Published 30 SEPT 2020 | NYC | M.C. Eshed
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At the first Presidential debate, we were gifted with President Trump's first public briefing on climatetech. He touched on many of the topics that climate innovation cares about, and left me with a positive impression, even a belief that he does know what he is talking about. Please enjoy my takes on the 10 aspects of a potential Trump Climate Plan that were mentioned.
Here is the 10-minute clip of the climate section of Tuesday night's debate.
Immaculate Air & Water
President Trump said that we will have crystal clean, immaculate air and water, and we will do everything we can. Some may say, "he always says this." But I see us as in a new era, even from the recent past, and I say,
Excellent, Mr. President, thank you for your support, and we will work to hold you to your statement. The elevation of the citizen science movement in America is a potentiality that needs your support. Its educational and analytical nature is empowering and spreads through the land organically. Clean water and clean air are fundamental human rights, upon which the wellness of our entire nation depends, and the government must correct flagrant violations as soon as they are raised. Many thanks to the great Americans who have alerted us that corporations like 3M, as well as the armed forces have poisoned groundwater throughout the country with PFOA and PFOS.
On the air: the topic of methane was raised, briefly. Biden claimed that recent federal regulatory changes allow companies to release more methane into the atmosphere. Trump says, "that's not true." And so I must follow up, Mr. President, how will your approach reduce methane emissions over time?
Notably absent is mention of the communities throughout our great Nation living next to industrial facilities who suffer higher-than-average rates of cancer and asthma, and younger ages of mortality. There cannot be a Great America while some of our citizens being poisoned by their corporate neighbors. The hand of the state must make necessary adjustments to protect ordinary Americans from death by industrial expansion.
Forest management and European “forest cities”
The urgency of forest action necessitates a timely game plan. President Trump is certainly aware that entire regions are being evacuated, that economic progress is stalling in those places (at least, as traditionally defined), and we can assume he is seeking the growth after the collapse. Forest management is indeed necessary, and it would help the citizenry if federal forest management policy reports were publicly released. A Nationally Determined Contribution plan as per the Paris Agreement would provide an opportunity to address forest management. But, the reality is that our government tends toward 500-page descriptions of climate plans, which are highly unlikely to be read by our modern day homo sapiens with 280-character attention spans. Exhibit 1: the House released a 547-page climate plan this June, entitled "The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America," which you can access here.
If any readers have access to reports describing updates to federal forest management practices and how they dovetail with local economies, please email them to me at email@example.com and I will add them to this post.
A Billion Trees
Amazing! Please publish the approach, so that Americans can become involved. I look forward to reading about its progress in my neighborhood.
“Do everything we can that’s good”
That's right, we ought to do everything we can that's good. Products that are climate solutions by design can be introduced directly into marketplaces, competing on cost & performance with products that are harmful to the environment. A pollution tax surely tips the scales toward products that are non-toxic and nature-restoring.
Driving Energy Prices Through The Sky
It is fair to assume that the President has reviewed the economic charts in which this statement is based. We can also assume he would agree that rising energy prices, supply, and demand will be balanced in the market. As energy prices rise, usage will decrease. With a bit of research, even those who can’t afford to upgrade their infrastructure can find financial returns from doing so, as rising supply prices and decreasing efficiency prices accelerate the break-even point. This is how climate innovation "pays for itself."
As a recommendation, the federal government can support household energy efficiency financial analysis through a program similar to FEMA's financial literacy programs administered by the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia. The USA has 4,300 universities across 50 states and six time zones (is Puerto Rico a state yet?), and certainly has the capacity to offer a nation-wide economy-support training program, similar to the federal Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Why not a Community Energy Transition Response Team?
High-Efficient Gasoline-Fueled Cars Are Safer and Cheaper
President Trump had only a few seconds to share his perspective on the number of vehicles on the road, efficiency standards, regulations, pricing, and general sustainability of the industry. It is a huge topic to address in seconds, and I look forward to learning more about the Trump approach to our zero-emission transportation future.
Paris Accord Was A Disaster From Our Standpoint
There is wide misunderstanding of what the Paris Agreement is really about. My working understanding is that every country is required to come up with their own climate plan, with their own “nationally determined contributions,” and submit updates to the UN. With such a simple agreement, I can fathom how President Trump might see it as a bad deal for the USA economically. A better deal might look like a global marketplace for climate solutions, with the USA in a leading position. I am definitely curious to hear more, and will stay tuned.
$100 Trillion Green New Deal
The President makes a strong point: $100 trillion is more than the USA will produce in 100 years. Green New Deal supporters should see this as inspiration to generate new messaging about its costs, with comparisons to social support and industry incentive programs that currently exist. If $100 trillion is not the number, then we need to inflate the real number, and deflate this progress-stopper.
Achieving zero emissions is another huge number: 26 billion tons of CO2 equivalent were released in the USA from 2015-2018. That's 6 billion tons per year, or about 400,000 cubic feet per minute of CO2 flowing into the air. If I did the conversion correctly, that's 1,000 times greater than the rate of airflow generally needed to cool a room, cited as 400 feet per minute (source: inspectapedia).
