What we know:
* Climate change is happening now and having real consequences on our lives, natural habitats and economies.
Seemingly every week new evidence emerges to reinforce the clear and present danger of climate change.
Just this week, the National Climatic Data Center reported that the Earth as a whole had its fourth-hottest month on record in July and the world’s oceans had the warmest month on record.
It is these types of persistently warmer temperatures that, according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), are contributing to disturbing new trends in America’s outdoor experience. A new report issued this week by NWF, which examines the impact of warmer temperatures, stronger storms, and changes in habitat on eight species, literally demonstrates that you can see the impact of climate change in your backyard:
Toxic algae outbreaks like the one that poisoned drinking water in Lake Erie are becoming worse and more frequent; Deer ticks, tiger mosquitoes and fire ants are becoming more widespread as a result of warmer temperatures and milder winters; and More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is accelerating the growth and increasing the abundance of poison ivy.
* We have existing and affordable solutions that will enable us to move away from our dependency on climate causing energy sources – we cannot afford the cost of inaction.
In April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final report in a series from the United Nations’ climate science body detailing the evidence of man-made climate change, the risks it poses and the range of solutions available to slow it down.
As a general rule, cost-benefit analyses are suspect.
Such analyses – which federal agencies perform to weigh the health and safety “benefits” of regulations (benefits like lower infant mortality rates and reliably safe and clean drinking water) against the “cost” of lost profits to Corporate America – result in a distorted model of a regulation’s impact. Invariably, the distortion creates a bias that exaggerates the regulation’s “cost,” largely because cost (measured in dollars and cents) is more easily quantified than benefits.
So one might think it’s a good thing that economists at the FDA have started factoring in pleasure – or, more specifically, its loss – when weighing the costs and benefits of new regulations. And one might think that a regulation that is expected to result in lower infant mortality rates, fewer cancer diagnoses, and longer, healthier lives for the American public to be a winner in terms of “pleasure,” right?
Unfortunately, one would be wrong.
Shockingly, the FDA’s cost-benefit analysis for a new tobacco regulation resulted in the rule’s projected health and safety benefits – fewer instances of heart and lung disease and fewer early deaths – being reduced by 70 percent due to the “loss in pleasure” smokers endure when trying to break their addiction.
As an ex-smoker myself (tobacco-free since 2008), I am well aware that the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal certainly constitute a “loss in pleasure.” But the notion that a smoker’s physical discomfort for a relatively brief period of time somehow trumps by 70 percent the health benefits of quitting (not to mention the increase in one’s disposable income and the gradual restoration of one’s senses of taste and smell) is utterly outrageous.
by Burkely Hermann
Recently, Every Voice came out with a new poll on money in politics, showing how American voters spanning political spectrum in twelve battleground states reject the idea the huge amount of money spent in the political system is “business as usual.”
The poll shows intense dislike of money interfering with elections. The poll shows that while more than 62 percent of voters support plans to reform campaign finance to empower small donors, super PACs are seen negatively. Additionally, 65 percent of voters feel that spending lots of money on elections “is wrong and leads to our elected officials representing the views of the wealthy.”
The results of this poll should be no surprise. After all, Americans have expressed a desire to reform the campaign finance system in the past. For example, in a 2011 Washington-ABC News poll, 69 percent of American voters said that they would like super PACs to be illegal and in a June 2013 Gallup poll, 79 percent of Americans said they would support “limiting the amount of money that U.S. House and Senate candidates can raise and spend for their campaigns.”
A Rasmussen poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that “elections are rigged in favor of incumbents.”