Daily Archives: November 7, 2014

Do Americans really want a hard right turn on climate change and renewable energy?

November 07, 2014, 07:30 am By Rona Fried, contributor

The outcome of the midterm elections represents a stinging loss for many issues I care about, but one thing is for sure — strong Republican control of the House and Senate is bad for the environment and growth of renewable energy. Sadly, these essential concerns have become partisan along, with too many other issues.

There’s already talk of Senate Republicans having the filibuster-proof majority they need to force through the Keystone pipeline, their No. 2 priority, says Reince Priebus, chair of the Republican National Committee (I assume repealing ObamaCare is No. 1). “I actually think the president will sign the bill on the Keystone pipeline because he’s going to be boxed in,” he said on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”

Some quotes from our new “leaders” in the Senate give you an idea what we are up against.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who will chair the Environment and Public Works Committee: “Catastrophic global warming is a hoax. That conclusion is supported by the painstaking work of the nation’s top climate scientists.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who will chair the Subcommittee on Science and Space of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation: “The EPA has adopted greenhouse gas regulations on the basis of scientific assumptions that have been totally undermined by the latest science.”

The irony of these false statements is that a day before the election, the world’s leading climate scientists — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — released their Synthesis Climate Change Report, summarizing three reports issued in 2014: “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

Global Climate Change
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I was once a climate change denier

Thursday, Nov 6, 2014 07:15 AM EST Kasra Hassani, The Tyee

I’m a scientist now, but the embarrassment lingers. Here’s why I let myself be duped — and how I came to my senses


[Editor’s note: This story first appeared on ScienceWriters.ca.
The Tyee republishes it here with permission.

I, a scientist with a PhD in microbiology and immunology, was a climate change denier. Wait, let me add, I was an effective climate change denier: I would throw on a cloak of anecdotal evidence, biased one-sided skepticism and declare myself a skeptic. Good scientists are skeptics, right? I sallied forth and denied every piece of evidence that was presented to me for a relatively long time.

It feels strange when I look back — I inadvertently fell into almost every pitfall of pseudoscience, shutting my eyes and repeating a series of mantras, such as “I don’t believe it!” “Why does it even matter?” and “I don’t care!”

Thankfully, those days are over, but the memories linger. Although the evolution of my thought — from ignorance, to denial, to skepticism and finally to acceptance — was a continuum. In retrospect, I can distinguish certain phases that are worth listing and discussing. I hope my experience encourages others to loosen up some strongly held beliefs and listen to the din of evidence.

Here are the prominent phases of my climate change denial:

The ‘We have bigger problems’ phase

Being a biology and ecology geek in high school, my mind nurtured environmental concerns, especially in my birth country of Iran where air and environment pollution, uncontrolled hunting, deforestation and desert formation are rampant. When I first heard about climate change through media (nothing had been taught in school), I couldn’t help but see it as a distraction from more immediate issues — poverty, childhood mortality, wars and conflicts, pollution, and so on.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
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House Science Chair Says Latest Climate Report Is ‘Clearly Biased,’ But He Only Read The Summary

Posted: 11/07/2014 5:30 pm EST Updated: 4 hours ago

Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, hasn’t read the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but he says he knows enough to conclude that “most of the predictions have been wrong,” he told Bloomberg TV on Friday.

“Congressman, it’s science. It’s 800 scientists,” Bloomberg host Cory Johnson interrupted. “It’s not some random guy making a prediction.”

“There are a lot of other scientists who disagree,” said the Texas Republican. “For example, we’ve now had close to 18 years of no global warming even though carbon dioxide emissions have increased 25 percent over the last 18 years. Nobody can explain that.”

Smith told Johnson he had not read the IPCC report. “I only read summaries,” he said, and described the report authors as “clearly biased.”

There is near unanimity among active climate scientists that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it. Several studies have also debunked the idea that climate change isn’t happening because surface air temperatures have risen more slowly since the 1990s. Rising greenhouse gas emissions mean a stronger greenhouse effect and the Earth continues to absorb more energy than it radiates back into space. This energy imbalance manifests itself in other ways, such as ocean warming and glacial melting.

Globally, 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred in the 21st century. And there is a good chance that 2014 may set the record as the warmest year since record keeping began in 1880.

…(read more).

