sustainability

Tue, 2010-06-22 11:19Kevin Grandia
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Who are the spindoctors behind the attack on Gasland?

Last night the award-winning documentary Gasland got a big bump in profile when it was aired on HBO.

And by the looks of the PR attack campaign launched today, it looks like Gasland is starting to get under the skin of the oil and gas industry.

I guess the dinosaurs in the dirty fuel lobby don’t like videos of people who can light their tap water on fire after their wells are contaminated with methane gas, like this:

Mon, 2010-06-14 14:02Kevin Grandia
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The Inside Scoop on the "Climate War"

The first question I had for author Eric Pooley after I finished reading his new book, The Climate War, was whether he had set up hidden cameras all over Washington, DC.

He didn’t of course, but the insider information he weaves into his story about the ongoing battle for effective climate policy both in the United States and internationally will make even the insiders feel inadequate.

The Climate War puts you at the power-broker’s table, with much of the book following two main characters who have been at the center of the debate and the controversy around climate policy for more than a decade - Fred Krupp, Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund and Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy.

Both Krupp and Rogers are polarizing figures within the climate advocacy community, with Krupp being accused of “selling out” to the big corporate machine and willing to accept inadequate policy fixes and Rogers being accused of greenwashing the company he heads which is one of the largest electrical generation companies in the United States.

Krupp and Rogers act as the central characters and around them Pooley wraps the history of how we have gotten to where we are today on the issue of climate change, ending with the failure to come to an international climate treaty in Copenhagen, Denmark in late December, 2009.

We learn more about the “deniers” and the corporate flaks that back them, like Myron Ebell at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who toasted a crowd with Fiji Water because,

“It comes to you direct from Fiji, so it’s very energy inefficient: the only thing that could improve it would be to carbonate it.

Fri, 2010-03-19 06:17Kevin Grandia
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Wanted: David and Charles Koch, Climate Criminals [video]

If you’ve never heard of Charles or David Koch, I wouldn’t blame. While they do run the second largest private company in the US, they don’t spend much money advertising the fact.

These oil barons do however spend a lot of money every year on organizations like Americans for Prosperity who attack the science of climate change and deny that it is happening.

Here’s a backgrounder on Koch just released yesterday by Climate Science Watch.

And here’s Greenpeace’s “Climate Crime Unit” on the hunt for Charles and David Koch:

Mon, 2010-03-15 18:25Jim Hoggan
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Stanford Study Confirms That “Balanced” Media Stories Quoting Skeptics Mislead The Public

Skeptics Skew Public Understanding of Climate Change

Providing climate skeptics a voice in “balanced” mainstream media coverage skews public perception of the scientific consensus regarding climate change, leaving viewers less likely to understand the threat of climate disruption and less likely to support government actions to address global warming, according to the results of a Stanford University research effort

The Stanford researchers probed the impact on public understanding of climate change when media coverage features a climate skeptic alongside a climate scientist.  Media stories featuring only a mainstream climate scientist “increased the number of people who believed that global warming has been happening and that humans have caused global warming.”

However, when media stories also include a climate skeptic, ostensibly to add “balance” to the story, the result is a “significantly reduced” number of people who understand the issue and endorse government action to address the problem.

“Watching a skeptic decreased perceptions of consensus among scientific experts, and this decreased perception of consensus led respondents to be less supportive of government action in general and of cap and trade policy in particular,” the researchers found.

Thu, 2010-02-25 11:18Kevin Grandia
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Common Sense and the Attack on the IPCC

When all logic leaves an argument, which is something that seems to happen on a daily basis in politics, it is good to step back and lay things out in black and white. Give some perspective to a situation to show just how ridiculous the situation has become.

The unprecedented attack on the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) has reached new heights with Republican Senator James Inhofe now calling for criminal investigations into the work of prominent climate change scientists.

Inhofe makes some very broad claims, based on a very narrow band of evidence, saying that, “the Minority Staff believes the emails and accompanying documents seriously compromise the IPCC-based “consensus” and its central conclusion that anthropogenic emissions are inexorably leading to environmental catastrophes.”

Inhofe is claiming that based on statements made in 3 emails, by a single person, he has enough evidence to now claim that decades of research by thousands of scientists is “seriously compromised.” Like I said, politics and logic rarely go had-in-hand.

To lay out in black and white, below I have compiled a list of the scientific references used in just two of the forty four chapters of the last IPCC report. There are thousands of papers, by thousands of scientists, over decades that make up this body of research.

Even if the so-called “climate gate” turned out to be the scandal Inhofe wants it to be, you could throw out that research and there would still remain thousands of papers, by thousands of scientists.

Take a quick look below at the list and you’ll see what I mean. That is, of course, if you’re willing to allow common sense back into the conversation on the subject of climate change.

Thu, 2010-01-28 07:02Kevin Grandia
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The Commonwealth Foundation's Favorite Strawman

When it comes to the art of political rhetoric there is nothing more effective then the straw man technique.

It’s simple: instead of using sound logic and evidence to discredit an idea or policy, just brand an individual as representative of the idea and then knock them down.

On the issue of climate change, you can see this technique in action with the right-wing Commonwealth Foundation trying to discredit the work of a single climate expert, Dr. Michael Mann, as a means of discrediting the entire body of climate change science.

The Commonwealth Foundation recently published a “policy brief” called Climategate & Penn State, a 12-page attack that tries to frame Dr. Mann as the orchestrator behind some grand conspiracy, which is the key to a good stick man attack.

Wed, 2010-01-27 16:30Jim Hoggan
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New Poll Results Reveal The Impact of Decades-Long Climate Confusion Campaign

A new report published jointly by Yale University and George Mason University finds that Americans are much less concerned about climate change than they were just a year ago.  Fifty-seven percent of Americans polled believe climate change is happening, compared with a figure of 71 percent in October 2008, a 14 point drop. 

The reason ought to be clear.  The climate confusion campaign - waged by the like of Americans for Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Petroleum Institute and American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) - is alive and well, and obviously still inflicting damage.

Wed, 2010-01-20 12:51Brendan DeMelle
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Climate Denial Industry Blowing Hot Air On Himalayan Glaciers

The climate denial industry is once again trying to make a huge to-do about a tiny error by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

With the Climategate Swifthack episode fading from the limelight, after a thorough debunking of far-fetched accusations that scientists made up global warming, the climate science attack machine now wants the world to focus on one paragraph out of a 938-page, three-year-old report.

The contrarians are questioning a single reference to Himalayan glaciers included in a 2007 IPCC report that does not meet the IPCC’s well-established evidentiary standards.

Here is their alleged smoking gun: The second of three 2007 reports from the IPCC included a statement that the likelihood of Himalayan glaciers disappearing “by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high.”

But the reference to Himalayan glaciers melting at that early date didn’t originate from a peer-reviewed study, meaning it should not have appeared in the IPCC report. 

Sure, that’s slightly embarrassing.  But it isn’t grounds to declare the entire library of climate science a fraud. The IPCC’s findings have been validated and substantiated by assessments conducted by leading scientific institutions the world over. 

The real news here is that a single ‘error’ was discovered in just one of the IPCC’s reports, collectively reams of paper thick, and the ‘error’ isn’t an error at all.  The Himalayan glaciers are melting.  There is no debate about that in the scientific community.

Tue, 2010-01-19 11:40Kevin Grandia
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Republican Candidate Scott Brown's Flip Flopping on Climate a Loser for Clean Energy and Green Jobs

What a difference a year makes for Republican candidate Scott Brown. Just last year Brown voted to support a regional greenhouse gas emissions trading plan and now he saying he’s not even sure climate change is a problem.

While uncertainty remains about what a Republican win in Massachusetts means for health care reform, there seems little doubt that it would be bad for the clean energy package making it’s way through Congress.

Just over a year ago Brown voted in favor of a regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade initiative in his capacity as a state legislator.

Tue, 2010-01-12 13:01Kevin Grandia
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Massey Energy running attack ads against "tree hugging extremists"

Massey Energy (NYSE: MEE), the 4th largest coal producer in the country is running political-style attacks in West Virginia claiming that “tree hugging extremists and self-serving politicians” are killing jobs, while the coal industry is “fighting hard for Appalachian jobs” and “what’s right.”

I am assuming that when Massey talks about fighting for Appalachian jobs they aren’t referring to the fact that earlier in 2009 they cut employee pay by 6% and then recently increased the performance bonus for Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, by $600,000.

And I think it’s also safe to assume that when Massey talks about fighting for “what’s right” they aren’t talking about the major environmental violations over the years culminating in a record $20 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA stated that Massey had violated its Clean Water Act permits “… more than 4,500 times between January 2000 and December 2006.”

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