Climate Change

First Florida, Now Another State Bans Discussion Of Climate Change

Gagged

The new plan is if no one ever says “climate change,” it will just go away. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Sounds ominously like the infant stages of totalitarianism…

Addicting Info

Shortly after Rick Scott (R-FL) was elected governor, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection moved forward with an unwritten policy banning the terms “climate change” and “global warming” from use by the department.

Now, according to Bloomberg, Republicans in Wisconsin, favoring greed over public good, are following Florida’s lead. Matt Adamczyk, Republican State Treasurer and Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) board member, recommended that BCPL employees are banned from working on climate change related issues while on state time. The board passed the ban in a 2-1 vote on Tuesday.

Adamczyk explained his motivation for banning BCPL staff from addressing climate change:

“It’s not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries. That’s what I want our employees working on. That’s it. Managing our trust funds.”

It appears Adamczyk is primarily concerned that the board’s executive secretary, Tia Nelson, will ‘diddle away’ time addressing the impact of climate change on public lands rather than focusing on making “money for our beneficiaries.”

Nelson is the daughter of former Senator Gaylord Nelson, a champion of conservationism that founded Earth Day in the state. Tia Nelson is a conservationist as well. She ran the Nature Conservancy’s climate change initiative for 17 years. However, she hasn’t worked on a climate change related project for years.

Nelson responded to Adamczyk’s paranoid accusation that she’s been “engaging on this topic for years” by informing him:

“Just for the record, I haven’t worked on climate change in any direct manner since the year 2008—or 2007.”

According to Bloomberg, climate change directly affects Wisconsin’s public lands. Not being able to address the topic leaves staff unable to discuss how climate change might impact the lands it oversees:

“The Midwest warmed about 1.5F on average from 1895 to 2012. Pine, maple, birch, spruce, fir, aspen, and beech forests, which are common in the region, are likely to decline as the century progresses, according to the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment. ‘Climate change may threaten forests in the Midwest,’ according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ‘Threats include more frequent droughts, wildfires, and larger populations of harmful insects such as gypsy moths.’”

Wisconsin Secretary of State Douglas La Follette is the sole Democrat sitting on the board and the only board member that voted against the ban. He believes Adamczyk has a political vendetta against Nelson. In a previous meeting, La Follette mentioned that Adamczyk’s antagonism toward Nelson bordered on that of “an irresponsible witch hunt.”

La Follette finds the ban to be nonsense:

“Having been on this board for close to 30 years, I’ve never seen such nonsense,” La Follette said in the conference call on Tuesday. “We’ve reached the point now where we’re going to try to gag employees from talking about issues. In this case, climate change. That’s as bad as the governor of Florida recently telling his staff that they could not use the words ‘climate change.’”

Banning work on climate change or use of the term isn’t going to solve the problem. Climate change is one of the most serious, if not the most serious, long term issue we face. We need elected officials ready to take on the challenge and lead on this issue, not those suffering from an ideologically driven denial of it.

This Poet From a Tiny Island Nation Just Shamed The World’s Leaders

Mother Jones

“We’ve seen waves crashing into our homes.”

Presidents and diplomats aren’t the only ones calling for climate action at the United Nations. During the opening ceremony of today’s climate summit, ​Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner—a 26-year-old poet from the Marshall Islands—spoke eloquently about the threat that rising seas pose to her country.

Jetnil-Kijiner warned delegates of the high price of inaction and described the current challenge as a “race to save humanity.”

“Those of us from Oceania are already experiencing it first hand,” she said. “We’ve seen waves crashing into our homes…We look at our children and wonder how they will know themselves or their culture should we lose our islands.”

“We need a radical change of course,” she added. “It means ending carbon pollution within my lifetime. It means supporting those of us most affected to prepare for unavoidable climate impacts. And it means taking responsibility for irreversible loss and damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions.”

You can read more about Jetnil-Kijiner here.

TV News Misses Yet Another Opportunity To Cover Climate Change

CLIMATE MARCH

Demonstrators hold signs on a street next to Central Park during the People’s Climate March in New York, U.S., on Sept. 21, 2014. The United Nations 2014 Climate Summit is scheduled for Sept. 23. Photographer: Timothy Fadek/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Bloomberg via Getty Images

This is not the first time the networks dropped the climate change ball.  It’s almost as if they don’t want to offend their big oil sponsors…(snark)

The Huffington Post

The People’s Climate March on Sunday was perhaps the largest climate change protest in history. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of New York City. Celebrities and high-profile politicians were among the marchers. The protest was a huge topic on social media.

All in all, it was a perfect opportunity for some of America’s biggest news organizations to cover the topic of climate change, something that usually gets either ignored or badly handled. For Sunday talk show hosts, there was even a nice political hook, since the march was pegged to a UN summit that President Obama will be attending.

Well, so much for that idea. It seems climate change remains one potentially world-shattering issue that just can’t get any respect on television. No Sunday morning show except MSNBC’s “Up” so much as mentioned climate change, or the march, save for one stray reference on “This Week” by The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel. She pointed out that the march was actually gathering right outside the ABC studios in Lincoln Center where the show is taped.

“NBC Nightly News” was the only evening news show to do any segment on the march. (ABC devoted about 23 seconds to the topic in its evening show, and CBS spent exactly zero seconds on it.) Cable news, with the exception of Al Jazeera America, mostly looked the other way, besides a couple of segments on CNN and MSNBC.

Luckily for people who are actually interested in climate change, there were other places to go. The march received robust coverage online, and “Democracy Now”covered the entire thing live.

Embedded image permalink

Another aerial shot of #PeoplesClimate march in NYC on Sunday, October 21, 2014.

Watch Obama’s Top Science Advisor Repeatedly Shut Down Climate Deniers At House Climate Hearing

White House Science Adviser John Holdren | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

How did I miss this one earlier in the week?

Think Progress

Wednesday had to have been a frustrating day for White House Science Advisor Dr. John P. Holdren.

Holdren, a lauded theoretical physicist, appeared before the Republican-led House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on Wednesday to testify about the Obama administration’s plan to fight climate change. But, as is true for all House Science committee hearings on climate change, much of the questioning focused not the content of the plan itself, but whether global warming is even real.

Additional lines of questioning included whether carbon dioxide actually harms human health, and whether the climate plan would lower global temperatures on its own — two questions with complicated answers that have been very thoroughly explained since the plan was introduced. One Congressmen accused Holdren of breaking the law by sending work e-mails from his personal account in 2013, while another said climate scientistsshouldn’t be trusted because of their dependence on the existence of climate change to make a living.

Fortunately, Holdren is a confident speaker who was able to succinctly explain the science to his climate denying questioners despite constant interruption. Here are a few of the best times he did just that.

Rep. Stockman’s Questions On “Global Wobbling”

After expressing his distaste for Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) spoke about a recent trip to Maryland, where he apparently asked a NASA scientist what ended the last Ice Age. The scientist, Stockman said, credited “global wobbling,” or slight changes in the earth’s tilt and orbit that happen over tens of thousands of years.

What Stockman then wanted to know is, why isn’t “global wobbling” included in climate modelings?

“How can you take an element which you give to the credit for the collapse of global freezing and into global warming but leave it out of your models?” Stockman asked. “I’m a little puzzled because we still don’t have metrics of how to determine global wobbling.”

In the video, Holdren explains that global wobbling happens so slowly — on timescales of 22,000 years, 44,000 years, and 100,000 years — that it doesn’t impact the comparatively fast impacts of climate change. In fact, Holdren says because of previous wobbling, we should be in a cooling period as we speak. “But the warming inflicted by human activities has overwhelmed the effect of global wobbling,” he said.

Stockman also said he “can’t get answers” to how long it would take for the sea level to rise two feet. “Think about it, if your ice cube melts in your glass, it doesn’t overflow. It’s displacement. This is some of the things that they’re talking about that mathematically and scientifically don’t make sense.”

Holdren wasn’t given a chance to answer this question, but the answer is pretty simple. Stockman seems to be forgetting that not all melting ice is already in the sea. Melting land ice — glaciers, ice sheets, ice caps, and permafrost — are the major contributors to global sea-level rise as their water flows into the ocean. And even though melting sea ice doesn’t directly contribute to sea level rise, it does cause ocean temperatures to rise. This causes the ocean to expand and rise — a big component of sea level rise — and the added heat can ultimately cause more land ice to melt.

The exchange ends with an awkward silence over the length of ice ages, and Stockman eventually getting interrupted by the committee’s sitting chair to move on with the hearing.

Rep. Rohrabacher’s Questions On The Health Impacts Of CO2

The reason the Environmental Protection Agency is able to regulate carbon dioxide is because it is considered a threat to human health. In 2009, the EPA issued anendangerment finding which confirmed that carbon indirectly harms human health by contributing to climate change, which causes heat waves and increases in ground-level ozone pollution.

Still, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher — not shy at all about his climate denial — tried very hard on Wednesday to back both Holdren and EPA Office of Air and Radiation Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe into a corner by asking repeatedly about the direct health impacts of carbon dioxide. “At what level does carbon dioxide concentration become harmful to human health?”

It’s long been stated that if policies to tackle climate change are going to work, the biggest emitters from around the world are going to have to do their part (see term: “global” warming). No policy from any one country is going to do anything on its own; the point is, someone needs to start. As the second-largest emitter of carbon, and the country that has altogether emitted the largest amount of greenhouse gases, many think that the United States should be the one to take that step.
Holdren explains as much. “The limitation of carbon emissions in the United states is a very important first step for us to take on a longer trajectory to meet the President’s goals of a 17 percent reduction from 2005 by 2020, and ultimately an 80 percent reduction by 2050,” he said. “If the United States does not take that sort of action, it is unlikely that other major emitters in the world — China, India, Russia, Europe, Japan — will do so either. And the fact is, all of us need to reduce our carbon emissions if we are to avoid unmanageable degrees of climate change.”

Bucshon’s response: “Okay, fair enough.”

Boehner Says He’s ‘Not Qualified’ To Talk About Climate Science. Here’s How Scientists Responded.

House Speaker John Boehner

Think Progress

When House Speaker John Boehner told a group of reporters on Thursday that he would not discuss climate change on the grounds that he, himself, was not a scientist, he joined the ranks of other prominent Republican politicians who have refused to talk about the issue on the same grounds.

“I’m not a scientist,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott last week, when asked if he thought man-made climate change was affecting the weather. “I’m not a scientist,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2009, his first in a long line of statement denying climate change. “I’m not sure, I’m not a scientist,” said Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) said of climate change in 2010 (Grimm changed his mind on the issue this past April).

The tactic is an interesting (and seemingly effective) way for politicians to avoid acknowledging or denying the reality of climate change while still getting to fight against any regulation to stop it. But actual climate scientists say the tactic is irresponsible, dangerous, and ignores the fact that credible scientific information is readily available.

“Personally, I don’t think it proper for any American to use that argument,” said Donald. J Wuebbles, a distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences and coordinating lead author for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 assessment report.

Wuebbles, who was also a lead author on the recently released National Climate Assessment, said that report was written by scientists and other experts specifically so that members of Congress could understand climate change and how it affects the country. With that report available, he said, climate change should be “readily understood by any policymaker.”

“The assessment represents the latest understanding of the science and is the most comprehensive report ever prepared for the American people on climate change,” Wuebbles said. “The report itself was done for Congress under a law passed by Congress.”

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, went even further, calling Boehner’s comments a “pathetic dodge” that doesn’t make sense in the context of political decision-making.

“What if we asked ‘Senator: do you advocate drinking toxic sludge?’ or ‘Senator: is jumping off the north rim of the Grand Canyon safe?’ or ‘Senator: should I place my head in the jaws of this lion?’,” Mann said. “Would the response still be be ‘I don’t know, I’m not a scientist’?”

Mann noted that politicians have no qualms making statements about other political issues — abortion and public health, for example — because they are supposed to use established science to inform their decisions. Climate change, though, is a different story, he said.

“Why is it somehow different when it comes to the climate change threat and the need to regulate carbon emissions — something opposed by fossil fuel interests like the Koch Brothers who fund so many of these politicians campaigns — why is it in this case different?” he said. “That, of course, is a rhetorical question.”

2013 American Meteorological Society president Marshall Shepherd, however, said both politicians and scientists need to back away from inflammatory rhetoric and start actively working together on solutions. He acknowledged that politicians should not make statements about climate change without knowledge of peer-reviewed science, but said climatologists must also live up to their responsibility to make sure policymakers are well-informed.

“I am certain that no policymaker is an expert on many different topics that cross their desk but they have to be considered,” he said, noting that scientists have an “obligation to ensure that public and policymakers don’t fall victim to being duped because of lack of science knowledge.”

“I think scientists that are too overtly political or activist lose credibility. Likewise, a stakeholder or policymaker speaking definitely on climate without any background or from non-peer reviewed perspectives is also dangerous,” he said. “I have long argued that we have to remove the vitriol and name-calling and work to help each other in the discussion.”

John Oliver pits Bill Nye and 96 scientists against 3 climate change-denying ‘dudes’

oliver_climatechange_screencap

I really like John Oliver’s HBO show…

The Raw Story

Addressing a recently released report on climate change, John Oliver invited the ubiquitous Bill Nye the Science Guy on to Last Week Tonight to debate a generic climate change denier before adding more panel members to mathematically represent scientific consensus.

Following clips of news anchors and President Barack Obama pointing out that climate change is happening now, Oliver called it a “key shift in how to talk about climate change.”

“We’ve been repeatedly asked ‘Don’t you want to leave a better Earth for your grandchildren?” Oliver asked. “And we’ve all collectively responded “Eh, fuck ‘em.’”

Alluding to a Gallup poll showing 1 in 4 Americans are skeptical of climate change, Oliver said, “Who gives a shit?”

“That doesn’t matter. You don’t need people’s opinions on a fact,” he explained. “You might as well have a poll asking,’Which number is bigger? 15 or 5? Or, do owls exist? Or, are there hats?’”

Pointing out that every debate on climate change on cable TV includes Bill Nye and “some dude,” Oliver invited Nye on the show to debate a climate change denier, but then added two more climate deniers and 96 more scientists representing the 97% of the scientific community who believe that climate change is a fact.

Watch the video below courtesy of HBO:

Charles Krauthammer: Climate Change Is A ‘Superstition’ Like A Native American ‘Rain Dance’

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What an outrageous and ignorant thing to say.  That’s an affront to every Native American that ever walked this planet…

TPM LiveWire

Appearing Tuesday on Fox News’ “Special Report,” the conservative pundit rejected the consensus of between 97 and 98 percent of scientists who believe climate change is real and is fueled by human activity.

“It’s always a result of what is ultimately what we’re talking about here, human sin with pollution of carbon,” Krauthammer said. “It’s the oldest superstition around. It was in the Old Testament, it’s in the rain dance of Native Americans — if you sin, the skies will not cooperate.”

Krauthammer further shed doubt on the White House’s newly released climate change assessment by arguing that climate science is too unstable to predict weekend weather forecasts, let alone global trends several decades out.

“Ninety-nine percent of physicists were convinced that space and time are fixed, until Einstein working in a patent office wrote a paper in which he showed that they are not,” he said. “I’m not impressed by numbers, I’m not impressed by consensus.”

“These are things that people negotiate the way that you would negotiate a bill, because the science is unstable,” he added. “Because in the case of climate, the models are changeable and because climate is so complicated, the idea that we who have trouble forecasting what’s going to happen on Saturday in the climate could pretend to be predicting what could happen in 30, 40 years is absurd.”

Watch below, courtesy of Fox News:

Ban Coal: Coal Industry Chemical Threatens 300,000 in West Virginia

FEMA: The federal government sent 75 trucks - each carrying 18,500 liters of water - as well as bottled water to help provide water for those in need

FEMA: The federal government sent 75 trucks – each carrying 18,500 liters of water – as well as bottled water to help provide water for those in need.
 | Reuters

I’m not an advocate for coal so I agree that this report by Juan Cole is on point.

Juan Cole – Informed Comment

Some 300,000 West Virginians are at risk from their tap water after a company making MCHM spilled it into the river, turning it a little purple and making it smell like liquorice. MCHM can be fatal if imbibed, and otherwise it can make you vomit your guts out. It is used to wash coal of impurities.

Coal is destroying the earth. Some 40% of US carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal. That amounts to 2 billion metric tons of C02 annually that Americans spew into the atmosphere by burning coal. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, extra amounts of which have been building up in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution and it is warming the earth and the seas inexorably. Humankind only has to 2020 to avoid going beyond a temperature increase of 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If we go to 7, 8, 9 degrees F. increase, the whole weather system could become chaotic, threatening human life.

But apart from the threat burning coal forms in causing climate change, it is just really bad for you. Burning it releases massive amounts of mercury into the environment. Mercury is a nerve gas. It isn’t normal that you can only eat fish once or twice a week for fear of being mercury-poisoned. There is some evidence that it may be implicated in the increase in autism among children. Burning coal kills 13,000 Americans each year. That is four 9/11 attacks every year. We had a war on terror, but no president dares announce a war on coal.

And now it should be clear that some of the chemicals used in producing coal for power plants are themselves highly toxic and form a constant health threat.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Wind power is just about as inexpensive as coal, now. The American Midwest, the most highly coal-dependent region in the country, is the Saudi Arabia of wind. And, it has substantial potential for solar power generation, as well.

There are already as many American jobs in the solar power industry as there are American workers in coal mines. The workers can be retrained to install solar panels on people’s roofs.

The US and the world need to make a final push to go as green as possible as soon as possible. Coal is a drag on any such effort.

AP reports:

For the evils of coal see:

Everything You Wanted To Know About The ‘Polar Vortex’

A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.
A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis.
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JEFF ROBERSON

If you were curious about the term “Polar Vortex” (which actually sounds like a term used in the”climate change”  movie “The Day After Tomorrow“), this article may be helpful…

Think Progress

Indeed, recent temperatures across the U.S. have been Mars-like. Forecasts in the midwest call for temperatures to drop to 32 below zero in Fargo, N.D.; minus 21 in Madison, Wis.; and 15 below zero in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago. Wind chills have been predicted to fall to negative 60 degrees — a dangerous cold that could break decades-old recordsOn Sunday night, a reporter for The Weather Channel stood in a Minnesota snowstorm, talking about local efforts to move homeless children into heated shelters. “How cold is it supposed to get?” the anchor, back in the studio, asked. The reporter replied: “Colder than Mars.”

All of which begs the question — if climate change is real, then how did it get so cold?

The question is based on common misconceptions of how cold weather moves across the planet, said Greg Laden, a bioanthroplogist who writes for National Geographic’s Scienceblog. According to Laden, the recent record-cold temperatures indicate to many that the Arctic’s cold air is expanding, engulfing other countries. If true, this would be a perfect argument for a “global cooling” theory. The Arctic’s coldness is growing. Laden asks, “How can such a thing happen with global warming?”

