Archive for 2006 May

Pro-Kyoto Treasury Secretary Nominated by President: Denialists Freak

As noted by Think Progress, the President has nominated for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr., Chairman of Goldman Sachs, a birdwatcher and conservationist as well as an investment banker, and a man who firmly placed his bank in support of the Kyoto Protocol treaty to reduce carbon emissions.

He argues that if the U.S. ignores Kyoto, it will fall behind in the creation of innovative technologies to control emissions. Sachs has not only pledged to conserve what is known as "natural capital," in an action praised by the Rainforest Action Network, but also pledged $5 million towards a Center for Environmental Markets, to be launched within six months. The idea is to study how the free market can help solve environmental problems, an action praised by the National Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth.

Further, Sachs has declared that climate change:

requires the urgent attention of and action by governments, business, consumers and civil society to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Predictably, this has the climate change deniers in full uproar. Steven Milloy, a FOXNews hack notorious for taking money not just from ExxonMobil (doesn’t everyone?) but also Philip Morris, has the temerity to suggest in Human Events that despite Paulson’s huge success in business, he’s "decidedly anti-economy and anti-property rights" because he worked with The Nature Conservancy and another conservation group to save a chunk of land in Patagonia.

In a statement from yet another "free enterprise" group, Milloy declares:

"Henry Paulson would undermine the Administration’s ability to counter global warming alarmism."

This might actually be true!

And the eternal optimist in me wonders: Could it be intentional?

Is it possible that Paulson is being brought on board in part to edge the administration away from its extreme denialist position on this issue? After all, even the President himself once upon a time pledged to restrain carbon emissions, and early in his administration told his first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, to "bring him a plan" to reduce carbon emissions. (This according to the authoritative account and documents in  "The Price of Loyalty," the book that O’Neill wrote with Ron Suskind after being evicted from the White House.) Although that plan was submarined, probably by Dick Cheney’s office, Bush’s environmental adviser, James Connaughton, is on the record encouraging the president to see Al Gore’s documentary on climate change.

Realistically, probably Paulson is being brought on board to reassure Wall Street and the public that the administration’s economic policy is not being run by incompetent Republican hacks, but he will be a prominent member of the Cabinet and maybe, just maybe, could change some minds there.

Certainly Congress and the White House press corps should ask him what he thinks about this during the confirmation process.

That’s the optimistic view. My teen Emily had a different take.

"Bush probably just didn’t want to read the whole memo," she said.

Well, she’s got a point. Occam’s Razor: The simplest possible explanation. Could be true…

UPDATE:    More deniers join the far-right chorus against Paulson. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell declares:

“No conservative administration should consider appointing anyone who works for the Nature Conservancy to any position and certainly not to one carrying the high responsibilities of Treasury Secretary."

And in the  LA Times. a story called "The Bird-Watching Businessman" quotes Peter Flaherty, of the National Legal and Policy Center, who declares: ""I’m worried about the access that radical environmentalists would have at Treasury."

Yep, because he likes watching birds, works to conserve undeveloped land and preserve our lovely climate, Paulson’s tarred as a "radical" type.

Sheesh.

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“An Inconvenient Truth” Plays It Straight

Caught up to "An Inconvenient Truth this past weekend in Hollywood. Like everyone else who’s seen it (and many who haven’t) I have an opinion on it, but having reported on this issue for a few years, and having read the text version of Al Gore’s slideshow on global warming, I was more interested in what the audience thought.

I can’t draw draw huge conclusions from a single showing early in the film’s run, when it is likely to attract the most partisan crowd. Nonetheless, the mostly young crowd I saw it with clearly was fully involved, eager to catcall the Bush administration (although the documentary didn’t go after Bush much, and Gore avoided even mentioning his name).

More interestingly, the audience was slow to stir after the lights came up, which is one of the surest indications of a movie that has won people over. Coming out I overheard several admiring comments, including: "That was way better than I thought it would be." Very encouraging.

The too critics have mostly liked it: those reviews scored by Metacritic somehow add up to a 69 score, which is more favorable than it sounds, and dwarves several much bigger pictures out right now, such as "The Da Vinci Code" (a 46).

In terms of the chattering class, more important than the movie reviewers probably are the political reviewers, and in this the movie has clearly triumphed. Not only has the movie gotten numerous good reviews from political columnists, but attempts to discredit it have been shot down instantly.

