Worse Than Watergate: Growing Scandal Brings Nation To The Brink Of Ruin

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein points us to the ever-growing scandal that will echo through the ages:

When future generations look back on the scandals of our age, it’ll be the unchecked rise in global temperatures, not the Benghazi talking points, that infuriate them.

Yes, unchecked warming is likely to prove the greatest scandal in U.S. history.

Certainly it’s the one that will ruin the lives of the most people, far more than Watergate did if our government doesn’t act to expose what’s going on and work to put an end to it — before it puts an end to our stable climate:

Scandalous: Projected warming this century (in red, via recent literature) if humanity allows current carbon pollution trends to continue compared to the temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013).

I know it’s not one of the scandals the major media are now obsessed with 24/7, but that is business as usual for the MSM, as Klein notes:

Things go wrong in government. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Sometimes it’s rank incompetence. Sometimes it’s criminal wrongdoing. Most of the time you never hear about it. Or, if you do hear about it, the media eventually gets bored talking about it (see warming, global).

It was Watergate and the fame it brought Woodward and Bernstein that inspired so many journalists to enter the field. But now that post-modern cynicism reigns supreme –which is to say, much of the media acts as if their really is no objective truth or over-arching public interest — fame alone seems to drives the media.

And so this scandal goes largely unreported (see “Silence Of The Lambs 3: Media Coverage Of Climate Mixed In 2012, But Still Down Sharply From 2009“) or misreported (see “False Balance Lives“).

Fortunately for the media, having largely missed the chance to report the scandal when it might have had some positive impact on the outcome, they’ll have plenty of time to become famous reporting on its consequences (see Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe).

86 Responses to Worse Than Watergate: Growing Scandal Brings Nation To The Brink Of Ruin

  1. Jack Burton says:

    Fossil Fuel Industry has spent money lavishly to buy politicians and to buy dubious deniers with slight scientific credentials connected to climate science. The power of their advertizing dollars have also proven of great influence in silencing the media.
    Case in point. In the 1980-90’s Scientific American was at the forefront of publishing articles on emerging climate science. Seemed every month they published articles on new science in this field. Then all of a sudden, they stopped, and what they did publish became uncertain and guarded. Downplaying the dangers and questioning the certainties.
    I noticed at the time, the giant full page adds by coal, oil and gas were appearing in the advertizing pages. The more of these, the less the climate change coverage. It was SO obvious a child could see the influence buying. After 2 decades of reading it, I cancelled my subscription!

  2. BillD says:

    In a decade or two, or when my pre-school grandchildren are adults, the fact that so many listened to bizarre anti-science conspiracy theories while ignoring 98% of scientists will not be a credible excuse for our lack of action on climate change. I really don’t understand about journalists. A few of them must have a basic understanding about science. Is the lack of coverage of the climate science being published on an almost daily basis really due to the fear of editors and publishers of losing advertizing?

  3. catman306 says:

    Full hour of climate on “This American Life”.
    (radio program which I heard yesterday)

    After years of being stuck, the national conversation on climate change finally started to shift — just a little — last year, the hottest year on record in the US, with Hurricane Sandy, drought devastating Midwest farms, and California and Colorado on fire. Lots of people were wondering if global warming had finally arrived, here at home. This American Life

    Available as MP3 after 7pm Central Sunday

  4. Paul Klinkman says:

    A scandal isn’t much without victims, as in —

    “See that tornado scar from left to right across Joplin, MO on Google Maps? My house was right here on this street.”

    “The ground dried right up and our farm was sold off from under us.”

    “The country where my grandfather was buried is gone now. I want a country.”

  5. cervantes says:

    A few days ago, the local weather forecaster on CBS in Hartford (WFSB), Bruce DePrest, saying he was responding to viewer inquiries, did a feature on climate change on the 11:00 broadcast. His star informant was a University of Hartford professor who claims global warming is a fraud, and that the planet has been cooling for the past 15 years. The severe weather we’ve been experiencing here the past few years is just coincidence.

    There seems to be no effective way to provide feedback to this clown or his employers.

  6. fj says:

    This is by far worse than anything else humanity has done to itself.

    The state of denial and inaction is a delusional house of cards which The President has the power to bring down at any moment.

