[Marxism] The Green, Biodegradable, Killing Machine

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 30 02:44:15 MDT 2004

The Greenest Convention Ever
By Amanda Griscom, Grist Magazine
July 30, 2004

All of the electricity powering the festivities at the Democratic National 
Convention has come from renewable sources or an onsite fuel-cell generator. 
Local Massachusetts farms are supplying food for a handful of the convention 
events, and leftovers are being donated or composted. Greenhouse-gas credits 
will offset the carbon-dioxide emissions generated by convention delegates 
as they travel to and from Boston, and hybrid gas-electric buses are 
shuttling people between events.

This is the handiwork of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible 
Conventions, a new organization that has collaborated with the city of 
Boston and the Democratic National Convention Committee to pull off what 
CERC executive director Daniel Ruben boasts is "certifiably the greenest 
presidential convention that's been organized in modern history!"

More notable, though, is the unprecedented level of convention-related 
activity by environmental groups, including the League of Conservation 
Voters, Sierra Club, Environment2004, Apollo Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife 
and Friends of the Earth. They've all joined forces to stage environmental 
events near the convention site this week, featuring big-name speakers such 
as actor and director Rob Reiner, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), and Barack 
Obama, the new Democratic It Boy who looks likely to win Illinois' open 
Senate seat.

It was quite a surprise, therefore, to read William Safire's jab in Monday's 
New York Times that "the only Democratic group left out in the cold [at the 
convention] ... is the tree-hugging set."

Huh? The tree-huggers beg to differ.

Safire's main – no, only – justification for this claim is the omission of 
two words from the party platform. "Can you imagine a Democratic platform 
document without a single mention of global warming? I'm told that there was 
quite a struggle over that litmus-test phrase, but the smokestack set won 
out," he dishes.

Maybe nobody told Safire that global warming and climate change are the same 
damn thing. The Democratic platform cites climate change repeatedly, calling 
it a "major international challenge" and promising to address it "with the 
seriousness of purpose this great challenge demands."

Or maybe Safire is poking at the Dems for choosing the phrase that's less 
emotionally charged.

But even if his point is merely rhetorical, he's still full of it, said Beth 
Viola, a senior environmental advisor to John Kerry who contributed to the 
platform-drafting process: "There was no argument over using the phrase 
'global warming' versus 'climate change,'" she said. "[T]he idea that we 
were debating with the 'smokestack set' over that phrase is patently 

And convention organizers have put the environment on stage as well as in 
the platform. LCV President Deb Callahan took to the main podium on Tuesday, 
reiterating what she has said many times before – that Kerry is the greenest 
presidential candidate America has ever seen.

The Democratic heavy hitters have also made the tree huggers feel right at 
home. In Al Gore's speech on Monday, he blasted Bush's environmental record 
with his now-characteristic effrontery. Bill Clinton mentioned environmental 
issues no less than eight times in his much-lauded speech Monday night (and 
even used the phrase "global warming"). And Teresa Heinz Kerry kicked off 
her Tuesday night remarks by noting that she and her husband first connected 
over environmental issues.

Still, some critics charge that the environmental section of the Democratic 
platform consists of one vague platitude after another: "[W]e will make our 
air cleaner and our water purer. We will ensure our children can safely play 
in our neighborhoods, our families can enjoy our national parks, and our 
sportsmen can hunt and fish in our lakes and forests."

That's about as specific as it gets – no big promises to curb the threat of 
global warming with mandatory cap-and-trade programs, renewable-energy 
initiatives, or tougher gas-mileage standards.

To this, Viola responds: "A platform, by definition, is supposed to be broad 
and accessible [in its language]. It's supposed to appeal to the common 
voter – not policy wonks inside the Beltway. Kerry has spent 20 years 
building one of the strongest environmental records in Senate history. The 
platform is not the place to lay this out."

Be that as it may, there's some grousing over one omission in particular, a 
plank that was present in the 2000 platform yet absent this year. As Debra 
Saunders noted in her San Francisco Chronicle column on July 15, "the 
Democratic Party has dropped support for Kyoto ... from the initial draft of 
the national platform for 2004. John Kerry, you see, is no Al Gore, who 
negotiated the treaty for Bill Clinton in 1997."

It's true that Kerry doesn't support the Kyoto Protocol in its present form. 
Instead, he has said that he wants to renegotiate the agreement so it will 
hold developing nations, as well as industrialized nations, accountable for 
their carbon dioxide emissions.

But Kerry's no casual Kyoto detractor – he has attended a number of Kyoto 
conferences over the years and tried to push negotiations forward, and he 
has a long record of consistently voting in favor of policy measures to curb 
global warming, from stricter CAFE standards to mandatory greenhouse-gas 

In part for this reason, a number of national environmental groups are 
pouring more resources into this presidential race than any previous contest 
in history. The LCV, for one, is planning to put at least $6 million toward 
the Kerry-Edwards cause. And Environment2004 has set a fundraising goal of 
$3 million, which they plan to use to convince swing voters to cast blue 
ballots in favor of the environment.

"Environmentalists agree that this is the most important election for [the 
movement] in American history and we are all very committed to doing our 
part," Sierra Club National Political Director Greg Haegele said. He said 
that in the last presidential election, members of environmental groups had 
only a marginally better voter-turnout rate than the meager 55 percent 
national average.

"We know that there are enough environmentalists who didn't vote in 2000 
that if they had voted, the likely outcome of the election would have been 
different," he said. This year, environmental groups have shifted their 
focus from ads to door knocking to make sure their members turn out at the 

Kerry himself is expected to put historic emphasis on issues related to 
energy and the environment in his campaign. A senior Kerry strategist said, 
on condition of anonymity, that during his nomination acceptance speech at 
the convention Thursday night, "Kerry will lay out the four major issues 
that he is running on – and one of them is energy."

This is a noteworthy development, given that environmental concerns have in 
the past ranked down there with art endowments and space travel on the list 
of election-year priorities.

According to the rumor mill, Kerry will be kicking off his big 
post-nomination campaign push with a series of rallies and speaking 
engagements on energy independence over the next two weeks. It could be a 
smart strategic move: After all, big-picture energy issues provide a means 
for addressing national-security and job-creation concerns even while 
warming the cockles of tree-huggers' hearts.

© 2004 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/19392/

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