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Palo Alto joins push toward divestment from fossil fuel

City resolution urges CalPERS to rethink its investment policies

Spurred by concerns about climate change and a grassroots push from Palo Alto's faith community, the City Council enthusiastically passed a resolution Monday urging the California Public Employees' Retirement System to divest from fossil-fuel companies.

The council voted 8-0, with Councilwoman Liz Kniss absent, to go along with the recommendations of a colleagues memo issued last week by four council members. The memo by Marc Berman, Patrick Burt, Mayor Karen Holman and Kniss recommends that the city officials request that CalPERS divest from fossil-fuel companies and frames the issue as one of both environmental and fiscal responsibility.

The city's resolution urges CalPERS, the state's pension fund for government employees, to "immediately instruct" its asset managers to stop any new investments in fossil-fuel companies; ensure that "none of its assets include holdings in fossil fuel include holdings in fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds" on or after Jan. 1, 2020; and publish quarterly updates starting in July 1, 2015, detailing progress made toward full divestment.

The quick council vote was greeted with applause by more than 20 people who attended the meeting to urge for the resolution. Several addressed the council before the vote to make their case for divestment.

"There is no longer any doubt that fossil-fuel emissions are causing sea-level rise, extreme weather events and drought-related crop losses," said local resident Debbie Mytels, co-convener of Peninsula Interfaith Climate Action. "So it's time for action. Pulling our investments out of this dirty industry is a very symbolic step in recognizing that we can no longer continue with a business-as-usual source of energy."

Local resident Susan Chamberlain also addressed the council and made an economic argument for divestment. As pressure to reduce the use of fossil fuels builds in America and in the international community, Chamberlain said, there will be an increase in regulations to limit carbon emissions and an increase in fuel-efficient technologies. The decrease in demand for fossil fuels would leave some of the existing technology as stranded assets.

"Not only is divestment from fossil fuels the right thing to do from a moral perspective, but it makes good sense from a financial perspective as well," Chamberlain said.

In their memo, the council members made similar arguments. Berman, the memo's lead author, said he was swayed by recent studies that suggest that divestment would not lead to a negative economic impact on the city and the pension fund. He also cited the more than 150 letters that the council had received before the meeting urging divestment.

"Our investments should reflect our values," Berman said. "That's what tonight's memo and resolution is about."

The city's action comes at a time when the movement for divestment is picking up steam at cities, colleges and legislative chambers. State Sen. Kevin de Leon has been leading the Sacramento push for a bill that would force CalPERS to divest from fossil fuels, and students and faculty at Stanford and Harvard University have been vocal in urging their respective schools to divest.

Councilman Cory Wolbach called the Monday resolution a "small but important step."

"Our voice joined with others may nudge CalPERS to divest," Wolbach said. "CalPERS' decision to divest may send a message to others."

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Steve Raney
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2015 at 10:57 pm

Council member Cory Wolbach. “I was inspired to see the passionate and effective work of these congregations collecting 152 signed letters on behalf of fossil fuel divestment. Those letters, presented by a cross-denominational coalition, sent a very powerful moral statement.”

Eileen Altman is an associate minister at First Congregational Church in Palo Alto and a PICA member who spoke at the City Council meeting. “As Christians, we share a core set of values and concern for God’s gift of life, both human and all other life. Our investments should reflect our values.” said Rev. Altman. “This concern is not a liberal or conservative value, but is a Christian value. The US political system unproductively magnifies differences when Americans everywhere share 98% of the same values. Climate is about the future of our children and is especially about the people who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Climate is the biggest social justice issue of our time. From the pews in Palo Alto and throughout the United Church of Christ, the first denomination to pass a resolution to move toward divestment from fossil fuels (in 2013), we welcome the opportunity to respectfully dialogue about climate with churches in all regions of the country and across all party affiliations. “


4 people like this
Posted by Steve Raney
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 7:58 am

unintentionally hilarious attack on the fossil fuel movement: Web Link

Guardian: Web Link Title: Fossil fuel lobby goes on the attack against divestment movement
Quotes:
The speed at which the fossil fuel divestment campaign is growing seems to have rattled its opponents in the coal and oil lobbies.


