The long-awaited Environmental Protection Agency rule for greenhouse pollution from existing power plants will seek a 30 percent reduction from the 2005 peak, the Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder reports. Half of that reduction has already been achieved in the seven years between 2005 and 2012, where only carbon dioxide emissions are concerned. The draft rule is expected to be unveiled Monday, with a year delay before finalization in 2015. States will be expected to submit compliance plans in June 2016, the final year of the Obama administration.
Because coal-fired power plants emit three-quarters of the greenhouse pollution from electricity generation in the United States, the rule is expected to impact the aging coal-fired fleet of plants, which also cause the lion’s share of traditional air pollution from the country’s power plants.Coral Davenport of the New York Times summarizes the draft rule:
Under the proposal to be unveiled on Monday, states will be given a wide menu of policy options to achieve the pollution cuts. Rather than immediately shutting down coal plants, states will be allowed to reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems – by installing new wind and solar generation, energy-efficiency technology and by starting or joining state and regional “cap-and-trade” programs, in which states agree to cap carbon pollution and buy and sell permits to pollute.
The proposed rule calls for most of the reduction to happen by 2020, with a 25 percent cut from 2005 levels (11 percent cut from 2012) by then.
Carbon-dioxide pollution from electricity generation is already down 15 percent from 2005. This reduction has come primarily from a switch to natural gas and renewables. Any reduction in overall greenhouse pollution from a switch from coal to natural gas requires low levels of methane leakage, a requirement that has not been clearly shown.
Interestingly, the reduction in greenhouse pollution from the proposed rule is about one-third greater than the footprint of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Electricity generation is responsible for one-third of U.S. domestic greenhouse pollution. The announced target represents a reduction of 340 million metric tons of CO2 from 2012 levels, five percent of the United States’ total greenhouse pollution that year. That cut is about double the annual 120-200 MMT/yr climate footprint of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The total pollution saved over 2016-2030 due to the rule would be thirty percent greater than the footprint of the tar-sands crude carried by the pipeline.
The international benchmark for greenhouse pollution is 1990 levels. Measured against 1990’s pollution levels, the proposed rule represents a one percent reduction in power plant emissions by 2020, and a 7 percent cut by 2030 (a two percent cut from total U.S. 1990 greenhouse pollution).
The process for establishing the rule was begun by the Obama administration in March 2011, years after the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision by the Supreme Court overturning the EPA’s 2003 rejection of greenhouse regulation.
Update: The EPA has released what it’s calling the Clean Power Plan. The EPA estimates the rule will “cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit” and “shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley
After careful consideration, I am vetoing this bill because (1) there are meaningful safeguards in place that render the bill unnecessary; (2) the real threat to Pax River is not an array of wind turbines on the lower Eastern Shore but rising sea levels caused by climate change; and (3) increasing renewable energy is a core strategic goal for the future security and prosperity of our State.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the U.S. House of Representatives Minority Whip, is a vigorous opponent of the wind farm, testifying in Annapolis against its potential threat to the naval base, although the project developer and U.S. Navy had come to an agreement to alleviate the Navy’s concerns about possible radar interference from the turbines. Hoyer was joined by Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, as well as Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in counseling delay. Cardin was one of the recent participants in the #Up4Climate all-night talkathon, during which he discussed the threat of sea level rise to Pax River and the need for investment in renewable energy.O’Malley’s letter reiterated the importance of fighting the carbon pollution which is already damaging Maryland with investment in clean energy.
Ironically, the greater inconvenient truth threatening Pax River — and the billions of dollars of economic activity generated by that facility — is climate change. To address that threat, we must encourage the development of clean renewable energy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by shifting to clean energy will not always be easy or convenient in the short run, and it will challenge all of us to find new ways to coexist, but it is critical to sustaining the economy and living environment of our State.He also noted the National Climate Assessment:
The recent release of the Third National Climate Assessment highlights the costs climate change is already imposing on Maryland and underscores the importance of doing everything we can to reduce the damage it will cause in the future. Our State in general, and Pax River in particular, are vulnerable to the very type of carbon pollution that renewable energy projects help reduce.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environment Maryland, and the Sierra Club mobilized thousands of activists to support the wind project.
Wind farm opponents have pledged to keep fighting against the project.
Senators Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse — co-chairs of the Climate Action Task Force — will kick off the Capitol Hill Climate Action Rally to wake up Congress to climate change. At the rally, they will literally sound the alarm on climate change, by setting alarms on phones, tablets, or hand-held devices to ring at 5 p.m. EST.
In a letter to the Harvard University community, president Drew Faust has announced the globally influential institution’s endowment will commit to sustainable investment practices. Harvard University has become the first educational institution to become a signatory to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment, and to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s climate program.
After increasing pressure from students, faculty, and alumni in support of the climate divestment movement, Faust reversed her previous stance opposing action, recognizing that the “special obligation and accountability to the future” held by Harvard requires action not just in research and policy but also “as a long-term investor.”
Harvard’s actions should not be interpreted as explicit acceptance of the principle that sustainable investment requires divestment from the fossil-fuel industry. However, looking at the “systemic risks presented by or created by companies” is part of the Principles of Responsible of Investment. Faust has now applied that assessment to the fossil-fuel industry, saying that the Harvard community “must devote ourselves to enabling and accelerating that transition” — “to chart the path from societies and economies fundamentally dependent on fossil fuels to a system of sustainable and renewable energy.”
The full text of the announcement letter is below:
Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
Worldwide scientific consensus has clearly established that climate change poses a serious threat to our future—and increasingly to our present. Universities like ours have produced much of the research supporting that consensus, as well as many of the emerging ideas helping us to begin confronting that challenge. Yet we have far more work ahead to chart the path from societies and economies fundamentally dependent on fossil fuels to a system of sustainable and renewable energy. We must devote ourselves to enabling and accelerating that transition—by developing the technologies, policies and practices that would make it possible—if we are to mitigate the damage that rising greenhouse gas levels are inflicting on the planet.
Harvard has a vital leadership role to play in this work. As a university, it has a special obligation and accountability to the future, to the long view needed to anticipate and alter the trajectory and impact of climate change. Harvard also possesses the wide range of capacities across fields and disciplines that must be mobilized and conjoined in order to create effective solutions. Ideas, innovation, discovery and rigorous independent thought will serve as indispensable elements in combating the climate threat; these are the special province of universities.
Already we support research at the vanguard of energy and climate science—from new technologies for energy storage, to solar ovens to reduce pollution in the developing world, to an “artificial leaf” that mimics photosynthesis to produce renewable fuel, to give just three examples. Our faculty are deeply engaged as well in informing the development of law and policy to advance sustainability and to address the hazards of climate change worldwide, from advancing climate agreements, to fashioning legal frameworks for regulating shale extraction, to designing models for sustainable businesses. The Harvard University Center for the Environment engages more than 200 faculty sharing their insights and their commitment to these urgent issues. And our educational programs, with some 250 courses across the University focusing on aspects of environmental sustainability, will prepare leaders with the insight and foresight to safeguard our environment in the years and decades to come.
Harvard has the opportunity and the responsibility to help create the path to a sustainable future. We can and must galvanize the deep commitment of students, faculty, staff and alumni to work together to move us closer to a world founded on renewable energy. Today I would like to highlight three areas in which we are focusing special attention as part of our obligation to our planet and our collective future.
