Grading the Dems on Climate Change: Beto O’Rourke

One candidate attracting some attention is Texan Beto O’Rourke. None other than Fox News reports that O’Rourke has a lot to say about climate change. But there’s more; Grist has something to add as well.


First the flattering stuff:


Beto O’Rourke kicked off the first day of his now-official 2020 presidential campaign by comparing those fighting against climate change to American soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy during World War II.

The El Paso Democrat, who announced his decision to run for president on Thursday following months of deliberations after his failed Texas Senate bid, made the comparison during an Iowa rally in response to a question on climate change.

There more:


“That’s who we are. That’s why they call us the indispensable nation. Well, that moment is now for us on this issue. So, if there’s a time to reassert global leadership and make friends instead of enemies, it’s today because the challenges are too great to do otherwise.”

That’s pretty good rhetoric. I can see, it’s the kind of thing that can get people fired up, without repelling skeptics (not deniers, real skeptics).

What’s behind the rhetoric?


O’Rourke is no climate denier. Even in deep-red Texas, O’Rourke, who had no name recognition nationally until he launched a grassroots, seat-of-your-pants campaign against Senator Ted Cruz in 2017, was clear from the get-go that climate change is real, that it’s happening now and humans are driving it. O’Rourke also sports a lifetime score of 95 from the League of Conservation Voters.

OK, that’s pretty good. What else?


Last year, he was taken off a list of politicians who’d signed a “No Fossil Fuel Money” pledge, after he received $430,000 from people working in the oil and gas industry. Three-fourths of the donations were larger than $200 and 29 of them were from oil and gas executives.

When he traveled to parts of Texas dependant on fossil fuel extraction during his Senate campaign, O’Rourke promoted fracking as fundamental to national security.

Say what? Oil money is bad enough, but being taken off the list after you signed the pledge? And … fracking is fundamental to national security?

Beto, you talk a great game. You have inspiring rhetoric. And I can hear Denzel Washington’s voice saying “Boy, you are outside your mind.” You get an F.

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34 responses to “Grading the Dems on Climate Change: Beto O’Rourke

  1. There are lots of people in the oil industry who fully understand something has to be done. They were putting their money on getting rid of Senator Ted Cruz, who thinks UAH is the gold standard. Pretty strange that people find that bad.

  2. Top two recipients of Oil and Gas Industry $$$

    1 Cruz, Ted (R-TX) Senate $633,911
    2 O’Rourke, Beto (D-TX) House $476,325

    O’Rourke is the biggest recipient in the House.

    • Again, that is money intended to get rid of Senator Ted Cruz, who is about as anti science and beholding to the oil industry as it gets.

      Count the oil industry donations to Beto before he ran for the US Senate. You know, the years when was actually a working congressman. He is not even remotely in the pocket of the oil industry.

  3. ba bow. talked the talk failed to walk the walk.
    national security is enhanced by whacking the threat multiplier (Co2 emissions) on the head.
    not feeding it after midnight.

    gameover man.
    PS: yes iam certain some oil executives are quitenice men/women.

    • This will lose an election.

      The US Military is the largest user of fossil fuels in the US. The distinction is having it being reliant on domestic oil versus imported oil. In terms of National Security, and this about as elementary as it gets, we are more secure when the military can be supplied with domestic energy, and that shift was attainable because of fracking.

      Maybe Admiral Titley can explain it for you.

      • JCH, you’re just spouting business as usual assumptions. Sure, in a different world where we weren’t messing with the climate because of our fossil-fueled activities (among a host of other degrading activities), it would be a no-brainer that domestic oil production is much better for the military than imported supplies. After all, that’s what got us through World War II while both the Germans and Japanese were always where their old supplies were coming from. But we’ve found out that since that war that we don’t live in such a world. Our activities do affect the climate and all the ecosystems that depend on climate stability. We’re long past the point where we can gradually wean ourselves from our self-destructive practices. Any action now, if we are to have any hope of averting the biggest catastrophe that humans have ever faced, must be dramatic and immediate. That means an almost instantaneous switch from all fossil fuel use with a commensurate radical alteration in agriculture, land use in general, as well as how we treat the oceans. The perverse facts about climate change are that the changes in the system tend to build up quietly and almost imperceptibly, but all the while radically altering the bits and pieces that comprise the whole system until the system itself lurches naturally to a new state once all the positive feedbacks begin cascading all around us. We’re already at a point where those positive feedback loops are accelerating (I hold Tamino’s many analyses of ice loss in the Arctic as a primary example, but there are hundreds if not thousands more, which are too subtle for most untrained observers to perceive). As a former naval officer and meteorologist during the Vietnam period, I hold Admiral Titley and his expertise in high regard. So, I say to you that maybe he can explain it to you, especially now that he’s retired and not subject to the requirements of the navy’s mission.

