The Parrot and the Igloo Notes
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The Business Cards and the Straight Noodle

369   The bill: H.R. 6, The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

 

369   Toyota Prius: Richard Simon, Johanna Neuman “Bush Signs Bill To Increase Fuel Efficiency,” Los Angeles Times, December 19, 1997.

369   “Today we make a major step”: George W. Bush, “President Bush Signs H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007,” U.S. Department of Energy, December 19, 2007. George W. Bush White House Archives.

https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2007/12/20071219-6.html

Accessed 7-19-22.

 

370   The fireworks mood: Matthew Knight, “A Light Bulb Moment,” CNN, December 13, 2007.

 

Even the most cheerless environmental activist would find it hard not to register the faintest trace of a smile at seeing Christmas lights shimmering in the murk of a December evening.

Any lingering sense of “green guilt” about the environmental cost of a billion festive bulbs being switched on should quickly dissipate in the bursts of electric color festooning our streets and houses.

But if that isn’t enough to placate an ardent green activist there is, thankfully, environmentally-friendly light at the end of the tunnel.

Steps to make our Christmas’ greener are already being made.

 

370   “the cataclysmic challenge of our time”: Congressional Documents and Publications, “Groundbreaking Provision To Increase Light Bulb Efficiency Passes House,” U.S. House Of Representatives Documents, December 6, 2007.

This was Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA).

 

“Since most Americans still use essentially the same incandescent light bulbs invented by Thomas Edison more than 120 years ago, this is vital legislation. The provision will bring energy efficient alternatives to the forefront and fundamentally change the way we light our homes and businesses. With the help of Rep. Upton and Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Barbara Boxer, America is taking a major step to solve the cataclysmic challenge of our times: global warming.”

 

370   “the first step”: National Resources Defense Council, Press Statement, “Senate Passes Energy Bill and Sends Final Vote Back to House. Vote Maintains House’s Fuel Mileage and Energy Efficiency Standards,” December 13, 2007.

 

370   “significantly reduce global warming pollution”: This is Karen Wayland, the NRDC’s legislative director, in Congressional Documents and Publications, “Groundbreaking Provision To Increase Light Bulb Efficiency Passes House,” U.S. House Of Representatives Documents, December 6, 2007.

 

370   “I think it’s huge”: Daniel Whitten, “Light Bulbs, Gas Changing as U.S. Energy Bill Passes,” Bloomberg News, December 18, 2007.

 

370   In 2005, Leonardo DiCaprio took: King World, Harpo Productions, The Oprah Winfrey Show, S22E29, “Global Warming 101: Interview with Leonardo DiCaprio,” October 27, 2005.

 

370   Time offered tips: Unmesh Kher, Michael D. Lemonick, Margot Roosevelt, Daren Fonda, “How to Seize the Initiative,” Time, April 3, 2006.

 

371   “For a band on the road”: Amrit Dhillon, Toby Harnden, “How Coldplay’s Green Hopes Died In the Arid Soil of India,” The Sunday Telegraph (London), April 30, 2006.

Tom Robbins, “The Great Green Rip-Off?”, The Observer (London), December 10, 2006.

 

371   “If Julia Roberts can do it”: Evgenia Peretz, Jim Windolf, “The Green Team,” Vanity Fair, May 2006.

 

371   “dog-ear your favorite exhibits”: Kyeann Sayer, “Vanity Fair Green Issue II: Bigger, Better, Longer Lasting,” Treehugger.com, April 11, 2007.

 

Really, though, we don’t get it for the articles. It’s all about the activist porn . . . In the mean time, pick up a copy (Or look at it at the library! We know it’s 2 lbs of paper!) . . .

 

https://web.archive.org/web/20200616050141/https://www.treehugger.com/culture/vanity-fair-green-issue-ii-bigger-better-longer-lasting.html

Accessed 7-20-22.

 

371   “We have to jump in the game”: This was onstage at the Corporate Climate Response Conference, Reuters Headquarters, New York City—dozens of corporations, including Wal-Mart, Citibank, and Edison’s former digs General Electric.

Per ABC News, “The conference provides a forum for companies to discuss their efforts to address global warming, a topic getting increased attention in boardrooms.” It was the same week the two senators wrote their politely confrontational letter to Exxon.

Clayton Sandell, “Senators to Exxon: Stop the Denial,” ABC News, October 27, 2006.

The NFL executive was the league’s environmental program coordinator, Jack Groh. The numbers involved are like a surprise Jeopardy! answer that sticks with you all day; bewilderingly large. “They will be planting enough trees to mitigate the million pounds of carbon dioxide generated by the annual event.”

Elizabeth McGowan, “NFL Continues Work On Green Super Bowl; League to Buy Renewable Energy Credits In Miami, New York,” Waste News, November 6, 2006.

 

371      2006’s Word of the Year: Oxford University Press, “Carbon Neutral: Oxford Word of the Year,” November 13, 2006.

https://blog.oup.com/2006/11/carbon_neutral_/

Accessed 7-20-22.

 

The rise of carbon neutral reflects the growing importance of the green movement in the United States. In a CBS News/New York Times Poll in May 2006, 66% of respondents agreed that global warming is a problem that’s causing a serious impact now. 2006 also saw the launch of a new (and naturally, carbon neutral) magazine about eco-living, Plenty; the actor Leonardo DiCaprio is planning an environmentally-themed reality TV series about an eco-village; and colleges from Maine to Wisconsin are pledging to be carbon neutral within five years. It’s more than a trend, it’s a movement.

Erin McKean, editor in chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary 2e, said “The increasing use of the word carbon neutral reflects not just the greening of our culture, but the greening of our language. When you see first graders trying to make their classrooms carbon neutral, you know the word has become mainstream.”

 

371      new fads crowding the horizon: Oxford University Press, “Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend,” November 16, 2009.

Time marches on.

 

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program.


https://web.archive.org/web/20120201080118/http://blog.oup.com/2009/11/unfriend/

Accessed 7-20-22.

 

Weirdly, words from the in-between years had also been green-related: “locavore,” 2007, “hypermiling,” 2008. That last one meant trying to absolutely maximize mileage, minimalize fuel. (The driver who cuts their engine at the long red light is a hypermiler.) But the words stopped being central for the same reason, one supposes, Vanity Fair killed its green issue. In its depressing way this suggests the OUP people—not misled by hope or disapproval—were excellent at their jobs. In 2009, social media had a brighter vocabulary future than climate did. As the U.K. Independent would coolly observe, “Three years is a long time for any trend.”

 

371      folded its Green Issue.: Lloyd Alter, “Vanity Fair Spikes the Green Issue,” Treehugger.com, April 5, 2009.

So dispiriting, apparently, there isn’t even a copy at Wayback.

 

What does this bode for green journalism in general? . . . So what’s the deal? Is everyone getting sick of hearing about climate change? Or how green and awesome celebrities are? Or are they just sick of the bandwagon approach, and the media treating environmentalism as though it were any other fad? My vote’s for the latter (well, a little for the second one too).

 

Maybe something simpler. The Times reported in 2009, “Of the 21 eco-themed 2008 magazine issues examined by Mediamark Research, a media research firm, 52 percent had fewer readers than the average issue of that magazine over the last year.” It’s right there in the title. Alex Mindlin, “ ‘Green’ Seems a Pale Magazine Theme,” The New York Times, June 1, 2009.

