Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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An Open Letter to National Audubon: President Obama's Climate Plan is Worthless
by Nicholas C. Arguimbau

Dear Nick,
On a sultry afternoon at Georgetown University, President Obama today made a landmark speech on his plans to address climate change.
It's time to applaud and strongly support the President's efforts to control climate pollution. Please send a thank you to President Obama today.
The President's plan sets limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source of global warming emissions in the country; advances energy efficiency; and increases the nation's commitment to renewable energy. The President delivered his plan to address global warming against a national backdrop of increasingly intense storms, record floods, widespread drought in many states, and wildfires ravaging Colorado. It comes not a moment too soon.
We have much to do to turn the President's plan into action and we'll need every bit of your help to do it. The time for excuses is over. We need climate change solutions now for the birds, for the wildlife, and for our children's future.
Tell the President you support his plan.

David Yarnold
President & CEO
National Audubon Society

David Yarnold
President & CEO
National Audubon Society

I received your request recently for a "thank you" to President Obama for his climate change program.

Big mistake. President Obama is very clever at creating illusions that he is finally on the road to "change." But a baking earth is not an illusion. He and apparently Audubon are leading us down another primrose path. His plan is very unlikely to result in significantly reduced CO2 emissions beyond what would have occurred regardless. Why?

  1. The Obama Climate Plan's 17% reduction of CO2 emissions from 2005 to 2020 is EMBARRASSINGLY low. It guarantees that the problem the International Energy Agency perceives that without severe controls on new power plants imposed by 2017, more emissions will have been grandfathered by new approvals than will allow the Copenhagen maximum safe temperature increase of 2 degrees C to be met. The17% figure was drawn exactly from the Waxman-Markey bill, whose goals are now outdated because far more CO2 has been poured into the atmosphere in the interim than was anticipated at that time. Moreover, those goals are suspiciously similar to the post-peak drop in production of conventional petroleum—in other words, the 17% figure was not set by science but by an assurance that the oil industry would not be forced to do more by the regulators than Mama Nature would have forced it to do anyway. See The Imminent Crash Of Oil Supply.
    And indeed that is how US fossil fuel consumption has progressed since the baseline year, 2005. In the last seven years, US fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, without an Obama climate plan to aid them, have dropped 15%. Therefore, the Obama Administration, consistent with the promises of its plan, will be able to reach its 17% goal by reducing CO2 emissions only 2 % in the next seven years, If consumption continues its downward trend, the Obama goal can be met overall EVEN IF CO2 EMISSIONS PER UNIT OF CARBON CONSUMED INCREASE over the next seven years. If Obama had said, "I promise to reduce CO2 emissions by 2% in the next seven years," would you be cheering him? Yes, because that is what he said and you ARE cheering him.

  2. There is nothing in Mr. Obama's plan to ready the public for a stern reality: that following the 2% reduction between now and 2020, there must be a 90-plus% reduction between 2020 and 2050. 2% and 90%? With much fanfare, the President is starting us upon a track that is truly miniscule. A "primrose path" if there ever was one. Despite the fanfare, President Obama is leaving all the serious work to his successors. Is that what you are telling your readers when you say, "The time for excuses is over. We need climate change solutions now"?

  3. The specific steps promised do not include "limits on carbon pollution from power plants," as your letter asserts, or indeed limits on carbon pollution from anything, but efficiency measures. The problem with "efficiency" measures is that without true limits, when demand goes up, emissions go up. President Obama is very proud that efficiency measures increase the consumers' pocket change, but of course a consumer who has more money to spend can spend it on more use of power from the power plant, more miles on the car that gets better mileage, alternative gizmos that consume fossil fuels, etc. And guaranteed, if the fossil industry has just as much fossil fuel to sell as it did before (or much, much more if the President gets his way with shale oil and fracking), it will find new ways to sell it. So there is no reason to suppose that efficiency in fact reduces consumption. If it did, your support for it would probably disappear, because you would find yourself advocating true consumption reduction, which means reduction of the GDP. And of course, efficiency measures only work while the population and people's affluence remain stable, but those aren't things Mr. Obama will talk about or you will talk about. Remember I = P x A x T? Unfortunately, you don't seem to. So engine-efficient automobiles or efficient power plants don't mean lower emissions if the population goes up or people's spending power goes up or even if fossil fuel production goes up.

  4. There is zero in the plan about the only means of emission reduction that has no time delay, no development costs, and no downside—plain old conservation, without which we cannot possibly meet the Copenhagen 2-degree limit. Zero about tax and other subsidies for conservation. Zero about educating the public about conservation. Zero about insulating your house. Zero about using fans in place of air conditioners. Zero about driving less. Zero about turning down the thermostat. Zero about avoiding high-energy-consumptive foods such as beef. Zero about living close to work and encouraging land use planning that discourages urban sprawl. If Audubon remembered that once it called its members (and they were) "conservationists," maybe you wouldn't be so happy about the Obama plan. Zero about cutting air traffic. The scientific community is rapidly coming to the conclusion that "demand side" approaches to AGW, directly reducing demand for fossil energy at the household level, will work. The time to begin implementing such measures was thirty years ago, and the time to recognize that everything else would be "too little, too late," was no later than when we failed to adopt a global treaty at Copenhagen. I have been writing about the issue since Copenhagen, and I invite you to read my essays on the subject: Copenhagen Failed Us. What Do We Do Next?
    Bill McKibben Is Wrong. We must not forget that we have Met the Enemy and He is Us
    What To Do about Global Warming: "Austerity," Not On A Global Government Scale But An Individual Private Scale?
    A Greeting For 2012: Looking Back At Durban And Other Progressive Failures, And "Occupying" Ourselves

  5. Remarkably, the plan says Zero about environmentalists' long-term favorite approaches to reduction of auto emissions: public transportation and reduction of urban sprawl. If the Government did not give multi-billion-dollar subsidies to maintenance of highways at no direct cost to drivers, auto transportation would come to a screeching halt, yet you assure continuation of those subsidies with no corresponding assistance for public transportation, which guarantees unending excessive use of gasoline.

  6. At the international level, the central efforts of all nations for decades have been in attempts to adopt a universally applicable legal agreement on global warming. The plan's only reference to the international negotiations is placed as a seemingly deliberate afterthought—a single paragraph at the end of the plan with vague and inconsistent verbiage about the need for an international agreement have "equal legal force" to all countries and to be "ambitious, inclusive and flexible." President Obama avoids the critical fact that almost nothing of value came out of Durban because he went into the negotiations with an absolute position that nothing in the agreement would have any legal force against the United States. The international negotiations cannot be resuscitated unless and until President Obama clearly withdraws that position. His plan fails to mention it.

Yet you encourage the public o support the plan wholeheartedly without giving them any inkling of its weaknesses. The mainline environmental groups have ALL practically abandoned serious attempts at halting AGW at two degrees or for that matter 4 degrees. The apparent reason is a determination that "economic growth" comes first.

This open letter is likely an exercise in futility. It saddens me to see you going along with a totally inadequate approach to global warming and inviting the public to follow without giving your readers a balanced explanation of what the plan does and doesn't do. President Obama is allowing the world you once would have saved, to be killed, and you are asking the public to be grateful. Don't do it.

Nicholas C. Arguimbau

The author and amateur photographer, Nicholas C. Arguimbau is an attorney from MA, licensed in California, with a physics BA from Harvard. He can be contacted at narguimbau@earthlink.net.

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