The world's poorest nations are on the front lines of catastrophic climate change. The recent floods in Pakistan and droughts in Africa are just the most recent examples of how the world's poor are suffering because of our leaders' indifference to the climate crisis. Now that we face a Congress full of climate deniers and shills for big polluters, President Obama must become a true global climate leader to help the world's poorest nations cope with climate chaos.
Last week's election will have major consequences for U.S. climate and energy policy. Republicans won a net victory of 60 seats in the House, 6 seats in the Senate, and at least 6 governorships. A number of climate champions lost tight races to candidates who deny climate science, but in California's Prop 23, the only race with global warming on the ballot, climate won by a decisive margin.
The Environmental Protection Agency will soon close its public comment period on regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste (submit your comments before Friday, November 19). It may seem a bit wonky or out of place to discuss the detrimental effects of coal ash in an every day conversation, but to the people who live near coal plants, it's a topic that concerns their health and welfare.
We probably won't know for a while who won the U.S. Senate race up in Alaska (somebody named "Write-in Votes" is ahead right now...is it me or are names getting weirder?), but apparently Lisa Murkowski's loan sharks campaign contributors are sure enough of her eventual victory that they've already called in her debt.
Election day 2010 is over, but the fight to address climate change is not -- so say many of the bloggers posting since Tuesday's election. We survived the Senate's inability to pass climate change legislation before the election recess. We survived attacks against the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases (so far). And we can and will survive the loss of a pro-climate majority in the House of Representatives.
Janelle Corn, Ph.D., is an ecologist and wildlife biologist living in western Montana. She has lived and worked in the western U.S. for 30 years, and is currently an activist for addressing climate change before it's too late. Her new blog is Natural History Now. The author's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the 1Sky campaign.
Young voters celebrated a decisive victory against Big Oil by defeating a deceptive ballot measure, Prop 23. The initiative, funded with millions of dollars from oil corporations, sought to wreck California's clean energy economy and effectively repeal the state’s landmark clean air and clean energy laws.
The dust from yesterday's election is settling and it's already clear that we're about to have the most pro-dirty energy Congress we've seen in a long time. As you'd expect, dirty energy companies and their allies are already spinning this election in the press as a rejection of climate and clean energy legislation.
This spin is outrageous, and it's our job to push back.
From where I stand it's very simple: Big Oil and Dirty Coal spent a fortune to swing this election, and last night they got exactly what they paid for.
If you remember nothing else about Election 2010, remember this: Big Oil and Dirty Coal have spent $70 million on energy-related attack ads this election cycle and put $20 million directly into the pockets of their allies running for Congress. That's on top of the $500 million they've already spent on lobbying in the past two years.
Now that they've bought themselves a new Congress more to their liking, big polluters will try to spin this election as an endorsement of dirty energy. But they can't change the fact that the American people overwhelmingly support policies that cut climate pollution and create new jobs in a clean energy economy. They can't spin away the strength of the climate movement, either. The 10/10/10 Global Work Parties showed just how big and vibrant the climate movement really is, while the defeat of Prop 23 in California showed how this movement can lead voters to vote their hopes, not their fears.
The battle for what will become the "conventional wisdom" in the press about yesterday's election is on-- and we can't allow Big Oil and Dirty Coal to spin this election as a legitimate victory for them. That's why we're asking all our supporters to write their local newspapers and tell them how big polluters bought this election -- and that it can't happen again.
Now that the election is behind us, many of us in the climate movement will focus much of our energy on pushing the Obama Administration and Congress to use the Clean Air Act to cut global warming pollution and jump start investments in clean energy. We will also push the Administration to support strong climate financing at the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Cancún.
I know that a Congress with so many more climate deniers and tools of dirty polluters is discouraging, but now is not the time for anyone in the climate movement to give up. I personally remember the dark days after the 1994 election, and how we banded together to defend the health of our environment and communities from dirty polluters and their friends in Congress. If we could do it then, we can certainly do it again by joining forces and fighting as hard as we possibly can.
Climate change is escalating even as we keep falling behind much of the world in the race to build clean energy economies. As a movement, we have no choice but to keep fighting. And that's exactly what we're going to do.
Today's elections will have major implications for our work on federal climate and energy policy. Elections are being held for all 435 House seats, 37 Senate seats, and 37 governorships. With many races polling at slim margins, voter turnout is expected to make or break the election for many candidates.
Election Day: Tuesday, November 2nd
Overall Election Outlook:
Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight model projects the following election day outcomes based on recent polling:
A 91% chance that the Senate will remain in Democratic control. Polls suggest the most likely outcome is a seven-seat swing, resulting in a 52-48 Democratic Senate;
An 84% chance that the House will flip toward Republican control. Polls suggest the most likely outcome is a 52-seat swing (Republicans need 38 for a majority) resulting in a 232-203 Republican House (the House is currently 255-178).
Stressing uncertainty in the models, and the competitiveness of this year's races, Nate Silver notes a number of caveats in his forecasts, stressing uncertainty on both sides of the equation:
If polls are off by just a couple of percentage points, the Democrats may keep the House and a substantial Senate majority;
Election Day is only 4 days away, and it shows: We're inundated with polls, predictions, and pre-election ads that move further away from civility and credibility the closer we get to November 2nd. What's an exhausted and exasperated climate activist to do?
