Good environmental news again

The Economist runs an interesting section on the environment, pointing out that sound economic growth has proven the best environmental medicine. Wild rates of extinction predicted 40 years ago have proven exaggerated and rates are slowing. Similarly, predicted climate change is much more moderate and may even provide a net benefit by 2083.

Climate change is real, but it has been sort of "paused" for the last 17 years. Climate change experts have come up with many explanations. One might be that earth is less sensitive than they thought.

In any case, U.S. CO2 emissions have been plummeting since 2006. We will probably exceed our putative Kyoto targets in a year or two, not that anybody seems to care anymore. It was fun to bash the U.S. and GW Bush for not doing enough. Whatever we did was more than most of the others and it didn't require all those laws and controls advocates so loudly demand so now they mostly keep quiet about it.

America has done all asked of it in reducing CO2 emissions and it looks like we are on the road to cutting even more by 2020 and beyond. And we did it without Kyoto. Now it looks like climate change will be more on the low side, we can adapt.

This is beginning to look like the other apocalypses I have survived. In the 1950s we were told nuclear bomb would wipe us out. In the 1960s it was the population bomb. We were supposed to be starving in the streets of America by around 1985. In the 1970s we faced global cooling and the wipe out 20% of world's species by ... about ten years ago. Actually between 1980-2000 we lost nine, not 9% - nine. Of course, we also had the energy crisis. By now we were supposed to have pretty much run out of fuel. All that new natural gas is evidently not there.

Think of those SciFi movies that used to frighten us. "Soylent Green", that science fiction dystropia was set in 2022. "Escape from LA" took place in 2013; "Blade Runner" is supposed to be in 2019. I suppose it could get really bad by then.

I am not saying that the thing above, with the possible exception of global cooling, are not problems, but they are not the world ending things we feared. Population growth continues, but at a slower rate and will probably reverse within the lifetimes of some people alive today. Species are still being lost, but nature is adaptive and so are people. We have been saving more land and restoring habitats. Wildlife is returning or not wiped out. Brazil lost 90% of its Atlantic forest, but not a single bird species was lost.

IMO the biggest ecological problem we face today is not global warming but invasive species. My opinion has to do with natures adaptive ability. I believe that species will adapt to warming. But that same adaptive capacity in invasive species is already creating trouble all over the globe.

I am not suggesting we become complacent, but we can best address our problems by keeping calm and carrying on with our step-by-step improvements. The people who told us in 1953, 1963, 1973 ... 2003 and now that we have to make immediate and radical changes have been wrong. Had we made radical changes we would be worse off. In any complex situation, it is usually better to try lots of things, check how they are doing, make adjustments and move forward again.

Life is better now for the average human being than in any time in human history. I am reasonably certain that it will be even better for our kids, if we don't overtax them with SS (see below). So let's continue to adapt and learn as humans have always done. Future generations is look at our urgent worries as we look at those of our parents and grandparents.

And I find that those who talk most loudly about the great problems tend not to solve problems at all, great or small.

Posted by Christine & John at September 16, 2013 1:41 AM
Comments
Comment #370755

And now it’s global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year
Almost a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than in 2012
BBC reported in 2007 global warming would leave Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013
Publication of UN climate change report suggesting global warming caused by humans pushed back to later this month

The only thing real about global warming climate change; is the insistence by the left that it is real. It’s like every other crisis scheme the left comes up with to control or tax people. I love the nature shows like “Blue Planet” and “Wild America/Russia/China”, but they always finish the last few minutes with the same old Global Warming/Climate Change BS. What is taking place in the climate is proof that Al Gore is a complete nut job. It’s curious how the left accuses conservative radio and TV host of being in it for the money, yet nothing is ever said about the millions Al Gore has amassed as a snake oil salesman? The Polar bears are becoming extinct (according to the left), yet their numbers are increasing and there are even calls to open hunting seasons on them again.

It’s all a scam, and has been from the beginning.

Posted by: Political Hostage at September 15, 2013 9:11 PM
Comment #370758

C&J, I think you have mistaken linked to the same article twice. The Economist article doesn’t contain anything to support your claim that “Similarly, predicted climate change is much more moderate and may even provide a net benefit by 2083”. Maybe you meant to link to the WSJ (which is rife with errors) instead?

I know you are capable of discussing anthropogenic global warming in an adult manner. Stay away from discredited WSJ opinionators and you’ll be fine.

