S.C. mayors thinking globally, acting locally


The great thing about democracy is, that in time the people get it where they want it to go, you know, and I think this movement is… we’re gonna see that happen…. The movement is HERE.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley,
on rising public demand
to address global warming

By Brad Warthen
Editorial Page Editor
Everyone from South Carolina’s governor to the U.S. House speaker to the president talks about how important it is to do something about global warming. But will they?
    The Economist, the British newsweekly, took note of how both Nancy Pelosi and George W. Bush have been resonating to public concern over the issue:

    “But this common interest in environmental issues will not necessarily translate into resolute action.” Why? “Neither the pressure groups nor the Democrats who control Congress have much interest in defusing an issue that might stir up voters and their money before the next election. Instead, they are likely to push for small, symbolic measures that underline their concern for the environment without jeopardising their future plans.”

    In other words, in Washington, the politics come before the Earth. Nothing personal about the Earth, of course. This pattern plays out on one critical issue after another. Take health care.
    Patients know we’re getting to where we can’t afford our health care, with or without insurance. Business executives certainly know it. And increasingly, physicians are thinking they’d like to get to where they can hire a couple of nurses instead of 10 accountants to run their offices.
    But let one presidential candidate say “single-payer,” and within minutes an opponent or an interest group will cry “socialized medicine.” Before the 24-hour news cycle is over, the candidate is spending all his time fielding questions about whether he once said that Marx’s Das Kapital was “a real page-turner.”
    Our republic is dysfunctional — and the higher you go, the more fouled up it is. We want to solve our problems in this country, but our politics keep getting in the way.
    It’s not just Washington. Consider our own State House, which increasingly yearns to emulate the D.C. model. Gov. Mark Sanford authored a Feb. 23 op-ed piece — which, appropriately enough, appeared in The Washington Post — advocating quick action on global warming. Not to save the Earth, mind you, but to keep the “far left” from using government to do anything about it.

    “(I)t’s vital,” he wrote, “that conservatives change the debate before government regulation expands yet again and personal freedom is pushed closer toward extinction.”

    Government, he warned, “will gladly spread its regulatory reach,” even unto lightbulbs! And automobiles!
    Meanwhile, the rest of us worry about Columbia becoming the next Myrtle Beach. It’s not so much that I would mind surfing in the Vista, but all those souvenir shops are just so tacky.
    So who’s listening to us? The mayors — the leaders closest to the people, the ones who know what we want and are determined to provide it. The kind of elected officials who get up in the morning thinking, I’d better get that pothole filled, not What can I do today to stir up my base?
    When we got fed up with choking to death in restaurants, who responded? Mayors and city councils, all across South Carolina. Meanwhile, you can’t get the Legislature to lift a finger on that point — even to remove its gratuitous, inexcusable statute forbidding local communities to make such decisions.
    So what can mayors do about global warming? Well, when Mayor Riley and Spartanburg Mayor Bill Barnet came to see us about this last week, they spoke of things larger than potholes:
    “The U.S. Conference of Mayors has now close to 500 mayors who have signed a commitment to meet or beat the Kyoto accord, which is a 7 percent reduction in 1990 CO2 emission levels by the year 2012 — in our communities,” said Mayor Riley. Charleston is already reaching for that goal —  using less wasteful vehicles and more efficient streetlights, designing new buildings to conserve more energy.
    For Mayor Barnet, it’s about economic development, about building the kinds of communities that people want to live in. It’s about “the values that will attract human beings to come and live in our environment.”
    But the mayors also hope to set an example for the state and federal levels. They are careful not to criticize the holders of larger offices. They praise the governor for appointing an advisory committee on “Climate, Energy and Commerce” to study the issues and make recommendations (preferably ones “consistent with the administration’s conservative philosophy and commitment to market principles,” as he specified in his executive order setting up the panel).
    And indeed, there are reasons to hope. It’s not just the Bushes and Pelosis talking climate in Washington; it’s also the less partisan likes of Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman (see last week’s column).
    On the state level, Sen. Jim Ritchie, R-Spartanburg, is heading up an impressive bipartisan group pushing energy independence. They want to require the state to make its future schools and other buildings more efficient, and to shop for hybrid and biodiesel when it buys vehicles.
    So maybe the movement is on, finally. Maybe the time has come when the people get democracy to go where they want it to. If so, it needs to hurry. Like the man says, that window’s closing fast.


