Do you, gentle readers, harbor contempt for the self-imagined elite of Ivy League universities? Do you laugh at their smug self-righteousness, the absolute self-assurance of their intellectual and moral superiority, merely because they attended Yale, Harvahd, etc? Prepare to enter into an entirely new realm of righteous scorn for these self-important navel gazers, via The Washington Post:
Who (you might ask) is David Brearley?
Brearley plays a critical, and entirely accidental, role in climate change because of his position as the chair of the Committee on Postponed Parts within the Constitutional Convention of 1787. While drafting the U.S. Constitution, the convention left several ‘sticky questions’ to Brearley’s Committee, such as the manner by which U.S. presidents would be elected. Brearley and the Committee were stuck between two difficult choices: election by the U.S. Congress or election by the voting public. The committee opted for a middle ground solution – an electoral college that would vote on behalf of the citizens, but which would be populated based on the number of congressional seats assigned to each State in the Union.
I know what you’re thinking, because unlike the author, you’re rational: this article seems to be about the electoral college. What does climate change have to do with it? Read on:
It is this solution, brilliant at the time, that leads us to Brearley’s legacy on climate change. Because over the course of the last 200 plus years, the electoral college, which provides for stronger voting power per person in more rural and less populated states, has elected four U.S. presidents who clearly lost the popular vote (1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016). Two of those elections have occurred during the period in which we have known about the causes and impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and climate change and in both cases, the impacts of those elections have very likely had profound impacts on our actions to address the challenge.
The author, Todd Cort, is billed thus:
Todd Cort is a lecturer in sustainability at the Yale School of Management and faculty co-director of the Yale Center for Business and the Environment.
He goes on to bewail Al Gore’s 2000 loss to George W. Bush, which was a particular tragedy because Bush didn’t do much for climate change, while:
Al Gore went on to fame and a Nobel Peace Prize for his work to raise awareness of climate change. We cannot, of course, rewrite history to see how a Gore presidency would have helped to curb our current climate crisis. It is possible that President Gore would have struggled to pass meaningful initiatives against a reluctant Congress for example, but it seems safe to assume that a Gore administration would have constituted a stronger response to the threat of climate change.
Cort’s thesis is comprised of these parts: (1) Climate change is real, completely quantifiable, and must be addressed. (2) Climate change is settled science. (3) We know exactly what do to fix it. (4) The Electoral College is preventing us from doing that. (5) A lot of it is George Bush’s fault. (6) Barack Obama is our savior–mostly.
The Obama administration did not solve climate change, but it did make significant strides both domestically and in international agreements. Obama signed the Paris Climate Accord of 2015 and his EPA finalized the Clean Power Plan in the United States. Perhaps more significantly, President Obama opened the doors of politics to embrace what is a known fact in the scientific community, thereby allowing climate change to be mainstreamed for a wider swath of the country.
And now, in 2016, once again, for the 5th time, electoral disaster! Donald Trump was elected, against the will of the people! Actually, against the will of the coastal elites, but that’s rather the point of the Electoral College, which Cort somehow seems to miss. But back to the main thesis:
That said, the electoral college will have a lasting legacy on all of our lives through climate change. The combination of two administrations headed by presidents who lost the popular vote has and will slow our progress down, and that delay contributes to an ever worsening global climate problem.
So, once again, we see how those dead white male founders are screwing up the entire planet! Our path forward is clear: if we want to save the planet, we must do away with the electoral college so properly progressive candidates will always be elected, and will guarantee a windmill in every yard, along with innumerable dead bird carcasses.
Global warming: is there anything it can’t do?