Year 2, Month 2, Day 21: Sock It To ’em!

The Las Vegas Sun quite elegantly takes the Republicans in the House to task for scientific illiteracy, bad manners and general douchebaggery. This editorial was a real pleasure to read.

Sent February 12:

The behavior of the Republican members of the House of Representatives is a disgrace to our country and to its institutions of governance. Their reflexive, ideologically-driven hostility to the facts of climate change is both foolish and perilous. While the GOP has routinely positioned itself on the side of industry, its current allegiance to the most extreme corporatist interests has led it to abandon even lip service to scientific expertise. It is quite evident that the Republican legislators who questioned EPA administrator Lisa Jackson not only couldn’t understand the science behind the policies she’s implementing — they brought no understanding to the discussion at all, and her testimony became an occasion for petty theatrics of the most immature sort. These modern-day “know-nothing” politicians would be comical if the threat posed by climate change was not so grave. As it is, their childish petulance poses a danger to us all.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 16: Dingleberries

The Wall Street Journal reports on Fred Upton’s (R-MI) change of position on climate, and notes his eagerness to kill the EPA. Unlike many WSJ pieces, this one allows a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council to have the last word:

Mr. Upton’s draft proposal to block the EPA regulation has drawn criticism from environmentalists, some of whom have accused him of backtracking on past statements in which he described climate change as “a serious problem” and that the U.S. has a responsibility to reduce its emissions.

“The market is tilted in favor of the dirty energy sources, and we’re paying for it with our health,” said David Doniger, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Somehow you have to level the playing field so that public health and natural resources are protected from the pollution.”

This was sent on Tuesday, February 8.

Fred Upton’s reversal on the issue of climate change reveals the truth about this congressional power broker: he is, like the rest of his caucus, motivated entirely by political exigencies — which in the case of Republican legislators, translates as “fear of the Tea Party.” This group of anti-science, anti-reality agitators has so intimidated the entire GOP that even the most straightforward factual statements are no longer allowable in their public discourse. To set the record straight, Mr. Upton’s newly-fledged belief that climate change is “not necessarily man-made” is patently delusional. If ever there was a contemporary issue on which scientific consensus is overwhelming, it’s that of global warming. Mr. Upton’s support for crippling the Environmental Protection Agency is likewise a position based entirely on cynical, short-term political calculations; given the ludicrous dysfunctionality of the current Congress, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases is essential to bringing climate change under control.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 12: Raisin’ My Lonely Dental Floss

Sally Mauk, in the Montana Missoulian, writes about a climatologist who spoke recently at the University of Montana. Naturally, he’s plenty worried. Also naturally, the dimwits in the comment section are full of the usual crap.

After I wrote the letter, I located the LTE link and was informed that the paper only prints letters from within their print circulation area. So I sent it anyway, but registered as a commenter and posted this there. I assume that I’ll be shouted at and told I’m a brainwashed follower of algore.

The conundrum of climate change requires action and understanding on a variety of fronts. For us to realize the gravity of the situation requires re-calibrating our own thinking, focusing more on the long-term consequences of our actions than we’ve ever considered. Our industry and business sectors must accomplish the same transformation, moving from the pervasive paradigm of quarterly profits as indicators of corporate health to a value system that encourages generational continuity rather than growth for its own sake (which Edward Abbey rightly described as “the ideology of the cancer cell.”). And our government must provide a regulatory authority which makes these changes possible, which is why the current anti-EPA legislation is an exceptionally bad idea. Given that it’s riddled with “climate zombies” who reject science and the evidence of experts, it’s a fair bet that no law regulating atmospheric pollutants will emerge from the current Congress. Meanwhile, we all need to learn from the scientists who’ve been studying it for decades; our skepticism is better saved for the oil-industry apparatchiks who daily tell us that climate change isn’t happening.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 11: What The Hell’s The Matter With Kansas?

The Kansas City Star:

WASHINGTON — Legislation that would limit the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding greenhouse gases has been introduced by Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

The legislation, also sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., would require the EPA to seek congressional approval before regulating greenhouse gas emissions for the sole purpose of addressing climate change.

