The ‘Climate Talkathon’ was about baseball and carbon taxes

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Senate Democrats spent 14 hours on a “Climate Talkathon” in a bid to save the planet. How did they do this? With baseball and carbon taxes.

Democrats used baseball to illustrate the cause of global warming and promoted carbon taxes as the antidote to a warmer future.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey talked about how steroid use in baseball mirrors what human activity has been doing to the climate. He tied the spike in home runs that was the result of steroids to the spike in global temperatures that happened from the 1970s to the 1990s.

“Something very funny happened in baseball because from 1920 all the way through the entire modern baseball history, the average number of players that hit more than 41 home runs in a season was three players,” Markey said on the Senate floor Monday night. “All of the sudden 17 players could hit more than 41 home runs… Then somebody thought, ‘maybe they’re injecting these players with steroids.’”

“This is just basically an obvious correlation,” he added.

Very obvious. Except that once Major League Baseball officials cracked down on steroid use, the number of big home run hitters started to fall. But global temperatures have fallen, even cooled slightly, in spite of skyrocketing carbon dioxide emissions — a phenomenon that has baffled climate scientists. It has now been more than 17 years without any significant warming.

“Left unchecked the impacts of climate change will only get worse in the future,” Markey said. “By the end of the century Massachusetts’ summers could feel like North Carolina’s.” Markey added that the skiing industry will no longer exist in New England due to global warming — except in Maine.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Vermont independent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders both suggested that the solution to global warming would be to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions — essentially a carbon tax.

Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, introduced a carbon tax bill last year with California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer that would tax carbon and use the revenues to fund green energy projects.

“The only remaining scientific debates are about just how devastating climate change will be,” Sanders said on the Senate floor.

As the night drug on, however, fewer and fewer reporters were willing to stay up and watch the “Climate Talkathon.” One Huffington Post environmental reporter gave her account of the state of the Capitol Hill media after 1 AM.

There are only two other people left in the press room with me, and one of them is snoring really loud. #Up4Climate

— Kate Sheppard (@kate_sheppard) March 11, 2014

Earlier in the night, famed climate skeptic Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe took to the Senate floor to criticize the Talkathon and give evidence that supported his skepticism.

“They’ll have an audience of themselves, so I hope they enjoy it,” Inhofe said about an hour into the Talkathon.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell called the Talkathon “30 hours of excuses” from those who support that fact that “families are losing work because of government attacks on the coal industry.”

“It’s cruel to tell struggling coal families that they can’t have a job because some billionaire from San Francisco disagrees with their line of work,” McConnell said.

McConnell was referring to San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer. The former hedge fund manager and Democratic benefactor pledged $100 million — using $50 million of his own money — to make global warming a top issue in the 2014 elections.

Indeed many of the senators speaking at the Talkathon have received campaign donations from Steyer, who has spent millions opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and funneling cash into campaigns in the 2013 elections in Virginia and Massachusetts.

Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, who helped organize the Talkathon, got $5,000 from Steyer in 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Feinstein got $2,400 in 2009 and Boxer got more than $4,800 from Steyer throughout 2010.

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