Tim Kaine's "Web of Denial" Speech: "Science and Religion Share a Duty to the Truth"

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 02 Aug 2016 15:38:00 GMT

A few weeks before Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) became the Democratic nominee for vice president on the Hillary Clinton ticket, he joined other senators to discuss the fossil-fuel industry’s “web of denial” preventing action to end their climate pollution. Below is a transcript of his July 12, 2016 speech.

Thank you, Madam President. I join rise to join my colleague to talk about the critical issue of climate change and especially the facts around climate change but also the fact that there are many who would deny the facts. This is a really important issue to the commonwealth of Virginia. Climate change is not a distraction. It’s not a next year or next decade issue. Climate change in Virginia is a today issue.

Earlier today, I was in Norfolk, Virginia, which is in the Hampton Roads area near the Atlantic Ocean. Norfolk and the surrounding communities is the largest concentration of naval power in the world. It’s the center of naval operations. The headquarters of the U.S. Atlantic fleet. And it is already having to spend millions of dollars to elevate the piers where aircraft carriers come and go due to sea level rise. The Hampton Roads area is listed as the second most vulnerable community on the east coast of the United States to rising sea levels after New Orleans.

This is a challenging issue in a lot of ways.

I have friends who live in these communities who bought homes recently but now their homes aren’t marketable. For most Americans, certainly for me, my home is the most valuable asset I own. And if you have that and then you suddenly can’t sell it because climate is changing sea level is rising, flooding is more recurrent, no one will buy your home, it’s a very, very serious issue.

In addition to the effect on individuals and businesses because of sea level rise, the effect on the naval station is significant. Current estimates are that rising sea levels in Norfolk will take the main road entrance into the center of American naval power and have that under water by 2040, three hours a day just because of normal tidal action. In times of storms it would be worse.

So imagine in America that counts on its navy, that counts on that naval presence around the globe having its largest naval base inaccessible because of sea level rise.

We have an interesting community. One of the most unique areas is Tangier Island. It’s been continually inhabited since the 1600’s as a community for men and women. The folks who have traditionally made their living by going out and catching crabs and oysters and fish, and this is a small island with a few acres. It’s one of the only places you can go in the United States where you can hear English spoken as Shakespeare would have spoken it with a language that is an Elizabethan language. The community is isolated in that way. You hear this beautiful English spoken there and the community has many wonderful virtues but the Chesapeake Bay is coming up around this community and eroding it. I received a letter from a middle school student within the last month, a handwritten letter that might have been the most heartfelt piece of communication I’ve received in four-plus years in the senate saying would are you doing about sea level rise, what can you do to help us deal with these issues so that Tangier as an island does not completely disappear.

For these reasons and many others in Virginia we take this very, very seriously and we have to deal with it. I’ll tell you something else about Virginians. Virginians believe in science. The Virginia political figure we most admire was the preeminent scientist of the day, Thomas Jefferson. Virginians overwhelmingly believe in science. 70% of Virginians accept the scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change and that it is urgent that we do something about it. 70% of Virginians believe in that proposition.

But I’m here today because my friend from Rhode Island asked me to come and talk about the fact that there is an organized effort, not just a battle about the policy about climate science but to knowingly try to misrepresent the status of climate science and suggest that climate change is not occurring. They’re denying it exists. They’re denying that it’s a concern. They’re working against any reasonable solutions.

Now, of course, we’ve got to be open to points of view and reasonable differences of opinion and have a debate, but when the science is settled on some things and people are in an organized way who know better are trying to fight against it, we should be suspicious. So a group of senators are speaking today and tomorrow to discuss these organizations that constitute what my friend from Rhode Island has termed a web of denial, an organized effort to deny science.

And so let me just talk a little bit because a number of these deniers are companies that at least have P.O. boxes or nonprofit organizations that at least have P.O. boxes in Virginia. The same Virginia where Tangier Island is disappearing, the same Virginia where the navy is having to spend to shore up their infrastructure also has some shadowy organizations that are trying to deny the real science involved.

There’s an organization called the Science and Public Policy Institute. And it purports to summarize available academic literature. Here’s a quote. “They further note that availability in sea level is observed but to date there’s no detectable secular increase in sea level rise. They also report that no increase in the rate of sea level rise has been detected for the entire 20th century.” closed quote.

This is a group, they throw in a few sciencey words like “decadal variability.”

This is at odds with the conclusions of virtually every scientist who studied this issue, including scientists at Virginia universities, Old Dominion University, Institute of Marine Sciences, William & Mary. Those scientists says sea level rise — on the Virginia coast it’s anywhere from one and a half additional feet to 7 feet by the year 2100. Now, they will acknowledge some question about is it going to a foot and a half. Is it going to be 7 feet, but they don’t challenge the basic science surrounding sea level rise.

So which is it? One and a half to 7 feet or you don’t need to worry about it? Don’t worry, be happy.

Without getting a Ph.D. in atmospheric science and building your own quantitative models, how do you know who is right?

Here’s a clue. Look at who funds these organizations.

In the case of ODU, William & Mary, the Virginia institute of Marine Sciences which is one of the most preeminent marine sciences institutions in the nation along with Scripps in San Diego and Woods Hole, Massachusetts, it’s not hard. They are state universities. They’re funded by the general assembly of Virginia which is two Republican houses. And they are reaching a scientific conclusion that says climate change is serious.

But with the Science and Policy Institute, it’s a bit nebulous and it’s kind of hard to figure out. But there’s online sources that enable you to track how organizations are funded through foundations with ties frankly to the energy industry. According to one of these sources, it’s called DeSmogBlog, one of this institute’s, the Science and Public Policy Institute’s major funders is the Donors Capital Fund which has distributed $170 million to various conservative causes and describes itself as being, quote, “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility and free enterprise,” close quote.

A New York Times article as far back as 2003 documents a connection between this foundation and an organization that also has a point of view, ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil is a funder or in the past has been a funder of this organization. Now, why don’t—why doesn’t an ExxonMobil or conservative organization just publish the material on their own websites under their own bylines? Well, my guess is that they have scientists who actually know the science and there’s been recent information about ExxonMobil. They understand the climate science. They couldn’t publish this under their own byline and meet their own standards of truthfulness but they are providing funding to an organization that’s denying climate change.

In other words, the organization is a delivery vehicle for information that is meant to be seen as impartial scientific information but is in fact not impartial at all. So when you see one group saying that there’s been no sea level rise and another saying there’s been a lot and we could be in for more and if you’re wondering who to believe, take a look at who’s funding the research.

Here’s another organization, the Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Quote — here’s a quote from them. “Regulations prescribing a reduction or complete cessation of Virginia’s CO2 emissions will have absolutely no effect on global climate. “

If there’s Virginia regulations that even eliminate Virginia CO2 “it will have no effect on global climate.” That’s an interesting quote because it’s not technically a lie because it’s literally true. Virginia’s share of world CO2 emissions is infinitesimally small. It wouldn’t affect the entire globe in a measurable way but that’s like saying one vote? Your vote is not going to make a difference or one cigarette won’t hurt you so go ahead and have one.

