Aaron Fairchild is an unabashed “eco-capitalist.” And his Seattle-based company, Green Canopy Homes, is helping renovate excess housing stock around the city while putting people to work. It’s a one-two punch: provide a fix to the housing downturn while reducing emissions.
The company only has about nine homes under its belt. But when you consider that each project supports close to 50 jobs from start to finish, that’s not inconsequential.
Climate Solutions has a profile of the company as part of its video series highlighting “solutions stories.” It’s a great set of videos, and I hope they get to put together more of them.
With seemingly every program related to clean energy, efficiency and climate change under attack, these are the kind of positive stories we need to keep telling
Mitt Romney, arguably the leading Republican candidate for president of the United States in the 2012 election, recently significantly diminished his prospects for obtaining the support he needs from the right wing of his party. How did he do this? He simply declared that he believes the Earth is warming, and that human activities are responsible. To most scientists, such a statement would be considered fairly innocuous, and an accurate assessment of current understanding. But to a large fraction of the US Republican party, this is a completely unacceptable position – ranking alongside gay marriage, gun control and abortion rights. Anthropogenic climate change has become a litmus test for Republicans in the United States.
If you want to appeal to the hard core of the party – those whom you need in order to obtain the party’s nomination – you simply can not acknowledge what almost every national science academy and scientific organization has accepted for many years. In fact, many other prominent Republicans, sensing the winds of retribution, have already back-tracked on whatever previous statements they might have made, if they contained even a whiff of climate reality. Given the importance of getting the United States on board to obtain a comprehensive international agreement on controlling greenhouse gases, this dismissal of scientific evidence about global warming is both sad and alarming.
Climate scientists on the front lines of this battle have suffered badly from the poisonous political atmosphere. Rightwing blogs and talk radio demagogues have promoted the idea that climate science is a worthless charade, where data are simply manipulated to obtain a politically motivated result. Scientists have been abused on blogs and via emails and some have even been physically threatened. Government officials have misused their positions to intimidate and harass prominent scientists, following a strategy of attacking the messenger when they don’t like hearing the message. A leading Republican senator asked the Justice Department to investigate 17 climate scientists (myself included) for committing fraud and other crimes. How have we arrived at this sorry state?
In order to understand the current state of play, one has to recognize that the issue of global warming is being completely manipulated by a group of individuals, businesses and organizations that have entrenched financial interests in making sure that the United States does not enact any legislation to control greenhouse gas emissions. At the extreme, these groups believe in complete market fundamentalism – that free markets, stripped of all constraints, will take care of any and all problems that we may face. To bolster this fundamentalist strategy, they provide major financial support to organizations that promote nonsensical ideas, such as global warming is a hoax and the IPCC reports are full of errors.
They also flood the electoral system with money, to ensure that like-minded right-wing politicians are elected to Congress. These politicians then dutifully hold hearings, inviting hand-picked scientists (often with minimal qualifications in climate science) to provide testimony which sows the seeds of doubt about the reality of global warming. The political objectives of these hearings are rarely discussed by the media. The general public just hears that more scientists disagree about an issue they find hard to deal with (which it is) and so they conclude that if scientists can’t agree, why should they support legislation to control emissions? In this way, the cynical but very effective strategy of the rightwing runs its course, and the US sits on its hands while atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations approach levels not seen on Earth for more than 2.5 million years.
If climate scientists were indeed all working together to manipulate data and create a fictitious scenario of the future, that would require a truly remarkable feat of coordination, and a sense of common purpose. What could the motivation of this cohort be? The answer was given to me by Congressman James Sensenbrenner (remarkably, now vice-chairman of the US House committee on science, space and technology). This high-ranking Republican carefully explained that the Kyoto protocol was a conspiracy by developing nations to cripple the US economy. Since these developing countries (apparently) could not compete on a level playing field with the US, they had devised the Kyoto treaty to tilt things in their direction, and climate scientists were complicit in this strategy. To those who subscribe to Sensenbrenner’s bizarre idea, it is only a small step further to frame the argument in patriotic terms. If you support Kyoto (or its goals) you must be anti-American, or at the very least a socialist. Which brings me back to Mitt Romney.
The Republican party in the United States is now in thrall to the extreme right wing, which is in turn financed and coached by those with the financial muscle to promote their narrow ideological agendas. To obtain the backing of these groups, you have to toe the line, and speak the words their dogma requires: global warming is not happening, perhaps even a hoax; whatever warming has occurred is just a natural oscillation; even if humans had something to do with it, it’s not a big deal and we can adapt to it. And besides, we can’t afford to control greenhouse gases, as such action will result in massive job losses. For a politician seeking the party’s nomination for president, it is a dangerous strategy to cross the line on this topic.
