HAPPY NEW YEAR, GSB READERS!!! Back in July, GSB tried to predict who would have a better “season”, the Green Movement or Gang Green (aka The New York Jets). Based on hopeful soundings from President Obama regarding his potential rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the incredibly low expectations for the Jets (ESPN.com had them rated 32nd of the 32 NFL Teams), GSB opined that the Green Movement would end 2013 in better shape. In October, at just about the halfway point of the NFL season, we posted an update which said that, owing to the Jets surprising 3-3 start, Gang Green’s prospects had drawn even with or perhaps surpassed the largely under-the-radar Green Movement. With the Jets ending their season on Sunday with an 8-8 record and with 2013 now in the history books, it’s time to answer, for good, the question that’s on everyone’s minds: Who had the better season, Gang Green or The Green Movement?
Both the Green Movement and Gang Green had challenging 4th quarters but ended the year on a hopeful uptick (what, you expecting a Debbie Downer type of blog post??). The Jets challenges were well documented (a 3 game losing streak in November, the benching of rookie quarterback Geno Smith–who was playing at an incredibly inept level, the repeated benching of #1 draft pick–cornerback Dee Milliner, the worst group of receivers in the NFL, the expected firing of head coach Rex Ryan). At 5-7 things looked bad. But a funny thing happened on the way to ignominy and irrelevance: The Jets went 3-1 down the stretch, largely due to Geno’s and Milliner’s improved play. In the season finale, the Jets soundly thumped the Miami Dolphins on the road to knock their rivals out of a playoff berth. And Rex will be back to lead a young club that seems to be on the rise (if Geno/Milliner continue to improve).
Dee Milliner, NY Jets 2013 #1 draft pick, makes diving interception in their season ending win over the Miami Dolphins. Milliner’s improved play the last month of the season, along with that of rookie QB Geno Smith, gives the Jets some hope going into the offseason. (Photo Credit: Naples FL News)
As for the Green Movement, daunting challenges were front and center:
- While President Obama’s announcement of his approval/rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline will likely come down in 2014, the Canadian government, in a much less ballyhooed December decision, approved the Northern Gateway Pipeline. NGP, over the objections of First Nations tribes, will transport carbon-heavy tar sands oil from Alberta (the same super dirty oil that would flow through Keystone XL) to British Columbia’s Pacific Coast for export to China and elsewhere in Asia. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper will say the right things (“we are deeply concerned about climate change“) (borrowing from the George W. Bush playbook on the subject–you MUST watch this video!) but he and the his Parliamentary allies in Ottawa are smoking from the tar sands crack pipe (yeah, another hit of tar sands oil revenue!) (maybe that’s the pipe Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoked from). Does this give Obama the cover he needs to say “yes” to Keystone XL? We shall see.
- In the US, the conservative party (aka the GOP), continued on its maniacal, nearly unanimous climate denial path. I’m 100% sure that, in the not so long term, this will be a big loser for the Republicans. But, in the here and now, it hasn’t had much of an effect as 1) the government shutdown and the difficult rollout of Obamacare have taken all the oxygen in American Politics and 2) Climate change is still seen as a generation-or-two-down the road problem–even by many of those who acknowledge it exists, it’s human caused, and something needs to be done about it. You would think a conserve-ative party would be interested in conservation! You’d be WRONG! None of the GOP elected members of Congress cop to the reality of climate change. Former SC GOP Congressman Bob Inglis “came out of the Climate Closet” this fall…but the operative word here is former. Let’s see if any current and/or prospective GOP House or Senate candidates borrow a page from the Inglis playbook in 2014. Color me skeptical.
- This is not to absolve Democrats in congress or especially President Obama on climate change. Yes, President Obama, by Executive Order, put in place emissions restrictions on power plants that will severely curtail new coal plant construction (big deal but relatively easy–coal is the new tobacco after all). He may yet reject Keystone XL. But, as 350.org’s Bill McKibben points out in his must-read Rolling Stone op-ed (Dec 13th issue), Obama & Climate Change, “the president has said the right things about climate change – and has taken some positive steps. But we’re drilling for more oil and digging up more carbon than ever.”
- 2013, by most accounts, will turn out to be one of the hottest years on record–all of the data isn’t in yet so we don’t know for sure. And that’s the GOOD news! A study, published in the journal Nature, and reported in The Huffington Post yesterday, “climate change may be far worse than scientists thought, causing global temperatures to rise by at least 4 degrees C by 2100, or about 7.2 degrees F. Happy New Year! Sheesh!
More dirty tar sands oil…An obstructionist GOP…The President dragging his feet on Keystone XL…One of the hottest years on record…Climate change worse than we thought…Where is the Jets-like HOPE for the Green Movement?
- Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced on Monday that the city’s greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 19% since 2005. NYC is 2/3 of the way to the “30% reduction by 2030” goal that Bloomberg set back in 2009. I hoped, in vain it turned out, that incoming mayor Bill DeBlasio, in yesterday’s Inaugural Address, would say something like: “Mayor Bloomberg has handed us the greenhouse gas emissions reduction baton in first place. We’re going to widen the lead by upping the 2030 reduction target to 40%!”. I will do what I can to press the issue. It won’t be easy as climate change was not one of DeBlasio’s main issues in the campaign but I will be listening–and agitating.
- Hope also springs from the intersection of Green & Sports as well. The NFL announced a partnership with Verizon and the Broadway Green Alliance to recycle e-waste in New York and New Jersey in the run up to Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2nd. A collection will take place on January 8 at Duffy Square in Times Square from 10am to 2pm. Why is e-waste recycling important? Per the story in the December 27th issue of Environmental Leader, it “uses a fraction of the energy needed to mine new metals and reduces the production of CO2 and sulfur dioxide emissions. E-waste also creates jobs – compared to disposal; computer reuse creates 296 more jobs per for every 10,000 tons of material disposed each year.”
- Finally, we have the renewable energy we need to power the world right now! This is not a misprint. It’s not the hyperbolic rantings of a maniac (Jets fan-dom excluded). No, it’s a hypothesis that’s been discussed in scientific quarters, most recently by Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. While it is one thing to say we want to stop burning fossil fuels, Jacobson (and a team of researchers) went on Letterman in November and told us how to do it. His comments were based on a 2009 cover story in Scientific American that has been amplified by others. The technology is out there. It’s matter of will, political and otherwise, consistently applied.
Mark Jacobson, Senior Fellow – Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment; Professor – Civil & Environmental Engineering, discusses how the world can quickly and cost effectively shift to a renewable energy-dominant economy with David Letterman (Photo Credit: Stanford Woods Institute)
And that, in part, is where sports fans come in. Sports fans are willful. We’re in it for the long haul. Heck, the Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl in XLV years, the Cubs are 106 years beyond their last World Series win–and their fans are no less ardent. In fact the long droughts make us, if anything, more passionate. The Green Movement needs to borrow that passion and that long-game will of sports fans NOW (we have some time to reverse the greenhouse gas emissions problem and thus avoid the worst of the climate change train wreck, but not XLV years). Sports fans who are green-minded need to lend some of their energy to the Green Movement. Encourage A-List athletes to become E(co)-List athletes. Press our leaders, Republicans and Democrats, to take up this issue. Support corporate sponsors who, like Verizon, are, in some ways, doing the right thing.
Looking to the year ahead, GSB will be reporting on the many aspects of the increasingly busy, always interesting intersection of Green & Sports. Thanks in advance for continuing to read, comment on and share our blog. On behalf of my GSB colleague, Elyssa Emrich, Go Jets, Go GREEN Bay Packers (Elyssa’s team), and Go Green in 2014! Thank you for your support.
Oh yeah–I never answered the question at hand, who won this fall-winter season, Gang Green or the Green Movement. It’s a tough call. If President Obama had already rejected Keystone XL, the Green Movement would have earned the nod. Since that’s still a question mark–and a much bigger one than the albeit big Jets QB question mark, I’m going to say the Jets had a better season.