmental movement, should set a major example for the rest of the world and declare that we will not have a single new conference on global warming that does not incorporate video conferencing so that we do not have to travel long distances to discuss how others should cut back on their carbon emissions. The first video conference I attended was in 1991. It worked then and is significantly better now. We could all equip our own personal work stations with the hardware and software necessary to permit this sort of advance in our mission. Tell me why twenty or two hundred people should hop on airplanes and travel to some distant city to discuss the seriousness of any problem when we can do the same function electronically?

To accomplish the partial solutions I have outlined, my group, Valley Watch offers the following two campaigns for your perusal and use.


There is something wrong when the slightest mention of the word conservation brings admonishment from environmental leaders just because some uninformed focus group thought that conservation conjured up images of jimmy Carter sitting by the fireplace in his cardigan sweater asking us to personally sacrifice to save energy. Frankly, I wish we had a leader like that today who would tell the truth even though it might hurt him/her politically.

By changing the paradigm to Conservation is Cool! and getting all those celebrities who pledge to help us win this battle to join in, we can make a certain level of personal sacrifice seem not only like a duty but also a blessing. Once people begin thinking about ways to Conserve, then a whole new generation will understand that waste is no longer an option.

Such a paradigm shift could yield huge economic opportunity with its decentralized production and consumption of goods and services. We may even find that such an “ethic” actually yields reduced reliance on fossil fuels and thus might even promote peace as well as prosperity. Wouldn’t that be a huge dividend?


To prod people toward a more Conservative path of consumption and to eliminate waste, Valley Watch has initiated a program where we solicit personal commitments from people to cut their personal energy use by 20% by the year 2010.

If you think that is too lofty a goal, my experience says that it is not. For years, I have made the easy efforts to conserve electricity and gas for home heating. I thought I was doing pretty well until I started telling whoever would listen that they should cut their own consumption of energy if they wanted to have a decent world for their grand kids.

Hoping not to be perceived as a hypocrite, I made my own commitment to reducing my energy consumption by 20X10. Guess what, it did not take anywhere near three years. I was able to do that much by simply consolidating trips, replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps and by using my head, looking for additional ways to conserve. Turn out the lights, Stupid!

My energy consumption at home has been reduced between 25 and 30% in 2007 over 2006. My lifestyle has only changed in the fact that I wear sweaters and jackets in the winter and use less air conditioning in the summer. Actually, my family has not used our air conditioner for the last five summers, but that is another story.

Frankly, there has been NO sacrifice involved in this effort. Now, I am trying to afford an EnergyStar refrigerator which could put me over the 30% mark when I do.

My point is this, since we have already passed the threshold we hoped to hold greenhouse gas concentrations to by 2050, it is time for serious action. It is time for serious policy and it is time for a level of personal commitment from all of earth’s human population to reduce their use of fossil fuels.

We’ve already gone past the tipping point, now it is a matter of the survival of our species and all the others that share on this earth. If we cannot make those personal choices to protect ourselves and our progeny, we certainly do not deserve the mantel of dominion over this earth and we will likely perish from it as a result.

Sometimes such choices are hard but I would rather give myself a choice because doing so at least gives our kids a chance.

John Blair is a longtime environmental health advocate who serves as president of Valley Watch in Evansville, IN. He is also a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and freelance writer. Read other articles by John, or visit John's website.

21 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. gerald spezio said on October 12th, 2007 at 8:07am #

    Blair’s product placement pitch is supposedly slick peeyar.

    Product placement is cool. Oh Boy, is product placement cool.

    Not “mediocre cool,” but worthy of a pubbie or spinnie award.

    Why you could make a career and some big bucks out of product placement.

    You can get an advanced degree in product placement.

    FutureGen, FutureGen, that’s our pich.

    FutureGen loves you and your children.

    FutureGen loves Mother Earth.

    Do you know peeyar and FutureGen, boys and girls?

    Future Gen, FutureGen, that’s our pitch today.

    John Blair is a freelance writer and crypto environmentalist on the take.

    Dissident Voice is either so open minded that their brains have fallen out, or they need new eyeglasses.

  2. gerald spezio said on October 12th, 2007 at 8:09am #

    Here is a start on FutureGen;

    It is only a start.
    This insidious peeyar whoring can only get worse.

  3. gerald spezio said on October 12th, 2007 at 8:11am #

    Quit doing nothing.

    Get big coal.

    Big coal is good for you.

  4. gerald spezio said on October 12th, 2007 at 8:19am #

    “We, the environmental movement, should set a major example for the rest of the world and declare;” Almost everybody has a price for their professed ethics and why should we be any different?

    Pitched as; “Sell your head and get some great Cabernet and Bree.

  5. Eric Patton said on October 12th, 2007 at 8:29am #

    Why not just call for an end to capitalism?

  6. gerald spezio said on October 12th, 2007 at 8:53am #

    Calling for an end to peeyar seems like pissing directly into the wind.
    And what a wind.
    More worser by the minute.

    Calling for an end to the murder in the Middle East seems …

    “Accusing Ahmadinejad of “calling for an end to Israel” washed big.
    Even though that Muslim mean prick Ahmadinejad never said it.
    At least somebody got the mean prick part out there.

    Calling for capitalism to end before the end times. That would be nice.

    I would call for that calling, as a damn good call?

    Call for help? Who could be against it?

    Let’s call for new ethics, a new paradigm, or even a paradigm shift, including a “meaningful relationship” for all bewildered souls on the planet. As in David Korten and earth community.

    Remember that urban myth about lovers lane, Spanish fly, and the car’s shift lever causing a really major paradigm shift for the uninitiated. into the ways of the world.
    It’s that kind of a paradigm shift, I think.

  7. John Blair said on October 12th, 2007 at 12:08pm #

    I think you will find that my record on coal is that it is time to eliminate it altogether. However, it is clear that in reality, federal taxpayer money is going to be spent on the FutureGen “product” as you call it so the coal interests have one last chance to prove they can actually do a zero emission coal power plant as well as to prove they can capture and sequester carbon.

    I find it doubtful they can do either but until they do, we need to stop the building of coal plants across the world. I happen to live in the center of the largest concentration and I have spent the last several years in a dogged fight to eliminate coal period.

    If you know of some way to stop the FutureGen plant from being built, either in Illinois or Texas, I suggest that you move to the head of the line and tell us how that can be accomplished.

  8. gerald spezio said on October 12th, 2007 at 5:09pm #

    Some of the FutureGen companies toiling for continued profits while battling the dark forces of carbon death for all.

    They have a techno- fix for the dying planet.

    Some smart investors think that Peabody Coal and Rio Tonto are especially good plays in the booming market for clean energy from coal.

  9. gerald spezio said on October 12th, 2007 at 5:11pm #

    Mr Blair, you and I cannot achieve zero emissions.
    Neither can my kitty cat.

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on October 13th, 2007 at 9:12am #

    One for Spezio-

    “Dear post-only,

    On October 13, 1957,
    I was a Master of the
    Universe, at a not-so-tender
    Fifteen years of age.

    And On June 13, 2007, I
    was talking to my therapist
    And recalling how it felt to
    Be a Master almost fifty
    Years before.

    And how, in particular,
    I’d felt thinking about
    The others who were
    Not so fortunate as to
    Be Masters.

    And on June 13, 2007, I
    Recalled that in fact
    I had not thought
    About those others much
    At all, almost fifty years before.

    And he told me that that sounded right.

    Dear post-onlys,

    You don’t deceive yourself and believe
    Anyone who’s paid to write
    Really pays attention
    To the words
    We post

    In any personal way,

    Do you?

    Or that our little ires and venoms and joys and mood
    Instabilities are well-directed to anyone
    Other than to ourselves?”

  11. josephD said on October 13th, 2007 at 10:35am #

    Anyone who writes, whether paid or not, pays attention to the responses they receive. Lloyd Rowsey. They are most impressed by those who are actually saying something beyond expressing their “little ires and venoms and joys and mood instabilities”.

    I am impressed by John Blair’s determination to change the world, though for many reasons, alluded to by gerald spezio, I think he’s got a snowball’s chance in hell of implementing his “moral equivalent of war” Jimmy Carter solution.