  7. Jack Burton says:

    It is fear for their careers that drive journalists to bury the climate story. No journalist ever went broke pandering to the elite 1%’s interests. This is a competitive economy, everyone must earn a living. Journalists can either make a career and money or they can get on the right side of the story and have the Powers That Be destroy their careers. And do not think they can’t do it. A few phone calls from the elites to an editor or advertizing manager and said journalist is on the “to let go list”.
    Corporations have discovered the power of their wealth can BUY the coverage they want. And it works. Anyone who relies on American mainstream media for information and news is going to be get a string of pathetic propaganda. This pertains to climate, to warmongering, to wall-street and baker corruption, to environmental destruction and poisonings, it holds true for most every bit of information MSM puts out. It is all scripted and journalists dare not go off script or their careers are over! That is pretty much how it is.

  8. caerbannog says:

    The pending Koch Bros acquisition of the LA Times may already be having an impact on LATimes’ global-warming coverage:

    Check out these two links:

    (From 1/27/2013),0,7372823.story

    (From 1/28/2013),0,7372823.story

    Joe, this might be worth following up on.

  9. For whatever is said about reasons, the fact is that journalists continue to get the story wrong, even when they think that they are getting it right. I refer in particular to this item from Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s Global Public Square (GPS) this AM. He argues that fracking in China can be a “climate game changer” since it replaces coal with natural gas.

    He really believes that natural gas story and opines that ” environmentalists have to understand that, whatever the fantasies, natural gas is in reality producing a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions.” I fact he cites EIA data to support that statement.

    Is this the best we can do? Maybe his GPS needs a new calibration.

  10. Superman1 says:

    The title makes it appear that it is a national scandal only; it is an international scandal. Maybe some nations are slightly better than others, but on the scale of what is required, it is a collective global scandal.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    Major international oil companies are buying off governments, according to the world’s most prominent climate scientist, Prof James Hansen. During a visit to London, he accused the Canadian government of acting as its tar sands’ salesman and “holding a club” over the UK and European nations to accept its “dirty” oil.

  12. fj says:

    The certainty is complete and 100 percent that we are in a state of emergency of the most extreme kind.

    The President — front and center — flanked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress, CEOs of the world’s great companies, heads of state, most renowned scientists . . . must announce this most dire threat in the strongest most certain terms.

    And, must lay out the most ambitious plan — far beyond anything ever before conceived possible — to rapidly transition from our most dangerous fossil fuel economy and civilization — to battle accelerating climate change at wartime speed, restore our planetary home, and secure our future.

  13. PeterM says:

    De Prest has no ethics or morals- I live in the Hartford area.

  14. It’s the construct of the corporation itself that’s the problem. A corporation, by law and regulation, is explicitly designed for one purpose: to make money. Every other behavior it exhibits is subjugated to this prime directive.

    If a corporations fails to try to make money, it is in breach of its fiduciary responsibility and subject to lawsuit.

    So the people who work in corporations are hamstrung. They have to try to enrich the shareholders or, ultimately, get fired.

    Sometimes the corporate agenda aligns with the social agenda. It’s good business to have a diverse workforce. Similarly, corporate philanthropy is good business, to a point. But reducing your output of coal or oil when you’re a coal or oil company? That is simply shareholder betrayal.

    Corporations have gotten so big and, importantly, international, that they are states unto themselves. While they’re sometimes forced to answer to the rule of law, they work very hard to influence those laws and their enforcement, or circumvent them by relocating to more lax jurisdictions, or by creating favorable laws. They can often resist legal consequences by hiring lawyers and tax experts and by “supporting” friendly candidates.

    We crossed a tipping point some time ago. The beneficence corporations bestow, namely on-demand electricity, mobility, and entertainment–in short, our way of life–has co-opted us all. No one wants to give up cheap lights, cheap food, cheap gas, or free tv. So a positive feedback loop has been set: they use the media to persuade us that everything is good just the way it is, and to fear any doubt about (let alone challenges to) the status quo; the only thing that could be better is if things were more the way they are. So they sell more, and we buy more. The more we buy, the more money they have to leverage our own desires against us.

    The Citizens United decision is the capstone in the corporations’ quest to drive the system that created them. Corporations were devised originally by the government for the public good; now they control the government for their own good. They are literally able to buy elections. They can say almost anything they want, as often as they want, in whatever forum they want, and crowd out other, discomfiting messages.

