Iowa Politicians Call on Presidential Candidates to Champion “All-Out” Mobilization for a Safe Climate
Des Moines — Some of Iowa’s leading politicians called on the visiting presidential candidates to declare “war” on climate change in a press conference Thursday.
Longtime Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, State Rep. Dan Kelley (D-Newton), and State Sen. Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), a leading candidate for U.S. Senate, signed a pledge calling for a World War II-scale mobilization to restore a safe climate at the Des Moines Federal Building at 10 a.m. this morning.
The Pledge to Mobilize, a one-page document that has been signed by thousands of Americans and hundreds of Iowans, calls for a full-employment, wartime-scale mobilization that drives the U.S. economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and removes excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere until a safe climate is restored.
At the ceremony, Hogg, Kelley, and Cownie signed the Pledge and spoke about the urgent need to restore a safe climate for Iowans. Noting that current atmospheric greenhouse gas levels are sufficient to cause dangerous global warming, Hogg, who is running for U.S. Senate, called on the presidential candidates to explain how they will lead an “urgent, all-out effort” to reverse climate change.
“It is our unique opportunity as Iowans and our unique obligation as Iowans to talk to the candidates about climate change,” Hogg said. “Every presidential candidate in the 21st century needs a plan to address climate change, and not just a plan but a plan that tells us how effective it will be in limiting the future damage and dangers of climate change. As I mentioned a moment ago, if we led an urgent, all-out effort globally on this issue, we could slow down, stop and reverse the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and safeguard our people and our property from the real dangers of climate change.”
Cownie, Iowa’s mayor since 2004, said that serious action on climate change needs to begin “now” at the local, national, and international level.
“We need to step forward immediately and try to obtain some of these goals that are in this Pledge,” Cownie said.
Frank Cownie, the longtime mayor of Des Moines, calls for a Climate Mobilization.
The demands in the Pledge, championed by a growing national grassroots campaign called The Climate Mobilization, go far beyond the campaign promises delivered by presidential candidates in either party.
No Democratic or Republican presidential candidate has explicitly committed to a net zero greenhouse gas emissions economy across all sectors — a scientific imperative — or an emergency, WWII-scale mobilization to overhaul America’s energy, transport, and agricultural systems in years, not decades.
At Thursday’s press conference, which was hosted by veteran Iowa lawmaker and popular talk radio host Ed Fallon, the assembled politicians firmly championed the call for a WWII-scale climate mobilization.
"Climate change is a crisis,” Kelley said. “It requires this mobilization, and I am very proud to sign this Pledge today. When we tackle the challenges of climate change we create opportunities and jobs.”
In a written statement read by event organizer Ed Fallon, Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry wrote: “Let's not be found guilty by the future when we can mobilize action now and fight like our future depends on it - because it does.”
Thursday’s public Pledge-signing is a part of The Climate Mobilization’s attempts to push the presidential candidates to embrace regulatory policies that drastically curtail fossil fuel production and subsidize a WWII-style “production miracle” in the clean energy sector in the coming years.
The mainstream environmental movement has largely endorsed a comparatively gradual approach to the climate crisis and is coalescing around a demand for the elimination of net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in advance of the U.N. climate summit in Paris later this month. Leading environmentalists have applauded Martin O’Malley’s call for a 35-year-transition to a zero emissions electric grid.
In advance of the U.N. talks, many climate protection advocates are calling for much faster action. On Sep. 2, dozens of top environmental analysts, climate scientists, and climate activists signed an open letter calling on President Obama to champion a U.S. target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 at the Paris talks.
Mainstream Iowa politicians’ decision to embrace the demands of a growing “emergency” climate movement could lead the establishment environmental movement to re-evaluate its advocacy of a “politically realistic” 35-year transition, according to Ezra Silk, The Climate Mobilization’s deputy director.
“Top environmental analysts have known for decades that our best hope to save civilization from runaway global warming is a massive, WWII-scale mobilization of the economy delivered at emergency speed,” Silk said. “The problem is that many within the environmental movement think a Climate Mobilization is politically unrealistic and have instead advocated market-based reforms that simply cannot decarbonize the economy quickly enough. Today’s event demonstrates that mainstream politicians can and will embrace a realistic approach to saving the climate if we demand it.”
Fallon, who served in the State Legislature for 14 years, is leading The Climate Mobilization’s “Mobilize Iowa” campaign and has been pressing presidential candidates in both parties to sign the Pledge. When asked by a reporter if he would continue such efforts, Fallon said he would.
“What we want to do is get all of them to officially sign on to indicate the urgency of it,” Fallon said. “I’m hoping the Republicans will sign on as well.”
Along with his assistant, Shari Hrdina, Fallon has also been building a grassroots movement across the state calling on the presidential candidates to sign the Pledge to Mobilize. On Oct. 7, Fallon, Hrdina, and several other volunteer Iowa Mobilizers called for a Climate Mobilization during a Donald Trump speech in Davenport, provoking violence from some of Trump’s supporters. Fallon and Hrdina have spread the Pledge to more than 300 Iowans, including 9 elected officials.
The Climate Mobilization is a “social movement start-up” developed by a small group of people in their 20’s. More than 2,800 Americans have taken the Pledge to Mobilize, and local chapters are sprouting up across the country, engaging in both public events and private recruiting. The organization is building strong grassroots campaigns in San Diego, CA, San Francisco, CA, Boston, Ma., Athens, GA, Jefferson City, MO, and Des Moines, IA.
“We have been so excited and proud of what is happening in Iowa,” said Margaret Klein Salamon, Founder and Director of The Climate Mobilization. “It demonstrates what a powerful tool The Pledge to Mobilize can be in the political arena.”
To learn more about The Climate Mobilization, see http://www.theclimatemobilization.org.
For the scientific basis behind the demands in the Pledge, see David Spratt’s groundbreaking report Recount: It’s Time to ‘Do the Math Again’.
For the economic basis behind the demands, see, The Case for Climate Mobilization, written by Ezra Silk, with Margaret Klein Salamon.
State Rep. Dan Kelley
Kelley signs the Pledge to Mobilize!
Longtime Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie Pledges to Mobilize.
State Sen. Rob Hogg, a major candidate for U.S. Senate next year, signs the Pledge.
Hogg and Kelley hold the Pledge to Mobilize.