    But, as I am not a Master of the Universe myself, I can only say it is better to light one candle than bewail the darkness.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain said on October 13th, 2007 at 6:02pm #

    I believe an essential element of any comprehensive action plan to combat Climate Change and ensure justice for the millions who will die as a result of its depradations, is an International Court for Crimes Against Posterity, where the Denialists and their political and media stooges can answer to the world’s people for their crimes. This will also be essential to aid in preventing future similar disasters. It must not be of the odious type exemplified in South Africa where truly evil bastards were given a ‘get-out-of-gaol free’ card, to satisfy the moral vanity of the likes of Tutu. I am not advocating the type of punishment meted out to the criminals at Nuremberg- after all we’d probably run out of rope! However condign punishment is called for. I advocate varying lengths of imprisonment, up to life, spent working on re-afforestation or other ecsystem repair. The climate criminals will never undo the damage they have inflicted, but some, I imagine a small percentage, may even realise the horrors they have inflicted on the Earth, and beg forgiveness.

  13. Lloyd Rowsey said on October 13th, 2007 at 11:39pm #

    Mulga. I have replied to your post of Sept 4, 2007, on the article “The Fight to Save the Rocky Mountians.”

  14. gerald spezio said on October 14th, 2007 at 3:15am #

    Why would Blair tell us to light a candle with soaking wet matches?

    FutureGen is glarlingly out-of-place in the piece.
    It is not in dispute that Blair mentioned FutureGen.
    I do not know precisely why Blair would even mention FutureGen.
    I am punching keys now about FutureGen.

    Russ Wellen is a writer.
    He is back also with songs and praise for our heroic fighting troops.

  15. gerald spezio said on October 14th, 2007 at 3:25am #

    Three rules of basic expertise.

    Don’t ask the barber if you need a haircut.
    Don’t ask a lawyer if you need his wisdom and legal advice.
    Don’t trust anybody who advocates a new paradigm or a paradigm shift.

  16. Lloyd Rowsey said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:05am #

    Amen, geraldo.
    But nobody? Not even ..Naomi K…?

  17. gerald spezio said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:15am #

    I think that this quote is Arabic in origin.

    Counterfeit exists because there is real gold.

    Naomi Klien is real gold.

  18. Lloyd Rowsey said on October 14th, 2007 at 11:09am #

    I just caught her on Bill Maher, gp. First time I’ve seen her “live” or heard her. Real gold is sooo right.

    I also liked this article by Blair athough environmentalism is not my highest priority. So I forwarded it to a good friend who is more concerned about environmentalism than I.

  19. AJ Nasreddin said on October 16th, 2007 at 7:22am #

    “Don’t trust anybody who advocates a new paradigm or a paradigm shift.” – gerald spezio said on October 14th, 2007 at 3:25 am

    Things have been so good in the present paradigm?

    Every now and then something comes along to force people to change. History forgets those who didn’t want to. Things now are changing and no one wants to do anything – especially the guys in power – because the real solution means that we’re all going to take a big step back in our standard of living – the things revolutions are made of. But more importantly, the big guys are making too much money now to think about making changes.

    How many people could do without Coke, Levi’s, or American Idol? Do any of you – especially Americans – know what fruits and vegatables are in season and when? If you really want to save the world – stop participating in a global, mass-produced economy – it uses too much energy.

  20. gerald spezio said on October 17th, 2007 at 4:08am #

    AJ, I didn’t realize that my words could sound like a conservative on a roll.

    What I mean is “paradigm” is the most overworked word in modern usage.

    “Paradigm shift” is worse, and invariably conveys no information.

  21. lloyd rowsey said on October 21st, 2007 at 10:32pm #

    GS. My review at Amazon of The Scientist as Rebel was down a while; but it’s up again now.

    You’ve probably heard the best story I’ve ever read about Dyson, about how he and Richard Feynman drove out to California from the East Coast almost non-stopover, and during their long conversations Dyson articulated the mathematics to which Feynman added his own genius and consequently did the work that won him the Nobel Prize.

    I have (lost now) on my shelves a fascinating blend of early atomic reactor engineering, biography, and deception – namely, Hitler’s Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings at Farm Hall, by Jeremy Bernstein and David Cassidy. If you’re not already familiar with the book, you might give it a read.