Year 3, Month 9, Day 24: You Never Give Me Your Money…

The Macon, GA, Telegraph runs a story on the role of climate questions on the campaign trail. Several paragraphs are devoted to the cognitive dissonance of Republican environmentalists. Let’s all quiet down and stop giggling.

Romney has said previously that he believes climate change is occurring and that human activity is a contributing factor. During the Republican primary season, though, he said he didn’t believe it was the right course to spend “trillions and trillions” to reduce carbon emissions. More recently, he said in a questionnaire submitted to Science Debate, a non-profit organization focusing on science issues in the presidential campaign, that he believes human activity contributes to global warming and that policymakers should consider the risk of negative consequences.

Frank Maisano, a lobbyist whose firm represents energy interests and who has been involved in climate change discussions for 15 years, cautioned not to read too much into Romney’s dig about the rise of the oceans. It was designed to show Obama is “a little bit out of touch,” he said.

“Right now, you need someone who cares about you rather than these larger, soaring rhetorical issues,” Maisano said.

Jim DiPeso of ConservAmerica had the same reaction.

“(Romney) acknowledged that science has shown there is a human role in global warming,” said DiPeso, who represents a national grassroots organization of conservation-minded Republicans who would like to see a fiscally conservative approach to capping carbon emissions.

DiPeso said he hopes Romney’s acknowledgement will give Republicans lower down on the ticket the freedom to talk about climate change, an issue that once had Republican support. Policymakers may differ on how to address emissions, but carbon dioxide molecules are apolitical, he said.

“Because we’ve gotten to the point where a good Republican can’t acknowledge the real science that backs up climate change without being cast as some sort of infidel, or somebody who’s not a real conservative,” he said.

Poor puppies. Sent September 17:

I wouldn’t read too much into Mitt Romney’s statements about the human causes of climate change; the erstwhile Massachusetts governor is widely known for his ability to take multiple contradictory positions on any issue. And while it’s good to know that there are some conservatives out there who are genuinely concerned about the looming climate crisis, it must be hard for them to reconcile their free-market fetishism with the tough transformations the next century will demand of America’s energy economy.

The grotesquely inflated subsidies and tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry need to end. These taxpayer dollars would be far better spent on preparing American infrastructure for a century of devastating storms and increasingly unpredictable weather, and our national investment in renewable energy needs to increase by many orders of magnitude over the next decade. These requirements won’t be solved with the economic pixie-dust of the “free market,” but through the collective will of hundreds of millions of Americans demanding that their government work once again in their best interests, instead of the corporate welfare recipients in the oil and coal industries.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 8, Day 29: He Said WHAT?

The Waltham News-Tribune (MA) notes that Ed Markey (MA-O7) has some harsh words for candidate Romney’s ludicrous energy plan:

BOSTON —

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, lambasted Mitt Romney for his just-released energy plan that he said was a gift to the oil industry and would put alternative energy in jeopardy.

“Mitt Romney has finally released his energy plan and not surprisingly given the fact that he met with the oil barons just two days ago in Texas, it is a plan which says that it is not ‘all of the above,’ but ‘oil above all,’ that it is a plan that gives the oil industry everything that it has ever dreamed of,” Markey said on Thursday.

The Malden Democrat said the former Massachusetts governor’s plan would “do away with the tax breaks for the wind industry” while keeping the $4 billion in tax breaks given to the oil industry.

“Which industry does not need a tax break?” Markey asked reporters in front of the State House.

In a speech in New Mexico on Thursday, the Republican presidential candidate laid out his energy plan, which reportedly would give states more responsibility for oil drilling permits on federal lands and sets a goal of energy independence by the end of a second term.

That’s my congressman! Sent August 24:

Ed Markey’s remarks about Romney’s energy plan are right on target. While ordinary Americans are struggling to get by, big oil and big coal are already the world’s most profitable industries, raking in billions — and Romney wants to give them even more tax breaks, effectively asking the public to subsidize more multimillion dollar bonuses for their executives.

Let’s not forget that these industries have a lengthy rap sheet of safety and environmental violations — but Mitt would loosen even the poorly enforced regulations currently in place. Notice that the rest of the world’s developed and developing nations are investing heavily in renewable energy sources — while this retrogressive proposal does the opposite.

Finally, consider the overwhelming scientific evidence linking fossil fuels to global climate change. As a world leader, America’s energy economy should be an example of responsible planetary stewardship — not Romney’s reckless glorification of waste and inefficiency.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 8, Day 23: If This Had Been A Real Emergency, You Would Have Received Instructions…

The Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune assesses the grim situation:

In drought-scorched parts of the country these days, some farmland bears a resemblance to NASA’s photos of Mars’ barren plains.

Here on Earth, crops are suffering. On Friday, the federal Department of Agriculture cut by 17 percent its estimate for the corn crop and said the U.S. soybean crop is expected to drop, too. Soaring prices are forecast.

The drought stems from a number of causes, science suggests. But some of it appears to be consistent with the kind of long-term drying patterns seen in global-warming climate models.

Furthermore, James E. Hansen, a NASA expert in the field, issued a report last week tying man-made climate change to three severe heat outbreaks from 2003 to 2011.

These latest developments won’t resolve long-running arguments over global warming or its causes. But they heighten the sense that precious time to address the problem is evaporating.

There’s no mystery as to what needs to be done: Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel must be cut.

The fossil-fuel industry is an ichneumon wasp which has laid its eggs inside our civilization. Ick. Sent August 12:

Why is our political system unable to address climate change in anything approaching a responsibly adult manner? The answer rests in the synergy of three separate forces, interacting to produce paralysis: fossil fuel money, politicians’ cupidity, and media irresponsibility.

