PCCL published letters

Pasadena Citizen’s Climate Lobby members have published some great letters and Op-eds in local  (and national!) newspapers.  Below you can find many of the letters and active links.

Nancy Rossi, LA Times: Nov. 2, 2016
Should the Standing Rock protesters arms themselves?

To the editor: The white ranchers and the Native Americans have more in common than it might appear at first glance. Both are capable of mitigating global warming.
Raising cattle in the west using well-managed grazing practices can result in the regeneration of fertile soil, which can grow plants that sequester carbon. Barring the oil pipeline can reduce the use of fossil fuels, resulting in less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

All peoples need to recognize that by working together they can ensure their common survival against the gravest threat of all — climate change. It is the right of American citizens to remind the government that it must work for the good of all its people, not just entrenched corporate interests. If this means enriching the soil of federal lands by grass-fed cattle ranching or preserving the environment in the Dakotas from an oil-polluting pipeline, so be it.

Nancy Rossi, South Pasadena
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 2, 2016

Peggy Painton, LA Times: Nov. 2, 2016
Should the Standing Rock protesters arms themselves?

To the editor: To Aaron Bady’s excellent article, I would just add that putting a price on carbon would aid the Sioux, and all of us, in fighting for survival.
When a fee is imposed on carbon-burning fuels, the oil and gas industries will be made to bear the costs of environmental damage. When that happens, the building of this 1,172-mile-long crude oil pipeline, as well as other such enterprises, will not be so economically attractive.

Peggy Painton, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 2, 2016

Katheryn Venturelli, New York Times
August 15, 2016

To the Editor:
Re “The Messy Business of Clean Power” (Aug. 14):

NRG’s new chief executive, Mauricio Gutierrez, claims, “Our industry is going through massive transformation, the likes of which we’ve never seen.”

But we actually have seen an energy transformation before, in the 19th century. Fossil-fuel-powered engines replaced animal (including human) labor during the industrial revolution.

In the 21st century, this time facing climate change and species extinction (including our own), we need to be smart and clean up two messes: the planetary earth atmosphere, and the global market economy. The smartest start: a progressive price on carbon.

Katheryn Venturelli, Pasadena, California

 Jan Freed, Pasadena Star News,
August 10, 2016

The jobs climate
Re: Joel Kotkin and Bill Watkins’ “Economics of delusion” column (Aug. 7):

In their somber review of California job growth, they oddly omit the brightest star of the show. In 2014, jobs in clean energy rose 5 percent, a percentage more than double the state’s overall 2.2 percent job growth rate and triple the national job growth rate of 1.6 percent.

Policies that foster continued growth in clean energy, such as a national, revenue-neutral, price on carbon (fees returned to the public monthly), will only make the clean energy star shine more brightly. Enormous savings in health (individual, statewide and planetary) will follow the growth in jobs.

Being a climate voter is also being a jobs voter.

Jan Freed, Eagle Rock

Peggy Painton, Los Angeles Times
Opinion, July 5, 2016

To the editor: Your Business section reports that an important California business, avocados, is being damaged not only by our years-long drought but most recently by the record-breaking triple-digit heat wave that arrived historically early this year. (Re “Record heat shrivels Southland avocado crop,” Business, June 30)

This damage, which may extend to next year’s crop, leaves growers and workers vulnerable to competition from Mexico.

It’s one example of the problems other California businesses will experience as the effects of climate change accelerate. We need a solution that individuals and businesses can understand and plan around, and one that will cut the production of greenhouse gases quickly and sustainably.

Happily, business-minded economists have suggested that a carbon fee and dividend would do that by placing a predictable fee on fossil fuels, returning generated revenue to the American people, and allowing market forces to encourage increased use of alternative fuels.

Peggy Painton, Los Angeles

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/la-ol-le-climate-change-avodacos-20160704-snap-story.htmlWant to save California agriculture from climate change? It’s time for a carbon tax

Jan Freed, Press Reader 6/13/16
How practical is ‘carbon to stone’?

Re “Sci­en­tists find a way to turn car­bon diox­ide into stone,” June 10
In my opinion, “car­bon to stone” is ut­terly im­prac­ti­cal as a method. You still must sep­a­rate car­bon diox­ide from other gases and pump bil­lions of tons un­der­ground, re­quir­ing an in­fra­struc­ture as vast as cur­rent oil pipe­lines. Such se­ques­ter­ing would raise the cost of coal, which is al­ready more ex­pen­sive than wind and so­lar.

Un­for­tu­nately, the pub­lic could eas­ily be se­duced into the false hope of “car­bon to stone.” Sci­ence is go­ing to solve this af­ter all, so there’s noth­ing to con­cern our­selves about, the think­ing might be.