The answer, he writes, is that the Arctic air that usually sits on top of our planet is “taking an excursion” south for a couple of days, leaving the North Pole “relatively warm” and our temperate region not-so-temperate. “Go Home Arctic, You’re Drunk,” he titled the explanation.

“The Polar Vortex, a huge system of moving swirling air that normally contains the polar cold air, has shifted so it is not sitting right on the pole as it usually does,” Laden writes. “We are not seeing an expansion of cold, an ice age, or an anti-global warming phenomenon. We are seeing the usual cold polar air taking an excursion. So, this cold weather we are having does not disprove global warming.”

In fact, some scientists have theorized that the influx of extreme cold is actually fueled by effects of climate change. Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, told ClimateProgress on Monday that it’s not the Arctic who is drunk. It’s the jet stream.

The "drunk" jet stream on Jan. 6, 2014.The “drunk” jet stream on Jan. 6, 2014.

“The drunk part is that the jet stream is in this wavy pattern, like a drunk walking along,” Francis, who primarily studies Arctic links to global weather patterns, said. “In other places, you could see the tropics are drunk.”

Arctic warming, she said, is causing less drastic changes in temperatures between northern and southern climates, leading to weakened west-to-east winds, and ultimately, a wavier jet stream. The stream’s recent “waviness” has been taking coldness down to the temperate United States and leaving Alaska and the Arctic relatively warm, Francis said. The same thing has been happening in other countries as well. Winter storms have been pounding the U.K., she noted, while Scandinavia is having a very warm winter.

“This kind of pattern is going to be more likely, and has been more likely,” she said. “Extremes on both ends are a symptom. Wild, unusual temperatures of both sides, both warmer and colder.”

Francis’ research, however, is still disputed. Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth, a distinguished senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told ClimateProgress on Monday that he was skeptical of Francis’ assessment.

“Jennifer’s work shows a correlation, but correlation is not causation,” he cautioned. “In fact it is much more likely to work the other way around.”

Instead of Francis’ theory that a warm Arctic moves the jet stream, Trenberth said it could be that the jet stream moves, leading to a warmer Arctic. And Francis’ theory could work if the Arctic was, in fact, particularly warm and iceless — at the moment, in winter, the Arctic is cooler and icier.

“I am not saying there is no [climate change] influence, but in midwinter, the energy in these big storms is huge and the climate change influence is impossible to find statistically,” he said. “So we have to fall back on understanding the processes and mechanisms.”

Still, Trenberth — based in Boulder, CO., — just had 11 inches of snow on Saturday, which he said is the third largest ever for the month. Normally the area gets only light, fluffy snow. But, he said temperatures on Friday were 62 degrees, making for extra moisture and heat, “probably” contributing to the extra snow. The incident mimics what Trenberth’s research has shown — that increased moisture and heat from climate change has an effect on weather events.

“The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question,” he has written. “All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.”

New York City, Philadelphia, Atlantic City Break Temperature Records During December Heat Wave

The New York skyline, including the Empire State Building, is shown in this Dec. 1, 2013 aerial photo. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

We’re experiencing similar temperatures here in Atlanta.  Yet, those climate change deniers (mostly big oil supporters) turn a blind eye to this ever increasing problem…

The Huffington Post

New York City, Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., have broken temperature records during a brief December heat wave.

The National Weather Service says the temperature in Central Park hit a record-setting 65 degrees Saturday. The previous record was 62, set in 2011 and 1923.

Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., reached 67 degrees on Saturday afternoon. That broke Atlantic City’s previous mark of 63 degrees, set in 2011, and bested Philadelphia’s previous high of 66 degrees, set in 1895.

The temperature rose to a balmy 68 in Wilmington, Del., beating the previous mark of 65, set in 1895. And the 64 degrees recorded in Newark, N.J. broke the previous mark of 62, set in 2011.

Sunday is supposed to be even warmer in the region. Temperatures could top 70.