I have heard from multiple sources that many U.S. Senators are now getting 100 to 200 calls a day opposing a climate and clean energy bill — and bupkes in favor.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Why? Well, the entire conservative messaging apparatus is full-throated in its opposition to this bill — and they have well-heeled funders aka the dirty-energy bunch. Our side is half-throated, at best. Indeed, many progressive/enviro activists spend their time pointlessly trashing the bill and threatening Democrats (see here and here).
But most have a very strong conviction that we need a better bill, which we do, and a misguided conviction that failing to aggressively support passage or even opposing the bill outright “in its current form” or “if it is not substantially improved” will lead to better environmental outcomes. It will not.
Suck it, up, people. This is the meat and potatoes of politicking, and the other side is extremely good at it because they know those calls matter. They mattered in the House.
In an Environment and Public Works hearing today, National Black Chamber of Commerce CEO Harry Alford accused Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) of being a racist. Alford, an opponent of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, attacked Boxer for being “racial” when she cited the NAACP’s support of clean energy and climate legislation. Saying he took “offense as an African American and a veteran,” he asked why she didn’t quote an “Asian” instead:
Madam chair, that is condenscending [sic] to me. I’m the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and you’re trying to put up some other black group to pit against me. . . .
All that’s condescending, and I don’t like it. It’s racial. I don’t like it. I take — I take offense to it. As an African-American and a veteran of this country, I take offense to that. You’re quoting some other black man — why don’t you quote some other Asian or some — I mean, you’re being racial here. And I think you’re getting on a path here that’s going to explode, in the Post. . . .
We’ve been looking at energy policy since 1996. And we are referring to the experts, regardless of their color. And for someone to tell me — an African-American, college-educated veteran of the United States Army — that I must contend with some other black group and put aside everything else in here. This has nothing to do with the NAACP, and really has nothing to do with the National Black Chamber of Commerce! We’re talking about energy. And that — that road the chair went down, I think is God awful.
Watch the exchange:
Alford, whose organization has received at least $275,000 $350,000 from ExxonMobil, was invited by the Republican members to testify. He purported to have “a deep understanding of small and minority-owned businesses” and spoke on behalf of the “black community” in his opening statement. He cited a flawed economic analysis of Waxman-Markey commissioned by his organization that estimates extreme costs for reducing our dependence on coal and oil.
As Sen. Boxer noted, it seems “relevant” that other organizations with “a deep understanding” of the “black community,” such as NAACP and 100 Black Men of Atlanta, see the threat of global warming and the opportunity in a clean energy future.
Later in the hearing, Alford argued, “Let me speak for the African-American community, because I am African American.”
The debate about race appeared to leave Democrats grumpy. When Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the panel, interrupted Sen. Tom Carper, the Delaware Democrat snapped: “Damn it. I want to be given the respect that I gave you.”
Alford conceded that addressing climate change “should be a no-brainer,” but he called for an energy plan that expands the use of oil, gas, and coal. Befuddling? Perhaps not, when you note that Alford’s group has received $350,000 from ExxonMobil since 2003 and Alford has a history of offering up climate skeptic talking points.
Well, as an African American I don’t know what the hell Alford was upset about — other than the fact that Alford was shown that his shilling for the right is not appreciated in much of the community he claims to represent. . .
For a man who compares seeking to organize a union through a person-to-person card-check drive to the efforts of Southern segregationists to violently suppress the black vote, a complaint that Boxer citing a resolution by the NAACP on climate change in a climate change hearing is somehow “racial” and something that would “explode” is certainly audacious. Condescending, though, is more apt.
So let’s be clear: Harry Alford does not speak for the African-American community. He does not speak for me. He speaks for a cabal of conservative obstructionists who are hell-bent on protecting the old order of oil companies being unaccountable to the environment, employers being unaccountable to their workers—and of African Americans who won’t pimp for the interests of corporate America being kept in their place.
Based on preliminary data, the globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the second warmest on record for June, and the January-June year-to-date tied with 2004 as the fifth warmest on record.
