Politics

An interview with Tom Tancredo about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Tom Tancredo dropped out of the presidential race on Dec. 20, 2007. Tom Tancredo. Photo: VictoryNH Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo — best known for his zealous opposition to illegal immigration — bills himself on his campaign website as “a solid pro-life, pro-gun, small government Republican.” What’s not mentioned on his site is anything about the environment or energy issues. (Considering that he’s got a lifetime approval rating of 11 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, perhaps that’s no surprise.) But when …

Climate change and world peace

Three reasons Gore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

Conservative carping aside, Al Gore is a perfect candidate for three reasons: The award has always gone to people who have done more than just promote "peace," such as Albert Schweitzer, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa. The award has recently (2004) gone to an environmental leader, the great Wangari Maathai, who "founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots environmental nongovernmental organization, which has now planted over 30 million trees across Kenya to prevent soil erosion." Global warming is a grave threat to future peace and security -- as more and more experts are acknowledging. Global warming creates the possibility of millions of refugees, spurred terrorism, sea-level rise, and food and water shortages -- water being a major source of conflict. Indeed, climate change may already have been a key factor in the Darfur crisis (see here and here). If we avoid catastrophic global warming, Al Gore's tireless efforts to educate the nation and the world will be a major reason. He will have prevented untold humanitarian crises and countless regional conflicts. Gore would bring honor to the award.

Judge delays work on border fence per insufficient environmental report

The Bush administration tried to “ram” through an insufficient environmental report and must temporarily cease work on a 1.5-mile-long section of fence on the Arizona-Mexico border, a federal judge ruled yesterday. Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle agreed with the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club that federal agencies’ three-week-long environmental assessment seemed unnecessarily hurried, but noted that her ruling may not do much; Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has the power to waive all environmental laws to build the fence.

Prime mover

Edwards would auction 100 percent of pollution permits; welcomes Obama to the auction fold

Earlier this week, when Barack Obama released his excellent new energy plan, I said this: … with his promise to auction 100% of cap-and-trade credits, Obama has put himself out ahead of all the other frontrunners. He deserves the praise he’ll get for it. John Edwards. Photo: kk+ via flickr Afterwards, the John Edwards campaign contacted me protesting that on permit auctions, as on so many other policy landmarks, Edwards was there first. I was a bit suspicious at first — when Edwards’ plan first went online, it said a "portion" of the permits would be auctioned to raise $10b …

The meaning of global warming, part two

Stabilizing climate means embracing technology, public investment, and global economic development

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, the latest in the ongoing conversation about their new book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. —– This week saw a watershed moment for those of us committed to moving environmentalism from a politics of limits to a politics of possibility. Senator Barack Obama proposed a $150 billion investment to develop and deploy clean energy technology on a scale approaching the challenge we face. In doing so, he has become the most recent of several national political leaders to go beyond the …

Grading on a curve

The Republican candidates acknowledge climate change, but they don’t much care about it

All the action and excitement around climate change policy seems to have lulled Chris Mooney into a false sense of security about the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. This, however, is no time to go soft, and no time to give points for showing up. Bare acknowledgement of the reality of climate change is an absurdly low bar to clear at this stage of the game. If you want to see the heart of the Republican stance on climate change, have a look at the interview with Sam Brownback we just published. I single it out not because Brownback …

Organizers or TV stars?

How should the environmental movement spend its money?

Tonight will witness the biggest social event of the D.C. environmental calendar: the Green Corps 15th anniversary bash. All the green glitterati will be there to honor Rep. Ed Markey and John Lewis with awards -- and more importantly, to raise money to support training organizers for the environmental movement. I've been helping out with the event for the last few months and I'm excited about it. It's made me reflect on how much the environmental movement has changed since I graduated from the year-long Green Corps organizing fellowship in 2002 -- and think anew about the relative importance of organizing to other methods of achieving social change. For those who don't know, Green Corps is the field school for environmental organizing. It generally takes 20-35 recent college graduates (out of more than 800 who apply!) and trains them in all the basic skills that go into running and winning an environmental (or really any social change or political) campaign. Then you get sent out somewhere in America to lead an environmental campaign yourself, working under the banner of a local, state, or national environmental group. My first campaign, for instance, was to work with Greenpeace to secure $5 billion in financing from the California government for clean energy financing. It's a lot more responsibility than most people think they'll have right out of college, and when you win, as you often do, it's hard not to embrace organizing for the long run, as most Green Corps organizers do. As a result, they've gone on to do amazing work with everyone from the Sierra Club to Move On and the Gulf Restoration Network. During my Green Corps year from 2001 to 2002, though, organizing was almost all we had. It was difficult for national environmental groups to get big-time media coverage of any environmental issue, much less the climate crisis, which seemed to be going nowhere as long as President Bush was in office. Now, since An Inconvenient Truth hit movie screens, it seems like everything is media: whether you read Women's Wear Daily, watch NBC or Fox, or read your local paper, the planet is hot, hot, hot! That change has had a huge impact, altering the spectrum of what's possible: we no longer have to beg for crumbs or think up cartoonish stunts to get attention (though no one should estimate the power of a cartoonish stunt to get attention). Suddenly, even Republican presidential candidates are forced to address the climate crisis and Democrats in Congress are actually considering fairly ambitious climate legislation. People across the country are making small changes to their own lives that might add up to something. More importantly, politicians at every level are more willing to give pro-environment legislation time on the agenda. Here's why I keep coming back to organizing -- and think the environmental movement needs to continue to focus on building its long-term organizing capacity rather than becoming overly enthralled with a pure media approach:

A proposal in the making

New developments in WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations

Some new ideas by Brazil and Argentina during the Doha round negotiations at the World Trade Organization have left me feeling rather optimistic about the ability of the WTO to actually help address one of the world's biggest environmental problems: global overfishing. Their proposal is a real attempt by developing countries in the ongoing negotiations about fisheries subsidies to establish some rules to prevent countries from subsidizing their fishing sector without regard to the fish! The proposal still needs work. But finally, leadership by the developing world to try a find a workable approach to ensure that development keeps the best interest of marine life and habitat in mind while also tending to the needs of people.

LCV declares Sen. James Inhofe a target for unseating in 2008

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe (R) is the first person to make the League of Conservation Voters’ “Dirty Dozen” list of congresspeople the group hopes to unseat in 2008. Inhofe is the minority leader on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, despite having called climate change “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”; he recently urged the EPA to drag its feet on regulating greenhouse-gas emissions and stood in the way of a Live Earth concert on the National Mall. Said Inhofe of LCV’s announcement, inscrutably, “I believe our incredible environmental progress over the years is not because …

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