Another day, another head-exploding he-said/she-said climate piece in the Washington Post, “Romney draws early fire from conservatives over views on climate change.”
Last week, the presumptive front-runner for the GOP nomination said, he accepted the basic findings of climate science. As the WashPost puts it — carefully avoiding any scientific judgment of its own — “the former Massachusetts governor stuck to the position he has held for many years — that he believes the world is getting warmer and that humans are contributing to that pattern.”
But the reason you are going to have to put on your head vises is that the WashPost wrote an entire story about how the climate science deniers have gone after Romney – without ever bothering to explain to their readers that Romney is actually right and the deniers are wrong.
Here is what the Washington Post printed from the hard-core conservative deniers:
Florida Tea Party Congressman Calls For More Gulf Drilling A Year After BP Oil Washed Up In His District |
Yesterday, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), a Tea Party freshman, staged a media event at a gas station to highlight high fuel prices and to call for more oil drilling. “We have the largest deposits of natural resources than any other country,” said Southerland. According to WJHG News, Southerland called for increased drilling “particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.” Last year, BP’s oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon rig caused tar to wash up on several Florida beaches, including the vacation areas of Destin Beach, an area now represented by Southerland.
Speaking with conservative enforcer Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said he believed that global warming is a left-wing government conspiracy. Santorum drew a strong distinction between his conspiracy theory and the recent statements by frontrunner Mitt Romney, who claimed to accept the scientific fact of man-made global warming. In contrast, Santorum said he believed it “patently absurd” that increasing carbon dioxide concentrations by 40 percent could warm the earth:
I believe the Earth gets warmer, and I also believe the Earth gets cooler. And I think history points out that it does that. The idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — uh, is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all of the other factors — El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, uh, uh, you know, moisture in the air — there’s a variety of factors that contribute to the earth warming.
To me there is opportunity for the left — it’s a beautifully concocted scheme. It’s been on a warming trend so they said, ‘Oh, let’s take advantage of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it’s getting warmer.’ Just like they did in the ’70s when it was getting cooler, they needed the government to come in and regulate your life because it was getting cooler. It’s just an excuse for more government control of your life and I’ve never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative.
In his brief rant, Santorum managed to invoke climate denier myths #1, #2, #5, #11, #23, #33, #34, #56, #59, #98, and #99.
There’s no denying the iPad is a hot item. Apple’s tablet computer, which is primarily used for audio-visual media such as e-books, movies, games, music, the web, and talking live, got an upgrade in March. If it sells like the first iPad, you can expect the figures to reach the tens of millions. But is it an eco-conscious product? This CAP repost looks at this question.
[Joe Romm: My family owns an iPad. I will add comments to this post since the question is trickier than it looks -- you really have to know what the iPad is replacing. That will vary by user and change over time as application software improves.]
UPDATE: I’ve added a Featured Comment from Dr. Jon Koomey, Consulting Professor at Stanford University, and a leading expert on the energy impact of electronics and the internet.
Apple sure thinks the product itself is green. They put out an environmental profile of the iPad that cites several features designed to reduce its impact on the planet, including:
As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — one of the largest and most influential big business lobbying groups in the world — fired a letter off to Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, telling him to block the regulation of extremely toxic chemicals in consumer plastics. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the dangers of such chemicals, the chamber letter declares that that EPA “lacks the sound regulatory science needed to meet the statutory threshold for a restriction or ban of the targeted chemicals.”
A wide body of scientific research has linked these chemicals, including phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), to declining birth rates, stillbirths, and an increasing number of birth defects. Many of the chemicals under review for increased regulation have already been banned in Europe and Canada.
In fact, studies have shown that these plastic chemicals are directly linked to an alarming rate of male genital birth defects such as hypospadias, a condition in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the end, of the penis. A report by the Center for American Progress’ Reese Rushing details many other risks associated with the chemicals slated for regulation.
The Chamber letter to Sunstein is signed by chief lobbyist Bill Kovacs. Why is Kovacs fighting so aggressively to continue to allow birth defect and miscarriage-causing chemicals to be used in household items and food containers? Perhaps it is because the Chamber is heavily funded by some of the largest plastics manufacturers in America. According to investigations by the New York Times and ThinkProgress, Dow Chemical and Proctor & Gamble have contributed millions to the Chamber’s war chest in recent years.
