Year 2, Month 7, Day 7: There’ll Be One Guy Left, But He’ll Be VERY RICH.

The New York Times reports on Al Gore’s June 21 article in Rolling Stone, in which he criticizes Obama on climate:

In the 7,000-word article in Rolling Stone, Mr. Gore says that Mr. Obama clearly understands the threat to the planet posed by global warming and that he has appointed a number of qualified and committed advocates to key positions.

But Mr. Gore charges that in the face of well-financed attacks from fossil fuel industries and denial and delay from Republicans in Congress, Mr. Obama has failed to act decisively to alter the nation’s policies on climate change and energy.

Sent June 22:

The contrast is striking: whereas his predecessor was an intellectually lazy faux cowboy, Mr. Obama is a thoughtful, scientifically literate incrementalist. But there are some areas in which incremental progress is inherently unsatisfactory, and our response to the deepening climate crisis is one of these. What with the shockingly rapid deterioration of our oceans (as detailed in the IPSO report), the continuing increase in greenhouse emissions, the collapse of regional ecosystems worldwide, and the dramatic increase in extreme weather events, it is self-evident that tiny steps in the right direction won’t get us out of trouble. We need to move fast, and we need to move dramatically.

However valid Mr. Gore’s criticisms of President Obama, the real story is that the corporate forces controlling the economy won’t abandon their profit margins, despite mounting evidence that this strategy will subject their customer base to what biologists euphemistically call an “evolutionary bottleneck.”

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 10: Just Stop It. Stop It. Right Now.

Under a snarky and dismissive headline (“Al Gore’s Snow Job”), Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun talks about Al Gore’s futile attempt to educate Bill “the tide goes in, the tide goes out” O’Reilly and his audience about how global warming is linked to all this f***ing snow. As snarky and dismissive pieces go, it’s not that bad, pointing out that all Gore’s claims are correct and all of O’Reilly’s statements are stupid…but it nevertheless treats the 2000 popular vote winner as a vaguely comic figure. Our media is so, so, so, so damned lazy.

Sent on February 3:

Lorrie Goldstein notes that Al Gore’s name now triggers reflexive skepticism among people who are anxious to dismiss the very real threat of global climate change as somehow chimerical. But her column inadequately addresses the reasons for this. The former vice-president and Nobel laureate has done his homework; his prescience on the issue of global warming is, or should be, a foregone conclusion by now. Instead, many media outlets dismiss his hard-won expertise, either through a simplistic Bill O’Reilly-style confusion of weather and climate, or through the marginally more sophisticated tactic of false equivalency, in which a statement by a genuinely worried climatologist (or a former VP) is “balanced” by pronunciamenti from petroleum industry mouthpieces. Yes, it’s true that the climate debate has become politically polarized — but environmentalists haven’t been doing the politicizing. That responsibility belongs to the Republican party and its sponsors, Big Oil and Big Coal.

Warren Senders

Month 8, Day 12: Common-Sense Deficit Syndrome? GAFB!

Sometimes I just want to bang my head against a wall.

Solar industry officials are pleading with President Obama to restore billions of dollars in renewable energy loan guarantees that Congress is at least temporarily cutting to pay for emergency education and Medicaid help to states and other policy priorities.

The loss of these loan guarantee funds could help “send solar development into a tailspin that will be difficult to reverse,” according to a letter to Obama sent Monday from Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

House lawmakers Tuesday are slated to approve a $26.1 billion state education and Medicaid funding package the Senate passed last week that would be partially paid for by slashing $1.5 billion in renewable energy-loan guarantees approved in last year’s economic stimulus bill.

What Al Gore said

“These rescissions put into jeopardy the green jobs that the administration has touted as part of our clean-energy future and put us further behind the rest of the world,” Gore said on his website Monday afternoon.

I’m not a professional Leftist; I’m more of an amateur. But by Grabthar’s Hammer, I am pretty fucking pissed off about this.

My emotional state is concealed, however, by my erudition.

Dear President Obama and Speaker Pelosi —

It is of the utmost importance that the $3.5 billion which has been taken from the renewable energy and transmission loan-guarantee program be restored. While deficit reduction must be part of our thinking, there is no alternative to pursuing renewable energy with all our attention, enthusiasm and funding.

We cannot continue to burn oil and coal in the years to come. Not only is our national security complicated by our financial entanglements with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries, our long-term survival is at stake. With atmospheric CO2 well on track to be over 400 ppm within a year or two, the fight against global warming has already been significantly compromised. In order to maintain a world climate suitable for human survival and prosperity, we must change our energy economy without delay.

If the United States is to maintain a role as a world leader, then we cannot afford to shrug off the problems of smaller states; we cannot afford to wait for India and China to reduce their carbon footprints before acting on our own. The laws of physics pay no heed to political exigencies; greenhouse gases know nothing of election-year strategies. The problem of global climate change is the defining one of our generation, and we must tackle it on all levels: as individuals, as communities, as regions, as states, as a country, and as part of a global society.

