This is a guest post by Mike Casey, cross-posted from ScalingGreen.com.
Despite overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic climate change is real, potentially catastrophic, and accelerating, the theft of the East Anglia emails a year ago was turned into “Climategate” by the dirty energy lobby. This non-scandal was nothing but a bunch of hot air, perpetrated by “deniers,” and to a large extend funded by the leading dirty energy (coal and oil) industries. (For more on this subject, see the superb book, “The Climate War,” by Eric Pooley.)
Congressman Joe “Apologize to BP” Barton of Texas was among those honking on the “Climategate” horn the loudest. The problem is that Barton lacks intellectual integrity of his own. As Salon reports:
The only problem, other than the fact that the report is overwhelmingly without merit, is that it was largely plagiarized.
Just how bad is the new crop of Tea Party-infused GOPers when it comes to scientific understanding of climate change? Pretty mind-bogglingly abyssmal.
A new analysis by the Wonk Room with research by Daily Kos contributor RL Miller details the denial among the new crop of Climate Zombies that will be walking the halls of Congress.
Among the findings: “45 of 97 Republican freshmen and 85 of 166 reelected Republicans are confirmed climate zombies. There are no Republican freshmen, in the House or Senate, who admit the science is real.”
Head over to the Wonk Room for the full report.
While U.S. voters head to the polls today - and everyone from Fox to Politico to your uncle on Facebook becomes a pundit trying to predict the results - the outcome is already crystal clear: polluters have won again, handily.
With the advent of now limitless corporate donations polluting the democratic process thanks to the Supreme Court’s insane ruling on Citizens United, dirty energy interests, Wall Street fat cats and lobbyists will run America for the foreseeable future.
Corporations have long enjoyed the advantage of spending a tiny amount (compared to their enormous profits) to influence the entire political system, buying future access and favors that pay off for years to come, simply by driving contributions to their favored candidates in every contest from local zoning board races to governors to U.S. Senators.
But thanks to Citizens United, corporate influence is now far more invasive and impactful. Polluters can freely run attack ads and vicious smear campaigns against climate hawks, deploy their front groups to mislead voters on everything from health care to global warming, sponsor ballot initiatives to kill clean energy progress, and generally play fast and dirty with zero accountability for their actions.
The New York Times editorial today focuses on the influence of Dick Cheney’s brand of denialism to explain the fact that none of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate accept the scientific consensus that human activities are largely responsible for climate disruption.
The editorial “In Climate Denial, Again” notes that GOP candidates this election season are “re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.”
The current crop of fact-challenged candidates running on the GOP ticket range from the outright deniers like Nevada candidate Sharron Angle to the “wiggly” position demonstrated by the likes of California’s Carly Fiorina - a favorite of the billionaire Koch brothers - who remains “unsure” about the scientific foundation confirmed by all of the world’s top scientific institutions.
According to the Times, “all are custodians of a strategy whose guiding principle has been to avoid debate about solutions to climate change by denying its existence — or at least by diminishing its importance. The strategy worked, destroying hopes for Congressional action while further confusing ordinary citizens for whom global warming was already a remote and complex matter.”
The Times editors guess that former Vice President Dick Cheney “has to be smiling” about the lock-step denial and confusion campaign continued by this crop of Republican candidates.
An editorial in the Calgary Herald praises the latest report from Britain’s Royal Society entitled “Climate Change: A Summary of the Science”. Though the Royal Society’s report is anything but skeptical of the science of climate change and the tangible impacts it will have on populations, the Calgary Herald inappropriately cites the reputable organization’s report in an effort to deny climate change and attack climate legislation that would hurt their bottom line.
In response to the misperceptions held by some media and members of the public about climate change (despite the overwhelming scientific consensus), the Royal Society produced a definitive guide to the science of climate change that summarizes the current scientific evidence on climate change. It highlights the areas where the science is well established, where there is still some room for further investigation to improve confidence, and where substantial uncertainties remain. Far from claiming that there is any lack of consensus that climate change is happening, the report demonstrates, in layman’s terms, where the science is established, and where more scientific work is still needed.
