The top 10 things to give thanks for

[This is my list. I’d love to hear what you feel thankful for.]

10. Tina Palin [Sarah Fey?]. Palin helped ruin John McCain’s chances by turning off independents and in general being emblematic of his erratic approach to decision-making. Plus she is the gift that keeps on giving as “64% of GOP voters say Palin is their top choice for 2012,” which means she may help lead conservatives to an even bigger defeat in 2012. And she made possible Fey’s SNL uber-fey impression. Talk about win-win. Thank you very much!

9. Climate Scientists. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, thank a climate scientist for helping to alert the world in the 1970s and 1980s to the dangers of chlorofluorocarbons, which led the nations of the world to control their use just in the nick of time to save the ozone layer that protects us from dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Can you believe that within five years of the first scientific papers on CFCs deadly impact, the United States voluntarily banned their use in spray cans? Now saving the planet requires much more than simply doing good science. It requires a willingness to suffer the gauntlet of the climate deniers disinformation campaign. And the stakes are much higher — the health and well-being of the next 50 generations. TYVM James Hansen et al.

8. The Thrilla in Vanilla. OK, it wasn’t Ali-Frazier, but Henry Waxman’s smackdown of John Dingell for chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee was high drama with high consequences. Finally, we have a champion of serious action and strong regulation, someone who gets the dire nature of global warming, in charge of the crucial committee for climate, energy, and health-care legislation. TYVM House Democrats!

7. The Daily Show. And the Rachel Maddow Show. And the Colbert Report. With a gazillion channels, the wasteland is vaster than ever. But thanks to Jon Stewart and his ilk, sometimes TV seems only half vast [and yes, I’ve waited a long time to use that pun]. How would we really know what’s going on — and how would we retain even a smidgen of our sanity — without these modern-day bards? Certainly not by paying attention to the drivel that passes for the MSM (see, for instance, “The New York Times blows the bark beetle story“). Oh, and maybe a TYVM to Mad Men, House, Entourage, Battlestar Galactica, and yes, Lost, for distracting us or at least me from the worst reality television show in history — The West Wing starring Dick Cheney and George Bush.

6. Venture Capitalists. While the rest of the financial system melts down, cleantech venture investment hits record $2.6B in 3rd quarter. Is that a lot of money? Well, of that $2.6B, some $1.7B went to U.S. companies, which is about three times the comparable annual R&D budget in the Energy Department office I once ran, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) program, which did — and still does — the bulk of the federal government clean tech funding. And VCs ramped up funding while the Bush administration gutted some of the most important research and deployment EERE had. This country finally has a chance to reassert leadership in cleantech, in key areas like concentrated solar thermal electric, thin film solar, biofuels, smart grid, and batteries. All the technology we need to stabilize at 450 ppm is here or will be in a few years (see “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 2: The Solution“). TYVM Kleiner Perkins et al.

5. EPA melts its coal, coal heart. What is more touching than when Scrooge’s heart melts? When the once and future protector of the environment cools to coal so the world doesn’t melt! Yes, the EPA Environmental Appeals Board has stopped new coal plants cold by, amazingly enough, realizing that when the Supreme Court ruled carbon dioxide was a pollutant and EPA needed to start regulating it under the Clean Air Act, they meant it. TYVM to the Sierra Club for making this decision possible.

4. Democrats, Congressional Democrats. Two elections in a row they road the GOP hard and put ’em away wet. Who’s your Daddy, now? Okay, maybe they aren’t as rough and tough as Bond, James Bond, but they gave the supposedly tough, macho, Drill, baby, Drill, Daddy party a second consecutive drubbing. And thanks to their growing majority, we will finally have serious clean energy legislation and serious climate legislation. TYVM Reid and Pelosi.