It’s all a scam, and has been from the beginning.
The only scam is that perpetuated by the denialist community. If you put your trust in the small handful of scientists and their long disproven hypotheses; you provide a grave disservice not only to yourself, but your posterity as well.

If you have any questions regarding AGW theory, I’ll gladly answer them. You will find me well-qualified for the task. At this point, only the most craven of people can honestly deny the reality that anthropogenic emissions will warm our planet. There will be a new IPCC report released later this month that will provide important updates regarding the climate, so stay tuned.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 15, 2013 10:41 PM
Comment #370760

Warren Porter, you’re a silly little boy who thinks he’s an expert on the vast historical changes in the earth’s climate. Get a life.

Posted by: Political Hostage at September 15, 2013 11:32 PM
Comment #370761

And you’re a silly old man who has zero understanding of how the atmosphere works. Atmospheric science is my life.

The greenhouse effect is real. It keeps the surface of Venus warmer than the surface of Mercury. It keeps the Earth’s surface warmer than the surface of the moon. Increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases will increase mean temperatures, especially when you account for all the feedback loops that take place in the atmosphere.

Go ahead, make a claim that proves that AGW is bogus. I dare you.

But please remember, the warming predicted by AGW theory is not predicted to be monotonic, there will be short regressions to the mean after a new record is set.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 16, 2013 1:11 AM
Comment #370765

Warren

I will change the link. The WSJ article does not say there is no global warming but that it looks like it will be lower. IMO, we went through a period of hysteria provoked largely by Al Gore and now we are settling into a more realistic assessment, as we did with population and species destruction.

There is a school of thought that we have to scare the masses or they won’t do anything. Fear builds public opinion. That was the Gore approach and it really doesn’t work well in the long term. When you say that if we don’t take grand action by 2005, what happens after 2005 if we have not taken that action?

U.S. CO2 emissions are dropping fast. Our problem future is China and the developing world, places where democracy and popular opinion are often viewed with less enthusiasm than in the West. Perhaps a more steady technological approach is better with them.

In any case, the U.S. emission drop was not expected and is very welcome. I am disappointed in many climate folks that they don’t welcome this and even fight against it. Natural gas is not a permanent solution, but it is the only practical one that can give us significant improvements in the short and medium term.

Posted by: CJ at September 16, 2013 6:14 AM
Comment #370766

Hostage and Warren

There really is no reason to call names. One of you was young once and the other will be old later.

Posted by: CJ at September 16, 2013 6:16 AM
Comment #370767

The focus on GW (especially in Florida) has been melting of ice caps and subsequent ocean level rise. A more serious consequence would be the acidification of oceans, which are the world’s greatest carbon sink. If pH change in the oceans affected the ability of plankton to use CO2 and produce O2, we would have more serious problems than ocean rise. I don’t see much in the press about that; perhaps it is not seriously considered an issue, or isn’t as sexy as the recent map in National Geographic that showed the whole state under water (if all ice was melted).


As a side note, there was an entertaining show on PBS recently on the way the earth has changed in the last 4 billion years. They ended by saying that there will be another ice age.

Posted by: Mike in Tampa at September 16, 2013 8:21 AM
Comment #370772

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_ylo=2009&q=World+extinction+rates&hl=en&as_sdt=0,20&as_vis=1

Please, please use actual science data for this kind of research. I just did a basic search for 2009-2013 on Global extinction rates and just looking down thru the listing refutes the title of your article.

The Economist is a fun read but it is not a true science journal.

BTW the climate is never exactly the same from year to year or century to century. If it is going to shift, there is not much we can do to change that, except adapt or become one of the extinct species that fail.

Of course we can give up our current lifestyles and reduce the population by at least half worldwide and that may help. But how many of you are actually willing to do so?

Posted by: Kathryn at September 16, 2013 10:58 AM
Comment #370773
There really is no reason to call names. One of you was young once and the other will be old later.

Fair enough. My comments have been a little out of control lately and I apologize for the name calling (I also apologize to WW in the other thread).

The focus on GW (especially in Florida) has been melting of ice caps and subsequent ocean level rise. A more serious consequence would be the acidification of oceans, which are the world’s greatest carbon sink. If pH change in the oceans affected the ability of plankton to use CO2 and produce O2, we would have more serious problems than ocean rise. I don’t see much in the press about that; perhaps it is not seriously considered an issue, or isn’t as sexy as the recent map in National Geographic that showed the whole state under water (if all ice was melted).

Very true. Coccolithophores’ calcareous shells are at risk; even if the warming is mitigated by other means (such as geoengineering the Earth’s albedo). I agree that the press hasn’t done a good job reporting this issue. It’s hard to create a sob story over microscopic alga when cute polar bears are much more abundant.

They ended by saying that there will be another ice age.

There will be another ice age, but not on a timescale that matters to you or I. AGW will come and go long before the Ice Age arrives. In the long run, whatever we do won’t impact Earth’s long term capability of supporting life. We will go extinct long before we cause irreparable harm. The problem at hand with AGW is the trade off regarding reduced economic output in 2100 & 2200. We’ll have to spend loads of money down the road to deal with the impacts of climate change later.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 16, 2013 11:33 AM
Comment #370783

We are looking at approximately 6,000 years of recorded history of civilization. During that period of time, there have been many changes in the weather patterns and except for the biblical account of the flood, we have no mass extinction of life on earth. There were Summers in Europe where they could not grow crops as a result of cold. We have seen times of earthquakes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, blizzards, and hurricanes; in fact these things have always plagued mankind. But the Global Warming zealots (i.e. Al Gore) have all of a sudden determined that mankind WILL become extinct in the century…in this lifetime. I know this is a stupid question for some of you; but don’t you think a God who is big enough to create the earth, is also able to prevent it from becoming extinct?

Secondly; since the left considers humans to be the cause of all wrongs, and since the world would be a perfect place without humanity, why not just let man annihilate himself?

The left’s cries of annihilation have become simple cries of wolf, and after so many cries from the left…with no changes in the climate, other than the normal cycles…don’t you think people have become immune to the warnings? People like Al Gore have made a joke of GW. Then, we have the claims of GW which have morphed into Climate Change. Climate Change is a word that can be used to cover a multitude of weather related problems. Then, we have some on the left who cry GW when we have a hurricane, or drought, or a tornado; and at the same time other GW extremists who claim climate change is a long term effect and can not be based upon one event. So what is it; the left can’t even get their stories straight…but they can all agree on one thing…never waste a crisis.

Posted by: Political Hostage at September 16, 2013 6:03 PM
Comment #370784
There will be another ice age, but not on a timescale that matters to you or I.

Even with all the modern science available to meteorologists; the weathermen still can’t predict tomorrows weather with pinpoint accuracy, and yet we are to believe “there will be another ice age”. The Weather Channel out of Atlanta has predicted vast numbers of hurricanes for the past several years as the result of climate change…the result…zilch. If a low pressure develops in the Atlantic or the Gulf, the weatherpersons on TWC begin to have orgasms.

Last thought relates to what CJ said; since the left has managed to drive all industry out of America to 3rd world nations, and since China is the up and coming industrialized nation and since China could care less about pollution or GW, what does all the hype matter?

Posted by: Political Hostage at September 16, 2013 6:19 PM
Comment #370789

PH,
Weather is not the same as climate. It can rain once a year in the desert. Rain is an example of weather. A desert is the result of climate.

Climate can be predicted to some degree. Regular, predictable astronomical cycles, such as changes in the Earth’s precession and the shape of its orbit, can be matched with most past examples of Global Warming and Ice Ages. One past event seems to be tied to a meteor strike, and another to a long and absolutely massive volcanic eruption. Currently, in astronomical terms, we are in a neutral phase. Yet the Earth is warming, and warming fast.

We missed a chance to bring China and India into the fold with international cooperation. Bush tanked the Kyoto Accords. Ironically, it turns out the US would have met those targets due to fracking, conservation, and an economic slump.

International cooperation is still possible. More importantly, technological advances may save the day in places like China, due to the development of the electric car.

Tesla has cracked the code on producing the electric car. Their high-end S model outperforms and outsells every other high-end model, has won every award, and earned the highest possible safety rating. It has been called the best car ever made. Ever. The Chinese want Tesla in their country. So do the Europeans.

Conservative Republicans in North Carolina attempted to block the sale of Teslas in their state because it represented “unfair competition.” The Republicans failed. Because of conservative Republicans in Texas, Tesla salesmen are not allowed to tell you the price of the car, or even let you test drive one. That is Texas.

Although we have gone a long way towards worldwide Global Warming, and poured an enormous amount of energy into the air and oceans, there is hope.

