Tag Archives: climate change

Corker Advised Trump To Exit Paris Because “Lawsuits”

Speaking to the Greeneville, Tenn., Kiwanis Club last week, Sen. Bob Corker appears to be taking credit for pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement — or at least, having a significant role:

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman said he first approached the accords as as an understanding between countries that had no binding obligations — financial or otherwise — to the U.S.

“With all the complex issues we’ve got to deal with around the world, wouldn’t it be better to stay in concert with our allies — and some of our adversaries — because we’ve got other issues … we’ve got to work out?” Corker theorized.

What he said he did not consider at the time but has come to weigh is the legal snarl the accords could create.

If environmental groups chose to sue power plants coming online in the U.S. on the grounds that they would impede the country’s progress in meeting the accords, it could result in a years-long legal battle up to the Supreme Court, Corker said.

And although he said environmentalists probably wouldn’t win in court, he said it could delay or deter jobs.

“It could be very detrimental to employment here in the United States of America,” he said. “The best outcome would be some way … to say, ‘Hey, look. The goals that we’ve taken on are far more penalizing to our citizens than what other countries have done. Probably the best outcome would be to figure out a way to signal that you want to change the declarations that we’ve made, because they’re overly aggressive.”

Got that? Corker advised Trump to pull out of the Paris Accords because he was afraid the Sierra Club and Greenpeace would sue.

That has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. In essence, Corker told the Greeneville, Tennessee Kiwanis that a handful of jobs in a dying industry are more important than maintaining our role as a technology leader and keeping from blowing up the planet.

Again: that is dumbest thing I have ever heard.

I’m curious how many U.S. power plants “coming online” in the next few months violate the Paris terms in the first place? Can anyone tell me? I don’t know, so I’m asking. Just from my cursory Google search it appears there are more natural gas and renewable power plants coming online than dirty coal-fired plants. But I’m just a dumb housewife with a search engine so what do I know.

Someone in the “real journalism” business should find out. And sorry, Greeneville Sun, but as this was the lead story of the week you really should have asked that question. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that Corker has no fucking clue.

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Filed under climate change, Sen. Bob Corker

Good News For The World, Bad News For Republicans

This story says so much about the changing global dynamic and the GOP’s participation in the defining issue of our day:

Carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s energy producers stalled in 2014, the first time in 40 years of measurement that the level did not increase during a period of economic expansion, according to preliminary estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The research suggests that efforts to counteract climate change by reducing carbon emissions and promoting energy efficiency could be working, said Fatih Birol, the agency’s chief economist and incoming executive director. “This is definitely good news,” he said.

Dr. Birol noted that many nations have promoted energy efficiency and low-carbon energy sources like hydroelectric, solar, wind and nuclear power. China, he noted, has worked to reduce carbon emissions as part of an intensive effort to limit environmental damage from economic development. That China appears to be successfully moving down that path, he said, portends well for the deal struck with the United States in November. China committed in that agreement to turning around its growth in carbon emissions by 2030, or earlier if possible, while increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in energy production to 20 percent of its menu.

The agency has been collecting data on carbon dioxide emissions for 40 years, and in that time emissions have stalled or dropped only three times; each of those coincided with weakness in the global economy. The last instance was in 2009, during a global economic slump. In 2014, however, the economy expanded by about 3 percent.

The Republican Party has basically checked out of this issue. They’ve obstructed and denied and propagandized and in pretty much every way imaginable said, “no, we won’t do anything about it. In fact, we don’t even believe in it.” So everyone else said fine, we’ll do it without you. And I mean really, on every important issue of the day — healthcare reform, GLBT equality, pulling ourselves out of an economic quagmire — haven’t conservatives always checked out and left it to everyone else to fix? Yes, they have. Useless idiots, every single one. “Takers” who benefit from the hard work the rest of us have done. Ironic, that.

True, one year’s CO2 emissions may be an anomaly. We aren’t out of the woods yet. But I’m encouraged, and I really think it says something ominous about the GOP. Nothing screams political fail louder than refusing to participate in solving our generation’s biggest threat.

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Filed under climate change, environment, Republican Party

Skepticism

They don’t have to win the argument, they just have to “foster doubt”:

Historians and sociologists of science say that since the tobacco wars of the 1960s, corporations trying to block legislation that hurts their interests have employed a strategy of creating the appearance of scientific doubt, usually with the help of ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding.

Fossil-fuel interests have followed this approach for years, but the mechanics of their activities remained largely hidden.

