Climate Comes of Age in Political Ads

October 22, 2014

“So what’s a Republican, like me, doing at a wind farm?” asks GOP Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner in the ad above.
Damn good question, given the hostility to renewable energy that leading GOP funders and interest groups have been showing in recent years, and the current political campaign.


In Senate races in the general election, the analysis found, energy and the environment are the third-most mentioned issue in political advertisements, behind health care and jobs.

The explosion of energy and environmental ads also suggests the prominent role that the issues could play in the 2016 presidential race, especially as megadonors — such as Thomas F. Steyer, a California billionaire and environmental activist on the left, and Charles G. and David H. Koch, billionaire brothers on the right — take sides. Leaders of major environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters said they had collectively spent record amounts of money in this election cycle.

“Candidates are using energy and environment as a sledgehammer to win a race,” said Elizabeth Wilner, the senior vice president for politics at Kantar Media/CMAG.

Groups representing the energy industry and environmental advocacy have typically been the lead players in presenting policy positions in ads, but this year the candidates themselves and party political committees are also taking on that role.

“What’s important about what’s going on right now is the extent to which the Democrats feel confident playing offense on environmental and energy issues, and the extent to which polling shows that they are scoring when they do that,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.

What pollsters know, and what candidates are finding out, is that climate and energy issues work to move voters.  In Mr. Gardner’s home state of Colorado, renewable energy is popular, and concerns about climate and environment are high – leading Democratic interest groups to seek to tie Mr. Gardner’s record of climate denial to his stands on other social issues where he seems to be out of step with his constituency.

The election results will tell us something about how well these kinds of attacks, and responses, have worked – but the swing in voter attitudes on climate change is unlikely to stop, especially given the possibility that 2014 could be the hottest year ever in the NASA surface temperature record, and if a developing El Nino warming event in the Pacific plays out in coming months, 2015 could be hotter still.



32 Responses to “Climate Comes of Age in Political Ads”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    “BIPARTISAN natural gas”, gushes Gardner? Lord love a duck! Swell—-we can chant “bipartisan death to the biosphere” too.

    All the politicians forget the “party” that counts the most—-in addition to batting last, Mother Nature VOTES LAST. It’s nice to see some maggots turning in the pile of rotten meat called the Republican Party, but things are moving too slowly.

    I will again remind everyone of how the Democrats in coal, oil, and gas states are forced to run scared from the fossil fuel interests. Our only hope to reverse that trend is to get the dirty money out of politics—-if we don’t, the Kochs will continue to pervert the democratic process and buy more of the government.

  2. The ads are not what determines who I’m voting for. In fact, I turn the TV off as soon as commercials come on, so I don’t have to listen to that drivel.

    It’s the history of the candidates that does. And Gardner is a denier, or bought and paid for. Either way, he didn’t get my vote. And I hate to say it but neither did Hickenlooper. The GREEN party candidate got that vote. The ONLY green candidate on the ballot. If there had been more Greenies, I would have voted for more of them. Hickenlooper is in bed with natural gas interests, and he supported the lawsuits against cities that voted to ban fracking inside city limits.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      So you threw your vote away because you wanted to make a “statement”?
      Just like those who voted for Ralph Nader?

      That may have given 2000 to Bush, and if so, it was a HUGE disaster for the country—-one that we may never fully recover from. May I suggest that in the future you consider voting for the “least evil devil” rather than delude yourself into thinking your “principled” vote for a Greenie did any real good?

      • You can recommend whatever you want. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to do what you tell me to do.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          I didn’t “tell” you to do anything—-it was merely a suggestion for your consideration. And I’ve been dealing with folks suffering from varying degrees of cognitive dissonance for a long time, so your reply doesn’t surprise me.

          (I DO wish you wouldn’t add to the world’s CO2 burden by driving down to the polls, however. You can just as easily throw your vote away by simply staying home on election day—that would be “greener”)

          • You’re not playing nice, are you? I mail my ballots, if you must know. Nice try, though.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I’M the one that’s not playing nice? LOL

            I’m not the one who is creating an unnecessary carbon footprint with the manufacture of the paper, envelope, stamp, glue, gasoline for the mail truck(s) etc. involved in your mailing your ballot. I will again suggest that you do the truly “green” thing and just not bother to vote, since your vote is meaningless.

