Brendan DeMelle's blog

Manhattan Institute Op-ed Exemplifies Why NY Times Should Require Disclosure of Financial Conflicts

The New York Times ran an op-ed last week by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, a group funded by Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and other polluters to confuse the public about climate change and energy issues. Robert Bryce goes to great lengths to portray solar and wind power as land-hogging energy choices. He suggests that fracked shale gas and nuclear are somehow more environmentally preferable energy options.

This is a common argument from Bryce, who had a similar pro-fracking op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, and who has emerged as one of the loudest of a growing cadre of critics of clean energy. Most of these critics are, not surprisingly, affiliated with “institutes” (i.e., front groups) that get money from the dirty energy industries that solar and wind are starting to disrupt.

Bryce’s argument was quickly debunked by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which points out a number of factual errors and omissions in the Manhattan Institute representative's piece.  AWEA was correct to take on Bryce's misinformation and set the record straight. Climate Progress also picked apart Bryce's claims in detail.

But one important question remains - why does The New York Times print such misleading opinion pieces without revealing the clear conflict of interest that a Koch/Exxon-funded front group representative has on such matters? Did the Times’ even ask, and does it do so as a matter of standard practice? {C}

Bill McKibben's Recent Op-Ed On Climate and Severe Weather Remixed Into Video

Check out this excellent video version of Bill McKibben’s recent Washington Post op-ed “A link between climate change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!”

Narrated and illustrated by Stephen Thomson of Plonomedia.com, the video is a great visual representation of McKibben’s widely-circulated op-ed.

Watch here, and share this widely:

TIME Names DeSmogBlog In Top 25 Best Blogs of 2011

DeSmogBlog is honored to be recognized by TIME magazine in the Top 25 list of The Best Blogs of 2011.

TIME reporter Bryan Walsh calls DeSmogBlog a “necessary corrective” and “the antidote” to the corporate smoke screen surrounding news coverage of climate change and energy issues. 

Here is the full blurb about DeSmogBlog from Bryan Walsh at TIME:

A corporate smoke screen surrounds much of the coverage of climate-change and energy issues. Fossil-fuel companies have spent millions funding anti-global-warming think tanks, purposely creating a climate of doubt around the science. DeSmogBlog is the antidote to that obfuscation. Started in 2006 by James [Hoggan], a Canadian p.r. guru, DeSmogBlog dissects the half truths and outright lies around climate change, acting as an aggregator for smart research and opinion on green issues. If it sometimes goes too far — as with its jihad against gas fracking — DeSmogBlog is nevertheless a necessary corrective.

DeSmog Interview with Curt Stager, Author of 'Deep Future' (Part 2)

Part 2 of my interview with Dr. Curt Stager, author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life On Earth.  Don't forget to check out Part 1 of the interview from yesterday. Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Deep Future.

BD: On pgs 239-241 of the Epilogue, you talk about your discomfort with what you call “aggressive activist stances among prominent scientists,” but at DeSmogBlog we've heard from dozens of climate scientists who are simply fed up with lawmakers and the media ignoring the science or hiding behind “Climategate” myths.  In a world where about half the lawmakers in the U.S. completely reject the preponderance of peer-reviewed climate science confirming manmade global warming, how can a scientist remain silent and simply press on while being ignored? 

CS: Scientists are human beings who reflect a diversity of opinions and attitudes.  Of course most of us are fed up with this ridiculous situation, so it's not surprising that you hear from so many who express those concerns.  I'm fed up, too, but I'm also not alone in my preferences for refraining from “aggressive activist stances.”   I do so because I value science itself more than any individual topic that it addresses. 

I consider science to be one of the most valuable inventions of human civilization, and I recognize how precious and vulnerable to corruption it is as one who believes in objective reality, the fallibility of human perception, and the need for objective methods of seeking truth. I also recognize that public trust in science itself depends heavily upon trust in the objectivity of those who pursue it.  We must walk a fine line between defending truth and trying to force it on other people, and I personally choose to take a cautious approach in walking that line.  {C}

DeSmog Interview with Curt Stager, Author of 'Deep Future' - Answer Trivia Qs To Win A Free Book!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Curt Stager, author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life On Earth.  Here is Part 1 of the interview, stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2. Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Deep Future.

Brendan DeMelle (BD): Your book is about the impacts of climate change far into the future, and as you point out, that means very far into the future, not a 5-year plan that seems far away in the lifespan of a human, but thousands, millions and billions of years from now.  What advice do you have for people who struggle to comprehend the time scale of these impacts? How can people alive today attempt to relate to the deep future?

Curt Stager (CS): We live our lives on short time scales, in which even the end of the work day can seem like “forever” in the future, and we rarely deal with extremely large numbers or quantities on an immediate personal level.  As a result, facing a legacy of climatic effects that stretches many thousands of years into the future can be mind-boggling, even for a scientist.  But that's actually one of the important points to recognize in this amazing story; our ecological impacts on the planet are mind-boggling in scope. 

We can become more comfortable in handling large sweeps of time with practice, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary to grasp exactly what 100,000 years means in order to understand that the changes we're setting in motion today are far larger than we once thought, any more than it's necessary to know the exact weight of a bull elephant in order to realize that you'd better not mess with it.

Koch Brothers Exposed: Brave New Films Explains How Billionaires Could Profit From Keystone XL Pipeline

In the latest installment of its video series “Koch Brothers Exposed,” the Brave New Films team interviews concerned property owners and farmers whose land and water quality is threatened by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry filthy tar sands crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries. 

The short video outlines the various ways that the billionaire Koch brothers may stand to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline - that is, if it is ever built. 

A diverse and fast-growing coalition of property owners, farmers, water quality advocates, ethics watchdogs and environmentalists is rising up against the proposed pipeline, citing the threat of devestating impacts on critical public resources, including water supplies such as the Ogallala aquifer, which sits directly in the path of the currently anticipated pipeline route. Then there are the property rights, economics, and climate change-related reasons why this pipeline is so controversial.

As the video makes clear, the decision whether to grant a thumbs up or down to TransCanada’s request for a presidential permit to build the 1,959-mile tar sands pipeline rests sqaurely with Secretary Clinton and the State Department. The video asks viewers to “Tell Secretary Clinton To Say No To The Kochs” and the Keystone XL pipeline.

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