We all live on Vanuatu- The Climate Minute Podcast

We discuss the destruction in the South Pacific, and what it means.

Here is the reading list:

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.

Thanks for listening.

…Ted McIntyre

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Seven reasons to oppose new gas pipelines in Massachusetts

Many people are quite comfortable with the use of natural gas, since it heats our homes, cooks our food and often dries our clothes. This familiarity, coupled with the difficulty in piecing together the arcane background information about the gas industry often leaves folks confused. Why is a new natural gas pipeline – for example the Northeast Energy Direct project in the northern part of the state or the Algonquin Incremental Market Project in the southern- such a bad deal?

What follows is a short list of reasons why the new pipelines are, in truth, an exceedingly bad deal.

  • The pipeline proposals are based on a lie. Remember the industry’s dire warnings last fall of a natural gas shortage? A shortage was sure to trigger higher electricity rates! None of that happened. The shortage never developed, because other methods, such as conservation and the increased delivery of liquified natural gas into the port of Boston made up any shortfalls. We didn’t need the pipe then, or now. The big lie given to us by the industry is that the gas companies are trying to protect Massachusetts consumers. In fact, the industry is trying to get the gas to ports in Maine or Canada, where it can be exported to Europe or China. The gas is just passing through the state. Extra gas here is only a byproduct of the industry’s bigger plan, and in fact will ultimately pit New England consumers against Chinese consumers in a global and more expensive energy market.
  • The new pipelines will potentially raise your electricity rates. The industry has requested, and the new Governor has supported, a proposal that you and I pay a surcharge for the pipeline on our electricity This is a backdoor way to offset the cost of the pipeline that the industry will use to export the gas! It is doubly outrageous, since the industry railed against any cost increase in electricity due to Cape Wind, but is perfectly happy to ask for an increase funding a pipeline.
  • The extraction of the gas from the ground is done by “fracking” which is a (seriously) damaging method. The pretty blond lady from the American Natural Gas Association is hiding some ugly truths. Fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) takes fresh water, adds nasty chemicals and forces it under pressure into underground rock where the rock crumbles and releases the gas. The resulting fracking liquid , now toxic with heavy metals and radioactivity from deep in the ground, is pumped back out of the well and trucked through the local towns and held in open pools – or worse is re-injected into the ground where it causes earthquakes! Poisoned water and damaged communities are the usual outcomes of fracking. When the lady from ANGA asks you to “think about it”, please do think about it, and contemplate these ugly facts.
  • Putting a pipeline through a town will be damaging and potentially dangerous. The industry takes land by eminent domain, so get ready. (If you have been approached by the pipeline people, do nothing and sign nothing! Check in with these folks. ) A pipeline is inherently risky. Just this month, a pipeline was approved to run through West Roxbury right past an active quarry where they do blasting. What could possibly go wrong with that?
  • The new gas pipelines only increase our dependence on a single fuel, and the disruptions that come when supply and prices spike. It would be much better to have solar and wind generate our energy, since we always know the price of sunlight.
  • Pipelines leak gas in to the air, even perfectly new ones. Massachusetts already has an extensive infrastructure that delivers gas to your house and is leaking now. The industry should fix those leaks before building new pipelines. The fracking wells themselves leak natural gas (also know as methane) in to the air. All this leakage is not good, because while natural gas emits less CO2 than coal when burned, pure unburned natural gas is a very strong ‘greenhouse gas’. It is estimated that even at low leakage rates, the use of natural gas is worse for global warming than even coal plants.
  • It is folly to build new dirty energy infrastructure (the pipeline) that will last for the next 50-70 years. (The existing pipeline, which this latest proposal seeks to augment, began operation in 1953! ) We know that we must reduce our use of fuels like natural gas by 80% before the year 2050, and we don’t have long to do it. Instead of putting money into dirty, polluting fuels we ought to be building wind, solar and residential efficiency into our energy grid.

The new pipelines proposed to pass through Massachusetts are both unnecessary and a bad idea. Check out No Fracked Gas in MA or Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion. You will find help and guidance there to stop these dangerous and dirty proposals.

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TPP? OMG! Climate Notes

We’ve talked a lot about the hazards of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in recent editions of the MCAN Climate Minute podcast, specifically the risk this trade agreement would pose to efforts to combat carbon pollution. The TPP is a dream for special interests, including pollutersand an absolute nightmare for climate hawks, because if the TPP is implemented, polluters would be empowered to challenge, and in all likelihood destroy, laws and policies intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As we’ve noted, it’s troubling that President Obama seems to be so enthusiastic about the TPP despite the threat the TPP would pose to his climate legacy. Equally troubling was the recent report that former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who distinguished himself as a leader on the climate issue during his tenure, has joined a pro-TPP advisory board. Why would one advocate on behalf of those who seek to destroy that which you have built?

