So as not to let Labor Day go by unacknowledged, let’s check in with the unions. Recently, John Edwards told the machinists union they’d have to give up their SUVs. They endorsed Hillary. Edwards has, however, gotten endorsements from the carpenters, steelworkers, and mineworkers unions. As Brad Plumer notes, the latter is a particular feat given that Edwards has called for a moratorium on new coal plants. (I would say "new coal plants without sequestration," but that would be redundant.) According to the campaign, Edwards now leads the 2008 presidential pack in union support.
Here is how The Architect describes President Bush's environmental legacy: On energy, the environment, and climate change, [Bush] is developing a new paradigm. Emphasizing technology, increased energy-efficiency partnerships, and resource diversification, his policies are improving energy security and slowing the growth of greenhouse gases without economy-breaking mandates and regulation. The president who won criticism by rejecting the failed approach of Kyoto has implemented policies that enabled the United States to grow its economy by 3.1 percent and reduce the absolute amount of CO2 emissions (by 1.3 percent).
Two years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, conservatives and right-wingers were quick to deny any possible link to global warming. "As if any reputable expert believes this is in any way connected," huffed Andrew Sullivan on his well-known site. To his credit, Sullivan admitted just two days later that he may have blogged too soon, and said that experts such as Kerry Emmanuel had in fact linked global warming and more powerful hurricanes. In the years since, Sullivan has stopped questioning the reality of climate change, and called for a carbon tax. Now we have an unprecedented outbreak of fire in Greece, and once again some are quick to insist that no connection can be made between drought, wind, record-breaking heat -- and devastating fires.
An update from me and my colleague Francisca Porchas of the Labor/Community Strategy Center: For the first time in L.A., the car capital of the world, a bus-centered public-transportation system has been given priority over the auto -- a big victory for environmental justice and the reduction of auto-based air toxins and greenhouse gases. On Aug. 15, the Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union secured an important environmental and public-health victory at the Los Angeles City Council: the approval of a $27 million project to implement peak-hour bus-only lanes on Wilshire Boulevard. The Wilshire bus-only lane would run from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica and would operate during rush hour, 7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Wilshire Boulevard has the largest transit ridership in the county with over 90,000 boardings a day. The bus-only lane is expected to reduce travel time by 20 percent for current transit users and would attract new riders to public transportation.
John Edwards told a labor group that if he were president, he would encourage Americans to give up their SUVs. Ballsy!
I'm incredibly excited about the September 4th Climate Emergency Fast being organized by the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and others. I've signed up and hope you will too, by clicking here. In one week, the number of fasters has grown from 395 to 795 and continues to multiply. Everyone I've talked to about it is instantly drawn to it; people seem to instinctively understand that we need to move beyond the polite letter-writing, lobbying, and yes -- blogging -- that has characterized response to the climate crisis thus far. In most true crises, people take to the streets if the government doesn't act. What's happening to the planet is a crisis of that scale, but thus far hasn't got the dramatic response it merits. Institutional advocacy just won't cut it; as a recent groundbreaking study by Jon Agnone of the University of Washington shows. As Ken Ward summarized in a recent post here: Protest is significantly more important than public opinion or institutional advocacy in influencing federal environmental law. Agnone found that each protest event increases the likelihood of pro-environmental legislation being passed by 1.2 percent, and moderate protest increases the annual rate of adoption by an astonishing 9.5 percent. Public opinion on its own influences federal action (though less than protest), but is vastly strengthened by protest, which "amplifies" public support and, in Agnone's words, "raises the salience of public opinion for legislators." Protest and public opinion are synergistic, with a joint impact on federal policy far more dramatic than either factor alone. Institutional advocacy has limited impact on federal environmental policy. Coming in the wake of Al Gore's call for civil disobedience against polluters, this fast could be the start of a vital shift in the strategy of the environmental movement -- getting out of the halls of power where it's easy to have demands mollified with half measures and into the streets: the point at which leaders start freaking out and wondering what you'll do next. Of course, it's always important to keep any protests accessible and sympathetic to the average person. It's necessary to do the organizing in advance to ensure that your action has widespread public support and won't provoke a crippling backlash, but I think we're getting to that point in the climate crisis. Already some climate big shots have signed up: Rev. Jim Wallis, Vandana Shiva, Dennis Brutus, Sally Bingham, Bill McKibben, Rev. Bob Edgar, Van Jones, Mike Tidwell, Billy Parish, Brent Blackwelder, Ilyse Hogue and many more. So join me and sign up now!
For 200 years the Western world has plundered the world’s oil and fouled its atmosphere, and despite a recent flurry of happy talk to the contrary, it is still doing so. So it’s rich indeed for Merkel to go to China and ask them to please stop. If I were Premier Wen Jiabao, my response would be nothing but a raised middle finger. He’s somewhat more polite about it.
There are lots of Katrina retrospectives floating around today, on the 2nd anniversary. If I were a better man, maybe I’d write one, but thinking back on those events makes me feel sick, helpless rage all over again, and I’m about to head to a picnic with my two boys, so I’m gonna choose to stay happy instead. If you’re looking for smart commentary on Katrina and the political aftermath thereof, check out this from Statfor. See also Chris Mooney’s lessons learned, one, two, three, four.
This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Joe Biden was chosen as Barack Obama’s running mate on Aug. 23, 2008. (He dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 3, 2008.) Joe Biden. Photo: Michael Millhollin Joe Biden says his top priority as president would be “energy security.” “If I could wave a wand, and the Lord said I could solve one problem, I would solve the energy crisis,” he said this spring at a political rally in South Carolina. “That’s the single most consequential problem we can solve.” …