who helped make our 25th anniversary with Jeremy Scahill a success!
For those who missed the event, or were there and really wanted to fully absorb its import, here it is in video
"How Do We Build A Mass Movement to Reverse Runaway Inequality?" with Les Leopold, author of "Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice,"May 22, 2016, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, 860 11th Ave. (Between 58th and 59th), New York City. Between The Lines' Scott Harris and Richard Hill moderated this workshop. Listen to the audio/slideshows and more from this workshop.
Listen to audio of the plenary sessions from the weekend.
Listen to the full interview (30:33) with Jeremy Scahill, an award-winning investigative journalist with the Nation Magazine, correspondent for Democracy Now! and author of the bestselling book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," about America's outsourcing of its military. In an exclusive interview with Counterpoint's Scott Harris on Sept. 16, 2013, Scahill talks about his latest book, "Dirty Wars, The World is a Battlefield," also made into a documentary film under the same title, and was nominated Dec. 5, 2013 for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category.
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"For Natives, a "Day of Mourning"by Reginald Johnson, November 23, 2016
"A Bitter Harvest" by Reginald Johnson, Nov. 15, 2016
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Posted Jan. 22, 2014
Interview with Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
Because there has been almost no progress on addressing climate change in either national or international venues, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leaked last week predicts that tackling the ever more catastrophic weather events occurring with increasing frequency will be much more costly than if action had been taken two decades or even two years ago. The report maintains that it's too late in some cases for humans to adapt to these changes in climate.
The UN report also observes that "governments of the world are still spending far more money to subsidize fossil fuels than to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy, thus encouraging continued investment in projects like coal-burning power plants that pose a long-term climate risk."
Mark Jacobson, a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, co-authored a study with scientists from Cornell University and the University of California-Davis titled, “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2050.” Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Jacobson, who argues that the entire world could transition to renewable energy, including solar, wind and geothermal, by the middle of this century without resorting to nuclear power or the use of any fossil fuels. Here, he explains how it could be accomplished and what obstacles are standing in the way of taking action on implementing the plan.
MARK JACOBSON: While I think it's true that climate change is a serious problem and it's actually much worse than people think, so it's important to address it quickly, I think there are solutions to the problem that can be implemented not only today but over time, and even as population grows, the solutions can still be implemented. The idea would be to change the energy infrastructure of the world for all purposes – that's electricity, transportation, heating and cooling and industrial processes – from combustion to one based on wind, water and solar power. So, for example, gasoline and diesel vehicles would be converted to electric vehicles, and in some cases hydrogen fuel cell, where the hydrogen is produced from electricity. And for heating and cooling, we'd use air source and ground source heat pumps instead of gas heaters or oil-based heaters. The same thing for high temperature processes; we'd use electric resistance and the electricity generation would all be based on wind power and solar power, a little bit of geothermal, existing hydroelectric – so not much growth at all of hydroelectric, but using it more efficiently. And tiny amounts of wave and tidal power offshore. So no nuclear power, no natural gas, no biofuels, and no, what's called coal with carbon capture, or clean coal. So this is entirely clean and renewable, and the goal of this would be not only to eliminate global warming, but also to eliminate air pollution, because worldwide every year 2.5 (million) to 4 million people die every year from air pollution from combustion, and this would be effectively eliminated by this conversion. And the final benefit, aside from creating jobs and implementing this infrastructure, would be to stabilize costs of energy because the costs of fuel for wind and solar in particular is zero, whereas the cost of fuel for all fossil fuels is non-zero and gradually rising over time. So there's already data available in the U.S. and other places about how large-scale implementation of wind stabilizes the price of energy. And we can give an example: in the ten states in the U.S. with the highest fraction of penetration by wind, during the last ten years, the price of electricity in those states went up only three cents a kilowatt hour; in the rest of the states it went up four cents a KW hour.
BETWEEN THE LINES: Well, I know in recent years, natural gas has actually dropped in price, but I understand that longer term, fossil fuels will rise in price as more and more get consumed.
MARK JACOBSON: If we take the risk where we wait until prices rise so high it might be too late to do such a conversion, because the prices will rise so fast you might get economic and political instability and chaos in a country before there's a chance to change the energy infrastructure. So we have to look ahead, and prevent that from happening. So if can stabilize the prices by converting to solar and wind, for example, now, that would eliminate a potential future catastrophe of political and social instability.
BETWEEN THE LINES: Mark Jacobson, it seems like both the U.S. and other parts of the world – like China – are pursuing two tracks simultaneously. That is, they are building more renewables like solar and wind, but they're also using more fossil fuels, and in the case of China, it's coal, which is the worst fossil fuel of all, both in terms of air pollution and in terms of its carbon footprint.
MARK JACOBSON: Well, there has been progress, but we need it to be faster. For example, in 2012 more than 50 per cent of all new electric power in the U.S. was wind plus solar; in Europe it was over 68 percent. Last year, in 2013, 28 percent of all electricity in Iowa and South Dakota was produced by wind power. We developed a really detailed plan for New York; we did one for California and one for Washington. We also did a world plan and a U.S. plan as a whole, and we're developing plans for individual states. Our New York plan came out over a year ago, and we've been working with the state of New York, interacting with them, about proposed first steps to implement the plan, and just last week they took part in some of these first steps by proposing $1 billion for rooftop solar and also a billion dollars for a Green Bank. So this was an example of how a state can take these concepts and actually put them into action. So we're going state by state and trying to get states to look at this. We're trying to educate the public and policymakers about what the potential is, and with this information they can hopefully make better decisions.
BETWEEN THE LINES: Since you know how dire the situation is, how do you maintain your optimism?
MARK JACOBSON: Well, globally, we need to lead by example, so if we can get some states or some small countries to actually go forward in this direction, then people learn about the economic benefits of doing such a conversion in terms of stabilizing prices and creating jobs and then cleaning the air and the reduced health costs of cleaning the air from such a conversion. For example, I mentioned that 2.5 million to 4 million people die prematurely from air pollution. Well, in the U.S. that results in a cost of anywhere from 3-7 percent of the entire GDP of the U.S. for the 50,000-100,000 who die every year in the U.S. from air pollution. So there is a cost benefit, and also a climate cost benefit that improves the economic well-being of individuals in every single country by making such a conversion, and once this is shown more concretely in individual states and small countries, then larger countries would also want to take part, because they're going to realize this economic benefit as well. So I am pretty optimistic that there is going to be a change, although there are significant barriers – mostly social and political, not technical and economic, for changing the energy infrastructure.
Find links to Mark Jacobson's “Path to Sustainable Energy” report by visiting Thesolutionsproject.org.