First, and at the heart of our mission as a university, is research. Our research across Harvard—in climate science, engineering, law, public health, policy, design and business—has an unparalleled capacity to accelerate the progression from nonrenewable to renewable sources of energy. The Harvard Campaign has identified energy and environment as a priority, and we have already raised $120 million to support activities in this area. As part of this broader campaign focus, I intend to catalyze the aspects of that research specifically focused on shaping and accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy system.
I challenge our talented and dedicated faculty and students to identify how their efforts can propel societies and individuals along this path. And I challenge our alumni and friends to assist me in raising $20 million for a fund that will seed and spur innovative approaches to confronting climate change, as an element of our broader campaign efforts in energy and environment. To launch this new Climate Change Solutions Fund, I will immediately make available $1 million in grants to be allocated at the outset of the coming academic year. (Please see here for further information on this fund and the application process.)
Second, Harvard must model an institutional pathway toward a more sustainable future. We have the opportunity to serve as a living laboratory for strategies and initiatives that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the ways we live and work. In 2008, the University set an ambitious goal of achieving a 30 percent reduction in our GHG emissions from our 2006 baseline by 2016, including growth. Thanks to the leadership of our GHG reduction executive committee and our Office for Sustainability, and the dedicated efforts of individuals across Harvard, we have so far achieved a reduction of 21 percent, when we include the effects of growth and renovation in our physical plant, and 31 percent, when we do not. (For details on how we have joined as One Harvard to accomplish this, please see here.)
As we recognize our remarkable progress, we must also recommit to the work ahead. I have accepted the recommendations of the task force empaneled to review Harvard’s progress toward its GHG reduction goal. Co-chaired by Jeremy Bloxham, Dean of Science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Robert S. Kaplan, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School; and Katie Lapp, Executive Vice President, the task force has proposed, and I have agreed, to the following:
- We will continue to explore and exhaust all on-campus efficiency and reduction projects to the maximum extent possible.
- We recognize, as we did when we set our goal in 2008, that even after our aggressive on-campus efficiency efforts, a gap will likely remain to achieve our goal of 30 percent reduction (including growth) by 2016, requiring us to explore complementary mechanisms, including offsets. We will establish an advisory group of faculty, students and staff to evaluate and recommend complementary off-campus emissions reduction options that are additive and real.
- We will create a sustainability committee led by senior faculty to shape the next generation of sustainability solutions and strategy on our campus.
Third, in addition to our academic work and our greenhouse gas reduction efforts, Harvard has a role to play as a long-term investor. Last fall, I wrote on behalf of the Corporation to affirm our judgment that divestment from the fossil fuel industry would not be wise or effective as a means for the University to advance progress towards addressing climate change. I also noted that, with the arrival of a first-ever vice president for sustainable investing at Harvard Management Company, we would strengthen our approach to how we consider material environmental, social and governance factors as we seek robust investment returns to support our academic mission.
Today I am pleased to report that we have decided to become a signatory to two organizations internationally recognized as leaders in developing best-practice guidelines for investors and in driving corporate disclosure to inform and promote sustainable investment.
Specifically, Harvard’s endowment will become a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). The PRI joins together a network of international investors working to implement a set of voluntary principles that provide a framework for integrating environmental, social and governance factors into investment analysis and ownership practices aligned with investors’ fiduciary duties. Harvard Management Company will manage Harvard’s endowment consistent with these principles.
In addition, we will become a signatory to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) climate change program. The CDP is an international nonprofit organization that works with investors to request that portfolio companies account for and disclose information on greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and carbon risks associated with their business activities in order to increase transparency and encourage action.
Both these significant steps underscore our growing efforts to consider environmental, social and governance issues among the many factors that inform our investment decision-making, with a paramount concern for how the endowment can best support the academic aspirations and educational opportunities that define our distinctive purposes as a university.
As we take these steps forward—supporting innovative research focused on climate change solutions, reducing our own carbon footprint, advancing our commitments as a long-term investor—we should also step back and see the bigger picture. In the broad domain of energy and environment, as in many other fields, people at Harvard make extraordinary contributions, in myriad ways, to generating the knowledge, ideas and tools that in time can help society’s most complex and intractable problems seem amenable to effective solutions. Ultimately, Harvard will contribute to confronting climate change not through presidential pronouncements, and not through a sudden burst of eureka moments, but through the steadfast, unrelenting commitment of faculty, students, staff and alumni who train their minds on hard questions, combine their imagination with rigorous analysis and convert their insights into effective action. Whatever your own particular academic interests, I hope you will take the time to learn more about our collective efforts in energy and environment, highlighted here and elsewhere. More than that, whatever part of Harvard you inhabit, I hope you will count yourself among the thousands of people across the University who increasingly embrace a concern for environmental sustainability as an integral part of our academic work, our institutional practices and our daily lives.
Despite Environmental Endorsements, Sen. Susan Collins Has Spotty Record on Confronting Climate Change
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), facing reelection this year in a strongly Democratic state, has garnered the support of national environmental organizations despite a conflicted record on climate policy. In September 2013, the League of Conservation Voters launched an ad campaign praising Collins’ “environmental leadership.” A new advertisement from the Environmental Defense Fund and Moms Clean Air Force praises Collins for “confronting climate change” in marked contrast to the majority of her Republican colleagues. The organizations have not formally endorsed a candidate in the rate.
The EDF ad cites Collins’ vote on “S. Amdt 359 to SCon Res 8, Roll Call #76, 3/22/13.” That day Collins broke with the Republican caucus to vote against an amendment introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) prohibiting further greenhouse gas regulations for the purposes of addressing climate change.
She cast a similar vote on April 6, 2011, when she broke the Republican ranks to vote against the McConnell amendment prohibiting EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.
On December 11, 2009, Collins and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced climate legislation (S. 2877) in competition with Kerry-Boxer (S. 1733), the Senate version of the Waxman-Markey bill. Cantwell-Collins offered a simpler cap-and-trade system and weaker emissions targets than Kerry-Boxer.
However, a broader review of her voting record finds that Collins repeatedly acted to help Republicans prevent the passage of climate legislation during the Obama presidency and to weaken executive action on climate rules:
- On April 1, 2009, Collins allied with Republicans and conservative Democrats in key votes to preserve the ability of Republicans to filibuster climate legislation during Obama’s first term. She voted against non-filibusterable budget reconciliation for green economy legislation, if “the Senate finds that public health, the economy and national security of the United States are jeopardized by inaction on global warming” (Roll Call Vote #125). She then voted to prohibit the use of reconciliation in the Senate for climate change legislation involving a cap and trade system (Roll Call #126. She voted for Sen. Kit Bond’s amendment establishing a point of order against climate change or similar legislation that would increase federal revenues (Roll Call #142).
These votes arguably made the future demise of climate legislation in the Senate inevitable, in contrast to health care legislation, which became law through the reconciliation process despite unified Republican opposition.
- On April 6, 2011, Collins voted for Rockefeller’s bill to delay greenhouse-gas regulations for two years (Roll Call #53).
- On March 21 and 22, 2013, Collins voted for Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment to create a point of order against legislation that would create a federal tax or fee on carbon emissions (Roll Call #59) and against Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment that would support the creation of a carbon fee (Roll Call #58).
Moreover, Collins has been a consistent supporter of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, voting that “that no additional safety or environmental analysis of the pipeline was necessary” in 2012 (Roll Call #34) and in 2013 (Roll Call #61). Collins is also “the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation that has not called upon the State Department to do a full environmental review” of the possibility of the Portland Montreal Pipeline being used to carry tar sands crude, as the Canadian government opens the route from Alberta to Quebec for the carbon-intensive fossil fuel.
