Knocked And Bumped. Dots And Elephants

Pic from Nick Buxtons CD article photo by Stephen Melkisethian

*edit, July 30, 2017 – I just now reviewed this post again, since someone examined it. I corrected a few typos and added in a sentence about having mentioned Jehovah God to David Suzuki. I clicked on the two links to material presented by Tamara Lorincz and found nothing there. I don’t know what the problem is, but I looked around and found the main item and re-linked to it. The other link, to Tamara’s overview, still leads nowhere. But it’s not needed.

*edit, November 18, 2015 – I had a nagging thought that there was one more article I came across while working on this post that I wanted to share with readers. I couldn’t remember and so let it go. I must have imagined it. Then I found it again, among my bookmarks. It’s among the links, with excerpts, at the bottom of this post and it’s by Dave Vasey.

Well, I’ve got my first, in print, byline. A byline is an article with your name attached to it. (byline = by [author’s name]). That was gratifying.

What wasn’t gratifying was seeing my original, requested, piece rejected and getting no notice, ahead of time, about that. Is that standard practice? My original, much longer and clearer piece had been confirmed for publication. So my byline, with the short piece that Watershed Sentinel did accept, can’t be seen by anyone online. It was reduced to the rank of “readers’ comments” and can only be seen in the print version of the magazine. I guess my comments were worthy of being seen, but not by many, relatively speaking. I’m left wondering whether there is anything to celebrate here. Then there’s other issues, like the issues that I, and others, are raising about enviros who ignore the military in their strategizing and reporting. (I would be bothered if I knew that this makes me sound like I’m lacking humility. I’m a big believer in humility. However, I will risk the accusation. I have some things to say and will say them. Why blog otherwise?)

You can view the original form of my comment, which Susan MacVittie (managing editor of the Watershed Sentinel) found on Rabble, here: “Sorry, Naomi Klein, social movements are not enough to save us” by Dennis Gruending. Dennis was making the point that electoral politics could not be ignored by social justice activists wanting to fix society. In my view, A much better, and more moral, discussion would have involved looking at what’s wrong with the electoral system. My comment is among others that follow the article by Dennis. My comment was riffing off of Dennis’s piece more than it was addressing it, I have to confess.

Hello Rick,

I was the person that commented on your comment.

Thank you for getting in touch.

I am interested in printing your opinion in the Watershed Sentinel because we are the voice of the grassroots environmental movement and encourage critical thinking about a variety of issues.

If you are interested in having your critique of Klein’s book and the points you’ve raised printed in our magazine, we would like your comment to be edited to 650 words. Our deadline for our summer issue is May 1, and if it doesn’t make it into the summer issue, we will use it in our Sept/Oct edition.

Let me know what you think.



Here is your comment:

I keep waiting for Naomi Klein, and those discussing her work, to notice the obvious. The US runs the world – which Stephen Harper, a worshipper of power and the powerful is very aware of, clearly. And, as Thomas Friedman correctly points out, the American way of life (and the world, largely designed by the United States, as Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin explain in their book, “The Making Of Global Capitalism”) depend for it’s continued existence on American muscle. The central feature of American national security doctrine is oil, and not just because it gives kids mountains of soon to be replaced after Christmas plastic toys and (a lot of) other goodies, but because it’s huge military is a voracious user of oil. Even Michael Klare, who explains that (and his recent TomDispatch article, titled “A Republican Neo-Imperial Vision For 2016” is important for connecting quite a few dots; and that is complemented nicely by two other articles, by Robert Parry [“The Whys Behind The Ukraine Crisis”] and Michael Hudson [“Ukraine Denouement”]), fails to mention that the pipelines that will carry Canadian bitumen to the southern coast of the US for export also happen to make that oil available to the US only, in a crisis. After all, the manouvering uncle Sam is doing in Europe doesn’t have a guaranteed outcome, as Michael Hudson, above, recently observed.

The point is that with all the pushback from the people who don’t appreciate the fracking and risk taking (and train derailments are picking up pace) with transportation of oil via trucks or pipelines, the authorities – connected to what the top wants – have no intention of letting the people get in their way.