As MSNBC’s Ed Schultz–the only American mainstream-media figure covering the TPP comprehensivelyhas suggested, the prospect of the TPP being implemented should horrify and outrage those concerned about environmental protection, labor rights and economic stability. It’s heartbreaking to think that Obama and Patrick, who were elected with the support of those who recognize the moral obligation to protect our climate, aren’t taking into account the views of those who, with strong evidence, see the TPP as the ultimate abandonment of that moral obligation.

I don’t have Patrick’s number, but I do know of a way to get a hold of the White House to speak your mind about this asinine agreement, as well as a way to urge your Representative and Senator to publicly denounce this scheme. With a loud enough public backlash, Obama and Patrick might reconsider their position. Remember what Frederick Douglass said...

…D.R. Tucker

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Silenced, or Outspoken? The Climate Minute Podcast

Some people are trying to gag the discussion of climate change, but Climate Hawks are talking back. We discuss.

Here is the reading list:

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.

Thanks for listening.

…Ted McIntyre

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How to have a great evening and support MCAN at the same time!

I hope you can join me, the MCAN board, and lots of sustainability and climate activists for a fun evening out to support the Massachusetts Climate Action Network this Saturday March 28th at 7pm.

flyer for peoples cafe clean

Suzette Abbott and David Klafter of Brookline are opening their beautiful home to the supporters of MCAN. There will be dinner and a concert by “Them City Ducks” – a delta blues/jugband.

Thanks to David and Suzette’s generosity we don’t have to charge guests to attend, but we hope you’ll bring your checkbook and be as generous as you can. So come have fun and support MCAN’s important climate work around the commonwealth!

who: anyone who cares about climate change

what: The People’s Cafe, an MCAN fundraiser

when: March 28th (this Saturday!) from 7pm – 9pm

where: David and Suzette’s house, Brookline 

If you can join us, please RSVP via email to me (carololdham@massclimateaction.net) and I will send you the exact address.

Thanks for all you do, and I hope to see you this Saturday, March 28th, for an evening of fun to support a good cause.


Carol Oldham

MCAN Executive Director

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Global Warming and the Public Trust-The Climate Hawk’s Companion Podcast

Recently, a court in Boston heard a legal suit demanding that the state of Massachusetts set enforceable emission limits under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).

The suit was brought by some brave teens that want to build a better future. You can read a great blog from one of them here.

Besides an argument that the GWSA (the statute itself) should be interpreted to require a legal limit on carbon dioxide emissions, one of the important legal bases for the lawsuit is the Public Trust Doctrine. Use of this ancient legal concept is being advanced by the group Our Children’s Trust in legal battles across the country. The central idea of the effort is described in a new book entitled Nature’s Trust, which has a nice description in this article. (You can see the author herself in this Bill Moyer’s segment.)

One of the big distinctions of the Massachusetts case is that the State Constitution already has Article 97 which says, in part “The people shall have the right to clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise, and the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment; and the protection of the people in their right to the conservation, development and utilization of the agricultural, mineral, forest, water, air and other natural resources is hereby declared to be a public purpose.” Pretty cool.

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.

Thanks for listening.

…Ted McIntyre

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Indecent Proposal- Climate Notes

It’s time for former Secretary of State George Shultz to become the Joseph Welch of our time.

Climate Notes Cover Art

Welch, you may recall, was the Army Counsel who famously stood up to Senator Joe McCarthy in 1954, pushing back against Senator McCarthy’s irresponsible and irrational Red-baiting by declaring, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” (Climate-hawk Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse marked the 60th anniversary of the Welch-McCarthy confrontation last year.)

That’s the question Secretary Shultz, who recently reaffirmed his call for strong action on climate change in the Washington Post, needs to ask those who have launched a campaign to sabotage President Obama’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution. The New York Times notes that this effort involves “a network of powerful allies with national influence and roots in Kentucky or the coal industry. Within that network is Laurence H. Tribe, a highly regarded scholar of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and a former mentor of Mr. Obama’s.”

The Times also notes that this sick strategy “is intended to undercut Mr. Obama’s position internationally as he tries to negotiate a global climate change treaty to be signed in Paris in December. The idea is to create uncertainty in the minds of other world leaders as to whether the United States can follow through on its pledges to cut emissions.”

Shultz, who noted in his Post piece that Reagan’s recognition of threat posed by human-caused damage to the ozone layer led him to sign the international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol, would be an ideal man to condemn this sabotage effort for many reasons. Those who are attempting to stop America’s effort to show global leadership on global warming are every bit as dangerous now was Senator McCarthy was then–arguably more dangerous, considering the rising threat level posed by rising sea levels. Secretary Shultz must ask these individuals if they have any decency. Of course, we already know the answer to that question: None.

..D.R. Tucker

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