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Tue, 2013-12-10 14:48Kevin Grandia
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Survey Lists the Best and Worst Financial Funds When it Comes to Climate Change Risk

Is your pension fund or insurance company a leader or laggard when it comes to avoiding risky bets on the future impacts of climate change?

A new survey released today finds that many major institutional investors, like retirement funds and insurance companies, are putting their investments (read: your money) at risk by not addressing the negative financial impacts posed by climate change and atmospheric disruption.

The survey, called the Global Climate Investment Risk, is based on data acquired from 460 funds who were invited to provide data, either from members of those funds or using publicly available information. Each fund is rated from AAA to X based on investment mix and recognition of the financial risks that climate change will have now and into the future.

Conducted by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP), the survey concludes that, of the 460 funds, only 5 received a AAA rating, while 173 funds are rated “X.”

Fri, 2011-05-27 13:10Emma Pullman
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Documents Reveal Canada's Secret 'Oil Sands Team' in Europe

DeSmog has helped to document the Canadian government’s extensive efforts in Europe to kill climate change legislation targeting the Alberta tar sands. In a major development today, official documents obtained though an Access to Information request by the Dominion newspaper exposed a nefarious “pan-European oil sands advocacy strategy” that is much more coordinated than previously understood. 

According to Martin Lukacs at the Dominion Paper, the Canadian government has carried out a secret plan to boost investment and keep world markets open for Alberta’s filthy tar sands oil. Their strategies include collaboration with major oily allies to aggressively undermine European environmental measures.

Wed, 2011-03-30 18:25Brendan DeMelle
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Check Out This PBS Show Tonight, Lester Brown's Plan B: Mobilizing To Save Civilization

If you’re looking for something good to watch or record on TV tonight, tune in to PBS’s ‘Journey To Planet Earth’ series for a special called ‘Plan B: Mobilizing To Save Civilization.’ (10pm EST, or check local listings)

The program - nicely narrated by Matt Damon - is based on the book of the same name by author and environmentalist Lester Brown, and it details the impacts that climate change is having on food systems already, with troubling indications for political stability in an increasingly destabilized climate. 

As Brown points out ominously, global food shortages are already causing political turmoil in several areas of the world, and as glaciers and ice caps continue to melt, the situation is sure to get much worse.  Brown asserts that food shortages will pose the greatest threat to civilization out of all the negative consequences anticipated with climate disruption.

Wed, 2011-01-26 10:15Farron Cousins
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Maine Governor Paul LePage To Roll Back Environmental Protections

Paul LePage, the freshly inaugurated Republican governor of Maine who once said that he’d like to tell President Obama to “go to Hell” and recently told the NAACP to “kiss my butt”, has announced that he will be rolling back dozens of environmental protections in Maine to create a more “business-friendly” atmosphere. The governor’s office will be changing a minimum of 36 environmental laws in the upcoming months, with the possibility of more protections being scaled back as time goes on.

According to the Portland Press Herald, some of the proposed regulations include:
- Zoning 10 million acres of northern Maine for development.
- Repealing laws that require manufacturers to take back recyclable goods for disposal.
- Reversing a ban on the use of a chemical linked to cancer in children’s products.
- Making Maine’s environmental laws conform to less stringent federal standards. - Requiring a cost-benefit analysis for all rulemakings.
- Relaxing air emissions removal standards, especially for smaller projects.
- Replacing the BEP with a system of administrative judges who would hear appeals of state Department of Environmental Protection staff decisions.
- Allowing vertical building additions on sand dunes whether or not the entire building is on posts.

Thu, 2010-10-21 14:40Brendan DeMelle
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UVA Defends Against Ken Cuccinelli Attacks On Climate Science and Academic Freedom

The University of Virginia has filed two new responses in its ongoing court battle fending off Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s politically-motivated witch hunt against climate scientist Michael Mann.  UVA correctly alerts the court that crazy Cuccinelli’s ‘investigation’ is “an unprecedented and improper governmental intrusion into ongoing scientific research” [PDF of filing].

Cuccinelli’s relentless campaign to waste Virginia taxpayer money attacking Mann continues, despite a total lack of evidence of any wrongdoing on UVA’s or Mann’s part. Instead the row hinges entirely on Cuccinelli’s zeal to pollute public discourse with his own climate denial, clogging the courts with a thinly veiled attack on academic freedom that the Washington Post labeled “a pernicious fishing expedition.”  

UVA argues that Cuccinelli’s latest demand for documents related to Mann’s research repeats the exact same arguments that Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross rejected in August.  Cuccinelli merely recycled his previous non-starter of a complaint in an ongoing effort to woo the Tea Party and stoke the fire for his ambitions to run for higher office.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSexamined Cuccinelli’s original arguments and confirms they have been recycled again to further harass Mann and his colleagues.