    Corporations have become the obvious vehicle for personal power. Who doesn’t want to sit at the levers of one of these great machines and reap the rewards? People devote themselves to these entities; the venal and corrupt find them extremely convenient to amass personal wealth. Another feedback loop. These people are often the least socially conscious and the most financially driven.

    Unless we can cut corporations down to size, nothing can change as fast and as much as it must to avoid the unfolding climate catastrophe. Reversing corporate power is a revolutionary notion, and revolutions are scary, and the corporations will reinforce that at every opportunity.

    Every being wants to live and grow; corporations are no different, except they don’t care about anything else but themselves.

  15. Jeff Huggins says:

    Not a Day Should Pass …

    So then, not a day should pass when the movement and everyone concerned about climate change (, the major environmental organizations, ClimateProgress and ThinkProgress, and others) don’t pepper Hilary Clinton — and any other Democratic and Republican politicians who are likely to seek the presidency next time around — with clear, concrete, forceful, and insistent questions about their views on climate change and what they would and will do to address it.

    For example, at every event at which Hilary participates, and every interview she gives, people should be forcefully asking her what she would do about Keystone XL if she were President Obama, and what else she thinks he should be doing now, AND what she proposes to do, if she runs for president and is elected. We should start asking such questions NOW, and we should start demanding clear answers NOW. The goal is to show that we (again,, the major environmental organizations, ClimateProgress and ThinkProgress, and etc.) are actually serious — this time — about insisting on action from our politicians and would-be leaders; and to plan (and act) ahead so that we avoid the trap we always find ourselves in — that is, to feel the pressure to vote for the “lesser of two evils”.

    Hilary should NOT be the Democratic nominee for president — and nobody else should either — if she/they do not take a strong, clear, forceful, credible, and proactive stance regarding addressing climate change, without vague promises and mere rhetoric.

    For once let’s think and plan ahead, and achieve some degree of political preparedness. We have to start NOW, otherwise we’ll find ourselves in the same position/trap as we were in last time around.

    I’ve said it. Responses?


  16. Superman1 says:

    Suppose our existing President had an epiphany, and decided that, from here on out, he would make climate change his number one priority, and do whatever it took to ameliorate it. What, realistically, is the best that would be accomplished, and what impact would this have on the scale of what needs to be accomplished?

  17. Brian R Smith says:

    This would solve a lot of problems overnight by setting the stage for the real national conversation. Obama will not be giving that address, but as I and others have said, climate leaders, within a larger strategy to lead where government will not, could collaborate on addressing the nation and it would be a far more truthful presentation. (That there seems to be little interest within climate leadership to grab the stage in this way suggests the climate movement seriously underestimates it’s potential to lead and be effective in mainstream venues, which is hugely regrettable.)

    Further evidence that Obama either does not get the urgency or is committed to protecting the wealth of the fossil barons, or both, came with the recent National Strategy for the Arctic Region, deftly reviewed by Nafeez Ahmed in the Guardian:

    “Obama’s Arctic strategy sets off a climate time bomb

    US National Strategy for the Arctic Region prioritises corporate ‘economic opportunities’ at the expense of everyone else”

    “Despite repeated references to “preservation” and “conservation”, the strategy fails to outline any specific steps that would be explored to mitigate or prevent the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice due to intensifying global warming. Instead, the document from the outset aims to:

    “… position the United States to respond effectively to challenges and emerging opportunities arising from significant increases in Arctic activity due to the diminishment of sea ice and the emergence of a new Arctic environment.”

    In other words, far from being designed to prevent catastrophe, the success of the new strategy is premised precisely on the disappearance of the Arctic summer sea ice.”

    If elite cues are what floats the public’s boat, climate scientists and the multiverse of their highly capable supporters are going to have to establish themselves as the elite the public looks to.

  18. Gestur says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Jeff, and I deeply appreciate that you keep reminding us of this choice that we have.

  19. Camburn says:

    Sensitivity keeps dropping.

    Potential temp rise keeps falling.

  20. fj says:

    It must be common knowlege that true action to battle accelerating climate change is completely achievable and what it will be like.

    And, how the leadership is dangerously lacking.

  21. fj says:

    It must be common knowlege that the existence of climate deniers is an extremely sorry excuse for not acting with great urgency.

    These laggards always exist when bold decisive action must be taken immediately in times of great crisis.

