June 2014, Risky Business Project: Risky Business: A Climate Risk Assessment for the United States (PDF)
Al Lewis Says We're Fracking Toward Ruin
When Republicans Fret Over Climate Change, It's Time to Worry
By Al Lewis
June 29, 2014
We will burn every last drop of oil on this planet or die trying.
Billions of dollars of coastal real estate will be under the sea. Crop yields will plummet. Electricity demand will soar as life becomes increasingly unbearable without air conditioning.
The polar ice caps will become polar slush caps. Many people will continue to insist that global warming is a hoax. And no matter what anybody actually believes, or thinks they can prove, about what's causing the obvious degradation of the biosphere, humanity will continue spewing carbon into the air.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported  that the Obama administration has opened the spigot, allowing two U.S. companies to export unrefined oil for the first time since the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s.
Republicans cried "drill, baby, drill" at their 2008 convention. But under Democrats, it's been "frack, baby, frack."
America is now awash in natural-gas condensate thanks to this improved, yet environmentally controversial, drilling technology.
This condensate oil is sometimes called "drip gas" or even "natural gasoline." When I covered the energy beat in the Texas Panhandle in the 1980s, locals called it "white oil." I watched an oil man funnel it into the gas tank of an old truck, right from a drip tank near a wellhead.
The companies producing this ultralight hydrocarbon liquid want to get a higher price for it overseas. Send it somewhere where other people can burn it even faster.
The last thing domestic energy producers need to produce is lower energy prices for Americans. It's now more profitable to plunder America's nonrenewable energy resources and ship them abroad.
On the same week that this plan came to light, a report that was sponsored by some uber-wealthy investors enumerated a litany of economic risks posed by climate change.
Behind the report, titled "Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change In The United States," was New York's billionaire former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer, and Hank Paulson, the former Goldman-Sachs head and Treasury secretary.
It seems at least some Republicans are willing to consider climate-change scenarios, especially when they're in the investment business and they get a look at the mounting bills.
Among the economic risks the report cited:
As much as $23 billion of Florida real estate will likely be under water by 2050.
The annual cost of coastal storms along the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico will reach as much as $35 billion.
Midwestern and Southern states could see a 10% to 20% decrease in crop yields over the next 15 years.
The Southwest will be even more consumed with wildfires than it is now.
Electricity rate payers will be shelling out an additional $12 billion a year for air conditioning.
Construction activity will slow and more people will die every year from the intensifying heat.
"The U.S. climate is paying the price today for business decisions made many years ago," the report said. "Every year that goes by without a comprehensive public- and private-sector response to climate change is a year that locks in future climate events that will have a far more devastating effect."
Well, here's the "comprehensive public and private sector response" so far: "Frack it!"
--Al Lewis is a columnist based in Denver. He blogs at tellittoal.com; his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org