Biggest Issue of Our Time is the Biggest Loser in the 2011 Budget "Deal"
Reflections on Climate Change and the United States’ “Perverted Priorities”
Running Genesis Backwards
Here is a disturbing pair of questions to place next to each other: (1) what is greatest current existential threat to the human race? (2) which programs were the biggest losers in the recent U.S. federal budget deal between centrist corporate Democrats and hard right corporate Republicans – the one that just slashed $40 billion from the 2011 federal outlay? By any reasonable account, the answer to question # 1 is environmental degradation on many fronts but most particularly catastrophic climate change resulting from the wealthy Few’s petroleum-addicted profits system. It’s no small or distant matter. An abundance of recent data and observation demonstrates that even many of the most pessimistic climate scientists got it wrong when they started seriously sounding alarms about anthropogenic (human-generated) global warming in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For quite a while, the experts seemed to think that that the “tipping point” beyond which human life was gravely threatened was 550 carbon dioxide parts per atmospheric million (double the historical norm of 275 parts per million.) The more accurate measure, recently discovered, is closer is closer to 350, a benchmark we have already passed. We are currently at 390 parts per million and projected to hit 650 before final collapse barring any fundamental change in our energy use patterns. And already, at 390 we have triggered a number of ominous and viciously circular warming-induced feedback effects that exacerbate the warming problem. The melting of Arctic ice “replace[s] a shiny white mirror” that reflects the suns rays back to space “with a dull blue ocean that absorbs most of those rays.” Inland glaciers and snow-packs in the Himalayas, Andes, Sierras, and Rockies are retreating, threatening local and global water and food supplies. They are “melting very fast,” the prolific ecological writer and activist Bill McKibben notes in his recent chilling book Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet, “and within decades the supply of water to the billions of people living downstream may dwindle” 3
“No Longer a Future Threat”
The thawing out of artic tundra and icy ocean clathrates releases massive quantities of methane, a major heat-trapping and climate warning gas. Melting northern peat moss releases carbon in large amounts. Scientists have recently reported that northern marshes and ponds are staying unfrozen over the winter because methane is gurgling up from below. Beyond the massive amount of carbon we have extracted from the old earth and pumped into the new one (Eaarth) through our tailpipes and chimneys, we are now setting off the planet’s own internal “carbon bombs.” We’ve caused it but “we’re not directly releasing that methane” and “we can’t shut it off.” To make matters worse, the heat-induced softening of permafrost and the drying up of peat moss opens new northern lands up to oil drilling. As the last reservoirs of readily accessible petroleum run dry in a new era of “peak oil,” we will increasingly “rely on even more use of our most abundant fossil fuel, good old coal. And the certain result of using more coal will be…more global warming, since it’s the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, producing twice the carbon dioxide of oil.”4
Meanwhile the growing market for relatively inefficient bio-fuel production combines with warming to drive global deforestation, which exacerbates climate heating and triggers erosion, mudslides, and epic flooding. Climate heating allows certain beetles known to destroy certain trees to “overwinter” and thrive, to the detriment of forests, which become more vulnerable to fires, which themselves spew carbon into the air. The retreat of the Amazonian rainforest – the great “lungs of the planet” (currently “drying on its margins and threatened at its core”) is depriving Latin America and the U.S. corn belt of critically needed regular rainfall and removes one of the world’s great oxygenating carbon sinks (forests suck in carbon and breathe out oxygen). The “great boreal North America is dying in a matter of years.” The decomposition of forest is itself a great source of carbon release.
The list and interplay of disastrous “negative feedback loops” like this goes on and on. And it is going on now: “global warming,” McKibbben observes, “is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, no longer a threat at all. It’s our reality” in ways that are “already wrecking thousands of lives daily” in the poorest parts of the world where, where climate-related food crises and environmental collapse are most pressing and people have fewer defenses. The American State Department’s chief scientist projects famines related to climate change and serious enough to affect a billion people at in coming decades. Global warming has created a resurgence of the deadly dengue fever in Southwest Asia ad Latin America – a consequence of the fact the mosquito which carries the dengue virus feed more heavily and hatch the virus more rapidly at higher temperatures.
