We knew going into the debate that this wouldn't be a dry or civil climate conversation. In this corner: Climate science proponent Amanda Little, Grist reporter and author of Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells -- Our Ride to the Renewable Future. In the next corner: Global warming skeptic Phelim McAlee, the man behind the film, Not Evil Just Wrong. Moderated by the one and only Sarah Silverman. "Let's get ready to rumble!" Or as Silverman said, "Let's start this mother f#$ker."
The Daily Green was lucky enough to get front-row seats to this debate, which was sponsored by Lexus and their CT 200h premium compact hybrid. The debate took place at New York City's loft space Skylight West and was a pretty star-studded event (sightings included Zach Braff and some of the correspondents from The Daily Show).
The debate covered climate gate, green journalism and electric and hybrid vehicles. Both debaters brought knowledge, humor and edge as did Silverman, who was obviously well prepared, adding insightful and funny comments throughout the debate while she simultaneously tried to keep the crowd quiet. (Shouting "SHUUUUTTT UPPPP!" and "I hate you guys right now!" were her tactics.)
The debate's timing happened to fall on the same week that President Obama announced his drilling plans and co2 emission standards and that the climate scientist Phil Jones, who was involved in the climate gate e-mails, was exonerated. We followed up with Amanda Little a few days later to get some more of her thoughts on the current green "climate" (questions below).
Glo: Do you think President Obama's new offshore drilling plan is a necessary evil right now to get America off of foreign oil?
The offshore drilling plan will do next to nothing to get America off of foreign oil, but I support it nevertheless. It's a necessary evil for political reasons--a gambit designed to win votes for climate policy. A number of Senators who have been withholding support for the climate bill have complained that America isn't doing enough to develop its own oil reserves. Offhore drilling is a political concession-- and I think, a necessary concession -- that will bring Republicans to the table on comprehensive energy and climate policy and, if all goes well, garner new votes.
Glo: In defense of his plan, Obama said, ... this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short and long term. Is this really the best short term plan?
The climate bill will add a cost to carbon, which will in turn make renewable and alternative fuels more cost-competitive with fossil fuels, accelerating the shift to a clean energy economy. The benefits of getting climate legislation passed outweigh the burdens of opening up coastal regions to oil exploration and development.
Glo: What do you hope to see in the rest of Obamas energy strategy?
We need a bold price on carbon -- that is the holy grail. Bold enough to begin leveling the playing field between renewables and fossil fuels, to drive innovation in clean technologies and make America competitive in the global economy. Props to the Obama administration's recent decision to finalize standards for co2 emissions from vehicles--a huge step given that transportation acounts for nearly a third of our greenhouse gas emission. I'd like to see a much more aggressive push for research and development in clean tech-- particularly on the smart grid and batteries or other energy storage devices that can dispatch renewable energies on demand.
Glo: You discussed Climate Gate (or Climate Gate-Gate as Silverman put it) the other night at the debate. The main scientist embroiled in the controversy has just been exonerated, will this put an end to the debates about scientists faking information?
It won't silence skeptics for the simple reason that they've never grounded their arguments in reality. The mounting evidence against their argument just seems to inflame their fury and intensify their resistance. They will go down fighting.
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