Called the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act, the legislation seeks to pre-empt existing rules and prohibit future federal restrictions on greenhouse gases in the absence of congressional authorization.

The Obama Administration vows a veto. Good. But these people are not going to quit. Climate Zombies. I used to think the term was metaphorical. Now I know better.

Mailed on February 4:

The blinkered condition of Republican climate denialists notwithstanding, the facts on global climate change have been in for a long time, and the scientific consensus on the human causes of global warming is universal (absent only the dissenting voices of petroleum-funded professional contrarians). Senators Murray, Moran and Barrasso, in attempting to prevent the EPA from doing its job, are motivated by a dangerous combination of electoral exigency, fiscal avarice and scientific ignorance. The recent snowfalls that have immobilized much of the country are an early manifestation of the kind of weather chaos we can expect to experience over the coming years, as the gradually warming atmosphere becomes ever more disruptive to our ways of life. Greenhouse gases need to be regulated right away; our dysfunctional Congress certainly won’t do it. Before the Senators drastically weaken the EPA, let them find a better way to protect Americans from environmental dangers.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 1, Day 5: Stop Them Before They Stop Us!

The Lewiston Sun/Times reprints an editorial from the Miami Herald, with some good words for the Environmental Protection Agency.

As we keep taking carbon out of the ground and putting it into the atmosphere, our planet continues to heat up. The long-term consequences of this unplanned experiment in geoengineering are likely to be disastrous for our children and their children in turn, as we face a future of disrupted seasons, wild fluctuations and ever-more-frequent “once-in-a-lifetime” weather events. Those who pay attention to the consequences of our civilization’s environmental disruption would have liked nothing better than a robust climate bill to emerge from the previous Congress — but thanks to nihilistic Republicans and timid coal-state Democrats, even the ludicrously watered-down Kerry/Lieberman effort was unable to advance. Hence it is up to the EPA. The kneejerk opposition to this agency in the newly GOP-dominated House is a three-part failure: of our politics, dominated by corporate cash; of our schools, dumbed-down and pandering to anti-science factionalism, and of our news media, whose specious false equivalence enables the claim that “the science of global warming isn’t settled.” We’re headed for a world of hurt in the coming centuries unless we get our carbon emissions under control; Republicans who seek to hamper the EPA are increasing the likelihood of disaster.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 1, Day 3: Fred Upton Is An Idiot. Who?

The Boston Globe notes that new EPA regs go into effect today, and lets us know that the Republicans are outraged! Outraged! Outraged!

It’s instructive to keep count of the number of times GOP legislators use the phrase “power grab” when referring to a perfectly legitimate use of governmental authority on the part of the Obama administration. Fred Upton’s use of this meaningless rhetorical trope, however, may have more severe repercussions. The new and more stringent EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions that have just gone into effect are one of our final lines of defense against the steadily building threat of global warming; if the conservative nay-sayers have their way, our national policy on this issue will consist entirely of denial. When Upton says he’s “not convinced” greenhouse gases need controlling, the question arises: what would convince him? I suspect that scientific facts and figures will never persuade the Michigan representative; the only figures that will influence Mr. Upton and his colleagues are those to the right of the dollar sign.

Warren Senders

Month 12, Day 29: I Came For The Waters. I Was Misinformed.

The Orange County Register fumes about the EPA’s intention to step up its regulatory regime. It’z FASHIZM, I TELZ YA, FASHIZM!

They bring in a Pollution lobbyist, a former Bush apparatchik, to spew forth his particular brand of noxious nonsense:

“If the regulations actually force companies to make meaningful emission reductions, they will drive up energy costs and be very expensive,” observed Jeffrey R. Holmstead, who headed the EPA’s air and radiation office under President George W. Bush and now represents utilities and other greenhouse emitters that would be affected.

So I thought I’d unpack that quote a bit.

