Harvard President Drew Faust Announces Initial Steps Towards Carbon Divestment

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:47:00 GMT

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.

Sincerely,

Drew Faust

Despite Environmental Endorsements, Sen. Susan Collins Has Spotty Record on Confronting Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 26 Mar 2014 22:32:00 GMT

Collins adSen. 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.

A Small Sample of Roger Pielke Jr's Ad Hominem Attacks on the Climate Science Community

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 20 Mar 2014 20:21:00 GMT

Roger Pielke JrRoger 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]

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Gears Up Climate-Focused OCEANS PAC

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 14 Mar 2014 00:14:00 GMT

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.

#Up4Climate Speeches From Leahy, Shaheen, Udall, Heinrich, Wyden

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:42:00 GMT

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Floor remarks

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.)

Reid: "Senate Republicans are Addicted to Koch"

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Mar 2014 22:59:00 GMT

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.

Hundreds of Youth Activists Arrested at White House for Keystone XL Protest

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 03 Mar 2014 00:37:00 GMT

Arrests at White House398 youth activists were arrested Sunday in front of the White House, after staging a “die-in” protest against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The protesters marched from the Georgetown University site of President Barack Obama’s 2013 climate speech to the street in front of Secretary of State John Kerry’s house before arriving at the White House. Kerry is slated to make a decision on on whether the pipeline — which will unlock access to Canadian tar sands and have a carbon footprint equivalent to fifty new coal-fired power plants — is in the national interest. President Obama is responsible for the final determination.

“We are trying to escalate as much as we can,” Michael Greenberg, a Columbia University sophomore who helped organize Sunday’s protest, told the National Journal’s Ben Geman. “We are not playing softball with the president any more.”

“Young people are tired of watching a president who ran on the promise of ‘ending the tyranny of oil’ keep caving to the fossil fuel industry,” wrote Jamie Henn, Communications Director for 350 Action, at MSNBC.com

There is a Flickr set of XLDissent photographs, and Annie-Rose Strasser at Climate Progress has compiled photos from Twitter of the march and protest.

“An entire movement has thrown itself into in this Keystone fight, from local frontline groups to big national green organizations,” said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. “But this weekend shows the power and bravery of some of the most crucial elements: young people, and activists who understand the centrality of environmental justice.”

"Whoring" "Nazis": Climate Deniers Lash Out

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 21 Feb 2014 03:06:00 GMT

Heartland Institute Unabomber billboardIn response to mild action taken recently by the Obama administration to respond to the ongoing climate crisis, prominent climate deniers have lashed out. Their language is reminiscent of last year’s billboard campaign by the Heartland Institute comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber and terrorists and Chris Monckton calling young climate activists “Hitler Youth.”

In the Washington Post op-ed pages edited by Fred Hiatt, long-time climate science denier Charles Krauthammer repeated the refrain that climate science is a “religion” and then accuses President Obama and other climate realists of “whoring.”
Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith. For folks who pretend to be brave carriers of the scientific ethic, there’s more than a tinge of religion in their jeremiads. If you whore after other gods, the Bible tells us, “the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit” (Deuteronomy 11).

Sounds like California. Except that today there’s a new god, the Earth Mother. And a new set of sins — burning coal and driving a fully equipped F-150.

But whoring is whoring, and the gods must be appeased. So if California burns, you send your high priest (in carbon-belching Air Force One, but never mind) to the bone-dry land to offer up, on behalf of the repentant congregation, a $1 billion burnt offering called a “climate resilience fund.”

On his personal blog, Dr. Roy W. Spencer claimed that the use of the term “climate denier” is a Holocaust reference and calls climate scientists “global warming Nazis.”

I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.

The pseudo-scientific ramblings by their leaders have falsely warned of mass starvation, ecological collapse, agricultural collapse, overpopulation…all so that the masses would support their radical policies. Policies that would not voluntarily be supported by a majority of freedom-loving people.

“Like the Nazis, they advocate the supreme authority of the state (fascism),” Spencer continued, “which in turn supports their scientific research to support their cause (in the 1930s, it was superiority of the white race).”

When challenged, Spencer doubled down. “A couple people in comments have questioned my use of ‘Nazi’, which might be considered over the top. Considering the fact that these people are supporting policies that will kill far more people than the Nazis ever did — all in the name of what they consider to be a righteous cause — I think it is very appropriate. Again, I didn’t start the name-calling.”

Spencer is a Heartland Institute “expert”.

Update: Although the San Francisco Chronicle’s Debra Saunders’ tweet-based column misrepresents Hill Heat’s relationship to the Forecast the Facts #DontPublishLies campaign, her column does offer a reasonable interpretation of Krauthammer’s “whoring” commentary, in which the users of fossil fuels are whores after false gods who are being punished by drought, and President Obama is the defender of climate science and planet Earth.

Secretary of State John Kerry: Climate Change Is A 'Weapon of Mass Destruction'

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 17 Feb 2014 15:47:00 GMT

Speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 16th, Secretary of State John Kerry described manmade global warming as a “weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

Kerry’s vision of the threat of climate change should mean a death knell for federal approval of fossil-fuel projects such as the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline and coal export terminals. He said that “governments and international financial institutions need to stop providing incentives for the use of energy sources like coal and oil.” Although fossil fuels are “currently cheap ways to power a society, at least in the near term,” Kerry went on, governments “have to factor in the cost of survival.”

Some other key quotes:

The fact is that climate change, if left unchecked, will wipe out many more communities from the face of the earth. And that is unacceptable under any circumstances – but is even more unacceptable because we know what we can do and need to do in order to deal with this challenge.
There’s a big set of opportunities in front of us. And that’s because the most important news of all: that climate change isn’t only a challenge. It’s not only a burden. It also presents one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time.
Coal and oil are currently cheap ways to power a society, at least in the near term. But I urge governments to measure the full cost to that coal and that oil, measure the impacts of what will happen as we go down the road. You cannot simply factor in the immediate costs of energy needs. You have to factor in the long-term cost of carbon pollution. And they have to factor in the cost of survival.
Today I call on all of you in Indonesia and concerned citizens around the world to demand the resolve that is necessary from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for another day. Make a transition towards clean energy the only plan that you are willing to accept.
And if we come together now, we can not only meet the challenge, we can create jobs and economic growth in every corner of the globe. We can clean up the air, we can improve the health of people, we can have greater security; we can make our neighborhoods healthier places to live; we can help ensure that farmers and fishers can still make a sustainable living and feed our communities; and we can avoid disputes and even entire wars over oil, water, and other limited resources. We can make good on the moral responsibility we all have to leave future generations with a planet that is clean and healthy and sustainable for the future.

Kerry’s speech reflects remarks made by President Obama as a campaigner in 2007 and to students in Turkey in 2009. Kerry has a long history of urgency on the climate crisis, including repeated efforts to pass non-partisan climate legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Full transcript:

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Robert. Thank you very, very much. I don’t know. I think some of you were cheering twice for the same university. I don’t know. (Laughter.) It seemed to come from the same place anyway.

What a pleasure to be here at America, where we are looking at all of the air conditioning pipes running right through here. I love it. The spirit and feel of this place is very special and it’s wonderful to see our friends up here from Kalimantan and also everybody from Sumatra. Thank you very much for being with us. Can you hear me? Yeah! Wave! (Laughter.) Do a few selfies, everybody will – (laughter.) Anyway, it’s really a pleasure to be here. I see a lot of iPads up in the air sort of flashing away.

This is special. Ambassador Blake, thank you for doing this. Thank you all for coming here today. I want to welcome all of those of you who are tuning in elsewhere, some of you who are watching on a home webcast, and we’re delighted to have you here. It’s really a pleasure for me to be able to be back in Jakarta, back in Indonesia, where you have one of the richest ecosystems on Earth. And you live in a country that is at the top of the global rankings for both marine and terrestrial biodiversity, and you have a human ecosystem that includes some 300 ethnic groups, speaking at least 700 languages – extraordinary place.

But because of climate change, it is no secret that today, Indonesia is also one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth.

This year, as Secretary of State, I will engage in a series of discussions on the urgency of addressing climate change – particularly on the national security implications and the economic opportunities. And I want you to think about those. But I wanted to start right here, in Jakarta, because this city – this country – this region – is really on the front lines of climate change. It’s not an exaggeration to say to you that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk. So let’s have a frank conversation about this threat and about what we, as citizens of the world, need to be able to do to address it.

