Sunday, August 28, 2016

Thank You, Americans for Prosperity (for reminding me why I should vote for Katie McGinty)

I received a flyer in the mail today from Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the evil spawn of the Koch brothers, pleading for me to vote against Katie McGinty. Their chief argument is that McGinty, as senator, will support energy policies that might be disadvantageous to fossil fuels.

Should I be surprised that a bunch of rich old farts want me to vote in a way that will make them richer? At my expense? Of course AFP favors continued use and extraction of fossil fuels, just as Big Tobacco favors continued smoking.

The flyer threatens that electricity costs will go up, groceries will cost more, and wages are down, and it is all, according to AFP, Katie McGinty's fault. But AFP fails to mention the costs that will be incurred if energy policy ignores climate change and the pressing need to switch away from fossil fuels.

According to The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change, issued by the White House, "a delay that results in warming of 3 deg C above preindustrial levels, instead of 2 deg C, could increase economic damages by approximately 0.9 percent of global output." And these costs are incurred every year. But the Koch brothers won't be paying--your children and grandchildren, and their children, will pay. If mitigation is attempted, but delayed, those "costs increase, ,on average, by approximately 40 percent for each decade of delay." Not only does mitigation become more expensive, it also becomes more difficult.

Unemployment in the past decade has been strongly affected by the severe recession that began during the George W. Bush administration. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that the Clean Power Plan will likely increase jobs by about 360,000 in 2020, with slower rates of job creation down to a gain of about 15,000 jobs in 2030.

Changes in weather patterns resulting from climate change will lead to greater monetary losses in coastal zones. According to the Risky Business Project (co-chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Thomas F. Steyer), under the business-as-usual scenario, $66B to $106B worth of coastal property will be inundated by rising sea level, and that figure rises to $238B to $507B by 2100. Losses due to hurricanes will grow by more than $42B due to the effect of higher sea level on the inland reach of storms. Potential changes in hurricane activity could increase that figure to $108B. Increased incidence and duration of extreme heat threaten productivity, energy systems, food production, and health. Health impacts of extreme heat have already cost lives in Europe and Russia.

So, cleaning up emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, from power generation and transportation sources is extremely important from the standpoint of global warming. But it is also very important for its consequences on health. A study published in Nature Climate Change, predicts immediate, substantial health benefits coming from a strong Clean Power Plan, with expected prevention of 3,500 premature deaths in the United States annually, as well as reduced incidence of heart attacks and hospitalization.

So AFP and the Koch brothers don't give a damn if you take a loss on property or miss out on the rising tide of employment in the renewable energy field, or even get sick and die--the Kochtopus doesn't have all your money yet, so it still has a reason for being. And they want you to believe that you, too, will gain from their efforts.

And then there is a whole 'nother issue not mentioned in the AFP flyer--if you vote against McGinty, for whom do you vote? There are three candidates listed: Democrat McGinty, Republican Toomey, and Libertarian Clifford. The flyer does not suggest which of McGinty's oppnents one ought to vote for. Well, they legally cannot do that, because as a 501(c)(4) "social welfare organization," they are obliged to be non-partisan, neither supporting nor opposing any political candidates (and yet they are opposing McGinity?). It's obvious (Clifford who?) that AFP prefers Pat Toomey for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Like the Koch brothers, Pat Toomey denies humans have had anything to do with changing climate: "My view is: I think the data is pretty clear. There has been an increase in the surface temperature of the planet over the course of the last 100 years or so. I think it's clear that that has happened. The extent to which that has been caused by human activity I think is not as clear. I think that is still very much disputed and has been debated." The overwhelming consensus among climate researchers is that human activity is the primary contributor toward global warming. But Toomey is a politician; he don't need no stinkin' science!

For the reasons discussed above, as well as for his desperate efforts to deny the reality of climate change and his giving fossil-fuel profits higher priority over human health, Pat Toomey is unfit for reelection to the United States Senate. But there is still another factor to disqualify him. He has refused to discharge his Constitutional duty to vote on President Barack Obama's nominee for justice of the United States Supreme Court. Sure, he cannot bring the name up for a vote on his own. But he could argue with the other dodging senators (particularly Justice Committee chair Grassley and Majority Leader McConnell) and try to convince them to allow the Senate to fulfill its duty. When I wrote urging Toomey to do the job he is being paid to do, he responded very condescendingly, saying (as I translate) "I hope I hope I hope a Republican will be elected president in 2016!" Well, Sen. Toomey, how's that Donald working out for you?

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