BY JENNA CITTADINO, CLIMATE POLICY PROGRAM ASSOCIATE
As the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began hearings on carbon regulation, debate ran along traditional battle lines, but with a new script. Democrats Barbara Boxer (CA) and John Kerry (MA) moved away from discussing the environmental impacts of climate change - - and the reason, therefore, to take action to reduce carbon emissions - - and focused instead on the economic benefits of a domestic clean energy economy.
California's state budget gap was about $40 billion this year. New York's some $50 billion. Every state in the Union is struggling with drastically lower revenues and higher costs for services of every kind, washing state capitals with red ink. At the polls next year, governors who are facing elections - - including Governor David Patterson of New York - - may find themselves politically drowned by such gargantuan deficits.
It's not just the ads showing a baby-boomer couple sitting in matching bathtubs on a beach at sunset where you can find performance anxiety these days. Try looking in the hardware aisle and at the gas station.
Has the momentum shifted on climate change? Lisa Margonelli, author of Oil on the Brain and director of New America's Energy Policy Initiative, argues that last week may have been the turning point. And a recent Politico article notes that big business is now pushing the Senate and White House to act.
Margonelli will be taking questions on the current state of the energy and climate debate in this week's New America/Politico Live Chat. This real-time, text-based online discussion will kick off at Noon ET / 9am PT on Tuesday, Oct. 6.
You may submit questions in advance via the comments form below -- or just return to this page at Noon ET / 9am PT on Tuesday to join in the conversation.
By Sasha Abelson, Sustainability and Climate Policy Advisor
This last weekend, I rented Arctic Tale, a film produced by National Geographic, because I was in the mood for something fun and light (and I couldn't resist the picture of the adorable polar bear cub on the front). Little did I know I was in for a depressing ride. In fact, I don't think I've cried that hard in a long time.
Ten days after being elected, then President-elect Obama put a stake in the ground on climate change - - he announced at the Governors' Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles that the US would adopt the world-leading policies of California for the United States.
My husband and I decided to vacation in Paris for ten days this past March. What a fantastic city! The food, the wine, the art, the people, the shopping, the fashion, and the mass transportation. That's right-one doesn't always rave about how great the mass transportation is in the City of Love, but I will.
First off, we did not need to use a cab the entire time we were there. We flew into Charles de Gaulle airport and were able to easily find the train that took us into the city. The train dropped us off about a block and a half from our apartment, and we had a short walk to our temporary home. All ten days we were there, we used the (surprisingly clean) Metro, taking us from our home base in the Latin Quarter (where we enjoyed the fashions of the university students) to the outskirts of the city to visit the Marmottan Museum (where we were mesmerized by Monet's masterpieces) and up to the top of Montmarte (where we climbed the breathtaking Sacre Couer and soaked in the best views of the city). It took us everywhere cheaply and easily.
In 1984, Al Gore held a hearing in Congress about global warming and urged his colleagues to do something about it. As we now know, he was ridiculed and largely ignored for the best part of two decades before being vindicated with a Nobel Prize and an Oscar (oh yeah, and another Congressional hearing, at which he was taken far more seriously).
I've been an environmental advocate for the same couple of decades, always suspecting that my friends raised an eyebrow or two over my predictions and admonitions about sustainability (my family, however, was not subtle about raising their eyebrows). I worked for the day when thinking "green" would be a normal part of everyday life. Well, just as Al Gore's day(s) arrived in 2007, my days arrived this week.
First, I turned on a Los Angeles Laker game and found the entire team wearing "NBA Green Week" tee shirts. The NBA.com website lists dozens of things anyone can do to live more sustainably (and save money in the process!). When a major sports league feels that all they need to say is "green" and that it's a good color for their brand, our time has come.