At this moment in the world’s history, cutting funding for renewable energy is a grotesque abdication of our responsibilities to one another and the planet as a whole. Please act with dispatch and resolve to ensure that financial resources are restored to renewable energy programs. Failing to spend that money is a foolishness we cannot afford.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Month 3, Day 3: Back in the Subway…

Riding the subway today and collected another copy of the “Metro.” I turned it down at first, but then noticed there was an article about Al Gore, so I grabbed one. It was a Reuters rehash of his NYT Op-Ed, with the final paragraph reading:

“Climate change skeptics have pointed to errors in the panel’s landmark 2007 report — an overestimate of how fast Himalayan glaciers would melt in a warming world and incorrect information on how much of the Netherlands is below sea level — as signs that the reports basic conclusions are flawed.”

So I wrote ’em a letter. From the New York Times to the Subway Metro. What a difference a day makes.

It’s too bad that climate change deniers don’t hold themselves to the same high standards they set for Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC’s 2007 report was three thousand pages long, and yet “skeptics” tell us that because of two errors, the report’s “basic conclusions are flawed.” The report’s basic conclusions are extremely robust — and these people aren’t “skeptics,” they’re “deniers.” Skepticism implies a genuine willingness to question all assertions, whether they’re aligned with one’s ideology or not. Over and over, we’ve seen climate deniers accept news stories that are riddled with errors, as long as those mistakes support their preconceptions. The world is warming, with results that could be catastrophic for us all — and willful ignorance is an unacceptable response to a threat of such gravity.

Warren Senders

Month 3, Day 2: Fan Mail

Busy day tomorrow. I sat down at the computer but couldn’t think of anyone to write to. I wrote to Obama on Saturday, and Harry Reid on Sunday, and John Kerry & Scott Brown late last week…I know! I’ll write directly to Al Gore!

I imagine his secretaries have to throw out a lot of abusive rubbish from denialist teabaggers. Maybe they’ll be happy to read a letter of genuine appreciation. Maybe they’ll pass it along to the former President-Elect. I brought back the “swollen belly” analogy. I really want that one to gain some traction somewhere. If Al starts using it, remember where it came from!

Dear Mr. Gore — As one of your long-time admirers, I wish to thank you for all that you have done to wake up the world to the dangers of climate change. Your recent Op-Ed in the New York Times was a beautifully crafted and heartfelt wake-up call to the world. Unfortunately, it is becoming ever clearer that the Republicans in Washington don’t care if the planet burns, as long as they can ensure the failure of the current administration. While this was obvious from the beginning to any observers who were paying attention, it seems to have caught both the Obama administration and Democratic legislators by surprise. Furthermore, it is (sadly) indisputable that many in our party are either unimaginably naive, unimaginably pusillanimous, or unimaginably corrupt.

There are three things I need to say.

First: Don’t Give Up. Your grace and steadiness in the face of ignorance and abuse is an example for all of us who are trying to wake up our fellow citizens.

Second: Emphasize to your colleagues in the political arena that the opposition party is not operating in good faith. The current Republican party does not have the best interests of our country at heart; they need to be publicly stigmatized as traitors to America and to humanity. “Making nice” with these people simply won’t work. Democrats are not bullies by nature, I suppose — but at this time, in this crisis, we need to get things done rapidly and well. If the fate of the planet depends on the state of the Senate, we are in an extremely precarious position.

Third: I wish to offer an analogy which I think works well in combating the fallacious statements of Senator Inhofe and those of his ilk, especially in the light of the recent snowstorms that have buffeted Washington — and which the denialists claim are a conclusive proof that global warming is a “hoax.”

Saying a freak snowstorm in Washington “disproves global warming” is like saying the swollen belly of a starving child “disproves world hunger.”

Again, thank you for all that you have done and are doing. You are an inspiration to me and to countless others who are hoping against hope that our beautiful planet may yet be saved.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Month 3, Day 1: Getting Al’s Back

Al Gore wrote an excellent piece in the Times this weekend. A Kos diary about it triggered an invasion of asinine denialist trolls, wasting bandwith with their bleating. I’m sure the Times got its fair share of letters from people who think James Inhofe is a scientist and James Hansen is an ignoramus…so I thought I’d weigh in.

It’s always an interesting challenge to get these things as close as possible to the 150-word NYT limit. Today, I managed it exactly.

Al Gore’s thoughtful advocacy for meaningful action on climate change will no doubt bring the climate-change “skeptics” out of the woodwork once again: these conservative denialists would rather watch the country fail and the planet burn than admit the former VP is right. It is absurd to imagine that our politicians and our media will learn enough science to do the right thing rather than the politically expedient one. Our inability to address the climate crisis is both an intellectual and a moral failure. In the 1950’s, Sputnik threatened our national pride — and America responded with an intensified focus on science education, building a space program that accomplished wonders. Fifty years later, the threat we face is not to our pride, but to our planet — and we respond by ridiculing those who sound the warning. Mr. Gore deserves the thanks of future generations, not James Inhofe’s uninformed mockery.

Warren Senders