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Tag: climate change

Flip-Flopping Phony: Now J.D. Vance Says There's No Climate Crisis

In 2020, Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance said, 'We of course have a climate problem in our society.' Now he says there isn't one.

Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance has spent the past several weeks attacking clean energy infrastructure investments and lying about whether climate change is a problem. But a just-announced $4.4 billion electric vehicle battery facility in Ohio and his own previous comments undermine his latest claims.

Vance, a millionaire venture capitalist and author with a history of flip-flopping on political issues, has repeatedly criticized his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan, for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act last month. That law will make $369 billion available for energy and climate change infrastructure, make health care and prescription drugs more affordable for millions of Americans, and reduce the federal budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

In an interview on the right-wing "Clay Travis & Buck Sexton" radio talk show on July 28, Vance dismissed both climate science and electric vehicles.

After Sexton said that he did not believe there really is any climate crisis, Vance concurred:

No, I don't think there is, either. And even if there was a climate crisis, I don't know how the way to solve it is to buy more Chinese-manufactured electric vehicles. The whole EV thing is a scam, right? So set to the side these questions about, you know, how much carbon drives the climate change situation. Look, I'm with you on this. I do not wake up in the morning thinking, [We've got] a climate crisis we need to destroy the economy to deal with.

"I gotta say, Stu, this Inflation Reduction Act, which is a ridiculous name for this thing, what it basically does is subsidize rich people to buy electric vehicles at the expense of the Ohio automotive industry. It's gonna put a lot of Ohioans out of work," Vance told Fox Business' Stuart Varney on August 8, calling the Inflation Reduction Act "a joke of an economic program."

"Tim Ryan's green new deal is little more than a handout to Chinese companies at the expense of Ohio workers," he tweeted on August 12. "It's dumb, does nothing for the environment, and will make us all poorer. I wish he'd stick to renaming post offices."

In another tweet that day, he mocked Ryan's vote for the package's electric vehicle tax credits — as well as his attire — writing, "Hey guys I just gave a bunch of rich people tax credits to buy EVs but I have these awesome pink shorts."

A Vance spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

But it appears that Ohio workers will actually benefit from the Democratic majority's clean energy investments: The Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included billions of dollars to support electric vehicle-related manufacturing in the United States, are helping to spur new jobs in the state.

On Monday, electronics giant LG and car manufacturer Honda announced plans to build a $4.4 billion electric vehicle battery production facility in Ohio. Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and production to commence by 2025.

"Making stuff in America once again. You absolutely love to see it," cheered Ryan in a tweet.

Back in February 2020, Vance acknowledged that climate change is real, dangerous, and caused by humans.

In a speech at a conference hosted by the Center for Ethics and Human Values at The Ohio State University, Vance lamented that technological progress on many fronts has slowed in recent years. "Think about energy," he said:

We of course have a climate problem in our society, one largely caused now by unrestrained emissions in China. Part of the reason we have that problem is because we're not generating energy much cleaner than we used to 30 or 40 years ago. In fact, the biggest improvement in emissions is solar energy, which can provide a substantial amount of our power, but can't provide anything like 50% of our power. Definitely not 100% of our power, and through, sort of, our increasing reliance on natural gas, which of course is an improvement over dirtier forms of power but isn't exactly the sort of thing that's gonna take us to a clean energy future.

Vance has also flip-flopped on his position on the viability of coal as a source of fuel.

At DePaul University's Chicago Ideas festival in October 2019, he observed:

I think that the idea that we're gonna bring back hundreds of thousands of coal jobs in Appalachia is probably, almost certainly, in fact, not true, that the big reason that coal has become so much less of a significant employer, or the two reasons are, one, you can produce a lot more coal with a lot fewer people because mechanization has been very successful in increasing productivity in the coal industry, and also, coal is just not as economically viable of a fuel source, as an energy source in the era of natural gas and all the renewables that you just talked about.

But on July 29 of this year, Vance tweeted, "All of this 'bring American manufacturing back' from the Democrats is fake unless we stop the green energy fantasy. Solar panels can't power a modern manufacturing economy. That's why the Chinese are building coal power plants, something Tim Ryan's donors won't let America do."

Recent polls have shown the race between Vance and Ryan for the open seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman to be a toss-up.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

With Changing Climate, Let's Not Expect Green Lawns In Las Vegas

One can well understand the allure of the American Southwest. Shirtsleeves in February. Natural beauty under a big starry sky. But as the region's water shortage approaches crisis levels, newcomers — and old-timers — may have to give up the idea that the good life includes a lush green lawn.

