Tag Archives: Pentagon

Why Climate Change Deniers Should Still Support Green Energy

Last week, two conservative Republican Senators, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming, called for an independent probe of the IPCC — the international scientific body that summarizes the latest climate science — and asked the Senate to halt all climate action until that happens.  

The senators claim that because there were some errors included in the IPCC’s 2007 report — for instance, how quickly the Himalayan glaciers might melt — the entire phenomenon of climate change must now be questioned.

I am not a scientist by training, but even I know their reasoning doesn’t hold up.  The few errors that have been uncovered in the thousand pages or so of the IPCC report have nothing to do with the science of whether and why climate change is occurring.  Instead, those errors are about a few specific projections about what might happen in the future.

Saying we should discard the entire thrust of climate scientist because of a couple of sloppy projections is like saying the concept of evaporation is in doubt because a handful of scientists mistakenly said Lake Mead evaporates faster than we thought.  

Senator Inhofe and Barrasso are trying to use this excuse to ignore the IPCC (which stands for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). But it won’t be so easy to get around the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Pentagon, the National Intelligence Council, the World Health Organization, and the CIA.

Each and every one of these world-class institutions has concluded that climate change is a serious threat.    

But let’s face it, people like Inhofe will never be persuaded by scientific argument. Climate denial is an article of faith for them, and I don’t believe in arguing about people’s religion.

But I do argue politics, and on the issues that matter most to Americans right now — jobs, the economy, and security — climate action makes good political sense.

So even if Inhofe’s posturing about the IPCC gives  some Senators pause, they can’t ignore the following facts.

Fact: Climate Action Will Create Jobs

Every senator running for reelection this year has one question to answer: where are the jobs? Voters are hungry for opportunities, and a clean energy and climate bill will deliver them.

Clean energy jobs are growing 2.5 times as fast as traditional jobs right now. Indeed, according to economists at the University of California, the climate bill that passed the House of Representatives last June could generate nearly 2 million new jobs.

Why so many opportunities? Clean energy industries require more people than those in the fossil fuel industry. In fact, for every $1 million spent on clean energy, we can create 3 to 4 times as many jobs as if we spent the same amount on fossil fuels.

Some senators have the defeatist attitude that China will capture the clean energy market because of its low wages. In fact, A recent study by the EPIA (for which Barclay’s vetted the data) found that 75 percent of all solar energy jobs are in installation and maintenance and the trend is similar for other clean energy technologies.

You can’t outsource the job of building a wind farm or making an office more energy efficient.

But here is another fact: the only way to get these jobs benefits is to pass a clean energy and climate bill. Without that bill, businesses don’t get the incentive to invest in job-heavy, low-carbon energy sources. And without those jobs, Senators will have a much harder time talking to their voters.

Fact: Climate Action Will Generate Economic Growth

Many economists believe that we need a new engine for growth. We need individuals and companies to invest in something on a massive scale in order to instill confidence and create jobs.

Clean energy and climate solutions fit the bill. Annual investments in the global clean energy market could reach $106 to $230 billion a year in 2020 and as much as $424 billion in 2030. What other sector is offering that kind of growth right now?

But in order to unleash private investment, companies need the right incentives. Peter Darbee, the head of PG&E, wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico that America’s utilities need about $2 trillion over the next 20 years to modernize electrical infrastructure. But, he said, companies are delaying capital spending because, while they know climate legislation is coming, they don’t know when and they don’t know what it will look like. In the meantime, they are holding onto their cash and postponing job creation.

Darbee urged Congress to pass a climate bill because, he wrote, it will “clear the way for many companies to accelerate near-term investment and job creation. Longer term, it would enhance America’s economic competitiveness and national security.”

Fact: Climate Action Will Strengthen Our National Security

The Christmas bomber put security back on the list of top priorities for many American voters. It was a terrible reminder that distant unrest can wash up on our shores.

And that’s what the Department of Defense is worried about when it comes to climate change. A few weeks ago, the Pentagon released its Quadrennial Defense Review–its official assessment of military risks–and it called climate change a threat to national security that “may spark or exacerbate future conflicts,” and labeled global warming “an accelerant of instability.” The Central Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Council came to similar conclusions.

If we stay on our current path –ignoring climate change and continuing to fuel it with our oil addiction–the risks will only grow. Americans spent a record $450 billion on imported oil in 2008–$1,400 for every man, woman, and child in this country. This money was sent overseas to places like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria. Do you think those regimes have our best interests in mind?

Retired Navy Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn explained it like this: “Our growing reliance on fossil fuels jeopardizes our military and affects a huge price tag in dollars and potentially lives… In our judgment, a business-as-usual approach constitutes a threat to our national security.”

A clean energy and climate bill will disarm that threat, protect our servicemen and women, and keep billions of dollars here in America.

