Year 2, Month 6, Day 30: This Is Not Funny

Big fires happening in Arizona. Big discussions in the Senate. Al Franken brought something up:

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, one of the witnesses present at the hearing, cited research from within the service to link fires and climate change.


Tidwell’s testimony was prompted by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who used the positive response to chide committee members into considering climate change as one of the committee’s key issues.

“I would just like to underscore that for members of our body, when we have discussions about the impact of climate change, the cost of this,” he said. “It would be all well and good for members to understand that this is related to climate change, and how important it is for us to address and take national action to reduce our carbon emissions.”

Following which, Lisa Murkowski criticized the Government’s performance in handling fire management:

However, climate change was not the focus of members’ disapproval of current fire management. Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was quick to point to poor management and slow policy implementation as the primary factor for out-of-control fires, caused by recent cuts to the Forest Service budget as well as a strategy of tackling smaller areas rather than larger projects. Murkowski criticized the Forest Service for not implementing the Healthy Forest Restoration Act to its fullest extent. Less than a third of the authorized projects were ever completed, according to Murkowski.

Now, I don’t know a thing about Fire Management, or about how the Federal Government is handling it. There’s probably as much ineptitude there as anywhere else in a big bureaucracy, but I don’t see that as an anti-government argument; it’s an anti-ineptitude argument.

But today I was in a hurry, so I just pointed out that Republicans are anti-science dingleberries without exception. Easy. Sent June 15:

As Alaska’s Senator Murkowski asserts, lags in implementing forest management policy are a big factor in forest fires like the one currently devastating huge swaths of Arizona. As Senator Franken points out, so is climate change. And there in a nutshell is the difference between the two parties’ approaches to environmental issues. Republicans bend every effort to underfund essential programs, then cite their failures as reasons to mistrust “big government.” Republicans are forced — from above by their energy-industry sponsors, from below by their ideologically inflamed tea-party base — to deny the relevance of basic science. When it comes to environmental policy, necessarily based on measurements, facts, and probabilities, the GOP’s approach is practically surrealist in its gleeful disregard of ideologically inconvenient expertise. Whether or not the Wallow fire is directly linked to climate change, the connection between Republican climate denialism and the failure of American environmental policy is unequivocal.

Warren Senders

Month 6, Day 12: Upper-Class Twit of the Year!

My junior Senator is an idiot. The Boston Herald had a piece about the efforts of us Liberals to convince him to vote No on the Murkowski abomination. I used that as a hook for this letter, which is largely based on the Think Progress piece.

Well, despite the efforts of thousands of Massachusetts citizens (including this writer) to persuade him to move away from Republican lockstep, Scott Brown voted for Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to strip power from the Environmental Protection Agency. His reasons for voting against the wishes of his constituents became clear when he appeared on Howie Carr’s radio program and called the EPA a “non-governmental agency.” Now, the EPA can be called many things, but “non-governmental” is not one of them. Brown further claimed the Agency has the ability to “regulate churches and restaurants…the very smallest emitters…,” ignoring the fact that the EPA has so-called “tailoring rules” that limit regulations to amounts over 75,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year. Churches generally emit quite a bit less — about 100 tons. Fortunately, the Murkowski resolution failed.  Unfortunately, Scott Brown is an embarrassment to the Senate and to the Commonwealth.

Warren Senders

Month 6, Day 10: Our Descendants Will Be Too Busy Ducking Catastrophic Storms To Spit On Our Graves…But They Would If They Could, You Betcha!

Lisa Murkowski’s appalling amendment is coming up for a vote on the Senate floor tomorrow. John Kerry is leading the charge against this breathtakingly stupid piece of legislation. Scott Brown?

Dear Senator Brown,

I write to urge you to vote against the “petition of disapproval” introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski. Despite what the voices of Fox News say, the climate crisis is very real and very dangerous. At this point in our nation’s history, do we really need head-in-the-sand denial of something that’s been overwhelmingly affirmed by scientific research, over and over again?

The proposal to reverse the EPA’s Endangerment Finding with
respect to greenhouse gases would essentially bar further EPA
regulation on climate change. What we need is stronger climate legislation; what we need is to transform our economy so that we’re no longer burning fossil fuels and pumping carbon into the atmosphere. Senator Murkowski’s amendment is a cynical piece of short-term political self-gratification that serves the needs of no one save the energy industry.

Senator Brown, I am not a corporation. I am a human being. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, there is a difference. I am a human being and one of your constituents; although I know that many Republican politicians feel responsible only to those who agree with their positions, the fact remains that you are my Senator.

