Year 3, Month 10, Day 14: I Thought Love Was Only True In Fairy Tales

The Helena Independent-Record (MT) notes incumbent Senator Jon Tester’s support for a tepid cap-and-trade approach, and contrasts it with that of his challenger, a typical Republican denialist twit named Denny Rehberg:

Last week we received a giant colorful postcard from Montana’s Republican Party — no mention of what Congressman Denny Rehberg has done — (What has he done?), but of Sen. Jon Tester supporting cap and trade. Rehberg’s not supporting sensible climate solutions terrifies me.

What is cap and trade? Sightline Institute says: “cap” is a legal limit on the quantity of greenhouse gases that a region can emit each year and “trade” means that companies may swap among themselves the … permits to emit greenhouse gases … Cap and trade commits us to responsible limits on global warming emissions and gradually steps down those limits … Setting commonsense rules, cap and trade sparks the competitiveness and ingenuity of the marketplace to reduce emissions as smoothly, efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Peter Pan governance — just clap your hands! Sent October 7:

While a “cap and trade” system for reducing carbon dioxide emissions is a relatively weak approach to the threat of global climate change, Senator Tester’s support for this policy has the advantage of being based on scientific reality rather than the ideologically-driven wishful thinking so prevalent among modern-day Republican politicians and pundits. Their approach to the problems of contemporary society is to assert that when a fact clashes with one’s wishes or preconceptions, the problem lies with the fact, not the preconceptions — an inexcusably irresponsible attitude. While a Southern GOP congressman who believes that modern physics is of Satanic origin is pretty hilarious, science-denial isn’t very funny when it comes to climate change.

The metastasizing greenhouse effect threatens American agriculture, infrastructure, and public health systems, as well as the health of our planet. Rejecting scientific evidence because it’s ideologically inconvenient (or because it threatens the profits of your biggest campaign donors) should immediately disqualify any candidate for public office.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 9: Only Nixon Could Go To China?

Erstwhile climate zombie Chris Christie (NJ-GOV) has apparently seen the light. Or seen something, anyway. He’s simultaneously asserting that climate change is real (and anthropogenic!) while withdrawing New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced plans yesterday to pull the Garden State out of the nation’s only operating cap-and-trade system, spurring environmental anger, conservative cheers and speculation about his national ambitions.

It also stirred confusion about the governor’s legal authority and what will happen to the carbon trading program, which caps utility carbon dioxide emissions in 10 Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, at a time when national climate legislation appears dead on Capitol Hill.

At a news conference in Trenton, N.J., the Republican governor said he believed after months of study and meetings with scientists that humans were causing climate change and that his government needed to put policies in place to curb warming temperatures. That is a shift from last year, when Christie expressed doubts about the science behind global warming.

It’s a little like the joke about your mother-in-law driving off the cliff in your new Cadillac. Except that I love my mother-in-law, and Cadillacs (at least the ones I’ve driven) are overpriced and grotesque pieces of shit.

Sent May 27:

New Jersey’s Governor Christie’s sudden readiness to embrace climate facts while rejecting any climate action is a real headscratcher. The governor may be trying to appease environmentalists with a verbal gesture while mollifying his corporatist base with something more substantial. It’s barely possible that his withdrawal from the RGGI’s cap-and-trade policy will balance his acknowledgment of climate change with the paranoid and anti-science tea-partiers who hold the key to Republican primary success in 2012. It is a sad commentary on the state of our contemporary politics that a politician’s public recognition of a genuine threat to our civilization cannot be heard unless it’s couched in the cynical language of short-term political expediency. It would be splendid if Mr. Christie were able to convince the rabidly anti-science Republican base of the facts of climate change; even better would be the news that he’d succeeded in changing the minds of his corporate sponsors.

Warren Senders

Month 10, Day 17: If Only You Could Geo-Engineer Stupidity Out Of The Atmosphere

Dana Milbank at the Washington Post writes an obituary for cap-and-trade, and instead recommends that Democrats try and interest their Republican colleagues in geo-engineering as a coping strategy for the coming climate apocalypse.

