At the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, former President Bill Clinton blasted the GOP for supporting climate science denial. As Brad Johnson of TP Green reports, Clinton was asked about what Americans can do to fight climate change and replied:
The best thing you could do is make it politically unacceptable to engage in denial. We look like a joke. You can’t win the nomination of one of our parties if you accept the science. It’s really tragic. We need the debate between people who are a little bit to the left and a little bit to the right what’s the best way to solve the climate crisis. We can’t have this conversation because we’ve got to deny it?
Speaking of people who can’t win the nomination of their party, Jon Huntsman called Rick Perry out by name on his climate denial. Huntsman told Bloomberg’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” that “I think on science he’s out of the mainstream”
At a Clinton Global Initiative press conference discussing how labor leaders are investing in the green economy, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) noted that the Earth Policy Institute has found that investment in energy retrofits creates more than seven times as many jobs as investment in coal-fired power plants. He then described that Americans have the choice between the “fuels from hell” — dirty, risky fossil fuels and nuclear fuel — and clean power from renewable energy and energy efficiency:
You can go back to the old economy and the fuels from hell, the coal economy and nuclear, or you can get into the renewable economy and actually create more jobs, reduce your costs, and begin to focus on the global perspective and be more competitive with smart infrastructure and 21st century infrastructure.
In an interview with ThinkProgress Green, Newsom said that nature has offered us the chance to use “fuels from heaven” like solar and wind. He believes that states must lead the way to solve the practical and political challenges of investment in a clean energy economy, because of the stagnation at the federal level.
After Gibson Guitars was raided by federal regulators for the second time this year, the company’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, parlayed the company’s legal troubles into a publicity windfall, casting himself as a victim of overregulation and overzealous enforcement of import laws. And he became a Republican celebrity when Rep. Marsha Blackburn brought Juszkiewicz as her plus-one to President Obama’s jobs speech. But environmental advocates say that fears about what the law that Gibson fell afoul of, the Lacey Act, mean for American consumers are overblown, and suggest the Republican rush to embrace Gibson isn’t the best way to show support for American small business owners. “No one is coming to take your Les Paul guitar,” said Andrea Johnson, the Forest Campaign director for the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency on a conference call. “Companies can and are complying with this law.”
The Lacey Act, first passed in 1900 and expanded in 2008, is the first federal wildlife protection law, and is essentially intended to prevent the sale of illegally killed, captured, or harvested material in the United States. The original intent was to stop poachers who were killing endangered species in one state and selling them in another. Now, it’s intended to block the demand for wood illegally harvested from places like Madagascar’s national parks or protected Indonesia forests. But it’s also been a boon to domestic hardwood manufacturers who saw their business decimated by the collapse of the housing market and ongoing recession.
“Perhaps they didn’t really do the research before they jumped on the bandwagon,” said Jameson French, chairman of the Hardwood Federation, which represents American producers. “I can assure you that large numbers of the 13,000 small businesses that are members of the Hardwood Federation many of them are Tea Party and many of them are Republican voters, the vast majority of them are…I think the small businessman is saying ‘What’s going on here? We like the Lacey Act. It’s helped keep jobs in our facility.’” Read more
If global warming continues as expected, it is estimated that almost a third of all flora and fauna species worldwide could become extinct. Scientists … discovered that the proportion of actual biodiversity loss should quite clearly be revised upwards: by 2080, more than 80% of genetic diversity within species may disappear in certain groups of organisms, according to researchers in the title story of the journal Nature Climate Change. The study is the first world-wide to quantify the loss of biological diversity on the basis of genetic diversity.
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that “as global average temperature increase exceeds about 3.5°C [relative to 1980 to 1999], model projections suggest significant extinctions (40-70% of species assessed) around the globe.” That is a temperature rise over pre-industrial levels of a bit more than 4.0°C. So the 5°C rise we are facing on our current emissions path would likely put extinctions beyond the high end of that range.