The worst consequences are being felt with special pain in the “developing” world, where masses of people are most vulnerable to escalating disease, food shortages, flooding, extreme weather, and other environmental disasters. Food riots broke out in thirty seven poor nations in 2008 in response to an escalation of food prices that followed the explosion in the market for biofuels (driven by the spike in oil prices) that year. But the costs of climate-related eco-trastrophe and the related exhaustion of global fossil fuel resources have already been heavily felt in the rich world, contributing to human disasters like Hurricane Katrina (2005) and a 2003 heat wave that killed hundreds in Europe and forcing vastly expensive infrastructure investments (e.g. giant dike improvements and other upgrades in the Netherlands and Venice) and other costs in the wealthy nations. Climate-related brush and forest fires have displaced many thousands of homeowners and apartment dwellers and killed hundreds across the rich world. New York City is already spending millions in anticipation of rising ocean levels. According to a study commissioned from the Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment by Swiss Re (the world’s biggest insurance firm) six years ago, likely near-term climate change will create an increasing number of storms and other disturbances that will “overwhelm the adaptive capacities of even developed nations; large areas and sectors [will] become uninsurable; major investments [will] crash; and markets [will] crash….In effect, parts of the developed world would experience developing nation conditions for prolonged periods as a result of the natural catastrophes and increased vulnerability due to the abbreviated return times of extreme events.” McKibben notes that the over-exploitation of oil resources helped precipitate the financial collapse of 2008 by driving up gas prices to a degree that helped undermined suburban home values by raising the commuting cost of living in such residences.
Welcome to the vicious carbon circle that could be the death knell of the human species. It’s already wiping out more than a few others as we “run Genesis backwards, de-creating.” (Three fourths of the big penguin colonies in the Antarctic may soon disappear thanks to the deterioration of marine life that results from the Arctic melt’s disastrous impact on the phytoplankton- the heart of the region’s food chain.) This is all happening in the present moment – not in some distant far off future inhabited by “our grandchildren.” As McKibben shows, the previous Earth is already dead, giving way to a polluted and perverted one (what McKibben dubs “Eaarth”) created by Western modernity’s rapacious over-exploitation of the planet’s stock of fossil fuels. It took the rich nations just two centuries to dangerously alter a planet that provided us with an ideal climatological “sweet spot” (with global average temperatures ranging between 58 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and carbon dioxide at 275 parts per million) for most of the 10,000 years that constitute known human civilization. The results are already staring us in the face. “This,” McKibben muses, “is the biggest thing that has ever happened in human history.”9
“Physics and Chemistry Don’t Compromise”
Given the passing of tipping points and the emergence of the planet’s own feedback mechanisms, moreover, there is less room with each passing day to delay action to drastically reduce carbon emissions. The climate issue and the environmental problem more broadly are very distinctive among all other “policy areas” when it comes to the need to act on Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr’s call for America to recognize “the fierce urgency of now.”’ We are looking at an Eco-Apocalypse Now: our response is moving into pass-fail territory, beyond letter grades. We cannot measure environmental policy improvement as if we are proceeding on an open field, advancing a few yards at a time. We have reached an epic ecological chasm: we either make the leap or build the bridge to a sustainable future or the whole game is off. With issues like health care, campaign finance, labor rights and much more, a progressive movement can at times reasonably choose to win what little it can, split the difference and then gather resources for future gains on the path to full reform, knowing that failure to win a really big and smashing victory in the present does not make progress unattainable in the future. Things are different with the environment and climate since, as McKibben notes, “Global warming…is a negotiation between human beings on the one hand and physics and chemistry on the other. Which is a tough negotiation, because physics and chemistry don’t compromise.”10
Biggest Budget Deal Loser: the Environment
