The terrific climate cartoonist Marc Roberts has a humorous take on this post: Scientists advising fossil fuel funded anti-climate group concluded in 1995: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of GHGs such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied.” Click to enlarge.
Washington Post and Newsweek Columnist Samuelson OC Register: ‘There’s No Evidence Man-Made CO2 Is Harmful’
UPDATE: Because it seemed unusual that Samuelson had written a column only for the Orange County Register, the Wonk Room contacted the OC Register editors to confirm Samuelson was indeed the author of the denier column critiqued below. The VP of Commentary, Cathy Taylor, informed the Wonk Room that the Samuelson byline that appeared on the website was an error. This editorial was written by the OC Register board, not by the Samuelson. The Wonk Room regrets propagating the error.
Washington Post and Newsweek columnist Robert J. Samuelson has aligned himself with George Will, Michele Bachmann, and Glenn Beck, utterly denying the reality of man-made global warming. In a column published by the Orange County Register, Samuelson attacked the California Air Resources Board’s (ARB) new low-carbon fuel standard as a “fanciful ‘solution’ to so-called global warming“:
This is government by administrative decree from unelected ARB board members, administrators and staff, who concocted a fanciful “solution” to so-called global warming, an increasingly disputed phenomenon that hasn’t occurred for at least a decade. Nevertheless, by a 9-1 vote the ARB deemed it urgent enough to demand a 10-percent reduction in carbon dioxide that fuel producers release into the atmosphere on the theory -– also unproven -– that CO2 increases temperatures. Reality inconveniently contradicts the theory. CO2 has risen over the past decade, but global temperatures have declined, precisely the opposite of what the theory contends.
Samuelson even goes farther, mirroring Michele Bachmann’s bizarre rant that carbon dioxide is “harmless”:
There’s no evidence man-made CO2, even if it increases temperatures, is harmful. Indeed, some argue that warmer climes would benefit mankind by increasing crop productivity and reducing deaths from severe cold. None of that matters when government is intent on forcing change.
Samuelson has decided to go from being “hackish” to loony — evidently believing that there is a global conspiracy involving the Bush White House, the Obama administration, the National Academy of Sciences, the governments of nearly every nation on Earth, and thousands upon thousands of scientists and economists. As the director general of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization wrote in the editorial pages of the Washington Post, “The observed increase in global surface temperatures is a manifestation of global warming. Warming has accelerated particularly in the past 20 years.”
So this now means the Washington Post has three major columnists who are all global warming deniers — a record that must be the envy of the Washington Times and Wall Street Journal.
One wonders when their paymasters, Washington Post opinion page editor Fred Hiatt and Writers Group editor Alan Shearer, are going to get embarrassed.
House Energy panel delays markup of energy and climate bill — in part to accommodate Republicans begging for more hearings
In general, I have argued for going a tad slower on the whole process of writing and voting on comprehensive energy and climate legislation. Now E&E Daily (subs. req’d) reports:
Democratic leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have postponed plans for a markup this week of a sweeping energy and global warming bill to allow more time for interparty negotiations and also conceding to a GOP demand for more hearings.
Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in a letter today to panel members that they would wait at least until next week before beginning the subcommittee markup on their proposed legislation.
In fact, the Dems didn’t have much choice, thanks to some little known parliamentary rules invoked by conservatives:
Media stunner: When asked “Does it matter, from a journalistic point of view, whether [Freeman Dyson is] right or whether hes wrong?” his NYT profiler replies “Oh, absolutely not.”
Nicholas Dawidoff, the author of the NYT magazine cover profile on Freeman Dyson, was interviewed by Bob Garfield of NPR’s “On the media” (transcript, audio here). As was I, based on my post, “NYT magazine profiles climate crackpot, Freeman Dyson.”
Dawidoff made one of the most amazing statements ever uttered by a professional journalist writing on the very serious subject of whether human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases will have catastrophic impacts and what we should do about it:
NICHOLAS DAWIDOFF: When people feel strongly about something and when it’s a matter of great urgency and when it’s a matter, for many people, of a looming apocalypse, of course, it should be taken very seriously.
But just because many people are scared and worried and feel that this is a time of impending doom, if we don’t do something, doesn’t mean that you don’t listen to somebody who disagrees with them….
… you definitely always want to hear from people who are going to push back against consensus. It only makes the people who are the majority or the people who are going forward and making public policy sharpen their arguments.
… the fact is, is that, you know, I think it’s healthy in a democracy, when you’re going forward with monumental legislation, that you listen to everybody’s point of view.
BOB GARFIELD: Does it matter, from a journalistic point of view, whether he’s right or whether he’s wrong?
NICHOLAS DAWIDOFF: Oh, absolutely not. I don’t care what he thinks. I have no investment in what he thinks. I’m just interested in how he thinks and the depth and the singularity of his point of view.
That’s all you need to know about Dawidoff. This is all just entertainment, personality, and drama for him — not fact-based journalism.
He doesn’t care whether Dyson is dead wrong, whether Dyson is in fact completely misinforming the public, the media, and policymakers. He doesn’t care that if people actually listen to Dyson — and they clearly do when he gets this kind of high-profile focus — that we would be dooming many billions of people to completely preventable suffering. He just wants a sexy subject for a profile.
Certainly the weakest part of Waxman-Markey is the 2 billion rip-offsets that polluters are allowed to purchase each year in place of reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions. After all, total U.S. GHGs in 2005 were about 7.2 billion tons (see “Bush policies cause U.S. GHG emissions to soar 1.4% in 2007“).