The New Republic editors wrote an unusually biting take-down of the right-wing attack machine’s numerous but weak attempts to attack the documentary with misleading "facts":

Meanwhile, on "The Journal Editorial Report," a TV show featuring the folks from The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, Rob Pollock claimed, "Everyone agrees there has been some warming over the past century, but most of it happened before 1940." (Not true. The last three decades have seen the sharpest rise.) On Fox, a global warming documentary Sunday night featured the entire cast of Exx-con luminaries, including Patrick Michaels, John Christy, Roy Spencer, and Senator James Inhofe, whose contribution included the claim that global warming is "a total hoax."

Indeed, on this issue the allegedly fearsome right-wing attack machine appears almost toothless, judging from the whiny letter in TCS Daily by the aforementioned Roy Spencer, who seems mostly irked that when Al Gore met him, he mistook him for someone else.

And the desperation of some of their attempts has been thrown back in their faces by Think Progress, which caught one ExxonMobil-backed pundit comparing Al Gore to Hitler on FOXNews, and linked to a great long story in the Washington Post featuring prominent denier William Gray, who also embarrassed himself by comparing Gore to Hitler. (Basic rule of American rhetoric: If in an argument, you compare your opponent to Hitler, the argument is over and you have officially lost it.)

For a more measured, scientific analysis of William Gray, check out this annihilation in Real Climate.

Meanwhile self-style moderates (Gregg Easterbrook), and genuine libertarians (such as Andrew Sullivan), and even a genuine skeptic or two have rushed to announce that yes, they get it, climate change is real. And lefties reveled in the moment: Frank Rich called the movie a "landslide" at Cannes, and connected it with Gore’s prescient criticism of the administration’s failure to plan for Iraq after the war:

But in truth, as with global warming, Mr. Gore’s stands on Iraq (both in 1991 and 2002) were manifestations of leadership — the single attribute most missing from the current Democrats with presidential ambitions. Of the potential candidates for 2008, only Senator Feingold raised similar questions about the war so articulately so early. The Gore stand on the environment, though still rejected by the president and his oil-industry base, has become a bipartisan cause: 86 evangelical Christian leaders broke with the administration’s do-nothing policy in February.

Yesterday Paul Krugman picked one small moment in the movie and wrote a hard column about it. He focuses on a small moment in the film when when Gore showed footage of prominent James Hansen testifying before Congress. The young Al Gore asked Hansen–fairly harshly–if in fact his works had been twisted by deniers and misleaders. Krugman picks up the story:

Leading the charge was Patrick Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia who has received substantial financial support from the energy industry. In Senate testimony, and then in numerous presentations, Dr. Michaels claimed that the actual pace of global warming was falling far short of Dr. Hansen’s predictions. As evidence, he presented a chart supposedly taken from a 1988 paper written by Dr. Hansen and others, which showed a curve of rising temperatures considerably steeper than the trend that has actually taken place.

In fact, the chart Dr. Michaels showed was a fraud — that is, it wasn’t what Dr. Hansen actually predicted. The original paper showed a range of possibilities, and the actual rise in temperature has fallen squarely in the middle of that range. So how did Dr. Michaels make it seem as if Dr. Hansen’s prediction was wildly off? Why, he erased all the lower curves, leaving only the curve that the original paper described as being "on the high side of reality."

Krugman goes on to criticize Hansen for not being more outraged (for those interested, more of the column is posted below the fold) and warns Al Gore that if he hopes to promote global warming as an issue, that he "and those on his side will have to learn to call liars what they are."

Tough words, but clearly this was not the approach taken by Al Gore in his movie, and to date, it seems to me, the movie is successful because it doggedly insists on focusing on the natural facts and avoids name-calling, even when it must have been tempting. His handling of the science is "admirable," say the folks at Real Climate, but when it comes to using graphs and ideas to make a point, I would go further, and call it inspired. Gore has the nerve to ask a question and leave it resonating in the mind, and then return to the same idea a half-hour later. (If you see the movie, you’ll know what I mean.) The nickel drops, we get it…we’re convinced.

But the slide-show is just half the movie. The other half is a look at Al Gore today, in an up-close-and-personal television style, with pictures of Gore going from airport to airport, flashbacks to his youth, to his time in college, to meeting Roger Revelle, to learning about the issue, and on up to the present day, tapping away at his presentation on his laptop.