  4. I think you have to understand that Beto comes out of Texas politics where the motto is: “If you can’t take their money, drink their liquor, screw their women and then vote against ’em, you don’t belong here.”

  5. JCH, you’re just spouting business as usual assumptions. Sure, in a different world where we weren’t messing with the climate because of our fossil-fueled activities (among a host of other degrading activities), it would be a no-brainer that domestic oil production is much better for the military than imported supplies. After all, that’s what got us through World War II while both the Germans and Japanese were always unsure where their oil supplies were coming from. But we’ve found out that since that war that we don’t live in such a world. Our activities do affect the climate and all the ecosystems that depend on climate stability. We’re long past the point where we can gradually wean ourselves from our self-destructive practices. Any action now, if we are to have any hope of averting the biggest catastrophe that humans have ever faced, must be dramatic and immediate. That means an almost instantaneous switch from all fossil fuel use with a commensurate radical alteration in agriculture, land use in general, as well as how we treat the oceans. The perverse facts about climate change are that the changes in the system tend to build up quietly and almost imperceptibly, but all the while radically altering the bits and pieces that comprise the whole system until the system itself lurches naturally to a new state once all the positive feedbacks begin cascading all around us. We’re already at a point where those positive feedback loops are accelerating (I hold Tamino’s many analyses of ice loss in the Arctic as a primary example, but there are hundreds if not thousands more, which are too subtle for most untrained observers to perceive). As a former naval officer and meteorologist during the Vietnam period, I hold Admiral Titley and his expertise in high regard. So, I say to you that maybe he can explain it to you, especially now that he’s retired and not subject to the requirements of the navy’s mission.

    • Ed – I think this is very simple. Warplanes run on fossil fuels. A fairly high percentage of warships run on fossil fuels. Tanks run on fossil fuels; as do all other military vehicles. You can only have national security if the transition to replacement weapons platforms, platforms that currently do not exist, has something to which to transfer.

      There is nothing there to transfer to. Nothing. There are contracts to develop prototypes. Even if everything were to magically fall into place, this stuff is easily a full decade away, and likely multiple decades to be fully deployed.

      The Republicans would win that hot mess in a 50-state landslide.

      It would be possible to have agreements with all other potential enemies for their militaries to also significantly reduce their combustion of fossil fuels, but that is not going to happen until until the world finally sobers up and accepts the gravity of the situation. The world is not there yet. Not even close. Getting there is going to take a charismatic leader. My Dad was in a Naval Scouting Squadron in the Solomons, catapult seaplanes. They flew combat missions in support of the PT boats out of Tulagi, one of which was commanded by a charismatic Navy officer named JFK. He flunked all sorts of litmus tests. The one he aced was leadership. You guys want to run Adlai again.

      The POTUS is about to organize a red team that is going find climate change is not a national security issue. That’s where we are. Our Admirals and Generals should be alarmed and horrified. I do not sense they are.

      • JCH,

        I agree! and that’s why I’m very pessimistic about what’ll be happening over the coming years. The bottom line, agreed to by most climate scientists and biologists, is that we have no choice but to immediately stop burning fossil fuels and destroying vast stretches of natural ecosystems with our collective human activities. Personally, all the evidence I see tells me that we’ve already passed a point of no return to a new climate and ecosystem regime not amenable to human civilization, not to mention our huge over-population. But nobody in power wants to hear such things, so nothing of consequence will get done and we’ll just continue to spiral into the abyss with resource wars breaking out all over the planet as those resources, including basic food and water, become more scarce for large parts of the globe. Of course, illegal immigration will become an anachronism as desperate climate and environmental refuges explode in numbers while anti-immigrant and cultural supremacist idiots explode in return. What ensues will make Game of Thrones machinations look like a walk through Disney World as a remnant society run by brutal warlords becomes the order of the day. Of course, I hope my views are wrong for the sake of all the innocent young people who are inheriting our mess. But as of now, nobody has been able to convince me otherwise. All the multiple lines of evidence seem to point to some form of the scenario I outlined above. Sorry to be so negative, but I’m getting too old to pussy foot around the subject.

  6. Ed Hummel
    “Any action now, if we are to have any hope of averting the biggest catastrophe that humans have ever faced, must be dramatic and immediate.”

    That’s been my opinion too, pretty much ignoring anything to do with geoengineering. Read about it on Wiki this morning, though, and honestly, looks promising:

    https: is //en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratospheric_aerosol_injection

    Yeah, far from perfect, but we all know immediate action ain’t gonna happen. Jay Inslee, Tamino’s top choice, is hoping for a carbon free Washington State by 2045. That’s 26 years from now! Hardly immediate. And I don’t see the Boeing products he supported (with a massive tax break) going electric anytime soon.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/if-jay-inslee-runs-for-president-his-biggest-accomplishment-may-be-his-undoing/?amp=1

    • But note the ‘boeing-offer-biofuel’ link above.

