2008 Reasons to Elect a Progressive
Vote Democrat 2008
2008 Presidential Campaign Buttons
Al Gore for President in 2008
Dennis Kucinich for President in 2008
Bill Moyers for President in 2008
Barack Obama for President in 2008
- Progressives believe in that we have a responsibility to keep when it comes to our environment. That
attitude of responsibility aims to preserve the integrity of the resources from which which our civilization is
- A team of researchers in New York State has evaluated fifty years of information gathered about the
vitamin and mineral content of American vegetables. What they found is that, since the 1950s, the amount of
nutritious vitamins and minerals in our vegetables has decreased by as much as 38 percent - depending upon
The trend predates the heavy use of genetically engineered vegetables in America. One possible
explanation is that that the richness of our agricultural soil has decreased. It also could be that plant breeders
have for generations selected for size, yield, color and suitability for storage, but have not paid much attention
to nutritious content. It could be that this focus has led to the inadvertent selection of vegetables that have
relatively low nutritional value.
If even America's veggies are getting less nutritious, it's a clear sign that we need to turn things around in
our country. (Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2004)
- Right wingers do not have a plan for sustaining our civilization's use of environmental resources. Their
approach is based upon the blind faith that the Earth has infinite resources that will never run out, no matter
how quickly we use them. The right wing's philosophy of maximum exploitation leaves our civilization with
no backup plan if any of our resources run out.
- The July/August 2006 edition of Sierra Magazine
reports that a government program to encourage offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will cost 80 billion
dollars over the next quarter century - that's 3.2 billion dollars per year over the next 25 years.
Last year's devastating hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico should have taught us the foolishness of
depending upon oil from the Gulf. Crude oil infrastructure was devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita,
sending gasoline prices sky high and creating huge oil slicks along the Gulf Coast. With global warming
increasing the power of hurricanes that will continue to enter the Gulf of Mexico year after year, the problem
will certainly get worse.
The last thing we need to do is have the government spend 80 billion dollars to help oil companies set up
more high-risk, pollution-prone oil drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. A progressive President would
not put up with such wasteful, ill-conceived spending.
- You may not have noticed the article in your newspaper, given that it came out on a Saturday in the
middle of summer, and you were probably spending a lot of time outdoors enjoying the warm weather.
Nonetheless, there it was, an official confirmation that the warmer weather keeps on getting warmer. The National Climactic Data Center has reported that, so
far, 2006 is the warmest year on record in the United States of America. They started keeping records back in
1895, so that makes 2006 the warmest year in at least 111 years.
Every piece of evidence that global warming is real constitutes a reason to elect a progressive President in
2008. After all, it's the progressives who have paid heed to the science of climate change, and the anti-
progressive right wing that has chosen to ignore that science, so as not to interfere with corporate profits.
(Source: Associated Press, Saturday, July 15, 2006)
- Coming into the presidential election of 2008, one fact about the role of the United States in the global environmental crisis needs to be remembered: The USA is the source of more carbon dioxide emissions, at 2.79 billion tons per year, than any other nation on earth. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is strongly associated with global warming, and global warming is the most serious environmental problem there is. (Source: Associated Press, November 14, 2007)
I grew up watching The Undersea Adventures of Jacques Cousteau. I was fascinated by the marine
environments I saw the intrepid French oceanographers of the Calypso exploring, and longed to join them,
diving the world's coral reefs.
When I actually got the chance to dive on a coral reef, years later, I was shocked by what I saw. Fragments
of the old reef were scattered, here and there, along the sea floor, whitened and dead, blasted by fishermen
looking for an easy catch. Diving this wrecked reef, I realized for the first time that the world shown to me
by Jacques Cousteau could easily disappear.
In American waters, dynamite fishing is not a big threat to coral reefs, because it's against the law. Yet,
many of our coral reefs are still dying. In May 2006, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
Administration added staghorn and elkhorn corals to its list of threatened species. These corals used to be
common in Caribbean reefs, but now they are becoming rare. Surveys have found that, in Caribbean reefs,
live staghorn and elkhorn coral have decreased by 90 percent.
So, if dynamite fishing is not to blame for this decline, what is? Pollution and irresponsible fishing
practices are major culprits, and increasing ocean temperatures due to global warming are also thought to be a
In short, human activities are to blame for the impoverishment of our coral reefs. If we don't change our
ways, future generations of documentaries about our oceans won't have much to show but images of the
wreckage we left behind.
Progressives support measures to reduce pollution, bring fishing back to disciplined levels, and reduce the
carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. Right wingers don't support these measures. If
we want to keep our coral reefs, we need a progressive President to lead the way in their protection.
Coral reefs are more than just wonderful sanctuaries of marine biodiversity. They're great places to see -
on television and firsthand. That's reason number 19 to elect a progressive President in 2008.
Planet Magazine, Summer 2006)
- Reading so many reasons to elect a progressive President in 2008 must make you tired and thirsty. So go
ahead, take a break. Head over to your kitchen, get a glass of tap water, and drink it down. Aaaaahhhh...
refreshing, no? Maybe so, maybe not. Bush's EPA has loosened sewage-treatment regulations to allow for
more untreated shit in your drinking water. The Bush EPA euphemistically refers to this as "blending."
Mmmm! Hint to right wingers in the federal government: The P in EPA is supposed to stand for protection,
not for poop. (Source: USA Today November 3, 2003)
Sewage in drinking water is one of those things that is non-negotiable to most Americans, but not to
right wingers like Conrad Burns. Burns, who represents Montana in the United States Senate. Reacting to the
news that the United States will need to spend 388 billion dollars to keep sewage out of Americans' drinking
water, Senator Burns decided that the cost would be just too much. Burns declared that as long as he is the
chair of the subcommittee overseeing appropriations for the Environmental Protection Association,
"nothing meaningful will be done" to allocate those needed funds. But, with sewage-contaminated
water coming through the taps in their kitchens and bathrooms, how will Americans drink and keep clean
without getting terribly sick? Senator Burns suggests using bottled water. "Americans can buy bottled
water with their tax cuts," Burns said. Do you get enough in tax cuts to drink only bottled water, bathe
only in bottled water, and wash your dishes only in bottled water? I know I haven't. (Source: Sierra November/December 2006)
Republican Congressman Joseph Barton illustrates the kind of disregard for the health impacts of
pollution of America's waterways that right wing politicians have brought to our government. When
Congressman Barton was told that fish contaminated with mercury can cause reduced mental functioning in
those people who eat it, he replied with the flippant remark, "Voters are plenty smart. They keep electing
me, don't they?" We need a more serious oversight of the threats that mercury pollution brings to our
minds, as well as to our bodies, and Representative Barton's disregard for that need is yet another reason to
elect a progressive President in 2008.
(Source: Sierra November/December 2006)
What's ironic about the right wing's disregard for the impact of mercury pollution is that mercury
poisoning can cause abortion. Yes, that's right, abortion of unborn children. When pregnant mothers are
exposed to dangerous levels of mercury, the brains of the children growing within their wombs fail to
develop. Put a lot of mercury into the air, as right wing politicians have given big business the power to do,
and you'll have otherwise healthy babies being born dead and deformed. If right wingers really cared about
the unborn, and not just about restricting women's choices, they would regard the elimination of mercury not
a moral issue. (Source: Joni
Seager, Advocates for Pregnant Women, February 16, 2004)
By the time of George W. Bush's campaign for re-election, more than 1/3 of lakes in the United States
and almost 1/4 of rivers within American borders were covered by special advisories for contamination with
mercury, dioxins, PCBs, and other industrial poisons, making the fish that lived in those bodies of water
extremely dangerous to eat. George W. Bush responded to this crisis in the environmental security of
American waters by coming up with a plan to make it easier for big corporations to pollute America's
waterways. For cutting Americans off from the simple pleasure of eating a freshly caught fish, the current
Republican staff of the Bush White House might be sentenced to five years of eating nothing but catfish
caught in the lower Mississippi River, hoping that a more progressive administration would do something
quickly to stop the problem. But, no, not even right wing scoundrels deserve to be subject to the ravages that
can come with exposure to polluted water. (Source: Discover, November 2004)
What kind of excuse can the right wing come up with for ignoring the threat mercury pollution poses
to the intellectual security of America and to unborn children? Apparently, allowing high levels of mercury
pollution across America is part of a program to make sure Americans are tough. The right wing's anti-
environmentalist policies are based upon the insane idea that protecting Americans from poisons is a sign of
weakness. As Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, puts it, Bush's "environmental policy is
based upon the belief that only wimps worry about mercury in fish, kids getting asthma from smog, or fires
burning in rural communities." Well, color me wimpy. I don't want mercury in my food. If that makes
me weak, well then, that's tough, because I still have the right to be protected from poison, even if it makes
the profits of some corporation somewhere a little bit less impressive to stockholders. (Source: Sierra,
- It's easy to walk along the beach and feel at peace with the beauty of the ocean waves. It's more disquieting to take a look at what's happening underneath the surface. That pretty sunset hides an ecological disaster in the making.
Over the past few years, many scientific studies have independently arrived at the same conclusion: Up and down the food chain, the Earth's oceans are rapidly being depleted of fish. Even the once-ubiquitous cod is now in danger. Some scientists estimate that if nothing is done to change current industrial fishing practices, the cod could go extinct within 10 to 20 years. Think of the cod as the marine buffalo, being wantonly slaughtered on underwater plains.
Biologists bring us a different kind of alarm - a warning about declines in the diversity of the oceans predatory fish - species like marlins and tuna. Researchers measured species diversity in marine hot spots. These hot spots are places in the oceans where fish concentrate because of abundant resources. What they found was that only five healthy marine hotspots remain on Earth - two of these in the territorial waters of the United States. Even at these oceanic hotspots, the number of species represented is dwindling, particularly among large predator fish like tuna and billfish. The diversity in these species has been cut in half over the last 50 years.
The oceans can be a treasure trove of food, but only if we treat them with respect. Unfortunately, respect for the limits of oceanic prosperity is not being observed. At the same time as humans are dumping record amounts of pollutants into the oceans, we are using desperate measures to scoop every last bit of edible flesh out of the oceans as we can. Long gone are the times when we had access to anything like a bounty of food from the oceans. Though our fishing technology keeps improving, our harvests of fish keep on getting smaller and smaller because there are so fish left. It is no longer at all accurate to say that there are plenty of fish in the sea.
Ironically, the very fish that we Americans have the greatest hunger for are the ones that prove most deadly to us. Because fish like tuna and swordfish are predatory, they are like ecological dead-ends for all the poisons we dump into the oceans. Mercury that comes from human sources, for example, gathers in increasing concentrations as it goes up the food chain, accumulating in predator fish in concentrations that could make a person insane - literally, if that person is particularly fond of fish. There's a reason that they tell pregnant women not to eat seafood.
It doesn't have to be this way, of course. We can make more efficient use of our agricultural resources on the land, replacing industrial agriculture that enriches a few corporations with sustainable agriculture that keeps rural communities strong. We could also replace the huge areas devoted to growing animal feed with fields growing food for human consumption. Getting those calories direct to the human stomach would dramatically increase the effective nutritional yield per acre and reduce the need to dredge the seas clean of protein for our dinner plates. The resulting shift in diet would also create a healthier population, saving the United States economy huge amounts of money in lost income and expenses related to lifestyle illnesses. I'm not suggesting that all Americans become vegetarians. A small adjustment in the amount of meat eaten by the average could have dramatic effects.
Of course, all this depends upon the ability of the average American to give a damn enough to want to do something about the problem. It is not at all certain that Americans really do care very much about the oceans that surround their nation. Most Americans think of the oceans as a great place to get a tan, or to surf, and those recreational activities would not be harmed in the slightest if the ocean were completely devoid of fish.
Looking out on the waters from the shoreline, very few people could tell the difference between a healthy ocean and an ocean stripped bare of life. As long as they have a DVD of Finding Nemo to watch, most Americans might not notice the death of the Earth's oceans at all.
Over the years, defenders of the fossil fuel economy have steadfastly denied that global warming
exists, in spite of the rapidly accumulating evidence for the reality of worldwide warming and climate change.
Aware that their arguments wore increasingly thin, they crafted a second line of defense. They claimed that,
if global warming did happen, it would make life better, not worse. Canada, for example, would become a
This myth of a post-global warming paradise has been destroyed by the reality of mush.
Global warming is here. It has occurred, is getting worse, and is having serious, negative consequences.
One of those consequences is melting of ice in Arctic regions that is so consistent and so profound
that it is causing wintertime roads, which used to run at least partly on frozen rivers, to become unusable.
Arctic communities are thus becoming quite difficult to reach during the winter. Thus, global warming is
endangering the survival of those communities.
If that is what the fossil fuel apologists regard as a paradise, we all ought to be worried when they talk to
us about the wonderful world that petroleum will continue to bring us in the future. (Source: Associated
Press, November 13, 2006)
Vote for a progressive President in 2008 because the children of Southern California deserve to
breathe air that isn't dangerously dirty. Unfortunately, because of the pro-corporate policies of right wing
politicians the kids of Southern California don't get the clean air they need.
In recent years, the Southern Californian communities of Los Angeles and Riverside have been ranked as
the two cities in America where dirty air puts the most children in danger. Progressives support policies that
would reduce air pollution in those cities, and elsewhere across America. Right wing politicians say that air
clean enough for our children to breathe safely is just too expensive. (Source: Dangerous Days of Summer,
Environmental Defense, 2004)
- In February 2005, a report by the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency showed that
the scientific research President Bush used to justify his "Clear Skies Initiative" was fraudulent. According to
the Inspector General, Republicans appointed by George W. Bush to run the EPA "instructed EPA staff to
develop a Maximum Achievable Control Technology standard for mercury that would result in a national
emissions of 34 tons annually, instead of basing the standard on an unbiased determination" because "34 tons
represents the most realistic and achievable standard for utilities."
Let me translate that for you: Republicans in the Bush Administration told scientists at the EPA to alter
their research into mercury pollution in order to provide political justification for increased emissions of
mercury under the Clear Skies Initiative - and did so in order to create new lax pollution standards that would
be pleasing to big energy corporations. Bush's people in the EPA purposefully forced their staff scientists to
commit scientific fraud - and Bush continued to push the Clear Skies Initiative, even though he knew that the
mercury pollution standards in the new rules would be extremely unsafe.
In the supermarket, when a product is made up of fake ingredients, the manufacturers are required to
name the product in such a way that consumers will be able to tell that the food is not for real. The most
obvious example is Cheez Wiz. Everybody knows that Cheez Wiz is not real cheese because it's name is so
obviously an imitation. When people buy Cheez Wiz, they're not being tricked into eating an industrial
simulation of food - they know what they're in for.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if such truth in labeling were required for governmental programs? That way,
the so-called Clear Skies Initiative would have to get a new name - after all, the scientific studies behind it
have now been exposed as an purposeful fraud by the Bush Administration. What kind of new name can we
give to the coal-burning, mercury spewing, air-poisoning set of rules? How about The Kleer Skies Initiative?
(Source: Energy Washington Week, February 16, 2005)
- Government under the Bush administration has grown so secretive
that conservationists have had to sue the Bush administration in court
in order to gain access to information about the process by which
animals have been removed from the Endangered Species List. It's not
a matter of national security, but the Republican administration is
refusing to let the information be seen by its citizens for reasons of
partisan political advantage. (Source: Associated Press December 27, 2007)
- An internal audit confirms that the Bush Administration allowed pollution industry lobbyists to write
large sections of the Clear Skies Initiative. Years ago, lawyers at Latham & Watkins, a firm that lobbies the
federal government on big corporate polluters in the power industry, wrote memos suggesting language that
could be used to enable more air pollution to take place without government regulation. Then, the exact same
language appeared in the Clear Skies Initiative pollution plan pushed by the Bush Administration. The
Washington Post reports, "A side-by-side comparison of one of the three proposed rules and the
memorandums prepared by Latham & Watkins & shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted,
sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions."
In a striking non-coincidence, George W. Bush's appointee to the position of EPA Assistant Administrator
for Air and Radiation is Jeffrey Holmstead, who used to work at Latham and Watkins, helping corporations
evade the requirements of the Clean Air Act.
This kind of corporate backroom influence over the scientific institutions of our government is not merely
corrupt. It is dangerous. If the Bush Administration's Clear Skies Initiative is put into action, 600,000 American
children are projected to be exposed to mercury poisoning that increases every year.
Are we Americans, who so proudly trumpet our "moral values", really going to let Republicans in the White
House increase the exposure of our kids to mercury, just so the lawyers at Latham and Watkins can report back
to their clients that they don't have to spend much money on preventing air pollution anymore? (Source:
Washington Post, January 31, 2004)
- Our current regressive president, George W. Bush, has done his best to prevent the nation and the world
from recognizing the threat of global warming and using the power of government to address that threat.
The damage from Bush's negligence has already begun. Professor of Biology Camille Parmesan of the
University of Texas has published a peer-reviewed report in the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and
Systematics which tallies up the known toll: 70 species of mountain-dwelling frog are gone, dead, kaput,
extinct, as heat pushed them further and further up heating mountains until they could climb no more. The
same report indicates that the charming penguins of Happy Feet and the polar bears that grace holiday
Coca-Cola commercials are dwindling at an alarming rate as their ice habitat declines.
Our concern shouldn't be limited to the lack of cute characters for computer animation. Biodiversity
serves as a buffer against any threats to our planet; the more diversity of species we have, the greater the
likelihood that our biome will manage to spring back from a threat. The lower the diversity of species we
have, the greater the damage that our biome will sustain when faced with any sort of onslaught. If you want
to be selfish about it, remember that our biome is what we eat.
If we had elected Al Gore in 2000, we might have done something as a nation to ameliorate this damage to
our biological diversity. All right, it looks like we did elect Al Gore in 2000, but regardless of election
fraud that opportunity has passed. A new opportunity has now arisen. Let's take that opportunity by electing
a progressive, responsive, reality-driven president in 2006. (Source: Associated Press, November 21, 2006)
- When right wingers are in control of the Executive Branch of the federal government, they break the
environmental laws that they are obligated to uphold. For example, in 2006 the National Resources Defense Council exposed the Bureau of Land Management's illegal
plans to quickly grant oil drilling rights on public lands, and stopped the plans in a court of law. The NRDC
reports that, in court, it was determined that, "the Bureau of Land Management
broke the law by rushing to sell oil and gas leases on wilderness-quality lands in southern Utah's Redrock
A progressive President will enforce environmental laws, not scheme to violate them. (Source: Nature's Voice, January/February 2007)
- Voters in Alaska, if you need a reason to elect a progressive President in 2008, consider what right wing
politics has done to the landscape of your state. The right wing's refusal to do anything about global warming
has put Alaska out to dry, literally.
Scientists engaged in a survey of lakes in nine different regions of Alaska have discovered that, over 20
years, both the number of lakes and the size of lakes has been dramatically reduced. The number of lakes
declined by as much as 54 percent, and the size of the remaining lakes by as much as 31 percent, depending on
the region surveyed. The reason? Global warming, which progressives have been working to confront for
years, but right wingers have refused to acknowledge until reality became so clear they were forced to accept
It may not seem like a big deal to some people to see our landscape radically transformed by forces out of
our control, but some of us are disturbed by the idea that places where there were lakes a generation ago are
now bone dry. If you can't count on a lake to remain a lake, what can you count on? (Source: Natural History, February, 2007)
- Voters in Alaska have another reason, a purely self-serving reason, to support the progressive
commitment to address global warming head-on. As the Trans-Alaskan oil pipeline shifts thanks to thawing
ground, replacement will cost $2 million per mile. Also as the pipeline melts, landslides are predicted as
ground shifts unevenly. Already, residential and commercial buildings are having to be abandoned because
of destroyed foundations. Roads have been busted open, airports have become non-functional, and a hospital
will have to be rebuilt.
American progressives have been warning about these problems for some time. American conservatives
have been passing the buck and engaging in delay. And now Alaskans are paying the cost. It's time to elect a
progressive president and get on the ball, before infrastructure destruction moves past painful and straight on
to unbearable. (Source: U.S.
Global Change Research Program, "US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate
Variability and Change Educational Resources")
- That's not all. Another result of global warming, the rising sea level, is impacting Alaskans negatively as
well. Over recent decades, 1,500 feet of Alaskan coast have been lost. The community at Shishmaref will have
to be protected with a sea wall costing $4-6 million, and that will only be a temporary solution as the sea
continues to rise. The village at Kivalina will have to be entirely relocated, at a cost of $45 million. The lack
of progressive environmental policy in the past is leading to a significant economic burden in America, right
now. (Source: U.S. Global
Change Research Program, "US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability
and Change Educational Resources")
- If you believe in the value of physical exercise, that's a good reason to support a progressive presidential
candidate in 2008. Right wing politics are interfering with the ability of Americans to go outside and get some
The right wing government has become so obsessed with protecting the profits of big oil corporations that
it's become dangerous in many places just to go outside for an invigorating run. Take, for instance, what's
happening in Salt Lake City, Utah, where it has become a major health risk to exercise outside.
The problem is that Salt Lake City produces a huge amount of air pollution, and the local geography gives
little opportunity for that pollution to blow away to bother people somewhere else. So, the citizens of Salt
Lake City stew in their own filthy air. Runner Monique Heileson explains how, during a five mile training
run, she "started feeling lightheaded, started getting a little sore throat, finished up the run, went to work. By
the end of the day I was coughing, sneezing. I could really feel it heavy in the lungs."
Progressives have been arguing in favor of policies to reduce air pollution in American cities, but right
wingers have been preventing those policies from being put into effect. As a result, people like Monique
Heileson who want to exercise to improve their health end up just getting sicker. (Source: KSL TV, January 24,
- When the Union of Concerned Scientists issued surveys to 1,600 climate scientists within the federal
government, 46 percent responded that they have been pressured to remove phrases such as "global warming"
and "climate change" from publications of their research. 43 percent reported that their research has been
edited by their superiors in order to change the meaning of their findings.
If global warming were not a genuine threat, then government administrators would not need to work so
much to attempt to squelch the evidence that global warming exists, is a serious threat, and is due to some
extent to human activity. If global warming were really a hoax, then all those government administrators
would have to do to expose the hoax would be to allow government-employed climate scientists to report
their results without interference. (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, January 30, 2007)
- If we don't elect a progressive President in 2008, we might well have a rain that lasts one thousand years.
No, I didn't make a typographical error. I didn't mean to say that we're going to have a reign that lasts for
one thousand years. I meant rain - as in the water that falls from the sky.
Where I live, it's normal for the year to be divided into two halves. In one half of the year, it snows. In
the other half of the year, it rains. Global warming, however, is threatening to change that. Before too long,
even in the northern states of the USA, the rains could last all year long.
Worse than that, the warming that leads to the permanent season of rains will likely go on for a thousand
years, even if people find a way to stop polluting the air with greenhouse gases soon. According to a report
by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in early 2007, the warming created by human
activity in this century alone is likely to last for one thousand years.
Progressives have been pushing for solutions to the global warming threat for decades. Right wingers
have been resisting, saying that nothing should be done.
The prospect of one thousand years without a snowman, or sledding, or snowball fights?? Your kids will
tell you that's a very good reason to act to confront the climate change crisis. If we don't choose a progressive
candidate for President in 2008, that thousand year rain we're moving into could last even longer. (Source:
CTV, January 31, 2007)
- According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2007, due to increased carbon
dioxide in the world's oceans from the atmosphere, those oceans are increasingly acidic. The increased acidity
is bleaching out the world's coral reefs. The IPCC projects that the Great Barrier Reef will be crippled by 2030
even if there is no further rise in atmospheric CO2. But if CO2 levels rise, says the report, the Great Barrier
Reef will become "functionally extinct."
The Great Barrier Reef should remain great. It won't if we don't elect a progressive President in 2007.
(Source: CBC, January 30, 2007)
- In 2004, the Dunkirk Steam Generating Station in Dunkirk, New York released 220,000 pounds of sulfuric
acid into the air. Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine what 220,000 pounds of sulfuric acid might
look like, and what it might do, if it were gathered into one place at the same time.
The Dunkirk Steam Generating Station is emitting so much sulfuric acid because there's a huge demand
for electricity. That demand is not being met by cleaner sources of energy because right wing politicians have
spent more than an entire generation arguing against the legislation and the funding America needs to
develop a cleaner and more efficient energy infrastructure. While progressives have been pushing for clean
energy, the right wing has been spending its time working for the rights of big polluters. (Source:
Environmental Protection Agency, Envirofacts Data Warehouse)
- Are you finding yourself curious to know what the more recent releases of sulfuric acid from the Dunkirk
Steam Generating Station have been? I was curious too. After all, it's been a while since 2004 now. I would
like to know whether the sulfuric acid pollution from the Dunkirk Steam Generating Station gotten better or
worse since that time.
Alas, 2004 is the last year that the EPA's Envirofacts Data Warehouse reports the details of the pollution
coming from the Dunkirk Steam Generating Station. After that, the Envirofacts Data Warehouse goes silent.
You just have to guess who kind of foul substances have been coming out of that power plant, and to hold on
to hope that the pollution isn't killing too many people.
Right wing radicals have been working to make withhold information like this from the public.
Progressives, on the other hand, are pushing to restore government openness and accountability.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds of sulfuric acid from just one power plant in one year. Government
secrecy to cover up the release of such vile substances. That's the right wing way we've been living under for
years. Wouldn't you rather have the progressive alternative?(Source: Environmental Protection Agency,
Envirofacts Data Warehouse)
- The winter of 2006-2007 was the warmest winter on record, but There are still a few people who say that
there isn't any evidence for global warming. Yet, as this winter shows, the globe is warmer than ever. But, it
isn't just this year. In recent times, year after year, temperatures have been unusually high.
The science of global warming has become so overwhelmingly convincing that, for the most part, the
right wing talking points now make a more restricted argument than they used to. They now admit that
global warming is taking place, and acknowledge that there's a lot of evidence that global warming is due to
human activity. All the right wingers have to say now is that there isn't anything we can do about global
warming, and so we just ought to accept it and adapt ourselves to the havoc that it will bring.
Notice how the right wing position on global warming keeps on shrinking and shrinking as the years go
on? Right wing ideology on the environment is kind of like an ice sheet in Greenland in that way. Let's hope
that its habitat continues to melt away. Soon, the survival right wing denial might become endangered.
One good way to shrink the habitat of right wing denial of global warming is to evict it from the White
House in 2008. (Source: MSNBC, March 16, 2007)
- Under the stewardship of right wingers, development has been relatively unchecked, pursued without
sensible restrictions to keep growth in accord with a sustainable use of natural resources. As a result, immense
reserves of natural resources are being used up.
