Activist Tom Steyer Announces Big-Spending Election Plan to Take Down Climate-Denying Candidates
There's no dark money in Tom Steyer's green coffers.
Alongside his political action committee, NextGen Climate, the billionaire environmentalist and Democrat on Wednesday announced plans to spend big on seven election races this November, with hopes to elect senators and governors around the country who are dedicated to combating climate change. He will spend at least $50 million supporting such candidates, while also fundraising another $50 million from other donors.
“The debate on climate change is settled: It is here, it is human-caused and it is already having a devastating impact on our communities, but we need to accelerate the level of political support to address this critical issue before it’s too late,” said Steyer, who founded NextGen in 2013. “This means making politicians feel the heat—in their campaign coffers and at the polls.”
Here are the races Steyer is targeting and why, as described by NextGen:
- Colorado U.S. Senate Race: Fossil fuel development and its adverse health impacts affect Colorado’s most vulnerable communities, yet Senate candidate Cory Gardner—a science denier—has taken hundreds of thousands in donations from fossil fuel companies while voting for their interests.
- Florida Gubernatorial Race: While communities across Florida are threatened by sea-level rise, saltwater intrusion and rising flood insurance costs, Gov. Rick Scott is a climate denier and has decimated efforts to “preserve environmentally sensitive land.”
- Iowa U.S. Senate Race: Iowa’s farms and rural communities are feeling the pain in their wallets and on their land due to record floods coming on the heels of a record drought, while State Sen. Joni Ernst has “not seen proven proof ” that climate change “is entirely man-made” and former energy CEO Mark Jacobs is “not convinced that man-made causes are causing” climate change.
- Maine Gubernatorial Race: The forestry industry in Maine is at risk and fishermen are already experiencing the negative effects of higher ocean temperatures, yet Gov. LePage denies that climate change is a threat, rather saying it offers Maine “a lot of opportunities.”
- Michigan U.S. Senate Race: Air pollution is affecting kids’ education across Michigan, with over half of Hispanic and African American children attending school in the most polluted areas, yet Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has the support of the Koch Brothers who are spending millions on her race and have threatened the state’s water and air quality with their dirty energy stockpiles.
- New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race: New Hampshire’s tourism industry—which supports more than 60,000 jobs—stands to be devastated by the effects of climate change; meanwhile Senate candidate Scott Brown looks out for the Koch Brothers and his Big Oil buddies, taking their campaign dollars and voting to protect $24 billion in oil subsidies.
- Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Race: Low-income communities in Pennsylvania are disproportionately affected by asthma and often live in the shadow of the state’s biggest polluters; meanwhile Gov. Corbett favors powerful corporate energy executives over Pennsylvania families.
NextGen says it will use climate change as a "wedge issue" to inspire voter turnout while exposing why climate deniers would make poor leaders and legislators.
“This is the year, in our view, where we are able to demonstrate you can use climate—if you do it well and in a smart way—as a wedge issue to win in political races,” Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist known as Steyer's right-hand man, told a group of reporters on Wednesday, according to The Hill. “The side that does a better job of changing or expanding the voter pool is the side that has the competitive advantage.”
Lehane said NextGen's strategy will be heavy on data and localizing issues, while NextGen's statement says an "all-star political team" will be on deck to drive home the message. For instance, if flood insurance rates have gone up in an area impacted by climate change, potential voters will hear about it. The same goes for health issues brought on by fracking and drilling.
While Steyer spent about $8 million on last year's Virginia gubernatorial race to successfully land Terry McAuliffe in office, NextGen realizes climate denying candidates and their funders will be tough to take down.
"We are never going to have as much money, but all we need is enough for David’s slingshot is to fire through," Lehane said, "and to fire fast and to fire quick to be able to reach the big oil Goliath.”
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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