Although Collins has expressed a desire for “limiting the worst effects of climate change,” when the opportunity has come to display true climate leadership, she has supported her caucus instead more often than not.
Roger Pielke Jr, the political scientist recently hired by Nate Silver’s new FiveThirtyEight “data journalism” venture, has a long record of harsh criticisms of the climate science community, impugning the motives, ethics, and honesty of climate scientists and communicators. Here is a small sampling of such remarks.
John Holdren’s Epic Fail: To accuse an academic of holding views that lie outside the scientific mainstream is the sort of delegitimizing talk that is of course common on blogs in the climate wars. But it is rare for political appointee in any capacity — the president’s science advisor no less — to accuse an individual academic of holding views are are not simply wrong, but in fact scientifically illegitimate. . . In a nutshell, Holdren’s response is sloppy and reflects extremely poorly on him. [3/1/14]
When the White House publishes an error-strewn 6-pg attack on you, should you feel (a) flattered, (b) intimidated, (c) happy to have tenure? [3/1/14]
Climate activists warn that the inhabitants of poor countries are especially vulnerable to the future climate changes that our greenhouse gas emissions will cause. Why then, do they simultaneously promote the green imperialism that helps lock in the poverty that makes these countries so vulnerable? [Financial Times, 2/26/14]
Of course, there are scientists willing to go beyond what can be supported empirically to make claims at odds with the overwhelming scientific consensus on this subject—e.g., [Michael] Mann, [Jennifer] Francis, [Jeff] Masters are always good for inscrutable and unsupportable quotes. [11/11/13]
The IPCC implied that increasing temperatures were causing increasing disaster losses. And the scientific literature just doesn’t support that. [NPR, 9/24/13]
Will be interesting to see if anyone on the side of climate action will care that Obama’s plan begins w/ false claims about disaster trends [6/25/13]
Misleading public claims. An over-hyped press release. A paper which neglects to include materially relevant and contradictory information central to its core argument. All in all, just a normal day in climate science! [4/10/13]
Fixing the Marcott Mess in Climate Science: [H]ere I document the gross misrepresentation of the findings of a recent scientific paper via press release which appears to skirt awfully close to crossing the line into research misconduct, as defined by the NRC. The paper I refer to is by Marcott et al. 2013, published recently in Science. . . . Does the public misrepresentation amount to scientific misconduct? I’m not sure, but it is far too close to that line for comfort. Saying so typically leads to a torrent of angry ad hominem and defensive attacks, and evokes little in the way of actual concern for the integrity of this highly politicized area of science. . . . There are a few bad eggs, with the Real Climate mafia being among them, who are exploiting climate science for personal and political gain. Makes the whole effort look bad. [3/31/13]
Unfortunately, as is so often a case when leaders in the climate science community find themselves before an audience of policy makers, on extreme events they go rogue, saying all sorts of things with little or no scientific basis. . . . [AMS President J. Marshall] Shepherd seems a great guy, and he has a fantastic demeanor on Twitter. But I’m sorry, this is horsemeat. . . . As President of the AMS Shepherd does not have the luxury of using that platform to share his personal opinions on climate science that may diverge from that of the community which he represents, much less stretch or misrepresent broader findings. . . . In formal settings such as the briefing yesterday where experts meet politicians, I fully expect Democrats and Republicans to cherrypick experts convenient to the arguments they wish to see made. That is politics as usual. Leading scientific institutions play that same game with some considerable risk to their credibility. [2/15/13]
Extreme Misrepresentation: USGCRP and the Case of Floods: Questions should (but probably won’t) be asked about how a major scientific assessment has apparently became captured as a tool of advocacy via misrepresentation of the scientific literature—a phenomena that occurs repeatedly in the area of extreme events. . . . Given the strength of the science on this subject, the USGCRP must have gone to some effort to mischaracterize it by 180 degrees. . . . [G]iven the problematic and well-documented treatment of extremes in earlier IPCC and US government reports, I’d think that the science community would have its act together by now and stop playing such games. So while many advocates in science and the media shout “Alarm” and celebrate its depiction of extremes, another question we should be asking is, how is it that it got things so wrong? [1/15/13]
How does a draft of the most authoritative US climate assessment get floods 100% wrong, contrary to IPCC and sci lt? [1/15/13]
UN climate chief [Christiana Figueres] needs PR lessons: Climate policy “is going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different” [11/21/12] Centralized global gov’t is going to change everyone’s lives because of “science”? Perhaps now we might understand the origins of skepticism [11/21/12]
Public discussion of disasters risks being taken over by the climate lobby and its allies, who exploit every extreme event to argue for action on energy policy. In New York this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared: “I think at this point it is undeniable but that we have a higher frequency of these extreme weather situations and we’re going to have to deal with it.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke similarly. [Wall Street Journal, 10/31/12]
Using Hurricane Sandy to focus policy debate on carbon emissions is just like Dick Cheney using 9/11 to focus policy debate on invading Iraq [10/31/12]
This exchange came to mind as I came across the latest exhibit in the climate science freak show, this time in the form of a lawsuit brought by Michael Mann, of Penn State, against the National Review Online and others for calling his work “intellectually bogus” and other mean things (the actual filing can be seen here). I will admit that for a moment I did smile at the idea of a professor suing a critic for lying (Hi Joe!), before my senses took back over and I rejected it as an absurd publicity stunt. But within this little tempest in a teapot is a nice example of how it is that some parts of climate science found itself off track and routinely in violation of what many people would consider basic scientific norms. . . . Mann’s claim is what might be called an embellishment — he has, to use the definition found at the top of this post, “made (a statement or story) more interesting or entertaining by adding extra details, esp. ones that are not true.” . . . I mean really, who cares if a scientist embellishes his credentials a bit? . . . Mann’s claim, rather than boosting his credibility actually risks having the opposite effect, a situation that was entirely avoidable and one which Mann brought upon himself by making the embellishment in the first place. . . . This situation provides a nice illustration of what is wrong with a some aspects of climate science today — a few scientists motivated by a desire to influence political debates over climate change have embellished claims, such as related to disasters, which then risks credibility when the claims are exposed as embellishments. To make matters worse, these politically motivated scientists have fallen in with fellow travelers in the media, activist organizations and in the blogosphere who are willing not only to look past such embellishments, but to amplify them and attack those who push back. These dynamics are reinforcing and have led small but vocal parts of the climate scientific community to deviate significantly from widely-held norms of scientific practice. [10/26/12]
House Dems put together report on extreme events/climate. Would get a F in science class, but an A in Creative Writing [9/25/12]
IPCC Lead Author Misleads US Congress: The politicization of climate science is so complete that the lead author of the IPCC’s Working Group II on climate impacts feels comfortable presenting testimony to the US Congress that fundamentally misrepresents what the IPCC has concluded. I am referring to testimony given today by Christopher Field, a professor at Stanford, to the US Senate. . . . Field is certainly entitled to his (wrong) opinion on the science of climate change and disasters. However, it is utterly irresponsible to fundamentally misrepresent the conclusions of the IPCC before the US Congress.Field can present such nonsense before Congress because the politics of climate change are so poisonous that he will be applauded for his misrepresentations by many, including some scientists. Undoubtedly, I will be attacked for pointing out his obvious misrepresentations. Neither response changes the basic facts here. Such is the sorry state of climate science today. . . . [Jim] Hansen’s use of science as a political fulcrum encourages over-the-top claims by scientists and an effort to squelch opposing voices. . . . Hansen is pursuing a deeply flawed model of policy change, one that will prove ineffectual and with its most lasting consequence a further politicization of climate science (if that is possible!) [8/1/12]