This Rich criticized as a likely "test drive for a presidential run." Gore promptly denied that, and I believe him. Just look at what he says at the start of the movie. "I’ve been trying to tell this story for a long time," Gore says, "and I feel as if I’ve failed." What presidential candidate talks of failure?

As the story develops, it becomes clear that Gore is the man behind the curtain of this movie, and a man who knows his subject. He avoids alarmism, yet finds amusing ways to bring home the potential of real disaster…but spends much more time touching on our deeper connection to our home, our planet, our earth. Gore’s stolid sincerity has at last become a feature, not a bug–as they say–and the director does a fine but subtle job of linking Gore’s past (as an earnest student, in the halls and classrooms) to his present (as an earnest professor sort, walking through airports and hotel hallways with his slideshow computer).

Who knows what the upshot will be. Many scientists doubt that we will find the political will to change our carbon-emitting behavior, and no doubt, many alleged conservatives hope that proves to be the case. But for those of us who do want to change our wasteful, reckless ways can only thank our lucky stars that someone as thoughtful and as decent as Al Gore took on the lifetime task of telling this story.

Dr. Hansen was one of the first climate scientists to say publicly that global warming was under way. In 1988, he made headlines with Senate testimony in which he declared that "the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now."

When he testified again the following year, officials in the first Bush administration altered his prepared statement to downplay the threat. Mr. Gore’s movie shows the moment when the administration’s tampering was revealed.

In 1988, Dr. Hansen was well out in front of his scientific colleagues, but over the years that followed he was vindicated by a growing body of evidence. By rights, Dr. Hansen should have been universally acclaimed for both his prescience and his courage.

But soon after Dr. Hansen’s 1988 testimony, energy companies began a campaign to create doubt about global warming, in spite of the increasingly overwhelming evidence. And in the late 1990’s, climate skeptics began a smear campaign against Dr. Hansen himself.

Leading the charge was Patrick Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia who has received substantial financial support from the energy industry. In Senate testimony, and then in numerous presentations, Dr. Michaels claimed that the actual pace of global warming was falling far short of Dr. Hansen’s predictions. As evidence, he presented a chart supposedly taken from a 1988 paper written by Dr. Hansen and others, which showed a curve of rising temperatures considerably steeper than the trend that has actually taken place.

In fact, the chart Dr. Michaels showed was a fraud — that is, it wasn’t what Dr. Hansen actually predicted. The original paper showed a range of possibilities, and the actual rise in temperature has fallen squarely in the middle of that range. So how did Dr. Michaels make it seem as if Dr. Hansen’s prediction was wildly off? Why, he erased all the lower curves, leaving only the curve that the original paper described as being "on the high side of reality."

The experts at www.realclimate.org, the go-to site for climate science, suggest that the smears against Dr. Hansen "might be viewed by some as a positive sign, indicative of just how intellectually bankrupt the contrarian movement has become." But I think they’re misreading the situation.

In fact, the smears have been around for a long time, and Dr. Hansen has been trying to correct the record for years. Yet the claim that Dr. Hansen vastly overpredicted global warming has remained in circulation, and has become a staple of climate change skeptics, from Michael Crichton to Robert Novak.

There’s a concise way to describe what happened to Dr. Hansen: he was Swift-boated.

John Kerry, a genuine war hero, didn’t realize that he could successfully be portrayed as a coward. And it seems to me that Dr. Hansen, whose predictions about global warming have proved remarkably accurate, didn’t believe that he could successfully be portrayed as an unreliable exaggerator. His first response to Dr. Michaels, in January 1999, was astonishingly diffident. He pointed out that Dr. Michaels misrepresented his work, but rather than denouncing the fraud involved, he offered a rather plaintive appeal for better behavior.

Even now, Dr. Hansen seems reluctant to say the obvious. "Is this treading close to scientific fraud?" he recently asked about Dr. Michaels’s smear.

The answer is no: it isn’t "treading close," it’s fraud pure and simple.

Now, Dr. Hansen isn’t running for office.

But Mr. Gore might be, and even if he isn’t, he hopes to promote global warming as a political issue. And if he wants to do that, he and those on his side will have to learn to call liars what they are.