All of this is known. Harper’s cynical ramping up of police state laws will further straightjacket, and potentially cripple, enviros doing civil disobedience in order to deal with the craziness of the oil industry which Harper et al partner with. The private sector security orgs will view all of this as investment potential. They only serve power anyway, when push comes to shove. All these dots are there, but they aren’t even hard to discern. They are big, red and discussed ad nauseum every day. And yet Klein et al carry on as though she expects the US military, and militaries of it’s (present day) allies to stand down, give up using their oiled vehicles and jets and ships and equipment and be quiet, along with the 1% who they protect. It IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

The counter pushback is there and no matter how much blowing of party horns activists do with some victory in the struggle to keep pipeline companies from stealing and destroying their land and threatening water systems and aquifers, the instruments of repression and counter pushback are ready, willing, able and uncaring. William Blum writes that deep down he is pretty sure that revolution won’t succeed because the state has the people outgunned. And it does. Literally and ideologically, since the propaganda system is up and running wonderfully and the people, I’m sorry to report, just don’t care enough to know. Therefore, The state will know for them. People are good at passive learning, which means sitting in front of their television sets and having corporate owned media feed them propaganda. A recent article (by Peter Maas, with The Intercept, titled “Oscars Make History, So Hollywood’s War Stories Need To Be True”) notes that a recent study has shown that movies are more effective at forming people’s political thinking than political ads! That’s scary when you learn how deep the CIA and Pentagon’s involvement in Hollywood is. (See Tricia Jenkins’s “The CIA In Hollywood.”)

dot Uncle Sam. dot Oil. dot Military. dot Anticipated (see Harper’s latest, namely Bill C-51) pushback by the abused people. dot Locked and loaded police, military and government and private security orgs.

Susan MacVittie / Managing Editor / Watershed Sentinel
PO Box 1270
Comox, BC V9M 7Z8

Celebrating 23 years as Western Canada’s environmental news magazine- join us and subscribe!

In Susan’s explanation for my being bumped, which she offered to me once I contacted her about not seeing my article in the magazine’s Sept/Oct 2015 issue, she said: “My apologies for not runing the article yet, you got bumped because we had a David Suzuki interview and he spoke of Naomi Klein. Also, with all of the bad news we find ourselves printing, it would be nice if your article had some sort of positive suggestion for people of how to react or what to do. Or even a suggestion for Klein’s book -e.g. another direction she could have taken.”

My comment was not a proper review of Naomi’s book, which, by the way, is awesome. My comment on Rabble was no more or less than what you see. I had ‘a’ criticism, as did David Suzuki in his piece, interestingly. But David’s ‘negativity’ didn’t seem to get him bumped.

Watershed Sentinel interviews David Suzuki:

—————- — –
WS: I heard you say once something to the effect that “we invented this economy, we can invent a different one.”

What I say is that we face the reality that we live in a world defined by the laws of nature; in physics we know that you can’t travel faster than the speed of light, we know about gravity, and the second law of thermodynamics. We live in the world, we don’t complain, we can’t change it. Laws of chemistry, laws of biology … these are all things that dictate the reality of the world around us, but other things, for example, like borders that we draw around property or territory, we will go and die to defend those borders. But do you think salmon care whether they’re going through BC or Alaskan Waters? They don’t care!

The borders that we draw mean nothing to nature and yet we try to impose them. We say we’re going to control the salmon through some international treaty. We’re not looking at it the right way, and then we invent ideas like capitalism, economics, markets, corporations, and we act as if they are forces of nature. Just read the paper! “Oh oh, market’s not looking too good today.”

We invented the damn things [markets] and if they don’t work we can change them. We can’t change nature, but we can change what we invent.

Naomi Klein nails it in her book, This Changes Everything. She says, it is capitalism itself that’s at the heart of it. I have spent decades fighting with forestry or fighting with fisheries saying “well, there are economic opportunities if we do things in another way.” Why do we let them [capitalists] shape the frame? As long as we let the discussion stay within the economic realm, we’re screwed.

WS: Yes, that’s the one thing I wanted to say to you when you first started the David Suzuki Foundation, that it was still trying to, as we used to say, “make capitalism nice.”

DS: Yeah, exactly, and that’s what the green economy is all about, but it’s still an economy based on growth. It’s just, oh we gotta be more efficient and less polluting, but basically it’s still about creating stuff and growing. We can’t grow forever in a finite world.

WS: Exactly. We know that; how do we teach that to others?

