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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 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

“Carly Failorina”: HP Employees Won’t Give Carly Fiorina A Dime

The employees at Hewlett-Packard, where Carly Fiorina was CEO for six years, don’t seem interested in seeing their old boss become commander-in-chief.

Of the 302,000 employees at the company, not one has given a reportable amount to help Fiorina fund her 2016 presidential campaign, according to the campaign’s most recent FEC filings, which lists all donations over $200. HP’s corporate leadership also doesn’t seem keen on the idea of Fiorina in the White House. Among the 12-member board of directors, just one, Ann Livermore, has given a donation above that threshold.

Also missing from the donor list are current CEO (and former GOP gubernatorial candidate) Meg Whitman, any members of the senior leadership team, and all but one member of the HP Board during Fiorina’s tenure there from 1999 to 2005. Tom Perkins, a venture capitalist and former board member who voted to fire Fiorina in 2005, has since had a change of heart and donated $25,000 to CARLY for America, the super PAC supporting her.

The lack of early financial support from almost anyone associated with Hewlett-Packard is hard to square with Fiorina’s own description of her achievements there. While she acknowledges the “tough choices” she had to make as CEO, Fiorina aggressively defends her six-year run as a time when she transformed the company from an aging dinosaur into a market leader.

“We doubled the size of the company,” she told the audience at the recent CNN debate. “We quadrupled its topline growth rate. We quadrupled its cash flow. We tripled its rate of innovation.”

But Fiorina failed to explain during the debate that the company doubled in size because she pushed HP to merge with Compaq in 2001. That merger led to a company with two times the revenue, but only half of the value.

Fiorina also laid off 30,000 HP employees, moved thousands of jobs to China and India, and was fired by the board after a period so tumultuous that some disgruntled employees continue to refer to her as “Chainsaw Carly” or “Carly Failorina.” Her severance package was worth an estimated $42 million.

Interviews with HP employees during and after Fiorina’s leadership reveal a deep and simmering well of discontent 10 years after she left the company.

Dean Soderstrom, a sales operations manager at HP from 1999 until his retirement in 2015, said he saw feelings for Fiorina among rank-and-file employees sour quickly after she took over.

“Right from the get-go with Carly, it seemed like it was a two-class company. It was her and the rest of us,” Soderstrom said. “Many of her employees were very disenchanted by her. When she was let go, I think for the right reasons, there was a lot of singing ‘Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.’”

To Soderstrom’s point, Fiorina’s first year at HP not only included an immediate overhaul of the company’s famous corporate culture, widely known in Silicon Valley as “the HP Way,” but also instant celebrity status for Fiorina, who was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company. She appeared on the cover of more than 40 magazine covers in her first year, had her portrait hung in the company’s Palo Alto lobby next to the founders, and bought a Gulfstream IV for her travels. The previous CEO, Lewis Platt, famously flew coach.

“I don’t care if she’s a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. I would not support her for president,” Soderstrom said. “I would not give her two cents.”

Another former employee, who is now a CEO in Silicon Valley, and did not want his name used, said he would never consider supporting Fiorina for president and knows of none of his former co-workers who would. “My thoughts are no employee would donate to her campaign, ever,” he said. “She is a terrible leader, really, really bad. As bad as they come.”

A current employee, who also asked that his name not be used, said he felt HP never recovered from the changes Fiorina made. “HP is still not a happy place to work. It’s pretty much been a disaster for years, but I think Carly set the tone.” The company recently announced another round of 30,000 layoffs and a restructuring that will split the massive company into two smaller units.

Peter Burrows, the author of Backfire: Carly Fiorina’s Battle for the Soul of Hewlett-Packard, who covered Fiorina’s tenure at HP and remains in touch with current employees, said Fiorina started at HP with high hopes among staff that she would change the company, making it more relevant and nimble. Instead, she became the symbol of its demise.

“Everybody at HP knew the company needed to change and she sounded like she had the answers,” Burrows said. “That faded pretty quickly because it became clear that it was not translating into action and it began to seem empty.”

As her time at the company went on, the company’s performance sank, and layoffs were implemented, Burrows said people inside HP and throughout Silicon Valley began to put the blame for the company’s failures on the once high-flying Fiorina, an opinion that persists to this day.

“Most people think that she did not improve the company, that she made the company weaker, that she tore away some of its strengths,” Burrows said. “She had a small but incredibly loyal core group around her, but she lost the vast majority of employees.”

The Fiorina campaign did not respond to several requests for comment on this article.

 

By: Patricia Murphy, The National Memo, September 30, 2015

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, GOP Presidential Candidates, Outsourcing of Jobs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Badly In Need Of Some New Talking Points”: Rubio Needs A New Excuse To Ignore The Climate Crisis

As recently as two years ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made his favorite case for doing absolutely nothing about the climate crisis. First, the far-right senator argued “government can’t change the weather,” suggesting the Floridian’s understanding of the issue lacked maturity.

But Rubio then added, “There are other countries that are polluting in the atmosphere much greater than we are at this point. China and India, they’re not going to stop doing what they’re doing.”

This year, the Republican repeated the talking point at a Koch brothers event: “[A]s far as I can see, China and India and other developing countries are going to continue to burn anything they can get their hands on.”

This rationale for simply allowing the crisis to continue with no American leadership at all was always bankrupt, but last week, it started collapsing in new ways. China, for example, announced its first-ever commitment to a cap-and-trade policy – a step Rubio and others on the far-right insisted China would never take.