If you have digested (or, just as likely for ZNet readers, already know) the terrible information given in my answer to question 1, I hope you are sitting down as I report the answer to question 2: the biggest loser in the 2011 federal budget negotiations was the environment. As the Wall Street Journal reported last Friday, “programs that saw the biggest reduction included the Environmental Protection Agency, which was cut by $1.6 billion, or 16%, and high-speed rail projects, cut by $2.9 billion.” In their negotiations with the corporate-rule-on-crack Republicans this spring, the corporate Coke Democrats fought to keep certain programs well-funded. The budget deal includes a $700 million boost for Obama's neoliberal schools agenda – the corporate-sponsored "Race to the Top'' that advances the privatization of K-12 education in the name of “school improvement.” The Securities and Exchange Commission budget was increased by $74 million to help the agency carry out its new responsibilities under a recent federal financial-services overhaul. There’s enough money, thankfully, for Head Start to keep enrollment from dropping, and for Pell Grants to sustain its $5,500 annual maximum award to low-income college students. 11
Office of Special Climate Adviser to President Abolished
But things are different with environmental policy – the lowest hanging fruit for Congress's in-power radical- right pseudoconservatives and their supposed (see note 12) “war on [the left hand of] government” . True, the budget deal deleted the Republicans’ noxious Republican proposal to entirely strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases and other pollutants. But the new budget slashes aid to help states implement health and environmental-protection laws, undoing $1 billion in improvements to sewage-treatment and drinking-water plants. The deal also cuts by $149 million, or 33%, a federal fund for buying land for environmental purposes. Programs related to climate change have been cut by $49 million, or 13 percent. And the position of the president's special adviser on climate change has been liquidated – a move full of grave symbolic relevance. The post has been open since Carol Browner left the administration earlier this year, and the White House has said it will not name a successor. The budget deal moves government environmental and climate policy backwards to a significant degree at a time when radical and rapid forward changes are required to – at the risk of sounding melodramatic – save humanity.
War Spending and Nuclear Revival
Perverted and Petroleum-soaked Priorities
Pentagon spending, for what it’s worth, is up under the budget deal. It is increased by $5 billion from 2010 in the name of the nation’s continuing commitment to “defense” – this in the world’s only superpower, a nation that accounts for half of the world’s military spending and maintains more tan 1000 military bases located across more than nations the world over. This spending is intimately related, of course to the nation and world’s deadly carbon emission problem. No small part of the stupendous annual American “defense” (empire) budget is about Washington’s attempt to maintain privileged American and western access and U.S. control of the global petroleum reserves that are concentrated most particularly in the Middle East.
It is another remarkable expression of what Dr. Martin Luther King used to call America’s “perverted national priorities.” As progressives commonly say, governmental budgets are about more than statistics and tables. They are deeply revealing statements of what matters and doesn’t matter, morally and spiritually speaking, to a nation and its policymakers.
Exelon in the White House
At the same time, reflecting his close connection to Exelon14 and other wings of the nuclear industry, President Obama is proceeding with his amazingly wrongheaded commitment – even in the wake of the epic Japanese nuclear power Fukushima disaster (an epitome of the unsustainable risks associated with radioactive power) – to reviving nuclear power. In an energy policy speech last March 30, Obama touted nuclear energy for “mak[ing] a significant contribution to the climate change question” since it “doesn’t emit carbon dioxide to the atmosphere." The 2011 budget deal does not undo the billions that the administration is now funneling toward the deadly re-expansion of nuclear power – a telling and ominous deletion from the mania for deficit reduction. As Karl Grossman recently noted on Truthhout:
“…What the nuclear industry and Obama are not admitting is the fact that the overall nuclear ‘fuel cycle’- mining, milling, fuel fabrication, enrichment, and so on - contributes substantially to global warming. It is safe, clean, renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind power that are carbon free and don't release greenhouse gases, don't contribute to global warming…as the organization Beyond Nuclear emphasizes: ‘Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time. Funding diverted to new nuclear power plants deprives real climate change solutions like solar, wind and geothermal energy of essential resources.’"
