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US and China Announce Historic Agreement on Climate Change

Ice breaker
Environment • Views: 36,372
Image via Shutterstock

Some excellent news from President Obama’s trip to China: BREAKING: The US and China Just Announced a Huge Deal on Climate—and It’s a Game Changer.

So much for the conventional wisdom that China will never agree to reduce carbon emissions. Two of the world’s major carbon-producing countries have made an historic deal, and of course we can fully expect the Republican Party to freak right out over it.

According to the plan, the United States will reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, nearly twice the existing target—without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles.

Tuesday’s announcement is equally remarkable for China’s commitment. For the first time, China has set a date at which it expects its emissions will “peak,” or finally begin to taper downward: around 2030. China is currently the world’s biggest emitter of carbon pollution, largely because of its coal-dependent economy, and reining in emissions while continuing to grow has been the paramount challenge for China’s leaders.

The White House said in a statement that China could reach the target even sooner than 2030. It “expects that China will succeed in peaking its emissions before 2030 based on its broad economic reform program, plans to address air pollution, and implementation of President Xi’s call for an energy revolution.”

Great Video: Bill Nye Helps You Refresh Your Understanding of the Basic Science of Climate Change

Stand up for reality
Environment • Views: 32,821

YouTube

Climate Change Denier James Inhofe to Lead Senate Environment Committee

Environment • Views: 32,444

The very last person you’d ever want to see in charge of the Senate Environment Committee will now probably be in charge of the Senate Environment Committee.

On handing Republicans control of the Senate on Tuesday, Americans effectively voted for the party’s hostile plans against President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy. Their votes also put the Senate’s environment and climate policy into the hands of the worst science-denier in national politics: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who is almost certainly the next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Inhofe claimed in 2003 that global warming might help humanity. “It’s also important to question whether global warming is even a problem for human existence. Thus far no one has seriously demonstrated any scientific proof that increased global temperatures would lead to the catastrophes predicted by alarmists. In fact, it appears that just the opposite is true: that increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives.”

[…]

Inhofe refuted climate change science in 2012 by citing the Bible. “[T]he Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.’ My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

Last Month Was the Hottest September Since They Started Keeping Records

The changes are accelerating
Environment • Views: 27,158

As the Republican Party sinks ever deeper into its denial of climate change (good luck finding a single GOP politician these days who doesn’t deny the influence of human beings on the Earth’s climate), NASA has reported that last month was the hottest September on record since the records began.

Last month was the warmest September globally since records began being kept in 1880, NASA reported Sunday. January through September data have 2014 already at the third warmest on record. Projections by NOAA make clear 2014 is taking aim at hottest year on record.

One Ebola death in this country and people are in a paranoid frenzy. But huge-scale disastrous changes in the Earth’s climate? Yawn. Who’s on Dancing With the Stars tonight?

The Wall Street Journal Trots Out a Former Chief Scientist for BP to Argue Against Action on Climate Change

Just roll over and go back to sleep
Environment • Views: 24,228

As hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate across the world to demand action on the growing threat of climate change, the Wall Street Journal trots out the former chief scientist of BP, one of the world’s top fossil fuel producers, to say Climate Science Is Not Settled.

And the argument boils down to this: roll over and go back to sleep, everyone.

Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.

Did I mention that the person described by the Wall Street Journal as “leading scientist Steven E. Koonin” was previously the “leading scientist” for BP — the company responsible for one of the worst oil spill disasters in history? I did?

Dr. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama’s first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP, where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.

Well, you should also know that Koonin is not a climate scientist. He’s a computational physicist. And this “do nothing” strategy is just the latest in a long line of conservative chicanery.

Also see

Photos from the People’s Climate March in Manhattan

Mobilizing for action on climate change
Environment • Views: 19,691

A huge demonstration is taking place today in midtown Manhattan, expected to draw up to 100,000 people: the People’s Climate March, intended to focus the world’s attention on the need for action on climate change, as the disaster clock is ticking.

Here’s a good post at Think Progress on this event and the other events planned for the coming week: Everything You Need to Know to Attend the Biggest Climate March in History.

Here’s the hashtag you can follow on Twitter for more info as it happens: #PeoplesClimate.

CNBC Climate “Expert” Compares “Demonization of Carbon Dioxide” to the Holocaust

The right wing war on climate science
Environment • Views: 18,746

Media Matters

Here’s today’s example of the absolutely horrible anti-science propaganda relentlessly pushed out there by right wing groups, as CNBC promotes an Exxon-funded physicist as an expert on climate change despite the fact that he has no demonstrated expertise on the subject, and he launches into a bizarre rant comparing the “demonization of carbon dioxide” to the Nazi holocaust. Arrrgh.