Senators Inhofe and Barrasso can argue over the science as much as they want.  The scientific community can and will defend the science behind climate change.  While they have that debate, there are lots of additional, incredibly important reasons to get started…. So, let’s not wait.

This blog post was originally posted at The Markup

And the Waste Goes On…

So, apparently there’s another contracting company to add to the list of tax dollar abusers. They’re called the Parsons construction group. They were supposed to do improvements on a prison in the flatlands north of Baghdad, but Parsons continually fell behind schedule, causing the Pentagon to cancel the project.

The big problem? The prison was part of an almost $1 billion contract to build border posts, courts, police training centers and fire stations, all in hopes of restoring Iraq’s infrastructure. Yet Parsons only completed 18 out of the 53 project stipulated in its contract, and although they were paid for the minimal work they did on the prison, the structure is now empty and useless, due to structural weaknesses Parsons did not fix. In the end, Parsons made out with a barrel full of cash, and the much blood-stained region of Diyala never got its infrastructure.

“In the pecking order of corruption in Iraq, the dead-end prison project at Khan Bani Saad is nowhere near the biggest or most tangled. Bowen estimated up to 20 percent ‘waste’ or more than $4 billion from the $21 billion spent so far in the U.S.-bankrolled Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund.”

So reported Brian Murphy and Pauline Jelinek in the Huffington Post. I read this right after I read a headline about how President Bush will have compiled the largest federal deficit in U.S. history — $482 billion to be exact. So I have to wonder: how much of our tax dollars have been wasted in this same careless manner?

The Bush administration has taken outsourcing of essential government services to new extremes, especially in Iraq. Yet the record is so riddled with waste, corruption and other abuses that you have to wonder: Are these people really that incompetent? Or was the point along to enrich their friends and cronies?

Along those lines, the Wall Street Journal reports that Iraq war architect Richard Perle is part of a group negotiating a deal to invest in oil fields in . . . wait for it . . . Iraq! This, despite the fact that the Bush administration has argued against any oil deals until Iraq passes a new oil law governing the distribution of resources among Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions.

You can find out how much you paid for the Iraq war last year with Progressive Future’s Invest in US Calculator. And while you ponder how much of that money went to enrich KBR, Blackwater, Parsons and the like, you can also see what that money would buy in terms of health care, clean energy and better care for our troops. And when you do, please consider signing our Invest in US petition. We’re planning on  distributing this petition far and wide, from Congress to the Party Platform Committees to the media. It’s time for a new direction for America, where all citizens can be proud of how their tax dollars are spent.

Hidden Casualties of War

Last week, I shared a tragic story of a veteran who committed suicide less than three hours after being assessed as a “low risk” patient, and was released from VA care. The carelessness of his assessment was largely due to a standardized questionnaire that was used to identify high risk patients. This is a serious oversight, especially when you consider the statistic that by the end of the day, 18 veterans will have taken their own lives.

Since these troops make it home from Iraq, Afghanistan or other battlefields alive, they are not counted as casualties of war. In 2007, 6,256 veterans committed suicide. That’s about two thousand more than the number of troops who died in Iraq since the beginning of the war. And yet, these deaths are not counted among the war casualties.  

But what else can you blame for these suicides? Concerns over the rising rate of PTSD among veterans have been escalating. An even more telling statistic of this problem is the fact that the suicide rate among veterans is twice that of the civilian population, evidence that the war is a decisive factor in these suicides.

While Bush and Republicans have kept the troops at war in Iraq — and have gone to great lengths to keep them there, through extended tours of duty, stop/loss, refusing to talk about a timeline for withdrawal — they’ve been less willing to go the extra mile to help the troops when they come home. Witness Bush’s, McCain’s and other prominent Republicans’ refusal to support the Webb G.I. Bill extending further educational benefits to veterans, as well as McCain’s record of voting against increasing health benefits to veterans in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

We need to bring our troops home on a reasonable timeline, but we also need to start taking better care of our returning soldiers — a challenge that would be greatly eased if we weren’t wasting $10 billion a month on the war in Iraq  Imagine the kind of care we could provide our veterans if we weren’t wasting all our tax money on the war.

How much of your tax dollars are going to the war in Iraq? And what could that money buy for a veteran in need? Find out by using Progressive Future’s Invest in US Calculator. The calculator takes a person’s 2007 income before taxes and tells you how much of that person’s tax money went to fund the war (average: $235), and how many seconds of war that bought (average: .04 seconds). Then it tells you, with that money, how many days of veterans’ higher education benefits (average: 5) that money could have paid for, as well as other much needed initiatives at home. Then we are asking users to sign our Invest In US petition, which we plan on taking to Congress, the Platform Committees, and the media to push for new priorities for tax spending.