This argument is a kind of a classic hide the ball argument that makes a statement that’s technically true but it essentially is promoting a false point of view that oh, well, we shouldn’t do anything about it. So again it’s the use of a literal truth that’s basically designed to pitch a message that’s grossly misleading.

So let’s ask about this group, the Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Who funds a group that would say something like that? Again the Donors Capital Fund that funded the first organization I discussed as well as the Chase Foundation of Virginia and the Roe foundation which support a list of conservative causes. If you call an organization the Virginia Institute for Public Policy it sounds kind of neutral and probably trying to do a good thing.

But if you go back and look at who’s funding it and you find the funding sources are heavily linked to the energy industry, groups like ExxonMobil you understand they’re not quite as impartial as they suggest.

Another group called the CO2 coalition, quote, “Concerns about carbon dioxide being a pollutant are not valid. Climate change is proceeding very slowly and the likely increase of the temperature for the 21st century is 1 degree celsius or less,” closed quote.

Well, yes, is that technically true? The temperature of the earth is increased by 1 degree since industrialization and 197 countries just signed an agreement in Paris last year to try to limit any further increase to no more than 1 degree additional. This group make it is sound like who cares about 1 degree. 100 degree is 1.4 degrees more than normal, enough to make you sick. The number of .08 sounds tiny in the abstract but if that’s your blood alcohol content, that gives you a DUI in Virginia. The number sounds small. Gosh, why would that make a difference? That gets you a DUI because you’re impaired. So, yes, the group using the one temperature, one degree in temperature makes it sound like it’s not that big a deal but it is that big a deal.

Now, here’s the last one I want to say, Madam President, before I close. This is kind of a doozy because it’s from an open letter to Pope Francis on the topic of the pope’s environmental encyclical. The group is called the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. Not like going big if you’re going to pick a name for yourself.

Their quote starts with a quote from the 19th Psalm. “The heavens declare the glory of god and the firmament claims his handiwork.” Then the group goes on to declare in their own words, “By using fossil fuels to generate energy to lift billions of god’s children, precious children out of poverty, we liberate from the tomb of earth the carbon dioxide on which plants and therefore all the rest of life depend. In light of these considerations, we believe it is both unwise and unjust to adopt policies requiring reduced use of fossil fuels for energy.”

So somebody is really using scripture to argue that making our energy production cleaner, safer, cheaper violates the Christian tenet of caring for the poor? I’m a Christian and many of us in this body have a deep faith background in one faith or another but I’ll use a non-Christian phrase to describe that argument. It takes a lot of chutzpah to claim your religious faith and compassion, especially when the organization refuses to reveal how it is funded.

In closing, Madam President, we certainly don’t want to imply that all groups that, you know, have an agenda or have a point of view are motivated by funding sources. But the web of denial that the senator from Rhode Island is asking us to come out and talk about tonight is one that includes a number of organizations that are climate deniers. They are denying science, that they actually in my view know to be true. There comes a point when the truth becomes so hard to deny that those who deny it or simply not credible.

And you have to ask the question then why are you denying it? I assert that most of these organizations understand the science and they accept the science. And they realize it to be true. Why do they deny the science? The answer is greed. That’s the basic answer.

Many of the organizations that we’re discussing are funded primarily by fossil fuel interests, and if they can delay even by a year or two years or five years or even six months, the enactment of policies that would move us toward fewer fossil fuels, it will hurt their bottom line. And so rather than come up here and argue about what the right transition should be, they’re handing funds over to organizations that are trying to confuse the American public about science itself. So let me close and read from Pope Francis’ — the Cornwall Institute on Stewardship. I’ll read a quote. “Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention.”

Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently. Future generations. We look at things differently. We realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Since the world has been given to you, we can no longer view relate any in a utilitarian way geared entirely to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional but a basic question of justice since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.

Science and faith have a number of things in common, but one of the most important things they have in common is their first duty has to be to the truth. I hope all actors in the political process, whatever their views, will remember that and have that same commitment. Thank you, Madam President. With that, I yield the floor.

Letter from Ben Santer in Support of Tom Karl, Climate Scientist Under Attack by Lamar Smith

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Nov 2015 02:15:00 GMT

Message from Ben Santer: Here is a message of support I sent to Tom Karl on November 17, 2015. I remain deeply concerned by the unwarranted Congressional scrutiny that the 2015 Karl et al. Science paper continues to receive.

I have no concerns about public distribution of this letter.

Dr. Thomas R. Karl
Director, National Center for Environmental Information
Veach-Baley Federal Building
151 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801-5001

Dear Tom,

I just wanted to express my gratitude and scientific appreciation for the critical research you and your NCEI colleagues have performed over the last several decades. You have been pioneers in many different areas: in producing observational estimates of global-scale changes in land and ocean surface temperatures, in identifying non-climatic artifacts in temperature measurements, in developing rigorous scientific methods of adjusting for such artifacts, and in accounting for the incomplete, time-varying coverage of observations.

NCEI has made its surface temperature data sets freely and openly available to the entire climate science community, thus enabling important research on the nature and causes of climate change, climate variability, and climate model evaluation. NCEI staff have clearly and thoroughly documented each surface temperature data set that NCEI has released – in scientific publications, in presentations to policymakers and professional societies, and in extensive online material. No scientific organization has done a more thorough or transparent job in developing and analyzing observations of 20th and early 21st century changes in Earth’s climate.

I am deeply concerned that NCEI’s science is now being subjected to Congressional scrutiny and criticism. Such scrutiny and criticism is not warranted. The leadership of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology should understand that science is dynamic rather than static. All observational temperature data sets have evolved in important ways over time, in tandem with improvements in the ability to identify and adjust for inhomogeneities introduced by changing measurement systems, changing measurement practices, and changes in the spatial coverage of measurements. This is true not only for surface temperature data sets, but also for measurements of the heat content of the world’s oceans, and for satellite-based estimates of temperature change in Earth’s lower and upper atmosphere. Evolution of observational temperature data sets is a normal, on-going scientific process. It is not evidence of non-scientific behavior.

If our country is to take informed decisions on how to address problems arising from human perturbations to the climate system, we need access to the best-available scientific information on how Earth’s climate has actually changed. NCEI provides such critically important information to the scientific community, policymakers, and the public. You and your NCEI colleagues deserve our sincere thanks and our continued support.

With best regards,

Ben Santer

Distinguished Member of Scientific Staff, Lawrence Livermore National Lab
Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences

John Kasich Tells Pope: Climate Change Is 'Some Theory That's Not Proven'

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Aug 2015 16:26:00 GMT

On Meet the Press this Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) rejected the science of fossil-fueled global warming. Kasich told host Chuck Todd that manmade climate change is “some theory that’s not proven”, in response to a question about Pope Francis, who recently authored the influential climate encyclical, Laudato Si’.