“…As to ‘new, improved’ nuclear plants - a ‘next generation’ as Obama call[s]t…The key issue here is radioactivity. And thus, no matter what the design, all nuclear plants are deadly. Whether they are the US-manufactured General Electric boiling water plants in Japan now spreading radioactivity in Japan and around the world, or the Westinghouse pressurized water design, or the design of Russian plants etc., all nuclear plants generate thousands of tons of lethal radioactive poisons as they boil water to turn a turbine to generate electricity…As Adm. Hyman Rickover, the ‘father’ of the US nuclear Navy and head of construction of the first US nuclear plan, Shippingport in Pennsylvania, said in an address before a committee of Congress when he retired in 1982:… ‘Every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has life, in some cases for billions of years and I think there the human race is going to wreck itself and it's far more important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.”16
Manufacturing Popular Indifference
I wish I could report that the assault on environmental spending and the federal government’s capacity to act against human-generated climate disaster stands in plutocratic conflict with the American public’s majority and progressive commitment to a federal policy that strongly prioritizes livable ecology for current and future generations. But this would be wishful thinking. In a 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press conducted before Barack Obama went to United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to decisively undermine global efforts to impose serious binding carbon emission reductions on the world’s rich nations (the leading sources of rising global temperatures), climate change came in dead last, number 20 of the 20 big issues of concern to Americans. Just prior to the Copenhagen catastrophe, the Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of Americans felt that there was “solid evidence of global warming” (and 65 percent thought that global warming was a “very serious or somewhat serious problem”) but this was down 20 percent from 2007 and just 36 percent of Americans - barely more than a third of the country – believed that global warming was taking place because of human activity. No wonder Obama paid no real domestic political price for his revolting, Exxon-pleasing performance at Copenhagen.
The problem of mass indifference is particularly bad in the U.S. A World Public Opinion poll earlier in 2009 asked the question “How high a priority should your government place on addressing climate change?” to 18,578 people in 19 countries and found a wide difference of opinion. Mexicans gave government climate action a priority of 9 out of a possible 10. Residents of China gave it an 8.86. United States residents gave it a residents gave it 4.71, well below even the Palestinian Territories and Iraq, where people had serious basic human safety concerns when the poll took place. This was incredibly bad news for the human race in a world where the particularly gasoline-addicted United States accounts for more than a quarter of the planet’s deadly carbon emissions even as it comprises 5 percent of the earth’s total population and where 2008 per capita CO2 emissions (at nearly 20 tonnes per year) were exceeded only by Australia. 21
The news on American public climate opinion hasn’t gotten much better since these telling pre-Copenhagen polls. A May 2010 Gallup poll found that just 38 percent of Americans felt that the environment "should be given priority" over economic growth, down from 55 percent in 2007 -- a disturbing belief. A March 2010 Gallup poll found that 48 percent thought the "seriousness of global warming" was "exaggerated (an increase of 18 percent since 2006) and that 67 percent thought global warming will not "pose a serious threat" to the public in their lifetime (an increase of nearly 10 percent since 2008).Among the highly mobilized and angry Americans who identified themselves as “Tea Party supporters” last spring – people who turned out in high numbers to vote hard right Republican last November – fully 66 percent told CBS and New York Times pollsters that global warming would have “no serious impact” on human beings now or in the future and 15 percent believe that global warming does not exist. As David Broder of the New York Times noted last October, “Skepticism and outright denial of global warming are among the articles of faith of the Tea Party movement…. For some, it is a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites. And for others still, efforts to address climate change are seen as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth” It does not seem likely that Obama is going to pay any significant political cost at home for “dealing” away so much of the EPA’s already limited capacity.
