Here's a theme we're going to see a lot in the 21st century:
Payback is a bitch.
The president who nixed America's commitment to the carbon-reducing Kyoto protocol, whose administration censored reports on climate science, and whose State Department thanked Exxon executives for their "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, is watching the town in which he grew up squirm in the grip of Texas' epic, climate change-enhanced drought.
Good news for people who don't know shit about dick: You can now teach science in Tennessee! The state legislature has passed a bill saying that if "science" "teachers" don't personally believe in evolution or climate change, they're free to represent them to students as kooky conjecture. Because forcing teachers to teach science is a form of fascism! Or socialism! I don't know the difference, I took political science in Tennessee.
Did you see the big smackdown Thursday night between MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)? The dean of disinformation mostly just repeated his well-worn falseshoods about global warming, which Maddow shot down.
But there was one remarkable admission from the former chair of the Senate Environment Committee:
I was actually on your side of this issue when I was chairing that committee and I first heard about this. I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost.
In short, learning about the (supposed) high cost of the solution is what turned him from a believer in climate science to a denier.
Mitt Romney's top individual donor is Environmental Defense Fund board member Julian H. Robertson Jr., who has given $1.3 million to the Romney super PAC Restore Our Future even though Romney has viciously attacked the climate cap-and-trade policies EDF supports. A spokesperson for the hedge-fund billionaire said Robertson is confident Romney would "do the right thing" if elected:
In terms of the environment and climate-change controls, which [Robertson] does believe is one of the most important issues the country and the world faces, he has confidence that Romney, once he’s in there, will do the right thing.
One of the damning Heartland Foundation documents from a few weeks ago revealed the name of the climate-denial think tank’s major donors. One of them: A foundation connected to General Motors. Oops. Heartland's not exactly the sort of friend that a company like GM wants to be seen with in public, especially since it's trying to promote its green-minded Chevy Volt.
Now, at least 10,000 of its customers are letting it be known that they don’t appreciate GM hopping in bed with Heartland, and they’re perfectly willing to become ex-customers if it continues. Another 10,000 people who don’t own GM-made cars have joined in, saying that the company will never get their money at this rate.
Maggie Koerth-Baker, science editor at BoingBoing, has written a book, and the introduction is available free online now. Here’s the basic idea: In America at least, if we want to get anything done on clean energy, we have to divorce it from conversations about climate change.
In 2009, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for the “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” to question the scientific fact of human-made climate change.
Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia began consideration of a landmark case that consolidates a series of challenges to Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare and its related rule-makings. The cases, brought by energy companies, industry front groups, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), and others, seek to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse pollution. Their legal argument is that climate science is a hoax.
But the three-judge panel’s questions and comments during the first day of oral arguments showed enormous skepticism of the industry arguments. Acknowledging that by law, the panel must show deference to the EPA’s finding, the chief judge told one of the challenger’s lawyers: “You seem to be asking us to determine that the EPA is incorrect, but that is not the standard,” and even that “would not be enough to win the case for you.” Other arguments were similarly pooh-poohed by the panel.
William D. Nordhaus -- economist, Yale professor, serious person -- has taken to a serious publication, The New York Review of Books, to put the smackdown on climate skeptics.
The back story: Nordhaus has done working analysis of the economic impacts of implementing climate policies. In that awful Wall Street Journal op-ed we wrote about in January, a group of skeptics cited that work as proof that the country should do exactly nothing in the next 50 years to fight climate change. In his new article, Nordhaus approaches this and other claims with, as he says, "a cool head and a warm heart." But eventually he just has to tell them “you know nothing of my work.”
Read and learn from all his responses to skeptics' arguments, but for the juicy bits, skip to item six. Here is what Nordhaus has to say about skeptics' interpretation of his work:
Hey, remember yesterday, when we told you about a video that imagines a world in which climate skepticism is taught in schools? It turns out that that world is not imaginary -- not at all. It exists today, and it is named … Canada.
For two years, Tom Harris, a man who according to the Heartland Institute is an "expert" on climate change, taught a course on the subject at Ottawa's Carleton University. Harris' course was meant for non-science majors, so, as the Guardian notes, it "may for many students be the only academic exposure they have to climate change while earning their undergraduate degree." When a group of scientists reviewed Harris' taped lectures they found 142 "erroneous" claims.
Step for a moment into this chilling alternative reality, in which fine young men and women believe "gravity is just a theory" and "cigarettes aren't addictive":
The video is from the Climate Reality Project, Al Gore's current climate-change fighting outfit. What do y'all find the most terrifying moment? I lose it around "Scientists are, like, altering their data just to get paid." That girl is really convincing! But the clincher is when they say, "Of course it's true. I learned it in school."