The answer: Do NOT tune out. This election is critical to the future of climate solutions in this country and, indeed, the world. Our Campaign Director Liz Butler recorded another LizCast today discussing why all of us who care about climate need to vote on Nov. 2:
Liz also published a great blog on Huffington Post today about the unprecedented amount of money that corporations are pouring into this election, and why climate advocates need to show up at the polls to fight back:
Corporations -- led by Big Oil and Dirty Coal -- are trying to buy this election in plain sight. Their front groups are on target to spend more than $300 million to buy the election -- and this is after big polluters have already spent a fortune lobbying Congress, mounting a PR offensive after the BP oil spill, and trying to kill California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) with Propositions 23 and 26.
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But anger and despair can’t lead to inaction or apathy. Voting still matters for the climate movement.
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More importantly, voting is a right that gives voice to your concern about climate change. People in the climate movement -- or anyone who believes in what we’re doing to avert a climate crisis and bring about an energy revolution -- can push back on Big Oil and Dirty Coal by exercising their right to vote.
The climate blogosphere is following this election very closely, looking to answer two questions: how will climate affect the election, and how will the election affect climate? Brad Johnson at the Wonkroom is following House and Senate races where climate champs are locked in tough fights for reelection. In terms of the House:
The Republicans in these races not only stand against comprehensive climate policy, like nearly all the rest of their party, they proudly proclaim that the overwhelming evidence of the threat of greenhouse gas pollution is a “hoax,” a “religion,” and “crap.” The sitting representatives, many in conservative districts, are climate activists who were the swing votes in favor of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009, recognizing that our economy and environment are mutually threatened by our dependence on fossil fuels.
A Wonk Room analysis finds that there are six key Senate races for climate action, in which a strong vote for climate runs a serious risk of being replaced by a global warming denier. Of the 37 U.S. Senate races this fall, 36 involve Republican candidates who are global warming deniers or oppose climate action (Vermont’s Len Britton is a possible exception). Hard-right Tea Party challenger Christine O’Donnell knocked out climate activist Mike Castle (R-DE) last night, leaving a GOP slate of conspiracy theorists and know-nothings angling for the United States’ highest legislative body.
In addition to these races, there's a push in California to defeat two propositions on the ballot that would severely hurt California's booming clean energy tech industry and deal a blow to our efforts to cut climate pollution across America. You can read more about Prop 23 and Prop 26 on our blog, but if you live in California the most important thing you can do is vote against both of them on November 2. Even the Governator says so:
What would help is if we are now successful in beating back the Texan oil companies, the same players that have been there for decades ruining everything. You know, trying to get rid of our light rail in 45 cities. And so now the important thing is we push back, wipe out Proposition 23. And in doing that, it will be one of the first times in a long time where oil companies — rich people that have polluted the world, who have enriched themselves in doing that — have been pushed back. And it will be that momentum.
Speaking of the Governator, here's an anti-Prop 23 ad featuring Oscar-winning director James "I'm king of the world!" Cameron and his most famous "actor":
Even before the election, climate commentators are already having conversations about where climate goes after a less than fruitful year. Dave Roberts at Grist has been looking for a term for people who care about climate change and clean energy that will bridge the partisan, cultural and other divides that keep them from pulling in the same direction. The winner? Climate Hawks:
First and foremost, it doesn't carry any implications about The Truth. It doesn't say, "I'm right, you're wrong. I'm smarter and more enlightened than you." Instead it evokes a judgment: that the risks of climate change are sufficient to warrant a robust response. By definition, everyone must make such judgments on their own. Rather than being a Manichean choice -- you get it or you're stupid -- it becomes about values, about how hard to fight and how much to sacrifice to defend America and her future. That's the right conversation to be having.
Yes, I'm well aware that "hawk" has militaristic overtones. Trust me, when it comes to matters military I'm a DFH of the old school. But lefties shouldn't be precious. The health of Mother Earth just doesn't move that many people. For better or worse, more Americans respond to evocations of toughness in the face of a threat.
In foreign policy a hawk is someone who, as Donald Rumsfeld used to put it, "leans forward," someone who's not afraid to flex America's considerable muscle, someone who takes a proactive attitude toward gathering dangers. Whatever you think about foreign policy, is that not the appropriate attitude to take toward the climate threat? Does it not evoke a visceral sense of both peril and resolve, the crucial missing elements in America's climate response?
The term is already taking off on The Twitter so it might stick after all. Thoughts?
In other news, looks like the hard work and sacrifice of anti-mountaintop removal (MTR) activists is paying off in a big way:
The rising tide of scientific evidence — and public protest — against mountaintop mining looks set to claim its first major victory. By the end of this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to revoke a permit allowing mining company Arch Coal to extract coal from the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia. This would be the first time a permit for the controversial mining practice, long suspected of causing environmental damage, has been vetoed by the agency.
We still have a long way to go to eradicate this barbaric mining practice, but it's good to see that all this on-the-ground activism is bearing fruit!