    • Snape,

      Yup, you nailed it.
      It should be obvious that one of the first things the US military could do would be to mothball all equipment that runs on fuel so that the army would be reduced to a condition that existed during the Civil War, the air force would be completely disbanded, and the navy would be forced to appropriate as many sail boats as possible. And such action would have to be matched by all the other military establishments across the world, and of course, that ain’t gonna happen!!!! Actually, if we could wave a magic wand and send the whole human race back to the activities and population levels of Middle Ages, then we might get somewhere! (I’m being extremely sarcastic!!)

  7. On the other hand, I was struck recently by how fast a government can get things done given the proper sense of urgency. When a site was chosen to produce plutonium for the first atomic bombs, the farmers and communities around Hanford, WA were given 30 days to permanently vacate the premises……no questions asked. Thousands of workers were quickly brought in (eventually 51,000 during the Cold War).
    https://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/hanfordhistory

    Imagine that sort of resolve being applied to the New Green Deal.
    ******

    Doc, “But note the ‘boeing-offer-biofuel’ link above.”
    Thanks. A good start.

  8. David B. Benson

    Beto O is correct in stating we only have 12 years.

  9. Pete Buttagieg has become the first candidate to cross the 65000 donor threshold–one of the criteria that determines who goes to the real debates and who sits at the Kiddie Table. I have to say that I am impressed with his discipline. True, his name recognition stems mainly from the oddity of his surname, so he has not had to face quite as much irrelevant bullshit from the media. However, he is laying the groundwork to be the dark horse candidate should the frontrunners stumble–as seems likely.

    Although I do think climate change is a critical issue, it isn’t the only issue. The number one task is beating the orange shit-gibbon. Without that, we’re done, and I’ll probably just find a quiet island on which to live out my days and wait for the shit to hit the fan. And if we are to have a hope in hell of addressing climate change, who ever beats Trumplethinskin will have to figure out how to govern a terribly divided country with a government that has been hollowed out by the assault on competence we are currently enduring.

    Somehow, we are going to figure out how to drag the deplorables back into sanity despite the fact we’d rather push them over the edge. That’s going to take real discipline, insight and leadership. I’m afraid that is my number one issue, because it is a prerequisite to dealing effectively with all the others–including climate change.

    • I give money to two candidates: Beto and Pete. So both are getting evil oil money. Lol. For a mere $25, I’ve taught Pete to say “drilligieg baby, bittidriligieg.”

  10. I wouldn’t make it an island.

    • Well, technically Australia is an island.

      • David B. Benson

        No, snarkrates, Australia is one of the 6 or 7 continents, depending upon who is counting.

      • Dude, surrounded on all sides by water, isolated from all other land masses. Just try telling Aussies they don’t live on an island.

      • David B. Benson

        snarkrates — Then they flunk geography.

      • brettschmidt

        As an Australian, I know that Greenland is officially defined as earth’s largest island and Australia as the smallest continent. However, this is purely a matter of convention; Australia is certainly a landmass completely surrounded by water, and so fits the popular conception, if not the official definition, of an island. Of course, since all land masses on earth are surrounded by water, they could, in that sense, be regarded as islands. If we define an island as any land mass surrounded by water, then Eurasia is the largest island.

  11. Speaking of voting, Sat 23 March is the New South Wales state election in Australia. It matters for federal prospects for various reasons, one of which being the ousting by the party of our previous Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in August last year. His electorate was the New South Wales district of Wentworth in Sydney, held by a right-wing representative since its inception in 1901.

    As Turnbull quit politics altogether, the electoral district came up for a by-election, and for the first time in the history of that seat, the right-wing party lost it – to an independent. This was seen as a litmus test for the current federal government, a right-wing Coalition with shifting ideas on anthropogenic climate change.

    If the Coalition lose NSW, that will spell trouble for the federal Coalition, and bode a bit better for CC politics in Australia, which has been held up by the Coalition, both in power and in opposition.

    Good luck to all of us.

    • Good luck indeed! We can all use it.

      As I recall, the polling was encouraging for those who see a need for change.

    • John Brookes

      It has been funny in Australia, watching as the conservative politicians realise that people are voting on climate change. All of a sudden they don’t say “coal”, they say, “conventional power”. All of a sudden they pretend that they never wanted to follow Trump and pull out of the Paris agreement.

      Australia is a sad case, because we went from a carbon tax, which was demonstrably working, to “direct action” which involved giving money to big business not to pollute – which shows absolutely no sign of working.