My tiff with Joe Romm and the Center for American Progress this week taught me a few lessons and put a finer points on ones that I have already known: There are people and institutions whose business is to try to tear people down, to savage their reputation in order to avoid a debate on policy substance; No appeal to reason, honor or dignity matters to such people; They will lie to your face and to everyone else without batting an eye if they think they can get away with it; When caught in an obvious fabrication they will pretend to make it go away and that it never happened, while doing everything possible to spread the lie far and wide. [5/11/12]
Joe Romm is a Liar: Romm’s efforts to smear by association are ironic given the lashing that Heartland just got for doing exactly the same thing. But irony has never registered high on Joe’s awareness-meter. There is no lower form of “debate” than trying to sully someone’s character by outright lying. And it is not the first time Joe has lied about me. . . . Joe: You are a serial liar. I will continue to broadcast this widely. Sue me if you think you’ve been libeled ;-) Your efforts at character assassination are transparent to everyone. [5/9/12]
NYT Puts The Hit On: The New York Times has an article today ostensibly about clouds but which is really an extended hit piece on Richard Lindzen, a professor at MIT, member of the US National Academy of Sciences and well known climate skeptic. . . . This is “advocacy journalism”—it is not reporting, as there is absolutely no news in the piece. . . . Whatever one thinks about the climate change debate or Richard Lindzen, is it a good idea for the New York Times to engage in an over-the-top attack on a member of the National Academy of Sciences? [5/1/12]
You may find yourself having to use the bullshit button in locations that are supposed to be credible, such as Nature Climate Change and the New York Times. [3/28/12]
The IPCC has already been criticized by those who apparently would have preferred a less accurate message that hyped up the science, such as Joe Romm and Stefan Rahmstorf. [11/18/11]
The New Eugenics from the Looney Left: In all seriousness, if you want to know something about the pathological politicization of science in the US, consider that Mooney (who holds a bachelor’s degree in English, and is probably a swell guy) is on the Board of Directors of the prestigious American Geophysical Union and is frequently hired by the National Science Foundation to teach scientists how to communicate. . . . Sorry Chris, you deserve all the mocking you are getting, and will continue to get, for advancing such utter nonsense though it may help to sell books, I’ll give you that! [11/8/11]
Selective Importance of Science Integrity Guidelines: One sneers at process at some risk. Of course, had the EPA endangerment finding gone through a more rigorous peer review, misleading and sloppy arguments might have been identified and corrected—such as found in this example. [9/29/11]
Why the IPCC Has Lost Trust: The IPCC is now one train wreck after another. . . . It is a shame to see that effort repeatedly scuppered on the inability of the IPCC leadership to recognize that trust and legitimacy are essential to its job. [7/27/11]
It is important to recognize that hyper-partisans like Joe Romm and Chris Mooney will continue to seek to poison the wells of discussion within the scientific community (which is left-leaning, so this is a discuss that needs to occur at least to start within the left) through constant appeals to partisanship and ideology. [4/21/11]
Anatomy of a Cherry Pick: That some climate scientists [Rahmstorf and Coumou] are playing games in their research, perhaps to get media attention in the larger battle over climate politics, is no longer a surprise. But when they use such games to try to discredit serious research, then the climate science community has a much, much deeper problem. [11/1/11]
What explains the adherence to bad ideas in the form of bad policy? I’m not entirely sure but it just so happens that groups such as the Center for American Process have been funded under the Design to Win strategy to spread its message. [5/19/11]
It is hard to imagine that Socolow’s comments can be in reference to anyone other than Romm, who has probably done more to confuse issues of mitigation policy than anyone [UPDATE: Socolow says he is unfamiliar with Romm’s views.]. [5/17/11]
Joe Romm Lies: I do my best to ignore Joe Romm, but when he blatantly lies about me I sometimes feel compelled to respond. . . . It is long overdue for the environmental community to start pushing back on Romm as he continues to stain their entire enterprise. His lies and smear tactics, which are broadly embraced and condoned, are making enemies out of friends and opponents out of fellow travelers. Vigorous debate is welcome and healthy. Lies and character assassination not so much. [5/6/11]
Peter Gleick is only the most recent climate scientist to try to exploit extreme weather for political gain. . . . Obviously, it is not just climate deniers who are engaged in misrepresentation and trickery. [4/28/11]
It is my view that sea level is an example of a context in which the scientific community lost control of a narrative (and some might say helped to push it along) in a manner that has contributed to damaging the credibility of the climate science community. [4/5/11]
By making claims that are scientifically without merit, [White House Science Advisor John Holdren] makes such persuasion [that climate change is a fraud] that much easier. But perhaps he is just engaging is a bit of innocent predistortion. [2/18/11]
Fabrications in Science: You don’t expect to pick up Science magazine and read an article that is chock full of fabrications and errors. Yet, that is exactly what you’ll find in Kevin Trenberth’s review of The Climate Fix, which appears in this week’s issue. [11/30/10]
Romm on the Attack: In short, Romm’s attack is unhinged and bizarre. More than any individual — James Inhofe and Marc Morano included — Joe Romm is responsible for creating a poisonous, negative atmosphere in the climate debate. Responsible voices should say so, this nonsense has gone on long enough. [8/4/10]
Silly Science: A new paper [by Shuaizhang Feng, Alan B. Krueger, and Michael Oppenheimer], is out in a journal getting a reputation for silly science [PNAS] that predicts that climate change will lead to a massive influx of Mexicans across the border to the United States. . . . To be blunt, the paper is guesswork piled on top of “what ifs” built on a foundation of tenuous assumptions. . . . In silly science however, nothing is impossible. [7/27/10]
Climate science is full of stealth advocacy and pathological politicization. . . . [IPCC] operates in much too ad hoc a manner and lacks anything resembling mechanisms of accountability. [6/1/10]
He’s Baaack: Joe Romm is back on the attack. . . . What has Romm’s knickers in a twist this time? [5/17/10]
There is a lot to like in this book — he relies heavily on the arguments of Vaclav Smil and Jesse Ausubel, while poking some fun at the inanity of Joeseph [sic] Romm — its hard to go wrong with that approach! [5/13/10]
To date the IPCC has been far too ad hoc and unaccountable. We would not accept this from scientific advisory processes that inform decision-making on pharmaceuticals, vaccines for children or military intelligence. As we look for ways to improve the scientific advisory processes related to climate, lessons from these other contexts will provide a useful guide. Meantime, the IPCC would best serve the interests of climate science by moving beyond the denial of a problem before its credibility erodes even further. [The Guardian, 2/4/10]
So not only did the IPCC AR4 WGII egregiously misrepresent the science of disasters and climate change, but when questions were raised about that section by at least one expert reviewer, it simply made up a misleading and false response about my views. Not good. [1/19/10]
Sorry, But This Stinks: If the above facts and time line is correct (and I welcome any corrects to details that I may have in error), then what we have here is a classic and unambiguous case of financial conflict of interest. IPCC Chairman Pachauri was making public comments on a dispute involving factual claims by the IPCC at the same time that he was negotiating for funding to his home institution justified by those very same claims. . . . Climate science desperately needs to clean up its act. [1/18/10]
Pachauri’s Conflicts of Interest: When causes are popular it can be uncomfortable and inconvenient to realize that experts who render politically desired advice have potential conflicts of interest. Perhaps this helps to explain why investigative journalists (with only several exceptions), especially those who cover science, have turned a blind eye to the obvious and egregious conflicts of interest present in the case of Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC. [1/10/10]
This post should be read in the context of a continuing series on the systematic misrepresentation of the science of climate change and disaster losses. . . . What we have here is a clear case of extreme sloppiness by the IPCC followed by some very dubious interpretations of the literature by the EPA. [12/7/09]
