Contemplations On Obama's DeSmogBlog "Award," Blogging, And Presidential Politics


DeSmogBlog has conferred a controversial award on US Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama: It's called the "2007 SmogMaker Award for blowing smoke on global warming." Joe Romm's reaction in Climate Progress is here: "DeSmogBlog owes Obama three apologies;" (a posting title that well serves as a metaphor for more inter-blogal controversies brewing over the politics of green).

Self-described green blogs have focused largely around writing about life style, and scientific, and/or technological or design issues. Jumping in as political pundits in the middle of Presidential primary season, green blogs are in new territory, however, and take the chance of resembling the Washington DC 'punditocracy'.Political punditry, as a career, is much like being an astrologer Jeanne Dixon-style.

Dixon was so well-known that John Allen Paulos, a mathematician at Temple University, coined what he called the "Jeane Dixon effect", in which people loudly tout a few correct predictions and overlook false predictions.

Both the punditry and astrology strategies involve spouting as many explanations and predictions as possible in the media time alloted, building a reputation as "expert" by claiming credit on those few occasions when the call comes close to being "right". If you watch the pundit round-table talk shows in the United States, you can see pundits on the respective sides of the political aisle reinforcing each other in this manner: "boy you really called that one Fred." Credibility hinges on the tong term accuracy stats never being revealed.

And, of course, political bloggers have made careers out of pointing out mistakes, oversights, and manipulations of broadcast and print pundits.

Time and again through the last 6 months our readers have read that climate change is no longer a technical issue: it's a policy or a moral issue. Something beyond those characterizations has happened. The US Presidential primary races have made climate and energy policy political, providing a tempting opening for green bloggers.

How else to react to this development, then, but to issue my own prediction! Eventually, a Presidential candidate is going to pay tribute to the growing green movement, seeking our votes on that basis. And, in succeeding months, the vision of green design and needed lifestyle changes which has been espoused by green bloggers will be examined very closely by people who paid little heed to them before. We are in a position to influence these new onlookers, and their audiences, much more so than we might have had any influence over climate science.

In this transformative period, we who have had little or no background in politics or public policy are going to have to reinvent ourselves in a way that legitimizes our role as political commentators, or risk distracting from the most important decisions of our time.

A TreeHugger post-based background on Senator Obama and his relationship to coal follows.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama indeed has history of actively supporting Big Coal: "Coal-To-Liquid Diesel Fuel: A Bipartisan Issue That Unites Environmentalists With Farmers."

Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama recently voted against his own proposal, once it was seen that environmentalists were against giving millions of taxpayer dollars to coal interests: "Obama Refines His Position on Coal"

Likely just a coincidence, but the controversial FutureGen project seemingly awarded to Illinois during Presidential primary season makes it looks like Obama helped deliver the dough to his Illinois constituents, regardless of his vote changing, to the possible benefit of Wisconsin's Governor Doyle.

See also FutureGen's Plan to Bring CCS to Illinois in Trouble?

Via::DeSmogBlog, Obama named SmogMaker of 2007, "Prize honors those who sow confusion and delay on Climate Change" Image credit::ABC News,
"Iowa Winners Face New Challenges in N.H., Obama and Huckabee, Winners in Iowa, Seek to Repeat Victory in New Hampshire Primary."

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