      • brettschmidt

        Abbott’s statements on climate change varied depending on who he was talking to. When talking to a progressive audience, he said that AGW was real and we needed to do something about it. When talking to Alan Jones , (the right wing shock jock who said that climate science is “witchcraft”), Abbott said that AGW was a scam. When his party was in power (with Howard as Prime Minister), he supported (or said he supported) a price on carbon as a market based mechanism to tackle Global Warming. But when he was in opposition, and the Gillard government (with some help from independents) introduced the carbon tax, all of a sudden Abbott was against it, and started to misrepresent and lie about it to turn the majority of the Australian population against it. He used his opposition to the carbon tax as a means to eventually get himself elected as Prime Minister. Personally, I doubt whether he cared about the carbon tax itself one way or another; it was simply an issue he could exploit to satisfy his political opinions. Like Donald pea brain Trump, Tony Abbott is beneath contempt.

  12. David B. Benson

    Is nobody paying attention to the Colorado River? How about the Rio Grande?

  13. To sign or not to sign?

    https://newrepublic.com/article/153336/democrats-refuse-sign-no-fossil-fuel-money-pledge

    Sign, of course!

    “Kirsten Gillebrand is… not the first Democratic candidate to take the pledge. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee have all signed the document administered by the No Fossil Fuel Money coalition.”*

  14. Martin Smith

    Here is how I “feel” about the outlook for the Democrats in 2020. Bernie Sanders is too old. Joe Biden is too old. Elizabeth Warren’s voice is too weak and whiny. Beto O’Rourke apologized for a story he wrote when he was 15. He’s too weak. Jay Inslee is a one trick pony. Julian Castro can’t win with the name Castro. Pete Buttigieg can’t win with the name Buttigieg. Andrew Yang is loonie.

    There might be a good presidential choice in the remaining set, but none of them is stepping up to take the lead. That’s the main problem with the Democrats, I think. there is no leadership. Nancy Pelosi does a good job in the House, but outside the House she is a fish out of water. Chuck Schumer has been unable to end Mitch McConnel’s complete blockade of governance. There is no party leadership in the Democratic party.

    Ten years ago, Senator Obama stepped up and led the party from his first speech. None of the Democratic candidates is doing that now. They are all standing around waiting for something to happen, not realizing they are what is supposed to be happening.

    Without a leader, we’re gonna lose again. Trump is a complete asshole, but he’s out there every day doing what he does. Without another Obama (Andrew Gillum could do it), Trump will win.

    • Martin Smith: “Pete Buttigieg can’t win with the name Buttigieg.” Because “Barrack Obama” is such a good American-sounding name, and nobody could ever make fun of a name like “Bush”.
      “Elizabeth Warren’s voice is too weak and whiny.” Funny, you don’t seem to apply such a critique to any of the male candidates…

      What it is going to come down to is finding a candidate who can remain disciplined and on message when confronted with the inevitable shit show that the Darth Cheeto re-election campaign will devolve into. Buttigieg has done a good job of that so far. Kamala Harris has also maneuvered well. I would say that Booker has underperformed so far. And unfortunately, Inslee seems to be lost in the crowd.

      Also, whoever wins will have to assume a persona that America finds credible. For Warren, that is “beloved professor”. Buttigieg is doing a good job becoming “Mayor Pete.” Bernie and Joe will have to be irascible uncles, as father figure doesn’t cut it for either. Obama’s persona was that of “coach,” which was an acceptable avatar for a black American now. Harris might be able to claim “prosecutor,” particularly if the economy goes south and people are a lot more pissed off by 2020 than they are right now.

      • Martin Smith

        Snarkrates: “Because “Barrack Obama” is such a good American-sounding name, and nobody could ever make fun of a name like “Bush”.” My feeling has nothing to do with the name sounding American or making fun of it. It’s about the subconscious inputs to making these choices when no one stands out as the clear choice. Obama stood out as the clear choice, so the subconscious effect of his name wasn’t important. However, at the time I first saw him as a possible candidate, the oddness of his name did come to my mind. But I could consciously dismiss it because he was solidly the best candidate.
        “Funny, you don’t seem to apply such a critique to any of the male candidates…” Not funny at all. I haven’t heard anyone else with a weak, whiny voice. Hers is a big problem, I think. She should get a voice coach, if she doesn’t have one already.

        “What it is going to come down to is finding a candidate who can remain disciplined and on message when confronted with the inevitable shit show…” If it really does come down to that, then I think my “feeling” is right, because it means no one has stood out as a real leader.

        “Also, whoever wins will have to assume a persona that America finds credible.” When you say that, my “feeling” sinks. A candidate who assumes a persona is a candidate who is not being himself/herself. Whatever you say about Trump, he really is the person who is speaking. If you have to assume a persona, you are deceiving the people.

        Obama exhibited real leadership in his campaign. After he was elected, he seemed to abandon that trait and he became a president who always worked to achieve consensus, no matter what the opposition was saying. I’m not sure I see any candidate yet who Trump wouldn’t walk all over. That’s what I “feel” at this point.