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Mon, 2014-07-07 23:59Brendan DeMelle
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Return of Climate Denial-a-Palooza: Heartland Institute Hitches Anti-Science Wagon to Vegas FreedomFest

Heartland Institute Unabomber Billboard

The Heartland Institute is reviving its global warming skeptics' gathering this week in scorching hot Las Vegas for the ninth “International Conference on Climate Change” — which DeSmog long ago dubbed “Denial-a-Palooza”.

Sin City is a fitting spot for the world's most anti-science front group to convene its friends who deny the scientific consensus that human-caused global warming is real and a grave threat to our future.

There will surely be plenty of tobacco smoke and gambling within the halls of the Mandalay Bay casino where the Heartland conference is taking place. For instance, Heartland's James Taylor is a big fan of the poker tables, as Showtime's Years of Living Dangerously episode 'Against the Wind' revealed.

I'm a bit surprised to see Heartland revive this conference given the extremely low attendance last time around, when Heartland president Joe Bast declared “no plans to do another ICCC.” Bast desperately appealed for cash from anyone's “rich uncle” to help fund the flailing organization's recovery from its Unabomber billboard debacle and public airing of its internal documents

In an effort to boost the attendance figures this time around, Heartland's climate skeptic gathering hitched its wagon to FreedomFest, a right-wing and libertarian shindig that gets rolling later this week. 

Below are links to DeSmogBlog's in-depth research on both the Sponsors and Speakers of Heartland's ICCC9 Denial-a-Palooza climate skeptic conference. Media Matters has also put together a great run-down of the Heartland conference attendees in its post Climate Denial Goes Vegas.

Stay tuned for our coverage of both of these climate denial fests as the right wing echo chamber revs its think tank engines in preparation of the 2014 mid-term Congressional elections and ongoing policy battles in Washington over EPA carbon regulations and executive actions by the Obama administration.

Sun, 2014-06-08 06:00Brendan DeMelle
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My New Favorite Book: The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change

The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change was released this week by Island Press and I highly recommend you check it out. It's not only a fun read to educate yourself or your crazy uncle about climate science basics, it's also full of practical information presented in simple but elegant illustrations and comic strips.

Written by Yoram Bauman, the world's only stand-up economist, and award-winning illustrator Grady Klein, the book covers a range of science and economics lessons on everything from the beginning of the earth to our current carbon-bloated economies. And there's even genetically engineered poopless dogs!

Ultimately, The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change presents a convincing argument that we must put a price on carbon and transition away from fossil fuels in order to safeguard our future. 

If you've ever struggled to explain global warming science or the need for action to someone in your family or social networks, perhaps this is the book you've been waiting for.

From the Keeling Curve to the Milankovitch cycles and Arrhenius to Einstein, the book presents an easy-to-follow history of scientific achievements and challenges in understanding our planet's past and predicting the future.  

Here is a page from the book to demonstrate just how cleverly it delivers a complex message: 

Mon, 2014-05-19 14:43Brendan DeMelle
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Years of Living Dangerously Takes On Climate Denial, Anti-Science Attacks on Climate Solutions

“Sometimes you can't convince people, you just have to defeat them.” That was Washington state governor Jay Inslee's message about dealing with climate deniers today at Climate Solutions' 6th annual breakfast in Seattle.

“We're not going to wait until the last person in Washington understands physics and chemistry in order to confront climate change,” Inslee said, describing his view that the climate policy debate essentially pits optimists against pessimists. Those who understand the urgent need to address climate change are the optimists who see climate solutions as beneficial for our health and economic prosperity, while those who deny the problem or think there's nothing we can do about it are the pessimists. Nobody likes a pessimist. 

Governor Inslee was joined on stage today by David Gelber, the executive producer of the must-watch Showtime climate change series, Years of Living Dangerously. These two optimists were both in agreement that “climate deniers are really back on their heels,” as Gelber said about the increasing public pressure for politicians to stop waffling and move ahead with climate solutions. 

Pacific Northwest coal export proposals were a hot topic of conversation, as usual whenever Governor Inslee makes a public appearance these days. Gelber noted that the potential climate impacts of coal expansion are “every bit as important” as the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and urged the media to be more aggressive in covering climate threats since we face “civilizational suicide” if we fail to act. 

Gelber shared several stories about the success of the Years series in its first season, and revealed plans for wider distrubtion once the Showtime run concludes. The series will be released on DVD approximately three months after the final episode of season one airs, and the producers are getting closer to securing international distribution agreements. That will be welcome news to fans outside the U.S., along with the many schools and universities that want to screen the series for their students, Gelber said. 

Governor Inslee was featured in episode 5 for his leadership as a climate-focused governor who won election on a platform of climate action promises. That episode also looked at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's refusal to acknowledge the role that climate change played in amplifying the impacts of Superstorm Sandy. The highlight of the episode is the conversion of Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), a former climate skeptic who accepts the scientific consensus by the end of the episode in an interview with host Chris Hayes. 

If you happen to have Showtime or know someone who does, tune in tonight at 8pm for episode 6, which looks at two important story lines that will be familiar to DeSmog readers.

Mark Bittman hosts the “Chasing Methane” segment looking at the climate impacts of natural gas development, while America Ferrera hosts “Against the Wind,” a segment looking at the anti-science attacks on renewable energy by the Heartland Institute and other fossil fuel front groups. That segment features an interview with yours truly as well as Center for Media and Democracy executive director Lisa Graves examining the history and tactics of James Taylor and Heartland with America Ferrera.  

Tue, 2014-04-22 15:27Brendan DeMelle
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Breaking: $3 Million Jury Verdict in Texas Fracking Nuisance Case

A jury in Dallas, TX today awarded $2.925 million to plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr, who sued Barnett shale fracking company Aruba Petroleum Inc. for intentionally causing a nuisance on the Parr's property which impacted their health and ruined their drinking water.

The jury returned its 5-1 verdict confirming that Aruba Petroleum “intentionally created a private nuisance” though its drilling, fracking and production activities at 21 gas wells near the Parrs' Wise County home over a three-year period between 2008-2011.

Plaintiffs attorneys claimed the case is “the first fracking verdict in U.S. history.” 

The trial lasted two and a half weeks. Aruba Petroleum plans to appeal the verdict.

The pollution from natural gas production near the Parrs' Wise County home was so bad that they were forced to flee their 40-acre property for months at a time.  

Mon, 2014-04-07 15:26Brendan DeMelle
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Years of Living Dangerously: Watch the Most Important Premiere of 2014 Right Now

Looking for something inspiring to watch tonight instead of Game of Thrones? Check out this sneak peak of Years of Living Dangerously, which will premiere on Showtime on Sunday, April 13 at 10pm. Years Of Living Dangerously is a 9-part series produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Weintraub along with former 60 Minutes producers who have 18 Emmys between them. Showtime and the producers were gracious enough to provide the first episode in full on YouTube.  

Once you see it, I bet you'll want to sign up for Showtime to see the rest of the series this spring. (Yes, it's on Showtime which not many households or establishments subscribe to. But wouldn't you like to support the network that hosts such an important series about climate change?)

Watch the first episode of Years of Living Dangerously in full below:

Pretty awesome, right? Sign up at Showtime.com so you don't miss future episodes, including one about the attacks on renewable energy that I was interviewed by America Ferrera for, airing in May. 

Thu, 2014-03-06 05:00Brendan DeMelle
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Climate Denier Steve Milloy Now Director at Coal Giant Murray Energy, On CPAC Global Warming Panel Today

The Junkman has a new job, and yet again it involves defending fossil fuels and attacking science. Steve Milloy, who long ago dubbed himself “The Junkman,” is listed as Director of External Policy & Strategy, Murray Energy Corporation, in a description of a global warming panel happening Thursday afternoon at the CPAC convention in Washington.

That means he’s now deploying his anti-science, climate denialist PR spin for the largest privately-held coal producer in the U.S., Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp.

Milloy apparently hasn’t bothered to update his online biography with this new title, and he didn’t respond to questions from DeSmogBlog about his exact start date. But it appears that he took the job with the coal company led by controversial conservative coal baron Robert Murray at some point last year. *Update: A Murray Energy spokesperson confirmed with DeSmog that Milloy began employment at the company on October 15, 2013.*

Milloy appears on the roster of attendees at a White House meeting last Halloween, according to an Office of Management and Budget meeting log from Oct. 31, 2013.  Milloy, appearing on behalf of Murray Energy Corp, was part of the coal industry coalition pushing back against efforts to improve mine safety rules protecting workers from respirable coal dust that can cause black lung disease, according to documents supplied at the meeting.

Last September, Milloy wrote about Murray Energy briefly on his JunkScience.com blog without mentioning any ties to the company. Perhaps he hadn’t joined Murray yet, or didn’t see reason to declare his position? (*See update above*)

The CPAC global warming panel taking place today in Washington features a cast of climate confusionists apparently seeking to permanently sink the GOP’s reputation on scientific matters.

Alongside Milloy, the CPAC panel features Heartland Institute’s Joe Bast, CFACT’s Marc Morano, CEI’s Marlo Lewis and Frontiers of Freedom president George Landrith.

With one exception — CEO of Abundant Power Group, Shannon Smith, a conservative who acknowledged in a recent tweet that “climate change is a reality” — the rest of the panel is stacked with a denier dream team of veteran apologists for tobacco companies, the Koch brothers, the chemical industry and dirty energy interests.

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