Climate & Energy

Voters' Voices: Oregon II

A chat with Portland’s Charlie Stephens about petrodollars and oil wars

This is part of a series of dispatches from Melinda Henneberger, who's talking to voters around the U.S. about their views on the environment and the election. One thing I learned traveling around the country a couple of years ago, talking to voters for a political book I was working on, is that Americans tend to give their elected officials a super-size helping of benefit of the doubt. One night, I was in Suffolk, Va., having dinner with some active-duty Navy women -- the real "security moms" -- who were in between tours in the Persian Gulf. One of them, a young Republican named Elizabeth DeAngelo, remarked that the war in Iraq had had no effect on her political views, because she did not consider the decision to go to war a partisan matter. "Being in the military opens your eyes that it is dangerous out there," said DeAngelo, who watched the first "shock and awe" bombs fall from the deck the U.S.S. Kearsarge, "and you have to believe that no president would want to run the government into the ground, for their legacy, if nothing else. So if a Democrat did get elected, I wouldn't think, 'Oh, no!' I don't know if the reasons if we went over there were the right reasons. But even though I didn't like [President] Clinton as a person, I can't believe -- nobody, I think, would put several hundred thousand people in a conflict for oil. Even if it were Clinton, I wouldn't think that. I think they do what they think is right." A number of people I spoke to across the country made that same point -- that politics aside, no American president could possibly be that venal, or stoop so low as to put Americans in harm's way over a mere commodity. Much of the rest of the world does not have this kind of confidence in the best intentions of its leaders, but we do. Which is why we're still unsure about the "real reason" we went into Iraq. It's why most reporters find it easier to believe we wandered into this misadventure as the result of some Oedipal psychodrama in the Bush family, or plain incompetence. And it's why I had a really, really hard time hearing what Charlie Stephens had to tell me when I sat down with him in Portland, Ore., a couple of weeks ago.

Ad lib

RNC drops $3 million to promote McCain’s energy plan

Over the weekend, the Republican National Committee launched their 10-day, $3 million campaign to tout John McCain’s energy policy with this ad: “Record gas prices, …

Toyota may put solar panels on new Prius to power air conditioning

A Japanese newspaper is reporting that Toyota plans to install solar panels on its next model of the popular Prius hybrid. If the company follows …

Presidential campaign ads go on attack over energy issues

The first major ad buy this year from a major party aired over the weekend, a TV spot courtesy of the Republican National Committee attacking …

'I don't think we're going to make it'

Venture capitalist John Doerr shares four lessons on climate change

I don’t know how it is that I’ve never seen this John Doerr talk from TED, but I’m glad I finally did:

Unpacking the Panglossian economy

Is a consumer choice necessarily the best choice?

Jim Manzi, climate change voice of non-denialist conservatives, writes: But consider this at a common-sense level: you are forcing people, through rationing, to use something …

Pray harder!

My petroleum god, why hast thou forsaken me?

Polluter appeasement

Should we question the patriotism of deniers?

Independence Day may be the best day to ask ourselves -- what is the greatest preventable threat to Americans' life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (LLPH). The answer is simple: human-caused global warming. Certainly there are other major threats to LLPH, the gravest of which is probably terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapon, in this country. Between Homeland Security and the Pentagon, we spend billions of dollars every month to try to prevent terrorism. Indeed, President Bush and John McCain say Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. If so, the government spends more than $20 billion a month just to fight terrorism -- of which more than half is new money we weren't spending before 9/11 (and we spend more than $50 billion a month total on military and homeland security). Those who oppose such spending are routinely labeled unpatriotic or even appeasers. But unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions are by far the greatest preventable threat to Americans' LLPH. Yet the government spends virtually nothing to fight global warming -- certainly no significant amount of new money has been allocated for this major threat (the Clinton administration tried, but the Gingrich Congress reversed that effort, reducing or zeroing out every program aimed at climate mitigation or even adaptation). Indeed, most conservatives, including John McCain, oppose even continuing existing incentives for carbon-mitigating strategies like solar and wind power. Conservatives in Congress seem likely to strongly oppose any major effort at a legislative solution (see "Anti-science conservatives must be stopped"). Hmm. What should we call people who actively oppose efforts to save America from the horrors posed by the greatest threat to Americans' LLPH? Deniers? Delayers? Worse? The main reason I bring this up today is that conservative columnist Tony Blankley, Newt Gingrich's former press secretary, questioned the patriotism of environmentalists on the Diane Rehm show yesterday:

Chemical in flat-screen TVs is worsening climate change

If you didn’t feel guilty about your TV habits already, here’s a new reason: a chemical used in making flat-screen televisions has been found to …