Year 2, Month 1, Day 30: I’ve Got To Learn To Dance If It Takes Me All Night And Day

USA Today ran an article on Carol Browner’s departure, and the diminished hopes for meaningful climate legislation from the WH. The comments, predictably, are dumb, dumb, dumb.

The departure of Carol Browner from the Obama administration is an unfortunate testimonial to the power of moneyed interests in our nation’s governance. Because changes in energy policy would be bad for the balance sheets of the world’s most profitable industry, politicians bankrolled by big oil and big coal made sure that even the 111th Congress’ relatively weak climate change legislation had no chance of passing. Lost in the fiscal and political maneuvering are the simple facts that our current petroleum dependence is unsustainable, and our planet’s atmosphere is warming faster than even the most pessimistic climate scientists predicted; catastrophic changes are on the horizon if we fail to act. Carol Browner’s mandate was to help us bring that action to pass; her failure is our failure, and the administration’s loss is a loss for all of us — and a victory for mendacity and cupidity in America’s politics.

Warren Senders

Month 5, Day 7: Back on Board the Times!

My 60-day exclusion period at the New York Times is now over, so I can start sending them letters again. Lisa Margonelli, the director of the New America Foundation’s energy initiative, had an excellent op-ed on May 1 that seemed to call for a little reinforcement. This letter is a little late for something that was printed last Saturday, but I’m thinking of it as a test run for the oil/cigarette analogy.

Lisa Margonelli is absolutely correct in her analysis of America’s entanglement with oil. Most Americans are unaware of the extent to which the petroleum industry benefits from government largesse in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory loopholes — and most Americans likewise have internalized the notion that fossil fuels are “cheap.” It’s time to drop that idea, which requires that we ignore the costs of cleaning up the inevitable spills and disasters, of public health effects, environmental destruction, and global warming, not to mention the odd war or two waged over oil sources. Calling oil “cheap energy,” is akin to calling cigarettes “food.”

America needs to kick the habit; fossil fuels are bad for us, bad for the planet, and bad for the economy our children and grandchildren are going to inherit.

Warren Senders