Year 3, Month 9, Day 6: Truth And Falsehood Are Opposites, Therefore They Are Equally Responsible For All The Lies

The Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle perpetuates benign false equivalency:

It is unfortunate that global climate change has become one of those articles of faith by which politicians self-identify. On the left, there is little argument the planet is growing warmer; on the right, there is inadequate proof.

In the middle lie industries such as agriculture and utility companies, both nationally and regionally, which must deal with the consequences of a warming planet and its attendant weather disruptions. They are getting precious little help from lawmakers.

The languishing Farm Bill, for example, reflects business as usual, continuing sizable subsidies for large agribusiness interests while failing to encourage sustainable farming practices and other adaptive measures. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy called the bill “a step backwards for efforts to bring about a more fair, sustainable and healthy food and farm system” and said it “completely ignores the effects of climate change on agriculture.”

Those effects can be as specific as a Clifton Springs, Ontario County, dairy farm that will discontinue raw milk production because this year’s drought has dried up the pastures cows feed on. Or they can be as systemic as crop insurance, which is becoming more expensive as heat waves and droughts continue to decimate crops.

Our romance is going flat. Sent August 31:

Yes, it’s regrettable that the burgeoning climate crisis has been politicized. As Earth’s atmosphere heats up, as polar ice melts, as the ocean acidifies and the weather gets more extreme, the last thing we need is for any discussion of the problem to turn into another example of back-and-forth partisan squabbling.

Things have indeed come to a pretty pass. How did this happen?

Any news report that simply leaves the question at this point wrongly imputes equal responsibility for America’s partisan deadlock on climate issues to Republicans and Democrats. Given that GOP strategists have spent decades misrepresenting the science, stigmatizing environmentalists and framing every discussion of the climate crisis as a battle against socialist liberal New-World-Order conspiracies, suggesting rhetorical equivalence between the two sides of the discussion is disingenuous at best and mendacious at worst.

Democrats and liberals and environmentalists didn’t politicize climate change. Republicans, conservatives, and oil-industry money did.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 11: Tearing My Hair.

The April 2 issue of the Boston Globe has a column by Derrick Jackson noting the seeming inability of our president to actually, you know, do or say something that might have an effect on the climate change front:

PRESIDENT OBAMA seems increasingly drained of the juice needed to power up a modern vision on energy. Completely absent from his address this week at Georgetown University was his promise as a candidate to go after windfall profits of oil companies and reinvest the money into wind, solar, and biofuels. Instead, he promised to expedite new shallow and deepwater oil drilling permits, even as top environmentalists say many questions remain after the BP spill disaster.

More than ever, he is wedded to pursuing “clean coal’’ and nuclear power. Meanwhile, radiation from the Japan nuclear disaster was measured thousands of times above safety levels in seawater and groundwater near the plant and in soil 25 miles away, at levels double those found in areas declared inhabitable around Chernobyl.

Most important, there continues to be no direct message to the American people that we are living in an unsustainable fantasy, consuming a quarter of the world’s energy. There was no hint of things that would instantly make Americans rethink consumption, such as a gas tax. For the moment, the road-blocking Republicans are winning the day with an ethos symbolized by Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, a potential presidential candidate. Last week Barbour told Iowa Republicans, “We need more oil. We need more gas. We need more coal. We need more nuclear. We need more American energy.”

Jackson is one of the best columnists writing today; I’m very glad he’s at the Globe. This was sent April 2, and has been published:

The timidity of the Obama administration when it comes to the transformation of America’s energy economy is profoundly disturbing. The facts of climate change are firmly established, with only a few petroleum-funded contrarians on the fringes of a global scientific consensus. The economics of renewable energy look more attractive every day, as are the geopolitical ramifications of getting more of our national energy requirements from within our own borders. The long-term costs of fossil fuels are harder and harder to hide, as we confront the health effects and environmental impacts of our profligate burning of oil and coal. Why, then, is the President so leery of taking a strong stand? The pusillanimity of the present administration only makes sense when viewed diagnostically: the extent to which our politics is paralyzed on this issue is a measure of the disproportionate influence of big oil and big coal in our nation’s governance.

Warren Senders

Month 9, Day 11: Inspiration or Expiration?

An email from Bill McKibben:

Dear friends,

I just walked out of a disappointing meeting with the White House: they refused to accept the Carter solar panel we came to Washington to deliver and said that they would continue their “deliberative process” to discuss putting solar panels back on the White House roof.

My 9/11 letter to POTUS:

Dear President Obama,

I just heard that your staff refused to accept the solar panel that Bill McKibben and his team brought back to the White House after thirty years. Apparently you are going to continue the “deliberative process,” rather than simply saying “yes” to an idea that is obviously a good one — an idea that has broad-based support all over America.

An idea that would motivate thousands of people to get moving and put solar panels on their homes.

An idea that would give a boost to American manufacturers of renewable energy technology — manufacturers who are being left in the dust by China’s advances in this area.

An idea that would demonstrate your genuine commitment to energy independence.

An idea that would help mobilize the nation around the battle against climate change.

Alas, what we get instead is a deliberative process.

A deliberative process that won’t motivate anyone. A deliberative process that does nothing for American manufacturers. A deliberative process that says nothing about energy independence or climate change.

How long will this deliberative process take? Perhaps until after the elections? I have news for you and your team: the Republicans don’t care whether or not you install solar panels; they’re insane, and they’ll pillory you over trivialities regardless.

How hard would it have been to say “yes”?

Yours Regretfully,

Warren Senders