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WP Bemoans: BP Crisis Is Being Wasted!

From the Washington Post:

Historic oil spill fails to produce gains for U.S. environmentalists

By David A. Fahrenthold and Juliet Eilperin
Monday, July 12, 2010; A01

For environmentalists, the BP oil spill may be disproving the maxim that great tragedies produce great change.

Traditionally, American environmentalism wins its biggest victories after some important piece of American environment is poisoned, exterminated or set on fire.

An oil spill and a burning river in 1969 led to new anti-pollution laws in the 1970s. The Exxon Valdez disaster helped create an Earth Day revival in 1990 and sparked a landmark clean-air law.

But this year, the worst oil spill in U.S. history — and, before that, the worst coal-mining disaster in 40 years — haven’t put the same kind of drive into the debate over climate change and fossil-fuel energy.

The Senate is still gridlocked [on ‘Cap and Trade’]. Opinion polls haven’t budged much. Gasoline demand is going up, not down.

Environmentalists say they’re trying to turn public outrage over oil-smeared pelicans into action against more abstract things, such as oil dependence and climate change. But historians say they’re facing a political moment deadened by a bad economy, suspicious politics and lingering doubts after a scandal over climate scientists’ e-mails.

The difference between now and the awakenings that followed past disasters is as stark as "on versus off," said Anthony Leiserowitz, a researcher at Yale University who tracks public opinion on climate change.

"People’s outrage is focused on BP," Leiserowitz said. The spill "hasn’t been automatically connected to some sense that there’s something more fundamental wrong with our relationship with the natural world," he said.

The story of 2010 is not that nothing happened after the BP spill, or after the coal-mine explosion that killed 29 in West Virginia on April 5. It’s that much of the reaction has focused on preventing accidents — on tighter scrutiny of rigs and mines — rather than broader changes in the use of oil and coal.

What is wrong with people? Why hasn’t haven’t these two wonderfully timed accidents made us give up on mining coal and drilling for oil? Are we crazy?

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) recently proposed a plan to cut oil use by shifting to electric vehicles, building better mass-transit systems and switching to biofuels. But the Senate’s most important environmental debate, the one over climate legislation, remains stalled.

How disgraceful. And, after all, we know that electric vehicles don’t need coal or oil to run. Their electricity comes from pixie dust.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would create a "cap and trade" system for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. That bill probably won’t fly in the Senate — too much concern over rising energy costs — and a compromise is still being worked out

Meanwhile, for the environmental groups trying to break this logjam, it’s hard to imagine a more useful disaster.

The BP oil spill has made something that is usually intangible — the cost of fossil-fuel dependence — into something tangibly awful. Environmental activists have held "Hands Across the Sand" events at gulf beaches to protest offshore drilling, and in the District they spelled out "Freedom From Oil" on the Mall with American flags. They have organized calls to Congress and have held viewing parties to watch films about oil dependence.

And yet people are still so selfish they want to be able to drive cars, cool their houses and cook their food. Even after their moral superiors have gone to all the trouble to spell out "Freedom From Oil" on the Mall with American flags.

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh out loud.

"This is probably our last best chance to pass a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill," said Dan Lashof, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate center. "This is the moment to choose."

Yes. All legislation that will affect our economy for decades should be passed at the height of a ginned-up hysteria. That is the essence of responsible governance.

It’s hard to tell how many people are listening.

In public-opinion polls taken after the spill by Leiserowitz and other academics, 53 percent of people said they were worried about climate change. That was only slightly different from January, and still down from 63 percent in 2008.

Maybe people just aren’t quite as dumb as the Washington Post and the rest of the jackbooted environmentalists think they are. After all, how does an oil spill prove ‘man made global warming’? (Hint: it doesn’t.)

Leiserowitz said there may be distrust of climate science among a small group after the "Climate-gate" scandal last year, in which stolen [sic] e-mails seemed to show climate scientists talking about problems in their data [sic]. Those scientists have been repeatedly cleared of academic misconduct, including in a report released Wednesday.