2 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2015 at 10:56 am

@Steve Raney.....the video link was hilarious, but I think it was intended to be. Should be mandatory viewing for all the ban fossil fuel advocates.


2 people like this
Posted by juan
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2015 at 11:14 am

If you drink too much, you will need a liver transplant. Eating too much food causes heart attacks. Smoking causes cancer. Speeding will kill you.
There is some half truths to all this. But to believe the immediate solution would be to ELIMINATE alcohol, sweets, any forms of smoking and to somehow invent a kill switch for cars to not go any faster then say 40mph. Educating the people on moderation is the logical thing to do. But that would mean the council would have to find ways to pay for such a program. Instead having the citizens, weather you drive or not pay to save the planet is ridiculous. IF EVERY COUNTRY WAS ON BOARD, I would be first in line to help in any way I could. But what is being suggested will mean very FEW people will be getting very, very rich.
NO MATTER WHAT THE WEATHER WILL BE LIKE, TOO HOT, TO COLD ETC...IT WILL HAVE TO MEAN NOT ENOUGH IS BEING DONE AND THAT CONCLUSION CAN AND WILL BE PAID FOR FOREVER. I'm not being funny just follow the money.


3 people like this
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 12, 2015 at 1:12 pm

I love fossil fuels.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Climate - follow the Bible - Old Testament - THE FLOOD. Yes - it did happen - archeological digs can see the pattern and extent. Many examples in the Bible of large earth events of a physical nature.

Hawaii - Madam Pele - the volcanoes. The Rim of Fire of which California is part. Geophysicists have great documentation of many world great events. A more recent event is Mt. St. Helene - the volcanic impact circled the world.

Los Angeles - La Brea Tar Pits - oil and tar seep up from the ground and pool.

The impact of the meteor which killed the dinosaurs.

Earth is very complicated. Man makes it more so. Example is the levies in the bay which cause build up of silt and backflow of sludge.

WWI, WWII added complicated physical effects on earth.
You can write a story about any aspect of earth at any time that history is recorded. This is not a current event as much as a continuing event.


11 people like this
Posted by Pa mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Is this really what we want our council members to be doing? How about turning your attention to some of the many real local problems.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2015 at 5:20 pm

If CalPERS had divested before the price of oil tanked, those investments would have been worth more.

People ridicule this effort because it's unlikely to have any effect. But just like S. African Apartheid, it keeps the issue in the ears of the Directors and will cause some to call for useful changes. People may not worship oil or coal, but they surely worship money and the golden calf.


7 people like this
Posted by OldAlum
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2015 at 5:53 pm

You can't imagine how hilarious this is to an adult. Do any of those people know anything about fossil fuels and the affect they have had on civilization?
To the point is Alex Epstein's "The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels." For another view of Al Goreleoni's fixation, try reading "Dark Winter" by John Casey. Do any of these people think for themselves or just believe what comes out of the media.


5 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm

The most direct way to reduce fossil fuel usage is to reduce fossil fuel usage.

Divestment is a salve for do-gooders who want something "feel-good" to do.

If they spent their energy on supporting fossil fuel substitutes, it would have a lot more impact.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how these do-gooders think divestment is more effective than taxing gasoline.

It looks like our city council is still out to lunch.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2015 at 9:48 am

News to day is that "Judge Puts Pipeline on Hold". The Canadian Company Trans-Canada is trying to use eminent domain in Nebraska to take land for the Keystone Pipeline. The affected counties in Nebraska are suing to prevent this action.

The Keystone Pipeline will go through Canada, Montana, South Dakota to Nebraska. In Nebraska the pipeline would connect to existing pipelines to travel to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. More than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day pass through those pipelines. Why Texas? Only Texas has the number / type of refineries that can work the different type crude to produce the different type oil products. Canada does not have the capability to refine the oil type found in Canada - nor the desire / capability to build those refineries.