By the way, both Global Warming and Climate Change are correct. Warming can change the climate. A melting
Greenland ice sheet can pour enough fresh water into the ocean to change the current that keeps Europe relatively warm (a thermohaline circulation), and cause it to stop. Oddly enough, this could actually result in a European Ice Age, although no one thinks that will happen for centuries.

Posted by: phx8 at September 16, 2013 7:29 PM
Comment #370793
quote text
the Global Warming zealots (i.e. Al Gore) have all of a sudden determined that mankind WILL become extinct in the century…in this lifetime

Who has seriously posited that extinction was on the menu in the absence of action? The threat we face is primarily economic and social. If we were still hunter gatherers, then global warming would be no problem at all (it would be trivial for us to adapt to a warmer climate). However, the fact that so much of our civilization is predicated upon a particular climate means that a warmer climate will be quite costly.

don’t you think a God who is big enough to create the earth, is also able to prevent it from becoming extinct?
He’s also big enough to eliminate all pain & suffering in the world, but He doesn’t.
Since the left considers humans to be the cause of all wrongs
What justifies this premise?
the world would be a perfect place without humanity
What do you mean by “perfect place”??
The left’s cries of annihilation have become simple cries of wolf, and after so many cries from the left…with no changes in the climate, other than the normal cycles…don’t you think people have become immune to the warnings?
The magnitude of warming and the rate of warming we have witnessed recently are unprecedented in human history. They are not normal cycles. 400 ppm of CO2 is not part of a normal cycle.
Then, we have the claims of GW which have morphed into Climate Change. Climate Change is a word that can be used to cover a multitude of weather related problems. Then, we have some on the left who cry GW when we have a hurricane, or drought, or a tornado; and at the same time other GW extremists who claim climate change is a long term effect and can not be based upon one event. So what is it; the left can’t even get their stories straight…but they can all agree on one thing…never waste a crisis.
The people who scream GW whenever a single severe weather event happens are wrong if they claim that a single episode says anything about a long term trend. However, such severe episodes will increase in severity and frequency if AGW is unmitigated.

Regarding terminology: “Climate Change” is a term crafted by the right. They believed they could blunt the emotional baggage in “global warming” by changing the wording. I personally have no preference for either term; they are synonymous in my mind.

Even with all the modern science available to meteorologists; the weathermen still can’t predict tomorrows weather with pinpoint accuracy

Firstly, predicting weather and predicting climate are not the same thing. Secondly weather forecasts are quite accurate, especially when compared to forecasts in other areas such as economics or earthquakes.

we are to believe “there will be another ice age”.
Ice ages come roughly every 100,000 years. By the law of large numbers, another ice age is inevitable. It would be foolish for someone to attempt to forecast exactly when though.
since the left has managed to drive all industry out of America to 3rd world nations
This isn’t true. There is plenty of industry in this country.
since China could care less about pollution or GW, what does all the hype matter?
Actually, the Chinese care quite a bit regarding global warming. They are well aware that unmitigated pollution will be very costly down the road. Posted by: Warren Porter at September 16, 2013 8:46 PM
Comment #370794

phx8

China and India were not under the Kyoto limits. That is one reason Bush opposed Kyoto. Al Gore had a big role in excluding what will (in the case of China are) the world’s biggest polluters.

Indeed, America has done its part. Time for the others to step up. We were told that if we set the example, they would follow. Well … they are not. Some of our Euro friends are actually increasing emissions, despite Kyoto. In fact, Kyoto was really a foolish side show that allowed others to dodge the responsibility.

Re the Greenland melting, that would not cause cooling. The cooling that resulted in the Younger Dryas freeze was the result of a rapid influx of fresh water and much farther south. Even if the circulation stopped, Europe would not enter an ice age, rather it would look more like Canada. But then, if Canada warms …

I believe global warming is a problem, but probably not as big a one as the hysteria of a few year ago indicated. We also face the “so what do we do?” question. The U.S. has achieved its goals and will go below them soon. But the Chinese will emit more CO2 in 2020 than all the world did in 1990 all by themselves. If we Americans went to zero, they will produce enough to neutralize all our efforts AND more.

Posted by: CJ at September 16, 2013 8:56 PM
Comment #370796

Warren,
Great comments!

CJ,
We have discussed Kyoto before. The US economy was proportionally even larger than China or the US at that time, and we could have molded that treaty into any shape we desired. Instead, we walked away.