Physics Professor William Happer has published no peer-reviewed research on climate change, yet co-host Joe Kernen introduced him as an “industry expert” on the July 14 edition of Squawk Box. After a softball interview with Kernen, co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin challenged Happer for “not believ[ing] in climate change” — to which Happer responded by telling Sorkin to “shut up.” Sorkin then asked Happer about comments he made to The Daily Princetonian in 2009 comparing climate science to Nazi propaganda. Happer doubled down on his comments, stating that “the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

Sorkin also noted that Happer, who has suggested that people should be “clamoring for more atmospheric carbon dioxide,” is the chairman of the Marshall Institute, which received $865,000 from ExxonMobil from 1998 to 2011.

The influence of carbon dioxide on the “greenhouse effect” has been well understood by scientists for more than 100 years, by the way. This isn’t “demonization,” it’s scientific fact — and it’s incredibly irresponsible of CNBC to promote this kind of nonsensical bad craziness.

UPDATE at 7/15/14 11:34:15 am by Charles Johnson

Happer’s group, the Marshall Institute, was also one of the right wing think tanks that labored to create public doubt about the health risks of tobacco.

Naomi Oreskes states that the institute has, in order to resist and delay regulation, lobbied politically to create a false public perception of scientific uncertainty over the negative effects of second-hand smoke, the carcinogenic nature of tobacco smoking, the existence of acid rain, and on the evidence between CFCs and ozone depletion.

KY GOP Sen. Who Said Mars Has the Same Temperature as Earth Doubles Down

Sen. Brandon Smith (famous climate science ‘academic’) is still living on Mars
Environment • Views: 15,943

When we last left Kentucky Sen. Brandon Smith, he was lecturing us about the “real facts” of climate change and how Mars is the same temperature as our own happy planet Earth.

When called out on his dubious grasp of how things actually work in real life science, he was quick to claim that his comments were taken out of context (despite actual video proof).

Well, Sen. Smith apparently is a man of strong beliefs who will not sit down and shut up when said beliefs are challenged. Please proceed, Sen. Smith (via Joe Sonka):

The Monday following the hearing, Smith sent the following email back to a Kentucky resident who emailed him to point out how wrong he was on Mars:

Subject: Re: Climate Change

It amazes me that you have no idea what I actually said, weren’t at this meeting yet bought into this bogus quote posted about me so entirely that you took time to actually send me an email. Really? I have some lake front property you might be interested in! Please do not kick yourself for being duped by this, 56 other people in the world did as well.

As you can see, Smith is still denying that he said it, and still lying about being misquoted or taken out of context. It’s all bogus! The person replied by sending Smith a link of the YouTube video I posted… in full, undeniable context. Smith did not reply until this weekend, when he sent the following email, proving that Smith’s head is still on another planet:

“I made the point that it is my opinion that something bigger than one industry, coal, is affecting our planet. I went on to use the example that both Earth and Mars have experienced temperature changes. The clip you saw only shows enough of the overall debate to make the viewer believe I’m saying something different. I am not asking you to believe me; that is entirely up to you. However, as always, there is more to this story that deserves to be told.

The meeting in question was held so the Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet could explain to committee members the impact of the newly proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. To say this was a heavily attended gathering by the media is an understatement. In fact, every major state outlet was present. Curiously, they never reported this story. Why? Because all of the informed parties understood the context of the conversation as I have been making this point for over five years. In fact, I was in Louisville on May 14th at a Forum Panel where we had a healthy discussion on this exact topic, and there was no story following that. You might be wondering how then did you get the story? This story came from an individual in the audience who can be heard on the tape shouting the claim that New York City is underwater due to climate change (I assure you, the whole story really is that bizarre). They began to tweet and blog and when the tape became available, took the snippet of me you saw.

Either all of the legitimate reporters in this meeting missed my comments or this whole ordeal is a diversionary, anti-coal measure to keep people from asking what the Secretary had to say. The answer to that question, the really important question of the day, is that he said nothing. He did not show up. I am not certain if these facts make a difference now but at least it provides a more complete image of what really happened and background on the source. If you still have doubts, take notice that this story, as you see it, was not reported in this publication or any other in Kentucky.