The rivers of the world are an example. According to a report recently released by the World Wildlife
Fund, many of the major rivers of the world are so overexploited by rampant development along their
courses that they are running dry before they can reach the ocean. The report explains,
"Even the greatest of the world's rivers can no longer be assured of reaching the sea
unhindered. These days the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo River, on the border of the U.S. and Mexico, often fails to
reach the Gulf of Mexico, its strength sapped by dams and irrigation works diverting water to farmers' fields
and city water supplies. The Indus, the Nile, the Murray-Darling, the Colorado, these are but a few of the
once mighty rivers that now struggle to touch the ocean."
To right wing politicians, the withering away of many of the Earth's rivers does not seem like a cause for
concern. Progressives understand that when something so large as a river has been run dry by human
development, it's a sign that development has run out of control. (Source: World's Top 10 Rivers At Risk, World Wildlife Fund,
- Right wingers, loathe to accept the idea that people will need to exercise self-restraint in order to continue
to thrive on Planet Earth, are lashing out at the science of climate change much as many people once rejected
the idea that the Earth is round. At the 60 Minutes site on Yahoo, one such person comments, "There is no
global warming and sea levels are not rising. This is coming from the communist Left, which is incompetent
at science and hates technology. Yes that's what has always been behind 60 Minutes. They won't let you hear
the other side. Do not worry. Global warming is not proven by localized events."
The fact is that global warming is already causing sufficient increases in sea level to cause localized events
around the world. Coastal communities in the south of England, for example are already being forced to
make decisions about which areas will receive sea wall protection, and which areas will be allowed to flood.
Acknowledging the threat of global climate change is a difficult choice to make, because it requires us to
deal with the consequences of their actions. In 2008, let's remember that it's been the progressives who have
been willing to make this difficult choice instead of indulging in fantasies of denial in which Communism is
supposed to be the real explanation for the massive amount of evidence that global warming is real. (Sources:
Comment on 60minutes.yahoo.com, December 13, 2006; Reuters, March 23, 2007)
- The effort to defend dirty pollution leads to dirty politics. Stephen Griles, who in March, 2007 agreed to
plead guilty to obstruction of justice for lying to Senate investigators about his connections with Jack
Abramoff, entered into a dirty real estate deal that brought together the Bush Adminstration's Department of
the Interior, the Department of Justice, and the giant oil corporation ConocoPhillips.
Stephen Griles used to work as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, appointed to that
position by the Bush White House. As Deputy Secretary Griles acted as the top representative of the Bush
White House on Dick Cheney's secret energy task force. When he left that post, he took a job at oil
corporation ConocoPhillips, where he worked with Donald R. Duncan, the top Washington D.C.
Griles then got himself into a romantic relationship with an Assistant Attorney General working at the
Department of Justice under Alberto Gonzales. This Assistant Attorney General, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, was
in charge of prosecuting violations of environmental laws. When Ms. Wooldridge became the live-in
girlfriend of Stephen Griles, all of a sudden, ConocoPhillips was given the chance to evade prosecution for
violating environmental laws and endangering the public health.
What could convince Sue Ellen Wooldridge to halt the impending prosecution of ConocoPhillips? It just
so happens that, around this time, Ms. Woodridge, Stephen Griles and Donald Duncan bought a vacation
home "together". The vacation home cost $980,000.
Companies like ConocoPhillips make a lot of money by evading the law and doing dirty business on the
cheap, polluting our air, our water, and our soil. Progressives understand that the filth of the pollution
industry rubs off onto the American political system wherever it grabs a hold. Progressives want to clean up
the political system by holding polluters to account. Right wingers claim that the kind of dirty backroom
dealing done by Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Stephen Griles and Donald Duncan is just the way the game is
In 2008, you get to choose which vision gets your support. (Source: Las Vegas Sun, March 23, 2007)
- If the federal government of the United States of America allows tens of thousands of animals that are
listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, is the government complying with the
Endangered Species Act? Not according to a new report by Oceana, an organization dedicated to the protection of marine ecosystems.
For the first time ever, Oceana has tallied the number of sea turtles that the US government allows to be
killed and injured every year. What they found: The allowed kill of sea turtles is nearly 10,000 every year.
The number of sea turtles that are allowed by our government to be injured per year is about 334,000.
This massive slaughter and maiming of sea turtles in US waters takes place with government permission,
in spite of the fact that every species of sea turtle in US waters is under legal protection from two federal laws:
The Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires commercial
fishing operations in US waters to reduce bycatch to lowest practicable amount. Nonetheless, the fishery
management plans agreed to and proposed by the Bush Administration do not even take turtle bycatch into
In US waters, the olive ridley sea turtle and the loggerhead sea turtle are registered as threatened species.
The kempÍs ridley sea turtle, the leatherback sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle are registered as
endangered species. The green sea turtle is listed as endangered in Florida's waters, and threatened elsewhere.
The Endangered Species Act requires the federal government to take action to reduce harmful human
activities against these turtles to a level that will not threaten the ability of the species to survive. However,
the Bush Administration has not been keeping track of the impact of the cumulative allowances it gives for
killing and injuring sea turtles, much less studying the impact of those cululative allowances upon the six
species of sea turtles in US waters. Furthermore, even when commercial fishing operations go beyond
government allowances for killing and injuring endangered sea turtles, the Bush Administration refuses to
stop the fishing operations from continuing to kill and injure even more turtles.
The Bush Administration doesn't follow the laws that protect America's endangered and threatened sea
turtles, and President George W. Bush doesn't seem to care enough about the problem to reform how the
government does its business. In 2008, we need to elect a President who understands enough about the threats
to marine ecosystems to bring the government into accordance with the law. (Source: Net
Casualties, Oceana, October 2006)
- Right wingers accuse environmentalists of valuing the welfare of animals over the welfare of people. It's
a conclusion based upon a false, unspoken premise: That it is necessary to choose between the welfare of
animals and the welfare of people. The truth is that environmentalists value the welfare of people and the welfare of animals. In fact, we believe that the welfare of animals and the welfare of people are
linked. After all, people are animals, and depend upon the integrity of Earth's natural ecosystems, just like
other animals do.
I was thinking about animal welfare and human welfare this morning when I took my kids up to their
grandmother's house, taking New York State route 89, which cuts through the Montezuma National Wildlife
Refuge. There, I saw a pair of ospreys, and stopped the car so that my oldest son could watch as the two birds
gathered sticks to make a nest on top of a telephone pole.
This morning, I read a story about a very different kind of osprey. This other osprey is not a bird, but a
military aircraft called the V22 Osprey. This Osprey is supposed to have the qualities of both a helicopter and
an airplane, making it especially effective at bringing American soldiers into the thick of a battle, and then
speeding away. The trouble is the that V22 Osprey doesn't work very well. It's prone to crashes, having killed
30 soldiers and injured others during test flights. The US Marine Corps leadership, supported by right wing
politicians, is stubbornly insisting that the V22 Osprey be deployed in Iraq anyway.
So, on the one hand, you have environmentalists who place special value on animals like the osprey. On
the other hand, you have right wing militarists who place special value on error-prone, mutlibillion dollar
gadgets designed to help people kill other people, like the V22 Osprey.
I have no trouble choosing between these two different sets of values. I'm interested in animals, not in
weapons. Progressives are environmentalists, and so they tend to share this preference with me. I'm looking
for a good progressive candidate for President in 2008, because I'd like to see a someone in the Oval Office
who sees that life for people would be better if our government would spend more money protecting habitat
for wild animals, and waste less money protecting the turf of power elites who profit from military spending
programs gone wild. (Source: New York Times, April 14, 2007)
- There's nothing wrong with being a global warming skeptic. If you believe that global warming is
happening just because it feels right, that's not a good idea; it's environmental religion. Reason demands
reasons. A skeptic holds back from endorsing a theory or its associated hypotheses until the evidence comes
in. That makes most environmental scientists in the world global warming skeptics, by the way, since the
scientific community has followed a skeptical process of empirical observation. As evidence has accumulated,
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of climate
scientists, has reflected the skeptical consensus resulting from those empirical studies in a series of annual
Some people have reacted to the latest IPCC report by labeling the scientists a group of wild and crazy fools:
...the fact remains that the promoters of the global warming and climate change movement have
intentionally distorted whatever scientific basis there might be and persist in making wild and unjustified
claims of achieving levels of certainty that are "beyond challenge" so as to make a mockery of any actual
science mis-used to justify the claims of their political and social movement.
The scientists of the IPCC are biased. But the above passage shows a misunderstanding about the sort of
bias harbored by climate scientists. Climate scientists actually harbor a conservative bias. Theirs is a
probabilistic science, in which theoretical models are built and assessed against available data. A model is
typically accepted only if the probability of observations matching reality by chance alone is less than 5%, or
less than 1% for claims of strong statistical significance. The bias in this approach is highly skeptical, only
willing to embrace a model when the probability of it being wrong is not just low, or really low, but really,
And so we shouldn't be surprised when we find out that the scientific consensus on global warming turns out to be, if anything, too conservative
"Arctic ice is melting faster than computer models of climate calculate, according to a group
of US researchers.
Since 1979, the Arctic has been losing summer ice at about 9% per decade, but models on average produce a
melting rate less than half that figure.
The scientists suggest forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) may be too
The latest observations indicate that Arctic summers could be ice-free by the middle of the century."
(Sources: Jack Krupansky, April 7, 2007; BBC, April 30, 2007)
- Why elect a progressive President in 2008? Do it for your lungs.
Do your lungs feel okay? Well, okay then. Do it for the lungs of the people living in the following
metropolitan areas, ranked the 10 worst in all of the USA for air pollution by the American Lung
1. Los Angeles, California
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
3. Bakersfield, California
4. Birmingham, Alabama
5. Detroit, Michigan
6. Cleveland, Ohio
7. Visalia, California
8. Cincinnati, Ohio
9. Indianapolis, Indiana
10. St. Louis, Missouri
People in these urban areas are suffering. Of course, that doesn't mean that the rest of us aren't suffering
too. Even rural areas have to deal with smog blown in from concentrated population centers.
We should all have the right to breathe and not get sick from it. Someone else's profits are not worth our
own disease and death. Progressives have been working for that principle for generations, and we keep up
that work today. Remember that in 2008, before you take a deep breath and step into the voting booth.
(Source: Canadian Press, May 1, 2007)
- It's audacious, when you think about it, that right wingers accuse environmentalists of promoting a radical
agenda. What's radical, after all, about protecting our ability to survive on the only planet we know that is
capable of serving as our home?
I thought about this yesterday as I hung a basket of laundry out on the clothesline to dry. Pick the
extremist act out of the following two choices:
1. Taking wet clothes and hanging them out in the sun to dry
2. Taking wet clothes and putting them into a noisy machine that turns them around and around while
blowing hot air through them, powered by electricity created by burning the remains of ancient living things
Environmentalism is really about a few basic things that most people agree on: Cleanliness, simplicity,
and efficiency. The values of environmentalists are the values of the clothesline, an old American tradition
that lead us back from the brink of the radical world created when we pollute the sky in order to clean our
Americans were using zero emissions solar power generations ago. Isn't it time we reconsidered our
reckless abandonment of the traditional approach to energy?
- What do birds, bats, antelopes, whales, and turtles have in common? There are migratory species among
all these kinds of of mammals that have had their lives turned around by climate change. These animals'
biological clocks, tuned over tens of thousands of years to the present climate, don't match reality any more.
So, they're turning up in places where conditions can turn deadly for them very easily, and very quickly.
It's not just conjecture to say this. These are the scientific conclusions reported by the United Nations
Convention on Migratory Species this year.
The right wing has given us a generation of nothing more than denial of and excuses for global climate
change. The progressives have been calling for strong action of climate change all along.
Help set animal migration back on course. Help elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Reuters,
May 7, 2007)
- Anti-environmentalists are willing to say just about anything to stop the protection of America's natural
resources. One anti-environmental activist, aligned with a pro-industry agenda in the Republican Party, even
tried out the following line: "What's happening out there is nothing less than the eviction of the only
endangered species really in Montana, and that's the working Montana family. We're going to have 30 percent
unemployment, and long with that comes wife-batterment and child molestation, and all the rest of it. Now,
do you think environmentalists give a damn about the fact that kids are going to be molested?"
Environmental protection does not lead to child molestation or wife beating. Only a fool would make
that claim. Let's elect a progressive President in 2008, so that we'll have a White House that doesn't make
political allegiances with that kind of fool. (Source: Richard Wallace, Ethical Spectacle, January, 1996)
- In 1992, George H. W. Bush tried to win re-election by casting owls as the enemy of America. He
complained of Al Gore, then running for Vice President, "This guy is so far out in the environmental
extreme, we'll be up to our necks in owls and out of work for every American."
Well, it's fifteen years since the first President Bush made that comment accusing Al Gore of being an
environmental extremist. Since then, it's Al Gore's position on the environment that has been vindicated, not
It's true that, in the meantime, the Republicans have done their level best to keep the owl threat at bay.
Progressives, on the other hands, have kept their attention on other threats, like the threat of global
If you want a President who can understand that global warming is a more serious threat to America than
owls, elect a progressive in 2008. (Source: Sierra Magazine, September/October 2006)
- This year, the Center for Biological Diversity described the presidency of George W. Bush
as waging "a war on wildlife". One of the reasons: As of May 9, 2007, an entire year had passed
without the Bush Administration granting protection to a single endangered species.
It isn't because endangered species don't exist. There are currently 279 species recognized as candidates for
protection as threatened or endangered species. These species have been waiting an average of 19 years for
protection, sliding closer and closer to extinction all the while.
Stop the right wing's war on wildlife. Elect a progressive President in 2008. (Sources: Politicizing
Extinction, Center for Biological Diversity, May 9, 2007; Press release, Center for Biological Diversity, May 9,
- There has been a kind of desperation in the camp of global warming deniers over the last several years, as
the accumulation of scientific research confirming the reality of global climate change and its link to human
activities has become even more monumental in its scope than it had been before. Those who advocate the
preservation of the old, pollution-dependent economy have begun grasping at straws.
One of the most pathetic of those straws has been the claim that plants, and not people are to blame for
global warming. The line of argument has gone like this:
1. Methane is a greenhouse gas.
2. Plants have been found to produce methane.
3. Therefore, plants, not people, are to blame for global warming.
This interesting argument against human responsibility for global warming has been firmly contradicted
by a study released this year that finds that plants are not a significant producers of methane after all, and are
thus not responsible for global warming. An earlier study which indicated that plants might be the source for
up to 30 percent of atmospheric methane did not use methods to track the actual source of methane, as the
more recent study did, and is likely to have been the result of mistaken readings.
The fact is that no scientist has been able to come up with an explanation for how a plant could produce
methane. "There's no physical mechanism or way for plants to produce methane," a scientist from
Plant Research International explains.
While right wingers are busy trying to find tiny shreds of justification for not solving the problem of
global climate change, progressives have been busy looking for solutions. One more myth about global
warming debunked is one more reason to elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Live Science, May 8,
- Arnold Schwarzenegger wants you to think that he's an environmentally-friendly kind of politician. A
couple of years ago, he promised that, under his leadership, "California will be a leader in the fight against
It all sounded so great, the idea that Schwarzenegger would help lead the fight against global warming,
even though he's a member of the traditionally anti-environmental Republican Party. Unfortunately, it seems
that Schwarzenegger can't be counted upon to follow up his rhetoric with consistent action.
In May, 2007, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that, in order to avoid raising taxes on wealthy
constituents, he would take 1.3 billion dollars out of a fund for public transportation. The move will result in
increased fares for bus and rail lines, closed public transit lines, decreased usage of public transportation, and
more cars on the road spewing greenhouse gases into the air. When he talks, Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to
be against global warming. When he acts, he doesn't seem to give a damn.
Arnold Schwarzenegger also announced that his government will stop all of its contributions to the
enforcement of the Williamson Act, which preserves green spaces and defends the California countryside
against suburban sprawl. Schwarzenegger's pro-sprawl agenda means more roads with more cars and more
traffic filling up the California landscape. I guess Schwarzenegger wants to give smog a chance.
Arnold Schwarzenegger teaches us this essential lesson: You just can't trust a Republican to do what's right
when it comes to the environment. He always was a bad actor. (Sources: Associated Press, June 2, 2005; San
Jose Mercury News, May 15, 2007)
- One of the reasons that I enjoy being a progressive activist is that it makes me feel good to find people
who are interested in doing things to make the world a better place through their own actions, and
encouraging other people to do so as well. I found one such group of people this afternoon when I found the
web siteOne Hour No Power.
The progressive activists at One Hour No Power are asking people to start with one small simple act to
fight global warming. They are asking individuals and businesses to turn off all their non-vital electronic
equipment between noon and 1 PM on Sunday, July 1st, 2007.
This one hour is a statement of power, a reminder to ourselves that we have the power to say no to the
habit of using energy wastefully. We have the power to slow down, and then stop, global warming. We don't
need to use power made by polluting technologies all the times. There are other things we can do.
One hour without power won't solve the problems of pollution and global climate change. One hour,
however, is a good place to start. Heck, make it two hours, if you like. After a couple of hours, you just might
find that the temptation to flip the switch back on grows smaller and smaller.
When we work together, even one hour without polluting power makes a difference. Keep that notion
alive for the 2008 presidential election. When you vote for a progressive President in 2008, you'll be joining
the company of millions of other people who believe that the contributions of every person count, no matter
how small. Your vote, on its own, may be small, but with others like it, it creates an irresistible force.
- On May 15, 2007, Senator John Kerry offered an amendment (S.Amdt. 1094 to S.Amdt. 1065 to to H.R.
1495) that would have required the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider the impact of climate change
when designing water projects. The impact of climate change upon water projects is likely to be considerable,
when it comes to matters such as the effect of storms and flooding. The Army Corps of Engineers has a bad
record of taking relevant factors into account when it comes to such matters, and Kerry's amendment sought to
strengthen their work.
It was a quite sensible amendment for John Kerry to make, and I am glad to see that all four Democratic
senators who were running for President of the United States voted in favor of it. I am disappointed,
however, to see that both Republican senators running for President, Sam Brownback and John McCain, ran
scared from the legislation.
Neither Senator Brownback nor John McCain voted for the amendment to help the government deal with
the impacts of global warming. In fact, neither one of them voted on the amendment at all. They were either
too scared, or too lazy, to deal with the issue of global warming. That's not the kind of attitude we need from
our next President of the United States. (Source: Library of Congress)
- The creator of Some Prepared Remarks has a good point when he writes, "It's pretty amazing
that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the ground, ship it to a
refinery, turn it into plastic, shape it appropriately, truck it to a store, buy it, and bring it home is considered to
be less effort than what it takes to just wash the spoon when you're done with it."
Progressives emphasize the mutual responsibility we have to use the objects our civilization creates in a
less wasteful manner. Progressives' right wing opponents emphasize the right of people to be as wasteful as
they want, destroying the objects created by our civilization at will.
For generations, we've tried the wasteful, destructive approach, and it has made a mess of things. Let's
give mutual responsibility a try this time around. (Source: SomePreparedRemarks.com)
- This year, before plunging into the southern hemisphere's winter, Antarctica turned downright balmy,
with high temperatures of 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Imagine going to Antarctica without a coat on, and feeling
nice and comfortable, and you've got the right idea of what's been going on there.
The result was patches of Antarctica with a collective surface area the size of California melted, with some
of that freshwater melt heading toward the ocean, or lubricating ice sheets, increasing the chances that the ice
sheets will break up and fall into the ocean. If that happens, not only will sea levels rise dramatically, ocean
currents will be drastically altered as well, changing weather patterns around the world.
We cannot wait around for right wing politicians to finally muster half-hearted plans to lower greenhouse
gases a few percentage points decades from now. We need serious action to confront climate change now. No
one but a progressive President will have the resolve to confront the threat posed by the melting of Antarctica.
(Source: LiveScience, May 15, 2007)
- In May, 2007, CBS News sported the inaccurate headline Bush Acts On Greenhouse Gas Issue two
days ago. If you read the actual text of George W. Bush's announcement, you'll know why I just used the
adjective "inaccurate" to describe that headline. Here's part of what President Bush said:
I'm directing the EPA and the Department of Transportation, Energy, and Agriculture to take the
first steps toward regulations that would cut gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from motor
vehicles, using my 20-in-10 plan as a starting point.
Developing these regulations will require coordination across many different areas of expertise. Today, I
signed an executive order directing all our agencies represented here today to work together on this proposal.
I've also asked them to listen to public input, to carefully consider safety, science, and available technologies,
and evaluate the benefits and costs before they put forth the new regulation.
This is a complicated legal and technical matter, and it's going to take time to fully resolve. Yet it is important
to move forward, so I have directed members of my administration to complete the process by the end of
Let's gut the PR mumbo jumbo and cut to the chase: George W. Bush is directing his administration to
have written up proposals for regulations on greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2008, three weeks before
he leaves office. He hasn't promised to actually implement regulations. In fact, by his timeline Bush has
actively promised to not implement any regulations on greenhouse gas emissions before the year 2009,
which is when he leaves office and a new president enters office. Usually, new presidents like to implement
their own policies, which means the whole rigamarole begins again. Get it?
As a candidate in 2000 George W. Bush promised to implement regulations to cut greenhouse gas
emissions upon taking office. He broke that promise. Now, seven years later, George W. Bush is promising
to not implement regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions until 2009, when another president will take
office. I'd like to believe that since George W. Bush has promised this, and George W. Bush doesn't exactly
have a stellar record when it comes to keeping his promises, this somehow means we'll actually get a
regulation before he leaves office. But I think this time Bush intends to keep his promise to do nothing.
Enough bullshit, I say. It's time to elect a president who will admit the obvious, make a promise, keep it,
and do something to protect our nation's long-term environmental interests. (Sources: CBS News, May 14,
2007; Statement at White House by George W. Bush on May 14, 2007)
- Climate models predicting disastrous consequences for humanity because of global warming have
depended upon assumptions that the ocean around Antarctica would be able to absorb increasing amounts of
carbon dioxide as levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase. Those assumptions were wrong,
according to a collaborative study by the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry and the British Antarctic
Unfortunately, the presumptions about southern ocean carbon dioxide absorption did not exaggerate the
likely rate of global warming in years to come. They minimized it.
At the very time when carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have increased, the oceans around
Antarctica have been aborbing progressively less carbon dioxide with each passing decade. That means that
hopes that the Earth's southern oceans would help slow the rate of global warming are unfounded.
The result for humanity may be catastrophic, unless work to reduce the extent of global warming starts
very soon. Cosmos magazine cites a researcher who works for Australia's national science agency as
indicating that, "Stabilising CO2 below catastrophic levels will be more difficult to achieve than was
Pay attention to the choice of adjective in their reporting: Catastrophic. When you think about the
potential consequences for not voting for a progressive President, one ready to deal with global climate
change, in 2008, and you need to start thinking about catastrophes. (Source: Cosmos, May 18, 2007)
- When they hear about global climate research that suggests that global warming will magnify the
intensity of storms, right wing apologists for inaction huff and puff, protesting that such effects won't be seen
for generations if at all.
They're wrong, and that's not just my opinion. It's proven by scientific research conducted jointly by the
British Antarctic Survey and the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry. Their research shows that storms in
the oceans surrounding Antarctica have been intensifying and shifting in their courses to create more
turbulent surface waters since 1958.
The Earth's southern storms have been warning us about the consequences of climate change since 1958,
and right wing politicians still won't heed to the warning. In 2008, vote for a presidential candidate who has
enough sense to heed the decades of warnings about global warming. Help elect a progressive President.
(Source: Cosmos, May 18, 2007)
- It's a small inconvenience, in the large scheme of things, but it is one more little reason in our long list of
reasons to elect a progressive President in 2008: Officially designated state flowers and state trees are likely to
leave their home states and shift to different habitats as a result of climate change. As some areas get wetter,
others get more dry, and most places in the United States get warmer in the years to come, many plants will no
longer grow in their traditional ranges, and will shift to new ranges or wither away.
For example, in Delaware, both the state flower (the peach blossom), and the state tree (the American
holly), are likely to have a lot of trouble growing in the future. That's the conclusion of a fifty-state review by
the National Wildlife Federation. The review found that, while some state flowers and trees will be able to
stay put, many are likely to move out of their sponsor states altogether, if global warming heats up as
Thirty states could lose their state flower or state tree, or both. It took state legislatures long enough to
pick state flowers and state trees in the first place. They shouldn't have to do it again. Electing a progressive
President in 2008 will help prevent this embarrassing problem from taking place by instituting policies that
can slow down climate change, and maybe, eventually, bring temperatures back to normal. (Source: National
Wildlife Federation, Gardener's Guide to Global Warming, 2007)
- You've heard the astonishing predictions of catastrophes resulting from global climate change provoked
by increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a team
of talented scientists assembled by the United Nations, has shocked the world with its detailed, research-based,
assessments of extreme damage to human civilization that are likely to result from global warming.
In spite of all the evidence, and all the research, right wingers continue to dismiss global warming as a
fantasy. Scientists, they say, are biased when it comes to global warming. Well, yes, scientists do have a bias.
Scientists have an inherently conservative bias in their rigorous methods that leads them to err on the side of
dismissing ideas such as global warming. It is in spite of this bias that the scientific bias has concluded that
global warming is real, is largely caused by human factors, and presents a grave threat to human civilization.
Effects of global climate change that are even more serious than the scientists predict are therefore quite
A new study by Australia's national science agency supports this idea with cold, hard facts. The Australian
scientists have found that carbon dioxide emissions have increased at an even greater rate than what the
scientists working on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change described as a worst case scenario.
That means that everything you've heard about the future of global warming was wrong. It's going to be
even worse. (Source: Cosmos Magazine, May 22, 2007)
- When judging the character of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, it's useful to consider the headline
of one of the press releases his aides issued this spring: "In Case You Missed It: Governor Mitt Romney's
Message Resonating With The American People". Yes, that's the actual title.
It's not an accident that voters just might not be able to tell that Mitt Romney's message is resonating with
the American People. Mitt Romney's message is too far off target with the real concerns of American citizens
to have a chance of resonating.
Take the issue of global warming, for instance. Americans who pay attention to the news are very
concerned about global warming, and with good reason. With every passing year, there's more cause for
concern about the future, and more real damage taking place in the present. Global warming is an obvious
fact, and it's a significant impact upon people's lives right now.
Mitt Romney, however, just hasn't seemed to notice. I did a Google search for the phrase "global
warming" on Mitt Romney's campaign web site, and only two pages came up. One of those hits was a
complaint by a reader that Mitt Romney wasn't saying anything about his plans for dealing with
environmental threats. The other was a short news item in which Romney complained that "some in the
Republican Party are embracing the radical environmental ideas of the liberal left," and protested that "Kyoto-
style sweeping mandates, imposed unilaterally in the United States, would kill jobs, depress growth and shift
manufacturing to the dirtiest developing nations. Republicans should never abandon pro-growth conservative
principles in an effort to embrace the ideas of Al Gore."
