Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Let This Earth Day Be The Last

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Strong words, these.  But my own frustrations with all that is not happening run deep as well.   When you can see that the car is being driven in the wrong direction and you can see that things are going to work out badly, how long should you persist in politely asking the driver to turn?  

Until you are financially at risk?  Until your health is at risk?  Until your life and the lives of your children are at risk?

– There have to be limits.

-dennis

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“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.” 
—Frederick Douglass, 1857

Fuck Earth Day.

No, really. Fuck Earth Day. Not the first one, forty-four years ago, the one of sepia-hued nostalgia, but everything the day has since come to be: the darkest, cruelest, most brutally self-satirizing spectacle of the year.

Fuck it. Let it end here.

End the dishonesty, the deception. Stop lying to yourselves, and to your children. Stop pretending that the crisis can be “solved,” that the planet can be “saved,” that business more-or-less as usual—what progressives and environmentalists have been doing for forty-odd years and more—is morally or intellectually tenable. Let go of the pretense that “environmentalism” as we know it—virtuous green consumerism, affluent low-carbon localism, head-in-the-sand conservationism, feel-good greenwashed capitalism—comes anywhere near the radical response our situation requires.

So, yeah, I’ve had it with Earth Day—and the culture of progressive green denial it represents.

* * *

But why Frederick Douglass? Why bring him into this? And who am I to invoke him—a man who was born a slave and who freed himself from slavery, who knew something about struggle, whose words were among the most radical ever spoken on American soil? Who the hell am I? I’ve never suffered racial or any other kind of oppression. I’ve never had to fight for any fundamental rights. I’m not even a radical, really. (Nor am I an “environmentalist”—and never have been.) All I want is a livable world, and the possibility of social justice. So who am I to quote Frederick Douglass?

Let me tell you who I am: I’m a human being. I’m the father of two young children, a 14-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter, who face a deeply uncertain future on this planet. I’m a husband, a son, a brother—and a citizen. And, yes, I’m a journalist, and I’m an activist. And like more and more of us who are fighting for climate justice, I am engaged in a struggle—a struggle—for the fate of humanity and of life on Earth. Not a polite debate around the dinner table, or in a classroom, or an editorial meeting—or an Earth Day picnic. I’m talking about a struggle. A struggle for justice on a global scale. A struggle for human dignity and human rights for my fellow human beings, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable, far and near. A struggle for my own children’s future—but not only my children, all of our children, everywhere. A life-and-death struggle for the survival of all that I love. Because that is what the climate fight and the fight for climate justice is. That’s what it is.

Because, I’m sorry, this is not a test. This is really happening. The Arctic and the glaciers are melting. The great forests are dying and burning. The oceans are rising and acidifying. The storms, the floods—the droughts and heat waves—are intensifying. The breadbaskets are parched and drying. And all of it faster and sooner than scientists predicted. The window in which to act is closing before our eyes.

Any discussion of the situation must begin by acknowledging the science and the sheer lateness of the hour—that the chance for any smooth, gradual transition has passed, that without radical change the kind of livable and just future we all want is simply inconceivable. The international community has, of course, committed to keeping the global temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above the preindustrial average—the level, we’re told, at which “catastrophic” warming can still be avoided (we’ve already raised it almost one degree, with still more “baked in” within coming decades). But there’s good reason to believe that a rise of two degrees will lead to catastrophic consequences. And of course, what’s “catastrophic” depends on where you live, and how poor you are, and more often than not the color of your skin. If you’re one of the billions of people who live in the poorest and most vulnerable places—from Bangladesh to Louisiana—even 1 degree can mean catastrophe.

But the world’s climate scientists and leading energy experts are telling us that unless the major economies drastically and immediately change course—leaving all but a small fraction of fossil fuel reserves in the ground over the next four decades—we are headed for a temperature rise of four or five or even six degrees C within this century. The World Bank haswarned that four degrees “must be avoided.” But we’re not avoiding it. Global emissions are still rising each year. We’re plunging headlong toward the worst-case scenarios—critical global food and water shortages, rapid sea-level rise, social upheaval—and beyond.

The question is not whether we’re going to “stop” global warming, or “solve” the climate crisis; it is whether humanity will act quickly and decisively enough now to save civilization itself—in any form worth saving. Whether any kind of stable, humane and just future—any kind of just society—is still possible.

We know that if the governments of the world actually wanted to address this situation in a serious way, they could. Indeed, a select few, such as Germany, have begun to do so. It can be done—and at relatively low cost. And yet the fossil-fuel industry, and those who do its bidding, have been engaged in a successful decades-long effort to sow confusion, doubt and opposition—and to obstruct any serious policies that might slow the warming, or their profits, and buy us time.

As I’ve said elsewhere, let’s be clear about what this means: at this late date, given what we know and have known for decades, to willfully obstruct any serious response to global warming is to knowingly allow entire countries and cultures to disappear. It is to rob the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet of their land, their homes, their livelihoods, even their lives and their children’s lives—and their children’s children’s lives. For money. For political power.