Some time ago I travelled to another vibrant city – a city also rich with its own rich history – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And I was there, sitting in a big room, surrounded by representatives from about 170 countries. We listened as expert after expert after expert described the growing threat of climate change and what it would mean for the world if we failed to act. The Secretary General of the conference was – he was an early leader on climate change, a man by the name of Maurice Strong, and he told us – I quote him: “Every bit of evidence I’ve seen persuades me that we are on a course leading to tragedy.”

Well, my friends, that conference was in 1992. And it is stunning how little the conversation has really changed since then.

When I think about the array of global climate – of global threats – think about this: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – all challenges that know no borders – the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them. And it is a challenge that I address in nearly every single country that I visit as Secretary of State, because President Obama and I believe it is urgent that we do so.

And the reason is simple: The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a scene from a 3D movie. It’s warning us; it’s compelling us to act. And let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the science is absolutely certain. It’s something that we understand with absolute assurance of the veracity of that science. No one disputes some of the facts about it. Let me give you an example. When an apple separates from a tree, it falls to the ground. We know that because of the basic laws of physics. No one disputes that today. It’s a fact. It’s a scientific fact. Science also tells us that when water hits a low enough temperature, it’s going to turn into ice; when it reaches a high enough temperature, it’s going to boil. No one disputes that. Science and common sense tell us if you reach out and put your hand on a hot cook stove, you’re going to get burned. I can’t imagine anybody who would dispute that either.

So when thousands of the world’s leading scientists and five reports over a long period of time with thousands of scientists contributing to those reports – when they tell us over and over again that our climate is changing, that it is happening faster than they ever predicted, ever in recorded history, and when they tell us that we humans are the significant cause, let me tell you something: We need to listen.

When 97 percent of scientists agree on anything, we need to listen, and we need to respond.

Well, 97 percent of climate scientists have confirmed that climate change is happening and that human activity is responsible. These scientists agree on the causes of these changes and they agree on the potential effects. They agree that the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide contributes heavily to climate change. They agree that the energy sources that we’ve relied on for decades to fuel our cars and to heat our homes or to air condition our homes, to – all the things that provide us electricity like oil and coal – that these are largely responsible for sending those greenhouse gases up into the atmosphere. And the scientists agree that emissions coming from deforestation and from agriculture can also send enormous quantities of carbon pollution into our atmosphere.

And they agree that, if we continue to go down the same path that we are going down today, the world as we know it will change – and it will change dramatically for the worse.

So we know this is happening, and we know it with virtually the same certainty that we understand that if we reach out and touch that hot stove, we’re going to get burned. In fact, this is not really a complicated equation. I know sometimes I can remember from when I was in high school and college, some aspects of science or physics can be tough – chemistry. But this is not tough. This is simple. Kids at the earliest age can understand this.

Try and picture a very thin layer of gases – a quarter-inch, half an inch, somewhere in that vicinity – that’s how thick it is. It’s in our atmosphere. It’s way up there at the edge of the atmosphere. And for millions of years – literally millions of years – we know that layer has acted like a thermal blanket for the planet – trapping the sun’s heat and warming the surface of the Earth to the ideal, life-sustaining temperature. Average temperature of the Earth has been about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, which keeps life going. Life itself on Earth exists because of the so-called greenhouse effect. But in modern times, as human beings have emitted gases into the air that come from all the things we do, that blanket has grown thicker and it traps more and more heat beneath it, raising the temperature of the planet. It’s called the greenhouse effect because it works exactly like a greenhouse in which you grow a lot of the fruit that you eat here.

This is what’s causing climate change. It’s a huge irony that the very same layer of gases that has made life possible on Earth from the beginning now makes possible the greatest threat that the planet has ever seen.

And the results of our human activity are clear. If you ranked all the years in recorded history by average temperature, you’d see that 8 of the 10 hottest years have all happened within the last 10 years. Think about it this way: all 10 of the hottest years on record have actually happened since Google went online in 1998.