Las Vegas isn't Buffalo without the snow. Grass grows in Buffalo with minimal effort. Not so in Las Vegas, set in the Mojave Desert.

Grass needs lots of water, and the region's supplies are so strained that Las Vegas is sending out contractors to dig up "nonfunctional turf." The city defines "nonfunctional" as grass kept only for its good looks — in practice, grass along streets or at commercial sites.

Over 40 million people rely on the stressed Colorado River for water. Water levels in the river's two big reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, are at historic low levels. Meanwhile, the other source that has provided water forever, underground aquifers, are drying up. Climate change and growing populations are making shortages worse.

As a result, states in the Southwest are facing a hard reality: Greenswards and gurgling fountains may become part of an unrealistic past.


Where water is scarcer, its distribution must be tightly managed. Layers of federal and local agencies must make the hard decisions about who gets how much water and for what. They have no choice but to tighten the rules.

That's why being rich and famous in the Southern California city of Calabasas still doesn't guarantee you a green lawn. Residents there are now limited to watering only eight minutes one day a week.

There's a reason golf was invented in Scotland. The weather there is cool and rainy, and that's what makes grass happy.

Not so in the Sonoran Desert, where Phoenix happens to be located. Phoenix is hot, dry and booming with new arrivals taking showers and flushing toilets.

And so it makes sense to ask why the Phoenix area has 165 golf courses. Having formed an alliance to defend their water allocations, the owners argue that year-round golf is important to the region's economy. That may be so, but couldn't they change the idea of what a golf course looks like?

Arizona farms use over half of the available water. Now getting less water than in previous years, they, too, have banded together. Perhaps the time has come for some of them to stop growing thirsty crops like cotton in the desert.

And what about homeowners? Arizona's cities and suburbs are still largely shielded from drastic cutbacks in water use, but a green lawn may no longer be in the cards.

The good news is that desert vegetation has its own charms. This Old House aired an interesting episode on landscaping a front yard in Phoenix. The result was largely a hardscape of pavement and rocks with spots of desert-friendly mesquite, lantana and, of course, cactus. One plant, the red yucca, offered dramatic blooms eight months a year.

No, it wasn't the opulent green carpets of Connecticut. On the other hand, you don't get eight months of bloom in Connecticut.

A reduced Colorado River has ignited new worries not directly tied to irrigation. Lake Powell has been a source of hydropower. Its water level has fallen so low that it soon may no longer be able to produce electricity serving millions of Westerners. Lake Powell is now down to 27 percent of capacity.

Mother Nature is a disciplinarian. If you want a lot of rain, move to Hawaii or Louisiana or Mississippi. Otherwise, learn to love the desert the way the Creator made it. Really, there's little choice in the matter.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

'Not Just For The Privileged Few': Biden Signs Landmark Climate And Health Bill

President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law Tuesday afternoon, the big climate change, tax fairness, and health care reconciliation bill that Democrats passed in record time this month. Biden was joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Whip James Clyburn. The big celebration signing will happen next month, when Congress is back in D.C., but enacting the legislation now will start the ball rolling immediately on the many provisions it has to help American consumers and to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


“With this law, the American people have won, and special interests lost,” Biden said. “The American people won, and special interests lost. […] This administration began in a dark time in America, a once-in-a-century pandemic, devastating joblessness, clear and present threats to democracy and the rule of law, doubts about the future of America itself. And yet we have not wavered, we have not flinched, and we have not given in. Instead, we are delivering results for the American people.“

Biden also blasted Republicans for their refusal to support any part of this bill. “In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interest in this vote, every single one,” Biden said. “The big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill, $100 million. And remember, every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill. Every single Republican in Congress voted against lower prescription prices, negotiating drug costs, a fairer tax system. Every single Republican voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating good-paying jobs.”

Biden continued, previewing the message he’s going to take into the midterm elections: “My fellow Americans, that is the choice we face. We can protect the already powerful, or show the courage to build a future where everybody has an even shot. That is the America I believe in. That is what i believe in. And today, we have come a step closer to making that America real.”

Ahead of the official bill signing, the White House provided a briefing memo titled “By the Numbers,” detailing the major provisions of the legislation and how it will move the nation forward.