These are crimes. They are crimes against the Earth, and they are crimes against humanity.

What, are you shocked? The same industry, the same people committing these crimes—while we subsidize them for their trouble—have been getting away with murder along the fence lines and front lines for generations.

What is the proper response to this? How should I respond?

Remain calm, we’re told. No “scare tactics” or “hysterics,” please. Cooler heads will prevail. Enjoy the Earth Day festivities.

Fuck that.

The cooler heads have not prevailed. It’s been a quarter-century since the alarm was sounded. The cooler heads have failed.

You want sweet, cool-headed reason?

How about this? Masses of people—most of them young, a generation with little or nothing to lose—physically, nonviolently disrupting the fossil-fuel industry and the institutions that support it and abet it. Getting in the way of business as usual. Forcing the issue. Finally acting as though we accept what the science is telling us.

Um, isn’t that a bit extreme? you ask.

Really? You want extreme? Business as usual is extreme. Just ask a climate scientist. The building is burning. The innocents—the poor, the oppressed, the children, your own children—are inside. And the American petro state is spraying fuel, not water, on the flames. That’s more than extreme. It’s homicidal. It’s psychopathic. It’s fucking insane.

* * *

Coming to grips with the climate crisis is hard. A friend of mine says it’s like walking around with a knife in your chest. I couldn’t agree more.

So I ask again, in the face of this situation, how does one respond? Many of us, rather than retreat into various forms of denial and fatalism, have reached the conclusion that somethingmore than “environmentalism” is called for, and that a new kind of movement is the only option. That the only thing, at this late hour, offering any chance of averting an unthinkable future—and of getting through the crisis that’s already upon us—is the kind of radical social and political movement that has altered the course of history in the past. A movement far less like contemporary environmentalism and far more like the radical human rights, social justice and liberation struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Does that sound hopelessly naïve to you? Trust me, I get it. I know. I know how it sounds.

And yet here I am. Because I also know that abolishing slavery sounded hopeless and naïve in 1857, when Frederick Douglass spoke of struggle.

What I’m talking about is not a fight to “solve the climate crisis.” That’s not possible anymore. But neither is it simply a fight for human survival—because there are oppressive and dystopian forms of survival, not to mention narcissistic ones, that aren’t worth fighting for.

What I’m talking about is both a fight for survival and a fight for justice—for even the possibility of justice. It’s a fight that transcends environmentalism. It requires something of us beyond the usual politics and proposals, the usual pieties. It requires the kind of commitment you find in radical movements—the kind of struggles, from abolition to women’s, labor and civil rights, that have made possible what was previously unimaginable.

Because our global crisis—not merely environmental but moral and spiritual—is fundamental: it strikes to the root of who we are. It’s a radical situation, requiring a radical response. Not merely radical in the sense of ideology, but a kind of radical necessity. It requires us to find out who we really are—and, nonviolently, in the steps of Gandhi and King and many others, to act. In some cases, to lay everything—everything—on the line.

And it requires us to be honest, with one another and with ourselves, about the situation we face. We’ll never have a movement radical enough, or humane enough, until we are.

That is, until Earth Day is buried—and a day of reckoning begins.

– To the original article:  

An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science

Friday, January 24th, 2014

An epic saga of secretly funded climate denial and harassment of scientists.

A recent headline—”Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss“—marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly funded climate denial, the harassment of scientists, and a tying-up of valuable government resources in New Zealand.

It’s likely to be a familiar story to my scientist colleagues in Australia, the UK, the US, and elsewhere around the world.

But if you’re not a scientist and are genuinely trying to work out who to believe when it comes to climate change, then it’s a story you need to hear, too. Because while the New Zealand fight over climate data appears to finally be over, it’s part of a much larger, ongoing war against evidence-based science.

From number crunching to controversy

In 1981, as part of my PhD work, I produced a seven-station New Zealand temperature series known as 7SS to monitor historic temperature trends and variations from Auckland to as far south as Dunedin in southern New Zealand.

A decade later, while at the NZ Meteorological Service in 1991-92, I revised the 7SS using a newhomogenization approach to make New Zealand’s temperature records more accurate, such as adjusting for when temperature gauges were moved to new sites. For example, in 1928, Wellington’s temperature gauge was relocated from an inner suburb near sea level up into the hills at Kelburn, where—due to its higher, cooler location—it recorded much cooler temperatures for the city than before.

With statistical analysis, we could work out how much Wellington’s temperature has really gone up or down since the city’s temperature records began back in 1862 and how much of that change was simply due to the gauge being moved uphill. (You can read more about re-examining NZ temperatureshere.)

So far, so uncontroversial.

But in 2008, while I was working for a NZ government-owned research organization—the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)—we updated the 7SS. And we found that at those seven stations across the country, from Auckland down to Dunedin, there was a warming trend of 0.91ºC (1.63ºF) between 1909 and 2008.

