Chicago is at the Heart of the Climate Debate This Week

As the dignitaries all fly out after this weekend’s NATO conference in Chicago, the focus does not really shift from global security here. Wednesday marks the EPA’s hearings on the proposed Greenhouse gas standards for new power plants, one of the most important steps currently being taken to buy time in the fight to stop climate change.

We expect to hear a huge diversity of voices: energy industry insiders noting that the standards are doable, community members noting the health impacts that high carbon polluting facilities are having on their communities and researchers noting the ecosystem dangers that will accompany worsening climate change like increased algae blooms in the Great Lakes and invasive species colonizing formerly inaccessible places. But in light of the high-level discussions of world leaders about global instability, security arguments might resonate the most; folks like retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson who note the cost in lives to be paid in conflicts brought on by future climate-related conflicts (and those being paid now due to our reliance on oil, a chief contributor to the problem).

The challenge is daunting. And sadly, I expect to hear voices complaining of the costs that may come to industries regulated by the rules. Or folks denying that there is a climate problem at all. In that respect, another Chicago gathering this week is instructive. Our local "Foil Hat Think Tank," the Heartland Institute (an astonishing throw back to the Know Nothing era), is holding its third climate denier forum, where folks like the Illinois Coal Association and the Koch Brothers' so-called "Americans for Prosperity" help fund a gathering of those who do not wish to acknowledge the changing climate that threatens our homes, families and Planet. There is some internal fear and self loathing loose among the gathering this year, as the group’s ill-advised, totally creepy theatrics have started an exodus of funders and senior staffers who can no longer afford to be seen with Heartland Institutors in the light of day. Their extreme views are no longer acceptable in the face of clear climate threats. While we are not moving forward to address the changing climate as quickly as we must, thankfully, it is getting a lot harder for the folks trying to pull us backwards. And that is good news for our nation's future, and the security of the Earth.

If you are not in Chicago or DC for the hearings, you can still take action online.