3. The Blogosphere. I agree with Arianna. From ThinkProgress to, the blogosphere was the place to be this election cycle. Progressives can be doubly thankful for the Internet. First, it helped progressives stop the right wing spin machine from dominating election news cycles with their usual display of distractions and disinformation. Second, the internet became a fundraising tool that allowed an insurgent campaign to become a winning campaign. On a personal and professional note, I make a living blogging, and I am incredibly grateful that I have found this best of all possible “work,” which also keeps my blood pressure low and saves me a mint on Xanax. I am thankful to the Center for American Progress Action Fund for sponsoring ClimateProgress, thankful to every website that reprints my posts, and most especially thankful to everybody who actually reads my stuff, since I learn so much from your comments and since you are sole the reason my blog still exists.

2. President-elect Barack Obama. A year ago, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, warned “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” That means the next president of the United States, more than anyone else, will determine my future and your future and our children’s future, and perhaps the future of the next 50 generations to walk the earth. Fortunately, we elected somebody who gets it, as is clear from the ringing remarks he gave to the post-election governors climate summit: “The science is beyond dispute… Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.” And that means it is judgment day, deniers and delayers. There is a new sheriff coming to town, and he isn’t an anti-scientific stooge like the current one or his boss VP. Thank you Barack Obama and your entire team for running such a terrific campaign while maintaining your commitment to clean energy and global warming. Most of all, TYVM American people.

1. My family. What else is there to come home to? Okay, I work at home, but that just means more time with my 21-month-old daughter. Who else is going to say to me at night when I hold her in my arms in the rocking chair, the three words a father will never forget: “Fancy dining car.” That tells me she wants me to sing Johnny Cash to her again as a lullaby [long story]. Maybe you had to be there. I’m very thankful I am.

[I know I promised only one photo of my daughter a year — so as a bonus, click on the figure. Happy Thanksgiving.]


27 Responses to The top 10 things to give thanks for

  1. Robert Bundy says:

    Thank you Joe,

    In my book, I’ll add one more item to your list and that will be your outstanding efforts to ‘keep the focus’ on truth. Not to over flatter you but your ‘Climate Progress’ site is always my second stop after Green Car Congress, certainly not a competitor to your quality works! We need your steady and quick hand on the draw to help the rest of us mere mortals keep our sanity!

    Thank you my friend,

  2. Andy Bauer says:

    If Dustin Pedroia gets the MVP award (justifiably so) on half a dozen data sets (ie, batting average, hits, etc.), then we can feel pretty solid going with the IPCC’s summation of 29,000 data sets.

    That was one of the messages I used in my middle school presentation yesterday. And because I’m an optimist, another was the 14 GT CO2 reduction strategy from your solutions post.

    The theme of the day was ‘Americans who tell the Truth’ so I offered the presentation in honor of James Hansen, all the IPCC scientists (personal Thanks to Gary Yohe), and to you, sir. I use your facts and proposals frequently.

    My Thanks to all of you indeed.

  3. Number 11: With the hope of replacing Wall Street bankstas……….

    GUEST COLUMN by Steven Earl Salmony

    November 26, 2008

    Chapel Hill(NC)News

    Billions end up paying for excesses of the wealthy on Wall St.

    Our lexicon of business activities is being expanded daily, thanks to the “wonder boys” on Wall Street. We are learning about derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, recapitalization, puts, short selling and so on. We are gaining a new vocabulary from the recent meltdown of the financial system and expected slowdown of the real economy worldwide.

    Where did this debacle begin? Well, it began in the center of the human community’s banking and investment houses in the financial district of NYC. Supposedly, the “brightest and best” among us go to Wall Street, know what they are doing and do the right thing. Unfortunately, such assumptions turn out to be colossal mistakes.

    How did this calamity occur and why is the human family in such dire economic straits? It appears that grotesque greed and a culture of corruption have come to dominate significant operating systems of the global political economy.

    Powerful people in high offices within huge business institutions with access to great wealth are recklessly and deleteriously manipulating the unbridled expansion of the global economy in the small, finite planetary home God blesses us to inhabit.

