The White House lamely blames environmentalists for climate bill failure

Posted on  

"The White House lamely blames environmentalists for climate bill failure"

The blame game has already begun.

One exasperated administration official on Thursday lambasted the environmentalists – led by the Environmental Defense Fund – for failing to effectively lobby GOP senators.

“They didn’t deliver a single Republican,” the official told POLITICO. “They spent like $100 million and they weren’t able to get a single Republican convert on the bill.”

No doubt that is a quote from somebody in the Rahm and Axelrod camp.

But while I certainly think that enviros  made mistakes — see Can you solve global warming without talking about global warming? — I agree with CAP’s Dan Weiss who told Climate Progress today:

In my 30 years of environmental advocacy, this has been the most sophisticated, political savvy, vigorous legislative campaign. The Environmental Defense Fund undertook heroic efforts to convince reluctant senators of both parties to support investments in clean energy jobs, reduce oil use, and cut pollution.

The inability to achieve support from Republican senators was due to their feality to their leadership, big oil, and dirty coal, and not for lack of effort. Senators of both parties who supported global warming legislation in previous Congresses should be ashamed that they were AWOL in 2010.

I would go further.

It is  absurd to think that environmentalists could deliver Republicans — the GOBP  doesn’t count environmentalists among their constituents.  Maybe they could have delivered the Maine Senators, but Cantwell give Collins an out.  Snowe remains a puzzle.

The enviros strategy was to “deliver”  key constituencies needed to enable a bill and  move those who (might) have some political clout with the GOBP.  I think those  working to push a climate bill did a pretty good job of bringing in the business community,  electric utilities,  national security types, and so on.

Indeed, the enviros  messaging strategy delivered the public —  not that I think that the public ever needed much persuading to  support climate action and clean energy jobs, but  a pushback against the massive disinformation campaign of Big Oil  and the special interest polluters was needed.

That’s why the  climate bill always showed a +10 or +15 point edge in  public polling —  even when people were asked if they would be willing to pay higher energy prices — whereas the  health care bill was running -10.

But Rahm and Axelrod  simply didn’t know about or didn’t care about the fact that this bill was a political winner with the right messaging.  They were stuck in the mindset that  this was a political loser.  It is a loser if you are as bad at messaging as they are, I suppose.

They also blew the opportunity handed to them by the BP oil disaster:

On the  political front, the White House  deserves most of the blame for not getting Republicans.  Why?  Because  the White House never tried to keep moderate Democrats in line, never made  it clear that there was definitely gonna be a vote on this bill and the moderates should figure out what they needed to support the bill (as in the case of healthcare reform).

The WH thus enabled  nonstop public (and private) criticism and bitching about the bill from  a core group of moderate Democrats, which  not only became a self-fulfilling prophecy — that  getting the Democratic votes needed was impossible — it convinced Republicans that there was no possibility of getting anywhere near 60 and thus  no reason for them to stick their necks out.  That is,  it was always going to be harder for even a moderate Republican to support this bill than it was  for even relatively conservative Democrats.

It was the WH’s job to  deliver, say, 55-57 Democrats — and then  apply whatever carrots and sticks were needed to move a few GOP Senators.  Sure,  it still might not have worked — see Will anti-science ideologues be able to kill the bipartisan climate and clean energy jobs bill? — but  not trying at all was the only certain route to failure.

I can attest to the fact that  the entire environmental and clean energy and progressive political community worked  round-the-clock over the past year.  If the White House and Obama had worked as hard on this most important of issues, we very likely would have had a price on carbon, I believe.

« »

94 Responses to The White House lamely blames environmentalists for climate bill failure

  1. Oliver James says:

    Remember that climate does not poll nearly as highly as a priority crisis as the economy or even healthcare. I also don’t think it’s true that any one “delivered” the public – were key Senator’s phones ringing off the hook from regular voters about climate?

    I think that it became clear from healthcare that we wouldn’t get Ben Nelson on climate, probably wouldn’t get a Landrieux or other “moderates”, and that we would therefore need Brown, Snowe, and Collins. Very tall order.

    There will be no comprehensive climate bill unless there is filibuster reform or unless the utilities make it abundantly that clear they want it. Maybe the success of WCI over time will help that happen within the next few years.

  2. Will the EPA act to limit emissions from power plants?

    I have heard that most utilities do want some certainty about emissions, and they are waiting for that certainty before investing much in new power plants.

    There will probably be no legislation for the next two years, since the mid-term elections will probably make legislation even harder to pass.

    That leaves regulation. Start with the regulation that hurts least: regulate utilities that want some certainty.

  3. John McCormick says:

    A lame duck session might give us a lame chance to do something about carbon but the results of the election will tell us more about how long any victory will last in the next Congress. We are a chaoic people here in America; afraid for the future and unwilling to do anything about it. The Palanistas have their answer but we Obama supporters are hanging by a thread.

    Maybe the White House has some top secret negotiations underway with China to start the mitigation ball rolling. Likely not.

    Time is our enemy and as things begin to unravel as oil availability becomes the next great concern, pressure to develop US oil shale, coal and tar sands will sweep over what is left of the environmental front guard.

    There are respected voices out there in America who have nothing to lose by joining our cause but they are not in our camp. Bob Dole, Warren Buffett, Larry King, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright are some of the names I would like to hear from.

    The reason environmentalists have come to own the climate change debate and will live with the failure to accomplish anything is that no other interests really care; not Archer Daniels, the truckers, airline companies; automakers who all stand to suffer mightily as the foundation begins to crumble around their empires.

    How about our enviro leaders spending some quality time with America’s elite corps of outstanding and silent public figures and challenge them to step up and take a stand, if only to assure their heirs have a chance to enjoy their inheritance.

    We foot soldiers have no chance of turning this ship around because we are not of the Bilderberg clan. Maybe some of them are and damn it they have skin in this game even if they have never lent a hand to us common folk.

    John McCormick

  4. wag says:

    A big part of the blame also lies with the activists who have not been calling Senators. I agree with Oliver James #1, were Senators’ phones ringing off the hook with worried calls about global warming?

  5. robert says:

    Republicans are utterly undeliverable on this and almost any issue of import. Reason will not win the day, but rather raw muscle. As long as the President refuses to wield power in critical fights, we will continue to lose…

  6. paulm says:

    Oh, great.

    Air Travel is going to go belly up for sure if not due to peak oil then due to the effects of climate change…this airport had to shut for a couple of days due to 6ins of rain yesterday. The woman interviewed said she never heard of somewhere being shut due to being rained in!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/23/milwaukee-flooding-airpor_n_657077.html

  7. frank says:

    “They didn’t deliver a single Republican,” the official told POLITICO.

    Why are Democratic politicians so fixated on the idea of ‘convincing Republicans’? Why can’t they, like, actually listen to their own supporters for a change?

    It’s a disease. Democratic politicians again and again try to offer up useless concessions to neo-cons and paleo-cons and libertarians in the vain hope of achieving the apparition of “bipartisanship”, and the neo-cons and paleo-cons and libertarians give back nothing in return. Yet the crazed quest for “bipartisanship” keeps going on, and on, and on. The Shirley Sherrod incident shows this, and the latest dud ‘Energy’ Bill shows this.

    This misguided quest for “bipartisanship” isn’t smart, it’s not politically expedient, it’s just 100% stupid. And it must stop.

    (Al Gore, we need you!)

    frank

  8. Peter Mizla says:

    The WH again alienates its base-how do they expect to get those voters out this fall-incredible.

