An Evolving View of Climate Change

I’m thinking about how different the social and political landscape is compared to just a little over two years ago when the Keystone Pledge of Resistance came into being.  Climate change was a forbidden topic in the halls of the U.S. Congress.  The fossil fuel industry was spending millions of dollars on misinformation campaigns.  The New York’s Attorney General is now investigating Exxon to see if fraud can be proven, when the company used various ways to hide what it knew related to the damage from fossil fuels from investors and the public in order to protect its profits.

Most of us had not heard of tar sands and the extensive damage done by tar sands extraction.  No one, not even those of us involved in the Resistance, thought we had a chance against the richest companies in the world.  Now multiple surveys show increasing majorities of people in all demographics believe the climate is changing as a result of greenhouse gas emissions.  Most of this has occurred in response to new patterns of extreme weather resulting from pollution.

Now the President has the power to reject the Keystone XL pipeline because of the people behind him, and despite majorities in both houses of Congress.  And significantly he is now able to talk about “keeping it in the ground”, which extends the Keystone work to include other sources of fossil fuel and the pipelines related to them.  Bills are now being introduced to support renewable energy.

It was telling that politicians initially claimed that Keystone would be important for job creation, despite information from TransCanada itself that there would only be around 35 permanent jobs. The following shows the renewable energy sector is where real job creation is occurring:

“This is because $1 million dollars worth of oil and natural gas output directly creates 0.8 jobs, and $1 million of coal produces 1.9 jobs. Compare that to building retrofits for energy efficiency (7 jobs per million), mass transit services (11 jobs), building the smart grid (4.3), wind (4.6), solar (5.4), and biomass power generation (7.4)”  Robertson, Joseph. “Building a Green Economy” 2010. The Citizens Climate Lobby. p. 18.

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