Rip-offsets deserve to be called rip-offsets because it is far from clear how many of them represent real reductions (see discussion at “NRDC and EDF endorse the weak, coal-friendly, rip-offset-heavy USCAP climate plan” and below).
The good news in Waxman-Markey is you apparently have to purchase 5 tons of offsets to substitute for 4 tons of actual emissions reductions and you can’t get international offsets from a country that has not agreed to reduce its emissions “” which together are vast improvements over the USCAP proposal. Also, Waxman-Markey would in theory let EPA set tough standards for domestic rip-offsets. How tough those would be in practice is anyone guess.
Certainly 2 billion is way too many, but rather than trying to rewrite the bill to sharply reduce those in the early years, which seems unlikely to be a successful negotiating strategy, I’d just suggest that progressives in Congress (and elsewhere), push to sunset the offsets.
After all, two main purposes of the rip-offsets are to:
- Give polluters some alternatives to reducing their own pollution while they are actively developing and deploying alternatives, and
- Give credits for difficult-to-quantify (but presumably real and cheaper) GHG emissions reductions while the government is actively developing protocols to bring the offsets under the cap.
Now if you don’t motivate polluters to change, you end up with the inaction of the coal industry — as typified by Jim Rogers in his interview on 60 Minutes this Sunday.
A decade ago the coal industry said “don’t regulate us, give us a decade to develop sequestration and other clean technologies.” Well, they never seriously invested in sequestration and they refuse to adopt the many clean technologies that have been developed, as Rogers made crystal clear [see "Like Detroit, the coal industry chooses (assisted) suicide" and Bush wanted to destroy the future of coal as much as the industry did, Futuregen was "nothing more than a public relations ploy," House study finds].
Now I see two basic sunset strategies.
538.com’s Nate Silver noted that a recent survey from the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication “reveals part of the problem that advocates of more aggressive measures to curb climate change may be encountering as they seek to push forward initiatives like cap-and-trade”:
The survey, conducted by George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, reveals that Americans are concerned about global warming in the abstract — but perhaps only in the abstract. Just 32 percent of Americans think global warming will harm them “a great deal” or a “a moderate amount” personally. The further we get out from the individual, however, the more impactful people think climate change will tend to be: more impactful on their families than themselves; more impactful on their communities than their families; more impactful on their country than their communities; more impactful than other counties than on the United States; more impactful on future generations than the present one, and finally, more impactful on plants and animals than on humans.
Although Silver’s observation that “advocates of cap-and-trade may need to find ways to personalize the terms of the debate” is quite accurate, his post is accompanied by a misleading infographic. The poll results are presented as an “inverted pyramid,” with global warming impacts affecting “You” just a tiny nub.
|538.com’s “Environmental Inverted Pyramid” does not accurately portray the results of the George Mason survey.|
|538.com’s “Environmental Inverted Pyramid“||Climate Change In The American Mind‘s results about perceptions of harm.|
When the data is proportionately displayed, the inverted pyramid still exists, but does not as impressively support Silver’s argument that Americans are concerned “only in the abstract”:
Of course, the essential matter is that the American public’s perception of the threat of climate change, after decades of deliberate disinformation from corporate polluters, is disconnected from reality. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency related in its greenhouse gas endangerment finding this month, the harm from global warming is real and already with us, here in the United States:
The Administrator concludes that, in the circumstances presented here, the case for finding that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endanger public health and welfare is compelling and, indeed, overwhelming. The scientific evidence described here is the product of decades of research by thousands of scientists from the U.S. and around the world. The evidence points ineluctably to the conclusion that climate change is upon us as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, that climatic changes are already occurring that harm our health and welfare, and that the effects will only worsen over time in the absence of regulatory action. The effects of climate change on public health include sickness and death. It is hard to imagine any understanding of public health that would exclude these consequences. The effects on welfare embrace every category of effect described in the Clean Air Act’s definition of “welfare” and, more broadly, virtually every facet of the living world around us.
In the United States, some 3,100 megawatts of solar thermal power are planned by 2012, and capacity worldwide is expected to reach 6,400 megawatts within 3 years “” roughly 14 times the current amount.
David Biello describes the remarkable benefits of concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) n this piece for Yale’s e360, illustrating exactly why CSP is a core climate solution. Regular readers of this blog know that CSP has the most potential of any zero-carbon electricity in large part because thermal storage is cheap and efficient (see World’s largest solar power plants with thermal storage to be built in Arizona). Biello documents existing and proposed CSP plants in Spain””where a trio of projects will provide 150,000 homes with nearly round-the-clock power””and in the American Southwest. The article supplies some very good statistics beyond the sentence above:
Roughly 612,000 megawatt-hours of electricity from the sun were produced in 2007, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and solar thermal collectors sufficient to cover more than 15 million square feet were shipped and ready for installation that year “” more than double the amount in 1998.
And he quotes solar industry execs. stating some clear truths: “We’re not going to solve the [climate change] problem without putting large-scale concentrated solar facilities in the American Southwest.”
Bill Becker offers “some news stories I wish I had seen on Earth Day.” Feel free to add you own!
NEW YORK – The United Nations announced today that the international climate negotiation originally scheduled for December in Copenhagen now will be held by conference call.
“Every part per million counts,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in the announcement. “If tens of thousands of negotiators fly to Copenhagen”¦. Well, you do the math.”