The most pow­er­ful and least painful pol­icy to re­duce emis­sions is a rev­enue-neu­tral car­bon price, with all money col­lected re­turned to the pub­lic. Then we can come to grips with the great­est threat our species has ever faced.

Jan Freed, Los An­ge­les

Jan Freed, Pasadena Star News, 6/10/2016

A road diet

Mr. Kotkin (Commentary, June 5), I cannot believe that adding bike lanes as part of so-called road diets have caused massive poverty or the spiraling cost of California homes. Or, the rise of ISIS.

Along with other advantages, road diets can reduce traffic accidents by an average of 29 percent, according to the Department of Transportation. Certainly road gluttony (adding lanes without end, amen) has not reduced congestion.

But, Mr. Kotkin, if you really want to reduce emissions by stimulating alternatives without impacting the poor you claim to champion you would absolutely love six bills in Congress that would do just that: put a price on pollution and return most fees to the public.

Jan Freed, Eagle Rock

Jan Freed, Pasadena Star News, 6/6/2016

The Great Barrier Reef

A third of a 1,400-mile reef supporting billions of sea creatures, gone forever. Yet folks in Australia won’t ramp up renewable energy. Florida’s reefs are also at risk. The Paris climate agreement was only a start. Global warming and sea temperatures will still increase to where we might lose most of our precious marine life and the oxygen that is produced there. The simplest, most powerful course, scientists and economists agree, is a national (or worldwide) price on carbon. Consumers are protected by rebates and job growth follows.

Jan Freed, Eagle Rock

Jan Freed, Pasadena Star News, 6/1/2016

Trump and the drought

Scientists define drought. Trump defines drought. He could, like Senator Inhoffe with the snowball, simply sip a glass of water and declare, “See? No, drought.”

According to ThinkProgress, 86 percent of California is still in a “moderate drought,” 61 percent in a “severe drought,” 43 percent in an “extreme drought,” and over one-fifth of the state (21 percent) is in an “exceptional drought.”

Is the problem growth or drought? I suppose if California had but 1,000 people, there would be more than enough water for everyone.

Forgive the C word, but climate change will eventually meet everyone’s definition of drought. Trump would do nothing to stop it.

Vote smart.

Jan Freed, Eagle Rock

Jan Freed, Pasadena Star News

We are burnt toast

Letter writer Michael Logan may have grown tired of listening to what he terms my Sunday sermons, but studies show that ignoring the climate-change problem is far worse and more costly than addressing it. We are talking humanity in peril plus trillions of dollars at risk here. Google “cost of climate change.” Is it worth it to prevent more frequent droughts, Hurricane Sandys or Texas floods? Such were predicted, and denied, decades ago. A national carbon fee, with all revenue rebated to the public, is the most effective means to do this as painlessly as possible. Economists, liberal and conservative, Nobel laureates, the World Bank and others have urged us to enact this policy. We can actually create a multi-trillion-dollar boon in the course of a transition to low-carbon energy. Your ham-fisted, bleery-eyed use of the ol’ pinko smear will not hide your tragic ignorance of that fact. Change light bulbs, yes. But, unless we change our leadership in Congress, we are burnt toast.

 Jan Freed, Eagle Rock


Jan Freed, Los Angeles Times

Among climate scientists the verdict is virtually unanimous. But all it takes to deny the existence of human caused climate change is a belief that Rush Limbaugh‘s hunches have the same validity as over a century of painstaking work from our best trained experts.

Rising seas, melting ice sheets, increased frequency of extremes will continue to grow, whether one is a fool or a scientist, whether the Kochs and Limbaughs declare victory or not. Some prefer the suicidal joy ride of denial. Please vote smart.

Jan Freed, Los Angeles

Jan Freed, Los Angeles Daily News

Re “What can Americans expect from the climate change summit in Paris?” (RedBlue America, Dec. 3):

Excellent discussion. I, however, do not share the pessimism of Joel Mathis (commitments are widely shared, including that from China) or the misleading facts of Ben Boychuk, who claims, “The argument is over how much human activity contributes to climate change and what, if anything, might be done about it.”

There is no real “argument” among scientists. One estimate is 80 to 120 percent of warming is due to man-made greenhouse gases. We would actually be in a cooling phase absent these gases. Also, economists the world over agree that a price on carbon is most effective.

Rebate these fees and jobs grow, too. Denial, dismissing the science and delay do not make us safe, only more fearful that no one is minding the store.

Jan Freed, Los Angeles

Kitty Kroger, Pasadena Star News, 10/12/2015

As Democrats prepare to debate, readers say what they want to hear: Letters

A question about climate

A question for the candidates: What do you think about levying a carbon fee at the source on the fossil fuel companies and at the border on fossil fuel imports?

This fee could be returned to American households as a dividend.

