Category Archives: politics

Who’s to blame? Rolling Stone names top 12 climate deniers

Remember these names…  (thanks Rolling Stone, via Climate Progress).

12. Fred Upton:  Upton, a moderate who has backed new standards for more efficient light bulbs and admitted that “we need to reduce emissions,” won the chairmanship by shamelessly transforming himself into a Tea Party wanna-be. He now claims he is “not convinced” that carbon needs to be regulated and denounces climate legislation as “an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs.” As chairman, Upton is expected to further boost his credibility with the Tea Party by launching an all-out war on new regulations proposed by the EPA, including stricter air-quality standards and tougher limits on toxic coal ash. In fact, Upton has promised that EPA officials will spend so much time being questioned before his committee that “we will give them their own parking place” on Capitol Hill.

11.  Bjørn Lomborg [technically, he doesn’t belong on the list since he is neither a politician nor an executive, but who could object?]:  The Danish statistician, a self-proclaimed “skeptical environmentalist” who has spent the past decade downplaying the risks of global warming, has long been the darling of do-nothing politicians who cite his bogus numbers to justify their inaction on climate change….  “He’s a performance artist disguised as an academic,” says Howard Friel, an independent researcher who has systematically debunked Lomborg’s work.

10.  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):  The new chairman of the House Oversight Committee has vowed to use his subpoena powers to “investigate” climate scientists, denouncing federal funding of their work as part of a “tsunami of opacity, waste, fraud and abuse.” Insisting that the planet is only going through a temporary and natural “warming cycle,” Issa points to the bogus “climategate” scandal as evidence that scientists “played fast and loose with both the truth and our money.” Money is certainly something Issa knows well: His car-alarm empire has made him one of the richest members of Congress, with an estimated fortune of $160 million. And while he has absolutely no background in science, he has a unique set of credentials for ferreting out wrongdoing: He has been charged twice with auto theft and once with carrying a concealed weapon, and owned a factory destroyed by suspected arson.

9.  Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV):  “I’m concerned that powerful voices continue to argue that climate change is a myth,” Rockefeller declared last year. “Greenhouse gas emissions are not healthy for our Earth or for her people, and we must take serious action to reduce them.” But Rockefeller’s deeds don’t match his lofty rhetoric. Last year, he led the charge in the Senate to prevent the EPA from regulating carbon emissions, insisting that Congress should be the one to “determine how best to reduce greenhouse gases in a way that protects West Virginia’s economy.” Given that there is no chance lawmakers will take action on carbon pollution anytime soon, Rockefeller’s move was just another excuse to burn more coal. What’s worse, it also provided Republicans with bipartisan cover in their crusade to strip the Obama administration of its last remaining way to cut planet-warming pollution on its own. “Who does Senator Rockefeller think will protect Americans from the dangers of global warming if the government is left with no tools to do so?” asks Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

8.  Ken Cuccinelli:  Here’s a novel strategy to make sure nobody thinks too hard about the risks of global warming: Criminalize climate science. Cuccinelli, Virginia’s ultraright attorney general, is using his prosecutorial power to harass and intimidate those who are raising the alarm about climate change….

7.  Tim Phillips:  As leader of AFP, a corporate front group that funnels cash to the Tea Party, Phillips is on a mission to convince Americans that global warming is a plot hatched by Al Gore to take away their freedom and destroy the economy….

6. Rex Tillerson:  As the world’s biggest carbon polluter — its oil spews an estimated 1 trillion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere each year — ExxonMobil has the most at stake in the battle over climate legislation. In a sharp and cynical ploy, Tillerson rejected the cap-and-trade system being considered by Congress last year and instead backed a direct tax on carbon pollution — perhaps the most effective way to halt global warming, but one he knew had absolutely no chance of passing. To cover his bets, Tillerson also poured $27 million into lobbying, much of it directed toward killing the climate bill….

5.  Tom Donahue:  “The main purpose of the Chamber,” says climate expert Joe Romm, “is to launder money from large industries and multinational corporations to affect public policy.” Last year, the Chamber spent $81 million on lobbying, far more than any other group. During the midterm election, it also pledged $75 million for ads to help elect Republicans, nearly all of whom are ardent climate deniers. After helping to derail climate legislation and calling for a new “Scopes monkey trial” on the science of global warming, Donahue is now taking aim at the EPA….

