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The Urgency Of The Climate Crisis Might Not Be Partisan But Is Very Political

One of the big surprises in recent years when I talk with new congressional candidates is the number who tell me that the reason they're running is climate change. The first one who ever told me that was when I spoke with a state Senator in California struggling with the idea of leaving his family behind in his beloved southern California to immerse himself in tawdry Washington by running for Congress. Matt Stoller was with us at dinner and he asked him why he would make the change from California too DC. The candidate said it was because of climate change and how serious it was for the safety of the planet and for his own family. That candidate was now-Congressman Ted Lieu and he was the first candidate who named climate as the top reason for running. Yesterday, Ted's chief of staff, Marc Cevasco, told me that when he interviewed with the newly-elected congressman to be his chief of staff back in 2014, "I asked him what issues he wanted to focus on when he got to Congress. I wanted to know what made him tick-- what inspired him to run for Congress in the first place. The first issue he mentioned was climate change. Ted said he considered climate change to be an existential threat to the human race, and one of the main reasons he ran for Congress was to push for greater action to address the climate crisis. The very first bill we introduced after he was sworn in was the Climate Solutions Act, which was based on California's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act. Ted was proud of his work on the California bill and wanted to bring those ideas to the national policy debate.  Over the course of his 2 plus terms in Congress have tweaked the bill a bit, but it remains one of the most aggressive pieces of legislation introduced to deal with climate change."

Now more than half the candidates I talk to mention it as their #1 issue! The newest candidate Blue America endorsed, Mark Gamba up in Oregon, running for a seat occupied by corporate-oriented Blue Dog Kurt Schrader, told me he thinks "so many candidates are getting in the game because the status quo is failing humanity. It's why I ran for office [city council] in the first place. The Green New Deal is simply a tidy package to put the multitude of actions into. It provides a short sound bite but more importantly it offers a historical comparison for the scale that we must engage at. I think other than the millions of good paying jobs, I would say the climate initiative that is required is closer to our entry into WWII. There has never been, in the history of our species, a more critical issue than the climate crisis. All other issues pale in comparison and frankly if we don't solve this one, none of the rest of it will matter within 50 or a 100 years. This issue is why I got into politics. As a National Geographic photographer I was seeing the changes occurring years ago and I was not seeing the government doing it's job and protecting the people and the planet. My opponent pays lip service to the issue at best, and has come out vocally against The Green New Deal, which is really no surprise given who funds his campaigns. I believe America is capable enough to solve this problem and others simultaneously. I question the patriotism of any American who says this is too hard to deal with or we have to wait for other countries, we have never waited for anyone. We are leaders. It is time for America to step up, do the hard things and lead the world boldly towards solving the climate crisis."

Brianna Wu is running for Congress-- for a seat in the Boston area occupied by very conservative Democrat Stephen Lynch, who has been as bad as a garden variety Republican. "If we wanted slow, incremental change on the climate," Brianna told us last night, "we should have acted decades ago. We don’t have time to waste. We have 12 years and the clock is ticking. If you are against the Green New Deal, you are against continued human survival. There are parts of my district on the coast of the Atlantic. They’re going to be underwater if we don’t act. That might not matter to a billionaire that can sail away on their yacht, but it matters to ordinary Americans. The thing that’s so frustrating is we have solutions on this. We can move to electric vehicles, and renewable energy is a realistic way to power the United States. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s asking status quo politicians to do the right thing doesn’t work. We have to stand tall do the right thing ourselves. My opponent is a do-nothing Democrat on climate change. He thinks the Green New Deal is an 'aspirational document.' He voted for the Keystone XL pipeline, he cracks jokes about climate activists. If we wait for him to do the right thing, we’re going to be underwater. It’s time to get to work."

 

On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders, AOC and Earl Blumenauer-- like Gamba, an Oregon Democrat and a climate activist-- introduced a joint resolution to Congress calling for a national emergency to be declared around climate change. The act is largely symbolic, but it's meant to call attention to the issue. This is what Blumenauer told his Portland constituents: "The problem is straightforward: climate change is threatening all life on Earth. There're many parts of the solution, and everyone's going to have to pitch in, but the first step for our federal government is simple: we must declare a national emergency right now. That's why I drafted a resolution and partnered with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders to push back on this insanity. We're introducing my resolution in both the House and the Senate so that Congress recognizes climate change for what it is: an emergency requiring immediate and aggressive action... We can't wait. Each day Donald Trump and his allies deny climate science and refuse to act is another day it becomes harder to fix. Without an immediate, dramatic response, we will experience irreversible and catastrophic changes to global human health, quality of life, food security, access to clean air and drinking water, and our economy. In the face of presidential inaction, Congress must mobilize all available resources to tackle this crisis now. The good news? Acting on climate change is a win on all fronts; it'll supercharge the economy for working people, improve our communities' health, and ensure a sustainable habitat for future generations. We must get this done. Now." He added on a press call the next day that "the national emergency is not at the border, it's the climate. It's time for Congress to formally acknowledge the scale and depth of climate change, and time for Congress to make an impact."