In early 2005, almost five years ago, I began criticizing the scientists at RealClimate, including Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann, for hiding a political agenda in the cloth of science. In The Honest Broker I call this behavior “stealth issue advocacy” and it is among the most insidious and certain ways for science to become pathologically politicized. . . . I think we can get past the lie — and it was a lie — that these activist scientists, in the words of Gavin Schmidt, “are not taking a political stand.” [12/4/09]
What “left-wing bullies” (like Joe Romm) have done is turn the tactics that they have used on the “hyper-partisan it’s-all-a-hoax! Republicans” onto anyone and everyone that they see any disagreement with. [11/12/09]
Pushing Back Against Joe Romm’s Character Assassination: If Joe was trying to make himself look like a fool, he could not do a better job. [11/10/09]
Joe Romm’s Climate McCarthyism: Michael Shellengerger and Ted Nordhaus have decided that the right thing to do is to stand up to a bully. Good for them. . . It is important to point out that this is not simply about Joe Romm the bully, but the tenor of discourse on a very important subject. [11/4/09]
Each of these professionals [Joe Romm, Brad Delong, RealClimate] has great potential to positively influence policy debates in positive ways. Instead they all actively have chosen to engage in pretty embarrassing and unethical behavior that caters to tribal, echo-chamber politics. . . . In the case of Romm and Delong they also engage in outright lies and character assassination. . . . I was completely taken aback by the unprofessional email responses I received from Brad DeLong yesterday. I have occasionally seen faculty members throw hissy fits in a faculty meeting, but never have I seen the degree of unprofessional behavior displayed routinely by professionals in the liberal blogosphere. . . . Among these minnows are controversialist bloggers like Tim Lambert, who are professionally unqualified to engage in the substance of most debates (certainly the case with respect to my own work). . . . In their political enthusiasm, some leading scientists have behaved badly. . . . The climate science community is fully politicized. [10/20/09]
Anatomy of a Smear: Romm spins and lies instead. Dubner explains how Romm didn’t report the full story from Caldeira, but instead twisted it into a smear by reporting an untruth . . . Joe Romm often engages in some pretty dirty politics in smearing the credibility of people whose views that he disagrees with, which in the past has included me. That people play dirty politics is not a surprise. That Joe Romm is taken seriously by the mainstream media and the mainstream scientific community says a lot about them as well. . . It turns out that there is indeed some unethical behavior going on here, but it is not the SuperFreakonomics authors. [10/18/09]
One interesting trend of the internet era is the degree to which prominent journalists (and also academics) are subject to intense political lobbying of the sort that historically has been primarily in the domain of public officials. . . The best example of this in the climate domain is the incessant hectoring of Andy Revkin, a prominent reporter who covers environment at the New York Times, by Joe Romm, a political activist and blogger at the Center for American Progress, who spews forth all sorts of angry, half-thought-through diatribes when Revkin does not celebrate Joe or his political views. The point, Joe’s ego aside, is to increase political pressure on Revkin to take certain actions and reflect certain perspectives. [10/6/09]
Over time, it could certainly be the case that [climate scientist Keith] Briffa’s selection of data, and the choices made by those who processed the data before Briffa used it, will be upheld as scientifically sound and appropriate. But right now, appearances at the very least sure look bad, especially to those who are predisposed to not trusting climate scientists for the track record of bad behavior demonstrated by a small subset of that community. . . . Unless the climate science community cleans up its act, it is quite possible that many people will come to increasingly distrust institutions of science, which would not be a good outcome of this situation. [10/2/09]
Hockey Stick Gets Personal: Lies from Real Climate: Steve McIntyre must be on to something, judging by the nasty and vituperative comments coming from Real Climate, where Gavin Schmidt levels a serious allegation. . . . Gavin’s outright lie about McIntyre is an obvious attempt to distract attention from the possibility that Steve may have scored another scalp in the Hockey Stick wars. Rather than distract attention from McIntyre, Gavin’s most recent lie simply adds to the list of climate scientists behaving badly. When will these guys learn? . . . However the substance of the issue turns out, by lying about what McIntyre said in order to cast aspersions on him, Gavin Schmidt has given his field another self-imposed black eye. [10/1/09]
Case Study in How to Use Your Position as a Reporter to Advocate: Over at Greenwire, Anne C. Mulkern has written a superb article demonstrating how a reporter can can use a “news” story to editorialize, advocate and attack a position that s/he personally disagrees with. . . . Mulkern next uses the tried and true tactic of the ad hom. . . . Use innuendo to impeach the credibility . . . attack the man . . . and then if there is any lingering doubt show that the analysis, even if correct, is not new anyway . . . and allow someone to claim that it was in fact stolen from their own work. . . The bottom line is that even reporters with an agenda cannot hide the fact that climate policy is in disarray. [9/24/09]
Here is another tone-deaf incident involving the activist wing of the climate science community that has the effect of making the entire enterprise look corrupt. . . . [Climate scientists Eric J. Steig, David P. Schneider, Scott D. Rutherford, Michael E. Mann, Josefino C. Comiso and Drew T. Shindell] turned around and submitted the correction to Nature as their own work, and then had it published under their own names without so much as an acknowledgment to the Ohio State professor who actually did the work and made the discovery of the error. In academia this sort of behavior is called plagiarism, pure and simple. [8/6/09]
I have been amused to see Joe Romm, a blogger for the Center for American Progress, find himself unable to respond to the policy arguments that I make, and thus find himself having to instead engage in ever more shrill and personal attacks on me. [7/31/09]
[Science writer Chris] Mooney increasingly seems to have trouble with simple facts. [7/22/09]
[Science writer Chris] Mooney’s essay is full of incorrect information and flawed assertions. Is he waging a war on science policy? [7/21/09]
A Methodological Embarassment [sic]: I am quoted in today’s NYT on a new report issued by the Global Humanitarian Forum which makes the absurd claim that 315,000 deaths a year can be attributed to the effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations. . . . It is a methodological embarrassment and poster child for how to lie with statistics. The report will harm the cause for action on both climate change and disasters because it is so deeply flawed. . . . The report is worse than fiction, it is a lie. These are strong words I know. [5/29/09]
The Political Philosophy of James Hansen: James Hansen of NASA has written an op-ed for the Guardian that, more than any other piece of his that I’ve seen, expresses his political philosophy. In a phrase, that philosophy can be characterized as “scientific authoritarianism.” . . . Hansen’s scientific authoritarianism becomes largely incoherent when he accuses political leaders of “tricking” their citizens when they say that climate policies include plans for the future development and implementation of carbon capture and storage from coal plants. [2/15/09]
Here We Go Again, More Cherry Picking by the CCSP: I am once again amazed at the brazen and willful misrepresentation of an area of climate change that I have some expertise in. The selective presentation of research on disasters and climate change by various assessment bodies leaves me convinced that such selectivity is a matter of choice and not simply incompetence. Such behavior damages the credibility of the entire climate science enterprise. [2/2/09]
Due to an inadvertent release of information, NASA’s Gavin Schmidt (a “real scientist” of the Real Climate blog) admits to stealing a scientific idea from his arch-nemesis, Steve McIntyre (not a “real scientist” of the Climate Audit blog) and then representing it as his own idea, and getting credit for it. [2/4/09]
Maybe Joe Romm’s employers over at the Center for American Progress have a vision for how his tantrums and fits serve their interests on advancing climate policy. [1/26/09]
Have Progressives Lost Their Moral Compass? I have seen some ugly, ugly things this week. Some of them have focused on me for views that I have, but others involve people I know and respect. People who know better, or should know better, are engaging in tactics that can only be described as bullying, strong arming, character assassination, threatening, and McCarthy-esque. [1/26/09]
The “policy neutral” IPCC is once again making a mockery of its role of an arbiter of scientific information, in favor of all out political advocacy. [1/19/09]
Overselling Disasters and Climate Change by Munich Re: Further, there may be good reason for Munich Re to want to increase its rates, but making grossly unsound appeals to the spectre of greenhouse gas impacts on disasters in the near term will both harm its own credibility as a business, and potenially [sic] harm efforts to secure a global climate treaty, as overselling the science will inevitably result in a backlash. [12/30/08]
