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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Con-servatives & MSNBC Attack Obama Administration’s Hard Work

Con-servatives have regularly attacked education and intellectualism over the past generation.  They have made anti-intellectualism, anti-intelligence and anti-curiosity the in-thing.  Nothing has demonstrated that better that George Bush’s “administration”.  Faced with a complex world, they have applied overly simplistic ideologically-based solutions to the crises that arose in the past eight years.  All have met failure when faced with reality.  The Iraq occupation, Hurricane Katrina, the economy, and science were all dealt with by rigid right-wing orthodoxy by partisan hacks who weren’t qualified to hold their jobs.  They were for the most part the biggest campaign contributors to Bush’s elections for Governor and President.

An article at the top of MSNBC’s website this morning attacks Obama’s picks for administration posts as being intellectual elites. Citing the most right-wing sources, they attempt to paint the picture that people with degrees are more fake than those without degrees; that people who have spent their lives studying subjects will be more inept at their jobs than those who never heard of the issues they were appointed to handle.

Americans on Nov. 4th remembered how horribly the occupation of Iraq has been handled.  They remembered how many thousands died in New Orleans despite being warned of the impending disaster in 2005.  They remembered who advocated to deregulate every industry and allow millions of good-paying jobs to be shipped overseas.  They remembered who shut down scientific research such as stem-cells while their family members needlessly suffered a variety of diseases.  Con-servatives brought business executives with them to the White House in 2000, promising to run the country like it was a business.  Government couldn’t get it done, they told us.  It certainly can’t get it done when those in charge subscribe to their orthodoxy at the expense of any other possibility.

Well, we’ve seen what happens when America is run like a business with Con-servatives at the helm.  It fails; it fails spectacularly as we’re witnessing today with record debt, record foreclosures, sanctioned torture, illegal wiretapping and massive corruption at every level.

George Bush and his band of anti-intellectual ideologues came to Washington with the expressed intent to prove government would fail.  The corporate media, MSNBC included, regularly failed to demand answers to the hard questions of this 21st century.  Issues can’t be dealt with as though they exist in a vacuum, the way they’ve been treated for the past 8 years.  In response, MSNBC serves this up [bold mine]:

The libertarian University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein, who is not related to Joseph Epstein, worries that the team’s exceptionalism could lead to overly complex policies. “They are really smart people, but they will never take an obvious solution if they can think of an ingenious one. They’re all too clever by half,” he said. “These degrees confer knowledge but not judgment. Their heads are on grander themes . . . and they’ll trip on obstacles on the ground.”

In other words, it’s somehow better to have Cons trying to force reality to match their ideology than it is to have Democrats shifting policies to match changing realities.  As usual, the corporate media focuses in on the wrong thing: credentials instead of specific policies.

It’s also disturbing to see Cons assailing meritocracy as a method of choosing the brightest for government when they have offered that same policy for promoting teachers within education.  They’ve never let hypocrisy ruin their talking points of course, but either it works or it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t work, why would they want our education system be based on it?  It couldn’t be because they’re out to prove that can fail also, could it?

Instead of assaulting people who have worked their whole lives to be the best they can be, the corporate media and the Cons should try embracing intelligence.  Poor decisions that affect millions are made by those who aren’t qualified to hold their jobs.  Those painful lessons Americans have been forced to learn these past eight years have unfortunately not been learned by the Cons or their propaganda outlets.  Of interest to me is that Obama’s team hasn’t even had a chance to try to address the overwhelming disasters Bush’s team has left him and already the corporate media and the Cons are attacking him.  You see, bipartisanship was redefined eight years ago: it now means you either agree with Con policies or you’re not bipartisan.  Remember, similar attacks were not levied against Bush eight years ago.  Every propaganda outlet I can remember was calling for giving Bush a chance.  Where’s Obama’s chance?  Where’s the “liberal media”?

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Sen. Salazar’s Language About Energy All Wrong

CO Sen. Ken Salazar held a press conference yesterday where he tried to talk up President-elect Obama’s energy plan.  Citing the need for a “comprehensive energy strategy” (sort of like his wishes for “bipartisanship”), Salazar made sure to mention the continued use of conventional fuels (fossil fuels) and “clean coal”.  To be quite frank, Obama’s and Salazar’s use of this kind of language completely undermines any message of a new eneryg policy.  They’re using words that the fossil fuel industry prefers.

As I’ll lay out in a number of upcoming posts, our greenhouse gas emissions must decrease in the very near future if we want to avoid sending our climate system into an equilibrium state that does not include ice at the poles and sea level many meters higher than it is today.  The continued use of fossil fuels does not and can not help us change our path from that future.  “Clean coal” is no more realistic than hydrogen fueled vehicles.  Both technologies are decades away from commercail viability, at the earliest.  Using the term “clean coal” allows the coal industry to continue ripping up the earth and emitting Gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere, which would force the climate system for hundreds of years to come.

Salazar also brought up oil shale as a potential player in our energy portfolio.  I know Salazar is aware that multiple gallons of water and excessive amounts of fossil-fuel powered energy would be required to pump one gallon of oil from shale.  It makes no sense to burn fossil fuels in order to dig up and burn more fossil fuels.  It makes no sense to waste what little water Colorado and other Western states are likely to receive under a changed climate system to push more fossil fuel out of the ground in order to burn it and force the climate system even further from where it was.  It makes no sense for Salazar to push this untested technology while saying things like:

“The time for talk on energy is over and we need to move forward to get to energy independence,” Salazar said.

Sen. Salazar, talking about “conventional fossil fuel”, “clean coal” and oil shale is not moving us forward toward a new energy policy.  It is more of the same – it prevents a new energy policy from being formed, let alone enacted.  Using the fossil fuel industry’s talking points puts Sen. Salazar, and President-elect Obama, closer to the climate change denier/delayer camp.

An additional non-related example can be found below.

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