Battle for the Senate: Iowa

The Iowa race features two candidates with very different views about climate change.

The Senate race in Iowa pits incumbent Joni Ernst against Democrat Theresa Greenfield.  Climate change is the area where the two contrast most strongly. Greenfield accepts the science and calls for action. Ernst is still in the “maybe it relates to a little bit to humans” phase of climate denial. She also says she’s “so skeptical” of the COVID death count. “These health-care providers and others are reimbursed at a higher rate if covid is tied to it, so what do you think they’re doing?”

Joni Ernst. Ernst’s campaign site focuses much of its attention on rural areas. She calls for ”eliminating harmful rules and regulations that hamstring Iowa’s economy, including Obama’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule which would have regulated about 97 percent of land in Iowa.” (I have no idea where she got the 97% figure — surely she doesn’t mean that nearly all the state is a swamp or marsh.) Not surprisingly, she’s also in favor of ethanol as a fuel — they grow a lot of corn in Iowa. Her Senate website calls for an “all of the above” energy approach and mentions her support for wind power (Iowa sells a lot of that) and biofuels, along with fossil fuels and the Keystone XL pipeline.

Ernst isn’t willing to acknowledge that human activities are causing climate change. Here is as far as she’s been willing to go: ““I think there is probably a contribution there, but again, if we wipe industry off the face of the earth, the climate is still going to change. Climate has been changing since the dawn the time, but can we be better stewards of the environment? Of course, we can.”  At least she didn’t say climate change is a Chinese hoax, like the national leader of her party.

In practice, “all of the above” seems to lean heavily toward fossil fuels.  Ernst has a 3% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters. Her score of 14% in 2019 must have lifted the lifetime score by a percent or two.

Theresa Greenfield.  Greenfield’s campaign biography is sketchy, but it tells an appealing story about a young widow with two children who pursues a career in urban planning and real estate development. In terms of the environment, the website says:

“We can’t afford to have Senators who question and deny the science, who refuse to act when the future of our kids and grandkids are on the line, and who consistently put the needs of Big Oil over Iowans suffering. Theresa is proudly endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, and understands the gravity of our climate crisis requires smart, principled leadership.”

The website says Greenfield will pursue “good-paying clean energy jobs and defend and strengthen our environmental laws that are under attack from the corporate special interests in Washington.” Notably, the website also mentions climate change adaptation, saying “she will also be focused on solutions that protect Iowans from the effects of climate change, including securing infrastructure funding to strengthen our defenses against flooding to save communities across Iowa.”

Overall, Ernst seems to be pretty much a standard-issue anti-environmental conservative, except where local industries (biofuels, wind) are at issue. Greenfield seems likely to be a fairly average Democrat in environmental terms. The choice between them may have national repercussions, given the battle for Senate control now underway.

 

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Reader Comments

One Reply to “Battle for the Senate: Iowa”

  1. It is almost 2021 and I am left with an increasing exercise in futility wondering who is more responsible for our new California orange sky color? We have always known that far too many politicians are culturally corrupt, but it also appears that intellectuals are hiding behind their shields of academic purity while failing to meet the challenges of change that are destroying our civilization because academics refuse to unite and communicate directly with the public to inform, educate and motivate us to protect our environment so we can all protect quality of life for our future generations.

    It appears that the root cause of academic leadership failures is the common cultural denominator they share with politicians, subservience to the Power of Money as documented by Eisenhower, Maddox et al, so our civilization is now declining and falling at an increasingly out of control rate due to global warming, pandemics, violence and inequalities.

    Most tragically, academics still continue to fail to produce implementable solutions, even after Keeling began measuring exponentially out of control atmospheric CO2 accumulation in 1958, along with increasingly disastrous global warming warnings since the first Earth Day in 1970 such as Norman Myers’ Gaia series starting in 1984 with a multitude of global warming warnings that defined the need for extreme urgency in no uncertain terms, then “350 or Bust” warnings by McKibben and Hansen et al in 2008 (we are now rocketing past 417 ppm atmospheric CO2) that should have motivated a sense of dire urgency. So today we are increasingly experiencing asphyxiation, hyperthermia, drowning and many other disastrous climate change consequences because of academic failures to produce implementable solutions for the sake of our children and their future at least. If only Edward Teller had been enabled to focus upon and achieve his 1963 prediction of fusion power production before the end of the 20th century to enable a future for our newest generations that could have been guaranteed to be an acceptable quality of life.

    Instead we are now faced with the reality of Sir John Maddox’s prediction of calamity due to academic obsequiousness to the power of money.

    So today it appears that academics are only left with finger-pointing just like politicians, eliminating hope for future generations to have the opportunity to enjoy an acceptable quality of life, until time runs out completely, probably in this century.

    Calamitous failures by Washington politicians this year alone have caused pandemic deaths to escalate completely out of control in just a few months. Thus we must not forget another outrageous fact that Linus Pauling, father of molecular biology and two time Nobel Laureate, was marginalized by UC powers that be because of their submissiveness to the Power of Money even though he may have produced earlier methods of control over pandemics if he had been allowed to continue his research at UC. Tragically ironic, there is a cluster of molecular biology buildings on the Berkeley campus that certify Pauling as the greatest American born genius in the 20th century.
    So now we are experiencing mankind’s gravest threat to our survival today due to academic refusals to unite and communicate with the public which is resulting in hellacious increases in global warming disasters such as unbreathable West coast air quality due to increasing temperatures and wildfires, along with increasingly out of control hurricane destruction on the East coast and Gulf of Mexico, planetary overheating and far too many climate disasters today. As Sir John Maddox predicted in his epic 1998 science book “What Remains to Be Discovered” we are now experiencing calamities as a way of life due to academic capitulation to the power of money.

    So today the new fact of life is that both politicians and intellectuals have produced one more declining and falling civilization even though the Durants warned us with their epic history of “The Story of Civilization” that proves even academics don’t learn from and overcome destructive lessons of history, thus producing the greatest tragedy in this newly designated Anthropocene epoch.
    Indeed, as Pogo is quoted at the first Earth Day in 1970 “We have met the enemy and he is us” which was one of far too many warnings that were neglected that now result in a profusion of out of control perils to our survival, with academics making denials just like politicians.

    So now we have entered the epoch of global warming wildfires, hurricanes, pandemic, violence, inequalities, Trump and the question becomes:

    Are we smart enough to survive?

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About Dan

Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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