10. Tina Palin [Sarah Fey?]. Palin helped ruin John McCain's chances by turning off independents and in general being emblematic of his erratic approach to decision-making. Plus she is the gift that keeps on giving as "64% of GOP voters say Palin is their top choice for 2012," which means she may help lead conservatives to an even bigger defeat in 2012. And she made possible Fey's SNL uber-fey impression. Talk about win-win. Thank you very much!
9. Climate Scientists. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, thank a climate scientist for helping to alert the world in the 1970s and 1980s to the dangers of chlorofluorocarbons, which led the nations of the world to control their use just in the nick of time to save the ozone layer that protects us from dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Can you believe that within five years of the first scientific papers on CFCs deadly impact, the United States voluntarily banned their use in spray cans? Now saving the planet requires much more than simply doing good science. It requires a willingness to suffer the gauntlet of the climate deniers disinformation campaign. And the stakes are much higher -- the health and well-being of the next 50 generations. TYVM James Hansen et al.
8. The Thrilla in Vanilla. OK, it wasn't Ali-Frazier, but Henry Waxman's smackdown of John Dingell for chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee was high drama with high consequences. Finally, we have a champion of serious action and strong regulation, someone who gets the dire nature of global warming, in charge of the crucial committee for climate, energy, and health-care legislation. TYVM House Democrats!
7. The Daily Show. And the Rachel Maddow Show. And the Colbert Report. With a gazillion channels, the wasteland is vaster than ever. But thanks to Jon Stewart and his ilk, sometimes TV seems only half vast [and yes, I've waited a long time to use that pun]. How would we really know what's going on -- and how would we retain even a smidgen of our sanity -- without these modern-day bards? Certainly not by paying attention to the drivel that passes for the MSM (see, for instance, "The New York Times blows the bark beetle story"). Oh, and maybe a TYVM to Mad Men, House, Entourage, Battlestar Galactica, and yes, Lost, for distracting us or at least me from the worst reality television show in history -- The West Wing starring Dick Cheney and George Bush.
6. Venture Capitalists. While the rest of the financial system melts down, cleantech venture investment hits record $2.6B in 3rd quarter. Is that a lot of money? Well, of that $2.6B, some $1.7B went to U.S. companies, which is about three times the comparable annual R&D budget in the Energy Department office I once ran, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) program, which did -- and still does -- the bulk of the federal government clean tech funding. And VCs ramped up funding while the Bush administration gutted some of the most important research and deployment EERE had. This country finally has a chance to reassert leadership in cleantech, in key areas like concentrated solar thermal electric, thin film solar, biofuels, smart grid, and batteries. All the technology we need to stabilize at 450 ppm is here or will be in a few years (see "Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 2: The Solution"). TYVM Kleiner Perkins et al.
5. EPA melts its coal, coal heart. What is more touching than when Scrooge's heart melts? When the once and future protector of the environment cools to coal so the world doesn't melt! Yes, the EPA Environmental Appeals Board has stopped new coal plants cold by, amazingly enough, realizing that when the Supreme Court ruled carbon dioxide was a pollutant and EPA needed to start regulating it under the Clean Air Act, they meant it. TYVM to the Sierra Club for making this decision possible.
4. Democrats, Congressional Democrats. Two elections in a row they road the GOP hard and put 'em away wet. Who's your Daddy, now? Okay, maybe they aren't as rough and tough as Bond, James Bond, but they gave the supposedly tough, macho, Drill, baby, Drill, Daddy party a second consecutive drubbing. And thanks to their growing majority, we will finally have serious clean energy legislation and serious climate legislation. TYVM Reid and Pelosi.
3. The Blogosphere. I agree with Arianna. From HuffingtonPost to ThinkProgress to fivethirtyeight.com, the blogosphere was the place to be. Progressives can be doubly thankful for the Internet. First, it helped progressives stop the right wing spin machine from dominating election news cycles with their usual display of distractions and disinformation. Second, the internet became a fundraising tool that allowed an insurgent campaign to become a winning campaign. On a personal note, this was the first election where I didn't have to sit through weeks of frustration over faulty strategy and messaging by our Presidential candidate. Not only did he run a great campaign, but when he went adrift for several days, I (and many others) could communicate directly to his team through the blogosphere. At the very least it did wonders for my blood pressure, saved me money on Xanax, and I'd like to think at least two of my posts helped team Obama -- "Obama and Biden Go Back to a Losing Message," which I know was sent in to the campaign, and "Erratic McCain Parachutes into Temperament Narrative," which argued that the word "erratic" was the best one to label McCain with. I don't know if team Obama read that post, but they did embrace the word "erratic" soon thereafter and repeated it endlessly, until the media and even conservatives picked it up. On a professional note, I make a living now blogging, and I am incredibly thankful that I have found this best of all "work." I am thankful to Huffington Post for letting me blog here, to the Center for American Progress Action Fund for giving me a free hand at ClimateProgress.org, and to everybody who actually reads my stuff, since I learn so much from your comments and since you are the reason my blog still exists. I am grateful to every website that runs my posts, and, of course, TYVM to the man who made this all possible, Al Gore.
2. President-elect Barack Obama. A year ago, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, warned "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment." That means the next president of the United States, more than anyone else, will determine my future and your future and our children's future, and perhaps the future of the next 50 generations to walk the earth. Fortunately, we elected somebody who gets it, as is clear from the ringing remarks he gave to the post-election governors climate summit: "The science is beyond dispute... Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response." And that means it is judgment day, deniers and delayers. There is a new sheriff coming to town, and he isn't an anti-scientific stooge like the current one or his
boss VP. Thank you Barack Obama and your entire team for running such a terrific campaign while maintaining your commitment to clean energy and global warming. Most of all, TYVM American people.
1. My family. What else is there to come home to? Okay, I work at home, but that just means more time with my 21-month-old daughter. Who else is going to say to me at night when I hold her in my arms in the rocking chair, the three words a father will never forget: "Fancy dining car." That tells me she wants me to sing Johnny Cash to her again as a lullaby [long story]. Maybe you had to be there. I'm glad I am.