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Thu, 2010-09-09 16:02Brendan DeMelle
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Nature Editorial Slams GOP For Anti-Science Tendencies

There is no getting around the fact that the U.S. Republican Party simply hates science.  It didn’t used to be that way.  But it is now, and the timing of a recent uptick in this phenomenon couldn’t be worse.  

The anti-science strain pervading the right wing in the United States is the last thing the country needs in a time of economic challenge.”

That is the subtitle of an excellent editorial today in the journal Nature, “Science Scorned,” which discusses how dangerous this trend is, pointing out that:

There is a growing anti-science streak on the American right that could have tangible societal and political impacts on many fronts — including regulation of environmental and other issues and stem-cell research.”

Nowhere is the right wing’s anti-science stance more starkly apparent than on the issue of climate change, as Nature notes:

Denialism over global warming has become a scientific cause célèbre within the movement. [Rush] Limbaugh, for instance, who has told his listeners that “science has become a home for displaced socialists and communists”, has called climate-change science “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.

Nature is a highly respected journal, and it is encouraging to see the editors take a strong stand against the GOP’s betrayal of science and reason. Science should never be confused with politics, but the recent antics of the Republican Party leave no alternative but to acknowledge that the Right’s attack on science must be addressed directly by the scientific community. 

Fri, 2010-09-03 10:47Brendan DeMelle
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Koch Industries Donates $1 Million To Prop 23 Effort To Kill California Climate Law

David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers bankrolling the front groups behind the Tea Party and climate denial movement, have added another ‘cause’ to their philanthropic endeavors, donating $1 million to the Proposition 23 fight to kill California’s landmark 2006 climate change legislation.

Koch subsidiary Flint Hills Resources LP handled the laundry duties on this one, but the directive surely came from the heads of the Kochtopus empire - billionaires David and Charles Koch.

The Kochs have found themselves under an uncomfortable spotlight lately after a thorough investigation by The New Yorker revealed the brothers’ extensive funding of a network of groups that catapulted the ‘grassroots’ Tea Party into play, as well as their financial backing of a sprawling network of climate denier groups that makes even ExxonMobil blush.

The Los Angeles Times blog ‘Greenspace’ first reported Flint Hills Resources donation towards the Proposition 23 bill last night, noting that the effort was launched by two other oil industry players, Texas-based refinery companies Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp.

Thu, 2010-09-02 14:53Brendan DeMelle
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EPA Ignores Tennessee and Alabama Coal Ash Victims, Nearest Hearing Is 260 Miles From TVA Disaster Site

September is back to school month, but the next big test for the White House and EPA has already begun. How the Obama administration handles the proposed regulation of coal ash - the toxic waste left over from coal-burning power plants loaded with mercury, lead, and arsenic - will serve as a key indicator of the administration’s sincerity in responding to one of the worst energy and environmental crises threatening the health and water supplies of millions of Americans.

Two key states, Tennessee and Alabama, have been shut out of the discussion on how best to regulate coal ash, thanks to EPA’s bewildering decision not to hold public hearings in either state. Residents of Tennessee might have a few things to say about the impacts of coal ash, since the state suffered the worst coal ash disaster in U.S. history less than two years ago.

Wed, 2010-09-01 11:53Brendan DeMelle
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Washington Post Editorial Slams Ken Cuccinelli "Embarrassing" Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientist

The Washington Post penned an excellent editorial yesterday deriding Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s political attack against climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, a former UVA professor whom Cuccinelli has targeted in a witch hunt.  

The Post editorial notes that “the overblown critique of climate science that emerged early this year continues to underwhelm,” citing several examples of the recent rash of politically-motivated attacks on climate science, including the much-ado-about-nothing ‘Climategate’ episode last winter, the repeated attacks against the integrity of the U.N. IPCC, and of course Mr. Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against UVA and Mike Mann. 

This week’s ruling by Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross confirming that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his witch hunt “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition,” the Post says.

But that hasn’t checked “Mr. Cuccinelli’s zeal,” since he immediately announced plans to re-rig his fishing pole and try again to smear Dr. Mann, “thereby extending his assault on academic freedom,” says the Post.

The editorial closes with sharp criticism for Cuccinelli’s attempt to “embarrass Virginia”:

“We hope he rethinks his course. At this point all he can do is waste more taxpayer money, force the university to waste more of its money and embarrass Virginia in a way that can only harm its higher education system.” 

Check out the full editorial, 
A judge puts a damper on Mr. Cuccinelli’s U-Va. witch hunt.” 

Mon, 2010-08-30 16:02Brendan DeMelle
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Bjorn Lomborg Now Says Climate Change “Chief Concern,” Calls for Carbon Tax

The Guardian reports today that long-time global warming contrarian Bjorn Lomborg has changed his tune a bit, and now acknowledges that climate change is “a challenge humanity must confront.”  In an interview with the paper, Lomborg calls for a carbon tax and a $100 billion annual investment in clean technologies and other solutions to climate disruption. 

Lomborg has never been among the outright climate deniers, acknowledging repeatedly over the years that he accepts the science confirming manmade global warming.  But until now he has downplayed the need for massive investment to solve the problem, and is often seen cavorting with the ExxonMobil-funded denier crowd.  In his 2007 book ‘Cool It,’ he argued that spending huge amounts of money to address climate change would do little to address the problem.  

Now it appears Lomborg has come to his senses, becoming an unlikely advocate for massive public investment in creating a low carbon energy future. 

It’s about technologies, about realizing there’s a vast array of solutions,” he tells the Guardian.

Mon, 2010-08-30 11:02Brendan DeMelle
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Judge Rules Against Cuccinelli’s Witch Hunt Of Michael Mann

Virginia Attorney General and global warming denier Ken Cuccinelli has been rebuffed by a state Circuit Court judge who ruled today that Cuccinelli’s politically-charged subpoena against the University of Virginia and climate scientist Michael Mann lacked an “objective basis.”

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena failed to include a “reason to believe” that Mann violated Virginia fraud statutes by receiving research grants from the state to study climate change.  Cuccinelli is seeking years’ worth of documents related to Mann’s work at UVA, but his political attacks on climate science and efforts to waste Virginia taxpayers’ money will have to return to the drawing board. 

In his six-page ruling Judge Peatross wrote:

“What the Attorney General suspects that Dr. Mann did that was false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth is simply not stated.”

Dr. Mann, who now works at Penn State University, said in a statement: “It is a victory not just for me and the university, but for all scientists who live in fear that they may be subject to a politically-motivated witch hunt when their research findings prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests.”

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