Yes. Yes. Yes.
I could hear my brain screaming those words when I came across President Obama's strong statement about global warming in his second inauguation address.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.
Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.
We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
Or maybe my psyche was picking up similar sentiments from countless environmentalists who have been waiting for Obama to get serious about the most serious threat faced by humanity. Including a relieved, but still somewhat skeptical, Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm.
We will soon see if these words have any meaning whatsoever — since approving the Keystone XL pipeline would utterly vitiate them.
True. As would approval of exporting coal from mines in Wyoming and Montana through ports in Oregon and Washington.
Many people here in the Pacific Northwest are concerned about the health effects of giant coal trains spewing coal dust across the countryside. However, a greater concern is how burning all that coal would affect global warming.
An article in the October 13, 2012 New Scientist, "The Next Climate War," conveyed the uncomfortable facts.
PLANS for mega exports of US coal are poised to become the next flashpoint in the battle over climate change. The industry wants to massively increase shipments of coal to China and other energy-hungry Asian nations. Such a move would undo the environmental benefits of weaning US power plants off the carbon-rich fuel and lock developing countries into decades of dirty power.
So far, protests about the proposed exports have mostly been local affairs, led by those living along the railroads that will transport the coal from mines in Wyoming and Montana to planned ports on the Pacific coast. There's been nothing like the national controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline - the plan to pump oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries in Texas. Yet according to New Scientist's analysis of calculations by carbon emissions specialists, the consequences for the global climate of allowing the coal exports could exceed those of completing the oil pipeline.
...According to New Scientist's calculations, based on emissions figures for Powder River Basin coal estimated by the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, burning the exported coal, plus its extraction and transport by rail and ship, could cause annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 194 million tonnes of carbon dioxide if just the first three ports are built. That rises to as much as 266 million tonnes if all five come online.
To put these numbers in context, New Scientist asked Adam Brandt of Stanford University in California, who specialises in estimating greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel sources, to produce similar figures for Keystone XL. If the pipeline flows at its maximum capacity, he calculates that total annual greenhouse emissions resulting from the project, again including those due to extraction and transport of the fuel as well as its final use, would equate to 212 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
If the ports aren't built, much of the Powder River Basin coal would probably remain in the ground for the foreseeable future.
Stop the XL pipeline. Stop coal exports.
That's what the United States needs to do for future generations. And for ourselves. I hope President Obama puts his actions where his inaugural mouth was yesterday.