That media outlets like the Washington Post constantly repeat such lies might be another reason the public has stopped listening.

In addition, U.S. government estimates show that public demand for gasoline and electric power is looking stronger now than last year at this time. If these disasters have made individuals start conserving their energy use, "it’s not something that we’ve been able to observe," said Tancred Lidderdale [sic] of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

All of this makes a sharp contrast to 1969, when a far smaller oil spill — 100,000 barrels (4.2 million gallons) — hit beaches near Santa Barbara, Calif.

That spill triggered new restrictions on offshore drilling and, along with other disasters such as the fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, it helped spark the first Earth Day in 1970. In the years afterward, the government imposed historic new restrictions to protect clean water, clean air and endangered species

For the record, the fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River was only the latest in a string of fires there going back to at least 1858. And it lasted about 30 minutes, which was so brief that it was never photographed.

The photo Time Magazine used (see above) in its passing mention of the Cuyahoga River fire, the photo that everyone ‘remembers,’ was from an earlier, far more serious incident in 1952.

At 11 weeks after the spill, some historians say it’s too early to say it won’t alter national environmental politics. Adam Rome, a historian of the U.S. environmental movement at Pennsylvania State University, said that it could take a year for the public to understand what the spill has done to the gulf — and for politicians to understand what the spill has done to the public…

So don’t give up hope.

Rome wasn’t burned in a day.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “WP Bemoans: BP Crisis Is Being Wasted!”

  1. wardmama4 says:

    -‘ The difference between now and the awakenings that followed past disasters is as stark as “on versus off,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, a researcher at Yale University who tracks public opinion on climate change. ‘-

    The difference you moron is that there is a new media now where even the average Joe or Jane in his/her jammies can actually go to investigate and research all the information that the media Democrat Propaganda Machine won’t.

    And the arrogance of a bunch of lying, cheating, duplicitous and hypocritical thieves who care more about a tree or a snail darter than their fellow human (most especially unborn humans) – and want the most free and prosperous Nation (which is holding up most of the World) to fail and fall into the 3rd Century like a certain ‘religion of peace’ – talk about an environmental crisis – the ensuing World War III will make all the previous wars combined look like a squirt gun fight.

    Not to mention the setting off (again) of major epidemics and famine – but hey there’s an oak tree in NY in jeopardy – We cant’ have that at all.

    • Enthalpy says:

      Insightful comment. It would never dawn on them that environmentalism is a major reason we’re drilling is such a hostile place to begin with. The lies of this bunch you describe, suggesting that there is an alternative energy just waiting, makes these disasters not only possible, but inevitable.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Problem is wm4, that the “sky-is-falling” crowd no longer hangs out at the local street corner…they’ve gone viral too. So any freakshow nutjob can put up their “website” and “explain” how the earth is a bad, bad place and it’s all the fault of people. So destroy your SUV, tear down your house, and use it for fuel next to your post-modern, cave or animal skin dwelling.

      So, the needed element in the new media is the ability to think, reason and evaluate in order to make a balanced decision about how things should go. I still like to think that most humans can make a good decision, given the right information. But then, I go to walmart and my outlook changes.

  2. Laree says:

    Bart Stupak has Ideas of what to do with the BP escrow money and guess what it has nothing to do with helping the people who are devastated on the Gulf Coast. Surprise/sarc.

    Need A Remedy for Progressive Malaise, Calling Dr Love.

    Democrat Jason Allen, is being funded by SEIU and ACORN to replace Bart
    Stupak in Michigan’s 1st District….you know Bart Stupak (Bart Stupak:
    Hey let’s use BP Escrow fund to pay for health care.) Dr Dan Benishek, needs
    donations too – his opponent is squirreling away Union donations.

    Michigan’s 1st District, I’ve Got A Remedy For What’s Been Ailing You.
    Get Your Prescription Filled Here.


    who said, he wouldn’t vote for the health insurance reform bill, if it
    didn’t contain strong NO federal funds language for abortions…yeah we all got

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