 

371      “When appropriate”: David Smith, “Special Report: Climate Change: 24 Hours to Save the Planet: Jack Bauer’s New Target Is Global Warming. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Latest Film Is Eco-Conscious,” The Observer (London), August 12, 2007.

On the official 24 website, Kiefer Sutherland advised viewers, “Global warming is a crime for which we are all guilty.”

And you could escape prosecution—even the internal kind—by, for example, using your printer on both sides of the page.

 

371      history’s first carbon-neutral celebrity roast: “Yeah Boyee! Comedy Central to Roast Flavor Flav,” PR Newswire, May 21, 2007.

 

371      “Warner Brothers attempted to counterprogram”: Nikki Finke, “ ‘Avengers’ Sets 2nd Weekend Record $103.2M – Still #1 Phenom For $1+B Global and Now 11th All-Time Biggest Moneymaker; Anemic ‘Dark Shadows’ Creeping To $28.8M,” Deadline, May 13, 2012.

https://deadline.com/2012/05/dark-shadows-opens-with-550k-midnights-270409/

Accessed 7-20-22.

 

372      “I have to admit”: Australian Broadcasting Corporation Transcripts, “Rupert Murdoch Reveals Concern About Global Warming,” November 7, 2006. “The News Corporation chief was speaking in Tokyo, at a forum organized by the publisher of the world’s best-selling newspaper, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbum, daily circulation ten million.”

Mark Coltrane with Peter Hannam, “Rupert Goes Green and Walks to Work,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 14, 2007.

 

372      “I don’t know who’s sailing”: Amanda Griscom Little, “Rupert Murdoch Joins Climate Crusade: Grist.Org Interviews News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch on His Surprise Announcement That He Wants to Be a Climate Crusader,” NBC News, May 24, 2007.

 

When Rupert Murdoch, the cantankerous and conservative owner of Fox News, enthusiastically joins the fight against climate change, you know we’re past the tipping point on the issue. Think landslide.

Last week, the media mogul pledged not only to make his News Corp. empire carbon neutral, but to persuade the hundreds of people who watch his TV channels and read his newspapers to join the cause.

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna18746241

Accessed 7-20-22.

 

372      plans to decarbonize his entire operation: Clive Thompson, “A Green Coal Baron?”, The New York Times Magazine, June 22, 2008.

Rogers had been traveling under this surprise heading for some time. Three summers earlier Business Week (Commentary, June 26, 2005, “Global Warming: Suddenly the Climate in Washington is Changing”) had noted Rogers’ objective, and the big D.C. obstacle.

 

James E. Rogers warned in congressional testimony on June 8. “The time is now to move positively toward reachable goals.”

But the Bush Administration and allies such as Senate Environment Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) are still trying to stem the tide. That’s why business has been reluctant to openly support mandatory caps. Companies fear angering the White House or key GOP leaders, says Frank E. Loy, former climate negotiator for the State Dept.: “They are concerned about crossing a line the Administration seems to have laid.”

 

Rogers was an intriguing figure—the CEO hero of (former Time environmental writer) Eric Pooley’s The Climate War. Rogers had worked his business environmentalism into an unexpectedly smooth pitch.

This version comes from Pooley’s Chapter 16, “The Silver-Tongued Devil.” Rogers being the titular suave Mephistopheles. The speech is something like the famous Julia Roberts Oscar clip about numbers from Erin Brockovich.

“James E. Rogers had come a long way from his days as the upstart CEO of a small, struggling Indiana utility,” Pooley begins. “Now he was one of the most powerful men in the power business, and its most effective communicator.”

 

When he introduced himself to an audience—something the president, chairman, and CEO of Duke Energy did many times a month in speeches and panels around the country—he liked to start by explaining how much pollution it took to generate power for twelve million people in five states. He’d recite “the three numbers you need to know about me: three, twelve, and forty-one.”

Three. “We’re the third largest emitter of CO2 among corporations in America because we generate 70 percent of our electricity at twenty coal-fired plants.” Twelve. “Of all the companies in the world, we’re the twelfth largest emitter of CO2.” Forty-one. “If we were a country and you compared our CO2 emissions to the 192 countries in the U.N., we would rank number forty-one.” Then he’d set the hook. “I share these numbers with you not to brag”—that was usually good for a laugh—“but to give you a sense of my special responsibility, the daunting job in front of me. And for you to understand why I have such passion about confronting the climate issue and getting it right.”

 

Rogers was one of those people gratified by taking part in the process. “Rogers could talk the down off a duckling,” Pooley writes.

 

. . . but local activists in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Duke Energy had its headquarters, thought they could see right through [him]. There was a lot about Rogers that the activists overlooked. First, he was a true policy wonk, serious about the substance. Second, there was not another human being who loved the game as much as he did. Rogers enjoyed the hell out of flying into Washington and working the Hill—trying out new talking points at a public hearing, ducking into a member’s office for a private word, huddling in the hallway with a staffer who wanted to float an idea. He was over the top about all of it, wearing out his bedraggled staff, texting while he talked, grabbing a few minutes before he flew off to his next conference to visit with anyone who wanted a piece of his time. He wanted to fix the climate and he wanted to make money for his shareholders and he wanted to keep the lights on for his customers. He wanted it all. But was that even possible? He had no idea[.] He was the first to admit that he didn’t know how it was all going to turn out. “I’m a work in progress, OK?” he liked to say. “I make it up as I go along.” . . .

You could count on him to be so gloriously indiscreet—about politicians (“what is she smoking?”), rival energy executives (“he’s the ultimate shill”), even his colleagues at Duke (“some of them are way too Republican for me”)—that he appeared to be saying anything that entered his mind, winging it as he walked through life.

 

The above prose montage climaxing with a great Martin Scorsese detail. Early in his career, Pooley explains, “Rogers got on the wrong side of some of his fellow utility bosses.”

 

A blunt group with little tolerance for flamboyance, they saw him as a slippery character. (“Never trust a utility executive who doesn’t wear socks,” one rival CEO said.)

 

Eric Pooley, The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth, Hyperion, 2008. 142-5. (Rogers, I gather, is on the cusp between True Believer and Power Broker, with Power Broker rising.) 

 

372      “If you’re not at the table”: Clive Thompson, “A Green Coal Baron?”, The New York Times Magazine, June 22, 2008.

 

372      “My own beliefs have changed”: PBS Frontline, “Hot Politics: Interviews Frank Luntz,” April 24, 2007.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/luntz.html

Accessed 7-12-22.

Luntz maintains, despite the strong impact he had on the electoral prospects of his clients (and, a little farther down the supply chain, on the legislative prospects of climate change), it’s unfair to hold him responsible for a memo he wrote at the turn of the century. “Things change,” the pollster says. “Life changes. Conditions change.”

PBS responds, Well, politicians are still using it.

Luntz: “That’s their responsibility. They have to defend that.”

 

373      Better to say polluters would be held accountable: Jesse Zwick, “Frank Luntz on How to Pass a Climate Bill,” The New Republic, January 21, 2010.

 

For a long time, GOP pollster Frank Luntz was mainly known as the guy who wrote a 2002 memo advising the Bush administration to “make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate [about global warming].” So it was a little surprising to see him this morning at the National Press Club, teaming up with the Environmental Defense Fund on a new set of poll findings about climate legislation. Even Luntz couldn’t help joking about it: “When [EDF president] Fred asked me to do this with him, I asked, ‘Do you know who I am?’”

 

373      “It has caused me the greatest trouble”: Michael Ure, Nietzsche’s The Gay Science: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press 2019. 85.

Fredrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann, Vintage Books 1974 (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, 1887) 121–22.

“What at first was appearance becomes in the end, almost invariably, the essence,” he goes on. “And is effective as such. How foolish it would be to suppose that one only needs to point out this origin.”

Adam Philips, Unforbidden Pleasures, Hamish Hamilton 2015. Epigraphs.

 

373      would welcome regulation: Walmart, “Wal-Mart Sustainability Chief Participates in Senate Climate Conference,” Press Release, April 3, 2006.

“Today Andrew Ruben, Wal-Mart vice president for corporate strategy and sustainability, took part in the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources’ day-long conference focusing on steps to control U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”

https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2006/04/03/wal-mart-sustainability-chief-participates-in-senate-climate-conference

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

Think of the shift; Walmart posting on their own corporate relations site. Guaranteed to attract ungenerous attention from the conservative community, as below . . .

Tim Carney, “Welcome to Washington, Wal-mart,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, September 5, 2006.

https://cei.org/opeds_articles/welcome-to-washington-wal-mart/

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

. . . and kinder notices from the rest of the world.

Andrew Clark, “Is Wal-Mart Really Going Green? It’s No Surprise the World’s Biggest Retailer Is Keen to Publicise Its Increasingly Ethical Credentials, Says Andrew Clark,” The Guardian, November 5, 2006.

NBC News, “Is Wal-Mart Going Green? Wal-Mart Has Unveiled An Environmental Plan To Boost Energy Efficiency, Cut Down On Waste and Reduce Greenhouse Gases Tied To Global Warming,” October 25, 2005.

 

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott said the world’s largest retailer wants to be a “good steward for the environment” and ultimately use only renewable energy sources and produce zero waste.


https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna9815727

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

373      “The environment is begging”: Michael Barbaro, “Wal-Mart Puts Some Muscle Behind Power-Sipping Bulbs,” The New York Times, January 2, 2007.

 

373      printed on 100 percent recycled paper: Corydon Ireland, “Wal-Mart Says ‘Waste Not,’” Harvard Gazette, April 5, 2007.

With some terrifying Wal-Mart facts, leading to a terrifying world fact.

 

But there’s nothing tiny about the company he works for. Ruben is Wal-Mart’s vice president for strategy and sustainability. The company, with 1.8 million employees and 5,000 stores worldwide, is No. 20 among world economies, nations included. In the United States, its sales account for 2 percent of the gross national product. Out of every $100 spent on U.S. retail, almost $9 is spent at Wal-Mart.

In October 2005, Wal-Mart added some big environmental goals to its big size: zero waste, 100 percent renewable energy, and a shift to products that are better for the environment, including organic produce.

“In the past two years, I’ve had a personal journey,” said Ruben, who spoke at Harvard Business School on Tuesday (March 27). “The company has had a similar journey.”

 

And the terrifying factoid chaser:

 

In the meantime, over 50 of the world’s 100 largest economies are companies now — not nations, said Ruben. That puts the burden on corporations, at least in part, to show the way to better environmental practices.

 

Because if something needs to be cleaned up—no profit waiting at the end, just healthier people, refreshed landscape—who’s more likely to do the job? A corporation or a country?

 

373      an 11-percent drop: Jacob Gordon, “The TH Interview: Andy Ruben & Matt Kissler of Wal-Mart,” TreeHugger.com, November 7, 2007.

Lee Scott (CEO, Walmart), “Clinton Global Initiative: Remarks as Prepared for Delivery,” September 26, 2007.

 

h. lee scott: First of all, our whole premise is that we save people money so that they can live better. Well, what we found is we’ve gone down this journey in sustainability, is the first things we’re doing is we are taking waste out of this whole stream of products and things that all of us are using. And they’re not exotic decisions. One I talked to General Mills about is that they straightened the noodles on the hamburger helper, and more noodles go into the box, and the boxes are now smaller. And thousands of tons of waste are eliminated, truck loads of movement are eliminated, fuel is eliminated. And it is basic good business practices that ultimately cause the price of the product itself to go down.

 

https://web.archive.org/web/20150906211939/http://news.walmart.com/executive-viewpoints/clinton-global-initiative-panel-discussion

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

373      “Like, straighten out the freakin’ noodle”: Timberland Earthkeepers®, Olivia Zaleski, “Clinton Global Initiative: Ideas to Action,” September 23, 2010.

The panel was twitchily called “Market-based Solutions for the Environment.” The difficulty has always been: the environment is not a problem that fits neatly into the X’s, Y’s and dividends of a market equation. Just as Svante Arrhenius had understood in 1925: the solution to the proper use of resources was unlikely to come from the “profit-seeking industries.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2hRwqxI22U

Accessed 7-22-22.

Dan Shapley, “‘Straighten Out the Frickin’ Noodle’ and Other Smart Solutions From CGI,” The Daily Green, September 24, 2010.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100926103609/http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/clinton-global-initiative-video-0924

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

373      “politically pivotal juncture”: Theda Skocpol, “Naming the Problem: What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight Against Global Warming,” Prepared for the Symposium on the Politics of America’s Fight Against Global Warming, Co-sponsored by the Columbia School of Journalism and the Scholars Strategy Network, Harvard University, January 2013.

The paper generated a tremendous amount of interest: its point was that politeness was not a legislative strategy, at least when it came to climate. And the green groups had in fact turned polite. (A sort of sister paper released at the same time was called “The Too-Polite Revolution.”) It opens with this frustrated, worldly telephone exchange.

 

“I can’t work on a problem if I cannot name it.” The complaint was registered gently, almost as a musing after-thought at the end of a June 2012 interview I conducted by telephone with one of the nation’s prominent environmental leaders.

 

You could read about it in the Guardian (Suzanne Goldenberg, “Climate Change Inaction the Fault of Environmental Groups, Report Says,” January 13, 2013), The Washington Post (Brad Plumer, “Why Has Climate Legislation Failed? An Interview with Theda Skocpol,” January 16, 2013), Grist.

You can still go to the Foreign Policy website and read a condensation by Professor Skocpol of her own paper. It contains clipped bummers like this:

 

In my recently issued report, “Naming the Problem: What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight Against Global Warming,” I argue that opponents of government action to limit carbon emissions have successfully spread public doubts and mobilized to pressure legislators, especially Republicans. Today, according to a recently issued CNN poll, fewer than half of Americans believe that global warming is a human-caused problem, a level of belief lower than in 2007.

 

https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/01/24/you-cant-change-the-climate-from-inside-washington/

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

It’s a fascinating and despairing work. And available below. And I like it also for this line in the back matter; it seems echoed by about a third of the book-writers on this topic. Though probably I like it also because the experience does not sound entirely unfamiliar: “I ended up investing more time and more of my own resources in this research than originally planned.”

http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/sites/default/files/skocpol_captrade_report_january_2013_0.pdf

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

. . . For example (since we’re still on the note) here is how Elizabeth Kolbert—this reader’s favorite writer on climate—got involved with the topic.

 

kolbert: I just set off to do a piece, which happened to be about climate change. It wasn’t like “I’m going to change my whole life,” but it ended up taking over everything and becoming a series.

q: You fell in love with the topic?

kolbert: More like I got sucked into it. And many people will tell you the same story: “I set out to do something else, and this just took over my life.”

q: So there was not one particular “aha” moment?

kolbert: No, what happened was that around 2000, I had just gone to The New Yorker and started to look into doing a piece on climate change, which at the time was still kind of new to the general media. I didn’t know what there was to be found; I found myself thinking, “Is this a huge problem or not?” And very quickly I found that it was. I talked to five scientists and they all said: “Yes, this is real, this is big” . . . and it sort of snowballed from there, to use a bad pun.

 

Dan Drolette, Jr., “Elizabeth Kolbert: Covering the Hot Topic of Climate Change by Going to the Ends of the Earth,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2014, Vol. 70(4) 1–9.

 

373      General Electric’s Jeff Immelt: Dan Esty, “Jeffrey Immelt,” Time, October 17, 2007.

 

By spearheading the formation of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a consortium of companies and NGOs that earlier this year asked the Bush Administration to take action against the buildup of greenhouse gases, Immelt has paved the way . . .

 

373      “picking up a change in public mood”: Pooley, The Climate War, Chapter 15, “A New Recruit.” 138.

 

374      “We know enough to act now”: Elizabeth Kolbert, “Hot Topic,” The New Yorker, February 12, 2007.

“CEOs Ask Bush for Action on Climate; Group: Mandatory Controls Are Needed,” Associated Press, January 23, 2007.

 

“It must be mandatory, so there is no doubt about our actions,’ said Jim Rogers, chairman of Duke Energy. “The science of global warming is clear. We know enough to act now. We must act now.”

 

374      “evidence of the changed mood”: Felicity Barringer and Andrew C. Revkin, “Bills on Climate Move to Spotlight in New Congress,” The New York Times, January 18, 2007.

 

374      “I’m done with that”: Traci Watson, “Global Warming Issue Gains ‘Traction’ with New Congress,” USA Today, January 30, 2007.

Nancy Pelosi, “Pelosi Announces the Creation of Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming,” Speaker of the House, Press Release, January 18, 2007.

https://www.speaker.gov/node/61021

Accessed 8-20-22.

 

374      “The science of global warming and its impact”: U.S. Federal News Service, “Speaker Pelosi Announces Creation of Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming,” January 18, 2007.

 

374      “We don’t always see eye-to-eye”: The New York Times, “Global Warming Creates Odd Couples,” March 30, 2008.

Alliance for Climate Protection, “Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich Commercial on Climate Change,” We Can Solve It, April 27, 2008.

It is an extremely strange sight: both aisle sides agreeing. And it has the feel of a peaceful shore glimpsed from the deck of a careening ship. We never did land on that placid ground – or beached only momentarily, before being carried away again. The YouTube comments (generally unsettling reading) keep returning to this point. “Aw, those were the days.” Some GOP viewers were a little chastened. And it is each time a reliably odd image: the duo sharing an outdoor loveseat.

 

374      “once had a passionate but quixotic ring”: Felicity Barringer and Andrew C. Revkin, “Bills on Climate Move to Spotlight in New Congress,” The New York Times, January 18, 2007.

 

374      lights were symbolically dimmed: “France ‘Dims’ For Climate Protest,” BBC, February 1, 2007.

 

375      “The United States is strongly committed”: George H. W. Bush, “Presidential Address: President George H.W. Bush Addressed the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” C-SPAN, February 5, 1990.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?11033-1/presidential-address

Accessed 7-21-22.

George H. W. Bush, “Remarks to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” The American Presidency Project, University of California at Santa Barbara, February 5, 1990.

https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-the-intergovernmental-panel-climate-change

Accessed 7-21-22.

 

375      “Conservatives and skeptics in the United States”: Spencer Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming, Harvard University Press, Chapter Seven, “Breaking into Politics.” 158.

 

375      “A complex and lengthy study process”: Spencer Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming, Harvard University Press, Chapter Seven, “Breaking Into Politics.” 158.

 

375      or set land records for speed: This discouraged the scientists. Brilliant second-wave Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider recalls in his memoir warning the Panel’s original head, Bert Bolin.

“Bert, I think it’s a terrible idea . . . It’s going to provide another excuse for them to call for delay.”

Schneider was won over. (Bolin asked one of those unanswerable questions. “What happens if we don’t have an international consensus?”) The work had to be done. Dr. Schneider devoted massive hours, months, years. “The effort involved in the successive three IPCC assessments was so time-consuming,” he writes, “I used to joke at speeches that IPCC was my ‘pro bono day job.’”

Stephen H. Schneider, Science As a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle To Save Earth’s Climate, National Geographic Society 2009. Chapter Four, “A Fragile Planet,” 125.

 

375      “A clear scientific consensus has emerged”: This was Sunday, November 4, at the 1990 World Climate Conference in Geneva.

Jeremy K. Leggett, The Carbon War: Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era, Routledge 2001, 22.

 

375      “the balance of evidence suggests”: Climate Change 1995. Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC (WG I & II) (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 2001).

 

375      “Perhaps the most significant warning”: Bill McKibben, “Warning on Warming,” The New York Review of Books, March 15, 2007. 

 

The report declared (in the pinched language of international science) that humans had grown so large in numbers and especially in appetite for energy that they were now damaging the most basic of the earth’s systems — the balance between incoming and outgoing solar energy. Although huge amounts of impressive scientific research have continued . . . their findings have essentially been complementary to the 1995 report — a constant strengthening of the simple basic truth that humans were burning too much fossil fuel.

 

376      “new and stronger evidence”: Climate Change 2001, Contribution of Working Groups I, II, and III to the Third Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Cambridge University Press 2001.

 

376      “We should start preparing ourselves”: Philip P. Pan, “Scientists Issue Dire Prediction on Warming; Faster Climate Shift Portends Global Calamity This Century,” The Washington Post, January 23, 2001.

Look at that headline; maybe we as a group just aren’t that bright.

 

“The scientific consensus presented in this comprehensive report about human-induced climate change should sound alarm bells in every national capital and in every local community,” said Klaus Topfler, head of the U.N. Environment Program. “We should start preparing ourselves.”

 

376      The Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007: Contribution of Working Groups I, II, and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Cambridge University Press 2007.

 

376      “An international group of scientific experts”: NBC, Nightly News, “Global Warming Caused by Humans, Says International Panel,” February 3, 2007.

 

376      “The world’s top climate scientists”: CNN, “U.N Panel on Climate Change,” February 3, 2007.

If you’d like to see/hear it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SU0oLNlTIQ

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

377      “There is no longer any question”: ABC News, World News with Charles Gibson, February 2, 2007.

Duke’s FredericK Mayer—he’s a professor at their Sanford School of Public Policy—has a brilliant paper about 2000s climate news coverage. He wrote while a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard, and it’s on their website.

FredericK Mayer, “Stories of Climate Change: Competing Narratives, the Media, and U.S. Public Opinion 2001–2010,” Joan Shorenstein Center, Harvard University, 2012.

https://shorensteincenter.org/stories-of-climate-change/

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

377      “We are on the historic threshold”: Seth Borenstein, “Global Warming Unstoppable, Report Says,” Associated Press, February 2, 2007.

 

377      “While climate changes run like a rabbit”: John Leicester, “Climate Report Spurs Global Calls For Speedy Change,” Associated Press, February 2, 2007.

 

377      “unequivocal”: Climate Change 2007: Contribution of Working Groups I, II, and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Cambridge University Press 2007.

 

377      Our human responsibility was upgraded: You can read most of this alarming stuff in the IPCC’s Summary For Policymakers.

IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press 2007.

https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ar4-wg1-spm-1.pdf

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

Oreskes questions who the civilian audience for such reports is, but I feel you will demonstrate the answer. I think it’s like seeing polling data, or the Sunday box office receipts, or the charts at Apple music and Spotify; a way of quantifying something we feel in our bones.

 

The scientific societies have tried to address this by developing formal statements on climate change that reflect the collective wisdom of their members, but these statements tend to be dry at best, and often nearly impossible for a normal person to decipher. Who among us has read the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, much less the thousands of pages of actual reports? Indeed, who on the planet has read all this stuff? What average citizen knows that the American Meteorological Society even exists, much less knows to visit its home page to look for its climate-change statement?

 

Naomi Oreskes, Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, Bloomsbury 2010. Conclusion, “Of Free Speech and Free Markets,” 263.

 

377      “This day marks the removal”: Peter Walker and agencies, “Humans blamed for climate change,” The Guardian, February 2, 2007.

 

377      “It’s later than we think”: Seth Borenstein, “Global Warming Unstoppable, Report Says,” Associated Press, February 2, 2007.

 

377      “Policy makers paid us”: Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew C. Revkin, “Global Warming Called ‘Unequivocal,’” The New York Times, February 2, 2007.

With some more Susan Solomon.

 

“There is no question that this is driven by human activity,” said Susan Solomon, one of the panel’s leaders. She noted that in calling the link “very likely” scientists had increased certainty on a connection from their previous estimate of 66 percent to 90 percent. “Warming of the climate system is now unequivocal, unequivocal.”

 

378      “Gore has attained”: James Traub, “Al Gore Has Big Plans,” The New York Times Magazine, May 20, 2007.

Traub quotes a 2007 poll. The issue had traction.

 

Gore says he believes that once people understand the science, they’ll share his sense of urgency. Thanks to Hurricane Katrina, and balmy winters, and animals evacuating their habitats, and all those terrifying pictures of melting glaciers, that sense may already be taking hold. According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, 78 percent of Americans believe that global warming requires action “right away.”

 

378      For the first time: CBS News/New York Times Poll, “Americans’ Views on the Environment: April 20–24, 2007,” April 26, 2007.

And fascinating to see just the actual poll results document. I thought the font and etc. looked pretty cruddy for 2007.

https://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/042607environment.pdf

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

378      “immediate action was required”: John M. Broder, Marjorie Connelly, “Public Remains Split on Response to Warming,” The New York Times, April 27, 2007.

 

378      “an important, perhaps historic event”: Kolbert, The New Yorker, “Hot Topic.”

 

378      all three major presidential contenders: Political Transcript Wire, “Sen. Barbara Boxer Holds a Hearing on Global Climate Change,” February 1, 2007.

 

All three statements from this (very long) hearing are summarized by Associated Press.

H. Josef Hebert, “Lawmakers Hear of Interference in Global Warming Science; Presidential Hopefuls Speak Out,” Associated Press, January 31, 2007.

Nicely, Senator Obama’s statement comes last on the list—as if AP is being vouchsafed one of those brief glimpses of the future.

 

378      a four-quadrant monster: As Frederick Mayer writes in “Stories of Climate Change,” everyone was ready.

 

Momentum slowly grew in the first half of the decade. By 2007 there was a strong consensus among scientists that the problem was real and its consequences potentially devastating, and there was broad public support for action in the US and across the world.

 

You’ll find the end of the paragraph—how it went—in a later note.

Frederick Mayer, “Stories of Climate Change: Competing Narratives, the Media, and U.S. Public Opinion 2001–2010,” Joan Shorenstein Center, Harvard University, 2012.

https://shorensteincenter.org/stories-of-climate-change/

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

378      “an oxymoron”: Steven Mufson, “Exxon Mobil Shareholders Defy Board; Nonbinding Election Resolution Passes Over Directors’ Objections,” The Washington Post, June 1, 2006.

 

Tillerson was most combative with critics of Exxon’s funding of scientists and institutes that cast doubt on global warming. With reference to the global warming debate, he said that the phrase “scientific consensus” was an “oxymoron.” And he denounced those who said the company was underwriting “junk science,” arguing that Exxon was simply taking part in the “debate” over global warming.

 

378      “That is flat wrong”: Steven Mufson, “Exxon Mobil Warming Up to Global Climate Issue,” The Washington Post, February 10, 2007.

 

378      “The risks to society and ecosystems”: Michael Erman, “Exxon Mobil CEO: Climate Policy Would Be Prudent,” Reuters, February 13, 2007.

“Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM.N) Chief Executive Rex Tillerson,” the story begins, “said on Tuesday nations should work toward a global policy to fight climate change — another sign the oil giant is softening its stance on global warming.”

 

379      What did they do: Suzanne Goldenberg, “Climate Change Inaction the Fault of Environmental Groups, Report Says,” January 13, 2013. “A Harvard academic has put the blame squarely for America’s failure to act on climate change on environmental groups.” This is about Theda Skocpol and her influential paper. Per the Guardian, the historian “in effect accuses the DC-based environmental groups of political malpractice.”

The climate advocates “overlooked how the political reality outside clubby Washington had turned against their cause. Skocpol attributes much of that shift to the well-funded effort by conservative thinktanks to undermine climate science. The 90s and onwards saw a sharp increase in the publication of reports and books questioning climate change, which eventually got picked up by mainstream media outlets.” That is, given the years of Seitz, Singer, Robinson, Sound Science, this was always going to be extremely difficult.

 

379      The Lighting Efficiency Coalition: “Alliance Calls for Only Energy-Efficient Lighting in U.S. Market By 2016, Joins Coalition Dedicated to Achieving Goal,” Press Release, Alliance to Save Energy, March 14, 2007.

 

“The Alliance to Save Energy is pleased to be part of this new coalition committed to advocating for public policies to speed the phase-out of inefficient lighting products by 2016,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. “The economic, environmental, and national security benefits of such a market transformation include lower energy costs for consumers and businesses, less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and extension of our nation’s limited energy supplies.” . . .

“Encouraging our customers to use advanced compact fluorescent light bulbs and other energy-efficient lighting is fundamental to our plans to meet growing demand for electricity as economically as possible,” said Jim Rogers, chairman, president, and CEO of Duke Energy, co-chair of the Alliance to Save Energy, and a corporate leader on energy efficiency.”

. . . Members of the coalition include the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earth Day Network, and Californians Against Waste.

 

379      World’s Fifty Most Powerful: “The New Global Elite,” Newsweek, December 29, 2008–January 5, 2009.

What they wrote about the Duke Energy chairperson: “Congress will need to hear from CEOs like Rogers.”

Sharon Begley, “The Newsweek 50: Jim Rogers,” Newsweek, December 29, 2008–January 5, 2009.

https://www.newsweek.com/newsweek-50-jim-rogers-83049

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

379      by limiting the intake: Here’s Jim Rogers explaining the power of energy efficiency. As narrated by the Times columnist Tom Friedman.

 

It is why Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, calls energy efficiency “the fifth fuel—after coal, gas, renewables, and nuclear.” “When there is a fight in 2040 and 2050 for resources around the world,” says Rogers, “our energy efficiency will allow us to maintain our standard of living and will allow us to continue to grow.”

 

Tom Friedman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—And How It Can Renew America, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux 2008, Chapter 12, “If It Isn’t Boring, It Isn’t Green.” 288.

In that book’s acknowledgments, Friedman says frankly of Rogers, for a guy “in a boring business,” the CEO was “really interesting.” And of course that’s a great skill for a corporate leader: communicating your enthusiasm.