“Scientists are proud of UVA for standing up to this relentless rubbish,” said Francesca Grifo, director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Program. “This investigation has never been about fraud or the facts. Cuccinelli is abusing his power to fight a public relations war against scientific findings.”

Wed, 2010-10-20 13:51Brendan DeMelle
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Oil Industry And Canadian Govt Team Up To Attack European Fuel Standards That Could Limit Alberta Tar Sands Development

The Tyee has an excellent piece exploring the joint lobbying efforts of the Canadian government and the oil industry to attack European climate legislation that would set a precedent that could eventually impact the development of Alberta’s dirty tar sands.  

While very little of Alberta’s tar sands oil is currently exported to Europe (nearly all goes to the U.S.), the entrenched tar sands defenders in Canadian government and the oil companies who stand to profit from tar sands development are concerned that Europe’s efforts to favor low-carbon fuel sources could influence other countries that also need to find ways to reduce global warming emissions - say the U.S. for instance.

That could spell disaster for the Alberta tar sands profiteers, since the tar sands are known to have a far greater carbon footprint than conventional oil, and certainly more than rapidly-growing alternative fuels. 

Thu, 2010-10-14 11:17Emma Pullman
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Calgary Herald Uses Royal Society Report as Soapbox to Preach Climate Change Denial

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.

Mon, 2010-10-04 19:26Brendan DeMelle
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Cuccinelli Revives Witch Hunt Against Michael Mann and Climate Science

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has revived his witch hunt against prominent climate scientist Michael Mann, recycling pieces of his earlier botched subpoena into a new Civil Investigative Demand aimed at Mann and the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli’s previous witch hunt was blocked by Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross, who ruled that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his subpoena, which The Washington Post editors noted “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition.”

But Cuccinelli has re-strung the same stale Climategate bait on his fishing pole, “extending his assault on academic freedom” as expected. Oh, and he’s going to appeal Judge Peatross’s ruling, in a remarkable display of hubris that is sure to embarrass Virginia yet again.

In his latest political attack on climate science, Cuccinelli demands seven years’ worth of Dr. Mann’s emails, documents and just about every other shred of paper and bytes related to one state grant Mann received during his tenure at UVA. Cuccinelli wants to see every email Mann exchanged with a list of 39 other scientists, as well as Mann’s communications with his secretaries and research associates, related to the state grant. Cuccinelli only stripped his inappropriate request for documents related to federal grants after Judge Peatross smacked down that trolling effort, although he vows to appeal to re-open that garbage can.

Fri, 2010-10-01 16:57Brendan DeMelle
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Wisconsin GOP Senate Candidate Ron Johnson Says Climate Change Unproven

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.”

Tue, 2010-09-07 10:32Kevin Grandia
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Koch Industries Funds Attack on Science Linking Formaldehyde and Cancer

Further revelations have come to light since the recent controversial expose in the New Yorker about Koch Industries, surrounding New York billionaire David Koch and his company’s involvement in the industry-led effort to downplay the links between formaldehyde and cancer.

In 2008, the president of one of Koch Industry’s subsidiaries sat as the Chair of a pro-Formaldehyde lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council. The subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, is also a long-time funder of the Formaldehyde Council.

Among other things, the Formaldehyde Council tried to downplay the negative health impacts of formaldehyde in trailers set up for victims of the Katrina disaster.

Prior to the recent media attention, the New York social elite knew David Koch mostly for his commendable charitable donations to groups like the American Ballet Theater and the American Museum of Natural History.

Learning that he, through his role as senior executive and Chairman of Koch Industries, also bankrolls far-right groups and causes that regularly question President Obama’s U.S. citizenship and deny climate science surely piqued their interest in Koch’s other side.

One baffling conflict mentioned by journalist Jane Mayer in her New Yorker article is David Koch’s generous funding of cancer research, while simultaneously his companies and their lobbying groups fight against federal efforts to regulate the known human carcinogen formaldehyde.

David Koch was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early 1990s, and since then has become a major financier of cancer research, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to respected cancer research centers such as Sloan-Kettering, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, M.I.T. and Johns Hopkins University, as Mayer notes.

For his commendable charitable work, David Koch was appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board,a committee of the US National Cancer Institute, in 2004 by President George W. Bush and remains a member today [pdf].

Our research has uncovered very strong ties between Georgia-Pacific, a company co-owned by David Koch through Koch Industries, and a political lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council that is involved in efforts to downplay the dangers posed by formaldehyde to human health.

Formaldehyde is classified as a “Group 1 Carcinogen” which is defined as an agent that “is definitely carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and “a complete carcinogen” in the words of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The National Toxicology Program also recently revised its characterization of formaldehyde to that of “known human carcinogen.”

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