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Biden and the 2035 climate marker

by on July 15, 2020

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has put out a two trillion dollar plan to “boost investment in clean energy and stop all climate-damaging emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035.” (StarTribune)

At this point all people who Biden told ‘don’t vote for me!‘ should now be jumping up and down at the opportunity to vote for Biden, yes?

First, let’s look at target year of 2035: Michael Mann in 2014 published an article in ScientificAmerican. Although the article was published on April 1, it’s not a joke. The article, titled “Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036” says that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, global warming will rise to two degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that will harm human civilization.

We have, at best, until 2036 (that’s 16 years from now) – a very short period of time. One might hazard a guess that Biden’s plan chooses 2035 for this reason.

In reality, we have a lot less than sixteen years. Last month The Guardian published an article suggesting saying the world has six months “in which to change the course of the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe.” The executive director of the International Energy Agency said ‘the next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond’.

By 2050 – at which point most people who grew up using cell phones and apple computers are middle-aged – climate change will impact suitable croplands for four top commodities—corn, potatoes, rice, and wheat—will shift, in some cases pushing farmers to plant new crops, say researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute project. We’ll have food, but what that food is, and where it grows will be completely different. Not long from now.

We’re already seeing to results of climate change. Today, the same day most papers published reports of Biden’s triumphant plan, the paper also published a report of rising sea levels. Atlantic and Gulf state cities on the water could expect high-tide flooding 25-75 days a day in a few decades – a huge rise in what used to be a few days of flooding a year. No one wants to live in a city with failed infrastructure and frequent flooding. Although the NOAA has been told by Trump not to use the word climate change it acknowledged that that rise in ocean levels is likely caused by climate change, and man-made carbon emissions.

While it would appear that Biden’s plan appeals to the progressive left, The Star Tribune, unlike most of the AP articles on Biden’s proposal, report that

Biden’s proposal seemed designed to avoid antagonizing independents or moderate Republicans considering backing him.

The plan makes no mention of banning dirtier-burning coal or prohibiting fracking, a method of extracting oil and gas that triggered a natural gas boom in the United States over the last decade. The issue is especially sensitive in some key battleground states such as Pennsylvania.

Really, Biden is trying to avoid antagonizing independents, please the companies most responsible for carbon emissions, and appeal to the left all while producing a plan that is inadequate and insufficient.

We don’t have fifteen years.

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