“Indeed, America has done its part.” What you write is true. America has done more than its share in contributing to Global Warming. We are still one of the largest contributors, and still contributing, although not as much as a few years ago. Global Warming is a problem that will be with all of us for the rest of our lifetimes.

Posted by: phx8 at September 16, 2013 9:12 PM
Comment #370800

Phx8

Our economy is still larger than China’s. They just manage to make a lot more pollution than we do for unit of GDP. And while our carbon emission are going down, theirs are rising.

China was exempted from Kyoto. What else do you need to understand about that? Had we ratified, they still would have been exempted from Kyoto. It was one of Al Gore’s great sins against us that he pushed this flawed treaty. Al Gore molded the treaty. It reflected the leftist stupidity that we should use climate treaties to redistribute power away from the West and toward the rest. Most intelligent people understood that the developing world would be responsible for most future pollution. Instead we froze the world of 1990 and addressed the problems that were no longer most important.

Re America’s part - We are reducing in total and even faster in carbon per unit of GDP. We have reduced faster than the climate crowd thought we could, even with their draconian measures. We did it, largely because of shale gas and energy efficiency that were already in place or in the pipeline in 2006, when criticism was at it high water mark.

Posted by: CJ at September 16, 2013 9:28 PM
Comment #370804

“China was exempted from Kyoto. What else do you need to understand about that? Had we ratified, they still would have been exempted from Kyoto. It was one of Al Gore’s great sins against us that he pushed this flawed treaty. Al Gore molded the treaty.”

And when Bush became president, he could have re-molded the treaty as he wished. Instead, he walked away. It wasn’t because the treaty was flawed. That was an excuse. He walked away because he had no intention of ever signing any kind of treaty whatsoever, whether flawed or not. And why? Because he did not believe Global Warming was happening in the first place. Neither did Cheney. Neither did most of the Bush administration.

The Bush administration was about oil, plain and simple. Cheney openly scoffed at energy efficiency, calling conservation more of a virtue than a viable strategy. CAFE standards for cars went nowhere. American auto makers produced monstrously inefficient SUV’s, simply because they were profitable. Solar, wind, and other forms of green energy languished. The electric car went nowhere.

Today, we are living in an exciting time. The electric car is here, and Tesla has produced one better than any car ever made. It is that good. It is revolutionary, adn we are alive to see it happening before our eyes. It is every bit as exciting as the advent of Google and other search engines, Apple and its new technologies, and Facebook and other social media. Even bigger. Not just for the US, but even more so for China and the rest of the world.

Posted by: phx8 at September 17, 2013 12:38 AM
Comment #370812

phx8

With all due respect, your understanding of this “remolding” thing is almost zero. The Gore team created the treaty by getting all sorts of little agreements. Bill Clinton signed the treaty, knowing it could never be ratified even by a Democratically controlled Senate. The Senate voted something like 97 to zero NOT to ratify the treaty if it was presented to them. This was during the Clinton, not the Bush time. There was no way Bush could have “remolded” this. It would have been simply impossible.

If you really believe this, we really have nothing more to talk about. It indicates a complete misunderstanding of how this process works. Come on. You are a smart guy. Do you think Obama can “remold” ObamaCare to satisfy Republicans? Getting a new Kyoto through the UN would have made that look like a game of marbles.

And consider how it could have been “remolded”. W/o the natural gas boom, there was no way we could reach Kyoto goals. Others have not reached theirs, even though they are “on board.” Would the Chinese have just volunteered to reduce their emissions? They fought hard not to be included. The Russian got a sweetheart deal, since they got to include all the mess of the Soviet Union and claim reductions from that. Gore and his friends got the treaty agreed by giving away America’s interests. It really was negligent.

If Gore had become president in 2001, he would have been unable to ratify Kyoto. If he had tried to implement its measures, he would have failed. And to the extent that he probably would have opposed gas fracking, I am confident that if Gore had been president we would be emitting MORE CO2 than we are.


Posted by: CJ at September 17, 2013 5:54 AM
Comment #370815

Ratifying Kyoto would provide rhetorical advantages even if it wouldn’t have actually changed emissions. Ratifying Kyoto would deflect all environmental complaints against the US and onto China. Perhaps with enough shame, the world could have forced China into being classified as a developed nation the next time around.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 17, 2013 9:45 AM
Comment #370819

I think using the notion that there will be another ice age as an excuse to disbelieve global warming is about the same as running into the street on a “don’t walk” sign on the premise that there will be a “walk sign” in a few seconds.

