LIVEBLOG: The Global Warming & America’s Energy Future Presidential Forum in Westwood, CA
Update: The official forum is now over; John Edwards will be coming in to speak to the press corps, while a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign will speak on her behalf. As the post of the official forum has grown lengthy, this section will be at the top.
John Edwards: This issue of global warminig is a huge crisis. Going to be difficult for America to take bold action without getting rid of the corruption. I think we have a great opportunity to invest in communities to help communities make a transition. Question: The Warner bill, would you support that bill? I’m not running for the Senate, but it doesn’t go far enough. Difference between him and Hillary? I put more emphasis on the need to reduce corrupting powers in Washington. And I stand up stronger against nuclear. What about mass transit? Getting people out of cars, saving energy, reducing impact on the climate. In North Carolina, there’s the railway. Do you think global warming could supplant the war on terrorism as the number 1 issue? Anybody who looks at this seriously recognizes that there is no bigger issue. We need to get out of IRaq, but over the long term there is no bigger issue. Hard to imagine that there’s anything more important than this issue–billions of lives are at stake.
Forum administrators: Question: Why no more policy process questions? Getting into the details of policy makes the debate difficult to follow. The candidates came here with similar policies. We’re trying to broaden this discussion beyond the policy wonks who argue over whether the cap is tight enough or not. Republican candidates? We were in negotiations, but they said no. But of the 20 candidates, only 3 showed up for this. Why no C-Span? Have to ask the organizers. Too exciting! what would you do now? Grist.org rep: CAFE standards, renewable energy tax credits, a lot of things. With a stroke of the pen, we could implement nationally the measures that have been adopted by 14 states and signficantly reduce emissions.
Question from David Atkins (thereisnospoon): How do we communicate this, and deal with the problem that we’re already in big trouble and people don’t know, but people are also already feeling helpless without even knowing the trouble we’re in? Right now, we think that we can still slow the process. We’re hurting and going to be hurting, but it’s a question of whether we get hurt, or whether we get killed. Grist.org rep: not enough people are talking about the economic framing of this, though Bill Clinton does a good job of this. There’s enormous economic opportunity associated with going green, and that’s part of how we get through to people on this.
David Atkins (thereisnospoon) and your own theKK are here live in the press tent in Westwood at the Global Warming: America’s Energy Future Presidential Forum. We’ll be taking a live and in-depth look at the candidates’ positions on the most important issue facing our nation and the world–and one that is given incredibly short shrift in the traditional media farces they call “debates”. The event will be livecast at the Grist website. So, without further ado, let’s get started! Biggest news: I think Hillary Clinton as much as said she would be appointing Al Gore in her next Administration…
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be giving opening statements in about half an hour. In the meantime, thekk and I are sitting here on “blogger’s row” with David Dayen (dday) who is posting his own liveblog over at Calitics; Dante Atkins (hekebolos) who is liveblogging for Energize America over at Dailykos; Todd Beeton who is posting his liveblog over at MyDD.com; and several others besides.
Interesting: an announcement was just made that this was supposed to be a bipartisan event: candidates from both parties were invited to attend; as it is, we’ve got Hillary, Edwards and Kucinich here–and no Republicans. Now, we know that a lot of the Democratic candidates feel their time would be better spent actually campaigning, but it goes to show just how little concern Republicans have for this issue that not a single one of them decided to show up. Then again, I shouldn’t be too surprised, seeing as how this issue is a threat to their very existence as a viable ideology and political party.