Some highlights:

  • 5 to 7 million Medicare beneficiaries could see their prescription drug costs go down because of the provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.
  • 50 million Americans with Medicare Part D will have peace of mind knowing their costs at the pharmacy are capped at $2,000 per year, directly benefiting about 1.4 million beneficiaries each year.
  • 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will benefit from a guarantee that their insulin costs are capped at $35 for a month’s supply. […]
  • 13 million Americans will continue to save an average of $800 per year on health insurance premiums
  • 3 million more Americans will have health insurance than without the law. […]
  • Families that take advantage of clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits will save more than $1,000 per year.
  • $14,000 in direct consumer rebates for families to buy heat pumps or other energy efficient home appliances, saving families at least $350 per year.
  • 7.5 million more families will be able to install solar on their roofs with a 30% tax credit, saving families $9,000 over the life of the system or at least $300 per year.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950 per year. […]
  • Power homes, businesses, and communities with much more clean energy by 2030, including:
    • 950 million solar panels
    • 120,000 wind turbines
    • 2,300 grid-scale battery plants
  • Advance cost-saving clean energy projects at rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people.
  • Strengthen climate resilience and protect nearly 2 million acres of national forests. […]
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 gigaton in 2030, or a billion metric tons – 10 times more climate impact than any other single piece of legislation ever enacted.
  • Deploy clean energy and reduce particle pollution from fossil fuels to avoid up to 3,900 premature deaths and up to 100,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030. […]
  • 15%: the minimum tax on corporate profits the Inflation Reduction Act imposes on the largest, most profitable corporations.
  • $124 billion: savings over 10 years the Inflation Reduction Act will generate from collecting taxes already owed by wealthy people and large corporations, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • And no family making less than $400,000 will see their taxes go up a penny.

To quote Biden at another historic bill signing, “This is a big fucking deal” for the American people.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Wrong Turn: A Gas Tax Holiday Would Frustrate Biden's Critical Goals

In politics, there are proposals that are so sensible they are bound to become law. There are ideas so awful that they are quickly discarded and forgotten. Then there are the ones that have no chance of being enacted but keep coming back.

They are the zombies of public policy: not exactly alive, but never quite dead. A prime example is the gas tax holiday. Several Democratic senators have signed on to a bill to suspend the 18.4-cents-per gallon federal levy to reduce the cost of fuel and combat inflation.

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), argues that lifting the gas tax would be "something that directly helps people right now when they need it." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says, "It's one of the many things that we're looking at in terms of reducing costs." The White House declines to rule it out.

No one likes paying taxes or feeling gouged at the pump, which explains the appeal to politicians. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake regards it as "a great populist issue because people are always mad at gas prices and gas taxes."

Democrats would do well to recall the example of Barack Obama. During his 2008 presidential campaign, he had to contend with two rivals, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain, who proposed the same thing. Obama had the backbone to deride it as "a gimmick that would save you (the cost of) half a tank of gas over the course of the entire summer so that everyone in Washington can pat themselves on the back and say they did something." He found an unlikely ally in George W. Bush.

It's a lousy idea, for reasons that should be most obvious to Democrats. They united to help pass Joe Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which will be financed partly with revenue from the federal gas tax. As the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget notes, a gas tax holiday would deprive the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for roads, bridges and mass transit, of $20 billion a year.

If that weren't bad enough, the trust fund has been spending more than it takes in, putting it on schedule to go broke by 2027. Suspending the gas tax would move that date up by a year.

It would also contradict another core Democratic goal: reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. High gas prices, as it happens, are a good way to encourage conservation, enhance the appeal of electric vehicles and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Larry Summers, who was director of Obama's National Economic Council, said last summer, "There's no more important price to increase in the American economy than the price of carbon-based fuels.

"Summers was rebuking Biden for urging oil-producing nations to boost output to lower prices — even though the more oil they produce and the world consumes, the faster the planet will heat up. "On the surface, it seems like an irony," Biden acknowledged. Actually, a better term would be "self-contradiction."

That wasn't Biden's only divergence from sensible methods of combating climate change. In November, he released 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The White House explanation: "Oil supply has not kept up with demand as the global economy emerges from the pandemic." Never mind the obvious way to balance demand and supply: letting prices rise.

Contrast these efforts with what Biden said in canceling the Keystone pipeline from Canada: "The United States and the world face a climate crisis. That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory."

Not that Republicans are any more honest or consistent. As prices were rising in 1996, presidential nominee Bob Dole advocated not merely suspending but abolishing the federal gasoline tax. He and GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it was "the least we can do for hard-working Americans whose pocketbooks are taking a major hit." McCain said similar things in 2008.

Both parties are prone to irresponsible pandering, and each has found occasions to target the gas tax for political exploitation. But it's never energized public support, most likely because most people don't see 18.4 cents per gallon as that big a deal.

The consolation is that each time the idea emerges, cooler and smarter heads make sure it goes nowhere. It will probably go nowhere this time. But only after we've had our intelligence insulted.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

What Costs Four Times As Much As 'Build Back Better'? The Pentagon Budget

2021 was another banner year for the military-industrial complex, as Congress signed off on a near-record $778 billion in spending for the Pentagon and related work on nuclear warheads at the Department of Energy. That was $25 billion more than the Pentagon had even asked for.

It can’t be emphasized enough just how many taxpayer dollars are now being showered on the Pentagon. That department’s astronomical budget adds up, for instance, to more than four times the cost of the most recent version of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which sparked such horrified opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other alleged fiscal conservatives. Naturally, they didn’t blink when it came to lavishing ever more taxpayer dollars on the military-industrial complex.

Opposing Build Back Better while throwing so much more money at the Pentagon marks the ultimate in budgetary and national-security hypocrisy. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that, if current trends continue, the Pentagon could receive a monumental $7.3 trillion-plus over the next decade, more than was spent during the peak decade of the Afghan and Iraq wars, when there were up to 190,000 American troops in those two countries alone.

Sadly, but all too predictably, President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and contractors from Afghanistan hasn’t generated even the slightest peace dividend. Instead, any savings from that war are already being plowed into programs to counter China, official Washington’s budget-justifying threat of choice (even if outshone for the moment by the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine). And all of this despite the fact that the United States already spends three times as much as China on its military.

The Pentagon budget is not only gargantuan, but replete with waste — from vast overcharges for spare parts to weapons that don’t work at unaffordable prices to forever wars with immense human and economic consequences. Simply put, the current level of Pentagon spending is both unnecessary and irrational.

Price Gouging On Spare Parts

Overcharging the Pentagon for spare parts has a long and inglorious history, reaching its previous peak of public visibility during the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Then, blanket media coverage of $640 toilet seats and $7,600 coffee makers sparked public outrage and a series of hearings on Capitol hill, strengthening the backbone of members of Congress. In those years, they did indeed curb at least the worst excesses of the Reagan military buildup.

Such pricing horror stories didn’t emerge from thin air. They came from the work of people like legendary Pentagon whistleblower Ernest Fitzgerald. He initially made his mark by exposing the Air Force’s efforts to hide billions in cost overruns on Lockheed’s massive C-5A transport plane. At the time, he was described by former Air Force Secretary Verne Orr as “the most hated man in the Air Force.” Fitzgerald and other Pentagon insiders became sources for Dina Rasor, a young journalist who began drawing the attention of the media and congressional representatives to spare-parts overcharges and other military horrors. In the end, she formed an organization, the Project on Military Procurement, to investigate and expose waste, fraud, and abuse. It would later evolve into the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the most effective current watchdog when it comes to Pentagon spending.

A recent POGO analysis, for instance, documented the malfeasance of TransDigm, a military parts supplier that the Department of Defense’s Inspector General caught overcharging the Pentagon by as much as 3,800 percent — yes, you read that figure right! — on routine items. The company was able to do so only because, bizarrely enough, Pentagon buying rules prevent contract officers from getting accurate information on what any given item should cost or might cost the supplying company to produce it.

In other words, thanks to Pentagon regulations, those oversight officials are quite literally flying blind when it comes to cost control. The companies supplying the military take full advantage of that. The Pentagon Inspector General’s office has, in fact, uncovered more than 100 overcharges by TransDigm alone, to the tune of $20.8 million. A comprehensive audit of all spare-parts suppliers would undoubtedly find billions of wasted dollars. And this, of course, spills over into ever more staggering costs for finished weapons systems. As Ernest Fitzgerald once said, a military aircraft is just a collection of “overpriced spare parts flying in formation.”

Weapons This Country Doesn’t Need At Prices We Can’t Afford

The next level of Pentagon waste involves weapons we don’t need at prices we can’t afford, systems that, for staggering sums, fail to deliver on promises to enhance our safety and security. The poster child for such costly, dysfunctional systems is the F-35 combat aircraft, a plane tasked with multiple missions, none of which it does well. The Pentagon is slated to buy more than 2,400 F-35s for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy. The estimated lifetime cost for procuring and operating those planes, a mere $1.7 trillion, would make it the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons project ever.

Once upon a time (as in some fairy tale), the idea behind the creation of the F-35 was to build a plane that, in several variations, would be able to carry out many different tasks relatively cheaply, with potential savings generated by economies of scale. Theoretically, that meant the bulk of the parts for the thousands of planes to be built would be the same for all of them. This approach has proven a dismal failure so far, so much so that the researchers at POGO are convinced the F-35 may never be fully ready for combat.

Its failures are too numerous to recount here, but a few examples should suffice to suggest why the program minimally needs to be scaled back in a major way, if not canceled completely. For a start, though meant to provide air support for troops on the ground, it’s proved anything but well-designed to do so. In fact, that job is already handled far better and more cheaply by the existing A-10 “Warthog” attack aircraft. A 2021 Pentagon assessment of the F-35 — and keep in mind that this is the Department of Defense, not some outside expert — found 800 unresolved defects in the plane. Typical of its never-ending problems: a wildly expensive and not particularly functional high-tech helmet which, at the cost of $400,000 each, is meant to give its pilot special awareness of what’s happening around and below the plane as well as to the horizon. And don’t forget that the F-35 will be staggeringly expensive to maintain and already costs an impressive $38,000 an hour to fly.

In December 2020, House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith finally claimed he was “tired of pouring money down the F-35 rathole.” Even former Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown acknowledged that it couldn’t meet its original goal — to be a low-cost fighter — and would have to be supplemented with a less costly plane. He compared it to a Ferrari, adding, “You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays.” It was a stunning admission, given the original claims that the F-35 would be the Air Force’s affordable, lightweight fighter and the ultimate workhorse for future air operations.

It’s no longer clear what the rationale even is for building more F-35s at a time when the Pentagon has grown obsessed with preparing for a potential war with China. After all, if that country is the concern (an exaggerated one, to be sure), it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which fighter planes would go into combat against Chinese aircraft, or be engaged in protecting American troops on the ground — not at a moment when the Pentagon is increasingly focused on long-range missiles, hypersonic weapons, and unpiloted vehicles as its China-focused weapons of choice.

When all else fails, the Pentagon’s fallback argument for the F-35 is the number of jobs it will create in states or districts of key members of Congress. As it happens, virtually any other investment of public funds would build back better with more jobs than F-35s would. Treating weapons systems as jobs programs, however, has long helped pump up Pentagon spending way beyond what’s needed to provide an adequate defense of the United States and its allies.

And that plane is hardly alone in the ongoing history of Pentagon overspending. There are many other systems that similarly deserve to be thrown on the scrap heap of history, chief among them the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), essentially an F-35 of the sea. Similarly designed for multiple roles, it, too, has fallen far short in every imaginable respect. The Navy is now trying to gin up a new mission for the LCS, with little success.

This comes on top of buying outmoded aircraft carriers for up to $13 billion a pop and planning to spend more than a quarter of a trillion dollars on a new nuclear-armed missile, known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD. Such land-based missiles are, according to former Secretary of Defense William Perry, “among the most dangerous weapons in the world,” because a president would have only minutes to decide whether to launch them on being warned of an enemy nuclear attack. In other words, a false alarm (of which there have been numerous examples during the nuclear age) could lead to a planetary nuclear conflagration.

The organization Global Zero has demonstrated convincingly that eliminating land-based missiles altogether, rather than building new ones, would make the United States and the rest of the world safer, with a small force of nuclear-armed submarines and bombers left to dissuade any nation from launching a nuclear war. Eliminating ICBMs would be a salutary and cost-saving first step towards nuclear sanity, as former Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg and other experts have made all too clear.

America’s Cover-the-Globe Defense Strategy

And yet, unbelievably enough, I haven’t even mentioned the greatest waste of all: this country’s “cover the globe” military strategy, including a planet-wide “footprint” of more than 750 military bases, more than 200,000 troops stationed overseas, huge and costly aircraft-carrier task forces eternally floating the seven seas, and a massive nuclear arsenal that could destroy life as we know it (with thousands of warheads to spare).

You only need to look at the human and economic costs of America’s post-9/11 wars to grasp the utter folly of such a strategy. According to Brown University’s Costs of War Project, the conflicts waged by the United States in this century have cost $8 trillion and counting, with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, thousands of U.S. troops killed, and hundreds of thousands more suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. And for what? In Iraq, the U.S. cleared the way for a sectarian regime that then helped create the conditions for ISIS to sweep in and conquer significant parts of the country, only to be repelled (but not thoroughly defeated) at great cost in lives and treasure. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, after a conflict doomed as soon as it morphed into an exercise in nation-building and large-scale counterinsurgency, the Taliban is now in power. It’s hard to imagine a more ringing indictment of the policy of endless war.

Despite the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, for which the Biden administration deserves considerable credit, spending on global counterterror operations remains at high levels, thanks to ongoing missions by Special Operations forces, repeated air strikes, ongoing military aid and training, and other kinds of involvement short of full-scale war. Given the opportunity to rethink strategy as part of a “global force posture” review released late last year, the Biden administration opted for a remarkably status quo approach, insisting on maintaining substantial bases in the Middle East, while modestly boosting the U.S. troop presence in East Asia.

