Bernie Sanders’s $16 Trillion Green New Deal
August 22, 2019 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Bernie calls for a World War II-style mobilization to reverse global warming. Mr. Sanders unveiled his proposal one day after Gov. Jay Inslee announced he was dropping out of the 2020 race. His plan calls for 16.3 trillion federal investment dollars and the creation of 20 million jobs.

Investment includes: $40 billion for a climate justice resiliency fund, $200 billion to help other countries reduce their emissions, $1.52 trillion to deploy renewable energy and $852 billion for energy storage, and $526 billion for an underground high-voltage direct current power transmission network. The proposal aims to pay for itself over 15 years. And according to Sanders, “Economists estimate that if we do not take action, we will lose $34.5 trillion in economic activity by the end of the century.”

Robert C. Hockett, a Cornell University law professor who has advised Mr. Sanders on climate change policy, said the country now needs more than just a carbon tax. Tackling climate change, he said, demands a vast overhaul of United States infrastructure and manufacturing. He said Mr. Sanders’s plan, and its substantial price tag, reflected that. “You’ll see Bernie setting the pace. He’ll be the one who is always prepared to go the furthest,” Mr. Hockett said.

Joshua Freed, vice president for clean energy at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, said he was not impressed with Mr. Sanders’s plan. The proposal opposes nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage technology, both of which Mr. Freed said must be tools in decarbonizing the economy. “The Sanders plan appears to be big, but it’s not serious,” Mr. Freed said. “We need to have every option on the table.”

Bernie's Plan: The Green New Deal (PDF)
NYTimes: Bernie Sanders’s ‘Green New Deal’: A $16 Trillion Climate Plan
The Intercept: Bernie Sanders’s Climate Plan Is More Radical Than His Opponents’ — And More Likely to Succeed
VOX: Bernie Sanders’s Green New Deal, explained
posted by xammerboy (160 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't made an FPP in many years. Please be gentle :-)

Overall, I am thrilled with Bernie's announcement. It appears someone is finally taking global warming seriously. On the other hand, I cannot figure out where all the $16 trillion is going, and I am non-plussed that all the options, such as nuclear energy, aren't on the table. The plan is a whopper, and includes all kinds of things I have not considered. It will raise the bar on the global warming conversation.
posted by xammerboy at 9:35 PM on August 22 [38 favorites]


The plan is rather ambitious, which I respect after having critiqued the campaign for being more vague then was necessary on policy. It’s what we need now that the Amazon is on fire as an official plan, and the DNC has to be literally shouted at by protestors to hold a climate debate.

One good thing included in the plan is labor transition for all american fossil fuel workers, which is nicely inline with the Harlan County coal workers blocking 1 million worth of coal from being transported.

Another interesting asset is a huge push for locally sourced foods for co-pops and grocers and to support people starting worker owned, small hold farms and markets in their own communities. I’ve been uh, shouting about this as a solution to monoculture and food deserts and carbon capturing that it feels a bit weird to see it in an official proposal.

Also! A national electric generation grid, a huge TVA of sorts : “ The renewable energy generated by the Green New Deal will be publicly owned, managed by the Federal Power Marketing Administrations, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Tennessee Valley Authority and sold to distribution utilities with a preference for public power districts, municipally- and cooperatively-owned utilities with democratic, public ownership, and other existing utilities that demonstrate a commitment to the public interest.“

This comes at the end of a week of policy proposals from the Sanders campaign, including sweeping criminal justice reforms and workplace democracy and unionization efforts.

Also, snuck in the policy that could be literally life changing for Americans?

universal municipal owned broadband.
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 PM on August 22 [47 favorites]


Joshua Freed, vice president for clean energy at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, said he was not impressed with Mr. Sanders’s plan. The proposal opposes nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage technology, both of which Mr. Freed said must be tools in decarbonizing the economy. “The Sanders plan appears to be big, but it’s not serious,” Mr. Freed said. “We need to have every option on the table.”

We absolutely do need to go carbon negative to get to where we need to so capture and sequestration technology needs to be part of the conversation! (The most interesting idea I've seen on this lately is using olivine to speed up a natural capture process and possibly mitigate ocean acidification at the same time)

but

Maybe "Sanders' plan is a great first step, but we need to go further by including carbon sequestration and nuclear energy" is a better way to talk about it than "I'm not impressed/it's unserious" if we're all trying to get to the same goal Mr. Third Way.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:09 PM on August 22 [18 favorites]


Didn’t come out like last week that The Third Way is literally funded by the Koch brothers? “What we actually need is exoensive new technologies my industry leaders can get rich in after it’s not profitable to get rich from burning oil” sounds like Captain Planet cartoon villain logic because they are cartoonish villains.
posted by The Whelk at 10:11 PM on August 22 [48 favorites]


One thing I never see addressed in plans involving labor transition is the location upheaval and social disconnection which is necessary to address actual labor transition for fossil fuel communities. There aren't jobs there anymore. They have to go somewhere else. Away from their entire generations-long network of community. Or else live in poverty because no jobs there.

This needs to be a meaningful part of any plan to address this sort of transition to the next stage. We can't abandon these people to either economic ruin or social displacement. We need to figure out how to help them transition to new communities with a support network in place they can step into. It won't be what they had, but it will be better than being utterly without a thread to pull.
posted by hippybear at 10:17 PM on August 22 [22 favorites]


Hippybear, there was a great interview on Today, Explained (Vox) about the Harlan coal protesters, and the man being interviewed said that very thing you just said, flat out. They're fine with good quality green jobs, but they've heard this promise before and nobody's delivered yet so to get their votes would require action, not just words.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 10:19 PM on August 22 [11 favorites]


Well it's not carbon neutral by any means, but I'd be willing to bet clean burning Koch brothers, could be the power source of the future.

Ok, a very short future.

We can talk other plans as well.

I'll show myself out.
posted by evilDoug at 10:19 PM on August 22 [15 favorites]


One part of the transition includes not just generation but repair and restoration. There's a lot of lead that needs abatement in some of these towns, not to mention an expansive definition pf what if a cleanup site is, for example - Application Water Pollution caused by mining and dumping so the people can even touch the water in a river.

What a just transition should mean - talking to Sara Nelson about a Green New Labor Policy - Winning a Green New Deal for labor - Jane McAlevey
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 PM on August 22 [11 favorites]


They're fine with good quality green jobs, but they've heard this promise before and nobody's delivered yet so to get their votes would require action, not just words.

And yet action requires their votes. I totally get their frustrations, but it's not like there has been a way to pass legislation to take action on this with the makeup of Congress this decade.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:24 PM on August 22 [9 favorites]


Can we start growing food on every free patch of land we can find and saving water and beer for enough weeks and months to the point that we can afford to stop going to work and just focus on doing less carbon intensive activities?

If I don’t have to buy food and beer my requirements to drag my ass to work go WAY down. And in the US we’ve got more than enough living quarters for everyone, the problem is banks and landlords.
posted by nikaspark at 10:31 PM on August 22 [17 favorites]


One thing I never see addressed in plans involving labor transition is the location upheaval and social disconnection which is necessary to address actual labor transition for fossil fuel communities.

I was pretty impressed to see the plan covers job insurance, a 5 year wage guarantee, housing assistance, job training, health care, pension support, priority placement, and retirement support for displaced fossil fuel workers.
posted by xammerboy at 10:34 PM on August 22 [18 favorites]


Social support also needs to be built. That's going to be crucial for these displaced people to be successful in whatever new environs they find themselves. I'm very pleased with all those other proposals, and they are way beyond what I've seen before, but taking people from closely-bound rural town communities and moving them to another place without any context? We need to build systems to help cushion that for those people. It will increase their success in their new context.
posted by hippybear at 10:38 PM on August 22 [5 favorites]


I mean, the alternative is remote working jobs. In which case, we need a national commitment to Last Mile Coverage with the highest possible internet speeds. A lot of these more remote mining communities don't have good internet service because they are, well, remote mining communities. And so if we aren't going to relocate them and want them to do online remote jobs, then they deserve to have us invest in our infrastructure to where they can do their jobs as well as anyone living in a big city.
posted by hippybear at 10:42 PM on August 22 [7 favorites]


The plan includes $150 billion in broadband infrastructure grants.
posted by xammerboy at 10:47 PM on August 22 [12 favorites]


But there's a lot of work that has to be done in all communities, people wouldn't necessarily have to be moved around - for example the video I posted is about Whitesburgh, which has a horribly polluted river which is also about an hour and 45 by car from Harlan. Towns will also need local power and electric fixes, efficiency and insulation work for all buildings not to mention localizing parts of the agriculture and food sector in addition to, why not, historical preservation and rewilding. So many rural communities need significant infrastructure upgrades - that's Green New Deal work too, so is providing local buses and other forms of transportation. So is universal Daycare.

There's so much to do. We don't have a lack of work, we have a lack of jobs. We if want to prioritize giving people jobs in their community I'm sure we'll find a ton of work to do.

I mean, as mentioned above, every town has their own dirty cheap brewery sounds nice.
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 PM on August 22 [20 favorites]


There are a lot of great elements in here, but I am struck how car-centric the transportation section is:

@mtsw:
Neoliberal market based tinkering that just puts money in the hands of huge corporations and wall street has failed which is why we must (checks notes) spend $2,000,000,000 on tax credits so consumers can buy new cars from General Motors. Look huge programs of EV credits are probably better than doing nothing but can we at least admit there's an enormous blind spot in Sanders and other leftists rhetoric when it comes to cars and automakers? Lmao I forgot 3 zeroes

Anyway how about this: free bus fare.

The thing about all of this isnt that "hey converting our downtown streets to all have safe pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and dense housing close to jobs" is just be way cheaper than buying everyone a Tesla, it's that buying everyone a Tesla makes it impossible to do
2 trillion in electric car grants (even if the government is 100% paying for brand new $40,000 cars, that's 50 million new cars) plus another $681 billion in car trade-in benefits against a $300 billion investment in public transit is honestly insulting.

I get that Sen. Sanders represents Vermont, and there are a lot of parts of the country where the density is such that "convert everyone to electric cars" is the best we can practically hope for even if we made climate-based land use decisions in the future, and assisting people in making that happen quickly is necessary, but the environmental, social, and safety impact of $2.7 trillion in subsidies injected into the auto industry is horrifying to consider (auto manufacturing cannot be "100% sustainable by 2030"; everyone buying their own 2 ton steel box on a regular basis is an inherently unsustainable activity).
posted by zachlipton at 11:18 PM on August 22 [28 favorites]


$16 Trillion

so basically, he's aiming to tank the military-industrial complex.