Joe [Romm] apparently sees himself as a “thug,” smearing, sliming, and spreading lies about anyone who departs from his version of political reality. [12/22/08]
So the question is, are you [climate scientists Gavin Schmidt] interested in spin, misdirection, and discrediting your peers? Or maybe instead you are interested in a substantive public discussion among experts on surveys of climate scientists? I have my views as to the answer, but feel free to prove me wrong. [10/13/08]
Try again Real Climate. . . . Questioning scientific conclusions is a lot healthier for science than rote defense, but we all learned that in grad school, didn’t we? [6/1/08]
Climate models are of no practical use beyond providing some intellectual authority in the promotional battle over global-warming policy. [Washington Times, 5/18/08]
Here I’d like to explain why one group of people, which we might call politically active climate scientists and their allies, seek to shut down a useful discussion with intimidation, bluster, and name-calling. ... What is proper etiquette for allowing a response to slander? [5/16/08]
[Climate scientist] James [Annan] has an increasing snarky, angry tone to his comments which I will ignore in favor of the math. [5/15/08]
[T]his defensive stance [by climate modelers at Real Climate] risks turning climate modeling from a scientific endeavor to a pseudo-scientific exercise in the politics of climate change. . . . So beware the “consistent with” game being played with climate models by activist scientists, it is every bit as misleading as the worst arguments offered by climate skeptics and a distraction from the challenge of effective policy making on climate change. [2/13/08]
And this leads to the repugnant behavior of the attack dog climate scientists who otherwise would like to be taken seriously. . . . The climate science community – or at least its most publicly visible activist wing – seems to be working as hard as possible to undercut the legitimacy and the precarious trust than society provides in support of activities of the broader scientific community. [1/30/08]
So as hurricane season approaches, advocates for action on climate mitigation would be well served by playing to their strengths and avoiding using hurricanes to promote their cause. However, I’d bet that the images of storm-spawned death and destruction are far too tempting for some. [Nature blogs, 5/7/07]
Long before George W. Bush was in politics Al Gore was in the business of politicizing the climate issue. [3/28/07]
[Al Gore]’s a very polarizing figure in the science community. [New York Times, 3/13/07]
Perhaps they are some of the less thoughtful Grist readers, as opposed to most who comment there, where character assassination in mainline posts appears to be accepted behavior. [2/18/07]
I would venture that a scientific survey would find that Mr. Gore’s movie is more apt to mislead than bring the viewer to a clear understanding of the center of gravity of scientific opinion on climate change. Is it alarmist? By effect on its uninformed audience, I’d hypothesize based on this nonscientific data set that it is. [2/12/07]
Over at RealClimate they seem to have added to the confusion by asserting incorrectly . . . [2/7/07]
A memorandum providing background to this hearing prepared 26 January 2007 by the majority staff of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight illustrates the cherry picking of science. . . . What has occurred in this memorandum is exactly the same sort of thing that we have seen with heavy-handed Bush administration information management strategies which include editing government reports and overbearing management of agency press releases and media contacts with scientists. [1/30/07]
An environmentalist writer defending Al Gore’s scientifically unsupportable statements . . . his [Grist’s Dave Roberts] willingness to forgive departures from scientific standards in support of causes and people that he believes in makes him no different from his opponents who do the exact same thing. [1/6/07]
In the piece Mr. Gore includes an egregious and unquestionable misrepresentation of the science of disasters and climate change. . . . What concerns me is that many scientists have been complicit in advancing such mischaracterizations and remain selectively mute when they are made. In this manner, a large portion of the mainstream climate science community has taken on the unfortunate characteristics of politicians like Mr. Gore, deciding to uphold scientific standards only when politically convenient. This is one way how science becomes pathologically politicized. [11/20/06]
Stern’s Cherry Picking on Disasters and Climate Change: The Stern Report’s selective fishing out of a convenient statement from one of the background papers prepared for our workshop is a classic example of cherry picking a result from a diversity of perspectives, rather than focusing on the consensus of the entire spectrum of experts that participated in our meeting. . . . I haven’t yet read the whole Stern report, but if its treatment of disaster costs and climate change – an area where I do have some expertise – is indicative of its broader analysis, then Richard Tol’s comment in the open thread [“The Stern Review is more alarmist and less competent than even Lomborg suspected”] would appear to be on target. [10/30/06]
According to various statements by its chairman Rajendra Pachauri over the past few years, one might be excused for thinking that the IPCC is really an advocacy document clothed in the language of science. [8/17/06]
The last sentence is exactly the dynamic I was referring to when I criticized scientists at RealClimate last week for serving as agents of divisiveness in political debates. [7/31/06]
But the response to this memo, at RealClimate and elsewhere, suggest to me that many involved in the climate debate would much rather bash their opponents than work with them to find common ground. In a democracy, action occurs most often through compromise rather than complete annihilation of one’s opponents. . . . But rather than seize upon the possibilities for compromise, advocacy groups like RealClimate have decided to use the memo as an opportunity to foster divisiveness and continued gridlock. It really does make me wonder if some actually want action on climate change or simply to score meaningless political points by bashing those who do not share their values. It will get commentators in the blogoshpere nicely agitated, but it won’t in my view contribute positively to progress on climate policy. [7/28/06]
Unless Gore was using Katrina to highlight the importance of adaptation, which would be appropriate in my view, using Katrina to set the stage for arguing for emissions reductions is simply scientifically indefensible. [5/10/06]
A story in today’s Wall Street Journal provides additional evidence of the fantasy world that is climate politics. . . [Al Gore launches Alliance for Climate Protection campaign] This is a wasted effort for a number of reasons. . . . The Alliance for Climate Protection seems to me to simply be a Bizzaro version of the now-defunct Global Climate Coalition and I suspect that it will have much the same effectiveness on public opinion and ultimate fate. [5/10/06]
When Scientists Politicize Science: What may be new, or at least more meaningful than in the past, is the degree to which scientists themselves encourage political conflict through science. . . . It is not a surprise to see an organized campaign among environmental groups to advance their own causes by discrediting the book [Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist]. . . . In this context, a number of respected scientists saw fit to enter the political fray over The Skeptical Environmentalist, and largely in support of environmental advocates. It would be easy to dismiss the politicization of science by scientists as the province of industry-supported scientists-cum-consultantswhose credentials support their “hired-gun” role in issue advocacy. But the controversy surrounding Lomborg’s book shows this caricature to be too simplistic. . . a problem exists when, in the case of their opposition to The Skeptical Environmentalist, scientists implicitly or explicitly equate scientific arguments with political arguments, and in the process reinforce a simplistic and misleading view of how science supports policy. In the process, they damage the potential positive contributions of their own special expertise to effective decision-making. . . . Just as in the case of Leon Kass, Pachauri has been clearly using his position to advance a political agenda. In other words, he is politicizing the IPCC and his chairmanship. [Cato Institute, 5/06]
I have frequently criticized RealClimate for hiding an implicit political agenda behind the fig leaf of putative concern about scientific truth. [1/26/06]
[Science editor] Prof. [Donald] Kennedy is a Johnny-come-lately to exploiting Katrina for political advantage on climate change. [1/19/06]
You [climate scientist Raymond Pierrehumbert] continue a pattern here at [Real Climate] of confusing an opinion column that appears in the media with “science journalism.” This is not only a mischaracterization but a great insult to people who actually make their living reporting on science and issues involving science — a group which would not include Steve Milloy. RC has every right to call out cherry picking, but you will also better serve your readers by knowing what it is you are criticizing. [12/15/05]
Such cherry picking and sloppy work not only reflects poorly on the funders of the report, Swiss Reinsurance and the U.N. Development Program, but also on the people who are identified as peer reviewers of the report (a list which includes the current head of the IPCC). [11/3/05]
Increasingly the back-and-forth over hockey sticks is beginning to look like a testosterone-fueled fight between different cliques of pimple-faced junior high school boys, egged on by a loud group of close observers who for various reasons want to see a brawl. And just like those boys on the playground, these guys are too wrapped up in their own vanity to see that they are making us all look bad, and are risking having our recess cancelled. . . . To get a sense of this juvenile exchange, see this post and comments at ClimateAudit and this post and comments at RealClimate. [10/31/05]
[Science writer Chris] Mooney’s argument adopts the exact same tactics of cherry picking and relying on convenient experts as does Senator Inhofe. [10/13/05]
Of Blinders and Innumeracy: The article is amazing because even though the data is staring [New Yorker writer Elizabeth] Kolbert right in the face, she apparently cannot bring herself to grasp its implications for her argument. [9/13/05]
If climate scientists want to be believed when they discuss science in highly politicized contexts, then a good place to start would be to be accurate when making scientific claims. [7/21/05]
By presenting themselves as issue advocates scientific academies are threatening their own authority and legitimacy. [6/7/05]
I maintain that [climate scientist Kevin] Trenberth’s case would be better served if he could simply provide a single peer-reviewed study to back up his scientific claims, rather than engaging in McCarthyesque innuendo. [2/4/05]
[U]nless RealClimate carefully considers policy and politics as they go about their business, they run the risk of simply becoming viewed as yet another voice on the internet pushing a political agenda through science, not unlike CO2science.org but with a different slant. [1/15/05]
Because of the reinsurance industry’s obvious conflict of interest on climate change, the UN and its IPCC should eschew partnering with it to promote science or politics (or both simultaneously), regardless of the truth or falsity of the claims being made by the reinsurance industry. [1/6/05]
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a press release last week that clearly misuses science to advance a political agenda. [12/20/04]
NYT as NSF Mouthpiece: I must have missed the announcement, but it appears that the New York Times has merged with the public affairs office of the National Science Foundation. [11/30/04]
Even if Dr. Pachauri feels strongly about the merit of the political agenda proposed by these groups, at a minimum his endorsement creates a potential perception that the IPCC has an unstated political agenda. This is compounded by the fact that the report Dr. Pachauri tacitly endorses contains statements that are scientifically at odds with those of the IPCC. But perhaps most troubling is that by endorsing this group’s agenda he has opened the door for those who would seek to discredit the IPCC by alleging exactly such a bias. [10/21/04]
In the case of The Skeptical Environmentalist, scientists politicized science when they claimed that Lomborg has gotten his “science” wrong, and because he has his science wrong then necessarily those who accept his views of “science” should lose out in political battle. [8/20/04]
Over the last several weeks I have criticized Senator John Kerry for making several mistaken assertions about trends in federal funding for science and technology. [7/19/04]
Whatever the reasons, you’d think that 48 Nobel laureates would check the facts before putting their name on unsupportable claims. [6/23/04]
It is one thing when partisan groups such as the Marshall Institute arguably politicizes science as a tool of advocacy in support of their special interests. It is another thing altogether when a purportedly non-political professional association like the AAAS, ostensibly working for common interests, legitimizes the practice. [6/17/04]There is one climate scientist Pielke Jr. has never criticized:
You Go Dad! My father, Roger Pielke, Sr., is a very well-known and widely published professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University. [7/11/05]
Oceans PAC, the climate-focused political action committee Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) launched last year, is gearing up for the 2014 midterms. Whitehouse is the most aggressive U.S. Senator on climate policy: he has been giving weekly “Time To Wake Up” speeches on climate change since the landfall of Superstorm Sandy, is one of the founders of the Senate Climate Action Task Force and led the #Up4Climate talkathon last week.The PAC supports “candidates who support oceans and environmental issues”, Whitehouse explains:
Welcome to the OCEANS PAC website. I created the OCEANS PAC because candidates who support oceans and environmental issues need our support. Indeed, the other side is funded by big polluters who don’t hesitate to put millions of dollars behind their lies. As I’ve said many times – I’m tired of bringing a knife to a gun fight. The OCEANS PAC is one way we can fight back.
And fight we must, because climate change is not a problem that will go away. Climate change is not a problem that can wait. But climate change is a problem that can be solved. We can and we must leave a healthy environment, which includes healthy oceans, to our children and grandchildren. The public is ready for action; unfortunately, the missing piece is Congress. Congress is sleepwalking through history. It is time for Congress to hear the alarms, roll up our sleeves, and do what needs to be done. It is time to wake up. But for Congress to wake up, it needs more members who will support ocean and environmental issues – OCEANS PAC will support those candidates.
This is certainly not something I can do alone. There are high stakes involved and I need your help. I hope you will accompany me on this new journey, and that I can count on your enthusiastic support as we go forward.
The PAC’s supported candidates include the four members of the Rhode Island congressional delegation; Correy Westbrook, candidate for Florida’s 8th Congressional District against incumbent Bill Posey; Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Carl Levin; and incumbent senators Chris Coons (Del.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Al Franken (Minn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), and Tom Udall (N.M.).
Landrieu and Pryor are notable for their opposition to climate legislation. In 2011, Landrieu and Pryor voted for the Jim Inhofe Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would have prohibited the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change. At the time, Landrieu and Pryor were supported by the Koch Industries PAC. Now, Koch’s political wing is running a “barrage” of ads against the senators.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
On March 10, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and many other senators of the Climate Action Task Force will be pulling an all-nighter to urge Congress to wake up to climate change. The speeches begin immediately following votes.
The 31 participants representing 21 states include:
- Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
- Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
- Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
- Patty Murray, (D-Wash.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
- Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
- Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
- Chris Coons (D-Del.)
- Barbara Boxer, (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
- Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
- Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
- Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.)
- Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
- Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.)
- Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
- Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
- Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
- Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
- Angus King (I-Maine)
- Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
- Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
- Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
In a blistering floor speech Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) doubled down on his criticism of the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers, who he described last week as “un-American.” Reid’s comments last week focused on the advertisements against the Affordable Care Act produced by the Kochs’ political group, Americans for Prosperity, which fact-checkers have described as “missing context,” “misleading,” and “loose with facts.”
“This discussion – this fight – isn’t just about health care or even about a few hundred million dollars in disingenuous ads,” Reid said today. “This is about two very wealthy individuals who intend to buy their very own Congress – a Congress beholden to their money and bound to enact their radical philosophy.”
