Climate

We Are Cecil The Lion, The Kochs Are The Dentist

CREDIT: AP

How are the Koch brothers like the most infamous dentist in the world?

Charles and David Koch are bored billionaires looking for trophies. And they are after very big game, the biggest ever, in fact, since destroying a livable climate would kill off a large fraction of the animal life on the planet. And billions of humans wouldn’t fare that well either.

The anti-science, pro-pollution Kochs spend tens of millions of dollars hiring very expensive hunting guides to help lure these species from their protected areas. These guides include the Tea Party and leading climate science deniers and conservative politicians.

Like many big-game trophy hunters, the Kochs count on secrecy, though they have a vastly better public relations machine. When questioned they explain, like all big-game trophy hunters, that they are only doing what they are doing as part of an effort to help us all.

Why do they put in their cross-hairs Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which objectively represents the bare minimum the United States can morally do as part of a global effort to cut carbon pollution and preserve a livable climate? Charles Koch explained in a Washington Post interview Tuesday, “This is going to disproportionately hurt the poor.”

Yes, even as the Kochs put health care for the poor and a minimum wage for the working poor in their cross-hairs, the Post is happy to let Charles Koch’s faux concern for his victims go unchallenged.

The fact is the Clean Power Plan will actually lower people’s energy bills, according to multiple independent studies, including a Georgia Tech study, one from energy research firm Synapse Energy Economics and several from consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

And, as the EPA has explained, “The Clean Power Plan will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.” The poor also disproportionately suffer from asthma.

What about climate change? More than any two people on the planet, the Kochs are funding climate science disinformation and politicians who oppose any action whatsoever. Again, the Post allows the hunter to pretend to be concerned about his prey:

… they say it’s going to be catastrophic. There is no evidence to that. They have these models that show it, but the models don’t work …

So do we want to create a catastrophe today in the economy because of some speculation based on models that don’t work? Those are my questions.

Actually the models do work. The website Skeptical Science reviews the literature (here) concluding, “Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean” and “have made predictions that have been subsequently confirmed by observations.”

A 2012 study, “Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011,” confirmed that climate change is happening as fast — and in some cases faster — than climate models had projected. “The rate of sea-level rise in the past decades is greater than projected by the latest assessments of the IPCC, while global temperature increases in good agreement with its best estimates.” In particular, the oceans are rising 60 percent faster than the IPCC’s latest best estimates. The lead author said, “The new findings highlight that the IPCC is far from being alarmist and in fact in some cases rather underestimates possible risks.”

A June study finds that the oceans, where “90% of the earth’s energy imbalance is stored,” is warming faster than the latest IPCC’s models predicted. And a brand new study finds that “Climate models are even more accurate than you thought,” as climate expert Prof. John Abraham explained in the Guardian last week.

But Charles Koch says otherwise, repeating yet another long-debunked myth, “I mean I believe it’s been warming some. There’s a big debate on that, because it depends on whether you use satellite measurements, balloon, or you use ground ones that have been adjusted.”

Actually it doesn’t depend on which dataset you use. The U.K. Met Office compared all the different datasets (through the end of 2012) here and they yield quite similar results in terms of rate of warming per decade.

What shows Koch’s true ignorance of science is how he labels the surface temperature datasets as “ground ones that have been adjusted.” The satellite data has to be adjusted much more! And as a 2014 journal article by Prof. Abraham et al., “Review of the consensus and asymmetric quality of research on human-induced climate change,” explained, the complicated adjustments that have to be made to the satellite data have been done incorrectly for decades.

I know you will be shocked to learn that those incorrect adjustments — which were made by climate science deniers John Christy and Roy Spencer — just happen to all be in the same direction of underestimating actual warming:

Changes in UAH

Changes in UAH lower atmosphere temperature trend estimates, growing consistently warmer over time as cool biases and errors are removed. Created by John Abraham.

Needless to say, the Post doesn’t challenge any of this disinformation from Koch. Instead, the newspaper lets Koch get in this Orwellian statement:

But believe me, I spent my whole life studying science and the philosophy of science, and our whole company is committed to science. We have all sorts of scientific developments. But I want it to be real science, not politicized science.

Yes, Charles Koch, who with his brother has done more to smear real scientists, politicize climate science, and push disinformation, gets the last word claiming to be a champion of science.

That quote is eerily similar to one just made by Theo Bronkhorst, the professional hunter who led the “safari” that lured Cecil the Lion away from his preserve, which allowed U.S. dentist, Dr. Walter J. Palmer, to shoot the lion with a cross-bow (non-fatally), so that after two days of tracking, they could finally shoot, behead, and skin Cecil. Bronkhorst recently told SkyNews that the charges he faces from Zimbabwe were “frivolous,” adding,

“(Hunting) is an integral part of our country and it’s got to continue. If we do not use wildlife sustainably, there will be no wildlife.”

War is Peace!

While humanity is no Cecil the Lion, Homo sapiens is a photogenic and popular species, at least among homo sapiens. There should be mass outrage against the Kochs, but, of course, the dentist and his safari buddies don’t get the same kind of fawning media coverage or non-existent pushback that the Kochs do.

Anthropologist Richard Leakey wrote a book in 1995, “The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind.” Because of the vital dependence we have on the “ecosystem services” provided by the rest of nature, Leakey warned, “unrestrained, Homo sapiens might not only be the agent of the sixth extinction, but also risks being one of its victims.”

So the Kochs have the biggest game of all in their sights. It’s time for everyone to speak out.