I realize that the mass extinction of non-human life on this planet isn’t going to be a great driver for human action. Most people simply don’t get that the mass extinctions we are causing could directly harm our children and grandchildren as much as sea level rise. Such extinctions threaten the entire fabric of life on which we depend for food, among other things. This may be clearest in the case of marine life — see “Geological Society (8/10): Acidifying oceans spell marine biological meltdown “by end of century.” And then there’s the worst-case scenario in Nature Stunner — “Global warming blamed for 40% decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton”:“Microscopic life crucial to the marine food chain is dying out. The consequences could be catastrophic.”
“Can’t escape from the common rule: If you hate something, don’t you do it too.” — Pearl Jam
Playing up the Solyndra bankruptcy to the highest political degree possible, Republicans are using their best rhetorical tricks. They have homed in on two phrases to describe loan guarantees — calling them a tool of “crony capitalism” and claiming that they allow the government “to pick winners and losers.”
Practically every conservative politician speaking to the press about Solyndra has used these phrases, often in the exact same sentence.
But a Climate Progress examination of public Department of Energy data finds over $11.8 billion in conditional commitments or closed loan guarantees for renewable energy and nuclear projects in Republican House districts around the country.
The data does not prove whether individual members of Congress lobbied for support of specific projects. However, recent stories from the Associated Press and the New York Times show that a number of high-profile political leaders have helped secure grants and loan guarantees through the stimulus package for projects in their districts.AP highlighted a few of the contradictions in a story yesterday:
Money can’t buy you love. But oil money can certainly quell civil unrest that is rocking those countries in the region that don’t have it, Bloomberg reports.
Saudi Arabia will spend $43 billion on its poorer citizens and religious institutions. Kuwaitis are getting free food for a year. Civil servants in Algeria received a 34 percent pay rise. Desert cities in the United Arab Emirates may soon enjoy uninterrupted electricity.
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members are poised to earn an unprecedented $1 trillion this year, according to the U.S. Energy Department, as the group’s benchmark oil measure exceeded $100 a barrel for the longest period ever. They are promising to plow record amounts into public and social programs after pro-democracy movements overthrew rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and spread to Yemen and Syria.
But thanks to those fossil-fuel-funded anti-science ideologues who have blocked the nation and the world from embracing a rapid transition off fossil fuels, the oil rich just get richer. And that buys a lot of relief from political unrest and potential democratization:
ThinkProgress Green is reporting live from the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City.
Labor leaders Richard Trumka and Randi Weingarten stand with Bill Clinton.
America’s labor unions are banding together to accomplish what Wall Street bankers and multinational corporations have chosen to ignore and Republicans have fought to prevent — putting people back to work rebuilding the United States. A billion-dollar collaboration between unions and public pension funds is spearheading a nationwide effort to invest in energy efficient infrastructure projects, labor leaders announced today at the start of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting.
With his initial announcement of the unions’ accomplishments, Bill Clinton praised their willingness to seize an opportunity the nation’s bankers have ignored — figuring out innovative ways to make money by putting more people back to work, instead of increasing profits by laying off employees. “They are America’s employment banks,” Clinton said of the union-pension fund partnership. “This is a huge deal.”
This commitment, made by the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and developed in collaboration with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and Center for American Progress (CAP), encourages union pension fund managers and trustees to invest up to $10 billion in assets of working families into energy efficient infrastructure as an opportunity for America to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, develop new industries, enhance our global competitiveness, and reduce the threat of climate change.
In less than three months, these unions have made great strides. The AFL-CIO and AFT are now working with many other employee unions, including SEIU, AFSCME, NEA and the Firefighters. In California, the public pension funds CalPERS (public employees) and CalSTERS (teachers) have already pledged $1.1 billion for specific green infrastructure investment projects. Moreover, CalPERS hopes to expand its $800 million investment in California green infrastructure to a $4 billion nationwide effort.
AFL-CIO has surged past their initial $20 million commitment for energy retrofit projects, as the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) has funded a $134 million dollar energy efficiency and asbestos removal project in New York City. The union has committed several hundred million dollars towards projects around the nation, working with Fannie Mae and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to renovate homes and businesses.