It’ll be interesting to see if today’s latest news on the increasingly uncontrollable feedback cycle that we are already in will actually come up during the forum. Will the candidates simply come out with pabulum about mitigating the problem through renewable energies, or will they also be forced to bring up policies on adaptation and geo-engineering…
We’re still waiting on at least one of the candidates to arrive. I wonder which one? They probably won’t tell…For what it’s worth, Hillary’s people are already here handing out her policy platform. Smart move, actually, for quick reference lookup by media here; Edwards and Kucinich have provided no documentation. As usual, her campaign is organized and on-the-ball when it comes to such things–which is great if you support her, and daunting if you don’t…
OK, it has begun! Below the fold for more…
The first speaker mentions two recent events that demonstrate the importance of this issue: 1) Bangladesh is having its own Katrina right now, and 2) the latest IPCC report showing just how much trouble we’re all in. The next leader will be making decisions that humanity will be living with for the next 100 years. Mentions that they invited all the candidates to participate, and were honored to get three. But he expects the rest will have to come out and talk more about these issues because of popular demand. Dave Roberts, staff writer at Grist.org, now comes on to give a greeting:
Dave Roberts: We’re the top news site for environmental issues. Tried to create a site that was entertaining and not just dry environmental news. Announces that tonight’s entire event is carbon neutral due to offsets. Mentions the live webcast at Grist.org, and thanks the presidential candidates who have been trying to talk about this stuff in the face of the ignorance of the national media. Talks about Tim Russert have candidates on meet the press–the words climate change and global warming have not passed his lips a single time. (WOW! That’s damning…)
Next Speaker is Susan Smart, California League of Conservation Voters: 84% of Californians think this is a very important issue. California is an appropriate place to have this debate. (at this point, isn’t anywhere in the world a good place for this debate? Everyone is affected by this…then again, Californians are willing to do something about it. Heck, even our Republican governator is making strides…)
Nina Hagichian: Center for american Progress Action Fund: a think tank for progressive change. Wants to make sure the climate crisis and energy future are at the forefront of the national debate. California has been ahead on all of this, and it’s time for the national leaders to step up.
NRDC Action Fund representative: Global warming is the critical issue facing the planet and the country. Cities are acting, Los Angeles is in the lead, the federal courts are demanding that the administration acts as well. Setting fuel economy standards for light trucks (read, SUVS. How did they get away with that BS, anyway?). Happy that they’re going to be able to have presidential candidates here.
Jane Hoffman: Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy. I was inspired to launch this forum earlier this year. Renewable resources and solutions are critical. Whom we choose in this election cycle really matters–with oil at $100 a barrel and global warming getting worse, our nation has no energy policy. These candidates have the opportunity to implement one. Sponsoring a student essay contest. Will give $10,000 scholarships to three students who win. Encourages everyone to become part of the energy solution, and thanks for supporting this effort. (Pretty classy speech, good initial presentations. All very professional.)
Initial speaker: Quotes Margaret Mead on the small committed group of people thing. Again accuses the media of attempting to ignore this issue–strong words! Introduces Laurie David,
Laurie David, Author and Producer: A few years ago, was having a heart to heart with NASA scientist James Levin. Asked him what he really thought. She says he told her they were already guaranteed two degrees of warming, but we daren’t go above that. That’s terrifying because scientists are the most cautious people on the planet, so when they’re alarmed, it’s big, big trouble. When we hear scientists say they’re “shocked and worried” by the speed of the consequences that are occurring, that’s a sign of big trouble. And you can see the records being set on the nightly news. It’s a question of what kind of world we choose to live in. This could be America’s and humanity’s finest moment, but continuing to ignore this issue could be our worst. We need the magnitude of hte political response to match the problem. Which candidate will history point to, and say that the fight against global warming was galvanized by that leader? That’s what this forum is about (EXCELLENT FRAMING). Introduces Mayor Villaraigosa.
