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.

A Lighthearted PR Tip for Combatants of Global Warming

With the death of the Senate energy bill, efforts to combat global climate change have reached a standstill. It does not appear that a cap-and-trade scheme is anywhere in the near future.

A number of factors killed the energy bill. Democrats from states dependent upon traditional energy, such as West Virginia, did not support the bill. Neither did previous cooperative Republicans, such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Perhaps most importantly – and least mentioned – was the economic recession, which shifted the public’s concern from the environment to the pocketbook.

There was also another factor, a factor which should not have – but did – increase skepticism. This was the unusually cold winter from 2009 to 2010. A fair number of people must have thought something along the lines of “It is very cold right now – therefore global warming does not exist.” This type of attitude will continue to plague combatants of climate change as long as unusually cold winters continue to exist – which they will, given that even the worst case global warming scenarios posit an increase in temperature of less than five degrees Fahrenheit this century, far too little to end winter.

This blogger therefore has a PR suggestion for folks drumming up support to fight global warming. Instead of emphasizing the increase in temperatures, they ought to focus upon the increasing occurrence of extreme natural disasters resulting from climate change, such as Hurricane Katrina. Extremely cold winters could be used not as proof that global warming doesn’t exist, but as yet more evidence of disturbingly extreme weather caused by climate change.

A new name would help. Global warming doesn’t work, for obvious reasons. Climate change is too boring and non-attention grabbing. Adding an adjective – “extreme” climate change, for instance – would improve things. Something with words such as “intensified” and “disruptive” might work too.

This type of name-changing is harder than it initially sounds. After around an hour of thought, this individual could not come up with a non-ridiculous but adequately scary-sounding name. Scientists would eventually figure out something, however. They’re a smart bunch.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

A Lighthearted PR Tip for Combatants of Global Warming

With the death of the Senate energy bill, efforts to combat global climate change have reached a standstill. It does not appear that a cap-and-trade scheme is anywhere in the near future.

A number of factors killed the energy bill. Democrats from states dependent upon traditional energy, such as West Virginia, did not support the bill. Neither did previous cooperative Republicans, such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Perhaps most importantly – and least mentioned – was the economic recession, which shifted the public’s concern from the environment to the pocketbook.

There was also another factor, a factor which should not have – but did – increase skepticism. This was the unusually cold winter from 2009 to 2010. A fair number of people must have thought something along the lines of “It is very cold right now – therefore global warming does not exist.” This type of attitude will continue to plague combatants of climate change as long as unusually cold winters continue to exist – which they will, given that even the worst case global warming scenarios posit an increase in temperature of less than five degrees Fahrenheit this century, far too little to end winter.

This blogger therefore has a PR suggestion for folks drumming up support to fight global warming. Instead of emphasizing the increase in temperatures, they ought to focus upon the increasing occurrence of extreme natural disasters resulting from climate change, such as Hurricane Katrina. Extremely cold winters could be used not as proof that global warming doesn’t exist, but as yet more evidence of disturbingly extreme weather caused by climate change.

A new name would help. Global warming doesn’t work, for obvious reasons. Climate change is too boring and non-attention grabbing. Adding an adjective – “extreme” climate change, for instance – would improve things. Something with words such as “intensified” and “disruptive” might work too.

This type of name-changing is harder than it initially sounds. After around an hour of thought, this individual could not come up with a non-ridiculous but adequately scary-sounding name. Scientists would eventually figure out something, however. They’re a smart bunch.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

Jim Renacci and His Anti-Environmental Buddies

In Ohio's 16th Congressional District, Rep. John Boccieri(D) is being challenged by Jim Renacci (R).  Boccieri is an environmental champion who voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) and who received a 93% League of Conservation Voters score in 2009.  In contrast, Jim Renacci erroneously believes that comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation, far from helping our economy, national security, and environment, would instead "amount to one of the largest taxes in American history, would cause electricity prices to skyrocket and would very likely bankrupt an enormous portion of our domestic energy industry."

While Renacci's anti-environmental views are not surprising, given the groups and individuals who support his candidacy, they are disturbing nonetheless. Let's look at a few of Renacci's key endorsements and sources of money.

Exhibit A: former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and his FreedomWorks PAC. According to FreedomWorks "Online War Room" against Cap and Trade legislation, the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act – which NRDC correctly calls "a solid foundation for Senate legislation" - would actually "crush the economy" for "negligible environmental benefit." And FreedomWorks PAC director, Dick Armey (9% League of Conservation Voters rating, 1993-1999), calls global warming "an eco-evangelical hysteria going on and it leads me to almost wonder if we are becoming a nation of environmental hypochondriacs." In fact, climate scientists have overwhelmingly demonstrated that global warming is real, that it threatens our planet's ecosystems and human well being, and that it needs to be addressed forcefully – and soon – if we are to head off its worst effects.  What exactly about these scientific facts does FreedomWorks fail to understand?