Scripps Oceanographic Institution states in their Feb 2018 "Mining Atmospheric Carbon" design document, that in order to achieve pre-industrial levels of global atmospheric carbon dioxide, 3 billion tons of CO2, or 800 million tons of carbon must be extracted from the atmosphere. Many industries can benefit from growth in the atmospheric carbon removal sector.
1,000 air conditioning systems working to permanently remove atmospheric carbon dioxide actually sounds doable, and certainly for less than $100 trillion! Climeworks is the global leader in this realm, as the only company in the world currently selling Sequestration-As-A-Service, directly at their facility in Iceland. Their goal is to remove 1% of global emissions by 2025.
There is a growing demand for sequestration services, and the USA would be well-served by widespread funding for climate innovation, perhaps patterned after programs through the European Commission. It is worth noting that Climeworks is the only country in the world offering this service, closely followed by Carbon Engineering in British Columbia, with America's Global Thermostat in a distant third. Americans have been starved for funding to support innovation in the climate, "clean," and "green" sectors.
The President stated that the USA is producing its lowest amount of carbon emissions in 25 years, reflected on the White House website. The accuracy of this statement can be seen in the chart below, where we also see an upswing in emissions in the first two years of the Trump Administration. Of course, it is too soon to tell if that upswing is the top side of a short, 2-year, sinunoidal trend of emissions reductions since the 90s, or the result of policy changes.
A Trump Administration greenhouse gas emissions reduction policy can be built in a way that works for us and grows our economy, increases our global competitiveness, and protects the environment. The American people are key benefactors of the plan, and there are hundreds of thousands of professionals standing by ready to contribute.
It's clear to me that two components of the Trump Climate Plan are investment in carbon capture & sequestration and incentives for electric vehicles. However, a full governmental climate investment and innovation policy is nowhere to be found. Dive in deep into the Wikipedia page Environmental policy of the Donald Trump administration and see for yourself.
Do you have such a Trump Climate investment plan? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will update the post. Want to work with me to build it? Also, email me.
An issue of critical importance is wild habitat and protection of mature ecosystems. The current Trump Climate Policy is characterized by removing habitat protections throughout the country, opening up protected wildlife corridors for extractive industry and reduced property values on longer time-frames than the boom-and-busy. Ordinary Americans are environmentalists at heart, and they must not stand for continued environmental degradation. For every ecosystem that loses its protection, there should be a new protection that rises in its place. For every old-growth forest threatened by boundless capitalism, there should be a supply chain executive who mandates sustainable forestry and toxicity standards throughout their purchasing decisions.
I believe in Americans, a tapestry of citizens more diverse than the world has ever seen, who indisputably love nature. Sadly, many of us have not hugged a tree or befriended an insect since childhood. A campaign spreading the virtues of wild landscapes would be an asset to the health of Americans, and would support the emergence of champions in that domain.
The environment is a home for all of us, from the wealthy to the poor, from humans to non-human beings. Environmentalism is truly intersectional and transcendent, spanning demographics, regions, organizations, and cultures, and it will take us working together to achieve environmental, economic, and social recoveries. Luckily, helping the environment helps the people, and helping the people helps the environment.
Tear Down & Rebuild Buildings / Shut Down Air Travel / Eliminate Two-Car Systems / Do Away With Cows
Buildings, air travel, transportation, and agriculture are indeed the top emissions contributors. Let's not forget that production of heavy materials like cement and steel are also on that list. What is a “Two-Car System?" Is that a household with two cars? Perhaps a synonym for "the status quo?" These disjointed comments actually reveal the foundation for what can be a strong climate plan, which can underpin a strong economic recovery and bring us another "roaring 20s."
Let's face the reality of our economy and society: By the numbers, there are 5,400 commercial airplanes in the sky at any given time. 263 million personal vehicles in the USA. 26 million cruise ship passengers per year and 5,000 container ships. Billions of hamburgers consumed. Trillions of ketchup packets produced. These numbers represent a "healthy" economy, but they also represent an integration of the status quo with environmental degradation.
The path forward is not clear, and focusing on the realities of supply and demand is an appropriate approach. Defecting from our duty to produce a "Nationally Determined Contribution" as per the Paris Agreement is a missed opportunity for greatness, from both a policy standpoint and a business standpoint.
China, Russia, and India Throw Real Dirt Into The Air
What a visceral statement! I'll be blunt: American ingenuity has an opportunity to lead the way and influence those economies to keep the "dirt" where it belongs - on and in the ground. An "America First" policy can bring this "dirt" down from the air, while at the same time developing American technologies to do so. What is the Trump Administration's perspective on emissions from China, Russia, and India, in comparison to our own?
More straightforward communication on this topic is necessary to achieve our duty of working towards a non-polluting, non-harmful economy that ensures habitats and occupations for generations to come. Yes, it is our duty.
I hope we can see last night's debate as a gift from President Trump to climate action. We received a more complete picture than ever before into how President Trump sees a wide range of climate issues, such as transportation, air, water, forests, global climate agreements, and emissions reductions. Personally, I feel energized, and look forward to participating in the continuum of economic progress out of which next-generation products and services will emerge.
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