Mayor Villaraigosa: Happy to have a woman with the passion she brings to this issue (am I the only person for whom the words “woman” and “passion” shouldn’t be uttered by Antonio in the same sentence? really…) Wants to thank the candidates for being here today. Gives the candidates a round of applause. Mentions the destructive wildfires and the devastation to lives and families and property that caused. Then talks about Bush Administration again suppressing the science around global warming: the redacted reports, including six pages of findings on disease and maladies likely to thrive on a warming planet. It’s time we had somebody in the White House who actually believes in science. (Good line.) It’s time for America to resume its rightful position as the leader on global warming (well, we’re doing the most warming right now. Does that count?) It’s time to take national policy back from the lobbyists. Mentions Orwellianly named programs like Healthy Forests initiative, and says it’s time for some truth in environmental marketing coming from D.C. (Mayor Villaraigosa has a lot of charisma…)
Initial Speaker: Climate change is a difficult issue: you can’t put it in a soundbite and doesn’t lend itself to horseraces. So it’s good to be able to have them address things in-depth. Candidates will take 10 minutes at the podium each, then they will be asked to join panelists for a conversation and ask some questions. (Hopefully, they’ll be pretty tough questions). Introduces the panelists: David Roberts, and Mary Nichols chair of the CA Air Resources Board (Mary also used to work for the EPA prior to the Bush Regime). Then introduces Dennis Kucinich. Reminds people that we have ratified that UN Climate Change Convention, and that that is the law of the land. Congratulates Californians on actually reducing emissions. If the nation did what California is doing, we would be complying with Kyoto right now (wow–I didn’t know that. Neither did dday, either. That is very, very cool.)
Dennis Kucinich speaks: It’s great to be on a forum not sponsored by the coal industry! Vision of an America that can be. Gives a shout out to people like Rachel Carson, Wendell Barry and Al Gore who have taken a stand and shown the path. The globe is being threatened. I would bring to the presidency an environmental consciousness: I have a small car with low emissions and a vegan diet. If you want a leader who will lift up the planet: you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? I want to demonstrate to you an awareness that can lead the world forward. The world is interconnected and interdependent to me, and as any of us chooses, so chooses the world. The responsibilty we have collectively to repair our relationship with nature and the world is paramount. What would that mean as president? For one, getting rid of nuclear weapons. We must lead the way in conventions on bio and chemical weapons treaties and land mine treaties, and climate treaties. But at this moment, our government is preparing to retrofit B-52 stealth bombers with bombs on Iranian nuclear facilities. Must understand the connection between global warring and global warming, especially over oil in the Middle East.
Wants to have every department of the federal government being involved in sustainability and green consciousness. Transportation: there would be massive spending to rebuild the transportation structure for mass transit. Housing: Incentives for building green housing, and having homes that use natural lighting and materials that aren’t dangerous. Dept. of Energy would provide disincentives for coal, oil and nuclear, and incentivize solar and other green technologies, to prime the pump of the economy and have government be the driver of that change. And in the area of health, a not-for-profit system with an emphasis on preventive healthcare, and meeting health challenges like obesity with connects to our diet. Department of Education would teach environmental principles to inculcate children from early on about that stuff. Cancel NAFTA and create environmental principles in those trade treaties. Workplace safety laws that take environment into account. Dept. of Interior: stop the exploitation of the land, and protect Native Americans from uranium mining and other types of environmental degradation.
Brings up JFK’s effort to teach science and reach for the stars. Today, we recognize that our journey is more homebound and earthbound. We would move America towards a green economy, and brings up NASA research into carbonless burns and green technology. We can move towards sustainability using the inventive genius of NASA to help prime the pump of our economy and create millions of new jobs. No need to sacrifice: there’s unlimited wealth out there waiting to be called out if we only go green (great points, all). As President, I would reach out to the American people to ask them to participate and look at the choices that each one of us makes. We are the generation we have been waiting for, and we just need to move forward and do it. END
(I haven’t heard Kucinich quite that fiery and oratorical in quite some time. He’ s a very effective speaker).
Panelist: You win the election, but then what. How do you make it happen?
Kucinich: Well, recognize that people want to go in a new direction. This is our purpose as a nation. Go to the congress and across the country to campaign for it. It’s like with healthcare: people say you can’t challenge the HMOs or the polluters or the coal companies or these things. IF you have a president who is really ready to bring about transformation, you take it courageously straight to the people. Don’t just keep it inside the beltway. Rediscover the principles of the Gettysburg Address, and have a government of, by and for the people. I’m ready today. (Kucinich is very excited, refuses to sit down in the chair. You can tell he really, really cares about this issue. That matters–it really does).
Panelist: Again, how do you deal with the Congress?
Kucinich: There’s enormous resistance. I did this in the city of Cleveland, and there was a lot of resistance there, too. There are interest groups who try to stop progress. If you don’t own the utilities, they end up owning you. But what could happen if you have a president not tied in any way to those industries? When I was 23 looking like I was 16, people figured I had been put in there by some interest group: they couldn’t believe I had actually knocked on doors and gotten elected. I would go over the heads of congress to the American people.
Panelist: There are people who legitimately fear losing jobs, having energy prices raised, etc. What do you say to them in particular?
Kucinich: You have to understand the relationship between all the factors in the economy that go into sustainability. take trade: decisions made in one area can have impacts in a very different area of the country. We are told that environmental progress and economic progress are mutually exclusive: we’ve got to get beyond that. For instance, I was told not to talk about my steel mill background because of the polluting, and those are jobs. But there are profits going up in smoke in those smokestacks: if we scrub them, those are jobs! Same goes for miners: we’re going to make sure that miners have healthcare and pension benefits. Why should coal miners have to suffer for the wrong decisions made by our government? Need a president who understands those market dynamics. I understand the resistance: but it’s generally from the interest groups who want to keep mining coal and building nuclear plants and keep us in oil and fight wars to get it, and under a Kucinich administration the control is broken, and we get a government that answers to the people. We either have a president with the courage to stand up to the interest groups, or we don’t. If we don’t, we will get sea levels rising and catastrophic changes. People say they can’t do anything about it. That’s not right: we have the power to change our destiny. We have the power–it’s a question of whether we’re ready to use it or not.
Panelist: So let’s go down to the nitty-gritty. You’ve been on Capitol Hill for 6 years. You mentioned compensating the the coal workers. Is a pension enough to offer somebody who has worked in this their entire lives?
Kucinich: No–but guaranteed income. We need a guaranteed annual income for everybody. Think about the rising level of poverty in this country–I’m talking about an income level that wipes out poverty. (Is Kucinich really talking about a guaranteed living wage for all americans, regardless of employment? How would he do that???) The only thing that limits us is our thinking and our willingness to look at a whole new world. I know what’s possible and practical. It’s practical to say that no one in this country should be homeless or hungry or worried about putting clothes on our children’s backs.
Panelist: I’m not sure coal miners would be okay with some minimal income for being an American citizen. They would want more than that. They see this kind of change as squeezing jobs overseas. How do you make this transition?
Kucinich: Look at where we are today. There are plans to build new coal-powered plants here, and in China and around the world. We got a report from the cliamte change panel–rising levels of CO2 and greenhouse gasses. We can either say this system is locked in and nothing we can do about it, or we can have leadership that challenges these assumptions. (Is he answering the question?) Clean coal is an oxymoron. When it comes to paying the miners, you pay them whatever they used to make as a living–but that’s going to be a lot less expensive than keeping on pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Panelist: How would you cushion the blow for the 3rd world, who are likely to be impacted most? And how do you sell that to the American People?
Kucinich: The whole world community is percolating with energy, looking for ways to avert and mitigate this catastrophe. but the United States which produces 25% of emissions is doing nothing or pushing phony solutions like cap-and-trade. Investors are not investing in green energy, but in coal and oil and nuclear that are most profitable. What that means is that we are casting off millions of people who are accepting the consequences of our unwillingless to see the connection with the rest of the world. People’s way of life is being affected by our inaction. This is a moral issue. Moral reasoning is a fundamental principle of our Constitution. When we have resource wars, and use war as an instrument of power, we lose our moral compass. This is a moral issue. Imagine a new trade agreement with Mexico that stresses human rights and environmental principles. It’s a moral issue. We can lift up progress everywhere in this world–all should have a right to eat and a right to survive. Imagine a president with real environmental consciousness. This candidacy represents the potential for the profoundest change. If you’re ready, I’m ready!
