Delay Means Death

Someone has to say it

The world’s authority on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its sixth assessment made one thing clear. We must significantly reduce greenhouse gases between now and 2030 if we want to keep warming below the target of 1.5 Centigrade. We are in a “code red for humanity” because “delay means death.” That’s why 350 Montana and our supporters staged a “climate criminals” street theater shaming at NorthWestern Energy’s Butte headquarters on August 12 and 13.

In Montana, our monopoly utility, NorthWestern Energy, in its phony new “net zero” plan, wants to wait until 2050 to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and to push global warming to 2 C. There’s a massive difference in the amount of damage the Earth’s support systems will sustain between 1.5 and 2 C. For many, the difference is between life and death. And a seventh grader who missed the two fundamental goals of the IPCC in his or her report, would flunk. Yet that’s what Bob Rowe and John Hines, NorthWestern’s leaders, have done.

Gifted performer and 350 Montana leadership team member, Craig Menteer, built eight-foot puppets of NorthWestern CEO Bob Rowe and Vice President John Hines, and volunteers using a bullhorn and a chorus told the story of the company’s intransigence. NorthWestern wants to build a fleet of expensive, polluting methane generators and keep the coal plants at Colstrip spewing CO2 until 2050. These electrical generators are more expensive than clean wind and solar backed by storage technologies.

Last November in our lawsuit challenging “pre-approval” loophole, 350 Montana’s lawyer, Monica Tranel, asked John Hines under oath about global warming. Here’s the transcript:

Q. Do you, do you agree that humans are causing climate change?
A. Yes.

Q. And do you agree that the fossil fuel emitting plants contribute to climate change?
A. Yes.

Q. Does Colstrip contribute to climate change?
A. Extremely small component, but yes.

Q. And does Dave Gates?
A. Anything that emits carbon, whether it’s humans, thermal plants, even the manufacturing of wind plants, everything basically that’s alive contributes to climate change and/or mechanical.

Q. Will the Laurel gas plant contribute to climate change?
A. It will contribute carbon, which has been linked to climate change

NorthWestern understands exactly what the stakes are and chooses to do nothing. That choice will have profound impacts, degrading the world our children and grandchildren will inherit.

Those who come after us will want to know how this happened and who was responsible. They will regard Rowe and Hines as climate criminals who could have used their leadership for good but chose to squander their authority.