36 thoughts on “S.C. mayors thinking globally, acting locally

  1. Randy E

    Aside from acting as a collective “voice crying out from the desert”, what can the mayors do?

  2. Brad Warthen

    Reduce the emissions from their own cities, starting with their official vehicles, more heat-efficient city hall, better building codes for the private sector, etc.

  3. Dave

    Randy, you raise the pre-eminent issue regarding energy conservation. Who can really do anything? The answer is the free market. Conservation has been underway for decades now. If American factories and buildings, and vehicles, had not been transformed since about the early 70’s we would all be using about 50% more energy than we are now. Most companies are not conducting energy saving programs to comply with Gore’s moral call, but to save money. And they have been doing it all along. One thing we can all agree on is that it is good to save and conserve energy. The difference in thinking is that some want to use this issue to grow and empower more big government control over our lives. When the free market can provide the solutions based on supply and demand and the price of energy.

  4. Randy E

    The problem with the free market as a panacea for everything assumption is that capitalism is, by definition, profit driven. This is why we find massive fraud and corruption in the system. People are willing to subvert morality and break the law without batting an eye.
    In the free market approach, the goal is NOT conservation and reduced pollution. The goal is to MAKE MONEY. For example, if there’s a loop hole, it will be exploited in the name of the bottom line.

  5. Steve Gordy

    The free market efficiently allocates known or calculable costs. On energy and environmental issues, there is a wide range of costs which are unknown or not precisely calculable. Under these circumstances, optimum cost allocation is unknown and perhaps unknowable, which limits the efficiencies arising from a free market.

  6. Reed Swearingen

    There is a balance between Dave & Randy’s philosophies. And it is this: using government incentives, rather than hard-and-fast regulations, to nudge citizens toward energy conservation. As a city, we could begin with Columbia’s taxi fleets. We all can agree that the current inventory of large V8 sedans is far from an ideal solution. The line of taxis at the airport, idling for hours, or gunning through our city is a symbol of, and an actual waste.
    We should offer our city’s taxi companies financial incentives to upgrade their fleets to energy efficient vehicles, with a stated goal of say, an 80% inventory of hybrids. There is no reason we cannot transform Columbia into a progressive, energy-efficient city. We should market nationally the fact that we’ve made policy changes, because there is an additional benefit. We’ve been talking for years about attracting the “young, knowledge-based professional” to our area. Simple changes as described above and marketed correctly, will go a long way toward attracting this crowd. Walking the talk will speak volumes about our city.

  7. Lee

    They are followers, not leaders, trying to surf the latest feel-good political fad.
    Even if every one of their baseless proposals were enacted, the effect on the planet will be so close to nothing as to be unmeasurable – the perfect political action.

  8. Lee

    Politics is profit-driven. It is way to make money by taking other people’s wealth, instead of creating wealth. Those IRS and EPA workers don’t come to work out of altuism. They are there for the short hours, soft job, lack of accountability and fat retirement paid for by hard-working creative people in the private sector.
    And that greed extends from the lowest janitor to the agency heads, Congressmen and Senators.

  9. Randy E

    Reed, you offer a tremendous suggestion. I think this is exactly how government can get involved in making our community better. Use financial resources to support changes for the environmental good.

  10. Reed Swearingen

    Randy: Thank you for your compliment.
    Lee: I agree that many in the political establishment are on the take. But don’t throw all the politicians and public servants into one bucket! There are many who accept a lower economic standard of living than they otherwise could obtain out of a love of public service and a satisfaction in believing they are making our society a better place. In the public sector as well as in the private sector, we must accept that there will be a few bad apples, but where would our society be without our firemen, policemen, and teachers?

  11. LexWolf

    Looks to me as if those mayors are lolligagging around instead of doing their real jobs. Grandstanding for the true believers in ye olde environmental religion.

  12. Randy E

    Lex and his reliable sources:
    As a publisher-broadcaster, Channel 4 does not produce its own programmes but commissions them from more than 300 independent production companies… – Channel4.com
    So any Jane, Dick, and Harry can have his or her program shown on Channel 4, like say a “science” program on global warming.

  13. Randy E

    His Oscar winning movie is everywhere while you searched long and hard to find some obscure basement flick to bolster your claims about global warming.