  9. BR says:

    Sorry, Joe, but I can’t get that worked up here. The “climate bill” you refer to was on track to be the most watered down useless legislation imaginable on the subject of energy/climate. That it didn’t pass is frankly a relief, because Washington would have though “oh, we’ve solved that energy/climate problem – no need to worry about that for another decade.”

    Maybe now folks will take a step back and lobby for what we really need, which is a roughly 90% reduction by 2030 and a serious fee and dividend schedule that ramps up rapidly.

    [JR: That analysis makes no sense. Typically when you have a big political failure like this, Washington doesn’t revisit it for a long time — see health care and BTU tax. The political lesson that is going to be drawn is not “hey, we didn’t try for a strong enough bill, that’s why we lost.” Seriously.

    I have explained over and over again that the House bill was transformational and even the American Power Act would have jumpstarted the clean energy transition, begun the process of shutting down coal plants, enabled a global climate deal, and on and on. So while I don’t blame the mainstream environmental community for trying to achieve what was politically achievable (even if they didn’t have the perfect message), I do think that those progressives and environmentalists who undercut this bill now have the burden of demonstrating that they can get political support for their bill.]

  10. Sandy says:

    Politicians respond to money (funds), not people. No matter how many people phone, the politicats will do what the money asks of them. Why do you think the car dealers trumped the pentagon on the “finacial reform” bill? Car dealers came up with big bucks. Until we can afford to outbid them, it is only theatre.

  11. PSU Grad says:

    Guys at the White House, I have an idea….how about “growing a pair”? You know what I mean. If the Republicans want to filibuster….LET THEM!!! On every issue…let them.

    Sometimes I think the people in Washington think they’re so very sophisticated while the rest of us are just rubes, when in reality I believe the reverse to be the case. The people in Washington are coming off like bumpkins, with no ideas, no passion, no conviction, no backbone. Show up, make it through the day, collect the check (for whoever pays, they’ll take the side of whoever pays).

    Sherrod…make her go away. Climate change…make it go away. And the list goes on.

    Last night we got a call from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asking for a donation. My wife’s reply….”you’re kidding, right?”

  12. Michael Tucker says:

    “They didn’t deliver a single Republican”

    Why is that? Why do the citizens who are represented by these Republicans and conservative Democrats tolerate no action on climate change? That is the important question. If this is going to be a grass roots effort these are exactly the voters who must be convinced. If we want these recalcitrant legislators to suffer political damage we must convince their constituents of the need for a climate bill. When these constituents call for a climate bill with the same urgency that the Gulf residents have called for the oil to be stopped, and cleaned up, we will see change.

  13. BR says:

    JR: “That analysis makes no sense. Typically when you have a big political failure like this, Washington doesn’t revisit it for a long time — see health care and BTU tax. The political lesson that is going to be drawn is not “hey, we didn’t try for a strong enough bill, that’s why we lost.” Seriously.”

    Joe – This isn’t the same as, say, Clinton’s health care failure. In that case, a lot of political capital was put on the line for a signature issue and it failed. It became politically radioactive and nobody wanted to touch it, so it took until last year before they picked it up again.

    In the case of the “climate bill”, nobody put all that much political capital on the line. Kerry seemed to be halfheartedly working on the bill (and when I’d call his office about it, his staff were clueless about the bill half of the time). He had the tepid support of Lieberman and Graham. Reid and Obama never were pushing that hard. The bill died silently, and so it’s not a big blowout failure like Clinton’s health care debacle, and thus not one where politicians feel burned by the issue.

    And when I said folks need to step back and lobby for something stronger, I don’t mean senators. I mean what the environmental community and the American people should be demanding. They should look at what Bill McKibben and James Hansen have been saying, and take a more hard line position, aiming for what we need rather than what seems the most politically viable at the time.

    I’m a compromiser by nature on things where hard reality doesn’t get in the way. I supported the health care reform bill that passed even though I would have liked a single payer plan. Sure the bill could have been better, but it’s a step in the right direction. Climate change legislation shouldn’t be viewed like that – it should be seen as butting heads with the cold facts of reality – and so those advocating policy changes shouldn’t start from a compromised position only to compromise further still.

  14. Dana says:

    Blaming environmental groups? Unbelievable. Environmental groups did all they could to get the climate bill passed while the White House sat back and did next to nothing. What’s next, blaming John Kerry?

    Frankly this comment is flat-out offensive. I’d like to know who this “exasperated administration official” is, who’s so divorced from reality that he thinks Republicans give a damn about environmental groups.

  15. frank says:

    Michael Tucker:

    If this is going to be a grass roots effort these are exactly the voters who must be convinced. If we want these recalcitrant legislators to suffer political damage we must convince their constituents of the need for a climate bill.

    As Romm pointed out, the climate bill was a winner, yet the politicos insist it’s a loser.

    It seems that one thing climate inactivists figured out is this: it’s easier to directly convince politicians that voters don’t like climate regulation (no matter what the actual level of support is), than it is to actually convince a whole group of voters and then get them motivated enough to convince politicians.

    Canadian PR hack Tom Harris has a revealing PowerPoint slide which distinguishes between public opinion and the perception of public opinion.

    frank

  16. question: what event would need to occur before the GOP recognizes how dangerous this climate change is? What evidence would they need that the event was the result of climate change? How many would have to die?
    I’d say drought in Africa causing tens of thousands to die is on the horizon. Will the GOP ignore that because it’s in Africa (like they’ve ignored Darfur)?

    How bad does it have to get before our “leaders” put human security a higher priority than the next election.

  17. Susan says:

    #10, Sandy “Politicians respond to money (funds), not people”

    Exactly! Here in MA, with the capricious Senator Scott Brown, there was a massive organized effort by many environmental groups to call his office before the Murkowski Resolution was brought to a vote. We even held a Clean Air Act Rally and March with a coalition of diverse groups.

    After his YES vote I called his DC office with a question: “How many calls did you receive for and how many against?” The aide stuttered, finally replying that they didn’t have that information. Well, I know for a fact, from a visit to their DC office, that the congressional aides make a check mark after each call in a Yes of No column.

    I retorted that I knew they had the information, and that it would show many more people called urging a NO vote, but that Brown listened only to the Republican propaganda and its oil and coal lobbyists.

    Futhermore, let me attest to the fact that there huge numbers of us environmentalists who have been volunteering on climate change issues daily, sacrificing our jobs, leisure time, family time, and sanity, and we are getting stretched thin and very discouraged.

  18. Political Pinball says:

    Someone really needs to find out who in the White House made those statements. That is simply unbelievable. I expect to hear such ludicrous and belittling comments from the GOP, but not the White House. Do they truly believe that EDF could have swayed a single GOP Senator?
    Blame is not the issue.
    The bottomline is Washington still does not take Climate Change seriously. This unmistakably includes both the White House and the majority of Congress. What I find most infuriating is that Obama knows better. That’s the difference with this White House. He knows, but acted very little on the public front.

  19. Ziyu says:

    Why it was impossible in the first place to get the Senate to pass the Kerry-Lieberman bill.

    Senator Carte Goodwin “I will not support any piece of legislation that threatens any West Virginia job” Goodwin speaking on the Waxman-Markey bill.

    Senator Mitch McConnel “Don’t give them any consensus” McConnel speaking on the energy issue in general.

