The Silly Season Is Upon Us: Fiorina Goes After Boxer on Climate Action

Doesn't it seem like President Obama was just elected? Well, he was, but alas there is no offseason in politics. The 2010 mid-terms are heating up and California Republican candidate Carly Fiorina is wasting no time going after Senator Barbara Boxer. Her assault hit a new high--or low, depending on your point of view--this week when Fiorina launched a 7-minute web ad that attacks Boxer with hyperbolic and inaccurate charges. Some of the most egregious attacks centered on Boxer's advocacy for action on climate change.The video depicts Boxer as a pompous, out-of-touch Washington elite who seems to be only interested in raising taxes, growing government and performing for the cameras. In an age where we need dialogue not puffery, education and not accusation, and beyond anything else, leadership, Fiorina created a video that depicts Boxer as giant floating head that rules the skies of California. The video is irresponsible at best and shows how Fiorina intends to treat Californians during the election--like naives who can't handle a substantive, fact-based conversation on the issues that affect our collective future.

The video spends a fair share of its time on Boxer's support for an economy wide cap-and-trade system that would price carbon emissions and put the country on a road that leads to energy independence and job creation. Yet Fiorina doesn't engage on a substantive level with voters on climate change or on the policy options from which country must choose. Instead, she uses the same old Republican fear tactics of saying climate action would kill jobs and create new taxes. She also mocks Boxer for saying that climate change is a national security threat.

Fiorina may not view a changing climate as a security threat, but the US military does. The NY Times John Broder write about this last year in an article titled, "Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security."

Recent war games and intelligence studies conclude that over the next 20 to 30 years, vulnerable regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, will face the prospect of food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding driven by climate change that could demand an American humanitarian relief or military response.

An exercise last December at the National Defense University, an educational institute that is overseen by the military, explored the potential impact of a destructive flood in Bangladesh that sent hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into neighboring India, touching off religious conflict, the spread of contagious diseases and vast damage to infrastructure. "It gets real complicated real quickly," said Amanda J. Dory, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, who is working with a Pentagon group assigned to incorporate climate change into national security strategy planning.

California In A Position To Lead
Fiorina's rhetoric may get her base fired up, but it won't solve climate change. California is moving ahead with AB32, its plan for putting a price on carbon and getting ahead of the curve in a carbon constrained world. AB32 will cut emissions by 25 percent, relative to 1990 levels, by 2020. While her state is leading on climate change and fuel efficiency for vehicles, Fioina seems to be adopting the Sarah Palin strategy of "do nothing and hope it goes away." That's not good enough. If Fiorina wants the vote of the rest of California--let's call this block the reality-based vote--then she's going to need to accept reality and tell us her plan for converting our economy to a clean and green one. Vicious videos may get Fiorina headlines, but they won't stop the planet from warming.

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