Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) thanks petrochemical billionaire David Koch for contributions, March 2011.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) continues to defend oil subsidies and tax cuts for millionaires, while now threatening to cut Social Security and Medicare. Because “we’re in a financial emergency,” Brown told senior citizens at the Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly in Brighton on Monday, existing programs for seniors are under the axe:
If anybody’s telling you that ‘Everything’s OK, and don’t worry about it, and you’re going to get all your benefits, and everything’s fine,’ then they’re not really telling you the truth.
This comes only a few months after Brown attacked Democrats for “scare tactics” over the debt ceiling fight. At the meeting, Brown was asked if he was willing to fight the “financial emergency” by asking oil companies and millionaires to make any financial sacrifice, instead of seniors. Brown said that would be “an absolute job killer“:
“Would you be willing to support closing tax loopholes on big oil? …Would you be willing to raise revenue on the wealthiest 1 percent?”
Brown said he had voted to close some loopholes, such as a tax subsidy for ethanol. But he said he was not inclined to support any more taxes.
“We’re in a 2 1/2- to 3-year recession right now, and raising taxes is an absolute job killer,” he said.
That’s right: asked about eliminating subsidies that benefit Big Oil, Brown touted his vote to end an ethanol subsidy. His vote helped Big Oil keep its stranglehold on the U.S. economy.
Brown’s economic math isn’t any better. The recession began in December 2007, over three years ago, and formally ended in June 2009, over two years ago. Even though the private sector has been adding jobs at a steady clip this year, unemployment remains high because of mass layoffs in the public sector. And those are the jobs paid for by taxes.
While senior citizens suffer, the super-wealthy and the corporations are paying record low taxes while making record high profits, thanks to tax cuts for the rich under Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Brown is subsidizing his donor base, like the Tea Party billionaire Koch brothers, on the backs of America’s hard-working middle class and vulnerable senior citizens. Maybe Brown is worried that it would be an “absolute job killer” or a “financial emergency” if he were to work for his constituents instead of his paymasters.
Arctic sea ice volume by month in cubic kilometers. The bottom (black) line is September volume. The plot makes projections with simple quadratic trend lines (details here), which likely oversimplify matters as we approach zero volume (especially for non-summer months). But reversal of the overall death spiral is highly implausible absent an even more implausible reversal of current climate policies — policies which are promoted by denier disinformation and sustained by media stenography.
The Arctic is all but certain to be virtually ice free within two decades (barring extreme volcanic activity). I’m happy to make bets with any bloggers, like Andy Revkin, who apparently believe otherwise.
The recent scientific literature makes clear that while that death spiral could theoretically be reversed, it would require policies that climate science deniers have successfully demonized, policies many in the traditional media regularly pooh pooh or undercut.
So we have passed a de facto tipping point, “the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development.” If that wasn’t obvious from observations, then it should have been clear from a December study in Naturewidely misunderstood by the media. That study showed sea ice extent crashing by two thirds by the 2030s and then collapsing to near-zero shortly thereafter — unless we cut global GHG emissions about 60% to 70% almost immediately and have further cuts after that, an implausible assumption the authors never spelled out clearly (as I explain here).
“The bad news is that there is a clear connection between temperature and the amount of sea ice. And there is no doubt that continued global warming will lead to a reduction in the amount of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. The good news is that even with a reduction to less than 50% of the current amount of sea ice the ice will not reach a point of no return: a level where the ice no longer can regenerate itself even if the climate was to return to cooler temperatures,” [lead author Svend] Funder says.
Huh? How precisely is the climate going to return to cooler temperatures? It really bugs me when scientists who are very sophisticated in one arena — here, proxy reconstructions of ice coverage of part of the Arctic — exhibit magical thinking in another area.
The Nature article projected a 50% decline in sea ice within 2 decades no matter what we do on emissions — and then total collapse even on a scenario with significant emissions reductions. As an aside, since that study almost certainly underestimated the rate of sea ice loss — for instance, it ignores black carbon, a major source of ice loss — I tend to think that the actual summer ice loss will be somewhere between what that study projected and the oversimplified quadratic projections in the figure above.
NYT opinion blogger Andy Revkin wrote one of the worst pieces in his career, “On Arctic Ice and Warmth, Past and Future,” which quickly became a darling of the hard-core anti-science deniers for these absurd lines:
And last week, in an interview with CBN News, Perry gave a preview of his approach to federal environmental policy by explaining that he prays for the EPA to roll back emissions and air quality standards:
“Frankly I pray for the president every day. I pray for his wisdom, I pray that God will open his eyes. I wish this president would turn back the health care law that’s been passed, ask that his EPA back down these regulations that arecausing businesses to hesitate to spend money.”
Unless Perry is talking about reductions in hospital expenditures because of improved public health, his belief that EPA regulations of mercury, air toxics and carbon emissions will cause businesses to stop spending money is exactly the opposite of what analysts say would happen.
As power providers prepare for potential standards by installing environmental controls equipment and building cleaner generation, manufacturing and construction jobs are created – possibly representing up to $200 billion in economic activity, according to a 2010 report from Charles River Associates:
[B]etween 2010 and 2015 the power sector will invest almost $200 billion on capital improvements, including almost $94 billion on pollution controls and over $100 billion on about 68,000 megawatts of new generation capacity. Constructing such new capacity and installing pollution controls will create a wide array of skilled, high-paying jobs, including engineers, project managers, electricians, boilermakers, pipefitters, millwrights and iron workers.
Despite the strong economic case for environmental health, Perry has done more than just pray for an end to EPA regulations: Last year, he challenged a court decision allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses, saying the authority puts “countless businesses, farms, even large churches in their cross hairs.”
Meanwhile, Perry continues to pray for the end of an ongoing drought in Texas that has crippled countless business and farms throughout the state. Texas-based climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon says “it may well be worst drought on record for agriculture.”
In a major public event in the lead-up to his candidacy, Perry convened a gathering of 30,000 evangelicals in Houston last Saturday where attendees prayed for political leaders, the economy and, of course, more rain. Saturday’s gathering was another chance for churches in the state to come together and ask for the drought to break:
Cliff Stearns Complains That EPA Protects Florida’s Beaches |
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight chairman, held a hearing today at the University of Central Florida to fight the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect Florida’s water from contamination. At the “EPA’s Takeover of Florida’s Nutrient Water Quality Standard Setting: Impact on Communities and Job Creation,” members of Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) administration and representatives of corporate polluters claimed “the EPA program would cripple the state with excessive costs and kill jobs.” Stearns did not invite any environmental groups or businesses who support the rules to testify.
Over 80 percent of Americans and over half of the world’s population live in cities. By 2050 over 70 percent of the global population is expected to be urban. By then — less than four decades away — human civilization needs to be carbon neutral if we are to have any hope of averting catastrophic climate change. Figuring out how to eliminate greenhouse pollution from cities is a necessary component of that challenge.
The city of Seattle, a global leader in the fight against climate change, commissioned the Stockholm Environment Institute, Cascadia Consulting Group and ICF International “to develop a scenario of how the city might be able to achieve carbon neutrality” by 2050:
– Shifting to less GHG-intensive travel modes such as ride sharing, transit, walking and biking, to produce a 30% reduction in per capita travel in light-duty vehicles by 2030 and a 50% reduction by 2050, relative to 2008 levels.
– Dramatically increasing energy efficiency in building design and operations, as well as in vehicle efficiency, to produce over 30% in energy savings by 2030 (per capita in residential, per square foot in commercial, and per mile in vehicles) and over 50% by 2050, relative to 2008 levels.
– Transitioning homes, businesses, and vehicles to lower-carbon energy sources: electricity (or possibly hydrogen) in the long run, biofuels as a bridging strategy for transportation until electric vehicles predominate, and to a much lesser extent, sustainable biomass sources (for district energy systems).