Oh, dear. Has Mitt Romney still not figured out that the whole point of the Kyoto protocol was that it was
a cooperative effort between nations, not imposed unilaterally? If Mitt Romney still doesn't accept the reality
of the global warming threat, I guess he thinks that scientific research is just another one of those "ideas of the
In case you missed it, Mr. Romney: The grave threat of global warming has now been accepted even by
George W. Bush. Get on the problem, or get off the ballot. (Source: MittRomney.com)
- Right wing apologists for the wasteful, outdated fossil fuel economy accuse progressives of being
alarmist about global warming. When progressives say that climate change will provoke warfare over
dwindling resources, the right wingers say that it's just a fantasy.
The truth is that warfare provoked by deprivation linked to climate change is not a fantasy about the
future. It's happening right now.
Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute at Columbia University writes, "The severe decline in precipitation in
the African Sahel during the past 30 years seems to be related to both anthropogenic warming and aerosol
pollution. The violence in Darfur and Somalia is fundamentally related to food and water insecurity. Ivory
Coast's civil war stems, at least in part, from ethnic clashes after people fled the northern drylands of Burkina
Faso for the coast."
The climate-provoked violence that right wingers deny will ever happen is already a reality. Right wing
ideology on the environment is so stuck in the past that it argues that the present will never take place in the
future. (Source: Scientific American, June 2007)
- You know it's hurricane season when the speed of the spin on global warming coming out of the Bush
White House reaches gale force.
The headlines in the newspapers read: "Bush Calls For Plans To Fight Global Warming".
The truth: George W. Bush is calling upon world leaders to delay for a year and a half before even talking
about doing anything about global warming.
Bush says he thinks global leaders should have proposals for how to fight global warming by the end of
2008. However, global leaders already presented Bush with a plan they agree upon for how to fight global
warming, just a few days ago.
George W. Bush said no. He didn't want to act on global warming with other world leaders.
So now, Bush comes out with the supposedly bold proposal of just thinking about global warming for
another 18 months, after which, not so coincidentally, it will be time for Bush to leave office.
That's not a bold proposal. It's an old proposal. The only thing Bush is really calling for when it comes to
global warming is more of the same: A whole lot of nothing. (Source: NPR, May 31, 2007)
- Maybe you're the fun-loving type who doesn't take a natural interest in politics. Maybe you'd prefer to
take a trip to the beach than watch a presidential debate.
If so, I propose to you the idea that you're making a false distinction between fun and politics. The truth is
that, politics is necessary in order to preserve the ability to have fun.
Here's an example: In Spain, the tourist industry is in trouble because Spanish beaches are being swarmed
with huge numbers of jellyfish. The jellyfish are reproducing in immense numbers because the fish that are
their predators and competitors have been stripped from the Atlantic ocean by overfishing. Also contributing
to the problem is climate change. Jellyfish grow and reproduce faster in warmer waters.
Local authorities are trying to organize armadas of boats to scoop up the jellyfish as they move toward
popular beaches, but it's not at all clear that their efforts will solve the problem.
Beaches covered with slimy, stinging jellyfish are no fun. How, can the problem be solved, though?
Politics has to be part of the answer. Individual actions are not enough clear an ocean of jellyfish, or bring
back the fish that are on the verge of being driven extinct. An organized, large-scale solution is needed, and
creating organized, large-scale solutions is what politics is for.
Of course, not just any politics will do. Some kinds of politics are part of the problem. Right wing
politicians have defended the ability of immense fishing operations to strip the oceans of fish for the sake of
profit. For decades, they have opposed doing anything about climate change, even denying that the problem
Progressives, on the other hand, have been urging action on the problems of overfishing and global
warming for years. If political power had been in progressive hands, problems like jellyfish swarming the
beaches of Spain could have been avoided.
It might be too late to salvage the Spanish beaches this summer, but we still have the summers of the
future to think of. Vote to protect a day of fun at the beach. Help elect a progressive President in 2008.
(Source: Associated Press, June 9, 2007)
- One of the problems in the public perception of global warming is that people have yet to make the
connection between changes in the climate and changes in their own lives. Warming, as a concept, seems mild.
If it gets warmer, after all, then can't we just use more air conditioning to stay cool inside our houses?
A more attentive consideration of the relationship between weather and our lives reveals many more
serious impacts from increasing global temperatures. Consider, for example, thunderstorms.
Thunderstorms and our transportation infrastructure don't mix well. I was reminded of this last summer,
when I was trapped by the weather several times while trying to fly across the country on business.
Severe thunderstorms, with high winds and large hailstones, were a problem across the United States last
week. Many of my flights were significantly delayed, and some was cancelled, due to these thunderstorms.
One time, there were so many travellers with cancelled flights that, by the time I tried to find a hotel room,
they were all booked, and I had to try to sleep on the floor of the airport.
With continuing increases in global warming, we can expect to see a lot more people sleeping on the floor,
trapped in airports overnight. More stormy weather, as is expected with continuing global warming, doesn't
mean just damage to structures on the ground. It means the grounding of air travel.
The airline industry is already proving unable to deal with the level of thunderstorms that exists at
present. How great will the chaos in our travel infrastructure be with increased storms due to global warming?
In spite of decades of mounting evidence of a coming significant shift in climate, right wingers have
counseled inaction. It's been the progressives who have pushed for the kind of action that could have begun to
reduce the impact of the climate crisis a long time ago.
- The Audubon Society has just released the results of an analysis of its annual Christmas Bird Count plus
the Breeding Bird Survey. Their findings indicate that the populations of 20 previously common bird species
have, on average, declined by 50 percent over the last 40 years.
Birds like the shrike, the field sparrow, and even the grackle are seen far less often now than they were in
the past. The specific reasons are different for each species, but include global warming, habitat destruction,
insect outbreaks, and the increased number of forest fires that are occuring with the acceleration of climate
These birds are like canaries in a mineshaft. Their decline warns us that the Earth is growing less able to
support animal life. We humans are animals too, so this trend ought to concern us very much.
For decades, right wing politicians inspired by an industrial ideology have done whatever they could to
obstruct solutions to the ecological problems that we face along with the birds that used to be common in our
backyards. Progressive activists, on the other hand, have been calling for responsible action to confront the
impoverishment of life on Earth before it's too late.
Look to the skies and listen to the birds at Christmastime. Then, vote to elect a progressive President. (Source: National Audubon Society, Common Birds In Decline, June 2007)
- For the sake of life on planet Earth, the United States needs to elect a new President in 2008 who is not
politically dependent upon right-wing religious groups like the Southern Baptists. When the Southern Baptist
Convention met this year, they decided to pass a resolution declaring that there is not yet sufficient reason to
think that global warming is caused by human activity, and so controls on carbon dioxide pollution ought not
to be mandatory.
On what basis did the Southern Baptist Convention make this decision? The Southern Baptist Convention
has no scientific credentials. It's a religious organization that bases its vision of reality upon the teachings of a
book that's about two thousand years old, claiming to be the holy teachings of a divine being and his
What did Jesus have to say about global warming? Absolutely nothing. The writers of the Bible knew next
to nothing about climatology, much less the events to come in our own time, due to the impact of future
technology that they could not imagine. The Bible and its teachings are thus profoundly out of date as a
sourcebook of instructions about how to interpret and cope with global warming.
That obvious fact does not dissuade the Southern Baptist Convention from proclaiming religious truths
about global warming, of course. That's because the Southern Baptist Convention is not just a religious group.
It's also part of the Republican political coalition, and as such, is motivated to justify the actions of its
Republican allies in corporate America. Never minding what Jesus is supposed to have said about a rich man
and the eye of a needle, the Southern Baptists are politically aligned with the rich and powerful.
So, if the rich and powerful leaders of American corporations need the Southern Baptists to proclaim
religious edicts about the science of global warming, the Southern Baptist Convention is happy to do so.
America needs to break free of the binds that this profit-based faith have placed on our ability to react to the
defining crisis of our time.
- George W. Bush issued a proclamation back in 2002 that the Navy could
go ahead and use ultra-powerful sonar detection technology, even
though it's quite likely that the suped-up sonar interferes with the
ability of whales throughout the ocean to communicate with each other,
thus ruining their navigation and destroying the coherence of their
social groups. So much for Bush's family values. The thing is that
there's even reason to believe that the sonar can KILL whales, which
have very sensitive auditory systems that they use to perceive their
murky underwater environment through echolocation (We know, Mr. Bush,
it's a big word - say it slowly).
Bush justifies destroying the set of environmental regulations by
citing national security needs - he says it's important for the U.S.
Navy to be able to detect the latest generation of quiet enemy
submarines. In this post-September 11 world, after all, we must be
willing to sacrifice... Oh, BULL! Does King George the W really expect
us to believe that a bunch of Al-Qaeda terrorists have the latest
generation of quiet submarines, or any submarines at all, for that
matter?!?! What a bunch of baloney! We need to protect against super
hi-tech enemy submarines, huh? What enemy does the United States have
that possesses such technology? This project is just another example
of the kind of military pork barrel spending that Republicans love to
stuff the budget with.
Oh wait, I know what you're thinking: You never know. Better safe than
sorry. There COULD be a terrorist super hi-tech quiet submarine
attack, and if it COULD happen it is our DUTY to do EVERYTHING to
prevent such a thing from EVER occurring, no matter what the cost. Of
course, there's no evidence that such an attack has been planned, or
that it is even possible for terrorist organizations to get a great
big expensive hi-tech submarine that can only be detected with the
Navy's latest super-duper whale-pulverizing sonar, but it COULD
happen, and if it COULD happen, then it's our patriotic duty to let
George W. do whatever he wants, right?
Wrong. It's always been wrong, and it's high time we started to
reverse the wrong. (Source: Washington Post February 28 2005)
- Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has joined a small group of
members of the House of Representatives who are willing to take the American government beyond merely
talking about global warming. Representative Kucinich and his allies are supporting H.R.2635, the Carbon-
Neutral Government Act of 2007.
The United States Federal Government is the largest single consumer of energy in the country. So,
reduction of energy consumption by the federal government could significantly slow down the rate of global
climate change we will have to endure.
With that in mind, the Carbon-Neutral Government Act would require the federal government to assess
its energy usage, and then take significant steps to reduce its energy usage, with the goal of reducing energy
and investing in environmental projects to counter carbon emissions to become carbon neutral.
Thanks to Dennis Kucinich and his colleagues who have co-sponsored the Carbon-Neutral Government
Act. They are:
Henry Waxman (original sponsor)
William Lacy Clay
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Chris Van Hollen
No thanks go out to the three other members of the United States House of Representatives who are
running for President and have not co-sponsored this legislation.
Republicans Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul have not given their support to the Carbon-
Neutral Government Act. Yes, Ron Paul included. That shows you the difference between a genuine
progressive politician and someone who once in a while adopts a progressive pose for the sake of political
gain. (Sources: Library of Congress; House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, June 12, 2007)
- Fred Thompson seems to suffer from the same compulsion to distort science for political purposes that
afflicts George W. Bush. In March, 2007, Thompson got on the radio and offered up the following analysis of
"Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is
experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite
a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto... This has led some people, not
necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually
inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to
Fred Thompson's point is that he believes that global warming on Earth is due to non-human factors that
are simultaneously affecting all of the planets in the solar system. The suggested non-human factor that
Thompson alludes to when he refers to what "scientists are telling us" is the sun. Thompson refers to the claim
from a Russian scientist at the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory that fluctuations in the sun are causing
global warming on both Mars and the Earth.
In order to promote that claim, Fred Thompson engages in some not-very honest rhetoric that
purposefully leads people away from the facts. Take Thompson's claim that "quite a few planets in our solar
system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto". Let's accept, for the moment, that this claim is true. Does
it still justify Fred Thompson's belief that global warming is not due to human activity?
To make such a conclusion would be akin to a doctor examining a patient with symptoms of an
appendicitis, but then remarking that a lot of the other people in the waiting room appear to be sick too, but
don't seem to be suffering an appendicitis, so therefore this particular patient doesn't have an appendicitis
either. When you follow the entire argument that Fred Thompson implies, it's obviously absurd. But then,
Thompson doesn't make the full argument. As so often happens in politics, Thompson just makes a few
points, leaving out the connecting ideas between them for his audience to fill in without the benefit of full
The primary unstated premise of Fred Thompson's commentary is that if two or more planets are
experiencing a warming climate, the same thing must be causing the climate to warm. Another premise that
Fred Thompson suggests but does not explicitly state is that, because there is a warming climate on Mars and
Jupiter as well as on Earth, and there are only humans on Earth, but not on Mars and Jupiter, humans cannot
be the cause of the warming climate of the Earth.
To repeat the analogy of the doctor's office, this suggestion is like a doctor seeing three patients with
severely upset stomachs, one of whom ate a burger with mayonnaise that had been sitting out in the sun for
the entire afternoon, discovering that the other two patients did not eat anything with mayonnaise all week,
and then declaring that the first patient could not have gotten food poisoning from the mayonnaise. Both the
fictional doctor and Fred Thompson are engaged in some very sloppy thinking.
Besides, the available science doesn't really support Fred Thompson's implication that the sun, and not
people, are to blame for the warming climate on Earth. For one thing, though Fred Thompson says that
scientists are observing an increasing global temperature on Jupiter, that's not really true. What scientists have
observed are increasing storm activity on Jupiter that fits into climate models of Jupter that already exist, and
have no necessary connection to warming Jovian temperatures at all.
Then there's the matter of the shrinking polar ice caps on Mars. The claims of that Russian scientist that
the sun is to blame for warming on Mars have been debunked. Jeffrey Plaut, a NASA scientist who works on
Mars projects explains, "It's believed that what drives climate change on Mars are orbital variations."
Anyway, shrinking polar caps are not the same thing as global warming on Mars. After all, the poles are
just two small regions on the planet of Mars. "Recently, there have been some suggestions that "global
warming" has been observed on Mars. These are based on observations of regional change around the South
Polar Cap, but seem to have been extended into a "global" change, and used by some to infer an external
common mechanism for global warming on Earth and Mars. But this is incorrect reasoning and based on
faulty understanding of the data," says Steinn Sigurdsson, of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
at Penn State University. Sigurdsson concludes, "The observed regional changes in south polar ice cover are
almost certainly due to a regional climate transition, not a global phenomenon, and are demonstrably
unrelated to external forcing. There is a slight irony in people rushing to claim that the glacier changes on
Mars are a sure sign of global warming, while not being swayed by the much more persuasive analogous
phenomena here on Earth."
As for the suggestion that climate change on Earth in particular is due to changes in the energy the planet
is receiving from the sun, climate physicist Charles Long, who has studied the interaction of energy from the
sun and the Earth's climate, says, "It doesn't make physical sense that that's the case." Long has noted a period
of dimming of the energy from the Sun, due in part to aerosols in the atmosphere, during the 1960s, 1970s and
1980s. The Earth's average global temperature didn't decrease during those decades. It increased.
In order to establish a credible scientific theory that changes in the sun are the cause for warming climate
on planets throughout the solar system, it would be necessary to find warming happening on all the planets,
not just a few planets. Furthermore, the climate warming would have to be observed taking place at a rate
relative to the distance of the planets from the sun. That kind of evidence for the solar theory of climate
change does not exist.
The math to back up Fred Thompson's claims about solar activity being the cause for Earth's climate
change just isn't there. Michael Mann, a meteorologist at Penn State University who describes the solar theory
of global warming as "one of the last bastions of contrarians", explains that the amount of observed change in
the sun is inadequate to support the ideas proposed by people like Thompson. He says, "The small measured
changes in solar output and variations from one decade to the next are only on the order of a fraction of a
percent, and if you do the calculations not even large enough to really provide a detectable signal in the
surface temperature record."
Fred Thompson has the fame that enables him to get on the radio and comment on subjects like global
warming. Thompson may hope to use such opportunities to gain positive attention from voters. However, for
the careful listener, Thompson's comments expose him as the kind of politician who fails to think carefully
about the issues of the day, but merely browses for tidbits that are politically convenient for him, happy to use
discredited ideas and sloppy logic to persuade people to follow him even though he doesn't really know
where he is going. (Sources: National Review Online, March 22, 2007; Live Science, March 12, 2007; Real
Climate, October 5, 2005)
- On June 25, 2007, a United States Senator rose to the floor to complain about diminishing support from
President George W. Bush for the development of energy efficient automobiles. The Senator stated,
"Incredibly, cars in America today get less mileage per gallon than they did twenty years ago.
Meanwhile, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric cars are at or nearly at commercialization, yet there is
not enough incentive for consumers to buy them or producers to make them on the mass scale necessary. For
fiscal year 2008, the Administration requested just $176 million for new vehicle technology research Ð an
amount that was less than what was requested five years ago."
The Senator who made this statement was not a Democrat. This statement was made by Republican
Senator Richard Lugar.
When a United States Senator feels that he must publicly criticize the leadership of his own political party,
you know that there's a serious problem. Senator Richard Lugar admits that the Republicans have been doing
the wrong thing on energy efficiency, and that the progressives have been advocating the right course all
In 2008, we need to elect a President who has been promoting the kind of investment in energy efficient
automobiles that right wingers have only recently started to talk about. (Source: Press Release from Senator
Richard Lugar, June 25, 2007)
- I got a shockingly clear glimpse into the right wing version of reality as I read a comment left by one of
the Irregular Times readers, a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul:
"The people behind the iraq war and the people behind global warming are not necessary the same
people but it is the hysteria that is the same. We all knew that we had a problem with extreme islam but did
the mad rush to do something NOW, help our cause? Let us not leap with the same hysteria into a 'fix' for
This person acknowledges that rushing into the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake, and says
that the same mistake is being made with the effort to start undoing human contributions to global warming.
There are several problems with this analogy as made above:
1. The problem with Iraq, in so far as it existed, had nothing to do with "extreme islam". The regime of
Saddam Hussein was not Islamic in character. The problem that was perceived by some had to do with
weapons of mass destruction, not Islam.
2. The problem of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was never proved. The reality of global warming and
the role of humans in contributing to it have been proven.
3. Fixing global warming won't require a war, or any other form of killing of human beings. The invasion and
occupation of Iraq have killed tens of thousands of people, and maybe even hundreds of thousands, through
direct acts of violence.
4. The rush to invade Iraq and the supposed rush to confront global warming are have not taken place on
anything like a similar time scale. The problem of global warming has been an important political issue for at
least two decades. During that time, no significant federal action has been taken. The rush to invade Iraq took
place over two years.
Right wingers have been pushing the path of denial on global warming for much longer than genuine
prudence calls for. Only the most extreme anti-environmentalists could call a movement that began in the mid
1980s and has yet to produce any significant federal legislation a "rush".
- In the face of mountains of evidence, right wing extremists still insist that there's no proof that global
warming is taking place. Well, here's one more piece of proof to place on top of that mountain: The
mountainous country of Bhutan is suffering from malaria for the first time in history.
Malaria is a disease with a limited range because the species of mosquito that carries the malaria parasite
into the human bloodstream only lives in warmer climates. Bhutan, with its historically cool mountainous
landscape, had thus been a refuge from malaria - until now.
With global warming, Bhutan is warmer than ever before. With that warmth has come the suffering of
For the sake of the people of Bhutan, we Americans need to elect a President in 2008 who has a proven
track record of working against global warming. We need to elect a progressive. (Source: Associated Press,
July 2, 2007)
- The link between climate change and increases in warfare is not just a speculation about the future. It's an
established historical fact.
A new study examined the circumstances of 899 wars fought in China over the course of over 9 centuries.
They found a correlation between temperature changes and the frequency with which wars were fought. The
authors of the study suggest that changes in agricultural productivity related to these shifts in climate created
social strains that made warfare more likely.
This historical correlation suggests that climate change is likely to lead to increased warfare in our own
future. If we can decrease the extent of climate change produced by human industrial activity, we stand a good
chance of increasing the chance for peace.
It just so happens that progressives are both for peace and for the environmental measures needed to
reduce the impact of climate change. For this reason, America's national interest will be best served by electing
a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Live Science, July 9, 2007)
- The world has a serious peat problem.
Peat bogs are formed when communities of plants slowly sink down into wet terrain, and new generations
grow on top of their predecesors, keeping the top up in the air. Peat is a valuable material in the horticultural
industry because it is rich in organic material and holds water well in garden soil.
The problem is that peat is often not harvested sustainably, so that peat bogs are destroyed. That's bad
news for the environment, because peat bogs are significant carbon sinks, taking carbon dioxide out of the air,
and fixing it in the form of layer upon layer of accumulating peat. When peat is harvested unsustainably, that
fixing process is stopped. Furthermore, greenhouse gases are released by the exposed soils that were once
covered by peat. Even worse, some peat is burned, releasing once-fixed carbon dioxide right back into the
The problem of unsustainable peat harvesting has been known for quite some time, but has been largely
ignored. English botanist David Bellamy wrote, "We criticise people from the third world countries for not
conserving their rainforests, but when it comes to our peat bogs which are actually a rarer habitat than the
tropical rainforest, we are doing a much worse job."
This year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognized the role that peat bogs have in
regulation of the climate. As the world faces the growing crisis of climate change, the problem with peat will
need to be addressed, and only a progressive President will have the environmental resolve to act.
(Sources: The London Times, November 25, 2000; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth
Assessment Report; Wetlands International, July 11, 2007)
- One of the troubles with the right wing's wait-and-see approach to reacting to global warming is that
global warming appears to have several self-reinforcing feedback loops. So, the more that the Earth's climate
warms, the more triggers of additional warming will be set off.
For example, there is a gigantic frozen peat bog in Siberia, the size of France and Germany combined. As
the climate warms, that peat bog is melting, more and more each year. As that peat bog melts, it releases huge
amounts of methane into the atmosphere.
Methane is an even more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So, as the extra methane emerges
from the melting Siberian peat bog, global warming can be expected to get even more extreme.
Before you vote for another right wing candidate for President, ask yourself: How many more years are
you willing to let that peat bog in Siberia melt before you'll be willing to do something about global
warming? (Source: New Scientist, August 11, 2005)
- On July 16, 2007, the Mitt Romney for President campaign released an advertisement it calls Ocean. When
I heard about this advertisement, I thought that it might be about, you know, the ocean.
I was surprised. To this point in the campaign, Mitt Romney has almost completely ignored
environmental issues, pretending that the threats to our environment don't matter much.
Of course, most Americans are very aware of the threats to our environment. We experience those threats
on a daily basis, in the form of sicknesses caused by pollution, in the form of landscapes degraded by
unsustainable exploitation, and in the form of the many impacts of global warming we're already
Anyone who pays attention to the ocean as something more than a playground is aware of the increasing
peril in which the Earth's oceans have been placed. Huge dead zones resulting from polluted runoff are
turning once-fertile ocean waters into a lethal soup that kills almost everything that swims in it. Immense
jellyfish swarms swamp beaches around the world as the marine food web tilts out of balance. Around the
world, fish populations are crashing and coral reefs are being bleached white.
Could Mitt Romney be seeking to address the lack of environmental substance in his campaign? Could
Romney have prepared an advertisement that deals with the grave threat of the ecological collapse of our
Sadly, the Romney campaign is not at all about the ocean crisis. It's about videogames and television and
movies and the Internet.
In the last line of the Ocean advertisement, Romney says, "If we get serious about this, we can actually do
a great deal to clean up the water in which our kids and our grandkids are swimming."
Of course, when Romney says that, he's not talking about actually cleaning up the water. No, I searched
Mitt Romney's campaign web site, and it turns out that the Romney campaign doesn't have any materials
dealing with water pollution. In fact, there isn't a single place on the Mitt Romney presidential campaign web
site where Mitt Romney states any commitment at all to fight pollution. The closest he comes to that is
acknowledging, on a campaign blog, that some people ask him about mercury pollution sometimes. Romney
doesn't offer a policy for dealing with it, mind you. He just admits that sometimes people ask him about the
When it comes to the issue of the severe depletion of once-rich populations of fish, Mitt Romney is silent.
The only time Mitt Romney even mentions fish on his campaign web site is when he talks about going
Mitt Romney has a hell of a lot of nerve using the metaphor of cleaning up ocean water in a campaign
advertisement when, in fact, his campaign is startlingly silent on the issue of the ocean crisis. (Source:
- It seems like a small reason to choose a candidate for President, with the immense powers at stake, but it is
a reason nonetheless: The Casey's June beetle is in trouble, and the Republican government is refusing to do
anything about it.
The Casey's June beetle (Dinacoma caseyi Blaisdell) is currently living on just 600 acres in nine separate
locations in Palm Springs, California, although it once had a much larger range. This remaining habitat is
threatened by plans for construction.
The Bush Administration, through the Fish and Wildlife Service, has refused to intervene to protect the
Casey's June beetle. That inaction has taken place in spite of the Endangered Species Act, which requires
endangered species to receive protection.
In order to deal with the problem, entomologist David Wright, the Center for Biological Diversity, and
the Sierra Club filed a petition and began a lawsuit to compel the government to comply with the law and
develop a plan to protect the Casey's June beetle. In response, the Fish and Wildlife Service has acknowledged
that the Casey's June beetle is imperiled, and merits protection under the Endangered Species Act. However,
the Fish and Wildlife Service is refusing to give that protection, placing the Casey's June beetle in a long line
of species that are in danger, but won't be considered for actual protection for years, if ever.
The Casey's June beetle is a small animal, but it interacts with many other animals and plants in its
ecosystem. If the Casey's June beetle is in trouble, then many other forms of life are likely to be in trouble as
well. Preserving the Casey's June beetle is about a lot more than the beetle itself. The effort is about saving an
associated ecosystem that is giving way to golf courses and suburban houses.
A golf course or a house can be built in many places. The ecosystem associated with the Casey's June
beetle, once destroyed, may never come back. In 2008, we should elect a President who will direct the Fish and
Wildlife Service to devote adequate services to protecting that ecosystem. (Sources: Center for Biological
Diversity, July 5, 2007)
- Southerners tend to take their regional heritage very seriously, seeking to preserve the South as they
know it from corrupting forces. Southern voters ought to be upset, therefore, at the results of a recent study
that suggests that Southern heritage is facing a new threat, not from Yankee carpetbaggers, but greenhouse
Bruce Allen, a researcher from Ohio State University, has been conducting surveys of bottomland
hardwood forests in the American South. The results of his surveys indicate that the growth of vines in those
forests is significantly higher than it has been in the past. As a result, the combination of the trees found in
those forests is changing. As vines grow up their host trees, they alter the ability of the trees to compete, and
change the structure of the canopy itself. "There are now so many vines that they're starting to change the
makeup of the forest," says Allen. Before long, Allen indicates, people could walk through the Southern
bottomlands and see forests that their Southern ancestors would not recognize.
The heritage of the South is about a lot more than just the confederate battle flag and singing Dixie. Part
of Southern heritage is the region's natural heritage, the backdrop of field and forest that generations of
Southerners identify as uniquely theirs. That natural heritage appears to be changing, perhaps for good.
The new rampant growth in vines, Allen says, is consistent with increased levels of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere. Vines in particular are known to grow more vigorously when exposed to higher concentrations
of carbon dioxide than normal. As atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen, Allen suggests, so has the
rate of vine growth in Southern bottomland hardwood forests.
Carbon dioxide is also a contributor to the global rise in atmospheric temperatures. So, one important way
to preserve the natural heritage of the South, is to fight global warming. To fight global warming, we need a
progressive President who doesn't deny that the problem exists. (Source: Ohio State University Research
News, July 17, 2007)
- The environment is often described as something remote, and untouchable, useless. It is better understood as nature, that which pervades, prior to and underneath all of our human creations. Unreconstructed, we humans are part of it.
We depend on nature, not just for physical resources, but for the survival of the health mind. It was with this in mind that Walt Whitman wrote, "After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains."
- Gardeners, unite against global warming.
Dandelions are one of the most common garden weeds, and while I don't mind them myself, most
gardeners work as hard as they can to pull the stubborn plants from their garden plots. Suburban home
owners also struggle against the appearance of the yellow dandelion flowers in their lawns.
A new scientific study suggests that the frustration of American gardeners and suburban homeowners
with dandelions is only going to get worse. When scientists elevated the amount of atmospheric carbon
dioxide to the levels forecast for the year 2100, they found that the dandelion flowers growing in their
experimental patch produced one third more seeds, on average. Those seeds also developed more floating
power than ordinary dandelion seeds, with additional fluffy hairs on each seed, to carry it further along in the
Carbon dioxide doesn't just affect dandelions. It's a greenhouse gas. As levels of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere rise, global temperatures rise as well.
Progressives support the fight against global warming, proposing measures such as increased fuel
efficiency standards and the development of alternative energy infrastructure in order to slow down the
increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide that results from human industrial activity. Right wingers oppose
controlling carbon dioxide, refusing to deal with the problem.
The upshot is this: The right wing agenda will make it more difficult to keep dandelions out of your lawn
and garden. The progressive approach, on the other hand, will keep dandelions more manageable. If you're
one of those people who can't stand dandelions, help elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Los
Angeles Times, July 18, 2007)
- Don't like poison ivy? Then the choice is clear: Vote to elect a progressive President in 2008.
Here's why: A recent study found that, when poison ivy plants are exposed to elevated levels of carbon
dioxide in the air, the poison ivy grows larger and faster than it otherwise would. This increased growth takes
place without diminishing the concentrations of urushiol, the toxic substance in the poison ivy plant's tissues.
Therefore, under conditions of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, each poison ivy plant produces more
urushiol than it would under normal conditions.
"The amount of urushiol produced per plant increased significantly", the researchers explain, concluding
that "its ability to recover from herbivory, and its production of urushiol, may be enhanced in a future, higher
For those city folk who have never suffered from exposure to poison ivy, consider the following
symptoms, described by the University of Connecticut's Integrated Pest Management program: "Symptoms
usually appear hours to several days after exposure. The skin itches intensely and may burn and swell. A rash
with watery blisters develops. The rash may appear in streaks. Sometimes a secondary infection may develop
in the open lesions." Poison ivy can cause serious suffering that lasts for days on end.
Levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have been rising for generations, as a part of the general elevation
in industrial activity, and are expected to continue rising as human beings use more fossil fuels. Carbon
dioxide doesn't just accelerate poison ivy growth, of course. It's also a greenhouse gas, contributing to global
Progressives have been struggling to get the government to fight global warming for three decades now,
pushing for the development of alternative energy sources and for more efficient use of fossil fuels, through
higher requirements for miles per gallon in passenger vehicles, for instance. Right wing politicians have
denied that there is a problem, in spite of steadily mounting scientific evidence that the progressives are
With this new study, we know that programs to fight global warming will also help control the rampant
growth of poison ivy. So, if you don't like suffering from poison ivy, the choice for the 2008 presidential
election is clear: Vote for the progressive candidate. (Sources: University of Connecticut Integrated Pest
Management program, 2002; Weed Science, July 2007)
- An anti-pollution resolution passed in the House of Representatives yesterday. H. Con. Res. 187
recognized the importance of the Great Lakes as the largest surface freshwater system on Earth, and source of
drinking water for 30 million Americans. The resolution also recognized the serious problem of ammonia
pollution in the Great Lakes, creating dead zones and fouling lake beaches. Finally, the resolution called upon
the state of Indiana to stop the plan of British Petroleum to dump 1,584 pounds of ammonia into Lake
Michigan every day.
Picture what 1,584 pounds of ammonia looks like and smells like. Now picture that being poured into Lake
Michigan every day, day after day after day.
It's not just a problem for Indiana. The effects of the ammonia dumping, which include huge mats of
rotting, stinking algae sucking the oxygen out of the water, travel through all the Great Lakes, through the
Saint Lawrence River, and out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Now, picture 26 Republicans in the House of Representatives voting to endorse the plan to dump that
ammonia. The Republicans who did so are:
Joe Barton of Texas
Sanford Bishop of Utah
Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee
Roy Blunt of Missouri
John Boehner of Ohio
Kevin Brady of Texas
Dan Burton of Indiana
Steve Buyer of Indiana
Chris Cannon of Utah
Eric Cantor of Virginia
Michael Conaway of Texas
John Culberson of Texas
Jeff Flake of Arizona
Virginia Foxx of North Carolina
Trent Franks of Arizona
Jeb Hensarling of Texas
Doug Lamborn of Colorado
Dan Lungren of California
Kenny Marchant of Texas
Gary Miller of California
Michael Pence of Indiana
Ted Poe of Texas
Edward Royce of California
John Shadegg of Arizona
Michael Simpson of Idaho
Mark Souder of Indiana
(Source: The Library of Congress)
- The Government Accountability Project has uncovered documents that reveal that President Bush allowed White House lawyer Phil Cooney to edit a government scientific report on climate change. Cooney is not a scientist. In fact, Cooney's career has been built upon representing the interests of Big Oil corporations. His last job before joining the Bush Administration was as a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, serving as the leader of a team dedicated to fighting a public relations battle against the growing body of scientific evidence that global climate change is due to human activities.
Borrowing a tactic from Creationists, Cooney's changes to the government scientific report were made in such a way as to make it appear that the scientific community has less consensus about human causes of climate change than it really does. The falsified report has been used by the Bush White House and Republicans in Congress to justify their inaction in dealing with global climate change. So, the Bush Administration has dealt with the gap between its policies and the latest scientific information by censoring government science to reflect its policies, and then claiming that science supports its policies. If that doesn't give you a reality-based whiplash, nothing will.
In response to these revelations, the Bush White House has pursued a twofold strategy of shameless justification and cover-up.
On the one hand, Scott McClellan, the top PR official for the Bush Administration, says that it's no big deal when industry lobbyists are given juicy White House jobs and allowed to censor scientific reports in accordance with the needs of their corporate clients. McClellan says, "Everybody who is involved in these issues should have input in these reports." So, by this logic, lobbyists for cigarette manufacturers ought to be given the opportunity to censor government-funded research on the dangers of smoking and lobbyists from automotive manufacturers ought to be able to cross out sections of government reports on vehicle safety and reliability.
On the other hand, President Bush has issued an order that no journalist be allowed to talk to Phil Cooney. Why, it's as ifÉ as ifÉ as if President Bush has something to hide. What was the White House's excuse for protecting Mr. Cooney from reporters? The White House merely stated that, "We don't put Phil Cooney on the record. He's not a cleared spokesman."
I find that defense of Cooney's silence a wee bit ironic. Consider:
1. Cooney is allowed to edit scientific reports for political purposes to send a misleading message to the American public.
2. Cooney is not allowed to stand in front of a microphone to explain his actions.
The Bush White House policy on public statements from officials like Phil Cooney seems to be that they're allowed not only to send statements out to the public, but are authorized to do so by secretly inserting their own self-interested statements into documents created by other people. When it comes to these officials standing up and speaking as themselves, without the mask of government documents to obscure their identities, the Bush White House says that's not allowed.
- On July 26th, Stephen Johnson, George W. Bush's appointee to head the Environmental Protection
Agency, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that a decision about whether to allow
California to establish tougher standards for emissions from automobiles would be delayed for several more
months, until December at the earliest. That means that it will take the Bush EPA at least two years to respond
to California's request for permission to establish clean air standards stricter than federal law.
Senator Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey called the move "foot-dragging". That's generous. There's a
great deal of evidence that the Bush Administration is trying to kill the new California emissions standards,
sending government employees out to Congress and state governments to gather support for denying
permission for the clean air measure.
At the latest hearing with Stephen Johnson, Senator Barbara Boxer of California explained, "Top officials
at the Department of Transportation, with the help of the auto industry, lobbied members of Congress and
governors to oppose California's waiver request. DOT Secretary Peters herself was part of this unprecedented,
unprincipled use of taxpayer dollars to tilt the scales of another agency's decision-making process, even before
public comments were considered."
Republicans tell voters that they're against big government, and that they're for states' rights, but the way
that the Bush Republicans are using big government power to try to smash California's efforts to control
emissions exposes that claim as a blatant lie. The Republicans are quite happy to use the power of big
government to deny the power of states to regulate pollution. (Sources: Reuters, July 27, 2007; Statement of
Barbara Boxer Hearing, "Examining of the Case for the California Waiver: An Update from EPA", Thursday,
July 26, 2007)
- In making a choice between the right wing candidates for President in 2008 and the progressive
alternatives, it's a good idea to take a look at the kind of society already supported by their ideologies. For the
right wingers, Texas is a good representative. There is no red state that is any redder than Texas, home to the
many of the most extremist right wing politicians in all America.
Texas also stands out in another sense. It has the dirtiest power in all America. Measured in terms of the
amount of carbon dioxide emitted, Texas ranks first in the nation. Texas relies on what the Environmental
Integrity Project terms "large, old, and inefficient electricity-generating facilities". For big, outdated and
inefficient power, it seems that Texas is the place to go.
Now, if you could think of a region that exemplifies progressive values, which region would you choose?
New England and the West Coast are generally regarded as the most progressive parts of the country. It just so
happens that these regions also have the cleanest energy footprints. Not a single one of the 50 dirtiest power
plants in America comes from New England or the Pacific Coast states.
If you want dirty, outdated, inefficient power in America, then you want to elect a right wing candidate
for President in 2008. If you want clean, up-to-date, and efficient power, help elect a progressive President in
2008. (Sources: Environmental Integrity Project, July 26, 2007; Reuters, July 27, 2007)
- A team of 50 scientists and economists has worked for two years to come up with a Northeast Climate
Impacts Assessment. It's a study of the likely effects that climate change will have in the Northeast United
States. The study predicts that, by the end of the century, if greenhouse emissions continue to increase, fueling
further climate change, the Northeast will deal with the following consequences:
- Average temperatures in the winter will increase from between 8 to 12 degrees, and temperatures in the
summer will increase between 6 degrees to 14 degrees
- Northeastern cities will face a much larger number of days with extreme heat
- New York City will face what is currently a 100-year flood every ten years, and cities like Boston and
Atlantic City will face such floods every two to four years
- New England will suffer from yearly doughts, and droughts will become more frequent throughout the rest
of the region as well
- Milk production will be dramatically reduced
- Many varieties of fruit will no longer be able to be grown in the region
- Northeastern forests may be decimated by loss of trees not able to adapt to the new conditions
- Ski resorts will have to close in all but the northern edge of the region
- Historic fisheries will be lost (Cape Cod may no longer have cod)
- Many coastal regions will no longer have lobster to harvest
- Barrier islands will be lost or breached, making coastline communities more vulnerable to storms
- The climate of Upstate New York will become like that of South Carolina
In short, unless emissions of greenhouse gases are controlled, the Northeastern way of life will be no
more. For the sake of the Northeast, we need to elect a presidential candidate who takes the issue of climate
change seriously. (Source: Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Science, Impacts, and Solutions,
Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment)
- People are often tempted to think of politics in merely human terms, but the impact of misguided political
ideologies goes far beyond our own dwellings, to even the most remote places on Earth. Just one example of
the connection of human politics to the health of non-human life is the grey whale.
Miles out into the Pacific Ocean, starving grey whales have been taken to the brink by the right wing
obsession with oil. That same obsession with oil may also finally push them into extinction.
Imagine whales so thin that you can see their ribs. That's what scientists have been seeing in Pacific waters,
identifying grey whales migrating between the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. The prevailing theory is that
the whales are having trouble finding enough to eat, due to a combination of overfishing and climate
Climate change is being brought about by the burning of fossil fuels like petroleum. It's ironic, then, that
the quest for even more petroleum threatens the Arctic sanctuary key to the survival of the Pacific grey
The starving whales must make their way up to the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea, to the north of Alaska.
Once there, they depend upon what have historically been rich supplies of food, enabled by a combination of
cold, clean, peaceful waters and strong upwelling currents.
That food supply, already compromised by climate change, may soon be reduced even further by a plan
hatched by the Bush White House to lease out large areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas to companies
seeking to drill for petroleum and natural gas. That activity, even if major oil spills are avoided, will disturb
what ecological integrity remains, leaving even less for the starving grey whales to eat.
William Megill, who studies the grey whales, reminds us that the problems affecting the Pacific grey
whales extend far beyond the grey whales themselves. "I hesitate to get too alarmist," he says, "but this
summer will tell a lot about the future of our planet." (Sources: Alaska Wilderness League, The Independent,
July 10, 2007)
- Searching for information on politics in Alaska, I came across a particularly useful web site for those
looking to understand the powerful role of public corruption in Alaska. It's called Drop Don, and it details the
corruption of one politician in particular: U.S. Representative Don Young.
The web site features a Web Of Corruption that shows Don Young's links to a huge number of corrupt
schemes. The thing about Don Young, though, is that he's not just corrupt, he's also a nut.
Consider what Don Young has to say about the people working to keep America's lands clean and
protected: "Environmentalists are a socialist group of individuals that are the tool of the Democrat Party. I'm
proud to say that they are my enemy. They are not Americans, never have been Americans, never will be
Environmentalists are not Americans? Really? Apparently, Don Young believes that President Teddy
Roosevelt was not an American. Teddy Roosevelt campaigned with dedication for environmental
And what about the rest of us environmentalists who were born in the USA? What does Don Young
propose to do with us? Does he want to strip us of our citizenship and deport us as illegal aliens?
The presence of nutty right wingers like Don Young in Congress reminds us of the need to counter them
with a strong progressive voice. Progressives believe that those who work to keep American lands, air and
water clean should not be regarded as the "enemy" by our government. (Sources: DropDon.com, Alaska
Public Radio, August 19, 1996)
- It's now official. On Thursday, August 16, 2007, the ice covering the Arctic Ocean shrank down to a smaller
size than ever seen before. There are many more melting days left to come before the ice starts growing again,
so the new record low established this week can be expected to grow even smaller.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported the new record low amount of Arctic ice. The previous
record was set just two years ago. The low amount of Arctic Ocean ice isn't just a one-year anomaly. It's part
of a trend of Arctic ice thinning and shrinking at a rate that is much faster than even computer models for
global warming have predicted.
At the current rate of ice melting, the Arctic Ocean can be expected to become completely ice free in the
summertime in about 20 years. Once that happens, a huge amount of solar energy will be absorbed into the
Arctic Ocean instead of being reflected back into outer space. When that takes place, no one really knows what
The changes cannot be explained as part of a natural fluctuation in climate, explains Mark Serreze, one of
the researchers working at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. "It is very strong evidence that we are
starting to see an effect of greenhouse warming," he says.
The Arctic seems far away from most of us, although Alaska is right next to the Arctic Ocean. Those of us who
are far away to the south ought to remember that the Earth is an integrated system, and what happens to the
Arctic is part of a change that is happening to us all. If human pollution can create such dramatic changes in the
Arctic, which is so far away from concentrated human populations, then climate change must truly be global.
(Sources: National Snow and Ice Data Center, August 17, 2007; Associated Press, August 17, 2007)
- While right wingers are busy talking about the need to protect the power of corporations to make money
however they see fit, progressives are focusing on the need to make Planet Earth wealthy as a whole, through
investment and restoration of vital natural resources such as forests, wetlands and marine ecosystems.
The Society for Ecological Restoration is working to bring together organizations at all levels in support
of ecological restoration projects in order to mitigate against the globally impoverishing effects of climate
change, thus protecting the livelihood of humans for generations to come. The Society's position statement on
global warming explains, "Ecological restoration offers hope in two key areas: by reconnecting fragmented
ecosystems allowing animals and plants to migrate in response to such change; and, by capturing carbon
through the restoration of forests, peat-forming wetlands, and other ecosystems that act as carbon sinks."
In this reaction to the threat of climate change, we can see the essence of progressive economics: Try to
invest in fundamental resources widely, so as to promote continued growth in as broad a scope as possible,
while avoiding the vulnerability of concentration of wealth in a small area which will cause disproportionate
devastation if it fails.
The right wing reaction to the threat of climate change, on the other hand, demonstrates a conception of
economics that avoids broad investment for the sake of concentrating power in the hands of a few whom all
others then depend upon for success. (Source: Society for Ecological Reconstruction, August 6, 2007)
- Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington and Utah signed an agreement with the
western provinces of Canada today to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent over the next
twelve years. New Jersey and Florida have committed to even stronger cuts over the long term - 80 percent
greenhouse gas reduction over the next four decades.
Yet, the national government of the United States of America is unwilling to make such a commitment.
George W. Bush and the Republican Party justify their inaction by saying that taking action to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions would damage the economy. Today's action by the the western governments of the
United States and Canada shows that excuse to be without merit. If Arizona, British Columbia, California,
Manitoba, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington and Utah can afford to cut greenhouse gas emissions, then so
can the rest of the United States and Canada.
These state-level cuts are not sufficient to defeat global warming, but they are a needed start. The time for
excuses is over. (Source: Reuters, August 22, 2007)
- As the South and Midwestern United States are gripped in a heat wave with high temperatures that have
never been observed before, each locality has its own story of suffering. The city of Nashville, Tennessee, for
instance, has had triple digit temperatures for twelve days in a row.
The heat in Tennessee, and the energy demand it causes, has been so extreme that an instrument that
measures the flow of energy could not handle the strain any longer, and actually caught fire.
Locals are calling the heat "oppressive". That's an appropriate word, especially in consideration of the
many scientific studies that indicate that rising temperatures around the world are due to human behaviors
that right wing politicians have refused to bring under control.
We cannot afford to have right wing political leaders who continue to deny the reality of climate change
even as they are mopping their sweaty brows. Do it for Nashville - vote to elect a progressive President in
2008. (Sources: USA Today, August 22, 2007; Washington Post, August 22, 2007)
- One of the big excuses the Republicans use for not actually doing anything to stop global warming, or
even slow it down, is that more time is needed to research the problem. That excuse was first used two decades
ago by Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush is still using that excuse today.
If the Republican excuse had any merit, you'd see them pushing for vigorous programs of research into
global warming and other aspects of climate change. With scientists warning of potential disasters on a global
scale, a responsible politician would support more research.
Apparently, George W. Bush and his Republican supporters are not very interested in being responsible.
This week, U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Armstrong ruled that George W. Bush broke the law by failing
to produce an assessment of likely impacts of global warming and a plan for research related to global
The Global Change Research Act, passed into law in 1990, requires, without any discretionary loopholes
that such an assessment and plan for research be produced by the President of the United States. The global
warming impact assessment is mandated by law to be produced every four years, but the last time any such
assessment was released was by Preisident Bill Clinton in 2000. The research plan must be released every three
years. George W. Bush was required by law to release such an assessment and plan in 2006, but refused to do
The Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and Friends Of The Earth filed suit to force President
Bush to comply with the law. It is that lawsuit that this week's ruling by Judge Saundra Armstrong pertains
In 2008, we need to elect a President who does not need to be ordered by a federal judge to obey the laws
designed to provide us with the latest information needed to deal with the increasing dangers resulting from
global warming. (Sources: Associated Press, August 22, 2007; Center for Biological Diversity, August 21, 2007)
- The chances are that you have never cast a vote for the sake of the Maldives in your life, unless you are
yourself a Maldivian. I'm asking Americans to change that, in 2008. When you cast your vote in 2008, keep the
Maldives in mind.
Why? There are 370,000 people living on the Maldives, a group of islands in the middle of Indian Ocean
that rest just a few feet above sea level.
Thanks to global warming, the sea level is rising around the world, including in the Maldives. If global
warming is not stopped, the Maldives are likely to disappear before the end of this century.
Maybe the fate Maldives should not be the only factor in your decision about how to vote in the 2008
presidential election. However, the fate of hundreds of thousands of people living in the Maldives surely
merits some place in your decision. Take a moment to remember the plight of the Maldives on Election Day
2008, and vote for a progressive who will take action about the climate change crisis, instead of pretending
that it does not exist for another four years. (Sources: National Geographic Magazine, September, 2007;
National Geographic, Climate Change: Pictures of a Warming World, December, 2004)
- When we have a summer as exceptionally hot as the summer of 2007 has been, we tend to focus on the
direct aspects of human suffering in the short term. We look at the temperature rising as the morning
progresses, pull down the window shades, and hope for those people who do not have enough money to
afford air conditioners.
It is worth remembering, however, that global warming has even more fatal effects in some ecosystems
than it does in American cities. Consider the fate of the corals in one of the recent exceptionally hot years for
planet Earth. In 1998, between 90 and 95 percent of the corals living in the Maldives, a group of low-lying
islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, died. They were killed by the heat.
That massive die-off of corals in the Maldives didn't have the instant effect on human lives that an urban
heat wave would have. However, the impact is there, nonetheless. The coral reefs of the Maldives are the
places that make possible the fisheries upon which the Maldivians depend for local nutrition. When the coral
reefs suffer, the fisheries suffer, and when the fisheries suffer, the Maldivians suffer. Human beings still
depend upon the natural ecosystems of the Earth.
One hot year can undo the growth of many more temperate years. The Maldives coral reefs are still in the
early stages of recovery from the devastation of 1998. Another hot year could blast away again what small
regrowth has taken place, or could permanently degrade the marine ecosystems of the Maldives. CORDIO, a
collaborative research effort into the coral crisis of the Indian Ocean, explains, "On the massive scale recorded
during the El Niño of 1997-98 then with repeated smaller regional bleaching events that have been
documented in the subsequent years, this may eventually result in regional and global loss of coral reef
ecosystems on a scale that will be impossible for coral reefs to maintain the large scale processes of
connectivity and genetic exchange required to keep them in their present state. Predictions of the future of
coral reefs vary from apocalyptic to hopeful, depending on assessment of the speed of climate change and the
ability of corals and/or zooxanthellae to evolve in response to the changing conditions."
The difference between ecological apocalypse and hope for evolutionary adaptation by coral species is
determined by the speed of climate change. As the CORDIO researchers point out, the problem is not just in
the Maldives. It's as global as the warming trend. As one of the nations most responsible for pollution that
causes global warming, the United States has a significant part to play in the slowdown of climate change, so
that the apocalypse foreshadowed by the great Maldives coral bleach of 1998 can be avoided.
The Maldives corals are like a cage of canaries in a mine shaft. We need to elect a president in 2008 who is
wise enough to pay attention to them. (Sources: Global Coral Reef Alliance, May 1, 2004; Cordio.org)
- Only a few years ago, global warming seemed like an abstract thing, something so big that it was almost
impossible to see on the scale of specific times and places. That's no longer the case. Specific, dramatic impacts
of climate change are being seen all over the Earth.
For those who value the welfare of cute animals over the plain, the plight of the choking puffing chicks of
northern Scotland. Documentarian David Attenborough explains,
"If there is one wildlife spectacle in the United Kingdom which can hold its own with anything
comparable in the world it's the great seabirds of northern Scotland, the Orkneys and Shetlands; the extremely
dramatic and wonderful cliffs covered in guillemots and puffins& What has happened is that the breeding
records are dropping through the floor. The puffins are dependent on sand eels for feeding their chicks but the
sand eel population, because of the warming water, has moved away. What the puffins have been taking to is
pipefish, which are hard, spiky fish which are making the chicks choke."
The suffering baby sea birds of the Orkneys and Shetlands are just one more example of a world of
suffering taking place because of climate change. Cute and cuddly, ugly and bristly alike, a world of creatures
depends upon us deciding to take the crisis of climate change seriously. (Source: The Independent, August 27,
- Global warming could as well be described as global storming. A new study released by NASA at the end
of August indicates that the updrafts that create the most violent kind of thunderstorms and tornadoes are
likely to become more common in a warmer climate. According to the model, we can expect fewer storms in
general, but more highly damaging tornadoes and thunderstorms.
This kind of weather pattern represents the worst aspects of clear weather and stormy weather. We need
storms, of course, to provide rain. However, crops respond best to a consistent, mild rains without damaging
winds and hail. The climate model NASA refers to suggests a new trend toward more sudden, harsh
downpours accompanied by high winds, with longer periods of dry weather in between, and fewer mild
showers to even out the differences.
This sort of climate pattern of this sort, defined more by the extreme sorts of weather, will be a danger to
the agricultural base of the American economy, but it will also be a threat to Americans' lives. Strong
thunderstorms and tornadoes don't just cause economic damage, after all. They also kill people.
This looming meteorological threat has been, and still may be, preventable. The body of peer-reviewed
scientific research strongly indicates that global warming is largely due to human activity. Our pollution of
the air through the use of unclean energy sources is linked to the dangerous shift in weather.
The problem is a matter of life and death, of prosperity and poverty. In 2008, we need to elect a President
who is willing to take work to remove the fuel from the gathering storms. (Source: Goddard Institute for
Space Studies, August 30, 2007)
- Scientists have long predicted an increased number of floods as a result of global warming. The expected
causal agent is an increased rate of evaporation from warmer bodies of water, increasing the amount of
moisture in the air available to come down quickly in rainfall.
This summer, the journal Nature has published a scientific study that indicates that the increase in the risk
of flooding associated with global warming is likely to be higher than previously suspected. The researchers
investigated the effect of elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the air upon the ability of plants to take water
from the soil and transpire it back into the air. They found that higher levels of carbon dioxide, at the same
time that it will make floods more likely through increased temperature, also will interfere with the ability of
plants to transport water from the ground, through their bodies, and into the air. The result is that, as carbon
dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, plants are becoming less able to prevent the ground from being
saturated with water, and thus prone to flooding when big storms come.