I'd buy that for a dollar.
posted by philip-random at 11:19 PM on August 22 [36 favorites]


One thing I never see addressed in plans involving labor transition is the location upheaval and social disconnection which is necessary to address actual labor transition for fossil fuel communities. There aren't jobs there anymore. They have to go somewhere else. Away from their entire generations-long network of community

I have no doubt that this is true, but how many people were in North Dakota before the latest fossil fuel boom, or west texas, or alberta? People move to exploit fossil fuels, so they can move to the next green pasture as well, wherever that may be. I know that sounds glib, but...
Cod went away, the fishermen had to move on; the forests have been logged, the loggers move on; the bowl turns to dust, the farmers move on; and so it goes...it's not like the writing isn't on the wall.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:27 PM on August 22 [18 favorites]


I can't read the articles before tomorrow, but I'll just throw these in here right away:
European wind farms could meet global energy demand, researchers now say
The Tallinn experiment: what happens when a city makes public transport free?
Large-scale wind and solar power 'could green the Sahara'

The technology is already here. We just need action
posted by mumimor at 11:40 PM on August 22 [21 favorites]


On the other hand, I cannot figure out where all the $16 trillion is going, and I am non-plussed that all the options, such as nuclear energy, aren't on the table.

I've asked experts about this, so we're relying on both my memory and them tailoring their advice for local conditions, but the response I've got is that nuclear's actually much more expensive per kWH than even coal. The only kind of reactor we can deploy quickly is the dirty old uranium ones, not the cleaner spent uranium or thorium reactors (I recall there's not yet any actual commercial thorium reactors).

The reason you'd want nuclear is if reaching 100% renewable energy isn't viable at scale. That's an open research question, but it looks like it is for many countries. Solar panels and wind farms are far more efficient than they were even ten years ago, and with sufficient storage (which doesn't have to be lithium - you can build a "battery" where pumping water up a hill 'charges' it, and let it flow through a turbine to 'discharge' it) you can build extra capacity to smooth over when it's dark and not windy.

I've been very much surprised by how angry pro-nuclear people get, because I think they think that people like me that think 100% renewables are viable are a tool of the coal industry. I think it's something we can build right now that doesn't require a lot of co-ordination, that can make coal unviable without them being able to wield their considerable political power to stop it. But I'll still take a nuclear power plant over a coal-fired plant.
posted by Merus at 11:51 PM on August 22 [16 favorites]


I mean should't talk about renewable energy and public transit in a podcast and get turnt for a common mode of transit
posted by The Whelk at 12:52 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


In addition to being very complex and very expensive, nuclear energy has two main issues that are unsolved.

One is that so far nobody has figured out what to do with the waste. It needs to be safely stored for millennia and while I'm not sure, I don't think there is any such storage existing world-wide (all current storage is considered temporary).

The other one is the risk of accidents. Yes, you can make it very safe but even a small chance of an accident is not acceptable if the results of such an accident are on a catastrophic level.
posted by patrick54 at 12:56 AM on August 23 [14 favorites]


Another problem with nuclear is that building nuclear power plants is very very very slow, and this is closely related to the expense. Pretty much every nuclear plant under construction right now is way behind schedule and way over budget .
posted by nnethercote at 1:46 AM on August 23 [18 favorites]


I am non-plussed that all the options, such as nuclear energy, aren't on the table.

What? Energy experts have railed against nuclear for decades. Every dollar spent on some nuclear boondoggle is better spent on efficiency, heat capture, solar or wind.

Too expensive, too slow to implement, increases you risk profile in an era of extreme flooding-- nuclear is just a loser, it s just a DC lobby, and I m not surprised Sanders Isn t afraid to piss off that lobby when that s what s been recommended by the experts---even before the Fukushima disaster.
posted by eustatic at 2:23 AM on August 23 [20 favorites]


with $162 billion set aside for coastal communities under threat

Yeah, Louisiana alone could spend $50 billion over 50 years to restore the land mass taken away by oil drilling, , this sounds low if anything....
posted by eustatic at 2:55 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


I would add a third factor to patrick54's list. Nuclear has remained very expensive while the renewables options have dropped off hugely. There has even a case been made that nuclear may have negative learning rates, meaning the cost may actually go up with increased production. The current European experience with the latest generation of nuclear is poor. The French installation in Finland (Olkilouto) was supposed to cost €3bn and come on line in 2009. Its currently costed at €8.5bn and there are hopes it will come on line in 2020. The French installation in France (Flamanville) was originally costed at €3.5bn and due to come on line in 2012. The current cost estimate is €10.9bn and with a fair wind then it might start generating power for the grid from 2022. The French build on Hinkley Point C, in the UK, started off with cost estimates of around £7bn, but they now exceed £20bn and with the planned commissioning date in 2025 it might be expected that this figure will keep going up. It is already expected to be the most expensive building in the world.

There have been recent claims that nuclear costs will come down, but Hinkley C is already estimated as 30% more expensive per unit than the elevated current cost of the Finland installation.
posted by biffa at 3:18 AM on August 23 [18 favorites]


everyone buying their own 2 ton steel box on a regular basis is an inherently unsustainable activity

Make electric woody wagons! The green new deal just a got a little cooler!
posted by srboisvert at 3:46 AM on August 23 [5 favorites]


One thing I never see addressed in plans involving labor transition is the location upheaval and social disconnection which is necessary to address actual labor transition....

Without immediate, intense action on the climate crisis, hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from their homes and social structures in the next fifty years because of drought, flood, fire, and famine. And climate-induced war.

Oh wait, you were talking about white bodies being displaced? Oh, that's different then.

I have no doubt that the racist right will use exactly that talking point to disembowel this or any other climate plan, though.
posted by basalganglia at 3:53 AM on August 23 [10 favorites]


$526 billion for an underground high-voltage direct current power transmission network.

What a relief to know that Topsy didn't die in vain!
posted by CynicalKnight at 4:19 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


In addition to the points mentioned above, nuclear power plants directly warm the waterways they are located on.
Nuclear power in a warming world

Water cooling systems can also pose significant problems from an economic standpoint. When water is warmed, either
by plant discharge or ambient temperatures, cooling requires even more water and power plants operate less efficiently.
Moreover, if water cannot be cooled, it can neither be recirculated nor returned to the river, lake or ocean without
threatening aquatic life. Therefore, during hot summers or heat waves, the problem compounds: during times of extreme
heat, nuclear power plants operate less efficiently and are dually under the stress of increased electricity demand from air
conditioning use. When cooling systems cannot operate, power plants are forced to shut down or reduce output. The
combination of high electricity demand and reduced output can result in higher energy prices for ratepayers. Droughts
can have a similar effect as heat waves, limiting the amount of water available for cooling.
"Thermoelectric power plants use around half of all fresh surfacewater withdrawn in the U.S."
posted by eviemath at 4:26 AM on August 23 [8 favorites]


and the DNC has to be literally shouted at by protestors to hold a climate debate.

Let's be clear: the DNC refused to allow that debate, even after being shouted at. They need to be continuously shouted at, pointed at, voted at, and shamed until they act like responsible adults, and stop sucking up to corporations or leave office.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:52 AM on August 23 [29 favorites]


Nuclear is an expensive joke that has already been undercut by renewables and storage. It's offers no advantage and the public hates it.

CCS is a total disgrace and a cosign of idiocy. There are like 2 semi functional CCS proof of concepts anywhere. They take in a skerrick of the carbon produced at their locations, at eye watering expense - far more than renewables.

We don't know how effective it may be long term; there's a risk of creating "carbon bombs"; it's pitched as something to extend fracking or hard to extract reserves (and attendant methane leakage). But mainly, CCS obliterates the only reason to use coal, that it's cheap. What's the fucking point of expensive coal?

"oh what about CCS without coal?" you say, "sucking that shizz straight outta the atmosphere?". Well, we already have that, it's cheap and very effective. It's called trees, and it totally destroys any other form of CCS, bang for buck.
posted by smoke at 4:57 AM on August 23 [17 favorites]


Trees were generally thought to be kind of okay in raw numbers as a potential CCS solution until the study this year that showed much higher effectiveness and more options for land use than previously thought, which was some of the best news in a while. It's been really heartening since that study hit to see a huge focus on tree planting as a way for anyone to get involved with fighting carbon levels, you can barely talk about global warming on social media without getting an Ecosia recommendation and there are some excellent non-profits out there that plant 1 tree for $1 which is a great way to plant waaaay more trees in your lifetime than you'd ever do by hand with just a tiny recurring donation.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:26 AM on August 23 [11 favorites]


“We need to have every option on the table.”

No we fucking don't.

We need to spend as much as we possibly can, as fast as we possibly can, on the most cost-effective options available.

Pissing money up against the wall on nukes that will do diddly squat for the twenty years it takes to build them and then cause decades of ongoing management and decommissioning issues is just plain bone-headed. There is nothing you can do by putting ten dollars towards a nuke that you can't do better and faster by spending five on efficiency, wind, solar and storage. Nobody who fails to understand this deserves a platform to allow their incorrect opinions to influence the similarly clueless.
posted by flabdablet at 5:34 AM on August 23 [32 favorites]


The live unveiling in Chico did not mention nuclear power. Or hydrogen fuel cells. Or hydropower, in a county that produces more than 2TWh/yr with further potential untapped. Or biomass cogeneration despite seeing many of our half-million burnt trees on a photo-op visit.

Sanders chose to come here and exploit our disaster for national attention on his plan without addressing the disaster's ongoing impacts (loss of housing, loss of potable water, loss of insurance) in our community. He selected climate-change indicators for the cameras in the back of the room (ice fishing) rather than for us (snow line, Tule fog). Fire survivors were not his audience; we were his stage.

The venue, in the outskirts of a flat college town, had acres of vehicle parking and no bike racks. Some people actually drove. While hundreds of supporters trickled through security, volunteers checked on walk-ups in line; one reminded me that bags would be searched and asked me to leave mine in my car. People who'd soon be applauding the elimination of fossil-fuel vehicles by 2030 were oblivious that others had already done it.

Seeing all of this in person makes it look like a stunt. There was a lot of restatement of facts that have been established for decades and not a lot of specifics on how the grandiose design would be implemented.

For example, there was no mention of how "good-paying union jobs" would be made available to laid-off miners. Unlike oilfield workers who move from boom to boom, Appalachian underground miners stay put for generations because there's so much coal down there. Harlan County has produced over a billion tons, and the workers that remained as mechanization reduced employment were the sons and grandsons of miners. They have lived all their lives in those hills and hollers, and their families have been there for a hundred years.

Separating these people from their support networks or entire communities from their land would be a tragedy akin to what Butte County just suffered.

The enchanting terrain of coal hills unspoiled by surface mining is also the reason other industries have not developed there. The dissected plateaus have too little level land for widespread agriculture and too few transportation corridors for large-scale manufacturing. Broadband investment could open the region to telework in the knowledge economy. Some locations could become artists' colonies or tourist destinations like Davis, WV. Yet the challenge is not just to save the towns but the communities and to provide not just jobs but opportunities for friends and neighbors to continue working together.

That region's sustainable natural resource is hardwood. Forestry and woodworking can provide some longterm employment. In the short term, coal country needs what we've just been through here, remediation of widespread pollution. Except here it's been an army of outside contractors. Decommissioning mines, reclaiming spoils and waste ponds, trenching sewers, and cleaning up streams are things laid-off mineworkers can do to collectively provide themselves a better future.

It is hard to express the human cost of having one's community dispersed and social networks sundered. Bernie's plan pledges to protect community cohesion in areas stricken by disaster but not in areas dependent on industries it pledges to phase out. He has shown support for the Blackjewel miners' railroad blockade and may do so in person on his upcoming trip to Kentucky.

He may also grandstand. And while I recognize climate change remains the biggest issue we face as a country and as a species, it is not, right now, the biggest issue in Butte County or Harlan County as bankrupt corporate criminals have kneecapped us. Introducing this shoot-the-moon proposal into the public discourse is a good step; using a manmade disaster as the launch vehicle, a faux pas.
posted by backwoods at 5:53 AM on August 23 [17 favorites]


"oh what about CCS without coal?" you say, "sucking that shizz straight outta the atmosphere?". Well, we already have that, it's cheap and very effective. It's called trees, and it totally destroys any other form of CCS, bang for buck.

Carbon capture and storage is hard if the carbon is locked up inside carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis is indeed the most cost-effective form of carbon capture from CO2 that we know of, but not just any old photosynthesis will do; we need to be synthesizing wood that's going to stay preserved, unburnt and un-rotted for many centuries or the carbon will just end up back in the cycle and we might as well not have bothered.

If the carbon is in methane, though, there's a real possibility that money can be made turning it into hydrogen for transport and graphite for batteries. And if the methane feedstock is what would be coming off your waste water treatment plant anyway, then you really are pulling carbon out of the cycle; graphite is pretty stable stuff and when we eventually waste it like we waste every other fucking thing, it's more likely to end up buried than burnt.

The main thing is to stop shovelling stupendous quantities of fossil carbon into the cycle in the first place, and coal, limestone and oil need to be the priorities there.
posted by flabdablet at 5:57 AM on August 23 [8 favorites]


I've been very much surprised by how angry pro-nuclear people get, because I think they think that people like me that think 100% renewables are viable are a tool of the coal industry. I think it's something we can build right now that doesn't require a lot of co-ordination, that can make coal unviable without them being able to wield their considerable political power to stop it. But I'll still take a nuclear power plant over a coal-fired plant.
One thing to remember is that support for nuclear power is the favorite right-wing strategy for saying they’re not just repeating fossil fuel industry talking points while simultaneously dismissing environmentalists as unreasonable and irrational (the latter usually coded female as a bonus). There’s an entire industry trying to circulate that into mainstream conversation because arguing for nuclear power is basically advocating not to change anything for the 20+ years it’d take to open a new plant.

I know a few people who act like what you describe – it’s basically dogma in tech libertarian circles – and they love to talk about the technology and how much smarter they are for backing it, while everyone who has actually studied the problem sounds like you, recognizing that it’s at best a long-term investment to consider while we should be carpeting the country with solar panels and wind turbines now.
posted by adamsc at 6:12 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Well it's not carbon neutral by any means, but I'd be willing to bet clean burning Koch brothers, could be the power source of the future.

now's your chance!
posted by entropicamericana at 6:44 AM on August 23 [7 favorites]


The live unveiling in Chico did not mention nuclear power.

chico's a nuclear-free zone, bro
posted by entropicamericana at 6:49 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I really, really like the fact that this is getting traction. Even if this is deeply flawed in some parts, it is stilll concrete and incredibly ambitious. It is exactly what the U.S. needs. Which is why it will die in the cradle if it ever tries to get implemented.

From all that I've seen and the political climate of the day, the second this gets introduced at the executive all affected parties will dump billions and possibly trillions of dollars into propoganda to make it seem like this will destroy America. Some corporations would go as war as fomenting civil war to make sure this doesn't get passed.

Furthermore, the Senate and Supreme Court are likely going to be extremely conservative for the next decade, regardless of public opinion. The amount of lawsuits filed against the ACA will look like child's play compared to the GND. The ACA was janky and did minor damage to the insurance industry, the GND is actively calling for the end of the trillion dollar fossil fuel industry. It is the right thing to do, there's even moderate political will to do it, but so much of that can get hijacked or outright stomped out easily.

Since about 1830, the American system has been very bad at radical change. The New Deal was an impressive turn, but about 1/3rd of it got killed or hampered by the courts. There was even the Business Plot to see FDR removed from office in favor of a Pro-Business fascist/Corporatist party. A lot of the New Deal was seen as illegal and an affront to freedom by the Supreme Court at the time, and people accused FDR of simply ruling by decree. But the reality was immediate and harsh. People were starving. People were out of work and homeless. The economy was starting to collapse. There was massive political will for people to do SOMETHING, and so it got passed in various stages and to moderate objection by the powers that be.

Compared to now. The planet is literally dying, but the most severe effects aren't being felt yet. People are still relatively comfortable, and the lack of a future for humanity, while grim, isn't the same as being unemployed and starving on the street. It's not as immediate and visceral. You can't tell a starving person they're not starving, but you can tell a person whose house is going to get destroyed in a flood in 20 years that their house is safe and the boogeymen communists on T.V. are just trying to destroy America. To get something like the GND implemented, you'd almost have to rule by decree.

I know this response is kinda scattered, but it's just what I've been thinking these last few months.
posted by Philipschall at 6:50 AM on August 23 [6 favorites]


In some ways I think this is less redolent of the new deal than of the change in the US system for innovation and industry that emerged as a result of the war footing taken from 1941-45. This is generally regarded as the only time a nation a has been able to substantively change the operation of its national innovation system. If the US can do this again then it may score a chance of becoming competitive in a future world oriented on decarbonisation, enabling it to attempt to make a profit at the same time.
posted by biffa at 7:02 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


What? Energy experts have railed against nuclear for decades. Every dollar spent on some nuclear boondoggle is better spent on efficiency, heat capture, solar or wind.

Not all energy experts! Bernie's plan doesn't just prevent new nuclear plant construction; it stops renewing licenses for existing plants, which seems kind of counterproductive.

I'm waiting for a candidate with the guts to say "Jay Inslee had the right plan and I'm adopting it wholesale".
posted by Jpfed at 7:05 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


zachlipton: Anyway how about this: free bus fare.

mumimor: The Tallinn experiment: what happens when a city makes public transport free?
To enjoy Tallinn’s buses, trams, trolley buses and trains for free you must be registered as a resident, which means that the municipality gets a €1,000 share of your income tax every year, explains Dr Oded Cats, an expert who has conducted a year long study on the project. Residents only need to pay €2 for a “green card” and then all their trips are free.
That transport isn't as free as, say, Park City, Utah. Best part: FREQUENT trips, with some loops having 5 minute headways, even in off-season! As a visitor, I just hopped on a bus and I was off. It was kind of magical.

I asked a local transit planner about making their system fare-free, and they said they tried it for a few days or a week, but "too many people used it." When U.S. transit systems usually strive for increased ridership, especially to decrease the number of cars on the road, that sounds like the right kind of problem to have.

So let's give those $2,000,000,000 of tax credits to municipalities to buy new transit, maybe require electric buses? And evaluate where and why we charge for transit use. Yeah, that sounds pretty good.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:21 AM on August 23 [10 favorites]


evilDoug: Well it's not carbon neutral by any means, but I'd be willing to bet clean burning Koch brothers, could be the power source of the future.

entropicamericana: now's your chance!

To be clear, the news is that David Koch has died (MeFi post on the topic).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:25 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Needs more energy efficiency.
posted by nickmark at 7:45 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Good comments on nuclear energy. It's true that the technology for renewable energy has both drastically improved and gotten much cheaper recently. I'd love to see all of this done safely and in an environmentally friendly manner.

What about carbon capture though? If we're teetering on the edge of a climate crisis that will drastically warm the planet due to permafrost melting and then releasing huge amounts of carbon trapping gases, don't we need to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere? It's strange to me that the plan doesn't mention this. It's critical. Right?
posted by xammerboy at 7:47 AM on August 23


Nuclear power plants are the Space Shuttle of energy production: each one is a beautiful, one of a kind monument to precision engineering that is ultimately a trap. You end up putting in so much money, time, training, and emotional investment that you hang on to them way past the point that it makes sense to retire them and build something new with everything you have learned in the meantime.

Also, due to inherent flaws in the concept, every once in a while they become extra highly energetic and kill a lot of people.

I think the smart approach to nuclear power is to continue funding improvements in technology, because it could very well one day end up in something science-fictiony where you carry a fusion battery in your pocket that runs your exoskeleton that you use to commute to the moon. Smart money for right now though says to make solar panels and wind turbines by the Arizona-full, and to worry about nuclear later.

Carbon capture should definitely have a place. The goal here is to remove carbon, not to have a purity contest on renewable energy.
posted by BeeDo at 7:58 AM on August 23 [11 favorites]


it's not that hard to argue that we even have nuclear energy as an option as a direct result of the Manhattan Project. That is, a massive unprecedented multinational effort to develop an atomic bomb. No expense was spared. The smartest minds available on the planet (that weren't working for the enemy) were given pretty much carte blanche to Accomplish This Thing (and they did, for better or worse, thus ending in a period of days the worst war the world has ever known).

It seems to me that we need the same for the climate change problem in general, renewable energy in particular.
posted by philip-random at 8:15 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


Sanders’ Millennial round table in Miami via The Root

The thing about carbon capture technology is it’s a nice idea and should be perused, but we have the ability to capture lots of carbon RIGHT THE FUCK NOW with existing technology called plants. Plus, wild environment rehabilitation has cascading trophic effects to amplify and concrete your efforts - more mature forests with shrubs and ponds and undergrowth means more pollinating plants, more ecological diversity, more habitats, more carbon capturing processes, more erosion battling root networks and more resilient ecosystems.

Pushing for more local food production and horticulture can be one of those ways to build resilient, complex ecosystems - even if in some places that just means your local city streets have way more blooming trellis overpasses for shade.
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 AM on August 23 [12 favorites]


The battery seems to call for reaching a $1000/kwh capital cost for batteries. But that's pretty much the current cost of lithium ion.

Renewable storage is a huge challenge. The plan budgets $30 billion for that R&D. That's the cost of about 3 nuclear power plants. Seems extremely too small. It budgets 3x as much to subsidize EV purchases.
posted by joeyh at 8:50 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I agree, plant all the trees. But there's only room for 1 Earth of tree per, uh, tree lifetime, and we have burned many millions of years of Et/tl.