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Sunday Morning on the Planet

Much news tomorrow, including about a thousand takes on "An Inconvenient Truth," including mine, but on this holiday weekend let us enjoy our day of rest, and the new life the new season has brought us.

A little poem on the growth of redwoods (such as this) can be found below the virtual fold by Jane Hirschfield, who is one of America’s best, if not best known, poets.

But isn’t the green of this new growth in itself a little touching? Hope is not just "the thing with feathers that perches in the soul," as Emily said; it’s literally a part of all us, plants included.

Spring_redwood

Tree by Jane Hirshfield (from her "Given Sugar, Given Salt," pub. 2002)

It  is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.

Even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose.

That great calm being
this clutter of soup pots and books–

Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.

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Contrarian Rodeo

This blogger is a big believer in listening to voices from outside the mainstream, even if–especially if–they challenge beliefs which may have outlived their usefulness.

Here are some of the latest examples of contrarianism, with a link and sample from each:

On one of numerous blogs at a movie site called Movie City News, editor David Poland throws cold water on the rapturously-reviewed An Inconvenient Truth, declaring "no matter how much generosity critics and activists show this movie, it is still a boring slideshow by a boring speaker and no matter how many cool graphics are included, it’s still a boring movie."

And he’s sympathetic to the message! He says it needs more Michael Moore-style "umph." But in the next breath, he admits that with a little luck, this slideshow could become the biggest documentary of the year, and gross $6-7 mil. Sounds okay to me. Better than demagoguery. (But I don’t work in marketing; maybe in marketing, demagoguery is good.)

The NYTimes last week ran a long, thoughtful piece on an international collaboration, spearheaded by the World Wildlife Fund, called Yukon-to-Yellowstone, or Y2Y. The Wildlands Project sees it as the beginning of a "Spine of the Continent" conservation effort that will support wildlife from Canada to Mexico. The news is mostly good, with some brilliant ideas to reduce the slaughter of wildlife on the highways, but late in the story, one of the proponents and scientists involved, Dr. Mike Gibeau, takes a sheet of paper from his wallet. He’s carried it for thirty years. It’s a quote from Aldo Leopold. It doesn’t exactly fit the one of the story, but resonates nonetheless:

"One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well — and does not want to be told otherwise."

That last line certainly remains all too true today, doesn’t it?

And, in news that for some reason hasn’t been much discussed in this country as of yet, the BBC reports on two different research efforts, one from Europe and one from UCBerkeley, that agree that the IPCC estimates of climate change over our current century may be too cautious. Much of this work goes to the question of "sensitivity": If we anthros double the atmospheric level of CO2 to the range of 500 ppm (which is already assured) then we know that global temperatures will rise.

But how much? The IPCC leaned towards the lower end of the range, 1.5C, but the new research suggests it could be 2C or higher.

Mark  Nylas superbly thumbnails the research, and concludes:

Here is evidence, published independently by two teams of researchers, which suggests that the headline figures published so far by the IPCC are not ‘alarmist’, as some claim, but very, very conservative. There are no crumbs of comfort, nothing to suggest that we’ll be lucky with our continued climatic experiment. Drastic action is now needed, whatever the consequences on lifestyles, jobs and economic growth. Our survival as a species is now more clearly at stake than ever.

On the other hand (warning: double contrarianism ahead!) researcher James Annan, who has spent a great deal of time on the "sensitivity" question, is less alarmed. It’s weedy stuff that can’t be summarized in a sentence: You’ll have to look at the post to see why. But in the end, he concludes:

The BBC journalist talks up this [new] research as a "challenge" to "the consensus view of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)" but I think it would be more realistic to describe it as a slight nudge.

UPDATE: One more double-contrarianism: in Salon, in his technology column, Andrew Leonard looks at a piece lefty writer Greg Palast wrote on Peak Oil, scoffing at doomsayers’ predictions, and pointed out that Palast seemed almost to take pleasure in getting it wrong. Leonard writes:

   

Palast suggests that we dismiss [peak oil prophet]Hubbert and peak oil because Hubbert was a petroleum geologist who worked for Shell. Oil companies, Palast tells us, want us to believe in peak oil, because it gives them an excuse to keep raising prices. Tell that to Exxon, who just this February calmly assured the world that there’s plenty of oil to satisfy demand.

