Between a Rock & a Hard Place

I’d say this qualifies for President Obama.

16 Responses to “Between a Rock & a Hard Place”

  1. Menth says:

    Yeah that’s a toughie. I’d probably side with Bill McKibben just to be safe. He’s so popular and in touch with average Americans you definitely want him on your side. Especially given all the polls that show climate change at the top of peoples concerns and jobs way down around 20th out of 20. 

  2. Eric Adler says:

    A serious article in today’s NY Times illuminates Menth’s sarcastic post @1.

  3. kdk33 says:

    It’s an opinion piece.

  4. Jarmo says:

    In the story, McKibben asked the question what would happen if all Alberta oil sands were turned into petroleum? Climate disaster.

    However, he did not put a timeline. At 3 million barrels per day, it will take 170 years to extract all oil (it is not clear what the recovery % is of the whole but I assume conservative).

    Disaster with a very slow match…    

  5. Dean says:

    Canada’s domestic policy towards the tar sands, as well as the US one towards the pipeline, probably represent a version of Pielke’s iron law. While I think that the iron law isn’t necessarily iron in all cases, and might be better termed a rule of thumb, with the economy as it is, it may well be iron for the foreseeable future in the US.
    PS – I consider the term “oil sands” to be political correctness from the right.

  6. EdG says:

    #5 Dean – On the other hand, “tar sands” is the chosen Green term because it sounds dirtier.

    If one wants to be accurate and neutral, they are ‘bitumen sands.’

    I see Keith’s link starts off like this:

    “In May, environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben “” pondering a simmering energy issue “” asked a NASA scientist to calculate what it would mean for the Earth’s climate if Canada extracted all of the petroleum in its rich Alberta oil sands region.”

    Ooooh. A “NASA scientist.” Sounds potentially credible until… “It is essentially game over,“ wrote James E. Hansen”

    Too ridiculous. Activist quotes activist.

    Does anyone outside of the AGW Team actually take what Hansen says seriously anymore?

    If so, why?

  7. Eric Adler says:

    EdG @6,
    Hansen’s 1988 projections were close to target. His scenario B did over predict the actual temperatures slightly. Part of the reasons were that emissions were slightly below his projections for scenario B, and he  overestimated climate sensitivity as 4.2C versus the 3.4 which would have made his projections accurate.  That is a respectable result given the state of knowledge of climate science at the time.
    You may not like the activism, but there is nothing wrong with the science.

  8. Eric Adler says:

    KDK @33 @3
    If you meant your comment, “It is an opinion piece” to imply that the NYTImes link I provided in @2  was not worth reading, you are quite wrong.
    An opinion piece backed by facts and logic is worth reading, and this is such a piece.

  9. kdk33 says:


    Yes, I see how you might get that impression.  My apologies, I should have put more thought into that.  I did not mean to imply it was not worth reading – in fact I read it.

    When I read this:In the United States, the right wing of the Republican Party has managed to turn skepticism about man-made global warming into a requirement for electability, forming an unlikely triad with antiabortion and gun-rights beliefs.

    I think opinion piece, not serious piece – but interesting nevertheless.

  10. Eric Adler says:

    The article  did point out that the US is one of the few developed countries in the world where almost no action is taken to switch to non GHG emitting technologies on a large scale. It also provided some reasons why the US is different from these other countries.  These include suburban development and the resulting dependence on automobile use, addiction to big houses, big cars all of which cause the US to emit double the CO2 per capita of other developed countries. On top of this, American culture contains a lack of respect for science and academia, and an anti government mind set. All of this creates a predisposition to doubt the conclusions of scientists regarding AGW.
    “Climate change poses a profound threat to many things that right-wing ideologues believe in. Conservatives tend to champion private property rights, small government, and above all else, unfettered industrial capitalism. The study defines Industrial capitalism as an economic system “predicated on the accelerating extraction and consumption of fossil fuels for energy,” which is driving the climate change we face today. To accept this basic premise, one is compelled to question the wisdom of capitalism itself, which is a terrifying notion for conservatives. And it doesn’t take long to recognize that conservative values are inherently antithetical to the desperately needed actions to tackle global climate change.”

  11. kdk33 says:


    I got past “idealogue”, but I had to stop at this:  Industrial capitalism as an economic system “predicated on the accelerating extraction and consumption of fossil fuels for energy”

    Which is a good thing, because I might have actually read this:  one is compelled to question the wisdom of capitalism itself

    Is this the kind of thing you take seriously?

  12. Pascvaks says:

    Political, Economic, Agricultural, Industrial, Ethical, and Philosophical gridlock is easy to achieve if you think you’re the smartest, bestest, most charismatic person to ever occupy 1600 Penn Ave, Wash DC.  This little “problem” we have is not the result of accident.  (Neither is the little problem the Euro’s have; the Greeks are not the only fools on Planet Earth who would rather die than switch.)

  13. Pascvaks says:

    PS: The “issue” is less about the who and the how than the what and the when, neither “side” has an answer to the problem — after all, they both created the mess we’re in for us.  The guilt rests upon us; we the people.  There’s no substitute for integrity, responsibility, and hard work — Utopia is a narcotic daydream. 

  14. hunter says:

    The medicaliztion of our lifestyle is interesting.
    We are ‘addicted’ to oil and ‘addicted’ to big houses, apparently.
    And of course our AGW friends have the cure: impoverishmnet, taxation and subsidies of the industries they happen to invest in.
    How convenient for the great climate doctors, most of whom have not a clue of how industry works, energy is made and transported, or the needs of a large population.
    As to the pipeline, since pipelines operate worldwide with great safety and reliability, and since the expansion of this pipeline system to carry oil makes sense, will create jobs, will not cause a climate catastrophe, and increase revenues to the treasury, I think Obama will be a fool if he blocks it.
    But foolishness has been something Obama and his advisors have embraced tightly since he got elected, and it seems many of his supporters will be disappointed if he fails to embrace foolishness at this time.
    I wonder when we will hear from some self-declared environmentalist on this thread about the dangers of frakking?

  15. hunter says:

    I just read your long post using the threat of ‘climate change’ as a reason to legitimze leftist politics.
    I have to ask: are you really serious about this?

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