Politics

The race to catch up

McKibben’s clarion call

Bill McKibben has a clarion call of an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post. The reality of climate change is moving much more quickly than politics: The Democratic majority is finally beginning to move legislation that …

Roads with transit? No, thanks

The RTID package doesn’t give Seattle voters a fair choice

Those of us who live in and around Seattle will vote this November on a huge package that's being sold as "roads and transit." Stay with me -- it's complicated but important, and it could have implications for transit projects around the US. Of the $18 billion in the package, about $10 billion will pay for 50 miles of new light rail; the rest will pay for roads projects, including 152 new miles of general-purpose highways (and 74 miles of HOV). Because our state legislature, in its infinite wisdom, tied the two unrelated proposals together, rejecting roads means rejecting transit, and vice versa. Pro-transit supporters of the package (and there are lots of them) pretty much stop there. How, they argue, could we turn down the first opportunity we've had in a generation to more than double the region's light rail system? Yes, there are roads in the package -- including bad roads, like the four-lane widening of a major suburban freeway -- but a lot of those will actually help transit. Expanding SR-520 from Seattle to Bellevue, for  example, will create two new HOV lanes. And look at all that light rail! Shiny, shiny light rail. How could you say no to all that light rail? Well, let's look at what happens if this region does pass the joint roads and transit package. That will be our last chance to make a truly ambitious investment in transportation for a generation. It is, in other words, our last chance to do it right. As local Sierra Club chapter chairman Mike O'Brien told me, "It's not like we have pools of $18 billion just sitting around." If we pass this package, we'll have light rail, but we'll also be stuck paying for, and building, all those new roads -- roads that will just fill up, as roads do; roads that will contribute more to global warming than light rail takes away; roads that certainly won't be much help in easing congestion without a much larger investment in transit than the one in this package. And we'll send a message to transportation planners around the country: "It's OK to have transit, as long as you throw some new roads in there too." A better message would be: "People want transit, so why do you keep giving us *$%! roads?"

Meltdown

Boxer vs Inhofe, round 2: The Rumble in Rayburn

If you will recall, the first round of their schoolyard squabble, on the occasion of Inhofe's filibustering of Gore's attempts to answer his questions, ended with a crushing uppercut by Boxer: Committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) finally intervened. "Would you agree to let the Vice President answer your questions?" Inhofe said Gore could respond when he was done talking, but Boxer wouldn't have it: "No, that isn't the rule. You're not making the rules. You used to when you did this. Elections have consequences. So I make the rules." The hearing audience applauded loudly. Politico has the details of the next round. This time, Boxer taps out and its Senator Mikulski that delivers the TKO, capping an Inhofe rant with: "It's more than the icecaps that are facing meltdown," begins Mikulski... Snap. Could it be that Inhofe is worrying about the title fight?

'Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah'

Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook

Bush has given us a new drinking game: Down a shot whenever the President uses the word "technology" in a climate speech. You'd get 19 shots for yesterday's 21 minute speech! As predicted, Bush closely follows the Frank Luntz playbook on how to seem like you care about the climate when you don't. Bush stated the basic do-nothing message well: Our investments in research and technology are bringing the world closer to a remarkable breakthrough -- an age of clean energy where we can power our growing economies and improve the lives of our people and be responsible stewards of the earth the Almighty trusted to our care. Translation: "If we had those technologies today, then maybe we could take genuine action now. But, darn it, people, we don't. We can't grow the economy and be responsible stewards of the earth quite yet. We are close, though, so be patient already and stop with all those calls for mandatory regulation. Sheesh!"

Bush climate summit: Greenwashing vs. myth-busting

Foreign media take a more discerning look at Bush’s climate meetings this week

Once again, the foreign media is not fooled by Bush's PR stunt, while the U.S. media buys the White House line. The U.K.'s The Independent labeled this a "Greenwashing Climate Summit" in its headline, and opened their story with: For the first time in 16 years, a major environmental conference opens in Washington, hosted by the Bush administration. But no concrete results are expected, and that -- say European participants -- is the point of this high-level meeting. Far from representing a Damascene conversion on climate change by President George Bush, the two-day gathering of the world's biggest polluting nations is aimed at undermining the UN's efforts to tackle global warming, say European sources. "The conference was called at very short notice," said one participant. "It's a cynical exercise in destabilising the UN process." So how does the AP puff piece on the summit begin?

On not rearing pigs

A little weekend humor

In case you missed this hilarious letter that made the email rounds early this year poking fun at bizarre agricultural subsidies ... it gets to carbon credits midway through, naturally:

Climate week in New York comes to an end

The U.N. summit and Clinton Global Initiative are over, and where did they get us?

This week's New York Climate Change Bonanza has come to an end. It's always a good thing when powerful people hold high-profile event after high-profile event dedicated to amplifying the profile of the climate change crisis and then solving it, as they did this week with the U.N.'s climate summit and the Clinton Global Initiative. But there's still the question of efficacy. On Monday, for instance, I sat and watched as literally dozens of world leaders -- who had flown in from around the globe to spend five minutes on an international stage -- called for global action on climate change. They hailed mostly from countries that have contributed a pittance to the near-critical mass of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and yet that will suffer the worst of the effects. Many hadn't had much of a voice until that moment -- and when they finally spoke, it fell for the most part upon deaf ears. George W. Bush, of course, thumbed his nose at the summit, then held his own.

U.S. summit concludes with no progress to speak of

At the conclusion of a two-day U.S.-hosted climate summit of the world’s major emitters, George W. Bush announced that he’s been faking his climate-change laggardness all along, and signed on to reduce greenhouse gases in …

And then he said that thing that he always says again!

Press struggles to write something interesting about vacuous Bush speech

Well, Bush gave a speech on climate change today, in conjunction with his Major Economies Meeting. "What I’m telling you is, we’ve got a strategy,” the man said. That’s one way of putting it. As …

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