    Senator Jeff Sessions “We need to go back to the exact same agenda” Senator session suggesting the Republicans need to go back to the fossil fueled Bush agenda.

    All that’s left of the energy bill are the energy efficiency provisions and oil reform. The scale down procedure: Waxman Markey cap and trade (economy wide) was considered too liberal and too damaging to the economy (though the CBO said otherwise). Some Republicans said they could accept sector by sector cap and trade. Kerry Lieberman sector by sector cap and trade was considered too damaging to the economy also and the Republicans this time said they might be willing to accept utility only cap and trade. Kerry Lieberman utility only cap and trade was thought to increase energy prices and hurt the economy. Some Republicans said they would accept a renewable energy standard. Bingaman standard. The reaction was that election year pressures would prevent even that from getting enough votes. Now our stripped down energy efficiency and oil reform bill. Republicans seem opposed to oil reform, especially that provision which lifts the $75 million liability cap for oil spills. The Republicans wil NEVER give consensus.

  20. Richard L says:

    I saw the movie “An Unreasonable Man.” It is a biography of Ralph Nader and it explored how the two parties have been bought and sold by corporate america. It explained why Ralph Nader kept running for president. Ralph presented very clearly his extrodinary personal history and his views.

    After watching this movie, my expectations of our federal government have been zero. How do we get our government to represent the people?

  21. I definitely agree that a lot of the blame should be put on the White house, but I also think it was the responsibility of moderate Democrats to maintaine a united front on this issue. Sometimes I feel like Democrats can’t get out of their own way. Republicans have a cohesiveness that I don’t think Dems have been able to achieve.

    Truthfully, I wasn’t optimistic that a comprehensive climate bill would pass this session. It was introduced too late to get the right support. I throw this question out to everyone… Is it better to pass a half-ass bill or wait to get true comprehensive energy reform?

  22. Preston Wright says:

    Sounds like a good day for Rambo or Axelsmod to go punch some hippies. Spin…
    and most will listen, just another day in amerika.

  23. Mike says:

    There were several Republican Senators who were willing to support climate change mitigation. Maybe after the election they will again be willing to support a bill in the “lame duck” session, or even the next Senate.

    Mark Kirk is the Republican Senate candidate in Illinois. He voted for C&T, HR 2454, as a congressman in the House. He does not talk about climate now, but if he should win, he maybe a new moderate voice in the Republican Senate caucus. Crist from Florida has been vocal on climate change but I don’t know his position on C&T. Let’s not give up yet!

  24. Lou Grinzo says:

    Wanted: A Democratic president and Congresspeople who treat the opposition the way LBJ with a bad case of drunken road rage (or GW Bush) would.

  25. Lore says:

    Nothing to worry about. We will just spend another six years playing dead, while the vultures descend and wait for the grand epiphany. In the meantime corporate America will try to figure out how to get a nation sinking into Wal-Mart wages to buy $40K+ electric vehicles.

  26. Kota says:

    Oh how cute.

    Blame the rape victims because they didn’t fight hard enough?

    Despicable.

  27. Fire Mountain says:

    100 failed human beings

    Who seem incapable of seeing

    Beyond their political noses

    Add one of two for good measure

    For wasting our earthly treasure

    While taking political poses

  28. Fire Mountain says:

    p.s.

    2008 personal contributions to Obama campaign – $2,400
    2012 likely contribution – $0

  29. Matt Wasson says:

    I think you might be a little too kind toward the enviro strategy, Joe. I agree that the failure to win Republicans can’t be pinned on Environmental Defense and allies, but given the legislative strategy built around massive giveaways to the coal industry, they should at least have delivered Jay Rockefeller and other coal state Democrats. It’s clear now that any future strategy built around appeasement of Big Coal is not going to be effective. It’s a sad day, but it’s also a welcome opportunity to re-rack the legislative strategy and shoot again.

    In the mean time, there’s still plenty of opportunity to make big gains for climate during this Congress. Putting an end to mountaintop removal by passing the Appalachia Restoration Act, for instance, would go miles toward turning around the huge push by power companies to build new coal-fired power plants in the Southeast and to begin shutting down thousands of megawatts of old, un-scrubbed coal-fired power plants that rely on high-Btu, low-sulfur Central Appalachian coal. Even a tiny fraction of that 100 million dollars devoted toward those efforts (not to mention the assistance of all those Environmental Defense lobbyists) could accomplish more for the climate than this bill would have done even if it had passed. It would also help lay the groundwork for a future climate bill by reducing the power of the coal industry, which it’s clear now cannot be appeased.

  30. Kevin says:

    I agree with the unnamed official — no senator felt put in danger by voting no, and felt trememdous danger from voting yes. Even those who were sympathetic had extreme pressure from within the party to not break from the block — those who dared cross the line (pick your moderate) would be threatened with a well funded tea party opponent in the next primary. Those up for election this year face a hostile electorate and most have/had primary runs with challenges from the right. Senators don’t represent YOU, they represent folks from their state who vote in primaries and if they weren’t hearing anything from their constituents on this issue except “NO!” why put would they put their neck on the line. In Indiana, businesses were saying “NO!” and environmental activists were saying “NO!” [the bill was too compromised and purity trumps pragmatism] and IN is right of center state. Look in online comments to climate articles — how many are dominated by people saying “NO!” vs. “YES!”? The optics aren’t good. NGOs did the best they could working inside the beltway to craft a bill that got a lot from the business community and would have been very effective as a start, but they were outflanked in the ground war, which they ran more like a high school club than a professional campaign. What was 350.org doing to put pressure on R or D senators? Where was climateworks? (oh yes, online ads). Where were they during town hhall meetings when the tea party was screaming at anyone who dared to take a progressive stand? Where was the sustained flood of letters to the editor in local newspapers? All of that contributed to today’s situation.

  31. Prokaryotes says:

    What i don’t get is why there wasn’t even a vote. Who knows how some republicans have might voted – after all they can read too.

  32. rmwarnick says:

    It didn’t help that President Obama himself ostentatiously climbed aboard the GOP’s “drill baby drill” bandwagon just two weeks before it exploded in a massive fireball.

  33. Luboš Motl says:

    Well, I am not sure whether the enviro-whackos may be credited with the survival of the U.S. and global economy. The main reason is that their teaching is simply false – and the public and GOP are not stupid and gullible enough to be unable to see through these tricks.

    It’s funny how these extreme commies call themselves pompously, a “progressive political community”. They’re very regressive because they want to return the world back to communism. It’s also interesting that these folks want a free healthcare for others – but when it comes to their own mental health, they leave it thoroughly untreated.

  34. Richard Miller says:

    This is all very depressing and it is hard to overstate the madness of the moment. While it looks like the chances of averting the climate catastrophe are dwindling, the human community and its history, analogous to climate, is also nonlinear system. So keep pushing educating people and encouraging them to call and write their Senators.

    A friend knows an important midwest Senator’s chief of staff and his chief of staff said they go through their call list everyday to see where the voters are on issues.

    Voters are not powerless, but voter discontent must reach a tipping point and we are not there yet.

  35. Prokaryotes says:

    The discussion page of comment poster #32 was pretty revealing. Note to self – Don’t feed the trolls.

  36. Mike says:

    Here are two ideas. (1) The EPA can regulate GHG. Start an online petition asking that the EPA enact tough GHG limits now. (2) If the lame duck Senate won’t vote on a climate change bill (I’m not saying we should give up on that however), it could at least hold hearings on the state of climate science. This could be educational for the public without any political risk.

