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Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

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Where's the Real Cost of Climate Change?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it's time to have a frank conversation about climate issues, putting the matter on the same footing as weapons of mass destruction. The real threat, however, may be in the form of recession fatigue.

"Climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction," Kerry said Sunday from Jakarta.

Extreme and frequent winter snow storms pummeled most of the eastern half of the United States this year, while Britons dealt with historic rains and heavy flooding. The Met Office, the United Kingdom's national weather service, said there's no definitive link between climate change and recent weather events, but remarked meteorological patterns are "consistent with what is expected from the fundamental physics of a warming world."

Related Article: BP Predicts an Energy Self-Sufficient Future by 2035

Last year, the World Meteorological Organization said the burning of fossil fuels was driving the warming effect on the climate. For the International Energy Agency, the embrace of renewable energy isn't warm enough. While some parts of the green equation, like solar energy, have advanced more than expected, the agency said we're missing the larger sector-wide picture.

"We must invest heavily in infrastructure that improves the system as a whole," IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said. "Together with industry and consumers, we can put the energy system on track to a sustainable and secure energy future."

Kerry, who took up the climate mantle in Indonesia, said moving ahead under the business-as-usual model poses a threat to the human population. Half of Jakarta could be underwater by the end of the century, he said, unless something drastic happens and fast.

"The fact is that climate change, if left unchecked, will wipe out many more communities from the face of the earth," he said. "And that is unacceptable under any circumstances -- but is even more unacceptable because we know what we can do and need to do in order to deal with this challenge."

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Acknowledging the challenge and dealing with it, however, may be mutually exclusive. On Monday, the Australian government said it would review its renewable energy targets amid growing concerns about the high cost of greener energy. In the European Union, once at the forefront of the renewable energy debate, eastern member states have their own economic concerns, which may impede progress on new renewable benchmarks for 2030.

While the IEA said the cost of renewable energy is getting lower, that's not enough incentive for economies still coping with the Great Recession. It may be up to policymakers like Kerry to show that it's climate change itself, however, that has the "very hefty price tag."

By Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • presk eel pundit on February 18 2014 said:
    If global warming is real, I hope it makes it up to northern Michigan before we freeze to death!
  • repair minded on February 18 2014 said:
    Kerry put his foot in his mouth during the recent Middle East negotiations so was shipped off to Indonesia for a change of subject as well as locale. It is unbelievably arrogant of the U.S. to purport to lecture other sovereign nations such as Indonesia as to what they should or should not be doing re: climate change. The nonsensical, unscientific scare tactics ("Jakarta will be half under water by the end of the century" LOL) so useful in the U.S. because of the stupidity of the domestic left will have zero influence in Indonesia or elsewhere other than as confirmation of Kerry's buffoonery and U.S. diplomatic irrelevance.
  • Rob White on February 18 2014 said:
    Someone needs inform our Secretary of State about the latest weather data before he looks more like an idiot. The data proves the earth has in fact cooled over the last 12 years. I know the politicians have to raise the political tension to get the carbon tax passed to rob the private sector of more hard earned cash to fund the liberal agenda but come on!!! Does he really think that the public is so stupid they cannot read the report and make a educated decision?
  • David Hrivnak on February 19 2014 said:
    Rob White have you actually looked at the data? Go to the NASA or NOAA or Hadley data sets and pull into excel. If you do you will find the last 12 Years to have the highest average temperature of any 12 year period.
  • Vern Cornell on February 21 2014 said:
    Nearly all of us has come to believe CO2 additions to the atmosphere is bad.
    But in the last several decades, while we've increased from 290ppm to 390,
    food production has also increased substantially because of this.
    We should be promoting more.
    We shouldn't be penalizing any, any addition.
    Plants benefit, and then, Homo sapiens.
  • james rust on February 26 2014 said:
    On Feb. 16, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a long speech in Indonesia on climate and ripped into those who disagreed with his thinking. He said, "We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts....We don't have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society." Secretary Kerry said scientists claim climate changes are leading to drought, wildfires, rising sea levels, melting polar ice, plant and animal extinctions, and other extreme conditions. The solution is a new global energy policy that shifts reliance from fossil fuels to cleaner technologies.

    Tens of millions of thinking Americans are offended by our Secretary of State on foreign soil calling us, " tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues..." No precedent for these actions.

    Secretary Kerry read off his list of weather events that have centuries of data showing their changes. All events occurred when carbon dioxide levels were not increasing; surprisingly, many events are less frequent and powerful the last few decades. Secretary Kerry claimed a vast preponderance of scientists agree with him about dangers of burning fossil fuels--one disagreement is the 1990s Oregon Petition where 31,487 scientists, including 9029 PhDs, stated carbon dioxide increases are not worth considering for energy policy.

    Secretary Kerry's remarks are political and trying to convince Americans adopt policies reducing fossil fuel use and lead the world on introducing a world-wide United Nations protocol at a Paris Conference late 2015. Statements by some UN politicians Secretary Kerry consorts with may give insight on our nation's future.

    Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change , said in a 2014 Bloomberg News interview, "China is also able to implement policies because its political system avoids some of the legislative hurdles seen in countries including the U.S." Ottmar Edenhofer, a UN IPCC Leader, said during a news interview, "But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy....One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore..."

    Secretary Kerry said, "Climate change can now be considered the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction." Can memories be so short not to remember over ten thousand Americans died due to the war on terror that stretches back at least 1983 when 241 Marines were killed in Lebanon barracks and trillions spent on a war not finished.

    Abundant energy is the blood of modern society that led to more comfortable, prosperous, and longer lifespans. Secretary Kerry proposes replacing abundant, reliable, and inexpensive fossil fuels with expensive, unreliable, and in short supply solar and wind. History will show Secretary Kerry's energy policies are similar to the pre-20th century medical practice of bloodletting--patients not cured and some die.

    James H. Rust, Professor and policy adviser The Heartland Institute

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