With sardonic humor, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) mocked today’s markup of legislation to overturn the scientific finding that fossil fuel pollution is causing dangerous climate change. Markey, who championed climate legislation that passed the House of Representatives in 2009, protested the energy subcommittee’s consideration of the Upton-Inhofe bill to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules on climate pollution, including its endangerment finding:
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to a bill that overturns the scientific finding that pollution is harming our people and our planet.
However, I won’t physically rise, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating about the room.
I won’t call for the sunlight of additional hearings, for fear that Republicans might excommunicate the finding that the Earth revolves around the sun.
Instead, I’ll embody Newton’s third law of motion and be an equal and opposing force against this attack on science and on laws that will reduce America’s importation of foreign oil.
This bill will live in the House while simultaneously being dead in the Senate. It will be a legislative Schrodinger’s cat killed by the quantum mechanics of the legislative process!
Arbitrary rejection of scientific fact will not cause us to rise from our seats today. But with this bill, pollution levels will rise. Oil imports will rise. Temperatures will rise.
And with that, I yield back the balance of my time. That is, unless a rejection of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is somewhere in the chair’s amendment pile.
After Markey’s remarks, the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), approved the science prevention bill by a voice vote.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Mar 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm
This Skeptical Science repostdebunks John Christy’s recent House testimony.
On March 8, 2011, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing entitled entitled “Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations.” As the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun regulating greenhouse gas emissions from large sources, Congressional Republicans are seeking justification to revoke their authority to do so through the Energy Tax Prevention Act (H.R. 910). This hearing was held to allow scientists from both “sides” to present their case as to whether our understanding of climate science justifies the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations.
One of the top witnesses called by the Republicans was Dr. John Christy. His full written testimony can be viewed here. Most of the quotes below come directly from that written testimony. As we’ll see below, Christy’s case for continuing on our current path and revoking the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulation authority is primarily based on a repetition of a number of long-debunked myths.
A senior US senator on Thursday ruled out violent unrest across the Middle East as a main cause of surging oil and gasoline prices, placing the blame instead on plans to curb greenhouse gases.
“A lot of people are saying that the gas prices that are going up are a result, partially, of what’s happening over there. That isn’t the real problem,” said Republican Senator James Inhofe….
Even for an anti-science irrationalist like Inhofe, this is a quantum leap into an alternate universe. But I’m not certain what is more bizarre — his denial of reality-based explanations or what he has chosen to replace reality with:
The first in a three-part interview with economist Nicholas Stern on climate policy.
Nicholas Stern, one of the world’s most prominent climate economists, believes that failure to address global warming could eventually lead to World War Three. In 2006, he produced the Stern Review on behalf of the British government, clearly laying out the potentially catastrophic economic consequences of failing to address climate pollution. Since then, the scientific understanding of the damages from global warming has grown, and Stern has warned that his report “underestimated the risks.”
In an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress, Stern described his current understanding of the stark consequences of inaction, which defy the scope of standard economic language. If no global policy to cut carbon pollution is enacted, there is about a 50 percent risk that global temperatures would rise above levels not seen for 30 million years by 2100, an extraordinary rate of change. The “potentially immense” consequences of this radical transformation of our planet, Stern explained, include the “serious risk of global war”:
The temperature increases, the temperature changes of this kind, transform where people can be. In the upwards direction, you’re going to get some areas that become deserts, probably most of southern Europe. Others that are inundated: Florida, Bangladesh, and so on.
The point is that climate change will change the lives and livelihoods and where you can live all across the globe. We live where we live because of patterns of climate, where the rivers are, where the seashores are. That’s what determines where we are.
What we’re talking about here — this the cost of inaction, the cost of not doing much — is a transformation of where we can be. Over a hundred, 120 years, we can’t be that precise, a serious risk of global war, really, because you’ve got hundreds of millions of people, perhaps billions of people moving. That’s the cost of inaction. It’s potentially immense.
The global climate system gives us both life and death, feeding civilizations and smashing them. Our fossil fuel pollution has already altered that system, pushing it out of natural balance. With the pollution we have already generated, the world now has 25 to 50 million climate refugees.
If we do not change course, and continue to increase the burning of coal and oil as multinational energy companies desire, we will fundamentally transform the very land we live on, the water we drink, the air we breathe in ways that are beyond our ken. The U.S. military dryly describes these consequences as a “threat multiplier.” If we are to learn anything from history, these are the kinds of threats that lead to war, and geometrically growing global warming brings threats on a global scale.
Lord Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics, was visiting the United States to receive the Leontief economic prize from the Tufts University Global Development and Environment Institute for his work on the economics of climate change.
At Hot Topic, Bryan Walker reviews economist Ross Garnaut’s similar take on the state of climate policy.
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new NASA-funded satellite study. The findings of the study — the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass — suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.
The study, led by the U.S. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was just published in Geophysical Research Lettershere (subs. req’d).
But the new study is a bombshell because of its credibility and thoroughness — and because it provides perhaps the most credible estimate to date of the sea level rise we face in 2050 on our current emissions path, 1 foot.
The JPL news release runs through the calculation that leads to the 1-foot estimate:
Likewise, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), upon becoming Speaker of the House in 2007, launched an initiative called “Green the Capitol,” which replaced Styrofoam and plasticware in the Capitol cafeteria with cups made of cornstarch and recyclable utensils. This January, following in Reagan’s misguided footsteps, the Republican-controlled House Administration Committee cut key parts of Pelosi’s “Green” initiative, and ordered the switch of recyclable materials to non-biodegradable Styrofoam to be used in the House cafeterias.
Yesterday, in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other Republican leaders, nine Democrats wrote that the health of Americans are being jeopardized because Styrofoam is a known carcinogen:
Over 20 years ago, McDonalds and other fast food restaurants replaced polystyrene foam with recyclable and paperboard containers. More than 100 cities have also chosen to ban polystyrene foam for health and environmental reasons. Adopting the same standard is the least we can do. …The International Association for Research on Cancer classified styrene as a potential human carcinogen.
Eliminating polystyrene-related health impacts will result in fewer lost work days and lower heath insurance costs for the House and its staff. This benefit alone should outweigh any cost savings from using polystyrene containers.
The irresponsibility of the decision to use polystyrene foam without considering other options is all the more egregious because the cafeteria is not merely used by House members and our staffers. The health of constituents and visitors to the Hill who eat in the cafeteria will be impacted by this short-sighted decision.
The House Republicans’ decision to reinstate Styrofoam is only part of their egregious environmental agenda. Every House Republican last week voted against stripping the five largest oil companies of taxpayer funded subsidies — which would have saved tens of billions of dollars. Even more indicative of the Republicans’ atrocious environmental agenda is the near unanimous support of the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would overturn the EPA’s finding that heat-trapping gases and carbon dioxide carry a severe threat to the environment and public health. The measure is expected to pass the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power today.
The Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), approved the bill to block action against global warming pollution by a voice vote.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Mar 10, 2011 at 9:45 am
Leading utility CEOs write in the WSJ, “Contrary to the claims that the EPA’s agenda will have negative economic consequences, our companies’ experience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.”
Nonetheless, House Republicans held a hearing this week on a bill to strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Republicans nearly unanimously oppose letting the EPA address the threat of global warming, even though the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to regulate carbon pollution. Some conservatives want to go even further. Think Progress has the story of one unlikely EPA supporter in this cross-post.
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