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Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Joe Nocera (left) today had an op-ed that pooh-poohs James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute, for picking the wrong target:  the Keystone XL pipeline.  While Nocera is generally fair about things, he is, after all, the "business" columnist for the New York Times.  Said Nocera:

A carbon tax might be worth getting arrested over.  But by allowing himself to be distracted by Keystone, Hansen is hurting the very cause he claims to care so much about. 

I think he misses the point.

For one, he criticizes Hanson for physically protesting the matter and purposefully getting arrested when he should be back in his office doing "real" work.  Hanson has become an icon for global warming and is most effective on the battlefield itself.  But more so, Hanson is doing what is right.  I regularly receive e-mails from Hanson reporting on his doings, and, while on the one  hand I was beginning to feel that he was now mostly focussing on the sensational, on the other, I'm now better understanding why he is doing this (see Michael Grunwald's editorial below).

I might add that actress Daryl Hannah was also arrested protesting this pipeline.She is executive producer of a movie, Greedy Lying Bastards, that will open this weekend in limited markets.  To quote Wikipedia:

Greedy Lying Bastards investigates the climate change misinformation campaign waged by the oil industry and its funded think tanks. The film exposes how a small number of well paid spokespeople have worked to confuse the public and lawmakers on the issue. BothExxonMobil and Koch Industries are identified in the film as two of the worst culprits funding the denial campaign. [1]

Coincidentally, the following column provides an astute assessment of why active environmentalism for the Keystone XL pipeline must be undertaken:

Michael Grunwald (left), TIME's senior national correspondent, in the latest issue of TIME (11March2013), I think had the most sensible editorial ever written on the Keystone XL pipeline and global warming in general.  I should, though, underscore that what is sensible for one who is concerned about this matter, could well be nonsense to others who are not convinced that the Greenhouse Effect is real and caused by humans.  In any case, everyone should read Grunwald's statement.

But if you're lazy and want a quick summary, here is what he said:

  -  Sure, a substantive carbon tax would be more effective than rebel-rousing, but the U.S. Congress is nowhere close to agreeing on anything, so the effort needs to be fought on all battlegrounds...and the Keystone XL pipeline is the fight today.

  -  To quote, and following up on President Obama's recent Inaugural Address where he took a stand for the environment:  Keystone isn't a perfect battlefield, but neither was Selma (civil rights) and Stonewall (gay rights).  In a war, you don't always get to choose where to fight.  You still have to show you're willing to fight.

  -  And a final quote from Grunwald's article:  ...when it comes to Keystone, my analysis is that the activists are right. Fossil fuels are broiling the planet. The pipeline would turn up the heat. If Obama approves it, he’ll deserve all the abuse the activists hurl his way. There are many climate problems a President can’t solve, but Keystone isn’t one of them. It’s a choice between Big Oil and a more sustainable planet. The right answer isn’t always somewhere in the middle.

I should add that the Dow Jones Industrials ending at 14,253 yesterday broke an all time record set on 9October2007 at 14,165.  All signs point to another record today.


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