This project represents not just an investment in cleaner infrastructure, but also a smarter workforce, with a deep commitment to worker training.
VIDEO: Bill Clinton On American Climate Denial: ‘We Look Like A Joke’ |
Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, former President Bill Clinton blasted the Republican Party for supporting denial of climate science. “The best thing you could do is make it politically unacceptable to engage in denial,” Clinton told a questioner about what Americans can do to fight climate change. “We look like a joke,” he continued. “You can’t win the nomination of one of our parties if you admit that the scientists are right. It’s really tragic. We need the debate between people who are a little bit to the left and a little bit to the right what’s the best way is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We can’t have this conversation because we’ve got to deny it?”
Watch the video:
OPEC’s 2011 Oil Haul: One Trillion Dollars |
“Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members are poised to earn an unprecedented $1 trillion this year, according to the U.S. Energy Department, as the group’s benchmark oil measure exceeded $100 a barrel for the longest period ever,” Bloomberg reports. Spurred by the Arab Spring, OPEC governments are pouring the revenues into social spending, expecting the price of oil to stay above $80 a barrel.
Audi, in marketing a car that only the top few percent of Americans can afford, has focused on the mediocre situation of the nation’s infrastructure in a new ad campaign:
The road is not exactly a place of intelligence. Highway maintenance is underfunded, costing drivers 67 billion a year, and countless tires. Which drivers never check, because they’re busy checking email. This is why we engineered a car that makes 2000 decisions every second.
The ads will call attention to jarring facts about today’s driver, as well as the obstacles presented by today’s American road. More importantly, the ads showcase the ability of the Audi A6 to help overcome these obstacles while enhancing driver safety and enjoyment.
Shockingly, 38 million drivers on the road today would not pass their state’s driver’s exam, and across the nation, drivers encounter over 100,000 miles of crumbling highways and bridges.
Is Audi speaking to the portion of America who is enamored with gated communities, ready to pay for their own comfort and security but uncomfortable with (hating the concept of) paying their fair share for the common good?
Places like Haiti take this to an extreme. Living within one’s walls, with guards, life might be fantastic with perfectly paved streets and 24/7 electricity. Cross the wall and the children might be without clothing and the potholes could absorb a normal car — there you don’t need Audis but Range Rovers. Are those Audi is targeting this advertisement at aiming for an American future resembling Haiti?
Audi is, clearly, aiming for “buzz” about how their cars handle traffic and disrupted roads better than their competitors. They may — or may not — be right. The question for all of us is whether the best solution to our common problems derives from the wealthiest few spending dollars to ease their own lives or whether we all give of our means to make all of our lives better and the overall society stronger. Rather than investing $10,000s more in a car that can handle potholed roads, perhaps it would be better for those who have the ability to do so to consider paying a few $1,000s to help build up and maintain the crumbling infrastructure?
By Climate Guest Blogger on Sep 20, 2011 at 9:45 am
A Media Matters cross-poston the coverage of the Solyndra bankruptcy by Joceyln Fong and Shuana Theel.
In the rush to cover the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that received a loan guarantee from the federal government, many news media outlets have misrepresented or omitted key facts.
