Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

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.”


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.”


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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Last week, Google announced an ambitious plan to invest in a new energy infrastructure that will allow for the delivery of energy harnessed with wind turbines off the East Coast of the United States. The future of wind power is unclear, but one thing is certain: wind must be an important part of any energy solution.

One of the big reasons politicians give for why we cannot fight climate change is this: we can’t do it. The technology just is not there, skeptics say. Here’s a fact to dispute that assertion: if wind turbines were installed along the entire coast of the United States, they would generate more energy than the entire United States uses each year.

Or how about solar roadways? If we retrofitted the entire interstate highway system with them, we’d be able to power the country solely off the energy they produce.

Now of course neither of these solutions is practical. All the asphalt of the interstate system will not be replaced by solar panels and we will not cover the entire coastline with wind turbines. But imagine if we cover just 1/10 of the coastline? The amount of energy that would create is mind-boggling.

We cannot rely on companies like Google to take the big steps. Companies are erratic – sometimes they do the right things, but too often they do not. The biggest steps must be taken by us, the citizens of the world. If we lead the way, the money and the politicians will follow.

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In an effort to hold BP accountable for the damage done to wildlife as a result of the oil disaster in the Gulf, three environmental groups have sued the company.

The three groups, Defenders of Wildlife, Gulf Restoration Network and the Save the Manatee Club, say the spill has caused and will continue to cause the taking of endangered and threatened species,” including whales, manatees, birds and sea turtles that “show no avoidance response to oil slicks.”

While BP has already agreed to pay $ 500 million for restoration efforts, the groups are concerned it’s not enough because the effects of the disaster will continue for a long time.

This is welcome news for anyone still appalled by the ambivalence displayed by Congress’ lack of legislation in response to the spill. A new plan released from the Obama administration would invest billions of dollars of BP fines into recovery efforts in the Gulf.  But that’s mopping up the damage. What about going forward?

Lawmakers have yet to vote on sensible legislation designed to address the core causes of the disaster and the inadequate response to it— issues that apply to the oil industry as a whole. It’s been six months since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and we still have nothing. Congress needs to act.

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Today’s Flickr Photo

Flickr photo by soonerpa.

If you read one thing today . . .

The federal government and private industry have always had a heavy influence in some of the cutting-edge research done on our university campuses. But a new Center for American Progress report warns that as the federal government’s investment in energy research drops to close to nothing, Big Oil has stepped in to fill the void — and as CAP points out, that’s not such a good thing. Emily Badger in Miller-McCune writes:

The new report, “Big Oil Goes to College,” analyzed more specifically the legal contracts binding 10 multimillion-dollar, multiyear partnerships between big research universities and “Big Oil” — Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil. The deals represent $883 million in industry-funded energy research over 10 years.

“Essentially what we found was that the contract language in these 10 agreements did not always adequately protect academic freedom and academic transparency, exactly the characteristics of the academy that make universities so credible,” said Jennifer Washburn, the independent researcher who authored the report, as well as the 2005 book University, Inc.


Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Delaware, showed off her encyclopedic grasp of the U.S. Constitution at a debate at Widener University Law School. During an exchange on the teaching of creationism in public schools, O’Donnell asked her opponent “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” The answer, of course, is the First Amendment. Erin Daly, a Widener professor recounts the scene:

“She seemed genuinely surprised that the principle of separation of church and state derives from the First Amendment, and I think to many of us in the law school that was a surprise,” Daly said. “It’s one thing to not know the 17th Amendment or some of the others, but most Americans do know the basics of the First Amendment.”

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Today’s Flickr Photo


Climate zombies at a protest in Essex, England. Flickr photo by fotdmike.


If you read one thing today . . .

Is it really possible that all but one of the Republicans running for the U.S. Senate refuses to accept the scientific consensus  that global warming is real and that the root causes are man made? It’s one thing to hear the right-wing fringe call climate change a liberal conspiracy but another thing to realize that one of our two major political parties has completely turned its back on reality. As a New York Times editorial points out the candidates “are not simply rejecting solutions, like putting a price on carbon” but they are denying like it’s 1999 all over again:

A few may genuinely believe global warming is a left-wing plot. Others may be singing the tune of corporate benefactors. And many Republicans have seized on the cap-and-trade climate bill as another way to paint Democrats as out-of-control taxers.

In one way or another, though, all are custodians of a strategy whose guiding principle has been to avoid debate about solutions to climate change by denying its existence — or at least by diminishing its importance. The strategy worked, destroying hopes for Congressional action while further confusing ordinary citizens for whom global warming was already a remote and complex matter. It was also remarkably heavy-handed.


Texas Rep. Pete Sessions has choice words about what he calls a trillion-dollar boondoggle, otherwise known as the stimulus package. How deep does his conviction against government give-aways run? Not so deep. The Washington Post reports that after the GOP furor over the stimulus settled down, Sessions worked behind the scenes to grab some of that dough for his constituents.

“What I have not done is allow my strong, principled objection to the bill to prevent me from asking federal agencies for their full consideration of critical infrastructure and competitive grant projects for North Texas when asked to do so by my constituents,” [Sessions] said.

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