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“America Is Not A Planet, It’s A Country”: Rubio Is Asked About Climate Change: Ignorance Ensues

I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which Marco Rubio becomes the Republican nominee. That is likely to be completely obvious if he fails to win his home-state primary in Florida on Tuesday. That’s why I’m reluctant to even talk about him. But his performance in last night’s debate has me scratching my head at his ignorance and/or deceit.

Since the beginning, Rubio has been assumed to represent “moderate” Republicans and people have posited that he has a chance of appealing to young people – perhaps simply because of his age. But at last night’s debate, he was finally asked to talk about climate change, something that is of great importance to young people. And it’s hard to overstate how ignorant his response was. For example, how about this whopper:

But as far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there’s no such thing.

That misses on so many levels for such a short sentence! Of course there’s “no such thing.” That is why no one is proposing any laws that would attempt to change the weather. Rubio leaves us with a familiar conundrum: is he really stupid enough to think that anyone is actually suggesting that a law can change the weather, or is he merely lying as a way to distract us from the issue at hand? In the end, does it really matter?

Then, in talking about President Obama’s actions to address climate change, Rubio made this statement that might have been relevant several years ago.

You know what impact it would have on the environment? Zero. Because China and India will still be polluting at historic levels.

That Paris climate accord folks like Rubio have been trashing since it was reached…does he even know what is in it? Does he have no idea that China and India have committed to reducing their carbon emissions and will not – in fact – be polluting at historic levels? Again – ignorance or lie? You tell me.

Rubio went on to make the usual Republican claim that Americans have to chose between a habitable planet and a healthy economy – something that is being proven false on a daily basis. But when Jake Tapper asked him to comment directly on whether humans are contributing to climate change, he laid out another whopper.

I would say there’s no law we could pass that would have an impact on that.

I don’t really think that Rubio wants to suggest that laws can’t be passed to affect human behavior. And yet that’s what he just implied.

How about this for a closer:

America is not a planet. It’s a country.

I have no idea what he means by that. Of course, it’s true. It’s like saying, “the sky is blue.” But what does that have to do with what we’re talking about? Nothing.

Watching this exchange I came to one conclusion: if Rubio is any indication, Republicans REALLY don’t want to talk about climate change during this election season. Obfuscate, distract, make meaningless assertions – that is what we’ll see. In the process, they’ll just look ignorant.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 11, 2016

March 13, 2016 Posted by | Climate Change, Marco Rubio, Paris Climate Accord | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Threat To Human Existence”: Perils Of Warming Planet Are Ignored By GOP Hopefuls

Amazingly, tellingly, the last Republican debate included not a single question about one of the most ambitious international agreements in civilized history — the recently concluded Paris accord on climate change. Signed by nearly 200 countries, including the United States, the agreement attempts to moderate a threat to human existence: the warming of the planet.

But there was barely a mention of climate change on that debate stage. Not only didn’t the moderators consider it worthy of a question, but neither did the candidates believe it important enough for sustained comment. Global warming came up only in a couple of asides intended as criticisms of President Obama’s agenda.

The debate was about national security, you say? Well, they contrasted a promised muscular approach to what they described as the weakness of the president, who is too cowardly or politically correct, in their telling, to even use the right words to describe Islamic jihadists.

Yet, the Pentagon has concluded that climate change represents “immediate risks” to national security. Last year, the nation’s military leaders issued a report — “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” — that says that global warming will “affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the nation.”

Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, was widely derided after a November Democratic debate in which he said that “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.” No military analyst or climate scientist has gone so far as to draw a straight line between global warming and the savagery of ISIS.

However, the Pentagon’s report does make clear that climate change will lead to greater instability worldwide: droughts, food shortages, mass migrations, failed states. And those are just the sorts of conditions that breed terrorists.

According to the Department of Defense, the U.S. armed forces will also find their resources strained at home as their troops are likely to be called upon more often for civilian assistance in the wake of natural disasters. There will be more extreme events — more violent storms, more fires, more flooding. And as if that were not enough, some of the military’s combat activities will be compromised; amphibious landings, for example, are likely to be more challenging because of rising oceans, according to the report.

