Mitchell Anderson

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Mitchell Anderson is a Vancouver based researcher and writer.

He worked for eight years as a staff scientist at Sierra Legal Defence Fund and has written extensively on environmental and social policy issues for a variety of national and international publications.

His blog is found at:

US Chamber of Commerce Wants their Day in Court on Climate Science

The US Chamber of Commerce filed papers this week in Federal Court seeking to put climate science “on trial - based on many of the same arguments that have been making the rounds for years.

Here is a quick run down of the legal theory that they want to present before a judge:

1) Higher temperatures will reduce human mortality.

Documents filed by the Chamber state “ that the net impact of the UN/IPCC’s forecasted temperature increases will result in lower net mortality rates in the United States.”

In contrast a recent report from the UN showed that climate change is already responsible for 300,000 additional deaths each year around the world. An additional 330 million are “seriously affected” by even the beginnings of climate change, with monetary costs currently at $125 billion per year and rising.

By 2030, the UN estimates that annual deaths associated with climate change will hit 500,000 per year; with up to 660 million people affected (about 10% of the planet’s population), with an annual economic cost around $340 billion.

Of course the Chamber’s brief is only concerned with the US. Living in a developed nation, Americans will be able to cope better than most due to greater wealth, but that does not affect the weather outside.

Dr. Christopher Field, of the Carnegie Institution for Science recently testified before the US Congress that scorching temperatures in an altered climate could result in cities like Sacramento experiencing heat waves for up to 100 days a year.

“We are close to a threshold in a very large number of American cities where uncomfortable heat waves make cities uninhabitable,” Field told the Senate’s environment and public works committee. That doesn’t sound very healthy.

Are Climate Deniers Crazy?

Because the end of the world has never happened before, it’s understandable many people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the potential apocalyptic consequences of climate change.

Floods, famines, mass-migrations – it might be a little too Old Testament for many folks to want to think about.

But what about climate deniers? Those people who don’t react with honest skepticism or debate, but vitriol and spleen-venting anger?

Psychologist Linda Buzzell was wondering the same thing. In an interesting post last week on Huffington, she tried to plum the depths of why some people can’t seem to have a civilized conversation about climate science.

She asks: “Why are these folks so desperate and frantic to dispute the current scientific consensus…? And if you disagree, why the need to scream and foam at the mouth?”

As a medical professional, she wonders: “why are the climate change deniers so upset, so shrill, so fearful, loud and angry at those who agree with the international scientific consensus? What’s the psychology behind the screaming? What are the deniers afraid of?”

Coal Industry Launches New Astroturf Group

Here are the FACES of phony public activism

Yet another astroturf group has emerged from the seemingly bottomless pockets of the coal industry: “Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security” - proudly bringing you the “FACES of Coal”.

This new PR campaign arises amid the ashes of the recently disgraced American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (ACCCE), implicated in a fraudulent letter writing campaign to Congress. It adds to a growing list of such purportedly grassroots organizations, including the Friends of Coal, Citizens for Coal and Families Organized to Represent the Coal Economy - a group that strangely does not allow families to join.

Despite this coal industry preference for the kind of friends that money can buy, this latest group bills itself as “an alliance of people from all walks of life who have joined forces to educate the general public and lawmakers about the importance of coal and coal mining to our local and national economies.”

Strange then that this campaign is not being run out of a bingo hall or a church basement, but off a flashy but anonymous website with no mailing address or phone number.

Why Do the Same Groups Oppose Health Care and Energy Reform?

Health care reform seems a long way from climate change but they share something very important in common: well funded interest groups that want to keep things just the way they are.

Take the Manhattan Institute. They are railing against proposed health care reform, churning out a dizzying number of reports and op-eds about why “Obama-care” is wrong for America. They also expend abundant effort slagging climate science, last year feting Danish doubter Bjorn Lomborg. The Manhattan Institute received $235,000 from ExxonMobil, as well as funding from various other conservative organizations.

Or the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog that has received $257,500 from ExxonMobil, and regularly gripes about how biased the US media is towards the “theory” of climate change, or the need to overhaul the health care system.

Other groups working hard to derail Obama’s health care platform include the notorious Heartland Institute. Desmog Blog readers will remember their remarkably unethical efforts to associate unwitting climate researchers with their propaganda campaign against climate science.

Lomborg's Robot Navy

Bjorn Lomborg has found a new vocation. For years, the Danish doubter has been hectoring the scientific community about their shoddy understanding of climate science – a discipline he has never published a peer reviewed paper about.

