March 29, 2017
Actually starts about 16:00 in.
Mike Mann’s best line on Chairman Smith’s use of the phrase “scientific method” –
“I don’t think that means what you think it means.”
Presiding over this shitstorm was, of course, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, who has been Chair of the committee since Republicans took the House in 2012. No one would claim that Smith held back when it came to climate change while President Obama was in office, but having fellow climate deniers installed at the White House seems to have given him an extra bit of joie de vivre. Nothing like some honest-to-god momentum toward planetary destruction to add a little spring to one’s step!
Speaking of momentum, the hearing came a day after President Trump signed an executive order aimed at rolling back progress the Obama administration made on climate, ostensibly to bring back coal jobs (not happening, ever), and a couple of weeks after a “skinny budget” from the White House suggested cutting just about everything science-related you can think of, and climate-related programs in particular. The hearing featured one widely-respected climate scientist—Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State—and three Republican invitees whose views on climate change, if we’re being charitable, lie somewhat outside mainstream scientific consensus: Judith Curry, professor emeritus at Georgia Tech; John Christy, professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville; and Roger Pielke Jr., professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado. Read the rest of this entry »
March 29, 2017
Exxon urges Trump to stay in Paris Agreement.
Peter Trelenberg, Exxon’s manager for environmental policy and planning, writes in the letter: “It is prudent that the United States remain a party to the Paris agreement to ensure a level playing field, so that global energy markets remain as free and competitive as possible.” He also argues the US is well-placed to be internationally competitive within the framework of Paris, thanks to its abundant natural gas reserves and its “innovative private industries, including the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors”.
Mr Trump on the campaign trail promised to “cancel” the Paris agreement within 100 days of taking office and has described the science indicating a threat of global warming as “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”. Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, on ABC News over the weekend criticised Paris as “just a bad deal”. However other members of the administration, including James Mattis, the defence secretary, and Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon chief executive who is now secretary of state, have been reported to favour remaining in the accord.
Kevin Cramer, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from North Dakota who has advised Mr Trump on energy, has written to the president urging him to keep the US in Paris while scaling back its commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Exxon has been widely criticised by environmental groups for its position on climate change, and faces inquiries for the attorneys-general of New York state and Massachusetts over its past statements on the issue, but it has repeatedly stated its support for the Paris agreement.
China happy to lead new industrial revolution:
China is still committed to the Paris climate change accord agreed in 2015, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order to dismantle Obama-era climate change regulations.
Trump’s main target is former president Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants – a key factor in the United States’ ability to meet its commitments under the climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said climate change was a common challenge for everyone and the Paris agreement was a landmark that came about with the hard work of the international community, including China and the United States.
China is keen to be seen leading the way in reducing climate change which Trump has in the past dismissed as a “hoax”.
“We still uphold that all sides should move with the times, grasp the opportunities, fulfill their promises and earnestly take proactive steps to jointly push the enforcement of this agreement,” Lu told a daily news briefing.
“No matter how other countries’ policies on climate change change, as a responsible large developing country, China’s resolve, aims and policy moves in dealing with climate change will not change,” he added.
In many Republican-led states — ranging from Texas to Illinois — solar, wind and energy efficiency have thrived as a way to cut electricity costs and boost jobs, not as a way to protect the planet. In other Republican states, lawmakers are pressing to roll back existing incentives for renewable energy, saying they want to protect coal and natural gas. Read the rest of this entry »
March 29, 2017
A year earlier, I traveled to her village in the Ecuadorian Amazon to research the improbable story of a rainforest community of 1,200 Kichwa people that has successfully fended off oil companies and a government intent on exploiting their land for profit. How, I wondered, has Sarayaku been winning?
This is not the story most people know from Ecuador. Headlines have focused on northern Ecuador, where Chevron is fighting a landmark $9.5 billion judgment for dumping millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into rivers and leaving unlined pits of contaminated sludge that poisoned thousands of people.
Sarayaku lies in southern Ecuador, where the government is selling drilling rights to a vast swath of indigenous lands—except for Sarayaku. The community has become a beacon of hope to other indigenous groups and to global climate change activists as it mobilizes to stop a new round of oil exploration.
What I found in Sarayaku was not just a community defending its territory. I encountered a people who believe that their lifestyle, deeply connected to nature, holds promise for humans to save themselves from global warming and extinction. They are fighting back by advancing a counter-capitalist vision called sumak kawsay—Kichwa for “living well”—living in harmony with the natural world and insisting that nature has rights deserving of protection.
In the early 2000s, “The government let oil businesses exploit and explore for oil in this territory. There was no consultation. Many communities sold out to the oil companies. Sarayaku was the only pueblo that didn’t sell the right for oil companies to explore.”
Ecuador’s government ignored the community’s refusal to sell oil-drilling rights and signed a contract in 1996 with the Argentinian oil company C.G.C. to explore for oil in Sarayaku. In 2003, C.G.C. petroleros—oil workers and private security guards—and Ecuadorian soldiers came by helicopter to lay explosives and dig test wells.