The Post has been instrumental in creating and fostering a level of scientific ignorance in our political class that is directly responsible for much of our current predicament (see: Will, George). And, as usual, the comments on Milbank’s article are a demonstration of the prevalence of dumb.

Cap-and-trade, originally a Republican idea, may indeed be dead in the water due to inflexible opposition in the Senate. And, as Milbank suggests, a huge geo-engineering program may be more attractive. The image of huge cannons firing sulfur into the atmosphere will appeal to politicians of both parties who are enthusiastic about big guns. But the central question is simply this: how can we as a nation accomplish any necessary actions on climate when conservatives wholeheartedly embrace a vehemently anti-science position? Of the current crop of Republican candidates, those accepting the scientific factuality of global climate change can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. What gave rise to this intransigence? Alas, our print and broadcast media, ever reluctant to undertake difficult explanations (when facile misrepresentations are easier and cheaper) must bear much of the blame for the nation’s appalling ignorance of the gravest threat humanity has ever faced.

Warren Senders

Month 2, Day 28: Senate Action? Really?

So I learned that Harry Reid has told Kerry to get a climate bill to him as soon as possible. That’s good news. On the other hand, Harry Reid has not exactly been an inspirational figure recently. A Harry Reid Action Figure would fall down when you made a face at it.

I wrote him a letter. I hope he reads it.

Dear Senator Reid,

I read a recent report in the Washington Post that noted your strong commitment to passing climate-change legislation as rapidly as possible. I’m glad to hear this. Global climate change is the most pressing threat humanity has ever faced, and America needs to assume the lead in this matter.

I wish to make two points to you about this legislation.

First, we need to recognize that the cap-and-trade system is fundamentally flawed, subject to innumerable sorts of market manipulation and evasion of regulation. A stronger mechanism would be a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which would reduce emissions as well as provide incentives for research and development in alternative energy sources.

Second, it is absolutely crucial that you not give in to Republican demands as the climate bill approaches the floor of the Senate. The long prelude to the Health Care bill is an example of what I mean; over and over it seemed that you and the rest of Democratic leadership capitulated, not to an actual Republican threat, but to the threat that a threat might be forthcoming.

When our party’s Senate leader seems timid and conflict-averse, it demoralizes the people in the Party who have worked the hardest to secure us our current majority. We need Senators who are going to stand up for what is right, and a strong climate bill is both right and necessary. Do what you need to do to get coal-state Democrats on board with this bill. Give them some earmarks! Promise them green-job development funds! Twist some arms!

We need a fighter in this struggle; there is no time to lose, and none to waste.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Month 2, Day 4: The NYT Again…

A rec-listed post at Daily Kos led me to this article in the NYT. Here’s FishOutOfWater’s summary paragraph:

Democrats Jim Webb, Mary Landrieu, Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, Mark Pryor, and Blanche Lincoln have built an alliance, the dirty dozen, with Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Sam Brownback, Bob Corker, and Jeff Sessions, to remove carbon caps and to give away huge sudsidies to the coal, nuclear, oil and gas industries.

I posted a long action diary at Kos; please go check it out if you haven’t already. But in addition to sending 50-60 faxes of an angry slogan in very large type (tomorrow’s plan), I wanted to fill my quota of erudition, and I wanted to spread a meme. I’ll need all the help I can get; please try and make this one go viral.

Defeating strong energy legislation is a crime against our grandchildren.

Here’s what I sent to the Times:

When so-called “moderate Democrats” in the Senate join Republicans in favor of passing an energy-only bill that ignores carbon emissions, their action deserves blunt language: it’s a crime against our grandchildren. With climatologists’ worst-case scenarios becoming more likely by the day, our elected representatives have chosen to fiddle while the planet starts to burn. There is no doubt who’s calling the tune: Big Oil and Big Coal.

Because the lag time between climate action and climate effect is several times longer than the elected term of a U.S. Senator, these “public servants” cannot find the courage to confront the deep pockets of the energy lobby. Who will have to cope with the effects of these Senators’ ignorant cupidity? Our grandchildren and theirs, living in a world made all but uninhabitable by the effects of catastrophic climate change. Good luck, kids. You’ll need it.

Warren Senders