On a different front China is trying to mine coal in the same area - Montana / South Dakota and transport by train to a port at the top of the Columbia River - from which the coal would be barged down to an ocean port in Oregon for shipment to China. The barges are owned by an Australian Company. Note that China is mining coal in Australia so there is an existing relationship. Conservation groups are in court to prevent this action since the Columbia River is a main Salmon fishery location. The Columbia River Gorge lies on basalt which is a natural aquifer and holding table for the water which is pumped up by agriculture for farming. Note when you see a circle plot the central pipe is pumping from a aquifer.

So you have Canada and China as the instruments of this activity. The question on the table is how the US State Department, Department of Energy, Department of Interior is allowing this all to happen. I think you need to step up the game to address the questions to the government agencies who are approving this activity. I personally have no interest in China despoiling our land and rivers. And it does not create jobs for us - forget that argument.

Divestiture is focusing on American Companies but much of what is going on is initiated by foreign countries with the blessings of the US Government.
That is where the challenge is.

Also the Governor of California - Jerry Brown is issuing permits for fracking in the state. So he is part of the problem. Send him letters.
I wish Jerry would intervene in the labor dispute at the ports since this is adversely affecting the image and business base of the state. All of that junk that is floating around the bay can be attributed to the huge number of tanker ships that are sitting the bay waiting to unload. He is not attempting to reconcile the union and port authority disagreements.

Your government is OUT_OF_CONTROL. Now the auditor for the state has to go in and look at all bond issued/ supported activities to verify the proper use of the bond issues this is due to the ABAG scandal. That is from the SF Chronicle today.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Oil - US OIL companies provide assistance to the US Government who have made trade relation agreements with foreign countries. Many of the countries post 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union only have oil as a way to provide an economy for their people - as well as provide heating and commerce.

We obviously have trade relations with Canada relative to oil, as well as Saudi Arabia and the neighboring countries for which we have diplomatic relations. So the US is busy in oil world at the request of the US Government and the other countries. This is not an easy balance as many of the countries who have oil also have internal political factions which are at each other's throats, as well as pirates who are busy trying to capture any ship that floats by their grasp.

Many of the oil rich countries in South America - Eastern Europe are teaming with Russia and China which shifts the balance of power.

This whole operation is very problematical and costs a lot of money to manage. It takes a lot of resources and knowledge to manage all of the moving parts.

I congratulate the many US companies in Silicon Valley who are attempting to assist the other countries by providing technical assistance to them to help build their economies. Obviously this is the younger generation so time is needed to shift the economies to new technical baselines of independence. The younger generation is smart and resourceful and are working to change up the economies of the countries.

Then comes along the US church(s) who are focusing on the American companies and attempting to put them out of business, or reduce their ability to function. This then extends into the US Government and their ability to help other countries they are trying to develop and maintain relations with.

If the church wants a place at the table in helping the US Government build trade relations with other countries as part of their mission then they need to be able to fund this activity. They need to partner with the US Government to help them achieve their goals. They can be a voice at the table if provided in a constructive manner.

Who was it in the French Revolution that said "Let them eat cake". That translates many ways.


Like this comment
Posted by Divest or Die
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Palo Alto has greatly contributed to the transition to clean energy and a livable world, through this unanimous decision of the council. Congratulations to the people of the PA!!!

The market contraction for fossil fuels will continue to accelerate this and next year, thank goodness, as solar and wind blow away any new electricity generation from coal, and even gas. EVs will continue to accelerate despite low oil prices. The Carbon Bubble is bursting. Everyone knows it now. Who will be the last fools to promote toxic energy?


Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2015 at 3:16 pm

The Council voted 8-0. They also voted unanimously for high speed rail and the Maybell high density project. Their wisdom is suspect.


