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Today in the House there was a dramatic contrast between a Republican Party embracing the urgent need to take serious action about global climate change and one wedded to ideology.

Consider it a "tale of Two Testimonies."

About two years ago, Newt Gingrich and I had a civil, respectful debate on the environment. We disagreed on the way forward, but agreed on the urgency of the global climate change crisis. So it was disappointing to see Newt rehash the same tired formula today in his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He spent almost all of his prepared remarks saying the word most popular with his party: No. And he continued to use talking points and "facts" that have already been discredited many, many times.

Here’s an example: too many Republicans continue to completely overstate the cost of the proposals, misstating an MIT study so badly that one of the main authors of the study felt compelled to go public to correct the record. The GOP talks of a cost in the thousands per household, while the Union of Concerned Scientists has concluded that the energy policies currently under consideration will be a net gain for the economy.

In his prepared testimony, Newt continued the false rhetoric that the major energy problem is a lack of domestic oil production. Leaving aside the fact that domestic oil production would never have a major effect on prices in a global oil market, Newt’s rhetoric completely ignores the whole point under discussion: the awful climate disruption from global climate change. Oil drilled here has the same carbon footprint as oil drilled anywhere else.

This is an incredibly urgent situation. The science of climate change is accelerating as more evidence comes in, and the change is consistently in the same direction: the problem is even more acute than we thought just a few years ago. The Arctic ice is disappearing faster, ocean acidification is progressing, and global temperatures are rising faster than previous models suggested. Climate scientists previously recommended a ceiling of 550ppm in the atmosphere, but now we’re told that the limit is 450ppm. Jim Hansen and other top scientists are now warning that we need to limit atmospheric concentrations to 350ppm.

But at the same time as the forecasts are getting more dire, there is more and more technology coming online that gives us hope of getting a new pathway. Unlike Newt’s rhetoric of doom and paralysis, we can build a new 21st century economy with more prosperity, and a cleaner environment. I expect more from someone like Newt who once talked about "Winning the Future."

But there’s hope yet for a center to reassert itself in the GOP Ranks – led by a statesman. Today former Sen. John Warner said:

I grew up with the World War II generation and was privileged to serve in the U.S. Navy, at the age of 18, in the last year of that conflict.

Americans were inspired in the darkest hours of the Great Depression, and that war, by the immortal comments of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, given in his first inaugural address, in 1933: "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The U.S. emerged from a depression, World War II, and rebuilt strong nation that exceeded all our dreams and expectations

Today our nation and much of the world is in the grips of an economic crisis without precedent. The brave men and women of our armed forces and that of other nations are engaged in two wars. Understandably there is a measure of fear in our hearts as to whether we should undertake at this time such an enormous and uncertain challenge as posed by the issues before us in this hearing. But I say, in the spirit of the past generation, that it is our duty to dispel fear and press on.

We need to get this done. To do it, we need a comprehensive plan in our country, and undertake tough negotiations internationally. We need to create a transportation policy that upgrades our high-speed rail and other forms of mass transit. We need to support the burgeoning clean energy economy by implementing strong energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. We need to build a transparent, dynamic carbon market that will reward clean industries and lead to a new, green economy.

And if we do this domestically, we will have the moral authority to engage with the international community to lead the way to a new global climate change agreement. The United States can’t do this alone, and the world can’t solve this problem without the United States. This is a time for global leadership from our country. As Senator Warner said, "We cannot and should not wait for other countries to take the lead. Their participation in a global treaty is critical, but the United States is a world leader, and it is upon us to act now and join other nations in exerting leadership. Only then can we expect others follow."

Right now, even without an international treaty, many countries are moving ahead with building green economies, aiming to reap the benefits of new industries and innovation. Germany now has more workers employed building wind turbines and solar cells than manufacturing automobiles. China has announced its intention to be the global leader in electric vehicles within three years. We can’t afford to be left behind in this race, and the world’s climate can’t afford to wait any more for our leadership.

The time is right for bold action, not misstated facts and outdated ideology.

As a country, we need to move quickly and boldly to confront these challenges, and we need the Republican Party to take a different and honest path on the answers – to sound more like John Warner and less like Newt Gingrich did today.

Originally posted to John Kerry on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:49 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Senator, what we really need is a radical (6+ / 0-)

      approach to energy.  Without a serious move away from fossil fuel burning towards solar and wind energy, we will never make progress on climate change.

      I agree wholeheartedly that now is time for bold action.  Let's do it.  