Global Climate Change is, in many ways, about time.

Time, as in the speed of emissions vs. the speed of the carbon cycle in sequestering it once again in carbon sinks.

Time, as in how long we’ve been adapted to a relatively calm, mild, and stable period in climate history.

Time, as in how quickly and economically we can shift around resources and develop technology both to prevent more warming, and to deal with the consequences that mild or severe warming creates.

Our basic problem is that we’re once again kicking ourselves out of Eden. We’re going to waste more time, more energy, more money having to change our way of life, and the fewer changes we make now, the fewer things we do to head off even stronger change now, the worse the change that will occur later.

Make no mistake, though, it won’t simply be gradual. Climate records show nature doesn’t do gradual. it also doesn’t make things correspond to nice, clean, obvious patterns. The lines go up, the lines go down.

The key here is understanding global climate change in terms of not merely heat, but what heat affects: differences in wind and pressure patterns, differences in rain patterns. The danger is doing things like turning occasional droughts into chronic droughts, shifting wind patterns so that rainfall heads in one direction rather than another, or in rather counterintuitive cases, letting colder air down south earlier, because the polar vortex winds don’t keep that cold air locked up, up north.

We’ve set our civilization up in certain patterns, concerning where we get our water, where we raise our crops, how we deal with heat and other elements of weather, to suit our usual pattern. The patterns, when they get broken, create waste in the form of infrastructure that is no longer useful or practical, and the necessity to retrofit it to change it to deal with new challenges.

It’s one thing for Houston to get a month of above average temperatures in the summer, since we have AC. What about Chicago, where many people don’t have it, don’t need it so much?

In essence, I think you’re once again assuming we will see the better side of the gamble, and for me that’s a rather naïve point of view to take. The rule is generally to plan for the worst, not the best.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2013 1:10 PM
Comment #370824

Ratifying Kyoto would provide rhetorical advantages even if it wouldn’t have actually changed emissions. Ratifying Kyoto would deflect all environmental complaints against the US and onto China. Perhaps with enough shame, the world could have forced China into being classified as a developed nation the next time around.
Posted by: Warren Porter at September 17, 2013 9:45 AM

I am sorry to say this Warren, but your statement is simply magical belief at work. When you speak of “rhetorical advantages” as comparable or even preferred to the reality of changed emissions in the US it is the simple liberal psycho-babble applied to make victory look like defeat.

It is juvenile to expect to shame China into doing anything not to their advantage and for the world to force China into submission.

The left’s magical belief system has been at work in this country for decades as witnessed by the failure of the War on Poverty, immigration policy, education policy, and fiscal responsibility. The left continues to believe they can wish something into existence no matter how bad the policy and execution providing enough money is spent.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 17, 2013 3:40 PM
Comment #370827

Warren

Obama had a great rhetorical advantage in the Middle East. Not working out as well as real stuff.

Posted by: CJ at September 17, 2013 4:21 PM
Comment #370830

Rhetorical advantage? Are you kidding? He and Kerry just disarmed the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal with nothing more than coercion!

The Iranians have announced they will cooperate with the IAEA!

Not one bomb dropped. Not one American casualty. American foreign policy goals achieved.

Compare that with what happened in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the President’s opponents embarrassed themselves very badly. Rubio and many Congressmen demanded action, then Rubio refused to vote for the strike, and now US foreign policy goals are achieved despite his being wrong at every turn! Others, such as Rumsfeld, denounced Obama for going to Congress for authorization. Rumsfeld called him the “so-called Commander-In-Chief.” FOX news, Limbaugh, they positively choked, and they are all on record.

So! Not only was it a superb foreign policy achievement, it was also a superb domestic policy achievement. That is smart. That is leadership, as good as it gets.

That is a textbook example of how it is done.

Posted by: phx8 at September 17, 2013 5:02 PM
Comment #370838
So! Not only was it a superb foreign policy achievement, it was also a superb domestic policy achievement. That is smart. That is leadership, as good as it gets.

That is a textbook example of how it is done.

