It is one year since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast. The mainstream media continues to use the storm to push a global warming agenda.
Varney’s guest, the conservative Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor, complained that of the 32 segments in network news his group found that mentioned Sandy and global warming, only two questioned the overwhelming science that the increasing greenhouse effect from the combustion of fossil fuels is accelerating sea level rise and making weather more extreme and chaotic. Despite numerous scientific attribution studies on wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and storms that have found global warming fingerprints, Gainor falsely claimed that “we cannot link climate change or global warming to a specific event.” He furthermore dismissed the decades of work by thousands of scientists in all earth-science disciplines that provide our understanding of climate change as “stuff” and “guesswork.”
Gainor did not emphasize that his organization found only 32 mentions of climate change and Sandy in an entire year of network news coverage. (In contrast, for example, there were 52 segments on Iran’s nuclear program in five months of network news coverage from November 2011 to March 2012.)
Climate denial is rampant in the financial press, not just the media organs owned by Murdoch like Fox and the Wall Street Journal. Forbes regularly publishes climate-denial columns, and Reuters editors are openly hostile to climate science. And Comcast’s CNBC features hosts such as Joe Kernen, who argues that the findings of climate science are a plot concocted by a “bonafide cult” of “enviro-socialists” and the “eco-taliban.”
Varney and Gainor also bemoaned the public stand the Los Angeles Times has taken against global warming denial in its opinion pages. Over 25,000 people have signed a petition from climate accountability organization Forecast the Facts calling on the nation’s other major papers, including the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post, to follow suit.
On Sunday, Forecast the Facts hosted a forum held in downtown New York City looking at the role of Wall Street in financing the climate change that threatens New York’s future prosperity. The panelists of the Turning the Tide forum, including Center for American Progress senior fellow Bracken Hendricks, Tom Steyer advisor Kate Gordon, and New Economy Lab’s James Slezak, discussed how the financial industry needs to reject the anti-scientific arguments pushed by Murdoch’s media properties and David H. Koch’s network of think tanks and advocacy groups.
Gordon cited the Risky Business initative, led by Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. The initiative, Gordon explained, is meant not only to provide an economic assessment of the risk exposure different companies and industries have to manmade global warming, but also to change the culture of the financial sector. With that goal in mind, influential Republicans and conservatives who accept the basic science of climate change have been courted.
Wall Street is at a crossroads, all the panelists agreed. On the path of fossil-fuel companies and climate deniers like New York City’s richest man, carbon financier David H. Koch, lies accelerating sea level rise and intensifying storms that will swamp the islands of New York City. But the investors and analysts can choose another path, recognize the science, and invest in a sustainable future that will save their city.
Fox Business Network Transcript:
VARNEY: It is one year since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast. The mainstream media continues to use the storm to push a global warming agenda. Dan Gainor from the Media Research Center is here. He’s done the study. Dan, I think first of all you have some numbers on the stories run by the broadcast networks on Sandy. Go.
GAINOR: A year after we have seen all of this devastation, what we find is that every single time in the stories where they talk about Sandy and global warming or climate change, they are linking the two. Yet we have seen experts for years telling us that we cannot link climate change or global warming to a specific event. It is okay when they do it.
VARNEY: Hold on. Wait a second. Was there any counter opinion offered on the story? You looked at 32 stories. 100 percent of them linked climate change to Hurricane Sandy. Did anyone come on and say, hold on a second, hold on a second, it is not that clear-cut, there’s another point of view? Did anybody?
GAINOR: No. They did not have anyone on. and in only two of the stories, 6 percent of the time, that they even had the most casual mention. That is the extent. They never had anyone on who would disagree, and there are a lot of people who disagree, obviously.
VARNEY: I want you to listen to what the Los Angeles Times said, an editorial, I think it’s from the editor of Los Angeles Times: “Simply put I do my best to keep errors of fact of the letters page.” Saying, “There is no sign humans have caused climate change is not stating in opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.” The L.A. Times will no longer accept letters from global warming skeptics. What do you say to that, Dan?
GAINOR: It is more media censorship. At least they are honest about it, they’re honest that they will not let anybody have a counter opinion. All of this stuff is based on predictions. The predictions thus far have been consistently wrong. And yet they’re saying, “We’ve been wrong, we are wrong, we are wrong. But next time down the road, then you can expect we will be right.” They’re expecting anywhere from one to 3% of world GDP to be spent on climate change. They’re doing it based on guesswork.
In the New York City region, Sandy helped to mobilize a very necessary, overdue conversation on climate survival, but the politics and economics of ending climate pollution — specifically divesting from the fossil fuel industries — has still largely been ignored.
