ThinkProgress filed this report from Creston, Iowa
In the wake of the Anthony Weiner scandal, many are wondering why Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), a member of Congress who was caught regularly using a prostitute service, has not faced public pressure to resign. On Monday at a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa, ThinkProgress asked Rick Santorum about the double-standard. He told us that he never calls on other members to resign and that he would only talk about his own conduct. However, in 1998, when he was still serving in the Senate, Santorum called on President Bill Clinton to resign if Republicans gained seats in the midterm because Clinton would undoubtedly face impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
So on the following day, I asked Santorum what he would do if he had done what Vitter did. Santorum dodged the questions, before quickly jumping into a car and driving away:
FANG: We talked a little bit yesterday about congressional scandals. You said you would only talk about what you would do. If you did what Vitter did, would you resign?
SANTORUM: If I did what Vitter did, would I resign? Well I wouldn’t have done what David Vitter did.
FANG: That’s kind of a cop-out.
SANTORUM: No, that’s not a cop-out. No I didn’t.
FANG: You called on Clinton to resign for his sex scandal. In 1998, yes you did. You suggested that he should resign because of his sex scandal. Why the double standard for Vitter and not for Clinton?
SANTORUM: President of the United States, I said he should resign–
FANG: A senator can use a prostitute?
SANTORUM: I said he should resign because he lied about it to the American public–
FANG: Vitter didn’t lie? He didn’t lie to his wife, to his family, to the American people, to his office?
SANTORUM: Not in a court, in a deposition, which is what the President did and why I voted for his impeachment.
Santorum has tried to distinguish himself as the most pro-family values, most consistent conservative in the Republican primary for president. His dissembling to defend Vitter’s lying and prostitute use may be instructive.
Via CQ HealthBeat: “Health and Human Services officials aren’t going to make anybody happy when sometime around the July Fourth weekend they release a proposed regulation that will spell out what states must do to create health insurances exchanges. That’s because the data-crunching tasks involved are so complex, the design issues so controversial, and the timelines so tight that at some point advocates for states, consumers, and insurers seem certain to toss their Federal Registers in disgust.”
Ezra Klein points to the two information labels the National Association of Insurance Commissioners are considering to help individuals and families make sense of the different health care plans. The labels are mandated by the Affordable Care Act, which requires “health insurance plans to present a standardized, comprehensible summary that consumers can use to compare their product with other coverage options.”
Normally, I don’t particularly think it’s worth it to get verklempt about decisions entertainment companies make. But I do think it’s worth highlighting the spectacular crassness of the raise NBC just gave Donald Trump. For his hosting and production work, he’ll make $65 million a year over two years, a sum that’s apparently a “substantial increase.”
I understand the economics of The Apprentice. It’s incredibly cheap to produce; it’s a dream of product placement. But its ad rates are down considerably. And while ratings for the season, an average of 8.8 million per episode were up from the last celebrity edition of The Apprentice, which averaged 7.4 million viewers per episode, it’s nowhere near the first-season high of 20.7 million viewers per episode, or the 11 million viewers who tuned in to an average episode of the first edition of Celebrity Apprentice in 2008. And even if ratings were up this season, the ratings for the finale were lower in 2011 than they were last year when Bret Michaels took home the previous Celebrity Apprentice crown. This is just not a show that’s dramatically trending upwards. At some point, even if it’s not this season or next season, NBC’s going to have to come up with a replacement for The Apprentice. Whatever comes next will almost inevitably cost more to produce, but if it’s something like The Voice, which has higher ratings than The Apprentice, and comes with a built-in alternative revenue stream, it might well be worth it.
And what did Trump do to boost ratings this season? He embarked on a presidential campaign in which he insulted gay people, joined the ranks of climate change deniers, and perpetrated a racist conspiracy theory about the president’s birth. Fortunately, he’s probably not going to be able to do that in subsequent seasons. But even if he was, is that really the kind of business NBC wants to be in?
Pope Benedict XVI has a lot of ground to cover when he heads back home to Germany this September, but thanks to a new popemobile from Mercedes, at least 30 of those kilometers (18.5 miles) will be on the greener side.
The Vatican has contracted with Mercedes for the first-ever hybrid popemobile, according to a report by business magazine Wirtschaftswoche. Citing company sources associated with the top-secret project, the magazine reported that the vehicle, based on Mercedes’ M Class, would come with both a battery and a gasoline engine.
It was never considered, according to the report, to resort to an entirely battery-powered car since security threats require the pope to always have the option of a quick getaway.
The new hybrid engine would allow the popemobile to go 30 kilometers (about 18.5 miles) purely on battery power, which would require a one-hour plug-in charge. The car reportedly runs on a lithium-ion battery and a 60-horsepower hybrid engine.
Mercedes has been providing vehicles for the Vatican for eight decades. The iconic popemobile was first used in the 1980s, when Pope John Paul II yearned for a vehicle that would let him have closer contact to people during his overseas visits.
Transocean Ltd, the owner of the oil drilling rig that exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico last year, blamed BP Plc in a report released on Wednesday for decisions that led to the disastrous oil spill.
Transocean and BP are locked in a legal battle over which company was responsible for the worst-ever maritime oil accident, which killed 11 workers and poured crude oil into the Gulf for three months.
The report issued by Transocean said BP failed to properly assess the risks around the troubled well and did not communicate the danger to Transocean.
BP also used a poor well design which led to the failure of cement around the well casing, allowing gas to escape and reach the rig, causing the explosion, the report said.
Transocean also said its blow-out preventer, a device designed as a last resort to close off a well, was properly maintained, but the extreme pressure from the well forced drill pipe to bend, preventing the shears from cutting the pipe.
BP declined to make an immediate comment on the report.
A Washington watchdog group is singling out Sen. David Vitter, accusing the Louisiana Republican of attempted bribery.
Vitter last month blocked a proposed pay raise for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in order to pressure the Obama administration to approve more offshore drilling permits. On Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Senate ethics committee to investigate whether Vitter?s actions amounted to attempted bribery.
?I will end my efforts to block your salary increase? only when the rate of permits for deepwater wells had been increased by Interior to six per month, Vitter wrote in a letter to the Interior secretary.
Salazar makes about $19,600 less than other Cabinet secretaries because the Constitution prohibits a House or Senate member from being appointed to an executive branch job whose pay has risen during the lawmaker?s term. As a senator from Colorado, Salazar had voted to increase the salary for the Interior secretary. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepted a lower salary for her post for the same reason.
But when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested raising Salazar?s salary from his current $180,000, Vitter balked and tied it directly to the offshore drilling issue.
Lab-grown meat would generate a tiny fraction of emissions associated with conventional livestock production
Meat grown artificially in labs could be a greener alternative for consumers who cannot bear to go vegetarian but want to cut the environmental impact of their food, according to new research.
The researchers believe their work suggests artificial meat could help feed the growing world population while reducing the impact on the environment.
According to the analysis by scientists from Oxford University and Amsterdam University, lab-grown tissue would reduce greenhouse gases by up to 96% in comparison to raising animals. The process would require between 7% and 45% less energy than the same volume of conventionally produced meat such as pork, beef, or lamb, and could be engineered to use only 1% of the land and 4% of the water associated with conventional meat.
“The environmental impacts of cultured meat could be substantially lower than those of meat produced in the conventional way,” said Hanna Tuomisto, the researcher at Oxford University who led the study.
The video screen at the Marunouchi subway entrance in Tokyo Station asks passing commuters to ?Please Help Us Save Energy,? a plea repeated throughout Japan in television advertisements warning of summer power shortages.
More than three months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.?s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, lights are dimmed and escalators remain shut off in subways and shopping centers. The push to save energy is also creating opportunities for companies making long-lasting light-emitting diode bulbs and backup power packs.
General Electric Co. and China?s BYD Co. — the maker of electric cars and appliances backed by Warren Buffett — are going up against Toshiba Corp. (6502) and Panasonic Corp. (6752) to win a bigger share of Japan?s $120 billion appliance market. As summer approaches, the government has asked industries to cut power use by 15 percent following the nuclear disaster.
Solar Impulse founders aim to promote renewable-energy use.
The plane is the brainchild of two Swiss men with a passion for flying and for raising awareness about renewable energy.
Bertrand Piccard, who has flown around the world in a balloon, and Andre Borschberg, a former Swiss air force military pilot, officially founded Solar Impulse in 2004 and started work on building a solar plane.
?We want to demonstrate that the technology we have available can allow us to keep the same quality of life by spending much less energy,? Borschberg said at a briefing this week at the Paris Air Show. ?If we can do it in an airplane, we can certainly do it on the ground. The goal is to motivate people to change their decisions.?
The solar plane completed its first flight in April 2010, which was followed by several successful day-time flights. Then, last July, Borschberg flew the plane for 26 hours, proving that it could keep flying during the night using solar energy gathered during the day. The goal now is to fly around the world in 2014 using only solar power. Construction of a second plane will start in July.
For 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is once again upping the level for how much renewable fuel the U.S. should use in the Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (aka RFS2). The EPA’s proposed targets are:
Biomass-based diesel (1.00 billion gallons; 0.91 percent)
Advanced biofuels (2.0 billion gallons; 1.21 percent)
Cellulosic biofuels (3.45 to 12.9 million gallons; 0.002 ? 0.010 percent)
Total renewable fuels (15.2 billion gallons; 9.21percent)
Solar panels jut out of streetlights in China’s self-proclaimed Clean Energy City. Tiny wind turbines twirl atop public buildings. Schools are due to teach students about “green living.”
In the scramble to profit from demand for clean energy, this city southwest of Beijing is promoting itself as a manufacturing center for solar, wind and other gear by transforming into a living showcase of environmental technology.
“Baoding is following a path of ecological civilization,” a deputy mayor, Zhou Xingshi, told a group of visiting reporters.
Baoding illustrates the intensity of Chinese government efforts to profit from rising global demand for clean energy. Communist leaders are promoting solar, wind and hydropower to curb surging demand for imported oil and gas and see technology exports as a route to cleaner growth and higher-paid jobs.
Chinese utility companies are required to install wind turbines and Beijing has promised to pay part of the cost of solar equipment ? a strategy that is driving the rapid growth of Baoding and other supply centers.
China led the world in clean energy investment last year at $54.4 billion, up 39 percent from 2009, according to a March report by the Pew Charitable Trust. Worldwide, investment rose 30 percent to $243 billion.
I really urge everyone to read Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas’ story coming out as having been smuggled illegally into the United States from the Philippines back when he was 12 years old. The story of fake IDs, secrets, shame, and professional success is incredibly moving. The whole thing is particularly shocking and sympathetic because until he tried to get a driver’s license as a teenager, he had no idea. He was sent by his mother to come live with relatives in the United States when he was a kid, and provided with fake documents without his knowledge. He unsuspectingly went to the DMV and handed over fake papers, then he got lucky when the person he gave them to told him what was wrong without blowing the whistle.
But of course even though they don’t quite make for as good a sob story, even people who come over here illegally as adults knowing full well what they’re doing ought to be regarded with sympathy. When we look at photos of poverty-stricken people in poor countries, we feel sympathy. When we look at photos of people demonstrating for political freedom in dictatorships, we feel sympathy. And when we look at photos of people sneaking across the border or preventing fake papers, what we ought to feel is sympathy. Sympathy for poor people in poor and misgoverned countries who are trying to take control of their lives and do something about it. The vast majority of people alive in the United States today are descended from people who decided at some point to get out of a bad situation by moving. The fact that we’ve managed to become a society that feels only fear in the face of people wanting to do the same thing our ancestors did ? go someplace better to build a better life ? is extremely sad.
Today, President Obama is expected to announce the withdrawal of as many as 33,000 troops from the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2012. While this announcement is largely being portrayed as a serious reduction of troops, it is important to look at the numbers in context.
ThinkProgress has assembled the following graph showing that if the reductions are carried out as planned, the United States would still have far more troops in Afghanistan than it did when Obama came into office and more than at any point during former president George W. Bush’s administration:
This means that the troop reduction would not put us much closer to actually ending the war by the end of 2012. Rather this would simply scale back the second surge of 30,000 troops that President Obama announced in December 2009. It would also maintain the first surge of 17,000 troops Obama ordered upon entering office. This comes at a time when a record number of Americans want to end the war in Afghanistan and the costs of which are putting the United States deeper into debt.
Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget would cut $30 million from the state’s childcare centers. One childcare center director told a local newspaper that the cuts would prompt “higher across-the-board co-pays and rates, and stricter requirements for parents to prove they are working ? a problem for illegal immigrants paid off the books.” And while Christie takes aim at children, he has previously vetoed a tax on millionaires, which some state Democrats are now trying to revive.
Our Nobel prize-winning former vice president has a must-read 7000-word essay in Rolling Stone, “Climate of Denial: Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison?”
Gore discusses climate science and the link to recent record-smashing extreme weather events, of course. And he makes clear the stakes are too high to become disillusioned by our flawed political system, “What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.”
What I will focus on here are his blistering critique of Obama, his even tougher take on the media, and the “five basic ways” individuals can make a difference. Let’s start with the president:
President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates ? including one Republican ? felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States….
During the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration, the rest of the world was waiting for a new president who would aggressively tackle the climate crisis ? and when it became clear that there would be no real change from the Bush era, the agenda at Copenhagen changed from “How do we complete this historic breakthrough?” to “How can we paper over this embarrassing disappointment?”
… Yet without presidential leadership that focuses intensely on making the public aware of the reality we face, nothing will change. The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is “the power to persuade.” Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community ? including our own National Academy ? to bring the reality of the science before the public.
No argument here (see The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2). Gore continues:
Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States…
The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come.
Predictably, the media has jumped on Gore’s criticism of Obama.
ABC News Politics has run the AP story with its headline, “Gore Faults Obama on Global Warming.” The lede: “Former Vice President Al Gore is going where few environmentalists ? and fellow Democrats ? have gone before: criticizing President Barack Obama’s record on global warming.”
Memo to ABC News and the AP: Obama has been widely criticized by environmentalists.
But what is particularly absurd about this story is that it never mentions that Gore launches an even more blistering and detailed attack on the media! In fact, that’s how Gore’s essay begins — by comparing the mainstream media today to the referees of professional wrestling (!!):
The first time I remember hearing the question “is it real?” was when I went as a young boy to see a traveling show put on by “professional wrestlers” one summer evening in the gym of the Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, Tennessee.
The evidence that it was real was palpable: “They’re really hurting each other! That’s real blood! Look a’there! They can’t fake that!” On the other hand, there was clearly a script (or in today’s language, a “narrative”), with good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo.
But the most unusual and in some ways most interesting character in these dramas was the referee: Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the “rules” ? such as they were ? like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy ? after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate ? committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him. The answer to the question “Is it real?” seemed connected to the question of whether the referee was somehow confused about his role: Was he too an entertainer?
That is pretty much the role now being played by most of the news media in refereeing the current wrestling match over whether global warming is “real,” and whether it has any connection to the constant dumping of 90 million tons of heat-trapping emissions into the Earth’s thin shell of atmosphere every 24 hours.
Admittedly, the contest over global warming is a challenge for the referee because it’s a tag-team match, a real free-for-all. In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues.
The referee ? in this analogy, the news media ? seems confused about whether he is in the news business or the entertainment business. Is he responsible for ensuring a fair match? Or is he part of the show, selling tickets and building the audience? The referee certainly seems distracted: by Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, the latest reality show ? the list of serial obsessions is too long to enumerate here.
Funny how the AP missed that part right up front in the piece. But that’s not even the half of it. Gore continues:
But whatever the cause, the referee appears not to notice that the Polluters and Ideologues are trampling all over the “rules” of democratic discourse. They are financing pseudoscientists whose job is to manufacture doubt about what is true and what is false; buying elected officials wholesale with bribes that the politicians themselves have made “legal” and can now be made in secret; spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media; hiring four anti-climate lobbyists for every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. (Question: Would Michael Jordan have been a star if he was covered by four defensive players every step he took on the basketball court?)
This script, of course, is not entirely new: A half-century ago, when Science and Reason established the linkage between cigarettes and lung diseases, the tobacco industry hired actors, dressed them up as doctors, and paid them to look into television cameras and tell people that the linkage revealed in the Surgeon General’s Report was not real at all. The show went on for decades, with more Americans killed each year by cigarettes than all of the U.S. soldiers killed in all of World War II.
This time, the scientific consensus is even stronger. It has been endorsed by every National Academy of science of every major country on the planet, every major professional scientific society related to the study of global warming and 98 percent of climate scientists throughout the world. In the latest and most authoritative study by 3,000 of the very best scientific experts in the world, the evidence was judged “unequivocal.”
But wait! The good guys transgressed the rules of decorum, as evidenced in their private e-mails that were stolen and put on the Internet. The referee is all over it: Penalty! Go to your corner! And in their 3,000-page report, the scientists made some mistakes! Another penalty!
And if more of the audience is left confused about whether the climate crisis is real? Well, the show must go on. After all, it’s entertainment. There are tickets to be sold, eyeballs to glue to the screen.
It will be fascinating to see if the entire media simply chooses to ignore this devastating critique and focus just on Gore’s comments on Obama, which will, ironically enough, make Gore’s point that the media is interested only in the drama, not the substance.
I would add that the media doesn’t just mis-report the climate story, it under-reports the story of the century — see Silence of the Lambs: Media herd?s coverage of climate change ?fell off the map? in 2010.
And Gore continues his evisceration of the media later in the piece:
Continuing on our current course would be suicidal for global civilization. But the key question is: How do we drive home that fact in a democratic society when questions of truth have been converted into questions of power? When the distinction between what is true and what is false is being attacked relentlessly, and when the referee in the contest between truth and falsehood has become an entertainer selling tickets to a phony wrestling match?
He then has a long discussion of how the media played into Bush’s hands in the run-up to the Iraq war, and then goes back to climate:
These vulnerabilities, rooted in our human nature, are being manipulated by the tag-team of Polluters and Ideologues who are trying to deceive us. And the referee ? the news media ? is once again distracted. As with the invasion of Iraq, some are hyperactive cheerleaders for the deception, while others are intimidated into complicity, timidity and silence by the astonishing vitriol heaped upon those who dare to present the best evidence in a professional manner. Just as TV networks who beat the drums of war prior to the Iraq invasion were rewarded with higher ratings, networks now seem reluctant to present the truth about the link between carbon pollution and global warming out of fear that conservative viewers will change the channel ? and fear that they will receive a torrent of flame e-mails from deniers.
And this entire critique of the media occurs before Gore even mentions Obama. From my perspective, as I’ve said many times, the anti-science crowd and their disinformation campaign and associated think tanks, pundits, and right-wing media deserve about 60% of the blame for our inaction. The media, perhaps 30%. The ?Think Small? centrists and lukewarmers who also helped shrink the political space in the debate deserve 5%.
So ?only? 5% of blame goes to Obama and his team (along with Senate Democrats, scientists, environmentalists, and progressives).
But of course, from a historical perspective ? and, I suspect from the perspective of most progressives ? there are two huge differences between Obama versus the disinformers, media, and centrist/lukewarmers. Obama is the President of the United States, a person who can single-handedly determine the agenda and the national debate. Second, those other people don?t know any better.
So it is perfectly reasonable to focus on Obama — but the media deserves far more blame, a point Gore is clearly making by opening the piece with his critique of the media and offering a far lengthier critique of them than Obama.
Finally, as always, Gore does offer positive suggestions:
All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality. We ignored reality in the marketplace and nearly destroyed the world economic system. We are likewise ignoring reality in the environment, and the consequences could be several orders of magnitude worse. Determining what is real can be a challenge in our culture, but in order to make wise choices in the presence of such grave risks, we must use common sense and the rule of reason in coming to an agreement on what is true.
So how can we make it happen? How can we as individuals make a difference? In five basic ways:
First, become a committed advocate for solving the crisis. You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it’s some sort of hoax, don’t let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker. The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.
Second, deepen your commitment by making consumer choices that reduce energy use and reduce your impact on the environment. The demand by individuals for change in the marketplace has already led many businesses to take truly significant steps to reduce their global-warming pollution. Some of the corporate changes are more symbolic than real ? “green-washing,” as it’s called ? but a surprising amount of real progress is taking place. Walmart, to pick one example, is moving aggressively to cut its carbon footprint by 20 million metric tons, in part by pressuring its suppliers to cut down on wasteful packaging and use lower-carbon transportation alternatives. Reward those companies that are providing leadership.
Third, join an organization committed to action on this issue. The Alliance for Climate Protection (climateprotect.org), which I chair, has grassroots action plans for the summer and fall that spell out lots of ways to fight effectively for the policy changes we need. We can also enable you to host a slide show in your community on solutions to the climate crisis ? presented by one of the 4,000 volunteers we have trained. Invite your friends and neighbors to come and then enlist them to join the cause.
Fourth, contact your local newspapers and television stations when they put out claptrap on climate ? and let them know you’re fed up with their stubborn and cowardly resistance to reporting the facts of this issue. One of the main reasons they are so wimpy and irresponsible about global warming is that they’re frightened of the reaction they get from the deniers when they report the science objectively. So let them know that deniers are not the only ones in town with game. Stay on them! Don’t let up! It’s true that some media outlets are getting instructions from their owners on this issue, and that others are influenced by big advertisers, but many of them are surprisingly responsive to a genuine outpouring of opinion from their viewers and readers. It is way past time for the ref to do his job.
Finally, and above all, don’t give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don’t have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. President Franklin Roosevelt once told civil rights leaders who were pressing him for change that he agreed with them about the need for greater equality for black Americans. Then, as the story goes, he added with a wry smile, “Now go out and make me do it.”
On that final point, Gore urges the people become single-issue voters, which I could not agree more with:
To make our elected leaders take action to solve the climate crisis, we must forcefully communicate the following message: “I care a lot about global warming; I am paying very careful attention to the way you vote and what you say about it; if you are on the wrong side, I am not only going to vote against you, I will work hard to defeat you ? regardless of party. If you are on the right side, I will work hard to elect you.”
Why do you think President Obama and Congress changed their game on “don’t ask, don’t tell?” It happened because enough Americans delivered exactly that tough message to candidates who wanted their votes. When enough people care passionately enough to drive that message home on the climate crisis, politicians will look at their hole cards, and enough of them will change their game to make all the difference we need.
This is not naive; trust me on this. It may take more individual voters to beat the Polluters and Ideologues now than it once did ? when special-interest money was less dominant. But when enough people speak this way to candidates, and convince them that they are dead serious about it, change will happen ? both in Congress and in the White House. As the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass once observed, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.”
What is now at risk in the climate debate is nothing less than our ability to communicate with one another according to a protocol that binds all participants to seek reason and evaluate facts honestly. The ability to perceive reality is a prerequisite for self-governance. Wishful thinking and denial lead to dead ends. When it works, the democratic process helps clear the way toward reality, by exposing false argumentation to the best available evidence. That is why the Constitution affords such unique protection to freedom of the press and of speech.
The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable ? given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason ? of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.
Vice President Al Gore has rejoined the public fight on global warming, issuing a clarion call to take action to address the climate crisis. Twenty years ago, he participated in the international mobilization against the future threat of fossil fuel pollution heating up our atmosphere. For decades, he and other leaders have battled the fossil fuel industry and their corporate and political allies to mobilize for a sustainable civilization. Now, the crisis of dangerous climate change is upon us. Speaking before the Games for Change festival on Monday, Gore delineated a few of the catastrophic disasters caused by our superheated climate system in the past 12 months:
Look what’s happened in the last twelve months:
– An area of Australia the size of France and Germany combined, flooded.
– My hometown, my home city of Nashville, a thousand-year flood. Thousands of my neighbors lost their homes and businesses. They had no flood insurance because there had never been a flood in areas that were flooded.
– Drought. Russia, biggest drought in their history, biggest fires in their history, over 50,000 people killed, and then all of their wheat and other food crops, along with that of Ukraine and Kazakhstan, taken off the world markets, leading to an all-time record spike in food prices.
– Today, biggest fire in the history of Arizona, spreading to New Mexico.
– Today, biggest flood in the history of the Mississippi River valley underway right now.
At what point is there a moment where we say, ‘Oh, we ought to do something about this?’
Gore followed up by saying that the solution to the climate crisis doesn’t just involve changing to cleaner technology, but also the empowerment of women. When you “educate girls and empower women,” Gore said, “the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices.”
Gore’s factual litany of recent climate disasters was attacked on Fox Business by host Eric Bolling and guest Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International:
Kirk is not a climate scientist.