Sarayaku mobilized. “We stopped the schools and our own work and dedicated ourselves to the struggle for six months,” says Santi. As the oil workers cleared a large area of forest—which was community farmland—the citizens of Sarayaku retreated deep into the jungle, where they established emergency camps and plotted their resistance.
“In the six months of struggle, there was torture, rape, and strong suffering of our people, especially our mothers and children,” Santi recounts. “We returned with psychological illness. All the military who came …” He pauses to compose himself. “This was a very, very bad time.”
In their jungle camps, the Sarayaku leaders hatched a plan. The women of the community prepared a strong batch of chicha, the traditional Ecuadorian homebrew made from fermented cassava. One night, a group of them traveled stealthily through the jungle, shadowed by men of the village. The women emerged at the main encampment of the petroleros. They offered their chicha and watched as the oil workers happily partied. Read the rest of this entry »
March 28, 2017
Above, Ben Santer: “If the program is to advance ignorance, then I’m not with the Program.”
Important point here:
Any minute now: “Nobody knew how complicated this climate thing is.”
Given the fact that Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, described climate change as a “hoax,” cooked up by the Chinese as part of an elaborate conspiracy, it doesn’t come as too big of a surprise that Trump, as a president, would go after his predecessor’s Clean Power Plan. It did, however, come as a surprise to see Trump deliberately mislead some of his supporters about his approach.
NBC News summarized today’s developments, noting the president’s latest executive order.The order asks the Environmental Protection Agency to review Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and is considered one of the past administration’s signature pieces of climate policy. The plan’s implementation was already put on hold by the Supreme Court in February of 2016.This is clearly a major development, but it kicks off a larger conflict. As Vox’s report explained, “Trump’s administration will now spend years trying to rewrite rules and fend off legal challenges from environmentalists. And it’s not clear they’ll always prevail: Some of President Obama’s climate policies may prove harder to uproot than thought.”That’s certainly true, though it’s still an international embarrassment for the United States to abandoned its leadership role; it risks exacerbating the existing crisis; and it makes it very unlikely we’ll meet our own goals and targets as part of the Paris Accord.
But as this process unfolds, it’s worth remembering that much of today’s regressive shift is built on falsehoods – and not just about science.
USA Todaynoted, for example, “The order makes good on Trump’s promise to end what he called a ‘war on coal,’ and to bring back coal jobs. ‘I made them this promise. We will put our miners back to work,’ Trump said Tuesday.”
No, actually he won’t.[T]he US coal industry is dying regardless of anything Trump does, said industry experts, with fewer than 100,000 jobs now largely concentrated in Appalachian states.
“It won’t add any coal jobs, but it will set back the country as a leader on the environment,” finance director Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis based in Cleveland told BuzzFeed News. Coal is a declining industry that serves up a product, energy, that costs more than wind, solar, and natural gas.
“That isn’t going to change and the fundamentals are inescapable,” Sanzillo said. “Nobody in the industry has a serious plan to reverse that.”
Robert Murray, head of the largest private US coal firm, Murray Coal, for example, told The Guardian on Monday that Trump should “temper his expectations” on reviving coal industry jobs, adding: “He can’t bring them back.”A New York Timesreport added, “[C]oal miners also should not assume their jobs will return if Trump’s regulations take effect.” The article an energy economist added that “we could see a decrease in coal jobs,” even with Trump’s regressive agenda.
Above, Pollster Ed Maibach: “The average American, while concerned about climate change, rarely, if ever, talks about it.
And the reason they don’t talk about it, is because they think they’re in the minority.”
Below: polling shows otherwise.
But First: New Trump budget proposal makes draconian cuts in Environmental and climate related programs.
His party holds seemingly unchecked power.
It’s not like they haven’t eff’d up something like this before.
But a skinny budget proposal is still just a proposal—and a funny one at that. While this proposal hints at President Trump’s governance priorities, and serves as an initial negotiating position, it mostly markets his ideological bonafides to other Republicans. It’s fiduciary fan fiction for conservatives, basically, with little chance of becoming law. Not only will a tiny EPA be politically difficult to enact, but there are also sticky legal limits on the extent to which the non-military side of the government can be defunded.
It can hint at other negotiations, though: how much Cabinet secretaries are able to wrangle for their agencies. And on that front, there was a curious anecdote in Coral Davenport and Glenn Thrush’s New York Times story about how the Trump skinny budget came together. As you read it, remember that Obama left the EPA with a budget of $8.2 billion:
The E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, who has himself spoken out against some of the core missions of the agency he leads, went to the White House to request a smaller cut after the White House budget office first presented him its preferred spending level. He pressed for about $7 billion, according to the person. Instead, the White House slashed his budget down even further, to about $5.7 billion.
The Times is right: Scott Pruitt does seem to be “against some of the core missions of the agency.” He’s no environmentalist, either: He recently told CNBC that he doubted some of the most basic premises of climate science.
So if he hates the EPA so much, why is he fighting for more funding for it?
– Read the rest of this entry »