CHUCK TODD: You brought up the environment. [Pope Francis] is somebody who believes that climate change is manmade and that man needs to do something about it. Do you agree with him?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Well, I think that man absolutely affects the environment. But as to whether, you know, what the impact is, the overall impact, I think that’s a legitimate debate. But what I do think is, you know, in my state of Ohio, you know, we preciously take care of Lake Erie. We’ve reduced emissions by 30% over the last ten years. We believe in alternative energy. So of course we have to be sensitive to it. But we don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that’s not proven.

Todd did not correct Kasich, moving on to a question about conservative activist Erick Erickson.

The National Journal’s Clare Foran published an attempt by the Kasich campaign to deny Kasich’s climate denial: “The governor has long believed climate change is real and we need to so something about it. The debate over exact percentages of why it is happening is less important than what can be done about it. We know it is real, we know man has an impact, and we know we need to do something.”

In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. The world’s national scientific societies and the world’s practicing climate scientists are in overwhelming agreement about this fact.

The First Law of Climate Policy

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 02 Jul 2015 22:43:00 GMT

The First Law of Climate Policy: Global warming won’t stop until we stop burning fossil fuels.

Charles Koch Affirms He's A Climate Denier

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 23 Apr 2015 04:00:00 GMT

KochIn an interview with USA Today, petrochemical baron Charles Koch reiterated his rejection of the scientific consensus on industrial global warming.

“You can plausibly say that CO2 has contributed” to the planet’s warming, he told USA Today reporter Fredreka Schouten, but he sees “no evidence” to support “this theory that it’s going to be catastrophic.”

Koch may have been forced to admit that carbon-dioxide pollution is warming the planet by research he funded—the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study, which replicated previous global temperature reconstructions.

In fact, the only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. The world’s national scientific societies and the world’s practicing climate scientists are in overwhelming agreement that dangerous impacts of global warming are already being observed, and globally catastrophic impacts are inevitable if further carbon dioxide pollution is not curtailed.

The $100 billion fortune of the Koch brothers is built upon decades of greenhouse pollution. To protect their business, the Kochs have spent billions supporting a vast infrastructure of politicians and advocacy organizations to reject the science of climate change and prevent regulation of climate pollutants.

UPDATE: Greenpeace’s Connor Gibson has more.

Influential Climate Denier Jeffrey Salmon Manages Department of Energy's Science Grants and Budget

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 28 Mar 2015 15:31:00 GMT

Jeffrey T Salmon
Jeffrey T. Salmon in 2008
A key architect of the climate-denial machine oversees the nation’s energy and climate science research at the U.S. Department of Energy. Jeffrey T. Salmon is the Deputy Director for Resource Management of the Office of Science, overseeing its decisions on its grants and budget. In 1998, Salmon was part of the “Global Climate Science Team” of industry operatives who devised a strategy of attacking the validity of climate science in order to disrupt the Kyoto Protocol.

At the time, Salmon was the executive director of the ExxonMobil-funded George C. Marshall Institute.

Under his direction, the Marshall Institute was a major purveyor of climate denial, rejecting the scientific consensus and arguing against any limits on carbon dioxide pollution. Salmon instituted the practice of accepting corporate contributions at Marshall, starting with Exxon. In a 1996 appearance on CNN, Salmon said, “If you want to reduce carbon emissions for some reason, let’s hear that reason; let’s not hear that it’s global warming, which there’s no indication that human action is contributing to.” In 1993, Salmon wrote that there is “no solid scientific evidence to support the theory that the earth is warming because of man-made greenhouse gases.” In 1992, a Salmon op-ed in USA Today claimed, “New findings suggest that the greenhouse problem is a non-problem.”

A George W. Bush appointee to the Department of Energy, Salmon moved over into his current position in July 2008. As a civil-service job, Salmon’s position is protected from removal by the current administration, an example of the practice known as “burrowing.” Salmon served in the Department of Energy for the entire Bush administration, starting in March 2001, as Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary Spencer Abraham. In 2002, he joined the Office of Science as the Chief of Staff to the Director of the Office of Science Ray Orbach. In 2006, when the Energy Policy Act of 2005 created the office of the Under Secretary for Science, he became the Associate Under Secretary below Orbach.

Under Obama’s first Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, much of the Department of Energy’s science research funding was directed through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), funded by the 2009 stimulus bill.

Salmon, who has a doctorate in politics, was a speechwriter for both Dick Cheney when he was secretary of defense.

VIDEO: Legislators Choke with Laughter as Florida Official Struggles to Avoid Saying "Climate Change"

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 20 Mar 2015 18:31:00 GMT

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s secret climate-change gag rule turned a state legislative hearing into a screwball farce last Thursday. Legislators chortled as the state’s top emergency-management official struggled under the dry questioning of state Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) to avoid saying the words “climate change.” At one point, Clemens offered a suggestion to Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, recommending Floridians use the euphemism “atmospheric re-employment” as one that would be more acceptable to the governor, an outspoken denier of the science that the continued burning of fossil fuels is destabilizing the climate system and threatening Florida with rapid sea level rise.

The hearing room of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development broke out with laughter, including the legislator sitting next to Clemens, Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg).

The conversation about the new FEMA guidelines that include climate change considerations continued, with Clemens needling Koon’s apparent fear of saying the words “climate change.”

“My understanding at this point is that future versions of our mitigation plan will be required to have language discussing that issue,” Koon said.

“What issue is that?” Clemens replied.

“Uh, the issue you mentioned earlier, regarding, um . . .”

At this point, the chair of the committee, Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), doubled over in his chair, choking with laughter.

A spokesman told the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting: “The Florida Division of Emergency Management does not have any policy which prohibits the use of the words ‘climate change.’ ”

The exchange was featured on The Daily Show’s Wednesday episode. Stewart piled on with other climate-change euphemisms, including “moisture inconvenience” and “state-wide jacuzzification.”

Transcript:

CLEMENS: You were in DC last time when we went through this particular issue and as you said these are federal funds. Are you familiar with the new procedures FEMA issued just this week dealing with climate change and the, the fact that they’re going to be requesting or demanding that states have a climate change plan before they’re going to, to issue some of these preparedness dollars?

KOON: I am.

CLEMENS: Is this going to affect those moneys at all?

KOON: It will not. That, that one refers to, uh, a state’s hazard mitigation plan which is done every five years, uh, and the next iterations of them will required to have, uh, language to that effect.

OFF-CAMERA: What were those words, Mr. Chairman? What were the words you were using?”

CLEMENS: I used ‘climate change,’ but I’m suggesting that maybe as a state we use ‘atmospheric re-employment.’ That might be something that the governor would . . .

[LAUGHTER]

CLEMENS: So, my worry obviously is with these dollars even in a more general sense to make sure we as a state have to come up with some sort of plan to keep our preparedness dollars for hurricanes. I’m assuming that’s something you’re going to speak with the governor about, and trying to take up, so we don’t lose our dollars in the future.

KOON: Yes, Senator. Our next state mitigation plan is due to the feds in 2018 so we have some time, uh, in which to have that conversation.

CLEMENS: Even though that takes place, the edict starts in March of 2016 we only have to . . .

KOON: That’s right, but my understanding at this point is that future versions of our mitigation plan will be required to have language discussing that issue.

CLEMENS: What issue is that?

KOON: Uh, the issue you mentioned earlier, regarding, um . . .

[LAUGHTER, COUGHING]

CLEMENS: I’m going to turn the chair back over. Well, maybe I shouldn’t right now.

Secretary of State John Kerry Calls Climate Inaction "Just Plain Immoral"

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 12 Mar 2015 19:55:00 GMT

In a passionate address yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry called inaction on carbon pollution “just plain immoral,” as it is “gambling with the future of Earth itself.” Kerry’s remarks were made at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., setting the stage for this December’s international climate negotiations in Paris.

“Lincoln took risks, Gandhi took risks, Churchill took risks, Dr. King took risks, Mandela took risks, but that doesn’t mean that every risk-taker is a role model. It’s one thing to risk a career or a life on behalf of a principle or to save or liberate a population,” Kerry said. “It’s quite another to wager the well-being of generations and life itself simply to continue satisfying the appetites of the present or to insist on a course of inaction long after all the available evidence has pointed to the folly of that path.”

“Gambling with the future of Earth itself when we know full well what the outcome would be is beyond reckless,” he continued. “It is just plain immoral.”

“And it is a risk that no one should take. We need to face reality. There is no planet B.”

Kerry also called for a renewed global commitment to cutting carbon pollution to avoid the 2-degree-Celsius warming threshold agreed to by President Obama. Using language that could have practical policy implications, Kerry argued that energy-investment decisions must “include the long-term cost of carbon pollution.”

It is time, my friends, for people to do real cost accounting. The bottom line is that we can’t only factor in the price of immediate energy needs. We have to include the long-term cost of carbon pollution. We have to factor in the cost of survival. And if we do, we will find that pursuing clean energy now is far more affordable than paying for the consequences of climate change later.

Such decisions notably include the long-awaited Presidential determination on the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, which if built would have the carbon-pollution impact of 40 new coal-fired power plants.

The Secretary of State made reference to the news uncovered by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that Florida governor Rick Scott’s administration censored use of the words “climate change,” “global warming,” and “sea level rise.”

So when science tells us that our climate is changing and humans beings are largely causing that change, by what right do people stand up and just say, “Well, I dispute that” or “I deny that elementary truth?” And yet, there are those who do so. Literally a couple of days ago, I read about some state officials who are actually trying to ban the use of the term “climate change” in public documents because they’re not willing to face the facts.

Now folks, we literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say “climate change.” We have to talk about how we solve climate change. Because no matter how much people want to bury their heads in the sand, it will not alter the fact that 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening and that human activity is largely responsible. I have been involved in public policy debates now for 40-plus years, whatever, since the 1960s. It is rare, rare, rare – I can tell you after 28 years-plus in the Senate – to get a super majority of studies to agree on anything. But 97 percent, over 20-plus years – that’s a dramatic statement of fact that no one of good conscience has a right to ignore.

Climate activist group Forecast the Facts is petitioning for an investigation.

Kerry’s speech had one factual misstep – he claimed that the first Senate hearings on climate change were held in 1988, when Dr. James Hansen famously warned Congress that global warming was already measurably affecting the climate.

Climate change is an issue that is personal to me, and it has been since the 1980s, when we were organizing the very first climate hearings in the Senate. In fact, it really predates that, going back to Earth Day when I’d come back from Vietnam. It was the first political thing I began to organize in Massachusetts, when citizens started to make a solid statement in this country. And I might add that’s before we even had an Environmental Protection Agency or a Clean Water Act or Safe Drinking Water Act or a Marine Mammal Protection Act or a Coastal Zone Management Act. It all came out of that kind of citizen movement. And that’s what we have to be involved in now. And the reason for that is simple: For decades now, the science has been screaming at us, warning us, trying to compel us to act.

And I just want to underscore that for a moment. It may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t to some. Science is and has long been crystal clear when it comes to climate change. Al Gore, Tim Wirth, and a group of us organized the first hearings in the Senate on this, 1988. We heard Jim Hansen stand in – sit in front of us and tell us it’s happening now, 1988. So we’re not talking about news reports or blog posts or even speeches that some cabinet secretary might give at a think tank. We’re talking about a fact-based, evidence-supported, peer-reviewed science. And yet, if you listen to some people in Washington or elsewhere, you’d think there’s a question about whether climate change really is a problem or whether we really need to respond to it.

In fact, the first Senate hearings on climate change were 11 years earlier in 1977, when the science subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology held a series of four hearings on the National Climate Program Act. The first House hearings on the same act of legislation were a year earlier.

The risk of fossil-fueled climate change was brought to the Congress’s attention by President Lyndon B. Johnson in his February 8, 1965 address on the environment, now over fifty years ago.

Transcript of full remarks:

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning, everybody. Fred, thank you very, very much for a very generous introduction. I’m delighted to be here with everybody. Distinguished ambassadors who are here this morning, thank you for taking time to represent your countries and come here and share your concern about this critical issue.

And I’m delighted to be accompanied by our envoy on climate, who’s been toiling away in the fields for a long time now in helping to shape President Obama’s and the State Department’s policy on this, Todd Stern. Todd, thanks for your many efforts on it.

Fred, thank you for leadership here at the Atlantic Council. I think Fred has demonstrated that he seems to always have the ability to have his finger on the most critical issues of the day, not just today actually, but of tomorrow. And as a result, we can always count on the Atlantic Council to be ahead of the curve and to be challenging all of us to think. So we appreciate very much what you do. And thank you, all of you, who are on the board and/or a part of and committed to the efforts of the council.

I have to add you also have an impeccable eye for talent. I was not surprised to hear that you had the good sense to hire Ambassador Richard Morningstar. He’s one of the most experienced global energy experts and a good friend of mine and Massachusetts – a son of Massachusetts. And now that he’s the director of the new Global Energy Center, you couldn’t be in better hands. And secondly, my former legislative assistant on energy and climate and then went to the White House, Heather Zichal, is part of this great family of effort on climate. So I think we’re kind of a family here this morning, in fact.

It’s clear that from Venezuela to Iraq to Ukraine, there is no shortage of energy challenges in the world today. And we’ve had many conversations recently. I was in Brussels. We had an U.S.-EU energy summit, where we laid out an agenda for how we can liberate some of these countries from their one-country dependency in the case of Russia and others. It has huge strategic importance. But I have to tell you, at the top of the list of energy challenges is climate change. And that is why the Road to Paris series, the very first hosted by the center, is so very important, and I am really delighted to be here and be a part of it.