Soon after that, things started to get heated.

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, linked to a global climate change denial group, theInternational Climate Science Coalition, began to question the adjustments I had made to the 7SS.

Rather than ever contacting me to ask for an explanation of the science, as I’ve tried to briefly cover above, the Coalition appeared determined to find a conspiracy.

“Shonky” claims

The attack on the science was led by then MP for the free market ACT New Zealand party, Rodney Hide, who claimed in the NZ Parliament in February 2010:

NIWA’s raw data for their official temperature graph shows no warming. But NIWA shifted the bulk of the temperature record pre-1950 downwards and the bulk of the data post-1950 upwards to produce a sharply rising trend… NIWA’s entire argument for warming was a result of adjustments to data which can’t be justified or checked. It’s shonky.

Hide’s attack continued for 18 months, with more than 80 parliamentary questions being put to NIWA between February 2010 and July 2011, all of which required NIWA input for the answers.

The science minister asked NIWA to reexamine the temperature records, which required several months of science time. In December 2010, the results were in. After the methodology was reviewed and endorsed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, it was found that at the seven stations from Auckland to Dunedin, there was a warming trend of 0.91°C between 1909 and 2008.

That is, the same result as before.

But before NIWA even had time to produce that report, a new line of attack had been launched.

Off to court

In July 2010, a statement of claim against NIWA was filed in the High Court of New Zealand under the guise of a new charitable trust: the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (NZCSET). Its trustees were all members of the NZ Climate Science Coalition.

The NZCSET challenged the decision of NIWA to publish the adjusted 7SS, claiming that the “unscientific” methods used created an unrealistic indication of climate warming.

The trust ignored the evidence in the Meteorological Service report I first authored, which stated that a particular adjustment methodology had been used. The trust incorrectly claimed this methodology should have been used but wasn’t.

 

Enlarge / The New Zealand weather wars in the news.
The New Zealand Herald

In July 2011, the trust produced a document that attempted to reproduce the Meteorological Service adjustments, but it failed to do so, instead making lots of errors.

 

On September 7, 2012, High Court Justice Geoffrey Venning delivered a 49-page ruling, finding that the NZCSET had not succeeded in any of its challenges against NIWA.

The judge was particularly critical about retired journalist and NZCSET trustee Terry Dunleavy’slack of scientific expertise.

Justice Venning described some of the trust’s evidence as tediously lengthy and said, “It is particularly unsuited to a satisfactory resolution of a difference of opinion on scientific matters.”

Taxpayers left to foot the bill

After an appeal that was withdrawn at the last minute, late last year the NZCSET was ordered to pay NIWA NZ$89,000 (US$74,000) in costs from the original case, plus further costs from the appeal.

But just this month, we have learned that the people behind the NZCSET have sent it into liquidation as they cannot afford the fees, leaving the New Zealand taxpayer at a substantial, six-figure loss.

Commenting on the lost time and money involved with the case, NIWA Chief Executive John Morgan said, “On the surface, it looks like the trust was purely for the purpose of taking action, which is not what one would consider the normal use of a charitable trust.”

This has been an insidious saga. The trust aggressively attacked the scientists instead of engaging with them to understand the technical issues, they ignored evidence that didn’t suit their case, and they regularly misrepresented NIWA statements by taking them out of context.

Yet their attack has now been repeatedly rejected in Parliament, by scientists, and by the courts.

The end result of the antics by a few individuals and the trust is probably going to be a six-figure bill for New Zealanders to pay.

My former colleagues have had valuable weeks tied up in defending against these manufactured allegations. That’s time that could have profitably been used further investigating what is happening with our climate.

But there is a bigger picture here, too.

Merchants of doubt

Doubt-mongering is an old strategy. It is a strategy that has been pursued before to combat the ideas that cigarette smoking is harmful to your health, and it has been assiduously followed by climate deniers for the past 20 years.

One of the best-known international proponents of such strategies is US think tank the Heartland Institute.

Enlarge / The first in a planned series of anti-global warming billboards in the US, comparing “climate alarmists” with terrorists and mass murderers. The campaign was canned after a backlash.
The Heartland Institute

Just to be clear: there is no evidence that the Heartland Institute helped fund the NZ court challenge. In 2012, one of the trustees who brought the action against NIWA said that Heartland had not donated anything to the case.

However, Heartland is known to have been active in NZ in the past, providing funding to the NZ Climate Science Coalition and a related International Coalition, as well as financially backing prominent climate “skeptic” campaigns in Australia.

 

Enlarge / An extract from a 1999 letter from the Heartland Institute to tobacco company Philip Morris.
University of California, San Francisco, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library

The Heartland Institute also has a long record ofworking with tobacco companies, as the letter on the right illustrates. (You can read that letter and other industry documents in full here. Meanwhile, Heartland’s reply to critics of its tobacco and fossil fuel campaigns is here.)

 

Earlier this month, the news broke that major tobacco companies will finally admit that they “deliberately deceived the American public,” in “corrective statements” that would run on prime-time TV, in newspapers, and even on cigarette packs.

It has taken a 15-year court battle with the US government to reach this point, and it shows that evidence can trump doubt-mongering in the long run.

A similar day may come for those who actively work to cast doubt on climate science.The Conversation

This story originally appeared on The Conversation.

– My source:  

– Research Thanks to Alan T.

 

‘Uncomfortable’ climates to devastate cities within a decade, study says

Monday, November 4th, 2013

– This is what John Roach of NBC News has to say on October 9th, 2013

– But this has all been coming, writ large, for a long time.  

-It’s been coming since:

Lyndon Johnson discussed the CO2 we were putting into the atmosphere in 1965.

Since the Club of Rome discussions and their paper on “The Limits to Growth” in 1972.

Since the World Scientists issued their warning to Humanity in 1992.

– But it is only just now beginning to reach the evening news as plausible news.  

– We have just a few greedy, self-centered people and corporations to thank for the fact that their misinformation has been instrumental in delaying humanities waking up on these threats until it is virtually too late.  

Most recently, Naomi Oreskes showed us this in her book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

– Some of us remember how Mussolini ended up.   I wonder, when the damages are finally appreciated, if these folks may fare the same.   I won’t cry any crocodile tears for them; that’s for sure.  

-By their actions many, many millions will die, cities and nations will fall, species innumerable will go extinct and most of our descendants will have less than optimal lives to look forward to; if they manage to live through the changes that are coming.

– dennis

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Lesser daysThe world is hurtling toward a stark future where the web of life unravels, human cultures are uprooted, and millions of species go extinct, according to a new study. This doomsday scenario isn’t far off, either: It may start within a decade in parts of Indonesia, and begin playing out over most of the world — including cities across the United States — by mid-century.

What’s more, even a serious effort to stabilize spiraling greenhouse gas emissions will only stave off these changes until around 2069, notes the study from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, published online Wednesday in the journal Nature. The authors warn that the time is now to prepare for a world where even the coldest of years will be warmer than the hottest years of the past century and a half.

“We are used to the climate that we live in. With this climate change, what is going to happen is we’re going to be moving outside this comfort zone,” biologist Camilo Mora, the study’s lead author, told NBC News. “It is going to be uncomfortable for us as humans and it will be very uncomfortable for species as well.”

– To Read More of this article:  

– Still with the doubts, Sweetpea?   Then please read this:

 

As climate change intensifies, the world faces an unpalatable choice: eat or drink

Friday, November 1st, 2013

A quarter of the world’s food crops are now being grown in regions that are highly water-stressed, according to a report released yesterday by the nonprofit World Resources Institute (WRI). It gets worse: Half the planet’s irrigated cropland, which produce 40% of the global food supply, is located in areas facing severe water shortages as climate change exacerbates drought.

Tapping data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and academic studies, WRI researchers overlaid food production with water resources to create an online interactive map that shows where the most water-stressed crops are grown. The WRI defines high water stress as areas where 40% of the renewable water supply is withdrawn annually. In extremely high water stress regions, 80% of the water supply is tapped each year.
– More:  

Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

– I don’t think the best of our idealists are going to be going out on Greenpeace ships any more to protest politely.   Not when they stand to lose the most of their young lives sitting in Russian prisons for the crime of idealism and the crime of trying to wake people up to the stupidity and danger gathering all around us.

– The days or holding signs and protesting peacefully are withering away all over the world as people realize that none of that has been effective.   And now it is become downright dangerous.

– I first read that an ecologically sane world and the world of Capitalism may not be compatible bedfellows on this planet back in 2008 when I read The Bridge at the Edge of the World by James Gustave Speth; Yale University.   He is and has been a major leading light in all things environment in the U.S. and he’s been a team player all along.  So, this was a hard conclusion for him to come to.

– In the article, below, Naomi Klein tells us that others up and down the line are coming to the same conclusions.  

– If what we’ve been doing isn’t working and losing is not an option for those of us who love this world and our children, then quite simply, new measures will be needed.

– dennis

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Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage. But then again, Werner wasn’t exactly calling for those things. He was merely observing that mass uprisings of people – along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street – represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control. We know that past social movements have “had tremendous influence on . . . how the dominant culture evolved”, he pointed out. So it stands to reason that, “if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics”. And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but “really a geophysics problem”.

Plenty of scientists have been moved by their research findings to take action in the streets. Physicists, astronomers, medical doctors and biologists have been at the forefront of movements against nuclear weapons, nuclear power, war, chemical contamination and creationism. And in November 2012,Nature published a commentary by the financier and environmental philanthropist Jeremy Grantham urging scientists to join this tradition and “be arrested if necessary”, because climate change “is not only the crisis of your lives – it is also the crisis of our species’ existence”.

– More:  

 

Hackers ‘raid US weapons’

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Cultural Revolution

– If China doesn’t implode from its own internal pressures (the failure of the Mandate of Heaven concept), then it is likely that we’re all going to be living in a Chinese dominated world.

