Monday, June 22, 2015

Doubt Meets a Mean Upper Cut



I just found my latest heroine in Naomi Oreskes.  She is not a female boxer in the traditional sense.

Trained as a geologist and obviously smart as a whip, she has become the staunch challenger to the scientific community's career naysayers and deniers.  But she does it on their terms, with research and solid data, and that's probably what makes them so incensed.

Dr. Fred Singer and the staff scientists of the George C Marshall Institute are some of the most vocal.  They call her many things including a lightening rod.  Her response is: "But remember, the whole purpose of a lightning rod is to keep people safe.”

Her book Merchants of Doubt is a must read.  She calls out the very small part of the scientific community that has strategically sowed doubt about some of the biggest issues.  We're talking not only climate change but also the health impacts of tobacco and the effects of acid rain. 

With her climate change work, she shows that about 97 percent of working climate scientists accept that global warming is happening, that humans are largely responsible, and that the situation poses long-term risks.  She places the small minority of deniers on the wrong side of science and history. 

The plot twist that gets me is that while the tobacco companies and the fossil fuel companies are motivated by greed, the merchants of doubt are in it for a different reason.  Oreskes says they oppose these major findings and the necessary sea changes that follow for "a deep ideological reason: contempt for government regulation," according to the New York Times.

In the world of communicating the science of climate change and fighting the deniers, that's an eye opener.  Knowing the motivation, the end game, of your enemy is half the battle to overcoming them.  Course it always helps to have a Naomi in your corner. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Celebrate World Oceans Day



Today is a great day to celebrate the majesty and the life-giving power of the ocean.

One way to celebrate is to remember that climate change hits the ocean, too.  It doesn't sound like much of a celebration but people save what they love, and the ocean needs saving.

So support clean energy to stem two game-changing ocean ills caused by climate change -- warming seas and ocean acidification.

Another way to celebrate is to get in the water or on the water or even near the water if you're lucky enough.  But you knew that.  Happy World Oceans Day.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Constant Spill



I knew it was too good to be true.  For awhile there, it really seemed that the Obama administration was serious about protecting the Arctic from offshore drilling.

Even most recently optimism flickered as Secretary of State Kerry spoke in support of clean energy at the Arctic Council.

"My friends, clean energy is the solution to climate change.  If we got the whole world to embrace clean energy choices rapidly, we can meet our two-degree target.  But the window’s closing.  The extraordinary thing is all of the technologies we need – whether it’s wind or solar or hydro or whatever, they’re all there," said Kerry.

But it is not to be.  The Obama administration just agreed to allow Shell to drill in the Arctic.

An oil spill directly into the Arctic would be horrible and that's reason enough to object to this decision.  But it's bigger than that.

Every single minute of every single day we are spilling carbon and other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.  It's the constant spill.

The main objection to drilling in the Arctic should be that it's just more of the same -- drill, burn, repeat.  It's what got us here in the first pace.

And now we know better.  But we're still doing it.

Based on the rules of evolution, technically, we should be selected out.  Maybe that's what climate change is.  We cannot adapt ourselves to a clean energy future so climate change will take care of it.  Even a mouse can learn to protect itself -- if it touches this thing, it gets shocked.  So what does it do?  The mouse stops touching it.

If we burn this thing, we ruin nature.  Let's keep burning it anyway.

The move to renewable and clean power is too slow, and that's exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants.  They fought (and are still fighting) the science and reality of climate change, but they've got so many other ways to hold onto their status quo.

Transition is one of those terms they've fed us.  Obama even used it in his recent announcement that we can expect more of the same, even drilling in the Arctic.  That we need to transition to clean fuels.  It sounds so nice and calm.  It really just means more time for the fossil fuel industry to make a killing while they're killing the planet.

I thought we had a moment of real inspiration, a chance for one of the biggest hogs on the planet, the U.S., to be a leader in clean energy.

"Rather than being a leader, however, the U.S. is simply following in the footsteps of Russia and Norway – two countries that have already begun or are making progress towards Arctic offshore drilling.  The decision in favor of Shell’s plans also puts Alaska on the pathway of dependency on oil extraction for many more years to come instead of turning it into a leader in more cutting-edge industries like clean energy," according to Cryopolitics.

Pale leadership, missed opportunities and the constant spill continues while the fat cats pop the champagne.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Don't Even Speak Of It



The ultimate form of denial: don't even speak of it.

The Florida office charged with protecting the state's natural resources -- from manatees to the buccaneer palm, from elkhorn coral to gators -- was muzzled by the state's highest officials.

"Though it was not a written rule, we were told not to use the terms 'climate change,' 'global warming' or 'sustainability'. That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors," said Christopher Byrd, a former attorney with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Office of General Counsel, according to USA Today.

What could Florida officials possibly be protecting by such a mandate?  Unfortunately, it's unsurprising in a state where renewable energy is illegal.

What really boggles the mind is that Florida is almost entirely at or barely above sea level.  Right now, flooding occurs with nearly every high tide in places that never flooded before including many of its famous beaches, which generate over $65 billion in tourism revenue annually.

The blatant disregard for the future of Floridians and Florida's economy by its own government is nothing short of breathtaking.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tea Party Blasts Koch Brothers



Who do you think said this? 


"Americans for Prosperity (Koch brothers' nonprofit) is supposed to espouse free-market principles, but they're trying to prevent Floridians from engaging in commerce in a free-market manner.  They are resorting to
outright lies." 

Nope, not a tree hugging environmentalist.  Not some big time liberal.  Not even a left-leaning journalist

Debbie Dooley said that.  She's a Georgia-based tea party leader and founder of Conservatives For Energy Freedom. 

She was speaking about Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers leading mouthpiece and purveyor of doubt and denial. 

In Florida, Americans for Prosperity is butting heads with the Tea Party.  The Tea Party supports solar in the state, also known as the sunshine state by the way.  Renewable energy is currently illegal in Florida. 

Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity make it their mission to give no quarter to renewable sources of power because that threatens the profits of their corporate patrons. They want clean energy to remain illegal in Florida. 

This conservative scuffle is a stunning example of the Koch brothers' machine at work, mowing down everything in its path,  even fellow conservatives. 

"Proponents of the ballot measure (to make renewables legal in Florida) argue there aren't any subsidies or mandates in the measure -- just legal changes that would make it easier for people in the state to get solar if they want. 

Dooley -- the Tea Party leader -- has accused Americans for Prosperity of 'hypocrisy'. Dooley accused the group of kowtowing to its corporate benefactors (Koch Brothers) rather than the will of the people," according to the Huffington Post 

'You don’t throw your principles out the window to benefit your corporate benefactors,' she said. 

That's her mistake right there -- she assumes Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Brothers have principles or anything resembling standards.  

They seem to be willing to say anything despite how truthful it is.  There is no place for reason in their money-fueled animosity.  It's all to keep their status quo of making billions while the world burns, literally. 

Let's not even get into the fact that renewables are illegal in Florida.  What is wrong with people? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Petition: Remove the Koch Brothers



Just say no to Koch brothers. No place for fake science and denial while the world burns -- sign the petitions to remove the Koch brothers from the boards of public television and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History.

Petition:  "Remove David Koch from WGBH’s board of trustees and ensure that public broadcasting remains independent from the influence of radical climate change denial." Over 20,000 signatures so far.

Petition: "It's time to get science deniers out of science museums. Two of our most celebrated natural history museums have a serious Koch problem.

David Koch sits on the board and is a major donor for both the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History. This from one of the two Koch brothers, Kansas billionaires who have sent $79 million since 1997 to groups denying the science of climate change."

Thank you Greenpeace and MoveOn. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ordinary Heroes Never Give Up



Last week's veto of the Keystone XL pipeline was wonderful news but it was curious how quietly it rolled through the media and the environmental community. It was like a calm-before-the-storm moment.

This is probably because the XL pipeline may be a minor skirmish in the looming battle with the Koch brothers. Certainly their massive machine of fake scientists, shadow nonprofits, and greedy officials are going to make it a bloody one.

The Koch brothers will spend more than anyone has ever spent -- very close to a billion dollars -- to preserve their status quo, according to Koch Brothers’ Budget of $889 Million for 2016 Is on Par With Both Parties’ Spending in the New York Times.

Right now the majority of Americans believe climate change is caused by humans burning fossil fuels but the Koch brothers will try to change that.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on track to shut down the dirtiest coal burning power plants, and hundreds of millions of Americans acknowledge that they want clean air and water, but the Koch brothers will do everything they can to keep those plants spewing.

They've successfully rigged an already-rigged system.

"The Koch brothers funnel most of their money through specially created nonprofit groups that are not required to reveal their donors. Any outside group — with unlimited donations from corporations, labor or wealthy individuals — can make a direct pitch to voters right up until election day.

The issue is whether their influence, by virtue of their campaign spending, should be so exponentially larger than the sum interests of millions of Americans whose quest for basic health care or a modest piece of the pie would be adversely affected by the Koch-promoted policies," notes John Diaz in Koch Brothers' Hostile Takeover of Our Democracy in the San Francisco Chronicle.

It's a travesty. Big changes in the way things are done need to happen sooner than later, especially when it comes to powering the planet and fueling vehicles. Yet 900 million dollars can be a huge roadblock in the U.S. where votes often go to the highest bidders.

I find solace and inspiration in Nebraskan Mary Pipher's words:

"Our coalition allowed us to transform our feelings of sorrow, fear, anger and helplessness into something stronger and more durable. We became a state of ordinary heroes who decided that money couldn’t buy everything and that some things were sacred.

The campaign to stop the Keystone XL is not over. It won’t be over until we give up, and we aren’t giving up."