Month 11, Day 16: Die Voise Uff Sveet Reason

I find it somehow depressing that Arnold Schwarzenegger was the only person available to fill the role of the Reasonable Republican.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is alone among contemporary Republican politicians in accepting both the scientific reality of global climate change and the economic necessity of doing something about it. For environmentalists, the electoral failure of the anti-climate Proposition 23 in California is one of the few signs of hope in an otherwise desolate and depressing vista of climate denialism. The current crop of GOP legislators includes a record number of so-called “climate zombies,” whose minds are made up and impervious to facts. And who can blame them for resisting? The facts of climate change are very scary. It’s far easier to pretend that “the science isn’t settled” (although it is) and that addressing the problem “costs too much” (it will be a fraction of the costs of inaction). Our political leaders need to understand that our approach to climate change cannot hinge on electoral exigencies if we are to survive as a species.

Warren Senders

Month 11, Day 4: NOW You Tell Us?

I’m glad Jerry Brown won in CA. I’ve always liked him, and Meg Whitman’s plans to sell off the state on Ebay were hard to swallow.

The San Francisco Chronicle posts an AP article which carries the somewhat hard-to-believe news that Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Schultz are going to try and persuade Republicans to do something about climate change. They also quote the big cheese from the NPRA about how Proposition 23 was badly misunderstood and all the environmentalists were mean to them:

The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, which contributed $100,000 to the yes vote, called the measure’s defeat “tragic.” The association blamed it partly on the voter wave that elected Jerry Brown governor, re-elected Barbara Boxer to the U.S. Senate and sent their fellow Democrats to several other statewide offices.

The association’s president, Charles Drevna, also accused the measure’s opponents of leading a “sophisticated multimillion-dollar misinformation campaign” that he said would ultimately drive companies out of the state.

Schwarzenegger and Schultz both agree that climate change is real, and they think this is the perfect time to bring it back on the national stage.

Good luck with that, guys. I’m afraid that your party may have gone too far in deliberately cultivating stupidity as an ideology for that to work. But if you try, I’ll write letters in support, OK?

It is a glimpse into true bizarro-world when the head of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association can state with a straight face that the opponents of Proposition 23 ran a “misinformation campaign.” The initiative’s resounding defeat is more than just good news for California; it’s a rebuke to the anti-science agenda promoted by the Koch brothers and their associates. Governor Schwarzenegger and Secretary Schultz are members of an increasingly small and exclusive group: Republicans who recognize the severity of the threat posed by global warming. It is heartening to hear that they’re planning on pushing for legislative action on climate change at the national level. However, given the House takeover by GOP legislators who reflexively dismiss scientific expertise when it is inconvenient to their ideology, the “Governator” is going to have his hands full. Meanwhile, steadily increasing atmospheric CO2 is bringing the planet ever closer to the precipice.

Warren Senders

Month 10, Day 29: The Auteurial Imagination….

The Modesto Bee, a small California paper, notes that film director James Cameron has come out against the odious Proposition 23.

That is to say:

It’s good to hear James Cameron joining Governor Schwarzenegger in opposition to Proposition 23 in the last few days before the election, when the Koch brothers and their collaborators from the extractive industry sector are pouring surreal quantities of money into the campaign to suspend AB 32, California’s excellent climate change law. We recognize these conscienceless billionaires in two of Cameron’s creations: they occupied the Titanic’s most luxurious staterooms, and they’re the principal shareholders of “Avatar’s” RDA Corporation. These latter-day robber barons ignore the crucial truth that global climate change is likely to trigger a “domino effect” of infrastructural collapse, which would surely be bad for business. The worst-case scenarios suggested by climatologists can be summed up in one word: Venus. A film based on that planet would challenge any directorial imagination: hot and empty. Nobody to buy oil. A defeat of Proposition 23 will benefit the Koch brothers and their allies, too.

Warren Senders

Month 10, Day 20: Small-Town Paper Makes Good?

A column in the Marysville, California Appeal-Democrat outlines the issues facing Californians and includes a paragraph on Proposition 23. The Appeal-Democrat is a small paper with a daily circulation of 23,000. Maybe they’ll print this. If anyone is in their circulation area, please keep an eye open.

It’s harrowing, watching corporate groups spend millions of dollars to pass Proposition 23 and neutralize California’s powerful emissions law. The strongest such law in the country, AB 32 is a model for other states to emulate. The arguments made by Proposition 23’s proponents are full of fear-mongering and faulty logic, but that hardly matters — they’re backed by the unlimited financial resources of oil billionaires who are unwilling to sacrifice a few points of profit in the interests of the planet. Yes, this election is an important one, all right. As a Massachusetts resident, I have no voice in California’s politics — but as an environmentally aware citizen, I am watching this election with considerable apprehension. To end AB 32’s effectiveness with a spurious economic argument would be a devastating blow to hopes for similar legislation elsewhere in the country. That’s what the Koch brothers believe, too.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 28: He’s Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

The Seattle Times ran an AP story on Governor Schwarzenegger’s remarks about the companies promoting Proposition 23 in California.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday blasted the out-of-state oil companies that are trying to undermine California’s global warming law, saying they are motivated purely by greed.

Companies such as Valero Energy Corp., Tesoro Corp. and Koch Industries are spending millions of dollars to manipulate the will of Californians and “buy votes,” the Republican governor told the Commonwealth Club.

Their motivation, he said, is “self-serving greed.”

The Governator may be an idiot in many ways, but he’s on the money here.

Governor Schwarzenegger is exactly correct in his description of the corporations which are pumping money into California’s electoral process. Valero Energy Corp., Tesoro Corp. and Koch Industries are motivated entirely by greed — and a particularly short-sighted greed at that. By focusing entirely on profit in the short term, these corporations are endangering the natural ecosystems which sustain human civilization. Catastrophic climate change is not an abstract threat to some unspecified future generation; it’s happening right now in Pakistan (whose government may well be the first political casualty of anthropogenic global heating), and it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. An economy shattered by climate chaos won’t be able to support major extractive industries; in their support of California’s Proposition 23, Valero, Tesoro and Koch are undermining their own chances of continued existence in the longer term. Along with ours.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 25: The Immortal Sociopaths Have Money To Burn

Californians are evenly divided on Proposition 23. The Koch Brothers are a pair of evil bastards, all right. This one went to the L.A. Times.

One of the casualties of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision is likely to be meaningful environmental policies. The most comprehensive global warming law in the country is something of which Californians should be proud, and it’s terrifying to see corporate megabucks pour into the campaign for Proposition 23. Comparing the yearly profits of corporations like Tesoro and Valero Energy with the amounts they are spending on this campaign makes it very clear: it’s all about the Benjamins. Although it should be obvious that the best interests of the billionaire Koch brothers are far removed from those of the ordinary people for whom they pretend sympathy, the power of corporate money to persuade voters otherwise is staggering. If Proposition 23 is enacted, it is a certainty that any and all science-based climate policies in this country will be next up in the corporate crosshairs — and we will all lose.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 17: Classic Koch

The LA Times ran an article about the oil industry’s deep pockets and attempts to raise enthusiasm for California’s Proposition 23. In the course of the piece, the following gem emerged:

On Tuesday, Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Assn., issued an urgent appeal for funds to back the measure. “I am pleading with each of you — for our nation’s best interest and for your company’s own self-interest,” he wrote in a confidential e-mail to the industry group’s 416 members.

“The money raised so far,” he wrote, “is not enough to win the fight against environmental zealots led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who seems hell-bent on becoming the real-life Terminator of our industry.”

That’s right. Ahhhhnuld is an Environmental Zealot, presumably because he acknowledges the existence of the problem.