Although the scenario is ambitious within constraints that are reasonable given present-day economics and politics, it could have gone much further. The authors only plot out a pathway to 90 percent reductions by 2050, instead of actually achieving carbon neutrality or even carbon negativity — the “climate positive” pathway of actually reducing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere, not just carbon emissions. One problem with the economic models used is that the “business as usual” scenario — in which there is no reduction of greenhouse gas emissions — per capita income grows by 250 percent by 2050. That’s an absurd result to expect in such a polluted world, where ecological services will have collapsed and global war is a plausible outcome.
SEI’s Michael Lazarus replies: “We too find the continued growth in per capita income to that level of affluence (and implicitly of consumption) rather hard to fathom. Nonetheless, such projections are the staple of forecasting agencies whether it’s the Puget Sound Regional Council, whose projections we used here, the Environmental Protection Agency, or Department of Energy.”
Another note from SEI: the projected income growth is largely uncoupled from the emissions scenario considered, which primarily looks at transportation and housing activity, rather than consumption-based emissions.
In response to the fourth hottest July in U.S. history — the hottest ever in Oklahoma and Texas — Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News is reheating climate denier myths. Saturday’s Fox & Friends show featured climate zombie Joe Bastardi, a wrestler and weatherman who believes the rapid global warming since the 1950s is a natural blip in the climate. Hosts Alisyn Camerota and Dave Briggs claimed that a “new NASA study” debunks man-made global warming. Bastardi then cited “the first law of thermodynamics” and “La Chatelier’s principle” to argue that the greenhouse effect from a 40 percent increase in a “trace gas” isn’t physically possible:
BASTARDI: When you look at carbon dioxide, it increases 1.5 parts per million each year. We contribute 3 percent of that, which means means that the human contribution is one part per 20 billion. Do you realize how small that is for a trace gas necessary for life on the planet? it is almost incomprehensible that this has taken off the way it has, the whole argument, it contradicts what we call the first law of thermodynamics: energy can neither be created or destroyed. So to look for input of energy into the atmosphere, you have to come from a foreign source and it is already out there. Carbon dioxide may be a part of it. May be the sun.
CAMEROTA: And what is that principle of Le Chatelier? Have I pronounced zat propairlee?
BASTARDI: I don’t know, but making a mistake his name isn’t as bad as making a mistake with mine. That any system in distress, physical or chemical in the atmosphere, tries to return to normal. That is why you see temperatures leveling off. We have warmed up overall the last 20 to 30 years, over the last two hundred years, because of sun spot cycles, you can trace it to the sun spot cycles, and you can trace it to the oceans. Look, in the next 20 to 30 years global temperatures should return to where they were in the 70′s.
Most of Bastardi’s lies and obfuscations are so trite that one can simply refer to SkepticalScience’s list by number: #2, #7, #21, #32, #62, #78, and #132. Bastardi’s appeal to the first law of thermodynamics is actually a new one — usually deniers try to claim that the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics (#59). The invocation of Le Chatelier’s principle has some merit. Once humans stop adding fossil-based greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the planet’s geochemical systems will restore an equilibrium — in many hundreds of thousands of years.
As oblivious as the proverbial frogs in slowly boiling water, we are beginning to experience the seemingly benign first years of catastrophic climate change. With the temperature in the Tennessee River approaching that of a nice warm hot tub, for a second summer in a row, three Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power plants had to shut down this week.
As temperatures across the South have skyrocketed in record-breaking heatwaves, the water in the Tennessee River, where the plants discharge their cooling water, is already a staggering 90 degrees.
Because hot rivers are not good for fish, by law nuclear plants must not heat rivers above 86.9 degrees with their discharged water.
But that now quaint-seeming environmental protection was passed decades ago, well before global warming began to impact air and water temperatures. Summers like these make environmental niceties like not overheating rivers with nuclear cooling water a bit irrelevant, because the river in question is already as hot as a hot tub.
“When the river’s ambient temperature reaches 90 degrees, we can’t add any heat to it,” TVA’s nuclear spokesman Ray Golden told the Times Free Press.
Gore described the story told in Merchants of Doubt, how corporate interests have manipulated scientific institutions and the news media to defend everything from cigarettes and acid rain to global warming pollution. Big Tobacco “succeeded in delaying the implementation of the surgeon general’s report for 40 years – 40 years!” he said. “In every one of those 40 years the average number of Americans killed by cigarettes each year exceeded the total number of Americans killed in all of World War II: 450,000 per year. My sister was one of them. … It was evil, evil, evil.”
Gore then denounced the climate science deniers:
The model they’re using in that effort was transported whole cloth into the climate debate. And some of the exact same people — I can go down a list of their names — are involved in this. And so what do they do? They pay pseudo-scientists to pretend to be scientists to put out the message: “This climate thing, it’s nonsense. Man-made CO2 doesn’t trap heat. It may be volcanoes.” Bullshit! “It may be sun spots.” Bullshit! “It’s not getting warmer.” Bullshit!
There are about ten other memes out there. When you go and talk to any audience about climate, you hear them washing back at you the same crap over and over and over again. They have polluted this — There’s no longer a shared reality on an issue like climate even though the very existence of our civilization is threatened. People have no idea! And yet our ability to actually come to a shared reality that emphasizes that this matters — It’s no longer acceptable in mixed company, meaning bipartisan company, to use the goddamn word “climate.” They have polluted it to the point where we cannot possibly come to an agreement on it.
Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:
I’ve never wanted to give a public figure such a huge hug. This is EXACTLY what everyone including every climate scientist and right-thinking politician needs to say about climate change deniers and all the other John Wayne Gacy clowns on the right. Al and all the rest of us need to take this tone, bottle it, and pour it all over ourselves every time we discuss climate. We often might need to be more diplomatic and civil, but we should never lose this sense of authority, since we are absolutely right about climate change and the deniers are absolute wrong and either ignorant or evil in any combination, as Al says.
In addition, I would note that in order for a claim to be an example of an ‘ad hominem’ argument, it must either be false or materially irrelevant. Thus, denying the reality of climate change because Gore lives in a big house is materially irrelevant. However, accusing paid, professional liars of being paid, professional liars is BOTH true AND materially relevant to the issue at hand. So even if Gore were attacking the persons as well as the practices, it would still not qualify as an ‘argumentum ad hominem.’
Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Joseph Goebbels. http://thinkexist.com/quotation/-if_you_tell_a_lie_big_enough_and_keep_repeating/345877.html
Texas Town Runs Dry |
In a scene reminiscent of the plot of Rango, the water has been cut off in Kemp, a North Texas town of 1,150 people. The broiling heat and drought, fueled by billions of tons of carbon pollution, caused underground pipes to burst and lose millions of gallons. “The city never caught up with the demand during the oppressive Texas heat wave and shut off the water to residents for two days to replenish its two water towers.”
By Climate Guest Blogger on Aug 9, 2011 at 9:51 am
by William S. Becker
The United States is very familiar with energy wars. Our long-time national energy strategy, as former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart points out, is to send our children off to kill and be killed in foreign lands to protect our access to oil.
We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of that tragic policy. Welcome to the age of the Solar Soldier, where a photovoltaic cell is as important as an M-16 rifle.
Climate Progress has reported regularly on this notable development. But for those of you who haven’t followed it, here’s an account.
It has been widely reported that the U.S. armed forces are going green. The Department of Defense (DoD) has resolved to cut its energy intensity 30% by 2015, obtain a quarter of its energy from renewable resources by 2020, cut petroleum use 20% by 2015, significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and power jets and ships with biofuels. Each of the four branches of the armed services has set its own green goals, including a push to eliminate waste and achieve net-zero energy and water consumption at Army and Navy installations.
Four members of the House – Democrats Gabrielle Giffords and Maurice Hinchey, and Republicans Roscoe Bartlett and Jack Kingston – have formed a Defense Energy Security Caucus to educate their peers and the public about the strategic value of sustainable energy. They also plan to help the Pentagon remove the barriers it encounters in the transition. The caucus quickly attracted 19 members.
Speaking in Anchorage, Alaska yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar threw his support behind offshore drilling in the Arctic, saying the nation should “take a look at what’s up there and see what it is we can develop.”
Salazar’s support comes a week after the Interior Department issued a conditional exploration permit to Shell that would give the company four years to drill off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Companies have been pushing for more offshore drilling in the Arctic as sea ice melts faster and longer due to a changing climate, making oil and gas resources easier to access.
But late last month, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp testified that his agency is unprepared for an oil spill off the Arctic coast – an area with weather and water conditions that would present challenges far greater than in the Gulf of Mexico, where the nation’s worst oil spill took place last year.
“One of the things that we learned from Deepwater Horizon is if you don’t think through what is the worst-possible case, it’s difficult for you to plan on how much equipment you’ll need,” he said. “We had to turn on the oil boom manufacturers around the world to supply us. We had to employ thousands of fishing boats to go out there and do skimming operations.
“Although private industry may assert they’re adequately prepared to respond to a spill, we must also determine what response capability our Coast Guard and nation needs so we can mount an adequate response as exploration advances towards production,” he said.
Meanwhile, Think Progress Green reported yesterday that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is attacking President Obama for not doing enough in the Arctic. Speaking with the Des Moines Register, Santorum called for more drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge while blaming the protection of caribou to the nation’s insurance problems:
You’re worried about people being uninsured, why don’t you some drilling in Alaska, and make sure they’ve got jobs? You’re worried about the uninsured? I’ll get you insurance. You produce more oil, we’d have a stronger economy, a lot more people would be insured. I would expect that there are some here who say that we can’t do that because of the caribou. But don’t come and talk to me, well, let’s be cutting the uninsured.
Forget a massive oil spill. Forget climate change. When all other messaging fails, blame it on the caribou.
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?
Climate hawks fight for clean energy…
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new scientific integrity rules are “pathetically weak,” Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says. [PEER]
Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) wrote to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson Monday to limit the Halliburton loophole as the agency weighs how to handle permitting for fracking operations that inject diesel fuels underground. [E2]
The U.S. Energy Department announced it was offering a $967 million loan guarantee to back a 290-megawatt solar plant in Arizona. [UPI]
Environmental and public-health groups, frustrated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s delay of standards governing ozone pollution, joined together Monday to ask a federal court to set a deadline for the agency to act. [WSJ]
Wet Hot Killer American Summer…
Persistent, scorching heat in the central and eastern regions of the United States shattered long-standing daily and monthly temperature records last month, making it the fourth warmest July on record nationally, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. [NOAA]
The Southeast and southern Plains broiled under more record-breaking heat on Monday while heavy rain and gusting winds threatened to pummel the nation’s midsection. The death toll in Oklahoma is likely 25 people. [Reuters]
Extreme temperatures continue to penetrate Delaware and eastern Maryland, but residents and tourists will get a break from the record-breaking heat wave and humidity that claimed the lives of at least two people. [Delmarva Now]
The July 23 death of a 65-year-old Sparta woman is being blamed on the heat wave that blanketed Wisconsin, bringing the state’s heat-related death toll to five. [Capital Times]
In the Memphis, TN area, the heat wave death toll has reached five. [Commercial Appeal]
Three more elderly people have died in New York City‘s scorching summer heat wave — bringing the total number of local heat-related deaths to seven, officials said yesterday. [New York Post]
International climate disasters…
Tohoku Electric Power Co., the utility that provides electricity to the region in Japan devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, may have to consider rolling blackouts because of a heat wave. [Bloomberg]
A flash flood last week fueled by days of heavy rain smashed a hilltribe shelter in Thailand, killing seven occupants and injuring a few others. [Signs of the Times]
Tropical storm Emily hit the southern coast of Hispaniola, leaving three dead in the Dominican Republic and one in Haiti. [All Media NY]
North Korea says it suffered at least 10 people dead or injured and thousands of hectares of cropland damaged as Tropical Storm Muifa swept across its territory Tuesday. [Voice of America]
Kenya is not a lush country. Rains falls steadily and often heavily in Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu, the three main cities and the best known to tourists. But 80% of the country is made up of semi-arid or arid land. In these parts of Kenya, life is hard.
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