NEWS AND OPINION:
Earth Day could be interesting in Florida: President Obama will journey aboard Air Force to visit the Everglades on Wednesday, burning jet fuel and taxpayer funds as he goes. Well, at least it’s not as far as Tokyo, which was his Earth Day destination last year. That venture prompted the London Daily Mail to do the math and reveal that magnificent but pricey aircraft consumes 5 gallons of jet fuel for every mile it flies — emitting over 21 pounds of dreaded CO2 per gallon. The fuel alone costs taxpayers about $180,000 per hour of flight time. Oh, the carbon footprint — and the irony.
“We’ve committed to doubling the pace at which we cut carbon pollution,” Mr. Obama said during a weekend address that outlined the details of his trip. Climate change is on the president’s mind, though, and he will emphasize the potential economic and environmental impact of global warming and rising seas on the fragile Everglades during an event in Homestead, conveniently the home to an Air Force Reserve base.
But it’s complicated. According to an investigation last month by the nonprofit Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, Gov. Rick Scott has forbidden employees and contractors in the state environmental protection and other agencies from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” Though Mr. Scott has denied this claim, the investigation found that the “unwritten policy” had been in place since 2011. After analyzing public records and other documents, the investigators noted a “steep decline” in the use of those terms since Mr. Scott took office.
The ban later drew criticism from Secretary of State John Kerry and local Democrats, including Rep. Ted Deutch, who tweeted a photo of himself with tape covering his mouth, embellished with the motto “climate change.” Yes, C-SPAN will cover Mr. Obama’s speech live at 1 p.m. EDT.
WHO’S REALLY BEHIND EARTH DAY
On its 45th anniversary, Earth Day is a global, industrial-strength event with much corporate and media involvement. Lest we forget, there is a designated “father” of Earth Day — Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat who served as both governor and senator for the state of Wisconsin. Here are the historic underpinnings from his biography, as published by the University of Missouri, detailing the origins of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970:
“Senator Nelson searched for many years to find a way to focus public attention on the environment. He thought he had found a way to bring the environment into the political limelight when he had persuaded President John F. Kennedy to make a nationwide conservation tour in 1963,” the document says, noting that there was not much media attention.
“Senator Nelson realized he needed another mechanism for promoting environmental concern and asked himself, ‘How are we going to get the nation to wake up and pay attention to the most important challenge the human species faces on the planet?’ While reading an article on anti-Vietnam War teach-ins that were organized on college campuses across the nation to protest that war, the thought occurred to him: Why not have a nationwide teach-in on the environment? Upon returning to Washington, Nelson raised the funds to get Earth Day started. He wrote letters to all 50 governors and the mayors of major cities asking them to issue Earth Day Proclamations. Congress recessed for the day so that House and Senate members could speak about the environment and attend community events.”
RUBIO’S MEDIA FINESSE
A certain Republican presidential hopeful already seems to have a communications edge, and has made a preemptive strike. That would be Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has formally answered the “top Google search questions about himself” after the search engine and Vocatif, a news site, analyzed the top Google queries about Mr. Rubio as well as Hillary Clinton.
Transparency was calling. The lawmaker from Florida immediately appeared in an informal video, cheerfully providing the answers and clearing the air about his age, faith and nationality and whether he was a twin, among other things. And there are more insta-videos to come.
“He will answer more questions in future videos, upcoming campaign events and media interviews,” a spokesman says.
And Mr. Rubio’s Democratic rival? There was silence from Mrs. Clinton’s side of things.
EMAILS, WHAT EMAILS?
Some still wonder whatever happened to coverage of Hillary Clinton‘s private email system during her tenure as secretary of state. The story has disappeared from the broadcast networks, according to an analysis, which finds that the “email scandal” garnered a scanty seven minutes on ABC, CBS, NBC — about a minute a day — during the week Mrs. Clinton announced her presidential intentions.
This contrasts to coverage when news of the emails first broke in early March; the Big Three networks offered 125 minutes of airtime during the first two weeks of revelations, says Geoffrey Dickens, a Media Research Center analyst who did all the counting.
“Over the past five weeks, all three broadcast networks have essentially walked away,” he says, noting that the coverage has dropped by 93 percent. “Clinton’s official announcement caused some reporters to bring up the email imbroglio, but even then the bump was minor as it garnered just 5 minutes and 1 second of coverage.”
Questions linger, though. Mr. Dickens still wonders whether the private server was “wiped clean,” whether a foreign nation hacked the contents and whether the emails reflected incriminating evidence about the Benghazi investigation or Clinton Foundation donations.
“The networks have essentially discarded the story,” he says.
NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE
The University of Montevallo — located 45 miles southwest of Birmingham, Alabama — will offer what appears to be the nation’s first hunting and fishing scholarship. The “President’s Outdoor Scholarship” will include courses in conservation, game management, hunting and fishing techniques and strategies, outdoor sports, environmental issues and how to prepare fish and wild game for the table.
“We live in an area of the country where hunting and fishing are part of the ethos and part of our culture,” university President John Stewart tells Yellowhammer, a regional news organization. “I personally grew up doing a lot of hunting and fishing, with a great deal of respect for outdoor resources. We saw this as a way to serve so many students in our area who come to college and study, but also would like to remain plugged into their passions outside the classroom.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 60 percent of Americans say economic conditions in the U.S. will be “good” in the next year; 44 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats agree.
• 52 percent overall say the economic conditions are currently good; 31 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of independents and 76 percent of Democrats agree.
• 50 percent overall say America is not divided into “haves and have nots”; 61 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of independents and 38 percent of Democrats agree.
• 48 percent overall say U.S. economic conditions are poor; 69 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 34 percent of Democrats agree.
• 42 percent overall say they are financially better off than they were a year ago; 26 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 61 percent of Democrats agree.
• 34 percent overall say they are financially worse off now; 45 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 19 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,018 U.S. adults conducted April 16-19.
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