Energy

4-5-7-6-4


Four. Five. Seven. Six. Four. These five numbers represent the total number of recognizable press in each of the five different energy and/or global heating panels I’ve attended over the last three days of the DNC. Supposedly it’s a big deal that DNC08 is the greenest convention in history. There’s been some small amount of uproar in environmental circles that ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy are two of the major donors to the DNC. So where was CNN or even Fox News when the CEOs of Xcel Energy, Dow Chemical, Arch Coal, the founder of gas giant The GHK Company, and a senior vice president of Peabody Energy faced off against former congressman Richard Gephardt, former senator Tim Worth, Jerome Ringo of the Apollo Alliance, and peak oil activist Randy Udall?

Apparently, the major news outlets all had better things to do. Like wondering aloud ad nauseum if Clinton supporters will be able to hold their noses and vote for Barack Obama in a gesture of party unity.

It’s not as if global heating won’t be a public health nightmare or anything. I guess global heating won’t cause crop-withering droughts and city-inundating floods, because certainly the traditional media outlets would cover those, right?. And with all the attention that the traditional media pays to national security issues like the war in Iraq, the so-called war on terrorism, and the pointless southern border fence, it must be that global heating has no national security dimension after all, and the dozens of former high ranking military officers, career intelligence officers, and national security academics must all be wrong. With the economy in the toilet, media outlets have been covering new job creation programs, so I guess renewable energy and energy efficiency won’t generate any of the green jobs we hear it will – there was no coverage of green jobs, after all.

Here’s a quick cross-section of some of the news that never happened this week because the mainstream media didn’t bother to cover it.

  • The CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, said that the price of oil was not going to drop and that a new baseline price had been defined.
  • Former congressman Richard Gephardt said that he approved of the carbon capture and sequestration pilot project, FutureGen.
  • Fred Palmer, senior VP with Peabody Energy, took President Bush to task for canceling the FutureGen project.
  • Palmer also said that we’re at peak oil.
  • Senator Claire McCaskill called for the price of oil not to drop too far because low oil prices would lower the sense of urgency to solve the problems of oil supply, demand, and fuel types.
  • Sen. McCaskill also called on Randy Udall to run for public office and said that she’d support him if he did so.
  • Lord Nicolas Stern of the UK illustrated why the IPCC models, and his estimates of the costs of doing nothing, are too low given the advancing edge of climate science.
  • Congressman Ed Markey announced that wind turbine electricity generation had become so mainstream and profitable now that it no longer qualified as a renewable electricity source according to a trade publication.
  • Rep. Markey also pointed out that a bill that would have moved subsidies from oil companies to renewable energy sources failed in the Senate by a single vote – John McCain’s vote that he failed to show up to make.
  • Dan Carol of the Apollo Alliance admitted that environmentalists have lost the battle over drilling and oil prices in the here and now.
  • Jerome Ringo, also of the Apollo Alliance, pointed out that the Masai of Kenya have a better innate understanding of global heating than most Americans do due to their close connection to the changing migration patterns of the wildebeest, the Masai’s primary food source.
  • Activists of various stripes called out policy people and think tank thinkers for not calling McCain’s “drill drill drill” what it truly is – a bald-faced lie.
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar said that she was somewhat supportive of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.
  • Dan Sperling of the University of California’s Institute of Transportation Studies said that the future of green fuels for our vehicles is cellulosic conversion of our waste products.
  • Four of the five representatives of Xcel Energy, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, the GHK Group, and Dow Chemical all said the same thing – additional government regulations, done properly could actually help their bottom line and help stabilize the climate at the same time.

Nope, there was no news in those comments at all.

11 replies »

  1. Oh, man, Brian — if some of this doesn’t get picked up, we are in even more dire media straits than I already know we are. But I’ve been thinking the same thing, at some other energy/climate sessions I’ve attended around town as well. Maybe you could have Jack Shaftoe figure out a good photo op for peak oil and the new price threshold; maybe then there’d be a chance?

  2. A great reminder why S&R’s coverage has been vitally important, Brian. Thanks for stepping away from the pep rally to bring us so much “no news.” Those fifteen bullet points were far more enlightening than anything I heard/read today by any mainstream reporters or pundits.

  3. I’ve got enough from the three sessions of the roundtable for between 6 and 10 posts. How could you NOT cover something that big? When was the last time you got some of these people into the same room with one another, never mind sitting across from each other and debating each other in open forum?

    At least the one with the energy execs vs. the activists and present or former politicians had the seven reporters….

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  5. Excellent Bullet Points – and a clear indication that there is a LOT more going on than the emotional posturing which seems to be all the pundits can imagine is at stake in these conventions.

    I just returned from the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas where Bill Clinton, Harry Reid, T. Boone Pickens, Mayor Bloomberg and others were crafting clean energy agendas to take to both conventions to inform party platforms on these issues.

    Any word of that?

    While it’s encouraging to hear Bill Clinton talk about finding “economically beneficial ways to fight global warming,” and Joe Biden saying an Obama administration will rebuild the economy by “making alternative energy a national priority, creating 5 million jobs and finally, finally freeing us from the grip of foreign oil,” it seems highly ironic that the main sponsor appears to be the “Clean” Coal coalition.

    Does freeing ourselves from foreign oil mean putting us at the mercy of the domestic coal industry?

    And while it’s great to see Democrats rallying behind their candidates, the conventions represent a significant source of emissions if one considers the carbon footprint of all those signs, placards, parties, lights, travel, and round-the-clock coverage devoted to them.

    Is anybody calculating those emissions? If so, is anybody offsetting them, and how?

    Why is this important? Because the political campaigns will spend several billion dollars this year. If they offset their emissions at a rate of a half a percent of their spending, that would yield 10 – 20 million dollars which could be spent on clean and renewable energy.

    Surely there’s a media angle in there somewhere?

    Now offsetting is a last resort, not a first. But even if they printed all those placards on recycled paper with soy-based inks – there is still an enormous amount of material and energy going into these campaigns – with unavoidable emissions as a result.

    Wouldn’t it help to lead by example? To demonstrate that all our actions have impact, and yet if we take responsibility for them, we can be powerful agents of change?

    With the media distracted by name-calling and hyperbolizing, and “Clean Coal” footing the bill – is it any wonder we don’t hear these stories?

    Great work here. Thank you for giving us the REAL news from the Convention!

    (“$427 million. That’s what the oil and coal industries spent during the first half of 2008 on lobbying and advertising. They’re protecting their interests — and hurting ours.” Cathy Zoi, We Campaign)

  6. Statistics tell us we’re in a period of global cooling..

    Whining and nonsense to the contrary can be summarized as anecdotal evidence and the incorrect assumption that correlation = causation.

  7. Jhoffa said: “Statistics tell us we’re in a period of global cooling.”

    You’re kidding me, right? Have you studied the statistics of the last ten years of climate data? The mathematical representation of how well the linear trend fits the data over the last 10 years is about 0.37, while 0.99 or higher (measured in “nines” – 0.99 is “two nines”, 0.999 is three, and so on) is usually deemed a good statistical fit. It takes at least 15 years of trend to get even close to something that a statistician would think was statistically valid.

    I’ve got a post in the works on this, but everyone who thinks that we’ve trended flat over the last 10 years is either a) attempting to manipulate the debate by selecting a statistically invalid time period that happens to support their frame, b) doesn’t the statistics involved in linear regressions of measured data, or c) is echoing the words of others because those words happen to reinforce their own opinions.

  8. Oh, since I didn’t make this point above, every statistically valid linear regression trendline shows the planet still heating up. Not a one of them is flat or cooling.