Although the majority of emails and calls to my office and home on this topic have unfortunately been vicious and accusatory in nature, one may be surprised to know that I appreciate the input. This is a discussion worth having, and even though we don’t all have to agree, we need to have tolerance of the many different views if we hope to come together to address this vital issue. Jumping to conclusions and battering the “opposing side” only perpetuates the entrenched environment we currently live in, which hasn’t gotten us anywhere. As chairman of Natural Resource committee, I had an open door policy. We brought the most diverse group of individuals and ideas to our meetings in hopes of finding answers. It takes no effort to call someone an idiot; the true challenge is finding the opportunities to work together beyond differences.

Brandon D. Smith”

Joe Sonka demolishes Sen. Smith’s email claims point by point at: Sen. Brandon Smith (Famous Climate Science ‘Academic’) Is Still Living on Mars - FatLip

Video of the hearing in all its bad science glory is available via KET (Kentucky Educational Television) here.

UPDATE at 7/14/14 11:41:09 am by Backwoods_Sleuth

Here’s the clip of the comment that Sen. Smith claims “was taken out of context”:

Youtube Video

But feel free to watch the entire KET archive video of the committee hearing to see the comment in complete “context”. Spoiler: it doesn’t get any better for Sen. Smith.

This Is What Happens When Legislators Don’t Learn Science in School

Kentucky still has “concerns” about climate change…
Environment • Views: 31,996

As a native Kentuckian who has also lived in several states in this wonderful country and now happily resides in the backwoods of eastern Kentucky, I want to say right off the bat that I love Kentucky. However, I do despair over the intellectual capacity of our elected officials.

While Kentucky is trumpeted as the state that made ACA work beyond expectations, we are also the state that refuses to recognize SSM, awards millions of tax dollars to Ken Ham’s Creation “Museum” (and now his potential Ark), and just LOVES the coal industry (even though it hasn’t been a major employer here in decades). Oh, and we are the state that gave the country Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.

Just when I thought there couldn’t be another way to embarrass us, this morning I was proved wrong.

Desperately, desperately wrong.

I’ll let my favorite reporter, Louisville blogger Joe “Mitch McConnell Hides From Me” Sonka, take it from here:

Kentucky’s Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment met today to discuss the new EPA rules to fight climate change by limiting greenhouse gases from power plants. The committee is chaired by Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, a proud climate change denier who has suggested in the past that Kentucky secede from the union in order to avoid federal environmental regulations. Yes, he chairs the committee, because Kentucky.
I don’t even know where to start on sharing some of the wisdom that was expressed by our state legislators during this hearing. No, actually I do. I give you the honorable Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard:

“As you (Energy & Environment Cabinet official) sit there in your chair with your data, we sit up here in ours with our data and our constituents and stuff behind us. I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”

“Stuff”…how can you argue with that as an intellectual, nay scientific, statement of fact?

There’s more. Much, much more hilarity (and it’s all factual) ensues at the link, including video: Sen. Brandon Smith Has Important Things to Say About Climate Change, Mars - FatLip

I’ll also encourage readers to check out Joe’s live tweeting during the committee meeting. Be warned, Sen. Smith may have been the worst representative there, but he was not alone in spouting lunacy.

UPDATE at 7/3/14 6:37:15 pm by Backwoods_Sleuth

KET (Kentucky Educational Television) has a video of the committee meeting here.

UPDATE at 7/7/14 10:34:26 am by Backwoods_Sleuth

Sen. Smith tries to use the “taken out of context” card:

Hilarity ensues in the tweet responses to Sen. Smith.

Also, h/t to Joe Sonka for this relevant clip:
Youtube Video

Anti-Science Lunacy of the Day: GOP Lawmaker Disproves Climate Change with a Thermometer

Environment • Views: 25,753

Youtube Video

It’s difficult to understand why anyone would ever get the impression that anti-science lunacy runs rampant in the Republican Party.

Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney (R) is accusing liberals, such as former Vice President Al Gore, of advancing “the greatest deception in the history of mankind” — man-made climate change — in a scheme to empower the executive branch and increase taxes.

“A specter is haunting America,” Whitney, who is running for Congress in Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District, warned in a campaign video released Wednesday. “It is perhaps the greatest deception in the history of mankind.”

Mocking Gore’s 2006 Academy Award-winning climate change documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” Whitney claimed that the planet “has done nothing but get colder each year since the film’s release.”

“Quite inconveniently for Al Gore, and for the rest of the politicians who continue to advance this delusion, any 10-year-old can invalidate their thesis with one of the simplest scientific devices known to man: a thermometer,” Whitney said, citing record sea ice in the Antarctic sector.

More: GOP Lawmaker Says Climate Change Is ‘The Greatest Deception in the History of Mankind’

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