“The whole doubt-mongering strategy relies on creating the impression of scientific debate,” said Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University and the co-author of “Merchants of Doubt,” a book about such campaigns. “Willie Soon is playing a role in a certain kind of political theater.”

Environmentalists have long questioned Dr. Soon’s work, and his acceptance of funding from the fossil-fuel industry was previously known. But the full extent of the links was not; the documents show that corporate contributions were tied to specific papers and were not disclosed, as required by modern standards of publishing.

Dr. Soon is yet another of those “ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding.” He’s actually an engineer, not a climate scientist, and real climate scientists say his research is “pointless” to their work. But he’s got the veneer of authority, because he is associated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. And corporate shills in Washington (*cough*cough*Sen. James Inhofe*cough*cough*) who think we should be impressed by this pedigree trot him out to promote their “the jury is still out because of this guy here” parlor tricks.

So okay, buh-bye Dr. Soon. You violate scientific ethics, you lose your gig. Soon’s research was funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Southern Company (a utility holding company). And then there’s this:

However, other companies and industry groups that once supported Dr. Soon, including Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute, appear to have eliminated their grants to him in recent years.

As the oil-industry contributions fell, Dr. Soon started receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars through DonorsTrust, an organization based in Alexandria, Va., that accepts money from donors who wish to remain anonymous, then funnels it to various conservative causes.

Um, yeah. So a change in the funnel through which the cash flows. But the source remains the same. This is dirty pool. And I can’t imagine, with the bazillions of dollars spent on these propaganda campaigns and astroturfing and buying of elections, that this all makes financial sense for a corporation in the end. Wouldn’t it just be easier and cheaper to do the right thing from the get-go?

I guess not.

This meme from last year has always cracked me up:

PlotIdea

Last I checked, it’s not 97% — it’s 99%. And for every Dr. Soon exposed as a fraud that percentage grows. But remember, it’s not about “disproving” climate science. It’s about spreading doubt. It’s about perpetuating the false belief that “the jury is still out,” and “the science isn’t decided.”

Clever, but facts will out. This shit never works. Because what you say doesn’t change what is really happening. Sea levels are rising. Droughts are happening. Islands are disappearing. What some wingnut in Oklahoma thinks isn’t going to change that. And pretty soon these chickens will come home to roost on your street. Indeed, they already have.

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Filed under climate change, corporate overlords, corporations

How You Know Your Empire Has Died

[UPDATE]:

Here’s the audio clip:

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This discussion between Ali Velshi and Stephen Leeb on Al Jazeera America yesterday was the smartest five minutes I’ve heard on TV news in a long time. The segment was about the new carbon pollution proposals the EPA just unveiled, the same proposals causing aneurisms in right-wing “Drill Here, Drill Now” land (sorry, bear with me guys: for some reason I can’t get the audio clip to post, so here’s the transcript. And you’re gonna have to take my word for this until I can figure out how to post audio, which I believe involves me making a purchase of some kind, possibly more storage) (Got the link posted, I was right, I needed to buy something. The things I do for you guys):

AV: Joining us to tell us more is Stephen Leeb, founder and research chairman of the Leeb Group. Now Stephen, you and I have talked for years about cleaner energy, you‘re an expert on the energy field and somebody who embraces a cleaner environment. My guess is that you would like this, but I’ve heard rumblings that you don’t think this is a good idea?

SL: Well Ali, it’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea, I think it’s a day late, a dollar short, and maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s way too little. What we need in this country is something nationwide, something like the interstate highway system. Something like a smart grid that runs across the country. I mean for me the key here in reading it was that it’s up to the individual states. That just doesn’t cut it. We have a grid in this country that in some.. there are cases in which our grid is more than a century old.

AV: This is our electrical grid.

SL: This is our electrical grid! I mean the only reason people can’t hack it is that one state doesn’t talk to another state! That’s the only advantage I can see to having a grid this old. We could create so many jobs by following China’s example. Build out a smart grid. Then you can have all these energy sources — gas, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal…

AV: Everything feeds in.

SL: Everything feeds in. Right now the Chinese are eating our lunch. I mean there was an item about a week ago in the Financial Times. EDF, a massive French utility, is building an electric plant that will supply 7% of British electricity. Massive! Except they didn’t have the skill sets. Who did they turn to? Not us! The Chinese. Who now has the fastest way of transmitting voltage from one part of the country to the other part of a country? The Chinese! We need to get our act together, Ali, if we’re really going to do something. Yes, I mean, I applaud any efforts to cut down emissions, to use new fuels and we may even get more solar and more wind because ….

