Brendan DeMelle

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Brendan DeMelle is Executive Director and Managing Editor of DeSmogBlog.com.  He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in new media, politics, climate change and clean energy. He has served as research associate for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., researcher for Ring of Fire Radio, researcher for Laurie David and StopGlobalWarming.org, law and policy analyst for Environmental Working Group, campus organizer for Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, environmental justice associate for EPA Region 10, among other positions in his career. DeMelle has provided writing and communications services on a wide range of topics, with a demonstrated ability to simplify complex and technical issues into concise, accessible language for general public consumption. 

His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, GristEnergyBoom, The Washington Times and other outlets, including a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Rural History about the social and ecological impacts of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project. He graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BA in Sociology and Environmental Studies in 1998, and lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Anne.

UVA Defends Against Ken Cuccinelli Attacks On Climate Science and Academic Freedom

The University of Virginia has filed two new responses in its ongoing court battle fending off Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s politically-motivated witch hunt against climate scientist Michael Mann.  UVA correctly alerts the court that crazy Cuccinelli’s ‘investigation’ is “an unprecedented and improper governmental intrusion into ongoing scientific research” [PDF of filing].

Cuccinelli’s relentless campaign to waste Virginia taxpayer money attacking Mann continues, despite a total lack of evidence of any wrongdoing on UVA’s or Mann’s part. Instead the row hinges entirely on Cuccinelli’s zeal to pollute public discourse with his own climate denial, clogging the courts with a thinly veiled attack on academic freedom that the Washington Post labeled “a pernicious fishing expedition.”  

UVA argues that Cuccinelli’s latest demand for documents related to Mann’s research repeats the exact same arguments that Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross rejected in August.  Cuccinelli merely recycled his previous non-starter of a complaint in an ongoing effort to woo the Tea Party and stoke the fire for his ambitions to run for higher office.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSexamined Cuccinelli’s original arguments and confirms they have been recycled again to further harass Mann and his colleagues.

“Scientists are proud of UVA for standing up to this relentless rubbish,” said Francesca Grifo, director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Program. “This investigation has never been about fraud or the facts. Cuccinelli is abusing his power to fight a public relations war against scientific findings.”

Charles Koch Challenged To Debate Prop 23 By California Student Leader Joel Francis

Joel Francis, a Marine Corps veteran and senior at Cal State Los Angeles, has issued a debate challenge to Koch Industries’ billionaire CEO Charles Koch on his support for the disastrous Prop 23 attack on California’s climate and clean energy progress.

Bankrolled with at least $1 million of Kochtopus funding, along with even larger amounts from Texas oil companies Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp. and Ohio-based Marathon Energy, Proposition 23 is on the ballot in California this November, and would set back California’s ambitious efforts to fight climate change and create clean energy jobs.

Student leader Joel Francis challenges Charles Koch to meet him “anytime, anywhere in the state before election day” to explain why Koch is meddling with democracy in a state he doesn’t even live in. 

Watch Francis’ debate challenge to Charles Koch:

Oil Industry And Canadian Govt Team Up To Attack European Fuel Standards That Could Limit Alberta Tar Sands Development

The Tyee has an excellent piece exploring the joint lobbying efforts of the Canadian government and the oil industry to attack European climate legislation that would set a precedent that could eventually impact the development of Alberta’s dirty tar sands.  

While very little of Alberta’s tar sands oil is currently exported to Europe (nearly all goes to the U.S.), the entrenched tar sands defenders in Canadian government and the oil companies who stand to profit from tar sands development are concerned that Europe’s efforts to favor low-carbon fuel sources could influence other countries that also need to find ways to reduce global warming emissions - say the U.S. for instance.

That could spell disaster for the Alberta tar sands profiteers, since the tar sands are known to have a far greater carbon footprint than conventional oil, and certainly more than rapidly-growing alternative fuels. 

NY Times Editorial: Cheney-trained Republicans Have Disappeared In a Fog Of Disinformation on Climate

The New York Times editorial today focuses on the influence of Dick Cheney’s brand of denialism to explain the fact that none of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate accept the scientific consensus that human activities are largely responsible for climate disruption. 

The editorial “In Climate Denial, Again” notes that GOP candidates this election season are “re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.”

The current crop of fact-challenged candidates running on the GOP ticket range from the outright deniers like Nevada candidate Sharron Angle to the “wiggly” position demonstrated by the likes of California’s Carly Fiorina - a favorite of the billionaire Koch brothers - who remains “unsure” about the scientific foundation confirmed by all of the world’s top scientific institutions.  

According to the Times, “all are custodians of a strategy whose guiding principle has been to avoid debate about solutions to climate change by denying its existence — or at least by diminishing its importance. The strategy worked, destroying hopes for Congressional action while further confusing ordinary citizens for whom global warming was already a remote and complex matter.”  

The Times editors guess that former Vice President Dick Cheney “has to be smiling” about the lock-step denial and confusion campaign continued by this crop of Republican candidates.  

David Koch Has Direct Contact With Tea Party Astroturf Organizers At Americans For Prosperity Event

The billionaire Koch brothers have long claimed that they have no direct connection to the Tea Party, denying that their vast oil wealth is directly funding corporate front groups like Americans For Prosperity, the key organizers of the fake grassroots Tea Party movement. 

David Koch told New York magazine earlier this year, “I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.” 

But the Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg reports today that footage has emerged showing David Koch at the podium during an Americans For Prosperity gala receiving direct and detailed reports from his astroturf AFP army on their efforts to organize tea parties around the nation.  