Jeffrey Holmstead’s statement that forced emissions reductions will increase the cost of energy is misleading, and his clients (greenhouse gas emitters) pay him well for his obfuscation. Let’s examine his words closely. First, it is only in a short-term sense that fossil fuels are cheap; if we factor in the costs of cleanup, health effects, and the costly wars we wage to protect our sources, it’s clear that oil and coal were never inexpensive to begin with. Second, energy companies have never been particularly reluctant to pass along higher prices to the consumer; they’re worried about their profits, not our savings. Third, the costs of failure on climate change will dwarf the costs of action. The EPA’s regulatory initiatives are essential elements of a robust and meaningful climate policy, which could save us trillions over the next century. When floodwaters are rising, only fools complain about the price of sandbags.

Warren Senders

Month 11, Day 2: An Election Day Letter

The Guardian comments on the expected barrage of Republican idiots investigating things. If I were a believer, I’d be praying. If you’re a believer, please pray…but GOTV either way! I’ll probably be driving people to the polls tomorrow at some point…not sure how that’s going to work with a kid in tow, but wotthehell.

It is surreal to imagine Republican congressional inquiries into the Obama administration’s inept handling of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. How would these anti-environmental zealots keep the scope of their investigations from moving back to the Bush-era EPA’s carefully nurtured culture of incompetence and corruption? Given that the Tea Party Republicans are overwhelmingly ready to reject scientific evidence, it should be no surprise that they are anti-reality in other areas as well. While their handling of the Gulf catastrophe was hardly the Obama team’s finest hour, it’s incontrovertible that the Bush/Cheney administration laid the foundation for BP’s destructive and callous behavior. The spill in the Gulf may have poisoned multiple ecosystems beyond recovery, but the behavior of Republican politicians demonstrates that oil kills rationality, logic and accountability just as thoroughly as it wipes out fish, turtles and sea birds.

Warren Senders

Month 10, Day 9: The Immortal Billionaire Brats.

The Wall Street Journal notes that corporate groups are busy trying to sue the EPA to get its endangerment finding reversed or overturned, thereby making it even easier for them to go on polluting. These people are like bratty teenagers getting pissed off because their parents don’t want them sniffing glue.

In refusing to reconsider its endangerment finding on atmospheric carbon dioxide, the Environmental Protection Agency is acting entirely correctly. The bitter complaints and threats of legal action from corporate groups are reflective of a profound immaturity that pervades our nation’s private sector. It is immature to think and plan only for the short run, focusing entirely on profits while ignoring the deterioration of the infrastructure and environment. The whining of the business sector when faced with the fact that at some point they’ll have to clean up the messes they’ve helped create is disturbingly similar to that of a spoiled child refusing to pick up his room. Whether the corporate sector wants to recognize it or not, anthropogenic global warming carries a statistically significant probability of human extinction — which would definitely be bad for business. The E.P.A.’s policy of long-term responsibility is for the benefit of us all.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 16: One Of The Good Guys

Very tired. Looked through lots of newspapers but their coverage was all about the primary elections, with nothing I could link to climate. So I decided to send a fan letter to my Rep.

Dear Representative Markey,

I write to thank you for your ongoing efforts in the vital area of climate change. Two things are becoming more and more obvious. First, the upsurge in unusual and extreme weather all over the world is a consequence of the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — an increase directly caused by human activity. Second, the Republican Party is now the home of climate-change denialism. For example, an examination of voting records and public statements shows that every single GOP candidate for a Senate seat is a climate-change denier. Every one; no exceptions.

Because of the growing urgency of the problem, this is an exceptionally troublesome development. Never before in our nation’s history has an existential threat of such magnitude been treated with such indifference by so many. It is not, of course, just Republican Senatorial candidates who are “climate zombies;” some Democrats as well have fallen prey to an anti-science mindset that bodes ill for the futures of our nation and the world.

Given that robust legislative action is unlikely to happen in the current political environment (I can only imagine your frustration at watching the Markey-Waxman bill languish without action from the Senate) it is absolutely essential that any effort made to curtail the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency be rejected. The EPA needs as much power as possible if we are to have a hope of accomplishing the needed regulation of greenhouse gases from American industries and consumers.

Please continue your work in this area. Generations to come will thank you for standing up for their right to sustainable lives on a healthy planet.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders