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Save the Planet: Vote Smart

Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times
People often ask: I want to get greener, what should I do? New light bulbs? A hybrid? A solar roof? Well, all of those things are helpful. But actually, the greenest thing you can do is this: Choose the right leaders. It is so much more important to change your leaders than change your light bulbs.

Why? Because leaders write the rules, set the standards and offer the tax incentives that drive market behavior across a whole city, state or country. Whatever any of us does individually matters a tiny bit. But when leaders change the rules, you get scale change across the whole marketplace. And the energy-climate challenge we face today is a huge scale problem. Without scale, all you have is a green hobby.

Have no illusions, everything George Bush wouldn’t do on energy after 9/11 – his resisting improved mileage for cars and actually trying to weaken air-conditioner standards – swamped any good works you did. Fortunately, the vacuum in the White House is being filled by leaders from below.
(21 October 2007)
David Roberts at Gristmill agrees:

Tom Friedman should never write about anything else but green. As daft as he is on some other subjects, every time he writes about green he hits all the right notes.

Historic bill in Senate to fight warming

Zachary Coile, San Francisco Chronicle
California law a model for new measure

A bipartisan group of senators, borrowing heavily from California’s efforts to fight climate change, fired the starting gun on what’s expected to be a long global-warming debate in Congress with a proposal for limits on greenhouse gases affecting every major segment of the nation’s economy.

Lawmakers, industry groups and environmentalists have waited months for the bill, which was introduced Thursday by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., and Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut.

The bill, expected to be the centerpiece of the Senate’s efforts to address climate change, would cap emissions and gradually reduce them using a market-oriented cap-and-trade system in which allowances to emit greenhouse gases would be bought and sold.

“Today will be remembered as a turning point in the fight against global warming,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The bill requires cuts in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from electric utilities, transportation and manufacturing, accounting for about 75 percent of U.S emissions.
(19 October 2007)

House Intel Committee Leaders Urged to Support Global Warming Threat Assessment in Final Intel Policy Bill
Press release from Rep Bartlett’s office

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 29 members of Congress urged the chair and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to maintain a House-passed provision, requiring a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of the security challenges arising from global warming, in the final version of the Intelligence Authorization Act. The provision was derived from a bill by Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), the Global Climate Change Security Oversight Act, H.R. 1961.

“As Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize last week highlighted, the fight against global warming is not just a huge environmental issue, it is a matter affecting the prospect of war or peace for many regions of the world. Conducting this NIE will be an important step towards getting America’s intelligence and defense community to think clearly about the security and political implications that global warming could have for us in the 21st century,” said Rep. Markey, chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

“This letter initiated with my friend Congressman Markey and signed by 27 bipartisan colleagues reinforces the importance to the leaders of the Conference on the Intelligence Authorization of including a National Intelligence Estimate of the impact of climate change on U.S. national and economic security. Climate change is happening and 11 retired three and four-star Generals and Admirals warn that climate change is a threat-multiplier in many areas of the world with significant consequences for U.S. and world security and impact for our foreign and military policies. An NIE is a key planning tool and is supported by a bipartisan majority of House Members. It also has strong bipartisan support in the Senate,” said Rep. Bartlett.

The provision which Reps. Markey, Bartlett and 27 other member of Congress are supporting was approved by the House of Representatives in the face of a direct challenge. During floor debate on May 10th over the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, an amendment was offered to strike Section 407. That amendment failed by a vote of 185-230, showing the strong support of the House of Representatives for this critical provision.
(19 October 2007)