Now, that’s how fast this change is happening. And because the earth is getting hotter at such an alarming speed, glaciers in places like the Arctic are melting into the sea faster than we expected. And the sea is rising – slowly, but rising – and will rise to dangerous levels. Scientists now predict that by the end of the century, the sea could rise by a full meter. Now, I know that to some people a meter may not sound like a lot, but I’ll tell you this: it’s enough to put half of Jakarta underwater. Just one meter would displace hundreds of millions of people worldwide and threaten billions of dollars in economic activity. It would put countries into jeopardy. It would put countless – I mean, come to the local level – it would put countless homes and schools and parks, entire cities at risk.

Now, climate change also tragically means the end of some species. The changing sea temperature and the increasing amount of acidity – the acidity comes from coal-fired power plants and from the pollution, and when the rain falls the rain spills the acidity into the ocean. And it means that certain species of fish like cod or sardines can no longer live where they once lived. This is devastating for the world’s fisheries. And scientists predict that fisheries will be among the hardest hit. Just think about the fishermen who sell their fish catches at Pasar Ikan. Think about it. There are some studies that say that Indonesia’s fisheries could actually lose up to 40 percent of what they currently bring in – so a fisherman who usually has about a hundred fish to sell one day would suddenly only have 60 or so for sale. The impact is obvious.

Climate change also means water shortages. And if you have these enormous water shortages, then you have a change in the weather – because of the weather patterns, you’re going to wind up with droughts, the lack of water. And the droughts can become longer and more intense. In fact, this isn’t something around the corner – this is happening now.

We are seeing record droughts right now, and they’re already putting a strain on water resources around the world. We’ve already seen in various parts of the world – in Africa, for instance – people fighting each other over water, and we’ve seen more conflicts shaping up now over the limits of water. Back in the United States, President Obama just the other day visited California, where millions of people are now experiencing the 13th month of the worst drought the state has seen in 500 years. And no relief is in sight. What used to be a 100-year or a 500-year event is now repeating itself within 10 years.

Furthermore, climate change means fundamental transformations in agriculture worldwide. Scientists predict that, in some places, heat waves and water shortages will make it much more difficult for farmers to be able to grow the regular things we grow, like wheat or corn or rice. And obviously, it’s not only farmers who will suffer here – it’s the millions of people who depend on those crops that the farmers grow. For example, the British government research showed that climate change may have contributed to the famine that killed as many as 100,000 people in Somalia just back in 2010 and 2011.

And scientists further predict that climate change also means longer, more unpredictable monsoon seasons and more extreme weather events. Now, I’ll tell you, I can’t tell you – no weatherman on TV or anybody is going to be able to look at you and tell you – that one particular storm was absolutely the result of climate change. But scientists do predict that many more of these disastrous storms will occur if we continue down the current path. Ladies and gentlemen, I saw with my own eyes what the Philippines experienced in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan and I will tell you it would be absolutely devastating if that kind of storm were to become the normal thing that happens every single year in many places.

On top of the unspeakable humanitarian toll, the economic cost that follows a storm like that is absolutely massive. I don’t mean just the billions that it costs to rebuild. We’ve seen here in Asia how extreme weather events can disrupt world trade. For example, after serious flooding in 2011, global prices for external computer hard drives rose by more than 10 percent. Why? Because electronic manufacturing zones around Bangkok were out of commission, wiped out by the weather. So it’s not just about agriculture – it’s also about technology. It’s about our global economy. It’s about potentially catastrophic effects on the global supply chain.

Now, despite all of these realities – despite these facts – much of the world still doesn’t see or want to see the need to pursue a significant response to this threat. As recently as 2011, a survey of city officials here in Asia found that more than 80 percent of the population said they did not anticipate climate change hurting their cities’ economies.

And despite more than 25 years of scientific warning after scientific warning after scientific warning – despite all that, the call to arms that we heard back in Rio back in 1992 – despite that, we still haven’t globally summoned the urgency necessary to get the job done. And as a result of this complacency, last year the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reached the highest point in human history – despite all the warnings.

Now, I know that these are some dramatic scientific facts – statistics. But think of it this way: If the worst-case scenario about climate change, all the worst predictions, if they never materialize, what will be the harm that is done from having made the decision to respond to it? We would actually leave our air cleaner. We would leave our water cleaner. We would actually make our food supply more secure. Our populations would be healthier because of fewer particulates of pollution in the air – less cost to health care. Those are the things that would happen if we happen to be wrong and we responded. But imagine if the 97 percent of those scientists are correct and the people who say no are wrong. Then the people who say no will have presented us with one of the most catastrophic, grave threats in the history of human life. That’s the choice here.

Notwithstanding the stark choices that we face, here’s the good thing: there is still time. The window of time is still open for us to be able to manage this threat. But the window is closing. And so I wanted to come to Jakarta to talk to you because we need people all over the world to raise their voices and to be heard. There is still time for us to significantly cut greenhouse emissions and prevent the very worst consequences of climate change from ever happening at all. But we need to move on this, and we need to move together now. We just don’t have time to let a few loud interests groups hijack the climate conversation. And when I say that, you know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about big companies that like it the way it is that don’t want to change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and everybody from doing what we know we need to do.

First and foremost, we should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact. Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits. There are people who say, “Oh, it’s too expensive, we can’t do this.” No. No, folks. We certainly should not allow more time to be wasted by those who want to sit around debating whose responsibility it is to deal with this threat, while we come closer and closer to the point of no return.

I have to tell you, this is really not a normal kind of difference of opinion between people. Sometimes you can have a reasonable argument and a reasonable disagreement over an opinion you may have. This is not opinion. This is about facts. This is about science. The science is unequivocal. And those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand.

Now, President and I – Obama and I believe very deeply that we do not have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society. One of the arguments that we do hear is that it’s going to be too expensive to be able to address climate change. I have to tell you, that assertion could not be less grounded in fact. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Serious analysts understand that the costs of doing nothing far outweigh the costs of investing in solutions now. You do not need a degree in economics or a graduate degree in business in order to understand that the cost of flooding, the cost of drought, the cost of famine, the cost of health care, the cost of addressing this challenge is simply far less – the costs of addressing this challenge are far less than the costs of doing nothing. Just look at the most recent analysis done by the World Bank, which estimates that by 2050, losses – excuse me one second – losses from flood damage in Asian ports – fishing ports, shipping ports – the losses in those ports alone could exceed $1 trillion annually unless we make big changes to the infrastructure of those ports.

Finally, if we truly want to prevent the worst consequences of climate change from happening, we do not have time to have a debate about whose responsibility this is. The answer is pretty simple: It’s everyone’s responsibility. Now certainly some countries – and I will say this very clearly, some countries, including the United States, contribute more to the problem and therefore we have an obligation to contribute more to the solution. I agree with that. But, ultimately, every nation on Earth has a responsibility to do its part if we have any hope of leaving our future generations the safe and healthy planet that they deserve.

You have a saying, I think, here in Indonesia, “Luka di kaki, sakit seluruh badan”. (Laughter.) I – for those that don’t speak as well as I do – (laughter) – it means “when there’s a pain in the foot, the whole body feels it.” Well, today in this interconnected world that we all live in, the fact is that hardship anywhere is actually felt by people everywhere. We all see it; we share it. And when a massive storm destroys a village and yet another and then another in Southeast Asia; when crops that used to grow abundantly no longer turn a profit for farmers in South America; when entire communities are forced to relocate because of rising tides – that’s happening – it’s not just one country or even one region that feels the pain. In today’s globalized economy, everyone feels it.

And when you think about it, that connection to climate change is really no different than how we confront other global threats.

Think about terrorism. We don’t decide to have just one country beef up the airport security and the others relax their standards and let bags on board without inspection. No, that clearly wouldn’t make us any safer.

Or think about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It doesn’t keep us safe if the United States secures its nuclear arsenal, while other countries fail to prevent theirs from falling into the hands of terrorists. We all have to approach this challenge together, which is why all together we are focused on Iran and its nuclear program or focused on North Korea and its threat.

The bottom line is this: it is the same thing with climate change. And in a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.

Now I mentioned earlier, a few minutes ago, that last December I went to Tacloban in the Philippines, not long after Typhoon Haiyan. I have to tell you: I’ve seen a lot of places in war and out of war and places that have been destroyed, but in all the time of my life, I don’t think I’ve ever seen devastation like. We saw cars and homes and lives turned upside-down, trees scattered like toothpicks all across a mountainside. And most devastating of all, so quickly, that storm stole the lives of more than 5,000 people – women, and children who never saw it coming.

The fact is that climate change, if left unchecked, will wipe out many more communities from the face of the earth. And that is unacceptable under any circumstances – but is even more unacceptable because we know what we can do and need to do in order to deal with this challenge.

It is time for the world to approach this problem with the cooperation, the urgency, and the commitment that a challenge of this scale warrants. It’s absolutely true that industrialized countries – yes, industrialized countries that produce most of the emissions – have a huge responsibility to be able to reduce emissions, but I’m telling you that doesn’t mean that other nations have a free pass. They don’t have a right to go out and repeat the mistakes of the past. It’s not enough for one country or even a few countries to reduce their emissions when other countries continue to fill the atmosphere with carbon pollution as they see fit. At the end of the day, emissions coming from anywhere in the world threaten the future for people everywhere in the world, because those emissions go up and then they move with the wind and they drop with the rain and the weather, and they keep going around and around and they threaten all of us.

Now, as I’ve already acknowledged, I am the first one to recognize the responsibility that the United States has, because we have contributed to this problem. We’re one of the number – we’re the number two emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. The number one is now China. The fact is that I recognize the responsibility that we have to erase the bad habits that we have, which we adopted, frankly, before we understood the consequences. Nobody set out to make this happen. This is the consequence of the industrial revolution and the transformation of the world, and many of the advances that we made that have changed the world for the better came from these steps. But now we do know the attendant consequences that are linked to these actions.

President Obama has taken the moral challenge head on. Over the past five years, the United States has done more to reduce the threat of climate change – domestically and with the help of our international partners – than in the 20 years before President Obama came to office.

Thanks to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the United States is well on our way to meeting the international commitments to seriously cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and that’s because we’re going straight to the largest sources of pollution. We’re targeting emissions from transportation – cars trucks, rail, et cetera – and from power sources, which account together for more than 60 percent of the dangerous greenhouse gases that we release.

The President has put in place standards to double the fuel-efficiency of cars on American roads. And we’ve also proposed curbing carbon pollution from new power plants, and similar regulations are in the works to limit the carbon pollution coming from power plants that are already up and already running.

At the same time, Americans have actually doubled the amount of energy we are creating from wind, solar, and geothermal sources, and we’ve become smarter about the way we use energy in our homes and in our businesses. A huge amount of carbon pollution comes out of buildings, and it’s important in terms of the lighting, in terms of the emissions from those buildings, the air conditioning – all these kinds of things thought through properly can contribute to the solution. As a result, today in the United States, we are emitting less than we have in two decades.

We’re also providing assistance to international partners, like Indonesia. This year the Millennium Challenge Corporation launched the $332 million Green Prosperity program to help address deforestation and support innovation and clean energy throughout the country. We also implemented what we called “debt for nature” swaps, where we forgive some of the debt – and we have forgiven some of Indonesia’s debt – in return for investments in the conservation of forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

But the United States – simple reality: just as I talked about the scientific facts in the beginning, this is a fact – the United States cannot solve this problem or foot the bill alone. Even if every single American got on a bicycle tomorrow and carpooled – instead of – or carpooled to school instead of buses or riding in individual cars or driving, or rode their bike to work, or used only solar powers – panels in order to power their homes; if we each, every American, planted a dozen trees; if we eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions – guess what? That still wouldn’t be enough to counter the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world. Because today, if even one or two economies neglects to respond to this threat, it can counter, erase all of the good work that the rest of the world has done. When I say we need a global solution, I mean we need a global solution.

That is why the United States is prepared to take the lead in bringing other nations to the table. And this is something that President Obama is deeply committed to. And as Secretary of State, I am personally committed to making sure that this work is front and center in all of our diplomatic efforts. This week I will be instructing all of the chiefs of our missions at American embassies all over the world to make climate change a top priority and to use all the tools of diplomacy that they have at their disposal in order to help address this threat.

Now I have just come here today, I arrived last night from China, where I met with government leaders and we discussed our cooperation, our collaboration on this climate change front at length. The Chinese see firsthand every single day how dangerous pollution can be. I recently read that an 8-year-old girl was diagnosed with lung cancer because of all the air pollution that she was inhaling. Eight years old. And the devastating human toll pollution, it takes comes with a very hefty price tag: Air pollution already costs China as much as 8 percent of its GDP because two things happen as a result of the pollution: healthcare spending goes up and agricultural output goes down.