CLAIM: Bush Administration Rejected Solyndra’s Application
ABC News: Under Bush administration, credit committee “made a unanimous decision not to offer a loan commitment to Solyndra.” [ABC News, 9/13/11]
Fox Nation: “Bush Admin. Voted AGAINST Solyndra Loan.” [Fox Nation, 9/14/11]
FoxNews.com: Bush credit committee “decided ‘not to engage in further discussions with Solyndra.’” [FoxNews.com, 9/14/11]
America’s Newsroom: “In January of 2009 the Bush Administration considered it. They backed away from it. But then the checks started going out.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/16/11]
Bill O’Reilly: The Bush administration “shut it down. And then as soon as the president, the current president, Obama took office they started it up again.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/16/11, via Nexis]
Fox’s David Asman: Bush administration “nixed the loans.” [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 9/17/11, via Nexis]
Fox’s Stephen Hayes: “Bush administration “cut off the discussions with Solyndra.” [Fox News, Special Report, 9/15/11, via Nexis]
FACT: [Bush Admin Advanced the Loan and] Same Panel Of Career Officials Approved The Loan Guarantee
Bush Admin. Advanced 16 Projects, Including Solyndra, Out Of 143 Submissions. The Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At a congressional hearing, Jonathan Silver, the Executive Director of Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, testified that the Bush administration’s DOE [Department of Energy] selected Solyndra from 143 submissions to move forward in the process:
SILVER: The 2006 solicitation resulted in 143 submissions. The loan program staff and others at the department reviewed those for eligibility, which is a thinner review than the full due diligence, and recommended 16 applications to file a full application. A dozen did so. Solyndra was one of those. And the department conducted due diligence on all of those…. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, 9/14/11, via Nexis]
Under Bush Admin., The Credit Committee Remanded The Project “For Further Development Of Information.” During the final days of the Bush administration, the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee credit committee, consisting of career officials, said that although the Solyndra project “appears to have merit,” the committee needed more information in several areas before it could recommend approval of a conditional commitment. The committee “remand[ed]” the loan “without prejudice” for “further development of information.” [Credit Committee, 9/9/09, via Huffington Post]
DOE Under Bush Admin. Set Out Timeline For Completing Solyndra Review. After the credit committee remanded the project for further information, officials at the Department of Energy under the Bush Administration developed a schedule for due diligence on the Solyndra project, envisioning completion in March 2009. [Department of Energy, 9/14/11]
Naomi Oreskes’ book Merchants of Doubt, explains “the troubling story of how a cadre of influential scientists have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda.”
Oreskes and Conway note that what motivates deniers is political ideology, not science. As I argued in Hell and High Water, the reason most political conservatives and libertarians deny the reality of human-induced climate change is that they simply cannot stand the solution. So they attack both the solution and the science (see “Krauthammer, Part 2: The real reason conservatives don’t believe in climate science“).
Climate Progress reviewed the must-read book here, concluding, “Merchants is an impressive and disturbing piece of scholarship that does a good job of answering the questions they pose. It should be read by every editor and every member of Congress, and by climate scientists as well.”
The prolific UC San Diego professor discusses the history of the anti-science disinformation campaign from the tobacco industry to climate change in this recent video interview:
Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green’s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we’re reading. What are you?
Heavy rains and floods across China have left 57 people dead, dozens of others missing and hundreds injured, while more than a million residents have been evacuated from their homes, the government said. [AFP]
The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday granted Royal Dutch Shell air pollution permits the company needs to begin drilling in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast next year. [E2]
With 756,400 people unemployed in New York and extensive damage from recent storms, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced a strategy to aid both problems: a temporary work program to rebuild hard-hit communities. [Gannett]
President Barack Obama endorsed key elements of a U.S. flood insurance reform bill passed by the House that reduces subsidies in flood-prone areas in the tax and deficit plan he unveiled on Monday, even as the reform has stalled in the Senate without a clear path forward. [Reuters]
An estimated 11 million acres of American farmland are infested with “super weeds,” some of which grow several inches in a day and defy even multiple dousings of the world’s top-selling herbicide, Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate. [Reuters]
A driller’s lawsuit challenging a small town’s ban on natural-gas drilling could have implications throughout New York, where state officials are poised to approve a controversial drilling method known as fracking. [Reuters]
President Barack Obama’s chief climate change negotiator has issued a warning over the future of the Kyoto protocol, casting doubt on a key plank of international climate talks this December in South Africa.
Todd Stern, the US president’s envoy for climate change, said the European Union was the only remaining “major player” that would potentially support a continuation of the protocol after its provisions expire in 2012. The lack of support from other countries bodes ill for the forthcoming talks at Durban.
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.