    Anyone else want to put out ideas on what to do next instead of whining that we lost this time?

  37. Colorado Bob says:

    Observed event –

    Milwaukee, and parts of the city saw up to 7.5 inches of rain in just two hours, according to the state Division of Emergency Management.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g-DfJKSSI2UcwUSA08Baiq2kUt-gD9H4O8EG0

  38. Mark Shapiro says:

    Please don’t take the right-wing POLITICO site at face value. They love to make us DFH’s feel even worse than we need to. Politico is a kind of troll. Take them with grains of salt.

  39. Colorado Bob says:

    …RECORD DAILY MAXIMUM RAINFALL SET AT MILWAUKEE WI…

    A RECORD RAINFALL OF 5.61 INCHES WAS SET AT MILWAUKEE WI YESTERDAY.
    THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 1.26 SET IN 1948.

    THIS ALSO IS THE SECOND GREATEST CALENDAR DAY RAINFALL AT
    MILWAUKEE. THE HEAVIEST DAILY RAINFALL WAS 6.81 INCHES SET ON
    AUGUST 6TH…1986.

    NWS Record event report

  40. Lore says:

    A story here from the NY Times on a new study may put some perspective on the ability for any other governmental agencies to pick up the pieces and take independent action on climate change.

    —————————-
    “Just in time comes a report from the respected World Resources Institute attempting to answer just that question. The 60-page paper was released on the very day that the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, pulled the plug on the already-comatose Senate climate bill.

    The study (warning: quite wonky) looks at federal and state laws governing greenhouse gas pollutants and asks whether they can achieve the target set by President Obama at the international climate conference in Copenhagen last December – a 17 percent reduction over 2005 levels by 2020.

    The short answer from W.R.I. is no. The longer answer is that it depends on how hard federal and state officials try.

    The bottom line: If federal agencies and state governments pursue the most ambitious paths available to them, the United States could achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gases that approach but fall short of the 17 percent target. Lesser efforts would put the country far short of the goal. W.R.I. graded the various approaches to regulation between “lackluster” and “go-getter.”

    Jonathan Lash, president of the institute, said in a news release accompanying the report that with Congress stalled, it will be up to the Environmental Protection Agency to use its power under the Clean Air Act and other laws to begin to slow the growth of the emissions that contribute to global warming. He noted the bipartisan efforts in both houses of Congress to try to strip E.P.A. of that authority.”

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/after-the-climate-bill-failure/

  41. Jeff Huggins says:

    I’m going to agree — mainly — with Joe and Dan and Climate Progress — but I’ll disagree (or at least add some additional thoughts) on a few items as well.

    I agree that Obama did not lead well — and I still can’t figure out why?! — and, although I don’t know the details, I suppose it must be true that he’s getting terrible advice from Rahm and Axelrod.

    And, I agree (of course) that the media share a great deal of the blame.

    And, I understand that key climate organizations, and progressive groups, and environmental groups, have been working hard, 24/7, to make something happen. I applaud them for effort and for some (though not all) of their ideas and initiatives.

    But we are missing something, people. How much does it take for us to see that something is not working?

    It’s not only about effort, of course. It’s also (and ultimately) about effectiveness. We say that we understand the magnitude of changes we seek, but I don’t think most people really do. We seem to claim that we understand the dynamics of human change, but I don’t think that most people really do.

    Major change movements throughout history have ultimately required people (and their actions) such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, and so forth and so on.

    An understanding of major change movements that concludes that Major Change can happen if we only leave lots of voicemail messages with enough politicians, or if we just send enough e-mail messages, or if we have hundreds or a few thousands of people show up at select sites across the country once every six months, is not a good understanding of major change movements. Those things are good and helpful, but they are not nearly — not nearly — sufficient. Not even close. In fact, they are helpful only if they DO understand their role in what needs to be a much more formidable movement. In other words, they begin to lose their helpfulness if they make us think that they WILL be sufficient, and thus if they allow us to assume that the more formidable movement is unnecessary. The reality is that the more formidable movement and movements ARE necessary. So, who will call for them? Who will lead them? Who will begin talking as though the more formidable movements will be necessary? Who will acknowledge reality?

    There has not been a single major boycott, as far as I know, of ExxonMobil or any of the other large companies that are front and center in the problem. I’ve attended every single major climate event in the Bay Area over the last several years, and most of them had no more than one or two hundred people, with the largest one involving several thousand (or perhaps five thousand), which was the MAIN event on the 350 day in downtown San Francisco. I’ve seen more people at a single Led Zeppelin concert than I have seen at all of the climate and energy events, put together, that I’ve attended, with the exception of one, which I’ll mention shortly.

    OK, there were XXX thousand people at the Earth Day climate event, on the National Mall, in DC. Estimates of attendance differ. The event was quite good, but given the stakes, my own view is that attendance was very, very, very far from impressive or compelling. I was there, all day. It seemed to me that a great number of people were there mainly for the socializing and for the music. (The people next to me had driven all the way from upstate New York, not primarily because of the climate, but mainly for a trip to DC and also to see Bob Weir perform on the Mall.)

    It seems to me that we have a mindset, these days, that e-mails and phone calls and once-every-six-month events will do the trick. Those are helpful, but not sufficient. We need communications, and actions, that do a MUCH better job of informing people AND responsibly Motivating and Activating people. Informing people is not enough. Motivating and activating people — through information, example, and responsible passion, and through effective leadership! — is what is necessary. Who is the Martin Luther King Jr., or the Gandhi, of the climate and energy movements? (Hint: They didn’t just send e-mails, ask for contributions, or wait nine months between events.) And, we don’t just need one of them: We need hundreds!

    We just lost Stephen Schneider, very sadly. Jim Hansen is still working hard, as are Bill McKibben and Joe Romm and some others. But the approaches and tactics, while very helpful and necessary, are still far from sufficient and complete. We haven’t had a single serious boycott. We haven’t had a single serious “million-person march”. We haven’t refused to buy textiles, en masse, in favor of making our own, so to speak (referring here to Gandhi, as an example). We haven’t marched to the sea to mine salt. We haven’t thrown our “bodies into the gears” — figuratively speaking, and responsibly, so to speak. Not many have even dared to sit at the front of the bus.

    I’m not offering any specific plan, here. Every time I have even suggested a boycott of ExxonMobil, eight out of ten people say “it won’t work” or find ten other reasons not to do it. Instead, the point of this message is just to suggest that we face reality and acknowledge the realities of major human change movements just as much as we try to acknowledge the scientific reality of climate change. Just as the climate won’t change by “wishing” it so, sending it e-mails, or leaving it voicemail messages, so also our present societal approaches (to energy and to politics) won’t change by “wishing” them to do so, sending politicians e-mails, and leaving them voicemail messages. Just as the climate itself does not care about human life, and will not bend itself to our wishes, so also (I’m afraid to say) ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and so forth do not care about events that are once every nine months.

    These are just realities. The sooner we understand them, the better. Then we can begin to get more serious and hopefully more creative too.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  42. Brooks Bridges says:

    Started reading this around 4:10pm and decided it was 5pm somewhere and poured a scotch. This and the Rolling Stones post are both excellent and both depressing. A large number of the comments are depressing – progressives becoming discouraged and saying they won’t support Obama in the future. And I totally agree with Wit’sEnd that unless he’s playing an incredibly deep game his lack of effort on this incredibly urgent issue is deeply disappointing.

    Meanwhile the Republican machine is working extremely well. They get their group to block everything positive and get our group totally discouraged.

    So, time for a reality check. Given the main choices in the primaries and the election, name one person who was anywhere near winning the presidency who would have accomplished more than Obama has accomplished on issues important to most progressives. Please do not reply negatively to my post unless you name one. I can’t think of any. And while you’re at it, just for a moment, try to recreate your feelings at any time during W’s destructive administration.

    So cry, fume, have a drink or two (I just poured a second) and get over it. This issue is far too important for anyone to take their ball and go home because things aren’t meeting their purist standards. We rightly accuse the very wrong Right of not accepting the facts of climate change. Make sure you aren’t doing the same thing with the facts of politics.

  43. Sasparilla says:

    A thoroughly repulsive comment from the White House – guess they’ve written off the enviro’s as a group they don’t even have to be nice to – let alone make up with after surrendering on this issue before the fight. Considering where things stand with the fall vote – that’s about as stupid a comment as they could have said.

    Hey there unnamed administration official, you just made your administration less likely to get re-elected there folks, people will remember that comment/reaction from the White House on this issue (it is #1 for a big block of voters you needed) and react accordingly.

    I often thought, that if our two parties blow it (doing a good job at that so far) – eventually it will give another group (probably the Green’s) what they need to form a viable 3rd party here in the US (seems the Republicans will destroy a good chunk of themselves on this issue if they keep going and the Dems seem almost as bought and paid for by big business as the Republicans, they just don’t admit it until legislation happens). At moments like this, it seems we’re headed down that possible avenue (as well as blowing past 450ppm).

    “Is there intelligent life in the universe says:
    question: what event would need to occur before the GOP recognizes how dangerous this climate change is? What evidence would they need that the event was the result of climate change?”

    This seems pretty obvious – you would need undeniable, visible, continuous, large scale human misery & devastation to the continental US before they’d get on the other side of this issue as a principle (not a couple of Hurricanes) – i.e. the ocean rising rapidly/visibly, washing over and through Miami, New York, our port cities etc. over a period of a year or two or less, continually getting worse (which just won’t be happening in that short a time frame soon enough). That would seem to work, otherwise their sponsors win the day (do you think they’ll change their tune, as a group, when the Arctic goes iceless in the summer in ~5 years or so? Based on the last 20 years, I seriously doubt it.).

  44. Peter Mizla says:

    Whatever the inability of this President and Congress to change the highly dangerous path we are on

    the heat goes on & on this summer

    The NWS in Taunton MA has issued a heat advisory, which is in effect from noon to 7 pm EDT Saturday.

    Hot and very humid conditions are expected Saturday. Temperatures in the low to mid 90s combined with high humidity levels will result in heat indices of 100 to 103 degrees for several hours Saturday afternoon in the Connecticut valley.

    Precautionary/preparedness actions,
    A heat advisory is issued when high humidities are expected to combine with hot temperatures resulting in heat indices of 100 degrees or greater. Avoid prolonged work in the sun or in poorly ventilated areas. Also, drink plenty of water and try to stay in an air conditioned environment.

  45. We lost a battle. It was a bad defeat. But we still have a powerful army. Now is the time not to retreat but to advance.

    Time is not on our side in regard to global warming, but it is on our side in regard to politics, and not only because the facts are on our side. As you well know, the movement in the U.S. and around the world to get something major done is growing, action is proceeding at the level of state and local governments and of corporations. Moreover, despite the disappointment in Copenhagen and the failure in the Senate, Obama has put in place excellent people and many excellent executive policies; unlike Bush, he is will not act as an obstacle to progress at the local level. Moreover, Congress has recently passed valuable climate laws that aren’t called such (for instance, the stimulus package), and passing more such laws would seem politically feasible.

    So General, what are our marching orders?

  46. Colorado Bob says:

    The world’s first molten salt concentrating solar power plant

    ‘Archimede’ demonstration solar plant in Sicily becomes the first to use molten salts to store energy overnight

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/22/first-molten-salt-solar-power

  47. Prokaryotes says:

    People Care More if Climate Change Impacts their Health
    A new exploratory study out of George Mason University has found that people will care more about climate change if it is framed as a public health problem. http://redgreenandblue.org/2010/07/19/people-care-more-if-climate-change-impacts-their-health

  48. Leif says:

    Right on all fronts, Dean, #46: The opposition is weakest when they assume victory.

    “The only battle worth fighting is the one you lose and lose and lose and finally win.” ???

  49. Bill Woods says:

    “‘Archimede’ demonstration solar plant in Sicily becomes the first to use molten salts to store energy overnight”

    Bad headline. As the article itself says,

    “Newer CSP plants, as the many under construction in Spain, use molten salts storage to extend the plants’ daily operating hours. Archimede is the first plant in the world to use molten salts not just to store heat but also to collect it from the sun in the first place.”

  50. PurpleOzone says:

    Record rainfalls a lot of places this year. The one above caused a big sinkhole in downtown Milwaukee which ate a Cadillac. How’s that for economic damage?

  51. Prokaryotes says:

    The paradox of human behavior in regards to reflect the environment and ways of adaption is flawed. An illusion has infested our business of energy that resources are infinite – sustainability is not getting the attention it requires. It seems before people get cautious and urge action and change their own footprints, it is likely to late to change the outcome. Even with any type of geoengineering.

    Once met a certain threshold you have sudden progress/acceleration of climate impacts, and earth system stabilization needs large timescales to settle again, something beyond of most human imagination. And still an underlying hope that science somehow can fix everything.

    The environment is contaminated from a variety of sources which alone have the possibility to threaten human production. This originated in some wishful authoritarian thinking to control human population or just from financial interests – carelessness and reckless behavior. Which all suggest that advanced species are rather science based – instead of corporate controlled.

    With the ever accelerating threat from catastrophic climate change the survival of the species is at risk. This from the greatest minds of humankind.

    The solution would be a sustainable way of living with earth environment and later space colonization. All this doesn’t dictate a simple farm life, but it could. It would be a way of prosperity and advance humans as a hall. Today i fear that most people are overwhelmed and somewhat trapped with what has become the consumer lifestyle synthetic dream. In short we are doomed as long the people who block progress not change.

  52. Chad says:

    I think it is time to have some fun.

    I suggest that every one of us should sue our favorite conservative politicians for a few cents. After all, they are polluting OUR property, and the preponderance of evidence easily lies on our side. If they don’t want to solve this at the national level, let’s go Coasian and do it one vs one.

    Anyone know what 6.5 billion ^ 2 / 2 equals? – the number of individual lawsuits it would take to sort this out. C&T is probably a whee bit cheaper.

  53. Peter Mizla says:

    Watched NBC nightly News tonight

    much News about the ‘odd weather’ this summer nationally.

    Mention of the freak flood in Milwaukee today (and sink hole) plus the continuing heat —-

    never was there a mention what may be causing this- The Media-even ‘liberally slanted’ NBC is afraid to offend their sponsors.

    Is there a free press or media anymore? Guess not-the failure of the media to connect the dots in the most important story of humankind of the 21st century is appalling.

  54. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    I don’t know what these admin guys are talking about. NRDC practically lived on the steps of the Capitol this past year. Education. Personal meetings with Senators. Presentations. Private and public showings of their Ocean Acidification film. Sigourney Weaver. Testimony in hearings. Over and over and over again. What the f*ck are they talking about?

    Not to mention the efforts of environmental groups helping elected officials attain their positions to begin with (and this admin guy) a job in the first place.

    How insulting.

  55. Mike says:

    @Prokaryotes (#48): This is a nice resource, http://www.climateandhealth.org/. Is there a U.S. site like this?

    The national security angle is also important. Senate hearings on Climate Change Impacts on Health and National Security??

  56. Prokaryotes says:

    While we lament the final death rattle of climate legislation, it’s worth noting that something non-hideous emerged from the ignominious halls of Congress last week. Buried within the financial reform bill signed into law by President Obama, there’s a set of provisions that evidently limit excessive speculation in agricultural commodity markets.

    According to an analysis by the Minneapolis-based thinktank Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the new law will make it much more difficult for Wall Street to turn the globe’s food markets into a casino for investors. http://www.grist.org/article/food-the-financial-reform-bill-limits-speculation-in-food-markets/

  57. Josh says:

    Blaming the failure of a key Obama priority on a lack of effort from environmental organizations is just simply ridiculous and quite frankly maddening. Obama gave great speeches about energy during his campaign, but there was no follow through during his presidency. It befuddles me.

    It’s this lack of passion from the administration that is hurting the causes of Democrats – and energy is the key environmental and economic issue we face. Where’s the “Fired Up? …Ready to Go!” mentality?

    I’ll probably vote in the midterms, but I’m feeling pretty disillusioned and won’t be giving any more money. They’re not worth it.

  58. Lisa says:

    Compromise and politics weaken all platforms. Unfortunately, even the most passionate advocates for environmental reform can become lukewarm in the Washington DC climate..

  59. Anonymous says:

    This illustrates a major difference between the political strategies of Democrats versus Republicans. Democrats determine what is politically feasible at any given moment in time (usually based on inside-the-beltway analysis), and then celebrate if they can get half way there. On the other hand, Republicans decide what they want and then hammer away until they get there, even if it takes a decade or more. Until Democrats are ready to offer a full-throated defense of liberal principles, the will be simply be the latest in a long line of defeats. Meanwhile, the political spectrum will continue to lurch to the right.

    Of course, changing this state of affairs would require a large majority of the Democratic representatives actually believing in liberal principles, something of which I am no longer convinced.

  60. Time for some enterprising person to turn off the A/C while they deliberate in the Senate. Don’t believe what you read at POLITICO. Just another RW Rag. Like PBS, did you hear David Brooks on Exxon-funded PBS News Hour today? GRRRRR!!!!

  61. Prokaryotes says:

    Mike, #56 “The national security angle is also important. Senate hearings on Climate Change Impacts on Health and National Security??”

    All comes down to climate action. Climate change is a non-linear phenomenon – you cannot plan for it and it threatens the survival of the species. If you really want to do something you need to fight the cause – greenhouse gases – environmental contamination.

  62. Jim O'Rourke says:

    This is a disgrace! Talk about not being able to deliver a Pizza ( in this case its like selling a pizza during a famine)- the biggest environmental disaster in US History, the hottest 6 months ever recorded, following the biggest coal mining disaster in 40 years, high unemployment, high energy prices, another oil spill over in China, a nice fat Democratic majority in both Houses along with a Democratic President – and they are going to blame WHOM??? The Environmentalists??!!!! This is Pathetic. No doubt the Republicans and the Right Wing Propaganda Machine is in high gear but this is like making a layup on a breakaway.

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so incredibly important. My hair hurts just thinking about how irrelevant and harmful the Congress has become to the well being of the American People and the People of the World.

  63. mike roddy says:

    “The environmental groups failed to deliver a single Republican [in spite of having $100 million to spend]”.

    This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read, since they’re suggesting the impossible: enviros outbribe the oil and coal companies. Here’s when a Republican votes for global warming legislation: when he emerges from a July lunch with oil company lobbyists, pockets stuffed with $100 bills, and his pants catch on fire from the heat. Then, he may reconsider his vote.

    Didn’t anybody notice Mitch McConnell’s whipping the lone dissenter Graham into shape, and further marinating McCain in oil? The Republicans will never bite the hands that feed them, and the oil company trough is unlimited. Nobody has any idea how much cash changes hands here, but it’s been enough to turn our climate policy into a global joke.

    Emanuel and Axelrod are so tickled to be able to hang around the White House and get fawned on by bigshot bankers and oilmen that they have forgotten what brought them there: the people. Well, we’re going to call you to account for that error.

  64. Prokaryotes says:

    Senior US Democrats on Friday said they would soldier on with their attempts to forge a bipartisan consensus on climate change even though the party’s Senate leadership on Thursday scrapped plans for a vote in 2010, saying they did not have the numbers. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/de8d665e-967a-11df-9caa-00144feab49a.html

  65. Prokaryotes says:

    Veto likely on bills blocking EPA regs http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/40174.html

  66. Rayrick says:

    I think it is a continuing pathology in our punditry to assign more power to the President than he actually possesses. The blame for this debacle should rest where it deserves to be: squarely on the shoulders of the Republicans, who placed their political goals of denying the President a victory and pleasing their benefactors ahead of the planet. Toss in a few Democrats from high emitting states and a pathologically anti-majoritarian system of government and you get the current result. It’s easy to concoct a scenario where the President shows more passionate advocacy, twists arms, “stands up to the Republicans”, etc, but that doesn’t mean it would have been effective. I remain thoroughly unconvinced that a more “engaged” Obama could have changed this outcome.

    All that being said, it would have been comforting to see him go down swinging. I would find it gratifying to see more of that behavior from Obama, who occasionally seems non-confrontational to a fault, but I still think we’d have ended up in the same place.

    Blame Rahm, Axelrod and Obama if you want. I’m going to blame the Republicans, a few lily-livered Democrats and our ridiculous and outmoded Senate rules.

  67. Deborah Stark says:

    Re: Peter Mizla – #45

    Hi Peter – I just received an e-mail from my friend in Collinsville who wrote:

    …..we had an adventure here on Wednesday with an actual tornado touching down in Bristol where I work just 15 minutes after we all got out of work… it actually touched down in 4 towns in CT. No one was injured but winds were 90-100 mph and a lot of trees went down…..

    And you’ve probably heard that three tornadoes were confirmed as having touched down in Maine this last Wednesday.

  68. cce says:

    Have Graham, Snowe, Collins, Gregg, LeMieux and any other Republican who has ever supported a carbon cap write a bill and offer it as an ammendment. Give them carte blanche to do whatever it is they want, assuming it hits the 17/80% goals.

    Republicans whine about how they are shut out of everything, and how they’re “willing to work with the Democrats”. Now’s their chance. If they can’t come up with anything despite having a “blank sheet of paper” for an issue that they supposedly care about, then use it to bludgeon them politically.

  69. Prokaryotes says:

    Survival of Spaceship Earth
    Earth’s environmental crisis–brought about by uncontrolled technological progress–is endangering life on a global scale. At the core of the threats to the planet – wars, overpopulation, pollution, and the depletion of natural resources – is the inadequacy of the nation state to come to terms with the surmounting problems of twentieth century living. What is urgently needed is the kind of international cooperation where nation states relinquish part of their sovereignty to a world body entrusted with the management of mankind’s future. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0278756/

  70. Roger says:

    “Always Change a Losing Game”

    Years ago, I was striking out in dealing with a tough problem. My Dad said, “Always change a losing game, son.” He was right of course. I tried a new approach and was home for supper on time for the first time in weeks. Always change a losing game.

