Jim Clark: Will the Jedi return when it comes to climate change?
Special to the Bonanza
Man-caused climate change evangelists have little use for people who dare question whether there is any room to even debate alternate theories.
As San Francisco Chronicle opinion columnist Debra J. Saunders puts it: “High-profile purveyors of climate change don’t push for reductions in greenhouse gases so much as focus on berating people who do not agree with their opinions. They call themselves champions of ‘the science’ — yet focus on ideology more than tangible results.”
The very term “science” means “a systematic activity requiring study and method,” where as “high-profile purveyors” treat their personal opinions as immutable fact.
It was not surprising then to see former venture capitalist and now billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer organizing and chairing a summit in Oakland last week to which he summoned California’s top Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), University of California President Janet Napolitano and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols.
Steyer had just returned from a trip around the United States in which he distributed $73 million in a largely unsuccessful attempt to defeat candidates for office who support the Keystone XL pipeline.
Steyer told reporters he sees environmentalists as the good guys in a “Star Wars” type battle for the planet’s health, with oil companies as a collection of “Darth Vaders” fully capable of raising gas prices “in order to punish us.”
“I like to think about it as a Star Wars redux,” he said of the climate change battle. “The Jedi will always return.”
The purpose of the environmental summit was to announce Steyer’s plan to have California Senate Leader de Leon introduce legislation requiring the Golden State’s Public Employees Retirement System to divest all of its investments in coal-related industries.
CalPERS is the nation’s largest public pension fund with assets of over $300 billion.
You may question the appropriateness of the California governor and legislature combining to force investment choices on pension plan trustees who are supposed to be fiduciaries pursuing the best interests of their beneficiaries.
But when “Moneybags” Tom Steyer shows up and takes muster, all the top California Democrats are there to salute and take orders.
Another influential California Democrat, former Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh, coined the phrase: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” and money is what fueled his command performance environmental summit in Oakland.
So what about the morality of one person with a bankroll snapping his fingers and triggering the head of the California Senate to announce that he plans to introduce legislation to restrict CalPERS investments and force the sale of those now held?
An ostensible neutral and informed source, Loyola University political ethics professor Jessica Levinson, told reporters: “If you have a billion dollars your dance card is going to be full … we all know why everyone shows up at Tom Steyer’s events — because he may spend a lot of money supporting candidates and issues. And if you spend it they will come.”
Democrats, anyhow! Steyer, who is on the board of Stanford University, has already caused that institution to divest of coal-related securities.
So far efforts to induce Harvard University and the University of California to “disinvest” have not worked.
Disinvestment brought about by people with power, money and an agenda can be a problem according to Harvard Professor Robert Stavins.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal Stavins said: “Symbolic actions often substitute for truly effective actions by allowing us to fool ourselves into thinking we are doing something meaningful about a problem when we are not.”
Well, at least “Jedi” Steyer seems happy. Maybe the folks paying into those pension funds won’t be though.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.