AL: And that’s starting to happen. But in Europe it was the cap.. I hear you on how this can be unwieldly with the states but the concept of a cap-and-trade system and an exchange has worked out for Europe.

SL: It can work out yes, but it’s not going to be the solution unless you have a grid that can accommodate it across the country. Eventually you run into trouble. And I’m not even talking about the troubles that you see when you write down the amount of shale oil in this country by 60%, which we did the other day. All of a sudden the Monterey has 4% of what we originally thought.

AV: Right, across the country we are finding in these wells where we thought there was more oil and in some cases natural gas, there’s less.

SL: And it could be much less or maybe there’s more, I mean, you can always hope. But right now we’re becoming more and more dependent on the Marcellus. And you’re starting to see very rapid decline rates there. We need something Ali, I mean we were able to do it 30-40 years ago, interstate highway system, man to the moon…

AV: We don’t have the will to do anything on a national level, particularly something that would cost billions and billions of dollars.

SL: But create billions and billions of jobs! I mean, we somehow equate investment with spending, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Investment in an electrical grid, is not spending, it’s not wasteful. It’s creating something that will benefit all of us, our children, etc.

AV: Give me a sense, because we’ve had some Republicans come out and say this will increase energy costs for the average family in this country where the middle class is struggling. What is the net result on electrical prices out of this?

SL: You know, my guess is the net result is electrical prices go up because the guts of our electrical system right now is still hydrocarbons, and they’re not getting more plentiful. They’re getting scarcer, despite the shale revolution. They are. We’re not going to ever become energy independent, at most maybe we’ll be able to produce 11 million barrels of oil. We may have a little gas to export but basically we’re still going to be relying on outside sources. So regardless, it’s going to up. We need cleaner, renewable, new sources of energy in order to counteract that and this legislation or these proposals — they’re not legislation, not by a long shot — they just don’t go anywhere near far enough to getting us to that goal. I mean I hate to say this but we should take a page out of what the Chinese are doing. I mean look…

AV: There’s no question, they are well ahead of us when it comes to electricity.

SL: And look at their economy? They’re spending all of this money but last I heard their economy is still growing at 7 and a half percent a year. One of the reasons is all the money they’re spending on infrastructure. Let’s do the same thing!

AV: From your lips to their ears, Stephen! Good to see you …

This is what makes me nuts. The idea that we’ve lost touch with what is an “investment” and what is “spending,” when the hell did we decide we can no longer “invest” in America? Now it’s all just “pork” or whatever. The Democrats can’t even get ahead of the damn meme.

You know that America is no longer a global superpower when we can no longer do The Big Things. The saddest thing is, we can’t do these Big Things not because we don’t have the money or the know-how or the military might, but simply because we don’t have the will. This is how empires die, people.

The last “big” thing we did was invade Iraq and Afghanistan. And we did it, not because we forged consensus and compromised and came together as a nation to do it, but because one faction bulldozed their way over anyone who so much as asked the question, why? They used every tool in the toolbox — fear, flag-waving, you name it — to get their way.

The fact that the Left is completely unable to muster the same amount of national will on something clearly more in the country’s interest than invading an oil-rich country in the Middle East is, to me, the single biggest threat to America’s future.

Damn depressing, folks.

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Filed under Ali Velshi, carbon offsets, China, climate change, environment, EPA

Stupid Media Tricks

[UPDATE]:

Yup, I nailed it.

———————————–

I’m pretty sure I know how this one is gonna go:

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – A Middle Tennessee congresswoman is set to appear on Meet the Press this Sunday, where she will go head-to-head with a public television icon.

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-7th District, will take on Bill Nye “the Science Guy” over climate change.

Puh-leeze. Is Meet The Press so hard up for ratings? Here’s what’s going to happen: Blackburn will do what all of the Republican women do when they’re on shows like this, which is start talking and not come up for air, refusing to let anyone get a word in edgewise, endlessly repeating their Frank Luntz-approved talking points, until we’re all brain-dead. Any time Bill Nye starts to speak she will interrupt him and serve another breath-defying and time-consuming heaping of world salad. The host, in this case David Gregory, will sit there with a stupid grin on his face and not do a thing that closely approximates “moderating a panel,” though he’ll occasionally interject some useless nonsense to show how smart and important he is (such as mentioning hockey sticks or some such). If and when Bill Nye finally is able to get one word in, Gregory will interrupt him with, “Sorry, Bill, that’s all the time we have, we’re going to have to leave it there.”

I hate this shit. American news bobbleheads like David Gregory are little more than chair warmers these days. There won’t be any hard-hitting questions and unlike on the BBC, there certainly won’t be any attempt to let everyone get out a complete thought and prevent the continuous interruptus which the GOP deploys. These gimmicks end with me yelling “shut the fuck up” at the TV and getting crabby and stabby.

And after all that we get to see Mitt Romney, too? No, thanks.

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Filed under climate change, media, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee

Dear God But It’s Cold Out There

Here in Nashville the temperature dropped from yesterday’s high of — I shit you not — 58 degrees to seven degrees this morning. All in the space of, what, 12 hours?

It reminds me of that scene from the 2004 movie The Day After Tomorrow where Jake Gyllenhaal is trying to outrun an Arctic super storm which caused the temperature to fall 150 degrees in a matter of minutes. He just barely makes it inside the New York Public Library, where everyone is burning volumes of the New York tax code to stay warm.

So maybe Nashville’s temperature drop wasn’t quite the Hollywood version, but it was pretty extreme. We survived. All the critters were safely indoors last night, though our one outdoor cat doesn’t understand why I can’t change the weather for him. It’s going to reach a balmy eight degrees today and then fall down to two degrees tonight. And I’m not even talking about wind chill, folks. This is baseline temperatures.

All of this has given the dumb-dumbs on the far right a great excuse to guffaw about how global warming can’t be real because, “har har, it’s cold in my backyard and everything is always all about me!” I wonder what they’d say if they were in Australia, which is smashing summer heat records right now? It’s even warmer in Anchorage, Alaska than Nashville. Politics may be local but climate is not.

It’s funny because I remember those same people laughed that the premise of that movie — global warming precipitates a new Ice Age — as just more liberal Hollywood propaganda. Typical! The people who thought Jack Bauer offered a real national security policy expected a big-budget Hollywood summer disaster flick to provide real climate science! Of course the one film which did present actual real climate science — “An Inconvenient Truth” — was also derided by these same dumb-dumbs because Al Gore Is Fat and Tipper didn’t churn her own butter. Now they’re saying because it’s cold in January, global warming is a hoax. Can’t win for losing with these idiots.

Anyway, it’s going to get even colder tonight. Bundle up, folks.

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Filed under climate change, Nashville, Tennessee, weather

“We can stop this madness”

Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation of the Philippines came as the UN’s conference on climate change kicked off in Warsaw, Poland. The Philippines’ lead negotiator, Yeb Sano, whose hometown took a direct hit from the storm, gave an emotional plea for global action on climate change, at times choking back tears, for which he received a standing ovation. If you watch Al Jazeera America, you saw the video and were as touched as I was. (If you watch MSNBC, CNN, network news or, God forbid, Fox, you saw some dog-and-pony-show bullshit on who’s running for president in America in 2016).

As Sano expressed so emotionally in his address, the Philippines have been tested not once but twice by extreme storms powered by climate change’s warming seas. He had a stark reality check for those who still deny what is so painfully obvious to everyone else in the world:

To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce. Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America. And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.

[…]

Disasters are never natural. They are the intersection of factors other than physical. They are the accumulation of the constant breach of economic, social, and environmental thresholds. Most of the time disasters are a result of inequity and the poorest people of the world are at greatest risk because of their vulnerability and decades of maldevelopment, which I must assert is connected to the kind of pursuit of economic growth that dominates the world; the same kind of pursuit of so-called economic growth and unsustainable consumption that has altered the climate system.

[…]

What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness.

We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw.

I’ve been saying for years that right-wing narcissism/xenophobia has fueled so much climate denialism in the rank-and-file: hey, the weather is nice in my hometown! Must be fine everywhere, so shut yer yaps!

And yet, every year around this time I make my annual donations to the American Red Cross, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Oxfam International, etc. related to one natural disaster or another. The fact that last year we had Hurricane Sandy and this year we’ve had two extreme typhoons just months apart should tell you something right there. Each new storm is more severe than the last; each super-storm and super-typhoon leaves more death and devastation in its wake.

I’m not sure that Sano is right. I’m not sure that we can stop this madness. Personally, I think it’s already too late. Now is the time to batten down the hatches and prepare for the consequences of our profligate ways.

But Sano is right, it is madness. And the people who suffer are usually the poorest nations of the world, the ones whose stories go uncovered by American corporate media, which is more interested in presidential politics than stories about real people.

In the meantime, people are suffering. Please consider donating to one of the groups I’ve mentioned above, or your own relief agency of choice.

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Filed under climate change, environment