I don't know if my units work out there, but I hope I'm making sense.
posted by BeeDo at 8:53 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Isn't carbon capture via plants a temporary stopgap at best? The carbon gets returned to the atmosphere when the plant dies.
posted by Justinian at 9:20 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


It doesn't necessarily. If the trees are useful for building, that can extend their lifetime as a carbon sink. Or plants could be turned into biochar for badly needed soil amendments! And, not all of the plant's mass turns to atmospheric carbon, some stays in the ground as decomposing plant matter mixes with soil.

Or heck we could just shoot logs into space with a giant catapult idk
posted by jason_steakums at 9:40 AM on August 23 [10 favorites]


Empress trees capture 103 TONS of CO2 per acre, most efficient carbon capture method by an order of magnitude.
posted by weed donkey at 9:47 AM on August 23 [10 favorites]


The carbon gets returned to the atmosphere when the plant dies.
Nah, the carbon gets returned once the bonds in the plant tissue are broken, usually by fungi or termites or fire. There are lots of ways to keep that from happening. Building stuff out of the wood was mentioned, but peat bogs or other anoxic wetlands also come to mind. Anyway, that problem is fairly far out. We have a lot of land which could be re-forested before we have to start thinking about running out of land to plant trees on. Plant trees now, stop cutting them down, and we can work out where to put all the dead trees in another century.
posted by agentofselection at 9:52 AM on August 23 [11 favorites]


Let's be clear: the DNC refused to allow that debate, even after being shouted at.

I guess where I am now is that there's the CNN climate town hall (10 candidates now set to participate) and the MSNBC/Georgetown climate forum (every candidate from any party gets a whole hour for nothing but climate), and the DNC relaxed the rules to allow candidates to appear side-by-side at this and other single-issue forums if the organizers want to (that is to say, to have a debate).

Should the DNC officially sanction a climate debate? Sure, we should have even more, but it also feels like some of the outrage now is refusing to take yes for an answer when we're slated for hours of the candidates talking climate in the next month.
posted by zachlipton at 10:02 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]


I think carbon capture & storage is so controversial because it means such different things to different people. I think the fossil fuel industries genuinely are interested in it on the level of, "we'll just keep burning coal and sequester all the CO2 and bam, problem solved! No need to stop burning coal!" Any good faith environmentalist disagrees with that, but at least some of us (me included) think there is already far too much CO2 in the air and so some type of sequestration is going to have to be part of the solution in addition to stopping fossil fuel use.

The carbon gets returned to the atmosphere when the plant dies.

This is true for any given tree (modulo the exceptions noted above) but if we increase the forested area of the earth and keep it forested, that would be a net improvement from where we are now. And some other solutions are more permanent, such as olivine ("green sand" - very abundant and accessible, not a "rare earth" or anything). To summarize, when it weathers it absorbs CO2, which converts it to another type of rock that is also very stable. See here for details, as well as some (current) pitfalls.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:03 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Any good faith environmentalist disagrees with that, but at least some of us (me included) think there is already far too much CO2 in the air and so some type of sequestration is going to have to be part of the solution in addition to stopping fossil fuel use.

IIRC some form of carbon capture is essential to stop warming even if we went 100% carbon free tomorrow.

I'm also really excited about the useful byproducts of capture with plants (food, materials, soil reclamation, etc) and olivine (potentially reversing ocean acidification), and both would create a lot of jobs. So much more potential than big machines sucking up Co2 with amines and not really having a great sequestration solution for what they collect.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:21 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I can't feel bad for miners who have to relocate within their home country when there are already millions of climate refugees, and there will be millions more every year that we continue to burn coal. Didn't they already lose their community connections? Livelihood? Sense of place and belonging? Does anyone care about their culture and traditions?
posted by captain afab at 10:28 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


My former boss, who does extensive research on renewables and has been a strong proponent of mass electrification for a long time, has a series of Medium posts where he talks about the Green New Deal (the original one) and he deals with some of the nuances around nuclear in this one. It's worth reading. But the tl;dr is: We probably will have/will need some nuclear, especially in high-density areas that experience extremely cold or extremely hot conditions. It is not 100% the answer, but given that we're not giving up nuclear weapons any time soon, we might as well leverage our capacity to generate some non-carbon-emitting power as we ramp up a long-term renewables strategy.
posted by olinerd at 11:00 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


given that we're not giving up nuclear weapons any time soon

I really refuse to take that as a given, and I recommend others do too.
posted by Acid Communist at 11:23 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


> I think carbon capture & storage is so controversial because it means such different things to different people.

well but also it's a technology that only exists in wish form. just because we need something to be feasible doesn't make it feasible.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:38 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


and the DNC relaxed the rules to allow candidates to appear side-by-side at this and other single-issue forums if the organizers want to (that is to say, to have a debate).

My comment saying the DNC refused was based on the link in the comment I quoted, and on a Guardian article, both of which said the DNC had rejected the idea. I'm glad they bent a little, but they're still acting as a drag, retarding progress on this and other issues.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:54 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


honestly given how outraged otherwise climate-concerned and reasonable mefites get when people suggest they drive less (one of the easiest ways to reduce carbon emissions), I gave up any hope of saving this rock a long time ago

enjoy hellworld folks
posted by entropicamericana at 1:03 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Driving? It’s MEAT that is the biggest culprit.

If you eat meat you are the problem.
posted by weed donkey at 1:27 PM on August 23


if you eat meat while driving, you're satan
posted by philip-random at 1:28 PM on August 23 [7 favorites]


Meat? Children generally top the charts on carbon footprint.

If you have children or were ever a child, you're really the problem
posted by CrystalDave at 1:28 PM on August 23 [7 favorites]


well but also it's a technology that only exists in wish form. just because we need something to be feasible doesn't make it feasible.

The technology is there, the economics aren't - which is another reason to go trees-first on CCS, dicking around waiting until someone can get an ROI on a CCS business by selling CO2 to fracking operations or making it directly into fuel to burn is maybe the saddest satire of our climate predicament made real.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:29 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Meat? Children generally top the charts on carbon footprint.

so, if you're not driving and you eat children ... ?



I should probably stop this.
posted by philip-random at 1:44 PM on August 23 [10 favorites]


This is frustrating to me, because if you have the political power (i.e., enough willing congresscritters) to pass a $16 Trillion Green New Deal, then you already have enough political leverage to pass the half-dozen federal laws that would cost NOTHING, but which would give us the lion’s share of what is needed for the country to go green.

For example:

Federal law #1: All new commercial and residential construction shall be carbon-neutral, with construction including energy-generation using renewable energy sufficient to supply the structure with its energy needs, in perpetuity. Inspections shall take place every five years to ensure the structure remains in compliance.

(Yes, this would cost the builder more, and this cost would be passed on to the buyer. So when the buyer finances the mortgage for the building, their monthly payments would be larger. But this would be offset by having no energy bill. So: no net cost to government or to the end consumer.)

Federal law #2: CAFE standards shall increase annually by 5 mpg for the next twenty years. At that point, no new gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles may be built except those that require such fuel due to their specific technical needs. All new vehicle construction must use a renewable energy source, such as green electrical power from the local utilities, or hydrogen cells generated from green power.

(Yes, this would make vehicles cost more in the short run, but savings in fuel would alleviate this burden.)


Federal law #3: Electrical generation from local utilities shall transition over the next 20 years to completely renewable sources. (Honestly, I’m not sure where I personally stand on nuclear, but this would completely eliminate coal and natural gas as an energy source for local utilities).

(Yes, this might cost more in the short run, but the cost per kWh for renewables is already making coal unappealing. And what extra is spent on new green power plants would be saved on the health care side by reduction in chronic conditions caused or exacerbated by petroleum pollution, such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer and emphysema.)

Federal law #4: One-use, disposable plastic products shall be phased out for more sustainable options over the next ten years. Just as was done with light bulbs, this gets rid of plastic grocery bags, plastic garbage bags, plastic straws, plastic water bottles, plastic clamshell packaging, etc. it is not sufficient to simply use “recyclable” plastics, as 90% of recyclable plastics never make it into the recycling stream, and much of what IS sent to recycling is only “down cycled” into more and more degraded plastic products.

Sure, there are exceptional cases: medical products, etc. may still need one-use plastics, for example. But the vast majority of the plastic crap that is one-use needs to just go away in favor of other options. Perhaps allow plastic containers for volumes of 2 liters (or half gallon) or greater, but require glass or aluminum for smaller volumes. Restore paying “returns” for large plastic bottles, glass and aluminum cans, so they aren’t just pitched in the trash but people are incentivized to return them (as is still done in some municipalities).


Again: if you seriously have the power to pass a $16 Trillion dollar “moon shot” type Green New Deal, then you already have the power to pass a handful of sweeping laws that will get you most of the way there without it actually costing the government or taxpayers much money. We did it with lightbulbs, and it’s working really well to save a ton of energy without requiring a lot of taxation or major overhauling of the legal context. We can do this in other areas, too, with similarly large payoffs.



Initiatives that would cost money in the short term, but are a drop in the bucket, might include re-careering 90% of the coal miners in the country. There are what, fewer than 200,000 of them? But the stranglehold that coal has on some political venues is intense. Allot $20 Billion to provide every coal miner with a $100k fellowship, to cover two years of living expenses and vocational retraining.

Maybe do the same thing with struggling farmers? Struggling manufacturers? Have a re-careering fund that would allow up to 100,000 new people per year into a 2-4 year program? Call it something inspiring, and market it to struggling mid-career folks in contracting industries.

These sorts of things haven’t been done much, to date, because there isn’t the political will to do them among the majority of Congress. Well, if so, then where are we going to get a congressional majority to vote on a $16 Trillion Green New Deal?

/end rant
posted by darkstar at 2:33 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]




At the end of the day, we do this or we all die. That’s it. Any sitting congressperson who doesn’t understand this does not deserve their position.
posted by The Whelk at 2:42 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]


Darkstar, that's a start but it's not enough. Making new build carbon neutral is very positive but most countries have already built at least half of the buildings they will have in 2050, some more than that. Carbon emissions in the domestic sector need to be approaching zero by that date. We need aggressive heating & cooling policies and energy efficiency programmes. A case can be made for early termination of gas networks and incentives to install more renewable heat and more district heating where appropriate.

We need effective and accessible transport networks.

We need substantial, predictable and stable carbon prices. And some global buy in to same so that it's not simply a burden on a handful of countries while other wealthy nations free ride.

We need to eat less meat.

We need to provide general education as well as family planning education and access to the tools to enable control of fertility for and by the individual.
posted by biffa at 3:36 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


Driving? It’s MEAT that is the biggest culprit.

If you eat meat you are the problem.
posted by weed donkey


Not really, yikes. Although we all should drive less and eat less meat. But meat is a petrochemical question in most of the USA, so the root of the problem is the various subsidies and exemptions of the fossil fuel industry.

. This is a California thing Isn t it? Not all of us live next to the ghost wetlands of the central valley.