Reid’s remarks touched upon climate change and environmental policy:
We may never know how much money the Koch brothers are spending to rig the system for themselves. But we do know their investments have already paid off. In November of 2010, the petroleum industry walked right through the door the Supreme Court had opened, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect a Republican majority to the House of Representatives. That Republican majority has effectively shut down any hope of passing legislation to limit the pollution that causes climate change. And that Republican majority is, in fact, working to gut the most important safeguards that keep cancer-causing toxins out of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Without those safeguards, the Koch brothers would pass on the higher healthcare costs to middle class Americans while padding their own pocketbooks. . . .
Their extreme vision for America means giving giant corporations the unfettered right to dump toxins into our rivers and streams, on our mountains and in our valleys, and to give them even more tax breaks while they destroy our environment.
Americans for Prosperity has also recently launched a television ad attacking Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), falsely claiming that Begich supports a carbon tax.
Charles and David Koch control Koch Industries, a petrochemical, industrial, and financial conglomerate that is the second-largest private company in the United States. They have an estimated combined net worth of over $100 billion, making David Koch the richest man in New York City and Charles the richest man in Kansas. They are the third and fourth richest billionaires in the United States.
Transcript of Reid’s speech:
Charles and David Koch are shrewd businessmen. Their wealth is nearly unparalleled – not only in America, but in the world. The brothers inherited a small oil company from their father, and built it into a multi-national corporation that refines oil, manufactures fertilizers and chemicals, makes paper products, extracts minerals, produces glass and even owns a cattle ranch. And like most shrewd businessmen, the oil baron Koch brothers are very good at protecting and growing their prodigious fortune. There’s nothing un-American about that.
But what is un-American is when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system to benefit themselves and the wealthiest one percent. I believe in an America where economic opportunity is open to all. But based on their actions and the policies they promote, the Koch brothers seem to believe in an America where the system is rigged to benefit the very wealthy. Based on Senate Republicans’ ardent defense of the Koch brothers, and the fact that they advocate for many of the same policies the Koch brothers do, it seems my Republican colleagues also believe in a system that benefits billionaires at the expense of the middle class. The Koch brothers are willing to invest billions to buy that America.
In 2010, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of corporate money into electoral politics with its Citizens United decision. Since mega donors like Charles and David Koch can launder their huge contributions using shadowy shell groups and so-called “non-profits,” it’s difficult to tell exactly how much they’ve invested so far. Investigative reporting by some of the most respected news outlets in the country had revealed that the Koch brothers funnel money through a web of industry groups and advocacy organizations that are immune from disclosure rules, such as the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, the NRA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
We may never know how much money the Koch brothers are spending to rig the system for themselves. But we do know their investments have already paid off.
In November of 2010, the petroleum industry walked right through the door the Supreme Court had opened, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect a Republican majority to the House of Representatives. That Republican majority has effectively shut down any hope of passing legislation to limit the pollution that causes climate change. And that Republican majority is, in fact, working to gut the most important safeguards that keep cancer-causing toxins out of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Without those safeguards, the Koch brothers would pass on the higher healthcare costs to middle class Americans while padding their own pocketbooks.
So the Koch brothers are already seeing a return on their 2010 investment in a Republican House of Representatives. But they haven’t stopped there. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity alone spent $400 million on misleading attack ads last election cycle. If you’ve seen an ad maligning the Affordable Care Act, chances are the Koch brothers – or one of their shadow groups – paid for it.
Koch-backed groups have spent a vast sum helping elect Republican Senate candidates this year – a sum that dwarfs even the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s own spending. The Koch brothers and other moneyed interests are influencing the political process for their own benefit in a way not seen for generations.
Republicans Senators have come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers’ attempt to buy our democracy. Once again, Republicans are all-in to protect their billionaire friends.
Not only have Senate Republicans come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers personally, they have, again and again, defended the Kochs’ radical agenda. Senate Republicans have opposed closing a single tax loophole for profitable oil companies or corporations that ship jobs overseas. Senate Republicans have opposed asking billionaires to pay the same higher tax rate as middle-class families pay. Senate Republicans have opposed environmental and workplace safety standards that might cost Koch Industries or their other corporate donors a few extra dollars.
And the Koch brothers are returning the favor with huge donations to Republican Senate candidates. Senate Republicans are addicted to Koch.
In fact, Senate Republicans hardly need the NRSC anymore. They’ve got the Koch brothers. Besides, the NRSC can’t hide its donors’ identities, like Koch-funded front groups can.
Senate Republicans call this freewheeling spending by anonymous donors nothing more than free speech – free speech. Senate Republicans say whoever has the most money gets the most free speech. But that is not what America’s Founders meant by free speech. The Founders believed in a democracy where every American has a voice and a vote.
This discussion – this fight – isn’t just about health care or even about a few hundred million dollars in disingenuous ads. This is about two very wealthy individuals who intend to buy their very own Congress – a Congress beholden to their money and bound to enact their radical philosophy. Witness: Republican Senators beholden to wealthy special interests rush to the floor to defend the Kochs whenever I say something negative about the brothers or their radical agenda.
By the way, those words – “radical philosophy” – aren’t my words. Charles Koch proudly told Brian Doherty, an editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, about his self-described “radical philosophy” in 2007.
These are the same brothers who have lobbied against recognition of formaldehyde as a cancer-causing carcinogen because it might be bad for business. These are the same brothers whose Koch Industries ranks near the top of the list of America’s worst toxic air polluters. These are the same brothers whose company, according to a Bloomberg investigation, paid bribes and kickbacks to win contracts in Africa, India, and the Middle East. These are the same brothers who, according to that report, used foreign subsidiaries to sell millions of dollars of equipment to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism.
They already believe they can play by a different set of rules. Think about what an America rigged by the Koch brothers would look like.
The Koch brothers don’t care about creating a strong public education system in America. The Koch brothers don’t care about maintaining the strong safety net of Medicare and Social Security. And The Koch brothers don’t care about a guarantee of affordable, quality health insurance for every American. Why? Because the Koch brothers can afford to buy all those benefits and more for themselves and for their families.
Their extreme vision for America means abolishing Social Security and Medicare as we know it. Their extreme vision for America means eliminating minimum wage laws. Their extreme vision for America means putting insurance companies back in charge of your health care and allowing them to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Their extreme vision for America means stripping tens of million people of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act today. Their extreme vision for America means allowing the gap between the wages women and men earn for the same work to keep growing. Their extreme vision for America means giving giant corporations the unfettered right to dump toxins into our rivers and streams, on our mountains and in our valleys, and to give them even more tax breaks while they destroy our environment.
Democrats have a different vision. Democrats believe the economy is strongest when the middle class is vibrant and growing. Democrats believe world-class education leads to a world-class work force ready to take on any challenge. Democrats believe an even playing field with higher wages, affordable health care and a secure retirement gives every American the same shot at success.
Now, I welcome a public debate over these competing visions. Average Americans share our vision for a country whose success is built on a strong middle class. And the Koch brothers know it. That’s why, rather than have an honest and fair debate, they are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a massive campaign of deception. They manufacture stories and make up facts. And they are angry that I am calling attention to their campaign of distortion and deceit.
I am not oblivious to the fact that my comments about the Koch brothers have caused controversy. Anyone who has turned on Fox News lately knows I’ve gotten under Charles and David Koch’s skin. But I will continue to shine a light on their subversion of democracy.
When I hear my Republican colleagues defending the Koch brothers, I recall the words of Adlai Stevenson: “I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.”
And as long as the Koch brothers continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying elections, I will continue to do all I can to expose their intentions.