    Self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe have surreptitiously “manufactured” a subprime “asset bubble” and perversely fostered its uneconomic growth within the world economy. Not unexpectedly, this asset bubble did what bubbles do. The subprime bubble burst and made a mess. Global credit markets have frozen, stock prices are tumbling and the value of the dollar is gyrating.

    Evidently organizers, managers and whiz kids overseeing the global economy, and the unraveling (i.e., deleveraging) of the worldwide subprime swindle are running the artificially designed financial system of the global economy as a pyramid scheme. This is to say that the international financial system is being operated so that most of the wealth funneled pyramidally into the hands of a small minority of people at the top of the world economy where this wealth is accumulated and consolidated. Note that 30 percent of annual corporate profits end up in the accounts of a tiny number of people. At the same time, the vast majority of people on Earth, near the bottom of the global economic pyramid, are left with very little wealth. Does the economy of the family of humanity exist primarily to provide wealth to the already stupendously wealthy? The “bankstas” among us evidently think so.

    In the 1980s, this extremely inequitable method of distributing wealth and arranging business activities was called a “trickle-down” economy. We have been repeatedly told how this ‘rational’ economic scheme is good because it “raises all ships.” And yet, from my limited scope of observation, the billion people living on resources valued at less than one dollar per day and the additional 2.7 billion people being sustained on two dollars per day of resources now appear to be stuck in squalid conditions. The ‘ships’ carrying these billions of less fortunate people (i.e., more people than lived on Earth in the year of my birth) do not appear to be lifting them out of poverty.

    Steven Earl Salmony

    AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,

    established 2001

  4. John Wilson says:

    Thank goodness for Climate Progress. Second best thing you’ve done, after your daughter. Way to go Joe.

  5. Kathy N. says:

    Thank you for giving us the content and constraints of what we need to be doing, can do and the difference WE can really make when given good information.

  6. John Hollenberg says:

    Just the other day I referred someone interested in the global warming problem to “the best site on the web”– We have much to be thankful for, with you continuing to provide the best information/commentary on this problem. Thanks Joe!

  7. Greg N says:

    A big thank you to all American voters – I might be on the other side of the Atlantic but I’m very grateful!

  8. Brendan says:

    A couple other things that while shouldn’t be on your list, could be.

    11. Extension of the production tax credits — granted, it took the bailout, but nevertheless it is an important step, especially since gas prices have plummeted.

    12. Shai Agassi — First Israel, then Denmark, then Australia, and now finally the Bay Area has agreed to be the Better Place testbed in America. This project is gaining more and more critical mass. I don’t know where they are technologically in terms of cars and battery swapping, but the availability of electric charge stations will go a very long way in changing the fleet. It is also a big deal that the new BP is committed to only using renewable energy, a great push into the car transportation sector being carbon neutral.

    13. LEDs — If you haven’t noticed from my other comments here, I’m turning into a green tech junkie. While I enjoy the pragmatism from your site, I also enjoy reading eco geek to see new fun stuff that could be on the horizon. LED lights are a great example of a way the world will be changed. They are much more efficient than even compact fluorescent, and don’t contain mercury and start up immediately.

    14. Dell, Intel, etc. — Companies that have made a commitment to reducing energy usage and lead by example. Dell has gone carbon neutral, although I don’t know how much of that is offsets. Not entirely motivated by eco-friendliness, Intel has been working to reduce their product’s power usage. Many companies have been working hard to make data centers much more efficient.

    15. States — The RGGI had their first auction recently and while the price for carbon is low (~$3), it is a step in the right direction. California has clearly been leading the way for a long time, and others have now joined it for the Western Climate Initiative. Where the federal government has been lax, the states have taken the lead.

    Anyway, that’s all I’m going to say for now. I was going to comment on a certain line in #4, but you thanked me in #3, so I won’t.

  9. paulm says:

    Theres definitely a resemblance there! Nothing like family.

    Record events here, record events there….

