Pro-Fossil Fuel Romney Backs Keystone XL Canada-US Oil Pipeline:
“Game Over” For Climate
By Dr Gideon Polya
04 October, 2012
One hopes Americans will listen to their scientists. While non-scientist political commentators declare that Romney won the first Obama-Romney presidential debate, science-informed people who care for Humanity and the Biosphere can only hope that pro-fossil fuel Mitt Romney does not become US president because in committing to the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas he has committed to “game over” for the Planet, a temperature rise of over 2 degrees C and a hugely worsened climate change plus carbon burning pollutant impact that already kills 5 million people annually (see DARA, "Are we doomed? Too late to save earth?", 300.org: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed ) .
According to leading US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (head, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) , and Adjunct Professor at the 97-Nobel-Laureate Columbia University) the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline to take oil from Canadian oil sands in Alberta to oil refineries in Texas will be a global disaster: “ If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over [for a stable climate]. The principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground ” (see “ U.S. climate shifts to blocking Keystone XL Pipeline Approval”, Reuters, 27 June 2011: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/27/idUS323166223820110627 ).
Key anti-environment statements by Romney in the first Romney-Obama Presidential debate at the University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, 3 October 2012 (for the complete transcript see : http://www.npr.org/2012/10/03/162258551/transcript-first-obama-romney-presidential-debate ): “ The third area: energy. Energy is critical, and the president pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up. But not due to his policies. In spite of his policies. Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and license in half. If I'm president, I'll double them. And also get the — the oil from offshore and Alaska . And I'll bring that pipeline in from Canada . And by the way, I like coal. I'm going to make sure we continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it's getting crushed by your policies. I want to get America and North America energy independent, so we can create those jobs.”
Dr James Hansen (2012): “If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate. Canada 's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet's species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk” (James Hansen, “Game over for the climate”, New York Times, 9 May 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/opinion/game-over-for-the-climate.html?_r=2 ).
However Romney's enthusiasm for fossil fuel burning and polluting the one common atmosphere of all countries in the world didn't stop there. President Obama raised the issue of tax breaks for oil companies: “If we're serious, we've got to take a balanced, responsible approach. And by the way, this is not just when it comes to individual taxes. Let's talk about corporate taxes. Now, I've identified areas where we can, right away, make a change that I believe would actually help the economy. The — the oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare. Basically, they get deductions that those small businesses that Governor Romney refers to, they don't get. Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money when they're making money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn't we want to eliminate that?”
Romney: “ — oil to tax breaks and companies overseas. So let's go through them one by one. First of all, the Department of Energy has said the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year. And it's actually an accounting treatment, as you know, that's been in place for a hundred years. Now — [Obama: “It's time to end it”] And — and in one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. Now, I like green energy as well, but that's about 50 years' worth of what oil and gas receives, and you say Exxon and Mobil — actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth. But you know, if we get that tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent, why, that $2.8 billion is on the table. Of course it's on the table. That's probably not going to survive, you get that rate down to 25 percent. But — but don't forget, you put $90 billion — like 50 years worth of breaks — into solar and wind, to — to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1. I mean, I — I had a friend who said, you don't just pick the winners and losers; you pick the losers. All right? So — so this is not — this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy-secure”
It is estimated that economically recoverable global fossil fuel reserves of coal, oil and gas total 846 Gt C, 139 Gt C and 100 Gt C, respectively (or 3,130 Gt CO2, 514 Gt CO2, and 370 Gt CO2, respectively) and that the Alberta oil sands have 230 Gt C of which 10% in presently economically extractable but which if 70% economically extractable by the latest technology (a presently optimistic figure) would yield 161 Gt carbon and hence 161 x 3.7 = 596 Gt CO2 (this estimate ignoring the CO2 pollution inherent in fossil fuel-based oil extraction; see “Keystone XL: game over?”, Real Climate, 2 November 2011: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/11/keystone-xl-game-over/ ). The WBGU (which advises the German Government on climate change) has estimated that for a 75% chance of avoiding a disastrous 2 degree Centigrade (2C) temperature rise the World can emit no more than 600 Gt CO2 before reaching zero emissions in about 2050 (see Section E, “2011climate change course”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course ).
In addition, Mitt Romney's policy of removing 30 million Americans from ObamaCare will kill over 10,000 Americans each year, kill more than 40,000 Americans over 4 years, and kill more than 80,000 Americans over an 8-year 2-term presidency. In short, 131 million Americans do not have health cover (2011), 45,000 Americans die annually from lack of health cover (Harvard Medical School), and Romney intends to abolish ObamaCare and hence removal of 30 million Americans from health cover at a cost of 45,000 x 30 million/131 million = 10,305 American deaths annually or over 40,000 deaths in 4 years and over 80,000 deaths in 8 years (see “"Romney abolition of Obamacare would kill 80,000 Americans over 8 years", Countercurrents, 3 October 2003: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya031012.htm ). A Romney victory would be a disaster for America , Humanity and the Biosphere. Please tell everyone you can.
Dr Gideon Polya currently teaches science students at a major Australian university. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has recently published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007): http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has just published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .
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