There’s little mysterious about the sources of this seemingly massive popular indifference to the world’s most pressing problem inside the nation that does the most by far to create that problem. The onset of an epic global recession in 2008 has privileged the need for economic growth and therefore, it is hoped, jobs and healthy incomes over ecological sustainability in the minds of millions at home and abroad. Insofar as they are viewed as obstacles to growth and jobs, environmental programs naturally fare poorly in political terms opinion during economic downturns. Masses of wage- and salary-dependent workers and citizens can hardly be expected to prioritize the longer-term fate of the Earth over the fate of their households from one paycheck, welfare check or charity allotment to the next. Plagued by a functional unemployment rate of at least 15 percent and by the presence of 25 million unemployed persons in the “world’s richest nation,” the United States is no exception to this rule.
At the same time, Americans have been subjected to a significant long-term public relations offensive funded by the leading petroleum corporations, who have created a powerful industry of professional climate denial. George Monbiot’s observation in his 2005 book Heat rings no less true six years later: “By dominating the media debate on climate change during …critical years in which urgent international talks should have been taking place, by constantly seeding doubt about the science just as it should have been most persuasive, [the professional climate-change deniers sponsored by Exxon and Phillip Morris] have justified the money their sponsors have spent on them many times over.” 25
In the U.S., the climate-deniers’ impact is significantly amplified by the right wing noise machine of FOX News and talk radio, where the consensus climate findings and recommendations of the scientific community have long been regularly denounced as “junk” and where the urgent, common sense policy proposals of those who wish to stem the world’s greatest problem are said to be radical “big government” assaults on American prosperity and freedom. On the eve of the Copenhagen climate fiasco, the denial industry and its American mass media magnifiers had a field day creating “climategate” – a great manufactured controversy about a set of over 1,000 private emails and many other documents that were stolen or leaked from the University of East Anglia's (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in November 2009. The right wing communications empire falsely and insistently claimed that the emails showed that climate change science was a sham, that a number of leading climate scientists had engaged in research fraud, and that the world is not warming. None of these charges were remotely supported in subsequent official government investigations, which exonerated all of the targeted academicians. The exonerations were not reported by the right wing noise machine, predictably enough given that machine’s openly propagandistic nature. The damage was done on the eve of the Copenhagen meetings – the real point of “Climategate” – and the right wing assault on climate science continues. It is enabled to no small degree by “mainstream” media beyond just Fox. It is hardly just the rightmost sections of dominant corporate mass media that continue to report the false, Exxon-funded notion that there is significant debate and dissent within the scientific community on the existence and grave perils posed by anthropogenic climate change.
Challenges and Vision Ahead
The challenges for environmentalists and others who would like to reverse the ongoing and related climate and nuclear catastrophes that are running Genesis in reverse are daunting. They include massive popular education campaigns to counter mass media climate misinformation by presenting the ever more severe environmental dangers posed by the nation’s petroleum, coal and nuclear addictions in the context of real life renewable and efficiency solutions that both must and can be implemented in the near future. Environmentalists must be particularly attentive to the need to challenge the core false dichotomy between economic comfort and ecological sustainability in the reigning political wisdom of our time. The dominant western, elite-imposed “growth ideology” propagated by the rich and corporate Few and their intellectual and political servants has long posited economic expansion as the only acceptable solution to the problem of material insecurity and poverty that results from the inherent harsh inequities of the capitalist system. “A rising tide,” growth