Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Contributors

Comments

The War on Truth: Which side is Harvard on?

originally posted at Grip College students across the country are calling on their schools’ endowments to divest from fossil fuels.  The campaign is taking off. But Harvard University President Drew Faust has rejected the idea, without responding to student requests for a public forum on the issue.  In doing so, she turned her back on the institution’s mission:  truth. The fossil fuel industry, supported in some part by the Harvard endowment, has stooped to a particular form of political manipulation that poses a direct, existential threat to the purposes of academia.  They fund and disseminate climate disinformation and corrupt our …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

People power beats corporate utility 2-to-1 in Boulder

activists on "local power" bus
New Era Colorado

It was a textbook example of a corporation looking to buy an election result. After spending $1 million in a failed attempt to stifle local energy freedom in 2011, Xcel Energy poured over $500,000 of ratepayer money into a ballot measure to hamstring Boulder, Colo.'s exploration of a locally owned alternative to the largely fossil-fueled monopoly utility.

On Tuesday, people power buried Xcel. By a margin of 2-to-1, Boulder voters resoundingly rejected Question 310. As Stephen Fenberg of New Era Colorado said late that night, “Go home, Xcel. Your money is no good here.”

At stake was one community’s multi-year effort to power itself in a fashion that is more friendly to the local economy, to the climate, and to local oversight. It had previously culminated in a tough ballot fight in November 2011, when Xcel used ratepayer money to outspend locals 10-to-1 and still lost, as Boulder citizens narrowly granted the city permission to explore a clean-power-focused, city-owned utility.

Since then, the city and its citizen allies have turned traditional thinking on its head, envisioning a city-owned electric utility that maximizes local benefit rather than shareholder returns, that generates power in town rather than importing it, and that maximizes renewable energy instead of clinging to fossil fuels. They have rigorously studied other city-run utilities (29 others in Colorado alone) to learn best practices for running a local electric system. They have shown that switching to a locally owned utility could nearly triple renewable energy, halve greenhouse gas emissions, and compete on price with their current two-faced corporate overlords.

Comments

CNBC Marks Sandy Anniversary By Mocking Climate Change

Kernen on Superstorm Sandy

CNBC host Joe Kernen marked the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy by questioning the wisdom of investing to protect utility customers from extreme weather. In an October 24 interview with Steve Holliday, the CEO of utility company National Grid, Kernen cited Bjorn Lomborg’s recent global warming denial op-ed in the Washington Post, “Don’t Blame Climate Change for Extreme Weather.”

Kernen’s repeated dismissal of global warming and attacks on climate scientists and activists as the “eco-taliban” have spurred a 45,000-signature petition drive organized by climate accountability group Forecast the Facts.

Reading from Lomborg’s op-ed, Kernen rebuked Holliday for investing in resilience to damages from extreme weather, which have been rapidly rising. In particular, both extreme precipitation and sea level are increasing in the Northeast, both due to fossil-fueled global warming. Holliday's National Grid is a British-based utility company with customers in the U.S. Northeast. Kernen claimed that his dismissal of the well-known connection between global warming and extreme weather was backed by prominent climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

I contacted Dr. Schmidt about Kernen’s use of his words, which he called a “red herring.”

“My statement in no way implies that no extremes are changing,” Dr. Schmidt retorted, “and certainly not that electricity companies shouldn’t invest in increased resilience, which, as Holliday rightly notes, is prudent regardless.”

How did Kernen's confabulation come to pass? It's a classic example of the climate-denial machine's manipulation of the journalistic infrastructure. About a month ago, E&E News interviewed Dr. Schmidt about a paper that found that increases in weather extremes are concentrated in North America and Europe:

The study noted that the greatest recent year-to-year changes have occurred in much of North America and Europe, something confirmed by a separate study last year. The result, according to several scientists, is a misperception across the West that the weather extremes occurring there are occurring everywhere. . . . “General statements about extremes are almost nowhere to be found in the literature but seem to abound in the popular media,” Schmidt said. “It’s this popular perception that global warming means all extremes have to increase all the time, even though if anyone thinks about that for 10 seconds they realize that’s nonsense.”

Bjorn Lomborg then misleadingly contrasted Dr. Schmidt’s quotation with comments from President Obama, in his Washington Post op-ed approved by editor Fred Hiatt:

President Obama has explicitly linked a warming climate to “more extreme droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes.” The White House warned this summer of “increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events that come with climate change.” Yet this is not supported by science. “General statements about extremes are almost nowhere to be found in the literature but seem to abound in the popular media,” climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies said last month. “It’s this popular perception that global warming means all extremes have to increase all the time, even though if anyone thinks about that for 10 seconds they realize that’s nonsense.”

Kernen then used Lomborg’s article to argue that climate change has no influence on extreme weather:

I’m looking at a Washington Post piece, Steve. It’s the Washington Post. “Don’t blame climate change for extreme weather.” It goes on to say that in popular — um — well, you see that is in the popular media, but the science does not support it at all. . . . Gavin Schmidt of NASA Goddard Institute: “General statements about extremes are almost nowhere to be found in actual scientific literature but abound in popular media. It’s a popular perception that global warming means that all extremes have increased although anyone who thinks about that for ten seconds realizes is nonsense.”

Kernen’s comments ironically appeared with the chyron “SUPERSTORM SANDY: LESSONS LEARNED.”

Join over 45,000 people in protest of Kernen's global warming denial.

Transcript:

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

China and the Soybean Challenge

Some 3,000 years ago, farmers in eastern China domesticated the soybean. In 1765, the first soybeans arrived in North America, but they did not soon catch on as a crop. For 150 years or so the soybean languished as a curiosity in gardens. Then in the late 1920s, a market for soybean oil began to develop, moving the soybean from the garden to the field. During the 1930s, soybean production in the United States climbed from 400,000 tons to over 2 million tons. And as growth in the demand for the oil gained momentum, soybean production jumped to over 8 …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

On November 5th, Local Power is on the Line

20130901151353-Pick-a-side-t-shirt-320x320

In 2011, citizens of Boulder, CO, opted to explore alternatives to their monopoly, corporate electric utility that pumps coal-fired energy into town and sucks millions in energy profits out. They won at the ballot box despite being outspent more than 10-to-1. But tomorrow they have to win again against deep corporate pockets, or lose everything they've fought for. Since November 2011, the diligent citizens of Boulder have shown that switching to a locally owned utility could nearly triple renewable energy, lower greenhouse gas emissions by half, and compete on price with their current two-faced corporate overlords. They've studied other city-run …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

The “Electrifying Movement” that Continues to Fight Coal Exports

There are a handful of decisions that are going to be made in the U.S. this decade that will be pivotal in the fate of our climate. The six proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest are among them. If these terminals are approved, they will unleash one of the biggest carbon sources on the planet, by creating a new pathway for Western U.S. coal to reach Asian markets, and it will be hard to put the genie back in the bottle. That's why I traveled to Tacoma, Washington, in late October for a public hearing against the proposed …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

The Digital Life

Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that before mid-century the exponential acceleration of information technologies, robotics, medical science, and artificial intelligence will result in a “singularity”, a point at which humans will essentially merge with their technology. Such an event may seem implausible, but discoveries of how technology and humans really interact are being made every day, leading one to the conclusion that it’s not an unimaginable future - - and it may be the key to sustainable living on an increasingly overcrowded planet. Heart pacemakers and artificial hips already demonstrate the seeds of Kurzweil’s vision and innovations like Google …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Blogger asks Court: Dismiss Libel Case Over Article Linking Cuccinelli to Coal CEO Murray

This morning, my co-counsel from the ACLU of Ohio and I filed a motion asking a federal court to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Robert Murray, CEO of the coal company Murray Energy Corp., against our client Mike Stark. Murray has sued over this article that Stark wrote on the Huffington Post blog about Murray's campaign donations to Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.  Murray also has sued the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, and others working for her site. We believe Mr. Murray's case has no merit. All the facts alleged by Mike Stark in his article are true, and …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

West Coast Leaders Providing Trickle Up Leadership

Monday in San Francisco four elected officials boldly went where few politicians will these days – they talked openly and passionately about the urgent need to take action on climate change including putting a price on carbon.   As California governor Jerry Brown noted, “To utter the term Global Warming is deviant and radical!” But utter those words they did.  Brown was joined by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier, Christy Clark, all of whom signed the signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy.  The plan lays out an ambitious agenda including …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

2013 to be Record Year for Offshore Wind

By J. Matthew Roney Offshore wind power installations are on track to hit a seventh consecutive annual record in 2013. Developers added 1,080 megawatts of generating capacity in the first half of the year, expanding the world total by 20 percent in just six months. Fifteen countries host some 6,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. Before the year is out, the world total should exceed 7,100 megawatts. Although still small compared with the roughly 300,000 megawatts of land-based wind power, offshore capacity is growing at close to 40 percent a year. In 1991, Denmark installed the world’s first offshore wind …

Read more: Uncategorized