climate change

Mon, 2013-11-18 05:00Sharon Kelly
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George W. Bush on Keystone XL: "Build the Damn Thing"

Make private companies happy. Don’t worry about the environment. Stop fretting about long-term sustainability. Forget renewables, property concerns, the safety of our water and air. Make private companies happy.

This was the 43rd president's message to the current administration at the DUG East conference held by the shale gas industry on Thursday.

With characteristic bluntness, George W. Bush spoke his mind on energy policy to several thousand oil and gas executives gathered in Pittsburgh at an exclusive luncheon on Wednesday.

“I think the goal of the country ought to be 'how do we grow the private sector?'” Mr. Bush said. “That ought to be the laser-focus of any administration. And therefore, once that’s the goal, an issue like Keystone pipeline becomes a no-brainer.”

“If private sector growth is the goal and Keystone pipeline creates 20,000 new private sector jobs, build the damn thing,” Mr. Bush said, prompting a burst of applause from the more than 4,000 oil and gas executives attending the conference.

In his candor, Mr. Bush also highlighted the essence of what burns bright but short in the fossil-fuel doctrine.

In emphasizing a get-it-now, don’t-worry-about-the-future approach to energy, he drove home why the Keystone XL pipeline has become such a lightning rod issue. The reason: it is symbolic of the overall short-sightedness of increasing our long-term addiction to oil rather than pushing with urgency toward renewable energy.

Tue, 2013-11-12 05:00Farron Cousins
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Facing the Facts: Climate Change Is Bad For Business

As leaders of the industrialized world continue to squabble at home over how to address the threat of climate change – and even as they battle internal factions who don’t believe the science of climate change – one group of leaders has come out in favor of swift, comprehensive action to prevent global catastrophe.  Those leaders come from some of the largest businesses on the planet.

Just one year ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast with a force not seen in the region in decades.  In the aftermath, shipping and distribution of goods in and out of the Northeast was severely disrupted.  The costs of these disruptions, as well as the physical damage from the storm, are projected to cost the U.S. economy $20 billion

Sandy served as a wake up call to business leaders, as it highlighted how grossly unprepared they are in the face of climate change related disasters.  In the Midwest, floods and wildfires in recent years have also impacted the business supply chain, costing untold millions worth of economic activity.

But many within the business community understood what was happening, and what it means for the future of business.  They know that, at the end of the day, climate change is bad for business.

Mon, 2013-11-11 11:15Kevin Grandia
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Will Canada Continue to Fail on Climate at International Talks in Poland?

oilsands pollution in Canada

With another round of international climate negotiations opening this week in Warsaw, Poland, and a new poll finding Canadians wanting leadership on the issue, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have an opportunity to turn the tides on what has been so far a policy trend in the wrong direction.

Since taking the helm, the majority Harper government has floundered at United Nations climate events, relegating Canada to perpetual fossil of the day and year awards.

As someone who has been working in and around these international climate talks and other such global negotiations for many years now, I have witnessed first hand Canada's fall from grace. Our small country (population-wise) has historically hit well above its weight in many international forums, with a reputation for neutrality and expert diplomacy. Now, we are called a “petrostate” and a “climate obstructionist” at such talks. 

Thu, 2013-11-07 05:00Graham Readfearn
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Heartland Institute Tries To Poison Classrooms With Partisan Climate Pseudoscience

YOU have an important decision to make,” wrote Diane Bast from the conservative Heartland Institute in a memo posted to science teachers across the US last month.

“Will you tell your students the “science is settled” on global warming, as the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims it is?”

The Heartland Institute likes to ask disingenuous questions like this.  Who can forget its disastrous billboard campaign of last year with that picture of terrorist and murderer Ted “Unabomber” Kaczynski and the words “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

Not surprisingly, after hearing of the billboard key private sponsors and funders of Heartland pulled their support quicker than you can say “What on earth were they thinking?

The Heartland Institute is a conservative free market “think tank” that has made the ideologically-driven denial of climate change science one its core causes. The organisation has accepted millions of dollars from the likes of Exxon, family foundations built on polluting industries and many millions more via a slush fund financed by anonymous conservative millionaires.

Diane Bast, the wife of Heartland president Joseph Bast, was writing to the science teachers to introduce the free copies of its enclosed Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change report - Climate Change Reconsidered II.

“Like the IPCC's reports, NIPCC's reports cite thousands of articles appearing in peer-reviewed science journals relevant to the subject of human-induced climate change,” wrote Bast, who said the report was “comprehensive, objective, and faithful to the scientific method.”

Yet the report is anything but. Australian astrophysicist Dr Michael Brown, of Monash University in Melbourne, described it succinctly as “partisan pseudoscience”. Dr Brown wrote in The Conversation:

Tue, 2013-11-05 17:39Farron Cousins
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Tea Party Holding GOP Back On Climate Change

The Republican Party has always been a little reluctant to side with science and accept things like global climate change, but recently, polls have shown that the Grand Old Party is actually evenly split on accepting climate change science. 

That may not seem like a reason to celebrate, but considering the fact that just a few years ago the vast majority of Republicans denied the science of climate change, it is a massive step forward.

But there is still one faction of the Republican Party that largely refuses to accept scientific findings:  The Tea Party.