    How might this apply to the climate movement? Think about it. What’s missing from our actions compared to those that got traction in the past? I’d say it’s VISIBILITY!

    Sarah may see Russia from her house, but Barack hasn’t SEEN the climate movement (other than a handful of people) in front of the White House. It’s time for this to change!

    I want everyone reading this to make plans now to show up at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC, at exactly 10 AM on 10.10.10. Bring a sign to hold up that expresses your hope for what Obama will do. Something to do with climate LEADERSHIP would be good. You’ll be a visible symbol of the pent-up anger of the majority of citizens who want the government to do more to stem climate change.

    Yes, I know, it’s not the cool, new virtual style of gathering that’s possible with today’s technology. And, yes, it’s gonna consume some carbon. You might even need to take some time off from work. But, you know what? Politics hasn’t kept up with technology (as should be obvious from the lack of respect that scientists seem to get in Washington)! Ten thousand citizens in a politician’s front yard still trump 10,000 tweets. (As for the carbon footprint, having a livable climate for generations to come is worth it!)

    OK, it’s “fun with math” time (all numbers are rounded): My WAG is that some 50 million people live within about a $50 day trip of DC. Based on recent polls, lets assume that 75% of these people, or about 37.5 million want the US to do more to control carbon. Now, here’s the fun part. What percentage of these people do we need to get to go to DC in order to get 10,000 at the White House? Answer: Only about 0.03 percent—-less than the percent concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere! This seems like a reasonable goal for us to achieve.

    Heck, last time we invited folks to the White House, on Earth Day, some came all the way from NJ, MA, and CA! (You know who you are!) Many thanks to our hardy fans!

    So, “Come one, come all, first and last call for the White House Work Party on Sunday, October 10th at 10AM!” For more info, please go to http://www.gwenet.org. And while you’re there, simply follow the link to our popular petition to President Obama, asking him to “Please Educate and Lead on Climate!” This is currently the 11th most popular environmental petition on the Change.org website. Still, we need your support–and that of your friends–to get from 4,100 to 10,000 signatures by October 10th! (And, yes, it’s fine for us to be covering all the bases, with 10,000 citizens present PLUS 10,000 signatures being delivered.)

    Yes, we need to change a loosing game. So, gentle CP readers and commentators, it’s time to put your money where you mouths are. Be there or be square: The White House, 10AM on October 10th, 2010. My travel plans are made. I’ll look forward to seeing you all there!

    Warm regards,
    Roger

  71. Mark says:

    Prokaryotes says:
    July 23, 2010 at 9:45 pm
    Senior US Democrats on Friday said they would soldier on with their attempts to forge a bipartisan consensus on climate change even though the party’s Senate leadership on Thursday scrapped plans for a vote in 2010, saying they did not have the numbers.

    This is interesting.

    Prokaryotes is a one person climate change new service. Thanks.

  72. The Wonderer says:

    On the topic of press responsibility for this mess, the WaPo had another fluff piece on the record temps and humidity predicted for the area today. After a long discussion of the weather, it finishes with a comment for everyone to remember that they were wishing for these temperatures in the winter, and now we have gone “from one extreme to the other.”

    I don’t recall any record cold temps this winter, but I’m assuming they are conflating hot weather and snow. Also, although anecdotal, I don’t know a single person who has wished for 100 degree plus temperatures with dew points in the mid-70s.

  73. Still waiting on you climate phrenologists to prove that CO2 causes the temperature to rise. I stand, shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone who opposes your statist fixes for problems that don’t exist to begin with. When this carbon hysteria subsides, you’ll latch on to a new climate fad.

    [JR: Uhh, been there, done that. Try reading the scientific literature. If you don’t believe that, I’d suggest not going to doctors or riding on airplanes. Can’t trust them medical or aerospace phrenologists either!!!]

  74. Mike says:

    Prokaryotes said (#71): “What is urgently needed is the kind of international cooperation where nation states relinquish part of their sovereignty to a world body entrusted with the management of mankind’s future.”

    You’re not working for the other side, are you? This is what the right accuses us of. I would argue, and this is a little ‘out there’, that if democratic nations do not take the lead on reducing GHG emissions, China will demand that we do so on their terms and cutoff our credit if we don’t. If we cherish our democratic values we need to act responsively.

    I agree with almost everything else Prokaryotes is saying.

  75. homunq says:

    Maybe the republicans knew that if they held back, the enviros would get the blame? It’s win/win!

  76. homunq says:

    A significant portion of the Republican party today is motivated, not by the relatively-laudible greed of the past, but by sheer spite. “Yeah, I’m gonna ruin the planet, you gotta problem with that? I thought not, you wimp.”… “Gotta cut social spending in the middle of a recession, or those damn lazy n*****s might get more than their share.”… etc. Divisionist Rahm-like statements blaming environmental organizations seem almost designed to feed into this ugly vindictiveness, as they make hippie-punching the only truly bipartisan activity.

    But that doesn’t mean the environmental organizations shouldn’t re-evaluate their strategy. If Republican votes are un-gettable, then the only option for saving the planet is … FILIBUSTER REFORM. This should be the #1 political issue for environmentalists, eclipsing by far any wrangling about the specifics of the bill. Yet the best you can get from them is “yeah, that would be nice”.

    Why can’t we mobilize around filibuster reform? There are a couple of reasons.

    First we’d have to agree on it. There are too many people of good will who buy the plausible, but wrong, anti-reform arguments. “The democrats should just make the Republicans do a REAL filibuster for once” – well, actually, the real filibuster rules aren’t like in Hollywood, a real filibuster just means 51 democrats agreeing to sit around in the Senate chamber doing nothing, while 1 republican makes quorum calls and 40-odd senators go home and rail against the do-nothing Senate. “We might need the filibuster later when the Republicans are a majority” – actually, responsible reform now (a decaying-threshold filibuster which allows a minority to extend debate for a finite period once per bill) actually helps protect minority power against a nuclear-option power-grab by Republicans later. The left, unlike the right, revels in having these debates among the rank-and-file. Well, OK, but if we can’t blast our pro-reform propaganda from Fox News and megachurch pulpits, we can still find ways to raise each others’ consciousness and build consensus.

    Second, the left is traumatized and neurotic from too many years of hippie-punching. We’re not up for a head-on fight; like Charlie Brown, we’d rather continue to pursue the football of bipartisanship. So, we simply can’t conceive of taking on an issue, like filibuster reform, where even the dreamiest optimists can’t picture a bipartisan compromise. The supposed rationale is to pursue independent voters. But actually, the Republicans have shown that independent voters are not really swayed by some mythical centrist convictions. Independents like results and conviction as much or more than watered-down compromise, no matter how centrist that compromise is. So, while environmentalist organizations must steer well clear of the danger of becoming subsidiary arms of the Democratic party, they should be willing – eager – to take sides in key partisan battles like filibuster reform.

    Without the out-of-control filibuster, a real climate bill could pass, as the American people want. Also, the stimulus would probably have been $200 billion bigger and $100 billion more effective, which would mean at least 1% lower unemployment today. Health care reform would have included a public option to balance the mandate. Financial reform would be stronger. Perhaps the US could even act as Israel’s friend and not, as Joe Lieberman wishes, its patsy.

