Smokestacks at sunset

In what California Governor Jerry Brown called a “historic turning point” in the fight against climate change, officials from 195 nations agreed to lower greenhouse gas emissions on Saturday at a summit in Paris. Brown attended the Paris talks, and as governments seek ways to meet their emissions targets, they are likely to look to the Golden State as a model. In this hour we’ll discuss the details of the accord, opposition in the U.S. Congress, and concerns over the deal’s lack of enforcement mechanisms.

Guests:
Cara Horowitz, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, University of California Los Angeles
Chris Megerian, reporter, Los Angeles Times
Michael Brune, executive director, Sierra Club
Severin Borenstein, professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business; research associate of The Energy Institute at Haas

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Wading thru everything related to the exact wording in this massive Paris document using the UN site I am reading about land use, forests, Gender and Climate Change where its noted ‘ Impacts of climate change, such as drought, floods, extreme weather events and reduced food and water security, affect women and men differently with the poorest being the most vulnerable. 70 per cent of the world’s poor are women’. Yet as I slog thru all the links I keep wondering where is reducing population via birth control, corporate responsibility, people vs profit , and the very serious issue of clean water mentioned? https://unfccc.int/documentation/documents/advanced_search/items/6911.php?priref=600008831

    • Skip Conrad

      “reducing population” implies getting rid of people. Would you provide incentives, or do it by force? Then there is always Euthanasia.
      A better, and more politically correct concept is to “stabilize population” – stop the growth of human population, by keeping it at the same size. Expert demographers claim population growth is already slowing, or that it will stabilize at 9 billion, or at 12 billion, or that it depends on educating girls. Baloney. Nobody knows. And nothing will happen unless population is debated and proper management techniques put into place.
      It’s like balancing a budget. It’s like going on diet. Make a plan, establish milestones, measure progress on a regular basis.
      “what’s the matter? Don’t you like kids?”

      • wandagb

        Nonsense. It is well established that women in the developng world ( who suffer the consequences) desire smaller number of children. The only incentive required is at the respective national level, i.e. their governments get on board. That the U.S. still fails to donate the meager amounts to help is a scandal.

      • De Blo

        False. We really need to reduce the human population to below 4 billion. If the global total fertility rate drops to 1.8 children per woman, then we can easily achieve this goal. We should be putting economic and political pressure on countries like Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen that continue to have excess population growth (in some cases over 6 children per woman!).

        • Skip Conrad

          “we can easily achieve this goal” of <4 billion, in how many generations – how many years?

          • De Blo

            With a global total fertility rate of 1.5 children per couple, we can reach 4 billion by the year 2150, according to the UN long-range population projections.

          • Skip Conrad

            In 135 years. Four generations. Let’s do it!

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        If ALL countries would provide FREE reliable birth control we would see a massive drop in population in one year since various reliable studies show that those who can least afford another child often are the same people who lack the resources for reliable 99% effective birth control such as implants, pills, IUD, or 100% reliable birth control via sterilization. Thankfully here in the states a person can ask for and receive a tubal or a vasectomy in their twenties, unlike a few decades ago when doctors would refuse such a request.

        Then there is the issue of keeping people alive when death is certain. This is a delicate subject. Numerous studies show we spend more medical dollars on the first six months and last six months of a humans life. Either by keeping premies alive, or the elderly and terminally ill on some type of life support system.

        Here in the states we could do a massive overhaul to AFDC (welfare) and only provide aid to no more than one or two children per family max. FREE vocational, college would also help reduce the population since men and women who make a good living tend to delay marriage or prefer to stay single and also choose not reproduce.

        We had one child, because that is all we could morally, ethically and financially afford.

        • Skip Conrad

          Talk to Pope Frankie about that. He has written favorably about a climate change initiative. Here is his chance to step up to the plate.

          • Beth Grant DeRoos

            I admire what Pope Francis has said concerning environmental issues, and want him to walk the talk and encourage reliable birth control since its humans who create ALL the issues that are wrecking the environment.

          • Skip Conrad

            Exactly!

          • wandagb

            Don’t hold your breath…

            http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-are-so-many-pundits-trashing-the-pope-20150626

            The passage on overpopulation is particularly odd. The pope seems to argue that instead of trying to offer “reproductive health” services to poor nations, we should just throw away less food. Francis in other words wants us to be better stewards of the environment, but only if we can do so without using condoms.”

  • JohanNilsenNagel

    Great, so when are all my clean energy stocks going to finally get back to even?

  • wandagb

    As usual, population growth is never talked about – as if adding billions more has no relationship to the problem.

    How about the developing countries put population growth into the equation: go ahead and burn coal but rein in your runaway population growth as a long term solution to reducing greenhouse gas emission.

    • Kurt thialfad

      Human population growth causes climate change.
      Look at the numbers. The 20th century was the first century in human history where every year, human population exceeded one billion. Al Gore’s “hockey stick” maps precisely to human population growth.

  • Kurt thialfad

    What’s being done to clean up the methane pollution, mainly coming from cows and cattle? We could eat less beef? Just a thought.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Am so glad you noted that since its not just methane pollution but waste of water that comes about from raising meat animals. Clean water is now the #1 concern in many countries. Read in the NYTimes the other day that farmers in India are committing suicide because they lack water for their crops. And here in California we waste precious ground water growing crops that are fed to cattle, chickens who also produce methane so we get hit twice with the damage this causes.

    • JRT256

      Do you have any knowledge of biology science? Do you understand what the Carbon cycle is? Cows are Cattle and all of the emissions from farm animals and livestock (including Cattle) are Carbon neutral. The reason is simple. Cattle do not run on fossil fuel; they run on plant material (including grain). All of the Carbon in this plant material was recently removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. This is the very definition of Carbon neutrality — Carbon recently removed from the atmosphere.

  • Bill_Woods

    In its INDC China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases promises to peak its emissions by 2030, which means that it may well be emitting 60 percent more greenhouse gases. In its INDC the Indian government makes it clear that it intends to get electricity to the 300 million of its citizens who don’t have access to it now. This means that India could triple its emissions by 2030. Russian emission could rise by as much as 50 percent by 2030. Indonesia’s emissions are also slated to increase by 50 percent. In its INDC, Turkey forthrightly says that it will double its emissions. Iran’s emissions will also double, but it will graciously accept $35 billion in aid to reduce that increase from 100 percent to 88 percent. Saudi Arabia promises that its emissions will only increase by 158 percent.

    The INDCs submitted prior to the Paris climate change conference do indeed cover 95 percent of global emissions. But just ones listed above show that countries responsible for 44 percent of current global emissions have no intention of making actual cuts in their emissions over the next 15 years. In fact, if these countries follow the emissions trajectories outlined in their INDCs, they collectively will be emitting nearly 14 gigatons more carbon dioxide than they do now. That is double the amount that the U.S. currently emits.

    https://reason.com/blog/2015/12/11/paris-climate-conference-emissions-promi

    • Ehkzu

      Ah. Because a right wing magazine financed by the Koch Foundation says other countries won’t do anything, so we shouldn’t, it’s a fact.

      So if I provide a link to some website somewhere that reinforces my ideas, it proves those ideas?

      Of course right wingers believe–as a matter of religious faith–that “Government bad, business good.” The rest of us have a bit more nuanced map of reality.

      These nations have internal reasons for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Their middle classes are choking on smog in China, India, Indonesia, and others. Those countries elites don’t care what the poor think, but they do care what the middle class and the elites think. In China the smog is so bad it’s reducing life expectancy in many areas; often parents are warned not to let their kids outside. Those parents are getting agitated about it, to put it mildly.

      And what reduces smog reduces greenhouse gases.

      Try getting your information from sources other than propaganda outlets. It’ll do you head good.

      • Bill_Woods

        I didn’t say any of those things; I was just pointing out that the “historic” Paris accord doesn’t actually amount to much; nobody’s promising to do anything painful.

        “And what reduces smog reduces greenhouse gases.”
        There’s only a loose connection. Putting scrubbers on coal plants reduces pollution, but probably increases CO2 emissions a bit. Replacing coal plants with gas plants, yes.

        Personally, I support a carbon tax — enough to make coal power more expensive than something else. Which wouldn’t even have to be that high — thanks to fracking.

      • JRT256

        No, that doesn’t mean that the US should do nothing. If agreements don’t work then we should turn to the Invisible Hand of the market to address the problem.

        The US should accelerate its efforts to develop at least two Generation IV nuclear power projects that can provide electric power to developing nations that is CHEAPER THAN COAL as well as building a PRISM IFR prototype/demo as soon as possible by granting it a section 104 NRC license.

        We should also take steps to lead by example by closing all of our coal-fired power plants ASAP and preferably replace them with nuclear power. The President’s Clean Power Plan is just a do nothing plant by comparison because he wants to pander to Greens that believe that 100% wind and solar is possible.

        We also need to invest more R&D money in enhanced geothermal power. For some reason, we don’t hear much about it despite the fact that it is able to provide 24/7 dispatchable power; something that wind and solar can’t do.

  • Chris OConnell

    And what about the 800-pound elephant in the room: the Republican Party? They are unified in opposing this agreement. They represent half of the most powerful country in history. If one of them is elected President, they can claim a mandate to junk the agreement.

    • jurgispilis

      So you’re saying 50% of Americans are unified in opposing this agreement!! Without even reading it??
      You don’t have much faith in Americans.

      • Chris OConnell

        What I meant to say is that “the Republican candidates for President are unified in opposing” the agreement. But it’s true I don’t have much faith in Americans.

        • jurgispilis

          Certainly, the agreement or treaty should be properly vetted and debated by the Congress. Not just signed into law by the president alone – or committing the nation through an executive order or executive action. We are already having the TPP (which Robert Reich, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump all vigorously oppose) which “they” are trying to shove down our throats.

          Secondly, we need to know what sort of a financial commitment is expected by the US. If that means the transfer of wealth to 3rd world governments, we know from history that will be inefficient, with many losses due to corruption.

          I don’t have much faith in humans – and in human nature.

      • Ehkzu

        Not faith. Competent, nonpartisan opinion polls. Which show that the vast majority of Republican voters reject the fact of dangerous, man-caused global warming.

        And because of gerrymandering, vote rigging, the backing of the Angry Billionaires Club, and exploitation of archaic features of our Constitution, Republicans, while representing a minority of Americans, have substantially more votes in Congress than their numbers support.

        Meaning their ability to obstruct actions on global warming will continue for decades–at least until America’s demographic evolution consigns today’s GOP to a regional power but not a national one.

        • jurgispilis

          What exactly was the polling question? Sometimes the wording of the poll questions can influence the outcome.
          As far as Republicans representing a minority of Americans, it should be pointed out that Democrats represent a minority of Americans as well.
          Lastlly, the EPA was founded by a republican president.

  • JohanNilsenNagel

    I really, really, really want to care . . . but where or where are all the environmental jobs?

  • Jon Gold

    Questions: What other renewables are we talking about, besides solar? We’ll still need lithium ion and other precious metals. Where can the line be drawn between fossil fuel and non-fossil fuel?

    • Ehkzu

      The line doesn’t have to be knife-edged to still be a functional line.
      Natural gas is a fossil fuel but it’s way cleaner than oil, and “sweet” crude is way cleaner than dirty oil shale crude, and oil is cheaper than coal, and black coal is way cleaner than brown coal.
      And nuclear power, which is non-renewable, is absolutely clean in terms of its carbon footprint.
      For renewables, there’s wind power, which is quite significant in windy areas. There’s wave power, tide power, and more. And there’s using less power, for example by building energy-conserving business buildings. Glass-fronted skyscrapers are amazingly wasteful, for example, Going to LED lights from incandescent and fluorescent saves an amazing amount of juice.

      Keeping population from growing is a huge “renewable resource” in terms of reducing our emissions. Possibly the most important of all.

  • De Blo

    Overpopulation is the ultimate source of the climate change problem (not to mention the cause of our other major problems – poverty, war, and religious fundamentalism). If we can just reduce our population to 4 billion, then environmental degradation and climate change will stop without making any other changes.

    • Bill_Woods

      Unless you’re proposing to kill billions of people, the population won’t peak in any time frame relevant to global warming.

  • belle stafford

    I read most of the comments below, there’s a lot of talk about reducing population growth. This is a great idea and there are many other long term ideas, BUT the one thing we can ALL do TODAY, RIGHT NOW is reduce our consumption of animals and animal products. For anyone that knows the extent of the complete environmental impact (see the film Cowspiracy if you want to be informed), it’s obvious this is the biggest action we can all take. I am not saying we shouldn’t pursue other solutions, but they are long-term and will require lots of money to achieve. Until we are each willing to make some changes, nothing is going to change and we are continuing to be part of the problem. http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      We have been a plant based family for many years, having been vegetarian since the 70’s. Not only is it doable being in California and affordable on a fixed income, but my health has gotten even better, which I didn’t think was possible.

      And in California with our drought which I believe will be part of our future path, and for that reason I think our state needs to at least discourage the production of animal products in our state.

      Even the meat eaters in our extended family have become more plant based, due to some excellent recipes, YouTube videos etc.

    • De Blo

      False. The single biggest thing we can all do right now is have fewer (or no) children.

  • JRT256

    Why does Michael Brune take this opportunity to spread lies about renewables? In this case the “Capacity” lie. That is comparing the nameplate capacity of renewables to the nameplate capacity of nuclear and fossil fuel without considering the low Capacity Factor of renewable.

    He failed to consider that it takes at least Four times as much nameplate capacity of solar PV to produce as much energy as nuclear and an average of Two and a Half times as much wind power to produce as much energy as nuclear.

    When you take the Capacity Factors that result from the variability and intermittency of wind and solar into account, the issue is much clearer.

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