A few more feathers for Obama’s hat regarding Iran:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/iranian-president-rohani-prepared-to-decomission-nuclear-site-a-922487.html

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Sep-18/231748-iran-releases-jailed-human-rights-lawyer-husband.ashx#axzz2fFwqDLnV

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 18, 2013 11:03 AM
Comment #370843

Phx8

He and Kerry just confirmed Assad in power, strengthened the Iranians and the Russians and all Assad had to do was gas a few thousand people. The problem with Syria was not WMD; it was Assad. Now he will remain.

So the Middle East in 2009 had shaky Iranian dictators in power, shaky authoritarian government in Egypt, challenged dictator in Syria and Russia mostly on the sidelines.

Today we have stronger dictators in Iran, a less stable and more anti-American authoritarian rule in Egypt, a dictator in Syria who is weathers the storms and Russia and Iran more firmly in the region. But we won the rhetorical battle

On the other hand, with climate change, we reduced CO2 levels to those not seen since the early 1990s. We are on the way to being net energy independent and we are seeing an industrial renaissance in the energy sector. But we lost the rhetorical battle.

Fascinating, isn’t it, how reality doesn’t track with rhetoric.

Posted by: CJ at September 18, 2013 2:51 PM
Comment #370847

CJ,
Task task. Not following the news, I see. A relatively moderate leader was recently elected in Iran. He is giving an interview that will be aired tonight.

Yes, Assad was in power before he used chemical weapons. He lost his chemical weapons, and the world is a better place for it. Weapons of mass destruction are unacceptable. Meanwhile, Assad will continue to be in power. For now. I would recommend underwriting a life insurance policy for him. In the meantime, it gives us a chance the gift of time, in which we can strengthen more moderate allies in Syria. It is the smart move. Bush #41 left Saddam Hussein in power, and that was the smart move too. Bush #43… not so much.

The Egyptians are finding their own way. They held a democratic election, chose a party that promptly tried to impose its religious beliefs on a religiously diverse country, and got the boot from the military. They’ll work it out. Eventually. We are doing the right thing in the meantime, in Tunisia and Libya and Egypt and Syria. American ideals are winning. Dictators and religious fanatics are losing.

Posted by: phx8 at September 18, 2013 4:49 PM
Comment #370850

American ideals are winning. Dictators and religious fanatics are losing.
Posted by: phx8 at September 18, 2013 4:49 PM

Wow…now that is news. Is it time for the US to unilaterally disarm?

Please describe the “American ideals” that are being adopted in the nations you mention.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 18, 2013 5:02 PM
Comment #370854

phx8

I don’t really give a shit about that part of the world. It will probably work out just as well either way. But we really cannot call it a triumph of U.S. diplomacy that after all that sound and fury we are back where we were in 2009.

Posted by: CJ at September 18, 2013 7:17 PM
Comment #370860

Iranian President Rouhani said “under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever.” The new, democratically elected Iranian government has made it clear they have no intention of pursuing nuclear weapons, and that the mew president has “sufficient political latitude” to negotiate a successful resolution.

In Tunisia and Egypt and Libya, dictators have been overthrown, and those countries are pursuing secular democracies. It is not easy, because one of the consequences of prolonged dictatorship is the lack of any political opposition; instead, the only existing organization in place at the time of overthrow are religious and ethnocentric. However, those types of organizations have lost their clout as more secular, tolerant, and nationally representative groups have grown in strength, such as groups representing the middle class.

It is not easy. In the midst of the chaos of transition, militaries have stepped in to oppose the religious fundamentalists. Self-determination takes time to form true republics. They will find their way, and we will be there to help.

Not invade.

Posted by: phx8 at September 18, 2013 10:54 PM
Comment #370861

Here’s the interview:
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/18/20561148-irans-president-rouhani-we-will-never-develop-nuclear-weapons?lite

Rouhani would never have become President if the USA had intervened in the disputed 2009 election. Today, moderate Iranians have a lot more credibility in their own country because they have shown themselves to not merely be an arm of the USA.

Posted by: Warren Porter at September 18, 2013 11:14 PM
Comment #370863

Whether everyone likes it or not, the Obama administration’s foreign policy success in Syria has dealt his opponents a harsh, glaring, decisive defeat- including liberals, libertarian Republicans, and most other Republicans, especially Neocons. The media chooses not to look at this too closely, seeing as how those opponents constitute a sizeable portion of the population. The winners have been the US, the administration, moderate Democrats, and Hillary Clinton (who has generally been even more of a hawk than Obama).

The liberals and libertarian Republicans based their opposition on principle, and it has left them looking weak and ineffectual. There isn’t much else they can do than lick their wounds and puff themselves up by congratulating themselves on bringing Obama to the Congress to authorize force.

