Global launch of the Emissions Gap Report 2014

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:00:00 GMT

UN Report Says Global Carbon Neutrality Should be Reached by Second Half of Century, Demonstrates Pathways to Stay Under 2°C Limit

Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions Including Non-CO2 Must Shrink To Net Zero by 2100

Emissions Gap May Widen by 2030 but Low Carbon Path Offers Opportunities for the Future

– In order to limit global temperature rise to 2o C and head off the worst impacts of climate change, global carbon neutrality should be attained by mid-to-late century. This would also keep in check the maximum amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that can be emitted into the atmosphere while staying within safe temperature limits beyond 2020, says a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Exceeding an estimated budget of just 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2) would increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and in some cases irreversible climate change impacts.

Released days ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Lima, Peru, UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2014 is the fifth in a series that examines whether the pledges made by countries are on track to meet the internationally agreed under 2°C target. It is produced by 38 leading scientists from 22 research groups across 14 countries.

Building on the findings of the Fifth Assessment Report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report shows the global emission guardrails that would give a likely chance of staying within the 2°C limit, including a peaking of emissions within the next ten years, a halving of all greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century; and in the second half of the century, carbon neutrality followed by net zero total greenhouse gas emissions.

“An increase in global temperature is proportional to the build-up of long-lasting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially CO2. Taking more action now reduces the need for more extreme action later to stay within safe emission limits,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP.

“In a business-as-usual scenario, where little progress is made in the development and implementation of global climate policies, global greenhouse gas emissions could rise to up to 87 Gt CO2e by 2050, way beyond safe limits.”

“Countries are giving increasing attention to where they realistically need to be by 2025, 2030 and beyond in order to limit a global temperature rise to below 2°C. This fifth Emissions Gap Report underlines that carbon neutrality-and eventually net zero or what some term climate neutrality-will be required so that what cumulative emissions are left are safely absorbed by the globe’s natural infrastructure such as forests and soils,” added Mr. Steiner.

“The Sustainable Development Goals underscore the many synergies between development and climate change mitigation goals. Linking development policies with climate mitigation will help countries build the energy-efficient, low-carbon infrastructures of the future and achieve transformational change that echoes the true meaning of sustainable development,” he concluded.

To avoid exceeding the budget, global carbon neutrality should be reached between 2055 and 2070, meaning that annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions should hit net zero by then on the global scale. Net zero implies that some remaining CO2 emissions could be compensated by the same amount of carbon dioxide uptake, or ‘negative’ emissions, so long as the net input to the atmosphere due to human activity is zero, the report finds.

Taking into account non-CO2 greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons, total global greenhouse gas emissions need to shrink to net zero between 2080 and 2100.

Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute said, “Negotiating a global climate deal should not be based on emotions or political whims, it should be driven by science and facts. This report provides one of the most clear eyed, technical analyses of global emissions that shows how country commitments and actions measure against science.”

“Unfortunately, the world is not currently headed in the right direction. But, with the growing momentum for global climate action, we have the opportunity to close the emissions gap and keep within the limits of what the science says is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”

Since 1990, global greenhouse gas emissions have grown by more than 45 per cent. To have a likely chance of staying below the 2o C limit, global greenhouse gas emissions should drop by about 15 per cent or more by 2030 compared to 2010, and be at least 50 per cent lower by 2050 on the way to net zero.

Past issues of the Emissions Gap Report focused on good practices across different sectors and their ability to stimulate economic activity and development, while reducing emissions.

This year, the report also looks at how international development targets and corresponding policies at the national level can bring about multiple benefits, including climate change mitigation focusing in particular on energy efficiency.

Bridging the Gap

The 2014 Emissions Gap Report defines the emissions gap as the difference between emission levels in 2025 and 2030 consistent with meeting climate targets versus the levels expected if country pledges are met.

Scientists estimate the gap in 2020 at up to 10 Gt CO2e and in 2030 at up to 17 Gt CO2e. Relative to business-as-usual emissions in 2030 (68 Gt CO2e), the gap is even bigger at 26 Gt CO2e.

Despite the fact that the gap is not getting smaller, the report estimates that it could be bridged if available global emissions reductions are fully exploited: The potential for emission reductions in 2030 (relative to business-as-usual emissions) is estimated to be 29 Gt CO2e.

The Cost of Delayed Action

Postponing rigorous action until 2020 will provide savings on mitigation costs in the near-term but will bring much higher costs later on in terms of:

• Higher rates of global emission reductions in the medium-term; • Lock-in of carbon-intensive infrastructure; • Dependence on using all available mitigation technologies in the medium-term; • Greater costs of mitigation in the medium- and long-term, and greater risks of economic disruption; • Reliance on negative emissions; and • Greater risks of failing to meet the 2°C target, which would lead to substantially higher adaptation challenges and costs.

Energy Efficiency and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Not only does energy efficiency reduce or avoid greenhouse emissions, but it can also increase productivity and sustainability through the delivery of energy savings, and support social development by increasing employment and energy security.

For example:

It is estimated that between 2015 and 2030, energy efficiency improvements worldwide could avoid at least 2.5–3.3 Gt CO2e annually.

The International Energy Agency reports that end-use fuel and electricity efficiency could save 6.8 Gt CO2e, and power generation efficiency and fossil fuel switching could save another 0.3 Gt CO2e by 2030.

Countries and other actors are already applying policies that are beneficial to both sustainable development and climate mitigation. About half the countries in the world have national policies for promoting more efficient use of energy in buildings.

About half are working on raising the efficiency of appliances and lighting. Other national policies and measures are promoting electricity generation with renewable energy, reducing transport demand and shifting transport modes, reducing process-related emissions from industry, and advancing sustainable agriculture. The Sustainable Development Goals being discussed show the many close links between development and climate change mitigation goals.

For example, efforts to eradicate energy poverty, promote universal access to cleaner forms of energy, and double energy efficiency—if fully realized—would go a long way towards putting the world on a path consistent with the climate target.

For more information and to arrange interviews with experts on the topic, please contact:

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, United Nations Environment Programme, shereen.zorba@unep.org, Tel. +254 788 526 000

Hugh Searight, News and Media, United Nations Environment Programme, hugh.searight@unep.org, Tel. 202 957 6978

Venue: National Press Club

Keystone XL Is Designed for a Burning Planet

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 18 Nov 2014 21:38:00 GMT

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, now under consideration for approval by the U.S. Senate, would have a significant and dangerous impact on the climate, incompatible with the White House goal of a sustainable climate.

In line with scientific warnings, President Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department have committed to limiting global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. In the International Energy Agency’s 2°C scenario, global oil consumption would fall by 50 percent from current levels by 2050, within the intended operating lifetime of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Keystone XL environmental impact statement instead assumes that global oil demand will increase over that time period. The baseline used is the Energy Information Administration’s 2013 Annual Energy Outlook, which projects that global oil consumption will increase by 30 to 40 percent by 2040. In that scenario, the world would be on a pathway for rapid and catastrophic global warming of 4 to 6°C (or greater) by 2100.

To have an 80 percent chance of staying below 2C warming, no more than 900 GtCO2 can be burned before 2050.

In the Keystone XL scenario, over 1700 GtCO2 are burned by 2040—nearly double the safe amount, with a decade to go.

Keystone XL CO2 baseline

The International Energy Agency scenario reflects an estimated 2/3 chance of staying below 2C warming with the burning of 1260GtCO2 through 2050. Burning 1700 GtCO2 by 2040 would put the world on a catastrophic pathway of 3C warming or more.

The pipeline is intended to ship upwards of 830,000 barrels of tar-sands crude a day for a 40-year lifespan. The pipeline will add 120-200 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent to the atmosphere annually, with a lifetime footprint of 6 to 8 billion tons CO2e. That’s as much greenhouse pollution as 40 to 50 average U.S. coal-fired power plants. Furthermore the Keystone XL pipeline is recognized by the tar-sands industry as a key spigot for the future development of the Alberta tar sands, which would emit 840 billion tons CO2e if fully exploited. The carbon dioxide emissions produced by oil that would be moved in this single pipeline would amount to 3 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and half a percent of the global carbon footprint. Only thirty-two countries have larger annual footprints than this single tar-sands project.

Graphs: U.S. and China Climate Commitments Leave No Room For World

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:23:00 GMT

The climate commitments announced by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in China are momentous given the political status quo, but they still leave human civilization on a catastrophic trajectory, a Hill Heat analysis shows.

The non-binding targets agreed to in Beijing — that China would peak in emissions by 2030 and the U.S. would accelerate emissions cuts to reach 80 percent of current pollution levels (74 percent of 2005 levels) by 2025 — are a positive step forward. Without such targets catastrophic warming is guaranteed.

President Obama reaffirmed that limiting global warming to less than 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels is his goal, claiming the announced targets “means the United States is doing its part to contain warming to 2 degrees Celsius.”

What do the announcements actually mean in the context of what is needed?

Below, we explore the targets in the context of a “Russian roulette” 2C pathway, with pollution levels that scientists estimate lead to a one-in-five chance of exceeding 2C. (Ed.: Russian roulette odds are actually a bit better.)

US-China Climate Commitments

By 2030, US and China alone will have emitted about 80% of the carbon budget, leaving the other 75% of the global population with little to spare. By 2050, US and China will have emitted about 160% of the carbon budget, making the “Russian roulette” scenario impossible. To be clear, even 2C warming is highly risky, to say the least (Hansen et al, 2013).

US-China Climate Commitments Far Exceed Budget

Graphing cumulative emissions, the U.S.-China trajectory becomes more readliy apparent, as the combined carbon footprint continues to grow rapidly through 2050. The carbon budget is used up by the two nations’ pollution alone by 2035.

The Trillionth Tonne Problem

How did we get to this point? About 420 gigatons of carbon were burned (1540 GtCO2) from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to 2014, one quarter of which came from the United States, one eighth from China. Most of China’s carbon pollution has been emitted in the past 15 years. The 2015-2050 budget for an 80% chance of staying below 2C warming is only 105 GtC (390 GtCO2) more. Right now, human civilization is emitting about 10 GtC (39 GtCO2) a year—which means that even if global emissions growth slows, the carbon budget will be exceeded within about ten years.

This conundrum has been referred to as the “trillionth tonne” problem, which (somewhat confusingly) has been formulated in two different ways. One is that the 2000-2050 budget for a 75% chance of staying below 2C warming was estimated in Meinshausen et al. 2009 at 272 GtC, which equals 1000 GtCO2—that is, one trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide. (Ed.: The use of the British spelling “tonne” is a useful indicator of the 1000-kilogran metric “tonnes” used in the U.K., as opposed to the 2000-pound short tons used in the U.S., which are a bit smaller. Each metric ton of carbon is the equivalent of 3.67 metric tons of carbon dioxide due to the added oxygen atoms.)

Alternatively, the all-time budget (starting with the Industrial Revolution and going forward to 2500) for 2C being the mostly likely warming scenario, with a 95% interval of 1.3-3.9C warming, was estimated in Allen et al. 2009 at 1000 GtC — or one trillion metric tons of carbon. With about 560 GtC burned 1751-2014, that leaves 440 GtC for the rest of time for humanity to burn for less than even odds of staying below 2C.

These competing formulations of the “trillionth tonne” problem were co-published in the April 30th 2009 issue of Nature.

Both mechanisms of analysis — which are confirmed, updated, and bolstered in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group 1 Chapter 12) — are based on the warming impact of all climate pollution, which is predominated by carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and deforestation, but also includes methane, aerosols, nitrous oxides, and exotic super-greenhouse gases. Aerosols, which reduce warming by blocking out the sun, are on the decrease, while non-CO2 greenhouse gases are increasing. The calculations in this post are based on the assumption that the CO2 emissions calculated by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center can be used in lieu of the total CO2-equivalent emissions. That assumption is increasingly untenable, especially as nations switch from coal to natural gas, which increases methane emissions. Thus, the scenarios presented here-in should be considered optimistic.

The construction of any new fossil-fuel infrastructure, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, is simply incompatible with a pathway toward climate safety. This fact is implicitly acknowledged in the climate-impact analysis of the tar-sands project, which uses a high-emissions energy scenario as its baseline.

In summary: anyone who believes “we have a moral obligation to fight climate change,” to use President Obama’s words, should be working to phase out all of our existing fossil-fuel infrastructure over the coming ten years, with the goal of a carbon-negative global economy.

Even if the rest of the world follows the US and China lead with commitments to stop emissions growth by 2030, there will be a high risk of catastrophic global warming. Assuming the US and China meet their targets and the rest of the world follows suit, humanity will burn through the Russian-roulette chance at staying below 2C warming before 2025.

US-China Climate Commitments Leave No Room For World

For small-island nations, coral reefs, global forests, Arctic ice, permafrost, and global ice sheets — and quite possibly the rest of human civilization — to have a long-term chance of survival, limiting warming to 1.5C looks to be needed. (This would require a rapid transition to a fossil-free economy with massive reforestation to reduce existing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million or lower, the inspiration for the name of the climate organization 350.org.)

A higher tolerance for catastrophic warming — by raising the risk of 2C warming from 20 percent to 50 percent — gives the world a more leeway for pollution, but not enough to make the announced US-China targets “safe”. The global budget for a 50-50 chance of 2C warming will be exhausted before 2040.

US-China Climate Commitments Leave No Room For World

The insufficiency of these newly announced targets — and the howls of outrage heard from the Republican Party in the United States — reflect the dangerous power the global fossil-fuel industry has over our future, at a time when our species’ collective power should be directed at building a fossil-free civilization.

Rep. Paul Ryan: 'We Don't Even Know If The Science Will Change!'

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 15 Oct 2014 21:59:00 GMT

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, has again rejected the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In a Carthage College debate with challenger Rob Zerban on Monday, Ryan expressed his doubt of “science.”

“Climate change is in large part due to human activity”: I don’t know the answer to that question. And I don’t think science does either. Uh, does climate change occur? Yeah, yes, of course we have climate change. We’ve had climate change forever. Uh, is human involvement involved? Yes, it is. What extent? I don’t know.

Ryan then cited economic figures from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century about the potential impact of climate regulations. The chamber’s directors include ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, American Ethane, Alliance Resource Partners, Pepco, Consol Energy, Black Hills Corporation, and Southern Company.

“We don’t even know if the science will change,” Ryan continued.

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, based not on feelings but on evidence and laws of physics.

Still Not a Scientist: Mitch McConnell Gets Climate Science Wrong Again

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:27:00 GMT

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has again rejected the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In a Kentucky Educational Television Senate debate with challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes on Monday, McConnell cited conservative columnist George Will as his expert on climate change, mocking scientists who feel that this is a problem>

“Look, there are a bunch of scientists who feel that this is a problem and that maybe we can do something about CO2 emissions. George Will, a columnist, wrote recently that back in the ‘70s a lot of scientists felt we were moving toward an ice age.”

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, based not on feelings but on evidence and laws of physics.

“There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age,” actual scientists Thomas Peterson and William Connolley wrote in a 2008 review for the American Meteorological Society. “Indeed, the possibility of anthropogenic warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.”

Allison Grimes, Mitch McConnell Challenger: "I Do" Believe in Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:04:00 GMT

The U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, has been marked by competing acts of fealty to the coal industry.

“Mr. President, Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years,” one Grimes radio spot runs. “Now, your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations that are impossible to achieve.”

“We know what Obama needs to wage his war on coal,” McConnell retorted. “Obama needs Grimes.”

However, there is now a point of contention between the two candidates: Grimes, unlike McConnell, recognizes, at least in rhetoric, the reality of climate change.

In an interview on September 25 with Matt Jones on Louisville talk radio station WKJK, Grimes said she believes in the science of climate change.

JONES: “Do you believe in climate change?”

GRIMES: “I do. You know, Mitch McConnell and I differ on this. He still wants to argue with the scientists. I do believe that it exists, but I think that we have to address, especially leaving this world in a better place, in a balanced manner. We’ve got to keep the jobs that we have here in the state, especially our good coal jobs.”

This question came in the context of a longer discussion about Grimes’ disagreement with President Barack Obama on the coal industry. “I think we have to rein in the EPA,” Grimes said. “I think the regulations as they exist now are overburdensome.”

The McConnell campaign extracted a clip of the conversation, ending Grimes’ remarks at “it exists.”

VIDEO: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) Denies Global Warming at Candidate Debate

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Sep 2014 21:18:00 GMT

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) stumblingly rejected the science of climate change in a debate for his re-election to Colorado’s sixth district on Tuesday. His challenger, Democrat Andrew Romanoff, expressed his confidence that climate change is caused by humans and can be reversed. Visibly uncomfortable, Coffman paused and mumbled his answers to the two questions from the moderators, Denver Post reporters Jon Murray and Chuck Plunkett. Watch the video, courtesy of ColoradoPols.com:

Rep. Coffman does not believe that humans are contributing significantly to climate change, which is already damaging Colorado with increased drought, wildfire, and floods.

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.

Transcript:

MODERATOR #1 (Denver Post reporter Jon Murray): Mr. Coffman, do you believe humans are contributing significantly to climate change?

COFFMAN: Um…No.

MODERATOR #1: Mr. Romanoff?

ROMANOFF: Yes.

MODERATOR #2 (Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett): Mr. Romanoff, do you think we can reverse climate change?

ROMANOFF: Yes.

MODERATOR #2: Mr. Coffman?

COFFMAN: Don’t know.

MODERATOR #2: Um, what? Sir?

COFFMAN: Um . . . [long pause] No.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) Questions Manmade Global Warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 08 Sep 2014 22:44:00 GMT

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) rejects the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In an October 2012 interview with Arizona Public Radio, Flake questioned whether global warming is manmade:
“Certainly, nobody can deny that we’ve had several years of warmer temperatures. If that signals just a routine change that is manmade or not, I don’t think anybody can say definitely.”

Listen:

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. WIthout global policy to end the combustion of fossil fuels, concentrations are expected to double from current levels within decades.

Flake’s position on global warming and climate policy represents a retreat for the conservative politician and former mining lobbyist, who co-sponsored a bipartisan carbon-tax legislative proposal as a member of the House of Representatives in 2009. He disavowed the plan immediately upon election to the U.S. Senate in November 2012. In March 2013, Flake voted for an amendment introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) prohibiting further greenhouse gas regulations for the purposes of addressing climate change, and voted for Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment to create a point of order against legislation that would create a federal tax or fee on carbon emissions.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Inks Deal With Saudi Aramco

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 26 May 2014 16:35:00 GMT

WHOI and oilWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), one of the premier climate research institutions in the world, has signed deals to assist foreign oil companies seek deep-sea carbon reserves, the Boston Globe reports.

In the coming days, according to officials at Woods Hole, the institution is set to sign agreements with Saudi Aramco, the primary oil company owned by the Saudi government, to study the potential for “hydrocarbons” in the Red Sea. It is also preparing to ink a deal for a “simulation study” on behalf of the Italian oil company Eni, while it has half a dozen other proposals in the works with unnamed corporations, the officials said.

Woods Hole’s new Center for Marine Robotics is the vessel for the petrodollars. As the center’s industry sponsorship page notes, benefits for funding companies include the ability to “establish a portfolio of sponsored research projects or define an engineering research program tailored to your company’s needs, with negotiated IP rights.”

The center’s interim director, marine robotics expert Dana Yoerger, is on the board of BP’s Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, a project established by the oil giant following the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Before joining the BP-funded project, Yoerger had participated in a NSF-funded effort to map the undersea hydrocarbon plume from the gushing wellhead.

This new deal with Saudi Aramco follows Woods Hole’s $25 million 2008 partnership for Red Sea research with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). That research partnership conducted research global warming and ocean acidification to Red Sea coral reefs. James Luyten, a former director of Woods Hole, joined KAUST in 2008 to direct its Red Sea Science and Engineering Research Center. According to Luyten, academic freedom at KAUST is curtailed by Saudi Arabia’s petrostate interests, directing research towards biofuels and away from the impacts of climate change caused by fossil fuels.

“Woods Hole has historically received most of its funding from federal research grants, which has helped ensure its independence,” the Globe’s Bryan Bender notes. “But cutbacks at a variety of agencies — and a near-halving of its Pentagon research dollars in the last three years — has prompted it to seek new sources of funding.”

Woods Hole recently touted its involvement in the National Climate Assessment, which found that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the global warming and ocean acidification that is dramatically altering the oceans.

Update: Woods Hole has issued a response. “Climate research tells us that human society should wean itself quickly from fossil fuels,” the webpage states. “But the hard fact is that our society still relies on oil, and oil companies are looking for it in ever-deeper and more remote waters where they have limited experience.” The response does not deny that Woods Hole will assist Saudi Aramco’s search for oil in the Red Sea.

Iowa's Joni Ernst Chalks Up Global Warming to 'Cyclic Changes in Weather'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 20 May 2014 03:06:00 GMT

The leading contender for the Republican nomination to compete for Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) seat doubts the science of climate change and rejects any response that calls for more than voluntary actions. In a May 9, 2014 interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board, Iowa state senator Joni Ernst, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, expressed her disbelief in the science of anthropogenic climate change.

Yes, we do see climates change but I have not seen proven proof that it is entirely man-made. I think we do have cyclic changes in weather, and I think that’s been throughout the course of history. What impact is man-made. . . but I do think we can educate people to make good choices.

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.

When asked how she believes the nation should respond to “our current climate situation,” her first recommendation was “encouraging people to, obviously, recycle.” She repeatedly and adamantly opposed “cap and trade” as a “tax on energy” and a “mandate.” She then argued the renewable fuel standard, which mandates the use of ethanol in gasoline, was not a mandate.

During the interview, Ernst expressed the similarly contrarian and evidence-less belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003.

Ernst has been endorsed for the June 3 Republican primary by the Register, Sarah Palin, the National Rifle Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If she wins, she will face Rep. Bruce Braley in the general election.

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