Climate Progress

Wed, 2014-03-05 18:00Farron Cousins
Farron Cousins's picture

Harvard President Says Fossil Fuel Divestment Unnecessary, "Hypocritical"

A degree from Harvard University was once seen as the pinnacle of achievement in higher education.  Parents would boast proudly that their child was attending one of the most prestigious universities in America, and a diploma from Harvard could almost guarantee you a job in whichever field you chose.

But today, Harvard’s image is being tarnished by fossil fuels.  The university still maintains considerable holdings in fossil fuels in their endowment funds, and according to University President Drew Faust, that isn’t going to change in the near future.

Faust has long been an opponent of fossil fuel divestment, and refuses to take part in the larger movement of universities and other institutions who are pulling their endowment funds out of dirty energy financial holdings.  Harvard currently has an endowment worth over $30 billion, the largest of any other institution in the United States. 

ClimateProgress has been following Faust’s anti-divestment campaign for some time, and has completely debunked all of Faust’s talking points on the issue of divestment.  In 2013, Faust released a letter explaining her reasoning for refusing to divest, which includes: fossil fuel companies won’t notice; divestment would hurt Harvard’s bottom line; the endowment is not a tool for social change; and that divestment is hypocritical.

As ClimateProgress pointed out at the time, all of Faust’s reasoning rests on faulty logic.  First of all, divesting from fossil fuels would send a big message to the dirty energy industry and would easily inspire others to do the same.  Second, as fossil fuel reserves are depleted, the companies' stocks will plummet, which will have a significant impact on Harvard’s bottom line.  And third, on hypocrisy, it is not hypocritical to remove your financial holdings from an industry that is making money at the expense of human and environmental health.

But Faust clearly cannot be swayed by logic, and this week her ignorance was put on full display when a young activist named Alli Welton from Divest Harvard put Faust on the spot and asked her why her university refuses to divest from the dirty energy industry.  ClimateProgress provides the video:

Sun, 2013-10-06 21:16Steve Horn
Steve Horn's picture

NY Times' Joe Nocera Overlooks Key Flaws in EDF Fracking Climate Change Study

Yesterday, New York Times' columnist Joe Nocera weighed in on the study by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and University of Texas-Austin (UT-Austin) on the climate change impacts of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)DeSmogBlog got a special mention in Nocera's op-ed titled, “A Fracking Rorschach Test.” 

Nocera praised UT-Austin Professor David Allen and colleagues for obtaining what he claimed was “unassailable data” on fugitive methane emissions and fracking's climate change impact potential. 

“The reason the Environmental Defense Fund wanted this study done is precisely so that unassailable data, rather than mere estimates, could become part of the debate over fracking,” wrote Nocera. “You can’t have sound regulation without good data.”

Missing from Nocera's praise: new findings by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change in their latest comprehensive review of the climate crisis.

IPCC revealed “over a 20-year time frame, methane has a global warming potential 86 [times the amount of] CO2, up from its previous estimate of 72 [times],” as explained by Climate Progress' Joe Romm.

In juxtaposition, Nocera dismissed DeSmog's criticisms of the study - one we referred to as “frackademia.” 

Simplifying the crux of my 3,000-word DeSmog critique and the 800-word follow-up as “because the nine companies involved had both cooperated and helped pay for it,” Nocera then rhetorically asks “why a study that necessitated industry cooperation and money is inherently less valid than a study produced by scientists who are openly opposed to fracking was left unanswered.”

Sun, 2013-01-06 15:00Guest
Guest's picture

A Timeline of Shell’s Arctic Drilling Debacle in 2012

Originally published at Climate Progress. Re-printed with permission. 

by Kiley Kroh and Michael Conathan

This week’s grounding of Shell’s enormous Kulluk drilling rig near Kodiak Island, Alaska has not inspired confidence in its preparedness to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

The rig was being towed from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to Seattle when its tow vessel lost control of the massive platform during a harsh winter storm. After numerous attempts to secure the equipment failed, it settled near the shore of uninhabited Sitkalidak Island in the western Gulf of Alaska on Monday night and remains there – with nearly 150,000 gallons of fuel and other fluids on board. The Coast Guard is coordinating a 500-plus person response to assess the damage, but neither they nor Shell has any idea when or how they will regain control of the foundering giant.

