Politics

Technology alone won't alleviate climate change

NYT’s Andy Revkin and E. O. Wilson get suckered by Newt Gingrich’s phony techno-optimism

Newt Gingrich is an anti-environmentalist who spreads disinformation and has done more than any politician in the last two decades to thwart a sensible climate policy that includes a major clean technology component, as I have explained. Absent serious regulations, no technology-only strategy can possibly avoid catastrophic global warming (as we should have learned in the 1990s). Some well-meaning people, like The New York Times' first-rate climate reporter Andy Revkin and the great conservation biologist, E.O. Wilson, have gotten taken in by Newt's new-clothes rhetoric. Why? They don't know the history of climate technology policy that I and others have written about -- and they don't understand the explicit Luntz/Bush strategy of trying to get political credit on the climate while blocking the crucial regulatory (and technological!) solutions by talking about "technology, technology, blah, blah, blah," as I put it. I am in 100 percent agreement with David's analysis on this. Gingrich is most certainly not part of a "move to the pragmatic center on climate and energy," as Revkin writes -- especially not an imaginary center that Revkin claims includes Bjørn Lomborg and Shellenberger & Nordhaus (for a debunking of these folks, click here and follow the various links). Gingrich and Lomborg are not classic global warming deniers -- since they realize denial is now politically and scientifically untenable -- which is why I label them delayers. (I will come back to S&N's ongoing disinformation campaign in a future post.) Gingrich and his coauthor are not "realists and visionaries" -- the phrase Wilson uses in a foreword to their book, A Contract with the Earth (you can read the foreword -- and, if you're clever and have a huge amount of time, the whole book -- for free if you click here [reg. may be req'd]). I have emailed Wilson -- whom I don't know -- my earlier Gingrich post. I'll focus on Revkin, since I do know him, and he has a blog where he is fighting back against David (and others) who criticize him.

Bush administration’s fuel-economy regs for bigger vehicles smacked down

A federal appeals court has rejected the Bush administration’s fuel-economy regulations for 2008-2011 model light trucks and SUVs. In the scathing tone that the Bushies …

One movement

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: A friendly spin?

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA): "This bill provides billions of dollars for coal. It's like a Manhattan Project for coal." Noted without comment.

Wayne Rogers is no Alan Alda

Fox News disses Clinton climate plan

I suppose no one should be shocked that Fox had a five-against-one (Greenpeace's John Passacantando) panel to savage Hillary Clinton's terrific climate and energy plan. The video is worth watching to see just how much some conservatives hate the strategies that are crucial to avoiding catastrophic global warming: I was surprised to see that Wayne Rogers of M*A*S*H fame has morphed into another Fox wacko. He labels Hillary's plan "idiotic," calls her a "crazy person" and mocks her -- I kid you not -- for putting forward "an aggressive, comprehensive energy efficiency agenda ... by changing the way utilities do business."

Subsidies and the agony of modern farm policy

A response to my critics

Last week’s Victual Reality column startled a lot of sustainable-food advocates, particularly folks not immersed in the details of U.S. farm policy. Subsidies, I argued, …

What should I ask the presidential candidates?

Leave suggestions in comments

Below you saw the details of Grist’s upcoming presidential forum with Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Dennis Kucinich. Each candidate will come out, speak for …

Don't buy Gingrich's view of environmentalism, or his new book

Anti-environment, anti-technology Gingrich tries to rewrite history

If you look up the word "Orwellian" on Wikipedia -- "An attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past" -- there should be a picture of Newt Gingrich's new book, A Contract with the Earth. Instead of wasting time reading a whole book of disinformation, you can just read this interview in Salon, "Give Newt a chance" -- it is definitely all the Newt that is fit to print. To cut to the chase, readers of this blog will not be surprised that a conservative pretending to care about the environment adopts the anti-regulation, pro-technology approach suggested by GOP strategist, Frank Luntz, and popularized by his protege, George Bush. You may be surprised that Newt calls himself an environmentalist, given that he co-authored and then worked to enact the anti-environmental Contract with America. Oh, but Newt now claims: I don't think that the environment was a central focus of the Contract With America. I don't think that it was bad for the environment. I don't know of a single thing in the Contract that was bad for the environment. I think Salon had to pause in the interview at that point to allow Newt to douse the flames that began engulfing his trousers.

Global warming and political will

The Lieberman-Warner bill is not strong enough to do the job

Bernie Sanders. As a member of both the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee it is my view that the time is long overdue for Congress to go beyond deal making and "politics as usual" in addressing the crisis of global warming. The droughts, floods and severe weather disturbances our planet is already experiencing will only get worse, potentially impacting billions of people, if we do not take bold and decisive action in the very near future. While the Lieberman-Warner cap and trade bill is a step forward, it goes nowhere near far enough in creating the policies that the scientific community says must be developed if we are to avert a planetary catastrophe. It is also lacking in paving the way for the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies. Here are some of my concerns with the Lieberman-Warner bill: First, virtually all of the scientific evidence tells us that, at the least, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050 if we stand a chance to reverse global warming. Lieberman-Warner, under the very best projections, provides a 66 percent reduction. Second, this legislation allows major polluters to continue emitting greenhouse gases for free until 2036. In fact, old-fashioned dirty coal burning plants could still be built during this period. That's wrong. The "right to pollute" should not be given away for up to 24 years. Further, in calculating emission reductions, the bill relies much too heavily on "offsets," a process which is difficult to verify and which could significantly undermine the actual emissions caps. Third, this bill provides a massive amount of corporate welfare to industries which have been major emitters of greenhouse gasses while requiring minimal performance standards and accountability. According to a report by Friends of the Earth, the auction and allocation processes of the bill could generate up to $3.6 trillion dollars over a 38 year period. While a large fund exists in the bill for "low carbon technology," there is no guaranteed allocation for such important technologies as wind, solar, geo-thermal, hydrogen or for energy efficiency. But, there is a guaranteed allotment of $324 billion for the coal industry through an "Advanced Coal and Sequestration program" and $232 billion for the auto industry for "Advanced Technology Vehicles." The time is late, and if Congress is serious about preventing irreversible damage to our planet because of global warming we need to get moving in a bold and focused manner. And we can do it.