 

380      I sat down with longtime Alliance president Kateri Callahan: Interview with Kateri Callahan, Alliance to Save Energy, September 3, 2007.

 

380      “I don’t know about you”: Michael Pollan, “The Way We Live Now: Why Bother?”, The New York Times, April 20, 2008.

 

380      The compact fluorescent was a sleek energy athlete: Last ten times longer, use 75 percent less electricity. As the Times reported,

 

it turns out that the long-lasting, swirl-shaped light bulbs known as compact fluorescent lamps are to the nation’s energy problem what vegetables are to its obesity epidemic: a near perfect answer, if only Americans could be persuaded to swallow them.

 

Michael Barbaro, “Wal-Mart Puts Some Muscle Behind Power-Sipping Bulbs,” The New York Times, January 2, 2007.

And just to prep for the Walmart stuff below:

 

It is the environmental movement’s dream: America’s biggest company, legendary for its salesmanship and influence with suppliers, encouraging 200 million shoppers to save energy.

 

381      put fluorescents in a hundred million shopping carts: Bryan Walsh, “How Business Saw the Light,” Time, January 15, 2007.

“Wal-Mart Announces Goal of Selling 100 Million Energy Efficient Light Bulbs,” PR Newswire, November 29, 2006.

 

381      “There is not the ability to change”: Michael Barbaro, Felicity Barringer, “Wal-Mart to Seek Savings in Energy,” The New York Times, October 5, 2005.

 

381      “as we can change in this area”: And it worked. Lloyd Alter, “It’s Getting Harder to Hate Wal-Mart,” Treehugger, May 17, 2006.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110905152058/http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/05/its_getting_har.php

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

382      I sat at an NRDC Climate Center computer: Interview with George Peridas, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C., September 3, 2007.

There was a nearly implacable distaste—in desktop and hallway NRDC conversations—for nuclear power. Nuclear is what the scientists (who don’t mistrust a scientific solution) feel will play an essential role in averting dangerous climate change. But the joke phrase repeated around the offices was, “Nuclear power is the most expensive way yet discovered to boil water.”

Like most guild jokes, a bit funny the first time you hear it; then you start to feel the drag of automatic thinking.

The way a climate scientist like James Hansen sees fission is below.

James Hansen, Michael Shellenberger, “The Climate Needs Nuclear Power: If governors are serious about global warming, they’ll preserve this vital source of clean energy,” The Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2019.

 

383      Hang a giant mirror in space: Victor Mcelheny, “‘Moon Mirror’ Idea Dropped,” Boston Globe, June 4, 1962.

 

384      “I mean, that’s what the American ethos is”: Interview with Jim Presswood, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C., September 3, 2007.

 

384      Julia Bovey: Interview with Julia Bovey, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C., September 3, 2007.

 

384      “It’s actually an online debate”: Jacob Gordon, “How to Green Your Sex Life,” Treehugger.com, February 14, 2007.

https://web.archive.org/web/20080116134818/http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/02/how-to-green-your-sex-life.php

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

385      “I’m a ramblin’ wreck from Georgia Tech”: Interview with Charlie Jerabek, Osram Sylvania Advanced Lighting Center, Danvers, MA, September 14, 2007.

 

387      “The economics are better”: Michael Barbaro, “Wal-Mart Puts Some Muscle Behind Power-Sipping Bulbs,” The New York Times, January 2, 2007.

In July Petras told Forbes some incandescent competitors “are not ready for prime time, in our opinion.” The magazine added that G.E had, “of course, a huge stake in incandescents and fluorescents, representing an estimated $2.4 billion in annual global sales.”

Same month he complained to Crain’s, “this isn’t like bioscience, where people are making 70 percent margins.”

Petras told the same reporter, “We say, don’t ban the technology, set efficiency goals.” And this is how corporate and political communications work: this is the phrase Petras’ Lighting Division wanted out, and one he and his publicist used with me more or less word for word. (Petras near the Norman Rockwell paintings: “People say ban the incandescent bulb. We say, ‘Don’t ban the bulb. Ban technologies that are inefficient.’”) In conversation, the repeated phrase is the sale.

Kathryn Kranhold in The Wall Street Journal, two months later, reported how the company “scrambled to protect its much-larger incandescent business.”

Christopher Steiner, “Bright Lights, Big Legacy?” Forbes, July 23, 2007. (And if you haven’t come to despise magazine titles yet I’ll drop by your house and you can tell me what I have to do.)

John Booth, “LIGHT SPEED; As its LED products hit commercial market in full force, GE works to stay ahead of competitors” (cover story), Crain’s Cleveland Business, July 30, 2007.

Kathryn Kranhold, “Greener Pastures: G.E.’s Environment Push Hits Business Realities; CEO’s Quest to Reduce Emissions Irks Clients; The Battle of the Bulbs,” The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2007.

 

387      Petras was a tall, deep-eyed man: Interview with Michael Petras, General Electric, NELA Park, Cleveland, OH, September 17, 2007.

 

388      “Green is green”: Amanda Griscom Little, “G.E.’s Green Gamble,” Vanity Fair, May 2007.

 

388      told them they should pitch in: Kathryn Kranhold, “Greener Pastures: G.E.’s Environment Push Hits Business Realities; CEO’s Quest to Reduce Emissions Irks Clients; The Battle of the Bulbs,” The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2007.

 

388      The president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change: Amanda Griscom Little, “G.E.’s Green Gamble,” Vanity Fair, May 2007.

 

388      nominated Jeff Immelt to replace Dick Cheney: Tom Friedman, “State of the Union,” The New York Times, January 27, 2006.

 

388      he’d been president of Phi Delt at Dartmouth: Amanda Griscom Little, “G.E.’s Green Gamble,” Vanity Fair, May 2007. “The former president of Phi Delta Alpha fraternity at Dartmouth and captain of his college football team, Immelt still has his Greek letters and lineman trophies displayed in his office . . . ”

 

388      Hansen’s dour Iowa topic: James Hansen, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, Bloomsbury 2009. Chapter Six, “The Faustian Bargain: Humanity’s Own Trap,” 98.

 

My Iowa talk was titled “Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference: A Discussion of Humanity’s Faustian Climate Bargain and the Payments Coming Due.” Humanity’s Faustian bargain with fossil fuels, I suggested, has more far-reaching consequences [than] was the case in the bargain the grasping Dr. Faustus struck with the devil.

 

It was in the papers; one of the pleasures of being famous, if such mentions are a pleasure.

Andrew C. Revkin, “NASA Expert Criticizes Bush on Global Warming Policy,” The New York Times, October 26, 2004.

 

388      “I am, and always will be”: Jeffrey R. Immelt ‘78, “Commencement Address 2004,” Dartmouth, June 13, 2004.

https://web.archive.org/web/20171120183131/http://www.dartmouth.edu/~news/releases/2004/06/13a.html

Accessed 7-23-22.

 

388      a “technical fact”: Kathryn Kranhold, “Greener Pastures: G.E.’s Environment Push Hits Business Realities; CEO’s Quest to Reduce Emissions Irks Clients; The Battle of the Bulbs,” The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2007.

 

388      Heroes of the Environment: Bryan Walsh, “Heroes of the Environment,” Time, October 17, 2007.

Dan Esty, “Jeffrey Immelt,” Time, October 17, 2007.

