A public garden is an institution that maintains collections of plants for the purposes of public education and enjoyment, in addition to research, conservation, and higher learning.
--- American Public Gardens Association
This is a story about the critical role of public gardens and the pandemic-induced recession’s impact on them—as seen through the experiences of the Green Ark Botanical Garden Found-ation (Foundation or Ark) in Costa Rica.
First, a word or two about botanic gardens
…a man, being just as hungry as thirsty and placed between food and drink, must necessarily remain where he is and starves to death.
Aristotle, On the Heavens, (c.350 BCE)
The nation has a decision to make. Is it ready to choose between fossil fuels and cleaner alternatives like solar and wind? Or will it continue to postpone the decision until the impact of Earth’s warming becomes so severe as to make it impossible to step back from the environ-mental brink?
It’s a question whose answer cannot be hedged, as it has been for decades.
A 14th-century philosopher, Jean Buridan, is given credit for positing the paradox of free will. Buridan pilfered it from Aristotle, who offered the scenario as a belittling response to the Soph-ists’ claim that Earth was circular—but stationary—because of equal pressures exerted all along its surface.
On their way out of town for the Memorial Day recess Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and all but six Republican senators killed legislation[i] that would have established an independent investigative commission on the January 6th insurrection. The attack on Cong-ress was intended to stop the Senate from certifying Biden’s 2020 election victory. The com-mission provided for in HR 3233 would have been similar in composition and operation to the one appointed following the 9/11 terror attacks.
Republican resistance to the January 6th commission carries with it an ominous warning of what’s to come for US climate policy. I’ll get to the why-of-it in a moment.
First, a bit of discussion on the legislative process used to kill the January 6th commission bill is in order, as it will undoubtedly impact negotiations in the matters of infrastructure and climate.
This is not a plan that tinkers around the edges. It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America … I’m convinced that if we act now, in 50 years, people will look back and say, ‘This was the moment America won the future.
—President Joe Biden
It’s nearly Memorial Day, and President Biden’s hoped-for agreement on an infrastructure bill seems to be in doubt given where the negotiations between Republicans and Democrats are after several weeks of discussions. Luckily there is nothing sacred about the Memorial Day target.
However, given how antsy progressive Democrats are to address infrastructure and climate issues, Biden’s target date may prove to be the line in the sand—marking the time the parties retreat to their partisan positions—each blaming the other for any failures.
A quick recap of where the parties are in their negotiations and a bit about the clean energy and climate provisions of the President’s proposed American Jobs Plan (the Jobs Plan or Plan) are in order.
Under common law, uttering is when a person offers as genuine
a forged instrument with the intent to defraud.
The new Republican line in Congress is they accept climate change as real and are on board with efforts to curb harmful emissions and combat Earth’s warming. I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s a lie.
I take no pleasure in saying congressional Republicans--for the most part—are guilty of utter-ing untruths. Moreover, I recognize that all Republicans are not climate deniers, just as all Democrats are not environmental defenders.
I want to be clear about where I stand on bi-partisan action because what I’m about to say will sound like I’m painting all Republicans with the same brush. It’s not my intention.
I have great respect for Republican members of Congress like Senators Murkowski (R-AK), Collins (R-ME), and Romney (R-UT), as well as Representatives Kinzinger (R-IL), Cheney (R-WY), and Upton (R-MI).
It may sound strange to suggest the fate of President Biden’s climate agenda will parallel that of Liz Cheney, Wyoming’s at-large Republican congressional representative, but hear me out.
Cheney was first elected in 2017 and is currently the House Republican Conference Chair. The Chair is considered the Number 3 position in the House Republican pecking order. Only the Republican Whip, Steve Scalise (R-LA), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) outrank her—at least for the moment.
Cheney is a stand-up Republican conservative in the mold of John Boehner and Paul Ryan. Her father, Dick Cheney, was George W. Bush’s vice-president. When called to task by for cordially fist-bumping President Biden on his way into the House chamber for his State of the Union address she replied: We’re [of] different political parties. We’re not sworn enemies. We’re Americans.
…in culture and politics today, the most prominent uses of “woke” are as a pejorative…
It’s Earth Day 2021, and I hope the world’s leaders will boldly go where none have gone before. I am optimistic.
Timed to coincide with Earth Day 2021, 300 businesses, including Nike, Coca-Cola, Lyft, Google, McDonald’s, and Walmart, are asking President Biden to adopt the ambitious and attainable target of cutting GHG emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. Corporate Americans are not the only ones showing a willingness to go green.
This week, leaders of the United Mine Workers of America’s (UMWA) announced their support for the President’s efforts to speed the decarbonization of the US economy—starting with the rapid expansion of clean power sources like solar and wind, as well as the electrification of the transportation sector. Togetherthe power and transportation sectors account for 57 percent of US GHG emissions. (See Figure 1)
Americans are experiencing these disasters firsthand, and these personal experiences are informing their views on climate change regardless of their age or party affiliation.
Representative Frank Moody (R-FL)
In a more perfect union, the federal government would be a better partner with state and local governments in the effort to slow, forestall, and adapt to Earth’s changing climate. As it has for most of the 21st century, the burden of response to the climate crisis rests heavily on the shoulders of state and local governments. It does so by the decades’ protracted default of Washington to enact meaningful climate legislation.
Politics are not the only things that are local. The consequences of climate change are being felt most acutely at the state and local levels. It’s at least part of the reason that state legislatures considered more than 2,500 energy-related measures in 2020 covering a wide range of policies—from transportation electrification and other efforts to reduce emissions economy-wide, to support for clean energy and new energy storage technologies. (See Figure 1)
The environmental problems we face are deep-rooted and widespread. They can be solved only by a na-tional effort embracing sound, coordinated planning and effective follow-through that reaches into every community in the land. Improving our surroundings is necessarily the business of us all.
- Richard Nixon
In an act reminiscent of Luther and the church door, Joe Manchin (D-WV) wrote in the Washington Post that he would not vote to change the Senate filibuster rule nor was he keen on using the budget reconciliation process as the vehicle for enacting President Biden’s $2.4 trillion infrastructure plan—much of which is about decarbonizing the economy.
Manchin, like Biden, is an old school politician—where back-in-the-day loyalties were more to the nation than the party. In his marmish manner, Manchin believes refusing to eliminate the filibuster and voting against budget reconciliation will force Republicans and Democrats to work through their differences in a collegially combative sort of way—"just like it used to be.”
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, MA, JD., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.