As Fred mentioned, climate change is an issue that is personal to me, and it has been since the 1980s, when we were organizing the very first climate hearings in the Senate. In fact, it really predates that, going back to Earth Day when I’d come back from Vietnam. It was the first political thing I began to organize in Massachusetts, when citizens started to make a solid statement in this country. And I might add that’s before we even had an Environmental Protection Agency or a Clean Water Act or Safe Drinking Water Act or a Marine Mammal Protection Act or a Coastal Zone Management Act. It all came out of that kind of citizen movement. And that’s what we have to be involved in now. And the reason for that is simple: For decades now, the science has been screaming at us, warning us, trying to compel us to act.

And I just want to underscore that for a moment. It may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t to some. Science is and has long been crystal clear when it comes to climate change. Al Gore, Tim Wirth, and a group of us organized the first hearings in the Senate on this, 1988. We heard Jim Hansen stand in – sit in front of us and tell us it’s happening now, 1988. So we’re not talking about news reports or blog posts or even speeches that some cabinet secretary might give at a think tank. We’re talking about a fact-based, evidence-supported, peer-reviewed science. And yet, if you listen to some people in Washington or elsewhere, you’d think there’s a question about whether climate change really is a problem or whether we really need to respond to it.

So stop for a minute and just think about the basics. When an apple falls from a tree, it will drop toward the ground. We know that because of the basic laws of physics. Science tells us that gravity exists, and no one disputes that. Science also tells us that when the water temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it turns to ice. No one disputes that.

So when science tells us that our climate is changing and humans beings are largely causing that change, by what right do people stand up and just say, “Well, I dispute that” or “I deny that elementary truth?” And yet, there are those who do so. Literally a couple of days ago, I read about some state officials who are actually trying to ban the use of the term “climate change” in public documents because they’re not willing to face the facts.

Now folks, we literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say “climate change.” We have to talk about how we solve climate change. Because no matter how much people want to bury their heads in the sand, it will not alter the fact that 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening and that human activity is largely responsible. I have been involved in public policy debates now for 40-plus years, whatever, since the 1960s. It is rare, rare, rare – I can tell you after 28 years-plus in the Senate – to get a super majority of studies to agree on anything. But 97 percent, over 20-plus years – that’s a dramatic statement of fact that no one of good conscience has a right to ignore.

But what’s really troubling is that those same scientists are telling us what’s going to happen, not just the fact of it being there, but they’re telling us what’s coming at us. These scientists also agree that if we continue to march like robots down the path that we’re on, the world as we know it will be transformed dramatically for the worse. And we can expect that sea levels will continue rising to dangerous levels. We will see nations moved as a consequence in the Pacific and elsewhere – Bangladesh, countries that are low.

We will see large swaths of cities and even some countries under water. We can expect more intense and frequent extreme weather events like hurricanes and typhoons. We can expect disruptions to the global agricultural sector that will threaten job security for millions of farmers and undermine food security for millions of families. We can expect prolonged droughts and resource shortages, which have the potential to fan the flames of conflict in areas that are already troubled by longstanding political, economic, religious, ideological, sectarian disputes. Imagine when they’re complicated by the absence of water and food.

These are the consequences of climate change, and this is the magnitude of what we are up against. And measured against the array of global threats we face today – and there are many. Terrorism, extremism, epidemics, poverty, nuclear proliferation, all challenges that respect no borders – climate change belongs on that very same list. It is, indeed, one of the biggest threats facing our planet today. And even top military personnel have designated it as a security threat to not just the United States but the world. And no one who has truly considered the science, no one who has truly listened objectively to our national security experts, could reach a different conclusion.

So yes, this is personal to me. But you know what? The bottom line is it ought to be personal to everybody, every man, woman, child, businessperson, student, grandparent, wherever we live, whatever our calling, whatever our personal background might be. This issue affects everyone on the planet. And if any challenge requires global cooperation and urgent action, this is it.

Make no mistake, this is a critical year. And that is why this Road to Paris series is so important. The science tells us we still have a window of time to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, but that window is closing quickly. We’re already in a mode where we’re looking at mitigation, not just prevention. In December, the world will come together at the UN Climate Conference in Paris, and we will see whether or not we can muster the collective political will to reach an ambitious, comprehensive agreement.

Now even those of us who are most involved in the negotiations – and Todd and I have talked to this, and talked about it with the President – we all understand. We know that even the agreement we’re trying to reach in Paris will not completely and totally be able to eliminate the threat. It’s not going to. But it is an absolutely vital first step, and it would be a breakthrough demonstration that countries across the globe now recognize the problem and the need for each and every one of us to contribute to a solution. And it will set the market moving; it will change attitudes; it will change governments. And then progressively, no one can quite measure what the exponential productivity of all of that effort will produce. So we have nine short months to come together around the kind of agreement that will put us on the right path.

Now rest assured – not a threat, but a statement of fact – if we fail, future generations will not and should not forgive those who ignore this moment, no matter their reasoning. Future generations will judge our effort not just as a policy failure but as a collective moral failure of historic consequence. And they will want to know how world leaders could possibly have been so blind or so ignorant or so ideological or so dysfunctional and, frankly, so stubborn that we failed to act on knowledge that was confirmed by so many scientists, in so many studies, over such a long period of time, and documented by so much evidence.

The truth is we will have no excuse. You don’t need to be a scientist to see that the world is already changing and feeling the impacts of global climate change and significantly. Many of the things I mentioned a moment ago are already beginning to unfold before our eyes. Just look around you. Fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record in all of history have occurred since 2000, in all of recorded history. Last year was the warmest of all. And I think if you stop and think about it, it seems that almost every next year becomes one of the hottest on record.

And with added heat comes an altered environment. It’s not particularly complicated. I don’t mean to sound haughty, but think about it for a minute. Life on Earth would not exist without a greenhouse effect. That is what has kept the average temperature up, until recently, at 57 degrees Fahrenheit, because there is this greenhouse effect. And it was called the greenhouse effect because it does exactly what a greenhouse does. When the sun pours in and bounces off at a different angle, it goes back up at a different angle. That can’t escape, and that warms things – a very simple proposition.

Now it’s difficult to tell whether one specific storm or one specific drought is solely caused by climate change, or a specific moment, but the growing number of extreme events scientists tell us is a clear signal to all of us. Recently Southeastern Brazil has been experiencing a crippling drought, the worst the region has seen in 80 years. The situation is so dire that families in Sao Paulo have been drilling through their basement floors in search of groundwater.

And the historic droughts in some parts of the world are matched only by historic floods in others. Malawi is currently in the midst of a disaster in which more than 150 people have died. Tens of thousands of people have been stranded by the rushing waters, cut off from food, clean water, healthcare, and thousands more have been forced from their homes.

This is happening now. It’s not a future event. And you can find countries, places – in fact, California, where they’ve had 100-year, 500-year droughts and massive fires and so forth as a consequence of the changes. Ask any scientist who studies the movement of species, and they’ll tell you how species are moving steadily north, fish moving. Everything is changing. It’s happening before our eyes, and that’s the first reason there is no excuse for ignoring this problem.

The second reason is that, unlike some of challenges that we face – I can readily attest to this – this one has a ready-made solution. The solution is not a mystery. It’s staring us in the face. It’s called energy policy. Energy policy. That’s the solution to climate change. And with the right choices, at the right speed, you can actually prevent the worst effects of climate change from crippling us forever. If we make the switch to a global, clean-energy economy a priority, if we think more creatively about how we power our cars, heat our homes, operate our businesses, then we still have time to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. It really is as simple as that. But getting there is proving not to be as simple.

So what, more specifically, do we need to do? I’m not going to come here and just describe the problem. What do we need to do?

To begin with, we need leaders with the political courage to make the tough, but necessary, policy choices that will help us all find the right path. And I am pleased to say and proud to serve with a President who has accepted that challenge, who has taken this head on. Today, thanks to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the United States is well on its way to meeting our international commitments to seriously cut 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 and power sources, which account for about 60 percent of the dangerous greenhouse gases that we release. And we’re also tackling smaller opportunities in every sector of the economy in order to be able to address every greenhouse gas.

The President has put in place standards to double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks on American roads. We’ve also proposed regulations that will curb carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

But it’s not enough just to address the pollution generated by dirty sources of energy; we also have to invest in cleaner alternatives. Since President Obama took office, the United States has upped its wind energy production more than threefold and increased our solar energy generation more than tenfold. We’ve also become smarter about the way we use energy in our homes and businesses.

And this is by far the most ambitious set of climate actions that the United States of America has ever undertaken. And it’s a large part of why today we’re emitting less than we have in two decades. It’s also the reason that we were able to recently announce the goal of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent, from 2005 levels, and accomplish that by year 2025. And that will put us squarely on the road to a more sustainable and prosperous economy. Now, this upper end target would also enable us to be able to cut our emissions by 83 percent by mid-century, which is what scientists say we need to do in order to prevent warming from exceeding the threshold level of 2 degrees centigrade, Celsius.

But I can’t emphasize this enough, no single country, not even the United States, can solve this problem or foot this bill alone. And that isn’t just rhetoric. It’s physically impossible. Think of it this way: Even if every single American bikes to work or carpooled to school, or used only solar panels to power their homes; if we each planted a dozen trees, every American; if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions – guess what? That still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world. The same would be true if China went to zero emissions but others continued with business as usual. It’s not enough for one country or even a few countries to reduce emissions if their neighbors are unwilling to do their share. So when I say we need a global solution, I mean it. Anything less won’t work.

Now of course, industrialized countries, obviously, play a major role in bringing about a clean-energy future. And the days of the Industrial Revolution all the way through the last century – obviously the industrial countries benefitted by developing and growing, but they also created the basic template for this problem. But even if all the industrial countries stopped today, it doesn’t solve the problem. And it certainly is a signal that other countries shouldn’t go off and repeat the mistakes of the past. We have to remember that, today, almost two-thirds of global emissions come from developing nations. So it is imperative that developing nations be part of the solution also.

Now I want to make this very, very clear. In economic terms, this is not a choice between bad and worse. Some people like to demagogue this issue. They want to tell you, “Oh, we can’t afford to do this.” Nothing could be further from the truth. We can’t afford not to do it. And in fact, the economics will show you that it is better in the long run to do it and cheaper in the long run. So this is not a choice between bad and worse, not at all. Ultimately, this is a choice between growing or shrinking an economy. Pursuing cleaner, more efficient energy is actually the only way that nations around the world can build the kind of economies that are going to thrive for decades to come.

And here’s why. Coal and oil are only cheap ways to power a nation in the very near term. But if you look a little further down you road, you begin to see an entirely different story. When you think about the real numbers over time, the costs of those outdated energy sources actually pile up very quickly.

Start with the economic impacts related to agriculture and food security and how scientists estimate that the changing climate is going to cause yields of crops like rice and maize and wheat to fall by 2 percent every decade. Consider what that means for millions of farmers around the world and the inflationary impact that will have on food prices. Now factor in how that would also exacerbate global challenges like hunger and malnutrition that we already face. Add to that the other long-term health-related problems caused by dirty air – asthma is an example, which predominantly affects children and already costs Americans an estimated $50 billion annually. The greatest single cause of young American children being hospitalized in the course of a summer in the United States is environmentally-induced asthma, and that costs billions.

The reality is that carbon-based air pollution contributes to the deaths of at least 4.5 million people every year. No part of that is inexpensive. And any nation that argues that it simply can’t afford to invest in the alternative and renewable energy needs to take a second look at what they’re paying for, consider the sizable costs that are associated with rebuilding in the wake of devastating weather events. In 2012 alone, extreme weather cost the United States nearly $120 billion in damages. When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines a little over a year ago, the cost of responding exceeded $10 billion. And that’s just the bill for the storm damage. Think of the added health care costs, the expenses that result from agricultural and environmental degradation. It is time, my friends, for people to do real cost accounting.

The bottom line is that we can’t only factor in the price of immediate energy needs. We have to include the long-term cost of carbon pollution. We have to factor in the cost of survival. And if we do, we will find that pursuing clean energy now is far more affordable than paying for the consequences of climate change later.

But there’s another piece of reality to take into account. And as you can see, these arguments begin to compound and grow, become irrefutable, frankly. Clean energy is not only the solution to climate change – guess what? It’s also one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time. Want to put people to work? This is the way you put people to work. The global energy market of the future is poised to be the largest market the world has ever known. We’re talking about a $6 trillion market today, with four to five billion users today. That will grow to nine billion users over the next few decades. By comparison, the great driver of wealth creation in this country in the 1990s, when super-billionaires and millionaires were created and every income level of America went up, that was a technology market. And it was a $1 trillion market with only a billion users – just to get a sense of the possibilities here.

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 you just have to imagine the opportunities for clean energy. Imagine the businesses that could be launched, the jobs that will be created in every corner of the globe. And by the way, the United States of America, in the year 2015, doesn’t even have a national grid. We have a great big gaping hole in the middle of our country. You can’t sell energy from the wind farm in Massachusetts or in Minnesota to another part of the country, because we can’t transmit it. Think of the jobs in creating that grid. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. All you have to do is look at the results that we are already seeing in places like my home state of Massachusetts.

In 2007, we set a couple of goals. We pledged to build 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2020, and more than 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017. It was pretty ambitious. It was unprecedented. But we knew that the potential benefits to the state were enormous.

Fast forward to today, and Massachusetts has increased renewable energy by 400 percent in the last four years alone. We used a bulk purchasing program for residential solar to help keep prices low for residents and businesses across the state. And because of that, today there are residential solar installations in 350 of Massachusetts’s 351 cities and towns. Today, the commonwealth’s clean energy economy is a $10 billion industry that has grown by 10.5 percent over the past year and 47 percent since 2010. It employs nearly 100,000 people at 6,000 firms, and it’s the perfect example of how quickly this transformation could happen and how far its benefits reach.

If we put our minds to it, folks, if we make the right decisions and forge the right partnerships, we can bring these kinds of benefits to communities across the United States and around the globe. To get there, all nations have to be smarter about how we use energy, invest in energy, and encourage businesses to make smart energy choices as well.

Now, we’ll have to invest in new technology, and that will help us bring renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro not only to the communities where those resources are abundant, but to every community in every country on every continent. We’ll have to stop government money from going towards nonrenewable energy sources, like coal and oil. It makes no sense to be subsidizing that. Which is why the United States has been helping to drive efforts in the G-20 and APEC to phase out wasteful fossil fuel subsidies.

And we’ve actually taken steps to prevent now global financial institutions from funding dirty power plants and putting public money into those things that we know are going to go in the wrong direction. We’ll have to strengthen legal and regulatory frameworks in countries overseas to help spur investment in places where it’s insufficient. It’s much easier for businesses to deploy capital when they have confidence in the local legal and regulatory policy. And to attract money, we need to control risk. The more you can minimize the risk, the greater confidence people, investors will have to bring their capital to the table.

We also have to continue to push for the world’s highest standards in the environmental chapters of the trade agreements that we’re pursuing, just like we are doing in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And just like labor standards in other agreements, these environmental agreements have to be really fully enforceable.

Finally, we have to find more ways for the private and the public sector to work together to make the most of the innovative technology that entrepreneurs are developing here in the United States and around the world. And this is the idea that is behind the White House announcement that they made last month, the Clean Energy Investment Initiative. Its starting goal is to attract $2 billion in private sector investment to be put toward clean energy climate change solutions.

Now, the good news is much of the technology that we need is already out there. And it’s becoming faster and faster, easier to access and cheaper to access. A report that the Department of Energy released this morning actually projects that in the United States, wind power is going to be directly competitive with conventional energy technologies within the next 10 years. None of this, therefore, none of what I have said, is beyond our capacity. It’s not a pipe dream; it’s a reality. It’s right there. And it’s up to us to grab it. The question is whether or not it is beyond our collective resolve.

Now, we have seen some encouraging progress, frankly, over the past few months. During President Obama’s trip to New Delhi early this year, and Fred referred to it in his introduction, India – well, both China and India – the President – affirmed its far-reaching solar energy target, and our two nations agreed on a number of climate and clean energy initiatives. We also committed to working closely together to achieve a successful global agreement in Paris. So India is joined in that challenge.

And that came on the heels of the historic announcement in China that the United States and China, the world’s two largest emitters of carbon pollution – two countries, by the way, long regarded as the leaders of opposing camps in the climate negotiations – have now found common ground on this issue. And I joined President Obama as he stood next to President Xi, and Todd was there when we unveiled our respective ambitious post-2020 mitigation commitments. That is an enormous achievement.

And it had an impact. It was felt in Lima at the COP meeting in Lima recently, and had an impact on the ability to move towards Paris with greater momentum. Around the same time, the EU announced its target as well, which means we now have strong commitments from the three largest emitters in the world.

Now we need more and more nations to follow suit and announce their ambitious mitigation targets as well. And because this has to be a truly all-hands-on-deck effort, I invite all of our partners – businesses and industry groups, mayors, governors throughout the country and around the world to announce their own targets, their commitments leading up to Paris, so we can set an example and create a grassroots movement towards success. This will help us come forward with plans that will help every country be able to reach their goals.

Now I am keenly aware that we can do a better job of engaging the private sector and our partners at the sub-national level of government in this effort. And I can tell you today that I plan to make certain in the next months that that happens. I know many of you have already made impressive announcements, those of you engaged in business or on the boards of an enterprise or eleemosynary or educational institutions. And you’ve helped to lay out how we can combat climate change, and I thank you for doing that. But now it’s time to build on those pledges. Let us know how you are doing. I say let us know through the State Department, through state.gov, and how we can help you make progress. And this is the kind of shared resolve that will help ensure that we are successful in Paris and beyond.

In closing, I ask you to consider one basic question. Suppose stretching your imaginations, as it will have to be, that somehow those 97 percent of studies that I just talked about – suppose that somehow they were wrong about climate change in the end. Hard to understand after 20 years of 97 percent, but imagine it. I just want you to imagine it. What are the consequences we would face for taking the actions that we’re talking about, and based on the notion that those might be correct? I’ll tell you what the consequences are. You’ll create an extraordinary number of jobs, you’ll kick our economies into gear all around the world, because we’ll be taking advantage of one of the biggest business opportunities the world has ever known.

We’ll have healthier people. Those billions of dollars of costs in the summer and at hospitals and for emphysema, lung disease, particulate cancer, will be reduced because we’ll be eliminating a lot of the toxic pollution coming from smoke stacks and tall pipes. Air will be cleaner. You can actually see your city. We’ll have a more secure world because it’ll be far easier for countries to attain the long-lasting energy independence and security they thrive – they need to thrive and not be blackmailed by another nation, cut off, their economy turned into turmoil because they can’t have the independence they need and the guarantees of energy supply.

We will live up in the course of all of that to our moral responsibility to leave the planet Earth in better condition than we were handed it, to live up to even scripture which calls on us to protect planet Earth. These – all of these things are the so-called consequences of global action to address climate change. What’s the other side of that question? What will happen if we do nothing and the climate skeptics are wrong and the delayers are wrong and the people who calculate cost without taking everything into account are wrong? The answer to that is pretty straightforward: utter catastrophe, life as we know it on Earth.

So I through my life have believed that you can take certain kinds of risks in the course of public affairs and life. My heroes are people who dared to take on great challenges without knowing for certain what the outcome would be. Lincoln took risks, Gandhi took risks, Churchill took risks, Dr. King took risks, Mandela took risks, but that doesn’t mean that every risk-taker is a role model. It’s one thing to risk a career or a life on behalf of a principle or to save or liberate a population. It’s quite another to wager the well-being of generations and life itself simply to continue satisfying the appetites of the present or to insist on a course of inaction long after all the available evidence has pointed to the folly of that path. Gambling with the future of Earth itself when we know full well what the outcome would be is beyond reckless. It is just plain immoral. And it is a risk that no one should take. We need to face reality. There is no planet B.

So I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy in these next months or even these next few years. If it were, we would have solved this decades ago when the science first revealed the facts of what we were facing. But it is crunch time now. We’ve used up our hall passes, our excuses. We’ve used up too much valuable time. We know what we have to do. And I am confident that we can find a way to summon the resolve that we need to tackle this shared threat. And we can reach an agreement in Paris, we can carve out a path toward a clean energy future, we can meet this challenge. That is our charge for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren, and it is a charge we must keep. Thank you all. (Applause.)

MR. KEMPE: I wanted to thank Secretary Kerry for his significant, passionate, focused remarks, important remarks that I think will really set up the road to Paris, but really way beyond that. We understand that you have to rush out to a very important meeting at the White House. I do want to ask just one question to close this off, and if you can broaden this to the energy world at large. We’re seeing falling prices, we’ve got the U.S. energy boom. How are you looking at the impact of both of those things in context of this? What is the geopolitics of these falling prices and the rise of America as really the leading, if not a leading energy producer in the world?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the impact is very significant, obviously. It’s certainly affected Russia’s income and the current situation in Russia. It’s affected the situation in Iran. It’s affected the budgets of those producing states. It has potential on some sides to strategically be helpful and the potential on other sides to be strategically damaging. For instance, if Petrocaribe were to fall because of events in Venezuela or because of price and so forth, we could wind up with a serious humanitarian challenge on our – in our near neighborhood.

And so there are a lot of pluses and minuses of it, but you have to remember the primary reason for America’s good fortune in this turnaround right now is LNG. It’s the production of gas and fracking and what’s happened in terms of our independence, at least – and we’re also producing more oil, by the way, at the same time. And we’ve become one of the world’s largest, if not the largest energy producer. That’s positive as long as we’re on a road to deal with the problem I just laid out here today.

But remember, while LNG is 50 percent less carbon-intensive than oil, it’s nevertheless carbon, and it has its impact. So it’s a movement in the right direction, but in the end, we’re going to have to do all the things I just talked about, which is move to sustainable, renewable, alternative other kinds of energy that don’t have that problem. And the way the world is going right now because of the dependency – another negative impact of that is that it has greatly reduced the price of coal, and therefore in certain countries, people are just going on a price basis and racing to coal. And that means we have a number of coal-fired power plants coming online in various countries at a rate that is simply destructive. And they’re not coming on with the latest technology in all cases.

There is no such thing in the end as absolutely clean coal. And so we have a challenge with respect to what we’re going to do. There are technologies that significantly clean coal, and when put in place, that’s very helpful. And if you can do carbon sequestration and storage, which isn’t happening enough – there’s a way to use it – but it’s, in the marketplace, I think, going to be far more expensive in the end than these other technologies which are coming online to produce other things at a far better cost. As I mentioned to you, wind is about to be in the next 10 years competitive with other energy. So that’s going to be an enormous transformation.

But what really has to happen here is the setting of a goal through the Paris agreement so that people suddenly see that countries everywhere are moving in this direction, and then the marketplace begins to move. That’s when innovators and entrepreneurs and investors start to say this is the future and it takes hold, and that accelerates the process itself. And when that begins to happen, that’s when this $6 trillion market and the ultimately 9 billion users component of this really kicks in and takes over.

So it’s a mixed bag for the moment, but I think we certainly see the roadmap to move in the right direction. Thank you.

Coal Giant Southern Company Claims It Will No Longer 'Engage In Influencing the Science' of Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 03 Mar 2015 01:05:00 GMT

The massive coal-powered utility Southern Company, recently revealed as a top funder of Harvard-Smithsonian climate denier Willie Soon, claims it is getting out of the business of climate denial. Southern Company’s contract with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics included conditions giving it oversight over Soon’s research and a pledge to keep its funding secret.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy reports:
We have been given assurance that Southern Company takes responsibility for the funding but stated that upper management did not have direct knowledge of this activity. We also appreciate the perspective that the funding contract with Dr. Soon was of a recurring nature and that Southern has stated that they will not renew funding contracts in this line of research. Southern further acknowledges that going forward, it is does not want to “engage in influencing the science.”

Although Southern Company may cease directly financing the very few legitimate scientists who promote disinformation about man-made cliamte change, it’s doubtful the company will stop supporting the massive climate-denial infrastructure that is nearly indistinguishable from the American right. In the 2014 cycle, Southern Company made hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to climate-science-denying Republicans. The utility giant has spent over $130 million since 2004 lobbying Congress, with a focus on blocking the regulation of coal pollution.

In 2014, Southern Company ran a “sponsored content” series on The New Republic’s website, entitled “Powering the Future, Honoring the Past,” which celebrated the utility’s “secure energy mix” of “the full portfolio of energy resources: nuclear, twenty-first-century coal, natural gas, renewables, and energy efficiency.”

“Corporate responsibility is part of our DNA,” one of the Southern Company “sponsored content” public-relations pieces claimed.

In a separate article, the New Republic’s Rebecca Leber criticized the Southern Company-Willie Soon relationship.

Rep. Grijalva Asks for Conflict-of-Interest Disclosures from GOP's Go-To Climate Science Witnesses

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:35:00 GMT

Climate-denier academics
Climate-disinformation academics (clockwise from top left): Willie Soon, David Legates, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Steven Hayward, Roger Pielke Jr, Richard Lindzen, John Christy
The conflict-of-interest scandal involving a climate denier secretly funded by the fossil-fuel industry is spreading to other academics who oppose regulation of climate pollution. A top House Democrat has issued letters asking several researchers who have appeared as Republican witnesses before Congress questioning climate science to disclose their funding sources.

Over the weekend, multiple news organizations reported on the undisclosed funding of Harvard-Smithsonian's Dr. Willie Soon by Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, and other greenhouse polluters. "There are just so many things that we do not know about how the climate really works and what are the factors that cause it to change," Soon testified before the U.S. Senate in 2003, "to really jump to the conclusion that it will all be CO2."

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, is asking the universities of seven academics, some of whom are climate scientists, others social scientists, who are part of a small stable of repeat Republican witnesses on climate science and policy.

Soon and the targets of this investigation have appeared at least three dozen times before Congress over the past twenty-five years to question the scientific need to limit greenhouse pollution.

"I am hopeful that disclosure of a few key pieces of information will establish the impartiality of climate research and policy recommendations published in your institution's name and assist me and my colleagues in making better law," Grijalva wrote. "Companies with a direct financial interest in climate and air quality standards are funding environmental research that influences state and federal regulations and shapes public understanding of climate science. These conflicts should be clear to stakeholders, including policymakers who use scientific information to make decisions. My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships."

The letters request the institutions' disclosure policies, drafts and communications relating to Congressional testimony, and sources of external funding for the academics in question.

The disclosure requests are needed because Congressional "truth in testimony" rules require witnesses to disclose government funding sources, but not private or corporate funding. Under Republican control, the rules are unevenly implemented, with not-for-profit witnesses required to submit pages of additional disclosures, while corporate-sector witnesses are not.

The seven academics who dispute the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming who have been asked to disclose their funding are (dates of Congressional testimony in parentheses):

Update: Further appearances by Curry, Pielke Jr, and Christy in 2006 and 2007 have been added (h/t Dr. Curry).

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