— Kathryn P. Kroger, Pasadena

Rob Haw, LA Times

The Times has shown us that Exxon Mobil, as powerful as it is (and with resources to hire the best advisors), is still subject to whimsical fantasies about the future. The corporation understood the consequences of climate change back when Jimmy Carter was president, yet it ignored the science and thwarted remedial action, as if Exxon could reverse physics by itself. (“How Exxon went from leader to skeptic on climate change research,” Oct. 23)

Other petroleum corporations (mostly European) are calling for a carbon tax, but not Exxon (or Chevron). Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and even Caltech refuse to divest from fossil fuel companies.

There’s something uniquely American about placing personal prosperity ahead of community well-being, a kind of frontiersman entitlement attitude from the pre-industrial era that persists to this day. Everything around us since then has changed, but not that attitude.

I subscribe to the ethos of “it takes a village” — we’re going to either make it or break it together.

Robert Haw, Altadena

Jan Freed, Pasadena Star News

So this heat is really what we call October weather?

Do you think Gov. Brown is overreacting in his efforts to slow climate change, or that the naysayers really are looking out for us?

Temperatures this weekend are to be up to the high 90s.

Yet from weatherspark.com: “The month of October is characterized by gradually falling daily high temperatures, with daily highs around 73°F throughout the month, exceeding 83°F … only one day in ten.”

Good national solutions too, such as a revenue-neutral carbon fee (fees rebated to citizens) await a self-blinded Congress. Survival demands good leadership.

Jan Freed, Eagle Rock


PETER KALMUS, New York Times

Re “Progress Seen on Warming, With a Caveat” (front page, Sept. 28):

With the world’s countries heading kicking and screaming into a climate meeting in Paris in December, and China announcing a woefully complex cap-and-trade scheme, we should be talking about carbon fees, which are as painless as they are effective.

A national carbon fee, if returned in its entirety as an equal dividend to consumers, would actually bring economic benefits. With one fair, transparent and comprehensive market correction, you reduce emissions, drive the transition to renewables, create jobs and stimulate consumer spending.

Even Big Oil has begun lobbying for a carbon fee. These companies reason that the world will soon do something about global warming, and out of the available options only a carbon fee provides a predictable framework for their future development (presumably into green energy). The majority of Americans and economists also support a carbon fee.

Solving global warming will not be easy. We will need to address population growth and rethink our economic systems. But the first, best step toward a solution — a simple, honest carbon fee — would be entirely painless.

PETER KALMUS, Altadena, Calif.
The writer is a researcher in atmospheric science.


Lina Bird, New York Times, 09/21/15

Re “Political Split Awaits a Pope Who Is Difficult to Pigeonhole” (news analysis, Sept. 21):

Pope Francis’ recent declaration on climate change has made me proud of the Catholic Church. By acknowledging and coming down on the right side of one of the most important moral issues in the world right now, he is bringing hope to millions of people.

I hope that his visit to the United States will inspire Congress to work across the aisle toward solutions to climate change, whether through a carbon tax or through other methods that will reduce our carbon footprint fast.

Lina Bird, Pasadena, Calif.

Robert Haw, Pasadena Star News 08/28/2015
Perhaps there is a way out

Your Aug. 25 story in which climate researchers note that there is “no way out” from the ravages of climate change points out that regarding global warming, marginal behavioral change appealing to the consumer is insufficient. The changes have to be transformational now because we’ve ignored the climate scientists for too long. And it’s not just the scientists waving a red flag. Gov. Brown is warning us, President Obama is exhorting us, and the pope is directing us to act.

Fortunately amidst this clamor California is moving steadily forward in the transformational direction — or is trying to. Two bills in the Assembly under consideration, SB 32 and SB 350, are significant in that regard. But what do you know? Popping up out of the flames, dust and wizened crop lands, oil lobbyists are hard at work in Sacramento trying to kill those bills. They certainly don’t have your best interest in mind. But all of us need to wake up and wise up if we’re to build a better future.

Robert Haw, Pasadena


Jan Freed, Mountain Express, 7/14/2015

The “carbon fee and dividend” solution makes enormous sense!

This way citizens would RECEIVE the carbon 
fees as a monthly check. That would cancel out the inevitable price spikes in dirty energy.

Polluters PAY the fees, so it holds fossil fuel corporations personally responsible for the damages they cause, hundreds of billions of dollars per year. (Harvard School of Medicine and others)

With this policy, the fee payments to citizens would be there for purchasing low carbon alternatives, which are growing rapidly. That would lower emissions. That happened in BC Canada with a similar policy. They lowered both emissions and taxes with their fees; it’s a popular policy.

To those who reject the science: perhaps nothing will change
your mind. But what have you got against cleaner air, less asthma in our kids, fewer heart attacks, and more money in your pockets?

To those accepting the science: Any effort and expense to
limit the problem of climate change is worth it. For example:
A cost-benefit analysis has demonstrated that the cost of
sea level rise ALONE is so great that no expense to prevent it is unwarranted.

Why even bother with the paid deniers who thrive on the
delay of a false debate? IMO we must take action and the way forward is to
support those in government who will act.

Jan Freed, Eagle Rock
https://mountainx.com/opinion/letter-writer-program-would-reduce-co2-emissions/ – comment-2436032

Peter Kalmus, New York Times 09/22/2014
The People’s Climate March was heartening, but solving the climate crisis will require significant changes at the individual, community and national levels. Despite our efforts so far, global warming continues to accelerate.

Over the last four years, I’ve reduced my carbon emissions to a tenth of their 2010 level (which was near the American average), and I’m happier than ever. The number of people I meet who have made similar reductions is growing, and to a person they also report increased happiness.

We also urgently need meaningful change at the national level. The most effective climate policy the United States could adopt is a revenue-neutral carbon fee. The fee is added to all fossil fuels at points of extraction and import, and then distributed equally to households.

Far from hurting our economy, such a policy would improve our economy by stimulating the transition to renewables and putting money in the average person’s pocket. The case of British Columbia, which adopted a revenue-neutral carbon fee in 2008, bears out this bold claim.

Peggy Painton, LA Times, 09/19/2014
My friends think I sound like a broken record (they’re old enough to know what that means) because I so often complain that our government is doing little to slow climate change. (“Wildfires are becoming a dangerous, disruptive routine near Yosemite,” Sept. 15)
The Times is filled with the other kinds of broken records: record heat, record drought, record storms — and now, record price tags for fighting wildfires.
Instead of waiting for another disastrous record to fall, our representatives should implement a rising price on carbon emissions that will encourage investment dollars away from carbon-based fuels and toward alternative sources of energy.
If we move fast enough, perhaps we can turn away from global disaster at record-breaking speed.

Peggy Painton, Los Angeles


Peter Kalmus, LA Times, 06/04/2014

“The Obama administration’s proposed rules for power plants are a start in addressing the global warming emergency, but regulations alone aren’t enough. To address the most comprehensive threat the human race has ever faced, we need a more comprehensive approach.

A revenue-neutral carbon tax would correct the greatest market failure in history. Currently, fossil fuel producers and consumers dump emissions into the atmosphere for free, “externalizing” the massive cost of global warming.

A price per ton on emissions would correct this failure. The price would increase gradually over time, stimulating investment and jobs as industries, utilities and consumers switch to ever-more-affordable renewable energy alternatives. Yes, this would gradually raise the price at the pump, but 100% of the collected money would be returned to Americans. Those who burn less would put more money in the bank.

The sooner we get off fossil fuels, the better off we’ll be.


Christle Balvin, Los Angeles Times, 5/20/2014

“Stanford’s choice should be everyone’s choice. It’s not just about tuition and faculty salaries. It’s about all of us doing our part to find ways to end the bickering that is suffocating governmental efforts to combat climate change around the globe.

It’s also, and most important, about seeing that there is a future for the people, animals and plants that wonderfully fill our world.

A revenue-neutral carbon fee that takes something from large and small greenhouse gas polluters and later gives something back is fair to all. What’s needed is for a great institution like Stanford to seize the lead, follow its own faculty member’s suggestion and provide the model that other universities, corporations, governments and households can follow.

Providing rational leadership is what great universities do.


Peter Kalmus, New York Times, 05/07/2014

“Re “U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods” (front page, May 7):

America is finally waking up to the reality and the magnitude of the climate crisis. Climate-related disasters will continue to affect our communities as warming increases, and people will continue to wake up. It’s not going to just go away.

At some point, soon I hope, a revenue-neutral carbon tax will become politically possible. Revenue would be returned to taxpayers, rewarding those who emit less carbon and stimulating change throughout our economy and infrastructure.

It’s too late to stop global warming, but how bad it gets is still up to us.

Let’s leave something for our children. Let’s do what we need to do. To those who keep bringing up jobs: If we innovate a world beyond coal, oil and natural gas, our economy will benefit enormously.

If we continue chasing the nightmare of fossil fuels, we will certainly continue to decline. A revenue-neutral carbon tax is the best way to jump-start innovation.


David Lutz, LA Times, 04/05/2014

“The reality of global warming isn’t disputed: It’s clearly for real, and it will get worse if we don’t act now.

Because all of us are affected, it would seem to be a time for cooperation across the aisle. But global warming has become politicized, just another issue for Republicans and Democrats to take sides on.

A slowly rising fee on carbon-based fuels is a good way to cut heat-trapping gases going into the atmosphere. Congress could make that happen, but there won’t be much progress if we don’t move beyond old ways of thinking and cooperate. Our kids are depending on us.


James Waterhouse, LA Times, 03/21/2014

“I for one am outraged. Scientific consensus is approaching 100% that human civilization is in danger. But our politicians choose to be fooled and intimidated by corporate lobbyists.

The fossil fuel industry has spread lies to counter the urgent facts about climate change. It is particularly frustrating when the costs and benefits of transitioning to a renewable future are calculated.

According to a recent study, a carbon tax in California, with the revenue returned to the public, would actually grow the state’s economy. Furthermore, other studies have estimated that investing just 1% of global GDP in mitigation could stabilize the climate.

Scientists are telling us that the economic downside of inaction may be civilization itself. Nature and economics favor adaptability.


LA Times article featuring group leader Rob Haw: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-le-0321-friday-climate-change-20140321-story.html#axzz2wfVNx32o

Cristle Balvin, LA Times, 02/18/2014

“Severe drought in California, unprecedented flooding across Britain and historic winter storms in much of the Southern and Eastern United States — global climate change due to the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere is the new reality.

Obama says it’s “going to get a lot worse.” But where is the strong push from the White House or new legislation in Congress for a revenue-neutral carbon fee?

Rather than use California’s drought to peel off more votes for one party or the other, it’s time for serious climate action. A leaked report soon to be released by a United Nations climate panel says we have 15 years to make necessary changes.

Before California dries up and we all get cooked, let’s start cooking up some meaningful legislation to stop carbon pollution. We owe it to the next generation if not to ourselves.


Robert Myabe, LA Times, 01/29/2014

“Good of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to drop by to help California fix our drought. Regarding reduced water deliveries to farmers to protect an endangered fish species, he claims that people from his part of the world wouldn’t understand “how you can favor fish over people.”

Neither would we.

Perhaps he can help his people understand that it is never that simple. Perhaps he can explain that as a consequence of the changing global climate, the Southwestern part of our country is becoming ever drier, making it more difficult for all species, including people and fish.

Perhaps Boehner, a fiscal conservative — instead of wading into a complex situation with shortsighted political drama — could shepherd legislation that would put a price on carbon and thus let the marketplace address one of the underlying causes of our drought.


Robert Haw, Pasadena Star News, 01/10/2014

Apart from its aggravated climatic effects, carbon dioxide is advertised as benign. But is it? News was made in early 2013 when the atmosphere’s background CO2 concentration rose to 400 parts per million. Down here on Earth’s surface, CO2 levels in poorly ventilated rooms full of people can easily reach three times that concentration, leading to stuffiness and drowsiness for the occupants. Yet if all fossil fuel reserves on Earth are extracted and burned this century, the residue from that combustion along with contributions from the toppling of subsequent climate tipping points will lead to commensurate global CO2 levels everywhere of some 1,500 ppm.

Picture a world full of sleepyheads where cognitive processes are impaired by breathing fresh air.

Can that happen? Well it might, because real CO2 is invisible and odorless. On the other hand, smog has a brownish hue caused by nitrogen dioxide. If fossil-fuel derived CO2 manifested itself like smog, then people would have been up in arms about CO2 pollution long ago.

Here’s the reason that we’d have noticed it: smog molecules exist in air at concentrations of parts per billion, meaning a thousand times fewer molecules per breath than CO2. When coming out the tailpipe of automobiles, though, CO2 is present in concentrations of about 120,000 parts per million. If that were NO2, it would be a black plume of smoke opaque to all but the most powerful spotlight. A natural gas-fired power plant sends slightly less CO2 up its stack, about 90,000 ppm. So if fossil-fuel derived CO2 behaved visually like NO2 we’d understand intuitively why Earth’s temperature is ever more quickly ratcheting upward: the (visible) CO2 haze blanketing the Los Angeles basin would be 1 million times thicker than a bad smog day. We’d be blinded by it.

When change needs to happen, and especially when the direction of change is uncertain, a useful planning aid is to envision the future you want, thereby facilitating and motivating the actions necessary to secure that outcome.

So what do we want for Pasadena in say, 2030? Will it be a city electrified by fossil fuel combustion, or will it be a 21st century trail blazer in resiliency, sustainability and efficiency? I envision it becoming a climate leader after Pasadena Water and Power renounces fossil fuels. Having PWP construct a 100 percent clean energy grid might cost ratepayers a few dollars more, but it’s pocket change compared to the higher water bills predicted for Southern California because of deepening climate change-induced drought.

Here’s a way that Pasadena residents can engage on this issue and make a difference.