The forum, webcast live, will confront the challenge that Wall Street faces in its financing of the pollution that is threatening New York City’s future. We will also tackle this thorny question: Why is David H. Koch, NYC’s richest man, one of the people most responsible for blocking US climate action?
- Moderator: Brad Johnson, Forecast the Facts - James Slezak, founder of the New Economy Lab - Kate Gordon, VP and Director, Energy and Climate, Next Generation - Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress - Sophie Lasoff, founder of NYU Divest
This forum follows the afternoon’s Turn the Tide on Sandy! rally at City Hall, organized by the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding.
8 PM at Cooper Union’s Rose Auditorium in New York City. RSVP here.
From Hitler To Lobsters: Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) Decries 'Oblivious Generation' Ignoring Climate Threat
In an impassioned floor speech on Tuesday, freshman U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) compared Churchill’s unheeded warnings about the threat of Hitler to America’s inaction on the global threat of climate change pollution. Sen. King also described how carbon dioxide has been rising since the start of the Industrial Revolution, how sea level rise threatens America’s coastal cities, and how Maine’s lobsters are threatened with extinction by global warming.
“I rise today, Madam President, because we are entering a period of consequences,” Sen. King said. “It’s 1936. It’s August of 2001, when we had warnings Al Qaeda determined to strike in the United States.”
Sen. King concluded, “The generation that finally woke up to World War II, and fought it, and preserved this country and the western civilization for us has often been referred to as the Greatest Generation. The reason they were the Greatest Generation is that they were willing to face a problem and make enormous sacrifices in order to deal with it, to protect us and our children and grandchildren and our ability to function in this new world. They were the Greatest Generation. I have to say, Madam President, if somebody was going to characterize us, we’d be characterized as the Oblivious Generation – the generation that saw the data, saw the facts, saw the freight train headed for us and said, ‘That’s okay, it’s business as usual. Don’t bother me, I don’t want to be inconvenienced.’”
Sen. King was governor of Maine from 1995 to 2003.
“Madam President, I rise to join my colleague from Rhode Island and talk about climate change, but I want to start with history that has nothing to do with climate change. The history I want to talk about is Europe, and England particularly, in the 1930s. In the 1930s, there was a looming threat from Germany to the peace of Europe and to the existence of England. That threat was real and there were multiple signs. There was data, but there were very few people who wanted to do anything about it because it would have caused disruption: economic disruption and personal disruption.
“There was one politician in England who understood this threat, understood its dangers, understood that if gone unmet it would engulf his country in a destructive and potentially catastrophic war. Of course, that politician was Winston Churchill. He saw the danger based upon data, the size of the German air force, the building of munitions, the invasion of other smaller countries, the expansion of Germany and their armed forces.
“He was ignored and ridiculed by his own party, by the leadership of his own party, but he kept talking, he kept raising this issue, he kept trying to raise and awaken the people of England. It was a very difficult task. In fact, our own great President John F. Kennedy wrote his thesis as a student about this period in English history, and the title was very provocative and I think forward thinking: ‘While England Slept’.
“And Churchill tried to wake them up. Had he been heeded, Madam President, World War II could have been avoided. There were multiple times when Hitler could have been stopped by the slightest bit of resistance on the part of the European powers. Instead, the war came and five years later 55 million people died.
“Not heeding warnings has consequences. And we can always find reasons for nonaction – Churchill acknowledged this. The British had been through the trauma of World War I less than 20 years before. They couldn’t face the possibility of another devastating war. That’s totally understandable and that’s human nature. To capture the flavor of Churchill’s warning, which I think is very relevant to us here today, here’s what he said in a speech to the parliament on November 12, 1936:
‘The era of procrastination, of half measures of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences. We cannot avoid this period. We are in it now.’
“He understood the resistance to this warning by the people in England. He said, ‘We recognize that no emergency which should induce us to impinge on the normal course of trade.’ We all want to keep doing what we have been doing. And he says, ‘If we go on like this, I do not see what power can prevent us from going on like this. Someday there may be a terrible reckoning.’ That reckoning, Madam President, was World War II. ‘Those who take the responsibilities so entirely upon themselves to ignore the warnings are either of a hearty disposition or they are incapable of foreseeing the possibilities which may arise.’
“He then went on to talk about the responsibility of a parliamentary body, and I’ll conclude my comments on Churchill with this quote. ‘Two things,’ he said, ‘I confess, have staggered me. After long parliament experience in these debates,’ – and this was the debate about whether or not to rearm to face the German threat. – ‘the first has been the dangers that have so swiftly come upon us in a few years,’ and the data I am going to be presenting in a few minutes indeed is staggering to us today. ‘Secondly, I have been staggered by the failure of the House of Commons to react effectively against these dangers. That,’ he said, ‘I never expected. I would never have believed that we should have been allowed to go on getting into this plight month by month, year by year, and that even the government’s own confessions of error would have produced no concentration of parliamentary opinion. I say that unless the House resolves to find out the truth for itself, it will have committed an act of abdication of duty without parallel in its long history.’