– Most of the rest of us are living in debt ridden societies with few realistic ideas of how to break the debt cycles. (Oh, yeah, let’s have another WalMart or Warehouse store so we can buy really cheap shit – that’ll sort things out).

– So here, the Chinese, apparently, have stolen the heart of America’s weapon system designs. They’ve denied it?   Well, what would you expect them to say?

– Clearly, they are winning the game against the west and they’ve used our own Capitalistic Systems and greed against us, brilliantly.

– All we can hope for is that their own greed, corruption, and their failure to understand that they too are subject to the consequences of pollution, climate change and global overshoot, is going to pull their system apart before they can take over ours.  

– Then, at least, we can all live equally in a ruined world rather than having to be serfs in a ruined world that they dominate.

– Do you think after reading this that I am prejudiced against the Chinese?  

– No, I’m not.  I differentiate between the people and their culture.   I know and value a number of excellent friends among the Chinese.  

– But their culture is another thing.  These are, after all, the same people that gave the world the spectacle of The Cultural Revolution just a few decades ago.  These same folks drive the Shark Fin markets, the Bear Gall Bladder Markets, the Ivory Markets, and etc.  

– They don’t seem to mind poisoning each other, and other nationalities, in their pursuits of profit.  (Granted, we’ve not been much better).  And, like other cultures before them (and here I very much include ours), they think they are superior, that they are right and that it is their mandate to rule.

– In the end, I think I’d prefer our own assholes to theirs.

– dennis

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Some of America’s key defence items compromised but the culprits are not known.

Designs for some of America’s most important and sensitive weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, according to a confidential report.

More than two dozen key weapons systems had been affected, including missile defences, fighter jets, helicopters and navy vessels, the report said.

Among those listed are the advanced Patriot missile system, or PAC-3, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the Black Hawk helicopter and the V-22 Osprey, which is able to land and take off vertically.

It was not clear from the report, extracts of which were published by theWashington Post, when or how the designs had been compromised.

Its authors _ the Defence Science Board, an influential advisory body _ stopped short of accusing the Chinese Government of attempting to steal the information.

But senior military sources pointed the finger directly at Beijing, saying the security breaches were part of a “widening Chinese campaign of espionage against US defence contractors and government agencies”.

– More…

– Thanks to Kierin M for the Mandate of Heaven concept.

“endorsement of free-market economics predicted rejection of climate science”

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Abstract

Although nearly all domain experts agree that carbon dioxide emissions are altering the world’s climate, segments of the public remain unconvinced by the scientific evidence. Internet blogs have become a platform for denial of climate change, and bloggers have taken a prominent role in questioning climate science. We report a survey of climate-blog visitors to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science. Our findings parallel those of previous work and show that endorsement of free-market economics predicted rejection of climate science. Endorsement of free markets also predicted the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. We additionally show that, above and beyond endorsement of free markets, endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the Federal Bureau of Investigation killed Martin Luther King, Jr.) predicted rejection of climate science as well as other scientific findings. Our results provide empirical support for previous suggestions that conspiratorial thinking contributes to the rejection of science. Acceptance of science, by contrast, was strongly associated with the perception of a consensus among scientists.

– To the original:

 

Secrets of the Rich

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

– Another brilliant piece by George Monbiot of the UK’s Guardian.   I just cannot applaud him enough.

– dennis

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Billionaires are hiding behind a network of “independent” groups, who manipulate politics on their behalf.

Conspiracies against the public don’t get much uglier than this. As the Guardian revealed last week, two secretive organisations working for US billionaires have spent $118m to ensure that no action is taken to prevent manmade climate change(1). While inflicting untold suffering on the world’s people, their funders have used these opaque structures to ensure that their identities are never exposed.

The two organisations – the Donors’ Trust and the Donors’ Capital Fund – were set up as political funding channels for people handing over $1m or more. They have financed 102 organisations which either dismiss climate science or downplay the need to take action. The large number of recipients creates the impression that there are many independent voices challenging climate science. These groups, working through the media, mobilising gullible voters and lobbying politicians, helped to derail Obama’s cap and trade bill and the climate talks at Copenhagen. Now they’re seeking to prevent the US president from trying again(2).

This covers only part of the funding. In total, between 2002 and 2010 the two identity-laundering groups paid $311m to 480 organisations(3), most of which take positions of interest to the ultra-rich and the corporations they run: less tax, less regulation, a smaller public sector. Around a quarter of the money received by the rightwing opinion swarm comes from the two foundations(4). If this funding were not effective, it wouldn’t exist: the ultra-rich didn’t get that way by throwing their money around randomly. The organisations they support are those which advance their interests.

A small number of the funders have been exposed by researchers trawling through tax records. They include the billionaire Koch brothers (paying into the two groups through their Knowledge and Progress Fund) and the DeVos family (the billionaire owners of Amway)(5). More significantly, we now know a little more about the recipients. Many describe themselves as free market or conservative think tanks.

Among them are the American Enterprise Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Hudson Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Reason Foundation, Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Mont Pelerin Society and the Discovery Institute(6). All of them pose as learned societies, earnestly trying to determine the best interests of the public. The exposure of this funding reinforces the claim by David Frum, formerly a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, that such groups “increasingly function as public-relations agencies”(7).

One name in particular jumped out at me: American Friends of the IEA. The Institute of Economic Affairs is a British group which, like all the others, calls itself a free market thinktank. Scarcely a day goes by on which its staff are not interviewed in the broadcast media, promoting the dreary old billionaires’ agenda: less tax for the rich, less help for the poor, less spending by the state, less regulation for business. In the first 13 days of February, its people were on the BBC ten times(8).

Never have I heard its claim to be an independent thinktank challenged by the BBC. When, in 2007, I called the institute a business lobby group, its then director-general responded, in a letter to the Guardian, that “we are independent of all business interests”(9). Oh yes?

The database, published by the Canadian site desmogblog.com, shows that American Friends of the IEA has received (up to 2010) $215,000 from the two secretive funds(10). When I spoke to the IEA’s fundraising manager, she confirmed that the sole purpose of American Friends is to raise money for the organisation in London(11). She agreed that the IEA has never disclosed the Donors’ Trust money it has received. She denied that the institute is a sockpuppet organisation: purporting to be independent while working for some very powerful US interests.

Would the BBC allow someone from Bell Pottinger to discuss an issue of concern to its sponsors without revealing the sponsors’ identity? No. So what’s the difference? What distinguishes an acknowledged public relations company taking money from a corporation or a billionaire from a so-called thinktank, funded by the same source to promote the same agenda?

The IEA is registered with the Charity Commission as an educational charity(12). The same goes for Nigel Lawson’s climate misinformation campaign (the Global Warming Policy Foundation(13)) and a host of other dubious “thinktanks”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is outrageous that the Charity Commission allows organisations which engage in political lobbying and refuse to reveal their major funders to claim charitable status(14).

This is the new political frontier. Corporations and their owners have learnt not to show their hands. They tend to avoid the media, aware that they will damage their brands by being seen to promote the brutal agenda that furthers their interests. So they have learnt from the tobacco companies: stay hidden and pay other people to do it for you(15).

They need a network of independent-looking organisations which can produce plausible arguments in defence of their positions. Once the arguments have been developed, projecting them is easy. Most of the media are owned by billionaires, who are happy to promote the work of people funded by the same class(16). One of the few outlets they don’t own – the BBC – has been disgracefully incurious about the identity of those to whom it gives a platform.

By these means the ultra-rich come to dominate the political conversation, without declaring themselves(17,18). Those they employ are clever and well-trained. They have money their opponents can only dream of. They are skilled at rechannelling the public anger which might otherwise have been directed at their funders: the people who have tanked the economy, who use the living planet as their dustbin, who won’t pay their taxes and who demand that the poor must pay for the mistakes of the rich. Anger, thanks to the work of these hired hands, is instead aimed at the victims or opponents of the billionaires: people on benefits, the trade unions, Greenpeace, the American Civil Liberties Union.

The answer, as ever, is transparency. As the so-called thinktanks come to play an ever more important role in politics, we need to know who they are working for. Any group – whether the Institute of Economic Affairs or Friends of the Earth – which attempts to influence public life should declare all donations greater than £1000. We’ve had a glimpse of who’s paying. Now we need to see the rest of the story.

– To the original and its references:  

Who do you trust on Climate Change?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

It’s a valid question.  We all know that there are climate change deniers and climate change proponents out there.  And they each seem to be deeply convinced of their point of view.

One could get cynical and jaded regarding the issue and it’s easy to believe that these ongoing arguments are just the same old arguments being hashed out over and over again with neither side budging year after year.

But is it a static and unchanging argument?

Well, I’m going to tell you that it is not.  And I’m going to give you the proof.  And afterwards, you can ask yourself if,  perhaps, you’ve been a bit too lackadaisical about all of this.

Who loves you, Baby?

When it comes TIME to put your money and your belief down on a issue like this, who would you trust?

Would you trust the tree-huggers who seem to go on and on about saving nature – with seemingly no regard for preserving our jobs, our communities and our way of life?

Or would you trust the big oil, gas and coal corporations who tell us there’s nothing to worry about but whose profits are deeply dependent on all of us continuing to burn the fossil fuels they produce and sell to us?

Well, that’s a tough choice and it’s one we’ve been looking at for some time now.

New boys in town

But there are new players in this game now.  And these new folks have some very serious money and responsibilities on the table.  So, it is worth waking up again on this issue and seeing what they have to say.

Among these new players are the U.S. Pentagon, Lloyd’s of London and The World Bank, to name a few.  I think you’d agree that in a world full of monkey’s, these are some of the gorillas.

All of them have decided that the threat of Global Climate Change sounds serious enough that they’ve commissioned major studies to get at the truth of the matter for their own good.  And it is not surprising that they would.

The World Bank makes huge investments around the world and the success or failure of these investments may hinge on whether the threat of Global Climate Change is real.

Lloyd’s of London sells insurance. And when they do so, they are making a bet that they know what the odds are that a disaster might happen.   The fact that they’ve been in business for centuries, and that they are one of the world’s largest insurance firms, says that they know what they are doing when it comes to estimating risk.

And, of course, the U.S. Pentagon has the enormous responsibility of making sure that United States is, and remains, secure in the face of a changing world.

The studies they’ve commissioned have all come back saying that we, as a world, are proceeding into some very deep and serious problems.  These studies have confirmed what the environmentalists and the climate scientists have been trying to tell us for more than twenty plus years now.

Read it all for yourself

But don’t trust what I have to say on all of this.   Read it for yourself.  Here are the direct links:

The World Bank:

http://climatechange.worldbank.org/

Lloyd’s of London:  http:

//www.lloyds.com/~/media/3be75eab0df24a5184d0814c32161c2d.ashx

U.S. Pentagon:

http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/news/FlipBooks/Climate%20Change%20web/flipviewerxpress.html

The Central Point

The central point in all of this is that Global Climate Change is real and it is a MAJOR threat to all of our futures.

That said, the worst aspects of these threats may still be a decade or two away.   Many of us are old enough (myself included) to think that none of this may matter to us.

But reflect for a moment on those you love.   Your sons, your daughters, your grandchildren and your relatives and their families and all the other folks you care about.

Just imagine the kind of a world we are on the brink of bequeathing them if all of this is true.  I know that none of you would willingly leave your dependents in dire straits.   So, you owe it to yourself and to them to open your mind and take a good look at these issues again, my friends.

A few samples from the reports

Here we’re going to learn that the world is well on its way to being 4°C [7.2°F] warmer by the end of the century.

Ironically, twenty years ago in 1992, the climate scientists who met in Rio then warned that the world could simply not sustain a temperature increase of more than 2°C with out major consequences.

Of that 2°C, we’ve now risen .8°C.

 

The World Bank Report says:

A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C.  Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.

A 4°C [7.2°F] warmer world would also suffer more extreme heat waves, and these events will not be evenly distributed across the world, according to the report.

Sub-tropical Mediterranean, northern Africa, the Middle East, and the contiguous United States are likely to see monthly summer temperatures rise by more than 6°C [10.8°F]. Temperatures of the warmest July between 2080-2100 in the Mediterranean are expected to approach 35°C [95°F]– about 9°C [16.2°Fwarmer than the warmest July estimated for the present day. The warmest July month in the Sahara and the Middle East will see temperatures as high as 45°C [113°F], or 6-7°C [10.8-12.6°F] above the warmest July simulated for the present day.

Hotter weather could in turn lower crop yields in a 4°C [7.2°F] world—raising concerns about future food security. Field experiments have shown that crops are highly sensitive to temperatures above certain thresholds. One study cited in the report found that each “growing degree day” spent at a temperature of 30°C [86°F] degrees decreases yields by 1% under drought-free rain-fed conditions.

The report also says drought-affected areas would increase from 15.4% of global cropland today, to around 44% by 2100. The most severely affected regions in the next 30 to 90 years will likely be in southern Africa, the United States, southern Europe and Southeast Asia, says the report. 

The Lloyd’s of London Report says:

If the sea level were to rise just four meters due to climate change, almost every coastal city in the world would be inundated.

In publishing this report, it is not Lloyd’s intention to take a particular position, or to support a specific scenario. We simply aim to present the facts from the most reliable sources in a way which we hope will be helpful for those who trade in, and with, our market. We also want to generate debate about the specific steps which we might take as an industry to prepare for the increasing volatility of the climate.

Although debate continues, the growing body of evidence on greenhouse gases suggests that significant climate change is inevitable. Even if we stopped producing greenhouse gas emissions immediately, we would still experience rising temperatures for decades to come and sea temperatures will continue to rise for many centuries, due to inertia in the climate system.

We might hope that extreme ‘tipping points’ – the point beyond which change cannot be reversed – can be avoided. However, evidence so far must lead us to conclude that some level of change has already occurred and that it will continue to occur, perhaps at a higher level than previously thought.

One recent paper in Nature warns starkly: “Global warming may proceed at or even above the upper extreme of the range projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

The Pentagon Report says:

Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America’s national security. The predicted effects of climate change over the coming decades include extreme weather events, drought, flooding, sea level rise, retreating glaciers, habitat shifts, and the increased spread of life-threatening diseases. These conditions have the potential to disrupt our way of life and to force changes in the way we keep ourselves safe and secure.

