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Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Today’s Flickr Photo

On Fort Lauderdale beach in Florida. Flickr photo by ticktockdoc.

If you read one thing today . . .

Politico’s David Rogers sat down with outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and talked about the highlights of her term — passing health care legislation and financial reform.

“We came here to do a job, and we did the job. … Those two issues, Wall Street reform and health care, were two that changed the leverage for the American people. Whether you were a consumer or a patient, the leverage is now with you. And that, for me, is why I am a Democrat: to have the leverage to be with the average person.”

There’s some denial to be sure. In the course of an interview, Pelosi repeatedly spoke of her ranking Democrats as committee “chairmen” when they won’t be in the new Congress. Four years of restrictive rules on House debate seem a lost memory: “I’m thoroughly agnostic. If Republicans have a good idea, let’s go with it.”

And by her reckoning, little or nothing about November’s losses can be attributed to the enactment of health care reform.

“If we had never passed the bill, we would still have had these losses. We were told a year ago: ‘If you’re anywhere near 10 percent unemployment, there’s no chance you can hold the majority.’”

“Nothing compares — in anything I have ever done — with passing the health care bill.”

Overheard:

Someone should really do something about those damn environmentalists and their need to protect us from companies that want to pollute our air and water.  Have no fear, Rep.-elect Bill Flores (R-Texas) is here and he’s ready to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency. Think Progress has a snippet from his appearance on something called the Tea Party Internet Radio:

I can tell you the House as a whole, the Republicans in the House as a whole want to get the EPA shut down on these bunny trails that’s going down that are throwing people out of work — particularly the way it’s abusing Texas. And I think that Texas can count on getting some relief from the EPA within the first few months of this Congress because they really have gone overboard.

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A meager $293? That’s the average weekly unemployment check collected by the 15 million Americans looking for work right now. Or $293 million? That’s what outside groups funded primarily by corporations and the very wealthy spent on the 2010 elections.

$75 billion? That’s the windfall coming to people who are already rich if the Bush tax cuts are extended. $145 billion? That’s the record amount Wall Street is paying in bonuses this year.

Trillions? In the wake of the financial crisis, that’s what We, the People provided in bailouts, loans and other supports to save Big Business from its own greed and irresponsibility.

At Public Citizen, our mission is to counteract the policies that cause numbers like these. We can defeat corporate power. But we need your help.

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Public Citizen will be leading the fight against corporate power in the new Congress, a Congress that will be less critical of corporate America’s agenda than any we’ve ever seen.

The critical first step is making sure we can hit the ground running when Congress returns to Washington in January. That’s why I’m writing now to ask for your help to raise $150,000 by the end of 2010.

Your contribution of $10, $20, $35 or whatever you can afford will be put to work immediately building on our important achievements in 2010 and growing our movement against runaway corporate power.

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I need you to stand with me today.

Robert Weissman is president of Public Citizen.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Tabi, an indigenous community affected by climate change. Flickr photo by Oxfam International.

If you read one thing today . . .

Here’s an interesting question to ponder: What happens to the island nations that get swallowed up by the rising oceans because of global warming? Do the nations cease to exist? Do they lose their seats at the United Nations? Charles J. Hanley reporting from the U.N. climate conference in Cancun, Mexico ponders the dilemma in the Huffington Post.

From 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers) away, the people of the Marshalls – and of Kiribati, Tuvalu and other atoll nations beyond – can only wonder how many more years they’ll be able to cope.

“People who built their homes close to shore, all they can do is get more rocks to rebuild the seawall in front day by day,” said Kaminaga, who is in Cancun with the Marshallese delegation to the U.N. talks.

The Marshallese government is looking beyond today, however, to those ultimate questions of nationhood, displacement and rights.

“We’re facing a set of issues unique in the history of the system of nation-states,” Dean Bialek, a New York-based adviser to the Republic of the Marshall Islands who is also in Cancun, told The Associated Press. “We’re confronting existential issues associated with climate impacts that are not adequately addressed in the international legal framework.”

Overheard:

President Obama’s decision to compromise cave on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy has pushed some progressives in Congress to the breaking point, report Politico’s Jonathan Allen and Josh Gerstein. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said the fight over the tax cuts could define Obama.

“They’re bullying him. For the country’s sake, he’s got to stand up,” said [McDermott], who worked as psychiatrist in the Navy. “It’s setting the standard for the next two years.”

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Today’s Flickr photo

Climate Change

Mensah Adrihor of Azizakpe standing on the site of his former home. Flickr photo by One.org.

If you read one thing today . . .

Not that this should surprise anyone but Bloomberg’s Drew Armstrong reports that the insurance industry gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86 million in 2009 to lobby against President Obama’s health care package. If you recall that’s the same industry that Obama touted as having bought into the early version of his plan.