(Quite a performance by Kucinich. The crowd was very enthusiastic. And honestly, he’s right about most things–but again, the question is how he would implement such a platform, and how he would get elected. In my opinion, the overton window hasn’t been shifted enough to get elected on, much less enact through the congress, such policies. But I’m sure as heck glad he’s out there pushing everyone leftward: this country could sure use it.)
Now comes Hillary, to a mix of boos and and cheers, but mostly cheers.
HRC: California is proof of what can be done by a people and a leadership ready to lead. Regrets she only has 10 minutes. Mentions the new report in the New York Times. I have laid out a bold and comprehensive plan for taking action. Those who hold onto the outmoded and disgraceful view are deeply misguided: we know it’s happening. We know the impact on our health. It’s the asthma cases caused by pollution. It’s the oil spills like in the Bay Area. So where do we start and what do we do? We know what not to do–we’ve seen it for the last 7 years in a president who has dodged, denied and dissembled on this issue (nice alliteration!). We are more oil dependent than on 9/11. It’s time for a new beginning, a new president who respects climate science, not tries to muzzle climate scientists, and tries to build a coalition.
A lot of other people will say a lot of great things but we need to get serious: cut emissions by 30%, cut foreign oil imports by a third by 2030, and cut carbon emissions. We need to improve our security and environment.
Set a goal of reducing electricity demand by 20% by 2020. The case has been made to the people that we need to cut oil dependence, but not end global warming. That’s frustrating to activists who know the truth on this issue, but that’s the truth. California has done a great job. America tackles big problems by enlisting everybody. Everybody has to have a stake. We did it after Sputnik. We need to set a cap-and-trade policy. The moment I take office, I will issue an executive order that every new building be carbon neutral. I would take away subsidies to the oil companies: they don’t need our money to make a high profit. As president, I will raise fuel efficiency standards to 45 by 2020, and 55 to 2030. 20% of electricity from geothermal and solar by 2025. Put 5 million Americans to work in green-collar jobs, making America green. (Bold plans. Very impressive. Very detailed)
Remember the patriotism of war bonds. After 9/11, the President said go shopping. I will say, “Go Green.” The Democrats are all putting forth plans to deal with global warming and energy crisis. But you need the experience and strength to get those plans done. As President, I will create a National Energy Council. I will create a new treaty to replace Kyoto. I’ve proposed an E8 like the G8 to bring major carbon-emitting nations together. You can’t be a leader if no one is following. The president has rendered our leadership null and void. Create a stronger middle class, and move america forward.
(Great, great speech. She may not be my favorite candidate, but we could do a lot, lot worse. She’s an incredibly capable politician)
Panelist: Everybody says they’ll tackle this issue. Every one of these men…
Hillary: That’s the problem, right there! Cheers. Good line, but it was set up for her…still…pretty good…
Panelist: What would would do to actually get something done?
Hillary: George W. Bush never intended to do anything. I do give credit to the first president Bush, who did a very good thing with Clean Air. And of course my husband and VP Gore, before we ran into the buzzsaw of a republican congress. But the news and people’s own experience is beginning to penetrate, and there’s a salience to the issue we haven’t seen until recently. We are moving toward a global commitment on this. We don’t want to feel, as a country, that we lagged behind the world on this (we lag behind the world on healthcare, on torture, on the death penalty, on poverty, and so many other things. Why not this issue? Do we as a nation really care? Really?)
