President Joe Biden used Earth Day to announce his plan for the U.S. to produce 50% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. World leaders joining the President online at the two-day save-the-planet summit convened by the White House are responding favorably:
“We are all so delighted to have the United States back,” South African President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa declared at the summit. Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom’s prime minister, called Biden’s pledge “game changing” and offered a blunt retort to those who question the need to address climate change.
“This is not about bunny-hugging,” Johnson said. “This is about jobs.”
Pope Francis made a virtual appearance, encouraging world leaders to unify in the face of the climate crisis.
“We must care for nature, so that nature may care for us,” the pope said in his video message, according to a translator. “I wish you great success during this meeting. I will be with you every step of the way” [Deirdre Shesgreen, “At Earth Day Climate Summit, Biden Promises 50% Reduction in US Greenhouse Emissions,” USA Today, 2021.04.22].
Also responding favorably is one of South Dakota’s major political influencers, Poet Ethanol:
Ethanol producer POET LLC is one of about 408 companies that signed a letter to President Joe Biden to develop a plan to cut GHG emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.
In addition to POET, companies such as Walmart, Target, General Motors and the Ford Motor Company formed the We Mean Business Coalition to call for dramatic reductions in greenhouse emissions.
…Doug Berven, vice president of corporate affairs for POET, said the company is excited to be part of a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions.
“We certainly appreciate aggressive climate (improvement) goals because that’s what we’ve been doing for decades,” Berven said.
…“The biofuels industry and the ag industry will do more than pull their own weight,” when it comes to reducing greenhouse emissions, Berven said [Rae Yost, “Poet Official Said Company Ready to Take Its Role in Biden’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions,” KELO-TV, 2021.04.22].
The Biden Administration has already taken action to use better data in assessing the cost of climate change by adopting a more realistic measure of the social cost of greenhouse gases to be used in calculating the total impact of economic activities and environmental regulations:
Ultimately, the Biden administration used the Obama-era formula for a central social cost of carbon for 2020 of $51 a ton, with methane and nitrous oxide, which both pack a stronger climate punch than CO2, at $1,500 a ton and $18,000 a ton in 2020, respectively. These would rise to $85 a ton for CO2, $3,100 a ton for methane and $33,000 for nitrous oxide by 2050 as damage from warming is expected to progress.
These social cost figures replace the $1-to-$7-per-ton CO2 values and $55-per-ton methane value of the Trump administration, which were produced by ignoring all climate damages that occur outside the continental United States.
…“As the government undertakes actions to address climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, one of the important inputs to those decisions is looking at the benefits of those actions and how much is that worth to society,” said [Resources for the Future CEO Richard] Newell. “And that’s what the social cost of carbon does. It puts a multitude of different damages that society is facing and will face from climate change into a monetary metric” [Jean Chemnick, “Cost of Carbon Pollution Pegged at $51 a Ton,” Scientific American, 2021.03.01].
Committed to the idea that we’ll be saved by Jesus and Jerry Falwell rather than science, South Dakota has joined one of two red-state lawsuits seeking to overturn that social-cost rule… because those convinced they’ll be chosen in the Rapture want to make sure us sinners are Left Behind on a planet in as bad a shape as possible, just to make sure we understand how naughty we were. Interestingly, while our eight partners in the second lawsuit are all state attorneys general, South Dakota names Governor Kristi Noem as its lead plaintiff, represented by Mark Miller, a Florida lawyer whom she imported just a few months ago to serve as her general counsel. Evidently nobody trusts South Dakota’s Attorney Colonel to handle any litigation for the state.
Distantly Related: In addition to successfully deploying the Ingenuity helicopter,the Perseverance rover has converted Martian carbon dioxide into oxygen, which Mars explorers could use for air supply and rocket fuel. So maybe we could breathe easier here on the homeworld if we just deployed a billion Perseverances to knock the C of some of our Terran CO2. Of course, here in South Dakota, we’ll power our roving carbon scrubbers with ethanol….
Nice name POET, they have their own section in the bookstore. You know, the mandate is so nice too, no bother checking on its cost like you do with a tax. Just filler up. Again, it’s bad to wager so much of the rural economy on ethanol. Maybe its just a political thing right? A civil war was fought over slavery, another very bad economic decision made by those poor southern states. Its like they were thee fifths drunk with no way out. Of course ethanol is better than gas, but is it really that much better? I don’t know thats why I’m asking? I know that the wind turbines all over western Iowa work well, I could barely walk up the hill to use the bathroom just off interstate 80 because of the wind.
Mark, I’ve always been bothered by their co-optation of a literary title with no correlation with their work. I’m also bothered by this proliferation of capital letters for corporate names. Sanford Premier Bank tries doing the same thing, shouting their name in all caps, as if they are trying to guarantee their name stands out in any print articles.
To Mark’s main question: the Department of Energy points to 2012 research that shows switching the economy from gasoline to ethanol does reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The fuel itself still emits CO2, but the crops from which we derive that ethanol absorb that CO2. When we burn oil, we’re releasing CO2 secured by dinosaurs and other prehistoric organisms, but old oil wells and oil rigs don’t re-absorb that CO2. Thus, overall, corn-based ethanol can reduce net CO2 emissions by 34% and cellulosic ethanol can reduce CO2 by 88% or more compared to gasoline on a life-cycle analysis.
But I suspect we can control emissions even more by switching to electric cars, because we have cleaner tech for generating electricity (wind, solar) and because it’s a lot easier to control emissions at one big power plant than at millions of little power plants cruising the highways.
Oh, and if we drive electric cars, we don’t have to install catalytic converters for all those thieves to steal out from under our parked vehicles!
I know I’ve mentioned this before Cory, but when we moved to Florida in 87 I guess it was, we were asked if we had an electric car because people could see the plug from the headbolt heater. Floridians didn’t have a clue.
As far as their name goes Cory, thats one of the very few meetings, when the named themselves, I would have loved to attend.