Conservatives' Constituents May Be Broiling, But They're Still Opposing Climate Solutions
Updated: Jun 29, 2021
The northwest is under an "excessive heat warning" this week. Yesterday, in Washington state, it was 112° in Spokane, 115° in Yakima and 96° in Vancouver. Coeur D'Alene, Idaho is having triple-digit temperatures every day for a week (108° yesterday). Down in Oregon it was 108° in Bend. In Nevada, Reno saw 99°. And in California it was 108° in Redding, 101° in Roseville and 99° in Victorville. The forecast for Bakersfield tomorrow is 107°, 104° in Visalia and 102° in Delano. The members of Congress who represent these sweltering cities and their surrounding areas are-- in order-- Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Cliff Bentz (R-OR), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA) and David Valadao (R-CA).
As you can see, the congressmembers whose constituents are being subjected to record-breaking temperatures are all Republicans. They are also big fans of a certain reactionary senator who "disproved" Global Warming by tossing around a snowball on the Senate floor. And they all oppose even Biden's very modest, very moderate amelioration proposals.
I spoke with Bruno Amato this morning, the progressive Democrat running for the Bakersfield-centered district held by corrupt Climate Change-denier Kevin McCarthy. "How much longer," he asked, do we ignore the blistering heat, droughts, and fires all helped in part by climate change? Kevin McCarthy will ignore it as long as the oil industry keeps donating to his campaigns. He's in their back-pockets. This is the guy who agreed with Trump that raking leaves in the forest is the solution to prevent the massive fires California deals with every year. The oil industry is fading away; it's destructive to its workers and our climate. We have the infrastructure right here in the 23rd to support the next generation of green jobs. Transitioning folks in the oil industry is not only good for our planet it will be good for their paychecks. Safe union jobs, with great wages and great healthcare packages and protections. Since 2012, thousands of oil workers and folks in the oil industry have already moved into solar and wind jobs right here in the 23rd district. I've been a blue collar union working guy nearly my entire life. I'll always be on the side of the working men and women of California's 23rd."
Yesterday, the National Weather Service described the heatwave as Intense. Prolonged. Record-breaking. Unprecedented. Abnormal. Dangerous. Maybe not quite as dangerous, though, as the Republican Party and members of Congress taking legalistic bribes from Big Oil and Gas special interests. Aside from power-outages, all-time high temperature records in places unaccustomed to such extreme heat are being broken.
King County, Washington closed several COVID-19 testing sites because of the heat. Seattle opened additional public library branches Sunday, and will again Monday, to provide additional cooling centers, the Seattle Times reported.
Seattle's light rail trains may have to operate at reduced speeds because of excessive heat on the tracks, causing delays that could continue into the work week, Sound Transit said Sunday.
The heat wave also moved into Idaho, where temperatures above 100 F are forecast in Boise for at least seven days starting Monday. Ontario, Oregon-- a city near the Idaho border-- could see at least a week of triple-digit temperatures, including a high of 109 F Wednesday, forecasters said.
Cities were reminding residents where pools, splash pads and cooling centers were available and urging people to stay hydrated, check on their neighbors and avoid strenuous activities.
Still, about 3,000 athletes participated in an Ironman Triathlon in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on Sunday. The race start was moved up to 5 a.m. The event includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run.
Race organizers said they had 62,000 pounds of ice at hydration stations, misting stations and chilled towels to hand out to athletes, KHQ-TV reported.
The Coeur d'Alene Fire Department brought in extra firefighters and paramedics because they usually see extra dehydration calls during the event. Rather than a crew of 17 firefighters, they had a crew of 60 on Sunday, KREM-TV reported.
Ironman medical tent coordinator Stan Foster said 525 people were in the medical tent during the 2015 Ironman, when temperatures also rose into the 100s. Five people went to the hospital, he told KREM-TV.
"The biggest thing that we tell people is, No. 1, don't try to set a record on your race. Go slow. Enjoy your day. It's going to be hot," he said. "And then don't just drink water."
The National Weather Service in Coeur d'Alene said this week's weather "will likely be one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves in the recorded history of the Inland Northwest."