Watch the clip from the new documentary (Astro)Turf Wars: How Corporate America Faked a Grassroots Revolution:

  

Joe Manchin Loves Coal, Hates Climate Legislation, Proves It With Guns

West Virginia Democratic Senate Candidate Joe Manchin, the current governor who is running in a tight race to fill the vacancy left by the death of Senator Robert Byrd, really loves dirty coal. No really, like a lot. So much so that he brandishes a firearm in a new campaign TV spot to “take aim” at (already deader than a door nail) climate legislation. 

Either Mr. Manchin doesn’t realize that the cap-and-trade bill he slugs in the ad has been dead for months, or he doesn’t care and just wants to shoot a gun at some legislation in a TV ad to appeal to his NRA backers. 

“I’ll take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill,” Manchin says while firing a bullet from his rifle. “Because it’s bad for West Virginia.” 

Watch it:

Washington Post Op-Ed by Mike Mann: Get the anti-science bent out of politics

Prominent climate scientist Michael Mann, who has endured a seemingly endless political attack on his work, has penned an excellent op-ed in today’s Washington Post, calling on fellow scientists to recognize and resist the efforts of anti-science politicians to distort their work.

Mann notes the danger of a GOP take-over of key climate change committees in Congress, pointing out the war on science and reason promised by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) if he takes over chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and similar views expressed by Rep. James Sensenbrenner if he takes the helm of the committee on climate change and energy security. The denier duo plan to re-hash the wasteful investigation into the non-scandalous dead end known as Climategate, if propelled to leadership positions.

Mann writes:

“We have lived through the pseudo-science that questioned the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, and the false claims questioning the science of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. The same dynamics and many of the same players are still hard at work, questioning the reality of climate change.”


“Even without my work, or that of the entire sub-field of studying past climates, scientists are in broad agreement on the reality of these changes and their near-certain link to human activity.”

“the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science. How can I assure young researchers in climate science that if they make a breakthrough in our understanding about how human activity is altering our climate that they, too, will not be dragged through a show trial at a congressional hearing?”

 

Maldives President Nasheed Installs Solar on Official Residence, Knocks Ignorance of Climate Deniers

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, who once famously held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to climate change, is installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on his official residence this week.

Donated by Sungevity, an Oakland, California based solar company, the Maldives’ PV system is grid-connected and will generate about 15,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per annum, providing half of the residence’s power needs, according to Sungevity founder Danny Kennedy, whose company donated and designed the installation for the Maldives’ presidential palace. South Korean company LG donated the PV modules, while the three inverters were provided by Germany manufacturer Kaco, and the mounting hardware by Ironridge

Sungevity estimates the system will save the Maldives $300,000 over its 25-year expected lifespan.  The system will go online tomorrow.

Kennedy’s company has made a similar bid to put solar on the U.S. White House for free, and started the Globama petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures.  The petition and offer were hand-delivered to President Obama last month by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who traveled to Washington with a group of students from Maine’s Unity College in an attempt to return one of former President Jimmy Carter’s solar panels to the White House roof.  They were rebuked at that time, although yesterday the White House did finally announce plans to put solar back on the roof at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the near future.   

Maldives President Nasheed says his country could not afford to delay another minute, with climate disruptions already impacting the tiny island nation 200 miles south southwest of the Southern tip of India.  Its highest point is only 2.4 meters above sea-level, leaving residents at extreme risk from rising sea levels caused by global climate change.

Cuccinelli Revives Witch Hunt Against Michael Mann and Climate Science

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has revived his witch hunt against prominent climate scientist Michael Mann, recycling pieces of his earlier botched subpoena into a new Civil Investigative Demand aimed at Mann and the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli’s previous witch hunt was blocked by Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross, who ruled that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his subpoena, which The Washington Post editors noted “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition.”

But Cuccinelli has re-strung the same stale Climategate bait on his fishing pole, “extending his assault on academic freedom” as expected. Oh, and he’s going to appeal Judge Peatross’s ruling, in a remarkable display of hubris that is sure to embarrass Virginia yet again.

In his latest political attack on climate science, Cuccinelli demands seven years’ worth of Dr. Mann’s emails, documents and just about every other shred of paper and bytes related to one state grant Mann received during his tenure at UVA. Cuccinelli wants to see every email Mann exchanged with a list of 39 other scientists, as well as Mann’s communications with his secretaries and research associates, related to the state grant. Cuccinelli only stripped his inappropriate request for documents related to federal grants after Judge Peatross smacked down that trolling effort, although he vows to appeal to re-open that garbage can.

Wisconsin GOP Senate Candidate Ron Johnson Says Climate Change Unproven

Another day, another GOP candidate in denial about the scientific facts of climate change. This election season in the U.S. has been overrun with GOP and Tea Party-backed candidates who deny the existence of global warming, and therefore willingly ignore and denigrate science as a whole.

The latest example is Wisconsin GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, Ron Johnson, who calls climate change “unproven.”


“The science of global warming is unproven,” he said. “It just is,” Johnson told The Associated Press on Thursday.

“I’m not even sure if, if it were a fact, whether we could do anything about it anyway,” Johnson said.

This isn’t a major change of heart for Johnson, who called global warming “lunacy” earlier this summer.  He has labeled any and all who subscribe to the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and driven by human activity “crazy.” He has described legislative efforts to address global warming pollution as “a fool’s errand.”

Here’s a video of Johnson saying all that, plus this: “It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.”  Note also his response at the end to the question about what he thinks CO2 does, “I think it’s sucked down by trees and helps trees grow.”

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