I think we’re ready to act. We’re working on an energy bill right now. There is a much greater will there now. (Apologizing for the inaction of the Clinton administration, saying people weren’t ready. Isn’t that what leadership is for? Credit to theKK for this point…) Reminds people of the Montreal Protocol banning CFCs; it had an initial agreement that wasn’t as strong as it should be, and the leaders of the world, convened by Margaret Thatcher at that time, brought the world together and got more stringent activity. I would meet every three months with the major countries, and I think that would drive the national agenda. I’m optimistic we can bring about significant change.
Panelist: You pledge it would be done? That emissions would be reduced by the end of the Clinton administration?
Panelist: We remember what happened with healthcare. What can you give yourself to combat the multi-million dollar ad campaigns that will be coming at you from the major industries?
HRC: First, we’ve got to get this into the bloodstream of the presidential campaign. This has to become a voting issue. That’s why this forum is so signficant. We’ve got to have people asking Democrats–and Republicans–what they are doing on this issue, saying it will influence their vote. And we need people who are already committed and active to turn it into a voting issue. (disturbance from the audience–HRC puts it down by asking if they were invited to speak here this afternoon. Pretty good, but fairly aggressive. She can be downright mean…) We need to get more Democrats elected. Increase our majorities in the Senate and the House.
I certainly remember healthcare very well. Everybody is for change in general, but when it gets to the particulars, people start peeling off. And then people worry you’re not pure enough, and then the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. As a thought that you can take away from this forum: there is no way we will ever get a piece of legislation that everyone here can agree with. Incremental change is the only way to go unless there’s some major event like Pearl Harbor: if Gore had been president on 9/11, we’d have had a major energy policy enacted. But ultimately, it’s imperative we get something passed and implement it, so that we can persuade Americans that it won’t be disruptive or lower their standard of living, but will actually create jobs and do good. (Didn’t Bill Clinton do “incremental change” every time, accomplishing little things, but never making any major change? And losing Democratic framing in the process? I hope that’s because of the Republican congress–otherwise, we’re all in trouble with your incremental change policy).
Panelist: A policy question for a change, on the Warner bill. Would you vote for the Warner bill as currently constituted. Would you consider voting it down and waiting for something b etter next session? And idealism versus pragmatism question. GREAT QUESTION.
HRC: It’s not the bill I would write or the one Senator Boxer would write. I’m a cosponsor of the Sanders/Boxer bill. What chairman Boxer is trying to do is improve the bill, create a context in which that bill can lay down a marker. But even as it stands today, it would be vetoed by Bush. But our question right now is, what is the strongest bill that we can pass out of the committee? It’s nowhere near the bill we would want. It doesn’t have cap-and-trade, which I would want. It doesn’t go after the polluting industries. There are a lot of negative parts. But we’ve never gotten this far before. If it can be improved and get stronger, she thinks it’s the right thing to do. I have the highest regard for her and her political acumen and her understanding. So I’m going to try to strengthen the bill, but at the end of the day, it’s a pragmatic assessment: is getting a bipartisan bill where Republicans actually vote for something that lays down the marker that says we have to make political changes to do something about climate change, is that something that is a good first step? I know one organization is very much against it, but a lot of organizations support it. It’s not a cut-and-dried issue, and one environmental group is running ads against me in Iowa saying that if I don’t vote it down, there’s something wrong with me. That’s not useful. Democrats are in charge in the Senate (are you? where’s the proof?), and we need to push things through with that leadership.
Panelist: Are you following Barbara Boxer’s lead, then?
HRC: Barbara Boxer and I are trying to improve the bill.
Panelist: This country is in a difficult position. China and India won’t act because we don’t. How do you restore America’s credibility on this issue in the foreign policy area?