The scorching weather was caused by an extended "heat dome" parked over the Pacific Northwest. Kristie Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington who studies global warming and its effects on public health, says the dayslong heat wave was a taste of the future as climate change reshapes global weather patterns.
Don't get the idea that every Democrat is a hero on Climate. Corrupt conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- the New Dems and Blue Dogs-- aren't much better than Republicans. I spoke with Jason Call, the progressive Democratic activist running for the currently sweltering northwest Washington state district occupied by former lobbyist and New Dem Rick Larsen. "It’s not just Republicans who are the problem on climate change," agreed Call. "We had record breaking heat across the state, and in Oregon-- the Pacific Northwest is mostly represented by corporate Democrats. At the north end of my district, WA-02, in Bellingham, the 99 degrees was a 3 degree record breaker, and down in the State Capitol Olympia, former New Dem chair Derek Kilmer’s district, 109 degrees yesterday broke the prior day’s record of 105. Rick Larsen and Derek Kilmer are both climate delayers who take bank from the fossil fuel industry and the polluting military industrial complex. Rick Larsen is so bad on climate, however, that in 2018 he was labeled a pro-extinction Democrat by an analysis of his voting record and fossil fuel industry funding. He was the only Washington State House Democrat to be so labeled, but joined 60 others in that assessment. If we’re going to effectively tackle climate change we’ve got to unseat the Dems who take money from the fossil fuel industry. Larsen has taken money from Exxon, BP, Marathon Oil, Transcanada, to name but a few. And he does their work, while cynically pretending to his constituents that he’s taking climate seriously. You can read more about it on my campaign website."
Yesterday, Sharon Zhang, writing for Truthout, reported that "climate advocates have been warning that Biden’s infrastructure bill could be the president’s last best hope to enact major climate-related proposals to hit his goal of 50 percent emissions reduction by 2030. But in May, Biden offered to cut his infrastructure bill from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion, and, this past week, agreed to further reduce it to a paltry $579 billion, with many of its most ambitious climate measures cut out. The elimination of climate proposals largely seems to be the product of a group of bipartisan senators who negotiated the most recent deal with Biden. A previous Republican-only proposal eliminated climate spending almost entirely; the centrists’ plan includes some money for energy grid updates, but still eliminates large swaths of climate spending for things like renewable energy tax credits. Progressives like Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ed Markey (D-MA) have decried these cuts, with Markey calling the move 'climate denial masquerading as bipartisanship.' Climate advocates like the Sunrise Movement, meanwhile, are fed up with politicians promising action, only to have those promises yanked out from under them when congressional Republicans-- and other fossil-fuel-funded politicians-- get involved. Meanwhile, the GOP continues to be almost completely uninterested in mitigating the climate crisis."
Without drastic and decisive action, researchers with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned recently in a draft report that the climate crisis will only worsen flooding, heat waves, diseases and other climate events. They also warn that the world may be approaching-- or have already hit-- tipping points for the climate, after which the crisis will worsen even faster.
Preventing the worst of the climate crisis will require near-immediate social upheaval, which activists have been advocating for and some progressives have been fighting for in Congress. The political conversation around the climate has evolved rapidly over the past few years, but progress may not be coming soon enough.
Ted Lieu, who once told me he was running for Congress to help deal with Climate, is now a co-chair of the House Dems messaging team. This morning he told me that "the ground is getting so hot on the West Coast that pretty soon Republicans won't be able to bury their heads in it. We are living through a climate emergency in real time. The increase in frequency and severity of super storms, fires, droughts, and heat waves isn't just a string of bad luck. Scientists have been warning us for years that we need to do something about greenhouse gas emissions. Policy makers can't continue to ignore reality. Either the history books will say that we came together to address climate change or there won't be any history books."
UPDATE From Oregon:
This even Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley told me that "There's no denying that climate chaos is causing more and more extreme weather events. The wildfire season keeps getting longer, hotter and more destructive. Droughts are destroying farms and salmon runs. And now we're facing an unprecedented heat wave across the Pacific Northwest. If we care at all about the health and prosperity of our kids and future generations, we have to act boldly now to stop the carbon pollution that’s wrecking our planet." Apparently he's not looking for corporate PAC money from the fosses fuel industry like so many of his colleagues are-- from both parties.