    2008 saw record-breaking hurricane season: US agency

    For the first time on record, six consecutive tropical cyclones — Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike — struck the US mainland and three major hurricanes — Gustav, Ike and Paloma — made landfall in Cuba, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Hurricane season ending after record damage in US

    …16 storms, including eight hurricanes, … inflicting record damage in the United States…

  10. Anne Polansky says:

    What? Folsom Prison Blues, not Mary Had a Little Lamb? She’s gotta the be the only one on the block…. lucky girl! Thanks for your creativity, perseverance, hyperblogic tendencies (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), and dry wit… these are things we can all be thankful for! Blog on into the new year and beyond… we’re counting on you! ~~ Anne @ CSW

  11. paulm says:

    Give thanks for psychologist!

    Barack Obama’s hopes of change are all in the mind
    The US president-elect needs to tackle human behaviour before he can tackle climate change, says psychologist Adam Corner

    “…To hit his carbon targets, Obama needs psychologists on his team, not just energy experts and economists. Otherwise “Yes We Can” will too often become “Yes we could,…”

  12. Thanks Joe for all that you do. Your site seems to be the most current and politically involved with the issue.

    Science ignores politics, politicians ignore the science. Thanks for making this change. I like the combination of a political rabble-rouser and links to current science.

    And doing 2 or 3 entries a day is great and appropriate. Fast changes everywhere.


  13. I as well thank you, Joe, for producing the news of the day I most look forward to reading, and your blog and book are the first recommendations I give in my talks when folks ask me who can they listen to and trust on the climate issues and solutions. Thanks for your giving!!

  14. Paulina says:

    Joe, your work is invaluable. Thank you.

  15. Kota says:

    Thanks Joe. You are my favorite blog and highly appreciated.

  16. Michele M. says:


    Thanks for your vigilant efforts to keep us off “Denial Row.” Despite being “among the best and the brightest,” (with lots of other options), you take a lot of unnecessary flack, all in the interest of serving humanity.

    That said, I am especially thankful for today’s NY Times Editorial, “Save the Economy, and the Planet.”, which appears to agree with you!

  17. Richard says:

    I’m also thankful for Climate Progress for fighting with such tenacity and resolve!

    And that photo, and that song… How she touches my little heart!

  18. Papertiger says:

    I hope everything you say is true about Baracky trying to legislate the weather.
    We’ll own you eco cultists at the midterms.

  19. jorleh says:

    11 – 100: let´s understand the potential energy of Greenland and Antarctic ice masses to be our energy and fresh water for the thousands of years to come upon us if we understand the laws of physics as they are!

  20. Bärbel W. says:

    Thanks, Joe, for all the work you do!

    I’ve been reading your blog for most of this year and it is one of the first things I read every morning. It gives me a lot of food for thought and information to put everything climate-related into perspective. I wish we had a similarly well researched and current climate-blog in Germany where I live – it would make it a lot easier pointing folks who don’t know English well enough to this type of comprehensive information.

    You’ve most definitely planted the seed to make my next car a plug-in hybrid – I only wish they’d become available sooner!

  21. Russ says:

    This is perhaps a contrarian way of looking at things, but I think it’s something people should think about:

    Where would America be today without Katrina and the Iraqi insurgents? It seems to me we have them to thank for the (so far) failure of fascist disaster capitalism.

  22. Ronald says:

    You left out this website. yah, sometimes you got to be humble.

    but that Palin thing with conservatives/republicans is troublesome. maybe it helps electing the other side, but if means that there are some people are to . . . well, that they don’t have enough sense to figure out this greenhouse gas/global warming thing well enough to do the right thing about it. Glad they are for Palen so they lose elections, but that just shows how far they are from reality. What a world.

  23. Jesse says:

    Thank you for this blog as well! Its proved invaluable as I work on my thesis at Hampshire College on the evolution of global warming discourse!
    Your daughter is adorable too!

  24. msn nickleri says:

    Thank you for this blog as well! Its proved invaluable as I work on my thesis at Hampshire College on the evolution of global warming discourse!
    Your daughter is adorable too!

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