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What next?

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In light of today’s shameful action by the Trump administration, people who care about their future grandchildren have to essentially hope for this: the rest of the world stays together and continues to press forward with Paris’s emissions targets and indeed ratchets them up, while blue states proceed with their own targets and plans as if we were still on board. These states demonstrate to the rest of the country that compliance need not be particularly costly, making it politically easier

Thankfully, largely due to the continued decline in the cost renewable energy, this isn’t wildly implausible. (It’s been suggested that one reason big Oil wants the US in is to serve as a drag on the rest of the world pushing for more aggressive targets.)

My purpose here is to put on your radar another 2017 election that matters, potentially a good deal, for the above scenario. Obviously, California is the most important state for climate politics, but another medium-sized state with political conditions that make aggressive climate action possible is Washington. It’s a priority for Governor Inslee, but the Senate is controlled by Republicans (+1 “Democrat” who caucuses with them) with a 25-24 majority. In November, 45th district Republican senator Andy Hill, re-elected to a 4 year term, died of lung cancer. Hill himself was very popular, but his district isn’t safe Republican territory–the same district is represented by Democrats in the House, and the popular Hill only won by 6 in a very good Republican year and with a personally well-liked incumbent. Furthermore, the 45th is the kind of district–suburban, highly education, upper middle class–with little love for Trump (carried comfortably by Clinton) and generally supportive of environmental initiatives.

For the 2017 session, former State Senator, failed Republican Senatorial and Gubernatorial candidate, and all-around slimeball Dino Rossi was appointed to fill his seat. But for the 4th and final year of Hill’s term, a special election will be held as part of the November 2017 general election. The control of the Washington State Senate hinges on this election.

There will be no meaningful primaries; the Democrats and the Republicans each have a pretty good-on-paper candidate, and both are fundraising hard for what will surely be the most expensive state Senate race in the state’s history. (Hopefully, the Republican candidates’ affiliation as a McMorris Rodgers aide can be used against her, she’s pretty much gone full-Trump) The DLCC recognizes the significance here and is in hard for Manka Dhingra, the Democratic candidate. She seems fine, but this isn’t really about her; it’s about giving people who care about the planet control of the state government.

Update: Inslee, Brown, Cuomo announce “climate alliance.” Would be great to see more Governors join: Ige, Brown (OR), Hickenlooper, maybe Malloy seem like good targets.

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  • humanoid.panda

    Yes, but is Dhingra a human supremacist?
    Why won’t she commit to full decarbonization by 2020?
    And what kind of name is Dhingra? Sounds suspiciously idpol.

  • humanoid.panda

    But seriously, Virginia, New Jersey and this seat are 3 wins we can easily score this year. At the very least, they might stem the tide of dooooooooom…

    • [blockquote]At the very least, they might stem the tide of dooooooooom…[/blockquote]

      Virginia/New Jersey 2009 was definitely the canary in the coal mine for the disaster of 2010. Serious climate legislation in WA would also be welcome and (along with things in CA and similar) might provide a good template for how to run on said issues.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Use the greater than/less than signs rather than brackets to enter code.

    • vic rattlehead

      I think Phil Murphy (who will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee, it’s all but official) is going to win, I’m not terribly worried.

      I am a little disappointed that it’s not going to be Lesniak (although full disclosure, my old boss is friends with him) but he jumped in the race too light.

      Murphy’s been making the right mouth noises politically but there’s something about him that rubs me the wrong way. He’s another Goldman hack just like Corzine, and we all know how well that turned out. Although my griping about Murphy being a high finance prick who just bought himself the nomination like Corzine was recently echoed by Christie…so maybe I should re-evaluate that. I don’t currently live in Jersey although I work there so it’s not like I’ll be voting but…grumble.

      • NewishLawyer

        “I am a little disappointed that it’s not going to be Lesniak (although full disclosure, my old boss is friends with him) but he jumped in the race too light.”

        This is a wonderful typo and/or Freudian Slip.

  • tsam

    Inslee has some faults, but is a rather good d00d.

  • howard

    i know a good number of parents of adolescents who quite simply don’t know what to say to their kids about trump in so many ways; some of them are even, for the first time, questioning having had kids given the world trump is trying to leave us.

    • I’ve learned to just keep my mouth shut about climate around parents. When I get cornered, I fall back on some variation of “your kids will be mostly okay because they’re American and they’re middle class/upper middle class”.

    • Schadenboner

      The GOP war for the reinstatement of preexisting conditions/lifetime limits has pretty much meant that Mrs. Schadenboner and I are limited to the one kid we already have.

      There’s just no way to calculate the potential risk if there’s no limit to the potential risk.

      Makes me sad.

    • I have a feeling that this will be the coalescing event in the resistance against Trump, so I’m a little sanguine about it. Really, at this point, after a health care bill that takes health insurance from 24 million people and a budget that gets rid of food stamps and meals on wheels, if you’re still a proud Trump supporter after yesterday then you are a fucking troll and rightly deserve to be ostracized as a despicable human being.

  • NewishLawyer

    At this point the only conclusion is that the GOP has been effectively taken over by people whose primary purpose is total victory over liberal “elitists.”

    I can see a Democratic President getting us back in the Paris Accords but I can also see this pull and tug going back and forth over many terms because most voters seem to just get restless when one party is in charge too much and then decides to vote for the other guys just cause.

    The above would be fine if both parties were relatively centrist with some differences but it is not fine when there is huge ideological divisions that a lot of non-political types refuse to recognize.

    • I can see a Democratic President getting us back in the Paris Accords but I can also see this pull and tug going back and forth over many terms because most voters seem to just get restless when one party is in charge too much and then decides to vote for the other guys just cause.

      By the time 2020 rolls around, getting us back into the accord will be irrelevant, because by then the rest of the world will have moved on and left us behind. Really, what happened yesterday was that Trump gave a huge gift to China and made America look like the assholes of the world.

  • I’m pretty optimistic by nature, but I’ve become a serious climate fatalist in the last seven or eight years, so put me down for a “meh” on today’s big show. Paris is/was a very good thing, but it was so inadequate to the task that I can’t gin up much fret over Trump’s publicly dissing it, especially when he’s already made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t give even the teeniest shit about climate, and in fact views screwing it as a way to screw his opponents/enemies.

    Given how rapidly sea level rise and extreme weather are affecting big parts of the globe, getting emissions down as quickly as possible strikes me as almost a red herring. It makes people think something is being “done” when it isn’t gonna do squat to keep Miami from going underwater, or the faucets in Atlanta from running dry, or whichever of the five or so likely doomsdays are going to befall Phoenix.

    We need to be hardening our physical infrastructure and our political infrastructure because climate change is going to stress the hell out of them long before any bending of the emissions curve does us any good. And that’s just domestically, internationally things are even grimmer…

    Okay, time to start drinking for the evening.

    • djw

      This is nihilism.

      • bender

        Actually, I think it’s realism. Most people, myself included, can’t bear to face too much bad news head on.

        I’m a life member of the Sierra Club, but it’s crackers to think, as SC leadership and a lot of other spokespeople claim, that transitioning to generating one hundred percent of the electricity consumed in the US or the entire world is going to prevent drastic changes in the weather, climate and ecosystems of this planet over the next hundred years. Technology and shortsightedness got us into this fix but tech won’t get us out of it.

        Several reasons for that. It will take time to accomplish the transition. Electricity represents only about half of the energy consumed by the industrialized world and most of the other half is generated by burning fossil fuels. We have no existing technology and only bitty pilot programs in the pipeline for large scale recapture of the excess CO2 we have already dumped and are continuing to dump into the atmosphere. As the weather gets worse, crop failures, flood, fire and war will absorb our spare resources to the detriment of research and infrastructure protection.

        No matter what we do from this day on, our immediate descendants are screwed. We still can engage in harm reduction and triage. It would be good to keep from tearing each other apart like crabs in a bucket and use what time and resources we have to save some of the planet’s biodiversity and human cultural achievements like democracy, libraries and the scientific method (or whatever you may think is worth saving).

