Year 2, Month 9, Day 25: Blind Pigs And All That

Usually I have almost nothing but contempt for the World Bank, the IMF and the other tentacles of the global vampire squid. But as the September 21st issue of the Washington Post tells us, they’ve got something right:

AMSTERDAM — Global financial institutions are recommending raising money to fight climate change by trimming subsidies for fossil fuels, putting a price tag of $25 per ton on carbon emissions and collecting a surcharge on aviation and shipping fuels.

The recommendations are part of a draft paper by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international groups prepared for a meeting Friday in Washington of G20 finance and development ministers. It was leaked prematurely and distributed Wednesday by aid agencies.

The ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies are responding to a commitment to channel $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to global warming and develop low-carbon economies.

But Republicans won’t eat acorns, no matter what. Sent Sept. 21:

If the recommendations from the World Bank and the IMF actually gain traction in the policy-making sectors of government, it would mark a sea-change in political approaches to the climate crisis. Their suggestions err only on in being too conservative; fossil fuel prices should reflect the true cost of these commodities, including not only the long-term mitigation of their health and environmental effects but all those expensive wars we fight to protect our sources. When these factors are taken into account it is evident that burning carbon is an exceptionally costly to fuel a civilization.

A price on carbon likewise cries out for implementation. A “fee-and-dividend” scheme would return monies directly to consumers, partially offsetting increased energy costs.

Alas, Washington is unlikely to respond meaningfully to these recommendations. As Mr. Clinton remarked, GOP-induced policy paralysis and reflexive climate denialism makes America a joke in the eyes of the world.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 24: The Punch Line Is A Punch In The Face

The Seattle Times runs an AP story on Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative, which handles the Big Dog’s remarks rather tamely:

Former President Bill Clinton’s annual philanthropic conference will get under way in New York City with a discussion about climate change.

The Clinton Global Initiative is set to begin Tuesday morning with an opening session focused on addressing global climate challenges in coming years. The session will be co-hosted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and South African President Jacob Zuma.

They left out his characterization of GOP climate denialism as making the US into a “joke” in the eyes of the world:

Former President Bill Clinton has some tough words for Republican climate-change deniers: quit making the U.S. “look like a joke.”

Kicking off his Clinton Global Initiative in New York, the former president said Americans should make it “politically unacceptable” for people to engage in climate change denial, according to Politico.

“I mean, it makes us — we look like a joke, right?” Clinton said. “You can’t win the nomination of one of the major parties in the country if you admit that scientists are right?”


So I mentioned it in my letter, sent September 20:

In his opening remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton spoke forcefully about Republicans’ rejection of science, saying that their unwillingness to admit the existence of global climate change makes the U.S.A. “look like a joke” to the rest of the world.

Indeed. When a huge slice of our country’s population is represented by petroleum-funded, science-denying, reality-phobic politicians who value the petty exigencies of political gamesmanship over meaningful policy responses to genuine emergencies — well, it means trouble any way you look at it.

It’s trouble for our country, as much-needed investments in renewable energy and conservation are blocked by GOP legislators. It’s trouble for the planet, as America continues to emit more CO2 per capita than any other country in the world. With Republican obstructionism blocking our response to the climate crisis, our country may look like a joke — but no one’s laughing anymore.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 11: Bill and Mike’s Excellent Vacation

Clinton and Bloomberg are going to tackle climate change together. What fun!

WASHINGTON — Bill Clinton and Michael R. Bloomberg have circled each other warily for a decade, ever since Mr. Clinton landed in Harlem after leaving the White House and Mr. Bloomberg ascended from a hugely successful business career to become the mayor of New York City. They have appeared together at a few civic functions, dined out a couple of times a year and hacked at golf balls on the same course.

But until now they have never joined forces on a project with global reach that could advance both of their legacies. They are taking on an issue — climate change — that may well shape the world’s economic and social future for decades to come.

Good for them, I suppose. Sent May 29:

Bill Clinton understates things: climate change isn’t merely one of the world’s two or three biggest challenges, but the most significant problem we’ve faced in the history of our civilization. By far. All the agenda items commonly represented at meetings of the world’s movers and shakers: the endless wars, incessant bickerings over trade, and our violations of what have only recently been recognized as “human rights” — all deal with essentially short-term concerns, and all can at least potentially be solved with enough careful discussion and the gradual development of mutual understanding between tribes, cultures and nations. The greenhouse effect and the laws of physics, by contrast, will be indifferent to Mr. Clinton’s eloquence and to Mr. Bloomberg’s business acumen. All their fine words will amount to nothing unless we — all of us — can stop taking carbon out of the ground and putting it in the atmosphere.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 23: I Miss Abbie Hoffman.

The New York Observer notes that Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg are teaming up to “save the planet.” Bold environmental strategy, or timid capitulation to corporate predators? You decide.

As is often the case, it took me almost as long to find the LTE link as it did to write the letter in the first place. With the exception of the closing sentence this is a standard “false equivalency” screed.

Sent April 13:

Bill Clinton’s analysis of the media coverage of climate change is entirely correct. For decades, America’s news outlets have been the focus of non-stop intimidation from right-wing ideologues claiming “liberal bias” on any story reporting facts they find inconvenient or undesirable. Couple this with a relentless focus on celebrity gossip and a steady shortening of attention span, and you have the recipe for disaster: while the burgeoning climate crisis will affect every soul on this planet in unpredictable and drastic ways, our television, radio and print outlets persistently downplay the severity of the emergency. When scientific debate is a televised competition between talking heads, it’s the loudest sound bite that “wins.” Just when we most need wisdom and insight, our media serves us false equivalency and shouting matches. While the world gets hotter and hotter, they’re yelling “theater!” in a crowded fire.

Warren Senders