- B.A. Psychology, Northwestern University, 1969
- M.S. Mathematical Psychophysics, Northwestern University, 1976
This is a guest post by David Suzuki.
The Heartland Institute’s recent International Climate Change Conference in Las Vegas illustrates global warming deniers’ desperate confusion. As Bloomberg News noted, “Heartland’s strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.” A who’s who of fossil fuel industry supporters and anti-science shills variously argued that global warming is a myth; that it’s happening but natural — a result of the sun or “Pacific Decadal Oscillation”; that it’s happening but we shouldn’t worry about it; or that global cooling is the real problem.
The only common thread, Bloomberg reported, was the preponderance of attacks on and jokes about Al Gore: “It rarely took more than a minute or two before one punctuated the swirl of opaque and occasionally conflicting scientific theories.”
Personal attacks are common among global warming deniers. Their lies are continually debunked, leaving them with no rational challenge to overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is warming and that humans are largely responsible. Comments under my columns about global warming include endless repetition of falsehoods like “there’s been no warming for 18 years”, “it’s the sun”, and references to “communist misanthropes”, “libtard warmers”, alarmists and worse…
Far worse. Katharine Hayhoe, director of Texas Tech’s Climate Science Center and an evangelical Christian, had her email inbox flooded with hate mail and threats after conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh denounced her, and right-wing blogger Mark Morano published her email address. “I got an email the other day so obscene I had to file a police report,” Hayhoe said in an interview on the Responding to Climate Change website. “They mentioned my child. It had all kinds of sexual perversions in it — it just makes your skin crawl.”
On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog, the inspector general released a scathing report on the agency's failure to control leaks from the nation's natural gas distribution system.
The report, titled “Improvements Needed in EPA Efforts to Address Methane Emissions From Natural Gas Distribution Pipelines,” describes a string of failures by the EPA to control leaks of one of the most potent greenhouse gases, methane, from the rapidly expanding natural gas pipeline industry.
“The EPA has placed little focus and attention on reducing methane emissions from pipelines in the natural gas distribution sector,” the report begins. “The EPA has a voluntary program to address methane leaks — Natural Gas STAR — but its efforts through this program have resulted in limited reductions of methane emissions from distribution pipelines.”
To date, the industry has faced little binding regulation on leaks, in part because the EPA assumes that pipeline companies will not allow the product they are attempting to bring to market to simply disappear. But the reality is that when gas is cheap and repairs are expensive, pipeline companies often put off repairs unless there's a threat of an explosion.
Under many state policies, pipeline companies would have to pay upfront costs for pipeline repairs — or they simply choose to pass the cost of lost gas from unrepaired leaks on to consumers, an issue that the audit faults the EPA for failing to take into account.
Nationwide, the Inspector General report concluded $192 million worth of natural gas was lost from pipelines in 2011 alone.
A rising tide lifts all boats — even boats that, contrary to all evidence, openly doubt the moon's gravitational influence.
A new study released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group concludes that the EPA's proposed carbon rules for existing power plants will benefit states like Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma the most — states where climate denial is not just rampant but often a policy officially boosted by high-ranking officials.
In fact, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who once dismissed climate change as a “contrived phony mess that is falling apart,” led a group of Republican governors in blasting the EPA's regulation, which assigns states greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and mandates that they devise a plan for achieving those cuts.
The group sent a letter to President Obama decrying the regulations as bad for the economy. “This is such a dangerous overreach in terms of the potential threat to our economy,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said.
But as the New York Times reports:
The study… concluded that the regulation would cut demand for electricity from coal — the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution — but create robust new demand for natural gas, which has just half the carbon footprint of coal. It found that the demand for natural gas would, in turn, drive job creation, corporate revenue and government royalties in states that produce it, which, in addition to Oklahoma and Texas, include Arkansas and Louisiana.