To the ideologues who have invested millions to support their political factotums in the US Congress, their money has been well spent, as meaningful legislation to control greenhouse gases has virtually disappeared from the congressional agenda. But not content with that success, they have now drawn a line in the sand for those seeking political office; global warming is off limits entirely. It is not something they want to be discussed at all.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world has recognized the reality of global warming and acknowledged the real dangers that it poses for the future. Although taking steps to address the matter is difficult, many countries have embraced the opportunity to reduce energy consumption, implement conservation strategies and promote new technologies that involve energy production from non-carbon based fuels. Politicians who embrace these strategies represent the future. Those who don’t will simply become footnotes in history. Romney made the right decision – on this topic, at least.
16th Century China relied on silver coins as a medium of exchange despite a lack of domestic sources of silver. What’s more, given the prevailing technologies of the time China produced a number of goods for which there was European demand, but Europe produced no goods that Chinese households wanted to consume. Consequently, as Charles Mann documents in 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, China ran a large trade surplus in order to amass foreign exchange:
Today, of course, it’s not silver from the mines of Potosí that China is amassing. Instead it’s debt created by the US Treasury and the government-sponsored mortgage agencies. But the basic structure of exporting real goods in order to amass monetary instruments is quite similar.
In April of 2010, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) appointed Diana Cantor — the wife of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) — to the Virginia Retirement System’s board. She became chair of the board two months later. One month after Ms. Cantor joined this board, the Bank of New York Mellon started making the maximum allowable contribution to Rep. Cantor’s PAC. The Virginia Retirement System is a $4.5 million per year client of Bank of New York Mellon.
This morning, Republican Governors Association (RGA) Chairman and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he heaped praise on the policy vision of Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), saying that cutting taxes will stimulate the economy. McDonnell then complained that “this [Obama] administration is doing just the opposite,” saying that it is enacting “more taxes, more regulation, more unionization”:
MCDONNELL: Well I think on job creation and economic development, he’s laid out some things that will really help to stimulate the economy. With tax cuts, and regulatory cuts and litigation reform and those kinds of things that get to the heart and soul of what you need to do to promote business. This administration is doing just the opposite. More taxes, more regulation, more unionization. It’s the wrong policy.
Apparently unbeknownst to McDonnell, union membership has actually been declining in the United States. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from Jaunary 2011 pointed out that union membership fell by more than 600,000 members in 2010, and that union membership as a percentage of the working population was much higher in 1983 when Ronald Reagan was president:
In 2010, the union membership rate?the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union?was 11.9 percent, down from 12.3 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions declined by 612,000 to 14.7 million. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.
It’s unfortunate that McDonnell is not right about there being “more unionization” under President Obama. As the Center for American Progress’ Karla Walters and David Madland showed in a report they published last January, the decline in unionization in the United States correlates to skyrocketing inequality:
The last time there was a major spike in union membership was actually in 2008, under former president George W. Bush.
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The warning signs for Bank of America are all there. The liabilities are rising. The lawsuits keep coming in. The Knights of Columbus actually expanded their challenge to the large settlement on mortgage backed securities, another signal that the[...]
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A former Goldman Sachs VP named Peter Simonyi (who previously worked for the SEC) ended up working as a top staffer for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on the Oversight Committee under the name Peter Haller. He went on to[...]
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Our TPM2012 reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro reports from on the ground in South Carolina.[...]
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Is there no end to the perfidy of Wall Street and their enablers? Even for Darrell Issa, who's been known to boost a car or two, this is truly outrageous:
enlargePeter Haller Simonyi.
Has Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) turned the House Oversight Committee into a bank lobbying firm with the power to subpoena and pressure government regulators? ThinkProgress has found that a Goldman Sachs vice president changed his name, then later went to work for Issa to coordinate his effort to thwart regulations that affect Goldman Sachs? bottom line.
In July, Issa sent a letter to top government regulators demanding that they back off and provide more justification for new margin requirements for financial firms dealing in derivatives. A standard practice on Capitol Hill is to end a letter to a government agency with contact information for the congressional staffer responsible for working on the issue for the committee. In most cases, the contact staffer is the one who actually writes such letters. With this in mind, it is important to note that the Issa letter ended with contact information for Peter Haller, a staffer hired this year to work for Issa on the Oversight Committee.Issa?s demand to regulators is exactly what banks have been wishing for.
Indeed, Goldman Sachs has spent millions this year trying to slow down the implementation of the new rules. In the letter, Issa explicitly mentions that the new derivative regulations might hurt brokers ?such as Goldman Sachs.?Haller, as he is now known, went by the name Peter Simonyi until three years ago. Simonyi adopted his mother?s maiden name Haller in 2008 shortly after leaving Goldman Sachs as a vice president of the bank?s commodity compliance group. In a few short years, Haller went from being in charge of dealing with regulators for Goldman Sachs to working for Congress in a position where he made official demands from regulators overseeing his old firm.
It?s not the first time Haller has worked the revolving door to help out Goldman Sachs. According to a report by the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, Haller ? then known as Peter Simonyi ? left the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2005 to work for Goldman Sachs, then quickly began lobbying his colleagues at the SEC on behalf of his new firm. At one point, Haller was requiring to issue a letter to the SEC stating that he did not violate ethics rules and the SEC agreed.