   

[Palast’s] argument doesn’t stand the most basic sniff test. The oil industry does not want the world to think peak oil is right around the corner, and watch government and consumers rush to embrace alternative energy technologies. For a glimpse at how the industry reacted to Hubbert at the time, try Hubbert’s own recollections. Executive summary: They thought he was crazy.

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Out My Office Window

Per Andrew Sullivan’s request.

May22nd

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Gore Not Enviro Enough, Critics Charge

Middle-of-the-roader Gregg Easterbrook finally concedes on climate change, after–as he admits– dragging his feet for years (via SmogBlog). He announces to the world what has been obvious for years, which is that "the research is in."

Then, having claimed the high ground at the last possible moment, Easterbrook leaps on Al Gore for not being environmental enough in his documentary on climate change. He criticizes him for not demanding more sacrifices from his audiences, and for taking airplanes  and for using a laptop! (As if Brookings Institute associate such as Easterbrook had never done the like!)

In Slate, he snaps:

If "really changing our way of life" is imperative, what’s Gore doing getting on a jetliner? Jets number among the most resource-intensive objects in the world.

In a similar tactic, the same ExxonMobil-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute has ads running (on the web, at least) that show Gore flying around the country. The ad implicitly charges Gore  with hypocrisy, and tells him to follow his own advice to: 

            a)    Telecommute from home.
            b)     Reduce air travel.

Gore not enviro enough! This is delicious.

What’s next?

First Gore’s mocked because he cares about the issue: "Ozone Man," as Bush Sr.  called him. (Getting the facts wrong, as seems to be the usual case with the Bush family.) 

Then he’s mocked for being stiff, then he’s mocked for lying, then he’s mocked for wearing a beard.

Now they say he hasn’t done enough for climate change. Plus, he’s traveled around the country, trying to show people why they should care about preserving their planet!

The guy’s an obvious menace. To somebody…

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Great Moments in Contemporary Relations Between Humans and Other Species

Little boy to duck:

"Uh, what the fuck, dude?"

–Harlem Meer, Central Park

From Overheard in New York.

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Gore Speaks: Deniers Freak, Part II

"What you’re seeing these days is that the muzzlers and the naysayers [on climate change] are looking more and more like idiots." Eugene Linden , a science reporter, put it that way in an interview a couple of months ago, and it’s even more true today. Al Gore’s movie on the subject has the deniers in a tizzy.

Realistically–and unfortunately–Al Gore’s documentary is not expected to become a big hit. Movie City box office wiz David Poland expects it to come in dead last among major releases this summer. I fervently hope that he’s wrong about that it becomes huge, as big or bigger than Michael Moore.

Nonetheless, the early word has been very good, already convincing the likes of Arianna Huffington and Franklin Foer (editor of "The New Republic") that it could make a difference. No doubt millions of people will see it, sooner or later. And maybe that’s why the deniers are becoming so desperate.

Think I’m exaggerating?

Consider:

a)    ThinkProgress caught Matt Drudge’s right-wing tabloid site in an outright lie about it. Drudge was claiming that Gore and his team took a limo 500 yards from hotel to screening in Cannes.

In truth, they walked. After being caught, Drudge pulled the lie from his site.What’s delicious about this is not only the lying, but the hypocrisy. When has Matt Drudge ever put the planet first?

b)    When asked if he would see Gore’s movie, the Denier-in-Chief replied:

"Doubt it."  Which is pretend cowboy-speak for, not even if you put a gun to my head.

But it gets worse. Bush went on to duck responsibility, "And in my judgment, we need to set aside whether or not greenhouse gases have been caused by mankind or because of natural effects, and focus on the technologies that will enable us to live better lives and at the same time, protect the environment." As many have pointed out, refusing to look at the facts of causation will only put off the day of reckoning, pushing us from inevitable climate changes closer to the possibility of disaster.

But when has the possibility of a disaster ever deterred the Bush administration?

c)   The pro-CO2 ads to be run this week by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which have the blogosphere in stitches.

d)    The uselessness of boilerplate Republican free market rhetoric for this issue, as  Digby points out: Dealing with global warming is the ultimate example of the common good  and it’s the most powerful issue upon which the right’s edifice of free market individualism crumbles into irrelevance.