The nature and pace of climate changes being observed today and the consequences projected by the consensus scientific opinion are grave and pose equally grave implications for our national security. Moving beyond the arguments of cause and effect, it is important that the U.S. military begin planning to address these potentially devastating effects. The consequences of climate change can affect the organization, training, equipping, and planning of the military services. The U.S.
military has a clear obligation to determine the potential impacts of climate change on its ability to execute its missions in support of national security objectives.

In the national and international security environment, climate change threatens to add new hostile and stressing factors. On the simplest level, it has the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale far beyond those we see today. The consequences will likely foster political instability where societal demands exceed the capacity of governments to cope.

Unlike most conventional security threats that involve a single entity acting in specific ways and points in time, climate change has the potential to result in multiple chronic conditions, occurring globally within the same time frame.  Economic and environmental conditions in already fragile areas will further erode as food production declines, diseases increase, clean water becomes increasingly scarce, and large populations move in search of resources. Weakened and failing governments, with an already thin margin for survival, foster the conditions for internal conflicts, extremism, and movement toward increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies.

So, what do you do with all of this?

You might wonder why I am writing this?  What do I expect you, my readers, to do with this information?  Maybe you suspect that I am hoping that all of you will undergo a sudden conversion and become rabid tree-huggers?

Nope, it is none of those and this is not a partisan based appeal either.   This is decidedly not about Conservative vs. Liberal or Religious vs. Secular.

It may be true, in general, that Liberals have been quicker than Conservatives to embrace a belief in Global Climate Change. But, in truth, neither side’s response to these problems has been anything other than tepid and lukewarm.  The best you can say for the Liberals is that they are still willing to “talk” about it though they’ve showed no serious signs of engaging it.   And with the Conservatives, it’s even worse as they are seeming moving away from the issues.

In 2008 the Republican party platform at least included language that called for a “decrease in emissions, reduction of excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and mitigation of the impact of climate change“.

By this most recent election cycle, there was a major shift away from this point-of-view.  The Republican 2012 platform eliminated any reference to climate change with the exception of prohibiting the “EPA from moving forward with new greenhouse gas regulations.”  Their platform also supported vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s accusation that climatologists use “statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.”

It is deeply scary that the Republican Party, that represents half of the American population, is in active denial of Global Climate Change.  And it is only slightly better that the Democrats at least still profess to still “believe” in the issue.  But all President Obama has really offered up in terms of improving things is to implement some better mileage requirements for cars.  In truth, he’s literally just messing with the deck furniture while the Titanic sails on to its appointment with an iceberg called Global Climate Change.

Folks, I’ll repeat myself.   This isn’t a partisan rant, this isn’t about Republicans vs. Democrats.  The  issues we’re talking about here cut a lot deeper than any of that.

What this is about is trying to convince you that these threats are terrifying and real,  And that they are going effect everyone and everyplace on this planet before long and that some of the biggest power players and smartest people on the planet are coming to that profound realization.

Vote – that’s what it’s about

This is about getting you to think about who you vote for because that is the leverage that each of us in a democratic society has to affect things.  Political parties don’t lead.   They simply reflect the beliefs of those whom they consider their electorate.  You, the voters, have to change and your parties will follow.  Show your change by who you vote for.

I urge you to vote for people, regardless of whether they are conservative or liberal, who’ve

A. Shown that they understand the issues around Global Climate Change.

B. And shown that they believe the issues are real and hugely important.

C. And shown that they are motivated to do something about it.

Many of our current politicians on both sides of the aisle  just cannot seem to see that the world is changing around us in dangerous ways.  For whatever reason, many of our current politicians are in serious denial about the coming consequences of Global Climate Change.

And in their denial they are frittering away all of our futures.  And most especially they are frittering away the futures of our children.

If you still have doubts about all of this, then go back and reread the reports I’ve referenced by the Pentagon, The World Bank and Lloyd’s of London again.  And then reflect on who these organizations are.  They are not tree-huggers or environmental destroyers.  And they most definitely are not here with ulterior motives to pull the wool over our eyes.

And these three organizations are not the only ones.  Governments and major business organizations all over the world are beginning to worry about what’s coming.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get the people we elect to wake up  and smell the coffee too?

 

 

Worst U.S. drought in decades continues

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

The future?

The worst US drought in decades has deepened again after more than a month of encouraging reports of slowly improving conditions, a drought-tracking consortium said today, as scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain.

While more than half of the continental US has been in a drought since summer, rain storms had appeared to be easing the situation week by week since late September. But that promising run ended with today’s weekly US Drought Monitor report, which showed increases in the portion of the country in drought and the severity of it.

The report showed that 60.1 per cent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 58.8 per cent the previous week. The amount of land in extreme or exceptional drought the two worst classifications increased from 18.3 per cent to 19.04 per cent.

The Drought Monitor’s map tells the story, with dark red blotches covering the center of the nation and portions of Texas and the Southeast as an indication of where conditions are the most intense. Those areas are surrounded by others in lesser stages of drought, with only the Northwest, Florida and a narrow band from New England south to Mississippi escaping.

– more…