On Thursday at Mizzou, students, faculty and alumni bundled up against the cold and gathered outside the office of UM System President Gary Forsee to protest his opposition to climate change legislation.
Forsee, who had previously signed a statement supporting a climate neutral campus, which would go far beyond any current legislation being considered, recently talked out of the other side of his mouth in opining that cap-and-trade would be bad for the university system’s bottom line. Apparently, he’s in the “We wanted to save the planet, but it would have cost too much” camp.
So the crowd that gathered sported signs like “It may be cold out right now, but if we don’t act we’ll be on the hot seat”, “Gary Forsee lacks foresight”, and “Keep your climate commitment, Gary.” The protesters would like him to know that the Union of Concerned Scientists believes that Missouri households and businesses can save $800 per year by 2030 with comprehensive action on energy issues.
Thursday’s action is commendable. It’s a start. The protesters probably know that Forsee can swat their demonstration aside like a gnat and that if they want his full attention, they’ll have to become a swarm of persistent gnats. As Vince Lombardi observed: “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.” Surprising how much, for a football coach, Lombardi knew about political activism.
Update: FiredUp! has the story about Forsee starting to walk back from his opposition to Cap and Trade.
We hear a lot about what will happen in the future if nothing is done to stop anthropogenic climate change, and we also regularly witness the on-going efforts of the big corporte stakeholders and their tame politicians to pretend that it isn’t so, or, when that line won’t wash, that the “anthropogenic” part can’t be proven. However, deny it until the cows come home, there is no way to avoid the fact that increased CO2 results in warming, and that humans have been pumping historically unprecedented amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Nor is there any way to avoid the fact that we are experiencing the catastrophic effect of escalating climate and weather changes right now:
* Many citizens of the island nation of Kiribati have relocated to New Zealand because the rising sea level has washed away their villages.
* The President of the Maldives Islands is making desperate plans to forestall the effects of rising water levels, and to relocate thousands of Maldives citizens if his endeavors prove futile – if nothing is done and palliative measures come too late, “we will die” he says.
* Last summer, one of the increasingly more frequent and more violent tropical storms, Cyclone Aila, left the entire island of Gabura off Bangladesh completely submerged, displacing over 20,000 islanders.
These are only a few examples of what has happened last year, is happening this year, and will happen next year – not twenty, thirty, fifty years in the future. If nothing is done the future will be worse, thousands more will be displaced, and all of us will likely live in a world where massive starvation, epidemic disease, and war are commonplace.
The U.S. will not be exempt – say good-bye to New York City, write off the Eastern third of Maryland. Don’t believe me? How about when you hear it from a hard-edged business trying to save its profit margins:
In 2006, Allstate announced it was no longer issuing new homeowners’ policies in states up and down the East Coast. In Maryland, the company shut its doors to new customers across 11 eastern counties, including parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. Why? First, the company said, sea levels are definitely rising worldwide based on irrefutable science. Second, Atlantic hurricanes are getting bigger and more intense as the planet warms.
Meanwhile, here in Missouri, too many of our intellectual and political leaders temporize, equivocate, pander and lie, while others seem too stupid to actually understand the urgency of the problem with which we are faced. Consider the following examples:
* University of Missouri President Gary Forsee thinks cap-and-trade legislation isn’t good for the University system’s bottom line – so to hell with the rest of the world!
* Rep. Roy Blunt, taking full advantage of the confusion engendered by climate denial goons in order to help out all the nice folks who keep his campaign kitty overflowing, asserts that “There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.”
* Rep. Todd Akin, who assures us that his science advisors have passed high school science, thinks it’s all a big chuckle, and is looking forward to the time when there will surf at the steps of the capitol building.
* Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer has introduced legislation to forbid U.S. funds going to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which represents the thought of the majority of the world’s leading climate scientists, because, he asserts confidently, it “is engaged in dubious science.”
* Sam Graves voted against the House cap-and-trade legislation on the basis of a questionable claim that it would constitute a “national energy tax” that would “devastate rural America.” Wasn’t he aware of measures in the bill that were explicitly designed to mitigate any potential hardships? Or was it just too inconvenient to explain why he opposed trying to making cap-and-trade work for everyone.
* According to Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, cap-and-trade is risky because “Now the only experience that we’ve seen on this is what Europe has, and they have a cap and trade program that is not doing well, and so I think it is a stupid idea… .” Of course, maybe Emerson’s just a bit too quick to put down the European experience; she probably ought to read up on what initial European cap-and-trade efforts have taught us.
* Claire McCaskill, who claims to share progressive values in her fundraising letters, is insistent that climate legislation demands a “very gradual implementation,” otherwise Missourians might have to pay somewhat more for electricity.
* In Jefferson City, state legislators, whom Senator McCaskill so aptly described as a “vast sea of neanderthals,” have begun rumbling about the evils of cap-and-trade; a trio of freshmen state representatives, Sue Allen, Cole McNary, and Andrew Koenig, have been working up the rural and tea-party contingent with state-of-the art climate denial propaganda. Probably much worse will be coming down the pike in the months ahead.
While most of the Missouri establishment has joined the chorus of the self-serving and the brain-dead, a few courageous souls deserve our thanks – at least for the time-being. Ike Skelton, Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver all come to mind. One wonders, however, as the pressure builds, as the denialist lies proliferate, and the teapartiers rage, how long they will manage to hold out against expediency which seems to trump the ugly reality of global warming.