And now India is taking steps of its own.

Under growing pressure to join in an international accord to battle climate change, India on Thursday announced its long-term plan to reduce its rate of planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution and to aggressively ramp up its production of solar power, hydropower and wind energy.

So, when Rubio said China and India are “not going to stop doing what they’re doing,” he had it largely backwards.

It’s important to emphasize that India’s announcement isn’t nearly as ambitious as it should be, and does not constitute a sweeping plan to curtail carbon emissions. That said, as the New York Times’ report added, “some environmental advocates praised the plan’s commitment to renewable energy and said that, if enacted, it could put India on track to reduced carbon emissions in the long run.”

And given that Republicans have insisted for years that China and India intend to do literally nothing about the crisis – a claim that the GOP has used an excuse to ignore the climate emergency – it seems the right is badly in need of some new talking points.

The Rubio campaign was asked to respond to these developments the other day. A spokesperson for the Republican senator responded, “Marco is opposed to cap-and-trade and other forms of a national energy tax. He has outlined concrete proposals that will help us seize our energy potential without increasing the reach of the E.P.A.”

The answer had nothing to do with the question, and Rubio’s position still doesn’t make sense.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 2, 2015

October 3, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Global Warming, Marco Rubio | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The High Price Of Rejecting The Iran Deal”: Foreign Governments Will Not Continue To Make Costly Sacrifices At Our Demand

The Iran nuclear deal offers a long-term solution to one of the most urgent threats of our time. Without this deal, Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, would be less than 90 days away from having enough fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. This deal greatly reduces the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, making Iran’s breakout time four times as long, securing unprecedented access to ensure that we will know if Iran cheats and giving us the leverage to hold it to its commitments.

Those calling on Congress to scrap the deal argue that the United States could have gotten a better deal, and still could, if we unilaterally ramped up existing sanctions, enough to force Iran to dismantle its entire nuclear program or even alter the character of its regime wholesale. This assumption is a dangerous fantasy, flying in the face of economic and diplomatic reality.

To be sure, the United States does have tremendous economic influence. But it was not this influence alone that persuaded countries across Europe and Asia to join the current sanction policy, one that required them to make costly sacrifices, curtail their purchases of Iran’s oil, and put Iran’s foreign reserves in escrow. They joined us because we made the case that Iran’s nuclear program was an uncontained threat to global stability and, most important, because we offered a concrete path to address it diplomatically — which we did.

In the eyes of the world, the nuclear agreement — endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and more than 90 other countries — addresses the threat of Iran’s nuclear program by constraining it for the long term and ensuring that it will be exclusively peaceful. If Congress now rejects this deal, the elements that were fundamental in establishing that international consensus will be gone.

The simple fact is that, after two years of testing Iran in negotiations, the international community does not believe that ramping up sanctions will persuade Iran to eradicate all traces of its hard-won civil nuclear program or sever its ties to its armed proxies in the region. Foreign governments will not continue to make costly sacrifices at our demand.

Indeed, they would more likely blame us for walking away from a credible solution to one of the world’s greatest security threats, and would continue to re-engage with Iran. Instead of toughening the sanctions, a decision by Congress to unilaterally reject the deal would end a decade of isolation of Iran and put the United States at odds with the rest of the world.

Some critics nevertheless argue that we can force the hands of these countries by imposing powerful secondary sanctions against those that refuse to follow our lead.

But that would be a disaster. The countries whose cooperation we need — including those in the European Union, China, Japan, India and South Korea, as well as the companies and banks that handle their oil purchases and hold foreign reserves — are among the largest economies in the world. If we were to cut them off from the American dollar and our financial system, we would set off extensive financial hemorrhaging, not just in our partner countries but in the United States as well.

Our strong, open economic relations with these countries constitute a foundation of the global economy. Nearly 40 percent of American exports go to the European Union, China, Japan, India and Korea — trade that cannot continue without banking connections.

The major importers of Iranian oil — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — together account for nearly a fifth of our goods exports and own 47 percent of foreign-held American treasuries. They will not agree to indefinite economic sacrifices in the name of an illusory better deal. We should think very seriously before threatening to cripple the largest banks and companies in these countries.

Consider the Bank of Japan, a key institutional holder of Iran’s foreign reserves. Cutting off Japan from the American banking system through sanctions would mean that we could not honor our sovereign responsibility to service and repay the more than $1 trillion in American treasuries held by Japan’s central bank. And those would be direct consequences of our sanctions, not to mention the economic aftershocks and the inevitable retaliation.

We must remember recent history. In 1996, in the absence of any other international support for imposing sanctions on Iran, Congress tried to force the hands of foreign companies, creating secondary sanctions that threatened to penalize them for investing in Iran’s energy sector. The idea was to force international oil companies to choose between doing business with Iran or the United States, with the expectation that all would choose us.

This outraged our foreign partners, particularly the European Union, which threatened retaliatory action and referral to the World Trade Organization and passed its own law prohibiting companies from complying. The largest oil companies of Europe and Asia stayed in Iran until, more than a decade later, we built a global consensus around the threat posed by Iran and put forward a realistic diplomatic means of addressing it.

The deal we reached last month is strong, unprecedented and good for America, with all the key elements the international community demanded to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Congress should approve this deal and ignore critics who offer no alternative.

 

By: Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, Opinion Pages; Op-Ed Contributor, The New York Times, August 13, 2015

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Global Economy, Iran Nuclear Agreement, U. N. Security Council | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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