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Dan Lashof's Posts

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Carbon causes extreme weather; in other news: Smoking causes cancer

Smoking causes cancer. Carbon pollution causes extreme weather.

It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

We dump billions of tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere each year. As a result, the concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by 40 percent. Excess carbon dioxide traps excess heat in the atmosphere. Excess heat causes extreme heat waves, droughts, and storms.

And that’s what we have been seeing. In June alone, 170 all-time high temperature records were broken or tied in the United States, and more than 24,000 daily high temperature records have been broken so far this year. If the climate weren’t changing, we would expect to see about the same number of record highs and record lows set each year due to random fluctuations. That’s what we were seeing 50 years ago, but during the last decade there were twice as many record highs as record lows. So far this year the ratio has been 10 to 1.

Read more: Climate Change

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Curbing Power Plant Carbon Pollution

This item cross-posted from NRDC's Switchboard. Willie Sutton is famously supposed to have said that he robbed banks because that’s where the money is (apparently this quote is apocryphal but it’s just too good to not keep using it). I have focused a number of recent posts on power plants because that’s where the carbon is (about 40% of the U.S. total). There is certainly no way to prevent even more dangerous changes to our climate without nearly eliminating carbon emissions from the power sector. That’s what makes a new report from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) …

Read more: Uncategorized

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President Obama is writing the climate legacy of his first term now

Al Gore's essay about climate change in Rolling Stone last week was mostly about how the news media have utterly failed to be an effective referee of the phony debate over science, but most of the attention it generated (predictably) focused on his criticisms of President Obama's handling of climate policy. Gore encapsulated the conventional wisdom: Obama failed to use his bully pulpit to educate the public about climate change, failed to deliver comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, and failed to deliver a strong international agreement in Copenhagen. True enough, but it's not the end of the story. Neither …

Read more: Politics

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Obama needs to stop propping up inefficient cars and dirty coal

We've got to clean up our cars, and do away with some clunkers.Photo: Mary Anne EnriquezCross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. President Obama today renewed his call to move America forward by reducing our dependence on imported oil and dirty coal at a Georgetown University speech. Meanwhile at the other end of town, members of Congress are working overtime to move us backward by trying to block the EPA from doing its job of setting standards to clean up our cars and power plants. President Obama set a new goal to reduce U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025, …

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that's real politics, betty

Dangerous delaying tactics

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.)Since taking control of the House of Representatives last week, key committee chairs have used heated rhetoric to justify their efforts to block the EPA from updating Clean Air Act safeguards with new standards to reduce emissions of life-threatening pollution from power plants and other major sources. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), now Chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the Clean Air Act, called the EPA's plans to limit carbon dioxide emissions an "unconstitutional power grab," while Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who now chairs the EPA's appropriations subcommittee, called the EPA "the …

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Heritage-gate

Heritage hypocritically misrepresents scientists' words

Someone at Heritage is walking around with flaming pants.Image: Brad GilletteIt's hardly news that most anti-science climate deniers play fast and loose with the facts, including grossly selectively editing the work of climate scientists. But the fine folks at the Heritage Foundation have just turned in quite an editing whopper.    The irony here is that Heritage claims that, "We should welcome an objective scientific debate on global warming, but when you mix politics into the equation, having an uninfluenced transparent debate is wishful thinking." Well then, let's see how Heritage measures up to its purported own standard.  In a …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Coulda, shoulda, woulda

Lessons from Senate climate fail

The blame game began even before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) made the official announcement that he would not bring a comprehensive climate and energy bill to the Senate floor. Reid himself placed the blame where it primarily belongs -- obstructionism by the Republican Leadership, as a result of which not a single Republican senator had stood up to commit to work with Democrats to pass carbon pollution limits (Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) did commit to work with John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) but backed out after months of negotiations; Susan Collins (R-Maine) cosponsored a bill with Maria …

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The scorch board: global warming - 1, the media - 0

Hot enough for you?

Just another balmy day on the East Coast.Photo courtesy of Tomas Fano via flickr The oppressive heat wave gripping the eastern United States, by itself, shouldn’t have any influence on what policymakers think about global warming. But after the ridiculous spectacle of climate science deniers claiming that last winter’s blizzard disproves global warming, I hope that the record heat we are experiencing now will help focus their minds on the underlying science. A string of recent authoritative reports unequivocally reaffirming the science and rejecting the malicious allegations against climate scientists provides plenty of material to focus on. Last winter was …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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cap-and-afraid

Can we get on the road to major emission reductions by starting with a cap on stationary sources?

President Obama hosted a bipartisan group of Senators at the White House on Tuesday to talk about the path forward on comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. He made a strong case for passing a bill that "makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy" by holding polluters responsible for their emissions. As expected, there was not a consensus in the room on the best way to proceed and most Republicans continued to oppose any limits at all. One breakthrough came from Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who issued a statement after the meeting calling for Congress "to develop legislation that …

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relief? well...

We need real relief, not a junk shot, to solve the energy problems that led to the BP blowout

BP couldn’t stop the oil gusher with a junk shot of golf balls and tire shards and Congress can’t solve the energy problems that are the root cause of the gusher with a junk shot of unenforceable goals and unfunded subsidies. Eventually the gusher will be plugged by drilling a new well that can be used to establish a permanent seal. This will take some time, but fortunately no one suggested that BP should wait to begin working on a permanent solution until after it had tried every half-measure it could think of. Not so when it comes to ending …