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How a Bunch of Corporate-Backed Buffoons Took Over U.S. Climate Policy

Climate-change deniers remain a clown show--yet they've managed to control US policy on the issue.

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It’s a striking barometer of intimidation that Barack Obama, who has a clear enough understanding of climate change and its dangers, has barely mentioned the subject for four years.  He did show a little leg to his liberal base in Rolling Stone earlier this spring by hinting that climate change could become a campaign issue.  Last week, however, he passed on his best chance to make good on that promise when he gave a long speech on energy at an Iowa wind turbine factory without even mentioning global warming. Because the GOP has been so unreasonable, the President clearly feels he can take the environmental vote by staying silent, which means the odds that he’ll do anything dramatic in the next four years grow steadily smaller.

On the brighter side, not everyone has been intimidated.  In fact, a spirited counter-movement has arisen in recent years.  The very same weekend that Heartland tried to put the Unabomber’s face on global warming, 350.org conducted thousands of rallies around the globe to show who climate change really affects. In a year of mobilization, we also managed to block -- at least temporarily -- the Keystone pipeline that would have brought the dirtiest of dirty energy, tar-sands oil, from the Canadian province of Alberta to the Gulf Coast.  In the meantime, our Canadian allies are fighting hard to block a similar pipeline that would bring those tar sands to the Pacific for export.

Similarly, in just the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands have signed on to demand an end to fossil-fuel subsidies. And new polling data already show more Americans worried about our changing climate, because they’ve noticed the freakish weather of the last few years and drawn the obvious conclusion.

But damn, it’s a hard fight, up against a ton of money and a ton of inertia. Eventually, climate denial will “lose,” because physics and chemistry are not intimidated even by Lord Monckton. But timing is everything -- if he and his ilk, a crew of certified planet wreckers, delay action past the point where it can do much good, they’ll be able to claim one of the epic victories in political history -- one that will last for geological epochs.

 
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