  14. LexWolf

    Is it really everywhere? I don’t see any listings for it – do you?
    Even if it were everywhere that doesn’t mean it’s correct or even worthwhile. Anna Nicole Smith was everywhere, too.
    I’m not making any claims about global warning. You and the other followers of the Church Of Environmentalism are. Like any church, though, there is very little evidence to support your beliefs, and plenty of evidence and inconsistencies to contradict it. That’s OK, you can believe whatever you want, just don’t go into jihad mode against the non-believers.

  15. Randy E

    Lol, I’m not the one posting links to obscure sites to make some point.
    I.T. wasn’t a blockbuster but millions watched it ($23 million in domestic sales). That’s a little more than that cheese you posted as evidence.
    Even the Decider finally admitted something needs to be done, but don’t worry, it will be your daughter and my son or our grandchildren who will face the consequences.

  16. Lee

    Did you see the Gore film?
    90% of it is about Al Gore, with a few pictures and mentions of weather incidents thrown in.
    It shows how the Oscars are so much about poltical agendas, not art.

  17. LexWolf

    global warming is all about politics, with very little science thrown in. When the Berlin Wall came down, all the leftists had nowhere to go so they turned into Watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside.

  18. LexWolf

    Here’s another prominent scientist who has sworn off that good ole Global Warming religion:
    Allegre’s second thoughts
    The Deniers — The National Post’s series on scientists who buck the conventional wisdom on climate science
    Financial Post
    Friday, March 02, 2007
    Claude Allegre, one of France’s leading socialists and among her most celebrated scientists, was among the first to sound the alarm about the dangers of global warming.
    “By burning fossil fuels, man increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which, for example, has raised the global mean temperature by half a degree in the last century,” Dr. Allegre, a renowned geochemist, wrote 20 years ago in Cles pour la geologie..” Fifteen years ago, Dr. Allegre was among the 1500 prominent scientists who signed “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” a highly publicized letter stressing that global warming’s “potential risks are very great” and demanding a new caring ethic that recognizes the globe’s fragility in order to stave off “spirals of environmental decline, poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic and environmental collapse.”
    In the 1980s and early 1990s, when concern about global warming was in its infancy, little was known about the mechanics of how it could occur, or the consequences that could befall us. Since then, governments throughout the western world and bodies such as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have commissioned billions of dollars worth of research by thousands of scientists. With a wealth of data now in, Dr. Allegre has recanted his views. To his surprise, the many climate models and studies failed dismally in establishing a man-made cause of catastrophic global warming. Meanwhile, increasing evidence indicates that most of the warming comes of natural phenomena. Dr. Allegre now sees global warming as over-hyped and an environmental concern of second rank.
    His break with what he now sees as environmental cant on climate change came in September, in an article entitled “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” in l’ Express, the French weekly. His article cited evidence that Antarctica is gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro’s retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, come from natural causes. “The cause of this climate change is unknown,” he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the “science is settled.”
    Dr. Allegre’s skepticism is noteworthy in several respects. For one, he is an exalted member of France’s political establishment, a friend of former Socialist president Lionel Jospin, and, from 1997 to 2000, his minister of education, research and technology, charged with improving the quality of government research through closer co-operation with France’s educational institutions. For another, Dr. Allegre has the highest environmental credentials. The author of early environmental books, he fought successful battles to protect the ozone layer from CFCs and public health from lead pollution. His break with scientific dogma over global warming came at a personal cost: Colleagues in both the governmental and environmental spheres were aghast that he could publicly question the science behind climate change.

  19. Lee

    Gore’s phony experts
    A Citizens for a Sound Economy investigation into the credentials of “2,600 scientists” cited by Gore as being supportive of global warming shows that 90 percent of them are unqualified to comment on the issue. For example, just one climatologist appears on the list, which was developed by the advocacy group Ozone Action.

  20. Dave

    The earth’s climate is always changing and the proof of that is the 7 Ice Ages that have been documented. So this means that we had 7 Global Warming periods in conjunction with the Ice Ages. I wonder if the cavemen had an Algore preaching about the “heat” caused by too many campfires, while trying to make a quick buck hustling his fellow cavedwellers. Only in Hollyweird can these hypocrites fly in private jets, drive up in stretch limos, and have 20 room mansions with heated pools while preaching to the taxpayers that we should ride mass transit, car pool, and turn off our air conditioning.

  21. Randy E

    multiple lines of evidence supporting the conclusion that current warming is occurring in response to human activities – National Academy of Sciences June 22, 2006

  22. LexWolf

    as an eminent, world-famous statistician with 33 semester hours of college work, this should be of special interest to you!
    Statistics needed
    The Deniers — Part I
    Lawrence Solomon
    National Post
    Friday, February 02, 2007
    Tuesday, November 28, 2006
    In the global warming debate, there are essentially two broad camps. One believes that the science is settled, that global warming is serious and man-made, and that urgent action must be taken to mitigate or prevent a future calamity. The other believes that the science is far from settled, that precious little is known about global warming or its likely effects, and that prudence dictates more research and caution before intervening massively in the economy.
    The “science is settled” camp, much the larger of the two, includes many eminent scientists with impressive credentials. But just who are the global warming skeptics who question the studies from the great majority of climate scientists and what are their motives?
    Many in the “science is settled” camp claim that the skeptics are untrustworthy — that they are either cranks or otherwise at the periphery of their profession, or that they are in the pockets of Exxon or other corporate interests. The skeptics are increasingly being called Deniers, a term used by analogy to the Holocaust, to convey the catastrophe that could befall mankind if action is not taken. Increasingly, too, the press is taking up the Denier theme, convincing the public that the global-warming debate is over.
    In this, the first of a series, I examine The Deniers, starting with Edward Wegman. Dr. Wegman is a professor at the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University, chair of the National Academy of Sciences‘ Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, and board member of the American Statistical Association. Few statisticians in the world have CVs to rival his (excerpts appear nearby).
    Wegman became involved in the global-warming debate after the energy and commerce committee of the U.S. House of Representatives asked him to assess one of the hottest debates in the global-warming controversy: the statistical validity of work by Michael Mann. You may not have heard of Mann or read Mann’s study but you have often heard its famous conclusion: that the temperature increases that we have been experiencing are “likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years” and that the “1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year” of the millennium. You may have also heard of Mann’s hockey-stick shaped graph, which showed relatively stable temperatures over most of the last millennium (the hockey stick’s long handle), followed by a sharp increase (the hockey stick’s blade) this century.
    Mann’s findings were arguably the single most influential study in swaying the public debate, and in 2001 they became the official view of the International Panel for Climate Change, the UN body that is organizing the worldwide effort to combat global warming. But Mann’s work also had its critics, particularly two Canadians, Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, who published peer-reviewed critiques of their own.
    Wegman accepted the energy and commerce committee’s assignment, and agreed to assess the Mann controversy pro bono. He conducted his third-party review by assembling an expert panel of statisticians, who also agreed to work pro bono. Wegman also consulted outside statisticians, including the Board of the American Statistical Association. At its conclusion, the Wegman review entirely vindicated the Canadian critics and repudiated Mann’s work.
    “Our committee believes that the assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade in a millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year in a millennium cannot be supported,” Wegman stated, adding that “The paucity of data in the more remote past makes the hottest-in-a-millennium claims essentially unverifiable.” When Wegman corrected Mann’s statistical mistakes, the hockey stick disappeared.
    Wegman found that Mann made a basic error that “may be easily overlooked by someone not trained in statistical methodology. We note that there is no evidence that Dr. Mann or any of the other authors in paleoclimate studies have had significant interactions with mainstream statisticians.” Instead, this small group of climate scientists were working on their own, largely in isolation, and without the academic scrutiny needed to ferret out false assumptions.
    Worse, the problem also applied more generally, to the broader climate-change and meteorological community, which also relied on statistical techniques in their studies. “[I]f statistical methods are being used, then statisticians ought to be funded partners engaged in the research to insure as best we possibly can that the best quality science is being done,” Wegman recommended, noting that “there are a host of fundamental statistical questions that beg answers in understanding climate dynamics.”
    In other words, Wegman believes that much of the climate science that has been done should be taken with a grain of salt — although the studies may have been peer reviewed, the reviewers were often unqualified in statistics. Past studies, he believes, should be reassessed by competent statisticians and in future, the climate science world should do better at incorporating statistical know-how.

  23. Randy E

    College work? Try 36 hours and a masters, Cuzzo.
    I’ll have to read the article later.

  24. John Hartz

    What follows the lead paragraph from today’s LA Times. It’s just another example of how the business community in this country is slowly but surely taking action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
    “In what could be the largest environmentally friendly corporate project in history, Bank of America Corp. will unveil a $20-billion initiative today to help fertilize green business practices.
    “The aim of the plan is shrink energy use and deploy new technologies to reduce emission of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
    “Over the next decade, Bank of America will earmark funds to lend to companies interested in creating green services or constructing energy-frugal office buildings. The nation’s largest retail bank also intends to offer consumer programs that direct money to environmental organizations, and it will offer lower mortgage rates on energy-efficient homes.
    “This is intended to be good business as well as the right thing to do,” said Anne Finucane, chief marketing officer for Charlotte, N.C.-based bank.”

