The Nation’s Must-Read Article “The Dirt on Clean Coal”

Ari Berman’s must-read article “The Dirt on Clean Coal” upholds The Nation’s proud reputation for investigative reporting which separates it from most mainstream outlets, posing relevant questions and actually attempting to find answers to them.

Berman asks the critical, overlooked question of the day, “Can the same people who told us that global warming didn’t exist–or that it was a good thing–suddenly be trusted to help solve the climate crisis?”

As you might guess, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Berman details how the coal industry - through its $40 million Astroturf campaign by the front group “American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity” - is working feverishly to fight Congressional efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, hoping to ensure that the world’s coal supplies – and the climate – continue to burn for decades to come.

Joe Barton (R-TX) Added to the Official Moron Registry

At Yesterday’s hearing on climate change adaptation before the House Energy & Commerce Committee Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) made all sorts of ridiculous claims about global warming, the most idiotic being a suggestion that us humans will deal with the issue by finding some shade.

Such a ludicrous and ill-informed claim leads me to two possible conclusions, either Barton has completely lost it, or the $2.5 million he recieved in donations over the years from the oil, gas and utility lobby is doing its magic.

I suspect it’s a bit of both.

What makes Barton look even more ridiculous is that his claims appear to be based on evidence provided to him by a gentleman named Christopher Monckton who he cites in his statement. Monckton is not a climate scientist, has never published any scientific research and is in fact a journalist by training.

The biggest thing Monckton has done in his life appears to be making a boardgame puzzle. This is the same Monckton whose answer to the AIDS epidemic was:

…. there is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life. Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month … all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently.”

I wonder who Barton turns to for advice on health care policy? The local flowershop? Any responsible lawmaker uses the best available experts to inform policy decisions. If Barton was to do that he would see that the likes of the US Academy of Science or NASA (both organizations are at his disposal) are very concerned about this issue and have decades of research to justify their concern.

Here’s the video, watch it and laugh because it is nothing more than a complete joke. So much so that I have made a request that he be added to the Official Moron Registry. I think he might actually have a shot at Moron of the Year - maybe even the decade!

And I’m not the only one who thinks Barton is officially a moron: Joe Barton is dumber than you thought possible

Rep. Barton: Climate change is ‘natural,’ humans should just ‘get shade’ — invites ‘expert’ TVMOB (!) to testify


Death to the CBC!

Lorne Gunter recently vented his spleen about the CBC, and the National Post blowhard is clearly feeling a little threatened by the beleaguered national broadcaster.

“The CBC will never be able to exorcize its left-wing missionary zeal – for global warming, for Islam, for big government, Barack Obama, multiculturalism, public health care, human rights commissions and so on. And it could never survive on private donations or ad revenues. So the only thing to do with Mother Corp is to pull down its office buildings and stations and pour salt in their foundations.”

Besides the other perceived sins of zeal for Islam, Obama and public health care, Gunter has the gall to call for the abolition of our seventy-three year old national network due to their comparatively impeccable coverage of climate science.

I am flummoxed by my inability to describe just how dishonest and absurd Gunter’s argument is. Bear with me as I struggle to scale this seemingly insurmountable peak.

Desmog Blog readers know well how we feel about the monotonously inaccurate coverage by the National Post about our scientific understanding of climate change. I struggled to itemize all the factual errors in one single article by Gunter and could not do the subject justice in under 800 words.

On the suggestion of a Desmog Blog reader, I happily nominateChristopher Booker Prize d Mr. Gunter for the Christopher Booker Prize for Bullshit Reportage of Climate Science, sponsored by George Monbiot and the Guardian. Godspeed Mr. Gunter – I am rooting for you.

His employer, the National Post felt it important to send reporters to the climate deniers conference in New York, sponsored by the hilariously unethical Heartland Institute. In contrast, they neglected to send correspondents to either the UN Climate conference in Poznan Poland, or the recent gathering of 2.500 of world’s leading climate scientists in Denmark.

I could go on but you get the point. I make no claim of being a brilliant researcher, but I must say unearthing the abundant errors in the work of Mr. Gunter and other staffers at the Post has been like shooting fish in a barrel with a RPG.

Now why would that be? Professional journalists are typically superb at research, fact checking and correctly citing sources – assuming they want to. In deference to their obvious skills as media veterans, one can only ask the pregnant question: are they instead willfully misleading their readers?

The New Yorker's Mindless Nonsense on Economy vs. Environment

The lead article in this week’s New Yorker by David Owen is a loony display of dishonest economics and a flagrant mangling of science and reason. Entitled “Economy vs. Environment,” (oy, here we go again) the piece presents the false notion that solving the climate crisis will inevitably come at the expense of economic collapse.

Owen claims that - should the U.S. follow Obama and the international community toward a global solution to global warming - the economy might never recover, and even if it did, we’d be fools to retain climate “policies that will seem to be nudging us back toward the abyss.” 

Yes, ghastly poverty and economic ruin are the only outcomes of trying to solve climate change, if we listen to David Owen.  A trip to Davy Jones’ locker for the world economy, says he.

Aptly described by Climate Progress, Owen’s piece is “so bad, so filled with long-debunked right-wing talking points, it would barely qualify for the Wall Street Journal editorial page.” 

Yet there it is, featured in the top pages and pixels of the New Yorker’s print and web editions, in direct contradiction to the brilliant, factual reporting by the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert

Others have taken the time to debunk Owens’ baseless claims, so I won’t bother to here.  Head on over to this analysis by Grist.org and another at Get Energy Smart Now!, and don’t foget Joe Romm’s critique at Climate Progress as mentioned above. 

Thanks to each of them for responding so thoroughly to Owen’s insanity so I don’t have to waste the keystrokes on him myself.

Busting the Abundant Coal Reserves Myth

The coal industry’s spin doctors have been droning on about the abudance of coal for the last year, but new research by Dave Rutledge, Chair of Caltech’s engineering and Applied Sciences Division, calculates that the world’s coal reserves may be much less “abundant” than the coal industry would like us to think:

“The record of geological estimates made by governments for their fossil fuel estimates is really horrible,” Rutledge said during a press conference at the American Geological Union annual meeting. “And the estimates tend to be quite high. They over-predict future coal production.”

The coal lobby states that, “within our [US] borders, we have enough coal to last the next 200 years.” But by Rutledge’s calculations 90% of the entire world’s estimated coal reserves will have been produced by 2069.

You can check out a copy of Rutledge’s powerpoint presentation here (4MB powerpoint file): Rutledge coal and oil reserves presentation.

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