“I rise today, Madam President, because we are entering a period of consequences. It’s 1936. It’s August of 2001, when we had warnings Al Qaeda determined to strike in the United States. Here’s the data. This is a chart I actually carry around in my iPhone, but I blew it up for today’s purposes. It’s a chart of the last million years of CO2 in the atmosphere, and this chart, I believe, answers two of the three basic questions about global climate change. The first is, ‘Is something happening?’ And occasionally, you hear people say, ‘Well, climate change happens in cycles and CO2 goes up and down, we’re just in a cycle and it’s no big deal.’
“This is a million years, Madam President, and for the past 999,000-plus, you had cycles. The cycles were between about 180 parts per million in the atmosphere up to about 250. Two hundred eighty, I think, was the highest back 400,000 years ago – but this has been the cycle for before human beings started to actively impinge upon the environment. And then comes the year 1,000. We go along here at the fairly high level. And then around 1860, it starts to go up.
“What happened in 1860? That’s the beginning of the industrial revolution. That’s when we started to burn fossil fuels in large quantities, whether it was coal, later oil, gas. But this is when it happens. So this answers the second question, ‘Do people have anything to do with it?’ Of course they do. It would be the greatest coincidence in the history of the world if this change just happened to begin at the same time as the industrial revolution.
“And then, you see where it’s gone since 1960. This chart actually is a couple of years out of date. At this point, it’s just below 400 parts per million. We passed 400 parts per million this summer. We’re now here. I don’t see how anyone can look at this chart and conclude anything else. A) Something’s happening to CO2 in the atmosphere, B) People are involved in causing it. I just don’t see how you can escape that.
“Now, the last time we had 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, we know from ice cores, was three million years ago. Three million years ago during the Pliocene. I knew someday my sixth grade geology would come to the fore. The Pliocene period. And, Madam President, when we had 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere three million years ago, sea levels were 60-80 feet higher than they are today. Sixty to 80 feet higher. This is data. As the distinguished Senator from Rhode Island said, this isn’t argument, this isn’t theory. This is data. This is facts.
“Now, question three, remember, I said there are three questions about global climate change: One, is CO2 really going up? The answer is yes. Two, do people have anything to do with it? The answer is yes. The third question is, so what? So what if CO2 is going up? Well, here’s an interesting chart of the past – what is it? 400,000, 500,000 years – you have a red line and a black line. The black line is temperature. The red line is CO2. As you can see, it’s an almost exact correlation, so I don’t think anybody could argue looking at this that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has nothing to do with the temperature on the earth. Now, is it causal, is it a correlation? There are lots of things going on here about feedback loops and very complicated climate science, which is one of the most complicated sciences there is – but I don’t think you can look at this chart and say that there isn’t some relationship between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and temperature. This is what has been happening, as CO2 and temperature move essentially in lockstep.
“Okay – well, by the way, I should mention that often when we’re talking about these things, and the Senator from Rhode Island knows what I’m saying here, people tend to think that we’re talking in long periods of time. We’re talking about geologic time – thousands of years. No. Climate change often happens abruptly. That’s a word that ought to strike fear into our hearts, abruptly. Almost overnight – and, in fact, here is the temperature, this is temperature and size of the ice field in Greenland, and you can see it going along, this is going back five, six, 10,000 years. Here the temperature goes along, goes along, starts to drop, and then it drops in a decade. It’s as if someone throws a switch.
“So this isn’t something where we can just say oh, well, we’ll do a few little things now and maybe it will be okay, and 100 years from now or 500 years from now somebody else will worry about it. There could be a catastrophic event within years, certainly within decades, because this, this is something that I learned recently: the University of Maine has a center that talks about climate change, and when I went up to see them last spring, they said, ‘Senator, you have got to understand this, we’re talking about the possibility of abrupt climate change, not just climate change.’ So I think that’s a very important point to realize.
“Okay. So, what difference does temperature make? Okay. It gets a little warmer. You know, Maine will have a longer tourist season – that will be okay. If it’s warmer, I don’t think anybody will complain if it’s warmer in Maine in February, except maybe the ski industry. What difference does it make? Well, it makes a lot of difference. It makes a lot of difference to species, but it also makes a lot of difference to people. Here is a chart that shows what would happen to many of our coastal communities with a sea-level rise that’s reasonably modest. The dark red out here is a one-meter rise. It goes up to six meters. That’s 18, 20 feet, but remember, the last time we were at 400 parts per million, it was at 60 to 80 feet, so this is conservative. This is a smaller example of what can happen if we let this happen to us.
“Just going down, Boston essentially is gone. A good deal of downtown Boston. Virginia beach, Norfolk, the Outer Banks, gone. Southern Florida, Miami, the eastern coast of Florida, all the way up to this area up into Tampa, gone. And by the way, there is no more freshwater in Florida during this period either because of the intrusion of seawater into the water table. New Orleans, all gone. This is at a 20-meter, in fact it’s not even that. I think this is about a three-meter rise. Going up, Savannah and Charleston, New York City, Long Island, the New Jersey shore, all gone. These are impacts. This isn’t academic. These are impacts of billions of dollars of expenditures to try to fight this off and to hold it at bay.
“Now what about species? Well, in Maine, we talk about lobster. The lobster is an iconic product of Maine. It’s a huge part of our society. It’s part of our culture. It’s also a big part of our economy – well over $1 billion a year in Maine is attributable in one way or another to the lobster, and the lobster population in Maine was pretty steady for an awfully long time. When I was Governor, and that was 10 or 12 years ago, we harvested roughly 50 million pounds of lobster a year. That was the way it had been, between 40 and 50 million. In 2008 it went to 69; 2009 it went to 81 million, 96 million; and last year 123 million pounds. More than twice as much as what was harvested just 10 or 12 years ago.
“So I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, ‘What’s the problem, Senator? The lobsters are doing great.’ Well, they were doing great in Rhode Island and Connecticut until the temperature started to kill them off. It makes a boom, and then there’s a danger. We certainly hope it won’t happen, but there’s a danger of a collapse and that’s what happened to our south. The lobster fishery in southern New England has essentially collapsed. The lobster makes up about 70 percent to 80 percent of our fisheries’ value, and what’s happening in Maine is that as the water gets warmer, the lobsters go north.
“And is the water getting warmer? Here’s Boothbay Harbor, Maine, a wonderful place to visit (I’ve got to get in that little bit of promotion). Here’s the water temperature of Boothbay Harbor over the last hundred years. It’s going up. It’s getting warmer. And there is no indication, in fact, if you follow the curve here, it appears that it’s heading into an accelerating mode, the famous hockey stick.
“Anything above 68 degrees of water temperature is very stressful to lobsters. The University of Maine says while warmer waters off the coast in recent years have probably aided the boom in lobsters, putting us right in the temperature sweet spot, we’re getting closer to the point where the temperature is too stressful, their immune system is compromised and it’s all over – and it’s all over. That’s a frightening phrase: it’s all over.
“In the 1980s, the lobster fishing was concentrated in southern Maine along our coast in what’s called Casco Bay down around Portland, and then it moved up into what’s called the Midcoast, Lincoln County, near where I live. And then it moved, the bulk of the lobster fishing moved up into Penobscot bay. And now the bulk of the lobster fishing is up in what we call Hancock County, the village of Stonington, Maine, or at least that’s where it was last year. In other words, the lobsters are moving north because the temperatures are getting warmer – and that’s what’s happening.
“I have a young man on my staff whose father is a lobster buyer in the Midcoast of Maine, and his father has been buying lobsters since 1975. This past summer he bought 200 crates of lobsters. Ten years ago he was buying 100 – so it’s doubled, but what we’re worried about is that when the lobster line passes, this industry is gone. We saw it collapse in southern New England – Rhode Island. In 1999, lobstering in Long Island Sound collapsed totally without warning in part because of an infection that was brought about by the warmer water temperatures.
“Now, I use lobster as just an indication. You can substitute your own issue, local issue, whether it’s lobsters in Maine or flooding in Colorado, the impacts are real.
“So what do we do? I hate raising problems and not talking about what to do – and by the way, I have to say I’m really puzzled why this has become a partisan issue. I don’t understand it. Maybe it’s because Al Gore invented it. I don’t know. But I don’t understand why this became a partisan issue, because it’s a scientific issue. It’s a data issue, and the data is overwhelming.
“Okay, so what do we do? And by the way, I should mention when I was a young man working in and around the legislature in Maine, the leaders of the environmental movement in Maine who passed the major legislation to protect our environment were all Republicans. Not all, but most of them were Republicans, and they were great names in Maine history.
“Well okay, what do we do? The first thing we have to do is admit there’s a problem. If you don’t admit there’s a problem, you, by definition, can’t address it. So that’s number one. I think the data is just becoming overwhelming. The second thing you have to do is gather all the facts and information that you can. Gather all the information – and it’s been my experience in working on public policy most of my adult life that if you have shared information, if the people working on the problem have the same facts, generally the conclusion, the policy, is fairly clear. It may be controversial, it may be difficult, but usually it becomes pretty self-evident if everybody shares the same sense of the information. Once we can agree on the facts, the solutions become clear.
“So, what are some things we can do in the near term? Well we have to talk about mitigating the impacts. We have to talk about the fact that fisheries are made up of both fishermen and fish, and as climate change alters these coastal economies, we’ve got to work to preserve both. We’ve got to work with groups like a nonprofit in Maine called the Island Institute that’s working to preserve Maine’s working waterfronts. And we also have to make sure that our federal fisheries law takes cognizance of what’s going on here and manage ecosystems, not just single species. We’ve got to take cognizance of the fact that the fish are in fact moving.
“In the long term, it seems to me it’s pretty simple. The big picture answer is we’ve got to stop burning so much stuff – and that’s what’s putting carbon in the atmosphere, whether it’s in our automobiles, our homes, our factories, our power plants, it’s burning fossil fuel that’s putting CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s why the efficiency bill that we’re on this week is an important bill, because it cuts back on the use of energy altogether and saves us in terms of putting CO2 into the atmosphere. The President has proposed a carbon agenda that I think is an important first step.
“But this is really hard. Dealing with this is a hard issue, just as dealing with the prospect of World War II was a hard issue in England in 1936. It’s hard because it’s going to require changes that are going to be, perhaps, expensive, and significant modifications because our whole society is based on burning stuff. That’s what makes our cars and trucks go. That’s what makes our transportation system work. That’s what keeps us warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and creates the electricity for all the products that we use. It’s hard because of the internal impacts.
“It’s also hard because it’s an international problem – and the Senator from Rhode Island talked about this being, you know, that Maine and Rhode Island can’t fix it. “And he said the federal government has to step in. I would take it one step further. This has to be an international solution. We cannot take steps which would compromise our economy at the same time that China and India are becoming major polluters, and air doesn’t respect international boundaries. CO2 is the same whether it’s coming up from China, India, Europe or the United States, so I believe this is a case where we absolutely have to have international cooperation. We have to do something. We have to do something.
“The generation that finally woke up to World War II, and fought it, and preserved this country and the western civilization for us has often been referred to as the Greatest Generation. The reason they were the Greatest Generation is that they were willing to face a problem and make enormous sacrifices in order to deal with it, to protect us and our children and grandchildren and our ability to function in this new world. They were the Greatest Generation.
“I have to say, Madam President, if somebody was going to characterize us, we’d be characterized as the Oblivious Generation – the generation that saw the data, saw the facts, saw the freight train headed for us and said, ‘That’s okay, it’s business as usual. Don’t bother me, I don’t want to be inconvenienced.’
“To go back to Churchill, ‘The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we’re entering a period of consequences. We cannot avoid this period, we are in it now.’
“Thank you, Madam President.”
Microsoft is defending its membership in one of the country’s most notorious enemies of environmental protection, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In an August blog post, Microsoft chief environmental strategist Rob Bernard acknowledged that his company is a member and supporter of ALEC, which has for decades promoted an agenda of climate change denial, attacks on renewable energy, and opposition to environmental protection on behalf of funders such as Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and other conservative fossil-fuel interests. ALEC is an alliance of corporations, conservative foundations, and Republican state legislators that promotes anti-regulatory and conservative legislation at the state level.Bernard argued that Microsoft’s membership in ALEC “is not an endorsement” of the group’s anti-environmental agenda:
As you would expect, Microsoft works with a wide range of groups across the political spectrum addressing policy issues important to our business. We work with many of these groups on narrowly-tailored technology policy issues and not the full set of issues they address. Our engagement with a particular group is not an endorsement of all the policy positions those groups have taken. For instance, we’ve received some questions about model legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council that would repeal renewable energy mandates at the state level. To clarify this issue, Microsoft participates in ALEC’s Communication and Technology Task Force, as do many leading companies in the technology sector. We do not participate in any other ALEC task forces or provide any support or funding for ALEC’s work on environmental issues or other issues outside of communication and technology policy. In short, ALEC is not speaking for us on renewable energy policy.
Microsoft is also a funder of the Heartland Institute, a long-time partner of ALEC in the promotion of climate change denial and attacks on the integrity of climate scientists.
Google is no longer simply the Internet’s search engine. The company now is building Google+ into a diverse, curated-garden experience with the goal of social media domination that keeps user traffic within Google’s walls. In recent years the company has significantly ramped up its engagement in national politics, led by former Republican representative Susan Molinari.
The revamped Google is now joining the ranks of the top corporate funders of the climate-denial movement. In 2013, Google has held a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Inhofe (“Global warming is a hoax”) at its DC headquarters, been the top funder of the annual dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (“CO2: We Call It Life”), and joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (“Even substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States”).
In response, hundreds of people have flooded the Google+ page for the Google DC headquarters with one-star reviews. The page also now includes photographs from the protest organized by Forecast the Facts during the Google DC fundraiser for Inhofe.
This digital activism is only part of a 150,000-person strong campaign led by Forecast the Facts with support from Credo, Greenpeace, Sum Of Us, and other groups. The coalition has organized on-the-street protests of Google in DC, Mountain View, and New York City.
Over 10,000 individuals have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of Google’s July 11 fundraiser for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). Since the selection of former Republican representative Susan Molinari to head its lobbying operations last year, Google has dramatically increased its support for anti-science politicians and front groups, from Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) to the Koch-founded Mercatus Center.
Forecast the Facts and Greenpeace activists will be delivering the petition signatures to Google Washington headquarters during the lunchtime fundraiser, and holding a protest livestreamed at 12:45 PM by We Act Radio.The Forecast the Facts petition, addressed to Google CEO Larry Page, makes a straightforward request:
Cancel your July 11 fundraiser for Sen. Jim Inhofe and pledge to never fund climate deniers again.
An anonymous Google spokesperson responded to media inquiries saying the fundraiser would go forward, because although Google and Inhofe “disagree on climate change policy,” they “share an interest” in Google’s 100-employee, $700 million data center in Pryor, Oklahoma. Last year, Google earned the top spot on Greenpeace’s Cool IT board for its commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency to power its massive computer farms.
With the admirable goal of creating a “better web that is better for the environment,” Google has cultivated a reputation for working to support scientific inquiry and pursuing environmental sustainability. Google’s co-founders, Page and Sergey Brin, continue to profess that Google operates by the corporate motto, “Don’t be evil.”
This reputation will be rendered meaningless if the fundraiser goes forward and large contributions continue to be made to anti-science defenders of unregulated carbon pollution such as Sen. Inhofe and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Google’s Oklahoma employees are not well served by the company’s support for Inhofe. Climate change is one of the most significant threats facing our country’s economy, environment, and long-term well being. It is already impacting people across the United States — especially in Oklahoma. In fact, Oklahoma is known as “Disaster Central” — the state has more climate-related disasters than any other state in the nation, and conditions will worsen as carbon pollution builds.The following comments from Google users, shareholders, and concerned Oklahomans who have signed the Forecast the Facts petition were included in the cover letter addressed to Larry Page:
“I am a shareholder and raising campaign money for climate deniers is not in anyone’s interest. Please cancel any such events planned or in the future.” — Suzanne S, Salt Lake City, UTNot only is Inhofe explicitly opposed to Google’s professed concern for global warming, his stances on other core issues contradict those of Google’s employees, shareholders, and customers:
“I am a heavy Google user and I live in Oklahoma. Inhofe does as much damage to this country (and the world) as anyone alive today. I am appalled that you are raising money for him and will start finding alternatives if you don’t cancel. And as a web professional, I will widely share my opinion.” — Rena G, Oklahoma City, OK
“I am a shareholder, specifically because of your ‘don’t be evil’ slogan. Please don’t make me want to sell my stock!” — Lynn L, Minneapolis, MN
“I am from Oklahoma and know the results of this man’s political life on the rest of us. He is unworthy in every way of your support. What can you be thinking to fund a man of this stamp? I would hate to do without Google, but I will force myself. You serve a wide constituency and should be above this partisanship. Please, please cancel this disaster.” —Jo T, Perkins, OK
- Open Internet: Google executives say an open internet is its top corporate concern. Inhofe opposes net neutrality.
- LGBT Rights: Google HR personnel claim to support LGBT rights and promote its “Gayglers.” Inhofe argues gay marriage is immoral and supports homophobic regimes abroad.
- Religious Tolerance: Google marketers reach out to the Muslim world and celebrate Ramadan. Inhofe argues that all terrorists are Muslims and Middle Easterners.
- Women’s Rights: Google acts to empower women in technology. Inhofe wonders about Hillary Clinton’s unfeminine “forceful attitude” and opposes birth control.
- Ethnic Diversity And Civil Rights: Google’s HR team celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and funds a Hispanic College Fund. Inhofe pushes English-only legislation.
And the list goes on. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s James Temple writes, Google’s support for Inhofe is “unconscionable,” “galling,” and a “shameful act of corporate hypocrisy.”
Former New York Army Corps of Engineers Commander Warns Sandy Survivors To Stop Ignoring Climate Change
At a May 16 televised forum on the recovery from Superstorm Sandy, a former top military infrastructure official called on Americans to “stop ignoring” climate change and “realize it’s the new reality.” At the Sandy town hall organized by public television stations NJTV and WNET, John Boulé, the former commander of the New York District, Army Corps of Engineers, warned New Yorkers to stop ignoring climate change and start preparing for higher sea level rise and more frequent and more powerful storms:
First of all, we’ve got to realize it’s the new reality. Climate change is real. It’s more than sea level rise that’s going to happen over the course of the next 100 years. It’s greater storm intensities, it’s greater storm frequencies. We’ve got to stop ignoring it and start planning and building to reduce the risk to the public. That’s where we are.
Like Boulé, other panelists, including PSE&G president Ralph LaRossa, recognized the “new reality” of rising seas and extreme weather. Although these words are welcome, the most important element of facing the reality of climate change is understanding that it’s caused by human activities — something no-one at the forum did. In fact, Richard Ravitch, the real-estate scion and former Democratic lieutenant governor of New York, blamed “forces of nature” on sea level rise.
At no point during the two-hour forum did any panelist or reporter discuss the manmade causes of climate change or recommend opposing the threat to civilization posed by the fossil-fuel industry. The words “fossil fuels,” “carbon”, “greenhouse,” “pollution,” and “oil” were never mentioned. Also not mentioned was David Koch, the carbon pollution billionaire and richest man in New York, who was on the board of WNET from 2006 until the day of the forum. At the WNET board meeting on the morning of May 16, Koch’s resignation was accepted.
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New York City’s flagship public television station, WNET, has dropped the richest man in New York, carbon pollution billionaire David Koch, from its board of trustees. Days before the monthly board meeting on May 16, Koch’s name was removed from the WNET website. Koch had been a board member since 2006. Koch has been funding WNET since 1986.
The severance of Koch’s longstanding relationship with WNET — which not only serves the New York City area but also produces national programs such as Charlie Rose, Nature, and Great Performances — comes at a time of increasing tension between Koch’s anti-regulatory, climate-polluting industrial empire and the educational mission of public television.
The inherent conflict between Koch’s conspiratorial, anti-science ideology and the public interest with has come under attention in recent months. After Superstorm Sandy struck, WNET’s Charlie Rose and Bill Moyers ran shows on the tragic consequences and threat of greenhouse pollution for the New York region. More recently, reports of Koch Industries’ interest in the newspaper holdings of the Tribune Company have spurred nationwide protests.
Koch also was featured in the November 2012 PBS documentary Park Avenue, which contrasted the extreme wealth of Koch’s residence at 740 Park Avenue with the stark poverty less than a mile north in East Harlem. In the documentary, a former doorman noted that Koch, with a net worth of about $45 billion, gives only $50 holiday tips.
Just after Koch left the WNET board, the station ran a major live town hall on Superstorm Sandy. Broadcasting from New Jersey and New York City, the NY/NJ/Long Island affiliates under WNET management broadcast a two-hour show that talked repeatedly about the major threat posed by climate change in rising sea levels and more frequent storms of increased intensity—threats which Koch’s Cato Institute denies.
In anticipation of today’s piece on the Kochs in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer, Koch Industries issued a conspiratorial rant accusing her of running a “left-leaning” “smear” campaign, in coordination with MSNBC, ThinkProgress, The New York Times, NPR, The Nation, Mother Jones, Huffington Post and more>
Jane Mayer’s Agenda
As campaigns and attacks against Koch Industries and its shareholders go, the one led by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker has been consistent, if nothing else – consistent in its left-leaning bias, baseless accusations, and numerous inaccuracies. Since lobbing her opening salvo against us in an August 2010 article that was riddled with biases and inaccuracies and based on research by a ThinkProgress blogger, Mayer has authored nearly a dozen screeds attacking Koch Industries, Charles Koch and David Koch. Her latest submission, soon to be published, will be another attempt to smear us while advancing her partisan agenda. We don’t precisely know the content of her story. However, based on her questions to us, we believe it will be an attempt to promote a fleeting PBS show that aired six months ago – one on which she collaborated and in which she appeared. The show attacked David Koch and Charles Koch, with Mayer making an appearance as an interviewee. We also believe Mayer will work hard to make the case that should Koch purchase the Tribune newspapers, as is rumored, we would use those papers to advance a particular agenda. This assertion, of course, is made with no basis in fact or history to support such a claim. Mayer’s tale about us will likely be promoted in all the usual places – MSNBC, ThinkProgress, The New York Times, NPR, The Nation, Mother Jones, Huffington Post and more. Once we see it, we will fact check it and set the record straight here on KochFacts.
Koch is still on the board of trustees of WGBH, the prominent Boston-based PBS affiliate which produces major series such as Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, and the science show NOVA.
By a 3-2 vote on Monday, May 6, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents selected Garrey Carruthers, who questions the science of climate change, to be the next president of the land-grant institution in drought-plagued Las Cruces, despite widespread concern from faculty, students, alumni, and local legislators.
After news reports that Carruthers chaired a tobacco-industry front group in the 1990s and is a global warming skeptic, four New Mexico state representatives sent a letter to Board of Regents chair Mike Cheney questioning the wisdom of his candidacy. Last weekend, over 300 New Mexico residents signed a Forecast the Facts petition to the Board of Regents, saying: “Don’t select Garrey Carruthers, who rejects the science of climate change, to be the next president of New Mexico State University.” The petition was delivered to the board by an NMSU student.Board of Regents Chair Mike Cheney, a local businessman and one of the three supporters of Carruthers, told reporters that he did not speak with the legislators concerned with Carruthers’ ties to Phillip Morris and his questioning of climate science:
On Monday, Cheney said he had not talked to Carruthers about his involvement in TASSC and still hoped to speak to several of the legislators about their concerns about Carruthers’ work on behalf of Philip Morris.“When we began the search process, we realized immediately that our next president must clearly understand the environment,” Cheney said without a sense of irony.
Higher education should be leading our civilization in addressing the causes and impacts of climate change. It matters little whether or not Mr. Carruthers is a scientist or economist. What matters is that he respect and accept the overwhelming consensus of the experts, and that he lead his institution in responding to what is simply the greatest threat to civilization in the modern era. College and university presidents have an ethical obligation to this generation of students. Given the clarity of the scientific reality, failing to accept this charge should disqualify any candidate from a leadership position in higher education.
In April 2007, NMSU President Michael Martin signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. As part of the commitment, NMSU submitted a comprehensive Climate Action Plan which lays out a framework for “climate neutrality” by 2050, with zero net greenhouse pollution. This commitment is institutional, and not subject to changes in the presidency—in 2012, the university reported major progress in cutting greenhouse pollution. The Presidents’ Climate Commitment website has been updated to reflect President Carruthers’ responsibility in carrying out the action plan.
Carruthers has not yet commented publicly whether he will ensure the NMSU Climate Action Plan is followed.
Carruthers was previously the Republican governor of New Mexico from 1987 to 1991. From 1993 to 1998, Carruthers served as chairman of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), an organization funded by Phillip Morris to deny the health risks of smoking and other public health threats. TASSC has labeled global warming “junk science.”
On Friday, the City of New York allocated $294 million of Superstorm Sandy recovery funds for resiliency projects to respond to the threat of fossil-fueled climate change. The announcement was part of the unveiling of NYC’s plan for $1.77 billion in Sandy recovery initiatives by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) at New York City Hall:
The City has set aside $294 million for resiliency investments to be detailed in a report issued by the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency later this month.
“HUD’s approval of our comprehensive Action Plan enables us to take the next critical step toward recovery – launching the programs for home rebuilding and business assistance that will rejuvenate the neighborhoods Sandy hit hardest,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “We’ll also take the first steps toward making the City more resilient to the impacts that we know climate change will bring.”
The New York City Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) was established by Bloomberg in November, 2012, with an explicit mission to address global warming:
When it comes to climate change, New York City has long been considered a leader in long-term sustainable planning, but Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call to all New Yorkers.
Seth Pinsky, NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency director
The report “will present policy recommendations, infrastructure priorities, and community plans, and identify sources of long-term funding” in addition to the $294 million in emergency federal funds.
SIRR’s climate-resiliency plan is being developed in consultation with the New York City Panel on Climate Change, co-chaired by climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig and urban environmental scientist William Solecki. The climate panel has previously estimated that by 2050, New York City will face seven to 29 inches of sea level rise caused by man-made global warming. According to Pinsky, the city is also “working with McKinsey and SwissRe to quantify the cost that climate change is likely to impose on the city in the future.” In a recent public presentation, Pinsky said that global warming is a “very serious challenge” for the entire planet:
We’re facing a very serious challenge, not just as a city, but as a planet. And that challenge cannot just be counted in terms of inches of sea level rise, but also in terms of dollars and cents.
The initiative’s team spent the month of March holding public community meetings across the areas of the city hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy. SIRR has also held close, private consultations with New York City’s powerful real estate developers, many represented by former Bloomberg officials.
Reports indicate that the Pinsky plan is unlikely to recommend the construction of tidal barriers or a directed retreat from vulnerable coastlines, in line with Bloomberg’s desire to reject pessimistic implications of catastrophic and rapid sea level rise for the city.
It is unclear whether Pinsky’s plan will address the primary cause of global warming, the burning of fossil fuels. In addition to New York City’s direct carbon footprint, the global financial capital plays a central role in financing the carbon extraction industry, personified by New York City’s richest man, carbon billionaire David H. Koch. Any investment in climate resilience to protect New York City will be for naught if the city does not divest itself from the likes of Koch.
The $294 million in federal funds allocated by New York for climate resilience is equivalent to one-third of one percent of Koch’s personal fortune.