DS: Unfortunately, in Naomi’s book, she doesn’t take the next step. If capitalism is at the heart of our problem, then, how do we go about destroying it? We’ve got to build something else, and she avoids that.
– — ——————

Watershed Sentinel

“Below is part of our email exchange (Wednesday, Sept 23) and below that is the piece I wrote, in anger, that WS finally printed. At this point I really didn’t care whether they printed whatever short comment they were forcing me to make. I was able, with great difficulty, to convey the core of what I had to say in the original comment with their 350 word restriction. The task of saying, ‘authoritatively’ (sources and references), what I had to say in so few words was impossible. You’ll notice that my angle was ‘negativity that isn’t negativity’. In other words, My angle was my hurt response to being told, obliquely, that I was being too negative, a nonsense charge. The magazine is full of bad news (and stories of inspiring fightback). Only if you’re a nobody, it seems, does some rule pop up that bars you from being welcomed to the party.

“Hi Susan. Thanks for getting back to me. I get being bumped by David Suzuki, as I noted. No problem, although I think a promise made should be kept. I can’t use your edited version of my longer piece. It’s not edited in any positive way. Grammar and spelling errors were added in and the piece was simply chopped. Also, Please note the spelling of my name: …

“I simply wrote up a shorter piece that had the same thrust as my longer piece. It’s all but impossible to give the subject material the proper treatment with a 350 word count. Still, I think I can offer something passable, if you’re genuinely interested. But it’s so meager, at 350 words, I don’t know why you’d want it, especially if WS staff feel that my vibe is negative. But I’ll pass this to you and let you people decide.”

And the printed ‘comment’:

=============== === =
Naomi Klein has some bad news for the oil industry, and by extension for the US empire whose military depends on oil. All militaries are fossil fueled. That bad news doesn’t mark Naomi as negative, as she’s taken pains to explain. You’re negative when you receive information and automatically reject it, for whatever reason.

I have some bad news for Naomi. The bad news she reports to governments that need adjustment don’t address the central obstacle enviros face. I might not have a solution for how to get governments to rethink national security – dependent on fossil-fueled militaries – in this violent world, but I’m not being negative. (I personally think that it’ll take a higher power to fix this mess.)

Now, Enviros do offer reticent politicians something positive, along with the bad news, and that’s the knowledge that should they choose to see things our way, that would also give them hope for the survival of their posterity, a good way for them to think.

My good news for enviros is: Intelligence.

The more you know about your enemy, the better you’ll be able to strategize. Halford Mackinder created geopolitics by looking at a map of the globe a certain way. It explains much today, as Alfred McCoy explains in his TomDispatch article, “The Geopolitics of American Global Decline.”

Obama’s soothing statements acknowledging that oil from the tar sands isn’t for use by the US strike me as a ‘look over there’ ploy. The US ‘will’ one day need it. ‘How’ are we being played? You’ll find a hint of the thinking about the need for the US to have our oil, by whatever method, only by looking hard. It’s mentioned in Wilson Dizard’s Al Jazeera article titled “Obama faces nagging dilemma over Keystone XL pipeline.” It refers to discussion about the US keeping the oil from Canada for itself. And that would be oil, I think, that would be mainly for the military/intelligence industrial complex, which might explain why Obama both agrees with doing something about anthropogenic climate change while allowing drilling all over the place.

‘We’ can change.
= === =======================

In the email copy I sent to WS, I put enclosing marks around the word ‘We’ in the last sentence of my piece. That should have been included in the printed version. I was forced to be too economical with my words, and that ‘we’ said more than just ‘myself and others’. It was meant to point to the idea that the schizophrenic talk and behavior from Obama could stem from a decision by planners to let we the people do the right thing in regard to fossil fuel addiction, without the 1% and the military/intelligence industrial complex following the people’s example. The idea would be for our change in thinking and behavior to free up more oil for the 1% and especially for the US military. At some future point in time (which may be moot), oil production will hit it’s peak, and supposing we are still around at that time, the US will no longer be able to afford sharing it, not even with allies and not even in order to fuel the fossil-fueled, global capitalist system it created (and maneuvered to dominate) post World War Two. By taking those enclosing marks from the word “We” in my piece, that meaning was lost and meaningless was introduced.