Now he is championing the dangerous prospect of geo-engineering as his latest reason to ignore ballooning carbon emissions. Specifically he believes a fleet of 1,900 robotic ships patrolling the Pacific Ocean churning seawater into the upper atmosphere will negate the need to do anything about climate change.

Problem solved!

This loopy prospect emerged from the Copenhagen Consensus - Lomborg’s personal climate conference where hand-picked attendees parrot his fringe notion that climate change is simply to expensive to deal with. Real economists around the world have come to exactly the opposite conclusion.

And now Lomborg finds himself at odds with actual experts yet again. The same week he was courting press attention for his robot ship solution, a gathering of independent scientists was warning the world about the dangers of relying on geo-engineering instead of emission cuts.

“Playing with the Earth’s climate is a dangerous game with unclear rules,” said Robert Jackson, director of Duke University’s Center on Global Change and organizer of a symposium on geo-engineering at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting.

Big Coal Impersonating Charities?

The most sinister PR campaign in history just hit a new ethical low when it was revealed that forged letters appearing to be from charities were sent to lawmakers urging them to vote against the Waxman Markey climate bill.

Congressman Tom Perriello was shocked to find that anti climate letters claiming to be from the NAACP and a local Latino non-profit were instead sent by DC lobby firm Bonner & Associates – a company apparently subcontracted by Big Coal astroturf group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

In total, twelve phony letters have surfaced so far, sent to three freshmen Congress members – all representing coal producing districts. Other charities apparently impersonated by Big Coal include the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, and the American Association of University Women.

You wonder how they sleep at night… Apparently unencumbered by ethics or morals, the fossil fuel lobby seems prepared to do anything, including fraudulently impersonating charities to avoid progress on climate change.

World Public Opinion Urges Action on Climate Change

A global public opinion poll shows that people around the world are demanding that their governments do more to tackle to climate change – often in the largest emitting countries.

The survey by surveyed 18,578 in 19 countries and found that 60% of people think their governments should be doing more to reduce carbon emissions. Only 18% felt their governments were doing enough and 12 % thought they were doing too much.

Nations with the highest frustration with their own government’s inaction on climate change included South Korea at 81%, Mexico at 79% and the UK where 77% felt the government should be doing more.

Even in countries with massive emissions, most citizens felt their government was dragging its feet on climate policy. For instance, 61% in China think their government should do more, 56% in Russia, and 51% un the US.

The main take away from this expansive polling effort is that people around the world recognize that climate change is a crisis and are demanding collective action, in spite of the global recession.

Vancouver Sun Gushes Over Denier Book Eviscerated by Climate Scientists

Editor’s note: feel free to go to Jim Hoggan’s response to this ridiculous op-ed and add your voice to the conversation.

Global warming is something humans should welcome and embrace as a harbinger of good times to come.”

That remarkable quote was the conclusion of an op-ed published this week in the Vancouver Sun that gushes over a denier book by Australian mining professor Ian Plimer called Heaven and Earth.

The over the top article is so enamored with Plimer they almost describe him as a Christ-like figure, persecuted by 21st century eco-Pharisees:

Purging humankind of its supposed sins of environmental degradation has become a religion with a fanatical and often intolerant priesthood, especially among the First World urban elites But Plimer shows no sign of giving way to this orthodoxy.”

In contrast, here’s the book reviews by real scientists of Plimer’s pot-boiler. Imagine if these found their way onto the back cover…

Bush White House was Willfully Blind to Arctic Ice Melt

During the eight years the Bush Administration denied that climate change was a problem, they were concealing spy satellite images showing the frightening loss of summer artic sea ice.

The de-classified images were released last week by the Obama Whitehouse in an effort to build support for the beleaguered Waxman Markey bill now moving through the Senate.

The satellite pictures clearly show how rapidly the arctic is vanishing due to climate change. In years such as 2007, more than one million square kilometers of summer ice disappeared and has never recovered.

The one-meter resolution images produced by the military spy satellites were far better than anything available to the world’s climate scientists. Too bad that few other than the military and the oil friendly Bush Administration ever saw them - until now.

NASA researcher Thorsten Markus of the Goddard Space Flight Center is thrilled to finally have access to better images than have ever been made available to climate experts. “One meter resolution is that dimension that has been missing…that is why web are so thrilled about it.”

Western Governors Enraged by False Attacks on WCI

The Western Governors Association (WGA) is hopping mad over misinformation being spread by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) about their climate efforts.