Let’s say you’re buying a house, and ninety-seven home inspectors tell you it’s a dangerous property, while three tell you that they’re not quite sure. Would you buy? Let’s say you’re choosing a restaurant, and ninety-seven food inspectors tell you it’s unsafe, while three tell you they’re not quite sure. Would you eat there? Let’s say you find a lump, and ninety-seven oncologists advise you to start chemotherapy immediately, while three think you should wait and do some more tests. Would you wait?

Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is real, it’s dangerous, and it’s caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. Three percent of climate scientists aren’t quite sure yet. Somehow it doesn’t strike me as a coincidence that the smaller group includes scientists who are on the payroll of the American Petroleum Institute.

The last thing we need is to eliminate one of our last remaining regulatory authorities in the face of a planetary crisis. Vote against the Murkowski amendment — for all our sakes.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Month 5, Day 19: Dunk ’em All!

Back to the Gulf. The Boston Herald printed an AP article on the effects of the spill on the fishing industry, so I used that as the hook for a short and vicious little rant. Will they print it? Ha.

Oil gushes from a hole in the ocean floor; British Petroleum won’t let scientists measure the flow, although estimates go up to 80,000 barrels a day (almost 3.5 million gallons). While the corporations involved in the disaster point fingers at one another, and Republican senators block legislation raising the liability cap, there’s a different sort of buck-passing going on outside the hearing rooms of Congress: Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, just announced that it would give its shareholders a billion dollars in dividends (that’s twice the amount BP has spent thus far on this crisis). Meanwhile, tar balls wash ashore, the ocean is saturated with oil and toxic dispersants, and communities and industries that depend on the Gulf of Mexico are devastated. Will Big Oil and the politicians they’ve bought ever recognize that their responsibilities go beyond maximizing shareholder return on investment? Don’t bet on it.

Warren Senders

Month 2, Day 24: Backward Ran Senators Until Reeled The Mind

I read this piece in Time, noting that the hope of having an unfettered EPA with the power to regulate carbon emissions is now in danger, thanks to a bunch of coal whores moderate Democrats who are joining Lisa Murkowski’s bill to cripple the Agency.

I swear, I just want to throw something across the room some of the time. Our elected representatives can’t make rational decisions about anything further away than Washington, DC (in space) or the coming election (in time). And that is precisely the wrong sort of thinking for dealing with the climate crisis. We need global thinkers who understand the concept of centuries. And what have we got? A collection of ADHD-addled lobbyist-lickers.

It is unfortunate that President Obama’s hoped-for spirit of bipartisanship should take the form of multiple Democrats joining Lisa Murkowski in hopes of preventing the EPA from regulating carbon. America’s only chance to regain the initiative in coping with the impacts of global climate change lies in swift action; alas, the only thing our paralyzed and dysfunctional Senate seems to be able to do quickly is to prevent things from happening.

While we dither, greenhouse gas emissions accelerate; the planet warms; arctic reservoirs of frozen methane are beginning to melt and enter the atmosphere. If you like the greenhouse effect from higher CO2, you’ll love what happens when methane gets into the atmosphere. Climatologist James Hansen describes the worst outcome in a single word: Venus.

There is no doubt that global climate change is the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced. How does our broken political system face it?   By building igloos, by mocking Al Gore; by substituting short-term calculation for long-term vision; by sacrificing the lives of our grandchildren and their grandchildren for political expediency.  Since the Senate is incapable of responding to a clear and present danger with any sort of alacrity, we need the EPA to operate without restrictions; Senator Murkowski’s proposal is a disgrace to our present and a danger to our future.

Warren Senders

Year 1, Month 1, Day 12 (a): a Quick Fax to Senators Kerry and Kirk

There’s some excitement about Lisa Murkowski’s proposed amendment to an upcoming bill dealing with raising the national debt ceiling, and CREDO sent out an email blast asking us to tell our Senators to oppose it. Her amendment will weaken the enforcement abilities of the EPA, making the Clean Air Act a hollow shell of its former self. Needless to say, that’s a bad thing, and Murkowski’s a bad influence.

This came concurrently with 1Sky’s “Day to Call the Senate” or whatever it was they called it, so I dashed off a quick fax covering both issues to my Senators, Kerry and Kirk.

Dear Senators Kerry and Kirk,

Please vote against the Murkowski amendment on the debt ceiling bill scheduled to come to the floor on January 20th. We need robust enforcement of the Clean Air Act!

Also, now is the time to move forward on meaningful environmental legislation to deal with the threat of global climate change. Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey are good starts, but we need to reduce atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm, not 450 as these bills stipulate.

Thank you,

Warren Senders

Not eloquent, but it said what needed to be said. Faxed to both of Kirk’s offices and all of Kerry’s, with the exception of the Springfield office, which appears to have been decommissioned.

Oh, and I also called Kerry’s offices and basically read this to his staffers over the phone.

Need I say that it is a terrifying thought that Republican buffoon Scott Brown is as close as he is to gaining control of Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat? WTF?