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Can Obama Make Defeating Climate Change His Legacy? by Damian Carrington, Mother Jones | January 23, 2013As legacy issues go, saving the planet from global warming would put all others in the shade. But can President Barack Obama do it? The question has two answers, one at home and one abroad. He is certainly reinvigorated in his determination to tackle climate change. In his first term, those wanting action were too often left parsing single sentences to divine the intentions of the president. Obama's inaugural speech on Monday left no room for doubt. read more »
Global Warming Is a Domestic Crisis by Juan Cole, truthdig.com | January 23, 2013As President Obama made clear in his inaugural address Monday, failing to confront the threat of climate change in his second term would be a betrayal of future generations. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science,” Obama said, “but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought and more powerful storms.” Actually, there are some who can avoid fires, drought and storms, but most of them voted for Mitt Romney. At a time of continued unemployment and Republican assaults on workers’ rights, the climate crisis may not seem like a pressing bread and butter concern. However it is vital for the president and his allies in Congress to remember that those Americans most defenseless against extreme weather and natural disasters form the backbone of the Democratic Party. That is the only conclusion one can draw from the draft of a new federal study on global warming’s growing impact on the United States. read more »
Could This Scary Report Get Americans to Care About Climate? by Chris Mooney, Mother Jones | January 15, 2013Lately we're being bombarded by news about just how dramatically climate change is transforming the United States. Early last week, we learned that 2012 was by far the hottest year on record in the lower 48. Late Friday came another gut punch: a draft of the third US National Climate Assessment. The report describes, among other things, a future of disappearing coastlines, a staggering rise in average temperatures of up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (~6 C) this century, and more frequent heat waves and weather extremes. What's more, it bluntly states that our modest efforts thus far are "not sufficient" to avert these devastating futures. If we don't do a lot more to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the report warns, the warming will "accelerate significantly." From a public opinion perspective, it's hard to think of a more propitious moment for the arrival of such a document. Polling suggests that Americans are increasingly aware—and unnerved—that our world is changing rapidly. read more »
How to Reach the Last 20 Percent by David Sirota, truthdig.com | January 11, 2013There’s a big reason climate change differs from so many public policy challenges: unlike other crises, addressing the planet’s major environmental crisis truly requires mass consensus. Indeed, because fixing the problem involves so many different societal changes—reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, retrofitting infrastructure, altering a meat-centric diet, to name a few—we all need to at least agree on the basic fact that we are facing an emergency. That’s why as encouraging as it is to see a new Associated Press-GfK poll showing that 4 in 5 Americans now see climate change as a serious problem. Unfortunately, that 1 in 5 may be enough to prevent us from forging the all-hands-on-deck attitude necessary to halt a planetary disaster. America desperately needs a serious public education campaign. The good news is that with such education, many of those who don’t yet believe climate change is a serious problem can, in fact, be reached—and convinced to accept obvious reality. read more »
Heat: Hell On Poor Countries, No Biggie For The Rich by Dave Roberts, grist.org | January 10, 2013Normal heat fluctuations hurt poor countries but not rich countries. Why? Part of it is that poor countries are more dependent on agriculture, which is sensitive to heat. But the biggest reason is access to energy, or more specifically, something wealthy countries take for granted: air conditioning. It’s hard to exaggerate the effect air conditioning has had in unlocking economic growth. The great question of the century is, how much extra heat — or storms, or droughts, or fires — will it take to start biting into the economic growth of wealthy countries? Because until that happens, it’s tough to see where they’ll find the political will to start spending big on climate mitigation and adaptation. Poor countries, however, are getting screwed right here and now. And they will get screwed harder and harder in coming years, suffering the effects of carbon emissions for which they are not responsible. It’s kind of a shitty deal. read more »
Avoiding A Climate-Change Apocalypse by Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post | January 8, 2013As you may have noticed, the end of the year was all about the end of the world. Mayan doomsday prophesies. Rogue planets on a collision course with Earth. Fear-mongering about an artificial “fiscal cliff.” House Republicans doing, well, what they usually do. Fortunately, for now, life as we know it continues. And scary as all of this sounds, the real horror show, the true existential threat, is yet another crisis of our own making: the catastrophic effects of climate change. There’s no need to read Revelations or catch a Michael Bay-Jerry Bruckheimer matinee to understand what it will look like. Just Google image search “Hurricane Sandy and Staten Island,” and you’ll get the general idea. read more »