If we re talking about cattle and hogs in the USA, we re talking about commodity feed corn, grown in the former wetlands of Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana, which means we re talking about gas-based chemical fertilizer produced in the former wetlands at the CF Industries Ammonia plant in Donaldsonville, Louisiana.

If you enforced the clean air act in donaldsonville, enforced the clean water act and safe drinking water act on CF industries and mosaic and Fracking, and CAFOs, stopped subsidizing this petrochemical cattle corn, the USA would probably measurably reduce its petrochemical and meat consumption. It s probably a revenue positive policy move.

You d also free up a lot of the nation s wetlands, the restoration of which are up there with trees for carbon sequestration
posted by eustatic at 3:51 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]




Not really, yikes. Although we all should drive less and eat less meat.

The Amazon is burning because of cattle. Meat production is estimated to produce a larger amount of greenhouse gases than automobiles. Meat is quantifiably worse for the planet than automobiles.

Beef is very easy to not eat. It requires zero lifestyle changes. There's thousands of other things you can eat - an entire subcontinent doesn't eat beef.

People, both individually and collectively, however, cannot just give up their cars. Transportation is vital to economies and deeply tied to a sense of personal freedom. I'm not defending cars, but I understand why they can't just disappear.

We are in serious risk of starting a feedback cycle in the Amazon that would completely destroy THE WORLD'S LUNGS. And it's all because of people wanting to eat beef.
posted by weed donkey at 4:56 PM on August 23 [6 favorites]


again, see how otherwise reasonable and climate-concerned mefites react towards the suggestion one drives less: "a sense of freedom"—not REAL freedom, which is being able to get anywhere without needing a car, but "a sense," because we've all been mainlining car commercials and shitty boomer songs for the past n decades and constructing cities in such a way is either a black art lost to man or just too gosh darn hard
posted by entropicamericana at 5:52 PM on August 23 [5 favorites]


Well see how otherwise reasonable and climate concerned mefites react to “literally don’t eat one thing of the thousands of things to eat”

It’s being deliberately stupid to say cars can be removed from our current world. No one, not even Elizabeth Warren, is going to be able to undo cars without generations of work.

Meanwhile, we can remove meat from our diets without changing anything. Stop being a meathead.
posted by weed donkey at 6:02 PM on August 23


[Enough back-and-forth bickering about beef and cars]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:14 PM on August 23 [12 favorites]


Nuke Power as it exists today is still crappy old 20th century technology, hopelessly expensive and outdated. I agree with BeeDo that updating nuclear research to adapt for the future is worth investing in. It would be good if nuclear power plants could be made smaller, cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient.
posted by ovvl at 6:51 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Despite his late-in-life degeneration into a right-wing nutjob, Jerry Pournelle wasn't an idiot, and had a really, really good idea:
I can solve the space access problem with a few sentences.

Be it enacted by the Congress of the United States:

The Treasurer of the United States is directed to pay to the first American owned company (if corporate at least 60% of the shares must be held by American citizens) the following sums for the following accomplishments. No monies shall be paid until the goals specified are accomplished and certified by suitable experts from the National Science Foundation or the National Academy of Science:

1. The sum of $2 billion to be paid for construction of 3 operational spacecraft which have achieved low earth orbit, returned to earth, and flown to orbit again three times in a period of three weeks.

2. The sum of $5 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a space station which has been continuously in orbit with at least 5 Americans aboard for a period of not less than three years and one day. The crew need not be the same persons for the entire time, but at no time shall the station be unoccupied.

3. The sum of $12 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a Lunar base in which no fewer than 31 Americans have continuously resided for a period of not less than four years and one day.

4. The sum of $10 billion to be paid for construction and maintenance of a solar power satellite system which delivers at least 800 megaWatts of electric power to a receiving station or stations in the United States for a period of at least two years and one day.

5. The payments made shall be exempt from all US taxes.

That would do it. Not one cent to be paid until the goals are accomplished. Not a bit of risk, and if it can't be done for those sums, well, no harm done to the treasury.

I had Newt Gingrich persuaded to do this before he found he couldn't keep the office of Speaker. I haven't had any audiences with his successors.

Henry Vanderbilt points out that having a prize, say $1 billion, for the second firm to achieve point (1) above will get more into the competition, and produce better results. I agree.


https://www.jerrypournelle.com/topics/gettospace.html#prizes
That gets us the heavy lift we need to get union construction crews and materials to GEO, where they build a constellation of space based solar/phase locked beamed microwave satellites and ground stations.

I believe the dollar amounts need to be re-examined, but this is the carrot to leapfrog us past the quagmire we're in.
posted by mikelieman at 6:32 AM on August 24 [2 favorites]


i had tip o'neil persuaded to convert the us to arc reactor technology until the reptillians from ceti alpha vi staged a quiet coup with the help of the majestic 12 and now all the flags have admiralty fringe
posted by entropicamericana at 10:24 AM on August 24 [3 favorites]


The Amazon is burning because of cattle.
This from Comrade Mel, who spent time as a researcher in the Amazon:

"This is no accident, nor is it just about business. These fires are specifically happening in and around the designated reserve areas - indigenous territories, protected areas, sustainable extractive reserves.


THIS is what it's about. Not beef. Not even soy or gold, tho filthy lucre is the goal. These fires are political. This is about power.

The most sophisticated socio-ecological reserve system in the world, the "ecology of justice" won 30 years ago by the sustained struggle and incredible sacrifice borne by a constellation of traditional peoples and social movements, is being systematically destroyed by Bolsonaro and the ruralistas, the bloc of large landowners, ranchers and big agribusiness that are at his back.

They are literally burning out the Indigenous peoples, rubber tappers, cabocl@ peasant farmers, quilombolas and all those who won the right to steward their lands, for our sake as well as their own.

This is about power. This is the historical revenge of the rural Brazilian ruling class. This is about much more than meat, or even the "lungs of the earth." We need to see this situation through more than our own USA eyes. This will NOT be fixed by voting with your fork.

And the faster ppl realize that, forget arguing about meat for one second, and foreground solidarity and support for the defenders on the front line and the social movements in their renewed fight for SOCIAL *and* ENVIRONMENTAL justice, the faster we will save the planet.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:20 AM on August 24 [20 favorites]


Every candidate for any national office in the U.S., from any party, should either be presenting a plan like Sanders' or have voiced support for someone else's. The only argument should be over the details.

But, that's not the world we live in.

At least there's this one out there.
posted by kyrademon at 11:53 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


1. The sum of $2 billion to be paid for construction of 3 operational spacecraft which have achieved low earth orbit, returned to earth, and flown to orbit again three times in a period of three weeks.

Given that so far the government has paid SpaceX more than $7 billions just to get to that point, I would say that Jerry Pournelle has severely underestimated the complexity of difficult problems. This is typical of libertarian disease -- simple-minded market based solutions that don't work.

Note that the $7 billion is just for R&D. It does not include additional billions paid for actual payload launches. It also does not include $5 billion to Boeing and $4 billion to Orbital Sciences, to hedge their bets.
posted by JackFlash at 12:46 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


And what does all this sci-fi space fanboy stuff have to do with saving the Earth? It's a libertarian fantasy for the excuse of just abandoning the hard problems on earth and starting over on some other planet. What makes them think that if they can't solve the problems on earth that they can solve the many times more complex problems on another planet?
posted by JackFlash at 12:53 PM on August 24 [13 favorites]


Darkstar, that's a start but it's not enough. Making new build carbon neutral is very positive but


My broader point is that, while there is indeed a lot to be done, there is low-hanging fruit in the form of federal legislation that would cost next to nothing, but which would have significant positive effects (such as was done with efficient light bulbs). Phasing out one-use plastics, phasing out gasoline vehicles, requiring solar panels (or geothermal, etc.) on all new construction, phasing out coal-fired electricity generation plants, etc.

But if we don’t have the political will to get these things done, then where is the political will going to come from for a $16 Trillion paradigm shift? Or is the hope that, with $16 Trillion in government outlays, there will be enough money sloshing around to overcome/pay off each lobby interest’s objections to the New Deal?
posted by darkstar at 2:14 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Given that so far the government has paid SpaceX more than $7 billions just to get to that point, I would say that Jerry Pournelle has severely underestimated the complexity of difficult problems. This is typical of libertarian disease -- simple-minded market based solutions that don't work.

Note that the $7 billion is just for R&D. It does not include additional billions paid for actual payload launches. It also does not include $5 billion to Boeing and $4 billion to Orbital Sciences, to hedge their bets.

And what does all this sci-fi space fanboy stuff have to do with saving the Earth? It's a libertarian fantasy for the excuse of just abandoning the hard problems on earth and starting over on some other planet. What makes them think that if they can't solve the problems on earth that they can solve the many times more complex problems on another planet?


Every dollar put into NASA has been returned a hundredfold in materials science and technology advances. NASA has always been basically the best and most efficient R&D investment the public sector has ever had.

The reason the $7b to SpaceX has been largely wasted is that SpaceX, like any other Elon Musk project, are incompetent jackasses who burn money to accomplish nothing. The private sector is bad at this, and he's worse than most.
posted by kafziel at 4:21 PM on August 24 [8 favorites]


Or is the hope that, with $16 Trillion in government outlays, there will be enough money sloshing around to overcome/pay off each lobby interest’s objections to the New Deal?

This is another mystery to me. You would think businesses would be salivating over Bernie's plan. It's been clear for 30 years that the future of energy is in renewable energy. If you were an energy company, wouldn't you want in on that? But instead they're they're doubling down on oil. It's a dollar of profit today in return for a dead company tomorrow over being tomorrow's industry leader for generations.
posted by xammerboy at 7:06 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Regarding the meat thing, if everyone in the U.S. became vegetarian tomorrow the U.S. would produce about 5% less greenhouse gas emissions. It's not insignificant savings, but individual lifestyle choices alone will not solve the climate crisis.
posted by xammerboy at 9:53 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


NASA has always been basically the best and most efficient

SpaceX ... are incompetent jackasses

Since the former hired the latter 18 times, to be efficient, those two claims seem incompatible.

$7 billion is just for R&D. It does not include additional billions paid for actual payload

Citation needed? NASA’s total R&D budget is only 3 billion per year, almost entirely going to Orion/SLS. Official cost analyses are not hard to find, indicating NASA chose wisely, and don’t support your $7b figure.
posted by radagast at 11:03 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


If you were an energy company, wouldn't you want in on that? But instead they're they're doubling down on oil.

Not all of them.

4 Utilities Betting Billions on Renewable Energy (from 2 years ago)

WEC Energy bets on solar, wind and natural gas. (Last year)

Cheap Clean Energy Makes New Natural Gas A Risky Bet Utility Regulators Should Avoid (Last month)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:56 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


"Car blindness is the mindset of not seeing that cars themselves are a major, chronic problem. It is when one overlooks the heavy price tag of driving cars and is unable to see the precariousness of car dependency.
A symptom of car blindness is being convinced that by fixing one or two problems, cars will finally make sense."
posted by entropicamericana at 7:02 AM on August 25 [5 favorites]


If you were an energy company, wouldn't you want in on that? But instead they're they're doubling down on oil.

