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Thu, 2011-08-18 05:37TJ Scolnick
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Shale Gas Outrage Rally And Freedom From Fracking Conference In Philadelphia

On Wednesday, September 7th, opponents of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and unconventional gas exploitation are invited to come to Philadelphia for the Shale Gas Outrage rally. The next day, all are welcome at the Freedom From Fracking: Building Strategies Together conference.

Protecting Our Waters is spearheading the events, and is partnering with another 43 groups from inside and outside of Pennsylvania. Like the Day of FRACtion in New Brusnwick, the Pennsylvania protest intends to send a direct message to industry and government that many citizens are worried and do not want more drilling.

Appearing at the event will be:

Josh Fox, Director of the Oscar-nominated “Gasland;” Al Appleton, internationally respected water systems expert;  impacted families from “shale country”;organizers fighting for the life of the Delaware River watershed, the commonwealth, the Marcellus Shale region, and the nation; and elected officials who have championed the cause of clean water, clean air, and human health.

Thu, 2011-08-18 05:30Josh Nelson
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Mountaintop Removal Mining Poll Shows Bipartisan Opposition in Appalachia

Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club released a poll yesterday showing that a majority of voters in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia oppose mountaintop removal coal mining. The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research & Consulting from July 25-28, found that 57% of Appalachian voters oppose mountaintop removal mining while just 20% support it. This echoes the results of a poll released last week by CNN which found that 57% of Americans nationwide oppose the controversial practice.

“The survey data turns conventional wisdom on its head,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Associates. “Not only does it show Appalachian voters opposing mountaintop removal and by wide margins, it also underscores that voters in these states are now treating this as a voting issue, and promise to punish elected officials who weaken clean water and environmental regulations on mountaintop removal.” Here’s a chart of the findings:

Wed, 2011-08-17 07:44Chris Mooney
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Become What You Despise? Why "Beating" Conservative White Male Climate Deniers May Mean Joining Them

David Roberts of Grist has written a wonderful and psychologically deep portrait of why conservative white males deny climate change—and much else—and how this is an unshakeable part of their political identities. He concludes that you can’t sway them, so you have to just beat them, politically, with activism and votes.

To do that, Roberts adds, you need not to move to the center, but to stoke intensity on the part of your base. So that’s what we need to focus on:

….perhaps the answer is not to reduce intensity in hopes of attracting CWM. Perhaps the answer is to increase intensity in order to overcome CWM. Intensity is increased first and foremost through organizing, but also through clear, inspiring messages that draw sharp lines between those fighting for progress and those fighting against it.

The implicit premise of climate “pragmatism” and similar efforts is that CWM are stronger, that climate hawks can’t win a direct clash. And for now, that seems to be true. Beating back the radical conservative resurgence is something that nobody on the left has figured out yet. But the alternative, attempting to win over CWM by soft-pedaling climate, doesn’t exactly have a record of success either.

Roberts is so close, and yet also so far.

Tue, 2011-08-16 11:48TJ Scolnick
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Fracking’s ‘Ominous’ Cost To New York’s Roads

A draft discussion paper [pdf] from the New York State Department Of Transportation (NYSDOT) projects costs that unconventional gas and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will have on state transportation infrastructure.

New York already ranks near the bottom of the 50 states with regards to bridge and pavement conditions. Considering this fact, the discussion paper should be treated as a warning sign. NYSDOT’s draft Transportation Impacts of Potential Marcellus Shale Gas Development describes the effects of drilling as “ominous,” requiring the reconstruction of hundreds of miles of roads and numerous bridges. As well, safety and operations improvements in many other areas will be required.

The paper pegs the costs to transportation infrastructure as totaling up to $378 million:

Mon, 2011-08-15 05:51TJ Scolnick
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Delaware River Basin Commission and Army Corps Sued Over Fracking Regulations

Last week, environmental watchdog groups including the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Riverkeeper, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic filed a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Wed, 2011-08-10 07:22Chris Mooney
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The Attacks on Climate Science Education Are Picking Up Steam

A few months back, those who care about accurate climate science and energy education in high school classes registered a minor victory. Under fire from outlets like The New York Times, the education publishing behemoth Scholastic (of Clifford the Big Red Dog and Harry Potter fame) pulled an energy curriculum sponsored by the American Coal Foundation, which gave a nice PR sheen to coal without bothering to cover, uh, the whole environmental angle. The curriculum had reportedly already been mailed to 66,000 classrooms by the time it got yanked.

When it comes to undermining accurate and responsible climate and energy education at the high school level, Scholastic may have been the most prominent transgressor. But precisely because it is a massive and respected educational publisher, and actually cares what The New York Times thinks, it was also the most moderate and easy to reason with.

Although it’s hard to find online now, I’ve reviewed the offending coal curriculum, entitled “The United States of Energy.” In my view, it didn’t even contain any obvious falsehoods—except for errors of omission. It was more a case of subtle greenwashing.

What’s currently seeping into classrooms across the country is far, far worse—more ideological, and more difficult to stop. We’re talking about outright climate denial being fed to students—and accurate climate science teaching being attacked by aggressive Tea Party-style ideologues.

Tue, 2011-08-09 13:14Emma Pullman
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In The Dog Days of Summer, CFACT Still Barks The Same Tune

Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, or CFACT Campus, the student wing of Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, wrapped up its student climate and energy conference, the Truth 2 Power Conference. The Cable, Wisconsin conference was a direct response to the “dangerous agenda” of PowerShift2011. Apparently, finding solutions to effectively fight climate change and ensure a clean energy future are too much for CFACT’s big polluter interests and they had to fight back. 

Truth 2 Power sought to teach participants about “the lies associated with the “Global Warming” agenda” and about “innovative and realistic solutions for tomorrows environmental challenges”. 

The conference really represents a grab to ensure dirty energy industries stay entrenched.

Mon, 2011-08-08 15:24TJ Scolnick
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Digging Deeper Into New Brunswick’s Fracking Controversy

In ever greater numbers, New Brunswickers are speaking out against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the exploitation of the densely packed unconventional gas sitting below ground. Until now, opposition to drilling has been disparate with some 30 civic groups, many communities and individuals speaking out, but on their own. Now, it seems that the opposition is unifying under a common voice in order to send a firm message that “No Means NO” [pdf] when it comes to fracking in the province.

The August 1st Fracking Day march and protest in Fredericton, co-organized by 16 environmental and community groups, was a huge success drawing a crowd of around 1,500 people as well as representatives from the opposition political parties, all on a provincial holiday. The many groups opposing fracking and unconventional gas are hoping for another breakthrough as they have been invited to the community of Taymouth by the Taymouth Community Association for the second formal meeting to form a common voice and to build short and long term province-wide strategy to stop drilling.

Mon, 2011-08-08 08:33Chris Mooney
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Here Comes the Atlantic Hurricane Season

gulf of mexico sea surface temperatures

This has been a year of dramatic disasters and weather extremes. From tornadoes to droughts to heat waves, the U.S. has been battered.

Unfortunately, the hurricane season that’s about to get firing may not go any easier on us.

Nobody can say in advance where storms are form to strike or whether they are going to make landfall—but everything is lining up for there to be a lot of them in the Atlantic region, and some very strong ones. As you can see from the figure here, we’re just starting the climb towards the peak of the season, which occurs on September 10.

Sea surface temperatures in the main development region for Atlantic hurricanes (pictured above for the Gulf) are the third hottest they’ve been on record. Everything is lining up for there to be a lot of action: 9-10 hurricanes, and 3-5 major ones, NOAA predicts. There have already been 5 tropical storms, but that’s child’s play compared with what’s likely coming.

Wed, 2011-08-03 08:19Chris Mooney
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The Bias Trap: Are We All Just A Bunch of Motivated Reasoners?

There were a ton of great responses to my last post about conservative white men and climate change denial. Perhaps most notably, some savvy respondents called into question whether there is anything unique about these “CWMs” when it comes to being biased in favor of supporting their own beliefs and identities. 

For instance, risk assessment guru David Ropeik had this to say:

May I note that the “identity protection” theories Riley and Dunlap cite are relevant not just to CWMs. The underlying worldviews of how we want society to operate drive selective perception of the facts by all of us. It’s the same phenomenon that fuels leftist denialism re:GM food or nuclear power, for example. We believe, or deny, so our views agree with OUR group, so OUR group will be stronger and the group will accept us as a member in good standing. This is important for the survival of an animal that has evolved to be social and rely on the group for health and safety. And this is true of all of us, not just CWMs. Your post, and ‘Cool Dudes’, feeds the polarization around climate change, by singling out one group (which does happen to be the group the most clearly refuses to accept the overwhelming evidence on climate change) for doing what we all do on various issues.

Meanwhile, Dan Kahan of Yale wrote the following:

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