    When will we see the Declaration of Independence from King Senate? When will environmentalists, labor, health activists, pensioners, and others join forces in a winnable, non-violent, anti-filibuster revolutionary war? Until we learn to hang together, we will most assuredly hang separately.

  77. homunq says:

    mike (#76): (sorry, off the topic of climate) China cut off our credit? Oh, please, don’t throw me in that briar patch! You mean, let the Renmibi appreciate to decent levels against the dollar, so the Chinese start buying cheap US goods instead of the other way around? Hello, 5% unemployment! And do it as a short-term shock, so that the bond market doesn’t even have time to extract their pound of flesh from the US government? Oh noes!

  78. fj2 says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/nyregion/23heat.html

    “No Matter How You Cut It, a July That’s Too Hot”

    Of course, there’s that Theatre of the Ridiculous play based on twisted reverse psychology.

    Maybe the administration has employed a truly skilled “perverse psychologist” during these dog days of summer.

    “Global warming! What global warming?”

  79. Chris Winter says:

    One exasperated administration official on Thursday lambasted the environmentalists — led by the Environmental Defense Fund — for failing to effectively lobby GOP senators.

    This POV is wrong on so many levels…

    Having read Eric Pooley’s new book The Climate War, I can report that the EDF, the NRDC and the rest of the Green Group worked their hearts out on this.

    And having followed the news, like anyone else in this country, I know that many GOP senators aren’t motivated by issues. To them it’s all about political tribes and personalities in a permanent campaign.

    There’s another new book that I think sheds some light on this situation. (I’m only on the first chapter so far.) It’s A Presidency in Peril by Robert Kuttner. Based on what I’ve read so far, I could make a good guess who that exasperated official is. For now, I’ll refrain.

    But if the exasperated one thinks this is all about lobbying, about quid pro quo, he ought to take an honest job and become a lobbyist himself.

  80. Peter Mizla says:

    There was a tornado warning last night for NYC

    Torrential rains inundated parts of Yankee stadium.

  81. fj2 says:

    83. Peter Mizla,

    Yeah. There seems to have been several tornado warnings this year.

  82. dhogaza says:

    John Barksdale …

    Still waiting on you climate phrenologists to prove that CO2 causes the temperature to rise.

    Tyndall, hundreds of years ago. Let me guess, you didn’t exactly ace high school physics, right?

  83. Edward says:

    Where did Environmental Defense Fund [EDF] get $100 Million?

    Here in the corn belt, agriculture is already in trouble because of excess rain. Some fields had to be replanted TWICE. Some nearly mature corn and soybean fields are under water now, ruining the crop. The ocean is 1 degree warmer, increasing evaporation by 4%. That 4% is what is causing all of those floods. Why isn’t EDF spending $100 Million on TV advertising on the subject of how GW is causing the floods?

  84. James Newberry says:

    The climate bill is dead. To heck with it. The concept of a price on carbon is perverse anyway when we are presently throwing hundreds of billions of annual dollars of subsidies (direct, indirect and externalized such as public diseases) for fuels (corn, uranium, coal, methane and petroleum).

    Let’s get going on reducing the deficits created by perverse subsidies that are in the BUDGET. If we are addicted to mined materials used perversely for “energy,” the drug pushers are the subsidizers, especially of mining and associated addicts.

  85. Louise says:

    Those who are very concerned about climate often conflate polling around climate, clean energy and legislative action. It is wishful thinking. Just because the public generally agrees that global warming is happening and clean energy alternatives are desirable, doesn’t mean that they act effectively. The George Mason/Yale Six Americas studies have shown that even among the Alarmed sector of the public, which is less than 20%, fewer than a quarter have contacted elected officials about legislation. And of those who consider themselves supportive of the environment, many are active through their purchasing decisions. Given that there is a lot of greenwash marketing, such “activism” has limited or dubious value. Still, there are more businesses than individuals taking significant steps toward a sustainable economy at this point.

    And while big money and disinformation from the fossil fuel industry are unfortunate influences on our so-called leaders, if more Americans were informed and vocal through their voting and communications with elected leaders, there would be more progress on climate by now. But most media content related to climate has been tepid or targeted, wrong or unappealing to the mainstream. Consequently, the majority of citizens have remained uninspired and complacent. The Alarmed niche has not and will not be able to push the change that is needed.

  86. john atcheson says:

    Obama — at the advice of Axelrod and Emanuel — sits back and reads polls. A leader shapes polls. He brings people to where they need to be for the good of the country, and that implies courage and risk taking.

    Here’s the really bad news — the Axelrod strategy will lose the Democrats votes.

    This nation is dying for leadership. They are tired of equivocating, triangulating cowards. And the will punish Obama in the polls now and in 2012.

    This is a time for leaders. Poll readers have had their 15 minutes. For god’s sake, Obama, grow a pair.

  87. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Mike at 74 –

    Prokaryotes said (#71): “What is urgently needed is the kind of international cooperation where nation states relinquish part of their sovereignty to a world body entrusted with the management of mankind’s future.”

    I’d differ with Prokaryotes only in terms of his description of what is needed. The basis of two decades of international negotiations, (that have been stymied repeatedly by US stunts) is that international co-operation is urgently needed where all nations invest specific aspects of their sovereignty in an equitable and efficient climate treaty for the common good, with the necessary UN secretariat administering the treaty’s operation under the sufficient scrutiny, and accountability, of all UN member-states. The treaty’s allocation of changing national emissions rights is the codification of that common good, since without the sum of those agreed allocations there can be no binding cap on global emissions.

    This is the understanding that drove the abrupt shift of the major EU govts’ policies into raising our 2020 target off 1990 from 20% to 30%, unilaterally, despite the bad faith of Obama’s Copenhagen speech in terms of his own near-total inaction on getting a legal US carbon cap.

    This latest stunt, a very trad bait-and-switch ploy, offered ~3.67% off 1990 by 2020, conditional on the senate. Come the day, look: the AWOL president, no bill, no % cut, no bait ! The ploy did keep a majority of nations paying lip service to US preferences till now, but with this latest rather obvious deceit, Obama’s credibility has been badly undermined, and formerly reliable allies are stepping out from under.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  88. Prokaryotes says:

    Lewis Cleverdon, Mike, CP-Readers,
    sometimes i post quotes or links to interesting ideas, statements etc. – this does not mean that every time i 100% back the particular idea.

    In this case i found it interesting and agree with you Lewis. When it comes to action on climate change i see nations which use fossil energy as a problem for everybody. “Burn Local – crash Global Scenario”.

    A big challenge is to help developing worlds to skip the fossil industrial step and start with sustainable – renewable energy. The biggest potential i think is to let developing worlds use BECCS technologies in exchange for solar and wind. The emerging markets should start with electric vehicle transport instead ending up with our old – failed fossil based tech.

  89. stroller says:

    “If the White House and Obama had worked as hard on this most important of issues, we very likely would have had a price on carbon, I believe.”

    There is a price on carbon. You can buy it on the Chicago Carbon Exchange for $0.07 a ton. I note you can’t buy it on the European Carbon Exchange at the moment though, since the site was hait by environmental ‘hacktivists’.

    I know Joe doesn’t approve of the hacking of environmental websites, from the comments he made about the leaking of information from the CRU in the UK.

  90. fj2 says:

    Years ago having made the first film on passive solar and homebuilding, screened it to a couple of Columbia University environmental professors who seemed to like it.

    Their main comment was that they did not see how anyone could make money on it.

    The film cost $7,000 to make and grossed $70,000.