doctrine promises, lifts all boats,” rendering irrelevant the supposedly obsolete issue of the injustice of a few owning opulent yachts while billions struggle in leaky rowboats and rafts. Growth is the anti-poverty answer of the corporate and financial elite to the longstanding demand of the many and the left for the democratic distribution of wealth, income, and material security. But the spatial and environmental frontier of inequality-evasion is closing. Poverty continues to expand alongside the dramatic concentration of obscene wealth at the top in periods of expansion as well as decline and cost-externalizing ecological safety valve is backing up like a giant toxic earthly toilet. Humanity can no longer afford the inequality-avoiding and system-sustaining attachment to endless growth and related limitless capital accumulation. We are hitting environmental boundaries that no longer permit the false God of growth to rule. Mother Earth is a very stern host and she is telling us in no uncertain terms – climate scientists are her leading messengers – that the capitalist enclosure of the planetary commons is no longer tolerable for human beings and other living things. The flight from justice through expansion holds the long-term peril of human self-extermination and the short-term threat of a significantly degraded human experience that is ever more “nasty, brutish, and short.” The crumbs of the sometimes rising tide are ever more poisonous and what is the point of spreading out the pieces of an expanding poisonous pie? Happily enough, we can put ourselves and others to reasonably remunerative, productive and Earth-friendly work on projects designed to heal the world’s many and growing ecological rifts and to develop a new productive and distributive system that works in harmony rather than against the wonders and terrors of the natural world. We can even – if we dare – imagine an alternative vision rooted in the musings of such past radical thinkers as Marx and (Gerrard) Winstanley: a post-inequality world turned upside down in which green work is second human nature, the obvious and natural choice of the democratically associated producers in a society that grasps the intimate relationship between (a) internal human hierarchy (the social rift) and (b) human destruction of the environment (the ecological rift). This society would seek out of spiritually embedded democratic intention to heal both of those rifts inherited from the pre-historical profits system – the internal human class and hierarchy rift and the more seemingly external humanity-nature rift – at one and the same time. “This Earth divided, we will make it whole,” the old left folk song about Winstanley’s Diggers (“The World Turned Upside Down”) goes, “so it will be a common treasury for all.” A dreamy image, no doubt, but, my sense is that it’s our only realistic long-term chance to move desirably forward as a species.
Paul Street (www.paulstreet.org)is
1 In their important book The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Planet (New York: Monthly Review, 2010), John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York utilize the work of Johann Rockstrom and his associates at the Stockholm Resilience Center to list nine “planetary boundaries” that are critical for the preservation of livable human ecology: (1) global temperature, no heavily and perilously impacted by human carbon emissions; (2) the nitrogen and phosphorous cycles: the amount of nitrogen removed the atmosphere and pumped into the biosphere and the amount of phosphorous flowing into the oceans; (3) the acidity of the oceans; (4) the quantity of protective ozone layer in the atmosphere; (5) the global availability of freshwater; (6) the percentage of global ice-free land converted to cropland; (7) the annual rate of species extinction and biodiversity loss; (7) the amount of aerosol in the atmosphere; (9) the quantity of chemical pollutants in the environment. According to Rockstrom et al., we have already crossed the boundaries number 1 (climate change), 2 (nitrogen and phosphorous cycle) and 6 (biodiversity) in terms of what is suitable to sustain human life. Like numbers 3 (ocean acidification) and 4 (ozone), global temperature (number 1) has the capacity to reach a “tipping point” – a stage of degradation beyond which global ecology experience huge qualitative changes that threaten to destabilize and poison the planet for human habitation. See Foster et al., The Ecological Rift, 13-19.
2 For a compelling argument on the core culpability of the rich, see Herve Kempf, How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2007).
3 Bill McKibben, Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet (New York: Times Books, 2010), 45.
4 McKibben, Eaarth, 21, 33.
5 McKibben, Eaarth, 45.
6 McKibben, Eaarth, xiii-xiv.
7 McKibben, Eaarth, 67.
8 McKibben, Eaarth, 25.
9 McKibben, Eaarth, 46.
10 McKibben,Eaarth, 81.
11 Janet Hook, “Budget Bill for Remainder of 2011 Passes,” Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2011, A6.
12The American corporate assault on “government”/“big government” is disingenuous. Over the last generation, dominant U.S. neoliberal ideology has set up a fantasy struggle between the allegedly evil state and the supposedly virtuous (and supposedly free) “free market.” At the radical extremes, the reigning ideology’s proponents have proclaimed a desire to “starve the [government] beast” and “cut government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub” (Grover Norquist). Beneath quasi-libertarian discourse about the epic conflict between “stultifying government bureaucracy” (bad) and “free market” capitalism (good), however, neoliberalism’s corporate sponsors and beneficiaries have unfailingly sought to wield and profit from government policy of a particular sort. Consistent with a state-capitalist Western profits system and corporate order that has always relied heavily on government protection and assistance, they have only targeted some parts of the public sector for malnourishment. They wish to de-fund and de-legitimize what the late French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called “the left hand of the state”: programs and services won by past popular struggles and social movements for social justice, equality, inclusion, and the protection and advance of the common good,. They do not wish to take the budgetary or policy axe to the “right hand of the state”: the parts that provide service and subsidy (corporate welfare) to concentrated wealth and dole out punishment (including rampant mass incarceration and felony-marking) for the poor. They do not wish to dismantle America’s military-industrial and imperial complex, a form of giant public transfer to the private sector.
13 Janet Hook, Naftali Bendavid, and Stephen Power, “GOP Wins Deep Cuts in Environment Spending,” WSJ Online, April 13, 2011, at http://online.wsj.com/article/
14 John McCormick, “Nuclear Illinois Helped Shape Obama View on Energy in Dealings with Exelon,” Bloomberg (March 23, 2011) at www.bloomberg.com/.../nuclear-
15 “Remarks by the President on America's Energy Security,” Georgetown University, Washington DC, March 30, 2011 at
16 Karl Grossman, “Obama’s Wrongheaded Stance on Nuclear Power – After Japan Disaster,” Truthout (April 15, 2011) at http://www.truthout.org/
17 According to leading British climate activist and intellectual George Monbiot, “The immediate reason for the failure of the [Copenhagen] talks can be summarized in two words: Barack Obama. The man elected to put aside childish things proved to be as susceptible to immediate self-interest as any other politician. Just as George Bush did in the approach to the Iraq war, Obama went behind the backs of the UN and most of its member states and assembled a coalition of the willing to strike a deal which outraged the rest of the world. This was then presented to poorer nations without negotiation; either they signed it or they lost the adaptation funds required to help them survive the first few decades of climate breakdown.” See George Monbiot, “Requiem for a Crowded Planet,” The Guardian, December 21, 2009.
18 Richard Harris, “For Public, Climate Change Not a Priority Issue,” National Public Radio (December 7, 2009) at http://www.npr.org/templates/
19 Anthony DiMaggio, “A Culture of Denial: Global Warming, Copenhagen, and the Media Assault on Science, ZNet (November 20, 2009) at http://www.zcommunications.
20 Stacy Morford, “Poll: U.S. Trails Just Abut Everyone in Prioritizing Climate Change,” SolveClimate.com (July 30, 2009) at
21 Union of Concerned Scientists, “Each Country’s Share of CO2 Emissions,” August 20, 2010 athttp://www.ucsusa.org/global_
22 Anthony DiMaggio, “Witness to ‘Mediagate’: Making Sense of the ‘Climategate’ Scandal,” MRZine (June 4, 2010) at http://mrzine.monthlyreview.
23 CBS-New York Times, “Polling the Tea Party,” New York Times, 14 April 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/
24 John M. Broder, “Skepticism on Climate Change an Article of Faith for Tea Party,” New York Times, October 20, 2010, at www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/us/
25 George Monbiot, Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2007), 39.
26 Damien Carrington. “Q&A: ‘Climategate,’” The Guardian, July 7, 2010 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/
27 One can find compelling critiques of the growth ideology (along the lines of this paragraph) in Kempf, Howthe Rich are Destroying the Earth, and William Greider, Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country (New York: Rodale, 2009).
28 Foster et al., The Ecological Rift, 85-87.