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US State Dept expects massive climate failure from President Obama, America and world

US Secretary of State John Kerry claims "the United States is committed to doing its part" to fight the "clear and present danger" of the climate crisis.

But a high-profile, eleven-volume, multi-year study from his own department says to expect only rising carbon emissions and broken climate promises from America.

The only future this State Department study expects will occur is one in which:

  • America fails to meet President Obama's Copenhagen Accord target
  • America emits even more CO2 in 2040 than it does today
  • American CO2 levels are consistent with the International Energy Agency's (IEA) scenario for +6C of global warming

The IEA says such a future would be a "catastrophe for all of us." International Monetary Fund (IMF) director has stated bluntly that in a world that hot, "future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled."

In other words, spectacular American failure. Game over.

As the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) points out, such a high-profile expectation of climate failure from Secretary Kerry's own department is likely to "undermine the nation's credibility" in its high-stakes international negotiations to prevent a full blown climate crisis.

Can Secretary Kerry convince other nations that America will cut climate pollution when his own State Department expects only failure?

What is the official expectation at State? Who is making these decisions?

I've tried for over a week to get some basic answers from the State Department about their study's grim climate expectations. I've been told my questions were sent to the "technical staff" but so far no answers, and no response to my follow-up email.

Keystone XL and climate failure

The State Department's study that expects abject American climate failure is their Keystone XL Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

The grim prognosis of broken climate promises and rising US emissions is hiding in plain sight in one of the most famous passages from the report -- one that has been regularly quoted worldwide by politicians and major media. Here it is:

[Keystone XL] is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands areas (based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply-demand scenarios).

Proponents of Keystone XL regularly quote the first part:

 [Keystone XL] is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands areas

The bombshell about expected climate failure is in the second part: expected prices, costs and supply-demand scenario.

As my chart on the right shows (click to view larger), the State Department report doesn't expect any future to unfold in which America comes anywhere close to meeting its climate goals. None.

The only futures scenarios that are "expected" to occur are ones in which American CO2 emissions are higher in 2040 than today, and still rising.

The State Department seems so sure of this higher-CO2 future that they didn't bother to include even a single scenario with falling CO2 emissions. According to the study, this analysis was widely vetted: "The Department conducted this analysis, drawing on a wide variety of data and leveraging external expertise. The analysis reflects inputs from other U.S. government agencies and was reviewed through an interagency process."

The State Department study fails to disclose that its conclusions are only valid in the context of total American and global climate failure. To appreciate how much this lack of transparency harms the public discourse, consider the key conclusion when the expected climate context is added (in bold):

In a future of dangerous climate change [Keystone XL] is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands areas.

As they say, context matters.

Is that what you really meant?!?

For example, consider some recent quotes by Keystone XL backers when the actual climate context gets included [in bold].

Republican Representative Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said:

“The State Department, over the course of five years and five exhaustive reviews, has objectively determined that [in a future of dangerous climate change] the pipeline is better for safety, the environment and jobs”

A Chicago Times editorial is similar:

The U.S. State Department … found [that in a future of dangerous climate change] the pipeline wouldn't cause significant environmental damage. It wouldn't prompt more oil extraction … The Obama administration should promptly approve Keystone XL — and boast about the environmental and economic pluses it will deliver [in a future of dangerous climate change].

The Denver Post wrote an editorial urging approval of the pipeline saying:

Those who oppose the project have exaggerated its potential impact on the environment … a State Department report in January concluded that [in a future of dangerous climate change] building the pipeline would not materially boost carbon emissions because the oil would find its way to market no matter what. … Maybe environmentalists should ponder that before joining the next anti-Keystone protest.

Yes, maybe environmentalists should consider that. In fact they have been. Repeatedly.

Informing the public

Unlike the State Department and most Keystone XL advocates, climate activists have done their homework and are trying to inform the decision makers and the general public.

Here are some recent examples:

Read More:

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Climate Change

In the listing of the expected future they forgot to list:

Irresponsible playing with HAARP and deliberately causing earthquakes and tsunamis.

US State Dept - relax no dangerous climate change

No global warming in 16+ years – a fact acknowledged by all global expert climate institutions -  HadCRUT, NOAA, NASA, IPCC

No extreme weather trends, other than a trend toward more cold snaps in formerly tropical places. (Roger Pielke, Jr. US Senate Testimony; Madhav Khandekar “Extreme Weather...”)

No 97% consensus on AGW – only 1-3% of scientists stated any catastrophic view in 3 of 4 ‘consensus’ surveys; most scientists thought natural factors more influential and the greatest number did not express an opinion.

No global temperature rise despite a significant rise in carbon dioxide (CO2).

No sea level rise due to climate factors; in some places land is sinking or ‘rebounding’ from previous ice age and tilting (i.e. southern England down, northern Scotland up); or sinking due to land subsidence from ground water extraction. These factors are unrelated to climate change or global warming.

No such thing as ‘carbon pollution.’  Carbon is what you are made of – and you breath it out at 40,000 parts per million (ppm) with every breath.  Beer and champagne and soda are full of carbon dioxide; dance floors feature fog from dry ice carbon dioxide.

So...no problem to build Keystone. We should get on with it America - there are thousands of jobless in our American Cousin country; this will get many off food stamps and back on their feet.

Trust skull n bones John kerry I think not.

How could anyone expect any different from Obama and Kerry?  Obama hasn't change one major policy from the Bush era, why would climate be any different?  This man promised change, wow what a lie.  What about Obama and his more open government?  Then in his first year more confidential files than any president before.  They put a black man in to fool us, that's it.  When you have a skull n bones as ex president and now as secretary of defense, how could you ever trust them to care for the people?  The truth is, they care about making their friends more rich.

US State Dept report on Climate Change

The State Department does not have a crystal ball.  Imagine a future where battery storage is affordable and solar panel installations are funded by third-parties, allowing homeowners to limit the upfront costs of PV.  Battery technology is improving rapidly....in a few years, it is conceivable that Solar PV systems with battery backup will eliminate the need for coal and natural gas.  

Cheap algae fuel (being developed by the military) when it reaches $5/gal  will cause a huge dent in the desirability of tar sands oil.      

A 6 degree C increase in temperature is unacceptable. It means the end of life on this planet. The question is: Will humans step up to the  plate in time?

Michelle Stirling, 'Ambassador to the Oil Sands Story'

Michelle Stirling, 'Cultural Calgary Ambassador to the constructive side of the oil sands story' as you call yourself, you can argue 'science' and give all the innocuous analogies you want, but anyone with half a brain can't ignore the fact that burning fossil fuels is going to release carbon accumulated over millenia, which can't help but exponentially  increase greenhouse gases. Whether that heats things up or triggers an ice age isn't the point. I would think your energies would be better spent encouraging more renewable resources before promoting more of the same old same old.

Yes yes yes, we are now warming even faster

The warming is bad for human existence. The vast amounts of food that it takes to sustain 7 billion people does not grow as well with more and more hot days coming at us. El Nino is not far off and we will feel its effects.

 

http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-not-slowing-its-speeding-...

 

Total cumulative CO2 emissions will be the main factor in the magnitude of long-term global warming. Under the world’s current climate policies we’re headed for >4°C warming by 2100, a temperature unprecedented for the human species and probably beyond our capacity to adapt. If we want global warming to truly pause, we must hit the pause button. We need to leave the vast majority of the Earth’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground, even just to have a good chance of limiting global warming to the unsafe level of <2°C. To have any hope of stabilizing the climate, we urgently need to phase out global greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. Most importantly, we must phase out the largest and longest-lived cause of global warming, fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

uh huh

renewable guy wrote:

The warming is bad for human existence. The vast amounts of food that it takes to sustain 7 billion people does not grow as well with more and more hot days coming at us. El Nino is not far off and we will feel its effects.

 

http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-not-slowing-its-speeding-...