Not that you’d know any of that from listening to the GOP candidates. Most leading Republicans are loath even to acknowledge that climate change is occurring — much less acknowledge that it has any connection to national security. Earlier this month, in fact, presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who heads the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, declared at a hearing on climate change that “for the past 18 years … there has been no significant warming whatsoever.”

Au contraire. According to scientists at NASA and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, 2014 was the warmest year since records were first kept in 1880. “The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record,” NASA said, “with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000.”

The refusal of the modern Republican Party to come to terms with climate change leaves it as the only major political party that doubts the science, the only modern body of flat-Earthers. Conservatives in Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Israel and everywhere else in the democratic world have accepted the scientific consensus.

So, for that matter, has ExxonMobil, which spent decades trying to muddy the waters around climate research. The oil giant may have been forced to acknowledge the facts by increasing legal and economic pressures, but it finally stated the obvious: “We believe the risks of climate change are real, and those risks warrant constructive action by both policymakers and the business community,” ExxonMobil Vice President Ken Cohen said recently. Other major oil companies have also embraced the scientific consensus.

It’s strange that Republicans are peddling fear at every turn, but they refuse to acknowledge an existential threat. Islamic jihadists are troubling, but they don’t come close to the peril represented by a warming planet.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, December 19, 2015

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, GOP Primary Debates, Paris Climate Accord | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Moral And Human Duty”: Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris

With the sudden bang of a gavel Saturday night, representatives of 195 countries reached a landmark climate accord that will, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change.

Delegates who have been negotiating intensely in this Paris suburb for two weeks gathered for the final plenary session, where Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France asked for opposition to the deal and, hearing none, declared it approved.

With that, the delegates achieved what had been unreachable for two decades: a consensus on the need to shift from carbon-based fuels and a road map for the 195 nations to do so.

Though the deal did not achieve all that environmentalists, scientists and some countries had hoped for, it set the table for more efforts to slow the slide toward irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate.

President Obama said on Saturday from the Cabinet Room at the White House, “The American people should be proud” of the landmark climate accord because it offered “the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet we’ve got.”

Mr. Obama added, “I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world.”

It was an extraordinary effort at global diplomacy. Supporters argued that no less than the future of the planet was at stake, and in the days before the final session, they tried relentlessly to persuade skeptical nations.

As they headed into the cavernous hall late Saturday, representatives of individual countries and blocs expressed support for a deal hammered out in a final overnight session on Friday. After a day of stops and starts, Mr. Fabius, the president of the climate conference, declared a consensus and struck the gavel at 7:26 p.m., abruptly closing formal proceedings that had threatened to go into the night.

The hall erupted in cheers as leaders like Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore stood to applaud President François Hollande of France; his ecology minister, Ségolène Royal; his special envoy, Laurence Tubiana; and the executive secretary of the United Nations climate convention, Christiana Figueres.

South Africa’s environment minister, Bomo Edna Molewa, called the accord the “first step in a long journey that the global community needs to undertake together.”

At its heart is a breakthrough on an issue that foiled decades of international efforts to address climate change. Previous pacts required developed economies like the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but exempted developing countries such as China and India.

The new accord changes that dynamic, requiring action in some form from every country. But the echoes of the divide persisted during the negotiations.

Delegates received the final draft of the document Saturday afternoon, after a morning when the text was promised but repeatedly delayed. They immediately began parsing it for language that had been the subject of energetic debate, in preparation for a voice vote on whether the deal should become law.

All evening, tense excitement was palpable. The delegates rose to their feet to thank the French team, which drew on the finest elements of the country’s traditions of diplomacy to broker a deal acceptable to all sides.

France’s European partners recalled the coordinated Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people and threatened to cast a shadow over the negotiations. But, bound by a collective good will toward France, countries redoubled their efforts.

“This demonstrates the strength of the French nation and makes us Europeans all proud of the French nation,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s commissioner for energy and climate action.

Yet amid the spirit of success that dominated the final hours of the talks, Mr. Arias Cañete reminded delegates that the accord was the start of the real work. “Today, we celebrate,” he said. “Tomorrow, we have to act. This is what the world expects of us.”

The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming. At best, scientists who have analyzed it say, it will cut emissions by about half of what is needed to prevent an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the point, scientific studies have concluded, at which the world will be locked into devastating consequences, including rising sea levels, severe droughts and flooding, widespread food and water shortages, and more destructive storms.

But the agreement could be an inflection point in human history: the moment when, because of a huge shift in global economic policy, the inexorable rise in carbon emissions that started during the Industrial Revolution began to level out and eventually decline.

Unlike at the climate summit meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, Mr. Fabius said, the stars for this assembly were aligned.

As negotiators from countries representing a self-described “high-ambition coalition” walked into the plenary session shortly before noon, they were swarmed by cheering bystanders. The coalition, formed to push for ambitious environmental provisions in the deal, includes rich countries such as the United States and members of the European Union; island nations like Tuvalu and Kiribati, which are vulnerable to rising sea levels; and countries with the strongest economies in Latin America, such as Brazil.

Representatives of the group wore lapel pins made of dried coconut fronds, a symbol of the Marshall Islands, whose climate envoy, Tony de Brum, helped form the coalition. Developing countries with the highest emissions, such as China and India, are not members.

Scientists and world leaders had said the talks here were the world’s last, best hope of striking a deal that would begin to avert the most devastating effects of a warming planet.

The final language did not fully satisfy everyone. Representatives of some developing nations expressed consternation. Poorer countries had pushed for a legally binding provision requiring that rich countries appropriate at least $100 billion a year to help them mitigate and adapt to the ravages of climate change. In the deal, that figure appears only in a preamble, not in the legally binding portion.

It was not immediately clear what horse trading and arm twisting had brought the negotiators into accord. But in accord they were, after two years of international talks in dozens of world capitals, two weeks of focused negotiations in a temporary tent city here, and two all-night, line-by-line negotiations.

While top energy, environment and foreign policy officials from nearly every country offered positions on the text, ultimately it fell to France, the host, to assemble the final document and see through its approval.

Some countries objected to the speed with which Mr. Fabius banged down the gavel. Nicaragua’s representative, Paul Oquist, said his nation favored a global cap on emissions, a political nonstarter. He said the deal unfairly exempted rich nations from liability for “loss and damage” suffered by those on the front lines of climate change.

The national pledges will not contain warming to 2 degrees Celsius. And more recent scientific reports have concluded that even preventing that amount of warming will not be enough.

Vulnerable low-lying island states had pushed for the more stringent target over the objections of major oil producers like Saudi Arabia. But that target is largely considered aspirational and is not legally binding.

The agreement sets a vague goal of having global emissions peak “as soon as possible,” and a schedule for countries to return to the negotiating table every five years with plans for tougher polices. The first such meeting will take place in 2020.

The accord also requires “stocktaking” meetings every five years, at which countries will report how they are reducing their emissions compared with their targets. And it includes language requiring countries to monitor, verify and publicly report their emission levels.

Monitoring and verification had been among the most contentious issues, with negotiators wrangling into Saturday morning. The United States had insisted on an aggressive, uniform system for countries to publicly report their emissions, and on the creation of an outside body to verify reductions. Developing nations like China and India had demanded that they be subject to a less stringent form of monitoring and verification.

The final draft requires all countries to use the same reporting system, but it lets developing nations report fewer details until they are able to better count their emissions.

Some elements of the accord are voluntary, while others are legally binding. That hybrid structure was specifically intended to ensure the support of the United States: An accord with binding targets would be legally interpreted as a new treaty and would have to go before the Senate for ratification. Such a plan would be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, where many question the established science of climate change and hope to thwart Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda.

As a result, all language on the reduction of carbon emissions is essentially voluntary. The deal assigns no concrete reduction targets to any country. Instead, each government has crafted a plan to lower emissions at home based on the country’s domestic politics and economy.

The accord uses the language of an existing treaty, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to require countries to verify their emissions and to periodically put forth tougher domestic plans.

“This agreement is highly unlikely to trigger any legitimate grounds for compelling Senate ratification,” said Paul Bledsoe, a climate change official in the Bill Clinton administration. “The language itself is sufficiently vague regarding emissions pledges, and presidents in any event have frequently used their broad authority to enter into these sorts of executive agreements.”

 

By: Coral Davenport, The New York Times, December 12, 2015

December 13, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Global Diplomacy, Greenhouse Gases, Paris Climate Accord | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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