Why not both? Most of the oil companies have been insisting for years that they're investing into green energy too - it seems like their business model is to leverage their capital in oil as hard as possible until it's no longer profitable, and use it to transition to other forms of energy. Oil, unlike coal, is plenty profitable, because it's primarily sold by a cartel that likes to keep the price up, and unlike renewables, being a very big company comes with significant economies of scale that keep out smaller, nimbler competitors.

Speaking of cars: I don't know if this is on Sanders' plan, but efficient and equitable public transport makes a huge difference to the liveability of a city. Every town planner (and Robert Moses certainly knew) that if you put down a train station for the residents of a poor neighbourhood, they're going to have easy access to everywhere in the city. You put down enough trains that go fast enough, fewer people will drive. (LA's seen that you can fill up a train very easily if you make it convenient enough - and that if it's enough of a hassle, no-one will.) It'd transform American cities for the better.
posted by Merus at 8:56 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


Energy companies are starting to come around, but that's because the market has finally arrived. The renewable energy technology has finally become cheap enough that it is, indeed, more profitable to make that dollar today via green technology rather than oil in many cases. But they were dragged to this point kicking and screaming.

Car companies are a good case in point. The writing was on the wall for decades that consumers wanted fuel efficiency, but American car companies instead lobbied hard for lax fuel standards. They wanted to sell the cars they had today for a quick dollar at the cost of eventually being priced out of the market, which resulted in them needing to be bailed out.
posted by xammerboy at 9:23 AM on August 25


OK, I sort of slid by the fact that there are "energy companies" that sell electricity, and "energy companies" that sell stuff that can be burned to make electricity (creating climate change in the process.) If I ran one of the first kind, I would definitely be ending reliance on the second kind, especially since their product is becoming more expensive to continue using than building new renewable sources.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:44 AM on August 25 [5 favorites]




And what does all this sci-fi space fanboy stuff have to do with saving the Earth? It's a libertarian fantasy for the excuse of just abandoning the hard problems on earth and starting over on some other planet.
I increasingly agree with the latter position being a driving factor for much of it but there are a couple significant areas where it directly helps the Earth: if you could effectively collect power or extractive mining and dirty manufacturing into orbit, that could potentially avoid a large amount of pollution and habit destruction on Earth. The big question is whether the support footprint would outweigh the savings but it’s very, very far from the worst idea Pournelle ever had even if he no doubt imagined libertarian white men making it happen.
posted by adamsc at 3:55 PM on August 25


if you could effectively collect power or extractive mining and dirty manufacturing into orbit ...

If? Effectively? This is sci-fi fantasy.

A single standard solar panel generating 250 watts you can put on your roof for about $750, including materials and installation.

SpaceX has reduced the cost of putting one pound in low earth orbit to about $2500. Even so, to put that same solar panel in space would cost over $75,000 -- 10 times the cost -- just to get it off the ground. That's just low earth orbit, not where you would actually want to put a permanent solar array. And you still have to get that power to back to earth by some practical technology not yet invented. How's that supposed to save the planet? It's many times cheaper just to build out solar power on earth.

The same sorts of costs apply to mining in space. You can't revoke the law of gravity. It would be many magnitudes cheaper to mine our landfills for precious metals than to get metals from outer space.

We need solutions in the next 10 to 50 years, not fantasies from the next century. Note that men last walked on the moon 50 years ago. How much progress in sci-fi rocketry has occurred in 50 years? It really hasn't changed much other than being just a little bit less exorbitantly expensive. The law of gravity still applies.
posted by JackFlash at 7:09 PM on August 25 [6 favorites]


Political Scenarios for Climate Disaster
In the Global North we often act as if our future will be a warmer version of today: liberal capitalism, plus flood insurance, minus coral reefs. That future is a fantasy.
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


The Gaurdian: A Conversation with David Wallace Wells

Global Collective Action is Dependent on China and U.S. Cooperation
My own hope is that I see almost half of our global emissions being produced by two countries – the US and China. Maybe it’s naive, but I hope a cooperative pact can be reached between the two countries like the nuclear non-proliferation agreements that were made between the US and Russia in the cold war. The two nations remained rivals but were nevertheless jointly committed to protecting the planet from an existential threat. If the US and China really took aggressive leadership on this issue, the collective action problem would become less important.

Budget Based Solutions are the Only Politically Viable Solution
Ambitious legislation has to go through the Senate and I don’t think there’s a scenario where a Democratic president takes office in 2021 with more than 60 Democratic votes [a three-fifths majority]. On the other hand, the last few administrations have gotten quite creative in how to use what’s called “budget reconciliation”, which you can use to pass stuff through the Senate with only 51 votes [a simple majority] by defining legislation as essentially budget-based. That’s one reason why you see so many of the Democrats’ plans are essentially investment programs.

Yes, We Need Carbon Capture Technology
I look at the science and say if we’re defining a comfortable world [as] staying below two degrees of warming, I just don’t think that there’s any way we can achieve that without a really quite dramatic amount of negative emissions. But I’m also very mindful that there is a pervasive techno-optimistic view that we can just invent something and it will solve the problem.

We Don't Necessarily Need to Sacrifice Modern Conveniences
My intuition is that we don’t need to abandon the prospect of economic growth to get a handle on climate change. I look at the case of the US and I see that if the average American had the carbon emissions of the average EU citizen, the country’s emissions would fall by 60%. And I think most Americans would be happy with those lifestyles. The American electricity grid loses two-thirds of all energy produced as waste heat. We discard something like 50% or 60% of all of our food. So we could achieve some quite significant emissions gains.
posted by xammerboy at 8:59 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


From WaPo: Bernie Sanders’s climate plan will take us nowhere.

Note that this is a joint editorial from the editorial board, not an opinion piece by one of the usual suspects. The tl;dr is that this isn't a serious plan and it does us a disservice because we still have no idea what Sanders would actually do about the climate emergency if elected, given that he can't possibly do this.
posted by Justinian at 3:51 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


Where I come down is about where I come down on the bruhaha over the M4A plans vs Biden's less expansive public option plan; It's one thing to support shooting for the stars on a philosophical level (and I do, in both the case of health care and climate change) but you've also got to be able to articulate a plan that might actually happen as well as giving us grandiose visions of where you think we should end up in the long term.
posted by Justinian at 3:54 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


you've also got to be able to articulate a plan that might actually happen as well as giving us grandiose visions of where you think we should end up in the long term.

I'm picturing you saying this in response to Kennedy's proposal to go to the Moon. The things Sanders is proposing are much more possible today than going to the Moon was in 1962. We should be actually attempting these things, because they would help save us, and incremental changes dictated by politics will be woefully inadequate.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:02 AM on August 26 [5 favorites]


Also, the Post has a demonstrated bias against Sanders. It's not just its columnists, it runs through their entire operation.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:05 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


Going to the moon was a technical challenge; the political will was there. Sanders' climate plan requires getting a bunch of Republicans on board. Given the alternatives of trying to push tech forward by 30 years in one decade vs convincing a bunch of Senators to get on board that climate plan, I know which I'd bank on happening first.
posted by Justinian at 5:36 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


Note that Sanders opposes lifting the legislative filibuster so even in the event we take back the Senate it isn't enough to get Democrats on board. And even if the filibuster didn't exist you still have to convince guys like Manchin.
posted by Justinian at 5:37 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


The dream and the ideas of the plan looks really good to me. Basically, we all, all over the world, need to convert our economy from a fossil fuel based economy into a renewable energy based economy, just like the global economy was completely transformed by WW2 in many ways. As I read it, that is the ambition of the plan. And there are many elements in the plan that look good. Yes to holding the fuel industry accountable for the damage they've done! But I don't get the top-down approach of most of it. It reminds me of the bad socialism I remember from the East Block, before 1990. Not least in the weird mix of grand schemes and tiny details.

As an example, I don't understand the emphasis on publicly owned/managed power provision. Renewables are much more suited for private enterprise than coal/gas/nuclear plants, with all the risks they entail. Anyone with a bit of land and a roof can get solar panels and geothermal heating. Many farmers can build wind turbines to supplement their income. Here in Denmark, many municipalities have big solar fields for their public buildings and apartment buildings with insufficient space for their own. In Copenhagen I can buy my electricity from privately owned turbines out on the harbour, and I do. It's cheaper than what I could get from the trash-burning plant with a ski-slope on it and I feel good. What is needed is a public smart grid, so private people, local groups and entrepreneurs can easily sell their energy and buy it. The smart grid is in there, but not so much the incentives that could inspire people to be the change.
I guess this is my big beef with Bernie already. I live in a socialist paradise, but for the first almost 30 years until the wall came down, I also lived next to countries where top-down socialism was making people miserable. To this day, I can't understand how anyone can believe that a huge state can solve anything. I certainly think the US could do with quite a bit more of a nanny state, don't get me wrong, it's the extreme that puts me off. You have to think a lot about what the state does best and what private initiative does best all the time, and perhaps adjust as you go.
posted by mumimor at 6:35 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


The Washington Post is so well-known to be absurdly critical of Bernie that I can't imagine someone relatively abreast of recent circumstances wouldn't be aware of it.

One of the articles complaints is how money is being wasted by ignoring nuclear. Upthread is a lot of good discussion about how nuclear programmes are always delivered ahead of time and under budget and any waste contamination concerns have all been solved, so that makes a lot of sense.

Complaining about offering 20 million jobs because there are only 7 million unemployed also makes sense, because underemployment doesn't exist and all of the existing jobs are so desirable.

If they're really concerned about a shortage of workers though, well I often hear from these types that raising the minimum wage could solve that problem. I'm sure they'll love the synergy.
posted by Acid Communist at 7:40 AM on August 26 [5 favorites]


If You're Looking for Evidence of WaPo Media Bias Against Bernie Sanders, Here It Is

Fairness & Accuracy In Media (FAIR) has been following this issue for quite some time, so we're happy to offer the evidence CNN and the Post claim is lacking
posted by Acid Communist at 7:56 AM on August 26


"Regarding the meat thing, if everyone in the U.S. became vegetarian tomorrow the U.S. would produce about 5% less greenhouse gas emissions."

How'd you get to that figure?
posted by Selena777 at 9:15 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Anyone with a bit of land and a roof can get solar panels and geothermal heating.

I actually got solar panels and a geothermal heating pump. Right now, I produce excess power, but we'll see what happens in the winter to balance out. However, my crappy electric company charges me $24 just to be hooked up to the grid each month, penalizing those who support renewables. This crappy power company is the problem: they coast on old infrastructure and do not incentivize programs that actually help reduce reliance on them. Because they are a business.