Bernie: "the problem is the lack of political will. We have a president who is dangerously ignorant... This is a moral imperative, there is no choice, we are going to have to take on the greed of the fossil fuels industry and the ignorance of Donald Trump and transform our energy system in a bold way... Let's be clear. Failure to act decisively on climate change will mean more drought, more famine, more rising sea levels, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances, more disease and more human suffering. Climate change is about our survival of the human race. The good news is that we now have the knowledge and technology to address climate change, and it starts with creating an international energy system that is clean, efficient, and sustainable. The bad news is that we are up against the fossil fuel industry, which is one of the most powerful political forces in the country. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars on campaigns and lobbying every election cycle to protect their interests, while they continue to lie and deny the reality of climate change. And they make billions in profits by continuing to pump, refine, and burn oil, while future generations will be forced to deal with the catastrophic consequences of climate change. It is past time for the United States to call climate change what it is: an emergency that is an existential threat to humanity that requires an urgent, massive response."

Ocasio-Cortez told reporters that declaring a national emergency is a good first step that would make way for large policy packages like her Green New Deal to be enacted. "This is a political crisis of inaction, and it's going to take political will and courage to treat this with the urgency that the next generation needs in order to preserve our way of life," she said. "We have less than 12 years to enact a global solution. This is a first step, and declaring a climate emergency is a good idea, this is what we need to do to start pursuing the plan we need."

...The call and resolution come just one day after President Trump held a press conference where he touted his administration's efforts to provide the country with clean air and water. His administration he said, had likely done more than any other to protect the environment. Critics accused the energy-first president of "greenwashing" his policy decisions.

"Donald Trump is resorting to greenhouse gaslighting the public to try and cover-up the fact that he is the worst president in history for the environment, climate and public health," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement. "Trump's relentless attacks on our clean air, clean water, climate and public lands threaten the health and safety of millions of Americans and no speech he gives can ever change the reality of his actions."

Still, any discussion around climate change brings attention to the issue and makes people more receptive to the science around it, found a new study led by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

"Discussing climate change with friends and family led to enhanced understanding of the extent of scientific agreement about human-caused climate change," wrote Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the program, in an email. "In turn, better understanding of the scientific agreement led to increased belief that climate change is happening and is human-caused and to increased worry about it."

Yesterday, Audrey Denney-- the compelling candidate in the video above-- told me that "Climate change is not a threat in the distant future. It is threatening the lives, homes, and livelihoods of people who live in my district today. We have to take bold action to mitigate climate change and restore our forests to health. The Green New Deal is not a plan to mitigate climate change-- it is a bold commitment to the belief that we can. I want to be a policymaker who crafts pragmatic policies that support the vision of the Green New Deal-- tailored to benefit the people and the communities of California’s first district. I will be the voice at the table that represents rural America, our farms, ranches, and forests. A lot of misinformation about the GND has been propagated and folks in conservative districts range from skeptical to afraid of it. I believe the GND is a tremendous opportunity for us to push forward innovative policies that will help our farmers and ranchers prosper, make our forests healthy and our communities safer from wildfires, and restore our rural economies-- all while doing our part to mitigate climate change. The incumbent I am running against refuses to even have discussions about this issue because he doesn’t believe climate science."

Kathy Ellis is running in a deep red district in southeast Missouri, but, as she told us last night, "Denying the reality of climate change will not solve anything. Missouri's 8th Congressional District is overwhelmingly rural, and many in the district are farmers or otherwise rely on the land to provide for their families. Right now, the 8th District is underwater. When driving on the highways, you look out over fields on your left and right, only to see endless water. The flooding, resulting from months of heavy rain, is hurting the economy and the people in my District. This is why I fully support the Green New Deal. While my opponent Jason Smith, does not believe that climate change exists and has said that the Green New Deal would eliminate jobs and bankrupt our economy, our farmers-- and therefore the economy of the 8th District-- are drowning. It's time for legislation that protects our environment, creates new jobs in our community, and acknowledges the science-backed reality of climate change.

