Biogeochemist: “… perhaps most likely explanation is that increasing temperatures have increased rates of decomposition of soil organic matter, which has increased the flow of CO2. If true, this is an important finding: that a positive feedback to climate change is already occurring at a detectable level in soils.”
One of the single greatest concerns of climate scientists is that human-caused warming will cause amplifying feedbacks in the carbon-cycle. Such positive feedbacks, whereby an initial warming releases carbon into the air that causes more warming, would increase both the speed and scale of climate change, greatly complicating both mitigation and adaptation.
As Nature reports (article here, study here, subs. req’d), a review of 439 studies around the world — including 306 performed from 1989 to 2008 — found “soil respiration had increased by about 0.1% per year between 1989 and 2008, the span when soil measurement techniques had become standardized.” Physorg.com interviewed the lead author, who said bluntly:
The new health care law prohibits women from using premium affordability tax credits or cost-sharing payments to pay for abortions but also reinforces states’ ability to prohibit insurers from providing any form of abortion coverage within the exchange. On Monday, before President Obama even signed the the Senate health care bill into law, a Missouri Senate committee voted 5-1 to advance a bill that would deny insurers the right to offer abortion coverage in any government exchange.
Missouri is one of only 5 states that already prohibits abortion from being included in private insurance packages and requires women to purchase a separate abortion rider. SB747 would deny women the right to purchase a rider within the exchanges:
Under current law, health insurance policies are barred from providing coverage for elective abortions except through optional riders. This act extends this prohibition to health insurance policies offered through any health insurance exchange established in this state or any federal health insurance exchange administered within this state. In addition, no health insurance exchange operating within this state may offer coverage for elective abortions through the purchase of an optional rider.
If the law passes the Senate and the House and is signed by Governor Jay Nixon (a Democrat with a mixed record on choice) women would only be able to purchase an abortion rider in the unsubsidized (but newly regulated!) individual health insurance market. Planned Parenthood lobbyist Michelle Trupiano tells the AP that it’s rare “for Missouri women to be able to purchase an insurance policy addition for abortion coverage. So they often pay the full cost of an abortion, which she said is about $500 for a first-semester pregnancy.” Should this bill become law, women in the exchanges, (particularly poorer women) would have “no options for abortion coverage.”
Since the House passed health care reform on Sunday, Democratic lawmakers who voted for the bill have received death threats and been victims of vandalism. While some Republicans have condemned these incidents, Sarah Palin seemed to fan the flames of discontent by labeling a map of vulnerable lawmakers’ districts with crosshairs on her Facebook page and tweeting, “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!’” This morning, NBC’s Ann Curry asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) if he believed his former running mate should use less “incendiary” language. McCain condemned any violence but excused Palin’s “reload” rhetoric and use of crosshairs. Today on Capitol Hill, ThinkProgress caught up with Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), who said that Palin’s reload map is “inappropriate”:
TP: Speaking of gun shots, would you consider Palin telling her supporters they need to “reload,” and posting a picture of crosshairs on Democratic members — is that inappropriate?
OLSON: There’s things, both parties are inappropriate.
TP: Is that inappropriate, yes or no?
OLSON: No I’m not going to answer the question.
TP: So it is appropriate.
OLSON: It is inappropriate.
While Olson continually claimed that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have incited violence, he could not point to a single example of Democrats doing so.
In a new video, the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment asks a critical question: “Have we pushed Earth past the tipping point?” Humanity developed civilization within a small zone of environmental conditions, but in the last century we have begun reshaping our planet, accelerating the process in recent years:
We’ve cleared, consumed and polluted our way across the globe. The planet is shrinking. Have we pushed Earth past the tipping point?
Watch the video:
Last September, a team of 28 scientists identified “10 separate biophysical systems crucial to humanity’s flourishing” and then determined “safe operating boundaries” for those systems within which humanity must remain if we wish to maintain the conditions in which it developed civilization. Unfortunately, anthropogenic interference with the climate system, the nitrogen cycle, and biodiversity is already past safe thresholds, with ocean acidification, ozone depletion, and other resource consumption at the door.
As ThinkProgress reported earlier today, some military families have been concerned about how the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will affect their health care. Fears about the legislation have been fueled, in part, by lawmakers like Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA), who has claimed that “now their programs are going to be administered like welfare programs, rather than earned military benefits.”
There is another piece of misinformation floating around that’s important to clear up. The new law has an individual responsibility requirement, meaning that every person must have health coverage (or receive an affordability waiver), otherwise he/she will be subjected to a fee. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t explicitly state that TRICARE — the military’s health program — will meet the individual responsibility requirement. So on Saturday, lawmakers — out of an abundance of caution — passed separate legislation affirming that TRICARE will not be affected. As House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) stated when the legislation was unanimously approved:
While beneficiaries of these programs will already meet the minimum requirements for individual health insurance and will not be required to purchase additional coverage, the TRICARE Affirmation Act would provide clarification by changing the tax code to state it in law.
In the Senate, Jim Webb (D-VA) has introduced a companion bill to Skelton’s, and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) has put forth similar legislation on a related matter. Last night, Webb asked for unanimous consent to approve both measures. While Akaka’s would have to head back to the House for a vote, Webb’s — which has attracted six Republican co-sponsors — could go straight to the President for his signature, since the House already passed the Skelton bill. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected, however, saying that Republicans wanted them attached to the reconciliation bill as an amendment sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), which would then have to go back to the House:
WEBB: Mr. President, I would suggest to my colleague from North Carolina and to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that if you really want to fix this problem, we can fix it right now and we should fix it right now. We should not allow this issue to be tied up in the separate melodrama of the moment here. [...]
COBURN: We’ve got this — we got this a minute and a half ago to see the language. You have an amendment on the floor that actually accomplishes everything you want to do, and why are we doing this? Because you don’t want to mess up a package that’s clean. It has every application, the Burr amendment, to this. With that and the fact that this is exactly the kind of shenanigans the American people don’t want, I object.
WEBB: Let the American people understand the Republicans objected to a matter that could have been fixed by law tomorrow.
Webb brought his legislation up on the floor again today, around 4:30 p.m., saying that he would be working with Republicans to “attempt to clear these today.” Watch Webb’s floor addresses:
Republicans had been trying to attach all sorts of “poison pill” amendments to delay the reconciliation legislation, including one to ban all federal funding for the group ACORN, which has already announced that it is shutting down. Since their attempt failed, and the reconciliation bill is already back in the House, the TRICARE legislation needs to pass the Senate as a stand-alone bill, as Webb had tried to do yesterday.
Even though Bilbray and all other House Republicans voted for this measure, they’re now trying to argue that it doesn’t go far enough. Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) has another piece of legislation on the issue, which has attracted 32 co-sponsors — all Republicans. Bilbray spokesman Fritz Chaleff wrote to ThinkProgress that Skelton’s legislation says only that “TRICARE meets the minimal standards of coverage,” while the GOP bill “carves out TRICARE from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” However, Democratic aides on Capitol Hill told ThinkProgress that the the Skelton legislation is more than sufficient and the other bill is political grandstanding.
Everyone from military and veterans organizations to the chairs of relevant House committees to Veterans Affairs officials have confirmed that TRICARE will not be affected by the new health care law.
Rep. Martin Henrich (D-NM) has also now introduced legislation that would “change the maximum age of coverage for children from 23 to 26″ for military families on TRICARE. The Affordable Care Act allows individuals with private insurance to cover their children up until age 26 also.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee — supported the individual mandate in 1993, when he, along with Sen. John Chafee (R-RI), proposed an alternative to President Bill Clinton’s health care initiative that required every American to purchase health insurance coverage. He supported the mandate when he co-sponsored the Wyden-Bennet health care plan in 2007. And he endorsed the policy again in June of 2009, when he told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace that there was bipartisan agreement that individuals should take responsibility for their own health care costs. But as the Senate Finance Committee prepared to release its health care bill, Grassley started arguing that the mandate is an “unprecedented” intrusion into the rights of the individual. In September of 2009, Grassley said that he was “very reluctant to go along with an individual mandate” since it would impose “a federal penalty against people who don’t have health insurance.”
Well today, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked Grassley about his evolving position. The senator admitted that he had supported the mandate in the past, before he knew it was unconstitutional:
GRASSLEY: If it was unconstitutional today, it was unconstitutional in 1993, but I don’t think anybody gave it much thought until three or four months ago when you start looking at what constitutional lawyers say about it because constitutional lawyers wouldn’t have been looking at the mandate for health insurance until it became an issue and it just became a issue lately. And so I think that’s the legitimacy of it being considered unconstitutional.
This is a fairly silly argument, particularly because constitutional lawyers believe that the health care mandate is as constitutional today as it was in 1993. “The mandate is lawful and clearly so,” this American Constitution Society brief argues, “pursuant either to Congress‟ authority to “regulate commerce among the several states,” or to its authority to “lay and collect taxes to provide for the General Welfare.”
In fact, even Mitt Romney (sometimes) agrees. Here he is Tuesday night describing the mandate in his Massachusetts reform plan as the ultimate conservative principle: “[R]ight now in this country, people that don’t have health insurance go to the hospital if they get a serious illness, and they get treated for free by government. My plan says no, they can’t do that. No more free riders. People have to take personal responsibility. I consider it a conservative plan.”
The anti-science crowd has been trumpeting the news, and Anthony Watts even claims credit for duping the Museum into thinking most of the viewers voting on its website were skeptics.
Sadly, the story turns out to be mostly true — and the fact that the exhibit is being funded by one of the biggest oil companies — Royal Dutch Shell — puts the credibility of the entire museum and its science staff on the line.
This cautionary tale story deserves to be told in full because scientists aren’t great at communicating to the public, and the media is doing an increasingly bad job, so science museums are — or were — one of the last vestiges where unadulterated science could be delivered to an interested public.
Let’s start with the “good news.” In a statement emailed to Climate Progress in response to a series of questions, the London Science Museum director, Dr. Chris Rapley, pushes back (somewhat) against recent media stories:
Ben Smith has an insightful item on the Democrats’ decision to “embrace the freakshow” by trying to focus attention on the existence of a violent fringe of opposition to the Affordable Care Act that’s clearly inspired by the unhinged nature of the discourse around ACA that all-too-mainstream figures on the right have created.
Clearly, there’s some sense to focusing on this and the media and the public should come to appreciate how loony the right is becoming. That said, I think it’s a tactical error at this point. The reason is that the narrative progressives should really want people hear today is one about the content of the Affordable Care Act rather than a political story about which bunch of politicians is more terrible. Thus I’m going to reprint below-the-fold Nancy Ann DeParle’s memo spelling out what aspects of ACA will be going on line in 2010-2011 even while we wait until for the main exchange/subsidy system to come into place.
Above the fold, I’ll pull out the things I think are most important—stuff readers may not know about, or may want to tell friends or family who don’t follow politics as closely:
— Chief among these is the idea that kids will now be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26. I’ve seen this mocked in some precincts, always by people fortunate enough to have full-time employment. But with unemployment at 10 percent, clearly many people are not fortunate enough to have full-time employment. And if your son or daughter is about to graduate this spring out of high school or college right into the face of the worst labor market since the Great Depression, your family is probably going to be happy about this provision.
— This year, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage. If I were a member of congress who voted yes on reform, I’d be finding a family in my district that this will help and asking repealers why they think sick kids shouldn’t get medical treatment.
— Big increase in funding for community health centers starts more-or-less right away, which is a crucial recession-fighting measure as well as something helpful for the long run.
— Last, in 2011 the ACA provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the gap in prescription drug coverage. That’s a start on full closure of the “doughnut hole” over time.
There’s much more below the fold. But the point is that this kind of stuff is a news story. People want to know “what’s going to change for me and my life?” And the answers to those questions are more interesting and more important than a political story about who called whom what names and why is Eric Cantor so horrible.
Throughout the week, many Republicans have said that repealing the Affordable Care Act should be part of the Party’s campaign platform for this year’s midterm elections. Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said “repeal and replace will be the slogan for the fall.” Congressional Republicans such as Reps. Pete Hoekstra (MI), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Zach Wamp (TN) and Sens. John McCain (AZ) and Jim DeMint (SC) have signed on to the cause as well.
But other Republicans are candidly acknowledging that the GOP’s new big agenda is mere political gamesmanship:
– Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ): “Our view is that we should repeal and replace the bill with the solutions that we think actually work. Obviously, the president will not sign a repeal bill that the Congress passes, so that’s more of a symbol. … Barack Obama is president. He would never sign a repeal law. We don’t have the votes to get it passed right now. We’re not going to waste our time on that.”
– Newt Gingrich: “What you have to do is be politically honest. If the Republicans win a majority in the House and Senate next year, they will not be able to repeal the bill. The president would veto it.”
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) proclaimed yesterday that the GOP should “repeal this bill,” yet seconds later, even he acknowledged that with Obama as President, “it’s going to be very difficult to repeal this bill outright.” Watch the compilation:
Republicans whined about repealing the bill before it passed but even then, National Republican Senatorial Committee head Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) noted that the repeal effort would likely go nowhere “because obviously we don’t have the White House, we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate.”
As TPM noted, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “which spent millions trying to defeat the legislation, said this week they won’t spend a penny supporting repeal efforts.”
A number of state attorneys general are also filing lawsuits in a separate repeal effort. Yet, like their GOP colleagues in Congress, it appears their motivations may be political as well. As the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky noted, “At least 4 of the 13 AGs are running for higher office (either Governor or Senator) and the rest are up for re-election. Their suits are designed to rally political support, not lay down new legal doctrine.”
Today, President Obama called the GOP’s bluff. “This is the reform that some folks in Washington are still hollering about. And now that it’s passed, they’re already promising to repeal it,” Obama said. “They’re actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November. Well I say go for it.”