The insurance lobby, whose members include Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Philadelphia-based Cigna Corp., gave the money to the Chamber in 2009 as Democrats were increasing their criticism of the industry, according to one person who requested anonymity because laws don’t require identifying funding sources. The Chamber of Commerce received the money from the Washington-based America’s Health Insurance Plans when the industry was urging Congress to drop a plan to create a competing public insurance option.

The spending exceeded the insurer group’s entire budget from a year earlier and accounted for 40 percent of the Chamber’s $214.6 million in 2009 spending.

Overheard:

The White House’s relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? As the HuffPo’s Sam Stein puts it: It’s complicated. Despite the bloodsport of the midterm elections, the Obama administration is keeping the lines of communications open with the industry lobby group.

“People in this administration talk to [Chamber CEO Tom Donohue],” White House senior adviser David Axelrod told the Huffington Post in an interview last week. “People in the administration talk to other members of the board. We have good relations with some members; some are hostile. But what we need to do is pursue a pro-growth agenda. We may differ on some issues and they will make their political decisions in the future. But we are going to work individually with businesses wherever we can to help grow jobs and prosperity.”

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Today’s Flickr photo

Flickr photo by alkhodarev.

If you read one thing today . . .

Now that climate legislation in Congress is all but dead for at least the next two years, all eyes will be focused on the EPA, which has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The question, David Roberts write in Grist, is how much power does the EPA actually have in this area and will it use it? The answer is bound to leave those who have fought for climate change solutions a little frustrated.

Documents released early this week finally start to offer a glimpse into EPA thinking. Long story short: Climate hawks shouldn’t expect much from these upcoming regulations. They won’t be a substitute for the climate bill. Not even close.

Here’s the basic problem the EPA faces: The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources — primarily power plants — is to approach the situation holistically: shut down a bunch of dirty power plants, build a bunch of clean power plants, and push hard on efficiency to cover the cost differential and protect ratepayers. Legislation could have done that. EPA can’t. EPA can’t make anybody build anything.

Overheard:

In a WaPo op-ed this past weekend former ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel compared Keith Olbermann and other partisan cable news show hosts to huckster Bernie Madoff, who told his investors what they wanted to hear, instead of the truth. Olbermann, fresh off his brief suspension for contributing to three Democrats, fired back at the end of his Monday show:

“I may ultimately be judged to have been wrong in what I am doing. Mr. Koppel does not have to wait,” Olbermann said. “The kind of television journalism he eulogizes failed this country because when truth was needed, all we got were facts — most of which were lies anyway. The journalism failed, and those who practiced it failed, and Mr. Koppel failed. I don’t know that I’m doing it exactly right here. I’m trying. I have to. Because whatever that television news was before — now we have to fix it.”

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Becoming more energy efficient, which has long been one of the keys to a sustainable future, may have just gotten a little easier. TopTen USA, a new non-profit group, just launched a new website that ranks electronics based on energy efficiency. The website contains information on virtually every electronics product category.  It has an attractive easy-to-use interface that makes it very easy to find what you are looking for.

The World Wildlife Foundation, which is a partner in the project, wrote on its blog yesterday:

Since energy efficiency is one of the quickest, cheapest and easiest routes to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, one of TopTen’s goals is to generate greater demand for efficient products, helping to catalyze a market shift toward more climate-friendly products.

One problem with TopTenUSA is that it only ranks based on energy usage. It appears that the environmental impact of the manufacturing process is not considered. Nor does the website have any information on recyclability of products. Hopefully, as it develops, TopTenUSA will add information about those factors as well.

TopTenUSA  has exciting potential and  will hopefully prove an invaluable resource to consumers.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Protecting rainforests saves species like this red-eyed tree frog. Flickr photo by USAID_Images

If you read one thing today . . .

Please sit down before you read this one. One of the GOP candidates to take over the leadership of the House Energy Committee is Illinois Rep. John Shimkus, perhaps one of the biggest climate change deniers in the whole House of Representatives (he’s the one who worried that curbing carbon emissions might take away a food source for plants). Having Shimkus in charge of shaping energy legislation would be like putting Homer Simpson in charge of safeguarding the donuts. Doh. Shimkus’ latest global warming rebuttal comes from the Bible. It seems God promised Noah that he would never again destroy the earth by natural calamity, or something like that. From Salon:

Shimkus continues: “I believe that is the infallible word of god, and that’s the way it is going to be for his creation… The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.”

Overheard:

Add N.J. Gov. Chris Christie to the list of high-profile Republicans who are skeptical about global warming. As if the opinion of most credible scientists in the world wasn’t enough. The HuffPo’s Sam Stein quotes Christie at a Toms River town hall meeting:

Mankind, is it responsible for global warming? Well I’ll tell you something. I have seen evidence on both sides of it. I’m skeptical — I’m skeptical. And you know, I think at the at the end of this, I think we’re going to need more science to prove something one way or the other.