      (-8.00,-7.85) 'The idiot is not our greatest problem. It is the moron type that is our great problem." -- H. H. Goddard

      by bubbanomics on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:55:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Simple changes with radical consequences (7+ / 0-)

        Pricing carbon pollution is a critical part of getting energy right.  Whether it's cap-and-trade or a carbon tax, the externalized costs of emitting CO2 into the air need to be captured at the point of generation.  Republicans can -- and will -- whine about this being a tax increase, but it's tax policy that serves a vital national good.

        Revenues from carbon pollution should be partly directed toward sustainable energy sources:  the things we'll be happy to have 50 years from now.  This does not, to my mind, mean nuclear power, but includes a wide array of technologies from wind and solar to algae biodiesel and tidal.

        This country will turn on a dime toward renewable energy when the pricing structure is made right.  Then blowhards like Gingrich and corporate propagandists can rail all they want, and it won't do them any good.

        Godwin is dead. Glenn Beck killed him.

        by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:08:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  as upticks in the economy produce (4+ / 0-)

          big spikes in oil prices, we will be forced to come to grips with energy, I surely hope.  With respect to plants and emissions, cap-and-trade is likely to be a hard slog internationally... but we've got to do it.

          Sunlight is the only input into the system.  We've got to become more efficient at using it, both in terms of plant-to-fuel (like algae) schemes and direct sun-to-electricity processes.  If there was one big stimulus project I'd want to see, it'd be solar research and development.

          (-8.00,-7.85) 'The idiot is not our greatest problem. It is the moron type that is our great problem." -- H. H. Goddard

          by bubbanomics on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:13:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sunlight isn't the only input (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            You forget radioactive decay deep in the Earth's core (aka, geothermal).

            Anyway, using the sun directly is many, many times more sun (and land) efficient than turning it into fuel.  Orders of magnitude.  And far cheaper per mile, too.  We need to electrify transportation as much as we can while cleaning up our grid.

            •  I wouldn't classifradioactive decay as input: (0+ / 0-)

              that's conservation of mass/energy on/in earth to me.

              (-8.00,-7.85) 'The idiot is not our greatest problem. It is the moron type that is our great problem." -- H. H. Goddard

              by bubbanomics on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 01:08:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But the sun follows the same principle (0+ / 0-)

                It's fusion instead of fission.  It's still a nuclear reactor.  One's beneath our feet and one's over our heads.

                Ultimately, the entire universe is going to die of heat death anyway; nothing lasts "forever".  But a half life of 4.5 billion years is good enough for me.

      •  Heard this on a WBUR radio show this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, bronte17, blueyedace2

        AM - now, this is a radical approach to reducing greenhouse gases:

        Electric cars have been kicking around the clean-energy conversation for decades, but they’ve been held back by short battery life and limited range.

        Tech visionary Shai Agassi thinks he’s got a solution — and sees zero-emission cars hitting Main Streets in just two years.

        It’s all about infrastructure: recharging stations and battery replacement bays blanketing the roads. Customers buying miles like cell phone minutes. Some think he’s dreaming — but he’s already got the governments of Israel, Denmark, and Australia signed on.


        It was a great show - I'd encourage folks to listen to it.

        "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

        by grannyhelen on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:14:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Please, Senator Kerry (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          Do NOT bring us on board with Project Better Place.  I say this as a major electric vehicle advocate.  They've pushing the wrong solutions on just about everything, from charge connectors to how to quickly charge a vehicle to business models.

          Please support SAE J1772, charging station construction funding, and the establishment of a new SAE rapid charging standard.

    •  We need to make some major changes in HOW (5+ / 0-)

      we go about our lives.

      Not just energy use and where it comes from, but with a real awareness of the impact upon the planet (and our environment) of what we do.

      And the same applies to how we spend our money and the goods we purchase with it.

      I fear you will not get any meaningful new ideas out of the Republicans whose names you've dropped today.


      (+4, Rec'd, and good to see you here.)

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:59:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  To correct the record: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, A Siegel, pithaughn, allep10

      Oil drilled here has the same carbon footprint as oil drilled anywhere else.

      That's just not true, John.

      Oil drilled here has a bigger carbon footprint compared to oil drilled elsewhere.  The Saudis are tapping huge, shallow, high porosity reservoirs of light crude, and meanwhile we're tapping small, deep pockets, making syncrude, deepwater, and so on.  The more remote, hard-to-get places we drill in this country, the more carbon we'll emit in well-to-pump.

      It's not that we're going to run out of oil; the potential sources of hard-to-get conventional crude and syncrude are truly staggering.  It's just that the more we stretch to get oil from places where oil doesn't readily yield itself in a form we can use easily, the more expensive and dirty it gets.  In short, if we don't get off oil, our oil is going to be coming from deepwater, bitumen, shale, coal, and other things that really carbon-intensive ways to produce the stuff.

