Kevin Grandia

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog and DeSmog Canada.

Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Mulitculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groudbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

Biomass - bad for trees, bad for the planet

A new report out today finds that using forest timber (biomass) for heating, electricity generation or liquid ‘biofuel’ could severely harm forests and accelerate global warming.

The report titled, Fuelling a Biomess, and authored by Greenpeace Canada, points to scientific evidence showing how using forests for energy can be worse for the climate than burning coal. 

The US is set to overtake Canada as the world’s biggest exporter of wood pellets, which are used in power plants and burnt instead of fossil fuels.

The report recommends:

  • Using woody biomass for energy production should be restricted to a local, small-scale use of mill residues.
  • Approval of new wood-based bioenergy projects should cease, pending public hearings, a full accounting of the life-cycle climate and biodiversity footprints, and a re-thinking of government policies. 

You can read a complete version of the report here: Fueling a Biomess, burning trees for energy puts Canadian forests and climate at risk.

[Note: a big warm hello to all the DeSmog readers! Been a while since I have written here, but I think I have the time to do so now.]

Summary of the 61 Scientist Letter

Dr. Ian D. Clark, professor, isotope hydrogeology and paleoclimatology, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa

[Astro] Turf Wars Uncovered in New Undercover Documentary

In his recently released documentary, [astro] Turf Wars, Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham goes undercover to try and answer the question: “Just how real are the roots of the tea party’s supposed grassroots uprising.”

Oldham, examines the role corporate-funded grassroots groups (known as ‘astroturf’) have played in the recent health-care and climate debates and their central role in the tea party movement.

Here’s the very amusing trailer:

Republicans running climate change denier for Governor in Maine

Paul LePage, the Republican (and Tea Party) candidate for Governor in the State of Maine is on the record as early as two weeks ago stating that there is still no scientific agreement on the realities of global warming.

This is of course despite decades of research by some of the top scientific academies in the world like the US National Academy of Science, NASA and the UK Royal Society.

Here’s what LePage had to say in a recent interview:

“Next one is very difficult, is true science. I’ve been listening about global warming for years. You have the pros and the cons. Quite frankly, we need to get our scientific community to come up to a baseline of a common agenda, a common understanding of where we are. Science has to be proven to be fact and if the science is not true, it’s not proven, then it’s rhetoric.”

By LePages’ defintition, the only rhetoric is from those who continue to say climate change isn’t happening despite a complete lack of scientific evidence to back up their claim.

Ryan Air CEO: global warming is bulls**t

There is something poetic about comparing the head of a low-budget airline company to an ostrich.

The CEO of Ryan Air, Michael O’Leary, the cheap-flight kings of Europe, is grabbing  headlines today and it is not for his company’s cramped no-frills flights, but for his comments regarding the reality of climate change.

Despite the fact that 2010 is on track to being the hottest year in recorded human history and decades of scientific evidence to the contrary from the most prestigious scientific academies in the world, O’Leary states in an interview with the Irish Independent that,

“Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it’s all a load of bullshit. But it’s amazing the way the whole fucking eco-warriors and the media have changed. It used to be global warming, but now, when global temperatures haven’t risen in the past 12 years, they say ‘climate change’.”

O’Leary goes on,

“… the United Nations as “one of the world’s most useless organisations”, its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as “utter tosh”, and US politician Al Gore as someone who “couldn’t even get fucking re-elected” after a boom.”

And on,

“The scientific community has nearly always been wrong in history anyway. In the Middle Ages, they were going to excommunicate Galileo because the entire scientific community said the Earth was flat… I mean, it is absolutely bizarre that the people who can’t tell us what the fucking weather is next Tuesday can predict with absolute precision what the fucking global temperatures will be in 100 years’ time. It’s horseshit.”

Given the fact that the airline industry is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas in the world, O’Leary’s thinking shows that some people will always find it easier to bury their head in the sand than deal with a challenge. But it is also in tune with a lot of people these days.

Americans for Prosperity Charitable Funding for 2008-09

According to a comprehensive search of IRS 990 forms, here is a list of the major philanthropic foundations that have funded Americans for Prosperity in 2008 and 2009.


