New House Speaker Pelosi Calls Climate Change ‘Existential Threat’ in Opening Remarks
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi received a standing ovation after calling for action on climate change during her first address to the 116th session of Congress Thursday, according to a video shared by Newsweek.
"We must also face the existential threat of our time: the climate crisis, a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions. The American people understand the urgency. The people are ahead of the Congress. The Congress must join them," she said.
Pelosi Sends Strong Message About Climate Change While Elected House Speaker www.youtube.com
However, for some climate activists, the people are still ahead of the Congress, despite Pelosi's words. During her speech, she touted a new "Select Committee on the Climate Crisis," but the young progressives who want a Green New Deal to transition the U.S. economy towards renewable energy while providing jobs and improving equality say the new committee does not go far enough.
- It allows members to accept donations from fossil fuel companies.
- It was not empowered to create a plan to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels within the 12-year timeframe that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
- It does not mention combining that transition with a push for greater economic and racial justice.
The activists also criticized the new committee for lacking subpoena power, a power that previous select climate committees did have.
"Democratic leaders had an opportunity to embrace young people's energy and back the #GreenNewDeal, but they failed us yet again," Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash said in a statement. "This committee is toothless and weaker than the first Climate Select Committee from a decade ago, and it does not get us meaningfully closer to solving the climate crisis or fixing our broken economy."
However, experienced members of Congress said that the policy goals united under the Green New Deal banner could still be realized, but standing committees like Energy and Commerce are the most likely vehicle to push them forward.
"Progressives like me who understand how the system works have every confidence that we'll be able to do it within the existing system," Democratic Virginia Representative Donald McEachin told POLITICO in an in-depth article on the Democrats' climate plans. "Energy and Commerce is my primary pick because that's the committee that's really going to dig in and do what these young progressives are looking for."
The select committee will be led by Kathy Castor, a Florida Democrat who has not backed the call for a Green New Deal. It will have until March of 2020 to submit policy recommendations to other committees and will have nine Democratic members and six Republican members. Its members have not yet been selected.
"We need all voices. But make no mistake about it, we simply don't have time to tread water," Castor told POLITICO. Castor has a lifetime score of 93 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, but some progressives are concerned by a Sludge report that she and her husband have between $50,001 and $100,000 invested in utility companies that mostly generate energy from fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Democrat and Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone said his committee would work with the Natural Resources and Science committees, as well as the new climate committee, on climate action. The first hearing he plans to convene will focus on the economic and environmental impacts of climate change.
"We're all progressives," Pallone said of Natural Resources Chairman Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva and Science Chairman Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson. "I think they'll be happy to see what we do because the chairs of the committees are progressive," he told POLITICO.
On the more conservative side of the party, Representatives are concerned about how to balance economic growth and environmental concerns.
"We've got to find a way that we can accommodate our goals and not be seen as anti-business," Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar told POLITICO. "A lot of the oil-and-gas state folks feel the same way."
Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.
During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
By Matthew Savoca
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Andrea Germanos
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.