  22. The definition of a corporation is societally defined (as are all property rights). We can decide how to do it, and there are better and worse ways to do it. One interesting recent development is the B Corporation, which can legally consider social goods in its decisions:

  23. Jack,

    I agree. I think that “for profit” news will inevitably fall into the trap of having to flatter the status quo interests to stay in business. Reporting on stories that implicate those interests in serious ways will always fall by the wayside in that situation.

    I’ve heard of people developing news organizations built on endowments, but I’ve never seen this happen in a big way. It could, though, with the right resources.

    Worth brainstorming about how to fix this problem…


  24. I propose sit-ins at all mainstream media, demanding climate coverage—–this is an emergency–let’s do it!

  25. Pennsylvania Bob says:

    Few of us will have the chance to question Hillary directly. But many of us will have the opportunity to ask questions of candidates for Congress, statewide offices and local governments. We must ask these questions of all candidates at every opportunity. We must.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The morality of capitalism. And those responsible almost certainly have children. That chills the blood.

  27. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thanks Change. Your point about the design of corporations is one I have made here before. It isn’t just emissions we have to eliminate. What we have in front of us is a broad scale redesign of our way of living, organizing and ‘economics’, ME

  28. Merrelyn Emery says:

    It seems that the US still believes it can emerge from the coming catastrophe in better shape than everybody else. If correct, your proposed strategy assumes even greater importance and urgency, ME

  29. BobbyL says:

    I think the media has become obsessed with balanced reporting and searching for the truth has become secondary. Balanced reporting makes sense in politics when it is one person’s opinion against another person’s opinion but it hasn’t made any sense for the last couple of decades when it came to global warming because there has been a near consensus among climate scientists that global warming is occurring and that it is mainly caused by humans. Unfortunately the damage has been done. The percentage of annual reductions in emissions now needed makes it virtually impossible that catastrophic climate can be avoided. And to make matters worse there is no plan to cut emissions and the leading emitter, China, doesn’t appear ready to reduce emissions at all any time soon, or even to level off emissions.

  30. Paul Klinkman says:

    “Must happen, not a day should pass” and actually doing anything at all are two different animals. Modern western civilization has a strong tendency to say all the right things in order to keep their jobs and their heads. Actually believing it and doing something about it after going home from work is another question. Many people only look out for themselves unless something’s in it for them.

    By the same token, a number of people deny climate change 101% on the job. They don’t have to believe their talking points whenever they’re not being monitored, which unfortunately is most all the time.

  31. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Of course people look out for themselves – that’s what you get when you force people into competition! If you want sanity you’ll have to design cooperation in, ME

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s just another illustration of some eternal truths. The human type we euphemistically label ‘the Right’ are not just disinterested in the truth, rationality, humanity or intellectual honesty. If these or any other virtues conflict with their greed, their status, their lust for more and their absolute ideological rigidity, they will attack them like a pack of rabid wolves. In Australia the hardcore denialists have been ‘incentivised’ in classic Pavlovian fashion, by the prospect of one of their own, Tony ‘Climate Change is Crap’ Abbott, becoming PM, and launching a jihad against ‘Green extremists’. The slavering and slobbering is producing deluges of spittle and foam-flecked outrage already.

  33. BobbyL says:

    As I recall a couple of years ago Scientific American ran Jacobson’s article on how the world could get entirely off fossil fuels. It seems a stretch to believe that a publication that ran that important article is influenced much by the fossil fuel industry. They may be running fewer articles on climate change because scientifically it is less exciting a field than it was in the 80s and 90s. I’ve noticed they also run far fewer articles on molecular biology probably for the same reason. I’ve also noticed a lot of articles recently on cosmology and particle physics, and neuroscience, probably because these are now the most exciting areas in science.

  34. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Hansen is, I believe, slightly off-target. Transnational fossil fuel mega-corporations are the very bedrock of neo-liberal capitalism and, hence, have always controlled Western sham ‘democracies’, completely. It is just more obvious now when their power is being brought to bear in a cause that will, almost certainly, cause the premature deaths of billions.

  35. Yes, there are many good people, but they’re constrained by the system. I’ve worked in several large corporations. They’re full of ethical, good people. But people’s job duties are narrow, and their accountability is to the bottom line. It is a big structural problem.

