Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Will God and the Founding Fathers Help Obama Stop Climate Change?

Hot enough for ya, asshole?

Barack Obama said more about climate change in his inauguration speech—and expressed it more forcefully—than he did at any point in the 2012 election campaign and during much of his first term [...] He made a carefully calibrated appeal to Republicans, situating a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy in a religious and conservative framework of God and constitution.

The Earth and its many forms of life were thrilled to hear the American president mark his second inauguration with a long overdue promise to save the planet from human ruination. Since the Frankenstorm made it okay for centrist Democrats (and a handful of moderate Republicans) to acknowledge that global warming may deliver even more than easy punchlines for Mitt Romney, there was Hope that second-term Obama might get serious about our predicament. And he did, even if he still felt compelled to bring up the Republicans' favorite superheroes, God and the Founding Fathers. (How would George Washington and Jesus fight climate change, anyway? With a huge manly gun.)

The surprise was that Obama went beyond vague calls to "address climate change" and spoke specifically about the need to "preserve our planet." It has become a sad part of mainstream Democratic politics that talking about actual environmentalism—saving species, protecting wilderness, keeping our air and water clean—has become too radical for a president. That's the kind of crazy talk best left to Richard Nixon, who oversaw and approved the creation of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency, National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act.

One of the most pathetic parts of Obama's first term was the squeamishness shown by the administration after the Solyndra bankruptcy. The energy company got a bunch of government money and tax credits, like all energy companies always get in America. And then it collapsed. If Solyndra was based in Texas and got its energy by drilling in the ground, it would be completely patriotic for the company to fail (and also for it to deal directly with Arab terrorists as business partners). But the company was based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the energy it harvested was sustainable, and this combined liberal evil caused the Obama Administration to shy away from climate change action for the entire first term. (Overall, the "green stimulus" was successful and effective.)

Now that Obama is a bold liberal (centrist) president, what will his environmental action plan look like? Here's what he promised yesterday:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries—we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure—our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

God, founding fathers, etc. But also, specific talk about forests, mountains, rivers, "national treasure." What kind of policy comes from this, and how much can he do without House approval?

Along with the generally worthwhile Green Stimulus, outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is now being credited with shaping a public lands policy for renewable energy that provides some environmental protection for public lands. Salazar did not come up with this himself, of course. Salazar, a Colorado rancher, is such a terrible excuse for an environmentalist that he threatened legal action against the Bush Administration to keep the endangered black-tailed prairie dog off the endangered species list. He initially followed the second-term Bush Junior policy of letting fly-by-night energy companies claim untouched Southwestern wilderness for their bulldozed miles-wide solar and wind factories. But thanks to intense pressure from environmental organizations, he leaves office with a plan in place to put these intensive-use facilities on public lands closer to the infrastructure of roads and transmission lines, and of comparatively less conservation value than pristine endangered species habitat. (It's still the same basic "capitalism" of energy companies using government tax breaks to build for-profit power plants from on government land, just like the oil and natural gas drillers have done for ages.)

A secretary of the Interior Department who has an interest in environmentalism would be a good start to Obama's second term. Raúl Grijalva, the Arizona congressman, is the best of the names being thrown around right now. The choice of Grijalva would also continue the Obama Administration's amusing habit of picking liberal cabinet members from a state run by comically deranged right-wing villains.

For the Environmental Protection Agency, it would be a "green move" to acknowledge the catastrophe of fracking instead of killing scientific papers that outline the dangers. Both the EPA and the Department of Energy will be getting new leadership; neither Lisa Jackson nor Stephen Chu were particularly green. The Keystone XL pipeline, a terrible project that would encourage the use of the absolute filthiest form of energy we have on Earth, should be stopped (again) and thrown in the compost heap.

Whatever the White House does or doesn't do between now and January of 2017, the droughts and wildfires and crazy storms and crushing heat and vanishing of species will continue. The actions taken now won't make an immediate difference, but the continued weather horror will likely keep people behind these policies even if they don't make a difference in the short term.

Photo by USFWS.