The Neocons demanded a strike, and expressed dissatisfaction that Obama went to Congress instead of just going for it. All they managed to do is remind us that most of us dislike the Bush administration for a good reason.

The bigger losers have been other conservative Republicans. They went on record advocating action in Syria as a matter of principle, and criticizing Obama for not doing more, because they are the opposition party, and seem to think that means taking the opposite stand from Obama on all things. Because Obama advocated a military strike, those conservative Republicans abandoned their and now opposed a strike, because they oppose Obama. Senators such as Rubio were on record advocating action, and then he actually voted against it in Senate committee. Many other GOP Senators and Representatives fell into the same trap.

An opposition party needs to stand on principle. On occasion, it is possible the president and the opposition will agree, whether it is using force (as coercion) in Syria, or establishing state health insurance exchanges; the latter is a conservative idea, and it turns out, a good one. Abandoning principle means abandoning what one thinks is right, and when it turns out to be so, it is terribly embarrassing. It makes an opposition party, such as today’s conservative GOP, look hapless and feckless.

Now the focus returns to domestic policy, the budget, and the debt ceiling. The haplessness, the fecklessness becomes more than embarrassing- it becomes dangerous to the health of the economy. Some want to shut down the government unless their political demands are met re Obamacare, while others want to default on the full faith and credit of the United States.

Perhaps a third of the Republican Party in the House remains effective enough to pass bills, and capable of governing. Not a good situation.

Posted by: phx8 at September 19, 2013 12:29 AM
Comment #370864

phx8 & Warren

Maybe Obama has discovered a new paradigm, whereby you surrender influence to powers like the Russians and Iranians, they get so sick of it that they give up and go home and everybody is fine.

As I said before, I don’t really care much about that region any more. We have done our part and now since we have access to ample supplies of shale gas and oil, we can tell them to go to hell. Maybe the Obama paradigm works with this new reality.

But I think it is equally clear that it was not an Obama “plan” to drop the ball and let the Russians and Iranians pick it up, or to push Egypt into chaos or bolster the fortunes of the Syrian dictator. Nor could it have been his plan to claim that there were red lines and then simply accept that Syria doesn’t cross the line again.

But generally, I am throwing up my hands on the Middle East. F them. We can work in other places where we will get better results.

And I cannot emphasize enough the game changing power of shale gas and oil. This allows us to do what I have wanted to do since at least 1973: ignore the oil despots.

Posted by: CJ at September 19, 2013 7:44 AM
Comment #370865
you surrender influence to powers like the Russians and Iranians

I don’t understand this. Assad was never under American influence, he was always a client of Russian & Iran. We didn’t give anything up. I guess we strengthened Iran & Russia at the expense of Qatar & Saudi Arabia, but it’s not like Qatar and Saudi Arabia were any better than Iran & Russia.

The key to Obama’s strategy here is to empathize with Putin’s insecurities. Russia was once a great superpower, but not anymore. By giving Russia leadership opportunities, Obama lets Putin feel better about himself even though the whole thing is a facade.

I think it is equally clear that it was not an Obama “plan” to drop the ball and let the Russians and Iranians pick it up
Since when is arguing for a military intervention in the face of steep opposition from both Left & Right “dropping the ball”. Posted by: Warren Porter at September 19, 2013 10:13 AM
Comment #370871

Warren

We thought that the Arab spring would bring better. Now it looks like nothing has improved and some things got worse.

Re arguing for military. He didn’t really do this, did he.

Posted by: CJ at September 19, 2013 8:53 PM
Comment #370878

Diplomatic breakthroughs with Iran continue. Obama will shake hands with the new Iranian president next week, the first time an American president has done such since 1979.

Posted by: phx8 at September 20, 2013 12:13 PM
Comment #370932

Phx8

Re diplomatic breakthroughs. With his deals with Putin, the Syrians and the Iranians, President Obama may have established peace for our time. Take a look at the previous big success in compromising with such people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO725Hbzfls

Posted by: CJ at September 22, 2013 7:47 PM
Comment #370945

Whether climate change is a result of man’s deeds or just the way nature works is yet to find a concrete foundation. And my guess is it will never be proved because, the whole thing around climate change and wildlife conservation is rigged to benefit few people.

Posted by: Robt at September 24, 2013 8:17 AM
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