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Today, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain will be giving a major speech on Global Warming.  This speech, as with so much of what John McCain says on Global Warming, will contain many great words.  And, in contrast to the obstinate denial of reality by some many in the Republican Party, his direct statements recognizing the reality of Global Warming, that humanity is a driving factor, that this a real threat, and stating that this threat requires real action will be a breath of fresh air and will entice many to believe that McCain's Straight Talk offers an opportunity for sensible policy moving forward.  And, almost assuredly, the media rapture for 'Maverick' McCain will continue with the reporting of this speech, with discussion almost certainly to come about his 'courage' and 'leadership' in the arena of Global Warming.

This, however, will distort the actual record and distort the actual prospects of the bill of goods that John McCain will attempt to sell when it comes to environmental, global warming, and energy policies.  

Sadly, despite any great rhetoric, in this arena McFlip, McFlop McCain would almost certainly remain fundamentally McSame as George Bushwhen it comes to action re Global Warming.  When it comes to John McCain, his Green Straight Talk Express has proven to be a Dirty Energy Twisted Non-Action and Delay Machine.

John McCain will be giving a speech at the US HQ of Vestas Wind Technology.  This speech will be focused on Global Warming, but he will also take a moment to speak to the value of clean energy.

Every day, when there are no reporters and cameras around to draw attention to it, this company and others like it are doing important work. And what we see here is just a glimpse of much bigger things to come. Wind power is one of many alternative energy sources that are changing our economy for the better.

First, does John McCain want to discuss why he needs to go to a foreign company's US operations to talk about 21st energy options?  

Second, does John McCain mention how his repeated absence from the Senate floor for votes on renewable energy have created uncertainty for "alternative energy sources" like wind power that have opened the door for those foreign companies?  

Multiple times in the past year, the Senate has voted 59 to 40 to 1, with 60 votes required to move forward, on funding "PTC"  (production tax credit), which is a crucial tool for assuring the continuation of the explosive growth of wind power's contribution to the US electrical system. That 1?  John McFlip, McFlopm. McSame McCain. John McFlip McCain speaks stronglyabout the importance of "green technology".  John McFlop McCain doesn't take action(such as votes in the Senate) that support that "green technology".  Of course he doesn't mention how he has been a roadblock to action.  

He does use strong words, words that will surprise many Americans coming from a Republican politicians.  

Whether we call it "climate change" or "global warming," in the end we’re all left with the same set of facts. The facts of global warming demand our urgent attention, especially in Washington. Good stewardship, prudence, and simple commonsense demand that we to act meet the challenge, and act quickly.

Sanity, sanity at last from a Republican leader.  These type of words will sway many 'moderates', concerned about Global Warming, into think that John McCain is a reasonable option when it comes to environmental and global warming policy. That deception is a critical element of the McCain campaign strategy.  Twirling a shiny object (glowing words) to distract from the substance.

John McCain is stating Global Warming as fact and giving credit to scientists.

Some of the most compelling evidence of global warming comes to us from NASA. No longer do we need to rely on guesswork and computer modeling, because satellite images reveal a dramatic disappearance of glaciers, Antarctic ice shelves and polar ice sheets. And I’ve seen some of this evidence up close. ... Our scientists have also seen and measured reduced snowpack

He connects science to us, to our lying eyes, and to impacts in the United States.

We have seen sustained drought in the Southwest,

And, in connecting to us (and the US), McCain links the fight against Global Warming to national security. He links the fight against Global Warming to energy dependence (and energy independence). In other words, he speaks to the types of issues that many of us have been highlighting in efforts to change the nation's path, to Energize America.  

And, as we've have been doing for years, McCain calls for government action.

To lead in this effort, however, our government must strike at the source of the problem — with reforms that only Congress can enact and the president can sign.

In other words, the rhetoric is good, but does the solution meet requirements, or even a shadow of them.  

No surprise, when it comes to the Republican Party, John McCain is well ahead of the curve, well ahead of the pack. When it comes to dealing with the realities of our challenges, of what is required, John McCain remains well behind the curve.

