Out of Both Sides of His Mouth

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is in mourning. He is very saddened by the sudden passing of Knut the polar bear in Germany. He tweeted:

“Sad news! Just learned Knut the polar bear died suddenly at 4,” Gingrich tweeted over the weekend. “Callista and I visited him in Berlin when he was 5 months old. He was cute.”

Knut’s passing was very sad. There is no question.

What I can’t get my head around is why Newt only cares about Knut? The government's own models show that polar bears face over an 80% chance of becoming extinct by mid-Century throughout much of their range. Polar bears may be extinct in my expected lifetime.

One of the major contributors of their decline is climate change. Newt Gingrich, who actually seems to believe in the perils of global warming, has flip-flopped on whether he will support doing anything about it.

In fact, instead of seriously exploring solutions that could address our changing climate, he played dirty politics by running an inaccurate TV ad labeling policy proposals as a tax. Those kinds of fear-mongering ads have set us back in the fight to pass federal legislation that will strengthen our security, create jobs, and reduce pollution.

That doesn’t sounds like someone who is serious about addressing real problems, which should be a prerequisite to be President. He is just someone looking to score political points with his base.

If you think Knut’s passing is sad, just wait until all polar bears are gone.

Out of Both Sides of His Mouth

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is in mourning. He is very saddened by the sudden passing of Knut the polar bear in Germany. He tweeted:

“Sad news! Just learned Knut the polar bear died suddenly at 4,” Gingrich tweeted over the weekend. “Callista and I visited him in Berlin when he was 5 months old. He was cute.”

Knut’s passing was very sad. There is no question.

What I can’t get my head around is why Newt only cares about Knut? The government's own models show that polar bears face over an 80% chance of becoming extinct by mid-Century throughout much of their range. Polar bears may be extinct in my expected lifetime.

One of the major contributors of their decline is climate change. Newt Gingrich, who actually seems to believe in the perils of global warming, has flip-flopped on whether he will support doing anything about it.

In fact, instead of seriously exploring solutions that could address our changing climate, he played dirty politics by running an inaccurate TV ad labeling policy proposals as a tax. Those kinds of fear-mongering ads have set us back in the fight to pass federal legislation that will strengthen our security, create jobs, and reduce pollution.

That doesn’t sounds like someone who is serious about addressing real problems, which should be a prerequisite to be President. He is just someone looking to score political points with his base.

If you think Knut’s passing is sad, just wait until all polar bears are gone.

Out of Both Sides of His Mouth

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is in mourning. He is very saddened by the sudden passing of Knut the polar bear in Germany. He tweeted:

“Sad news! Just learned Knut the polar bear died suddenly at 4,” Gingrich tweeted over the weekend. “Callista and I visited him in Berlin when he was 5 months old. He was cute.”

Knut’s passing was very sad. There is no question.

What I can’t get my head around is why Newt only cares about Knut? The government's own models show that polar bears face over an 80% chance of becoming extinct by mid-Century throughout much of their range. Polar bears may be extinct in my expected lifetime.

One of the major contributors of their decline is climate change. Newt Gingrich, who actually seems to believe in the perils of global warming, has flip-flopped on whether he will support doing anything about it.

In fact, instead of seriously exploring solutions that could address our changing climate, he played dirty politics by running an inaccurate TV ad labeling policy proposals as a tax. Those kinds of fear-mongering ads have set us back in the fight to pass federal legislation that will strengthen our security, create jobs, and reduce pollution.

That doesn’t sounds like someone who is serious about addressing real problems, which should be a prerequisite to be President. He is just someone looking to score political points with his base.

If you think Knut’s passing is sad, just wait until all polar bears are gone.

A Dirty Pledge

Originally posted on The MarkUp.

On Thursday, House Republicans issued their roadmap for the midterm elections and the next legislative session. It's called the "Pledge to America," but on energy issues, it sounds more like a pledge that makes powerful promises to the oil and gas industry.

The document says, "We will fight to increase access to domestic energy sources and oppose attempts to impose a national 'cap and trade' energy tax."

That's it. That's all the platform says about America's failed energy policy and the crisis of global warming.

I could understand if the GOP was pushing for a different energy and climate policy than this administration. I could understand if they wanted to try a new mechanism for reducing carbon emissions -- despite the fact that cap and trade is a market-based model first signed into law by a Republican president and GOP majority vote. I could understand if they wanted to try other ways to reduce our dependence on oil or to make the U.S. more energy efficient.

But I cannot understand the complete failure to address one of the biggest environmental, public health and national security risks of our time. I know some Tea Party and GOP candidates deny the existence of climate change, but that doesn't make the problem go away. We should have learned that from previous generations of deniers who wanted us to do nothing about leaded gasoline, or about smog or about acid rain. We didn't make progress until we ignored the deniers and got to work.

How is burying your head in the sand a visionary pledge to Americans?

I shouldn't be surprised by this failure of leadership. After all, this party platform was literally written by a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry. Author Brain Wild was a Hill staffer and assistant legislative director for Vice President Cheney. Then, he went to work for a lobby shop that had a $1.3 million contract with Exxon Mobil, $800,000 from Anadarko Petroleum, $740,000 from AIG and $625,000 from Pfizer.

As Sam Stein reports, those associations may win favor in GOP circles, but you can't escape the conflicts of interest they raise.

We've tried this before. We spent the past decade letting the polluters call the shots, and it didn't end up too well: the BP oil spill.

If someone drives a car off the road, you don't give them the keys again.

Still, there is something a little desperate about the way GOP leaders are trumpeting their supposed agenda. These people are likely to be replaced by more extreme Tea Party favorites and so they're trying to echo the Tea Party agenda to stave off their own demise.

Come November, my guess is that Representative Boehner and his colleagues will be so tied up with the civil war within the Republican Party; they won't have much time for doling out giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.

 

 

There Has Never Been a More Important Election to Get Active

Originally posted on The MarkUp.

Recently, the Wonk Room identified six Senate races and eight House races in which supporters of climate action are pitted against candidates who deny that climate change exists.

One candidate, Allen West in Florida, asked "Al Gore to apologize to God," while another, David Harmer in California, said "Global warming is more a religion than a science." Such candidates simply ignore the science, and the consensus reports from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. They have nothing credible to respond to the logic of climate science - we've known for more than a century that carbon dioxide traps heat - or its scientific conclusions - no natural phenomena can explain the average temperatures of recent decades. They don't counter the science; they simply reject it.

The statements of these candidates make it clear this midterm election isn't about Democrats versus Republicans. It's about reality versus fantasy. It's about real policy solutions versus angry diatribes.

And it's the reason why this is one of the most important elections you can get active in. You thought the 2008 presidential election was big, and it was. But right now, we are fighting a battle to maintain straight-forward, reality-based lawmaking in Congress.

If this were just the same old two-party brawl, we could still make progress on clean energy solutions. There are plenty of Republican incumbents who (when pressed), will say they know America has to confront climate change (and even more will say so privately). There are also Republican lawmakers who act like statesmen -- leaders who engage in civil dialogue and make meaningful compromises.

But the Tea Party has yanked the GOP to the right, and all GOP candidates for the Senate now say climate change is not a threat worth acting on or that it doesn't even exist. Statements that should be viewed as loony are being portrayed as mainstream. We are facing the biggest environmental challenge of the century, and China is eating our lunch in the clean energy market, but GOP leaders are sticking with the old and the dirty.

They profess to hate cap and trade, despite the fact that it is a conservative, market-based idea that was first signed into law by President Bush in 1990 to curb acid rain, after being passed in the House by an overwhelming bi-partisan majority of 401-25 and in the Senate, 89-10. But hey, who cares about historical facts if they get in the way of campaign rhetoric?

I know we are in an anti-government year. I get it. But, at the end of the day, we cannot allow gross misrepresentations and disavowals of scientific data to rule the day. We have to fight back. Tea Party candidates operate on instinct not information, and it's up to us to set the record straight. Speak up at campaign events. Write letters to the editor. Email articles like this one that explain that rather than burdening homeowners with a so-called energy tax, the program to reduce global warming pollution from Northeastern power plants has SAVED consumers $900 million on their energy bills.

And don't be shy about talking to your neighbors. I was at a neighborhood party recently when a man started spouting crazy notions about taxes and the Constitution. I finally had to say, "Excuse me, but you are speaking falsehoods. It's okay to have your own opinions, but please don't represent them as facts."

This is where we are right now. We have to pull out our mommy voices and say it's time for everybody to do their homework.

That includes the media. Write a letter every time they talk about groups like Americans for Prosperity and fail to report that it is not a grassroots movement but is actually funded by the billionaire Koch brothers and other oil industry interests.

Maybe in the past you would have rolled your eyes at these kinds of misrepresentations. But now isn't the time to be privately distressed. Now is the time to be publicly engaged.

I assure you: if you think it is bad for climate science and clean energy solutions now, you have to realize that it will only get worse if we don't fight back.

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