MAJOR FUNDERS TO AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY

David H Koch Foundation

Stated mandate: none stated

Koch Industries Funds Attack on Science Linking Formaldehyde and Cancer

Further revelations have come to light since the recent controversial expose in the New Yorker about Koch Industries, surrounding New York billionaire David Koch and his company’s involvement in the industry-led effort to downplay the links between formaldehyde and cancer.

In 2008, the president of one of Koch Industry’s subsidiaries sat as the Chair of a pro-Formaldehyde lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council. The subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, is also a long-time funder of the Formaldehyde Council.

Among other things, the Formaldehyde Council tried to downplay the negative health impacts of formaldehyde in trailers set up for victims of the Katrina disaster.

Prior to the recent media attention, the New York social elite knew David Koch mostly for his commendable charitable donations to groups like the American Ballet Theater and the American Museum of Natural History.

Learning that he, through his role as senior executive and Chairman of Koch Industries, also bankrolls far-right groups and causes that regularly question President Obama’s U.S. citizenship and deny climate science surely piqued their interest in Koch’s other side.

One baffling conflict mentioned by journalist Jane Mayer in her New Yorker article is David Koch’s generous funding of cancer research, while simultaneously his companies and their lobbying groups fight against federal efforts to regulate the known human carcinogen formaldehyde.

David Koch was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early 1990s, and since then has become a major financier of cancer research, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to respected cancer research centers such as Sloan-Kettering, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, M.I.T. and Johns Hopkins University, as Mayer notes.

For his commendable charitable work, David Koch was appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board,a committee of the US National Cancer Institute, in 2004 by President George W. Bush and remains a member today [pdf].

Our research has uncovered very strong ties between Georgia-Pacific, a company co-owned by David Koch through Koch Industries, and a political lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council that is involved in efforts to downplay the dangers posed by formaldehyde to human health.

Formaldehyde is classified as a “Group 1 Carcinogen” which is defined as an agent that “is definitely carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and “a complete carcinogen” in the words of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The National Toxicology Program also recently revised its characterization of formaldehyde to that of “known human carcinogen.”

The Uneven Energy Playing Field and the Spindoctors who Ignore it

There has been a recent surge in articles from fossil-fuel friendly sources pointing to the inequity of tax credits and government subsidies being directed to the renewable energy sector. 

The latest is by Alan Caruba writing on the industry-backed CFACT website bemoaning a $7 million investment in a wind project in New Jersey. 

What Caruba and others fail to mention in their argument is that the fossil fuel industry - the main competitor to the renewable energy sector - receives more than ten times as much in government subsidies globally.

A recent report by Bloomberg New Finance finds that worldwide, the fossil fuel industry - which is made up mainly of oil, gas and coal companies - receives $557 billion a year in government subsidies while the renewable energy sector receives less than one-tenth of the support at around $45 billion.

Clean energy drowned out in Washington by a Two Billion Dollar Juggernaut

Red State bloggers are all in a tizzy over an Open Secrets article showing that the American Wind Energy Association spent over $5 million last year on lobbying politicians in Washington, DC.

It’s about time we started seeing the clean energy sector make its voice heard on Capitol Hill and I hope we see more people pushing lawmakers to consider legislation that promotes the use of clean and unlimited sources of energy like the sun and the wind.

But the hair-pulling by Red State bloggers is more than a little ridiculous when you consider that the American Wind Energy Association’s $5 million lobby expenditure is equal to about 5 minutes of lobbying by the oil and gas lobby which spent a whopping $175 million in the same time period.

Looking over the last ten years, the numbers are even more startling.

The Koch Industry and Americans for Prosperity Machine Exposed

The fallout continues from a very comprehensive New Yorker report exposing Koch Industries massive ideological machine with an opinion piece in the Sunday New York Times by columnist Frank Rich called: The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party.

Out in front of this controversy is a group called the Americans for Prosperity that has recieved millions from Koch Industries and has been touring the United States spreading misinformation about the realities of climate change and organizing local tea party protests.

Here is the background research we have put together over the years on the Americans for Prosperity and Koch Industries:

Background on Americans for Prosperity (AFP)

Background on Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity

Comprehensive background and history of Koch Industries

Background on Koch Industries - company holdings and investments

Background on Koch Industries and lobbying in Washington, DC

Background on Koch Industries and George Mason University

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