        Some drinking (or in my case playing mindless computer games) is also in order.

        • JMV Pyro

          The issue I have with the notion of the “realism” argument concerning this whole thing is that it doesn’t really sound like realism. It comes across as a mix of prepper/survivalist philosophy and catastrophism that plays off peoples darker feelings about the subject. You can’t really build much off of that and it mostly serves to give people an outlet to vent their anxieties about something that feels completely out of their control.

          • bender

            One of the central narratives of the American national culture is that there is no problem we can’t lick if we roll up our sleeves and work together. There’s a cultural expectation of optimism, which I’m told the book Brightsided by Barbara Ehrenreich critiques.

            Some things are not under our control, and there are some situations in which everyone can be doing their best and still be defeated. Civilizations older than ours have come to grips with that, because their histories force them to. Whistling past the graveyard is no defense against nihilism. We’re all going to end up in the graveyard, if we’re lucky. A tragic view of life and a sense of honor can help.

            At some point we are going to need to hear the equivalent of Churchill’s “Blood, toil, tears and sweat” address. I can’t imagine a speech like that having the same effect on Americans that it had on the morale of Britons.

            • JMV Pyro

              And what if the culture that your in doesn’t find having a tragic view on life all that motivating? What if you’re dealing with groups of people who are not all that nihilistic?

              I think that realism in that case means meeting those people where they are and finding what motivates them to act rather then hoping that soaring oratory and reading the right thinkers will pull the wool from the masses eyes.

              • bender

                “I think that realism in that case means meeting those people where they are and finding what motivates them to act rather then hoping that soaring oratory and reading the right thinkers will pull the wool from the masses eyes.”

                I basically agree with you about motivation. People want to believe that their efforts will make a difference. However, if you paint too rosy a picture of what they are going to get for their efforts, after a while they will stop listening.

                You are implying that I’m looking down on people for not being as well informed as I think I am. On the contrary, I’m criticizing people who ought to be very well informed, like the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, selling their agenda to people with half truths and over optimistic predictions. In the case of the SC, this may be overcorrection for the habit the SC and other environmental organizations used to have of focusing on crisis, threat and disaster stories as motivational tools. If people’s alarm response gets exhausted, they just tune out. You need success stories to cheer people up.

                Perhaps one reason Churchill’s speech was an effective motivator was that at the time he gave it, the British public knew that they were on their own, it was going to be a desperate fight, and there was no guarantee that anybody else was going to rescue them. Churchill did not promise his audience victory. They would have known that was an empty promise. Churchill promised, “We will never surrender,” and that was a promise it was in their power to keep.

                • JMV Pyro

                  Why Churchill of all people? I’m curious. Is it the whole “existential, hopeless battle” thing?

              • Chetsky

                And what if the culture that your in doesn’t find having a tragic view on life all that motivating?

                Reading this, it seems to me like you’re saying “gosh, we can’t be -accurate- in the way we talk about this impending disastar, b/c many people would find that demotivating”. Sure, that’s great. I’m happy for the hoi polloi to be fed their happy stories and pabulum. Just don’t expect me to be there doing my part with the peddling of the propaganda. B/c that’s what it is.

                And this isn’t about survivalism or being a prepper. When/if modern society collapses, I’ll happily donate my corpse to the local gang of thugs who rule in the rubble. Fuck if I wanna live in the middle ages. Sure, I’ll do my part to ameliorate the damage. But I’m not about to pretend that it’s not coming.

                Maybe it might help to recall that there’s an entire class of humans who tend to have pessimistic views of outcomes. And they’ve been shown to be much more accurate at predicting outcomes than neurotypicals. They’re called the “depressed”.

                • JMV Pyro

                  No, it’s about giving people the motivation to do better. It’s not just about identifying a problem, it’s about getting people on board with doing something about it and it’s consequences. I acknowledge that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face and has hugely bad consequences, I’ve just never found it particularly useful to get mired in despair over it.

