Connecting the Dots on Oil – Iran, Trump, and the Kochs

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

I wrote here almost a year ago that “It’s the fossil fuels, stupid.”  We, the people, suffer, of course, from Trump Inc.’s self-serving, kleptocratic impulses, manifest in his executive agencies, with the full complicity of that wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, the Republicans in Congress, aided and abetted by the reactionary majority on SCOTUS.  But if there’s a guiding force behind the greed, the racism, the sheer vileness of the behavior, indeed the treason of these mutants, it’s fossil fuels.  More precisely, it’s the money generated by the fossil fuels. Continue reading


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The Nightmare Continues

You can find all sorts of explanations for the parlous state of our body politic.  The catastrophe of our last national election cycle here was preceded by the irrational Brexit vote (a misguided cry of anger and pain from English nationalists [but not Londoners]), has since been compounded in Europe by the onslaught of the far right in Germany in September and now this week in Austria.  I wrote a paper several years ago that took a long, hard look at the Contemporary American Right in which I posited that right wingers are, in a word, ill.  A distinguished student of conflict, Vamik Volkan, calls them regressed.  (Notice that I don’t dignify the inhabitants of these pathologies as “conservative” – it does them far too much justice.) Continue reading


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“It’s the fossil fuels, stupid.”

James Carville, one of the sharper Democratic consultants to come around in several generations, reminded Bill Clinton’s campaign staff that among the three things on which they needed to focus one was:   “The Economy, Stupid.”  This morphed into the expression “It’s the economy, stupid.”  It has become abundantly clear that the message of the present White House administration, along with their Republican party enablers and a few Democrats from fossil fuel-dependent states (like Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota), is that “It’s the fossil fuels, stupid.” Continue reading


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Can Trump Destroy the Paris Agreement and Thus the Earth’s Climate System?

I have a Spanish friend who likes to use the expression:  “Is complicate.”  When it comes to the climate crisis, the transition to clean energy, and international politics one can safely say:  “Is complicate.”  I tried to convey a real sense of optimism in my book, A Newer World, and some of the hopeful trends I identified then have proven even more robust than I could have imagined at the time I was researching and writing it.  We are spending a great deal of money, globally, on clean tech, and that’s only going to continue. Continue reading


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Finally, A Small But Significant Victory, Courtesy of the Senate

Yes – and it was about bloody time – the Senate finally held up at least a small part of its bargain with the American people: to protect the public health and the environment.

First, a little context: What you see on the left is the flaring of natural gas from oil rigs, in this case in Iraq.  It is a problem all over the world though. Flaring is but one part of the problem of how “fugitive” natural gas greatly exacerbates the climate crisis.   There is an awful lot of anthropogenically produced methane in the world that escapes into the atmosphere every year: about 7.13 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013 according to the excellent Climate Access Indicators Tool (CAIT) of the World Resources Institute.  That was about 15% of the total of all the greenhouse gases produced that year, including those from land use changes like deforestation. Continue reading


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Catastrophe – Part Deux

dump-the-climate-deniersI wrote here after Election Day of the Catastrophe that Trump’s election meant for the world, particularly the part of the world where I spend most of my time:  the environmental movement.  That sense of foreboding has been more than justified in the selection of the extraordinarily perverse group of troglodytes earmarked for top leadership at the EPA (Scott Pruitt), Department of Energy (Rick Perry), Department of the Interior (Ryan Zinke) and, as strange as it could get, the Department of State (Rex Tillerson). Continue reading


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Keystone → Veto

KXL rally NYC outside Koch theatreI went to a cool little rally last evening here in New York City.  We were standing across from the David H. Koch theater at Lincoln Center to say “No!” to the KXL.  We were there, of course, because the Koch Brothers have been the principal funders in recent years of any number of reactionary organizations, including Americans for Prosperity and ALEC, not to mention the Tea Party itself.  Of course, they have a serious vested interest in the Canadian tar sands.  By the time I left, we had a good 200 or so people out on a cold night.  The excellent folks at 350NYC organized the rally and we knew that there were scores more across the country at the same time. Continue reading


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Columbia University’s Energy Symposium

CU energy symposium 2014There’s a lot of good energy, as it were, at Columbia University all the time:  they’re working on climate and sustainability, and have a wealth of world-class educational programs.  I went to this year’s tenth annual energy symposium staged by the students from the business school, law school, and SIPA.  I’ve been to a few of these over time, including last year’s.

The night before the symposium, I went over to a “cleantech startups showcase” to check out some really innovative projects.  I heard the mini-pitches from folks working on fuel cells and on cellulose for bioplastics. One startup has developed a cheaper and easier way to conduct energy Continue reading


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Confidence

cga logoI had the distinct pleasure this past Tuesday of moderating a panel of top experts on clean tech and the state of its global development:  Clean Energy For All was a part of the “Fueling Our Future” series at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs where I teach.  Our guests were Travis Bradford, from SIPA and the Prometheus Institute; Vignesh Gowrishankar, from NRDC; and Minoru Takada from the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  CGA’s Dean, Vera Jelinek, welcomed our guests and the full house of audience members. Continue reading


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You Don’t Need A Weatherman…

cape wind logo…to know which way the wind blows.  It’s blowing against the reactionary forces spearheaded by the relatively unsung member of the Koch family, Bill.  Although not in the same league as his two protofascist brothers, Bill nevertheless gets high marks for doing what he can to undermine both democracy and a sane approach to energy in his obdurate opposition to a superb renewable energy initiative, Cape Wind.  The list of supporters for this project is, however, long and prestigious. Continue reading


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