An organisation that has funneled millions of dollars into groups promoting climate science denial has appointed a new CEO who signed a declaration dismissing the overwhelming evidence that human activities are causing climate change.
Put up your hand if you’ve been a follower of news about climate change in recent years and haven’t heard of the “hockey stick” graph.
Nobody? No, didn’t think so.
These graphs get their name because of their shape.
They are reconstructions of the temperatures on Earth over several centuries to several millennia and they all have a repetitive tendency to turn sharply skyward showing the recent rapid warming of the Earth.
The most famous and first “hockey stick” came from research in the journal Nature in 1998 led by Professor Michael Mann, then of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Mann used historical data from tree rings and ice cores – known as “proxy records” - to determine what temperatures were like over the Northern Hemisphere over the 600 years or so before we had a reasonably well-dispersed network of thermometers.
When plotted on a chart… well, you know the rest. It looked like a hockey stick.
Mann followed up that work in 1999, refining the research for a study in Geophysical Research Letters to give a full 1000-year history of the planet’s temperatures.
His work appeared in the 2001 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. This is what it looked liked in that report (notice the red and blue colors - we'll come to that in a bit.)
DeSmogBlog has obtained a copy of an Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fracking groundwater contamination PowerPoint presentation describing a then-forthcoming study's findings in Dimock, Pennsylvania.
The PowerPoint presentation reveals a clear link between hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale gas in Dimock and groundwater contamination, but was censored by the Obama Administration. Instead, the EPA issued an official desk statement in July 2012 - in the thick of election year - saying the water in Dimock was safe for consumption.
Titled “Isotech-Stable Isotype Analysis: Determinining the Origin of Methane and Its Effets on the Aquifer,” the PowerPoint presentation concludes that in Cabot Oil and Gas' Dimock Gesford 2 well, “Drilling creates pathways, either temporary or permanent, that allows gas to migrate to the shallow aquifer near [the] surface…In some cases, these gases disrupt groundwater quality.”
Other charts depict Cabot's Gesford 3 and 9 wells as doing much of the same, allowing methane to migrate up to aquifers to unprecedented levels - not coincidentally - coinciding with the wells being fracked. The PowerPoint's conclusions are damning.
There's a saying that trouble comes in threes. Earlier this week, the International Energy Administration announced that emissions reached a record high last year, increasing by 1 Gt worldwide. At the Bonn climate talks, experts have warned that the window to curb a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees is swiftly drawing to a close.
To cap it off, NOAA released the news that carbon dioxide levels have reached a new milestone this spring, tipping the scales over 400 ppm, a concentration the world hasn't seen in the last 800,000 years.
Scientists are seeing these high concentrations at their northernmost stations in the Arctic. Remote sites measure the gas in Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Norway, and also an island in the North Pacific, Mauna Loa, which has been recording ambient CO2 concentrations since 1959 (and produced the now-famous Keeling curve).
The global average is still around 395 ppm, but the Arctic is seen as an important indicator for global conditions to come, since it is an ecosystem that is much more sensitive to changing conditions.
“The northern sites in our monitoring network tell us what is coming soon to the globe as a whole,” said Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo. “We will likely see global average CO2 concentrations reach 400 ppm about 2016.”
Stephen (Steve) George McIntyre
- PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), Oxford University, (1971).
- B.Sc., Mathematics, University of Toronto (1969).
John R. Christy
- Ph.D. Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois (1987).
- M.S., Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois, (1984).
- M.Div. Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (1978).
- B.A., Mathematics California State University, Fresno (1973).
[Pending further Investigation]
Lawrence Solomon is a columnist with The Financial Post, the National Post (Toronto) and has been a columnist for the Globe and Mail (Toronto) a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, and the editor and publisher of The Next City magazine.
Three watchdog groups filed an appeal today with the U.S. State Department over its refusal to release correspondence between the agency and a former high-ranking presidential campaign staffer for Hillary Clinton. In his role as oil lobbyist, Paul Elliott is seeking Secretary of State Clinton’s approval for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline that would bring 900,000 barrels of tar sands a day over 2,000 miles through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The coalition, including Friends of the Earth, the Center for International Environmental Law, and Corporate Ethics International submitted a FOIA request in December [PDF] targeted at Elliott, now lead lobbyist for TransCanada, the company aiming to build the pipeline. The request was rejected by the State Department, and Marcie Keever, legal director for Friends of the Earth, believes that the State Department did not have legitimate legal grounds to do so.
For the groups, the failure of the State Department to comply with its responsibility under the Freedom of Information Act is worrying, and further calls into question Clinton’s capacity to remain impartial on the pipeline decision.
“By refusing to disclose any documents, we contend that the State Department is violating the Freedom of Information Act,” said Keever. “We are hopeful that with this appeal the State Department will release communications between the oil lobbyist and Secretary Clinton and her staffers. If the agency doesn’t, we will take it to court if necessary.”