Both companies have lobbied heavily on legislation like the the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010, a bill that would have placed BPA on a priority list of chemicals for the EPA to address. Contacted by ThinkProgress, a representative from Dow’s government affairs office said that the company is “among many businesses” that support the Chamber, and that “they’re for us.” She referred us to a senior lobbyist, who has not returned ThinkProgress’ calls. A message left with Proctor and Gamble has not yet been answered.
As ThinkProgress has reported, the Chamber often acts as a front for corporations to maintain anonymity while pursuing ugly lobbying campaigns. In the past, the Chamber has gone to bat for defense contractors seeking to restrict the ability for their own employees to sue after being raped on the job, for bailed out banks to lobby against Obama’s financial reforms, and for health insurance companies to secretly run ads against health reform.
Clean energy advocates have been pushing the U.S. Congress to pass the Clean Energy Development Administration (CEDA). CEDA would act as a “green bank” to help provide financing for clean energy companies that may face barriers in funding innovative technologies or first-of-a-kind projects. This program would be instrumental in helping drive down the cost of technologies and the cost of financing — all while driving up the value for American consumers and businesses.
CAP’s Bracken Hendricks and Lisbeth Kaufman report on Connecticut’s effort to lead the way on clean energy financing.
This week, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy signed into law the nation's largest "Green Bank" program. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)
While Gov. Christie works to dismantle clean energy in New Jersey, his neighbor, Connecticut Gov. Malloy just signed a major energy law comprising a broad-based clean energy and economic development program. The Law, SB1243, passed unanimously with bi-partisan support, will reform Connecticut’s energy system to cut costs for consumers and transition to cleaner energy. With a 36-0 vote in the Senate and a 139-8 vote in the House, Gov. Malloy and the Connecticut Legislators demonstrated that clean energy can gain solid bi-partisan support:
House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, said in a partisan year, the energy bill “was a refreshing respite. It was a classic example of what you can do when you sit down with people on all sides of an issue.”
The law will combine the former Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with the former Public Utility Control to create a Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) that will oversee the energy system reform. DEEP will be run by the current DEP commissioner, Dan Esty, who is also an environmental Professor, Lawyer and Policy maker from Yale, and author of the prize-winning book “Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage. ” Esty, who spoke about the need for comprehensive energy policy at a CAP-hosted conference in November, was a major architect of the bill. Read more
In April the British Medical Journal warned that climate change “poses an immediate and grave threat, driving ill-health and increasing the risk of conflict, such that each feeds upon the other.” The UK’s Hadley Center notes that on our current one related impact, “By the 2090s close to one-fifth of the world’s population will be exposed to ozone levels well above the World Health Organization recommended safe-health level.”
A new study puts a hefty price tag on climate change by linking it to the air you breathe. The report, published last Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that CO2-induced temperature increases will worsen ground-level ozone concentrations (the kind coming from power plants and exhaust pipes, not the kind that shields the Earth from UV rays).
Higher concentrations of ground-level ozone threaten the health of millions of Americans, an impact that could cost the U.S. $5.4 billion in 2020. If that’s not compelling enough, here’s what the study’s findings mean for you:
Must-See Photovoltaic Industry Graphs on the Changing Economics of Solar
There’s a joke in the solar industry about when “grid parity” – the time when solar becomes as cheap as fossil sources – will happen. Ron Kenedi, the former VP in Sharp Solar’s U.S. business liked to throw out random dates, telling me once “November 21, 2012” in jest.
The truth is, it will happen in phases – one market and one technology at a time.
But according to two top solar executives – Tom Dinwoodie, CTO of SunPower and Dan Shugar, formerly of SunPower and current CEO of Solaria – “ferocious cost reductions,” are accelerating that crossover in a variety of markets today.
Dinwoodie and Shugar are responsible for developing over $3 billion in PV projects around the world. They were making the rounds in Washington this week, giving presentations to journalists and policymakers about the changing economics of Solar PV. Joining them was Adam Browning, the executive director of the Vote Solar Initiative, an organization responsible for much of the state-level progress for solar in the U.S. (Vote Solar helped put together the data.)
Their goal: To explain that solar PV is no longer a fringe, cost-prohibitive technology – but, rather, a near-commodity that is quickly becoming competitive with new nuclear, new natural gas, and, soon, new coal.