McCain calls for:

  • A cap and trade program.
  • Note, this will give away a huge amount of emissions to polluters and is less efficient than a carbon tax. But, "cap-and-trade" is the language of DC, at the moment, thus this isn't a hit against McCain. McCain calls for reaching 1990 pollution levels by 2020.  
  • Sadly, to keep below levels of pollution that will drive catastrophic climate change, the industrialized world (lead by the United States) must be 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Thus, McCain's "solution" would do less than half of what is required to avoid catastrophe.  
  • Less important, McCain's 2050 target is 60 percent reductions, when 80 percent by 2050 is a critical minimum threshhold.  The long-term targets have far less impact than the near-term.  As we start down the path toward reducing CO2 emissions, success can breed on success. Over the next 40 years, 2050 targets might change multiple times in face of realities of the climate crisis, changing social understandings, new technological opportunities, and otherwise.
  • There are areas where McCain is hinting at quite sensible approaches. In a drive to ensure all nations engage in Global Warming prevention action, he speaks to develop paths to capture 'bad actors' within trade provisions.

    If the efforts to negotiate an international solution that includes China and India do not succeed, we still have an obligation to act.

    In my approach to global climate-control efforts, we will apply the principle of equal treatment. We will apply the same environmental standards to industries in China, India, and elsewhere that we apply to our own industries. And if industrializing countries seek an economic advantage by evading those standards, I would work with the European Union and other like-minded governments that plan to address the global warming problem to develop a cost equalization mechanism to apply to those countries that decline to enact a similar cap.

    McCain is speaking to those who argue that the United States cannot place itself at economic disadvantage in the face of those who will not act to deal with Global Warming.

    As can be seen, if taken at face value, McCain is offering a "serious" proposal, even if it is a proposal that would leave us (and US) seriously short of what we must be doing.  But, John McCain is seeking to use Global Warming as a key arena to differentiate himself from George Bush:

    I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges.

    As Joe Romm has so strongly shown, however, a President John McCain would have a very difficult time putting his words to action... even if he wanted to. What would be his "bench" for Administration and Judicial appointments and what would be his governing philosophy. At this time, the majority of the Republican Party does not believe that there is "solid evidence of global warming,"let alone human cause for it or a requirement for action.  As Romm states:

    ... a President McCain would not be the climate leader that America and the world requires. He is a conservative who happens to be on the only intellectually defensible side of the climate change debate. But he is still a conservative, and the vast majority of the solutions to global warming are progressive in nature — they require strong government action, including major federal efforts to spur clean technology.

    Romm concludes that John McCain is quite useful to have in the Senate, to have a Republican leader who strongly acknowledges Global Warming's realities, even as a President McCain would be inadequate to the challenges we face.

    Others' commentary re this speech:

  • David Roberts at Grist:  McCain's climate plan:  better than expected but still behind the curve.
  • Joe Romm at ClimateProgress:  
  • Conservative presidential candidate Sen. John McCain chose a clever, but ultimately hypocritical location for his big climate speech. I hope the media aren't fooled by his ironic choice of wind turbine company Vestas as the backdrop, but I have little doubt they will run enticing photos and videos of wind turbines. McCain, however, does not deserve to be linked to such images. ...

    Let's be clear -- conservatives like John McCain, or more accurately, conservatives including John McCain, are the main reason McCain has to go to a Danish wind turbine manufacturer to give a climate speech....

  • Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope
  • "While Senator McCain deserves credit for his work on early global warming legislation in the Senate and for bringing attention to the need for urgent action,  his plan is driven by yesterday's solutions and they won't solve tomorrow's problems.  The science on global warming has changed dramatically over the last five years and Senator McCain's proposals are outdated and fail to provide the big changes Americans are demanding."  

    "Like President Bush, McCain's policies on global warming offer more of the same, by putting the interests of polluters over the people and failing to invest in building a clean energy economy that will create new jobs and opportunities at a time when an economic boost is sorely needed.     Americans want real change--investment in clean, renewable energy instead of Big Oil, Nuclear power and other polluting industries.  We need more windmills not windfalls.  Unfortunately Senator McCain's plan is designed to fail."  

    Related see Juliet Eilperin's Environmental Stances are Balancing Act for McCain in The Washington Post. Note that McCain supporter Joe Lieberman and Lieberman staff are heavily quoted in this piece.

    Originally posted to A Siegel on Mon May 12, 2008 at 09:02 AM PDT.

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