As anyone who’s followed the news knows, despite the immediate headlines about sending troops and planes to Eastern Europe and weapons to Ukraine in response to Russia’s massing of its forces on that country’s borders, the dominant narrative for keeping the Pentagon budget at its current size remains China, China, China. It matters little that the greatest challenges posed by Beijing are political and economic, not military. “Threat inflation” with respect to that country continues to be the Pentagon’s surest route to acquiring yet more resources and has been endlessly hyped in recent years by, among others, analysts and organizations with close ties to the arms industry and the Department of Defense.

For example, the National Defense Strategy Commission, a congressionally mandated body charged with critiquing the Pentagon’s official strategy document, drew more than half its members from individuals on the boards of arms-making corporations, working as consultants for the arms industry, or from think tanks heavily funded by just such contractors. Not surprisingly, the commission called for a three to five percent annual increase in the Pentagon budget into the foreseeable future. Follow that blueprint and you’re talking $1 trillion annually by the middle of this decade, according to an analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense. Such an increase, in other words, would prove unsustainable in a country where so much else is needed, but that won’t stop Pentagon budget hawks from using it as their North Star.

In March of this year, the Pentagon is expected to release both its new national defense strategy and its budget for 2023. There are a few small glimmers of hope, like reports that the administration may abandon certain dangerous (and unnecessary) nuclear-weapons programs instituted by the Trump administration.

However, the true challenge, crafting a budget that addresses genuine security problems like public health and the climate crisis, would require fresh thinking and persistent public pressure to slash the Pentagon budget, while reducing the size of the military-industrial complex. Without a significant change of course, 2022 will once again be a banner year for Lockheed Martin and other top weapons makers at the expense of investing in programs necessary to combat urgent challenges from pandemics to climate change to global inequality.

Copyright 2022 William Hartung

William D. Hartung is a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and the author ofProfits of War: Corporate Beneficiaries of the Post-9/11 Surge in Pentagon Spending(Brown University's the Costs of War Project and the Center for International Policy, September 2021).

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch


'He's A Threat To The Globe': Coal-Loving Joe Manchin Faces Planet-Wide Backlash

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is facing global backlash for his repeated efforts to block legislation that would help combat the climate crisis.

While it's no secret that the centrist lawmaker has become an outcast within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, he is now facing international criticism from climate advocacy groups around the world, according to The Guardian. Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, recently slammed the lawmaker describing him as "a threat to the globe."

“He’s a villain, he’s a threat to the globe,” said Huq. “If you talk to the average citizen in Dhaka, they will know who Joe Manchin is. The level of knowledge of American politics here is absolutely amazing, we know about the filibuster and the Senate and so on.

“What the Americans do or don’t do on climate will impact the world and it’s incredible that this one coal lobbyist is holding things up. It will cause very bad consequences for us in Bangladesh, unfortunately," Huq added.

Tina Stege, who works as a climate representative for the Marshall Islands, a Pacific area that faces the danger of being destroyed in the event of a climate disaster, is urging the United States to take "immediate action."

“I’ve been following the situation closely,” said Stege. “We have to halve emissions in this decade and can’t do it without strong, immediate action by the US.”

Some of the United States' closest allies have also expressed concern as Manchin continues to stall the passing of critical legislation. In Canada, Catherine McKenna, an environmental minister for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, explained how they have watched the political battle unfold from afar in hopes that lawmakers can strike a deal in the near future.

"Biden has done a fair bit in very challenging circumstances [but] in Canada we look on with bewilderment because it’s such a different political context. It’s very bizarre,” said McKenna, who served in Trudeau’s government when it introduced carbon pricing in 2019. “Politics is hard but I don’t think anyone has given up. We just really hope they are able to get a deal.”

Despite the calls for action, Manchin is still pushing back against proposed legislation to stave off the impacts of climate change.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Renewables Best Coal As America's Second Largest Energy Source

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that renewables generated 21 percent of all electricity in the country for 2020. Renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind accounted for 834 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of the nation’s power last year. That falls just behind natural gas, which generated 1,617 billion kWh or 40% of all energy in the U.S. The news comes from a report released in July that the EIA shared again last week as the year winds down and we look towards 2022. The agency believes that coal-fired electricity use likely rose this year due to rising natural gas prices, increasing about 18 percent compared with 2020. This will likely push coal to be the second-most used energy source in 2021.