Oy. Californians…don’t let this thing pass!

It’s amusing to hear Governor Schwarznegger described as an “environmental zealot” by Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Given the oil industry’s abysmal record on cleaning up the messes they make, lying about the size and impact of the disasters they cause, and minimizing the degree to which their activities are damaging the Earth, it is an open question as to why anyone could find Mr. Drevna’s assessment convincing. Indeed, it would be more accurate to describe Drevna, along with other petroleum spokespersons, as an “anti-environmental zealot.” California has led the nation for years in the implementation of reality-based environmental policy — a position now threatened by Proposition 23, a thinly-disguised handout to the nation’s largest polluters. Obviously, any initiative heavily bankrolled by the likes of the Koch Brothers isn’t intended to benefit anyone other than the fossil fuel industries and their subsidiaries.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 13: La la la, la la la, la la la…

Not sure how Californians feel about people from the other side of the country meddling in their local elections, but I sent this to the LA Times anyhow, after reading the following:

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said Friday that rival Carly Fiorina’s recent embrace of a November ballot measure that would roll back the state’s landmark global warming law was evidence that the Republican was “in the pocket of big oil” and “dirty coal.”

With California’s unemployment rate at 12.3%, the three-term senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown have argued that the state’s 2006 global warming law, which would cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels over the next decade, will play a crucial role in creating jobs and stimulating the green energy sector in California.

The ballot measure, which has been largely bankrolled by three oil companies based outside of California, would suspend the law until unemployment reaches 5.5% for a year — a rare occurrence historically. If Proposition 23 succeeds, Boxer argued Friday, California would lose its edge in industries such as wind and solar to other nations.

Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina blathers:

The state’s global warming law “isn’t the right answer,” Fiorina said in Mill Valley. Instead, she said, Congress should pass “a national, rational energy policy” that motivates innovation in “clean, green” technologies as well as “environmentally responsible exploration and exploitation of every source of energy that we have.”

I agree, Congress should pass such a policy, and it’ll happen…in the year 2200, when all human presence has been uploaded into the digital domain because we no longer have a planet to live on. Personally, I’d like to see California (and all the rest of the states) do something rational in the meantime.

Anyway…

Carly Fiorina is absolutely right. California’s current global warming law “isn’t the right answer.” But she misses the point, which is that the right answer is policies that are firmly based in environmental reality. While there are no doubt inadequacies in the current law, California currently leads the country when it comes to science-based climate/energy policy. On the other hand, Barbara Boxer’s assessment of her opponent is exact and irrefutable: Fiorina is definitely in the enormous pockets of the most environmentally irresponsible corporations in the world (the same ones bankrolling the campaign for Proposition 23). As a Massachusetts resident, I can only remark from the sidelines that getting a senator whose approach to climate/energy legislation consists of sticking her fingers in her ears and shouting “la la la la la la — I can’t hear you!!” would be a shame for California, for the nation, and for the world.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 6: Foulness, Foulness, Foulness.

It’s probably too late for this letter to be published, but I wanted to lend my voice to what I hope is a chorus of outrage triggered by Frank Rich’s description of the unmitigated vileness perpetrated by the Koch Brothers.

Frank Rich’s takedown of the Koch brothers does not go far enough. In their disregard for the continued health of our democracy, these arrogant billionaires reveal themselves as fundamentally anti-American. Even worse is their readiness to disseminate misinformation which is overwhelmingly likely, not just to mislead the the American populace, but to endanger the planet. Their recent donation of a million dollars to the proponents of the anti-environment Proposition 23 in California is an example of their long history of close engagement with the denial of the human contribution to catastrophic climate change. At this time in history, our continued national inability to grasp the genuine science of global warming has profound moral implications. The continued survival of our species is placed at risk by the Kochs’ continued readiness to fund an ideology that rejects robust scientific evidence in favor of fiscally expedient ignorance.

Warren Senders