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The Daily Need

The life and death of climate legislation, in graphic form

What if legendary comic book writer Alan Moore were to take up the cause of climate change? Might President Obama appear at first a savior, only to be unmasked, along with his fellow Democrats, as weak and ineffectual? Would Tea Party members be portrayed not as ordinary citizens but as zombies? And would the story end on an ominous note, full of uncertainty and existential despair?

We’ll probably never know what that comic would look like. But should Moore and his most notable collaborator, Dave Gibbons, decide to reunite for a contemporary update to their classic series “Watchmen,” they might take their cues from David Roberts and Thomas Pitilli, the duo behind a new six-page comic strip detailing the short life and gritty death of the landmark climate change bill in Congress last year.

Roberts, a reporter for the environmental magazine Grist, which published the comic, and Pitilli, a freelance illustrator, trace the long, sordid arc of the climate bill negotiations — back-room deals and all — in six short pages, mostly by boiling the story down to key plot points (the passage of the bill in the House, the rise of the Tea Party, the chaos in the Senate). And yet there are also plenty of long-forgotten details, including the release in February 2010 of a landmark Pentagon report which found for the first time that climate change poses significant threats to national security.

In a phone interview from Portland, Ore., Pitilli said the goal of the comic strip was to make climate change, a notoriously dry topic, interesting to people beyond the environmental community. The medium, Pitilli said, allowed him to be tongue-in-cheek rather than “preachy,” something environmentalists are often accused of being, and didn’t require special knowledge of science or a passion for politics. “I think sometimes the best way to approach a serious topic like that, especially in comic book form, is to be playful,” Pitilli said.

Of course, not everyone will agree that Republicans and the Tea Party are the villains — specifically, the undead villains — in this story. Then again, Democrats don’t exactly shine as the heroes, either. Obama evolves quickly from a president promising change to a politician fearful of his critics. And senators are seen as players in a circus, whose stonewalling withstands even the most convincing arguments for action. Leaders are revealed as cowards, and heroes do not to exist — which is probably not too far from how Moore himself would see it.

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  • Craig Goodrich

    It rather strikes me that the genuine zombies in this tale are the deniers who refuse to recognize that after two decades and $100 billion in research, the CO2-driven anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is not only still completely lacking in actual evidence, but has been comprehensively disconfirmed by ALL scientific measurements, ranging from satellites to deep-diving buoys to sediment cores. The hypothesis is not even wrong; it is even more ridiculous than it at first seemed in 1988 — only government money, rent-seeking financiers, and noisy environmental groups are keeping it alive.

    But the plug is about to be pulled.

  • Ryan W.

    I guess that means we should keep burning fossil fuel and fighting wars over it? Even if (by some miracle) what you worite is true using a cleaner energy source is actually a good idea……..but you don’t seem interested in good ideas, keep pounding that old drum Craig.

  • mark

    Ryan W. and others who still seem to believe the falsified data concerning global warming: If you would open your eyes and see that the emperor is not indeed wearing clothing, you could make a real effectual change in the world around you. This would also include PBS and PRI.

  • Sir4taye

    It is exactly your type of disinformation that will take away our liberty from extinction. Thanks for that.

  • ~stacy

    Innovations have made America great!
    Forcing a false climate change agenda on people is one of the many things that is destroying it.
    by all means lets use cleaner burning fuels (or better yet energy sources that need no burning), and more efficient products -BUT let us not force others to do it.

  • Lirons

    So…you’re saying the ozone is an overly valued protection of this planet, and who the heck really needs clean air. These two “commodities” that our non-hero leaders haven’t been able to find a way to get rich on, reflects the ignorance propelling the lunacy of there not being a global disturbance due to the idiotic continued use of fossil fuel…Craig, Mark and Stacy.

  • Krll

    You have lost sight of the truth. Continue arguing, that is what they want. ignore the words of Christ and fight each other, for every reason, surely you must all be right. continue the hate, it has helped you this much. When the moon moves, no one will notice

  • Anonymous

    Except that everything Craig has stated above is untrue and NOAA continues to report warming temps globally and the ice caps are indeed melting.

  • Guest 5

    Fossil fuels like Oil and coal are carbon based. Most of the world except cheap gas guzzling America believes carbon emissions are a source of global warming and climate change. Despite floods in Pakistan and Australia, huge rainfall caused disasters in South American countries after record years of drought and Northern hemisphere countries experiencing again actually more severe winters, but mountain glaciers disappering and polar ice caps melting, OOPs Katrina and etc in US.
    American politicians are like the proverbial Ostrich with its head in the sand and a cartoon message that says “leave me alone while we have an economic crisis and defend the world that does not need defending.”
    Vested interests in OIL, Coal or Gas and money mean America cannot be a model economy for the development of alternative or clean Energies.
    Get real America coal and Oil pices will soon be as
    costly as Alternative energies.
    Tax and invest now or face a severe economic and competitive disadvantage to the rest of the world within the next two decades.
    Guest 5

  • Sjperry

    All you said is abso-fucking-lutely false.