I want that company seized and turned over to the community, so that the city/county owns it (or just all citizens that use the power belong to an electric co-op). Private power companies are the worst and are incredibly irresponsive to their "customers." They dragged their feet on approving my solar panels, taking the longest amount of time they legally could.

Power companies don't have to be owned federally, but they should be owned communally, either through local government or through electrical co-ops. There's no space for treating grid ownership as a business anymore.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:58 AM on August 26 [14 favorites]


Power companies don't have to be owned federally, but they should be owned communally, either through local government or through electrical co-ops. There's no space for treating grid ownership as a business anymore.
exactly!
posted by mumimor at 10:09 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Lord Chancellor, seizure of the company is not the only solution to their penalizing renewable users. To do that, you'd have to replace your corporate-captured state legislature, and once you've done that, the pricing structure could be reformed. I live in a state that hasn't sold out to business (at least, not to that extent), and my solar array has paid for itself and is making me money. WRT the impact of winter -- my power production only fall below my usage when snow stays on the roof for more than a few days. Because my state mandates balance billing, I have a positive balance that absorbs most winters' snow impacts.

Boring details: 5.5 kW PV array installed in 2011, in MA. Relatively shallow roof pitch means snow won't slide off until there's a warm day, and the angle slightly decreases power generation. Three stories up means I can't rake the snow off.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:01 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


"Regarding the meat thing, if everyone in the U.S. became vegetarian tomorrow the U.S. would produce about 5% less greenhouse gas emissions." How'd you get to that figure?

It came from a Guardian article I am now having trouble finding. When I find the full link I'll post it. While searching I did see other Guardian articles that put the percentage higher, so ...
posted by xammerboy at 3:24 PM on August 26


Also, I'm a socialist, so in principle, I think everything necessary should be community-owned.

My mom gets to be part of an electric co-op in rural Minnesota. Why can't I?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:44 PM on August 26


It's one thing to support shooting for the stars on a philosophical level, but you've also got to be able to articulate a plan that might actually happen.

A more apt analogy than "shooting for the stars" would be to imagine we are stranded on a desert island listening to proposals for swimming to mainland. Would a proposal that we conserve some energy by swimming only halfway be a rational plan?
posted by xammerboy at 10:28 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


More rational than a plan which involved a telepathic magical flying unicorn arriving and taking us to the mainland, yes. Particularly if getting halfway puts you in a shipping lane where maybe you get picked up by a boat.

I obviously don't think either of these analogies is particularly apt, though. Sanders' plan wouldn't somehow make climate change stop happening so it's not a question of "Sanders saves the planet" vs "Not-Sanders destroys the planet." As evidenced by this thread, no matter what we do we need a little help from our friends in other countries and the scientific community.
posted by Justinian at 10:53 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]


hi i am here to jump right up onto my hobbyhorse so strap in comrades:

most recent monmouth poll

sanders: 20%
warren: 20%
biden: 19%
everyone else: well under 15%

all of the democratic party primaries and caucuses allocate delegates by proportional representation. all of the candidates who get 15% or more of the vote in any contest gets delegates in proportion to their percentage of the vote.

also despite the similarity of their platforms sanders and warren have radically different bases. they are not cannibalizing each others’ votes.

i’m not going to do the clapping emoji in the next sentence but i’m thinking about it:

there is no such thing as vote splitting on the left this time around.

as long as sanders and warren both stay above 15% — and the more candidates drop out the more solidly both will stay above 15% — they will both pick up delegates. and both of them have a lot of enthusiastic supporters but maybe have a ceiling below 50%.

if sanders and warren go into the convention with neither of them holding 50% + 1 of the delegates but the combination of the two being well above 50%, they are going to strike a deal so fucking fast people because despite how sanders identifies as a democratic socialist and warren identifies as a liberal, they are both running on social democratic platforms. and look the two of them are being so fucking polite to each other. i’m just a reclusive novelist — if i can see the numbers here the campaigns sure as hell can see the numbers too. the left unity you see in their campaigns isn’t just a short term tactic. it’s a strategy and a damned good one.

if you want to see sanders in the white house, support both sanders and warren. if you want to see warren in the white house... support both warren and sanders.

we can do this folx. we can get a 100% left ticket and that 100% left ticket can stomp the shit out of the fascists.

anyway if you need me i’ll be off posting this talking point to the still-active warren thread.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:45 PM on August 26 [15 favorites]


I think Bernie's plan provides a better path toward making the public aware of the seriousness and scope of the climate crisis than the more incremental plans. Arguably, without changing public sentiment all plans are equally politically unfeasible since they rely on getting at least 51 Senate votes.

I don't mind talking about unicorns if that's what will get people to start talking about what's realistically needed to stop global warming. In fact, we'll need unicorns (e.g. moonshot technology) too. I hope other candidates and the press talk about that.
posted by xammerboy at 11:51 PM on August 26


As always I like to say. I can have complaints about either, and I can have complaints about the IDEA of Electoralism but ...Sanders and Warren are allies. And they keep promoting this alliance when the right wing press tries to make it a race.

POPULAR FRONT.
posted by The Whelk at 11:55 PM on August 26 [10 favorites]


"Regarding the meat thing, if everyone in the U.S. became vegetarian tomorrow the U.S. would produce about 5% less greenhouse gas emissions." How'd you get to that figure?

I've really tried to find the article, which I had open while posting. Let's just say I'll always post the link from now on. Here's a different recent article, though the percentage appears to be higher than what I read previously:

"Although animals now make up some 49% of agricultural emissions in the United States, a vegan nation would eliminate far less than that. Annual emissions would drop from 623 million tons to 446 million tons a year, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
posted by xammerboy at 12:01 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


popular fucking front!!!!

let’s do this comrades
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:02 AM on August 27 [5 favorites]


Oh! the anarchist and the communist can be friends
oh! the communist and the socialist can be friends
One likes to collectivize plans the other likes to horizontalize groups
but that's no reason why we can't be friends
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 AM on August 27 [5 favorites]


it’s super adorable that the sanders people are still awake and possibly drunk in the wee hours of a tuesday, while all the warren people have gotten to sleep at a sensible hour like they’re wholesome and responsible or something
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:24 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


lizzo gets it:
"I hear a lot of about Bernie Sanders being 'too old' to run or be president," she wrote. "But we’ve currently got a 73-year old in office so drop the ageism shit and just listen to what he’s got to say.

She added that Warren "is a dope candidate as well."
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:03 AM on August 27 [2 favorites]


Andrew Yang's 4 Trillion Dollar Climate Plan

An interesting plan that is different by design, furthering the discussion. Heavy investment in people donating directly to programs they choose, fusion power, a nuclear power with short lived waste that is experimental, and mitigating the impact of change by moving people to higher ground.

$3 trillion to finance loans for household investments in renewable energy over 20 years
$400 billion invested in Democracy Dollars (people donate directly) over 20 years
$285.5 billion invested in sustainable agricultural, forestry, and land methods use over 15 years
$250 billion invested in net-zero emission ground transportation over 15 years
$200 billion invested in Grid Modernization over 15 years
$122.5 billion invested in fire prevention and combating wildfires over 5 years

$90 billion to establish and fund the Climate Adaptation Institution over 20 years
$80.8 billion invested in net-zero emission air transportation over 15 years
$70 billion invested in combating rising sea levels over 20 years
$60 billion invested in vocational and apprenticeship programs over 15 years
$50 billion invested in Fusion (short lived nuclear fuel / experimental) power
$45 billion invested in National Labs over 15 years

$25 billion in pre-disaster mitigation grants for high-risk hurricane communities over 10 years
$10 billion invested in a debt forgiveness fund for rural co-ops
$5 billion invested in research for sustainable materials over 5 years
$800 million invested in geoengineering research methods
$200 billion discretionary spending to fund additional necessary programs over 20 years
posted by xammerboy at 7:25 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


> $50 billion invested in Fusion (short lived nuclear fuel / experimental) power

i like that yang is moving the overton window toward science fiction, because scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted. but i worry that fusion power isn't going to be feasible using anything like 21st century technology. i'd almost rather that money go toward building space elevators.

that said, though, $50 billion for anything is good. even if fusion power research turns out to be no more effective that digging holes in the ground and then filling them back in, the state paying people to dig holes in the ground and fill them back in is a redistributive economic stimulus.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:27 AM on August 27 [4 favorites]


It's interesting that Yang doubled down on his "higher ground" comments during the debate. I think that's good. Let's talk realistically about the costs associated with disaster mitigation. Maybe people will realize it's going to cost more to half address the climate crisis.
posted by xammerboy at 7:33 AM on August 27


Btw, I re-organized Yang's list by money spent, but missed the $200 billion in discretionary spending at the bottom. That's a big chunk of money that will be allocated to ... something!
posted by xammerboy at 7:40 AM on August 27


giant half-biological robots piloted by 14 year olds. a massive underground city to house the robots. also a cloning program to produce backup 14 year olds.

yeah that’s right yang is gonna start third impact.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:48 AM on August 27 [5 favorites]


"I hear a lot of about Bernie Sanders being 'too old' to run or be president," she wrote. "But we’ve currently got a 73-year old in office so drop the ageism shit and just listen to what he’s got to say.

I'm not sure the current president should be used as a positive example of anything. Besides Bernie Sanders is already significantly older than 73.
posted by Mitheral at 8:33 AM on August 27 [5 favorites]


Macron confirms Trump never made it to climate session at G7. "He wasn’t in the room but his team was there," he says. He says it's no longer his goal to convince Trump to come back to the Paris accord.
posted by xammerboy at 5:32 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure the current president should be used as a positive example of anything. Besides Bernie Sanders is already significantly older than 73.

If only there was a mechanism in place to deal with a president passing away while in office...
posted by Ouverture at 12:27 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


There is one, of course. I think the more likely problem with an overage President is mental failure, as with Reagan, and some say, Trump. If a President dies, then something has to be done, and is done. If a President is senile, demented, or otherwise mentally unfit, it's much less likely that anything will be done. This is related to the extreme reluctance of the institution that has the power of impeachment to use it. Ever.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:49 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


i worry that fusion power isn't going to be feasible using anything like 21st century technology

Pffft. Commercial fusion power has been ten years away for fifty years! Which obviously means it's ten years away right now, and we can expect it to be making a solid contribution to the grid by 2029.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Fusion power could've been feasible if the government hasn't been spending below the "fusion never" level of funding for research since 1976.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:45 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I am struck how car-centric the transportation section is

Alissa Walker, one of the best reporters on transportation and urbanism, dug into this, Only one candidate is talking seriously about transportation. Everyone should be
But Sanders’s plan is still almost all about cars, even if they are electric. His proposals won’t erase commutes and congestion. And more livable, connected, and vibrant communities certainly won’t be created by offering incentives to buy plug-in vehicles and building more places to plug them in. This plan to comprehensively electrify America’s cars will use up almost one-fifth of the entire Green New Deal budget, more than what’s allotted to build a nationwide renewable energy grid and storage system—and much of that capacity would go toward powering all the EVs.

