Quantcast

Bernie Sanders: 'If the Environment Were a Bank, It Would Have Already Been Bailed Out'

Politics

A meme on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' Facebook page has already drawn more than 125,000 likes since it was posted two days ago. It reads: "If the environment were a bank, it would have already been bailed out." The comment, which he has made in the past, marries two issues at the heart of Sanders' presidential campaign: environmental stewardship and reform of the financial industry.

In a recent campaign video, Sanders said his presidential campaign is about "a grassroots movement of Americans standing up and saying: Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires." The Vermont senator has repeatedly railed against a financial system that only benefits the top one percent of Americans, while the Middle Class disappears. He claimed that "99 percent of all new income is going to the top one percent, and the grotesque level of wealth and income inequality today is worse than at any time since the late 1920s."

He has directed that ire particularly towards Wall Street, whose "greed, recklessness and illegal behavior," Sanders said, resulted in the 2008 Financial Crisis, the resulting Great Recession and the largest bank bailout in U.S. history. "If banks are too big to fail, then they are too big to exist" has become Sanders' campaign mantra. Earlier this year, he introduced legislation, the Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act, and has co-sponsored bills such as the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to rein in Wall Street bankers.

The government gave $9 trillion to financial institutions in order to prevent their collapse, according to the New York TimesIn Sanders' eyes, we spent trillions to bail out people who chose to "chase profit by gambling and making risky investments," and yet, so far only one banker is facing jail time for his actions.

“It is an outrage that not one major Wall Street executive has gone to jail for causing the near collapse of the economy," Sanders said last month. "The failure to prosecute the crooks on Wall Street for their illegal and reckless behavior is a clear indictment of our broken criminal justice system."

Just as the U.S. government has failed to hold Wall Street bankers accountable for its actions, Sanders believes, it has also failed to hold big polluters accountable. In contrast to Wall Street's massive bailout, the U.S. government's action on climate change continues to lag behind the recommendations of top scientists. When President Obama announced his Clean Power Plan in August, he hailed it as the "biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change." But Vox calculated that "if all goes as planned, the Clean Power Plan amounts to a six percentage point cut in current U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030." That number is far below the 80 percent reduction that climate experts believe the U.S. needs to cut by that date.

On the legislative side, congressional action on addressing carbon emissions and, more generally, protecting the environment is continually stifled by partisanship. While some Republicans have embraced climate action—even going so far as to introduce legislation that put the climate challenge in the broader context of conservation, stewardship, innovation and conservatism—many continue to block efforts to enact meaningful climate change policies, such as a carbon fee and dividend.

Slate's Eric Holthaus analyzed the climate plans of Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley. He said, "the O’Malley plan is almost a perfect example of what going all in looks like" and Clinton's plan was "rhetorically grand," but "scientifically unambitious." As for Sanders, the senator hasn't formally laid out a climate plan, but his voting record in the Senate and his positions on hot button issues from Keystone to Arctic drilling to renewable energy show that he is a strong environmental advocate.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Why ISIS Wants the Paris Climate Talks to Fail

NASA Carbon Map Shows Which Countries are Polluting the World

France Cancels Major Climate March, Groups Say They Won’t Be Silenced

Bernie Sanders: ‘Climate Change Is Directly Related to the Growth of Terrorism’

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less