 

Total cumulative CO2 emissions will be the main factor in the magnitude of long-term global warming. Under the world’s current climate policies we’re headed for >4°C warming by 2100, a temperature unprecedented for the human species and probably beyond our capacity to adapt. If we want global warming to truly pause, we must hit the pause button. We need to leave the vast majority of the Earth’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground, even just to have a good chance of limiting global warming to the unsafe level of <2°C. To have any hope of stabilizing the climate, we urgently need to phase out global greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. Most importantly, we must phase out the largest and longest-lived cause of global warming, fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

 

  Pretty funny. As if there is such a thing AS a stable climate. It always has and always will change. Calling it climate change is a redundancy since it has never NOT changed. Just because we are finally living long enough to notice the incrementalism of it, and keeping records of the weather, doesn't mean it hasn't in the past. As multiple warming and cooling cycles that boomed and busted the Holocene and Roman eras showed. Never mind those that happened in even earlier eras before history got written down and records of crop failures from cooling were made, and excavated by archeologists. But hey. You go on pretending that, because you and the rest of the tin foil hat brigade go on believing it,  that just because you declare it, climate should stop changing just for our convenience now. Multiple Ice Age and Jungle Planet eras and it's gonna stop now cause You Say So? Yeah, I got some prime beachfront property on the moon for you guys to buy.

SLEEL/UH HUH. 'Pretty funny'.

SLEEL/UH HUH. 'Pretty funny'. As if spewing exhaust from all the billions of metric tons of fossil fuels into the atmosphere is an okay thing to do. No one is proposing that the climate was ever stable or that it hasn't had 'multiple Ice Age & Jungle Planet eras', but to bring it on even faster & with no thought to the future is the ultimate in hubris & ignorance. And that 'incrementalism' you're 'finally living long enough to notice' might bring about cataclysmic change the likes of which you aren't even prepared for in your own life, let alone 50 or 100 years from now, given the acceleration of the rate of change that is greater than was thought just a few years ago.

Frederick,  I rarely listen to economists in a climate change discussion, but since you've added your two cents, I want to respond.

When you look at the cost of heating our planet too hot to grow food, with sea-levels flooding all major cities, and extreme storms that wipe out millions at a whack, how can you come to the conclusion that it's OK to stay on the "Business As Usual" track?  How can you not worry that the climate models may be wrong and that climate change will be MUCH worse than predicted as many climate scientists have concluded?  Do you know anything about risk analysis?    Have you read Dr. James Hansen's book "Storms of my Grandchildren"?

How about we (the world's economies) invest in energy technologies that don't heat the atmosphere? How about we plan our future as if our grandchildren's lives mattered? How about we stop using our atmosphere as a dumping ground?  

In the end, physics rules.  The atmosphere doesn't give a crap about what an economist thinks. 

 

 

Can Secretary Kerry convince

Can Secretary Kerry convince other nations that America will cut climate pollution when his own State Department expects only failure?

Can Secretary Kerry n US expect other nations to cut GHG if America doesn't?

 

seppuku

I know this post is not very timely...i've just come across your material which I find refreshing in that you are one of the few that provide real facts to support ideologies. Thank you....  And I agree with many of the positions you've taken: climate change is real, there will be no real GHG reductions without a price on carbon, there needs to be policy support for renewables, the Obama administration has been largely ineffective (although some credit is due in policy supported shift from coal to natural gas).  I do worry about the positioning of the Keystone pipeline and the oil sands....whilst many like to support their favorite ideologies with cherry picked, absolute, out of context numbers or partial facts, your quoted statement  "in a future of dangerous climate change the Keystone pipeline  wouldn't cause significant environmental impact" is obviously the most robust.  And your point is that people tend to drop the qualifier "in a future of dangerous climate change"....  The harsh reality:  this is the path we are on!  We are on a path of climate change  and we could quote all sorts of facts that support Joe Oliver's statement that the Oilsands  "are less than peanuts" in the global climate change story .... but the oilsands are significant to the Canadian economy....again lots of facts available..... Would we as Canadians not be better off to dedicate our collective efforts to doing things that could make a real difference:  get a meaningful price on carbon,  support global reduction of coal fired power (including with LNG exports from north america), policy support to increased renewables and ongoing support to reduce emissions from all energy sources.  Is it really wise to be damaging our economy for a "less than peanuts" impact on GHG's?  It's completely naive to believe that a largely symbolic gesture of denying oilsands development will shift the things that really matter (coal, India, China....).  Do Canadians really feel good about giving Obama a symbolic  sacrifice to show he is serious about his environmental agenda (as Jimmy Carter suggests).  If Obama wants a legacy....get a price on carbon and the oilsands takes care of it self or at least look within his own domain for his  (coal exports would be a good place to start). Until that time denying oilsands development is seppuku.