Prominent climate scientist Michael Mann, who has endured a seemingly endless political attack on his work, has penned an excellent op-ed in today’s Washington Post, calling on fellow scientists to recognize and resist the efforts of anti-science politicians to distort their work.
Mann notes the danger of a GOP take-over of key climate change committees in Congress, pointing out the war on science and reason promised by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) if he takes over chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and similar views expressed by Rep. James Sensenbrenner if he takes the helm of the committee on climate change and energy security. The denier duo plan to re-hash the wasteful investigation into the non-scandalous dead end known as Climategate, if propelled to leadership positions.
“We have lived through the pseudo-science that questioned the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, and the false claims questioning the science of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. The same dynamics and many of the same players are still hard at work, questioning the reality of climate change.”
“Even without my work, or that of the entire sub-field of studying past climates, scientists are in broad agreement on the reality of these changes and their near-certain link to human activity.”
“the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science. How can I assure young researchers in climate science that if they make a breakthrough in our understanding about how human activity is altering our climate that they, too, will not be dragged through a show trial at a congressional hearing?”
In the latest example of polluter attempts to exert influence over science, the Koch-funded Pacific Research Institute was paid to manufacture another junk science “study” designed to lend credibility to California’s disastrous Proposition 23 ballot measure, an oil industry-backed effort to derail the state’s landmark AB 32 law to fight global warming.
The Yes on 23 campaign, a group launched and funded primarily by three oil companies – Valero Energy, Tesoro Corporation and Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hills Resources - has been meddling in science, much to the liking of its oil industry bankrollers. Recent financial reports reveal the Yes on 23 campaign has raised more than $5.2 million in the past three months, mostly from the oil companies.
The funding reports reveal payments of tens of thousands of dollars going to researchers at an industry front group well known for ginning up misleading research suggesting that California’s clean energy efforts would kill jobs.
According to the financial disclosures, the oil-backed campaign paid Pacific Research Institute $40,000, no doubt intended to bolster its efforts to attack California’s AB 32 law.
Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, who once famously held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to climate change, is installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on his official residence this week.
Donated by Sungevity, an Oakland, California based solar company, the Maldives’ PV system is grid-connected and will generate about 15,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per annum, providing half of the residence’s power needs, according to Sungevity founder Danny Kennedy, whose company donated and designed the installation for the Maldives’ presidential palace. South Korean company LG donated the PV modules, while the three inverters were provided by Germany manufacturer Kaco, and the mounting hardware by Ironridge.
Sungevity estimates the system will save the Maldives $300,000 over its 25-year expected lifespan. The system will go online tomorrow.
Kennedy’s company has made a similar bid to put solar on the U.S. White House for free, and started the Globama petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures. The petition and offer were hand-delivered to President Obama last month by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who traveled to Washington with a group of students from Maine’s Unity College in an attempt to return one of former President Jimmy Carter’s solar panels to the White House roof. They were rebuked at that time, although yesterday the White House did finally announce plans to put solar back on the roof at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the near future.
Maldives President Nasheed says his country could not afford to delay another minute, with climate disruptions already impacting the tiny island nation 200 miles south southwest of the Southern tip of India. Its highest point is only 2.4 meters above sea-level, leaving residents at extreme risk from rising sea levels caused by global climate change.
Another day, another GOP candidate in denial about the scientific facts of climate change. This election season in the U.S. has been overrun with GOP and Tea Party-backed candidates who deny the existence of global warming, and therefore willingly ignore and denigrate science as a whole.
The latest example is Wisconsin GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, Ron Johnson, who calls climate change “unproven.”
“The science of global warming is unproven,” he said. “It just is,” Johnson told The Associated Press on Thursday.
“I’m not even sure if, if it were a fact, whether we could do anything about it anyway,” Johnson said.
This isn’t a major change of heart for Johnson, who called global warming “lunacy” earlier this summer. He has labeled any and all who subscribe to the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and driven by human activity “crazy.” He has described legislative efforts to address global warming pollution as “a fool’s errand.”
Here’s a video of Johnson saying all that, plus this: “It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.” Note also his response at the end to the question about what he thinks CO2 does, “I think it’s sucked down by trees and helps trees grow.”