HRC: America has a lot of work to do on ANY issue to restore our credibility internationally. Great line. We need international and bilateral processes. Work together with India and China. Have a process where people come together with global leadership. We don’t want to look like we’re trying to slow down the rising industry and quality of life in China. But if they’re going to use coal, we’ve got to push carbon sequestration technology. If you want to focus on renewables, instead of having a nuclear program, talk about solar arrays and geothermal and use our expertise to set up some demonstrations projects. We need to show India and China that we’re not trying to slow them down, but speed them up in ways that don’t choke them and choke the planet. It’s difficult to listen to the Bush Administration because it’s a one-way conversation. But having Al Gore get the Nobel peace prize for the work he’s done the last three decades gives us a spokesperson who gives us great credibility internationally and within our own government again. (Did she just say she would employ Al Gore in her Administration? I think she did…Very interesting)
Hillary did a fantastic job. Very, very impressive. Very detailed. Very powerful. But will she do what she says she will do, or will she be afraid of pushing those issues for fear of elections in 2010, 2012, 2014 and beyond? That’s the big question. But if she does, she’d be a fantastic leader on this issue.)
JOHN EDWARDSEdwards: The steps we need to take are right in front of us, but too many politicians have to run around chasing money, and coal and oil lobbies are incredibly powerful. We know the ice caps could be gone in 23 years. Global warming will be irreversible and dire, but two weeks from now we will send a delegate to Bali with no ideas and no solutions. It’s embarrassing for America to be in this position. I came out early and aggressively, saying we should have a cap-and-option system by 2010. Need to increase efficiency rather than produce more electricity. Need to create a new technology fund. Repeal $3 billion in oil company subsidies. I have heard some politicians talk about a a cap-and-trade system, but it doesn’t go far enough. Carbon caps will have an impact on the cost of carbon fuels. We will never get the change we need by pretending this will be easy and no sacrifice will be required. The big change we need will not be easy, and will require the sustained commitment of a majority of Americans. We don’t need politicians who will patronize people, telling them that a politician will be able to solve the problem for them. Tell the truth. The truth about the problems we face, and what it will take to solve those problems. We need to lead the world, and embrace the spirit of ingenuity that has put us where we are. Other countries are far outstripping us. GM made the first electric car, but now Honda and Toyota are leading on this. I saw a headline that foreign firms were looking at putting wind farms in America; why aren’t those American firms doing that? There are so many ways we can seize this opportunity; we need to let entrepeneurs try their hands at 1,000 different solution: no CARBON WELFARE (GREAT FRAMING) for companies. Give new loans for families for homes that have upgraded energy equipment. We need a president who asks us to be patriotic about something other than war. (Another Great Line)This is the moral test of our generation. Are we willing to say that the time of half-measures and compromises is over, and want the party to stand up for what we believe in? Will we tell our children that we were too cautious and too careful and didn’t have the guts to do what needed to be done, and do what 20 generations have done before us, to preserve the planet? If we choose the right path and make smart choices today, we can create the middle path. Unleash a new era of American ingenuity.Panelist: How do we get America to sacrifice like you do?Edwards: There is a hunger in America to do something. But no one in America has asked them to. After 9/11, Bush told Americans to go shopping. You saw what Americans did–not hte government. After 9/11, after Katrina when people volunteered to go down there. There is a huge desire in America to go down there. We need a president who will look America in the eye and tell America what needs to be done. And I’m going to call on you to help that sacrifice. With clear, bold action and clear bold leadership, we have to recognize something: the government has become corrupt and we need to be honest about that. We don’t have universal healthcare because of insurance companies and their lobbyists. We don’t have a global warming policy because of oil lobbyists and gas lobbyists. We can’t be successful about these things unless we tell people that we don’t have to let this small, well-financed group of people claim our government. When we get someone who believes in the power of America, not just the presidency, to galvanize america, reclaim the government and take the power out of the hands of Exxon Mobil and their lobbyists, we can beat these people, but we have to be willing to take them on.Panelist: In talking about shared sacrifice, the burdens and benefits aren’t shared equally across this country. In cerntain parts of the country where coal is the only source of jobs and fuel, making that switch may be tougher than for other places. How do you address that?Edwards: How can we use this transition to help more economically deprived people, that’s the question. First, we need not to be building more coal plants until we can sequester the carbon. But those families and communities most impacted by that position should be compensated. A chunk of the money we get from the companies should go into revitalizing the affected communities. But as we go green, we’ll be creating millions of new jobs–and we have to work very hard to make those jobs exist in the locations that are affected–inner cities and rural areas. We have to make sure people understand that there are extraordinary opportunities out there. Poverty is a big deal to me: it’s an embarrassment that we have 37 million who cannot feed or clothe our children. 