4 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Divest or Die - No one here is promoting fossil fuels - most people encourage the development of alternate fuel sources. However if you are sitting in Santa Clara County - the heart of Silicon Valley - then you need to recognize that the majority of the world does not have that luxury. The majority of the world does not have this economy.

You are in the middle of three major airports who require gasoline to fly planes. The ships sitting the harbor need oil to move. The majority of cars on the road need gasoline at this time to travel. You cannot wave your hands, make speeches, and make those facts go away. There is no HSR at this time - you will have to wait a lot of years for that to happen.

China is dependent on coal and is resistant to changing that energy source. You should go over there and help them - you can make some speeches.

Silicon Valley is a good start but is way ahead of the rest of the world - you have to let the rest of the world catch up when they have the resources to do that. Silicon Valley is in a good temperature zone - all of the rest of the world has varying temperature ranges.

Article today in the paper is that we are looking at an impending period of great drought - in which case hydroelectric power will be problematical.
There are more challenges ahead than the oil industry so you can hold on for the ride.



3 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2015 at 7:11 pm

I can't resist - where are you all going for vacation? Europe? Eastern Europe to see you babushka? Hawaii? East coast to see grandma? All those young people going for their Europe adventure? Or their spring break in Mexico? WOW - how is everyone going to get there?

If you are headed for Hawaii you will probably run into a lot of Canadians. These are Canadians from the middle and east coast - they come from their ice and snow covered existence to see some sun.

How about Cosco? Safeway? They have the same isles and food in Hawaii as here - how does that happen? And the car rental people have a lot of cars - how does that happen? It is so mysterious as to how people and every day goods move from Point A to Point B. It is like magic - wave a wand and it happens.

You can forget about Lanai - that is owned by Mr. Oracle. And Mr Microsoft has multiple properties in Hawaii. And Mr Dell. How did they get there?

And all of those snowbirds (aka old people) who live 6 months in the "cold place" then 6 months in the "warm place" - aka Florida.

And all of those airline miles you keep saving up - and hotel points - how and why do you do that? Because you love telling everyone about your adventures in some strange place - like Cuba. How did you get there?

Rick Steves wants you to go to his various trips to Europe - you can see him on PBS. The newspaper have a travel section to entice you all to go SOMEWHERE - so get on your traveling shoes and get going - and check out that plane or cruise line ship your on - pretty snazzy. Hey - that is good times.
And if you are an environmentalist then you want to join your cohorts in Aspen, or Idaho - you can all congratulate your selves on what a great job you are doing. How did you get there - how do you get back? How did all of the yummy food get there - or those great hotels?
Some how, some way people end up someplace else by mysterious methods.


3 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 14, 2015 at 11:37 am

The key word here is Divestment - this came up last night on the news regarding the UC System relative to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict.

Divestment is a political movement with a moving base of target.
Relative to the UC system that is really confusing - Senator Feinstein heads up a committee for the US Government which authorized the targeted companies to complete a task. No one goes into an area of conflict without the express direction of the US Government and State Department who issues the export licenses. Then her husband Richard Blum is on the Board of Regents for the UC system, as is Gavin Newsom as Lt. Governor. It should be noted that Richard Blum has involvement with companies that Diane Feinstein has directed complaints against. Valentine's Day in that household should be interesting. The former head of Homeland Security now heads up the UC system - she is very busy protecting her salary and charging more for tuition.

The CEO of HP is Meg Whitman who ran for governor against Jerry Brown - she lives in Atherton. Carly Fiorina is also politically active and was the previous CEO of HP. Assume she lives in Atherton or close by. So the Menlo Park Presbyterian voted to remove themselves from the PCUSA group and join another group. Funny how that works. Funny that HP is targeted in these movements.

Climate as a topic is well reported in all newspapers and is a moving target based on developments in any sector - water, fossil fuels, etc. The divestment of Fossil Fuel companies is well documented on Wikipedia as is the history and specifics of all participants in previous divestment actions, as well as their voting for / against by year.

The politics of divestment is a global issue - suggest you all get familiar with it relative to the political side of the issues - how the organizations voted, etc.

Wikipedia is a great source of information on this topic. For the people who are going to be running for Governor of California (G. Newsom) then divestment will be a topic of that election since the targeted companies have a solid base in California and G. Newsome has a long standing seat on the UC Board of regents.


4 people like this
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2015 at 4:28 pm

When the City Council voted to join the South Africa boycott about thirty years ago, it voted against both investing and purchasing goods. Why didn't the proponents of the fossil fuels divestment also ask the City Council to oppose purchasing fossil fuels? I guess because asking for symbolic actions makes people feel good.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 15, 2015 at 9:43 am

The PA Weekly started this conversation - published in their paper - stating that it was a grass roots group, and Marc Berman qualified his comments as though he knew nothing about the subject but was approached by a group of grass roots people.

This is political theatre. Mr. Berman will be running for higher office so it counting on the support from this group.

We have enough political theatre at the Palo Alto level, much less the international level.

This is not a grass roots efforts - it is a calculated political effort that has extensive information in Wikipedia on the topic.

It galls me that the UC system got involved in the concept of Divestiture. With all of their strange activity of late regarding tuition and funding issues it is like watching one of the best university systems start falling on its face. At least UCLA does not get dragged in to these strange situations to the same degree as the Berkley people.

As to the grass roots people - you need to look at your parking lots - they all need to be refitted with electrical battery chargers. Then you can be really green.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 18, 2015 at 8:46 am

Good article today in SJM - 02/18/15 "Mother Nature oiled these birds".
This is a lengthy article concerning the seeping of oil in the ocean and land (La Brea Tar pits). World wide nearly 200 million gallons pour into maritime ecosystems annually from such seeps. The California coastline has much oil under ground. Good article.

I grew up in LA near the tar pits. Area La Cienega Blvd (restaurant row - Hollywood) / Beverly Blvd was a lot in which the tar/oil soaked up and ruined your shoes. A well was eventually put in this location and was later covered with a major shopping center - Beverly Center. This is next to the Cedars/Sinai Hospital Center. Follow La Cienega south to the Baldwin Hills which had much oil production.

WSJ today - Opinion Section - "Oregon is Greener Than Thou" in which the recent Governor conflict-of-interest scandal is discussed. He is out - the Secretary of State is in. The environment has become a religion. British Petroleum (BP) is the biggest oil company in the world now calls itself "beyond petroleum".

Apple's solar project will be subsidized by the taxpayers 30% of the up-front cost.

And allegedly Vladimer Putin is funding the Western green groups to lobby against fracking. Russians were in evidence in Maui when a major meeting of the Canadian pipeline folks flooded the island. Canadians love Hawaii.

Any discussion on this topic and environmental issues needs to remove the sanctimony to evaluate what is going on.

I wish the people from the Earth Sciences Department at Stanford would chime in here, as well as the USGS in Menlo Park. They have a lot of knowledge on earth / climate issues. Also UC - Lawrence Livermore Labs.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 19, 2015 at 9:24 am

The inauguration of the new mayor and council last night was a history lesson in part. Since it was noted last night Palo Alto would not exist except for Stanford University then you should check out the biography of Leland Stanford in Wikipedia - one of the Big Four (Stanford, Hopkins, Crocker, Huntington) who built the transcontinental railway. Note that the Southern Pacific Transcontinental Rail Road owned the Associated Oil Company.

Check out the History of Oil in California through 1930. It will give you a tag to move on to current history.

That is for all of you folks who were not born in California and did not get the opportunity to take California History in school. At least your further discussions on oil will have a historic context.

And why you are there you can read up on the California Oil and Gas industry.

Where does electricity come from - giant turbines using natural gas. Alternative is hydro-electric power - but that requires water. We are running out of water.

