Tuesday, February 27, 2007

GO AL!!!

From today's Progress Report:

Action Rewarded

On Sunday, Vice President Al Gore's global warming film An Inconvenient Truth won two Academy Awards, including Best Documentary Feature (watch a video montage of Gore at the Oscars). Just as conservative critics blasted the Grammy-winning Dixie Chicks, many are claiming that An Inconvenient Truth was honored simply because Hollywood agrees with Gore’s views. The truth is, two years ago, global warming was still considered a fringe issue to many. Today, the debate is over -- Americans overwhelmingly agree that the climate crisis exists and that we must act now to reverse it. An Inconvenient Truth had a profound impact on how Americans view the issue of global warming. Al Gore deserved this award. Now, he's set to launch "a series of worldwide concerts to focus on the threat of climate change, with a powerhouse lineup from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Snoop Dogg to Bon Jovi.” The 24-hour event on 7/07/07 is part of a campaign called Save Our Selves (SOS) -- The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis. “In order to solve the climate crisis, we have to reach billions of people,” Gore said today. “The climate crisis will only be stopped by an unprecedented and sustained global movement.” (For more, check out our blog dedicated to global warming, Climate Progress.)

ATTACKING GORE: The right wing is angry that Gore has won so much public attention and goodwill for his work on global warming. Determined to smear his efforts, influential Internet gossip Matt Drudge yesterday published details of Gore's electricity bills under the screaming headline: "Gore Mansion Uses 20x Average Household; Consumption Increase After 'Truth.'" (Drudge's attack comes two weeks after Fox News host Sean Hannity accused Gore of hypocrisy for taking a private jet to President Clinton's State of the Union in 2000, and a year after "a seemingly amateurish Youtube video mocking the 'An Inconvenient Truth' turned out to have been produced by slick...public relations firm called DCI, which just happens to have oil giant Exxon as a client.") Gore rebutted Drudge's recent attack, pointing out 1) that his family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology; and 2) Gore has consistently purchased carbon offsets to make up the family’s carbon footprint -- a concept the right-wing fails to understand. (Calculate your own carbon footprint.) These are the lengths that climate skeptics must go to suppress action on global warming. There is no meaningful debate within the scientific community, so the right-wing busies itself with talk about Gore’s electricity bill -- and even then it distorts the truth.

ACTION SPURS PROGRESS: While Gore continues to lead a shift in the public debate, the new leaders of the 110th Congress are leading a legislative shift on climate issues. Capitol Hill will see more than a dozen briefings on issues that impact global warming this week alone, and this kind of action is producing results. The Wall Street Journal reports today, "Seeking to shape legislation before Congress, three major energy trade associations [which include Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association] have shifted their stances and decided to back mandatory federal curbs on carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions that could accelerate climate change." This news -- yet another sign that corporate America is changing course on climate policy -- "underscores [the] belief that Congress is in a mood to pass some form of mandatory emissions controls, perhaps before the next election in 2008." Meanwhile, the states are taking action where the Bush administration has proved impotent. "Five Western U.S. states have formed the latest regional pact to bypass the Bush administration to cut emissions linked to global warming through market mechanisms," it was announced yesterday. "The Western Regional Climate Action Initiative requires Oregon, California, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona to develop a regional target in six months for reducing greenhouse emissions" through a market-based plan, such as a load-based cap-and-trade program. Several eastern U.S. states have signed a similar agreement called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

THREADING THE ANTI-SCIENCE NEEDLE: At this point, most global warming deniers have tipped into hysteria -- blaming climate change on dinosaur flatulence, a secret plot by socialists, or Satan. Others -- namely, Vice President Dick Cheney -- are taking a more subtle approach. The White House released an "open letter" this month stating that President Bush has "consistently" acknowledged "humans are contributing" to global warming. But as science writer Chris Mooney points out, it "depends on what the meaning of 'contributing' is." Last week, Cheney unveiled a new effort the thread the needle on climate change science, saying that while "we’re in a period of warming," there "does not appear to be a consensus, where it begins to break down, is the extent to which that’s part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it’s caused by man, greenhouse gases, et cetera." In other words, humans may have some impact on warming, but that impact may be minor. Cheney added later in the interview, “I don’t know. I’m not a scientist." No kidding. Real scientists -- like those who produced the gold-standard Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report -- state that the climate crisis is caused primarily by human activities. [More at IPCCFacts.org.] Even the White House's Office on Science and Technology acknowledged in a statement this month, "human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years."


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