As bad as we expected the coming floods of a warmer world to be, there is now reason to believe that they
will be even worse, unless we begin to reduce carbon dioxide pollution soon. (Source: BBC, August 29, 2007)
- Progressives aspire to embody the vision articulated by Aldo Leopold, when he wrote in his Sand County Almanac, "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
- You have nothing to lose but your best vintage.
Fine, you don't care about global warming's effect upon the delicate panda or the spotted goby. OK. You don't
sniff when you hear about the desertification of the American grasslands, because your vacation home is in
Sacketts Harbor, not Pierre. Will you sit up and take notice when it becomes apparent that global warming is
mucking up the creation of your favorite French wine?
The evidence, scrawled in black ink, is the first day of the annual grape harvest for the past three decades.
In 1978, it was Oct. 16. In 1998, the date was Sept. 14. This year, harvesting started Aug. 24 the earliest ever
recorded, not only in Mure's vineyards, but also in the entire Alsace wine district of northeastern France& .
Throughout the wine-producing world, from France to South Africa to California, vintners are in the
vanguard of confronting the impact of climate change. Rising temperatures are forcing unprecedented early
harvests, changing the tastes of the best-known varieties of wine and threatening the survival of centuries-old
wine-growing regions& .
But the climate warming has accelerated faster than vintners or French scientists anticipated. That has
forced sugar levels, and consequently alcohol levels, higher in the wines. Some producers in Provence are
adding acidic compounds to their wines to keep them from becoming too sweet and undrinkable.
Vintners in Alsace are now facing similar problems. The average temperature in Alsace, which is bordered
by the Rhine River and Germany, has risen 3.5 degrees in the last 30 years a dramatic increase for sensitive
grapevines, according to the French National Agronomy Institute. "For 10 years, our problem has been to
keep the acidity... Wines need to be balanced to have fresh, crisp flavor."
Look what it's doing to your Pinot. Quel horreur! Now, finally, will you support some kind of meaningful
attempt to address global warming? (Source: Washington Post, September 2 2007)
- Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards appeared in Missoula, Montana yesterday, speaking at
the University of Montana. His message was clear: He wants the chance as the next President to help lift
America up to a higher standard.
In particular, Edwards wants to broaden the definition of patriotism beyond the small militaristic vision it
now occupies. "We need a president that asks Americans to be patriotic about something other than war,"
What else besides war could Americans be patriotic about than war? How about being responsible
stewards of American land, water and air? New West reports that "Edwards said he would ask Americans to
conserve in their homes, offices and cars."
Restraining wasteful use of America's natural resources for the sake of the common good has a lot more to
do with genuine progressive patriotism than sending off American resources and citizens into an unnecessary
war, to be destroyed. (Source: New West, September 4, 2007)
- 2007 has been a year of dramatic changes in the scientific predictions of the impacts of global warming we
can expect in the coming years. The changes have left Republicans, trying to defend their old, industrial-age
economic interests, increasingly out of touch.
For example, at the beginning of the summer, Republicans were arguing that that the predictions made in
the reports by the scientists participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were too
extreme. By the end of the summer, however, directly observable events made it clear that the predictions of
the IPCC were actually in some cases far too conservative.
In a swift change that no one expected, immense blocks of ice began falling off the edges of Greenland
into the surrounding ocean at the end of this summer. These blocks of ice, many several cubic kilometers in
size, are so heavy that they are causing earthquakes as they drop into the water and become icebergs.
The rapid addition of this ice to the ocean has made the data upon which the IPCC made its predictions
about expected increases in sea level obsolete. Yet, the Republican presidential candidates remain unconvinced
that anything significant is taking place.
In 2008, if America chooses a President who is capable of denying the relevance of new icebergs the size of
mountains, our civilization may face the same fate as the Titanic. (Source: The Guardian, September 9, 2007)
- When people talk about global warming, they tend to think globally, but many of the effects of global
warming are particular to local conditions. Consider New York City as an example.
It's not a classic example of mass suffering along the lines of what's happened in the Maldives, or with the
15,000 people killed in one heat wave in Europe, yet New York City already has its own small effect of global
warming to contend with: As the heat of summer is extended into September, the city's season of stench is
longer too. Anyone who lives in or goes to New York City in the summertime knows what I'm talking about.
There's a distinctive, nasty smell New York City gets during the summer heat, with garbage left out on the
curb and a disgusting, milky fluid oozing down the street next to the gutter.
Will New York City's tourist economy suffer from the prolonged stink? I can't know that. All I know is
that, when I visit the city, I surely will.
- There are those who have become so lost in industrial technology and the collective identity fostered by their corporate employers that they imagine that they do not need nature any longer. They imagine that they can live, like astronauts, on nothing more than Tang and vitamin pills.
Progressives remember that humans remain creatures of nature who depend on the health of Earth's biosphere to survive. We remember the words of Chief Seattle, who wrote to the President of the United States long ago, "The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother. If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports... What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."
- On a lazy September Saturday, my children looked for crayfish, failed to catch minnows, and learned
what a real Ohio Buckeye actually looks like as they visited the Highbanks Metro Park in Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus is the fast-growing city we live in, just shy of of San Francisco in population size. And yet my kids
were able to have this experience of nature right there. The park contains shale bluffs and old Native
American burial mounds that we didn't see that day, but might soon. The Olentangy river you see in this
picture becomes something quite different in my neighborhood just north of downtown: a concrete-contained
mess. But in the Highbanks it's preserved.
Today, the Highbanks Metro Park is bordered by subdivisions and is just a two-minute drive from the
largest shopping mall in central Ohio. East and West, the countryside has been obliterated, and so it might
have been with this stretch. But in 1945 the decision to preserve the Highbanks and a number of other natural
areas in a ring around Columbus was made by the Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District
of the state of Ohio, over the protests of short-term thinkers who insisted that nobody would ever want to
drive that far out into the country and that nobody lived out there anyhow.
Thanks to the vision of people who looked accurately into the future, and who weren't afraid to marshal
the collective power of government, the Columbus area isn't completely paved over. If the short-termers had
their way, this resource would have been lost, converted to suburban residences for a few hundred families.
But thanks to progressive action, a million people visited the Highbanks in 2005, with more people using it
and the other Metro Parks areas in each successive year. And yes, it is a haven for the bluebirds, butterflies and
More value for the land, more protection of nature, more enjoyment and education for everybody. That's
progressive thinking for you. Let's make sure that the people who are in charge of our local, state and federal
governments now are the same kind of forward-looking people, those who are willing to put in a little effort
to conserve the treasures we have today for future generations. (Sources: Kathleen L. Radcliff, Suburban
News Publications, June 13 2007; Metro Parks 2006 Annual Report)
- The world's oceans are in crisis. Overfishing has combined with pollution and climate change to devastate
populations of fish in the waters off the coast of the United States. In order to respond to the crisis,
government observers have been placed on fishing vessels. The observers keep track of how many fish are
being pulled from the seas, so that the problem of overfishing can be understood, and so that solutions can be
The reaction against observers can be violent, literally. Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility reports that the number of fisheries observers who have been attacked, intimidated or
defrauded doubled in number between 2004 and 2005, as part of a long term trend of increasing conflict.
The response from the Bush Administration has been to stop recording the incidents of abuse. The
Republican perspective seems to be that if the government stops recording attempts to assault or defraud
fisheries observers, the problem will just go away on its own& or at least people will stop paying attention to
the problem. (Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, August 29, 2007)
- The Republicans like to portray themselves as tough guys who are better able than anyone else to protect
America from all of the nasty threats out there. The truth is quite different from the portrayal, however. The
truth is that the Republicans cannot even muster the strength to protect America from spinach.
I don't mean this in a figurative sense. You'll remember how, in 2006, Americans were exposed to spinach
tainted by E. coli, an intestinal bacteria that can, when allowed to contaminate human food, make people
violently ill, or even kill them. Think of E. Coli as the anthrax of the farmer's field, and you'll get the
The Bush Administration promised, after the distribution of spinach infested with E. coli all across the
United States, to take strong steps to prevent such another outbreak. These promises were empty.
A year later, the Associated Press reviewed documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act,
and found that the Republicans who control the Executive Branch of the federal government have done
essentially nothing to protect America from tainted spinach. Garance Burke from the Associated Press
writes, "The regulations governing farms in this central California region known as the nation's 'Salad Bowl'
remain much as they were when bacteria from a cattle ranch infected spinach that killed three people and
sickened more than 200."
Republican politicians like to say that their programs to reduce Americans' freedoms are worth it, because
reducing freedom strengthens Homeland Security. That's a load of bull shit - literally. The Republican
Homeland Security regime cannot even protect us from biological agents as blatant as infected cow poop on
our salads. If the Republican Party fails even in the face of leafy green vegetables, what makes anyone think
that they are competent to deal with international terrorism? (Source: Associated Press, September 12, 2007)
- You can always count on Alan Keyes to give voice to the nutty ideas running around in the minds of
Republican activists. The beliefs that Alan Keyes has expressed about global warming are a great example.
It's no surprise that Alan Keyes has long been among those who deny that global warming exists and is
caused largely by human activity. Most Republican politicians have spent the last 20 years insisting that they
know more on the subject than climatologists and other scientists who study global warming professionally.
What is a bit more surprising is the idea expressed by Alan Keyes that, if global warming exists, it is part
of a divine plan orchestrated by the Christian God to make Earth a paradise. In 2000, Keyes wrote, "For
those who view the course of human events within a religious framework, it is not unreasonable to speculate
that mankind, as if led by an invisible hand, has been engaged in a vast recycling project. Through our
utilization of fossil fuels, we are taking the carbon dioxide plants removed from the air millions of years ago
and putting it back into the atmosphere where it can once again be converted for the benefit of living things.
In any event, I believe the balance of evidence suggests that man-made CO2 is not destabilizing the climate
system but, rather, enhancing global food security and bio-diversity."
If you're willing to believe, as Alan Keyes does, that industrial pollution is all a part of a plan by the
creator of the universe to make life pleasant for human beings, then maybe you'll want to give Alan Keyes
your support for President of the United States in 2008. If not, consider a progressive alternative, a candidate
who believes that human beings need to take responsibility for human problems. (Source: WorldNetDaily,
April 8, 2000)
- Extremists like Alan Keyes may think that global warming is the handiwork of God, but the rest of us see
a human creation that is much more of a curse than a blessing. A new study led by Ken Caldeira at Stanford
University, for example, forecasts that if the emissions of carbon dioxide by human civilization are not
restrained through new efforts at regulation, the oceans will reach an acid pH equivalent to the legal standard
for industrial waste by the year 2050. The prospect of the conversion of the earth's oceans into industrial waste
is a mighty good reason to vote for a presidential candidate who has a strong, long record in opposing climate
change - a progressive candidate. (Source: New Scientist, September 24, 2007)
- Loggerhead turtles are one of the most majestic creatures on Earth. The giant turtles swim the oceans
almost unceasingly, in little understood patterns of feeding and breeding. Yet, in order to lay their eggs, these
reptiles still need to return to the land. It is thus at the moment of nesting that we come to the best
understanding of the health of loggerhead turtle populations.
It doesn't look good. After years of decline, the number of loggerhead turtles nesting rose during the
1990s. Since the year 2001, however, the number of loggerhead turtles nesting has been declining once again.
One suspected culprit: Lack of government oversight of commercial fishing operations by the Bush
Administration. Those right wing theorists who say that we all ought to live purely according to market forces
obviously aren't taking into account the impact that human demand has on the health of the oceans, as
indicated by the health of the loggerhead turtle. When the oceans turn so toxic to life that the loggerhead
turtles fail to return to nest at all, our civilization may not be able to survive the resulting market correction.
(Source: New York Times, September 22, 2007)
- Right wingers want you to believe that they are tough on crime, but the record in many areas shows
exactly the opposite. With right wing politicians in control of the Executive Branch of the federal government,
for example, criminal investigations, prosecutions and convictions for violation of anti-pollution laws have
dwindled down to less than two thirds of the level they were at before George W. Bush took the White House.
The number of civil lawsuits led by the government to protect people against environmental violations has
also been reduced by almost 70 percent.
Criminal pollution kills and sickens people and wildlife, as well as destroying property, across America.
In the face of this destructive criminal behavior, the Republicans are unwilling or unable to get tough. If you
want four more years of soft on crime environmental policy, vote for another right wing presidential
candidate. Otherwise, find a strong progressive candidate to help set environmental enforcement back on the
straight and narrow. (Source: Washington Post, September 29, 2007)
- The lower number of prosecutions and convictions of criminal polluters by the Bush Administration is not
just the result of a discretionary judgment about the threshold for what constitutes a criminal offense, and it
isn't a problem that can be blamed on the individual failures of EPA investigators. Eric Schaeffer, former
director of the EPA's Office of Civil Enforcement, explains, "I don't think this is a problem with agents in the
field. They're capable of doing the work. They lack the political support they used to be able to count on,
especially in the White House." Schaeffer resigned his government post when he realized that he would be
more effective as an outside critic of the Bush White House's negligence, and founded the Environmental
The problem with the government's weak pursuit of criminal polluters is the result of George W. Bush's
own decision to break the law. The Pollution Prosecution Act makes it a crime for the President to employ
fewer than 200 investigators in the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. There are presently only 172
investigators employed. The crimes of corporate polluters are mirrored by George W. Bush's own crime, and
as a result of both, American citizens are suffering. (Source: Washington Post, September 29, 2007)
- In the big scheme of things, it's a little problem, but it sure is pesky. With global warming comes a season
with no frost that is extended far into the autumn. No frost means no end to attacks from biting insects. So it is
that, even along the northern border of the United States, people have been swatting at mosquitoes and
scratching at their itching bites well into October this year.
- When it comes to the claims by George W. Bush that he is finally ready to do something about global
warming, it's important to watch his deeds to see how much they match the hype. After seven years of denial
and inaction, all that Bush has actually done is announce plans to work toward defining a goal for dealing
with global warming at the beginning of 2009, just before he leaves the White House.
In the meantime, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities for the federal government
to actually do something to reduce carbon emissions, and thus slow down global warming. For example, this
summer, the EPA proposed overhauling the New Source Performance Standards for oil refineries. That
overhaul could have been designed to help the companies that operate refineries to cut carbon dioxide
emissions and other forms of pollution, but no such changes were proposed.
In fact, the proposed changes to the New Source Performance Standards for oil refineries actually make it
easier for refineries to release massive amounts of pollution without detection. Current requirements for
constant monitoring of some sources of pollution would be eliminated, there would be inadequate
monitoring of dangerous pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, and there would be no limitations at all on the
carbon dioxide coming from refineries.
The proposed dirty New Source Performance Standards are just one example of how the Republicans in
the White House are working to speed up global warming even as they promise to come clean and work
toward slowing it down. (Source: Environmental Integrity Project, August 28, 2007)
- The old saying has it that, when it comes to suffering from extreme summer weather, it's not the heat, it's
the humidity. People can handle a heat much better if it's a dry heat instead of a stewing, steamy heat.
It's bad news, then, from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. In a paper published
in the scientific journal Nature, a team of researchers found that the heat of global warming will not be a dry
heat. They discovered that global warming has led to increased atmospheric humidity, and will continue to do
so in the future.
Decades of right wing neglect are going to make you sweaty and sticky. We can turn down the thermostat
in the new Sauna Earth, however, by electing a new American President who will be ready to deal with the
issues underlying climate change from day one in the White House. (Source: Agence France Presse, October
- A report due to be officially released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in
November concludes that greenhouse gases have already reached a dangerous tipping point past which it is
impossible for compensatory actions to prevent dangerous climatic effects. This high level of greenhouse
gases has arrived ten years before it was expected, adding extra urgency to political efforts to reduce pollution
in order to blunt the impact of global climate change.
Still, the right wing candidates for President dawdle, and block real action. We cannot afford to keep the
Republican agenda of denial and delay on global warming. We need a President who has the wisdom to act
quickly and strongly to protect us from the growing climate crisis that is already underway. (Source: Reuters,
October 9, 2007)
- If you want to get a sense of the coming impact of rising sea levels caused by global warming, look to
Guyana. In 2005, Guyana suffered from massive coastal flooding, due to the fact that sea levels around
Guyana have risen almost two feet in the last 50 years. It just so happens that the areas affected by the
flooding of 2005 are home to approximately 90 percent of the human population of Guyana.
As sea levels continue to rise because of global warming, Guyana's population will continue to suffer. If
the citizens of the USA do not elect a progressive President in 2008 who is prepared to act to slow down global
warming and to deal with the impacts of climate change that are already here, the suffering of people in
Guyana will grow much, much worse. (Source: Reuters, October 12, 2007)
- When Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were recently awarded a Nobel Peace
Prize for their work on global warming, industry lobbyists came out of the woodwork to dismiss them as
nutty crackpot fringe types who were hyping the threat.
Well, it turns out that Al Gore and the IPCC were wrong. They were too conservative in their estimations.
New research indicates that global carbon dioxide levels have risen 35% faster than anticipated since the year
2000. About half of the difference is due to an increase in the use of coal-fired power plants. This is a matter
over which humans have some control. The other half of that difference is more worrisome because it is out
of our control the capacity of the world's oceans to absorb carbon dioxide is decreasing.
It's time for us as individuals to get serious about our consumption of energy. It's also time for us as
voters to put people in office who will implement policies to ameliorate global warming's causes and effects.
(Sources: UK Guardian October 23 2007; Associated Press October 23 2007)
- In October, 2007, the number of people who were told to flee their homes in Southern California because
of monumental wildfires reached over 500,000. That's more than half a million climate change refugees in that
section of the United States alone. The real human suffering of this disaster should cause anyone who still
doubts that climate change is already a crisis for humankind to pause and reconsider their denial.
The strength of the wildfires in Southern California has been enabled by a year with some of the lowest
rainfall ever recorded in California, combined with a year of unusual heat in the area. These factors have been
found to be associated with increased risk of severe wildfires. Those who deny this link can do so only by
proving that the scientific research that has established the link is unimportant or flawed. So far, in the peer
reviewed arena of science, that has yet to occur. (Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise, October 22, 2007; Reuters,
October 22, 2007; CNN, October 23, 2007)
- A new report, compiled by 60 experts from 21 countries, shows that 114 species of primates are threatened
with extinction because of environmental destruction. That's 29 percent of all primate species.
As much as right wingers talk about family values, they exhibit a profound failure to recognize the larger
family of life. Denying the overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution, they ignore the fact that all life
on Earth is a great family, and that primates are, in the big scheme of things, some of our closest relatives.
Right wing politicians continue to promote the environmentally destructive policies that have put human
and other primate lives at risk. Progressives support a change, and a show of more restraint of our human
appetites, for the sake of our survival. I know which approach I'd rather see in the White House. (Source:
Conservation International, October 25, 2007)
- Perhaps the fact that 29 percent of primates are at risk of extinction because of environmental destruction
does not motivate you to take action. Maybe you don't care about the problems of monkeys, apes, and lemurs.
The threat to the survival of one primate species ought to cause you some alarm, however. That primate
species is your own.
The United Nations Environmental Program has release a report entitled, Global Environment Outlook:
environment for development (called GEO-4 for short) that concludes that the survival of humanity is at risk
from climate change and other forms of human-caused environmental degradation.
The death of all human beings is not a possibility that we should easily dismiss. In 2008, please help elect a
President who takes the issue seriously. Please find, and vote for, a truly progressive presidential candidate.
(Source: Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4), October, 2007)
- A decision by the New England Fishery Management Council this autumn demonstrates how important it
is to have political leadership at the national level that is responsible and informed on environmental issues.
The council suddenly removed restrictions on the dredging of waters off the coast of New Jersey. Scallop
dredges in the region routinely injure and kill loggerhead turtles, an species whose numbers are dropping
The restrictions were by no means unreasonable, only withholding access to the area by scallop dredges
during the months of September and October, when large numbers of sea turtles are present. The short closure
of the area during these months was supported by the Fishery Management Council's Scallop Advisory Panel.
Apparently, the council at large chose not to pay attention to the panel's work.
Now that the New England Fishery Management Council has failed to act responsibly, it's up to the
federal government to do its part, and reinstate the seasonal restrictions so that fishermen and the marine life
that they depend upon can both be sustained. Unfortunately, the Republicans in the Bush Administration have
shown no inclination to take action. A return to responsible management of the area's scallop dredges
therefore depends on the election of a progressive President in 2008.
There is something else that you can do on this issue, of course. Don't buy scallops - not from your
supermarket and not when you go out to eat a restaurant. Until this decision is reversed, and you know that
you're eating scallops that were responsibly harvested, they may leave a bad taste in your mouth. (Source:
Environmental News Network, October 26, 2007)
- Information newly available from the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection shows how
serious the consequences of permissive Republican attitudes about pollution can be. Several mines in northern
Nevada have been allowed, by the Republican governor of Nevada and by the Republican federal
government, to avoid the extent of their mercury pollution. Yet other mines in the area have been allowed to
under-report the mercury pollution resulting from their operations. One mine, the Florida Canyon mine, is a
significant source of mercury pollution, yet has not reported any of that pollution to the EPA for eight years.
Because of the mercury pollution from these mines, children in downstream and downwind areas are at
increased risk of developmental delays that can hinder their education. In the last year alone, a dozen new
advisories warning people not to eat fish from Nevada and downwind states have been issued because of high
levels of mercury pollution.
In 2008, we need to elect a new President who will require that mining companies tell the public how
much poison they are putting into America's water and air, instead of turning a blind eye to the problem.
(Source: Environmental News Network, October 25, 2007)
- There is no scientific dispute over this fact: Burning coal releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and
increased levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere lead to increased global temperatures. It's also not
in scientific dispute that global warming is taking place.
Despite all this, the burning of coal around the world is increasing, not decreasing. The Associated Press
reports, "Coal is big, and getting bigger. As oil and natural gas prices soar, the world is relying ever more on
the cheap, black-burning mainstay of the Industrial Revolution. Mining companies are racing into Africa.
Workers are laying miles of new railroad track to haul coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and
Human-created changes to the Earth's climate have brought us into a state of crisis, but the root causes of
the crisis, such as coal burning, continue to get worse exactly when we need to see dramatic improvements.
The USA, as one of the world's leading polluters, needs to lead the way out of the global economy of
pollution. However, we're not going to see this leadership under another right wing, corporate presidency. It's
going to take a progressive President to bring a change in course, away from dirty energy sources like coal,
and toward a cleaner society that can survive and thrive into future generations. (Source: Associated Press,
October 28, 2007)
- As the United States government seeks to launch yet another war under the justification of other countries
trying to build nuclear weapons, it is worth taking note of the price that Americans are paying for the nuclear
weapons made right here in the USA. We are all threatened by the possibility of nuclear war, but some of us
here in the US are also suffering from the deadly aftermath of the very construction of America's nuclear
In the Navajo Nation, located in the Southwestern United States, the US government paid for yellowcake
uranium hauled out of the earth from open pit mines. Many of those mines now lay abandoned, but the
uranium waste from the mines remains, not cleaned up in the slightest.
The Navajo are paying the price. They're drinking and swimming in water contaminated with radioactive
uranium. Their animals are doing the same, becoming radioactive themselves. The Navajo are already dealing
with the kind of radioactivity that Homeland Security analysts worry might result from a dirty bomb some
day in a speculated future.
Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, describes the
underlying hypocrisy as follows: "If a fraction of the deadly contamination the Navajos live with every day
had been in Beverly Hills or any wealthy community, it would have been cleaned up immediately. But a
different standard applied to Navajo lands. Half-measures or outright neglect has been the official response.
It's hard to review this record and not feel ashamed. What's happened just isn't right."
Political insiders in Washington D.C. have failed, for generation after generation, to deal with this
problem. Progressives are clamoring to make it right, and clean up the waste left behind by America's power-
hungry rush to build nuclear missiles and bombs. Progressives also support the abolition of nuclear weapons,
so that the poisoning of the Navajo Nation need never occur again. (Source: Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform, October 23, 2007)
- Right wing activists tend to listen best when things are phrased in terms of morality, so I'll try to phrase
this in terms of moral language: Global warming is creating evil, cannibal polar bears!
Okay, I can't keep it up the act of right wing moral outrage. I know that polar bears are amoral creatures.
When they're starving, they're try anything to eat, and I don't suspect that matters of right and wrong occur to
them about it.
Nonetheless, they are turning into cannibals, and global warming is to blame. Polar bears ordinarily hunt
seals, but seals reproduce on pack ice, which, due to the warming of the Arctic Ocean, is being reduced and is
breaking up earlier. That means fewer seals, and less food for the polar bears. Scientists have found that, as a
result, some of the largest male polar bears, desperate for food, have taken to hunting down and eating
smaller polar bears.
Ecologists will tell you that the health of an ecosystem is often demonstrated in the health of its top
predators. So, things aren't looking good in the Arctic. Will the rest of the world go unaffected? Don't bet on
What scientists warned us about years ago, and the Republicans told you would never happen, is starting
to occur. It is long past time to stop listening to the Republicans, and take care of the business of reforming
our dirty industrial culture. (Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, June 13, 2006)
- In 2007, Dr. Willie Soon published an article in the journal Ecological Complexity, claiming that global
warming will not harm polar bears. Although the article appeared in an academic scientific journal, the article
was not peer reviewed, as is typically required for a published article to be taken seriously by fellow
Why would Willie Soon avoid peer review for his article? The reason seems to be that Soon's article was
in fact peer reviewed - just not by scientists. Soon's article was written in accordance with the wishes of Soon's
peers in ExxonMobil, the company that sends paychecks to Soon.
"It's hard to see this article as rigorous, sound science," says Brad Miller, Chair of the House Committee on
Science and Technology. Congressman Miller is investigating the extent to which scientists working in the
Arctic are skewing their research due to funding from big oil corporations like ExxonMobil.
America's current President has been more apt to accept the attitude of ExxonMobil and its coterie of
scientists-turned-lobbyists such as Dr. Willie Soon. We need a new President who will not accept the
corruption of science by corporate talking points. (Source: House Committee on Science and Technology,
October 18, 2007)
- Mangrove ecology is a wonderful thing. It provides cover for young fish that later live in all sorts of
marine ecosystems. Mangrove wetlands are home to fascinating animals such as the mudskipper, and even a
kind of fish that can live within the rotting branches and trunks of mangrove plants, out of the water, for
months at a time. Yet, over the last 50 years, one third of the world's mangrove wetlands have been destroyed.
Right wing politics has been indifferent to this destruction. Progressives, on the other hand, are at work,
through private organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, and through government action, to protect the
mangroves that remain. The need for protection for mangrove wetlands is a good reason to vote for a
progressive President in 2008. (Source: Nature Conservancy, 2007)
- Mangrove forests aren't the only coastal wetlands that are in trouble. Here in the United States, 20,000
acres of coastal marshes disappear every year. George W. Bush and his Republican supporters in Congress
have been unwilling to take the strong measures that are needed to prevent this literal erosion of what the
right wing likes to call "the Homeland". They regard environmental protection as a burden, not as a service to
America's future. It will take a progressive President to make the changes necessary to stabliize, and then
restore, America's marine marshlands. (Source: Nature Conservancy, 2007)
- Climate change associated with global warming won't just make things hotter. Extreme weather events,
fueled by the additional energy in the Earth's atmosphere, are predicted to become more common. In fact, this
change is already happening. 2007's extreme heat wave and drought in the American South are just one
example of the unusual and destructive weather we've been facing recently.
The impact of such events on human communities, in turn, is resulting in amplified social conflicts, as
people fight over dwindling natural resources. Water wars in places like Africa are already taking place. Here
in the United States, bloodshed has not yet begun, but intense political conflicts between neighboring states
In the case of the great southern drought of 2007, the states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia are now
fighting over water that they once took for granted. Reuters news service refers to the conflict over the waters
of Lake Lanier as a "dam war", though for the present, the battle is taking place purely through paperwork and
In this way, climate change is transforming the United States of America into the Divided States of
America. (Source: Reuters, October 30, 2007)
- Two years ago, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, some members of the House of Representatives stood
up to look at the underlying problem of climate change, while others buried their heads in the sand and
refused even to ask what the problem was.
On October 26, 2005, Dennis Kucinich introduced H. Res 515 to the floor of the House of Representatives.
The resolution, if passed, would have created an official request that President George W. Bush provide all
documents "in his possession relating to the effects of climate change on the coastal regions of the United
Given the climate-related disasters that have befallen the United States over the last two years, including
extreme drought, deadly heat waves, and unusually strong wildfires, this sort of resolution has proven to
make a great deal of sense. Even at the time, without the subsequent disasters, the need for Congress to have
this information, in order to fulfill its duty of oversight of the Executive Branch, was so clear that the Kucinich
resolution received 150 cosponsors.
However, the Republicans that occupied leadership of the House of Representatives at the time refused to
allow the full House to vote on the resolution, and blocked any attempt even to hold a committee hearing on
the subject. The Republicans on the Science Committee actually wrote that getting information on the impact
of climate change on the coastal regions of the United States "would not advance any public policy goal".
The Republican position on the matter was that even getting information about the impacts of climate
change would be a bad, bad idea. Given plenty of reason to believe that the United States would be facing new
problems, the House Republicans deicided that they just didn't want to know about any of it.
This resolution wasn't just an issue two years ago. It should be an issue again today. The reason is that
four members of the House of Representatives are now running for President. How did they perform on this
Dennis Kucinich, the author of the resolution, did the right thing.
Ron Paul did the wrong thing. Ron Paul stood with the ignorance-is-bliss Republican leadership. He
refused to cosponsor the resolution.
The two other Republican presidential candidates from the House of Representatives, Duncan Hunter and
Tom Tancredo, made the same pro-ignorance move.
The opposition of Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter to this resolution should be a reminder to
voters that, when it comes to running the federal government, the Republican presidential candidates are
more interested in ideology than solid scientific information. (Source: Library of Congress)
- Another to elect a progressive President in 2008: Do it for the giant spitting worms of the Palouse.
It sounds like a joke, but it's not. If a giant spitting white earthworm that smells like a flower that is near
extinction does not merit endangered species protection, what does?
The Palouse is a unique area of high-altitude prairie atop rolling hills of ancient volcanic debris in
northern Idaho and eastern Washington. The soils of the Palouse are rich, which makes for good agriculture,
and also for big worms.
The Palouse has its own species of earthworm, the giant palouse earthworm, Driloleirus americanus. It's
colored creamy white, emits a sweet odor like a lily when it is handled, spits at people when they try to catch
it, digs burrows fifteen feet under the ground, grows to at least three feet long and is believed to be extremely
long-lived. Steve Paulson, one of the people working to protect the worm, describes the creature as "the stuff
that legends and fairytales are made of."
The trouble for giant palouse earthworm is that, because the soils of the Palouse are so good for
agriculture, the original prairie ecosystem of the region has been reduced to less than one percent of its
original size. The last time a giant palouse earthworm was seen was in 2005, when a juvenile of the species
was found. Before that, it had been 17 years since a single one of these worms was seen. The worms are
believed to be on the brink of extinction.
It isn't just the worm that suffers from this reduction of habitat. Many other species native to the area have
either been greatly reduced in number or eliminated completely. Protecting the giant palouse earthworm will
serve these other species as well.
In spite of this clear need, the Republican-run U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to deny
protection to the giant spitting worm of the Palouse. It isn't because of lack of documentation of the need,
though that's the excuse the USFWS has given for the denial. The USFWS told members of the Friends of the
Clearwater, one of the organizations petitioning in favor of protecting the worm, that the petition "contained
more data on this earthworm than any other source".
The USFWS gave their decision nine months late, and only after being threatened with a lawsuit for
failing to reply to the petition, as the law requires. The string of failures and violations of the law that has
taken place throughout the petitioning for protection for the giant palouse earthworm is a striking example of
the consequences of placing an anti-environmental politician in the White House. (Sources: Environmental
News Network, October 31, 2007; Palouse Prairie Foundation)
- If you consider the geographic markers of the United States, the Great Lakes have to be in the top ten. The
lakes define the northeastern border of the United States, and shape the history and material culture of the
surrounding areas. Yet, in recent years, the Great Lakes have become less great. The Great Lakes are shrinking.
The reason is global warming. Increased temperatures in the waters of the Great Lakes and the
atmosphere above them, when combined with a smaller and shorter ice cover during the winter, have resulted
in higher rates of evaporation from the lakes, shrinking them. If the trend continues, we may have to rename
the Great Lakes the Not As Great As They Used To Be Lakes.
Call me corny, but I think it's just darned unpatriotic to allow the pollution fueling this diminishment of a
geographic icon of the USA to continue unchecked. (Sources: New York Times, October 22, 2007; LiveScience,
October 27, 2007)
- According to the Center for Public Integrity, the Environmental Protection Agency has been able to get
illegally polluting corporations to clean up their toxic sites by threatening to clean up the sites itself using
money from the "Superfund" trust fund and then charge the corporations for the cost. But under George W.
Bush, the size of the EPA's Superfund has been allowed to dwindle. In 2006, Bush called for a $7 million cut in
appropriations for Superfund, and in 2007 Bush called for a $7 million cut to be made again. Now corporations
know that the EPA doesn't have the money to do cleanup and charge the corporations for it, so the
corporations are complying less often with EPA demands. The EPA is making fewer requests for cleanup, too:
The result: fewer corporate toxic waste sites have been cleaned up under Bush than under previous
administrations. (Source: Center for Public Integrity, May 18 2007)
- In the year 2000, George W. Bush promised to completely eliminate the $4.9 Billion backlog of
maintenance orders at the National Park Service. In a declaration of National Park Week in April 2004, he still
boasted about that campaign promise. But in a report to Congress on September 27, 2003, the General
Accounting Office estimates that the backlog of maintenance orders at the National Park Service had
surpassed $5 Billion. By 2007, the National Park Service estimated that the backlog had reached $8 Billion.
(Sources: Presidential Proclamation of National Park Week, April 16, 2004; Statement of Barry T. Hill, Director
Natural Resources and Environment, before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National
Parks, Recreation and Public Lands, September 27, 2003; Statement of Bill Wade, Chair, Executive Council,
Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on
National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, August 2, 2007)
- If you were to imagine the kind of warning screenwriters would put in a disaster movie in order to let the
audience know that something very, very bad was about to happen, you might imagine the use of a line like
this one: "No precedent exists for a disaster of this magnitude one that affects entire civilizations in multiple
Now for the bad news. That isn't a line from a disaster movie. It's a real warning from real experts who
wrote a real report entitled "The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security
Implications of Global Climate Change".
It's no fantasy. It's no joke. When the Center for Strategic & International Studies drafted their report,
they were not playing make believe. (Source: The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National
Security Implications of Global Climate Change, November, 2007)
- Right wing politicians defend the big oil corporations' grip on the American economy. They've been
denying, delaying and diminishing efforts to create energy alternatives since the 1970s. Progressives, all the
while, have been pushing for alternatives to oil, and more efficient use of the oil that we depend upon in the
One specific consequence of the right wing's obstruction of energy reform has hit San Francisco Bay.
58,000 gallons of oil spilled out into the bay on November 7, when an oil tanker slammed into one of the
towers that hold up the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The bay's ecosystem has been devastated, and the region's
beaches have been fouled.
This sort of oil spill has happened before and it will happen again, until we stop relying on huge cargo
ships filled with crude oil. (Source: San Francisco Chronicle, November 9, 2007)
- The poor state of the global environment is indicated by the plight of animals at the top of the food chain,
animals such as tigers. In India, where most wild tigers live, scientists had hoped that there were still between
3,500 and 4,000 tigers. New methods of wildlife census, such as motion-detecting cameras show that those
numbers were too optimistic, and suggest that only between 1,300 and 1,500 tigers survive in India
Right wing politicians may shrug their shoulders and say that it's not our problem here in North America.
Progressives know better, recognizing that the problems causing the rapid dwindling of the tiger population
are global in scale. The extinction of tigers would be tragic. Progressives realize that tiger extinction isn't the
worst that we face. The tigers' problems indicate systemic problems that can damage the chances for human
survival as well. (Source: New Scientist, November 11, 2007)
- Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, has declared global warming to be a global
emergency, and has demanded strong, swift political action from the Earth's national leaders.
"I need a political answer. This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency
action," he said, speaking at a special visit to Antarctica, where glaciers are melting at an astonishing
Right wing political leaders have shown little inclination to heed calls for attention to the problem in the
past. Now that climate change is a global emergency, we cannot rely on them. The United States needs a
progressive President who will step forward to grapple with the emergency without unnecessary delay.
(Source: Reuters, November 10, 2007)
- When I wrote about the big oil spill in San Francisco Bay, I said that oil spills like it would certainly
happen again, as long as we continued to rely on massive amounts of petroleum. I had no idea, of course, that
another huge oil spill would take place so soon.
Just a few days after the oil spill in California, a Russian oil tanker caught in a storm dumped more than
560,000 gallons of oil into the Black Sea. Because of the storm, no immediate cleanup was possible, and the
tanker just kept on releasing more and more oil into the water. Experts predict that it will take years to clean
up the mess, and much longer for the region's ecosystems to recover.
The risk of big oil spills is not something people have just realized. We have known for years that they
are a consequence for our oil-based economy. We know that more devastating oil spills like these will happen
for as long as we continue to burn oil at the rate that we do. It will take a progressive President to lead the
way in cleaning up this dependence on dirty energy. (Source: Associated Press, November 11, 2007)
- The Potomac River is emblematic of all rivers in the USA. As the river that flows through America's
capitol, it has symbolic significance. In practical terms too, the Potomac River provides a test of stewardship.
If Washington D.C.'s river can't get the attention of Congress and the White House, other rivers certainly
That seems to be the situation, as the health of the Potomac River is falling into neglect. Once, there was a
turnaround story for the Potomac. In the first half of the 20th century, the Potomac became increasingly
polluted, until the river was almost dead, but then, after attention to the Potomac brought water pollution to
the attention of politicians, the river became cleaner.
The good news continued for a couple of decades, but then, increased development and exploitation of the
land around the Potomac came. Now, the Potomac Conservancy is issuing a report card for the cleanliness of
America's capitol river, and it's bad news: It only gets a D+.
Has America fallen so low in its expectations that a D plus will be regarded as good enough? (Source:
(Potomac Conservancy, November 13, 2007)
- When scientists agree to use the word "unequivocal", it's a remarkable thing. Scientists are dedicated to the
idea of debate and questioning of theories, even those that have been set for generations. Nonetheless, the
international group of hundreds of scientists who form the brains of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change have chosen to open their fourth report of 2007, the Synthesis Report, with the following
introduction, in bold type:
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global
average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea
In spite of the overwhelming consensus among scientists, right wing politicians like Fred Thompson and Ron
Paul continue to equivocate on the issue of climate change. America ought to be unequivocal in rejecting their
weak leadership. Their kind of selective blindness has led the world onto a scorching path with danger
increasing with every step. (Source: Summary for Policymakers of the Synthesis Report of the IPCC Fourth
Assessment Report, November 17, 2007)
- Republican Ron Paul wants to be President of the United States, but he refuses to even seriously discuss
one of the top issues of the 2008 presidential campaign, something that because of its extreme long term
impact is the most serious issue our nation faces today: Climate change.
Do a Google search of Ron Paul's 2008 campaign web site, and you'll see that on the entire site, the
terms "climate change" and "global warming" are not even mentioned once. Ron Paul's idea of what to do
about global climate change seems to be to just ignore it.
When he's been backed into a corner, and forced to talk about the issue while out campaigning this year,
that's pretty much what Ron Paul has been able to come up with. He says that property rights are the key to
dealing with any environmental problem. Just allow people to control their own property without
government interference, and Ron Paul believes that all environmental problems will fade away.
Asked in an interview if he considers "climate change a major problem threatening civilization", Ron Paul
had a simple answer: "No." In spite of the clear statement by the scientists who put together this year's reports
for the IPCC, Ron Paul still claims that there's a big scientific debate over whether people are to blame for
global warming at all.
On environmental issues in general, and climate change in particular, Ron Paul is just too clueless to be
President. (Sources: RonPaul2008.com, November 18, 2007; Grist, October 16, 2007)
- This autumn, with waters cooling as winter approaches, a jellyfish eruption of an unexpected kind has
occurred, showing yet another manifestation of the economic threat that the Earth's rapidly warming climate
In the waters off the coast of Ireland, the Northern Salmon Company has lost 2 million dollars worth of
farmed salmon in one freak incident. That's 100,000 fish.
The fish were lost in a jellyfish attack, in a swarm of a sort that's never been seen before in the area. There
were billions of jellyfish in a gigantic horde that covered ten square miles of ocean, 35 feet deep. The jellyfish
came upon the Irish salmon farm, and before the Northern Salmon Company could do anything about it, their
salmon were all dead, all stung to death or killed by the effort of trying to escape.
The jellyfish were so thick in the water that people trying to rescue the salmon took three hours to get to
where the fish farm had been.
One employee, a man with 3 decades of experience in the business, said he had never seen anything like it
before. "It was unprecedented, absolutely amazing. The sea was red with these jellyfish and there was nothing
we could do about it, absolutely nothing."
Here's the kicker: Pelagia nocticula, the species of jellyfish that attacked the salmon had never been seen at
all in those waters before. It's a species that's native to the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Normally, the
waters off the coast of Ireland are far too cold for Pelagia nocticula to live in.
There were billions of jellyfish in a gigantic horde that covered ten square miles of ocean, 35 feet deep. If
attacks by gigantic swarms of jellyfish triggered by global warming won't convince you to listen to the calls
from progressives to take bold steps to slow down climate change, what will? (Source: Associated Press,
November 21, 2007)
- Most right wing politicians are still stuck in their old scripts when it comes to global warming. They'll say
that climate change doesn't exist, and that even if it does, it isn't because of human activity, and even if it is our
fault, it isn't really a problem for the human and natural worlds. Scientists disagree overwhelmingly with
these conclusions, but that doesn't stop the right wing politicians from asserting them over and over again.
However, even for those right wing politicians who do accept the problem of human-caused global
warming, there's a final point of refuge: They say that technological innovation will solve the problem, so
that people can go on living just as they always have, and everything will be all right.
A new study from researchers at MIT suggests otherwise. The researchers looked at past patterns of
pollution and technological development, and used that information to project the impact on carbon emissions
of technological development in the next four decades. What they found is that technological innovation is
likely to spur even greater energy use, and even greater carbon emissions, not reduce them.
Technological innovation is important, and some forms of innovation may help cut emissions and energy
use, but taken as a whole, technological innovation isn't likely to solve the problem of growing carbon
emissions. We need to start coordinate, national conservation efforts as well - now. In 2008, we need to elect a
President who understands this, and won't just pin our hopes on the development of whiz bang Buck Rogers
technology some time in the future. (Source: ScienceBlog.com, November 19, 2007)
- If you're not a resident of the Great Lakes, you may be unfamiliar with the rivalry of the annual Ohio
State - Michigan football game, but if you live here it's inescapable. While I was moving into my duplex in
Columbus, neighbors stopped by, made a few minutes of chit-chat, and then asked me in that not-at-all-a-
question sort of way, "You will be supporting the Buckeyes, won't you?" Their eyes focused on mine and their
smiles disappeared as they posed the challenge. Since then, I've learned that if I wear something other than
red or gray on the day of the game, teenagers will swear at me on the street. It's kind of eerie, but I've gotten
used to it.
The students at Ohio State University are known for raucously partying before, during and after the Ohio
State - Michigan game, and for more than occasionally rioting afterwards. "No Parking" hoods are placed over
parking meters in the blocks surrounding the university, and any lingering cars are actually towed away
before the game to protect them from being trashed by roving hordes of revelers. This year on campus, they
put duct tape over all the Ms on the building signs. Toilet paper flew freely from the trees. It took a few days
for the mess to be picked up.
Don't just think it's a student thing, either. My in-laws live an hour and a half south of the university, and
until recently nobody in the family had attended Ohio State as a student, but that didn't stop the Buckeye
Fever. Parents, alumni and other fans flood the area, turning the neighborhood into a big shuffling mass of
scarlet and gray. It's a regional event involving hundreds of thousands of people physically in and around the
stadium itself, and perhaps millions of people more tuning in over the television.
The collective energy surrounding a football game in which all these fans don't actually play puzzles me a
bit, but there it is. The people of Ohio have chosen their totem, the Ohio State Buckeyes. They utter the
phrase "Go Bucks!" on the street enough that my three-year-old daughter already knows the phrase and shouts
it with enthusiasm. The symbol at the center of this tradition is something real. The Buckeye tree is part of the
horsechestnut family, grows up to sixty feet tall and thirty feet wide, and drops an brown nut with a light spot
that makes it look like a buck's eye. I've casually picked up these nuts on hikes through the Ohio woods, and
they're supposed to be good luck to have in your pocket. There's a cottage industry of people who string the
buckeyes together into bracelets and necklaces. I see these on the street all the time; you can watch for them on
the fans in the stands the next time there's an Ohio State game on TV.
There are straightforward, rational reasons to support progressive candidates for public office in 2008. But
then there are more emotional reasons. If it takes an occasional emotional tug at our tribal allegiances for us
to pay attention to more rational reasons, so be it. This reason goes out to the people of Ohio who have a
special place in their hearts for the beloved Buckeye. It turns out that thanks to global warming the habitat of
the Buckeye Tree is due to shift northward, from Ohio to the state of the dire rival Michigan. Ohioans, you've
shown that you love your Buckeyes enough to watch TV, to drink a lot of beer, to buy the right shirts, to put
toilet paper in trees and to wear funny necklaces with nuts on them. But if you really love your Buckeyes,
Ohio, will you support the leaders who promise to do something to keep the Buckeye tree from leaving your
state forever? (Source: Letter from the National Environmental Trust to the Columbus Dispatch, November 24
- Why vote for a progressive Presidential candidate in 2008? Do it for the 11 million people living in cities
in the Andes that are drying up because of global warming. Climate change droughts aren't limited to the
southern United States.
Cities like La Paz, Bogota, El Alto, and Quito get significant amounts of their drinking water from water
that melts from Andean glaciers. Those glaciers are shrinking, and will be gone by the middle of this century.
When that happens, people in those cities won't have enough to drink.
Where will they go when they become environmental refugees? To other cities, putting pressure on their
resources as well. When these dry cities empty out, there will be a ripple effect of disruption spreading
throughout the region, creating dangerous political unrest.
We need an American President who is prepared to deal with these problems in a more subtle way than
the right wing Republicans have shown us. We also need a President who will start reducing the underlying
industrial cause of these problems - from day one. (Source: Associated Press, November 23, 2007
- When it comes to dealing with endangered species, there are two basic approaches:
First, there's the progressive approach of supporting scientific research into the status of endangered
species, coming up with fact-based plans for recovery, and working with local human populations to come up
with a plan that is socially sustainable.
Second, there's the laissez-faire plan that the right wingers promote: Don't do anything, and see what
happens under free market conditions. If species go extinct, that's okay, because the free market is inherently
wise, and so those species must have been undesirable to start with.
The sun bear has been dealing with an excess of the second approach, as market forces have reduced its
habitat to unsustainable size and have encouraged hunting even of its scarce numbers. Before this year, it was
not really known whether sun bears were endangered. However, the first progressive step of scientific
research resulted in the sun bear being placed on the World Conservation Union's list of threatened species.
In 2008, we need to put a President in the White House who will ensure that the next progressive step is
taken toward finding a solution to the sun bear crisis. (Source: The Guardian, November 13, 2007)
- Pro-corporate right wing politicians get itchy when they see an old growth forest. In their view, all that
wood is just an economic resource going unused. People don't like to hear about cutting down the world's
biggest and oldest trees simply for profit, however, and so these politicians have come up with an
environmental veneer for their plans to allow huge areas of old growth forest to be destroyed.
Not cutting down old forests makes global warming worse, they say. Mature forests, they claim, don't pull
as much carbon dioxide out of the air as young forests. So, if you want to protect the environment, you need to
allow big corporations to cut down old growth forests and replace them with tree farms of little seedlings.
Could it be true? Could old growth forests be partly to blame for accelerating global warming? Recent
research says no.
A cooperative study by the University of Washington and the U.S. Forest Service indicates that big, old
trees still grow and act as carbon sinks, in spite of what right wing politicians and their affiliated think tanks
have claimed. Old growth forests don't promote global warming. They help fight it. (Source: Seattle Times,
November 27, 2007)
- How do you feel about the idea of breathing in nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides that are pumped out of
the tailpipes of motor vehicles and the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants? The chemicals are linked to
ailments such as asthma and cancer in human beings, and to global warming for Mother Earth.
In spite of that, the Bush White House decided that there was no reason for the Environmental Protection
Agency to consider new information about the environmental and health effects of nitrogen and sulfur oxides,
and revise EPA standards for their emissions accordingly. The policy of the Republicans in the Bush
Administration was to just let the old standards, based on old information, remain, and forget about any new
research that had been done.
No one in the right wing lifted a finger to challenge this dangerous neglect. It was up to progressives to do
A coalition of progressive organizations and individuals, led by the Center for Biological Diversity,
challenged the Bush Administration in court, filing suit to force the EPA to take new information about the
dangers of nitrogen and sulfur dioxides into account, and to revise the emissions standards for these chemicals
accordingly. The suit, essentially, was just trying to force George W. Bush to allow the EPA to do its job.
Faced with a court battle that it could not win, the Bush White House agreed to change its policy in a court
settlement. That settlement never would have come without progressive action.
Imagine what good could be done if progressives were at work inside the White House, instead of
challenging it from outside. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity, November 21, 2007)
- One of the things that most people don't consider when they flip on the lights at night is that the
electricity they use to light their way has the power to bring down mountains. In fact, electrical power in the
United States has already brought down many mountains: 470 mountains, my the count of the advocacy group
Appalachian Voices. That's the number of mountains that have been destroyed in the USA in order to extract
their coal. (Source: Appalachian Voices)
- Progressives don't just nod in recognition of general environmental problems. They take note of their
own involvement in those problems, and then work to find a better way.
Is the electricity in your light bulb responsible for the destruction of mountains? Thanks to the
progressive activism of Appalachian Voices, you can find out. At their peripheral web site I Love Mountains,
at ILoveMountains.org, residents of the United States can enter their zip codes and then see photographs taken
from the air of the mountains that their power company extracts coal from. It's a way for people to get a real
image of the concrete impact of their energy usage, and to motivate them to engage in more efforts at
conservation. (Source: Appalachian Voices)
- Right wing politicians talk alot about trying to develop "clean coal" energy technology. What their plans
fail to take into account is that, no matter how cleanly future technology might make burning coal, the process
of getting coal out of the ground will remain profoundly filthy.
1200 miles of Appalachian streams have been devastated by a kind of coal mining in which an entire
mountaintop is removed in search of coal, and the remaining material is dumped. Every year that this kind of
coal mining continues, miles more will be ruined.
Progressives are trying to end the pollution by replacing coal burning with cleaner energy alternatives.
Right wing politicians are trying to block those efforts in order to protect the profits of big coal companies. In
2008, you'll have a chance to choose a presidential candidate who reflects your values. When you vote, please
remember the streams of the Appalachians. (Source: Appalachian Voices)
- A major test of values came this year for the House of Representatives when H.R.2169, the Clean Water
Protection Act, was introduced. The bill would do something that all Americans should be able to support: It
would prohibit mining companies from dumping mining wastes in mountain streams, mountains and
Progressives believe that dumping dirty, polluting wastes into clean mountain streams ought to be one of
those things that is completely unacceptable. Apparently, right wing politicians don't see things the same
While progressive presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has co-sponsored the Clean Water Protection
Act, not a single one of the three Republican presidential candidates has supported the bill.
Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter all refuse to support the Clean Water Protection Act.
What do they have against clean mountain streams? (Source: Appalachian Voices)
- There are a lot of right wing politicians who, finally admitting that global warming exists, still claim that global warming isn't a big deal, that it's just a small fluctuation of temperatures that shouldn't get much attention. They ought to listen to the environmental ministry of the Canadian government.
Every year for 12 years, the ministry has published a list of the top ten weather phenomena of the previous 12 months. This year, the historically unprecedented melting of the ice that covers the Arctic Ocean is at the top of their list. "Canadians might remember 2007 as the year that climate change began biting deep and hard on the home front. At the top of the world, the dramatic disappearance of Arctic sea ice - reported in September - was so shocking that it quickly became our number one weather story," the ministry explained. (Source: Environment Canada, December 27, 2007)
- In 2007, the fight against global climate change reached a sad historical marker. With the election of a
new Australian Prime Minister, on the promise of strong action against climate change, Australia finally
signed the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol was set up way back in the 1990s as a way to try to build
international cooperation to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels. The United States
delayed the work of the Kyoto Protocol for years, however, by refusing to sign it.
Now, the United States is the only major economic power in the world not to have signed the Kyoto
Once we were leaders. Now, we've been left behind. In 2008, we need to elect a progressive President who
will return the United States to its role as an exemplar of responsible planning for future needs. (Source: CNN,
December 3, 2007)
- Ron Paul's answer to the question, "What do you see as the role of the Environmental Protection
Agency?": He said, "You wouldn't need it."
