I like and respect Andy Revkin a great deal. He is one of the best reporters on climate and certainly the most prolific climate journalist now that he has his Dot Earth blog. But I must take exception to his recent posting, “Climate Debate: Democracy In Action?“
You would never know from his post that one side in the debate was desperately trying to save future generations from catastrophic warming and the other side was simply doing shameless political posturing. Here is how it opens:
David M. Herszenhorn has a piece today examining this week’s Senate action (or inaction, more accurately) as the debate over the Warner-Lieberman-Boxer bill aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases stalled amid partisan parrying using age-old rules of order.
As I read the article, I was reminded of a conversation I had with Senator John McCain about climate and American politics in 2005, while we were taping an interview for the Discovery-Times documentary “Arctic Rush.” Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, said flatly that democracies don’t do well with this kind of long-term, looming threat.
David’s story may hold some evidence that this is true.
You must be kidding, Andy. McCain’s comment is utterly absurd. It is McCain’s own Republican colleagues who don’t “do well with this kind of long-term, looming threat.”
Boxer-Lieberman-Warner are trying to deal with this threat. The majority of Republican senators don’t acknowledge the serious nature the threat — and many continue to reject the scientific understanding that there is any threat at all.
Does Andy feel that so-called journalistic balance does not allow him to bluntly state the real lede, which is that conservatives have chosen to score political points at the expense of taking any action against the gravest threat to the security of Americans?
Let me go further. McCain’s comment is laughable. Where is the evidence that non-democracies “do well with this kind of long-term, looming threat”? I have one word for McCain and Revkin: China. Inaction on climate has nothing to do with some flaw inherent in democracies — indeed, the governments of all the other major industrialized democracies in the world have taken action.
This has everything to do with the fact that a large segment of the political power structure in this country (and elsewhere) benefits from the status quo in energy because the incumbent, polluting industries are making tens of billions of dollars a year that they can and do use to maintain their power.
Ironically, democracies should be better than non-democracies at this because they/we (theoretically) have an uncensored media that can tell the public the truth about the threat. But that would seem to be mostly a theoretical advantage in this country, as long as the media in this country is self-censored and leaves the public the impression that inaction on climate is just “politics as usual” partisan parrying in Washington, with both sides equally to blame. Then the public says, a pox on both your houses, and becomes as disempowered as the public in a non-democracy.