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Look, if you thought making the world a better place was going to be easy, you got a rude wake-up call Wednesday morning. Now, you can either whine or you can roll up your sleeves and join the fight. Michael Kieshnick, president of CREDO Mobile, has some suggestions in HuffPo on what you can do to help push back against the Tea Party and its handpicked members of Congress. Here are his top three  suggestions:

1. Commit to Taking Down FOX News. So long as FOX News has any credibility within the Beltway, it will be a pipeline for malicious material that will poison our political culture. Join our friends at Color of Change.

2.Tell the Senate to pass the DISCLOSE Act during the lame duck session. We were able to defeat the Texas Oil Initiative, Prop 23 in California, in part because we knew who the enemy was — having disclosure of corporate contributions brings the enemy out in the open for us to take on and fight. The DISCLOSE Act passed the House and came within a single vote of passing the Senate. One vote. You can join this fight by taking action with Public Citizen at http://citizen.org/disclose-act-action.

3. Keep fighting to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This issue will get resolved during the lame duck session. Take action here.

To see the rest of his top 10 list, click here. And we would add another to this list: Join Public Citizen and help us fight corporate power in Congress, in the courts and in the executive branch.  Join Public Citizen for as little as $20 a year.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Flickr photo by 350.org.

 

If you read on thing today . . .

If there was a silver lining Tuesday for progressives, it might be found in the results of California’s Proposition 23 ballot measure. Texas oil refineries pushed the measure to repeal California’s aggressive curbs on greenhouse gases, saying Prop 23 would create jobs.  But as the L.A. Times’ Greenspace blog tells it, a broad grassroots coalition, backed by Hollywood heavyweights and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, helped environmentalists pull off a stunning victory.

No environmental campaign in U.S. history can boast the level of activism in California this year: Prop 23 opponents mustered 3,200 volunteers, made 2.8 million phone calls to voters, sent out 3.4 million pieces of mail, made 379,676 on-campus contacts with college students, and operated a sophisticated computerized outreach program that identified and contacted 481,000 voters, and showered voters with 900,000 get-out-the vote phone calls and text messages in the last three days.

National environmental leaders, smarting from the defeat of federal climate legislation in Congress this year, expressed awe. “It is the largest public referendum in history on climate and clean energy policy,” said Fred Krupp, president of the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund. “Almost 10 million Californians got a chance to vote and sent a clear message that they want a clean energy future. And this was in an economic downturn. There has never been anything this big. It is going to send a signal to other parts of the country and beyond.”

Overheard:

This is a story the Washington Post probably writes every two years but that doesn’t it make it any less compelling. Many of the new members of Congress ran against Washington and business-and-usual but now that they’re here, they will find it very difficult to remain true to their idealism, Marc Fisher writes in the WaPo. As an example, he cites new Virginia Congressman Morgan Griffith who remarks the only thing he’s looking forward to about living in D.C. is, perhaps, going to a Redskins game. David Bass, a Republican political insider, says Griffith will have no trouble getting tickets.

“He might find himself in a couple of nice skyboxes before too long,” Bass said. “These new members who ran against Washington will play Mr. Smith for a while, but there is a structure, a way of doing things that has to be respected. New friends will be very important to them.”

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Today’s Flickr photo

Anti-drilling protestors in Istanbul, Turkey. Flickr photo by 350.org.

If you read one thing today . . .

NPR has an interesting flowchart of all the “independent” money pouring into this year’s midterm elections. The accompanying story breaks down this “Web of GOP influence,” showing a how a handful of corporate front groups are working together, literally out of the same suite of offices. NPR’s Peter Overby and Andrea Seabrook explain:

Their ads seem to imply the groups are homegrown. But every single one mentioned here is based within 20 minutes of Capitol Hill. Most of them, in fact, are in just two office suites.

As for their independence: It would be illegal for them to coordinate their attacks with the candidates they’re helping, or with Republican Party committees. But among themselves, they’re proud of the way they synchronize their efforts.

“If one group puts an ad on television in a certain congressional district, they let everyone else know that,” says Jonathan Collegio with American Crossroads. “This way they don’t double up on the advertising.”

Overheard:

We’re actually going to be a little sad to see Arnold Schwarzenegger step down as governor of California. We don’t agree with everything the governator does but he’s right on the money when it comes to Washington’s fealty to the oil industry. He told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that Congress is filled with a bunch of gutless wimps:

“We need to go to Washington and say, look what happened … because oil companies have spent money against you, they have threatened you, you backed off the energy policy and the environmental policy in Washington. What wimps. No guts. I mean, here, you idolize and always celebrate the great warriors. Our soldiers, our men and women who go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’re risking their lives to defend this country and you’re not even willing to stand up against the oil companies. … That’s disgusting. You promised the people you’d represent them. You didn’t promise the people you’d represent the oil companies and the special interests.”

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