September 28, 2010
First off, time’s running out to remind you about the big pre-election concert and all-around party coming up in nine short days.
That means you’re running out of time to get tickets.
So I’ll make this easy:
What: The Fifth Annual Concert under the Stars (That “Fifth” thing means we’ve been doing this for a while, and believe me, we’re getting pretty good at it.)
Where: Zilker Park (Yeah, the big iconic park across the river from Downtown Austin.)
When: Thursday, October 7 at 8 p.m. (Again, just nine days away.)
Who: Robert Randolph and the Family Band (One of Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 100 guitarists of all time … just in case I’m not enough of an inducement to get you there.)
Why: Why do you think? (Seriously, if you have to ask, then you really, really need to be at this deal for the educational experience.)
How: Click here. (Right now.)
Since that’s out of the way, I’ll see you next week.
Long-time Watson Wire readers (you know who you are) know that since I was elected to the State Senate, I’ve worked very hard – like, Charlie Brown-learning-to-kick-a-football hard – to get folks in the Texas Legislature to pay attention to the issue of climate change.
For the benefit of not-long-time readers (you know who you are, too, and that’s okay; we like new friends), it took me two legislative sessions to pass my “No Regrets” bill (you can read about it here), which right now has the state studying strategies that will both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money for businesses and consumers. The last meeting of the working group was this past week. Final public comment is being taken. The report will be out soon and I’ll be sure to let you know about it.
I also passed a bill out of the Senate last year that would have put Texas on the cutting edge when it comes to the creation of solar power generators and other renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, the bill died at the last minute in the state House of Representatives due to unrelated complications. (Thanks, needless, pointless, hyper-partisan wedge issues!).
And I’ve long bemoaned the failure of those in control of our state to act more decisively on this issue, particularly given that Texas emits more greenhouse gases than any other state.
What’s been less-frequently noted, frankly, is the role that climate change will play in national security issues in coming decades. And this is where a retired U.S. Vice Admiral and current British Rear Admiral come in.
Almost two years ago, I went to London with three of my colleagues in the Senate to get a close-up view of how the United Kingdom is addressing climate change in a comprehensive, consensus-driven way. As I wrote at the time:
“We met with a number of members of Parliament, government officials, business leaders, and many others. It was a diverse group, but the most interesting part may have been how all sides accept the science of climate change, consider it a vital issue, are doing whatever they can to solve it, and aren’t making excuses based on the actions or inactions of anyone else.”
The British government sponsored the trip, and working alongside American officials, they haven’t let up on the mission.
This month, British Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti joined retired U.S. Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn on something like a barnstorming tour of Texas and Florida to talk about how climate change and the reliance on 20th Century energy technologies will affect not only our economy, but also our security and international stability.
As they noted, the problems of climate change can have a significant destabilizing effect on already combustible countries. Floods can wreak havoc on a nation, droughts can threaten the food supply, and other extreme weather events can spark or worsen unrest.
In addition, so many military vehicles and so much equipment relies on fossil fuels that threats to the fuel supply can directly threaten the military’s ability to function.
I was proud to host a Texas get-together for the admirals at the Capitol, where they discussed the issue with Texas legislators and their staff. As was noted in the British account of the meeting, “Many in attendance noted that they had never made the connection between climate change and national security.”
This is the kind of perspective, teamwork, and effort that we’ll need to address climate change. And I hope that it will make a difference when the legislative session starts in less than four months.
Because if the considerable economic and environmental arguments aren’t enough to get those in control of the legislative process to take action to clean up and secure our energy supply, I hope they’ll at least act to keep our nation secure.
Now if I could only get old Wings songs out of my head.
Make it stop.