Could Chuck Hagel, Likely Defense Secretary Nominee, Turn Out To Be A Climate Hawk? by Lisa Hymas, grist.org | January 7, 2013Chuck Hagel, who’s expected to be nominated as secretary of defense this week, has long been confused about climate change … and yet concerned about it too. He has a history of obstructing climate action, but also a record of elevating climate as a national security issue. If he’s confirmed to head the Department of Defense, he might ultimately show himself to be a climate hawk — though not one who hews to green orthodoxy or any party line. On the one hand, Hagel — a Republican senator from Nebraska from 1997 to 2008 and now co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board — has professed many views you might associate with a climate denier. On the other hand, Hagel has long cited climate change as a threat to national security and an important issue in terms of international relations. read more »
Climate Chaos: some key 2012 events by A Siegel, dailykos.com | December 31, 2012
Will Big Oil Keep Its Subsidies in a Fiscal-Cliff Deal? by Andy Kroll, Mother Jones | December 7, 2012Democrats and Republicans are duking it out in Washington over a deal to avert the slew of spending cuts and tax increases—the so-called "fiscal cliff" you've heard so much about—that will take start to effect on January 1. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have argued that "everything should be on the table" in negotiations toward a deal that trims the nation's debt and avoids the cliff. Yet notably absent from the debate over what to cut and what to spare in a deal are the tens of billions of dollars in subsidies, tax breaks, and other perks for the hugely profitable oil industry. That silence begs the question: Will Big Oil's subsidies go untouched in the fight over a fiscal-cliff deal? read more »
Cliff Notes on the Three Real Perils Ahead by Robert B. Reich, robertreich.org | December 6, 2012The “fiscal cliff” is a metaphor for a government that no longer responds to the biggest challenges we face because it’s paralyzed by intransigent Republicans, obsessed by the federal budget deficit, and overwhelmed by big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires. If we had a functional government America would address three “cliffs” posing far larger dangers to us than the fiscal one. read more »
Senators Press Reid for Tougher Renewable Power Standard, thehill.com | July 22, 2010
A trio of Senate Democrats is trying to build political momentum for including a tough national renewable electricity standard, or RES, in wider energy legislation that may reach the floor next week. more »
12 Dems Press Reid on Carbon Curbs as Energy Bill Talks Continue, thehill.com | July 22, 2010
A largely liberal group of 12 Senate Democrats are urging Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to ensure that upcoming energy legislation imposes curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.
The new pressure comes amid a flurry of Capitol Hill meetings about the shape of the upcoming energy bill, which is expected on the floor as soon as next week.
Recovery Act has Created and Saved 2.5-3.6 Million Jobs, Many in Clean Energy, climateprogress.org | July 19, 2010
On Wednesday, July 14th, Vice President Joe Biden and Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) Chair Christina Romer released CEA’s new fourth quarterly report on the economic and job creation impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). more »
Obama to Launch Ocean Initiative, Los Angeles Times | July 19, 2010
President Obama on Monday is set to create a national stewardship policy for America's oceans and Great Lakes, including a type of zoning that could dramatically rebalance the way government regulates offshore drilling, fishing and other marine activities. more »
BP Well Cap: BP, Feds Clash Over Reopening Capped Gulf Oil Well , Huffington Post | July 19, 2010
What Cap? Dems' Climate Word War, Politico | July 19, 2010
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played dumb last week when a reporter asked him if the energy and climate bill headed to the floor would come with a “cap” on greenhouse gas emissions.
“I don’t use that,” the Nevada Democrat replied. “Those words are not in my vocabulary. We’re going to work on pollution.”
BP Suits Top 300 on Claims by Workers, Mall, Sheriff, Business Week | July 16, 2010
July 15 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc faces more than 300 lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in potential claims as damage from the worst oil spill in U.S. history ripples through the nation’s Gulf Coast economy. more »
BP Stops Gulf Oil Flow for the First Time Since April, grist.org | July 16, 2010
British energy giant BP stopped the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday for the first time in three months as it began key tests hoping to stem the spill for good.
Shortly after BP engineers shut down the last of three valves on a giant new cap placed on the blown-out well, Senior Vice President Kent Wells announced that no oil was leaking into the seas.
Congress Turns to Task of Preventing Another Gulf Oil Spill, Christian Science Monitor | July 15, 2010
Amid an election-year rush to finalize and vote on major oil spill legislation before the fall elections, the Democratic leadership is pushing hard to get an oil-spill bill out of committees and onto the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote, hopefully before the August recess. more »
BP Faces 7-Year Offshore Drilling Ban, bbc.co.uk | July 15, 2010
A US Congressional committee has agreed measures that would ban BP from new offshore drilling for seven years.
The House committee on natural resources voted in favour of precluding companies with poor safety records from offshore oil exploration permits.
The proposed law does not name BP, but would apply to any company that has experienced 10 or more deaths in the last seven years.