Year 4, Month 2, Day 4: You’ll Never Get Me Up In One Of Those Things.

The Kansas City Star says, “The United States Should Lead On Climate Change.” Indeed:

President Barack Obama called on Americans last week to renew the battle against climate change.

This line from his inaugural address garnered deserved attention: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

But pause the tape right there.

First, Obama in his four years as president already has taken several actions aimed at reducing carbon emissions, primarily through increased fuel efficiency rules for vehicles.

So the president hasn’t exactly been missing in action on this issue, although he did suffer a big failure in 2009 when Congress killed a loophole-filled bill designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But we won’t, because freedom. USA! USA! Love it or leave it! Sent January 27:

It’s funny how the noisy proponents of American exceptionalism fall silent when it comes to actually doing something exceptional. For the USA to claim a position of world leadership on global warming and the necessary transformation of our energy economy, we’d have to mobilize every iota of creativity, resourcefulness and entrepreneurship. We’d have to bring scientists and community leaders on board, and get people working on every aspect of climate change from the local to the planetary. The crisis is real, demanding nothing less than a total commitment — the kind of dedication in notoriously short supply among self-styled conservatives who are reluctant to act in any way that’s not of immediate personal benefit.

Nowhere else in the world are so many resources squandered, so much potential lost, so many opportunities for greatness neglected for such petty motives. In that respect, at least, America is first among nations.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 4: There Is A Reason The Biggest Tag In My Cloud Is “idiots.”

The June 19 issue of the Christian Science Monitor notes the Republican lineup is filled with denialist dingalings, although they describe it somewhat more politely:

There was a time when Republicans were at the forefront of efforts to investigate – maybe even do something about – the impact of human activity on global climate.

John McCain was an early and persistent supporter of cap-and-trade efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) associated with climate change. So was Newt Gingrich, who went on to make a YouTube video ad – with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, no less – where he said, “Our country must take action to address climate change.”

Now, Republican presidential hopefuls seem to be racing in the opposite direction – disavowing their past support for policy measures on climate – even any sense that there’s a problem to be addressed.


Sent June 19:

For all their fulsomely patriotic homilies, Republican presidential aspirants seem deeply reluctant to advocate anything that would restore America’s status as a leader in the world community. Instead, they offer tax cuts and an end to government regulation as universal panaceas, accompanying a vision of the future as myopic as it is dystopic. Since the climate-change crisis requires responsible action on multiple fronts, the GOP’s 2012 lineup prefers to deny that the problem exists, instead taking refuge in bizarre conspiracy theories and liberal-bashing tropes that play well to their anti-science, anti-tax base. A genuinely robust response to global warming is necessary to avoid catastrophic outcomes, and would give an enormous boost to our economy. The Republican platform? Stick our fingers in our ears, reject scientific expertise, and wait for free-market solutions to the laws of physics. Their version of American exceptionalism? We’re number one — when it comes to ignorance and irresponsibility!

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 2: We’re Number What?

The Bonn talks conclude today, June 17; Mexico and Papua New Guinea have a proposal on the table:

After years of incremental progress in U.N. climate talks, a proposal is on the table to change the rules.

The joint initiative from Mexico and Papua New Guinea is meant to break what some delegates call built-in deadlock, where a handful of nations — or even a single delegation — can stymie agreements.

The plan is to allow the 193 nations to adopt decisions by an “overwhelming” majority vote.

But the proposal faces Herculean obstacles from countries both large and small who jealously protect their power to influence, delay and ultimately block

I figured this was a good time to play the shame card, and I did it by exploiting the news that Bangladesh is amending its constitution to give its government the powers needed to address climate change. Unlike America, where we’re reluctant to admit that our government has any powers at all, unless it’s to bomb brown people or read our own citizens’ mail. Sheesh.

Sent June 17:

The appalling political stalemate on display at the Bonn Climate Conference is a demonstration of systemic failure on the part of our governing institutions; not just those of the United States, but of industrialized societies worldwide. The inability of the richest and most developed countries to take responsibility for the side-effects of their own successes is a grotesque object lesson for the rest of the world — especially those nations which have the most at stake in the battle against the effects of global heating. Nations like Bangladesh, which plans to amend its constitution to include a provision outlining the government’s responsibilities in addressing climate change. By seizing the initiative, the poorest and most vulnerable members of the international community have shamed the rest of the world. To be first of the nations where partisan gamesmanship has rendered meaningful policy essentially impossible is an especially tragic sort of American exceptionalism.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 18: “PDB: AGW Determined To Strike US”

The Des-Moines Register reports on the same study noted yesterday, which published May 5 in Science Magazine:

Washington, D.C. – Climate change already is cutting into grain yields, and likely increasing food prices, in most of the world other than the United States, scientists say.

While U.S. farmers have enjoyed a relatively favorable climate, yield gains in other regions over the past three decades have been partially offset by temperature increases, according to a study released Thursday in the journal Science.

The comments are worth a look — if you crave a dose of denialist stupidity.

Sent May 7:

We in the United States have been sheltered by geographical good luck from the first ravages of global climate change — a state of affairs that may continue for another few years. Unfortunately, this means that environmentally responsible and forward-thinking policies will be hampered by resistance from people who prefer to embrace denialist conspiracy theories instead of facing the facts. America did not achieve greatness by avoiding unpleasant realities, but through our readiness to shoulder crucial responsibilities. These qualities are essential if we’re to respond properly to the threats posed by runaway climate change — threats for which we’ve had literally decades of warning from experts in the field. Let us not shirk our duty in the face of this implacable enemy; the greenhouse effect has no leader in a villa halfway across the globe, but it has the potential to cause far more damage than any group of jihadists.

Warren Senders