4.  Gregory Boyce:  As head of the world’s largest publicly held coal company, Boyce is the darling of Wall Street, beloved for his crisp management style, nice suits and political muscle. To keep America addicted to coal, Peabody spent $5 million on lobbying last year, arguing that any attempt to limit carbon pollution will jack up energy prices and destroy the U.S. economy….  The greatest global danger, Boyce declared, is “not a future environmental crisis predicted by computer models” but the “human crisis” of 3.6 billion people who lack easy access to electricity. The solution? More coal, which Boyce laughably referred to as “the only sustainable fuel with the scale to meet the primary energy needs of the world’s rising populations.” It was the kind of statement that made sense back in 1910. A century later, it’s a recipe for climate catastrophe.

3.  Sarah Palin, Retired half-term governor, Alaska:  No state suffers more from global warming than Alaska, where glaciers are already melting, methane is bubbling up through the permafrost, and animals are being forced to alter their migration patterns. Yet Palin, the host of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, continues to ridicule climate change as a “bunch of snake-oil science.” On her reality show, Palin tromps through the wilderness gushing about what she has called “the grandeurs of God’s creation.” But in the real world, she disses climate scientists, trashes clean-energy jobs and throws her political weight behind candidates who deny the reality and risks of global warming. (More than half of the 64 candidates she endorsed in the midterm elections won.)

2.  Charles and David Koch:  With a combined worth of $43 billion, these two aging, archconservative brothers are America’s leading funders of the climate-disinformation machine. By perpetuating the use of fossil fuels, they in turn fuel their sprawling empire of oil refineries and pipelines — the second-largest private corporation in the country. The Kochs have contributed $5 million to Americans for Prosperity, the driving force behind the Tea Party. They also gave nearly $25 million to conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, two of the leading players in the climate-denial racket. And to help kill climate legislation in Congress, Koch spent $38 million on lobbying — more than any energy company except ExxonMobil and Chevron. Last year, besides underwriting a host of conservative candidates in the midterm elections, the Koch brothers backed Proposition 23, the unsuccessful effort to end California’s crackdown on climate pollution, and funded attacks against the EPA’s right to regulate carbon emissions. In David Koch’s twisted view, global warming is actually good for us. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people,” he says, “because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.”

1.  Rupert Murdoch:  No one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than Murdoch. In a year of rec ord heat waves in Africa, freak snowstorms in America and epic flooding in Pakistan, the Fox network continued to dismiss climate change as nothing but a conspiracy by liberal scientists and Big Government. Glenn Beck told viewers the Earth experienced no warming in the past decade — the hottest on record. Sean Hannity declared that “global warming doesn’t exist” and speculated about “the true agenda of global-warming hysterics.” Even Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the chatty Fox & Friends, laughed off the threat of climate change, joking that the real problem was “too many polar bears.”

Murdoch’s entire media empire, it would seem, is set up to deny, deny, deny….

Murdoch knows better. In 2007, he warned that climate change “poses clear, catastrophic threats” and promised to turn News Corp. into a model of carbon neutrality. But at his media outlets, manufacturing doubt about global warming remains official policy. During the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, the Washington editor of Fox News ordered the network’s journalists to never mention global warming “without immediately pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.” Murdoch may be striving to go green in his office buildings, but on air, the only thing he’s recycling are the lies of Big Coal and Big Oil.

Analyzing the climate bill defeat…

Start here: the New Yorker article on how the climate bill died this year.

Joe Romm’s The Failed Presidency of Barack Obama, Part 1 and Part 2.

Open letter from 1Sky’s board of directors.

Robert Walker: What climate activists need to learn from the NRA and the gun-control wars.

 

Rachel Maddow Explores Right Wing Lying Echo Chamber

Rachel Maddow is a national treasure.

McKibbon: Climate change: It’s time to talk, and act, tough

I could’t agree more. Via LATimes.com. Worth quoting in full.

Climate change: It’s time to talk, and act, tough

Environmentalists have tried the compromise route. It hasn’t worked.

By Bill McKibben

August 4, 2010

Try to fit these facts together:

•According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months, the warmest six months and the warmest April, May and June on record.

•A “staggering” new study from Canadian researchers has shown that warmer seawater has reduced phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain, by 40% since 1950.

•Nine nations so far have set their all-time temperature records this year, including Russia (111 degrees), Niger (118), Sudan (121), Saudi Arabia and Iraq (126 apiece), and Pakistan, which also set the new all-time Asia record in May — a hair under 130 degrees.

•And then, in late July, the U.S. Senate decided to do exactly nothing about climate change. It didn’t do less than it could have; it did nothing, preserving a perfect two-decade bipartisan record of no action. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided not to even schedule a vote on legislation that would have capped carbon emissions.

I’m a mild-mannered guy, a Methodist Sunday school teacher. I’m not quick to anger. But the time has come to get mad, and then to get busy.

For many years, the lobbying fight for climate legislation on Capitol Hill has been led by moderate environmental groups, outfits such as the Environmental Defense Fund. We owe them a great debt, and not just for their hard work. We owe them a debt because they did everything the way you’re supposed to: They wore nice clothes, lobbied tirelessly and compromised at every turn.

By the time they were done, they had a bill that would have capped carbon emissions only from electric utilities (not factories or cars) and was so laden with gifts for industry that if you listened closely, you could actually hear the oinking. Sen. John Kerry, the legislator they worked most closely with, issued this rallying cry as the final negotiations began: “We believe we have compromised significantly, and we’re prepared to compromise further.”

And even that was not enough. They were left out to dry by everyone — not just Reid, not just the Republicans. President Obama wouldn’t lend a hand either.

The result: total defeat, no moral victories.

So now we know what we didn’t before: Making nice doesn’t work. It was worth a try, but it didn’t work. So we’d better try something else.

Step 1 involves actually talking about global warming. For years now, the accepted wisdom was: talk about anything else — energy independence, oil security, beating the Chinese to renewable technology.

But the task at hand is to keep the planet from melting. We need everyone, beginning with the president, to start explaining that basic fact at every turn.

It is the heat, and also the humidity. Because warm air holds more water than cold, the atmosphere is about 5% moister than it was 40 years ago, which explains the freak downpours that seem to happen someplace on this continent every few days.

It is the carbon. That’s why the seas are turning acid, a point Obama could have made with ease while standing on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Energy independence is nice, but you need a planet to be energy independent on.

Step 2, we have to ask for what we actually need, not what we calculate we might be able to get. If we’re going to slow global warming in the very short time available to us, we don’t actually need an incredibly complicated legislative scheme that gives door prizes to every interested industry. We need a stiff price on carbon, set by the scientific understanding that we can’t still be burning black rocks a couple of decades hence.

Asking for what you need doesn’t mean you’ll get all of it. Compromise still happens. But as David Brower, the greatest environmentalist of the late 20th century, explained amid the fight to save the Grand Canyon: “We are to hold fast to what we believe is right, fight for it, and find allies and adduce all possible arguments for our cause. If we cannot find enough vigor in us or them to win, then let someone else propose the compromise.”

Which leads to the third step in this process. If we’re going to get any of this done, we’re going to need a movement. For 20 years, environmentalists have operated on the notion that we’d get action if we simply had scientists explain to politicians and chief executives that our current ways are unsustainable. That turns out, quite conclusively, not to work. We need to be able to explain to them that continuing in their current ways will end something they actually care about: their careers. And because we’ll never have the cash to compete with Exxon, we better work in the currencies we can muster: bodies, spirit, passion.

We’re not going to get the Senate to act next week, or maybe even next year. It took a decade after the Montgomery bus boycott to get the Voting Rights Act. But if there hadn’t been a movement, then the Voting Rights Act would have passed in — never. We may need to get arrested. We definitely will need disciplined, nonviolent but very real anger.

Mostly, we need to tell the truth, resolutely and constantly. Fossil fuel is wrecking the one Earth we’ve got. It’s not going to go away because we ask politely. If we want a world that works, we’re going to have to raise our voices.

Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org and the author, most recently, of “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.” He’s a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. A longer version of this piece appears at tomdispatch.com.

Two out of three equals batting 0.100

I’m sure health care and financial reform are Really Important, but after the Senate fails to act on climate it feels like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

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Most depressing story of the year

Arizona goes further off the rails. This is the most appalling story ever.

Roger Ebert’s heartfelt response: “How do they get to be that way?

It’s not fair to say this to a whole state, but–Fuck you, Arizona.

Rachel Maddow rips the GOP and critiques the press

We need better democrat reactions to the Republican party sound machine, and a better press corps. Fortunately, we have Rachel Maddow

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