You cannot cherry pick the state's history. Lucky for us that the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is headed by an individual who worked as a legislative aid for Rusty Arias in the Central Valley. If he decides to run for office then he will have the support of the whole state - both north and south.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 22, 2015 at 12:22 pm

SJM 02/22/15 - "The rumblings begin - Plan to ban fracking introduced."
Glad to see that the relative government agencies are going to ban fracking on a county by county basis - this is specific to Santa Clara County - Gilroy area. It is the government's job to institute and follow guidelines and enforce them. They are banning The Action of Fracking - the typical companies who do this are not on the stock exchange - they are private companies. Divestiture of CALPERS does not apply here on a typical basis. The regulation of any fossil fuels needs to start with the government doing their jobs - which in this case they are.

Other notes - SF Chronicle - "India- Air Pollution cuts millions of lives short". They are citing use of fossil fuels - but are not citing what the specific fuels are or what the Indian Government is doing to manage the internal use of fuels. It is the government's job to create the infrastructure within the country. This has nothing to do with American companies. They are citing studies in China - which we already know are out of control on the use of coal and instituting any compliance issues in their factory systems.

South Africa - Apartheid - After the Talismen group sang I had to go to Wikipedia to read up on South Africa and Apartheid. VERY COMPLEX ISSUE. Any one who follows Downtown Abbey on PBS already knows that the British Commonwealth had a definite mind-set that is now coming up on the intrusion of world wars which are going to change the commonwealth forever. The companies in question were agents of the British Government. The American government and American Companies were not involved in this activity and the specific problems were commonwealth related. Note the Irish were / are not doing well there either.

Harking to Apartheid - Divestiture as a tool does not track to the US economy today - if the relative government agencies do the job they are hired to do. It is the government's job to control the environmental elements. The pressure needs to go on the Government to do its job.


Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2015 at 8:09 am

Web Link

Turns out fossil fuels ain't so bad.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm

It's remarkable how unsophisticated our PA leadership is on technological approaches to environmental improvements. Instead, it hides behind global warming alarmism, and its political power grab.

The person who surprises me the most is Pat Burt. He is a technocrat, which I usually tend to support, but where is he on Gen IV nuclear (silence)? Why does he not state that so much 'science' behind global warming is agenda driven and faulty?

Here we are, at the heart of the Silicon Valley, yet we refuse to embrace the future that technology can provide. Our leadership appears to be stuck in a reactionary, luddite past of scarcity alarmism...which is self defeating.


Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Craig Laughton -- "Why does he not state that so much 'science' behind global warming is agenda driven and faulty?"

You mean, of course, the "science" that disputes global warming -- this being only the latest example of the distortion efforts that energy corporations are funding:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2015 at 2:40 pm

[Portion removed.] As I have said before, just change the rules to government funding of climate science grants, to demand that only skeptics get funded...then 97% of published scientists will be skeptics. Political science is bad science, period.

Global warming alarmism is a political ploy to gain political power. People like Pat Burt should stand up to it. Instead, he joins efforts to support high speed rail and divestment schemes. Sad.


Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2015 at 2:42 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 23, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Not sure what Stop the Trolls is referring to but using Wikipedia to breakdown the facts on any topic is a universal point of reference - if you have a problem with what that reference point is saying then I cannot help that. Also reference to news stories in main stream papers are a valid reference point.

I am learning a lot about the churches and their philosophies, as well as the history of other locations like South Africa. South Africa would not have come up except for the presence of the Talisman A Capella group. The city is opening / stating / taking a position so just bouncing off that position with facts that are available to anyone. The divestiture group made reference to Apartheid so they led the thought process. That was their opening position.

You have to admit that demanding the pension group to divest fossil fuels is very controversial - especially when the terminology Fossil Fuel is open to interpretation for California - oil only? Coal only? We do not have a lot of coal in California. Is there some other category that should be included? If we were in the Midwest we could include corn which makes ethanol? If we are in Texas should we include cows that make methane gas? If you are laughing at that one then think again - a lot of dairies in Marin have been closed due to that reason.

There is more to this story than what has been put out there - the Clinton Foundation has accepted large donations from foreign countries - including Saudi Arabia and Africa. They probably now have to give that money back due to conflict of interest.

The Desmond Tutu Foundation is located in New York City and is focused on apartheid and divestiture as a political response. The two are a match if you look at the goals of the organizations regarding AIDS and HIV. Since the church group brought up Apartheid then they led that discussion.

I am not interested in taking cues from the Desmond Tutu Foundation or South Africa regarding how this state is run. They are not doing that well with their own states. And I am not interested in what appears to be a money exchange (laundering) activity which is what this appears to be.

As to the climate there is a lot of work being done and as it becomes feasible to put in place that will happen. For the state of California we are somewhat lucky that coal does not play a big part in our energy stream. Not so for the people in the southeast USA which is coal country, as well as the location for the head of the PCUSA. I am sure they are sensitive to coal.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2015 at 6:43 pm

>For the state of California we are somewhat lucky that coal does not play a big part in our energy stream.

Wrong. Coal is just under 8% of our electricity mix. Natural gas (another fossil fuel) is much larger. See the following link.

Web Link

It is important to argue with facts, not guesses.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 23, 2015 at 8:01 pm

@Craig -- the chart you reference, "2013 Total System Power in Gigawatt Hours", cannot possibly be correct, given the fact that gigawatt hours are not a unit of power.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2015 at 8:08 am

>@Craig -- the chart you reference, "2013 Total System Power in Gigawatt Hours", cannot possibly be correct, given the fact that gigawatt hours are not a unit of power.

The joule is a fundamental measure of energy. The watt is a unit of electric power, which is based on the rate of doing work or producing or expending energy. One watt = 1 joule per second. A gigawatt is 10^9 watts. Gigawatt-hours is a rating for electric power production, which means gigawatts produced over one hour.

The graph is provided by the California government, and it appears to be correctly labelled. If you quibble with the units, then just look at the percentages. The fact remains that fossil fuels, including coal, are a significant source of California's electricity production.

We should be thanking the fossil fuel companies, not castigating them.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 24, 2015 at 9:51 am

Correct, Craig, a gigawatt-hour is a unit of energy, not power. Units misused is just a pet peeve of mine, and I'm dismayed when I see this perpetuated in official documents. Power and energy are related like a speedometer and odometer, but they measure different things.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 24, 2015 at 11:09 am

Glad to see that the union negotiations regarding the port participants has been partially resolved to allow the workforce to resume their jobs.
The State Of California is one of the biggest and richest in the USA. We have major ports = ships, trucks, railroads, people who work to keep the economy moving. We have major airports that transfer freight and people to keep the economy moving. All of the combinations required to produce products, agriculture, technology and get them to market produce jobs. Those are middle and lower wage people.

Divestment in the political term used here was a tactic used in South Africa during the colony years. Since we were previously a colony of European countries then we get that. We divested ourselves from the European colonization process. We have a definite US history on the topic.
Desmond Tutu is a proponent of Divestment to cure all of your ills in today's world.

In the historical sense it was a political action to change government ownership and responsibility to set up a separate government. A separate government implies a unique currency, borders, and legal status.

The use of divestment within a country - against internal parts of the country is a different topic altogether. Especially when the target is one of the major elements which distinguishes our strengths.

I am not a union person - all you teachers are - I am not a "oil" person. So what is the deal here?

Robert Reich, UC Berkley Professor of Public Policy, Fellow of Blum (Richard Blum, husband of Diane Feinstein, on Board of Regents for UC System) Center for Developing Economies, and weekly contributor to the Insight Section of the SF Chronicle is a devoted union person who champions union activities. In his Wikipedia biography he once dated Hilary Clinton in the college years, and was Clinton's Secretary of Labor. So it could be assumed that he has a connection to the Clinton Foundation.

Cartoons not withstanding there is a trail of connections which is beyond the church groups which probably rank in the lower tier of this whole line of activity.

Climate - it is being worked on by very talented people - but the individual countries need to create the infrastructure and compliance requirements to police and control their activities.

So get into Wikipedia and look up what ever anyone is telling you because there is a lot of SPIN out there. All of that SPIN equals money changing hands. Climate is big business.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 12:53 pm

There is an excellent article today 03/14/15 in the Wall Street Journal "Fossil Fuels Will Save the World". It discusses all of the energy sources, the pluses and minuses, and the offsetting alternatives to any one type of energy source. It is a very lengthy article but well worth your time if you are invested in this topic. I suggest that you take the time to read it. It is very well balanced and provides excellent statistics to work with. This is not a political article - it is historical in nature so is not feeding into any hyperbole on the topic.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2015 at 2:42 pm

@resident 1: Good article. It tells the truth, which is not alarmist. The neo-religious environmentalist true believers probably won't like it, but that reflects on them.

Here is the URL:

Web Link


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm

A related topic mentioned in the article is the deforestation which strips the land of trees. In Florida south is a mangrove forest which legally cannot be touched or trees removed as the mangrove protects the coastline during hurricanes and tidal storms from being broken off and dragged back into the sea. The mangrove exists in a specific grid around the world relative to temperature and sun.

In Bangladesh people strip out the wood to use for heat and the end result is that there is no border protection for the land - the sea comes in and rips off the land so that now people in some areas are living on strips of land in the sea. They are trying to rebuild the mangrove in areas to protect the shoreline and move those people into cities. That is an example of people using a renewable source for power which in the end has ruined the environment. A show on NPR covered this topic.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 14, 2015 at 7:11 pm

Thank you res1 and Craig for recommending and linking this Wall Street Journal article.


1 person likes this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm

musical,

The alarmism over global warming is a secular religion, like the population bomb from decades ago (Paul Ehrlich). Political liberals are highly susceptible (as was I, when I was one). Their main problem is that they refuse to acknowledge the essential facts. This WSJ article should be sobering to them, but it probably will not be.

We are facing a world of abundance, with very efficient new technologies. We are NOT facing a world of scarcity. The Earth's ecological system will be vastly improved if we face these basic facts...the scarcity movement will only continue to degrade the Earth.

We should be welcoming cleaner fossil fuel technologies (e.g. natural gas) derived through newer technologies like fracking. We should also be celebrating the liberation of oil (and gas) from hard rocks in the USA...very good for national security and balance of payments. Above all, we should be demanding newer generations of nuclear power. We should also be pursuing solar power. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

We should NOT get involved in disinvestment schemes, which will only lead to scarcity for the poorest people on Earth.


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Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 16, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Craig Laughton: "The alarmism over global warming is a secular religion..."

Actually, that's global warming denial.

Carry on.


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Posted by Sarah
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 17, 2015 at 1:05 pm

This last post by Craig Laughton is beautiful. He lays out the future, and it is very optimistic. He rejects the scarcity mob. Yes, we are facing a new world of abundance.

Thank you, Craig


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 17, 2015 at 3:27 pm

I have a theory on "divestments". They are trying to drive the cost of stock down so that they can pick it up at a cheaper price.

The "divestment" strategy seems to target companies that are doing well and have a great long term growth projection.

Reality is most oil companies are owned by the countries in which the oil is produced creating great wealth for the government's of those countries.
They are not traded on the US stock exchange so are unaffected by the American "divestment" groups.

AND - every church and other agency has a huge pension fund with the high number of people now reaching retirement age.

AND - every organized church has a requirement for a health plan - and we all know that is an expensive cost.



1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 18, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Department of Interior, gave a good speech today - "Vision for a Balanced, Prosperous Energy Future". It is addressing the future of energy.

If you are interested you can get on the weekly updates for the Department of Interior. Go to : info@updates.interior.gov.


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