climate change

How An Extreme Form of Climate Science Denial Has Found a Home in Australia's Senate

Australians went off to vote in a general election last week, but five days later and the country still doesn’t have a result.

As things stand, there appears to be every chance that neither of the two main party groupings — Labor on the left and the coalition of Liberals and Nationals on the right — will win enough seats to form a government in their own right.

But one result in the country’s upper house has sparked a wave of discontent, reflection and rage — the election of the right wing anti-Muslim, anti-Halal, anti-vaccination firebrand Pauline Hanson.

Hanson, who leads her own One Nation party, has won election to Australia’s Senate and, as counting continues, she could bring more candidates with her.

But as well as pushing xenophobia and division, the Queensland politician will also take a most extreme brand of climate science denial with her into the Senate. 

Kathleen Hartnett-White

Kathleen Hartnett-White

Credentials

“White received her bachelor cum laude and master degrees from Stanford University where for three years she held the Elizabeth Wheeler Lyman Scholarship for an Outstanding Woman in the Humanities. She was also awarded a Danforth National Fellowship for doctoral work at Princeton University in Comparative Religion and there won the Jonathan Edwards Award for Academic Excellence. She also studied law under a Lineberry Foundation Fellowship at Texas Tech University.” [1]

American Petroleum Institute Forming Climate Change Task Force?

It isn’t hard to find critics of the American Petroleum Institute's CEO Jack Gerard in the community of people who care about the climate. However, it is perhaps telling that the Washington Post reported that when they asked oil industry insiders to describe him, one response was “Voldemart.” 

In addition to such “compliments” from his industry peers, the work Jack Gerard performs netted him over $13 million in 2013 alone. 

In that same Washington Post article it was noted that a former API board member said “for my taste the whole organization is far too aggressive.” But that board member probably doesn’t make $13 million a year.  

With the API producing slick ads with its Vote4Energy “energy voters” saying they “don't buy it” that fossil fuel energy is harmful to the environment, it is clear that the organization remains aggressive. 

Wall St. Journal Shows Why It Is Under Attack For Climate Science Denial By Publishing Another Dodgy Column

The Wall Street Journal has been spiced up substantially recently thanks to a series of adverts on its own pages attacking the paper’s slanted coverage on climate science.

The Washington Post has reported on the background to the advertisements and the group running them — the Partnership for Responsible Growth (PRG).

But basically, it goes like this.  PRG analysed a couple of decades of content from the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper and found it stunningly out of step with mainstream science, while being remarkably in step with the talking points of fossil fueled climate denialist think tanks and the views of Murdoch himself.

PRG analysed 201 WSJ editorials going back to 1997 and found not a single one of them acknowledged that fossil fuels cause climate change. This is like writing a couple of hundred articles on lung cancer without ever mentioning cigarettes.

The story was largely the same when PRG looked at columns and op-eds published by the paper.  Of the 279 op-eds published since 1995, just 40 reflect mainstream climate science, or 14 per cent. Of 122 columns published since 1997, only three per cent accepted as fact that fossil fuels cause climate change, or endorsed a policy to cut emissions.

All up, of the 602 op-eds, columns and editorials published since 1995, just 44 “treat fossil fuel-driven climate change as a reality”, the analysis found.

Broken Records Define The Climate Crisis

We’re living in a time of records. More renewable energy came on stream in 2015 than ever — 147 gigawatts, equal to Africa’s entire generating capacity — and investment in the sector broke records worldwide. Costs for producing solar and wind power have hit record lows. Portugal obtained all its electricity from renewable sources for four straight days in May — the longest achieved by any country — and Germany was able to meet 90 per cent of its electricity needs with renewable power for a brief period. Clean energy employment and job growth now outpace the fossil fuel industry by a wide margin.

That’s just a portion of the good news. Oil prices have fallen so low that some more damaging activities are becoming unprofitable, a record number of coal companies are going bankrupt or filing for bankruptcy, and fewer coal mines are operating in the U.S.