   Goal ThermometerBoth Audrey and Kathy grew up and live in largely rural and small town areas. Shaniyat Chowdhury's district is in southeast Queens and Marie Newman's and Kina Collins' are in Chicago, 3 of the most urban districts in the country. Kina's perspective is just as strong as Audrey's when it comes to the Green New Deal, even if it comes from a very different place. She told us that "In IL-07, there is a stark contrast between the more affluent neighborhoods that have invested in green spaces and clean energy and the communities of black and brown families where we see a high percentage of childhood asthma, food deserts with lack of fresh produce, and some areas that have higher levels of lead in the water than Flint, Michigan. I fully support the Green New Deal, because we must take bold action to address the urgent environmental crises threatening the future of our country. We must take an equity approach to solving this problem, and the Poor People’s Campaign has provided a blueprint which focuses on investing in a clean energy transition-- and in basic resource rights like clean water-- that would create jobs, save trillions, and address the needs of the poor and people of color who are already feeling the worst effects of climate change. We cannot separate environmental justice from economic justice, and I plan to bring training and opportunities for green jobs into the south and west sides of Chicago so that they do not get left behind as we push to become the world leader in the green industry."

"I am terribly frustrated the Green New Deal has been branded as pie-in-the-sky," said Marie Newman. "My opponent calls it silly. I call it our only way to have a future in which we can all breathe. Period. Everyone should stop talking about branding and start developing this resolution into a full plan with programs, tactics, budgets and timelines." Her opponent is a backward Blue Dog fossil, Dan Lipinski. He's virtually wrong on everything-- wrong on women's Choice, wrong on immigration, wrong on healthcare, wrong on equality... and now wrong on Climate.

Shaniyat Chowdhury is also up against an out of touch, corrupt conservative, New Dem Gregory Meeks, who will never do anything but pay lip-service to the urgency of Climate Change. "Breaking down the Green New Deal," Chowdhury told us yesterday, "we see that it addresses so many of our country’s issues disproportionately affecting communities of color. The Green New Deal massively can bring districts like NY-05 out of poverty. The district lies on a peninsula where it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and there has been nothing done to help families still recovering, or a plan placed to prevent such an event again. Investing in the GND will create jobs that will focus on public transportation built with renewable energy and solar paneled homes including NYCHA. The plan will seek to reduce chronic health problems for black families including asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and lack of nutrition. The GND is not only meant to help our communities to survive, but to strive beyond the 12 years we have been given to make a radical change. Not only do I want to see the resolution to bring awareness, but I will always fight for the legislation to be written and passed in Congress."

Only 27 members of the House notice there's a crisis? Or other other subconsciously begging for primaries?



Eva Putzova is running for an Arizona congressional seat held by "ex"-Republican Tom O'Halleran, one of those reactionary Blue Dogs being protected by Cheri Bustos and Nancy Pelosi. That isn't keeping Eva from peaking out loud and strong. "We need to tell it like it is: thanks to the bi-partisan inaction of the past decades we are in the midst of a climate crisis which qualifies as a national emergency as described in the proposed joint resolution to Congress sponsored by Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Blumenauer and Senator Bernie Sanders," she said. "Without pushing for massive investments to retool our economy, signing one's name to a piece of paper pledging to not withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change as does my opponent is utterly insufficient. This is one issue that does not lend itself to traditional methods of political compromise. As climate activist Bill McKibben says: 'Physics doesn't negotiate.' Climate crisis is a healthcare, immigration, economic, social, and resource crisis. This is a 911 call and hesitant leadership on climate is no leadership at all."

Kara Eastman has a similar situation. Although the Omaha progressive Democrat won last cycle's primary against a Blue Dog crony of Pelosi's and came within a point of defeating Republican incumbent and Climate Crisis denier Don Bacon, the DCCC is working to sabotage her again. "In Nebraska, we have been plagued this year by floods that have made the national news. Thousands of people, both within my district and throughout the state, continue to face direct harm to their livelihood due to these catastrophic events. Even just this week, the central Nebraskan city of Kearney was under water due to rainfall of six to nine inches. It is absolutely the case that climate change is a crisis demanding an emergency response. It is an absolute priority and this is why I support the efforts of Rep. Blumenauer and others to enact legislation to make it a priority of Congress. It is unfortunate that the Trump administration is in full denial mode, as is his follower Rep. Don Bacon. It's also unfortunate that my primary opponent has come out against the Green New Deal and in favor of acquiescing to Republicans on any meaningful and progressive legislation. In an email just yesterday, she came out against taking the 'fight' to the other side. If we are going to address climate change, we need to recognize it for what it is: A national emergency."

One very strong progressive candidate on Climate is Michigan state Rep. Jon Hoadley, who's running for one of the architects of the GOP strategy of Climate Change denial. "Getting in front of problems as big as pollution and climate change is going to take all of us working together," he told us yesterday. "We have a historic opportunity to create a Green New Deal that’s designed by people and community.  This would mean good jobs in rural communities and healthier air and water for people in cities. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from serving five years in the state legislature, it’s that when we leave communities out of the design phase of legislating we miss some of the most needed and most innovative solutions. A Green New Deal should leave no one behind and be built from the people up. Rep. Upton had decades to act on these issues and didn't."
  

Source: 
Down With Tyranny

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