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Wed, 2013-09-04 12:00Guest
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Judge Denies National Review's Motion to Reconsider Ruling in Michael Mann's Defamation Case

Cross-posted with permission from Climate Science Watch.

“The Court finds that there is sufficient evidence in the record to demonstrate that Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits,” said a DC Superior Court judge in her latest procedural ruling in the defamation case of Michael Mann v. National Review, et al. “The evidence before the Court indicates the likelihood that 'actual malice' is present in the [National Review's] conduct.” 

On August 30 the Court denied the Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's July 19 order, which had affirmed Prof. Mann's right to proceed in his defamation lawsuit. The text of the August 30 Court Order is here in PDF.

Some excerpts from the Court Order denying Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration:

Tue, 2013-09-03 18:58Guest
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Conspiracies Fuel Climate Change Denial and Belief in Chemtrails

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

I recently wrote about geoengineering as a strategy to deal with climate change and carbon dioxide emissions. That drew comments from people who confuse this scientific process with the unscientific theory of “chemtrails”. Some also claimed the column supported geoengineering, which it didn’t.

The reaction got me wondering why some people believe in phenomena rejected by science, like chemtrails, but deny real problems demonstrated by massive amounts of scientific evidence, like climate change.

Chemtrails believers claim governments around the world are in cahoots with secret organizations to seed the atmosphere with chemicals and materials – aluminum salts, barium crystals, biological agents, polymer fibres, etc. – for a range of nefarious purposes. These include controlling weather for military purposes, poisoning people for population or mind control and supporting secret weapons programs based on the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP.

Scientists have tested and used cloud and atmospheric seeding for weather modification and considered them as ways to slow global warming. With so many unknowns and possible unintended consequences, these practices have the potential to cause harm. But the chemtrails conspiracy theory is much broader, positing that military and commercial airlines are involved in constant massive daily spraying that is harming the physical and mental health of citizens worldwide.

I don’t have space to get into the absurdities of belief in a plot that would require worldwide collusion between governments, scientists and airline company executives and pilots to amass and spray unimaginable amounts of chemicals from altitudes of 10,000 metres or more. I’m a scientist, so I look at credible science – and there is none for the existence of chemtrails. They’re condensation trails, formed when hot, humid air from jet exhaust mixes with colder low-vapour-pressure air. This, of course, comes with its own environmental problems.

But what interests me is the connection between climate change denial and belief in chemtrails. Why do so many people accept a theory for which there is no scientific evidence while rejecting a serious and potentially catastrophic phenomenon that can be easily observed and for which overwhelming evidence has been building for decades?

Tue, 2013-08-20 16:45Guest
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Is Geoengineering a Silver Bullet for Climate Change?

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Altering environments to suit our needs is not new. From clearing land to building dams, we've done it throughout history. When our technologies and populations were limited, our actions affected small areas – though with some cascading effects on interconnected ecosystems.

We've now entered an era in which humans are a geological force. According to the website Welcome to the Anthropocene, “There are now so many of us, using so many resources, that we’re disrupting the grand cycles of biology, chemistry and geology by which elements like carbon and nitrogen circulate between land, sea and atmosphere. We’re changing the way water moves around the globe as never before. Almost all the planet's ecosystems bear the marks of our presence.”

One of our greatest impacts is global warming, fuelled by massive increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning oil, coal and gas. Thanks in part to self-preserving industrialists, complicit governments and deluded deniers, we've failed to take meaningful action to address the problem, even though we've known about it for decades. Many now argue the best way to protect humanity from the worst effects is to further alter Earth’s natural systems through geoengineering.

Fri, 2013-08-16 07:00Guest
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Study Finds Utility Decoupling is Gaining Traction

This is a guest post by Clint Robertson.

A new study found that 25 states had adopted revenue decoupling for at least one natural gas or electric utility by December 2012. In total, 24 electric and 49 natural gas utilities participate in decoupling according to the report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Regulatory Assistance Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council.  

This is a big increase over 2009 data, which found that just 28 natural gas and 12 electric utilities had adopted revenue decoupling. So why the sudden increase in utility interest for decoupling?

Under most regulatory conditions, utilities make money based on how much energy their customers consume each month.  The more energy a utility sells, the larger its profit margin. While it's an effective way for utilities to make money and the system has worked well for over a century, it’s a hindrance to energy-efficiency initiatives that many states are mandating.

Basically, for utilities, waste and pollution equal profit.  If a utility promotes energy savings, it sells less energy, and in turn loses money.  To further complicate things, the decreased revenue makes it harder for utilities to cover fixed costs, such as the regular maintenance of power lines and facilities necessary for reliable energy service. So in an age where going green prevails and climate change initiatives stretch across the globe, it's not easy to get a utility to support energy-efficiency initiatives.

Wed, 2013-07-24 04:00Guest
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CNBC Host Squawks Climate Denial in Twitter Meltdown

This is a guest post by Emily Southard, Campaign Manager of Forecast the Facts

Joe Kernen, co-host of CNBC’s Squawk Box, lashed out on Twitter this month at concerned CNBC viewers and individuals who called on him to accurately report the facts about the economic risks of climate change. Kernen’s comments are indicative of a larger climate coverage problem at CNBC.

Just recently, the network refused to air President Obama’s climate change speech–a surprising choice for a business news and financial network, given that Obama’s remarks dramatically shifted financial markets.

One potential explanation for this blunder? Many of CNBC’s on-air personalities are avid climate deniers–currently, the most vocal being Joe Kernen.

The CNBC Squawk Box co-anchor is so adamant that climate change is a “myth”, that Kernen has dedicated 150 out of his 530 lifetime tweets (over 28% of his all-time Twitter activity) and many business hours to doubling down on climate denial.

Kernen’s tweets have varied from calling concerned climate activists the “eco-taliban” and “sheep” to repeating well-debunked climate denier myths, citing his MIT cancer research multiple times, and complaining about public criticisms.

Sat, 2013-07-13 12:10Guest
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Lac Megantic Oil Train Explosion: Consequences of Deregulation

This is a guest post by Phil Mattera.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board is far from reaching a conclusion on what caused an unattended train with 72 tanker cars filled with crude oil to roll downhill and crash into the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, setting off a huge explosion that killed at least 15 people. But that hasn’t stopped Edward Burkhardt, the chief executive of the railroad, from pointing the finger at everyone in sight — except himself.

Burkhardt first tried to blame local firefighters who had extinguished a small blaze in the train before the larger accident, and now he is accusing his own employee — the person who was operating the train all by himself — for failing to apply all the hand brakes when he parked the train for the night and went to a hotel for some rest after his 12-hour shift.

Whatever were the immediate causes of the accident, Burkhardt and his company — Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA) Railway and its parent Rail World Inc. — bear much of the responsibility.

Burkhardt is a living symbol of the pitfalls of deregulation, deunionization, privatization and the other features of laissez-faire capitalism. He first made his mark in the late 1980s, when his Wisconsin Central Railroad took advantage of federal railroad deregulation, via the 1980 Staggers Rail Act, to purchase 2,700 miles of track from the Soo Line and remake it into a supposedly dynamic and efficient carrier. That efficiency came largely from operating non-union and thus eliminating work rules that had promoted safety.

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