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Stephen Colbert Calls Out “I’m Not a Scientist” Climate-Change Deniers

Jay Hathaway Filed to: Stephen Colbert

Today 4:53pm

Stephen Colbert hasn’t quite jumped on the very popular “arrest climate-change deniers” bandwagon yet, but he proved last night that he’s ready to go as far as “mock climate-change deniers mercilessly.”

Arrest Climate-Change Deniers

Man-made climate change happens. Man-made climate change kills a lot of people. It’s going to

Despite a consensus among 97% of climate scientists that humans are contributing to climate change, denialists won big in this week’s midterm elections, putting conspiracy theorist James Inhofe (R-Magical Christmas Land) in control of the Senate Environment Committee. Even Colbert’s conservative TV persona understands he’s an idiot.

…(read more).


Global Climate Change
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Surprise! This GOP Senator’s Theory About Volcanoes and Climate Change Is Totally Wrong

By Alex Park | Fri Nov. 7, 2014 10:49 AM EST

Volcano: bierchen/Shutterstock, Murkowski: Michael Dinnen/AP, mashup by Alex Park

When the 114th Congress convenes in January, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski will likely take over as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee—one of several committees whose work deals directly with climate and energy policy.

Unlike many of her GOP peers in the upper chamber, Murkowski doesn’t deny that the climate is changing. She’s even referred to Alaska as “ground zero for climate change.” But as we’ve pointed out, in recent years it’s become increasingly difficult to distinguish her legislative record on the issue from that of the rest of her party.

On Election Night, Murkowski told NPR that Alaskans are experiencing warmer temperatures and thinner ice and said that “this is something that we must address.” But it’s difficult to know what she means by that, because, as NPR reports, Murkowski’s “apparently not so sure what the cause is—or whether mankind is to blame.” For some reason, she brought up a volcano in Iceland.

“The emissions that are being put in the air by that volcano are a thousand years’ worth of emissions that would come from all of the vehicles, all of the manufacturing in Europe,” she said.

…(read more).

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Triumph of the Wrong | Paul Krugman


NOV. 6, 2014,  Paul Krugman

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet midterms to men of understanding. Or as I put it on the eve of another Republican Party sweep, politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday.

I’ll talk in a bit about some of the reasons that may have happened. But it’s important, first, to point out that the midterm results are no reason to think better of the Republican position on major issues. I suspect that some pundits will shade their analysis to reflect the new balance of power — for example, by once again pretending that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are good-faith attempts to put America’s fiscal house in order, rather than exercises in deception and double-talk. But Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda.

So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.

First, there’s economic policy. According to conservative dogma, which denounces any regulation of the sacred pursuit of profit, the financial crisis of 2008 — brought on by runaway financial institutions — shouldn’t have been possible. But Republicans chose not to rethink their views even slightly. They invented an imaginary history in which the government was somehow responsible for the irresponsibility of private lenders, while fighting any and all policies that might limit the damage. In 2009, when an ailing economy desperately needed aid, John Boehner, soon to become the speaker of the House, declared: “It’s time for government to tighten their belts.”

So here we are, with years of experience to examine, and the lessons of that experience couldn’t be clearer. Predictions that deficit spending would lead to soaring interest rates, that easy money would lead to runaway inflation and debase the dollar, have been wrong again and again. Governments that did what Mr. Boehner urged, slashing spending in the face of depressed economies, have presided over Depression-level economic slumps. And the attempts of Republican governors to prove that cutting taxes on the wealthy is a magic growth elixir have failed with flying colors.

In short, the story of conservative economics these past six years and more has been one of intellectual debacle — made worse by the striking inability of many on the right to admit error under any circumstances.

Then there’s health reform, where Republicans were very clear about what was supposed to happen: minimal enrollments, more people losing insurance than gaining it, soaring costs. Reality, so far, has begged to differ, delivering above-predicted sign-ups, a sharp drop in the number of Americans without health insurance, premiums well below expectations, and a sharp slowdown in overall health spending.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
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The $9 Billion Witness (w/ Matt Taibbi)

E120, e145,

The Climate Lost Big-Time in Tuesday’s Election | Mother Jones

Climate deniers are officially in charge of Congress, and other bad news.

—By Alex Park   | Wed Nov. 5, 2014 1:45 PM EST

Susan Santa Maria/Shutterstock

Tuesday’s elections were a major defeat for those who want to take serious action against global warming. Environmentalists spent millions in an effort to defeat pro-fossil-fuel Republicans, but their efforts largely failed. Key Senate committees will now be controlled by climate deniers, and even in blue states, clean energy advocates suffered big setbacks. Here are some of last night’s most significant electoral blows in the battle against climate change—along with a couple small victories.

  1. The Senate’s environment committee will be run by the biggest climate denier in Congress. With a Republican majority in the Senate, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) will likely become chairman of the Environment and Public Works committee, which handles legislation on air pollution and the environment. Inhofe is an outspoken climate denier. Two years ago, he published a book titled, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. He’s also a big opponent of the Obama administration’s proposed rule to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, describing it as the “definitive step in the administration’s war on fossil fuels.”
  2. There’s new life for the Keystone pipeline. The Republican-controlled House has already voted on more than one occasion to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, but with the Senate under Democratic control, that gesture has been little more than political theater. That will likely change now that Republicans have taken over the Senate. President Barack Obama could still veto any Keystone legislation that does pass, but as Grist explains, there’s “no guarantee” that he won’t seek to strike a deal with the GOP on the issue.
  3. Tom Steyer’s climate super PAC largely fell flat. Could a one-issue super PAC make climate an election-deciding issue? Not this time. California billionaire Tom Steyer put millions of his own money into the NextGen Climate PAC—and raised millions more—in an effort to elect pro-climate action candidates across the country. Much of the cash went to senate races in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Colorado, and to gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Maine. Out of those seven races, Democrats won only three.

…(read more).

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The biggest loser in this election is the climate

Updated by brad

Baldcypress trees at sunrise in North Carolina. US Geological Survey/Flickr

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In the run-up to the 2014 midterms, a lot of green groups were hoping that this might finally be the election when climate change became a defining issue.

The next Congress will be even more hostile to climate policy than the last

You had billionaire Tom Steyer spending $67 million trying to convince voters to care about global warming. You had the League of Conservation Voters pouring in another $25 million, more than in the previous two elections combined. All the while, some outlets were suggesting that recent natural disasters — from Hurricane Sandy two years ago to the ongoing drought in the West — just might push climate issues to the fore.

…(read more).

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Climate change denier Jim Inhofe in line for Senate’s top environmental job

Obama faces a fight to protect his climate change agenda after midterm results suggest Senate’s top environmental post will fall to Republican stalwart of climate denial

Republican Senator Jim Inhofe is expected to get the Senate top environmental job. Photograph: Tom Williams/Getty Images

Suzanne Goldenberg

Thursday 6 November 2014 11.24 EST

The Senate’s top environmental job is set to fall to Jim Inhofe, one of the biggest names in US climate denial, but campaigners say Barack Obama will fight to protect his global warming agenda.

Oklahoma Republican Inhofe has been denying the science behind climate change for 20 years – long before it became a cause for the conservative tea party wing. Following midterm elections which saw the Republicans take control of the senate, he is now expected to become the chairman of the senate environment and public works committee.

However, advocates believe Obama will work to protect his signature power plant rules from Republican attacks, and to live up to his earlier commitments to a global deal on fight climate change.

“We think he sees this as a critically important part of his second term legacy and there is no reason why he should not continue to go forward on this… both domestically and around the world,” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, told a press briefing.

The campaigners were less clear, however, how far Obama would be willing to fight to block the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Obama will get a chance to show he is still committed to fighting climate change during a trip to Beijing next week, where the US and Chinese are expected to announce new energy co-operation.

Extracting a pledge from China to cut emissions is hugely important now for Obama, who faces growing pressure from Republicans to demonstrate that other countries beyond the US – especially the high-emissions, rising economies – are acting on climate change.

“It is a domestic political imperative for the president to gain emissions reductions from China and other major emitters as much as it is an international policy goal,” said Paul Bledsoe, a climate change official in the Clinton White House.

“The president is under increasing pressure to gain emissions reductions from China and other major emitters in order to justify US domestic mitigation policy. That is going to be the spin Republicans put on it – that we are wasting our time with domestic emissions reductions because they will be swamped by developing countries’ pollution.”

Obama is going to feel that pressure the most from Congress. With his opponents now in control of both houses, the top slot on the Senate’s environment and public works committee passes from a climate defender, the California Democrat, Barbara Boxer, to Inhofe.

He published a book in 2012 calling global warming a hoax, and has compared the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Gestapo.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
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