Exhibit B: Murray Energy Corporation PAC, which has given Renacci $8,000.  As we have previously pointed out, this is a company that "wants to divert a pristine, high-quality stream from its course in Belmont County and transform the dry streambed into an artificial storage lake for billions of gallons of dirty coal slurry."  The company is headed by a man, Robert E. Murray, who has been "an outspoken critic of the scientific opinion on climate change," who says that climate science is "highly speculative," and who believes that people who care about the environment are "elitists" engaging in "'global goofiness' campaigns." Given all this, Murray Energy Corporation is certainly not the type of company that has any credibility on environmental issues.

Exhibit C: The Ohio Coal Association, which has given Renacci $1,250.  This is an organization which strongly supports stripping the EPA of its authority to limit carbon pollution, which questions climate science, and which links to an article which claims that "valley fill is a political myth."  To the contrary, climate science is all too real and valley fill is anything but a political myth.

Exhibit D:  The notoriously anti-environment energy company, Koch Industries, whose PAC has given Renacci $2,500.  According to Greenpeace, Koch has "quietly funneled [$50 million] to climate-denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming is no joking matter."  Koch also has a horrendous environmental record, including being fined "$30 million for its role in 300 oil spills that resulted in more than three million gallons of crude oil leaking into ponds, lakes, streams and coastal waters."  In sum, Koch is just about the last company in the world we should be listening to when it comes to protecting our environment.

The bottom line is this: with record global temperatures being set every month, with the polar ice caps melting, and with the urgent need to take action on global warming before it's too late, voters in Ohio's 16th Congressional District need to know where the candidates and their funders stand on this critical issue.

Take action today for a cleaner, stronger, and more sustainable future. Join NRDC Action Fund on Facebook and Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest environmental issues and actions you can take to help protect our planet. 

Quick Hits

A few items making news and worth a read.

Sharron Angle is dead, the trend is inescapable and the race’s dynamic is fundamentally altered writes Jon Ralston in the Las Vegas Sun.

The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts state Legislature is poised to give final approval this week to a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote.

The world's oceans have for too long been a dumping ground and are clearly in trouble. In an effort to make sense of of the dozens of US laws and overlapping agencies governing policy on oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes, John Holden, the White House Science Advisor, announced that it was forming a new National Ocean Council. The new body, which will include 24 officials from various federal agencies, will not have the power to propose new laws or regulations. Rather it will set broad policy goals and try to referee between conflicting commercial and recreational uses of the nation’s aquatic resources. By signing an Executive Order establishing a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes, President Obama strengthens ocean governance and coordination, establishes guiding principles for ocean management, and adopts a flexible framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes. More from the New York Times.

In a related story, new research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research suggests that climate change is already causing even greater sea level rise along the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Java—coastlines inhabited by hundreds of millions of people. The same climate change is also responsible for falling sea levels around the Seychelles and a potential weakening of the monsoons. A podcast from Scientific American.

Staying on global warming related topics, Federal officials noted last week that they fear an outbreak of dengue fever in Florida after a survey of Key West residents found that at least 5% had been infected or exposed to the virus. With the exception of a handful of isolated cases along the Texas-Mexico border, there had previously been no cases in the continental United States since 1946 and no outbreak in Florida since 1934. I have had dengue fever twice, once after a trip to the Chocó rainforest and a second time after a trip to Belize. The incubation period takes two weeks, I'd expect to see increased reports of dengue fever in the press the next few weeks. The virus produces high fever and a sensation that your bones are breaking apart. 

Matt Taibbi writes on the shenanigans surrounding a vote on Senator Bernie Sanders' proposal in the Senate to put a 15 percent cap on credit-card interest. Another Senate Charade highlights how Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall initially voted "no" but change their votes once it became clear the measure was headed for defeat allowing the Senators to claim that they stood for consumer protection.

Vice President Biden sung the praises of Speaker Nancy Pelosi today while at a fundraiser for Bryan Lentz, who is running to replace Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) who is now running for the Senate. Biden called the Speaker from San Francisco the “most powerful person in U.S. politics.” In what's likely to add to the catalogue of the quotable Biden, the Vice President said that “the single most successful, the single most persuasive, the single most strategic leader I have ever worked with is Nancy Pelosi,” before adding that "Nancy, you are the mother of healthcare.” The full story at The Hill.

 

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