            Nice try at evading the real issue I raised, though.

            I will spell it out for you. On the left, those who vote for the Naders and the Greens in a close election run the risk of taking votes away from a mainstream Democrat. Those on the right who vote for a Libertarian risk taking votes away from a more moderate and mainstream Republican. I am happy to see the Repugnants destroy themselves, but do NOT see any sense in not doing all we can to elect almost ANY Democrat, even though they may only be the lesser of two evils.

            To repeat, “I will again remind everyone of how the Democrats in coal, oil, and gas states are forced to run scared from the fossil fuel interests”. If you do NOT vote for those Democrats, you may as well be voting FOR a candidate of the fossil fuel interests. A case in point is the two senators here in VA, both Democrats, both successful former governors, both good men—-it saddens and angers me to watch them do complicated tap dances around coal, natural gas, and renewables issues here in VA.

          • climatelurker – Oooohhh. Not playing nice. Not with dog. He will bite.

    • andrewfez Says:

      I thought 95% of the time, the candidate with the most $$$ wins? Or at least that’s what TYT pushes.

      • Andrew – Hi. Most of the time, it won’t matter what pol you vote for or what he said during the election. During the vote, the lobbying dollars is what counts. But its all leeeguulll. What a farce. Congress policing itself. We should do a metric. How much per vote.

      • Andrew – This calls for a medley of tunes on the subject. Start with this:

        • andrewfez Says:

          There was one from James Brown i think we used to listen to in high school, and it went something like: ‘People, people: got to get over, before you go under……..get involved, get involved, get involved…….’

          And it’s fairly accurate: virtually every progressive measure in society over the last 100 or 150 years happened when a bunch of concerned people got together and pushed for change. There’s no secrete here on what to do.

    • Alec Sevins Says:

      Do you think it’s GREEN to destroy millions of acres of scenery with gigantic towers that only myopic people would pretend not to see (and hear)? A big lie in the wind industry is that turbines use “very little land” due to the weird claim that only the tower/earth interface represents “affected acreage.” Does anyone think other skyscrapers are only noticed for their foundations? That same argument was used to defend ANWR drilling and rejected as a logical fallacy by the same types who now push wind power!

      Neil DeGrasse Tyson repeated that fable in Cosmos episode 12 while the camera panned over offshore turbines (open water seems more abstract than land without the context of farms and forests being disrupted). I suspect the producers were aware of the spin when choosing that scene. You have to distort reality to soft-pedal this century’s largest rural construction projects.

      People who install wind turbines are forced to have the same mentality as anyone who disrupts nature. They just have a convenient green badge to do it with. True environmentalists should see through the ruse, especially with so much subsidy money involved. Republicans are also notorious for decrying Federal subsidies yet milking them in their own states and wind power is a magnet for such abuse.

  3. jimbills Says:

    On the issues:

    Both candidates support an ‘all of the above’ strategy to energy. Gardner tends towards the denier camp – Udall looks like he’d push harder for renewables, but he wouldn’t stop oil and gas (except on park land and near schools). Both candidates support Keystone.

  4. This brings us to the next point. People are done with the political system. They don’t believe in it. Instead they are doing it alone. Politicians don’t lead. They follow. Belief in the political system is a particular form of American optimism. Sorry to break the mold and not follow it. Forget politics. Sure, do try to lobby, don’t stop. But don’t put too much effort in that basket. Americans need to stop being swayed by opinion pollsters spouting Big Oil paid propaganda. The system is captive to propaganda. There is no refuge in it. See Portland. They are doing more to change the most important thing, culture, than all the politicking. Real change is communities choosing their future. Its happening in Portland. Its happening in Germany. Its not happening in Congress.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Wolf-PAC is still flying under the radar to the average American, but after successfully getting VT and CA to call for a resolution to get money out of politics using article v. of the Constitution, they’ve caught the attention of Congress (notice how Congress tried to pass some campaign finance reform to appease whoever was watching recently). They’ve also caught the attention of the Koch Boys: NJ had the resolution in committee and generally an army of Wolf-PAC citizens shows up at these things to pressure the committees to pass the resolution, except this time around Americans for Prosperity also showed up. Wolf-PAC destroyed AFP and now the next step is to call for a vote in the NJ legislature.

      I think it takes 2/3rds of the states to call for the resolution to amend the Constitution. It’ll take a few years and as more states go down, the Koch Boys and every other person with $$$ will start the fight, but it will happen, specifically because everyone is sick of the bribery aside from the cronies in Congress and even some of those guys are sick of having to spend 50% of their time calling people to beg for money.

      But when it finally happens, the climate deniers will be ousted and we’ll add significantly to the groundwork now being laid at the state level.

      • Andrew – Good for you. Forget pessimism. I told a friend during the Vietnam War times to quit smoking dope. Dropping out and being apathetic is exactly what the forces that control Congress want. They want us to believe that they set the agenda. They want us to believe that communities cannot win. They are wrong. Its not the politicians that do the deciding. Its us. They want us to believe we are powerless. Don’t give up if it doesn’t work. To get what you want you have to make politicians do it. Voting means little if you don’t hold them to the fire.

  5. rayduray Says:

    Peter mentions El Nino. One of my favorite sources on that topic is here:

    And according to the BOM, ENSO appears to be unlikely to be influencing the weather anytime soon.

    Meanwhile, an atmospheric river situation is evolving in the Pacific Northwest, bringing us the first significant storms (and coastal river salmon runs) of the season. Almost to the day exactly as it was in the first October I spent in Oregon 42 years ago. Now why do I believe in climate change, exactly? 🙂

    • lesliegraham1 Says:

      Don’t know where you get the idea that an El Nino is unlikely.

      The BoM, reported a couple of days ago that the Nino 3.4 index for the week ending Oct 19 2014 had a value of +0.62C and the CFSv2 Nino 3.4 forecast issued by NOAA on the 21st Oct shows it is likely that a strong El Nino event will develop by July 2015.

      OK – it’s pretty much chrystal ball stuff that far ahead but it certainly doesn’t indicate that ENSO is “unlikely to be influencing the weather anytime soon.”
      Unless by ‘anytime soon’ you mean next month.

      IMO – based on a near pathological obsession with ENSO data over many years – is that we might even be on the cusp of a Super El Nino by next Autumn.

      This disucussion forum on part of Neven’s sea ice blog is the best source of ENSO information on the web. Some of the the contributors seem to be better informed than even some proffesionals. They also correlate just about every source of info about ENSO on the net into one blog, which saves a lot of surfing time.

  6. redskylite Says:

    On the El Nino, one has to be very careful on where the information comes from and I agree the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is a good source.

    I read in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday that an El Nino was imminent, but the same day’s “reportingclimatescience” website stated the chances of an El Nino were fading.

    The Southern Oscillation Index (as reported by BOM) hasn’t done anything exciting lately (-4.3). It generally needs to maintain -8 for 3 or more months for a fully fledged El Nino to be declared, So I believe the reportingscience site over the SMH.

  7. Alec Sevins Says:

    What’s so surprising about Republicans supporting wind power? They’ve long supported environmentally-destructive technologies, and wind just adds a green badge to their existing agenda. It’s a “win-wind” situation for them.

    You could easily swap out the typical wind turbine field installer with an oil roughneck and the skills are often similar in the rigging and driving departments. Both make a living invading landscapes and disrupting the lives of people & animals who live there. Both make similar excuses like “we need energy” so something must be sacrificed. They certainly don’t want to sacrifice their own paychecks, even if others’ lives are ruined. Engineers and managers steering wind projects aren’t much different than fracking promoters. It’s just a different type of damage that happens to not emit fumes (post-construction) but is visually worse because of turbines’ sheer size. The money flows either way in the land-rape business.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: