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Stephen Lacey's Posts


Leading climbing outfit cancels 2012 Everest trip due to warm weather dangers

A version of this article originally appeared on Climate Progress.

Climate change is already keeping climbers off Everest. (Photo by Mandala Travel.)

Mount Everest has become a microcosm for the rest of the planet. Once an isolated place for adventurers, the mountain is now extremely crowded, polluted, and facing dramatic changes as global temperatures rise.

As commercial climbing outfits have blossomed over the last two decades, more and more climbers are flocking to Everest. The overcrowding problem became clear earlier this month when the mountain was clogged by a traffic jam of roughly 150 people trying to reach the summit -- contributing to the death of four climbers.

The traffic jam made big news. But a couple weeks before the incident, another major event took place on the mountain that only got attention from within the climbing community.

Russell Brice, head of the leading Everest climbing operation Himalayan Experience, announced that he would pull his team off Everest, citing unprecedented temperatures that made climbing too dangerous. Heeding advice from experienced Sherpas worried about the warmth, Brice decided to cancel his 2012 expedition because of unstable ice.

Read more: Climate Change


The self-inflicted downfall of the Heartland Institute

A version of this post originally appeared on Climate Progress.

“I don’t appreciate being called a terrorist,” the woman said firmly.

I was standing outside the Hilton Chicago hotel talking to Jim Lakely, the director of communications for the Heartland Institute, when an elderly woman approached us on the street. Dressed in a business suit, she was loading her luggage into a taxi when she noticed Lakely’s Heartland name badge and interrupted our conversation.

“We can have a civil discussion. But I really don’t like being labeled a terrorist,” she said, referencing a billboard posted by Heartland equating people who believe in global warming to the Unabomber. “That’s all I wanted to say.”

“Well, I appreciate you telling me that,” said Lakely, who was taking a break from managing Heartland’s conference to watch the 60 or so people protesting the event outside the hotel.

The woman, who was wearing a badge for a different conference, got into her taxi and drove away. There was a brief moment of awkward silence between Lakely and me.

The exchange perfectly encapsulated the public-relations disaster the Heartland Institute has created for itself over the last few weeks. The downfall started with an offensive billboard campaign on May 3, and ended with 11 companies pulling support for the organization -- stripping 35 percent its of corporate funds overnight and leaving its financial future uncertain.

Read more: Climate Skeptics


Lord Monckton delights Heartland conference with birther antics

Lord Christopher Monckton, climate denier extraordinaire. (Photo by Don Irvine Photos.)

A version of this article originally appeared on Climate Progress.

With the Heartland Institute suffering from a public relations disaster that caused 11 donors to abandon financial support, one might think the organization would attempt to moderate messaging tactics at its climate denial conference this week.

Or maybe even find an expert who doesn’t freely admit that he “has no scientific qualification” to challenge the science of climate change.

Not quite.

Read more: Climate Skeptics


Department of Commerce slaps large tariffs on Chinese solar panels

A version of this article originally appeared on Climate Progress.

In a long-awaited decision, the U.S. Department of Commerce has issued a preliminary decision to apply tariffs to Chinese-made solar modules being imported into the U.S. The tariffs range from 31 percent to 250 percent.

The preliminary tariffs were issued after a lengthy investigation by the Commerce Department into whether Chinese companies are “dumping” solar panels into the U.S. market below cost. These tariffs follow a March decision to issue small countervailing duties on Chinese module producers that are getting illegal domestic subsidies, according to the Commerce Department.

Read more: Solar Power


Don’t believe the hype: Five things you should know about clean energy investments

Photo by rustman.

A version of this post originally appeared on Climate Progress.

In an attempt to keep the political war against renewable energy in the headlines, Republicans held another hearing to question the value of government investments in the sector.

Looks like 10 political sideshows on Solyndra weren’t enough.

If the hearing were being used as a chance to objectively assess where the industry stands, that would be one thing. But the title of the meeting gave away the real political intent: “The Obama Administration’s Green Energy Gamble: What Have All The Taxpayer Subsidies Achieved?"

Actually, those green energy investments have yielded substantial returns. While the political grandstanding goes on in the House of Representatives, here are five important things you should know about how promotion of clean energy has supported American businesses and consumers:


Congressional report says ‘drill, baby, drill’ won’t protect U.S. from oil price spikes

Photo by swisscan.

A version of this post originally appeared on Climate Progress.

More domestic drilling does not make America less susceptible to global supply disruptions or protect consumers from gasoline price volatility, according to a new analysis [PDF] from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO report reviewed different policies intended to make the country more energy secure, concluding that the only effective tool for shielding businesses and consumers from price spikes is to use less oil.

Because oil is sold on the global market, CBO concludes that increasing domestic oil production would do little to influence rising gas prices in the U.S.

These findings back up historical experience. According to an analysis of 36 years of gasoline prices and domestic oil production conducted by the Associated Press, there is zero statistical correlation between increased drilling and lower prices at the gas pump.


Anti-wind activists want to create fake grassroots campaign against industry

Photo by lightsight.

A version of this post originally appeared on Climate Progress.

Last February, a group of anti-wind activists gathered in Washington, D.C. Their goal: establish a coordinated, nationwide program of “wind warriors” who could be dispatched to fight the industry anywhere, anytime.

The organization would combine efforts and create “what should appear as a ‘groundswell’ among grass roots” to counter legislation supporting wind energy on the federal, state, and local levels.

The leader of the group was John Droz, Jr., a longtime wind opponent and a senior fellow at the ultra-conservative American Tradition Institute (ATI). ATI calls itself an “environmental” think tank. The organization, known best for suing climate scientist Michael Mann, is devoted to spreading doubt about climate change, opposing state-level renewable energy targets, and stripping away environmental regulations.

ATI is so extreme that it was denounced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for contributing to an “environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas.”

According to a memo just obtained by the Checks and Balances Project and reviewed by Climate Progress, Droz has also been focused on crafting a fake grassroots campaign to fight renewable energy projects -- specifically wind -- in legislatures, zoning boards, and town halls across the country.

Read more: Wind Power


ALEC is plotting to take down state renewable energy targets

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Two leading conservative political organizations say they are stepping up coordinated efforts to repeal state-level renewable energy targets.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) -- a “stealth business lobbyist” that works with corporate interests to help them write and implement “model” legislation -- says it may soon start crafting laws designed to kill or weaken state targets for renewable electricity, heating, and fuels.

ALEC has come under fire in recent weeks for its support of voter ID laws and the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law that opponents blame for the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. After progressive groups began an aggressive campaign to educate the public about ALEC, 13 companies pulled their membership from the organization.

Last July, Bloomberg News acquired tax documents showing that Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and other energy companies paid membership fees to ALEC in order to help write legislation repealing carbon pollution reduction programs in states around country.

Bloomberg now reports that ALEC is looking to take aim at renewable energy programs in states:

Read more: Energy Policy, Politics


Shocker: Conservative governor believes there’s a problem with the climate

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Speaking to a group of Republican political donors last week, Ohio’s conservative governor, John Kasich (R), called for action on climate change, saying he was “all for” developing clean energy.

At a time when climate change denial has become a de facto national platform for the Republican party, Kasich’s comments are a notable break from GOP rhetoric. The Columbus Dispatch reported on his statement to fellow Republicans:

“This isn’t popular to always say, but I believe there is a problem with climates, climate change in the atmosphere,” Kasich told a Ross County Republican function on Thursday. “I believe it. I don’t know how much there is, but I also know the good Lord wants us to be good stewards of his creation. And so, at the end of the day, if we can find these breakthroughs to help us have a cleaner environment, I’m all for it.”


Pew poll: Clean energy still popular among everyone except old conservatives

Photo by Takver.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Energy has turned into a contentious campaign issue in 2012, pitting “drill, baby, drill” against “clean energy now.” But multiple polls now make clear that the clean energy issue is a winning one for progressives.

The way the media and cable TV frame the national debate may make it seem like there’s an even split between supporters of fossil fuels and supporters of renewable alternatives. However, a new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that clean energy has far more support than fossil fuels support across the political spectrum -- except among conservative Republican males.

The poll illustrates how clean energy has become a wedge issue among Republicans moving into the presidential election. This is precisely what has happened on climate.