According to recent polling by the Pew Research Center, Republicans in general are evenly split, with 46% saying that climate change is real, while 46% say that there is no solid evidence.  However, 70% of self-described “Tea Party members” say that there is no solid evidence of climate change, and only 25% accept the science. 

This puts the entire Republican Party, including the Tea Party, at odds with the American public at large - 67% agree that climate change is real and that human beings are making the problem worse.

The problem with these numbers is that those in charge of the Republican Party continue to pander to the minority within their own party, and of course to the heavyweight campaign donors like the Koch brothers, who don’t want any legislative action to tackle climate change.

Pandering to the minority becomes a more serious problem when that pandering leads to stalled nominations for environmental posts, lax regulations on the country’s worst polluters, and huge cash giveaways to companies that already pull in tens of billions of dollars in profits every year.  These minority policies harm consumers, the environment, and our economy.

America cannot afford any more policies that are designed to appeal to a fraction of a fraction of citizens, especially when the views of that particular faction are being dictated by the dirty energy industry itself.

Mon, 2013-10-14 05:00Sharon Kelly
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Flaws in Environmental Defense Fund's Methane Study Draw Criticism from Scientists

Perhaps the single most consequential and controversial issue at the center of the onshore natural gas drilling boom is the question of methane leaks. Natural gas is primarily made of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and if enough escapes into the atmosphere, these leaks could potentially make natural gas a worse fuel for the climate than coal.

In mid-September, researchers from the University of Texas published a study that was hailed by a triumphant oil and gas industry, which claimed it definitively showed that methane leaks from fracking are minimal. Major news outlets largely fed this excitement, proclaiming that the study showed EPA had dramatically overestimated methane leaks from the drilling boom.

But as the celebrations died down and more sober and rigorous analysis of the study has begun, scientists are finding that the University of Texas study is riddled with flaws.

The backers of the report cherry-picked the oil and gas wells included in the study, selecting smaller wells that had less capacity to leak and ones that used leak controls that are not currently used at many of the nation’s wells. The authors systematically ignored more recent federal research indicating that as much as 17 percent of natural gas – more than 10 times the estimate indicated by the UT study – leaks from gas fields, and overlooked serious methodological flaws that were pointed out in similar studies dating back as far as 1996.

As scientists have raised these concerns, the Environmental Defense Fund, one backer of the study which was 90 percent funded by the oil and gas industry, have tried to tamp down some of the media excitement surrounding the result and said that their research was misrepresented.

Wed, 2013-10-09 17:00Graham Readfearn
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Australia's New Prime Minister Surrounded By Climate Science Denying Voices and Advisors

WHEN speaking to script, Australia's new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott will say that he accepts that human emissions of greenhouse gases are having an impact on the world's climate.

Yet the Liberal Party leader appears to be surrounding himself with ministers and advisers who reject the science of human-caused climate change, with the most outspoken anti-science advocate being Maurice Newman, recently appointed as chairman of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council.

According to Newman, the current government's two key climate science agencies - the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology - “continue to propagate the myth of anthropological climate change”, as he wrote last month in the Australian Financial Review.

Writing in The Australian newspaper in July, Newman described the science of human-caused climate change as a “smokescreen” for “vested interests” and criticised US President Barack Obama for continuing to “champion discredited research”.

Last November Newman, a former stockbroker and chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was again dripping with hatred for climate scientists and “believers”, who he described as being part of a global throng of  “fundamentalists” who had “collected hundreds of billions of dollars from naive governments that adopted their faith”.

Since entering Government in September, Tony Abbott has already abolished Australia's publicly-funded Climate Commission, re-iterated his “blood oath” to repeal the country's carbon price legislation and has pushed on with attempts to scrap the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The CEFC has made a reported $500 million in loans since July which have attracted a further $1.6 billion in private investment to projects it has backed.

Sun, 2013-10-06 21:16Steve Horn
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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.”

Thu, 2013-09-26 16:49Julie Dermansky
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International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit Declares Climate Emergency

The first International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit was held in Suffern, NY from September 20- 23.  Over 100 invitation-only participants came from 35 countries equally divided between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The summit’s purpose, explained co-founder Osprey Orielle Lake, was to bring women together who are in strategic positions to implement the critical solutions that are needed to address the world’s pressing climate challenges.

“Nature will not wait while politicians debate,” she stated.  “Women around the world are facing the impacts of a changing climate every day, and we are coming together to say 'Enough is enough' she said. “It is time for action that addresses the roots of this crisis and fosters just solutions.”

Co-founder Sally Ranney said that not acting against climate change is “like sending a kid with 105 temperature off to school as if all is fine and damage won't be done. “

The participants shared their experiences and ideas on how to bring about change. Mirna Ines Fernández, Education Coordinator of the Bolivian Girl Guides Association, pointed out that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect indigenous women and children and those from low-income communities.   

Women are more reliant upon natural resources for their survival and/or live in areas that have poor infrastructure, which makes their communities particularly vulnerable. Drought, flooding, and unpredictable temperatures present difficult challenges for women who are responsible for providing food, water and firewood for their families, and their circumstances are only becoming more dire as no meaningful action is taken to stop climate change.

The delegates signed a letter calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which states, “There is no single project in North America that is more significant than Keystone XL in terms of the carbon emissions it would unleash. As women who are already seeing the tragic impacts of climate change on families, on indigenous peoples, and on entire countries, we urge you to choose a better future by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.”

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