15 Comments / Post A Comment

The earth has been around for millions of years. It's silly to draw any conclusions about "climate change" based on only 150 years of industrialization.

camelface (#4,600)

you seem smart

@ Bart Miller @twitter

I have been around for 43 years. It's silly to draw any conclusions about "gravity" based on only 1 minute of falling out of an airplane.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@ Bart Miller @twitter Or based on only 150 minutes of thermonuclear war, right? Thankfully we are not that stupid, but knowing just enough to not blow your brains out with a shotgun doesn't equal being able to take care of yourself while using heavy machinery.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

The not so casual Anti-Arab racism of this author is rather telling.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@Lockheed Ventura

More writing by this same Author:

"Saddam even had bricks stamped with his name alongside Nebuchadnezzar's. Babylon would come back. The Israelites would again be destroyed or enslaved. Remember, this is the same historical insanity that produced Osama bin Laden's longings for a re-conquest of Spain. Logic and diplomacy don't mean a damned thing to a Nebuchadnezzar wannabe. Saddam's answer to the "peace process" is a fat check to the suicide bombers' families and the destruction of the evil Hebrews. And the Palestinian authorities don't seem to have any problem doling out that dirty money … in U.S. dollars."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,48822,00.html

LOL. Neocon Shills never die.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Lockheed Ventura The connection of Arbusto Energy to terrorists seems a bit sketchy but how exactly is it racist? The point seems valid to me — regular oil & gas companies are not treated to the same kind of scrutiny that renewable energy companies like Solyndra are (imagine if the bin Laden family had been in any way connected to Solyndra…)

Multiphasic (#411)

@Lockheed Ventura More to the point: Ken, I would like to buy a copy of Space Critters please.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Lockheed Ventura I understood that the author meant that dealing with Arabs should've bothered the right-wingers more, having in mind how racists they are – but it didn't, because Texas/oil, thus exposing them as hypocrites (which is worse for their image in front of their "base" than being called racists)

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@stuffisthings It is racist because Ken Layne claims an oil development in Texas that in part depended on financing from an Arab person is a "deal directly with Arab terrorists as business partners." But, the Arbusto deal did not involve "Arab terrorists", but it is casually thrown around by Layne because the racist trope "Arab=Terrorism" is simply part of Layne's ongoing neocon narrative.

But yes, if certain members of the Bin Laden clan had, years before Bin Laden was involved in anti-American terrorism, provided financing to Solyndra, there would be some outrage. The outrage would be from Anti-Arab racists and neocons, which is my point.

In his last "environmental" piece for the Awl, he quoted neocon James Woolsley that the gas station is a "collection box for Al Qaeda."

His work for Fox News that I linked to above (PLEASE READ IT!), is a racist, war mongering, anti-Arab fantasy. It is interesting that he was pushing for war with Saddam all the way back in 1999. His argument is that we must defeat Saddam because he is going to "re-enslave the Hebrews." This is pure racialist fantasy and ahistorical clap-trap. He goes on to quote positively from disgraced neocon queen and Iraq War propagandist, Judith Miller.

He is clearly pushing an anti-Arab agenda.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Lockheed Ventura Yeah, that Fox News article was eyebrow-raising, but I'm not sure that plus an offhand reference to a vague, Michael Moorish Bush/bin Laden conspiracy theory and a riff on the idea of an ex-CIA chief ripping patriotic stickers off non-hybrids constitutes an "anti-Arab agenda." Then again, my primary experience of reading Ken Layne before he came to the Awl was at Wonkette circa 2006 (which I don't recall as a bastion of Bush administration cheerleading).

Has he been moonlighting at the Weekly Standard or Commentary all this time? Is there some body of work to back up the "Ken Layne is a neocon" thing or his whole agenda contained in that weird Fox News piece from 2002?

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@stuffisthings I just googled "Ken Layne" and "Arab" and the results were rather revealing. He has a strange obsession with his gas money going to the Arabs. Much of his work for Fox News would not look out of place on Pamela Geller's blog.

Here is another article from his Fox News Contributor days:

— While you're filling up the tank, he sits sullenly in the backseat and says, "The oil rightly belongs to the descendents of the Prophet. You will suffer a million deaths, infidel."


The whole piece "How to Spot a Terrorist In Training" reads like a bad "Achmed The Terrorist" skit, but even less funny. I think it is more than fair to say that there is a trend of racism in his writing.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Lockheed Ventura Well I guess that's the weird thing I learned today.

Now I feel slightly less embarrassed that the only permanent reminder of my political leanings in 2002 is an anti-US invasion of Afghanistan t-shirt design that's still floating around in activist circles.

President Obama has done a good job considering the economy he inherited and the most hateful/spiteful group of Republicans in our nations history. It's amazing how much most Republicans are against anything and everything the President stands for- whether it's a good idea or not. It's a shame too because 50 years from now we'll be thankful for universal health care and equal pay for women, just to name two things. He's far from perfect but who is?


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