                  Also, considering I’m one of those people who struggle with depression, I find the notion that it somehow makes my perception of reality better to be troubling. It really, really doesn’t. Just makes everything feels like a malaise

                • humanoid.panda

                  “Maybe it might help to recall that there’s an entire class of humans who tend to have pessimistic views of outcomes. And they’ve been shown to be much more accurate at predicting outcomes than neurotypicals. They’re called the “depressed”.

                  Yeah, as someone who suffers from depression, I’m gonna call nonsense on that.

                • sibusisodan

                  Thirding the lolno on depression.

                • djw

                  You’re thinking of some study that got a big “new study shows” media treatment that purportedly demonstrated pessimists were more accurate forecasters than optimists. To state the obvious, a tendency for pessimism and depression as a mental state may overlap a bit on the Venn diagram but they aren’t remotely the same thing at all.

          • djw

            The issue I have with the notion of the “realism” argument concerning this whole thing is that it doesn’t really sound like realism.

            Right. A “realism” about politics that’s demotivating is a poor realism. The basics are this:

            1. We done fucked up, this is going to be really bad.
            2. We don’t–and can’t–know exactly how bad.
            3. We (still) have some control over how bad.
            4. So in let’s use what control we do have to increase the odds of the a climate future that’s less bad than it otherwise would be.
            4a. The actual present-day costs to human well being of steps toward a better climate future tend to be wildly exaggerated by politically powerful interests/rentiers who benefit from ignoring climate change.
            5. No steps taken in (4) really prevent or interfere with also engaging in preparation/mitigation for our bad likely futures, so let’s do both.

            This whole “if you’re not constantly wallowing in despair you’re not a serious person like me” routine doesn’t exemplify a pragmatic political realism, it short-circuits it.

            • humanoid.panda

              Can’t help but wonder why masochism is so widespread on the left..

            • Pat

              One can incorporate habits that reduce their energy consumption, like improving your home/car energy efficiency, and promote them to people you know. (“We save $200 a month on our electric bill by getting rid of incandescent bulbs.” “You should look into these new home insulators/triple-triple pane windows; you’ll get real savings.”)

              One doesn’t have to cite that it’s about saving the planet. (“I don’t eat that supermarket beef: I buy mine in bulk from a local farmer. So much better.” “Biking to work means I don’t have to hit the gym, in the end it’s the same amount of time.”)

              I also hope that these guys – http://www.businessinsider.com/experts-react-trump-paris-agreement-climate-change-2017-6 are right.

            • djw

              wrong place

            • bender

              djw, your analysis is mine, and your recommended course of action is also mine.

              That is a nuanced view which takes a few moments to explain. It is much easier to communicate any of the following:

              1. Everything we are doing now is fine. Stay the course.
              2. Nothing we can do will change anything. It’s no use trying.
              3. We can fix our problems with this one weird trick.
              4. What is the source of our problems? THEM! What is the solution? GET THEM!

      • JMV Pyro

        I think it’s the same mindset that drove people to build bunkers during the height of the Cold War. When there’s something like this that is so all-consuming and existential, people can get grim.

    • SNF

      Our only chance is for geoengineering to work flawlessly.

      A lot of people are uncomfortable with geoengineering because of the huge risks (if we get it even just a bit wrong it could kill everyone on Earth), but the alternative is probably going to be unchecked climate change. We aren’t going to cut nearly enough quickly enough, even under optimistic versions of the future.

      • Our only chance is for geoengineering to work flawlessly…We aren’t going to cut nearly enough quickly enough, even under optimistic versions of the future.

        It has taken over a hundred years of mega-scale geoengineering on a planetary scale to get us to where we are today. There is no tech that is magically going to reverse that in a decade or two. You might just as well start praying to God to come down from the clouds and magically fix it with a wave of his hand.

  • bender

    United States Climate Alliance is a great name. Lots of built in messaging.

  • tsam

    I can’t get over the “Pittsburgh, not Paris” thing. Like does this fuck even know what the Paris Accords were? Do you think he’ll commit war crimes and the say fuck Geneva, I’m worried about Akron?

    • postmodulator

      Trump? He made pretty clear on Twitter, during the campaign, that he thought Paris was in Germany.