These slides are a must-see for anyone interested in solar, or in the business of energy generally. While I think some of the predictions and comparisons between technologies aren’t telling the full picture, the underlying data is very compelling: We are starting to realize grid parity in solar – all with technologies available today.
Yesterday, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) unveiled a bill he is cosponsoring with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) that would “require the military to step up efforts to find alternatives to oil.” Their bill, the Department of Defense Energy Security Act, will add a $3 billion provision to the Senate’s military spending plan encouraging efficiency, biofuels, and other alternative energy. “It’s what we owe ourselves and our children and their children,” Udall told reporters. “It’s what we owe to the men and women who have been serving so valiantly in Iraq and Afghanistan.” By using “energy smarter and more efficiently,” the Udall-Giffords bill will save lives of troops and protect the planet for future generations:
Osama bin Laden reportedly called our fuel convoys the military’s “umbilical cord.” We risk the lives of thousands of troops each year because of our dependence on fossil fuel in theater and at home. We owe it to our troops and the American people to find ways to use energy smarter and more efficiently.
The military now spends $20 billion a year on energy, consuming 135 million barrels of oil and 30 million megawatt-hours of electricity.
“The goal of the bill is straightforward,” Gavi Begtrup, policy advisor to Giffords explained. “It will enhance our energy security and make our armed forces more agile and more lethal.”
Higher gas taxes, slowly phased in, would stabilize volatile gas prices, encourage the purchase of more fuel-efficient cars, fund critical infrastructure needs, and keep billions of American dollars from going overseas to oil companies and petrodictators.
“A 50-cent gas tax would make everyone puke. A dollar might make me puke my heart and lungs,” Glenn Beck responded. “I’ve seen your crappy new electric car. Nobody is buying it.”
Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt delivered a rip-roaring speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday. I reprint that, followed by some he made criticizing the White House for failing to defend the environment strongly enough.
It is now more than ten years since I left public office. I am returning to the public stage today because I believe that this Congress, in its assaults on our environment, has embarked on the most radical course in our history. Congress, led by the House of Representatives, has declared war on our land, water and natural resources. And it is time for those of us who support our conservation tradition to raise our voices on behalf of the American people.
It is clear to me that the House of Representatives will not only block progress, but will continue to sustain an assault on our public lands and water. Therefore, it is imperative that President Obama take up the mantle of land and water conservation – something that he has not yet done in a significant way. President Obama and the Executive Branch are the best, and likely only, hope for meaningful progress on this critical issue.
So I am here today to call on the president to lead us in standing up to the radical agenda of the House of Representatives, and to replace their draconian agenda with a bold conservation vision.
The opening salvos in this war were fired in April, when the new Congress enacted a budget measure, called a Continuing Resolution, to appropriate funding for the balance of this fiscal year. Beneath the cover of that budget process, however, the House leadership inserted unrelated “riders” to begin dismantling our environmental laws.
Our guest blogger is Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org.
Will President Obama meet his self-imposed deadline to get solar panels back on the roof of the White House by the end of this spring? On Oct. 5, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that the Obama Administration would be returning solar panels to the White House roof. (President Carter installed solar panels on the roof in 1979 only to have them removed by President Reagan a few years later.)
“As we move toward a clean energy economy, the White House will lead by example,” said Chu. “I’m pleased to announce that, by the end of this spring, there will be solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House.”
This year, the final day of spring is June 21. That gives the Obama administration just under two weeks to meet their commitment. That’s ample time, according to most solar contractors. We asked Danny Kennedy, the CEO of Sungevity, how quickly he could get a set of solar panels on the White House roof if he got the call. The answer: “72 hours.”
Our team here at 350.org has a vested interest in seeing solar panels back on the roof. Last summer, we launched a campaign, “Put Solar On It,” challenging world leaders to install solar at their presidential residences. Some elected officials seized the opportunity. President Pratibha Devisingh Patil announced a new 50kw array for India’s presidential palace. In October, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives took the challenge a step further, actually getting on his roof to help install the solar panels himself.
The Obama administration proved a bit more difficult to convince. After a number of unproductive phone calls with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, our team at 350.org decided to help push the process along a bit.
As it turned out, one of the original Jimmy Carter solar panels, after being exiled from the White House by Reagan, had ended up on the roof of the cafeteria at Unity College, a small environmental college in Maine. So, on Sept. 7, 350.org founder Bill McKibben and a group of Unity students took one of the panels, put in the back of a bio-diesel van, and began to drive it back to its rightful home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
After great rallies along the way in Boston and New York, our team and the Carter solar panel arrived at the White House. A meeting with administration officials ended in disappointment, however. The officials would neither accept the original Carter panel nor commit to installing a new set of panels on the roof. The promised only to “continue their deliberative process.”
How the installation would play in the press must have been part of the deliberations. Less than a month after our visit, and after taking a bit of a “shellacking” in places like Time, the Washington Post, and the AP for their refusal to commit to our request, the administration announced that deliberations were over and a set of panels would be up by spring 2011.
And now, here we are. With two weeks left in spring, we’re still optimistic that the White House will stay true to their word. As Bill McKibben said recently:
Well, they promised they’d have them up this spring, and I’m sure they will. They’re a can-do bunch, and two weeks is plenty of time to finish a job I’m sure they’ve been hard at work on this since making their promise last fall; only a cynic would suggest they did it simply to get us off their backs. Maybe the president will even strap on a tool belt himself, like the president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who installed panels on his residence in a matter of weeks last year.
In the meantime, we’ll be collecting another round of signatures to send over to White House showing that the American people want President Obama to fulfill his promise. Installing solar panels on the White House isn’t a replacement for a sound climate policy, but it’s concrete step in the right direction.
As Bill said at the time of Secretary Chu’s announcement:
The White House did the right thing, and for the right reasons: they listened to the Americans who asked for solar on their roof, and they listened to the scientists and engineers who told them this is the path to the future. If it has anything like the effect of the White House garden, it could be a trigger for a wave of solar installations across the country and around the world.
On Wednesday, Exxon Mobil said it discovered 700 million barrels of oil equivalent at a deepwater well 250 miles off the coast of New Orleans.
The Wall Street Journal immediately trumpeted, “Exxon Unveils Big Finds in Gulf.” House Natural Resources Committee Chair Doc Hastings (R-WA), whose top industry contributor is Big Oil, dashed out a release saying the find is “a perfect example” of how “America can become less dependent on dangerous sources of foreign energy if we safely and responsibly develop the resources we know we have here at home.”
Setting aside that big ‘if’, while 700 million barrels is enough to ruin the Gulf if we get another blowout, it represents only 9 days of global oil consumption — and roughly one month’s worth of U.S. consumption.
The discovery doesn’t prove we have ‘abundant’ oil reserves, as Hastings claims. It proves the exact opposite, that ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ can’t solve our problems. Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil’s exploration business, unintentionally admitted that when he said, “This is one of the largest discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico in the last decade.”
Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green’s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we’re reading. What are you?
“The massive wildfires raging in Arizona expanded as wind-whipped flames tore through canyons in the eastern mountains, forcing firefighters to retreat,” and “the flames are threatening power supplies, which may lead to rolling blackouts across parts of Texas and New Mexico.” [ABCNews]
The heat wave that burned up the Midwest, killing five Americans, is now scorching the East Coast with record temperatures and dangerous air quality. [IBT]
A Googlemap of the route for the March on Blair Mountain, with points of historical significance and current surface mine sites. [March on Blair Mountain]
“U.S. solar-power companies say they’ll be in a position to compete on price with conventional generation within three years, without subsidy, as costs come down,” the Financial Times reported. [Bloomberg]
The Plaquemines Parish president, Billy Nungesser, says “oil has been spotted in the waters off the coast near Venice and that he believes the seven-mile slick is from last year’s BP spill.” [NYT]
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) “will take a whirlwind tour of Alaska Thursday as Republicans are putting increasing pressure on the Obama administration to speed up drilling in the state.” [E2]
New Hampshire’s Republican-led legislature “cleared a bill to withdraw the state from the U.S. Northeast’s carbon-trading market,” a proposal that may be vetoed by Governor John Lynch. [Bloomberg]
Media Matters takes on Running on Empty, the Americans for Prosperity campaign to defend oil companies and speculators for high gas prices. [Media Matters]
Edited by Joe Romm, we cover climate science, solutions and politics. Columnist Tom Friedman calls us "the indispensable blog" and Time magazine named us one of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010." Newcomers, start here.