Jean Philippe Rushton vs David Suzuki at the University of Western Ontario Feb 8 1989

That was the ‘bump’. The ‘knock’ occurred many years ago when I sent David Suzuki, via snail mail, a letter that he didn’t appreciate. He sent me a nasty postcard telling me (once I could decipher his awful handwriting) that we had nothing to talk about. He said that I started from completely different assumptions and he didn’t explain what he meant by that. (My letter dealt with an upcoming debate David was to have with a racist professor. And if David preferred that some other person debate the late Jean Philippe Rushton back in 1989, which I now see is the case, then perhaps that made him prickly when dealing with any criticism that he deemed ridiculous or unsupportive.) What I said in my letter to David was that he was setting out to argue with someone who had the same foundational belief in biological evolution that he holds. I think that what David was saying to me was that you could have the same foundational belief in biological evolution as another, but that doesn’t prevent that other person from using that foundational belief to publish racist, vile beliefs and it doesn’t mean that others who are decent can’t also believe in biological evolution. (Yes, I would have agreed with that. Still…) David didn’t want to call Rushton a racist and said during the debate that he didn’t know whether Rushton was or wasn’t a racist. David did regard JP’s science as junk, but not entirely. David’s real issue with Rushton’s work was that it was both scientifically faulty, a bad thing in itself, but also had the potential to cause a lot of social unrest, which made support of it by academia and government unacceptable. I did not follow up on this debate back in 1989. I don’t remember exactly when I got my first computer, but it would have been around this time. And I didn’t have internet for a while. Then it was dial up. When did YouTube come out? I just did a quick check now and found a YouTube video of the event. I no doubt only knew what I knew from stumbling upon something in the paper. It would have been easy enough for me to miss follow up reportage in the paper.

Before I finish this post, I will view the debate. From Googling tonight I see that there are a few articles about the event as well, although I haven’t sorted through them.

Still, David’s response to me wasn’t in the democratic spirit. I’m not a racist and never was one. I’m a big believer in human rights. Maybe David just doesn’t like religious people – if they’re nobodies. (Therefore, I must have mentioned Jehovah God in my letter to him. But I don’t have a copy of the original.) He could have sent me a normal letter with just a few lines explaining his position. Instead, he sent me a postcard with his face filling out the borders and his scribbled, nasty response on the back. He knew I’d enjoy getting that in the mail. That was the low point of my letter writing hobby. I used to write letters to all kinds of people – and out of them all only David’s response was hostile – partly because I am religious and felt that it was a good way to minister and witness to others, as I was trained to do when I was with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I don’t think I was with Jehovah’s Witnesses at the time I wrote to David. Even after I decided to quit associating with them (I had too many disagreements with them about beliefs and something else happened that soured me on them.), I continued to believe that preaching (which I know is a word that has ugly connotations) was something I must do, provided it is done properly (only to those interested, never with your foot in the door). I even considered going door to door independently. As for David’s postcard to me, I was keeping it in a special album that I lent to a fellow security guard who shortly after that disappeared. That was the last time I saw my album. Nobody at work even knew where he went. He was Pakistani. But there wasn’t any information on the post card other than the short nasty response David gave me, above. (I did also get an interesting reply from the PMO about a letter I sent having to do with marijuana. It wasn’t overtly nasty. But it was cold.)

I just finished watching the video. After all these years, I finally heard the debate! Fascinating. The audience was annoying however. Everyone wants attention. Once you have an official bad guy up on stage, then the seekers for attention, if they’re there, will let rip. David Suzuki began by congratulating Canadians on being so nice. He did that after JP Rushston spoke for 20 minutes and when he began his opening 20 minute comment. As the debate progressed, and once the mic was passed around to audience members, the howlers started, each one feeding the courage and brazeness of the next. It wasn’t out of control nasty, but it was nasty. One idiot old guy was out in the aisle offering to take his penis out and show everyone, for example. Yee frikking haw. There’s your precious, noble voters, David.

International Peace Bureau

I recently came across a few articles relating to the topic that my comment in WS looks at. In one instance, the author (and others whose information she uses) has been working (through an organization called the International Peace Bureau) on this particular subject for a while. IPB has really dug into the subject of the US military’s use of fossil fuels. The main author is Tamara Lorincz. I came across her draft working paper, “Demilitarization for Deep Decarbonization: Reducing Militarism and Military Expenditures to Invest in the UN Green Climate Fund and to Create Low-Carbon Economies and Resilient Communities” a few days ago. Tonight, I came across her more recent overview of that same draft report. In her report, she refers to other sources dealing with the same subject. So the interested reader does have some material to examine should he (or…) be interested in digging deeper into this subject. Here’s an excerpt from “Demilitarization for Deep Decarbonization”:

3.2 Fossil Fuel Use by the Military

With his research on military emissions, Barry Sanders, author of The Green Zone stated, “People need to recognize that severe and serious reductions must take place in that one sector – the military – that is responsible for bringing the world to the brink of extinction faster than any other.” The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest consumer of oil in the U.S. and the largest industrial consumer of oil in the world. According to a 2012 Congressional report, Department of Defense Energy Initiatives, approximately 75% of DoD’s energy is for operational use that includes training, moving and sustaining military forces and weapon platforms for military operations; 25% is for installations including facilities and non-tactical vehicles. The report stated that the DoD consumed approximately 117 million barrels of oil per year at a cost of $17.3 billion. Table 1 presents the breakdown of fuel consumption and cost by the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Army in 2012.

table from Tamaras decarbonation draft report

Based on this level of annual fuel consumption, the DoD emits approximately 49 million metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere ever year, which is roughly equivalent to annual greenhouse gas emissions from 10 million passenger vehicles or 4 million homes. The military’s carbon “bootprint” would be much higher if the petroleum consumption and cement production by its private contractors and on its overseas military bases were included in the calculations. Our report Warfare of Welfare? describes some of the environmental and social damage caused to local communities by foreign military bases.

A retired professor of environmental health from the Boston University School of Public Health looked into greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts of the U.S. military. In her article, The Military Assault on Global Climate, H. Patricia Hynes stated, “Militarism is the most oil-exhaustive activity on the planet, growing more so with faster, bigger, more fuel-guzzling planes, tanks and naval vessels employed in more intensive air and ground wars.” Consider the fuel use by the following weapons systems and vehicles as cited by the Costs of War Project and in the book, The Environmental Costs of Militarism:

* Apache helicopters get .5 miles to the gallon (or it used approximately 300 gallons during eight
hours of operation)

* M1 Abrams tank gets .2 miles to the gallon (compare this with a fuel efficient car like the Toyota
Prius that gets 51 mpg)

* Bradley Fighting Vehicles get 1 mile to the gallon

* Battleships consume 68 barrels (2856 gallons) per hour

* Non-nuclear aircraft carriers burn approximately 134 barrels (5628 gallons) per hour

* Arleigh Burke-class destroyer typically burns 23 barrels (1,000 gallons) of petroleum fuel an hour

* B-52 long-range bomber burns 80 barrels (3,334 gallons) per hour

* F-15 fighter jet burns 342 barrels (14,400 gallons) per hour

Tanks, destroyers and fighters jets are highly energy inefficient, toxic and disproportionately contribute to climate change. In addition, the cumulative, life-cycle emissions and environmental impacts of these weapon systems are not known. Let’s not forget the purpose of these weapons systems; they are designed to injure and kill people and destroy infrastructure.

Recall that the Air Force is the largest consumer of petroleum products in the military. Aircraft fuel is kerosene turbine fuel, also known as JP-8. It is the most carbon intensive and emits the highest CO2 because of its additives and radiative forcing in the atmosphere. Fighter jets also cause severe noise pollution from sonic booms and release toxic air pollutants, including cancer-causing benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Having studied the environmental and climate impacts of the military, Sanders concluded that the only way to reduce the greenhouse gases to zero is to end war; the IPB agrees.

“Lest We Forget: Tar Sands And War” by Dave Vasey

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Since 2003, Canada has been the primary pump for the US, displacing Saudi Arabia as the historic top exporter. Currently, 97% of crude exports from Canada go directly to the US and in 2015, tar sands exports reached over 3 million barrels per day. The US military uses 80% of the total fuel burned by the US government each year and bitumen is most easily converted to jet and diesel fuel, both used heavily by the military. Thus, tens of millions of barrels of Alberta crude have fueled the planes, drones, tanks, and other weapons that have killed so many in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya amongst other places over the last decade.

The US military is the single largest institutional consumer of oil globally. If it were a country it would rank 34th in terms of carbon emissions. The military consumes over 100 million barrels are each year, representing a major source of global carbon emissions. So, not only are US wars responsible for creating refugee crises through imperial aggression, its emission have contributed to the growing climate refugee crisis. The Environmental Justice Foundation has estimated that the number of global climate refugees could be as high as 150 million by 2050.

“The Elephant in Paris – Guns and Greenhouse Gases” by Nick Buxton

Here’s an excerpt from Nick’s above linked-to article:

There is no shortage of words in the latest negotiating document for the UN climate negotiations taking place in Paris at the end of November – 32,731 words to be precise and counting. Yet strangely there is one word you won’t find: military. It’s a strange omission, given that the US military alone is the single largest user of petroleum in the world and has been the main enforcer of the global oil economy for decades.