Starting in early 2014 PWP is initiating a review of its Integrated Resource Plan. This plan, open to public comment, lays out Pasadena’s vision of its electricity sources over the next 15 to 20 years. PWP’s baseline view for 2030 forecasts a mixture of renewables and conventional fossil fuel sources, with roughtly 35 percent of electricity coming from fracked natural gas. Yet this baseline is a timid design that comes from planners looking too intently in the rear-view mirror of utility power management. We can do much better than that. Just as with computers and cell phones, the cost of renewables, smart grids and energy storage will drop as their use multiplies. Moreover, it’s already begun, as PWP itself can attest with recent Power Purchase Agreements providing green energy at costs equal to or less than natural gas generation. It may well turn out that doing the right thing but grudgingly paying a few dollars more will in fact become doing the right thing and saving money. But the City Council and PWP need to be convinced that a 100 percent clean grid is what residents want.

Here’s where you can help. PWP’s 2014 IRP recommendations will be presented to Pasadena’s Environmental Advisory Commission in the coming months. Attend those commission meetings and provide your vision to the commissioners. Or simply tell them that a future with 100 percent clean energy matters to you. But it’s important that they hear from you (repeatedly) because visions don’t get implemented in isolation.

The meetings are scheduled on the third Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at 175 N. Garfield Avenue, Pasadena. Agendas are available the day before each meeting at their website: http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/commissions/utility.asp.

CO2 pollution poses a threat to our future food and water security as well as to our children’s livelihoods. Let’s change climate change starting now.


Peggy Painton, LA Times, 01/03/2014

It’s about time Los Angeles eliminated the use of disposable plastic bags, but I hope this is only one part of a larger effort to cut back on plastics.

We are rightly motivated to reduce the number of these environment-poisoning products because of plastic blight. At the same time, we should look how these bags are made.

Petrochemicals are a major ingredient in the manufacture of plastics. A carbon tax would inevitably increase the cost of manufacturing plastics and would perhaps make plastic more valuable and less ubiquitous.

It might reduce the amount of plastic stuff we mindlessly toss out the car window or otherwise throw away.


Gabriela Sosa,  LA Times, 12/07/2013

Remember acid rain from the 1970s and the big hole in the ozone layer in the ’80s? Both of these horrific environmental consequences caused by unregulated pollution were mitigated by strong emission standards.

A slew of companies didn’t go bankrupt as a result of these regulations. In fact, the companies were forced to streamline their production and conserve energy, improving their bottom line.

Acid rain levels have dropped by 65% since the ’70s, and at a cost much less than originally predicted.

The Montreal Protocol (the first U.N. treaty to achieve universal ratification) set out to end the use of many ozone-depleting substances. This year, the European Space Agency reported that the ozone hole over Antarctica was the smallest in 10 years.

It is time to apply a revenue-neutral tax on carbon dioxide emissions so our children can refer to climate change as a thing of the past.


Penelope Mann, LA Times, 11/19/2013

How poignant to read of a man from the Pacific island nation of Kiribati seeking asylum in New Zealand because rising tides are swamping his homeland.

If, decades ago, oil companies had been required to internalize the environmental cost of carbon dioxide emissions, we might not be at this crisis point.

One effective action would be to levy a fee on carbon emissions. British Columbia and Sweden are doing so and are reducing their emissions. This action also encourages more green energy development.

As J. Maarten Troost writes, “Islanders are the canaries in the coal mine.” We’d be wise to pay attention.


San Gabriel Valley Tribune article on PCCL: http://www.sgvtribune.com/environment-and-nature/20131008/citizens-climate-lobby-advocates-carbon-tax-to-fight-global-warming

Joel Haber, LA Times, 07/17/2013

Twenty-five years to reach the climate-change tipping point sounds like a long time. But the truth is it will take all of that time, and more, to rebuild our fossil fuel-based energy system using clean renewable energy. It will take a concerted, sustained effort to make it happen, not business as usual.

A good place to start is to implement the “polluter pays” principle: Add a price to carbon so that what a consumer pays includes the cost of the damage caused by burning it. When this price is included in the cost, clean renewables are clearly the low-cost option.

Once this is obvious to consumers, the switch we need to avert climate-change calamity will happen.


San Gabriel Valley Tribune article on PCCL: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/opinion/20130717/come-to-star-news-lounge-on-climate-change-editorial

Robert Haw, Pasadena Star-News, 07/17/2013

Checking the facts of a global warming skeptic

The columnist Charles Krauthammer spammed scores of newspapers last week (July 6), including yours, with his commentary on President Obama’s new climate policy. Not to make too fine a point of it, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. There’s much more to Earth than just its atmosphere, and Earth overall continues to warm because of fossil fuel burning. You can read all about the Washington Post’s declining to fact-check columnists at thinkprogress.org.

Moreover there was no call for his ad hominem attack on the president, other than to pander to a base that relishes such fights. It is part of the historical record that Flat Earth Societies existed and that they were (and are) just plain wrong. The president is acting upon the guidance and advice of the best scientists in the country. His statements regarding climate are based on objective evidence and are demonstrably not mis-guided.

However it seems probable that the columnist is most bothered with the purported affect of additional regulations on the economy, as if climate is irrelevant. He mentions coal. Why is anyone other than a coal lobbyist defending coal as an energy source in the 21st century? Many alternative clean, safe energy sources exist, and all of them provide three to four times more jobs for local economies than does coal-mining. That’s good for people and good for the economy! To paraphrase a great author living just after the heyday of the Flat Earthers: “Me thinks the gentleman protests too much.”


Rob Haw & Bryan Killett, Pasadena Star-News, 05/20/2013

The climate-change deniers get it wrong again

In regard to some of the misguided letters you published from climate-change deniers and opponents of a carbon tax:

Kolstad simply assumes that a carbon tax hinders the economy, but renewable energies create more jobs per unit output than fossil energy. That is well documented.

In response to Frederick: a carbon tax won’t be collected from renewable energy, thereby making it more competitive (renewable energy sources don’t burn fossil fuels). Economic risk management requires us to reduce CO2 emissions quickly, and this will help jump-start the clean energy economy that will safeguard our civilization.

De Prisco is “fractally wrong.” The climate has not flatlined for 15 years, as mentioned in the first paragraph of a response to Schmitt and Happer’s dreadful WSJ opinion piece. Even if we strap on the climate contrarians’ self-imposed blinders and stare myopically at only the surface temperatures, the shared code shows that there hasn’t been a statistically significant change in the rate of surface warming. Anyone can calculate the full range of the error bars on the recent surface temperature trend to confirm this.

De Prisco’s claim that increased atmospheric CO2 is a result of warming would be hysterical if this weren’t so serious. That’s the way the climate used to work, but Henry’s Gas Law can only account for ~20 ppm (at most) of the increase since the pre-industrial era. Plus, if atmospheric CO2 were coming from the oceans, the CO2 dissolved in the oceans wouldn’t be increasing. But it is. Plus, if this were responsible for CO2 increasing, the amount of oxygen in the air wouldn’t be decreasing at the same time. But it is. Plus, the 12C/13C ratio in the atmosphere wouldn’t be rising. But it is. Plus, we’d have to find out where all our massive CO2 emissions were going.

  • Komsky compares Arctic sea ice to Antarctic ice, but Arctic loss is faster than Antarctic gain.

Molen and Knapp don’t need to worry: a tariff will be placed at the border for any country without a similar carbon fee. This American border tariff will encourage other countries to put a price on carbon pollution because they will gain no advantage in our marketplace.


Michael Werner, Pasadena Star-News, 05/12/2013

Passing carbon tax would be step in right direction

The overwhelming opinion of informed scientists is if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, we are posing dangerous and significant threats to the well-being of our children and grandchildren. Shrinking polar ice caps and the fact that most of the hottest years on record have occurred in the past decade provide ample proof of these threats.

A carbon tax would be an important step in continuing a critically important battle to control global warming and climate change. Bringing market forces to play, rather than government regulation, to control the use of fossil fuels is a straightforward approach endorsed by both conservative and liberal politicians. It could be revenue-neutral from the point of view of consumers by offering a rebate equaling or exceeding their extra outlays for fossil fuel which might be passed on by the producers of carbon.


Robert Haw, LA Times, 10/09/2012

When Curiosity, NASA’s new Mars rover, arrived at Mars last summer I was part of an engineering team controlling a JPL spacecraft already in orbit around the Red Planet. Curiosity is not designed to detect life, but everyone is thinking about it. And this raises an interesting dilemma. Why are we as a society so enamored with discovering life on Mars and apparently ignoring life on Earth? We’re disregarding scientific warnings about eco-system collapses being brought on by climate disruption – with all the implications those warnings herald for homo sapiens sapiens, the “wise, wise ape. ”

As Curiosity’s landing demonstrates only too well, our species is adept at goal-oriented behavior, narrowly focusing “eyes on the prize.” Whatever happens when raising yourself by your bootstraps doesn’t affect the background firmament. And when your ship comes in, you’ve got your prize. This has always seemed to be true. But what if you look at this assumption from the perspective of a spacecraft operator? In the environment of outer space every action has an immediate and very obvious reaction. You’ve seen it exhibited by crewmembers on the International Space Station. So in an analogous way, might similar kinds of reactions also occur on Earth but some of us just haven’t noticed them, haven’t thought about their consequences?

This is indeed the situation on Earth today. Earth’s climate is changing rapidly and there is grave concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes for life on the planet. Fossil fuels have brought us breath-taking prosperity, but over the long term this wealth is illusory because full-cost accounting hasn’t been practiced “” for example the high cost on the biosphere of burning coal, oil and gas. Most of us are cost-conscious in making decisions, yet these business-as-usual “cheap” energy sources will contribute to multiple extinctions in the near future, leaving our children with only limited and very expensive options.