Global warming is a mutual, planetary challenge and the conservatives and wingnut libertarians who see money as freedom can do nothing but put their heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening.

e)  And in a Washington Post op-ed, Sebastian Mallary points out how the Republican refusal to look honestly at the science of climate change has turned the candidate Bush once sardonically called "Ozone Man" into a genuine superhero of sorts. Science Man!

President Bush and the congressional Republicans have created a Ross Perot moment: a hunger for a leader with diagrams and charts, for a nerd who lays out basic facts ignored by blinkered government. By their contempt for expert opinion on everything from Iraqi reconstruction to the cost of their tax cuts, Republicans have turned Diagram Gore into a hero. By their serial dishonesty, Republicans have created a market for "An Inconvenient Truth" — the title of Gore’s movie.

Republican dishonesty reaches its extreme on the issue of global warming. Yes, climate science is complex, and nobody can forecast the earth’s temperature with complete confidence. But the fact that scientists don’t know everything isn’t a license to ignore what they do know: that the earth is warming, glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising at an accelerating pace — and that these changes are driven at least partly by fossil-fuel consumption. The U.S. National Academies have confirmed this; their foreign counterparts have confirmed this; and so has the world’s top authority on the subject, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change . None of this is controversial.

Except among Republicans.

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The New Evangelicals

 Amy Sullivan, who tracks religion in American politics more closely than any other reporter I know, reports from a small evangelical college in Pennsylvania for The New Republic:

Rick Santorum has enough trouble in his reelection race. The incumbent GOP senator has trailed his opponent, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey, by double digits almost since Casey declared his candidacy. Santorum’s campaign has been mired in questions about why Pennsylvanians pay to homeschool his six children in Virginia and about his involvement with the now-infamous K Street Project. Even Republicans have privately started to refer to Santorum’s campaign as a lost cause and are lobbying party leaders to shift money to more promising contests. Santorum surely never thought that, in the midst of all this, he’d have to worry about his vote against the 2005 Climate Stewardship Act, an effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

And, yet, witness the scene at Messiah College last month. If Santorum, a devout Catholic who has distinguished himself by leading the fight against so-called "partial-birth" abortion, should have felt safe in any venue in the state, it was at the tiny Christian school nestled against farmland in the rolling hills of conservative south-central Pennsylvania. But, when the college convened a screening of The Great Warming–a documentary on climate change narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves–and invited Casey and Santorum to attend a follow-up panel discussion with Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the senator declined. It was probably a wise choice. When the lights came up in the auditorium, panelist Joseph Sheldon, a Messiah biology professor, tore into the senator, accusing him of selling out the environment to business interests. Question after question from the packed hall attacked Santorum’s votes against the Kyoto Accord and for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

It could have been the sort of thing that merited only a mild raise of the eyebrow–the fact that evangelicals care about the environment isn’t news anymore, and besides, everyone knows that it’s the more controversial sexual issues that drive their votes. But, in Pennsylvania, global warming is the deciding issue for some evangelicals. Both Casey and Santorum are pro-life, which neutralizes the abortion factor, and the NAE has made the Keystone State the testing ground for a new strategy–one that favors not the hot-button issues of abortion and gay marriage, which have traditionally helped Republican candidates, but other causes on the evangelical agenda that more closely track with Democratic positions. "There’s going to be a lot of political reconsideration on this in the coming year," Cizik told me. "The old faultlines are no more."

Cizik’s influence on evangelicals has been doubted by others I’ve read, but Sullivan points out later in the story:

For years, Rove and his ilk have attempted to scare up evangelical voters by crudely portraying Democrats as agents of cultural decay. Those attacks, however, will be far less effective if Democrats can point to the likes of the NAE and its ministers as proof of their faith-friendly bona fides.

If the Democrats are agents of cultural decay, in our crude politics of blaming, doesn’t that make the Republicans the agents of planetary decay?

 

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Weather Without Ads

Lots of sites (such as the Weather Underground) offer amazing amounts of weather data these days, tailored to your personal zipcode, but to my eyes they tend to be clogged by distracting ads.

Here’s a "mash-up" (via Metafilter) that puts a Google Map function together with NOAA weather forecasts for your area. It gives you what you need to know as simply and expertly as possible. The comments on the Metafilter post are skeptical, but it works for me…WeatherMole.

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