Senate Dems Vote ‘Present’ on Green New Deal to Foil McConnell’s Ploy
The Green New Deal ― an ambitious 10-year plan to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels while promoting green jobs and greater equality ― failed to advance in the Senate Tuesday after most Democrats voted "present" in an attempt to forestall a Republican ploy to exploit disagreements within the party.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been clear about his intention to put the resolution to an up or down vote in an attempt to force Democrats to support or oppose the controversial measure ahead of the 2020 election, CNN reported. Climate activists and the proposal's House co-sponsor and leading champion Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had given Senate Democrats the greenlight to vote "present" in an attempt to slight McConnell, Vox reported. Ocasio-Cortez said McConnell's manipulations suggested Republicans were not taking climate change seriously.
"The Senate vote is a perfect example of that kind of superficial approach to government," Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday, according to Vox. "What McConnell's doing is that he's trying to rush this bill to the floor without a hearing, without any markups, without working through committee — because he doesn't want to save our planet. Because he thinks we can drink oil in 30 years when all our water is poisoned."
Because I encouraged them to vote present, along w/ others. McConnell tried to rush the #GreenNewDeal straight to… https://t.co/nMxMwhJzsV— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1553638414.0
The measure was defeated 57-0, The Guardian reported, meaning it failed to get the 60 votes necessary to advance to a final vote, the Huffington Post pointed out. Three Democrats and one Independent, Maine Senator Angus King, joined with all 53 Republicans in voting "no."
The Democrats who broke ranks to vote against the measure all come from conservative-leaning states. They were Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama.
Manchin said that he wanted to focus on "real solutions that recognized the role fossil fuels will continue to play," according to a statement reported by CNN.
"We cannot successfully address our climate challenge by eliminating sources of energy that countries are committed to using," he said.
Manchin is notoriously pro-coal and has received almost $1 million in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry over the course of his career. In total, the senators who voted "no" Tuesday have received more than $55,000,000 in contributions from fossil fuel companies, Oil Change United States reported.
While the Green New Deal isn't advancing right now, its first Senate sponsor Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey said it had done a good job of sparking a national debate about climate change.
"This resolution has struck a powerful chord with the American people," Markey said at a Monday press conference reported by the Huffington Post. "The Green New Deal was always designed to be an opening of a national discussion. And it has worked. In just six short weeks, everyone is debating a Green New Deal. There's been more debate about climate change in the last six weeks than in the last six years."
Every senator running for president in the 2020 Democratic primary has co-sponsored the measure, among them California's Kamala Harris, Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren, Vermont's Independent Bernie Sanders, New Jersey's Cory Booker, New York's Kirsten Gillibrand and Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar.
While the Sunrise Movement, the grassroots group that has worked to popularize the deal, endorsed the strategy of voting "present," they will now continue to pressure Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to co-sponsor the measure.
"We particularly want Sen. Schumer to continue to make climate change central to his agenda and come through and back the Green New Deal," Sunrise Movement spokesperson Stephen O'Hanlon said, as Vox reported.
Meanwhile, during a House financial services committee hearing, Ocasio-Cortez continued her outspoken advocacy for environmental action, reacting strongly against the idea that it was an elitist concern. A video of her speech had been shared thousands of times by Tuesday night, The Guardian reported.
"This is about our lives, and this should not be partisan," she said in the clip. "Science should not be partisan."
Watch every second of this... @AOC is so incredibly spot on. https://t.co/ESP4dC5TTo— Brian Tyler Cohen (@Brian Tyler Cohen)1553646727.0
Climate Change Is an Existential Crisis—It Should Be the Top Political Issue, Too https://t.co/TLF31z1oEZ… https://t.co/wjotfCKz1Q— Renewable Search (@Renewable Search)1547299325.0
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.