It is now February 2017, just less than two years after the above video and this prominent example of Jim Inhofe’s anti-science mania. (As Alec Baldwin put it about Inhofe, “Is there a bigger oil whore than Jim Inhofe?“) In those two years, we had 2015 hotter than 2014 and then 2016 hotter than 2015. The world is warming — despite Inhofe’s big snowball.
There is a 4A weather / climate emergency
The Arctic is experiencing massive temperature fluctuations, with record high temperatures.
When it comes to America, for example, Oklahoma is experience record heat for Valentines Day and this has nothing to do with Oklahomans romantic passion. It is the middle of February and the thermometer is hitting 100F.
Oklahoma is represented by one of the loudest climate science denialists in the U.S. Senate, a Senator who has received more fossil fuel contributions to his campaign than almost any other Member of Congress. The products of these firms are a serious contributor to humanity’s ever-mounting greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions. And, continued denial of basic climate science (and of the scientific consensus about climate change) is inhibiting action to slow (and reverse) the warming fostering 100F days in Oklahoma in the middle of winter.
In the interim, Oklahoma needs Jim Inhofe’s snowball a lot more than the Senate floor.
Just as occurred (and, sigh, still occurs) with the tobacco industry, a key target of fossil fuel promoters is to sow confusion about the science related to fossil fuel pollution impacts (from climate change to mercury poisoning to …), the strength of the scientific consensus, and about the work of scientists (as individuals and as groups). These Merchants of Doubt work diligently to undermine science — from astroturf organizations, to lobbyists, to campaign contributions, to attacking scientists, to funding and distributing misleading books, to working to undermine science education in the classroom.
Too often, the efforts to foster political controversy drive those involved in education — such as textbook publishers — to self censor and provide subtly misleading (if not outright dishonest) material for the educational system.
This plagues the United States of America, with frequent battles over textbook material and distortions of climate science, evolution, history, etc … to meet political agendas with the cost of fostering “Alternative Facts”-based eduction. While a serious problem in the U.S. educational system (and likely to worsen amid the Trump regime, including the ideological dogma of Secretary of (mis)Education Devos), sadly, this is not only an American problem
Distorting climate science for all ages: a UK example
Considering this KS3 science book from the key UK textbook publisher, CGP Books. The photo is from the section on “the Earth and The Atmosphere”. As you can see, this is splattered with caveating and unscientific terms when it comes to climate change science:
“some scientists believe”…
“the long-term trend of temperature increases is due to rising carbon dioxide levels”
“could have some serious effects”…
“could cause sea levels to rise”
As to the first, “some scientists believe”, there are two serious items:
“When climate scientists like me explain to people what we do for a living we are increasingly asked whether we “believe in climate change”. Quite simply it is not a matter of belief.
Our concerns about climate change arise from the scientific evidence that humanity’s activities are leading to changes in our climate.
The scientific evidence is overwhelming.”
(As so often, XKCD provides path to understanding truth …)
Using “could” similarly distorts.
Serious impacts already are occurring — from disrupted weather patterns, to movement of flora & fauna, to species extinctions, to (see below) land threatened by rising seas, to …
Reasonable debate can occur as to ‘how serious’ the impacts already are and will be, how fast the impacts will occur, and what can be done to mitigate/adapt to those impacts — but it is simple distortion of science to state that climate change ‘could have serious impacts’.
Sea levels are rising. This is associated with rising temperatures — both due to thermal expansion of the seas (basic science, people, heat ==> expansion) and melting (land-based, eg glaciers) ice.
In the face of Team Trump’s climate-science denial and active-intent to promote polluting energy, such minor elementary school science distortion can seem unworthy of attention. It is, however, this very sort of seemingly minor distorting material that helps foster electorates susceptible to ‘Post Truth’/#AlternativeFacts polemics. Such hedging material undermines societal ability to understand science and engage in truthful, fact-based policy formulation.
Yesterday, in Washington, DC, the temperature hit 74F and this morning it was below 30F with snow flurries.
Amid the (mounting) fears that @RealDonaldTrump has utter contempt for the Constitution and is intent on a drive toward an authoritarian Kakistocracy*, powerful voices are emerging.
Rep. Donald McEachin, D-VA-04
Below is a portion of an interview with one of these, Rep. Donald McEachin, VA-04, who was elected to the House of Representatives last November. The more I get exposed to McEachin, the more that he impresses me and the more that I want to hear from him.
This interview section focuses on McEachin and the environment for the environment in the House. Some key comments.
Republicans “are going to go full tilt [against] the environment…they’re going to wage war on the environment.”
“we don’t have a lot of time … don’t have time for the nonsense that Republicans are about to bring forward”
“have to depend on the Senate to stop [@HouseGOP anti-science/anti-environment measures], because we’ll just get steamrolled here.”
Take a look at the interview below, crossposted from Blue Virginia courtesy of Lowell Feld.
As Donald Trump continues to drive news cycles with #AlternativeFacts and installs perhaps the most anti-#science government that modern human history has seen in a major government (and this comment re ‘perhaps’ is that jury is out in comparison with Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Nazi Germany: both of which had serious anti-science elements (lunacies) but yet had major elements of policy and investments based on serious science), physical reality exists and the physical world in which humanity exists continues to change.
As the U.S. 2016 election essentially ignored climate change — with, for example, zero questions in any Presidential debate on what was perhaps the most significant policy issue with the starkest contrast between the candidates and the parties — the real world passed a threshold that far, far too few Americans realized: the atmosphere passed the 400 parts per million (ppm) concentration of carbon dioxide (C02) with near certainty that no human alive will ever see concentrations below that figure (outside an oxygen tent or other artificial environment).
My thoughts turned to that yesterday as I saw the following:
When it comes to Climate Change (science), the GOP & Trump path is clear: Ignoring, denying, & suppressing discussion of reality: https://www.askideas.com/see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil-skull-designs/
At the best, when it comes to climate science, Trump flings #AlternativeFacts dung like a monkey and the GOP machine operates on a bastardized version of the three monkeys admonishing to ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’.
As the nation watches the Trumpian GOP anti-science agenda go into action and the momentum to a Scientists March on Washington accelerates, the climate situation worsens.
Seeing that 408ppm figure yesterday struck me … reminded me that physical reality marches on even as #WomensMarch brought millions of Americans to the streets with 100s of marches in what might have been the largest US political demonstration in history (to date … we do not know what will come as the resistance to the Trump regime mounts).
It also reminded me of the below, when some of the world’s top supermodels ‘took it off’ for climate action — stripped to the bare basics with a promise of more — back in fall 2009 in a symbolic showing of the necessity to start stripping down the excess human-added layers of greenhouse gas (GHG) in the atmosphere.
Core to #MAGA, @TeamTrump encompasses many of the worst anti-science pontificators and activists not just in the United States, but globally. Core to this is climate science denial. Thus, as Trump (falsely) took the Oath of Office (and immediately became in violation of it due to the Emoluments Clause), the Trumpist White House website replace President Obama’s and the words “climate change” disappeared from it. (That is, until I put up Boost the American Economy Through Climate Action petition.)
Science denial has quickly been spreading through the Administration, with orders squelching government agencies’ and employees’ abilities/rights to engage with the public, posted tweets ordered deleted, threats to programs, and now a quite explicit directive to remove basic science from government websites.
Trump administration tells EPA to cut climate page from website: sources
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, two agency employees told Reuters, the latest move…
As is being reported, Team Trump has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate climate change and climate change science from its communications with the public.
employees were notified by EPA officials on Tuesday that the administration had instructed EPA’s communications team to remove the website’s climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research, as well as detailed data on emissions. The page could go down as early as Wednesday, the sources said.
Myron Ebell, an anti-climate change activist [climate-science denier] who led Trump’s transition efforts at the EPA is quoted as saying, “My guess is the web pages will be taken down, but the links and information will be available,” implying that the individual resources might be buried within the EPA web directory when the climate change landing page is deleted.
Ahh … so all won’t be lost totally even if one might get lost searching for the material.
The anonymous sources aren’t very sanguine.
“If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear,” one of the EPA staffers told Reuters, who added some employees were scrambling to save some of the information housed on the website, or convince the Trump administration to preserve parts of it.
Those EPA staffers spoke anonymously since they were not authorized to speak to the press. Does anyone doubt that Team Trump will task more resources to uncovering such leakers than investigating Donald Trump’s & Team Trump’s connections (and subservience) Russia, Russian intelligence, and Vladimir Putin?
Further constraints on EPA reported. Scientists’ work will be released into public only if it is in accord with Trump’s #AlternativeFacts.
In an interview Tuesday evening with NPR, Doug Ericksen, the head of communications for the Trump administration’s EPA transition team, said that during the transition period, he expects scientists will undergo an unspecified internal vetting process before sharing their work outside the agency.
“We’ll take a look at what’s happening so that the voice coming from the EPA is one that’s going to reflect the new administration,”
January 24th, 2017 · Comments Off on In promoting #KeystoneXL, Trump using #AlternativeFacts re job creation
The Keystone XL pipeline debate has been a preeminent space for that old analytical adage of “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”. Truly, the debate adds a fourth category: “Statistical Claims about KXL Job Creation“. While Republican politicians made claims sometimes over 1 million jobs and industry advocates regularly pontificated about 100,000, TransCanada came down to the creation of 13,000 temporary construction jobs (for two years), State Department analysis concluded roughly 5,000-6,000 jobs (over a three-year period), and independent analysis questioned whether even that number would be reached. When serious systems analysis occurred, looking at potential impacts of gas price increases in the upper Midwest and other negative (such as due to pollution) implications, the results questioned whether — on net — there would be any US job creation.
Today, Trump reopened the Keystone XL battle with a (yet to be published) Executive Order (or perhaps a memorandum … things are murky at the moment) calling for a fast-track re-evaluation of the project. In promoting this, Trump remained true to his inner core — blustering with #AlternativeFacts to gain support for the project. Trump trumpeting that the pipeline would create a “lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs, great construction jobs.” As Business Insider headlined this: Trump claims the Keystone XL pipeline will create 7 times more construction jobs than it actually will.
The project would create approximately 3,900 construction jobs in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas during the one or two years it takes to build the pipeline, the report suggests.
That number is seven times less than the one Trump suggested earlier today …
The number of permanent employees the pipeline would require after construction ends is dismally low: just 35.
Just like Trump’s hands, in Trump’s mind, Keystone XL job creation will be YUGE!
Regretfully, this announcement has garnered some union support which repeats the erroneous job creation figures. The Teamsters, actually, went higher than Trump: claiming 42,000 jobs or an order-of-magnitude higher than likely.
Rather than focusing on projects designed to blow the carbon bubble up, the United States could (should) invest in projects like interstate transmission lines, improving water tunnels, 21st century water treatment, clean energy projects (like wind turbines) that would generate greater prosperity and far more well-paying jobs. Skilled union labor could help strengthen America for the 21st century rather than helping dig the fossil-fuel hole deeper.
Along with nearly 1,000,000 of my fellow citizens, I spent 21 January 2017 in democratic engagement on the streets of Washington, DC, at the Women’s March. Along with so many other Americans, hard to count the reasons for dedicating myself ‘to the streets’ for the first day of the Trump Regime and the first full day of #TheResistance to this illegitimate President.
I took the opportunity, along with so many others and even as I wore a pink Planned Parenthood hat, to make my statement (no surprise from me) focus on climate change and climate science.
Thus, to the right is the shirt from yesterday.
The back emphasizes the science denial and propaganda (#FakeNews) that
Climate Science reality: The Greenhouse Effect
we already see and expect to see from the Trump Administration. They are dominated by Fossil Fools and seek to take the nation backwards toward a more polluting and less economically valuable fossil fuel past.
The front points to reality: the climate is changing, humanity is driving this change, and this is creating serious — and ever-mounting-risks. Climate chaos isn’t interested in the Fake News — alt-right (neo-Nazi) ‘alt-reality’ in social media doesn’t negate science.
Many people commented positively on the shirt through the day — more than a few pictures taken.
And, in response to comments & photo taking, an explanation:
Three Rs critical: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
This shirt exemplifies all three:
Reduce: this shirt has been around awhile, been worn quite a bit, and (perhaps) contributed to a few fewer shirt purchases.
Reuse: been used at more than a few rallies and protests.
Recycle: recycling from Administrations, as this shirt has now been used for rallies of four Presidents.
As to that last, this shirt is now more than 25 years old and something produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists for Earth Day 1990 — as part of pressure on the George H.W. Bush Administration to engage honestly with the mounting scientific evidence of the seriousness of Global Warming and the necessity for government action to mitigate those risks.
U.S. trade partners and economic competitors are finding clean energy (solar, wind) and energy efficiency to be strongly boosting their economies and increasing competitiveness while leading to cleaner air and water for their people. China has recently announced plans to invest $350 billion (BILLION) in clean energy while creating 13 million jobs by 2020.
With each passing day, clean energy options are becoming less expensive and increasingly (far) lower cost than traditional, polluting fossil-fuel energy options.
The Trump Administration can fulfill its pledge to protect air/water, create jobs, and boost the economy through serious climate action.
The above petition requires 10,000 signatures by 19 February 2017 to get a White House response.
January 19th, 2017 · Comments Off on Don Beyer’s journey from car dealership to Climate Hawk
Yesterday, Lowell Feld and I had the chance to speak with Representative Don Beyer for nearly an hour. This interview covered a range of issues. We opened it with a discussion of Don Beyer’s ‘journey’ from car dealer to Climate Hawk.
Don Beyer is increasingly seen as a “Climate Hawk”, a policy maker who not only has an understanding of climate change challenges but who is willing/able to discuss climate issues and make this a priority in political life. When Jim Moran announced his retirement and he thought about whether he wanted to run, as Representative Beyer put it during our interview,
First thing that you need to do when running for office, you need to sit by yourself and decide why you want to run in office. … As I did this, my core thought was that climate change was the deepest and most existential threat to humanity.
When I actually won, my primary responsibility was to be the simplest and the strongest voice for smart climate policy …
Considering that he made his fortune though auto-dealerships (the Beyer Automotive Group), not exactly considered the most climate-friendly of businesses*, our lead-off question was about his journey: How did he reach the point where concerns over climate change were core to his drive to reenter the political arena?
My political activism really started in 1970s, with a huge concern about the 10,000 nuclear weapons aimed at US and 10k aimed at the Soviet Union.
As part of this, Beyer joined a number of science-driven groups and went to a conference where he “realized that [he] was the only car dealer who was member of Arms Control Association”. Beyer, in my estimation, is probably the only member of his profession who “wrote an essay on why the United States should adopt a no-first use policy” as to nuclear weapons.
His engagement with the arms control world engaged him with science and scientists and, “over the years, little by little,” the organizations, individuals, and journals he engaged with moved more of their discussion, concern, and passion from nuclear weapons to energy and climate.
Energy policy was, for Beyer, part of that voyage. During the Carter Administration and the ‘energy crisis’, Beyer even moved the “the entire showroom outside in February … trying to make the the point that we needed to take the energy crisis seriously.”
Nuclear weapons, however, certainly maintained a serious part of the national discussion during the Reagan years but
by the mid-1990s, everything that I was reading in Scientific American was talking about climate change
And, by early 2000s, Beyer says this was driving his perspective on the national political situation.
In 2004, when I worked for Dean and then Kerry, the number one reason that I wanted a D in the White House was climate change.
And, since then, his concerns have only mounted.
And, he continued to connect the business activity with climate change and energy — at least at times. Following seeing Inconvenient Truth, for example, Beyer ran a promotion at his dealership where people coming for a test drive got tickets to the film along with a bicycle or a tree planted in their name.
Just like changing lightbulbs in our homes, those bicycles and trees, obviously, haven’t solved our climate crisis. The situation only is worsening.
Everything that I am seeing shows me that we didn’t exaggerate the climate crisis, but it is more serious and urgent that we realized or said decades ago.
And, thus Climate Hawk Beyer’s “primary responsibility [is] to be the simplest and the strongest voice” as to that “more serious and urgent … existential threat” and for policy options to address climate change realities.
A just introduced bill to the Wyoming Senate would, if passed, seem to outlaw the use of wind and solar resources to help power the state. The Electricity Production Standard, introduced by “Senator(s) Hicks and Driskill and Representative(s) Baker, Blackburn, Clem, Edwards, Lindholm, Madden and Miller”, defines the specific energy sources that would be considered “eligible generating resources”:
“Eligible generating resource” means an 7 electricity generating resource either located within 8 Wyoming or delivering electricity into Wyoming from another 9 state that produces electricity from one (1) or more of the 10 following sources or system:
(C) Natural gas
(D) Net metering system, as defined by W.S. 19 37-16-101(a)(viii);
Note that two booming electricity sources, that are dropping precipitously in price and growing fast in usage, are essentially absent from this list: solar and wind. In the Great Plains, wind power is the cheapest — by far — new electricity source and a potentially significant revenue generator for farmers ‘farming wind’ and for the state selling power to other states and markets (such as into Chicago) as grid connections and capacity improve.
As to ‘essentially absent’, the Wyoming net metering regulation authorizes systems up to 25 kilowatts — thus the individual home owner and a farmer with a small wind turbine could keep their systems. A 25kw system, however, is essentially irrelevant for utility-scale decisions.
The legislation then puts in a mandate that by 2019,
each electric utility shall procure a minimum of one hundred percent (100%) of its sales of electricity in Wyoming from eligible 19 generating resources.
And, if a utility fails to meet that 100% standard, the penalties would be serious:
If an electric utility is unable to meet the standards specified in W.S. 37-16-302 in any compliance year, the electric utility shall pay an administrative penalty, assessed by the commission, of ten dollars ($10.00) for each megawatt hour of energy credits the electric utility failed to procure. An electric utility may not recover this penalty through its electricity rates.
This $10 per mWh translates into $0.01 per kWh. More significantly, this is not something ‘recoverable’ through the ratepayers: it would have to be absorbed out of the utility’s profits. E.g., this is extremely serious ‘motivation’ for a utility to use one of the listed energy sources.
In other words, with that limited net metering exception, this legislation seeks to outlaw Wyoming and Wyoming residents benefitted from the fastest growing, cheapest, and cleanest electricity option.
Update 3: Okay, here is the sort of damage that could result from this myopic fossil-foolish legislation.