As a country we definitely must move to zero-emission modes of transportation as soon as possible—especially for those who make a living using vehicles. But what everyone else needs are more options. Like the Green New Deal resolution introduced in Congress, Sanders’s plan reveals a blind spot in federal climate policy. It’s not just our fossil fuel dependence that needs to be addressed, it’s our car dependence.

Each day that we continue to prioritize cars means more Americans will be displaced from their homes, diagnosed with chronic respiratory disease, or killed in traffic collisions so our communities can accommodate more vehicles. And even if all those vehicles are electric, they’ll still emit dangerous particulate matter, creating lifelong health issues for people who live near wide, busy roadways. Cars are also expensive. In a country where many Americans are having trouble paying rent—something Sanders speaks about often—is our best solution for reducing emissions really going to be requiring households to purchase a new zero-emission vehicle just to continue participating in society?
posted by zachlipton at 11:55 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]




This is worth it’s own FPP when it finishes but The Workplace Democracy Plan, Explained (part 1)
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]




WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. presidential contender Bernie Sanders proposed a plan on Saturday to cancel $81 billion in existing past-due medical debt for Americans, but offered no details on how it would be financed.

I like it. You could motivate a lot of older people to vote with this plan.
posted by xammerboy at 9:02 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


(CNN) Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday announced she would adopt Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's 10-year climate plan, while also expanding on his blueprint with a series of additional investments costing $1 trillion to offer additional protections to workers and help fund a radical transition of American infrastructure and industry away from fossil fuels.

The Warren proposal, which would cost $3 trillion total, was released on the eve of a CNN town hall focused exclusively on the climate crisis. The Massachusetts senator is one of 10 2020 Democratic primary candidates scheduled to take questions Wednesday night on their environmental plans.
posted by xammerboy at 8:00 PM on September 3 [5 favorites]


CNN announces details for climate crisis town hall

It's tomorrow all day! I wonder if Metafilter would consider a live-stream thread? Anyone know how I make this request?
posted by xammerboy at 8:02 PM on September 3


We need a technological breakthrough

Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Sixth Extinction,” has written that the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere has most likely locked the planet into another half degree of warming. The 1.5-degree target may therefore be impossible unless emissions can be reversed.
posted by xammerboy at 10:27 PM on September 3


We need a technological breakthrough

No we don't. We really, really don't. We need a social, political and economic breakthrough.

We already have all the technology that would be required to put this planet on a non-destructive energy supply footing for the foreseeable future.

Our most pressing need right now is not to get better at doing things we're already inclined to do, which is essentially what technological improvements have always been about.

What we actually need is for the majority of those who make consequential decisions to understand in their guts that we live on a spaceship and that there isn't an "away" to throw things to.

What we actually need is an established consensus view that a desire to own a huge fuck-off yacht is a treatable form of mental illness, and that the highest possible aspiration is to leave our living spaces in better condition than we found them in when we're done with them.

There are Australians whose families have understood this principle for at least fifty thousand years. We ought to pay more attention to what they know.
posted by flabdablet at 10:54 PM on September 3 [13 favorites]


Yes, but even if everyone stopped using oil tomorrow the atmosphere would still warm enough to create a catastrophic warming disaster. So, some kind of new technology to get rid of the carbon in the atmosphere is absolutely necessary on top of anything else we might do.
posted by xammerboy at 6:08 PM on September 4 [3 favorites]


Also if the plan hinges on humanity wising up and making responsible life choices at the expense of a little comfort and convenience you do want a backup plan.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:17 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Saw Bernie on the Town Hall. He was great, but was somehow never asked about carbon capture. Very good on how we can afford the 16 trillion though. Make the energy companies pay. Make Jeff Bezos, who doesn't pay taxes, pay. You can get jobs, a new infrastructure, save the world, huge investment in the working class and small businesses, etc. if you only want it.
posted by xammerboy at 6:33 PM on September 4


No we don't. We really, really don't. We need a social, political and economic breakthrough.

We already have all the technology that would be required to put this planet on a non-destructive energy supply footing for the foreseeable future.


The IPCC's own (very conservative) plans to fight climate change require new negative emissions and CCS technology we don't have in order to get us out of complete disaster because there is already an immense amount of carbon in the atmosphere that is only going to perpetuate multiple catastrophic positive feedback loops.

We obviously need the social, political, and economic breakthrough as well, but there is no way we're getting out of this without new tech and the political will to pay for it at global scale.
posted by Ouverture at 6:42 PM on September 4 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure that crushing olivine and spreading it on beaches counts as "new tech".

I'm not sure that reafforestation on a massive scale counts as "new tech".

In any case, there is no point at all spending any dollar on CCS that we could be spending right now on replacing fossil-fuelled energy supply plant with efficiency upgrades at point of use, wind generators, solar PV and molten-salt thermal generators, battery storage and pumped hydro storage instead. It's pointless trying to stitch up the wounds before the body has been removed from the mincer.

The time to give serious consideration to cleanup is after the filthying process has at least slowed down. At present, it's still speeding up. As it will continue to do until the relatively small number of mentally ill individuals who still think making money matters more than not killing everybody - people like this guy - are widely seen to be just that, and lose their ability to sweet-talk the body politic into approving of obscenities like this despite the vociferous objections of the sane.
posted by flabdablet at 8:49 PM on September 4 [4 favorites]


In any case, there is no point at all spending any dollar on CCS that we could be spending right now on replacing fossil-fuelled energy supply plant with efficiency upgrades at point of use, wind generators, solar PV and molten-salt thermal generators, battery storage and pumped hydro storage instead.

For storage I'm excited about this liquid-air storage, the costs are super low (not just lower than batteries but also lower than natural gas peaking according to the article, which is nuts!) and the tech is nothing special and easy to implement.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:02 PM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Linked from the article on liquid-air storage, which is all about cold, is another on hot rock thermal storage that does essentially the same thing in the opposite direction with high temperatures instead.

It seems odd to me that neither of these articles mentions the work started by Isentropic Ltd and carried on by Newcastle University, which uses two insulated gravel tanks for heat storage, one at very high temperature and the other very low, and employs the same reciprocating piston machine running in the same direction for both charge and discharge halves of the storage cycle: on charge it operates as a compressor/expander pump, on discharge as a heat engine.

Switching from charge to discharge requires only changing the valve timing - it's very fast. And since it turns out that the inherently limited thermodynamic efficiency for an ideal heat engine shows up in reverse as the coefficient of performance for the same device operated as a heat pump, the round-trip efficiency is surprisingly high:
A range of successful tests have been conducted which confirm the principles of operation and the efficiency of energy recovery of the system. Energy recovery can exceed 95%.
Despite Isentropic Ltd having been wound up as a commercial concern in 2016, this is very much a live technology.
posted by flabdablet at 3:19 AM on September 5 [2 favorites]


I will allow as how turning biogas into hydrogen and graphite at commercial scale and purity is new tech that would probably be quite beneficial if widely used.

Hazer Group presentation at the ASX Small and Mid-Cap Conference 2019
posted by flabdablet at 12:52 AM on September 12




Now I do love me some biochar and char sticks around in the soil based on the beam bits from the 40 year old burned down barn I'm digging up from the soil VS the hügelkultur type soil core the char surrounds in its clay wrapper.

And, given the announcement was in CA where there is very char-able underbrush lets look at the idea.

Human-labor-able char from wooded lots works with the 1/2 inch (long handled pruner) and 3/4 inch branches (ratching pruner) That stock material will burn down to char at about 10% char to starting material. And one can capture the heat to cook or make electricity from something like a GEK. But GEKs and the chainsaws and the energy sources to get the material out of the woods are going to be an issue unless there is a power source that is not-carbon generating. Not to mention the labor to go into the woods and manage the material to get it charred.

Not placing the Carbon in the air sure sounds simpler now doesn't it?

Fission's long lifespan and humans demonstrated inability to deal with fission in a responsible manner makes it a non-starter. Fusion might become (or be a thing already if one thinks the Navy patents point to a fusion energy source) viable and a 100 year waste cycle might prove to be manageable by humans. Thus we are left with how the fossil fuels became fuel - solar, wind, hydro and the occational wierdo who's stringing up 1/2 mile of wire and tapping electrostatic power.

Civilizations with the present economic model don't seem viable without the 100:1 energy gains of hydrocarbons VS the 10:1 of solar. So as you read protests about moving off of hydrocarbons think about how how the drivers of the economy like jet figheters are going to work without hydrocarbons. And how, exactly, do jet fighters and tanks get support to keep moving if every other transport has to run off of batteries or a power cable?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:57 PM on September 12


Here are some pictures of biochar in action.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:18 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


If a person wanted to do char in a carbon capture oriented way instead of just as an add on to other forest activity you'd setup plantations (technically corpses) of trees to be coppiced. Then you could use the electricity generated by gasification to run electric feller bunchers.
posted by Mitheral at 9:18 AM on September 13


We have the technology for autonomous self driving farm equipment because you can really accurately map the paths over fields and variables don't change much, it's already a technology in use. I wonder about building a biochar operation with automated electric equipment and an automated electric biochar facility based in fields full of solar and wind generation, using some plant species that doesn't need much care and grows quickly. Help pay for it with carbon offset credits (which we'll still need if we decarbonize everything possible, we're not getting zero carbon concrete or air travel) and distribute the char to farmers for soil amendments - though really, if we have working CCS it shouldn't have to pay for itself, subsidize the hell out of it. You might even be able to rotate your main crop with some hardy legume like vetch and utilize your own biochar to keep from depleting the fields you use for this with minimal external inputs for soil amendment, and if you're growing some hardy resilient plants that are basically weeds in other contexts you don't really need to care about pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:45 AM on September 13


Some things to consider for scale on farming/decarbonizing.

The larger tractors are 800HP. That's 600,000 Watts. 600kW. These are the kinds of rigs used on sections (640 acres) in Nebraska. Now the 600kW isn't 100% of the time but that's a lot of energy used for short time windows of working the field. Imagine plumbing the rural places with enough power to energize such beasts for ag?

Moving and flipping some dirt - a 2 bottom plow "needs" a 40 HP tractor. The whole no-till movement understands it is energy intensive to move dirt as part of its mantra.

Already actual crops are interplaneted with wind turbines. Solar capture isn't that conductive to cropping unless you opt for a low-light crop like ginseng and then had low cost solar panels that filter light or are slatted.

If you have corn stalks you are processing that for animal feed typically. If you have straw it also has a market beyond making char. Same with almost any harvested seed crop. "Weeds" could be green silage for the herbivores.

If you have trees you are coppicing it's because the land isn't able to be worked by a tractor typically.

A mass biochar movement is not going to be simple given the demands on most "Will this char" material.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:22 AM on September 15


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