Can This 36-Year-Old Unseat the Biggest Climate Denier in Congress?
A climate activist and organizer is hoping to put "the worst climate denier in Congress" out of his job.
Derrick Crowe, a 36-year-old former staffer for senior Democrats in Congress, announced his bid for the 21st Congressional District of Texas last month. He hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the notorious climate-denying chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
"Our message is simple," the Austin-based challenger said. "We will replace a Trump-backing, climate change denier with a progressive who fights for constituents against the corporate interests ruining our future."
Smith has served Texas's 21st congressional district, which includes most of the wealthier sections of San Antonio and Austin, since 1987. In February, Smith held a hearing on Making EPA Great Again that featured a line-up of industry voices. Smith, who has a history of writing op-eds for Breitbart, has accused NOAA of altering climate data "to get politically correct results." The congressman also thinks you should get your news "directly" from President Trump over "the national liberal media."
Environmentalists have long expressed concerns about the Texas Republican's financial ties to the fossil fuels sector. Records show he has received more than $700,000 from the oil and industry since 1989.
"Smith has held his seat for 30 years, and in that time he's benefitted from an outrageously gerrymandered map, corporate PAC money, and the patronage of groups like Exxon and the Koch brothers," Crowe said. "The people of this district are wise to the game now. Anti-Trump energy is evident everywhere you look. It's clearly time for a change."
The Trump administration's indifference on climate change, firing of scientists, purging of data and continued efforts to slash environmental regulations has inspired many scientists and science advocates to run for office. Other Democrats are considering a bid in the historically Republican district in 2018.
"When you have been in Congress for over 30 years and you have no formidable challenger, you have no reason to work hard," Joseph Kopser, another potential Democrat considering a run, told Smith's hometown paper, The San Antonio News-Express. "Just like any company in a private sector that would gain a monopoly, and they would then have no reason to innovate."
Kopser, a West Point graduate with a degree in aerospace engineering, added that he is also concerned about climate change and is baffled by Smith's positions due to Texas' abundance of wind, solar and natural gas.
In an editorial last month, Crowe highlighted the perils of our warming climate and political inaction.
"I've felt increasing alarm at how the escalating warnings from climate scientists about how bad the indicators are for our planet have been met with escalating denialism from people like Trump and Lamar Smith, the congressman who currently holds this seat," Crowe wrote. "To cut right to the chase, if we don't have carbon emissions slashed to nearly zero by the time my son graduates high school, we will virtually guarantee that we'll see catastrophic climate changes in our lifetimes."
Crowe is not a scientist but the self-proclaimed science "nerd" and told the Huffington Post he agrees with the vast majority of climate scientists who say that human activity is the primary cause of climate change.
"If 97 percent of doctors told you that you were going to die without a surgery, you would have that surgery, no problem," Crowe said. "And you would be a very unwise person to say that those 97 percent of doctors are engaged in a conspiracy against you."
So what are the chances that the longtime incumbent could lose his seat? As Fusion pointed out, the San Antonio News-Express withdrew its longstanding endorsement for Smith last year over what was described as an "abuse of his position as chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee."
"Specifically, it is his bullying on the issue of climate change that should concern all Americans," wrote the paper's editorial board.
Smith went on to win the election but with only 57 percent of the vote, the first time it dropped below 60 percent.
Smith's loss of the newspaper's endorsement, his slip in votes as well as more Democrat-voters moving into the heavily gerrymandered district are all optimistic signs for Crowe.
As Crowe told the Huffington Post, "there's a lot of indicators in this race to show that it's winnable and that [Smith] has finally gone too far in this anti-climate change science crusade."
This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.
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