Climate change is real, it’s caused largely by human activities, and it poses significant risks for our health. Some members of Congress disagree with this simple, scientifically proven fact. We need to work to curb climate change, and a big step is to raise our voices to change the conversation in Washington. Call these deniers out. Hold them accountable. Ask them if they will admit climate change is a problem.
Let’s start with the Speaker of the House, John Boehner:
“George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide.”
How about Rep. Ralph Hall (hint: Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which he previously chaired from 2011 to 2013)?
“I’m really more fearful of freezing. And I don’t have any science to prove that. But we have a lot of science that tells us they’re not basing it on real scientific facts”
Senator Rand Paul
“[Scientists] are making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They’ve already caught them doing this.”
Sadly, this is a target-rich environment.
But, it is now an environment where OFA is making moves to start shooting the fish in the barrel.
And, as OFA asks, start doing your part to “call them out”.
We will continue updating the list below as supporters get answers to the basic question of whether their representatives in Congress accept the science on climate change. We hope that this list will shrink as members clarify what they truly believe about climate change.
OFA is taking on calling out Climate Zombies.
This is a good step.
Let’s help make it an ever-more powerful and continuing one.
Thanks to RL Miller for contributing to some of the original research in tracking down this information.
We all owe a serious tip of the hat to RL Miller who has done quite a bit of work tracking down material on Climate Zombies and has been pushing for years for just this sort of major political action to ‘call them out’.
significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’
Admiral Samuel Locklear had a meeting the other day with national security experts at Tufts and Harvard. After this session, he met with a reporter who asked him asked what the top security threat was in the Pacific Ocean. Rather than highlighting Chinese ballistic missiles, the new Chinese Navy aircraft carrier, North Korean nuclear weapons, or other traditional military threats, Admiral Locklear looked to a larger definition of national security.
Locklear commented that “People are surprised sometimes” that he highlights climate change — despite an ability to discuss a wide-range of threats, from cyber-war to the North Koreans. However, it is the risks — from natural disasters to long-term sea-level rise threats to Pacific nations that has his deepest attention.
“You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”
Climate Change merits national security — military — attention for very pragmatic reasons.
The ice is melting and sea is getting higher,” Locklear said, noting that 80 percent of the world’s population lives within 200 miles of the coast. “I’m into the consequence management side of it. I’m not a scientist, but the island of Tarawa in Kiribati, they’re contemplating moving their entire population to another country because [it] is not going to exist anymore.”
And, Admiral Locklear is now — almost certainly with Joint Chiefs of Staff and Office of Secretary of Defense knowledge and support — taking this up seriously with other nations.
“We have interjected into our multilateral dialogue – even with China and India – the imperative to kind of get military capabilities aligned [for] when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations,” he said. “If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.’’
The Pacific region has seen some of the largest multi-national disaster relief operations. Operation Sea Angel in 1991, following a devastating typhoon on Bangladesh, involved numerous military forces — including the Chinese Navy. Similarly, many nations used military forces to respond across the Indian Ocean to the disastrous December 2004 Aceh Tsunami. Admiral Locklear is looking to the reality of mounting seas, more damaging severe weather, and looking to other climate impacts — and is working to set the stage for the region’s military forces to work together more effectively in responding to climate disruption driven disasters.
This interview is not an isolated comment by Admiral Locklear but an indication of increasing concern about and focus on climate change. In December 2012, he raised climate change in a speech to the Asia Society. From this speech highlighting the importance and complexity of the Pacific region. His first example of a non-region specific complicating issue:
this complexity is magnified by a wide, diverse group of challenges…challenges that can significantly stress the security environment….
– Climate change – where increasingly severe weather patterns and rising sea levels will threaten our peoples and even threaten the loss of entire nations…and of course the inevitable earthquakes and tsunamis will continue to challenge all of us in a very unpredictable way as our planet ages. Just as today our friends and partners in the Philippines are dealing with the challenges of the most recent super typhoon.
As Indonesia’s capabilities grow, the Indonesian military should also build on its tradition of contributing forces to U.N. peacekeeping operations…yet another area where the Indonesian and American militaries can collaborate more closely to increase the level of interoperability between our forces.
While resilience in the security environment is traditionally understood as the ability to recover from a crisis, using the term in the context of national security expands its meaning to include crisis prevention.
With large populations vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, both our nations have a significant interest in improving our ability to quickly respond and mitigate the ongoing risk these threats bring.
We learned how local communities prepare themselves for the inevitable disruptions are critical to the region’s efforts to maintain peace, security and prosperity.
This means working on disaster response alone is no longer the answer for the types of scenarios that we face.
Disaster risk reduction through mitigation, planning, and recovery that starts at the community level is required if we are to create more resilient societies.
Private businesses and communities must look within and beyond their current capabilities to ensure that they are prepared to handle what may occur as a result of some catastrophe.
Admiral Locklear as a strong voice on climate change issues might surprise some. Consider, for example, the range of Combatant Commander formal statements to Congress as to the discussion of climate change. Writ large, not much there — and Admiral Locklear is no exception in that list. Admiral Locklear has mentioned climate change before, such as commenting that it would be a stress factor in Europe (where he commanded Operation Odyssey Dawn, the attack on Qaddafi’s Libya during the Arab Spring). That Admiral Locklear is putting climate change on the top of the long-term security challenge seems to be new — to be news.
That a four-star flag officer is publicly stating that climate change dominates the long-term strategic discussions in his command matters.
It matters for the substance of discussion with other nations and for what this might portend for the highest levels of the U.S. military. (Sadly, there are reasonsto expect the (older) uniformed military to be strongly climate denial — having a 4-star speak different can impact this.) It perhaps is most important because the military is a path toward serious cultural change as to a broader acceptance of the basic reality of climate change. Who ‘listens’ when someone in uniform speaks? For me, themilitary is one of the key institutions for changing Americans perspectives on clean energy and climate change.
I was distressed to find many people who are essentially pro-environment and who generally understand climate change science being less than terribly shocked about the prospect of the Keystone XL pipeline being built. Then I began to realize that many people don’t realize the order of magnitude of the problem. I’m writing a blog post about this …, but in the mean time I want to provide a list of handy dandy reliable and helpful sources of information about the pipeline and related issues.
“It’s clear that Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and the October ice storm represent extreme weather patterns that have become commonplace,” said Ralph Izzo, chief executive officer and chairman of the utility’s parent, Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. “Reliability is no longer enough. We must also focus on the resiliency of our systems to withstand natural disasters.”In a filing with the utility board Wednesday, PSE&G laid out plans to elevate or relocate electrical substations, reinforce poles, and replace 750 miles of aged gas mains.
It is starting to dawn on sane and sensible people that large, destructive storms are going to become much more common with fossil-fueled climate changes. Prepare now or pay through the teeth later.
“This is a cost of climate change, pure and simple,” says Jeanne Fox, a commissioner on the Board of Public Utilities, which oversees the utilities.
It’s a pity we cannot send the entire bill to the flat-earthers who are willfully deaf to the chorus of warnings from the world’s most respected scientists. By blocking political action on climate change, even now, they are driving up the costs of coping.
The editorial ends
Yes, we have always had storms, droughts and floods. But the pace and severity are setting records across the globe, just as the scientists predicted. To ignore that growing risk is reckless. And expensive.
The Virginia legislature seems poised to adopt a (at best) mediocre transportation bill — better than what Governor McDonnell proposed originally but still pretty bad — but the voting is going to be close as Tea Party Republicans are prepared to vote NO on the Governor’s top priority because it includes tax revenues to pay for common goods.
This legislation represents one of the rare occasions where House of Delegates Democratic Party members might actually have serious leverage.
When looking at this bill, here are three major problems that House Democrats can use their leverage to address:
Wholesale gas tax is lower than general sales tax rate.
Hybrid tax is punitive and the (il)logic doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
There are multiple horrid transportation boondoggles embedded in this that will syphon off $billions (potentially $10s of billions) of limited resources that could be better spent on other transportation projects to improve Virginians’ lives, improve Virginia’s economy, and better serve Virginia’s future.
Addressing these very quickly,
Make Wholesale Gas Tax Equal to Sales Tax: While there a myriad of policy reasons why lowering gas taxes are simply bad policy (moving away from user fees, rewarding pollution, hurting efforts to reduce oil imports, promoting things that move money out of Virginia (since VA imports all of its oil products), etc …), there is a fundamentally bizarre element at play here: Why is the legislature going to reduce partially the gas tax percentage while increasing the general sales tax? A simple question, “Why should fuel for cars be taxed less than clothing for children?”
Democrats in the House should demand that the wholesale gas tax equal the retail general sales tax rate. [NOTE -- general sales tax is not on the wholesale price of a product, but retail, so even this would advantage gasoline products ...]
Eliminate Hybrid Surcharge: Again while it is stupid on policy reasons (attacking those seeking modern technology and energy efficiency with lower pollution with lower external costs (such as reduced health implications)), the logic behind the hybrid surcharge doesn’t stand up. Governor McDonnell has claimed it is required due to lost gas taxes. However, with the new wholesale gas tax, it would take over 20 years of average driving in a hybrid to lead to lost tax revenue of $100. And, hybrid vehicles sell for higher prices than non-hybrids — thus there is more tax revenue on sales and title transfers. This is a punitive ‘anti-green’ tax which is simply a punching of those ‘greenies’ who buy hybrids and who generally favor Democratic Party candidates.
Democrats in the House should say no to this idiot policy which is targeting your own supporters.
Mandate open review of major transportation projects with legislative review before proceeding. While the Coalfields Expressway is truly the worst (designed more to support Mountain Top Removal using tax dollars than to help better Virginia transportation), there are multiple $multi-billion questionable projects that will — $ for $ — do far less than Virginia and Virginians than a wide range of other transportation project options.
House of Delegates Democrats should demand provisions for external review of major projects and legislative approval requirements to reduce the waste of taxpayer resources on ‘Roads to Nowhere’.
New York Times columnist Joe Nocera has put up How Not to Fix Climate Change. In private correspondence, in bringing this to my attention, one person commented that reading this “lowered my IQ by 20 points,” another “elementary arithmetic seems beyond his grasp”, and third that the title should have been “demonstrating multiple levels of ignorance in a highly public way”. Nocera, in short, is arguing for Keystone XL using some arguments that quickly become head-scratching with even the briefest of scrutiny:
Let’s quickly tackle these points.
Like it or not, fossil fuels are going to remain the world’s dominant energy source for the foreseeable future, and we are far better off getting our oil from Canada than, say, Venezuela.
Sigh. Why does the New York Times editorial staff let such propagandist errors to go through. What is the basic point of the Keystone XL pipeline? To take DilBit (diluted bitumen) from the Canadian Tar Sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries and make them available for export into the international market place. Right now, upper Midwest refineries are buying DilBit at a discount from world prices because Tar Sands producers don’t have cheap and easy ways to get their product onto the world market (and into Chinese diesel fuel supply). Keystone XL will actually facilitate not just increased tar sands production but also the reduction of Canadian tar sands production in the U.S. market place and an increase in fuel prices in much of the Midwest.
the climate change effects of tar sands oil are, all in all, pretty small.
First, this basic argument is like saying ‘who cares if a kid pees in the swimming pool, there is a lot of water …’ Every increment, in and of itself, can be portrayed as somehow ’small’ but there is the impact of many incremental inputs. 100 kids peeing … 1000?? When do you say no to pissing into waters where others want to swim?
Alberta’s oil sands represent a significant tonnage of carbon. With today’s technology there are roughly 170 billion barrels of oil to be recovered in the tar sands, and an additional 1.63 trillion barrels worth underground if every last bit of bitumen could be separated from sand. “The amount of CO2 locked up in Alberta tar sands is enormous,” notes mechanical engineer John Abraham of the University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota, another signer of the Keystone protest letter from scientists. “If we burn all the tar sand oil, the temperature rise, just from burning that tar sand, will be half of what we’ve already seen”—an estimated additional nearly 0.4 degree C from Alberta alone.
Pretty small, Joe???
And, continuing with the misleading and faulty logic and attacks on those trying to forestall tar sands development, Joe wrote
very clear about what they hope to accomplish. Oil companies have invested upward of $100 billion to extract the unconventional oil in the sands. A pipeline is the only way to export it. The Keystone pipeline is Canada’s Plan A. Plan B is a pipeline to British Columbia, which would get the oil to China. If the president blocks Keystone, and the First Nation tribes continue their staunch opposition to the western pipeline, then Canada will have the second largest oil reserves in the world — and no place to sell it. The assumption of the activists is that by choking off the supply of new oil sources like the tar sands, the U.S. — and maybe the world — will be forced to transition more quickly to green energy.
As Joe highlights in a set up to criticism of “activists” is that the tar sands are bottled-up in the central US and central Canadian market space without a truly cost-effective path to international markets. And, if one thought getting Keystone XL approved is difficult, watch out for “plan B” dying in the face of First Nation opposition.
However, the point is not just what the companies have invested but what they might invest. Right now it is difficult and expensive to export DilBit, which sells at a serious discount into the Upper Midwest compared to world market prices. Keystone XL will create something like $40 million per day or over $10 billion per year in additional profit opportunities. With the ability to earn perhaps $20 more per barrel, would that not encourage more destructive Tar Sands operations and at an accelerated pace?
Joe’s piece isn’t utterly wrong and perhaps he gets it partially.
The emphasis should be on demand, not supply. If the U.S. stopped consuming so much of the world’s oil, the economic need for the tar sands would evaporate.
True, if demand collapsed and if prices fell dramatically, then the incentive to devastate Canada’s boreal forests for expensive tar sands oil would collapse as well. Joe’s argument that we need lower oil prices to stop tar sands is perhaps the only one that’s actually correct. However, the reason why the oil companies are exploiting tar sands is precisely because we’ve run out of the cheap stuff and now need to go for the dirty and expensive one to feed our addiction. (Which, by the way, is proof (okay, strong evidence) in itself that high prices are not sufficient to reduce our demand massively.)
Truly, while there has been and continues to be a serious focus on reducing demand, there has become a serious recognition of a basic mathematical truth: if humanity exploits all of the carbon ‘on the financial books’ we have cooked the planet’s ability to support modern human civilization. There is not a single person involved in the efforts to forestall Keystone Xl who is not supportive of efforts to reduce demand (through efficiency, better planning, conservation, alternative fuels, etc …) even as they recognize the importance of stopping Keystone XL as part of the path toward constraining destructive Tar Sands exploitation.
like to see oil companies pay a fee, which would rise annually, based on carbon emissions. He said that such a tax could reduce emissions by 30 percent within 10 years. Well, maybe. But it would also likely make the expensive tar sands oil more viable
Okay, see some problems here?
A carbon fee — which makes any and all fossil fuels (including carbon) more expensive — is somehow going to make tar sands more viable? Please explain how making, lets say, every barrel of oil — due to carbon fees — more expensive by $25 will incentivize more tar sands production rather than foster drives for greater energy efficiency and alternative fuels? And, since tar sands exploitation has a higher carbon footprint than other oil production, wouldn’t this actually put tar sands at a competitive disadvantage with other lower carbon footprint options? Isn’t such a carbon fee directly addressing Nocera’s claim that focus should be on reducing demand? In fact, the carbon fee would disincentivize investment in “expensive tar sands” because it would favor lower cost production (by definition), raise tar sands costs more than lower polluting oil options, and create financial uncertainty for investors and businesses considering 20, 30, 40 year implications of $10 billion+ investments. A carbon fee (especially one that is guaranteed to increase) would create tremendous uncertainty and would undermine tar sands oil viability in multiple ways.
Nocera states “the strategy of activists … is utterly boneheaded”. On reflection, what Nocera has provided an accurate depiction of his self-contradicting broadside against those working to foster paths to avert catastrophic climate disruption.
A carbon tax is essentially a way for policymakers to increase the price of fossil fuels and curb consumer demand without giving producers more incentive to exploit harder-to-reach supplies. There are plenty of arguments for and against a carbon tax, but by itself, it wouldn’t give an added boost to pricey new fossil-fuel sources.
You might think an A-list business reporter for the NY Times would know basic economics. But not in the case of Joe Nocera. …
Last year, Nocera took exception to my saying he joined “the climate ignorati,” asserting that I was casting him as a “global warming denier.” But as I noted at the time, the ignorati are, as Google reveals, “Elites who, despite their power, wealth, or influence, are prone to making serious errors when discussing science and other technical matters.” The shoe fits.
But Nocera doesn’t seem to be a fan of basic economics, as he proceeds to misunderstand Hansen’s policy proposal and offer the laughably wrong argument that a price on carbon would increase the market viability of the dirtiest oil with the highest production costs.
Pro tip: Raising the price of a commodity does not improve its market position. In fact, raising the price of a commodity reduces demand for that commodity. This principle is known in economics as “supply and demand.”
If you want to argue that activists shouldn’t focus on Keystone, you can’t just establish that rallying around and/or blocking Keystone won’t reduce carbon emissions much. So what? Why not try it? Something’s better than nothing, after all. Even if it’s a total waste of time, that may be unproductive, but it’s not counterproductive.
No, you have to establish that the Keystone campaign is impeding or preventing something else better and more effective from happening. That’s what it means to say the Keystone campaign is counterproductive — that it’s detracting from other, superior climate efforts.
What are these other efforts, and how is a focus on Keystone impeding or preventing them? That’s the causal relationship folks like Revkin need to establish to make their case, but they are maddeningly vague about it.
The Charge of the Lite Brigade by Greg, Lord Mockingyou
Half a brain, half a brain,
Half a brain onward,
All in the valley of Climate Change
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the facts!” he said:
Into the valley of Climate Change
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Lite Brigade!”
Was there a man inform’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Climate Change,
Rode the six hundred.
Carbon to right of them,
Carbon to left of them,
Carbon in front of them
Tornadoes and thunder;
Superstorm’d with surge befell,
Blindly awash in the the swell,
Into the rise of temps,
Into the mouth of Hell
Flash’d all their untruths bare,
Flash’d as they denied in air,
Science and data there,
Charging and lying, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plugged in the battery-charger,
But the coal based grid was broke;
Hannity and Rush they
Reel’d from the IPCC report
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they got a new contract, but
Not the six hundred.
Carbon to right of them,
Carbon to left of them,
Carbon behind them
Hurricanes with thunder;
Superstorm’d with surge befell,
New Orleans went to Hell,
Tea did not come out so well
Lies through their jaws brought Death
Told science to go to Hell,
And left it all to them,
Storms for our grandchildren.
What were they thinking, crazed?
O the wild charges they made!
All the world wondered.
WTF are have they said?
Look at the Lite Brigade,
Ignorant six hundred.
Last Tuesday evening, President Obama warned Congress that he would use executive authority to act on climate change is Congress continues to prove itself unwilling and unable to take action.
for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. … I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change… But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.
There are things that are Executive Branch decisions, arenas where the President can act without asking “Mother, May I” of Representative John Boehner and that too large a cohort of anti-science syndrome sufferers in charge of the U.S. House of Representatives.
One arena: determining whether industrial projects that cross international borders are in the national interest. Top of the political agenda right now: Keystone XL pipeline.
The decision should be simple as the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the U.S. national interest for a range of economic and environmental reasons. Sadly, the reality of Keystone XL has been masked by $10s of millions (if not $100s of millions) of propaganda distorting its economic implications and downplaying its climate change impacts (in the shadow of $billions spent to undermine understanding of and action on climate change). And, sadly, the State Department process has had serious flaws (ethical, technical, analytical) that have surfaced and suggesting that the clarity of how Keystone XL is not in U.S. national interest has been clouded in the Department’s review. Those propaganda efforts and inadequacies in review process don’t change reality. Fundamentally, Keystone XL will undermine U.S. economic performance while fostering ever mounting climate change pollution.
While Keystone XL, in and of itself, will not guarantee that we have crossed the Rubicon to unstoppable catastrophic climate chaos, the reality is dire and, well, rather terrifying. We now face a simple reality,
Specifically and categorically, we must cease making large, long-term capital investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” dangerous emission levels for many decades. Keystone is a both a conspicuous example of that kind of investment and a powerful symbol for the whole damned category.
The afternoon of 17 February 2013, Americans in their thousands, in their 10s of thousands will be in front of the White House calling on the President to take action in line with his State of the Union declaration that “we must do more to combat climate change.”
Mr. President, it is time to stop waffling and draw the line in the sand against fossil foolishness and “cease making large, long-term capital investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” dangerous emission levels for many decades.”
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade stands as one of the most famous English-language historical poems. It also could be stated as one of the most infamous as well.
Memorializing essentially unthinking actions of those blindly caught up in an archaic technology and archaic approach to warfare, the poem immortalizes a Crimean War charge of a British light cavalry brigade — armed with sabers — against a well prepared Russian artillery position. In short, 17th century warfare confronted 19th century technology and — beyond wounded and dead British soldiers and cavalry horses — the result is a heroic poem about an utterly stupid act.
While this poem resonates with many about heroism, the reality is that it is as much — if not more — about unthinking blind obedience to stupidity. With this in mind, it seems ever so poetic that advocates of 19th century energy technologies have adopted the moniker “Light Brigade” as their tag-line for counter-protests against those seeking to foster adoption of 21st century energy systems to confront 21st century challenges and seize 21st century opportunities.
This coming Sunday, at the Washington, DC, rally against the Keystone XL pipeline, these fossil fuel pollution promoters will be wearing bright yellow shirts with an assertion that those advocating for sensible energy policies are advocating blackout conditions putting aside that better energy management, energy efficiency, power storage, and renewables are providing an ever greater portion of the answer to America’s — and humanity’s — electricity requirements with every passing day. These yellow fossil fuel promoters won’t, it seems likely, discuss how coal has dropped from over 50 percent to under 35 percent the U.S. electricity list without any blackouts occurring due to coal’s more limited role in the U.S. electricity grid. They won’t talk about how solar and wind electricity have more than doubled in the past four years. They won’t talk about how, electron-for-electron, new wind power is now cheaper than new fossil fuel electricity in most places in the world. They won’t talk about how solar electricity prices are plummeting, very much like happened with computing technology as production ramped up. They won’t talk about health and particulate and climate change and other costs that blacken the benefits from their fuels of choice. These yellow fossil fuel promoters will be stating lots of “facts” but not discussing much truth.
As an excellent example of the distorting nature of their fossil-foolish propaganda, the “light brigade” propagandists will be focusing on electricity at a protest which is about liquid fuel. Hmmm … perhaps someone should remind them of the vast divide between the transportation energy system (liquid fuel) and electricity.
Just as the Light Brigade’s soldiers went heedlessly into battle, pitting archaic technology against modernity, this pollution-supporting ‘light brigade’ is thrusting itself forward advocating yesterday’s technology to attempt to forestall movement forward to tomorrow’s. And, just as the British Light Brigade went unthinkingly into battle almost 160 years ago under orders from above, one has to wonder whether those willing to put on these yellow shirts are questioning who is pulling the strings and where the funding comes from to pay for their threads and back their deceitful messaging.