Please excuse the snark aspect of the title of this post - I have some serious points I'd like to discuss. ClimateBrad has posted a diary tonight which gives a roll call of Senators willing to stay up all night to talk about Climate Change - and those who won't.
This is pretty simple. 28 31 U.S. Senators (D+I) have announced they're joining the #Up4Climate talkathon tonight. There areThere's a list of names showing who is and who isn't going to be there, and contact info to let you reward/chastise your senators accordingly. (Hope you'll do so - the more buzz, the better.) That so many Democratic Senators are willing to stand up is real progress. That there are Democratic Senators who won't is a disappointment. That no Republicans will is not a surprise.
2724 Democrats and 45 Republicans who have not.
Climate Change finally shows signs of gaining political traction. At this point Democrats are beginning to establish some forward momentum. The President is speaking out. The Secretary of State is making no bones about its importance as an international issue. (Of course, there's still that KXL thing…) Still, we could be doing better. Discussion ensues below the Orange Omnilepticon.
There's no question that tonight's action in the Senate is getting some attention. I caught Sean Hannity talking about it briefly on his radio show today. He was dismissive, pointing out that Democrats control the Senate, but they have not introduced any legislation - because they can't get enough support for it in their own party. He considered it just empty grandstanding, and was considering looking in during his TV show tonight, probably for some reflex liberal-bashing.
WASHINGTON — The Senate was headed into another all-nighter Monday evening as 26 Democrats who call themselves the “climate caucus” planned to speak nonstop about climate change from about 6:30 p.m. until 9 a.m. on Tuesday.The Times had little to say about why the issue of Climate Change was worthy of the effort - either reporter Carol Davenport and the editors chose to view it purely as a political issue, or assumed there was no need to mention the very real reasons for action. (Two guesses which.) It was compared to efforts to raise vehicle fuel economy standards back in the 1990's which eventually succeeded as public support grew. Mention was also made of the big money that is finally starting to show up in support of Climate Change action. But, the overall tone of the article limited discussion of Climate Change to the purely political aspects of the issue.
The talkathon is the latest effort by the group, which is working with a parallel House caucus, to elevate the issue of global warming. The members know that serious climate change legislation stands no chance of passage in this divided Congress, where many lawmakers in the Republican-majority House deny the science of human-caused global warming.
It's telling what was mentioned, and it's why considering Climate Change only from a political viewpoint is a problem for those who want action:
Climate change legislation — which would most likely place a price on carbon pollution — could raise gasoline and electricity costs, which would be deeply unpopular with voters. Advocacy groups with links to the fossil fuel industry and the libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch, who aggressively oppose strengthening climate policy, are expected to continue to spend heavily to block any such policies and fight the candidates who support them.emphasis added
You really have to wonder about a report that phrases things so that it appears Charles and David Koch have nothing to do with fossil fuels - they're just libertarians! And billionaires. You also have to wonder that the article goes out of its way to prominently note the hundreds of millions of dollars that are only now being spent to support action on Climate Change while omitting any mention of vast amounts that are being spent to block action. And nowhere in the article is any mention of the costs already being incurred from doing nothing, or all of the other negative consequences of Global Warming and Climate Change.
Conservatives, talk radio, the deniers have put together a narrative that Climate Change is a hoax. Democrats are using it as an excuse to enact a Big Government agenda; Big Money liberals are bankrolling them, etc. etc. There's nothing in the Times article that contradicts that narrative - in fact it could almost be seen to subtly reinforce it. So much for the 'liberal' media.
The other day I published a diary that looked at the real Climate Change challenge at length. (Too much length, apparently - I suspect a lot of people took one look and passed over it.) Let me summarize it here.
The Senate effort to build Climate Change concerns into action is essential. The big problem now isn't the science; we've passed the point at which there's any doubt left about Climate Change reality. The only questions left are how fast it will happen, how bad it will get, what we are going to do about it, and when. The main problem now is political - how to get the world to act, and to recognize that our opponents don't really give a damn about it in any case.
Conservatives are using Climate Change for identity politics; you can't be a conservative if you admit Climate Change is real. (Demonstration here - h/t to Charles P. Pierce.) They've turned what should be an objective threat to all humankind into a matter of ideology. They're terrifying their base with warnings that Big Government Liberals will take away their SUV's, destroy jobs, bankrupt them with high gas and electricity prices, raise taxes, impose Agenda 21 on them, and control every aspects of their lives. The black helicopters are coming to take everyone's guns away - and gay marry them too!
Crazy as this is, it does create one problem. If Climate Change activists keep talking about the urgency of doing something, about all the terrible things that are going to happen - even though it's true, they end up sounding a lot like the other side by coming across as scaremongers.
Ordinary people are seldom moved by facts alone, or threats at some indefinite time in the future - especially when the opposition is telling them everything is fine, that there's no problem, and doing anything would be too expensive, restrictive, etc. etc. They need messaging that connects with them in their daily lives, stories they can understand that makes the big picture real to them, things they can see around them, ideas that connect not just with their minds, but their emotions as well. They need to hear things that will make them feel like they can be in control of their lives, that help will be there for them, that their lives can be made better. They need to hear it from people they trust.
If the all-nighter sessions in the Senate can do this, they'll be making a real difference. Republicans have literally nothing to offer except lies and fear. Every day it gets harder for them to deny what's happening. If those advocating action to deal with Climate Change can come up with a positive message and dare the Republicans to come up with anything except knee-jerk opposition, all the better.
We're running out of time - but not answers. Let's put them to work.