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Capitalist corporations do not ‘bestow’ electricity or anything else on us. Workers, technicians, scientists, the growth of human knowledge and successful social development do that. The corporations are simply incubi who sit atop the process of human labour and co-operation, and suck out a fraction of the life-blood, which they then hoard as capital. The process of host and parasite can go on successfully for generations, until, as today and for the last forty years, the parasite grows too greedy and demanding, trying to keep up with other, even greedier bloodsuckers, and the host begins to die. Like a cancer that constructs lovely new ‘infrastructure’ of vascular supply to feed its growth, but, inexorably, sucks its victim dry, until it dies of cachexia, hollowed out like a husk. That is humanity today, and we need a spontaneous remission, or we are history.

  37. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The one-trick donkey returns! Mr Narcolepsy himself, incontinent, incoherent, inchoate, a legend at Tea Party soirees.

  38. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    To say that the Western Rightwing MSM is interested in ‘balanced’ reporting is total bulldust. The MSM is vigorously biased, in the excrescences of the Murdoch sewer ludicrously so. Or do you really think Fox News ‘Fair and Balanced’? Believe me, Murdoch’s rags here are exactly alike. On any subject ideologically important to the Right, there is no ‘balance’, or ‘equivalence’, false or otherwise, whatsoever. Over imperial aggressions like Libya and Syria, over the wickedness of ‘enemies’ like Putin, the ChiComms or the ‘evil mullahs’ of Iran, there is total Groupthink, well-nigh 100% conformity of opinion and abuse, and vigorous suppression of alternative opinion and inconvenient facts. And that extends to climate destabilsation, as well. There is absolutely no ‘balance’. Phony ‘sceptics’ and straight out denialists still dominate, moderately in the ‘liberal’ MSM, and totally in the Murdoch type of propaganda rags.

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sanity is overrated. I’d go for decency and humanity, instead.

  40. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, the scale is now huge because it has been ignored for so long, although the reliable, practical solution has been known since 1971, ME

  41. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Those as well, ME

  42. Raul M. says:

    Imagine that another hurricane strength storm hits DC area, wouldn’t government still need to be working not evacuating? That elec. is still on and water is still on so that gov. is still able and on might be considered a reasonable goal. Solar elec. and wind power might help to ensure such.

  43. rollin says:

    Success in nature is to survive and do well enough to raise viable descendants. Most species provide valuable natural services.

    Success in modern civilization is to gather property, goods, money, stocks through the destruction of the biosphere that provides survival. Most humans wreck valuable natural services.

    The two are incongruent. Something has to give and the veneer of ethics and morals of civilization is fast disappearing, a big step toward chaos.

  44. Jeff Poole says:

    They have soirees?

    I doubt that. People who refuse to eat ‘french fries’ – preferring ‘freedom fries’ – would have a soiree…

    A shindig, possibly.
    With banjos, moonshine and inbred cousins.

  45. Ted Getzel says:

    Read this paper today and the supplemental supporting material in Nature Geoscience, a peer reviewed journal,
    It joins several recent papers by reputable climate scientists in peer reviewed journals showing that the range of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity will be much lower and more importantly the Transient Climate response will be 1.3C far below IPCC 4’s range of doubling results.

  46. rollin says:

    It is not self-interest that is the problem, all animals have that and act upon it. It is the corporation’s false and unnatural objectives that cause the destructive nature of it’s actions.

  47. Ted Getzel says:

    This means will will have more time to create alternatives to carbon intense energy!

  48. Ted Getzel says:

    Yes, that certainly seems to be the case. I read this article today and it was very impressive.

  49. BobbyL says:

    I agree on Murdoch. However, I think most MSM editors and reporters are trying to be objective. In there efforts to give both sides of the story they have given deniers too much attention as the issue was settled in the scientific literature years ago. That being said, the scientist deniers have some very sophisticated scientific arguments (although bogus), so that only a climate scientist can find the flaws. I think most MSM editors and reporters simply do not have the scientific backgrounds to adequately cover this issue.

  50. Brian R Smith says:

    Yes ME, I’M quite sure we are all being played. There is no concept of going Manhattan Project on climate in the White House, or really even an effort to support the science. Instead, more evidence that dodging the problem is part of an intentional strategy. I think the far-reaching effects on every aspect of our lives that commensurate climate action will have is simply too complex & scary. We’re talking about a majorly disruptive revolution that threatens the foundations of modern wealth & politics. Nobody has gotten their arms around a comprehensive approach. But the door is wide open for a climate coalition, hell-bent on taking charge of making sure the public knows the real risks and is aware of the lies they are being told.

    It’s been said, “Americans don’t do complexity.” Yeah, but they’re pretty happy to let experts to do it for them. The question is when are the experts going to take up the bullhorn and the high ground, no matter the embarrassment to the President? He deserves it; he has turned his back on the most serious of obligations. Take charge, the media will follow. Money isn’t the problem. Getting organized to win this fight is the problem.

  51. BobbyL says:

    It is noteworthy that the major networks hire physicians to report on medical research stories but do not hire climate scientists to report on climate stories as far as I know. For climate stories they seem to rely on meteorologists or regular reporters.

  52. Jeff Huggins says:

    Thanks Gestur. Alas, it will not do much good if only you and I feel this way and understand the need to pose such questions, starting now, to folks who are likely candidates in the future. We need the large environmental organizations and climate movement organizations (Sierra Club,, NRDC, etc. etc.), and climate blogs (e.g., Climate Progress), to discuss these issues NOW and to start posing these questions NOW loudly and relentlessly to these folks, starting NOW with Hilary. Will they do it? Will we even hear from them, discussing this very issue? We’ll see.

    Thanks again, Jeff

  53. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    The US attention to free speech might be one useful approach – for all there needs to be far more recognition of fair speech in my view (Laws against hate-speech only scratch the surface).

    There plainly needs to be a clear separation between advertizing income and editorial independence for commercial censorship of public information to be ended. That is, it needs to become a felony to purchase influence via advertizing contracts – perhaps on grounds of violating the journalists’civil rights. Of course much can be done covertly, but if it’s a felony then there are paper trais, statistical analyses and whistleblowers to deter at least the majors from risking getting their reputations trashed – besides drawing extra-keen attention to the stories they wanted suppressed.

    But in terms of getting from A to C, I’m not the one to identify B or the best means of getting past it, as I don’t live in the US.



  54. rollin says:

    This is a preliminary analysis with warnings about the validity of current temperature and heat data. The supplementary temperature rise looks like a stepped plateau decadal temperature rise graph that J Romm shot down a few weeks ago.
    If I had done my statistical analyses in this manner I would have been fired years ago.

  55. sailrick says:

    “Hilary should NOT be the Democratic nominee for president ”

    I nominate Sheldon Whitehouse

  56. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Brian – it is good to see the fact that we (progressives, environmentalists) are being played stated here dispassionately. Yet I’d still question the degree to which we’re being played.

    You may recall the exposee of the White House calling in all the major E.NGOs in March ’09 to instruct them that it was a bad idea to talk about climate – which nearly all accepted without demur ? Later that month Obama, gratuitously, reneged on the UNFCCC mandate by adopting Bush’s unilateral 2005 baseline. Then he gratuitously crashed the Copenhagen opportunity with a massive public snub to China’s president and a deal plainly calculated to be rejected. Then he gratuitously sabotaged the senate climate bill, as Lizza’s forensic account detailed, and thereby left even the derisory Cancun ‘pledge’ in doubt.

    In terms of home affairs it was never the scientists’ job to defend the science from political attack – that is rightly other politicians’ task. But all but a few Dems take their cue from POTUS, who has left climate scientists swinging in the wind, and whose rare public mentions of the word climate are almost always coupled with talking down the urgency and talking up the difficulty, as in:
    “We know young people get passionate about things like climate . . .”

    The implication is that while steadily undermining the prospect of any useful treaty being agreed, Obama is also doing whatever is needed to delay the rise of public pressure for action as long as possible, thereby extending the period in which international action can be delayed.

    No doubt you recall my finding the idea of his lack of info on the climate threat simply implausible – while the idea of the US fossil lobby (that generates just 8% of US GDP) somehow dictating a foreign policy that endangers all other corporations’ profits seems simply dysfunctional. Those other corporations have to have a shared critical commercial interest in the policy of inaction that outweighs the commercial risks for it to have been tolerated since its launch by Cheney in 2000.

    And you’ll no doubt recall my contention that with the maintenance of US global economic dominance being the paramount bipartisan policy priority, the delay of climate action leaves China facing the rising threat of crop failure, shortages and civil unrest leading to regime change. It might be claimed that the policy’s threat to Chinese agriculture is merely accidental, but if so then the US is probably the first empire in history to be destabilizing its rival’s food supply by accident.

    I run through all this as background to a suggestion on the strategy of the vanguard entity you propose. If that entity focusses its efforts against the usual deniers – who have been an ideal (I would say custom made) veil for Obama’s inaction and gratuitous obstructions of action – then it would be a change only of the volume of debate, which is easily matched.

    What is needed is a fresh focus that actually attacks the core of the policy of inaction, and it is embodied by POTUS. That is, not a greater volume but another tune and a different message. Obama’s conduct has been grossly negligent in putting US global dominance before the safety of the US people and their homes and livelihoods – let alone grossly immoral in knowingly exacerbating the coming serial famines worldwide. And the buck stops with him.

    Exposing the extent to which the American people have been played and put at risk in order to secure the dominance on which the corporations’ profits rely is a big enough change to generate potentially massive outrage. It also wrongfoots the right, who become an irrelevance rather than a debating partner, while rather a lot of GOP voters (55% ?) find that at last a bipartisan climate campaign is under way.

    I suggest that a vanguard entity is an excellent idea, but it surely has to go for the jugular if it is to generate the necessary change, and if it is to avoid being co-opted into becoming just another act in the circus of debate over whether or not AGW is maybe a problem.



  57. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, most of the best examples of social change have been based on organization not $ and it occurs to me that some of our most recent examples, getting on top of AIDS and achieving marriage equality have been initiated by our homosexual friends. I bet they care about climate as well – bring them in, ME

  58. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Not Bonobos for example. Most animals use a mixed strategy, e.g. wolves and dogs cooperate in hunting and compete in reproduction. Humans have a choice and recently we have made the wrong one, ME

  59. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Nationalist piffle.
    With the largest economy on the planet the US is not even certain to meet its derisory ‘pledge’ of just 3.67% off the legal 1990 baseline by 2020,
    while the EU is debating whether to raise its 2020 commitment from 20% to 30%. And it is US prevarication that has industries wouldwide fearing for their competitiveness if goals are set higher.

  60. The printed press and TV are largely owned by people who have close links with big industry and the fossil fuel industry and so have a vested interest in keeping the current energy policies going. The biggest hope is that the internet remains free and individuals can still communicate.

  61. Raul M. says:

    Huh, did someone suggest a true lead in for Al Gore to run for President of the US?

  62. Raul M. says:

    That one could do whatever it took is delusionary to say the best for such a suggestion. One needs cooperation to even show that there is group think. Also, the cooperation needs to be throughout our actions for even reduction of harm to the environment to become evident on a global scale. So as many today prove, becoming delusional about climate is much easier than changing the climate for the better.

  63. ToddInNorway says:

    Ocean acidification is happening as well, and quite dramaticly at that. This alone should be enough to motivate reducing CO2 emissions.

  64. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Oh dear, Bobby-you’re just trying too hard, old boy. Your role here is becoming just a wee bit too blatant. Your employers might decide that you are ‘over-egging the pudding’ and find somebody new-probably cheaper, too.

  65. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    When the bubbles blown by ‘quantitative easing’ blow, the USA will really hit the skids, which will make its ruling elite even more dangerous.

  66. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes sir. Ocean acidification, topsoil loss, biodiversity crash in the sixth mass extinction event, derangement of the hydrological and nitrogen cycles, the spread of vast anoxic ‘dead-zones’ in the seas, oceanic thermal stratification, the depletion of fossil and artesian water, the loss of montane glacier water, pollution by thousands of nasty, novel compounds, and nuclear waste, genetically engineered organisms, microwave radiation etc- all worsening, all synergistic, all denied by the Right. If the lower sensitivity proves correct, and I heard this report immediately rebutted this afternoon, that is good news. But, as we must know, a lower climate sensitivity will simply be used by the Rightwing denialist industry as an excuse to do nothing and burn more and more fossil fuels.

  67. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Isn’t that strange, when they are striving for ‘balance’.

  68. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    How long do you think that is going to last, Bob? If we ever threatened their wealth and power through the net, it would be shut down the next day, and recalcitrants ‘Guantanamoed’ or ‘Hellfired’.

  69. BillD says:

    I have to get to work before reading this article–not sure why even the abstract is behind the pay wall. Nevertheless, it seems like a red herring to try to estimate climate sensitivity using a method so sensitive to short term temperature change. When we have an el nino year, does that mean the climate sensitivity will suddenly be much higher?

  70. fj says:

    Concentrated power relies on systems and has limits.