Now I am pleased to tell you that the leaders of China agree that it is time to pursue a cleaner path forward. And China is taking steps, and we have already taken significant steps together through the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group that we launched in Beijing last year.

Just yesterday, we announced a new agreement on an enhanced policy of dialogue that includes the sharing of information and policies so that we can help develop plans to deal with the UN climate change negotiation that takes place in Paris next year, in planning for the post-2020 limit to greenhouse gas emissions. These plans are a key input into UN negotiations to develop a new global climate agreement, and we have hopes that this unique partnership between China and the United States can help set an example for global leadership and global seriousness.

Now make no mistake: this is real progress. The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest economies. We are two of the largest consumers of energy, and we are two of the largest emitters of global greenhouse gases – together we account for roughly 40 percent of the world’s emissions.

But this is not just about china and the United States. It’s about every country on Earth doing whatever it can to pursue cleaner and healthier energy sources. And it’s about the all of us literally treating the pain in the foot, so the whole body hurts a little less.

Now this is going to require us to continue the UN negotiations and ultimately finalize an ambitious global agreement in Paris next year. And nations need to also be pursuing smaller bilateral agreements, public-private partnerships, independent domestic initiatives – you name it. There’s nothing to stop any of you from helping to push here, to pick things that you can do in Indonesia. It’s time for us to recognize that the choices the world makes in the coming months and years will directly and substantially affect our quality of life for generations to come.

Now I tell you, I’m looking out at a young audience here. All of you are the leaders of the future. And what we’re talking about is what kind of world are we going to leave you. I know that some of what I’m talking about here today, it seems awful big, and some of it may even like it’s out of reach to you. But I have to tell you it’s not. One person in one place can make a difference – by talking about how they manage a building, how they heat a school, what kind of things you do for recycling, transportation you use. What you don’t – I think what you don’t hear enough about today, unfortunately, and I’ve saved it for the end, because I want you to leave here feeling, wow, we can get something done. There’s a big set of opportunities in front of us. And that’s because the most important news of all: that climate change isn’t only a challenge. It’s not only a burden. It also presents one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time.

The global energy market is the future. The solution to climate change is energy policy. And this market is poised to be the largest market the world has ever known. Between now and 2035, investment in the energy sector is expected to reach nearly $17 trillion. That’s more than the entire GDP of China and India combined.

The great technology – many of you have your smart phones or your iPads, et cetera, here today – all of this technology that we use so much today was a $1 trillion market in the 1990s with 1 billion users. The energy market is a $6 trillion market with, today, 6 billion users, and it’s going to grow to maybe 9 billion users over the course of the next 20, 30, 40 years. The solution to climate change is as clear as the problem. The solution is making the right choices on energy policy. It’s as simple as that. And with a few smart choices, we can ensure that clean energy is the most attractive investment in the global energy sector.

To do this, governments and international financial institutions need to stop providing incentives for the use of energy sources like coal and oil. Instead, we have to make the most of the innovative energy technology that entrepreneurs are developing all over the world – including here in Indonesia, where innovative companies like Sky Energy are building solar and battery storage and projects that can help power entire villages.

And we have to invest in new technology that will help us bring renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro power not only to the communities where those resources are abundant –but to every community and to every country on every continent.

I am very well aware that these are not easy choices for any country to make – I know that. I’ve been in politics for a while. I know the pull and different powerful political forces. Coal and oil are currently cheap ways to power a society, at least in the near term. But I urge governments to measure the full cost to that coal and that oil, measure the impacts of what will happen as we go down the road. You cannot simply factor in the immediate costs of energy needs. You have to factor in the long-term cost of carbon pollution. And they have to factor in the cost of survival. And if they do, then governments will find that the cost of pursuing clean energy now is far cheaper than paying for the consequences of climate change later.

Make no mistake: the technology is out there. None of this is beyond our capacity.

I am absolutely confident that if we choose to, we will meet this challenge. Remember: we’re the ones – we, all of us, the world – helped to discover things like penicillin and we eradicated smallpox. We found a way to light up the night all around the world with a flip of the switch and spread that technology to more than three quarters of the world’s population. We came up with a way for people to fly and move from one place to another in the air between cities and across oceans, and into outer space. And we put the full wealth of human knowledge into a device we can hold in our hand that does all of the thinking that used to take up a whole room almost this size.

Human ingenuity has long proven its ability to solve seemingly insurmountable challenges. It is not a lack of ability that is a problem. It is a lack of political resolve that is standing in our way. And I will tell you as somebody who ran for elected office, when you hear from the people, when the people make it clear what they want and what they think they need, then people in politics respond.

Today I call on all of you in Indonesia and concerned citizens around the world to demand the resolve that is necessary from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for another day. Make a transition towards clean energy the only plan that you are willing to accept.

And if we come together now, we can not only meet the challenge, we can create jobs and economic growth in every corner of the globe. We can clean up the air, we can improve the health of people, we can have greater security; we can make our neighborhoods healthier places to live; we can help ensure that farmers and fishers can still make a sustainable living and feed our communities; and we can avoid disputes and even entire wars over oil, water, and other limited resources. We can make good on the moral responsibility we all have to leave future generations with a planet that is clean and healthy and sustainable for the future.

The United States is ready to work with you in this endeavor. With Indonesia and the rest of the world pulling in the same direction, we can meet this challenge, the greatest challenge of our generation, and we can create the future that everybody dreams of.

Thank you all very much for letting me be with you. Thank you.

Google's Republican Lobbyists and Representatives

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 24 Jan 2014 08:22:00 GMT

Niki Fenwick
Google ex-McCain PR representative Niki Christoff
An article in the Wall Street Journal about Google’s rapid rightward shift goes beyond the hire of former Republican Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) as their chief lobbyist:
Starting in 2010, when the antitrust case first started appearing on the horizon, Google started hiring Republican lobbyists and communications staff.

To head up its Washington office, Google in 2012 hired former Republican congresswoman Susan Molinari. Niki Christoff, a veteran of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, was moved to Washington last year to head up Google’s communications in the capital.

Before that, Google hired Pablo Chavez, a former general counsel for Mr. McCain, who recently left for LinkedIn; Seth Webb, a former staffer for the Republican Speaker of the House; and Jill Hazelbaker, who also worked for a string of Republican candidates.

Today, Google’s in-house lobbyists are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, says a person familiar with the situation.

Its spending on lobbying rose from around $1.5 million in 2007 to $14 million in 2013.

Jill Hazelbaker, Google’s head of corporate communications from 2010 to 2013, was the subject of a 2011 profile in Business Insider which explained her meteoric rise as a top member of the 2008 John McCain campaign. Hazelbaker’s early Internet politics credentials came from trolling Democrats under assumed names as a member of the Tom Kean Jr. senatorial campaign in New Jersey in 2006. In 2013, she moved to the United Kingdom to head Google’s European lobbying efforts. Her Twitter account, @jillhazelbaker, is protected.

Seth Webb was hired by Google from his Republican House staff position in 2009, when their DC operation was still primarily Democratic leaning technocrats.

Nicole “Niki” Christoff (Fenwick) was a policy liaison for the 2008 John McCain campaign, starting at McCain’s Straight Talk America in March 2006. She was previously an associate policy director at the Republican polling shop Luntz Research Companies, and worked at Baker Botts LLP in Washington, DC as a trial attorney specializing in criminal defense. Christoff graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003 and Harvard College in 2000. Her Twitter account, @nikichristoff, is protected.

The WSJ article did not mention Rachel Whetstone, Google’s senior vice president of communications and public policy since 2005, a Tory scion and one of the “100 most powerful women in Britain” in 2013. Her husband Steve Hilton was the “Rasputin-like” chief strategy advisor to prime minister David Cameron.

The WSJ reporters Thomas Catan, Brody Mullins, and Gautam Nagesh also note that Google’s contributions have shifted from majority Democratic to majority Republican:
In the 2008 election cycle, Google’s political-action committee, funded by employee donations, supported Democrats, 58% to 42%, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In the 2012 cycle, Republicans took a slight lead, and in the current election cycle, donations to the parties are running about even.

Older posts: 1 2 3 ... 23