Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
March 7, 2011
Imagine a World Where Politicians Get it About Climate
Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, has a new book out that offers 11 of the most powerful words and phrases for the political mood of 2011. Just for fun, let’s look at the current events on climate with a few of these potentially powerful phrases.
“Imagine” a world where climate change is treated as a reality, not a theory. In Uganda, they have no doubt that climate change is real. Eighty percent of Ugandans are farmers dealing with erratic and unpredictable rainfall. Their reaction is not anger at the nations whose pollution is largely responsible for global warming. Instead, the national conversation focuses on the ways to make their environment as resilient as possible. Adam Corner’s article in New Science magazine suggests that perhaps a more pragmatic framing of the issue “would deflect the more hysterical objections of climate skeptics – but also allow climate change to break out of the eco-warrior niche that it frustratingly still occupies.”
“No excuses.” Activists around the globe took this message to the World Bank last week – and got an immediate response. Despite the Banks’s pro-poor, pro-climate rhetoric, the World Bank’s fossil fuel lending has increased 400% since 2006. Within hours of the launch of the on-line campaign, the Bank responded with its own tweet: “@Sierra_Club @oxfam @Tcktcktck @foe_us We’re listening. Draft energy strategy ready for review & comments in late April.The new Energy Strategy under development could revolutionize the energy investments in the developing world if it is ambitious enough to truly break the addition to coal and oil.
“The simple truth” is that a cleaner environment saves lives and makes America more productive. The EPA released a report showing that reducing air pollution prevented more than 100,000 premature deaths and heart attacks, over a million asthma attacks, and tens of millions lost work days. Those health benefits do not come at the cost of jobs. Dale Jorgenson, a Harvard University economist, says environmental regulation doesn’t have a big impact on the economy or jobs. He believes that spokespeople for coal and other industries reliant on fossil fuels “are simply presenting a point of view intended to affect legislation… they are coming up with stories about huge job losses they think will resonate. I wouldn’t say there is any academically respectable support for that view.”
“I get it.” As the influence of Koch Industries on the GOP and the state of Wisconsin emerges, the attempts to gut clean air laws will hopefully be revealed simply as payback to a powerful and profit-motivated contributor. CEOs of major energy companies on the Hill last week said they support allowing the EPA to proceed on a “reasonable” time frame on greenhouse gas rules for power plants, petroleum refiners and other major stationary sources. While some called Senator Inhofe’s and Congressman Upton’s bills to permanently block the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon pollution “a bit strong,” many CEOs did call for delay of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules that would slow investment in clean energy and cost lives in the U.S. and around the globe.
“Let’s get to work” USCAN’s Clean Air Digest provides you with the latest information on the battle to protect America’s clean air laws – the best weapon currently on the books to fight global warming. We hope you will rally behind a letter urging Congress to promote protective clean air standards and to oppose any measures to weaken protections for public health. Let’s reach out to U.S. groups large and small, from all walks of life, from neighborhood associations to national civic organizations. Let’s demonstrate to Congress that America gets it – and won’t stand for cynical attempts to trade public health and the environment for political gain.
Angela Anderson, Program Director