  25. Lee

    Global Warming is Due to Solar Changes
    The controlling driver of global temperature fluctuations, according to Dr. Benny Peiser of England’s John Moore’s University, is solar ray activity. “Six eminent researchers from the Russian Academy of Science and the Israel Space Agency have just published a startling paper in one of the world’s leading space science journals. The team of solar physicists claims to have come up with compelling evidence that changes in cosmic ray intensity and variations in solar activity have been driving much of the Earth’s climate,” Peiser was quoted as saying in the May 17 National Post.
    Moreover, reports Peiser, Jan Veizer, one of Canada’s top earth scientists, published a comprehensive review of recent findings and concluded, “empirical observations on all time scales point to celestial phenomena as the principal driver of climate, with greenhouse gases acting only as potential amplifiers.”
    Added Peiser, “In fact, the explicit and implicit rejection of the ‘consensus’ is not restricted to individual scientists. It also includes distinguished scientific organizations such as the Russian Academy of Science and the U.S. Association of State Climatologists, both of which are highly skeptical of the whole idea.”

  26. LexWolf

    John Hartz,
    great PR flackery from BofA but do you have any doubt whatsoever that they would lend those funds anyway, regardless of the eco-friendly nature (or lack thereof) of these projects? If you do, I have several bridges and a few square miles of Florida swampland to sell you.

  27. Lee

    Bank of America made a big splash a few years ago about a $200,000,000 loan pool for minority businesses. Then you never heard any more about it. The rates were variable, to cover the high risk of failure, and it was just to provide innoculation and cover for their closing newly acquired branches in minority neighborhoods, which did not meet their production goals.
    It’s just the cost of doing business.
    It’s like their credit cards to illegal aliens and others with no SSN or positive ID. There will be big annual fees, high interest rates, huge late fees…because the card holders will be unable to complain to any authorities.

  28. Lee

    Global warming, like the effect of the movie Deliverance on camping supplies, exists only in your imagination.

  29. John Hartz

    On January 22, 2007, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) released a landmark series of principles and recommendations calling for the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
    The USCAP is an unprecedented alliance of leading non-governmental organizations and major corporations. This very diverse group of business and environmental leaders have come together to call for mandatory action, with a comprehensive approach involving near-, mid-, and long-term targets, and a range of effective policies.
    Members of USCAP:
    BP America, Inc.
    Caterpillar, Inc.
    Duke Energy
    Environmental Defense
    Florida Power & Light
    General Electric
    Lehman Brothers
    Natural Resources Defense Council
    Pew Center on Global Climate Change
    PG&E Corporation
    PNM Resources
    World Resources Institute

  30. www.mathematics.mil

    Zyskandar A Jaimot Apr 25th, 2007 – 11:40:07
    BORIS YELTSIN for all his drinking – ‘outdueled’ MIKHAIL GORBACHEV(who now ‘thinks’ he is an ‘environmentalist’? not just an old-style communist ‘aparatchick’ and puveyor of disinformation!) and quashed the attempt by SOVIET ‘hardliners’ to return to old ‘SOVIET STYLE SLAVERY’!!! Yes his ‘vision’ may be trod under by VLAD’once-KGB-always-KGB’PUTIN – AND YELTSIN was one of the TRUE GIANTS in the history of the world and 20th century politics!!! A former MOSCOW CITY COMMUNIST PARTY BOSS who helped shape a new world and a new RUSSIA!!! Her’s a vodka shooter to you BORIS – YOUR LIKE WILL NEVER BE SEEN AGAIN!!!
    Former Russian Academy of Sciences Fellow Apr 25th, 2007 – 13:02:26
    Yeltsin was a Russian polar circle bear who liked the taiga and Kamchatka. Your literary work is illustrated with a young elephant.’And yet, can the 5,830 voting members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences an organization that like broader Hollywood, includes many people who are Jewish ignore a film that may well be considered by critics to be among the best of the year?'[[RE:Orlando Sentinel and m&c Zyskandar A Jaimot Apr 25th, 2007 – 11:40:07]www.mathematics.mil].

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