Taking full advantage of our compromised campaign finance system, the oil and coal industries use their huge financial resources to purchase the loyalty of as many lawmakers as possible. More of that same money funds conservative “think tanks” and “institutes” which generate spurious studies using cherry-picked data and misinterpreted statistics — and also produce telegenic pundits trained to deliver denialist talking points on cue. Hewing to the doctrine that there are two exactly equivalent sides to every story, our print and broadcast media then allow equal time to worried climatologists and petrol-funded shills — reinforcing the notion that “the debate on climate change isn’t settled.” Purchased politicians seize on this false notion as an excuse for continued inaction, which is all Big Oil and Big Coal require.

Repeat and fade.

Warren Senders

Published.

Year 2, Month 12, Day 31: A Gloomy Old Soul…

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Business section runs an article on the status of Big Coal in the region:

The coal called “king” in this region, an acknowledgment of its presence and power, sometimes seems in danger of facing a coup.

Just in the past week, federal agencies announced stricter regulations on pollution for coal-fired plants, with even former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis filming commercials to strong-arm legislators into passing the restrictions.

Add into the mix a natural gas boom that’s overwhelming the region and its lawmakers. Then there are the alternative options such as nuclear and wind energy that have won endorsements from the White House.

With the pressure coming from all sides, the monarchy appears threatened.

But a look at coal’s ever-overpowering numbers suggests a different narrative and proves the black rock remains as much a local institution as the football team for which Mr. Bettis once lined up in the backfield. The state still contains so much coal that it produces more power than its citizens and businesses need, with the extra used to light major metropolitan zones along the heavily populated East Coast.

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette! Sent December 27:

When two realities collide, they can do a lot of damage. The slow-motion catastrophe of climate change is bringing us more extreme and unpredictable weather; naysayers find it increasingly difficult to reject the climatological evidence that humanity’s overconsumption of fossil fuels poses a deadly danger to the planet. That’s one reality.

On the other hand, America’s economy is understood to depend on plentiful cheap energy, which means, more than anything, coal. That’s another reality.

Representatives of the industry hold economic growth as a top priority, and call environmentalists “unrealistic” for decrying the link between burning black rock and burgeoning greenhouse effect. However, the reverse is equally true: by denying or covering up scientific evidence and analyses that could impact their profit margins, coal companies reject the reality of their product’s toxic consequences.

Ultimately, the laws of physics and chemistry will win; they always do. Will human beings be the losers?

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 26: Up With Down Under!

Australia’s PM is doing something wonderful, reports the Boston Globe in its issue of July 10:

SYDNEY—Australia will force its 500 worst polluters to pay 23 Australian dollars ($25) for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit, with the government promising to compensate households hit with higher power bills under a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unveiled Sunday.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard sought to reassure wary Australians that the deeply unpopular carbon tax will only cause a minority of households to pay more and insisted it is critical to helping the country lower its massive carbon emissions. Australia is one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas polluters, due to its heavy reliance on coal for electricity.

“We generate more carbon pollution per head than any other country in the developed world,” Gillard told reporters in Canberra as she released details of the tax, which will go into effect on July 1, 2012. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to hold our place in the race that the world is running.”

She’s right. Australia is right. And America is full of blinkered idiots, as usual.

Sent July 10:

Faced with an intractable choice between business as usual and an environmentally responsible policy on carbon emissions, Australia’s Julia Gillard showed something this country hasn’t seen in quite a while: genuine leadership. Promoting unpopular policies on deficit reduction is not the mark of political courage many of our politicians claim; there is no nobility in advocating policies that are heavily favored by deep-pocketed multinational corporations and the monied elites who reap the benefits of their success. Any world leader who ignores the worldwide scientific consensus on climate change (approaching unanimity as rapidly as the Arctic is shedding ice mass) is betting the lives of countless millions of people on a very long shot indeed. In taking on the enormous power of Australia’s coal industry, Prime Minister Gillard is doing something our politicians cannot: the right thing, both for her nation and the world.

Warren Senders

Month 3, Day 28: Keeping the Pressure On

This goes off to John Kerry. Now I’m just anxious that the Senate will actually DO some climate legislation…and that it won’t be just another industry giveaway.

Dear Senator Kerry,

Now that health care legislation has been passed (and congratulations and thanks for your advocacy on this landmark achievement!) it’s time for the next chapters of the Democratic agenda. I understand that next on the legislative menu will be financial reform, which I think is an excellent choice. The misbehavior of the big banks and investment firms is all too obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention. The only worry we have is that the bill will contain too many loopholes and giveaways to the fiduciary miscreants who got us into this mess in the first place.

Interestingly enough, that’s the same worry I have with the climate legislation you are developing with Senators Graham and Lieberman. Will the worst polluters in the world be given concessions that allow them to continue their environmentally destructive behavior in the years to come? Make no mistake, to allow this (in the name of “maintaining a positive relationship with the business community” or some similar phrasing) will be to doom any efforts to address climate change responsibly. We need to get atmospheric CO2 down to 350 ppm or less; we need to take immediate action to deal with the two unresolved dilemmas of the climate crisis — oceanic acidification and polar methane.

This is as grave a crisis as humanity has ever faced. Regardless of what we do, it’s a given that the lives of our grandchildren will be unimaginably different. If we take the right action now, their lives may be different in a positive way: sustainable, frugal, globally responsible. If we fail, their lives may be something we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. The short-sighted and irresponsible behavior of big oil and big coal (and of the US Chamber of Commerce, among others) should ensure that these parties no longer deserve a seat at the negotiating table. Their contributions to climate change legislation are guaranteed to weaken its effect and impede its implementation.

It is time to put planet over profit. No more concessions to the Carbon Lobby!

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders