At a Sandy anniversary panel organized by Forecast the Facts, climate and economic expert James Slezak says that investors should recognize that the fossil-fuel industry will go the way of the horse-and-buggy. Oil and coal companies, Dr. Slezak said, are “bad investments” that “don’t have the right capabilities or the right assets” to become renewable energy companies. Therefore, these companies should “liquidated” and their assets “wound up.”
One dangerous myth is that the BPs, the Exxons, the coal interests of the world are just energy companies and we just need to let them see why really, the future of energy is in renewables and they should be the renewable energy companies of the future. Don’t get me wrong, renewable energy is the future and needs to be quickly what replaces those companies. But I don’t think those companies are going to be the renewable energy companies of the future.
When you look at what these companies actually do, with a business hat on, and say I’m going to place a bet on the future on who’s going to win the race — Take solar for example. It’s a high-tech semiconductor industry. It’s not what dudes with hard hats on in the middle of the North Sea are good at, and it’s not where you would expect money to go.
We have to be a little bit harder on them. And make it clear why they’re such bad investments. They’re not going to win the race to develop solar. They don’t have the right capabilities, the right assets. They need to be wound up. They need to be liquidated. Their assets need to be wound up.
That sounds like a crazy, radical point of view, but you can look at multiple industries that the market just naturally wound up. The horse and buggy. New York’s streets were first lit with whale oil. True fact. Look it up. No one lamented those industries going. The typewriter industry wasn’t the industry that became the computer industry. These guys are going to go. The sooner the better, I think. And we don’t want to give them an escape route.
James Slezak (@jslez) is a social entrepreneur, author, and co-founder of Peers.org, a member-driven organization to support the sharing economy. He was previously a founding executive team member and partner at Purpose.com, and consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he led projects on sustainability, technology and economic development. He is co-author of the book Climate Change and Australia, as well as public reports on the economics of carbon emissions reduction released by McKinsey. James holds a PhD in Physics and was an affiliate at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
The Forecast the Facts forum, “Turning the Tide: The Challenge And Promise Of Carbon Divestment for a Post-Sandy Wall Street,” took place on Sunday, October 29, at Cooper Union’s Rose Auditorium in New York City, with panelists from the Center for American Progress, Next Generation, and NYU Divest.
It is one year since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast. The mainstream media continues to use the storm to push a global warming agenda.
Varney’s guest, the conservative Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor, complained that of the 32 segments in network news his group found that mentioned Sandy and global warming, only two questioned the overwhelming science that the increasing greenhouse effect from the combustion of fossil fuels is accelerating sea level rise and making weather more extreme and chaotic. Despite numerous scientific attribution studies on wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and storms that have found global warming fingerprints, Gainor falsely claimed that “we cannot link climate change or global warming to a specific event.” He furthermore dismissed the decades of work by thousands of scientists in all earth-science disciplines that provide our understanding of climate change as “stuff” and “guesswork.”
Gainor did not emphasize that his organization found only 32 mentions of climate change and Sandy in an entire year of network news coverage. (In contrast, for example, there were 52 segments on Iran’s nuclear program in five months of network news coverage from November 2011 to March 2012.)
Climate denial is rampant in the financial press, not just the media organs owned by Murdoch like Fox and the Wall Street Journal. Forbes regularly publishes climate-denial columns, and Reuters editors are openly hostile to climate science. And Comcast’s CNBC features hosts such as Joe Kernen, who argues that the findings of climate science are a plot concocted by a “bonafide cult” of “enviro-socialists” and the “eco-taliban.”
Varney and Gainor also bemoaned the public stand the Los Angeles Times has taken against global warming denial in its opinion pages. Over 25,000 people have signed a petition from climate accountability organization Forecast the Facts calling on the nation’s other major papers, including the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post, to follow suit.
On Sunday, Forecast the Facts hosted a forum held in downtown New York City looking at the role of Wall Street in financing the climate change that threatens New York’s future prosperity. The panelists of the Turning the Tide forum, including Center for American Progress senior fellow Bracken Hendricks, Tom Steyer advisor Kate Gordon, and New Economy Lab’s James Slezak, discussed how the financial industry needs to reject the anti-scientific arguments pushed by Murdoch’s media properties and David H. Koch’s network of think tanks and advocacy groups.
Gordon cited the Risky Business initative, led by Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. The initiative, Gordon explained, is meant not only to provide an economic assessment of the risk exposure different companies and industries have to manmade global warming, but also to change the culture of the financial sector. With that goal in mind, influential Republicans and conservatives who accept the basic science of climate change have been courted.
Wall Street is at a crossroads, all the panelists agreed. On the path of fossil-fuel companies and climate deniers like New York City’s richest man, carbon financier David H. Koch, lies accelerating sea level rise and intensifying storms that will swamp the islands of New York City. But the investors and analysts can choose another path, recognize the science, and invest in a sustainable future that will save their city.
Fox Business Network Transcript:
Google's Climate Scientists Criticize Latest Google-Funded Act Of Climate Denial, Featuring Heritage Foundation and Heartland Institute
Heritage’s mock climate report, presented at the Google-funded Heritage Foundation.
Like the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, Soon, and Carter have significant funding from the fossil-fuel industry and a long record of questioning not only the economics of regulating climate pollution but the underlying science itself.
Greenpeace activists confronted Bast at Heritage after the event, asking him to reveal whether Chicago magnate Barre Seid funded the multimillion-dollar climate-denial initiative. Bast refused to answer the question.
Since Google’s selection of former Republican representative Susan Molinari as their chief lobbyist, the Internet giant has embraced key players in the climate-denial machine. In the last few months, Google was the top funder of the annual dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, famed for its “CO2: We Call It Life” ads, held a fundraiser for the re-election of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who penned the book “The Greatest Hoax,” and was revealed to be a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has argued that “substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States.”
Google’s support of the Heritage Foundation elicited new criticism from climate scientists associated with the company.
“Their motto may be ‘don’t be evil,’ but they apparently don’t have any problem with giving it money,” climate scientist Andrew Dessler, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University, told Hill Heat in an e-mail interview.
“If you want to be a corporate leader on climate change or science education, you should fund groups to combat the anti-science garbage produced by Heritage, not the other way around,” said climate scientist Simon Donner, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, when asked for comment.
Dr. Dessler and Dr. Donner were Google Climate Science Communication Fellows in 2011. They and 15 other Fellows recently sent an open letter to the company criticizing its fundraiser for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), writing that “in the face of urgent threats like climate change, there are times where companies like Google must display moral leadership and carefully evaluate their political bedfellows.”
In a campaign led by climate accountability organization Forecast the Facts, over 150,000 people have signed petitions challenging Google’s support for climate deniers, and have staged protests in Washington DC, New York City, and Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Newly elected Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), in his first speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, spoke on the urgency of fighting climate change pollution with new clean energy.
“We need to create an end of the era of climate denial. Climate change is irrefutable. It is raising sea levels. It is giving storms more power. The planet is running a fever. There are no emergency rooms for planets. We must put in place the preventative care of unleashing a renewable energy revolution in wind, in solar, in biomass, in geothermal, in energy efficiency that avoids the worst, most catastrophic impacts of climate change on this planet. We are seeing it on an ongoing basis, not just here, but across the planet.Video:
Our moral duty to future generations calls on us to address climate change. But it also is an economic opportunity to create new jobs here in our country. I will soon introduce new legislation that will call on American to reach a 25 percent target for clean energy and energy efficiency improvements. This bill will create jobs as it cuts pollution. And I will continue to work to pass climate legislation as I did in the House of Representatives.”
As a member of the House of Representatives, Markey was a co-sponsor of climate legislation that passed the House in 2009 but died in the U.S. Senate.
From Hitler To Lobsters: Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) Decries 'Oblivious Generation' Ignoring Climate Threat
In an impassioned floor speech on Tuesday, freshman U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) compared Churchill’s unheeded warnings about the threat of Hitler to America’s inaction on the global threat of climate change pollution. Sen. King also described how carbon dioxide has been rising since the start of the Industrial Revolution, how sea level rise threatens America’s coastal cities, and how Maine’s lobsters are threatened with extinction by global warming.
“I rise today, Madam President, because we are entering a period of consequences,” Sen. King said. “It’s 1936. It’s August of 2001, when we had warnings Al Qaeda determined to strike in the United States.”
Sen. King concluded, “The generation that finally woke up to World War II, and fought it, and preserved this country and the western civilization for us has often been referred to as the Greatest Generation. The reason they were the Greatest Generation is that they were willing to face a problem and make enormous sacrifices in order to deal with it, to protect us and our children and grandchildren and our ability to function in this new world. They were the Greatest Generation. I have to say, Madam President, if somebody was going to characterize us, we’d be characterized as the Oblivious Generation – the generation that saw the data, saw the facts, saw the freight train headed for us and said, ‘That’s okay, it’s business as usual. Don’t bother me, I don’t want to be inconvenienced.’”
Sen. King was governor of Maine from 1995 to 2003.
Microsoft is defending its membership in one of the country’s most notorious enemies of environmental protection, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In an August blog post, Microsoft chief environmental strategist Rob Bernard acknowledged that his company is a member and supporter of ALEC, which has for decades promoted an agenda of climate change denial, attacks on renewable energy, and opposition to environmental protection on behalf of funders such as Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and other conservative fossil-fuel interests. ALEC is an alliance of corporations, conservative foundations, and Republican state legislators that promotes anti-regulatory and conservative legislation at the state level.Bernard argued that Microsoft’s membership in ALEC “is not an endorsement” of the group’s anti-environmental agenda:
As you would expect, Microsoft works with a wide range of groups across the political spectrum addressing policy issues important to our business. We work with many of these groups on narrowly-tailored technology policy issues and not the full set of issues they address. Our engagement with a particular group is not an endorsement of all the policy positions those groups have taken. For instance, we’ve received some questions about model legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council that would repeal renewable energy mandates at the state level. To clarify this issue, Microsoft participates in ALEC’s Communication and Technology Task Force, as do many leading companies in the technology sector. We do not participate in any other ALEC task forces or provide any support or funding for ALEC’s work on environmental issues or other issues outside of communication and technology policy. In short, ALEC is not speaking for us on renewable energy policy.
Microsoft is also a funder of the Heartland Institute, a long-time partner of ALEC in the promotion of climate change denial and attacks on the integrity of climate scientists.
Google is no longer simply the Internet’s search engine. The company now is building Google+ into a diverse, curated-garden experience with the goal of social media domination that keeps user traffic within Google’s walls. In recent years the company has significantly ramped up its engagement in national politics, led by former Republican representative Susan Molinari.
The revamped Google is now joining the ranks of the top corporate funders of the climate-denial movement. In 2013, Google has held a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Inhofe (“Global warming is a hoax”) at its DC headquarters, been the top funder of the annual dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (“CO2: We Call It Life”), and joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (“Even substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States”).
In response, hundreds of people have flooded the Google+ page for the Google DC headquarters with one-star reviews. The page also now includes photographs from the protest organized by Forecast the Facts during the Google DC fundraiser for Inhofe.
This digital activism is only part of a 150,000-person strong campaign led by Forecast the Facts with support from Credo, Greenpeace, Sum Of Us, and other groups. The coalition has organized on-the-street protests of Google in DC, Mountain View, and New York City.
Nevada Congressman Mark Amodei of the Second District rejects the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In a recent letter to a constituent, Rep. Amodei (R-Nev.) claimed that scientists “argue that these temperature increases would incur regardless due to the warming of the center of the earth.” His comments were published by Daily Kos.
“The issue of climate change is very controversial and many scientists disagree as to its causes and how to handle it. I recognize that some scientists believe that global warming is caused by failed environmental practices; however, others argue that these temperature increases would incur regardless due to the warming of the center of the earth. I do not believe it is appropriate for the federal government to advocate one position over the other. Since, we do not know much about long-term climate change, I do agree we must have an unbiased research effort funded by both the government and the private sector to answer the essential questions about climate change.”
In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. Surface warming from the earth’s radioactive core amounts to only 0.087 watt per square meter, whereas incoming solar radiation provides 236 watts per square meter. Because of the hundreds of billions of tons of industrial carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere, the radiative forcing of greenhouse gases has increased from 1 W/m2 to 2.4 W/m2. The global climate is continuing to warm, with every decade since the 1970s warmer than the last, and the impacts of global warming are accelerating faster than scientists projected.
Rep. Amodei is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sitting on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands and the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
The complete constituent letter of Rep. Amodei’s rejection of climate science is below.
Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon of the Fifth District makes light of the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In an April 26, 2013 interview with the Arizona Republic, Rep. Salmon (R-Ariz.) said global warming is “coming from the hot air coming out of Washington.”
“I found the source of global warming is coming from the hot air coming out of Washington.”
Rep. Salmon has taken the Koch Industries’ “No Climate Tax” pledge and voted repeatedly against climate action.
In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. Because of the hundreds of billions of tons of industrial carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere, the global climate is continuing to warm, with every decade since the 1970s warmer than the last, and the impacts of global warming are accelerating faster than scientists projected.
Freshman Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry of the Fourth District rejects the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In a September 20, 2012 debate, then-candidate Perry (R-Penn.) said he “take[s] exception” that global warming is “man-made” and is “concerned” that the “theory” of global warming is not “proven.” His comments were transcribed by the York Daily Record’s Ed Mahon for the paper’s political blog.
“I do believe global warming is occurring. …However, I do take exception, whether it’s man-made or not. I learned in public school, the scientific theory. …You have a theory and it has to be proven. And I’m concerned anytime that a nation, or the world, makes up policy based on a theory that … has gained consensus but” does not have proof, he said.
In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation – what the word “theory” means in scientific jargon, despite Rep. Perry’s confusion – for the rapid warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. Because of the hundreds of billions of tons of industrial carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere, the global climate is continuing to warm, with every decade since the 1970s warmer than the last, and the impacts of global warming are accelerating faster than scientists projected.