    • witlesschum

      Yes and als, I assume Pittsburgh voted for Clinton heavily, so trash should keep what I assume is a fine city’s name out of its mouth.

      • Linnaeus

        I think I read somewhere that Pittsburgh went for Clinton 80-20.

        • farin

          Their mayor issued a public statement today telling Trump to get Pittsburgh’s name out of his mouth.

    • John Revolta

      “I was elected to lead, not to read!!

  • efgoldman

    In light of today’s shameful action by the Trump administration

    Only those who feel shame can do shameless things. Persimmon Pustule, his helpers and enablers, and RWNJs in general do not feel shame any more than the average racoon or squirrel does.

  • twbb

    The only possible bright line I can see out of this is Trump gives climate denialism a bad name even among a lot of GOP deplorables. Which is possible.

    • djw

      In several other issue areas (trade, immigration), support for Trump’s policy position has steadily and substantially eroded for the duration of his candidacy and presidency.

      • LosGatosCA

        The numbers show you are right.

        However, hard to figure if it makes a long term difference.

        Cheney/Bush destroyed the world on several dimensions were completely called on it in 2006/2008 and yet in 2011 they were back in control of Congress and in 2017 back in the presidency with arguable the worst human being to run for president in almost 100 years.

        Basically, the Republican base has given us successively stupider, less informed, and really unmotivated people to run the country. And no matter how badly they perform/don’t perform their responsibilities they are always a single turn of the revolving door out of power.

        While our society and government structure have some serious flaws, at the end of the day, the real problem is that the US electorate has a racist, misogynist, bigoted, willfully ignorant streak a mile wide.

        • twbb

          Well, one thing is the Democrats are terrible at actually keeping a narrative going. They think that they can finesse things with laws and regulations and people will reward them for good governance.

          • LosGatosCA

            Another few things Democrats are terrible at:

            – use the 50 state strategy, and start at the fucking cabinet level. They need to think of reappointing Greenspan/Bernanke, appointing Cohen, Gates, Hagel, Comey in the same vein as not contesting an election

            – showing the same level of intensity and commitment as their adversaries. Don’t concede any election until it’s clear the math can’t work in your favor. Don’t go home for Thanksgiving when the national election is still being contested. Don’t not show up in off year elections, midterms.

            – constituent service for the base. Card check? Why would the Democrats support unions the way unions support the Democrats? School privatization? Again why support kids against corporate interests? Why support teachers unions?

            Say what you will about Republicans, they know who they are, they know what destructive things they care about, and they never, never, never let anything go uncontested – the truth, science, human decency, etc.

            • Pat

              We also suck at getting foreign countries to interfere with American elections on our behalf.

              Anyone else wonder how long Putin’s been manipulating our media to the benefit of Republicans? Like during the Ebola scare, perhaps?

  • dsidhe

    I get your point about the larger picture, but can’t this also be about personally humiliating all-around slimeball Dino Rossi? I keep worrying that I’m gonna see him running for president in my lifetime, though admittedly today’s Trump move makes it less likely I’ll see Rossi running for anything other than captain of his Waterworld-esque floating platform.

    • djw

      I get your point about the larger picture, but can’t this also be about personally humiliating all-around slimeball Dino Rossi?

      I’m always up for that, but he’s not running. He made clear when he took the interim appointment he was doing it for a year, and that’s it. I don’t see how someone else losing his (temporary) seat would be particularly humiliating for him.

      I keep worrying that I’m gonna see him running for president in my lifetime

      “Worrying”? We should be so lucky.

      • dsidhe

        That’s what we said about Trump, remember.

        • djw

          The great thing about this line is that it works for just about anything. If you want to believe an ineffective politician is actually effective, it’s always there waiting for you.

          But seriously: what are we worried about with respect to Rossi? At best, he’s Tim Pawlenty but without ever actually winning anything. When was the last time someone with a statewide record of 0/3 won a presidential nomination? Or: why would Rossi be any worse, substantively or electorally, than anyone else on their side? What are the specific political strengths or substantive political commitments make him particularly worrisome in the context of the 21st century Republican party?

  • Don’t wallow, fight.
    1. The USA will fulfil its weak Paris commitments. The charts that show US emissions rising again after 2020 make no sense. No utility in the USA – none – plans to build a new coal plant. Three closures were announced in the day of Trump’s Paris speech. US electricity supply will not be harmed. The coal jobs will disappear. In 2020, the transition to electric cars and trucks will just be getting going in real numbers.
    2. Trump and Pruitt blinked at pulling out of the 1992 Rio framework treaty, approved unanimously by the Senate. (Legally iffy to pull out of this without another Senate vote.) Compare the endangerment finding. So technically the US is still in the Paris agreement for the whole of Trump’s first and only term. Will they be filing the reports they are legally obligated to do? Lawsuit? In any case, the US delegation will be an object of pity, not of concern. It may go rogue, with fuck-you resignation speeches.
    3. There is a large and active movement of Paris resistance at state and city level. Macron has given it a slogan – “Make the planet great again”. The symbol is the Eiffel tower. Join this movement if you can.
    4. If you are stuck in Trumpland, still do the individual things: solar panels, bike, offset flights, smart thermostat, EV if you can afford it, French and American flags on the lawn.

    • bender

      I got some enjoyment from cable news tonight. Macron delivers a speech in English rather better than our President. Knowing nothing about the man except what I read on LGM, I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by him, but he seemed self-possessed and very much in charge. If Macron and Merkel have a good personal relationship, European news for the next few months should be fun. A revisit of the handshake between Macron and Trump–Macron has said that he prepared for Trump’s attempt to dominate him physically, and knowing this, you can see the younger man squeezing Trump’s hand painfully, looking him in the eye while he’s doing it.

      A barnburner of an interview with Governor Brown on Maddow’s show (w/o Rachael, who is ill).. He casually used a phrase, null something, null result? that I’ve never heard from the lips of a politician. Brown said he intends California to sub for the US as a partner with China in carbon emissions control.

      For some reason I also enjoyed Putin’s dry sense of humor. I guess I’m at the point where I can bear him taunting our country, because he’s also showing up Trump as his lackey.

      • I think every president performs some action during his presidency that defines what he is about in simple terms that the electorate can understand. For Bush, it was Katrina. For Obama (for me at least), it was when he sung Amazing Grace. And for Trump, I think it is leaving the Paris Accord. Trump is a troll of the human race. What he did yesterday clarified that in a lot of people’s minds.

        • bender

          Good observation, but I think the action that will define Trump’s presidency hasn’t happened yet.

      • humanoid.panda

        “A barnburner of an interview with Governor Brown on Maddow’s show (w/o Rachael, who is ill).. He casually used a phrase, null something, null result? that I’ve never heard from the lips of a politician. Brown said he intends California to sub for the US as a partner with China in carbon emissions control.

        What I wouldn’t give for Brown to be 30 years younger..

        • bender

          When Brown was thirty years younger, he wasn’t as good a politician.

    • Steve LaBonne

      And the US can’t even legally withdraw until after the 2020 election. Trump’s substantive monkey-wrenching on climate was not going to be any different regardless of whether he decided to give this big fuck-you for show, and there is good reason to think it won’t be terribly effective.

  • thispaceforsale

    There is a leadership vacuum that can and should be filled by the states. Until trump/ pence are out of office, there is nothing for America, nothing for the world at the federal level that is not irrational or self destructive.

    • Aaron Morrow

      California, New York and Washington account for about a quarter of US GDP. There’s a lot that can be done if national Republicans can’t interfere.

      • That’s a big if!

        • Aaron Morrow

          Without 8 Democratic Senators, how many years of court battles would it take to institute administrative rules that overturn state laws?

          *sigh* Now I’m thinking about whether the states can hold out until the second Trump term.

  • tsam

    Where is this district?

    • djw

      Redmond/Bothell area

      • tsam

        Ah. Ok.

        Well, please accept my ongoing apologies for Matt Shea. I’m trying to get rid of him.

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