And no, I don’t think the monthly data tell us much about the climate. But I know reporting it annoys the deniers. Also, the deniers have been touting the supposedly cool June temperatures over parts of this country (although the lower 48 in fact had the 49th warmest June on record, and Alaska had the 21st warmest). “Across parts of Africa and most of Eurasia,” however, “temperatures were 3°C (5°F) or more above average.” Such warming may be coming to the US later in the year. It typically takes several months for the El Ni±o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) to impact global temperatures.
Once again, the geographical distribution of the warming continues to be really, really bad news for those worried about the permafrost permamelt, since temps are running upwards of 3°-5°C (5.4°-9°F) warmer than the 1961-1990 norm over much of Siberia, as NCDC’s figure shows:
The second man to walk on the moon has an odd op-ed in the Washington Post today, “Time to Boldly Go Once More.” Not surprisingly, he wants to go to Mars, but a key reason he offers — to study climate change — is very strange indeed.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Aldrin’s moon-landing mission with Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins. Aldrin notes:
A race to the moon is a dead end. While the lunar surface can be used to develop advanced technologies, it is a poor location for homesteading. The moon is a lifeless, barren world, its stark desolation matched by its hostility to all living things. And replaying the glory days of Apollo will not advance the cause of American space leadership or inspire the support and enthusiasm of the public and the next generation of space explorers.
Can’t argue with that. But then he argues for “more distant and sustainable goals to revitalize our space program”:
Our next generation must think boldly in terms of a goal for the space program: Mars for America’s future. I am not suggesting a few visits to plant flags and do photo ops but a journey to make the first homestead in space: an American colony on a new world.
A Mars mission is typically projected to cost tens of billions of dollars, though if by “homestead” Aldrin means to suggest this is a one-way mission, it would certainly be a lot cheaper, albeit infinitely riskier. Also, I’m not certain why we need a sustainable revitalization of our manned space program when we haven’t even figured out how to live sustainably on this planet, and we have far more urgent need for that kind of money, a point I’ll return to.
What is most amazing about this article is that Aldrin actually offers up climate change as a reason to go to Mars:
The government seized control of key levers in the energy sector today in an attempt to kickstart a stalling “green energy” revolution and head off the threats of global warming and a rundown in North Sea oil.
Ministers plan to take over the allocation of electricity grid connections in order to favour renewable schemes, force the industry regulator, Ofgem, to tackle carbon pollution and pass laws to compel power companies to help poorer families meet rising energy bills.
The moves came as Ed Miliband, energy and climate change secretary, set out an ambitious road map for the UK to meet its legally binding target of a 34% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Measures range across homes, cars, business and farming, but clean electricity generation will deliver half the reduction.
Miliband said Britain would meet 40% of its electricity needs from wind, tidal and nuclear by the end of the next decade. The government’s overall plans believe 1.2m new green jobs will be created….
Miliband said domestic energy saving initiatives should mean there would be no related hikes in utility bills until 2015 and by 2020 should mean on average 6% – £75 – a year on domestic bills.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jul 16, 2009 at 9:56 am
Its detractors should note: the L’Aquila conference did move vital climate change legislation forward.
If you believe recent media reports, the two international climate change meetings held last week in L’Aquila, Italy, at best failed to do anything and at worst signal that no serious progress will be made on a global climate agreement this year.
If true, this is bad news. According to the byzantine rules of the Kyoto Protocol, set to expire in 2012, a successor to that treaty must be decided this December at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen.
The good news is that many of the assessments of these meetings are incomplete, if not inaccurate. A New York Timeseditorial on Friday, for instance, based its argument in language from a draft of a declaration — not from the document itself. The Times described the recognition by the world’s major carbon emitters that temperatures should not increase more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as an “aspirational” goal. They concluded that “with global climate talks in Copenhagen only five months away, aspirational goals won’t carry things very far.” But this weakened, “aspirational” language was struck in the final version of the document, rendering this claim obsolete.
Edited by Joe Romm, we cover climate science, solutions and politics. Columnist Tom Friedman calls us "the indispensable blog" and Time magazine named us one of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010." Newcomers, start here.