High-Level EPA Adviser Accused of Scientific Fraud in Methane Leak Research

It's one of the highest-stakes debates in the battle over climate change policy action: how much methane is spewing from oil and gas sites nationwide, and what do we do as a result? If enough of the odorless, colorless methane gas leaks or is vented into the air, scientists say, then burning natural gas — marketed as a green fuel that can help wean the U.S. off of high-carbon fuels — will actually be worse for the climate than coal, long seen as the fuel that contributes the most to global warming.

Recently, over 100 community and environmental groups sent a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog to investigate claims that a top methane researcher had committed scientific fraud and charging that he had made false and misleading statements to the press in response to those claims.

Earlier this month, NC WARN, an environmental group, presented the EPA Inspector General with evidence it said showed that key research on methane leaks was tainted, and that one of the EPA's top scientific advisors fraudulently concealed evidence that a commonly-used tool for collecting data from oil and gas wells gives artificially low methane measurements.

Will Alberta’s Last-Ditch Effort to Save the Caribou Be Enough?

Woodland Caribou

When the Alberta government released its draft plan to save the province’s dwindling caribou populations from local extinction earlier this month, it was heralded as a major step forward — but big questions remain.

The biggest one: after years of failing to intervene in the caribou crisis, will the new plan be enough to bring them back from the brink of extinction?

It was great news for northwest populations where big protected areas are needed and there’s still time there to ensure caribou recovery,” conservation specialist Carolyn Campbell from the Alberta Wilderness Association told DeSmog Canada.

But when it comes to the Little Smoky range, it’s still not enough, Campbell said.

The problem is the underlying causes of predation are still allowed to worsen in the next five years by restarting logging and by implying energy infrastructure can still go ahead,” she said. “We can’t support the plan continuing to destroy habitat.”

Has The Fracking Industry Already Won The 2016 Election?

June has been a fantastic month for the fracking industry.

On June 21st, a federal judge ruled that the Interior Department does not have the authority to regulate fracking on federal lands because the agency lacks the overall authority to regulate fracking. The judge said that his decision was based on the fact that Congress had not given the agency that power, and therefore they overstepped their authority in attempting to regulate natural gas fracking activities.

A few days after that court ruling that gave the industry free rein over our federal lands, the Democratic Party handed them an even larger gift. At a DNC platform committee meeting on Friday, June 24th, the committee voted to NOT include a ban on fracking as part of the Democratic Party’s platform for the 2016 election.

The moratorium on fracking was proposed by 350.org founder Bill McKibben who was selected to join the Party’s platform committee by Senator Bernie Sanders. McKibben also introduced resolutions to support a carbon tax and prohibit new fossil fuel leases offshore and on federal lands, but these items were also nixed by a majority of the committee members.

The decision by the committee to roll over for the fracking industry is not only dangerous for the environment, but it also goes against the will of voters who identify as Democrats.

Unimpeded Rivers Crucial as Climate Changes: New Study

Flathead Basin

Gravel-bed rivers and their floodplains are the lifeblood of ecosystems and need to be allowed to run and flood unimpeded if species are to be protected and communities are to cope with climate change, a ground-breaking scientific study has found.

The broad valleys formed by rivers flowing from glaciated mountains, such as those found throughout B.C. and Alberta, are some of the most ecologically important habitats in North America, according to the team of scientists who have done the first extensive study of the full range of species that rely on gravel-bed rivers, ranging from microbes to bears. The paper was published online Friday in Science Advances.

In the region that stretches from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the northern Yukon, gravel-bed river flood plains support more than half the plant life. About 70 per cent of the area’s bird species use the floodplain, while deer, elk, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears use the plains for food, habitat and as important migration corridors.

While everyone knows that fish rely on rivers, the scientists found that species such as cottonwood trees need the river flood to reproduce and the ever-changing landscape of changing channels and shifting gravel and rocks supports a complex food web.

Lawson Bader

Lawson R. Bader

Credentials

  • M.A. (1997 - 2000), Public Policy Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University. [1]
  • B.A. (1984 – 1988), Political Science and Government, Wheaton College. [1]

Background

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