20. Obama’s Speech on Fighting Global Warming: “Too Little, Too Late”?

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The president’s speech was great in tone and in the way he showed we need immediate action to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and deal with other countries of the world in the collective reduction in worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases. But the plan lacked detail, especially in how we should all be CONSERVING more energy that is generated by fuel burning in everything we do, especially driving less, flying less (or not at all), and using less energy in our homes and in the places where we visit.

The U. S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that U.S. gasoline and diesel fuel consumption for transportation in 2012 resulted in the emission of about 1,089 million metric tons from gasoline and 422 million metric tons of CO2 from diesal fuel burning to the atmosphere, respectively, for a total of 1,511 million metric tons of atmospheric CO2 in 2012. This total was equivalent to 83% of total CO2 emissions by the U.S. transportation sector and 29% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions.

Regarding air travel, it is often said that transportation by plane usually results in by far the largest quantities of greenhouse gases (GHG’s) emitted by a person in a year. GHG’s emitted (CO2 and nitrous oxide). This is due to the tremendous quantities of fossil fuels burned in takeoff, climbing and cruising at high elevation in a heavy jet airliner.

In 2011, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,280 kWh. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 16,176 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh.

To meaningfully reduce our emissions from transportation and household/business use our Congressional representatives and senators needs to ENACT MAJOR PROGRAMS THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. The U. S. Congress should enact programs that offer voluntarily “positive financial incentives” ($) to Americans who limit their carbon dioxide emissions to minimal levels, as measured by their annual mileage driven in automobiles (all registered vehicles they own) over a year’s time. It is not enough to rely on vehicle energy efficiency improvements to reduce CO2 emissions by transportation since studies have shown than most people who buy more fuel efficient cars eventually drive even more miles per year than they did before, not less, which therefore negates the fuel efficiency caused greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

These programs should be funded by taking away the many tax exemptions now given to fossil fuel development corporation, reductions in funding the military industrial complex, and by eliminating major expansions to highways and airports and by avoiding the construction of new power sources due to increased conservation of energy in homes and increased energy supplies from wind and solar sources. The money should then be directed into funding for offering positive financial incentives for people to drive less (miles) (or not drive at all); to avoid flying; and to use less fossil fuel derived energy in their homes or businesses. People who already chose to walk, ride buses, and not fly airplanes would benefit financially by this program, as would individuals, families and business who use less fossil fuel derived energy in heating and electrifying their homes and businesses.

More details on the financial incentives plan are contained in: “Positive Financial Incentives: An Environmentally Just Approach for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, published earlier on this blog site on May 9, 2013.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

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About Mike Neuman

Environmentalist; Father; Senior Citizen; Husband, School Crossing Guard; Green Bay Packer Fan; Wisconsin Badger Fan; Animal Lover; Humanitarian

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