Thursday, October 04, 2012

Is Green-- Not Cash, Environmental Policy-- Becoming A Real Factor In Electoral Politics?


When I retired from my stressful corporate job I went for a full medical checkup. Tests led to more tests and eventually my doctor told me to get my affairs in order because I had cancer and would probably die soon. The treatments he suggested can stretch life out a bit sometimes-- although the side effects of the treatments often kill the patients-- and they would be guaranteed to make life less worth living. I opted to go to a highly recommended holistic doctor and the story of my recovery is part of his book, The Cure. There was many aspects of Dr. Brantley's treatment but one was a rigorous exercise program. OK, I decided to build a chemical-free, salt water indoor swimming pool as my retirement present to myself. And I swim everyday.

A drawback of an indoor pool is that you have to have a dehumidifier to keep the room from becoming a humid swamp and, ultimately, collapsing. Indoor pools are usually built in cold places, not hot climates and when the outside temperature gets above 95 degrees, the system shuts down automatically and doesn't come back on unless it's rebooted manually. It's October and almost every day has been over 95 degrees here in the shady, cool Griffith Park section of Los Angeles. I have as little intention of writing a post about the trails and tribulations of a badly functioning dehumidifier as you would have in reading it. Instead I want to mention a tweet from Tuesday. Actually, I just dug it up. This tweet:

Because I study voting records carefully, I already knew before I voted for Obama that he was likely to be as mediocre a president as he has been. Blue America never endorsed him, of course, and I have no idea if John and Digby even voted for him. I did though. But not primarily because he was the lesser of two evils and not primarily because he is a truly inspirational figure for so many millions of Americans. I voted for him because for all his corporate-oriented policies and his Wall Street connections and for all the Blue Dog tendencies, I felt he really did-- and does-- understand he single most important issue facing the United States: climate change. And when he won, it was one of the first places he turned to to try to do some good. Congress, a nearly fully owned subsidiary of corporate American special interests has done its best to block his modest endeavors to get the country-- and the world-- on the right path before it's, quite literally, too late.

Republicans have been criminal on this issue. And the corrupt New Dems who have moved into control of the House Democratic Caucus have been, at best, cowardly and craven (as usual). But, it turns out, there's not that much to be cowardly and craven about. A new poll from Yale shows that voters are ahead of the politicians on this!

Most Obama voters and most undecided voters know climate change is real and want the United States to do more to address it. Here are some of the findings from the survey:
Eight in 10 undecided voters know climate change is real. That’s right: 80 percent of undecided voters “believe” that global warming is happening, while only 3 percent believe it is not. This is on par with likely Obama voters: 86 percent and 4 percent, respectively. By contrast, just 45 percent of likely Romney voters say global warming is happening. In fact, one out of three likely Romney voters believes it is not happening.

Two in three of the undecided voters polled understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, and only about one in five believe that it’s caused mostly by natural changes in the environment. Undecided voters are split on the question of consensus among climate scientists-- but that may not matter in light of the other findings.

Over half of the undecideds, six in 10, say that climate change is among the important issues that will help them decide their vote. As the Yale team puts it, few likely voters say global warming is the “single most important” issue to them in this election. But majorities of likely Obama voters (75 percent) and undecideds (61 percent) say it will be one of several important issues determining their vote for president. Only 32 percent of likely Romney voters say it will be one of the “important issues” determining their vote.

Undecideds want the president and Congress to do more about climate change. Undecided voters and likely Obama voters say that Obama (64 percent and 61 percent, respectively) and Congress (72 percent and 78 percent) should be “doing more” about global warming. By contrast, fewer than half of likely Romney voters think the president or Congress should be doing more (35 percent and 35 percent, respectively) and, in fact, are more inclined to say they should be doing less to address global warming (47 percent and 44 percent).

One place most voters agree? Clean energy. There is broad agreement among all likely voters
-- 85 percent of likely Obama voters, 83 percent of undecided voters, and 73 percent of likely Romney voters-- that the United States should use more renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, and geothermal) in the future.

However, agreement about energy splinters again when it comes to dirty fuels. More than half of undecideds and likely Obama voters say that the U.S. should use fewer fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas (55 percent and 65 percent, respectively). But fewer than half (38 percent) of likely Romney voters agree.

Chris Mooney was quick to follow up for Mother Jones asking if climate change is the sleeper issue of 2012. He hammers home the point that that extreme weather is leaving Americans increasingly worried about climate change and that by this summer 70% of the public had come around to believe that climate change is happening and that the public is growing increasingly alarmed... and that "global warming is a potential political winner, rather than an electoral albatross."

Despite all that, and despite a petition to moderator Jim Lehrer with 160,000 signatures delivered by the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club, a discussion of global warming was frozen out of the first debate last night.

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