It’s highly unlikely that the trend of coal surpassing renewables will continue into 2022. For one, coal-fired electricity has been on the downturn since 2007 when it peaked at 2,016 billion kWh and was the largest source of energy until 2016, most likely because natural gas has replaced much of coal’s capacity. According to another EIA report, dozens of coal-fired plants have been replaced or converted to natural gas since 2011. Some of those decisions made by power companies are in order to comply with emissions regulations, like the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which was unveiled in 2011.

In the following years until 2019, Alabama Power Co. converted 10 of its generators at four Alabama coal plants to comply with the standard, which took effect in 2016.As for renewables, the EIA believes their power generation will rise 7% this year and another 10% next year. The agency also forecast that 2022 will be another year in which renewables are the second-most-used energy source, making 2020 not an anomaly, but a possible sign of trends to come. It’s anyone’s guess what 2022 will hold in terms of emissions, primarily because it’s unclear how deeply the pandemic will continue to affect the power industry.

Graph Shows Alterative Energy Beating Coal in 2021

images.dailykos.com


A report released on December 22 by the EIA shows that 2020 saw a substantial decrease in carbon dioxide emissions due in part to a warmer winter season and factors exacerbated by the pandemic, including more people working from home and traveling less, plus industry slowdowns resulting in lower commercial building activity. One of the long-term factors cited by the EIA was a trend in declining natural gas production. This resulted in a decrease in emissions of 11 percent in 2020, or 570 million metric tons compared to 2019. Such declines in emissions haven’t been seen since 1983, shortly after an amended Clean Air Act was implemented requiring cars built in 1981 and beyond to comply with lower emissions standards. More stringent emissions goals, such as the Biden administration’s push for 50 percent of new vehicles to be electric by 2030, could see a similar reduction that puts the U.S. one step closer to reaching its goal of net-zero by 2050.


Stupid Things Right-Wing Media Said About Climate Change In 2021

1. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro doesn’t think that 4 degrees Celsius of warming is an emergency

On the April 14 edition of The Daily Wire’s The Ben Shapiro Show, host Ben Shapiro stated that “I do not consider it a quote-unquote ‘emergency’ if the climate were to warm 4 degrees Celsius over the course of the next century. … It’s just a way for them to create a certain level of alarmism that is unjustifiable by the facts on the ground."

It’s a good thing that Shapiro, whose publication is backed by fracking billionaires, has no authority or credibility within the climate science community: 4 C of warming would be literally catastrophic for large swaths of the globe. As The Guardian reported in 2019, at 4 C of climate change, we’d have sea levels that would be around 2 meters higher than today (which would render many coastal areas obsolete), destruction of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, oceanic dead zones, temperatures in the equatorial belt so high that would make for impossible living conditions for most of the year, and the beginning of a potential mass extinction for many species. This is not the first time that Shapiro has said something ignorant about the climate crisis; he once theorized that people affected by rising sea levels could just sell their inundated homes and move.

2. Fox’s Dagen McDowell thinks that cold temperatures in certain parts of the U.S. entirely disprove global warming

Fox News personalities regularly conflate climate with weather, and they generally do it to dismiss global warming. On the April 21 edition of The Five, co-host Dagen McDowell mockingly suggested that “they stopped calling it global warming” because of abnormally cold U.S. temperatures.

In reality, our warming climate has not eradicated cold weather, and in some cases, it has even made cold weather more severe and unpredictable. Nor have abnormally cold temperatures caused a dent in the Earth’s alarming warming trend, in which the past decade was the warmest on record.

3. Ex-coal lobbyist Steve Milloy lies about warming temperatures on One America News: “The June 2021 temperature was actually below the 40-year average”

On the August 2 edition of OAN’s The Tipping Point, former coal lobbyist and Fox News contributor Steve Milloy stated: “The June 2021 temperature was actually below the 40-year average. … There’s just so much bad information going on around, and you know, you’ve just got to be careful with climate alarmists.”


In reality, the U.S. suffered through its hottest June on record, while it was the fifth-warmest June on record globally (followed by the hottest July ever recorded in earth’s history). Milloy is a longstanding figure in the climate denial community, and viewers have really “got to be careful” with his objectively false information.

4. Fox's Laura Ingraham suggests that climate change is really “about controlling the people” and fearmongers that climate action will lead to pandemic-style lockdowns

On both the May 18 and 19 editions of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham theorized that Democrats will use climate change to control Americans’ lives through pandemic-style lockdowns.

This is a dangerous conspiracy theory being pushed by prominent climate deniers that has taken hold among far-right media figures. To be clear, the way to fight climate change is not via lockdowns (COVID-19 lockdowns “only marginally reduced greenhouse gas emissions”), but by bringing about systemic change in our energy system and reimagining our economy and the way we live.

5. Newsmax’s Chris Salcedo doesn’t believe in “proof” that CO2 emissions are contributing to climate change

There were multiple times this year when Newsmax host Chris Salcedo went on a perplexing rant claiming there’s somehow no proof that rising CO2 emissions affect temperatures in any meaningful way. On the August 18 edition of The Chris Salcedo Show, Salcedo called global warming a “religion” that “has not been proven through science” before going on to say, “There's no mathematical proof out there that states that X amount of man-made CO2 yields Y amount of temperature change.”

Then on the December 14 edition of his show, Salcedo stated: “From experts I have read and interviewed over the years, I can say that there is no proof that man's C02 emissions are destroying the planet.” Salcedo must be interviewing some pretty fringe climate deniers as “experts,” as there is effectively unanimous scientific consensus that “humans are changing Earth's climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions.”

6. Fox’s Tucker Carlson rants that climate change is somehow a conspiracy to shrink your children

While Tucker Carlson is no stranger to promoting weird conspiracy theories about climate change, one of his segments from June went completely overboard. On the June 22 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the Fox prime-time host accused climate scientists of wanting to use “human engineering” to “make human children smaller than they are now” and thereby reduce their lifetime greenhouse gas emissions: “All we need to do is experiment on human children and we can solve climate change.”

Tucker Human Engineering

Carlson’s claim was based on a speech given by a bioethicist nearly five years ago. As Gizmodo reported, “The ideas are bad, but they’re utterly fringe. Activists are clamoring for transforming society, not individual humans. You’d never know that from watching the segment, though.” But taking a fringe remark out of context and repurposing it to claim that the government will take over our lives seems pretty on-brand for Fox News.

7. Dennis Prager thinks the simple solution to a warming climate is to just use more air conditioning

Conservative commentator Dennis Prager, who leads a nonprofit online “university” that promotes climate denial, among other conservative talking points, offered his own absurd “solution” to climate change during a talk on September 22: “Did you know that there is a solution to a warm climate? It's called air conditioning. It's very effective.”

Prager’s comments follow a concerning new form of climate denial in right-wing media: acknowledging the climate is changing but claiming there’s nothing we can do to prevent it -- we must learn to live with it instead. In Prager’s case, he suggests that well-off people can just adapt to the warming climate by using air conditioning when it gets hot (which would only increase emissions even further), while those without access to air conditioning will suffer.

8. On Fox News’ The Five, Greg Gutfeld claims that the data to prove climate change is “never there”

On the September 2 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld criticized those who connect climate change to extreme weather events -- specifically to the destructive Hurricane Ida. He stated that the data is “never there,” and that “the severity” of such storms “has been on the decline


For one, science has shown that climate change is affecting hurricanes in a number of ways as storms are dumping more rain, moving slower, and rapidly intensifying -- all hallmarks of Hurricane Ida. Secondly, the data is indeed “there,” as climate models have been correct over the past 50 years. Additionally, Gutfeld talks about “severity” only in terms of decreasing deaths from natural disasters. However, focusing on this statistic obscures the many other reasons that climate change is a serious and deadly threat. As one scientist puts it, “climate change kills, from poor nutrition status and poor health linked to episodes of drought and harvest failures, the spread of infectious diseases, … increasing violent conflict, … and of course the impact of extreme events like tropical cyclones and flash floods.”

9. On Newsmax, Republican commentator Ford O’Connell claims that “climate change is the ultimate Trojan horse for socialism” before stating that the Earth “may or not be warming”

Newsmax had a wild year of promoting climate denial, and right-wing pundit Ford O’Connell’s claim that the Earth “may or may not be warming” on the October 25 edition of American Agenda


Citation From the October 25, 2021, edition of Newsmax's American Agenda

The context behind this segment is noteworthy -- Newsmax was attacking its much larger rival Fox News for “going woke” and “making a permanent hard-left turn” by suggesting that the newly launched Fox Weather streaming service is taking climate change too seriously. In actuality, Fox Weather is just ignoring the issue altogether, but it’s funny to see Newsmax melt down over the fact that Fox is apparently not right-wing enough.

10. On Fox Business, Patricia Lee Onwuka of the Independent Women’s Forum claims that climate change is a “fallacy”

Discussing President Biden’s response to Hurricane Ida on the September 3 edition of Fox Business' Mornings With Maria, right-wing commentator Patricia Lee Onwuka suggested that climate change is a “fallacy” that Biden is using to advance his agenda; she also said that “the facts dispute” the idea that extreme weather events like hurricanes are connected to climate chan


Article reprinted with permission from Media Matters