    Not so much with distributed power.

  71. fj says:

    Going viral is all about distributed power; also dependent on systems.

    And, over-estimates of power can easily lead to losses . . .

    . . . and the devastation of the inner demon of domination.

    We must learn to relax into the great easy solutions bringing us salvation

  72. fj says:

    . . . in exquisite intimacy with the better angels of our nature.

  73. Raul M. says:

    Doesn’t the corporation exhibit more the mental qualities of a robot than a person?

  74. Mike Roddy says:

    The media doesn’t really care about the readers, since organs like Scientific American have a lot of loyal readers, and there’s plenty of inertia. It’s advertising bucks they want, and the result has been corruption and control.

    It’s time to boycott advertisers, and for people like Joe and McKibben to lead here.

    As for “worse than Watergate”, yeah, about a million times worse. The Post and others have been handed a great storyline too, complete with chicanery, maniacal greed, and Cheneyesque villains. Media won’t cover it, because people like Cheney and Tillerson are their friends.

  75. BobbyL says:

    Sorry, I forget that everything bad is attributable to the evil capitalists. What was I thinking to offer an alternative explanation. There can’t be any of course. You’ve made that very clear with your airtight arguments.

  76. Daniel Coffey says:

    The major premise that there will be a history written by those who recriminate against the wealthy who have brought the nation and world to calamity is a fantasy. In part this fantasy overlooks the role of environmental groups like Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and the like who stopped or seriously delayed renewable energy projects.

    The list of offenders that history – if there is any at all – will record will include too those like Sierra Club which took $25 million from the natural gas fracking industry.

    The simple reality is that retrospective gnashing of teeth assumes a knowledge of what was lost, and that will be trained out of anyone might learn anew and eliminated as those who know cease to exist.

    History is written by the victors, and the oil, gas and natural gas industry will be the victors in the PR fight. Just look at the moves made recently by the Koch empire.

    NO, there will be little remembrance of what beautiful, easy living was when the world was cooler. It will be all about endangered species and whatnot and raising the price on carbon to more greatly enrich those who control such assets.

  77. fj says:

    With rapidly accelerating climate and time greatly compressed, the leadership vacuum must be filled.

    The next general election is receding to a distant future and way too late.

  78. kermit says:

    “In part this fantasy overlooks the role of environmental groups like Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and the like who stopped or seriously delayed renewable energy projects.”

    Could you provide a link to one or two examples of this?

  79. kermit says:

    “History is written by the victors, and the oil, gas and natural gas industry will be the victors in the PR fight. Just look at the moves made recently by the Koch empire.”

    If you are right here, and I fear you may be, there will be no history written at all. If we burn every speck of coal and every drop of oil, there will be no descendants of the ultrarich to gloat or despair. They will die last, however, so I suppose that means they win.

  80. David Smith says:

    I am a little leery of what any politician might promise at this point. I think only significant actions should be considered.

  81. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Quite so Mulga which is why I was surprised to hear they were considering it. Will have to turn mind to devious mode, ME

  82. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Look beneath the PR battle in the US and you will see other forces gathering. It’s not over yet, ME

  83. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The Moore tornado should push that along a little further, ME

  84. Brian R Smith says:

    Lewis – if you are still listening in, thanks for all your points. I have a number of questions about your theory of deliberate inaction on climate which could make sense on the one hand but on the other is difficult to believe. You went into further detail in another post but I can’t seem to find it ( you wouldn’t have it written up in expanded form by any chance? If such a policy of inaction were proven the scandal would be unparalleled and a lot of blood would flow, as what you’re describing is a conspiracy with life threatening consequences kept secret from the public. There would have to be solid documentation.

    My questions will have to wait a day or two until I have more time for my slow thinking/writing. Should we do this off CP?

  85. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes, I’m afraid I was rather blunt and undiplomatic, but your argument that climate science is ‘less exciting..’ than in the 80s and 90s just seems so ludicrous as an explanation for why the MSM have suddenly dropped the subject that I plainly over-reacted. I have no idea why you imagine that the MSM is replete with ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ who operate absolutely independently, free from any interference by the Big Businessmen who own them, and who are so legendarily tolerant of other opinions and threats, real or perceived, to their money and power, but even though I think such a worldview ludicrous (to be polite) I really ought to respect your opinion, shouldn’t I?

  86. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    A hootenanny.