 

Smart executives now recognize that companies can profit by providing solutions to problems like climate change, water availability, air pollution and chemical exposures. No executive better exemplifies this new attitude than General Electric’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt. . . Immelt has paved the way for hundreds of other business leaders to commit themselves to finding climate-change solutions.

 

388      his neighbor on their list: Jeffrey Sachs, “James Hansen,” Time, October 17, 2007.

 

389      filled three pages with Edison obits: With breathless compound titles. Like:

 

world made over

by edison’s magic

 

He Did More Than Any One

Man To Put Luxuries Into

the Lives of the Masses.

———————

created millions of jobs

———————

Electric Light, the Phonograph,

Motion Pictures and Radio Im-

Provements Among Gifts.

———————

lamp ended “dark ages”

———————

He Held the Miracle of Menlo Park,

Produced on a Gusty Night 50

Years Ago, His Greatest Work.

 

By bruce rae.

 

Bruce Rae, “World Made Over by Edison’s Magic: He Did More Than. . . ” The New York Times, October 18, 1931.

 

389      Henry Ford owned a test tube: Readings, “Ten American Shrines,” Harper’s, September, 1986.

 

389      The nation of Germany: “Study of Edison’s Brain Urged to Throw Light on His Genius,” The New York Times, October 25, 1931.

berlin, Oct. 23.—It is urged here that America save Thomas A. Edison’s brain for scientific investigation, in the hope of throwing light on the physical basis of technical genius. The brains of a number of eminent persons have been turned over to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Brain Research, that of the recently diseased August Forel being the last important accession.

The Institute’s director, Professor Oskar Vogt, supervised the dissection and examination of Lenin’s brain in Moscow—the Russians having refused to let it go to the Berlin Institute—and thereby obtained the establishment of the Russian Brain Research Institute on the same lines as the German.

 

Everything about the story is weird.

 

390      “Why would the congressmen”: With department chiefs, as above, the repeated part is the sale, the point they want you to remember. And this is more or less exactly what Michael Petras would grouse—with the same repetition—to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, one month later. “Our customers are telling us they want more energy-efficient lamps, and we’re responding,” Petras said. “That’s what our customers want.”

Frank Bentayou, “GE Closing Six Facilities in NE Ohio; 425 Jobs Lost,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 5, 2007.

 

391      “A budget and a timeline”: Visit with David B. Goldstein and Jim Presswood, Russell Senate Office Building, September 20, 2007.

With Noah Horowitz (below), Goldstein is half the duo (“Noah and David—the two huge light-bulb guys—are in L.A”) bandied about a few weeks earlier in the offices of the NRDC.

 

391      I sat down with Bill Wicker: Interview with Bill Wicker, Communications Director, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), September 20, 2007.

 

392      dinner with scientist Noah Horowitz: Interview with Noah Horowitz, Washington, D.C., September 21, 2007.

 

392      had decided to sponsor the lighting bill: U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, “US Bill Declares ‘Lights Out’ On Inefficient Lighting,” Press Release, September 18, 2007.

 

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has introduced legislation to phase out older-style light bulbs and replace them with newer ones that burn just as brightly but use much less energy. When fully implemented, the switch to more efficient light bulbs will save Americans up to $6 billion a year in electricity costs.

“The Energy Efficient Lighting for a Brighter Tomorrow Act (S. 2017) provides a reasonable process for light bulb manufacturers to plan for and implement major changes,” Sen. Bingaman said. “For 125 years, the world has used the same old lighting technologies. When fully implemented, the new standard will save nearly as much energy as all of the Federal appliance standards from 1987-2000” . . .

Several energy efficiency advocates also participated in the negotiations, including the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

 

392      “It is one of the best things”: Katherine Ling, “Light-Bulb Bill a Likely Winner If Conference Ever Gets Rolling,” E & E News, September 13, 2007.

 

392      “This is a big, big event”: This was Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM).

Katherine Ling, “Light-Bulb Bill A Likely Winner If Conference Ever Gets Rolling,” E & E News, September 13th, 2007.

U.S. Senate, “Energy Efficiency Lighting: Hearing of the Senate Committee On Energy and Natural Resources, Lighting for a Brighter Tomorrow Act,” s.hrg 110-195, September 12, 2007, U.S. Government Printing Office 2007.

John J. Fialka, Kathryn Kranhold, “Lights Out For Old Bulbs? — U.S. Planning Switch to All Fluorescents For Greater Efficiency,” The Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2007.

 

392      the best headline. vatican penance”: Elisabeth Rosenthal, “Vatican Penance: Forgive Us Our Carbon Output,” The New York Times, September 17, 2007.

 

393      “A bright idea whose time has come”: “New Plan Brightens Future for Clean, Efficient Lighting,” Press Release, National Resources Defense Council, Media Center, Julia Bovey Contact, March 14, 2007.

 

“This is a bright idea whose time has come,” said Noah Horowitz, NRDC senior scientist. “Bringing to market the next generation of clean, efficient light bulbs and lighting systems will save energy, reduce pollution — including the heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming — and lower consumers’ electricity bills.”

 

 

393      A late September afternoon: Interview with Royal Philips Team, Washington, D.C., September 20, 2007.

 

396      The rest of the story: Background Interviews, September, October, November 2007.

 

396      In mid-March: Matthew L, Wald, “A. U.S. Alliance to Update the Light Bulb,” The New York Times, March 14, 2007.

https://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/14/business/14light.html

Accessed 7-24-22.

If you’d like a photo of Government Affairs V.P. Randall Moorhead, it’s about halfway through the story.

 

396      They understood which way: They did attempt a piece of wan resistance, as people at the negotiations recalled. “Sylvania’s lighting guys in Massachusetts obviously didn’t want it to happen,” these attendees explained. When one executive tried to debate the phaseout timetable, Philips’ Moorhead, apparently, “ate the guy’s lunch in front of about 15 people.” Everywhere you went in Washington, you bumped into food metaphors. On the menu, in the food chain, at the table, ate their lunch—the ambiance being semi-cannibal, or the simpler thing of politics (budgets, attention) being a limited resource. For you to eat extra, another must skip the meal.

Sylvania’s last attempt had to do with pricing. The newfangled bulbs could sometimes cost twenty or even thirty dollars. But since they really lasted, this came out, as the thinking went, cheaper than a drugstore four-pack.

So a Sylvania senior exec saw his opening, and distro’d all parties.

“Well, if Sylvania is going to join this Lighting Efficiency Coalition,” the email went, “we’ll have to get the AARP involved. Because seniors are going to die—honestly, this is what the guy emailed—seniors are going to die before they can reap the full benefit of the higher-costing lights.”

I was surprised, the second time I heard this story, by the teller not cracking a smile. This person shrugged. “You live and work in Washington long enough,” he said. “You just . . . ”

 

398      “not just light bulbs”: Ben Hirschler, “Gore Says ‘Changing Light Bulbs’ Not Enough,” Reuters, January 24, 2008.

 

“In addition to changing the light bulbs, it is far more important to change the laws and to change the treaty obligations that nations have,” Gore told delegates, in apparent reference to what he sees as the Bush administration’s reluctance to initiate legislation on environmental control.

 

With an insightful nod to what was about to happen, the head of the IPCC told the same audience, “If we get distracted by the aberrations that you see in the financial market right now it would clearly be very unfortunate.” Good advice that was just about to become unpracticable.

 

C-SPAN, “The Road to the White House 2008: Poverty and Global Climate Change,” Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2008

https://www.c-span.org/video/?201864-1/poverty-global-climate-change&event=201864&playEvent

Accessed 7-24-22.

Gore added, “Without laws that really solve this for us, then those that try to voluntarily try to solve this, they can be at a disadvantage. And that’s not sustainable as a solution.”

U2 lead singer Bono participated, and proved to be a surprisingly nuanced political thinker. Davos is an odd place. One writer I know postponed a contentious divorce so as to attend. And explained to me—and her spouse—that she’d had no professional choice: “Davos happens only once in a lifetime.” It’s a place that turns heads, causes the unwealthy to say memorably foolish things.

 

399      The Times editorial board: Editorial, “It’s About Laws, Not Light Bulbs,” The New York Times, April 6, 2008.

 

399      it’s how PBS ended a two-hour climate documentary: PBS Frontline, “Heat,” October 21, 2008.

 

399      But the time for credit-taking was at hand: And also grudging. Charlie Jerabek, Sylvania’s CEO, was in news stories cheerfully himself. “Sure, you’ll see more compact fluorescents five years from now,” he told the New York Times, “but you would have seen them without any energy bill.”

Michael Petras assured Investor’s Business Daily “We continue to do well overall,” and added. “We have large efforts going on and we will put out a lot of products in 2008.”

James Detar, “Incandescent King GE Happy to Shift to LED; Edison Company Putting More Energy into Green Battle with Rival Philips,” Investor’s Business Daily, December 24, 2007.

And a couple years later, he groused to London’s Financial Times.

 

“The lighting industry is probably going to experience more change in the next five years than it has in the last 50,” Michael Petras, chief executive of G.E. lighting, told the Financial Times. “Just because we have been a lighting company for the last 100 years doesn’t mean that we can be a light bulb company for the next 100 years. There is no guarantee or entitlement.”

G.E., formed in 1892, was built on Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulb as one of its principal products. Today, its lighting business has annual revenues of about $3bn and employs 17,000 people. 

Ed Crooks, Jeremy Lemer, “Energy Efficiency Will Bring Big Change, Says G.E.,” Financial Times, October 15, 2010.

 

399      “We knew that twelve years”: Daniel Whitten, “Light Bulbs, Gas Changing as U.S. Energy Bill Passes,” Bloomberg News, December 18, 2007.

 

399      “a model for all to follow”: “Royal Philips Electronics; Philips Selected for 2008 ‘Stars of Energy “Chairman’s Award”’ from Alliance to Save Energy,” Business Wire, June 16, 2008.

 

400      “opportunity the industry hasn’t encountered”: Andrew Rice, “Bulb In, Bulb Out,” The New York Times Magazine, June 3, 2011.

 

400      the National Resource Defense Council’s number: “Groundbreaking Provision to Increase Light Bulb Efficiency Passes House,” Congressional Documents and Publications, December 6, 2007.

 

“The energy efficiency standards for light bulbs in the House energy bill will not only save consumers and businesses money on their energy bills, but also significantly reduce global warming pollution,” said Karen Wayland, Legislative Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Experts estimate the standards will decrease global warming pollution by more than 100 million tons, which works out to roughly 1 percent of emissions produced in the United States in 2005.”

 

400      “If I had one thing to do over again”: Scott Malone, “GE’s Immelt Wishes He Had Soft-Pedaled Green Talk,” Reuters, May 3, 2011.

 

400      “the stupidest thing I’ve done recently”: Ben German, “Gingrich Calls Climate Ad with Pelosi the ‘Dumbest Single Thing I’ve Done’ Recently,” The Hill, November 9, 2011.

 

Two months later, Pelosi returned the favor.

I think he’s done plenty of dumb things,” the House Speaker told CNN. “And there’s stiff competition for what is the dumbest thing.”

Alicia M. Cohn, “Pelosi ‘Wasn’t Particularly Interested’ in Sharing a Sofa With Gingrich,” The Hill, January 26, 2012.

 

If you want to see Gingrich say it live, on Fox News, the clip is below.

Fox News, “Part One: Newt Gingrich Takes the Center Seat and Faces Special Report’s Panel,” November 9, 2011.

https://video.foxnews.com/v/1265315998001#sp=show-clips

Accessed 7-24-22.

 

Also at YouTube, where you don’t have to wait as long.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tW590-BH5c

Accessed 7-24-22.

 

400      “Three years is a long time”: Rachel Shields, “It’s So Last Year: Vanity Fair Abandons the ‘Green Issue,’” The Independent, April 9, 2009.

The paper engaged in some additional stage-setting: “The global financial crisis pushes the environment off the front cover.” There were measurable media numbers.

 

This theory is backed by new research showing that coverage of the environment has fallen significantly. The latest figures from TNS Media Intelligence, a research firm, show that national newspaper coverage of environmental issues — including climate change, global warming, green consumerism and sustainability — fell by 27 per cent in 2008. In the first quarter, there were 3,866 articles published on green issues, compared with 2,811 in the final quarter.

 

400      “Public concern plunged soon after”: Theda Skocpol, “Naming the Problem: What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight Against Global Warming,” Prepared for the Symposium on the Politics of America’s Fight Against Global Warming, Co-sponsored by the Columbia School of Journalism and the Scholars Strategy Network, Harvard University, January 2013.

 

As Duke’s Frederick Mayer presents it in his study for the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, a sterling example of bad timing.

 

A decade that began with optimism for those advocating action to combat climate change ended in 2010 with dashed hopes. Momentum slowly grew in the first half of the decade. By 2007 there was a strong consensus among scientists that the problem was real and its consequences potentially devastating, and there was broad public support for action in the US and across the globe. . . . But at decade’s end, less than two years later, [limits] on greenhouse gas emissions seemed more remote than they had at its beginning.

What happened? Many things, of course, but of perhaps paramount significance was a shift in public attitudes. Public belief in global warming had ebbed and flowed somewhat over the years, but the general trend had been towards an increasing level of belief and sense of urgency . . . But then public attitudes started to erode.

 

Frederick Mayer, “Stories of Climate Change: Competing Narratives, the Media, and U.S. Public Opinion 2001–2010,” Joan Shorenstein Center, Harvard University, 2012.

https://shorensteincenter.org/stories-of-climate-change/

Accessed 7-22-22.

 

400      “Hardly any major environmental legislation”: Petra Bartosiewicz, Marissa Miley, “The Too Polite Revolution: Why the Recent Campaign to Pass Comprehensive Climate Legislation in the United States Failed,” Prepared For The Symposium On The Politics Of America’s Fight Against Global Warming Co-Sponsored By The Columbia School Of Journalism And The Scholars Strategy Network, January 2013.

https://scholars.org/sites/scholars/files/rff_final_report_bartosiewicz_miley.pdf

Accessed 7-21-22.

 

As with so many things in this story, a reboot. Fifteen years earlier, an economist had offered Newsweek the same dystopic observation. The environment, “is what people think about when they’re rich,” said the Oxford-based environmental economist Tim Denne.

Tony Emerson, Kay Itoi, B. J. Lee, Michael Laris, Barbara Koh, et al, “Dirty Work Ahead,” Newsweek, December 8, 1997.

 

401      “Let us complete an international agreement”: “Excerpts From Bush’s Speech: Following are excerpts from President Bush’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2009, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House,” The New York Times, January 28, 2008.

George W. Bush, “Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union,” The American Presidency Project, University of California at Santa Barbara, January 28, 2008.

https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/address-before-joint-session-the-congress-the-state-the-union-18

Accessed 7-24-22.

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky