So, on the biggest issue we can deal with in this Congress, President Obama just weighed in big-time: "There's been some good work done by John Kerry and Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. Let's go. Let's not wait. Let's show the American people that in the midst of this crisis, all of us are opening our eyes to what's necessary to fulfill the promise to our children and our grandchildren." That's right -- the President is pounding the bully pulpit to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation.
But, ahh, Washington -- if you want a peek at why important statements like this get lost and why the 24/7 cable coverage turns into food fights sadly removed from the reality of real problems, look no further than the garbage churned out on a near daily basis by big monied interests dressed up to look like "think tanks," which publish pieces to distort the debate.
We get a great example today in the Hill, where a William Yeatman from the Competitive Enterprise Institute takes a big nothing-burger off the grill to muddy up my argument that climate change endangers our national security.
Reading his words, you'd think I was the only guy in America who sees the link between the dangers of climate change and our security. He conveniently ignores that I base my argument on the words and findings of the Pentagon, the CIA, analysts in the Bush Administration, generals like Anthony Zinni, Admirals like William Fallon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and, oh, gee, literally hundreds of other national security experts. Against that, we have someone from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an organization bankrolled by those trying to hold onto the status quo that has Americans sending $100 million a day to Iran for oil.
Now, let's look at the facts used by Mr. Yeatman, because they're a great example of what we're up against. He says that a single glacier area in Pakistan is getting larger and that anti-mosquito campaigns and sleeping nets help stop the spread of malaria. That's it. Well, of course mosquito nets help stop malaria. It's a complete non sequitur to the point that an unstable, warming climate will foster more disease and pandemics.
As for his other point, it's a textbook tactic from climate change deniers. They point to one localized event to try to discredit the global trend. It's true that a single glacier complex in Pakistan is growing, but that doesn't change the fact that globally, we're losing glacier mass at an alarming rate. This is exactly like the people who claim that a couple of snow storms in Washington, DC mean the climate isn't changing in dangerous ways.
The reality is that climate change is extremely dangerous in the very region Mr. Yeatman uses to make his point. India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed nations, share the waters of the runoff from the glaciers of the Himalayas, glaciers that are, over all, melting. The World Bank reported last year, "High population densities, a large concentration of poverty, and the region's climate variability have all combined to make South Asia especially sensitive to the consequences of climate change." And Reuters quoted last month, "High levels of poverty and population density also render both countries particularly vulnerable to climate change-related water shortages, said Munawar Saeed Bhatti, of Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs."
So, you can believe Mr. Yeatman, or you can believe the World Bank and the Pentagon: instability will cause more pandemics, drought and famine, and will cause upheavals in societies around the world. These are the breeding grounds of extremism and terrorism, and they accelerate threats to our national security.
We could let that happen, or we could pass the American Power Act. Mr. Yeatman's last point is that our national security is dependent on a strong economy. On this, I couldn't agree more. That's why the American Power Act -- according to a study out today from Third Way -- cuts down on our imports foreign oil, creates 1.9 million jobs in just the first ten years, lowers energy bills for Americans, and finally starts to wean us off our oil addiction. Just ask anyone on the Gulf Coast how important that last point is.
Look, it's no surprise that these are the tactics they are using. I had my staff build a website, TruthFightsBack, just to fight back against this nonsense. Here's a page on TruthFightsBack pushing back on this specific distortion:
Cut and paste that link into your Facebook page, use the Twitter tool on that page to write a tweet on it, or email this page to anyone you think should hear this. Only by pushing out the truth can we beat back the well-funded distortions of the other side.
Now let's get at it.
Follow Sen. John Kerry on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnKerry