Green Corps, part 3: Flipping Senator John McCain

So, in part one of this series, I detailed just how valued Ross Gelbspan was and arguably still is to Green Corps. In part two, I detailed the blur of influential people across Ozone Action, Greenpeace and Green Corps. Now, let’s see what that combination is actually capable of influencing, by revisiting that pair of key sentences from the National Journal article I started parts 1 and 2 with:

… Radford moved on to other issues working for the Public Interest Research Groups while studying political science and business at Washington University in St. Louis. He later helped organize Green Corps, a nonprofit focused on grassroots organizing, and the group was hired as a contractor for Ozone Action, which prodded politicians to address climate change and protect the Earth’s ozone layer.

As I pointed out in my first Green Corps blog post, the topic of that 2014 article, then-outgoing Greenpeace USA Executive Director Phil Radford, did not organize Green Corps, and the assertion about Green Corps being a ‘contractor’, as seen in my part two post, is rather blurry. But what about that last bit above, on Ozone Action prodding politicians?

This bio reproduction piece (full text here) seems to confirm that about Radford and Ozone Action:

… he joined Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing, as a lead organizer between 1998 and 1999.  Mr. Radford then took a position as Field Director for Ozone Action, planning and running a number of campaigns, including the Global Warming 2000 campaign responsible for flipping Senator McCain into a hero on global warming …

At Radford’s own early 2011 Greenpeace bio, the Ozone Action-prompted “McCain flip” situation is corroborated. A couple of months later, the “Ozone Action” name vanished, but that’s another matter. He himself was still the master planner according to that new variation, and it confirms the name of the effort, “Global Warming 2000”.

Over the past decade, Phil has managed several high-impact, national campaigns on global warming, including Global Warming 2000, which convinced Senator McCain to take leadership on global warming …

Whether Radford cares to admit it or not now, Ozone Action wasn’t shy about its efforts back in February 2000, as preserved in this press release (screencapture here):

Throughout the month of March, Global Warming 2000 activists will continue to urge the candidates to lay out comprehensive plans to solve global warming. Working with local elected officials, scientists, health specialists and the religious community, activists will use visibility tactics such as giant inflatable mosquitoes and other public demonstrations to keep the pressure on the candidates ….

… “The presidential candidates need to be aware of the health and environmental impacts of global warming,” said Matt Stembridge, Global Warming 2000 New York Campaign Director. ” … Digital image of the inflatable prop is available at the Ozone Action website: www.ozone.org

That’s Matthew Anderson Stembridge, oddly renamed as simply Matthew Anderson in his 2012 “Green Corps Class of 2000” endorsement of his trainers, the individual I described in 2010 as co-author with Phil Radford of pro-global warming material (link broken in my 2010 piece, but is here as a PDF file, screencapture here) distributed into religious organizations that failed to identify what organization he and Radford were affiliated with. The same Matthew Stembridge described in this Bloomberg 2008 piece about Senator John McCain:

John McCain’s global warming journey started back in 2000, when a strange apparition named “Captain Climate” began to turn up at Presidential campaign events. Captain Climate was Dartmouth grad Matthew Stembridge, who wore red tights over orange long johns, a red knit stocking cap, yellow-painted galoshes, and a red cape. “What’s your position on climate?” Stembridge would yell at event after event.

McCain was intrigued. The Arizona senator called up Captain Climate for a chat. After he lost his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination to George W. Bush, McCain probed further. He held hearings. He talked to scientists. And in a stark break with the Bush Administration, which quickly joined the ranks of climate-change deniers, McCain began to call for action.

Emphasis on the words, “He held hearings.” Ozone Action itself emphasized that sometime in the summer of 2000:

Ozone Action hired 15 organizers to work in the early primary states to force candidates for the presidency to issue their plans to address global warming. …

…Thanks to their amazing work, Senator John McCain made true on a campaign promise and has had held two Senate hearings on global warming.

The first of those hearings was on May 17, 2000, proudly announced by Ozone Action the same day. The second was on July 18, 2000.

Ozone Action was apparently quite pleased with the results back then, and Matthew Anderson Stembridge is pleased with the effort to this day, starting right at the 4 second point in his Youtube Green Corps endorsement video, ending with this,

Easily the proudest moment of that campaign and my entire year with Green Corps was the Saturday before the New Hampshire primary when John McCain, in a school gymnasium, stood up and said, “I’ve heard from young people all across this state and around the country, for the last couple of months about ‘What are you gonna do about climate change, what are you gonna do about global warming?’, and I don’t have a plan right now, but if I’m elected president, I’ll appoint a science committee and I’ll report back to Congress and myself within a year, and we’ll figure this out.”

And we were blown away, we were totally proud of the stance that he took, and we were proud of the work, not just the Green Corps organizers did in New Hampshire but the Green Corps family across the country, and then all of the young people who’d worked on that campaign for those last sixty days.

All this pride, despite the presence of skeptic climate scientist Dr John Christy (Ph.D., Atmospheric Sciences) in the first McCain hearing (not listed in Ozone Action’s list from that same hearing), and the presence skeptic climate scientist Dr S. Fred Singer (Ph.D., physics) in the second hearing, a person previously held in massive dislike by Ozone Action regarding his congressional hearing appearance on topic of ozone depletion, and held in massive dislike by Ozone Action on the topic of global warming – in a press release attack of Dr Singer, (screencapture here), having Kalee Kreider – future spokesperson for Al Gore – as one of the contacts.

Why would have Ozone Action people have been proud of those hearings? Well, each skeptic scientist was outnumbered by pro-global warming witnesses, a situation so obvious that Dr Christy himself noted it. Bonus political points, however, for the then-current IPCC Chairman for naming three of the most famous skeptic scientists accused of being industry-funded shills (screencapture here):

Dr. Christy. And I feel surrounded sitting here.
[Laughter.]
Senator Kerry. Well, it is hard to find a whole lot of contrarians now. There are a few more but it is hard to find it is hard to fill a room with them. How many people are on the IPCC? 2,500, is it?
Dr. Trenberth. There are several hundred as authors. There are several thousand, indeed, involved as reviewers. And indeed John is one of them, and so is Richard Lindsen [sic], who is also a
notable skeptic.
….
Dr. Watson. … I would say there are a half a dozen key contrarians, which include Dick Lindsen [sic], Fred Singer and Pat Michaels…

Bonus points for some degree of accuracy to Dr Kevin Trenberth, when it came to spotting what was and still is more commonly seen as a widespread embellishment of the climate scientists quantity in the IPCC, but the irony here is than despite the smaller number Trenberth mentions, when Ozone Action arranged a ’round table’ discussion four years earlier on the global warming issue, two of its six experts were ……… Trenberth and Thomas Karl, the latter individual coming up in the paragraphs below.

Regarding the second hearing in which Dr Singer appeared, it needs to be noted that the following sequence of events happened:

  • Committee Chairman John McCain stated that other obligations required this to be a short hearing with opening statements and a mention of rescheduling longer testimony for a later date. Dr Singer was scheduled to speak last.
  • McCain turned to Dr. Raymond Schmitt who professed not to be an expert on the impact on the ecology of the oceans, and he then asked Thomas Karl, “do you have a response to Dr. Singer’s views?
  • Karl was allowed to give a lengthy response, followed by statements from Dr. Anthony Janetos.
  • Dr Singer was given no time to rebut anything Thomas Karl said.
    And that was that.

To the best of my ability to find at this time, Senator McCain did not reschedule a longer testimony hearing with these four witnesses. I leave it to others to ask Senator McCain why the testimony of Drs Christy and Singer apparently had no impact on him, and why the viewpoints from enviro-activists and the head of a UN-created organization had the opposite effect.

Regarding enviro-activists attempting to sway presidential candidates, let me close out on a fascinating ‘bookend’ arrangement. Matthew Anderson Stembridge, working in an arrangement with Ozone Action, brags of confronting John McCain back in 2000. Another person at Ozone Action at that time was Kert Davies.

Who bragged at his Facebook page about confronting Jeb Bush on June 19, 2015 about global warming? Kert Davies, vowing that other similar confrontations will be forthcoming.

Davies on Jeb