States like Wyoming and Kentucky that have economies still largely dependent on coal production will certainly take a hit. But these are the growing pains of the emerging clean energy economy, and polls show not only that a “lopsided and bipartisan majority of Americans support federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions” but also that Americans are “willing to stomach a higher energy bill to pay for it.”
I wish it were true, but the earth is not cooling and there remains an upward curve in the temperature of our planet.
So next time you're at a dinner party and someone says the earth is cooling and throws some air quotes up when he says “global warming,” here's a simple way to explain it away.
Here are the average global temperature measurements up to this point as measured by NASA. You can see the red average line that has been marching up a pretty steep hill for many decades now:
This is not the first time Happer has said this, and watching the interview it seems as though the CNBC host was keen to see Happer make the ugly analogy again.
As Media Matters points out, CNBC introduces Happer as an “industry expert” on climate change, but fails to mention that Happer has never published any scientific research in the field.
I am just speculating, but maybe CNBC meant “industry expert” in the sense that Happer's Marshall Institute is an “expert” at getting millions from the fossil fuel “industry” and right-wing foundations over the years to support their ongoing attack on the science of climate change.
Companies like Shell Oil really need to give their eyes a rub and see that a world with serious constraints on greenhouse gas emissions is not a possible future, but an eventual reality.
Right now, oil companies are investing billions in long term plays in very carbon intensive fuels, like Canada's oil sands, while at the same time there are more and more signs that strict regulations on such operations are on the near horizon.
You don't need to look much further than the years of delays on the Keystone XL pipeline to see that governments are starting to second guess these big cash layouts on climate-risky projects.
Or take for instance, the federal court ruling last week that halted a proposed coal mining operation in Colorado stating that the “social costs” of contributions the mine would make to worsening impacts of climate change in the future were not taken into consideration.
This ruling on the grounds of future social costs should be a 'canary in the coal mine' wake-up call for companies still considering investing big dollars in long-term carbon-intensive projects.
This is a guest post by David Suzuki.
Those who don’t outright deny the existence of human-caused global warming often argue we can’t or shouldn’t do anything about it because it would be too costly. Take Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who recently said, “No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country.”
But in failing to act on global warming, many leaders are putting jobs and economic prosperity at risk, according to recent studies. It’s suicidal, both economically and literally, to focus on the fossil fuel industry’s limited, short-term economic benefits at the expense of long-term prosperity, human health and the natural systems, plants and animals that make our well-being and survival possible. Those who refuse to take climate change seriously are subjecting us to enormous economic risks and foregoing the numerous benefits that solutions would bring.
The World Bank — hardly a radical organization — is behind one study. While still viewing the problem and solutions through the lens of outmoded economic thinking, its report demolishes arguments made by the likes of Stephen Harper.
Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, has taken a very strong stance recently on the need to address climate change, to protect the environment and respect “God's creation.”
In an address at the University of Molise in Italy, Pope Francis talked about deforestation practices that have destroyed much of the world's rainforests in places like the Amazon Basin.
Francis told the crowd that:
Two new reports prepared for the U.K. and the U.S. militaries suggest that the consequences of climate change are immense in scope and will create severe, sustained challenges for the world and its growing population.
The fifth edition of Global Strategic Trends, prepared for the U.K. Ministry of Defence, says climate change will likely create a lengthy list of defence and security implications in the next three decades.
Key predictions include more sexual violence in war zones, failed and failing cities posing major security repercussions for nations and more extreme weather events causing widespread damage and loss of life. The report also raised the prospect of the increased use of nuclear energy increasing the likelihood of fissile material being obtained by non-state actors,
Written for military and political leaders, the 172-page report is stark, frightening and pulls no punches.
“In the process of identifying threats, challenges and defence and security implications for policy- and decision-makers, there may be a tendency for the document to seem rather negative in its outlook. This is an inevitable consequence of its purpose. There is of course scope for human ingenuity to have a significant impact on the future, and hence there are considerable grounds for optimism.”