35 million who are hungry. In america? We can use the green transition to accomplish at least a part of that.Panelist: did you just say you would use the money to revitalize those communities?Edwards: Not all of it, but enough to hopefully help them maintain their current standard of living. I can’t promise fully, but we’ll do our very best.Panelist: What can American do to help lift up the parts of the 3rd world that will be hit hardest by the changes we have done so much to create?Edwards: We’re doing nowhere close to what we need to be doing to help them in this extraordinary time. First of all, we have to be willing to invest in a way we’re not willing to invest today to raise up roads and bridges, and maybe some walls need to be built. And drought-resistant crops as well. On a related issue, we talk about the poorest countries suffering the most: but they suffer the most on everything. If Americans saw it, they wouldn’t tolerate it. America cannot be a moral leader on global warming without moral leadership on the rest of these issues. For instance: lead an international effort to make education available to the rest ofthe world, stop the spread of disease, especially HIV/AIDS around the world, and simple things like clean drinking water and sanitation, it would make an enormous difference. And economic development like microlending and microfinance. The only way we can lead on global warming is to be seen as a force for good in the world again, by doing important things not just for ourselves but for humanity.Panelist: Our credibility is shot on climate change. And there’s a perception that we went to war over oil. How do we restore America’s credibility?Edwards: First of all, it’s a mistake to think of leading on global warming out of context of the rest of leadership issues. It’s about our responsibility to the world. Right now, we’re an example for bad, not an example for good. We have to change that in a number of ways. Close Guantanamo, stop illegal spying on Americans, no more rendition, no more secret prisons, the notion that we’re having a debate in America about what kind of torture is permissible? That is not our America and we need to take it back.Panelist: Let’s talk about the reality of what we’re facing now. What actaully do we get done? We’re getting back to the pragmatic again, and the congress and the leglisation we face. You have taken strong moral positions, but none of the current bills are even close. What do you do pragmatically?Edwards: One of the mistakes presidents make is think that everything happens inside the beltway. Don’t sit around a conference table in DC, or sit with politicians scared of their own shadows. You have to galvanize America to take action. If we convince–you all, not just me, of course–do what has been done before us on women’s right, and civil rights and so many things before us, the politicians will follow like lemmings. We just have to show leadership. I do not accept the proposition that we have to accept less. We can convince America to take strong, aggressive action. The way these things get weeded down is by getting the interests out: publicly finance campaigns and get the money out of politics. For everybody in this room who believes deeply in the progressive agenda–and I believe so deeply in the progressive agenda–we need the strength of numbers with Democrats. We won the 2006 election. I wish I could say that America fell in love with the Democratic party: it didn’t. It fell in love with change. If we have a campaign that is about transforming American leadership in the world, and weeding out corruption in the government, we can do anything. I can go into virtually any swing district and swing state in America, and be helpful. Which is what I think will really take to create progressive change in America.Panelist: as a final question, the media filter doesn’t take much interest. The candidates are in front of the media on the issue, strangely. What do we do about this?Edwards: We have an enormous bully pulpit. But people understand there’s a problem–but they don’t understand the enormous immediacy of the problem. I udnerstand how hard it is to fight through the media filter. I don’t personally want Rupert Murdoch to own every newspaper in this country–can we do something about media consolidation (MAJOR APPLAUSE FROM THE PRESS GALLERY–COOL). In the presidential debates, we spend more time talking about polls and sniping, than about saving the country. We’re out there driving the issues, I think we can drive it through. I think we’re confronted with a media more interested in the horserace than in the issues.END