Climate Happy Talk at the New York Times

I’m always watching for the dominant media to advocate market based measures instead of regulation.  They are pressing this approach particularly hard in the climate change area, and many liberal groups fall for it – witness the recent enthusiasm for Cap and Trade.[1]

Such approaches can be quickly debunked with the help of Google, and the resulting information makes a good short educational presentation for a meeting, an op-ed or letter to the editor, talking points, Facebook post or just something to bug your friends about. As an example, I recently spotted an article in The NY Times, and wrote the following for the local Democratic Party newsletter. 

Now don’t get me wrong, The Times has done fine reporting and editorial work on climate change and particularly on hydrofracking. The Business Section, however, is differently managed and written for a somewhat more select clientele. From these pages we are more likely to learn that free market magic is solving the most difficult problems.

Such a piece appeared on 3/20/13 under the heading “A Model For Reducing Emissions.”[2] “Who would have thought the United States would one day be a leader in cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” asked columnist Eduardo Porter citing a 13% drop in US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 2007. “It was perhaps the biggest decline among industrial countries,” he enthusiastically added. But, the best news is, “What stands out most in this shift, however, is not environmental regulation or public concern about global warming but the price of energy and market-driven technological advancements.” Who says the age of miracles is over?

Lets stop right here. Using the year 2007 as the baseline is cherry picking the good news to manufacture a trend, and that trend appears to be ending. The EPA started collecting emissions data in 1990 and the long term picture shows an 8.7% increase in US greenhouse gas emissions from then to the most recent data for 2011.[3]  In addition, the United Nations reports that 32 countries including the EU and Russia had a better percent change in emissions since 1990 than did the US.[4]

Not being totally out of touch, columnist Porter notes that the recent emissions reduction is largely due to the recession and that wonderful fracked gas. Interestingly, he says that the switch to fracked gas, particularly in electrical generation, brings “within reach” President Obama’s 2009 promise of a 17% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020. This explains a part of Obama’s fascination with natural gas, though we might add that 17% is woefully inadequate.  Porter also recognizes that while CO2 is the main greenhouse gas, it isn’t the only one, and that fracking also releases Methane.

Actually, the emissions drop since 2007 resulted from US coal fired generating plants having been run at 50% of capacity. In turn, this was caused by reductions in demand due to the recession, combined with unsustainably low natural gas prices.[5]  We can not solve the climate problem by relying on continued economic stagnation and a gas price that is below the cost of production.  True, the market economy does appear to be prone to just such stagnation, but this is not to be wished for. The answer to both the climate and the stagnation problem is massive government led investment in green energy.  

Steve Max is a vice chair of DSA.

 [1] A failed Obama plan to give polluters credits or allowances to legally pollute.  By polluting less, they could sell their unused credits to other polluters or to Wall Street companies to package into derivatives or to gamble on pollution futures.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/02/12/cap_and_trade_obama_proposes_bipartisan_market_based_solution_to_climate.html 

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 25 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 50 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 29 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 52 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 13 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 6 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.