      I'm doing my part, at least -- I'm buying an Aptera 2e.  All electric, many times the range of a Volt, notably cheaper than a Volt, and half the power consumption per mile.  Too bad the federal government isn't putting affordable, hyper-efficient, ultra-safe three wheelers like it on par with four wheelers (hint, hint!)

      And to any legislators in states with "autocycle" regulations -- I'm looking at you, Ohio, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Maine -- you're an even bigger problem!  On what planet does it make sense that if someone builds a vehicle can withstand sledgehammer blows that they put through crash tests and exceed federal car standards several times over**, it should have harsher regulations than a 2-wheeled open motorcycle and be banned from going more than 45mph?  

      ** -- One of my favorite 2e photographs is of eight Aptera workers standing on top of a vehicle's shell without it even bending... after that shell was crushed with five times the force of federal roof crush requirements.

    •  Glad to have you back, Senator. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, blueyedace2, allep10

      And I hope that you are firmly on board James Hansen's recommendations.  350 ppm of atmospheric CO2 is an absolute requirement for our continued existence in a marginally stable world.

      Thanks for this diary.

      Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

      by WarrenS on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:45:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's good to have you back, sir.... (0+ / 0-)

      But you know that this will earn you a trashing on O'Reilly, Hannity, and Limbaugh for associating with us left-wing loonies ;_)

      Sooner or later one has to take sides. If one is to remain human -- Graham Greene

      by caul on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 09:52:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you Senator Kerry. (14+ / 0-)

    So muhc might have been prevented the last 4 years had just a few more people in Ohio voted for you.

    Please keep fighting for positivechange, as you have for your entire career.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by TomP on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:51:16 AM PDT

    •  Ohioans turned out for Kerry in record number but (0+ / 0-)

      their votes were disenfranchised by long lines and too few voting machines and deliberate obfuscation by Blackwell.

      <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

      by bronte17 on Sat Apr 25, 2009 at 10:50:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well I Hear You Senator (7+ / 0-)

    But there are no more John Warners.  Some days I think we'd be lucky to get a few more Newt Gingriches all things considered.  There box is too small for that diversity of thought.  Rather than encourage them to welcome their moderates back into the fold, let's welcome them with open arms and hang onto congress for another fifty years or so.

    If spittle & tooth=vigor & youth Bill-O & Savage won't grow any older If wishes & dreams=bitches & beams We'll all live in skyscrapers bu

    by TooFolkGR on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:52:00 AM PDT

  •  We must fight the incorrect talking points that (5+ / 0-)

    the other side of the aisle continues to throw around in an ever increasingly shrill voice.

    Thanks for keeping the pressure on Sen. Kerry.

    'Media' is the plural for 'mediocre'. - Rene Saguisag

    by funluvn1 on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:52:18 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, Senator. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grannyhelen, Luftmensch, bubbanomics, TomP

    Glad that you are back.

    They waterboarded in order to "prove" the link between 9/11 and Saddam. That is the Unified Field Theory of Evil

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:52:27 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for posting Senator. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bronte17, Luftmensch, bubbanomics, TomP

    Going green = jobs in manufacturing, research, and environmental recovery.

    Sounds like win, win, win to me.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by TNThorpe on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:53:52 AM PDT

  •  Read Al Gore's testimony today (7+ / 0-)

    Justice, mercy, tolerance, hope, love, grace, and redemption are all Judeo-Christian values.

    by Benintn on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:54:21 AM PDT

  •  Thank you Senator. It is however an insult to (4+ / 0-)

    our collective intelligence to have that Buffoon (Newt) be a voice on climate change before congress.

    open your mind or someone else will open it for you, but be careful you don't open it too much for you brain to fall out.

    by carlos the jackal on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:56:38 AM PDT

  •  We should not be so arrogant.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, polecat, Ellinorianne

    "This is a time for global leadership from our country."  We should JOIN the rest of the world in this.  

  •  Thanks for this Senator (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Let's keep an eye on the important issues.

    "They want to win, at any price. So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?" -Steve Gilliard.

    by demkat620 on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 11:57:07 AM PDT

  •  It was time years (4+ / 0-)

    ago to do something but we can still change but it's got to be comprehensive, beyond high speed rail and green technology.  We have to change our lifestyles, which is the hardest thing to sell, but if we don't, it will be changed for us.

  •  thank you Senator... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    So glad to see you hear today and thanks for coming..  We need to take steps to try to solve the problem of climate change and we need to do it immediately...

    Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom. Albert Einstein

    by ebbinflo on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:06:03 PM PDT

  •  Well done, Senator. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What I would like to know is why the tax breaks for wealthy charity have been removed from the budget?