Really? You wouldn't need the EPA? So, we don't need the work the EPA is doing to stop arsenic and
PCBs and mercury and raw sewage from entering our rivers? We don't need the work that the EPA is doing to
control acid rain, or smog? We just don't need it?
I suspect that what Ron Paul meant to say is that big corporations wouldn't need the EPA. That's precisely
why we don't need Ron Paul as President. (Source: Grist, October 16, 2007)
- The Swiss Alps are losing their glaciers. That's a big deal to the Swiss economy, which benefits a great deal from tourists who come to Switzerland to ski. It seems that one Swiss ski resort, Andermatt Gotthard Sportbahnen SA, is losing so much of the glacial cover on which its customers have traditionally enjoyed skiing that the resort is now placing an artificial sun shield over the glacier during the spring and summer months in an attempt to stop the Gurschen glacier from melting. (Source: TerraDaily, May 10, 2005)
- Major declines in snow cover in the Himalayas is resulting in higher regional temperatures, in a dangerous cycle of heat building on heat. Anyone who lives in an area with significant winter snowfall will understand why this is occurring. A driveway covered with snow will melt even in sub-freezing temperatures, so long as there are some patches where the snow has been removed. The dark surface of the exposed driveway heats up in the sun to a much higher temperature than the ordinary air temperature, melting off the snow around it. The same thing is happening in the Himalaya mountains, with rocks that have not been exposed to the direct rays of the suns in millenia.
By the way, it's not some left-wing eco-environmentalists who are talking about this regional Asian disaster. It's NASA scientists, who published the results of their study in defiance of the Bush Administration's desire to pretend that global climate change does not even exist. (Source: Discover Magazine, June 2005)
- For those Flat Earth right wingers who still deny that global warming is taking place, there's this bad piece of news today: Meteorologists studying patterns of tropical weather report that weather that used to be more or less confined to the belt around the Earth's equator is now spreading into previously temperate zones, moving north and south toward the icy poles.
Their estimate of the expansion of tropical weather over the last three decades is between 140 and 330 miles, depending on the criteria used to define tropical weather. The researchers explored many factors, including thickness of the lower atmosphere, levels of moisture, and even the amount of ozone in the air. The expansion of tropical weather is beyond what models of climate change have predicted.
Dian Seidel, author of the study, has made the scope of the change clear, so that even right wingers in denial can't misinterpret her results: "They are big changes." (Source: AssociatedPress, December 3, 2007)
- The Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act would have increased the average fuel efficiency of American automobiles by ten miles per gallon, making us less dependent on foreign oil, bringing economic vigor back to our country, cutting dangerous air pollution, and reducing the emissions that are provoking climate change. Apparently, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo think that's a bad idea. They'd rather see waste and pollution than efficiency and clean air, it seems. They voted against the legislation.
There's not one Republican presidential candidate who has voted for the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act. Our nation cannot survive this sort of indifference. (Source: Library of Congress)
- A few questions into his interview with the environmentalist magazine Grist, it becomes apparent that Ron Paul wasn't even trying to offer reasonable justifications for his indifference about the condition of the environment.
Grist: What environmental achievement are you most proud of?
Answer: Nothing really special.
Grist: Who is your environmental hero?
Answer: Nobody in particular.
Most Americans can easily identify an environmental hero, and can name something they've done to benefit the environment. Not Ron Paul.
With responses like this, it's clear that Ron Paul couldn't care less about the environment. Given that the greatest challenges we face are environmental in nature, it would be a profound disaster for the United States to elect Ron Paul as President in 2008. (Source: Grist, October 16, 2007)
- On the same day that hundreds of right wing members of Congress voted to kill a new law that would finally increase fuel efficiency standards after over a generation of inaction, the world received a sharp warning of the environmental cost of the fossil fuel economy. Off the coast of South Korea, an oil taker gushed 10,000 metric tons of crude oil out into the sea after being hit by a barge.
By the time that members of Congress found out about the huge oil spill, it was already one third the size of the infamous Exxon Valdez spill. And what did they do in response? Hundreds of them chose to vote to keep the crude oil economy flowing as normal, with no reform at all. They voted to kill the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act. (Source: EuroNews, December 12, 2007)
- Right wing politicians like to say that it's necessary to balance environmental protection and economic needs. Progressives, however, understand that the environment is the source of our economic prosperity, and that, without environmental protection, our economy cannot thrive.
Consider the words of Charles E. Kellogg, a man who enjoyed considerable prosperity, but remembered upon what his wealth was based: "Essentially, all life depends upon the soil... There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together." (Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service)
- Ron Paul showed the worst of all possible sides of his attitude toward the environmental in an interview with Grist magazine in October, 2007, when he couldn't even remember his own excuses for opposing pro-environment legislation over and over again.
In the past, Ron Paul has claimed to balance his votes against environmental causes by saying that he has participated in something called the Green Scissors campaign, which focuses exclusively on cutting government spending as a way to reduce waste, while allowing big corporations to continue on polluting as they wish. It's not a great cover for Ron Paul to use, but what's even worse for Ron Paul is that he doesn't seem to be truly committed to participating in even the half-hearted environmentalism of the Green Scissors group.
When the interviewer from Grist started to ask Ron Paul about his involvement with Green Scissors, Congressman Paul didn't know at all what the Green Scissors group even was:
"Grist: You mentioned something in a past interview Ñ the Green Scissors campaign to cut environmentally harmful spending?
Ron Paul: I'm not sure I understand that. Green Party?
Grist: You had said in another interview, 'I have been active in the Green Scissors campaign.'
Ron Paul: Green Citizens?
Grist: No, scissors, like you cut paper with.
Ron Paul: Oh, I don't recall exactly that."
Ron Paul can't even keep his excuses for anti-environmentalism straight. There's no way that America can count on him to be a responsible environmental steward as President. (Source: Grist, October 16, 2007)
- Indonesia is not a small country; its population rivals that of the United States. But as an island country it is especially threatened by rising sea water. If the world's nations do not take action to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, then scientists project Indonesian capital of Jakarta will fall under water. 42 million people live in Indonesia at elevations that will be threatened by rising waters. The United States is currently the most powerful nation standing in the way of policy changes to reduce carbon emissions. If we elect a progressive president in 2008, we have a better chance of ameliorating the looming human disaster in Indonesia. (Source: Reuters December 5 2007)
- The politics of peace, freedom and the environment came together in one place this week, as Greenpeace activists bringing a banner reading "Coal Kills Climate" to the top of a cooling tower on a coal-burning power plant in Java, Indonesia were threatened by security guards holding knives and firing guns in their direction.
The actions of the Greenpeace protesters may have been a form of illegal trespassing, but they were by no means violent. In a free and peaceful society, however, people are not fired at with guns merely for engaging in acts of peaceful civil disobedience.
Coal kills the climate, but coal burning corporations ought not to try to kill anti-coal protesters. (Source: Solve Climate, December 4, 2007)
- The problem of Republican government inaction when confronted with high levels of lead in items like toys and other household items takes on an increased significance with a study recently completed by Cornell University researchers. The results of the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, indicate that levels of lead in the blood far below current federal government guidelines are associated with reduced scores for children who take standardized tests of cognitive ability.
The political implication of the study is that, for the sake of America's children, the federal government is going to have to make its regulation of lead in household products far more rigorous. The political problem is that the Republican government has been unwilling even to do what's necessary to enforce current standards related to exposure to lead. The right wing ideological reaction to the problem with lead contamination of the objects that our children come into contact with has been to reduce regulation, and avoid systems that could provide American families with adequate information about what items are likely to expose children to dangerous levels of lead.
America's children can't vote for themselves. They're counting on America's adults to do the right thing - and vote for a strong change in course in the federal government, by placing a true progressive in the White House. (Source: Environmental News Network, December 2, 2007)
- Deforestation accounts for 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Reduce deforestation, and you'll reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and slow down global warming.
There are two ways that this can be accomplished.
First, there's the progressive way. We can stop deforestation now, through international cooperation between our government and the government of other nations.
Second, there's the right wing way. Do nothing now, and wait for free market forces to take care of the problem. When all the forests are gone, the market for forest products will go away, and there will then be no more deforestation. (Source: New York Times, December 6, 2007)
- The Bush White House said that it was sending representatives to the global warming summit in Bali, Indonesia with an aim of participating in a "constructive" way. So, what have Bush's representatives done that's been constructive in Bali?
They've said "No."
A draft proposal supported by the European Union sets the goal for the reduction of greenhouse gases by between 25 and 40 percent by the year 2020. The representatives of the Bush White House snarled back that the proposal was "unhelpful".
Unhelpful? How would a significant reduction in greenhouse gases be unhelpful?
Well, such action wouldn't help the profits of the big oil companies that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have so many connections to. The action wouldn't help the right wing politicians who depend upon support from executives and lobbyists at those corporations either.
From a progressive perspective, that's not such a bad thing. In fact, I think that we could use a lot more of this sort of helpful unhelpfulnessÉ backed by a new President who would advocate for the interest of all people in fighting climate change, and not just the financial interests of people sitting in petroleum-soaked corporate boardrooms. (Source: The Guardian, December 11, 2007)
- The U.S. Forest Service has been caught in an insult against state environmental officials in Arizona and New Mexico, and assault on land in those states, a reckless endangerment of fragile ecosystems there, and a violation of a legal settlement, and a lie to the American people.
The U.S. Forest Service, in a 1996 legal settlement, agreed to protections for areas of ponderosa pine and other conifers in Arizona and New Mexico. However, in 2007, the Forest Service abruptly ended its adherence to the legal settlement, and changed the official rules for the management of that land.
Trying to blunt protest over this betrayal, the Forest Service claimed that state officials from Arizona and New Mexico had expressed no concerns about the changes. Records from the Game and Fish Department of Arizona show that's just not true. State environmental officials expressed profound objections to the loosening of rules protecting the land. The Forest Service simply ignored their concerns.
This particular case shows how the right wing federal government's refusal to accept its responsibility for environmental protections doesn't affect just wildlife. The neglect also affects relationships between the federal government and state governments. In both respects, the anti-environmental government set up by Republicans has failed to function. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity, November 27, 2007)
- In 2006, the last full year for which environmental records for members of Congress are available, John McCain failed to deliver. As America, along with the rest of the world, entered a time of undeniable environmental crisis, Senator McCain earned a rating of only 29 out of 100 from the League of Conservation Voters in their National Environmental Scorecard.
That's worse than just an ordinary failing grade. That's the kind of grade you get if you show up for only one week of classes and skip class the rest of the semester. You have to be a rock to get a grade lower than 29 percent.
In other words, John McCain's environmental record as a United States Senator is downright terrible. In a time when environmental action is increasingly important, that makes Senator McCain not just environmentally irresponsible. It shows that McCain is profoundly out of touch. (Sources: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006; Library of Congress)
- Trying to get good press as the role of its fossil fuels in climate change has been established beyond reasonable doubt, Shell Oil has spent a lot of time in recent years trying to recast itself as a corporation in the middle of green reform. Shell Oil public relations said that the petroleum giant would be going green, and pointed to new programs to develop solar energy alternatives.
Republicans in the federal government followed the corporate script. George W. Bush proposed, and the Republican Congress passed, huge government subsidies to big oil corporations, supposedly to help the corporations develop clean energy technologies.
A few years later, it's becoming clear that those huge giveaways of public money to oil companies haven't brought much actual public benefit. Shell Oil, after milking its supposed green reforms, is actually in the process of selling off its solar power projects, so that it doesn't have to deal with them any more. Shell Oil will be focusing its energy on the things it does best: Pulling fossil fuels out of the earth so that they can be burned, pumping yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, pushing the engine of climate change to go faster and faster.
The right wing promises that dirty energy corporations would reform and lead the way to clean energy have not been fulfilled. It's time that we elect a President who will stop proposing corporate solutions to public problems like climate change, and will act directly instead, to lead with the power of government to enact the quick reforms we need to transition quickly away from the outdated dirty energy economy that has made a few rich and placed the planet in peril. (Source: The Guardian, December 11, 2007)
- It dramatic increase in home heating costs has not taken place without cause. A significant factor in the increase has been the Republican refusal, for decades now, to allow significant legislation for improving energy efficiency.
Home heating costs are now so high that they have risen beyond the ability of many homeowners to pay. In spite of the Republicans' responsibility for this crisis, they are refusing to provide adequate assistance.
The Democrats in Congress have attempted to fill the deficit in Republican foresight and compassion. They have approved legislation to provide home heating assistance to people facing a freezing winter without the financial means to stay warm. President George W. Bush, however, has thwarted this effort. President Bush has vetoed funds for home heating.
How much longer will we accept a Republican government that refuses to deal with the suffering that its decades of neglect have created? (Source: Associated Press, December 10, 2007)
- According to a join report by the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy, one of every four bird species in the United States is in trouble. This watchlist, compiled separately from the Audubon list of Common Birds in Decline, includes both birds that are threatened on a global scale and birds whose presence in the United States is of particular concern. A total of 217 bird species are listed.
These species, unlike terrestrial animals, can travel great distances to find the resources that they need. Their threatened status is thus an especially worrisome indicator of declining ecological integrity within the United States. (Source: National Audubon Society)
- Most of us can understand that when Congress named a stretch of land in Alaska the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it was because the land was intended to serve as a refuge for wildlife. Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo can't seem to get that basic idea through their heads, though. They seem to be under the impression that when the land was designated a wildlife refuge, it was so that big oil companies could use the land as a source of corporate profits and a way to sustain the industrial development of human society. That's how Republicans translate the phrase "wildlife refuge", apparently.
On May 25, 2006, Paul, Hunter and Tancredo voted for H.R. 5429, a piece of legislation designed to convert the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into an area open for corporations to drill for crude oil. H.R. 549 never explained, how wildlife is supposed to have a refuge amongst the great clamor of people driving across the tundra, drilling for oil, and pumping the oil back down to toward the Lower 48 so that people could continue to drive their gas hog sport utility vehicles, but Paul, Hunter and Tancredo voted for it anyway.
Why would they do such a thing? I suspect their vote to wreck America's last great wilderness was due to another problem with mistranslation. It seems that when right wing politicians like Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter are told about the Constitution's mandate for Congress to protect the "general welfare", they interpret "general welfare" to mean "oil company profits". (Sources: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006; Library of Congress)
- "It's not enough to state the goals!" Ñ Christopher Dodd, introducing his environmental difference from other candidates like Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson, who want to impose no standards, but instead have voluntary carbon emissions voucher trading systems. Clinton and Richardson say we need a revolution and a big change in thinking and "a new form of American patriotism" on energy problems facing the country.
Barack Obama calls it "a moral imperative," but also does not have a specific policy standard in mind, just engaging in sweeping rhetoric and noting that wind systems are the future. He works very hard at that baritone voice, but there's not much there there.
John Edwards has the same general, nonspecific line about twenty generations' vision and "being patriotic about something other than war" and "rising up as a nation." Why don't you tell us that you're in favor of good things and against bad things, too, John?
Christopher Dodd says that there will be "nothing more than a lot of speeches and nothing will change" unless a candidate commits to specific action. The specific action Dodd wants to institute is a carbon tax on corporations, basing the tax on the amount of carbon emission. He is the only candidate to get this specific in proposing an energy policy solution. The carbon tax would be used to fund alternative energy research, and would be making the cost (unpaid by corporations) to the environment explicit and actual. Thanks to Senator Dodd for being this specific.
- What better reason to vote could there be than to keep song alive?
The activities of our industrial culture, and our unsustainable attachment to growth without end, are bringing America closer to the silent spring envisioned by Rachel Carson two generations ago. The 2007 Audubon Society Watchlist indicates that, of all the kinds of birds under threat of extinction within the United States, it's the song birds that are, as a group, in the most serious condition.
90 songbirds are on the Watchlist, . That makes 41 percent of all the birds listed, more than any other kind of bird. Unless you're willing to accept a sky of diminished song, vote for strong environmental action. Vote progressive in 2008. (Source: National Audubon Society)
- Right wingers like to say that they're tough on crime, but they're lax on the crime of putting excessive amounts of lead into toys and other objects manufactured for children. There's good reason to believe that their laziness, in turn, helps create more crime as the children grow into adults.
One study, by economist Rick Nevin, found that spikes in lead contamination of children's bodies are correlated with spikes in violent crime two decades later. Another study, by child psychiatrist Herbert Needleman, found that levels of lead in the blood of high school students who had been arrested was, on average, four times high as the lead in the blood of other high school students.
If Republicans really wanted to get tough on crime, they'd respond to these studies with legislation helping to make sure that lead contamination in children's products is kept to the lowest amount reasonably possible. As of yet, the Republicans have done no such thing. (Source: Sierra Magazine, November-December 2007)
- Mitt Romney on the problem of global warming: "We call it global warming, not America warming. So let's not put a burden on us alone and have the rest of the world skate by without having to participate in this effort. It's a global effort, but our independence is something we can do unilaterally."
Does Mitt Romney really believe that the problem with global warming action is that the United States has been taking all of the responsibility while the rest of the world has been sitting back, doing nothing, letting the America pull the load? This absurd statement is just another example of how right wing ideology leads politicians like Mitt Romney to live in a world of extreme delusion.
While most of the rest of the world agreed way back in the 1990s to an international agreement to begin restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, it was the United States that refused to act. No one is asking the United States to engage in unilateral action. The rest of the world is only hoping that the United States will join the rest of the world in agreeing to recognize the reality of the climate crisis and commit to specific action to combat the crisis.
The United States does have a special responsibility, being one of the top sources of global warming emissions in the entire world. It's the rest of the world that has been pulling the weight of the USA, not the other way around. (Source: New York Times, December 12, 2007)
- Wrapping up an appalling interview with Grist magazine, Ron Paul proudly declares that he hasn't done much for the sake of the environment, even on a personal basis, and he doesn't really think he needs to.
Grist: Can you elaborate on what you've done personally to reduce your energy and environmental impact?
Ron Paul: Well, no, other than the fact that I'm just always aware of doing anything damaging to the environment. I don't think I do anything that damages it at all.
Ron Paul doesn't think that he does anything that damages the environment at all?
Not when he rides in a car? Not when he flies in an airplane to go all around the country promoting his campaign? Not when he eats food and consumes products created overseas and shipped halfway around the world? Not when he burns electricity that comes from coal burning power plants?
This statement confirms it for me: When it comes to the environment, Ron Paul is living in a world of oblivion.
The sad truth is that we all do things to damage the environment around us. Even environmentalists who try really hard to avoid damaging the environment end up inflicting some damage. The important thing is that we try to balance environmental destruction with environmental restoration and protection.
The fact that Ron Paul doesn't even recognize the environmental impact of any of his activities suggests to me that he won't be able to tell when his actions as President have a negative impact on the environment. More generally, this tendency suggests that Ron Paul is frighteningly skillful at believing whatever he wants to believe, regardless of the reality that is staring him in the face. (Source: Grist, October 16, 2007)
- Half of the Everglades has been developed. Ninety percent of the wading-bird population in the Everglades National Park has disappeared, and the Bush Administration failed to provide its promised share of a restoration plan for the Everglades. So, how did the Bush Republicans respond to the problem? They got Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Todd Willens to push UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to remove the Everglades from from its list of endangered places. That's in spite of the National Park Service's recommendation to keep the Everglades on the list. That opinion was corroborated by UNESCO scientists.
Guess which side won out... No, it wasn't the scientists and the Park Service. (Source: Sierra Magazine, November-December 2007)
- Hawaiian bird lovers have a special reason to vote for a progressive President in 2008. The National Audubon Society reports that, of the 217 threatened American birds listed on their 2007 Watchlist, 39 are native only to the Hawaiian islands.
Right wing politicians lack the resolve to take firm action to confront this crisis. They're better at coming up with excuses than they are at coming up with solutions. Only a progressive President will permit a concerted government strategy to avert a wave of Hawaiian avian extinction. (Source: National Audubon Society)In December 13th's Republican presidential debate in Iowa, Mike Huckabee thought he was being clever when he said, of global warming, "I know on a day like today, it's hard to believe there is global warming, if anybody's been in Iowa on a day like today, but climate change and who's causing it is of less importanceÉ"
There was an big ice storm that had just passed through Iowa. That ice storm was a sign of bitterly cold weather, according to Mike Huckabee's way of thinking.
Maybe that's true for Arkansas in December, but it isn't true for Iowa. I lived in Iowa for several years, and I know what every Iowan knows: In a typical winter in Iowa, a big storm in the middle of December would be a snow storm, not an ice storm. The ice storm is actually a sign of weather that's warmer than normal for Iowa, and that makes Mike Huckabee's little joke run flat.
If Mike Huckabee can't even understand the weather in Iowa, how could he hope to lead the United States to deal with the issue of global climate change?
- At the December 2007 meetings of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, climatologist Konrad Steffen announced that the extent of the melting of ice in Greenland in the year 2007 surpassed the previous record reached in 2005 by a full 10 percent. The air over the Greenland ice sheet has risen 7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1991. The effects of global warming are increasing at an increasing rate. We need the political efforts to address and ameliorate these effects to increase at an increasing rate as well. We need a change in administration for that to happen. (Source: Reuters December 12, 2007)
- Of all the constituencies that you would think that right wing politicians would listen to, hunters in the heartland of the United States would be at the top of the list. Yet, those hunters aren't being listened to by the right wing, and the reason has to do with an inconvenient clash between ideology and the information available from on the ground.
Duck hunters pay as much attention to the weather as anyone. Their prey comes to hunting grounds when the weather is right, not according to abstract dates on the calendar. In Missouri, duck hunters are telling their state government that ducks are migrating south later in the year, as predicted by scientists who study global warming. In fact, in surveys of duck hunters, the hunters are requesting that the hunting season be adjusted because the old dates don't reflect the new migration patterns. The hunters want the season later in the autumn.
These hunters from the American Midwest are providing on-the-ground observations of climate change and its impact on traditional ways of life in the heartland. Yet, right wing politicians won't listen to them, and insist that the climate change isn't happening. Those politicians rather protect the profitability of big oil corporations than honor the word of duck hunters.
Progressives, on the other hand, are listening to the hunters, and are proposing action to prevent the continued deterioration of the climate upon which hunters, and all other people, depend. (Source: New York Times, December 11, 2007)
- Some people need to be competitive to get anything of worth done. I understand that. For them, I offer the following challenge, made by India: The government of India has pledged that the global warming emissions of its country will remain below the emissions of more wealthy nations like the United States, in spite of the rapid growth of India's economy and population.
So, the ball is now in the court of us Americans. Are we going to let the people of India defeat us in the competition to restrain greenhouse gas emissions? If you want to be defeatist in this contest, then vote for a right wing politician who won't even try to win. If you want America to be the winner, vote progressive. (Source: Reuters, December 2, 2007)
- The Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2007 is one of the most worthwhile pieces of legislation to enter the US Senate in 2007. If passed, the legislation would give incentives to help private landowners to protect and enhance habitat for endangered species on their property. That's especially important, given the vulnerability of wildlife under our rapidly changing climate. Senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties have cosponsored the bill.
In spite of its obvious worth not one of the presidential candidates from the United States Senate has co-sponsored the Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2007. (Sources: Library of Congress, National Audubon Society)
- It's popular among presidential candidates these days to say that there is no difference between blue states and red states, and that Americans all really want the same thing - to elect the candidate who is speaking. Barack Obama pioneered the message in his 2004 speech at the Democratic presidential convention, but since then, it's used as a truism by candidates of both political parties.
Of course, a just because something is a truism doesn't mean it's true. Often, a truism is just something that seems obviously true because it's something that people want to believe. The underlying unity of red states and blue states is one of these untrue truisms.
The environmental scorecard by the League of Conservation Voters gives one strong example. The League of Conservation Voters is not a partisan organization, exactly. However, the organization does promote environmental policies, and in doing so, it ends up promoting an agenda that is more often associated with Democrats than Republicans.
This trend is seen quite easily in looking at the state delegation scores in the LCV National Environmental Scorecard, which tracks how members of Congress vote on environmental legislation. Blue state delegations to the House of Representatives get an average LCV legislative score of 74.05 percent. Blue state delegations to the U.S. Senate do even better, getting an average legislative score of 78.31 percent.
Red state delegations to Congress don't do nearly as well. Red state delegations to the House average only a score of 28.96 percent. Red state delegations to the Senate do even worse averaging only 26.8 percent.
That's a gap in the LCV legislative score of 45 percent in the House, and 51.5 percent in the Senate. No difference between red states and blue states? That's not what the record in Congress shows.
Blue states are progressive states, and they chose the Democratic candidate in 2008. If you care about the environment, you can trust blue state judgment much more than you can trust the judgment of red states.
For right now, the best option for voting green is voting blue. (Source: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006)
- If you want to get a good graphic picture of the geographic distribution of carbon emissions, visit CARMA - Carbon Monitoring for Action. The web site provides information on the dirtiest power plants, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, around the world.
Take a look at the site's list of the top five highest sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, and one thing stands out right away. All of the top five dirtiest power plants in the United States on CARMA's list are in red states - states that voted to re-elect George W. Bush in 2004.
Clearly, the Republican perspective is not the most credible in terms of confronting the role of carbon dioxide pollution in climate change. (Source: CARMA.org)
- The United States imports 13 percent of its food, but the Food and Drug Administration does not even inspect one percent of that imported food in order to ensure that it is safe for consumption. The Republican response to this problem: Inspect even less food. Republican-appointed FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach has proposed cutting the number of FDA field labs in half. (Source: Sierra Magazine, November-December 2007)
- As recently as two years ago, prominent conservatives propped up with corporate dollars were loudly asserting that global warming was the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
Including new climate data for the year of 2007 (which are provisionally true barring any wild fluctuations), the eleven warmest years on record for the globe have all occurred within the past thirteen years. The eight warmest years on record for the globe include the last seven years. The seven warmest years on record for the globe include the last six years.
That the globe is warming is no longer a matter that can be reasonably disputed. Watch the naysayers forget they ever said global warming wasn't happening and move on to adopt next delaying tactic. Lend your ear to the people who had it right. Watch out for politicians who loudly proclaim how much they care and slickly avoid actually doing anything. Look for politicians who are willing to discuss specific means to remedy the emerging problem. (Sources: Senator James Inhofe, January 4 2005; BBC December 13 2007)
- Think back to the election of 2004, and you'll remember the nasty television advertisement produced by the Club for Growth. The ad featured a couple of paid actors, pretending to be ordinary Americans telling latte-sipping, sushi-eating Howard Dean to go back where he came from. Of course, that advertisement wasn't just an insult to Howard Dean. It was an insult to Vermont. The idea was that Vermont was full of wacko liberal ideas that were too weird for the rest of America.
What are those weird ideas that people have in Vermont, anyway? Well, besides latte, cleanliness is one of the most important ideas for the people in Vermont. The people of Vermont believe in keeping their state and their country clean. When it comes down to it, that's what environmentalism is really all about: Picking up after yourself.
The clean politics of Vermont are revealed quite well in the record of the state's congressional delegation, as analyzed in the National Environmental Scorecard put together every year by the League of Conservation Voters. In the most recent National Environmental Scorecard put together by the LCV, red state delegations, from those states that voted to re-elect George W. Bush in 2004, earn an average score that's between 20 and 30 percent. Vermont, however, is the only state in the Union to earn a 100 percent rating for the politicians it sends to both the House and the Senate.
Vermont liberals are focused on keeping America clean and in the clear, far and away outperforming states that voted Republican in 2004. That's a good reason to, the next time you see a latte-sipping liberal from Vermont, pull up a chair and listen for a bit. You just might get some good words of advice. (Source: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006)
- One sign of how desperately serious climate change has become is Australia's new project for an evacuation route for wildlife. If it works, a corridor of habitat over 1,700 miles long connecting Australia's hot north with the cooler south will allow nature's refugees from harsh shifts in climate to move into new ecological niches, improving their chances for survival. (Source: Sierra Magazine, November-December 2007)
- Questions that the oceans are in crisis ought to dissolve upon hearing the news that the Earth's oceans are becoming so bare of fish that seafood companies are having to develop ways to farm fish in artificial environments, and then add flavor back into fish to make them taste like fish are supposed to taste. Oceana calls the product "fish-flavored fish".
For the hope of a return to a world in which we can find fish that are already fish-flavored, vote for a progressive candidate for President in 2008. (Source: The Oceana Network, December 13, 2007)
- For as long as anyone can remember, Wyoming voters have leaned toward the right. They have consistently voted Republican in the presidential elections, and 2008 looks like another Republican year for Wyoming.
You might think that counts as a reason for all America to vote Republican. After all, shouldn't we listen to Wyoming's rugged example?
Actually, no, I don't think that we should. You see, as part of its right wing identity, Wyoming sends strongly anti-environmental legislators to Congress. In the most recent National Environmental Scorecard, Wyoming's congressional delegation scored the lowest of any delegation in the country. Wyoming's representatives in both the House and Senate earned a zero percent rating in the scorecard. That means that the Wyoming delegation to Congress didn't vote to protect America's environment on even one occasion.
That kind of stark failure, due to ideological anti-environmental extremism, provides a very good reason to vote contrary to the advice of Wyoming, and work to elect a progressive President instead. (Source: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006)
- If you think that America's water ought to run clean, thank Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Dennis Kucinich for standing up against those who want to compromise the cleanliness of the nation's waters in order to make a quick buck. Dodd and Kucinich are the only presidential candidates to have co-sponsored the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007.
When the Clean Water Act was passed, it applied to all wetlands and waterways in the United States. Recently, however, right wing Supreme Court justices appointed by George W. Bush ruled that the Clean Water Act should not apply at all to some wetlands and streams. This action by the Supreme Court gave a green light to those who would destroy the integrity of America's clean water resources.
The Clean Water Restoration Act is designed to correct for the Supreme Court's actions, amending the Clean Water Act to ensure that all America's natural sources of water are protected, as the Clean Water Act intended to protect them. This legislation is not an expansion of the authority of the Clean Water Act, just a correction of a right wing attempt to cripple the Clean Water Act.
Not one Republican presidential candidate has come out in support of the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007. Also, Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joseph Biden have not cosponsored the bill. For the 2008 presidential election, Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich stand head and shoulders above the rest of the field when it comes to protecting America's waters. (Sources: Library of Congress, National Wildlife Federation)
- One of the right wing's last lines of defense against taking responsibility for human contributions to climate change has been to focus on the single personality of Al Gore. Right wingers have criticized Al Gore for living in a huge house while asking others to cut their energy use in order to slow down human-induced climate change.
It's a worthwhile critique, up to a point, actually. In fighting climate change, it's not enough to encourage other people to change. We need to make change ourselves.
However, the right wing critique has a couple of serious flaws. First of all, the right wing's conclusion is irresponsible. If Al Gore hasn't been living up to his ecological responsibilities, that's a not a good excuse for other people to reject their responsibilities as well. Yet, that's just what the right wing proposes - to magnify Al Gore's mistake to the national scale, with the refusal to support environmental action by the federal government.
On a more personal level, the right wing has not acknowledged the true end to the story of Al Gore's house. He has renovated the house to make it environmentally efficient. The U.S. Green Building Council has given Gore's home its second-highest rating for environmental efficiency. Kim Shinn, co-founder of the Tennessee chapter of the council, has looked at Al Gore's house herself, and says, "Short of tearing it down and staring anew, I don't know how it could have been rated any higher." (Source: Associated Press, October 12, 2007)
- In 2006, Republican Congressman Adam Putnam offered an amendment to appropriations bill HR 5386. Putnam's amendment countered language in the original bill that would have ended the moratorium on offshore drilling for fossil fuels close to shore. If the amendment had failed, drilling platforms would have now been under construction as close to shore as just three miles. In the wake of the massive oil spills in San Francisco Bay, the Black Sea and on the coast of South Korea, anyone can see what folly that would have been. That's why enough Republicans broke party ranks to join the Democrats in voting to preserve the moratorium.
Yet, all of the three Republicans in the House of Representatives who are now running for President voted in favor of killing the amendment. Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo voted no to protecting America's coastlines from drilling for fossil fuels close to shore. We can safely presume any one of these three would support the same pro-drilling agenda on behalf of big oil companies again if elected President.
Dennis Kucinich defied Tancredo, Hunter and Paul. Kucinich voted for the Putnam amendment. (Sources: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006; Library of Congress)
- Just one month after the Putnam amendment was approved, the three House Republicans now running for President voted to undo the coastal protection enabled by it. Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo voted in favor of H.R. 4761, a bill that allowed for expanded drilling for natural gas and crude oil as close as three miles from American shorelines.
Once again, Dennis Kucinich came to the defense of America's beaches, and voted no.
If you're in favor of allowing crude oil to be pumped out of the earth through storm-vulnerable platforms just three miles away from your favorite marine coastline, then voting for Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter or Tom Tancredo may make sense for you. For the rest of us, a vote for a progressive like Dennis Kucinich makes a lot more sense. (Sources: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006; Library of Congress)
- A new scientific analysis of the trend of melting of the Arctic Ocean's ice cap indicates that the Arctic Ocean may be completely ice-free in summer within just six years. In fact, researcher Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union that his projection of an ice-free Arctic summer may be not extreme enough, based upon the fact that the extreme Arctic melts of 2005 and 2007 were not incorporated into his climate models.
"Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007" Maslowski explained. "Given that fact, you can argue that maybe our projection of 2013 is already too conservative." (Source: BBC News, December 12, 2007)
- Here's a simple test of integrity: When a corporation dumps five thousand pounds of toxic pollution out into the air or water that moves through our communities, should they be required to tell what they've done, or should they be allowed to keep it a secret?
The Bush White House says that the corporation ought to be able to keep that five thousand pounds of poison a secret, so that people might breathe the poison in, or drink it in their water, and never know the poison was there. Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter, Republican congressmen who are running as presidential candidates in 2008, agree with that position. On May 18, 2006, they voted against an amendment by Congressman Frank Pallone that would have reversed the Bush White House's decision to allow up to five thousand pounds of pollution to be released into the environment without being reported.
Democrat Dennis Kucinich voted against them, in favor of the amendment. You can count five thousand pounds of poison as a good reason to vote for a progressive like Kucinich instead of a right wing politician like Paul, Tancredo or Hunter. (Sources: League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Scorecard, 2006; Library of Congress)
- The high level of environmental mismanagement by the Bush Administration and its problems with corruption are not separate, as at first they seem to be. Rather, according the Center for Biological Diversity, the two are intricately connected, with corruption leading to obstruction of environmental review procedures that are supposed to ensure thorough environmental management by the federal government.
Particular focus has been given to decisions made by qualified government scientists that were then overturned by former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Julie MacDonald. However, the problem is actually much larger. "The depth of corruption within the Department of the Interior goes way beyond Julie MacDonald and eight decisions," explains Michael Senatore, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity. "It impacts hundreds of endangered species and millions of acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat."
Lawsuits alleging government corruption in environmental decisions are now taking place in seven different states. A government that rejected secrecy and embraced environmental responsibility would not have to deal with such extensive litigation. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity, November 16, 2007)
- 75 percent of Americans, when asked by a pollster, respond that they plan to be more environmentally responsible in 2008. Shouldn't we have a President who has the same attitude?
Changing light bulbs over to more energy efficient models, insulating, and conserving fuel are all important ways to be environmentally responsible. However, we are profoundly social beings, and the energy expenditures we create through our associations are much more potent than what we create merely on our own.
Elections bring together our social natures and our desire to be responsible. If 75 percent of Americans really want to be more environmentally responsible in 2008, then a great place for them to start is by choosing a reliably environmentally aware presidential candidate to vote for in their political party's primary election in their state. (Source: Reuters, December 17, 2007)
- Ecologically disastrous acidification of ocean waters as a result of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is often cited as something we can expect in the future, at the same time that we suffer from global warming. Increased acidity in the ocean can make it difficult, or even impossible, for animals like clams, crabs and corals to build their shells and skeletons.
A recent news item changes the tone of this issue from looming to critical. Ocean acidification is already here. The oceans are already 30 percent more acidic than they were at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Reporter Les Blumenthal cites Richard Feely, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, as revealing that "Corrosive water between 600 and 700 feet deep has already been detected off the continental shelf of Washington, Oregon and Alaska".
When our habits of high energy consumption are making marine waters off our coast corrosive, it's time to change our habits. To do that at the national level, we need to change the kind of President we put into the White House too. (Source: Tacoma News Tribune, December 17, 2007)
- Cuts in carbon dioxide emissions might reverse increases in temperature a bring about a milder version of climate change. When it comes to the acidification of the ocean, however, it's already too late to reverse the acidification of the ocean. So says Stephen Emerson, professor of oceanography at the University of Washington. He explains that the cycles of the ocean are so long, and have already been disturbed so profoundly, that, "for all practical purposes, this is permanent." The most we can do is not make the conversion of ocean waters into acid less severe. For the sake of the survival of human civilization, we had best get started on that project as soon as possible. (Source: Tacoma News Tribune, December 17, 2007)
- When I wrote an article describing the terrible environmental record earned by California Reublican Duncan Hunter, who got a zero percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters, the reaction of his supporters was an indication of the pathological disregard for a clean environment among right wing activists in America today. One supporter called the zero percent rating an "impressive recommendation" for the Hunter for President campaign. Another supporter, writing for a blog called Ohio Duncan Hunter for President, remarked, "If you are a conservative, you know there's always something fun about ticking off the envirowhackos."
We don't think that asking someone running for President of the United States to earn more than a zero percent rating on environmental legislation makes us "envirowhackos". It's saddening to me to see that defending polluters who trash the Earth is regarded by some Americans as "something fun". (Source: Ohio Duncan Hunter For President, December 21, 2007)
- When you ask them why they're in favor of various policies that hurt people, like racial segregation, laws against various forms of consensual sex, and the relaxation of industrial pollution standards, conservatives will often tell you that they're not really in favor of those policies, just "states' rights" to engage in those policies. But Environmental Protection Agency administrator Stephen Johnson, a Bush political appointee, ignored the concept of states' rights when he informed 18 states, led by California, that they would not have permission to pass laws requiring higher mileage and lower greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles bought in their states. This shows that states' rights isn't the motivating force for conservatives; it's representation of industrial interests that don't to be fettered by little things like clean air and a stable climate.
But that's not all that Bush appointee Stephen Johnson had to barrel through in order to do his corporate masters' bidding. He also had to specifically reject the advice of EPA lawyers, who told him that these 18 states actually do have the legal right to pass greenhouse gas and mileage laws. Johnson also had to reject the findings of EPA scientists who told him that the policy proposal of these 18 states fit the EPA's standards for improving environmental conditions. An EPA staffer brought these findings to Bush appointee Johnson's attention: ""California met every criteriaÉ on the merits. The same criteria we have used for the last 40 years on all the other waivers. We told him that. All the briefings we have given him laid out the facts."
But screw all that. Screw the supposed commitment of conservatives to state autonomy. Screw the law. Screw science. That is what happened, and that is what will continue to happen until we see regime change in Washington. (Source: Los Angeles Times December 21, 2007)
- Still believe that global warming is a hoax? Go to the residents of Castiglione Di Cervia in Italy, and tell them that. They've been suffering from chikungunya, a tropical disease that is transmitted by tiger mosquitoes. Tiger mosquitoes have been unable to live in Europe, because the climate there was too cold. Now, thanks to global warming, Europe is warm enough for tiger mosquitoes and the diseases that they bring. Thus, villagers in Italy are now suffering from tropical diseases from which they were formerly safe. (Source: New York Times, December 23, 2007)
- One easy way to cut global warming emissions would be for the federal government to stop subsidizing the entertainment of people who like to take inefficient, dirty vehicles powered by fossil fuels and drive them around through the wilderness, creating criss-crossing patterns of muddy ruts where there used to be quality habitat. What has the Bush Administration done instead? They've gone and expanded the areas in public lands through which off road hobbyists can go vroom vroom like little boys playing with Matchbox cars.
In the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, for example, the Bush Administration has authorized 20 new miles of routes through the public land. What's worst of all is where the Bush Administration said that the new routes should go: As the Defenders of Wildlife describe it, "in the most sensitive habitats of the Bear Island Unit, an area in the northwest corner of Big Cypress frequented by the critically endangered Florida panther."
It's as if the Bush White House was trying to come up with a way to do the most damage to the Big Cypress National Preserve as possible. (Source: Defenders of Wildlife, December 22, 2007)
- Over the last few months, as the Bush Administration has sought to increase the size of loopholes designed to let big polluters release more mercury into America's air and water, there has been a predictable response by avid Republicans: They've denied that pumping more mercury into the environment is any kind of problem at all. They'll say that eating fish saturated with mercury is no big deal. They'll even make the outrageous claim that no one has ever died from mercury poisoning.
What can you do when a Republican makes claims like this? Open their eyes with a little science.
For instance, you might mention the results of a study released by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine's Center for Children's Health and the Environment. The study is entitled Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methylmercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain (methylmercury is the toxin produced when microorganisms metabolize the mercury released into the air by coal-burning power plants).
As a part of this study, researchers calculated that the American economy loses 8.7 billion dollars every year as a result of brain damage suffered by children as a result of mercury poisoning. Keep in mind that this economic impact is the result of the mercury poisoning of children alone. Adults suffer from mercury poisoning too.
Now, as Republicans listen to this kind of information, they typically resort to a fallback position. They'll say that mercury pollution is mostly natural, and that the amount of mercury pumped out of America's smokestacks doesn't make a big impact on people's health. They'll blame volcanic eruptions for practically all the mercury pollution across America.
Don't let this tactical retreat fool you. It's bunk. 70 percent of mercury poisoning is from anthropogenic sources (that means human-produced pollution). This information came from a study released three years ago, but the Republican Party tends to take a long while to deal with new scientific information in their rhetoric. It also turns out that almost half of the anthropogenic sources of mercury in the United States are the big polluting power plants that the Bush Administration wants to help keep on polluting. Bush's dishonestly titled "Clear Skies Initiative" would increase the amount of mercury pollution allowed to a level 500 percent higher than what is allowed under the older Clean Air Initiative. The upshot is this: Human activity is to blame for the mercury poisoning of children, and there is something that we can do about it.
At this point, you can expect a Republican to resort to name calling. You'll be called a "bleeding-heart liberal" - a term that means nothing other than that you care about people and value freedom (Republicans think that's an insult). You'll also be called a whiner. You'll be called an environmentalist wacko.
Once again, the best response to this sort of petulant Republican reaction to the facts is to counter with more information. That Republican probably has no idea that approximately 600,000 American babies suffer brain damage as a result of mercury poisoning - every year. The mercury enters the babies' bodies through the umbilical cord while they are still in the womb. That's Prenatal Mental Abortion - and why in the world would a Republican favor that?
- Giraffes are remarkable animals. You know that if you've ever been in the presence of one, or for that matter, even if you haven't ever seen one in person. A world without giraffes would be impoverished.
Yet, with loss of habitat, and climate change stressing what habitat remains, giraffes are in trouble. Their numbers have declined by a third in just the last ten years, and some kinds of giraffes are in danger of disappearing soon, and forever.
Right wing politicians merely observe this loss, perhaps with some regret. They do nothing, because they regard the cost of action to keep giraffes on Earth as too high. They'd rather conserve corporate profits than habitat, though habitat is a sustainable resource, while corporate profits are mostly hoarded by the top one percent of the population, and thrown away on frivolous things like ski trips to Paraguay.
It's progressives who are doing the work to save animals like the giraffes, to prevent them from becoming nothing more than icons of a forgotten past. (Source: LiveScience, December 20, 2007)
- The climate crisis has gotten so bad, and federal government inaction has become such a problem, that American cities have had to begun work to pick up the slack. Local governments are now using their own budgets to offer residents incentives to use green technology and design to make up for the continuing flow of rivers of pollution into the sky from unrepentently anti-green states like Texas.
"In terms of waiting for the federal government, we've waited a long time, and frankly, we haven't gotten very much," explains Jared Blumenfeld, director of San Francisco's Department of Environment.
It's great that local governments are stepping forward to do their part, but it's ridiculous for efforts to counter the global problem of climate change to be haphazardly advanced in a piecemeal fashion by local governments. The United States needs a President who will lead with strong action to control climate change, and cooperate with other countries in international efforts to do the same. (Source: Associated Press, December 27, 2007)
- Vote progressive. Do it for the walrus. As global warming has accelerated and ice sheets have quickly
retreated, large numbers of walrus have been stuck on land without
access to the water, with thousands of walrus dying as a result. And
yet, even with these mass deaths going on, we still have in charge the
same people who used to try to claim that global warming was a hoax
and wasn't even happening. It's high time for a change, and we need
people in government who are not only able but willing to make the
change happen. (Source: Associated Press December 24, 2007)
An essential part of the effort to fight global warming is the expansion of opportunities for Americans to produce their own clean energy from sources such as wind and solar panels, and to profit from that clean energy generation by sharing the energy with other households. This expansion of localized clean energy generation is made possible by net metering and up-to-date interconnection standards. Unfortunately, only 39 states actually have established statewide standards enabling individual clean energy producers to contribute to the larger grid.
The Network for New Energy Choices grades these 39 states on the quality of their public policies on net metering and interconnection. The results of the group's 2007 report card shows that blue states outperform red states on both net metering and interconnection. Among the findings:
- Of the five states that got a grade of A on net metering policies, four were blue states that voted for John Kerry in 2004. Only one of these high-achieving states, Colorado, was a 2004 red state.
- Four states were given failing grades on their net metering policies. Three of these four failing states were 2004 red states.
- Only one blue state has failed to develop statewide policies on net metering. However, eleven red states have failed to develop these policies.
- No states got a grade of A on interconnection policies, but six states were given failing grades for their policies. Four of these failing states were red states. Only two blue states were placed in this failing category.
- Only two blue states lack interconnection policies, whereas fourteen red states lack these policies.
(Source: Freeing The Grid, from the Network for New Energy Choices, December, 2007)
- In her time as Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Interior, Republican appointee Julie MacDonald was caught illegally interfering in government decisions about protection for endangered species and habitat protection for political reasons, and in one case for her own personal financial benefit. She was forced to resign in disgrace.
In spite of what is already known to the public, official government investigations into Julie MacDonald's misconduct and illegal activities has been slow. Some aspects of MacDonald's activities behind the scenes at the Department of the Interior are known, but others remain government secrets.
As a result, the Center for Biological Diversity has been forced to file a lawsuit seeking to compel the government to open its records about Julie MacDonald's record at the Department of the Interior. Thanks go out to the Center for Biological Diversity for its work on behalf of environmental integrity and open government. Only shame goes to the government for its continuing efforts to hide its mistakes from public view. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity, December 28, 2007)
- We could have taken a short cut to compiling this list of 2,008 reasons to elect a progressive President merely by listing all the species of living things that are seriously threatened by human activity. Progressives, after all, are distinguished from right wing politicians by the willingness to adapt human activity in order to preserve the ecological integrity of the Earth. Right wing politicians seem to have forgotten that human survival and prosperity depend upon the Earth's ecological integrity.
We could have taken that short cut of just listing all the threatened species, but it actually wouldn't be a short cut. The World Conservation Union lists 41,415 species on its Red List of living things under threat. As important as the threat to these tens of thousands of species is, in order to give any room at all to other kinds of reasons to vote progressive, we need to shorten the list, and give just a sample of the species listed upon it.
The source for the following information comes from the World Conservation Union Red List Report of 2007.
Let's start out with some of the losses. The following are just a few of the species that have already gone extinct:
- Atitl‡n Grebe
- Golden Toad
- Yunnan Lake Newt
- Jambato Toad
- Northern Gastric Brooding Frog
- St. Helena Olive
- Panay Giant Fruit Bat
- Midway Noctuid Moth
- Saint Croix Racer
- Guadeloupe Parrot
- Mauritian Duck
- Woolly-stalked Begonia
- Boulder Snail
- Jamaican Red Macaw
- Round island burrowing boa
- Oriente cave rat
- Desert rat kangaroo
- Schomburgk's deer
- Pig-footed bandicoot
- Snake river sucker
- Central valley grasshopper
- Yunnan box turtle
- King island emu
- Falklands wolf
- Acorn pearly mussel
- Tristan moorhen
- Arabian gazelle
- Xerces blue
- Madagascan dwarf hippopotamus
Now, let's move on to those species that have gone extinct in the wild, but are being kept alive in captivity. Again, this is just a small sample of a much larger number:
- Hawaiian Crow
- Scimitar-horned Oryx
- Wyoming Toad
- Guam Rail
- Bastard Gumwood
- Oha Wai
- Black Soft-Shelled Turtle
- Saudi Gazelle
- Root-spine palm
- Red tailed shark
- Oahu deceptor bush cricket
- Kalimantan mango
Many more species are on the verge of extinction, categorized as critically endangered. A few among them are:
- Sicilian fir
- Doumergue's fringe-fingered lizard
- Visayan wrinkled hornbill
- Blunt chaff flower
- Baltic sturgeon
- Asia minor spiny mouse
- New caledonian owlet
- Morelet's treefrog
- Appalacian elktoe
- Iranian jerboa
- Chinese alligator
- Chestnut-bellied hummingbird
- Chinese giant salamander
- Laysan duck
- Sri lankan relict ant
- Glaucous macaw
- Knifetooth sawfish
- Long-billed tailorbird
- Bulmer's fruit bat
- Candelabra tree
- Skunk frog
- Cave squeaker
- Andean catfish
- Variegated spider monkey
- Sri lankan rose
- Sydney hawk
- Hunter's antelope
- Virginia round-leaf birch
- Namdapha flying squirrel
- Grey ox
- Dwarf olive ibis
- Fiji crested iguana
- Pygmy three-toed sloth
- Stone mountain fairy shrimp
- Mindoro dwarf buffalo
- Philippine cockatoo
- Sea marigold
- Painted terrapin
- Bactrian camel
- Imperial woodpecker
- Red wolf
- Walia ibex
- Pondicherry shark
- Giant hispaniolan galliwasp
- Dumb gulper shark
- Sentani rainbowfish
- Hantu water shrew
- Short-tailed chinchilla
- Cone-billed tanager
- Beautiful nursery-frog
- Orinoco crocodile
- Pacific lacefern
- Sumatran rhinoceros
- Cebu flowerpecker
- Wrangel lemming
- Amsterdam albatross
- Blue skate
- Madeiran land snail
- Major black millipede
- Land lobster
- Pere david's deer
- Calico grouper
- Boreal felt lichen
- Greek brook lamprey
- White-eyed river-martin
- Forest gardenia
- Tree hole crab
- New guinea river shark
- Lowland gorilla
- California condor
- Javan gibbon
- Bermuda cedar
- Hawaiian tree cotton
- Northern hairy-nosed wombat
- Carolina heelsplitter
Other species, while not on the immediate verge of extinction, are endangered, and could disappear soon. Some of the many species in this category are:
- Russian sturgeon
- Elegant sunbird
- Mottled eagle ray
- Venezuelan sylph
- Giant panda
- Red panda
- Hairy-eared dwarf lemur
- Alabama shad
- Guatemalan black howler monkey
- Mangrove hummingbird
- Wild almond
- Hawaiian duck
- Hyacinth macaw
- Swan goose
- Sacramento beetle
- Spanish toothcarp
- Brown kiwi
- Wild apricot
- Ramsay's python
- Giant freshwater crayfish
- Spotback skate
- Shrubby buckwheat
- Calamanian deer
- Sei whale
- Silver shark
- Ecuadorian sac-winged bat
- Gold-ringed tanager
- Brook barbel
- Clanwilliam sawfin
- Chiriqui olingo
- European bison
- Marbled murrelet
- Red-breasted goose
- Puerto rico raintree
- Spineless forest lizard
- Piedmont blue burrower
- Ethiopian wolf
- Assam rabbit
- Borneo shark
- Red siskin
- Chacoan peccary
- Bay cat
- Gunnison sage-grouse
- Hector's dolphin
- Red-bellied monkey
- Phillipine spotted deer
- Two-fingered skink
- Giant wrasse
- Green turtle
- Boyd's maidenfern
- Giant golden mole
- Puritan tiger beetle
- Oriental stork
- Neglected frog
- Hog-nosed bat
- Panay bushy-tailed cloud rat
- Paradox shrew
- Asiatic wild dog
- Saharan cypress
- Otter civet
- Mexican prairie dog
- Burmese rosewood
- Mekong freshwater stingray
- Coiban agouti
- Millionaire's salad
- Goodfellow's tree kangaroo
- Venezuelan flowerpiercer
- Black forest-wallaby
- Chinese dormouse
- Anderson's crocodile newt
- Piping peeping frog
- Alexandria cycad
- Lilly pilly burrowing crayfish
- Sea otter
- Mountain zebra
- Long-eared jerboa
- North pacific right whale
- Erect-crested penguin
- Chilean woodstar
- Steller sea lion
- Woolly flying squirrel
- Madagascar serpent-eagle
- Saker falcon
- Giant-striped mongoose
- Tuxtla quail-dove
- Chinese water fir
- Whooping crane
- Northern abalone
- Cyprus whip snake
- Cape seahorse
- Atlantic halibut
- Golden lion tamarin
- Vietnamese pheasant