Adding insult to injury, on Thursday, the Alaska Dispatch reported that the reason Shell was working so feverishly to move the rig in such harsh conditions was to avoid paying millions of dollars in state taxes it would have owed if the rig was still in Alaska waters on January 1.

Far from an isolated incident, the latest fiasco is just the most recent in a litany of technical failures and struggles with Mother Nature that continue to accentuate Shell’s lack of preparedness to operate in the region. As Christopher Helman writes in Forbes, “It would be a comedy of errors, if the stakes weren’t so high.”

Thu, 2012-07-12 15:02Steve Horn
Steve Horn's picture

Marcellus Money: Statehouse Bought and Sold by Shale Gas Industry in PA

Consider it official: the Pennsylvania statehouse has been bought and sold by the shale gas industry, confirmed today, yet again, by MarcellusMoney.org

In a press release, Marcellus Money, a project of Common Cause of Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania laid out the sobering facts about the frackers' stranglehold over the PA state government, writing,

The natural gas industry and related trade groups have now given nearly $8 million to Pennsylvania state candidates and political committees since 2000…Top recipients of industry money given between 2000 and April 2012 were Governor Tom Corbett (R) with $1,813,205.59, Senate President Joseph Scarnati (R-25) with $359,145.72, Rep. Dave Reed (R-62) with $137,532.33, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28) with $98,600, and Sen. Don White (R-41) with $94,150.

Furthermore, between 2007-2012, the gas industry spent an astounding $15.7 million on lobbying the PA state legislature.

The overwhelming majority of the campaign cash flowed in the direction of Republican Party politicians between 2010-12. Individual GOP politicians and Political Action Committees (PACs) received $4.5 million from the gas industry during that time frame, while, on the other side of the aisle, Democratic Party politicians and PACs received roughly $650,000

The industry has largely had its way in Pennsylvania and has spent millions to put their friends in the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion,” said James Browning, Regional Director of State Operations for Common Cause, in the press release. “The industry’s focus now is on protecting these investments and maintaining access to key elected officials.”

Tue, 2011-02-22 13:11TJ Scolnick
TJ Scolnick's picture

Are Climate Deniers and Front Groups Polluting Online Conversation With Denier-Bots?

There appears to be an increasingly sophisticated and planned effort by conservatives and polluter front groups to use “persona management” software to pollute social media outlets and website comment forums with auto-generated sockpuppet swarms designed to mislead and misrepresent real people.

Leaked emails from Aaron Barr, CEO of a federal subsidiary for HB Gary, disclose the latest efforts and technology used underhandedly for “ganging up on bloggers, commenters and otherwise ‘real’ people to smear enemies and distort the truth.”

This phenomenon was first reported by Happy Rockefeller over at Daily Kos.

ClimateProgress is following this issue, particularly when it comes to the online discussion about climate change, noting that readers joke about pre-programmed ‘denier-bots’ and “how the same arguments and phrasings keep cropping up in the comments’ section of the many unmoderated news sites on the web.”

Tue, 2011-02-08 19:42TJ Scolnick
TJ Scolnick's picture

Upton's Show Trial To Attack EPA Carbon Controls Set For Wednesday Morning

Remember reading about those Soviet-era show trials where politics and everything BUT the facts were actually discussed? Well on February 9th, the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil are paying for a show trial of their own.

On Wednesday at 9:30 am, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing to examine legislation (see memo [pdf])aiming to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from curbing global warming pollution from stationary sources (power plants, factories, etc.). The bill “HR __, The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011” was proposed last week by self-anointed “manmade climate change” skeptic (see video below) and Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), with the help of Subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and well-known climate skeptic Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).

The Centre for American Progress Action Fund (CAP) has a brilliant backgrounder [pdf] on the hearing describing how polluter friendly support in the Committee on Energy and Commerce, primarily on the Republican side, has been paid for by Koch Industries and their partners in polluting the planet. CAP shows that during the 2010 election cycle, the Kochs and their employees gave $279,500 to 22 Republicans on the Committee and $32,000 to five of its Democrats.

Mon, 2011-02-07 08:24Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

"ArticGate" - Heartland Backs Schmitt in Climate Misinformation

Incompetent or Dishonest - Either Way They’re Wrong

The former astronaut and proud climate change denier Harrison Schmitt is not alone in making the false claim that “Artic [sic] sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.” He has been bolstered  by the smokey hacks at the Heartland Institute, and especially by the brittle letter writer and Heartland head honcho, Joseph Bast.

If Schmitt’s false statement had stood on its own (or if he had moved to correct it when it was pointed out), you could reasonably have dismissed it as an error made in good faith.  But when Bast stooped to the flagrant manipulation necessary to argue that Schmitt’s assertion could have some basis in fact, well, you have to wonder - especially when there is already an established relationship between Schmitt and Heartland (check the name on the podium in the Schmitt denier video).

It’s awkward always to trace climate denial back to the money trail. Some people - maybe even Schmitt - deny climate science out of ideological blindness, not greedy self-interest. But it’s interesting that Heartland’s two favourite projects are denying the science of climate change and arguing that tobacco is really not all that bad for you. It’s relevant, too, that before they started hiding their funding sources, Heartland used to acknowledge the generous support of the tobacco and oil industries in propping up the “think” tank’s operations.

Wed, 2011-02-02 09:45Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Wall Street Journal: Accurate 7% of the Time

93% of WSJ Opinion Pieces Misreport Climate Change

Scott Mandia, a professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College at Long Island, N.Y. has done a topline analysis (on Climate Progress) of Wall Street Journal Editorial and Op-Ed (the “Opposite Editorial” Opinion Page) coverage of climate change and finds that the paper tells the truth seven per cent of the time.

The WSJ’s defence for this performance would undoubtedly be twofold. First, the pages Mandia analysed are for opinion, not news. Second, there really ARE a couple of deluded “experts” out there who challenge the majority view on climate change: the Journal has a right and responsibility to give voice to those views.

Fair enough. But a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that the proponderance of climate scientists who are worried about global warming is 97 per cent - not seven per cent, so the Journal is a bit off the mark. And while the paper is entitled to its opinions, it is beyond irresponsible to be setting its wishful thinking forth as fact. Bullshit is still bullshit, even if it’s in an editorial.

Fri, 2011-01-14 11:00Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Media Loses Interest In Climate Change

Updated research from Max Boykoff and Maria Mansfield suggests that the world’s media have lost interest in climate change, regardless that the evidence of potential catastrophe becomes more clear by the day - and that last year was tied as the hottest on record.

World news coverage spiked in late 2009, corresponding with the intense interest among politicians, bureaucrats and activists in the Copenhagen conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

This study, however, is quantitative rather than qualitative. Boykoff and Mansfield have scoured the electronic sources and found how many stories appear in prominent global newspapers. But this graph doesn’t answer whether what was being published was stupid or wrong. And previous Boykoff studies - beginning with the landmark 2004 study that he conducted with his brother Jules - have demonstrated that a stunning amount of media coverage was presenting an imagined version of reality that was not reflected in actual climate science.

Thu, 2010-03-25 17:02Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Forest Scientist Simon Lewis Files Formal Complaint Against UK Sunday Times Over Dishonest Reporting On “Amazongate”

Simon Lewis, an expert on tropical forests at the University of Leeds in the UK, says the Sunday Times’ “inaccurate, misleading and distorted” story by Jonathan Leake in January left readers under the wrong impression that the 2007 IPCC AR4 report made a false claim by stating that reduced rainfall could wipe out up to 40% of the Amazon rainforest.  Lewis filed a formal complaint this week with the UK Press Complaints Commission.

Leake’s story helped to launch the “Amazongate” scandal that had the denialosphere all aflutter, and even made the rounds of many mainstream outlets.  Leake got his story idea and research from climate change denier Richard North, a blogger who has denied the link between secondhand smoke and cancer, among other ridiculous positions. The premise of “Amazongate” was ginned up by North, who alleged that the IPCC erred in its 2007 report by citing a World Wildlife Fund report that stated the impact of reduced rainfall on forest health.

Pages

Subscribe to Climate Progress