    •  Not sure how this relates to climate change... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueyedace2, brooklynbadboy

      but for the record, I think they're an essential part of a properly balanced progressive taxation scheme.  

      I see bracketed income taxation as approximating a tax on luxury spending.  The poor simply cannot spend a sizable portion of their income on luxury; they need it for necessities.  The wealthy simply cannot spend a sizable portion of their income on necessities -- they don't need that much necessities.  Excepting, of course, in the case of providing necessities for others -- i.e., charitable giving.

      Some propose using luxury-targeted sales taxes instead of income taxes, but that seems like it'd never work to me.  How much do you tax canned mushrooms?  Fresh button mushrooms?  Fresh portabella mushrooms?  Fresh shiitakes?  Fresh lobster mushrooms?  Fresh truffles?  You'd pretty much need every last object sold in this country to have its own tax rate; it'd never work.  Hence, I support our current system as an approximation of the same thing: income tax brackets with charity exemptions.

      I do believe that the brackets should be more starkly separated, mind you.

  •  If we don't tackle climate change... (6+ / 0-)

    If we don't tackle climate change, every other policy we'd like to enact is worthless.

    If you think that wars are a problem now, just wait until a billion people are starving, and another billion don't have access to fresh water, but everyone has access to guns. Imagine the immigration problem we'll see when 100 million people try to flee lowland locations like Bangladesh. Imagine the health care costs dealing with starvation, dehydration, and massive immigration issues. Subprime mortgage crisis?  Just wait until a trillion dollars of real-estate is literally under water, and another trillion dollars of real-estate is ravaged by storms yearly.

    And then today's news: this article in Scientific American sent a cold shiver down my spine:
    Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?

    We must solve this problem, Democrat and Republican and everyone else in the world.

    •  That article is too scary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I read that last weekend and had goose bumps all day.
      Sometimes it just seems that no matter what we do, mother nature is going to bitch slap this experiment in self conciousness upside the head.

      Greeetings! Bipedal carbon based life forms.

      by pithaughn on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 01:15:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes there are 2 problems (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grannyhelen, Luftmensch, welso

    As the Senator alludes to, there are 2 problems.

    1. Diminishing oil supply and reliance on foreign countries.
    1. Climate change.

    Developing domestic oil could help with point 1, but does nothing for point 2.

  •  Senator (0+ / 0-)

    One additional argument regarding atmospheric CO2 has little to do with climate change, but might help move the argument forward. As more CO2 is released into the atmosphere, much of it is absorbed into the oceans. This lowers the pH of the water, and causes irreparable damage to the coral reefs. Since they are one of the most diverse habitats on earth, and much of our food supply comes from them, this damage will have a significant impact on our lives. Certainly, I would not expect to get everyone on board, but it would really only take  a handful to at least begin making meaningful cuts in CO2 output.

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:15:01 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, Senator. n/t (5+ / 0-)

    "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -Flannery O'Connor

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:15:13 PM PDT

  •  Many Republicans are unconvinced... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Luftmensch, Calamity Jean

    ...that Global Warming is a problem.

    Has anyone asked them what evidence would convince them?  What specific ice coverage levels, average temperatures, or sea levels would make them believe that we should do something?

    How hot does it have to get?  They should be prepared with an answer, if they are indeed basing their beliefs on reason.

  •  One question is: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Luftmensch, pithaughn

    Why is Newt in front of Congress in the first place?  Other than saying "no" repeatedly, what is his function there?  He is not well informed on any of the issues, and is such a schmuck that he could not even remain in Congress because of his ethical lapses.

    Why was he called as a witness?  What does he bring to the table?  Why does anyolisten to him any more?

    It is a puzzlement.

    Those who do not study history should not be permitted to make it.

    by trumpeter on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 12:30:06 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Senator! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I really never understood how someone who calls themselves a government representative could so boldly reject climate change and reject action.  I realize that politically, the party who doesn't think to bring about necessary change does look less a leader, but this is our environment we are talking about.

    I hope that someday soon Republicans will do what is right for our planet and our society and stop obstructing our future.

    Senator, please keep up the fight and do whatever you can to convince the House and Senate Leadership that yes, we do have a majority and yes, it is high time the Republicans got out of the way.

  •  Actually ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MH in PA, blueyedace2

    Oil drilled here has the same carbon footprint as oil drilled anywhere else.

    Is this true?  EROEI is a reasonable surrogate for emissions. Saudi EROEI is far lower, even with transport, than new US oil.  And, well, that isn't even talking about tar sands or shale.

  •  Kudos to both Senator Warner and Senator Kerry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Luftmensch, Calamity Jean

    Both are statesman who put this country first.
    As for Gingrich, shame on him, he knows better.

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