The problem is not so much today’s climate. As noticeable and frightening as the changes are to date, they’re just the tip of the iceberg and can be accommodated, barely. The alarming, existential threat is the continuance of business-as-usual leading to unprecedented heating. We have to be smart enough to anticipate this heating trajectory and take steps to avoid it.

But no “prize” awaits us if we’re successful. The only reward we’ll win is the satisfaction of knowing that nothing has changed. (Well not quite, the heating in the pipeline already has some serious climate change locked in place.) Fortunately our best science is up to the job and has told us what must be done to de-carbonize America and minimize catastrophic change.

First we must accept the reality of our situation and drop the denial. The science is clear. The same scientific method that placed Curiosity on Mars applies just as well to understanding Earth’s climate.

Second we need a plan. The quickest way to bring about a national climate solution is to change federal excise policy. That’s what Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) placed on the table recently when they introduced the Climate Protection Act (S. 332). Their proposal levies a fee on coal, oil and natural gas at the first point of sale and then rebates a part of the revenue to legal residents.

Here are the main provisions of the Boxer-Sanders bill:

* A fee of $20 per ton of CO2 to start (17 cents per gallon at the pump).

* Fee rises 5.6% annually (about $1 per ton), a predictable increase.

* Fee is applied at the first point of sale of the fossil fuel (e.g. at the mine).

* Includes border tax adjustments to protect domestic industry and induce other nations to enact carbon taxes.

* 60% of the revenue returned in equal shares as a “dividend” check.

* 25% of revenue goes to deficit reduction.

* 15% will fund clean energy proposals and low-income weatherization.

This bill is a promising start at bending the emissions trajectory, but as proposed it’s insufficient because the fee rises too modestly to appreciably slow climate change. The annual CO2 fee needs to increase substantially – say $10 per ton. That sort of price escalation will incentivize consumers and businesses to decrease fossil fuel use, spur a transition to renewable energy, and save our collective bacon. New businesses and jobs will spring up to meet the new demand, with none of them needing energy subsidies or carbon regulations. And in the process the first dividend checks mailed to all of us will be 50% larger.


Op-ed by Mory Wolfson: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/files/images/2013%2001%2029%20PasadenaStarNews%20Wolfson%20OPED%20Warming%20deniers%20akin%20to%20the%20tobacco%20lobby.pdf

Op-ed by Bob Deen: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/files/images/2012_12-26_PasadenaSN_Deen_OPED_Free-market_answer_to_climate_change.pdf

Op-ed by Jan Freed: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/files/images/2012%2012%2001%20PasadenaStarNews%20Freed%20OPED%20Mother%20Nature%20will%20not%20suffer%20fools%20gladly.pdf

Op-ed by Rob Haw: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/files/images/2012_11_4_PasadenaSN_Haw_OPED_Taking_steps_against_climate_change.pdf

Op-ed by Vicki Kirschenbaum: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/files/images/2012%2009%2023%20PasadenaStarNews%20Kirschenbaum%20OPED%20The%20number%20one%20way%20to%20stop%20global%20warming.pdf

Op-ed by Bryan Killet: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/opinion/20120831/op-ed-the-longer-we-wait-on-global-warming

Robert Haw, LA Times, 10/09/12

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said in a 2009 interview with a Times reporter about climate change: “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen.” But we will indeed feel the consequences of global warming in our gut.

We’ve become accustomed to the surplus from the seas and an abundance of food in general, so when our preferred food sources succumb to acidification of the oceans, drought and fire on land and loss of farmland from unprecedented flooding, we’ll start to sense climate change in our guts.

Let’s hope we have the wisdom to heed the warnings from scientists and de-carbonize society before it’s too late.


Bryan Killett, Pasadena Star-News, 10/03/2012

People, global warming

The overwhelming majority of the scientific community has concluded that most of the warming since 1950 is very likely caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2.

Dave Miles’ assumption that these changes are simply natural cycles contradicts modern observations, evidence gathered from the ancient climate, and physics itself.

Instead of repeatedly implying that Vicki Kirschenbaum is engaging in “feelings-based decision making,” Mr. Miles might ask why Ian Plimer represents such an extreme minority of the scientific community. Googling for “Plimer vs. Plimer” reveals blatant self-contradictions in “Heaven and Earth” that may begin to answer that question.

In 2009, 13 national science academies signed a joint statement telling world leaders that “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.” These aren’t partisan organizations, and the scientific community certainly isn’t excluding rational thought or focusing on short-term good feelings. So why are people like Vicki repeatedly accused of such failings when they have the temerity to agree with the scientific community?

It’s a mystery.



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