The history of how the military disappeared from any carbon accounting ledgers goes back to the UN climate talks in 1997 in Kyoto. Under pressure from military generals and foreign policy hawks opposed to any potential restrictions on US military power, the US negotiating team succeeded in securing exemptions for the military from any required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Even though the US then proceeded not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the exemptions for the military stuck for every other signatory nation. Even today, the reporting each country is required to make to the UN on their emissions excludes any fuels purchased and used overseas by the military.

I came across this article, below, earlier but it too is fairly recent.

“History Doesn’t Go In A Straight Line” Tommaso Segantini interviews Noam Chomsky

An excerpt (of Chomsky speaking) from the above linked-to article follows:

What’s called the capitalist system is very far from any model of capitalism or market. Take the fossil fuels industries: there was a recent study by the IMF which tried to estimate the subsidy that energy corporations get from governments. The total was colossal. I think it was around $5 trillion annually. That’s got nothing to do with markets and capitalism…

And the same is true of other components of the so-called capitalist system. By now, in the US and other Western countries, there’s been, during the neoliberal period, a sharp increase in the financialization of the economy. Financial institutions in the US had about 40 percent of corporate profits on the eve of the 2008 collapse, for which they had a large share of responsibility.

There’s another IMF study that investigated the profits of American banks, and it found that they were almost entirely dependent on implicit public subsidies. There’s a kind of a guarantee — it’s not on paper, but it’s an implicit guarantee — that if they get into trouble they will be bailed out. That’s called too-big-to-fail.

And the credit rating agencies of course know that, they take that into account, and with high credit ratings financial institutions get privileged access to cheaper credit, they get subsidies if things go wrong and many other incentives, which effectively amounts to perhaps their total profit. The business press tried to make an estimate of this number and guessed about $80 billion a year. That’s got nothing to do with capitalism.

It’s the same in many other sectors of the economy. So the real question is, will this system of state capitalism, which is what it is, survive the continued use of fossil fuels? And the answer to that is, of course, no.

By now, there’s a pretty strong consensus among scientists who say that a large majority of the remaining fossil fuels, maybe 80 percent, have to be left in the ground if we hope to avoid a temperature rise which would be pretty lethal. And it is not happening. Humans may be destroying their chances for decent survival. It won’t kill everybody, but it would change the world dramatically.

Finally, Recall my reference to Obama’s schizophrenic approach to fossil fuels. Again, My theory about that is that planners have decided that we the people can quit fossil fuels if we like, but their class won’t. The military needs it and the 1% would like to continue living in the lifestyle to which it is accustomed. The theory has some weaknesses. The Right actually likes a fight – when it feels that it possesses a preponderance of force. Also, The capitalists in security no doubt view social unrest as investment potential. Then again, Perhaps they feel there will still be enough social unrest, should the US admin decide that it should support the people in their effort to quit fossil fuels, since, as the Common Dreams staff make clear, pipelines and oil train bombs will be aplenty one way or another.

“Obama’s Rejection Of Keystone XL Is Victory, But That’s Not The Whole Story” by CD staff

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Obama took the occasion of the Keystone announcement to tout his administration’s environmental track record—but should rejection of this one project be allowed to overshadow his adminstration’s numerous shortcomings when it comes to climate?

“America is leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like China to encourage and announce new commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” Obama said, adding that “if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground.”

However, Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline comes only months after he approved offshore drilling in the Arctic, an affront to climate activists and a near-fatal blow to vulnerable communities and marine life that was only avoided when Royal Dutch Shell called off its exploration project in September.

Through his presidency, Obama has repeatedly been criticized for bragging that he has expanded domestic oil and gas production, and critics say his “all-of-the-above” energy strategy proves he simply does not understand the dangers posed by runaway climate change nor the urgency needed for a rapid and just transition to renewables…

Then there’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 12-nation agreement and “corporate power grab nightmare” that Obama has pushed for strongly even as experts warn the deal is an absolute “nightmare” when it comes to environment and, in fact, never even mentions the term “climate change.”…

In the U.S., a vast network consisting of thousands of miles of new pipelines has been built in recent years. As Steve Horn, a freelance investigative journalist who writes for DeSmogBlog, said on Friday: “While the Obama White House Keystone XL decision has been touted by most environmentalists and criticized by Big Oil and its front groups, the truth is much more complex and indeed, dirty. That’s because for years behind the scenes the Obama Administration has quietly been approving hundreds of miles-long pieces of pipeline owned by pipeline company goliath Enbridge.”

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