Next time someone sends you a news item from any tentacle of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp/Fox News conglomerate, you should first ask them how that search for WMDs and Obama’s birth certificate is going. Case in  point:

Last week, the once-proud Wall Street Journal, now a wholly owned mouthpiece of the Rupert Murdoch empire, the dead-tree equivalent of Fox News, published yet another in a long line of turgid propaganda pieces denying the threat posed by climate change – No Need to Panic About Global Warming.

Most notable among the signatories, besides their almost to-a-person lack of climate science expertise, and their heavy ties to the fossil fuel industry, was an over-representation by the geriatric, the retired, and the gone-emeritus. The title might just as well have been, “I’m not Panicking about Global Warming, because I’ve got mine, and I’ll be dead when it all goes down, suckers…”

Among the leading lights of the clueless crew is William Happer, a Princton physicist, who as Chairman of the George Marshall institute,  presides over one of America’s leading cheerleaders for  Tobacco and oil addiction. Two videos on this page deal with Dr. Happer.

Above, Ben Santer of Livermore Lab blows away Happer’s claims that global warming has somehow magically gone away.

Below, Senator Barbara Boxer reminds Happer that “a lot has changed in the last 80 million years…”.

Since the wsj piece is the kind of claptrap that rattles endlessly in the Tea Party o’sphere, and will be regurgitated by the clueless (Uncle Dittohead and Aunt Teabag) as well as the venal (insert name of climate misinformer here), I’m posting Media Matter’s excellent and well documented take-down of the whole sordid mess.

The comprehensive rebuttal serves as a reasonable primer on the current state of climate denial canards. You can read it here, or go direct to their site – 

Read the rest of this entry »


Another member of the “Wall Street 16” – the one-per-centers-against-climate-science discussed above, is Harrison “Jack” Schmitt  –  a former astronaut, who has converted to a virulent form of right wing extremism . In Dr. Schmitt’s world, those who care about the environment and their children’s future are “communists”. (see video below)

I posted this about Dr Schmitt a year ago – February 8, 2011:

If you care about your children’s future, if you believe other species have a right to exist, if you believe that clean air, clean water, and a livable planet are the minimum that we can pass along to our heirs, then you are now, and have always been,  a communist.

That’s the message from New Mexico’s new chairman of Natural Resources, former Apollo Astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt.

An Op-Ed page war over Schmitt’s crackpot science broke out in the Sante Fe New Mexican last week, and the climate denial chorus, including the tobacco and petroleum fueled Heartland Institute, where Schmitt is a board member, rushed to defend his extreme views. Schmitt was the topic of this week’s Climate Crock video, for his dishonest use of cherry picked statistics to claim that Arctic Sea ice extent had “returned to 1989 levels”.

Now, scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data center have weighed in. Since NSIDC data was part of the discussion, they felt that clarification was needed.

Read the rest of this entry »

A tired and recycled shibboleth dear to the hearts of aging climate deniers, as clueless about agriculture as they are about climate  –  “CO2 is good for plants…”  – covered in the video above.  The real world continues to provide tangible evidence of how wrong headed this is….

The Economic Times:

PARIS: More intense heat waves due to global warming could diminish wheat crop yields around the world through premature ageing, according to a study published Sunday in Nature Climate Change.

Nature Asia-Pacific:

Extreme heat can accelerate wheat aging — an effect that reduces crop yields and is currently underestimated in most crop models — according to a study published online this week in Nature Climate Change. These findings imply that climate warming presents even greater challenges to wheat production than current models predict.

An important source of uncertainty in anticipating the effects of climate change on agriculture is limited understanding of crop responses to extremely high temperatures. David Lobell and co-workers used satellite measurements of wheat growth in northern India to monitor the rates of wheat aging — known as senescence — following exposure to temperatures greater than 34 °C (93.2° F)

New Scientist: 

In India’s breadbasket, the Ganges plain, winter wheat is planted in November and harvested as temperatures rise in spring. David Lobell of Stanford University in California used nine years of images from the MODIS Earth-observation satellite to track when wheat in this region turned from green to brown, a sign that the grain is no longer growing.

He found that the wheat turned brown earlier when average temperatures were higher, with spells over 34 ºC having a particularly strong effect. […]

Lobell’s work suggests losses could be sooner and greater. “This is an early indication that a situation that was already bad could be even worse,” says Andy Challinor of the University of Leeds, UK.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting on a separate Indian study with similar implications.

Read the rest of this entry »

Muppets Respond to Fox News

January 31, 2012

In late 2011, the release of the latest Muppets movie drew angry denouncements from Fox News. It seems the Muppets have a left wing agenda. The movie features Chris Cooper as an evil Koch-Brother-style Oil Baron, bent on despoiling the Muppets treasured theater site for the oil he can squeeze from the ground beneath.

Now, Kermit and Ms. Piggy have responded.

D. R. Tucker is a conservative writer and blogger whose recent essay “Confessions of a Climate Change Convert” crystalized the angst of intelligent, scientifically literate conservatives who have seen their movement taken over by Rush Limbaugh sensibilities and Sara Palin science.  

I don’t believe in being optimistic unless it’s justified.

Thus, despite the courageous efforts of such groups as Republicans for Environmental Protection, I can’t honestly say I’m holding out hope that the Republican Party and the larger conservative movement will ever return to its conservationist roots and join the fight to reduce carbon emissions. The conspiracy-theory wing of the GOP just seems to have too much power.

Sure, I’d love to be proven wrong. I’d love to wake up one morning and hear prominent Republicans say that James Hansen was right all along, that the Competitive Enterprise Institute was in fact a front for ExxonMobil’s interests, that it was immoral for right-wing political operatives to launch smear campaigns against Katharine Hayhoe and Kerry Emanuel. I’d love to see Republicans recognize that there’s no political downside to taking action against climate change.

What I wouldn’t give to see Republican candidates and conservative pundits suddenly have a massive attack of conscience and acknowledge that the Wall Street Journal editorial page spent years shamelessly shilling for fossil-fuel interests, that Fox News brazenly lied about how many jobs would be created by the Keystone XL pipeline, that libertarians have an obvious ideological interest in opposing any form of environmental regulation, and that nationally-syndicated conservative radio hosts are, generally speaking, not climate experts.
Read the rest of this entry »

Dave Roberts is a staff writer for Grist:

During Obama’s State of the Union speech, Democracy Corps ran a dial-test focus group. Fifty swing voters were given devices that let them register approval or disapproval continuously throughout the speech. Two results in particular are worth highlighting.

Overall, there was a striking degree of unanimity, quite in contrast to the polarization in Washington. Reactions to the speech split along party lines on only a few issues. The most interesting split came during the section of the speech on energy:

This section received the highest sustained ratings of the speech from Democrats and independents, but it was also one of the few polarizing sections as Republicans reacted negatively to the President’s call for more support of clean energy (independents, like Democrats, responded very favorably). Overall, Obama gained 22 points on the issue, one of his biggest gains on the evening, as these voters endorsed his appeal to end subsidies for oil companies and instead focus those resources on expanding clean energy in America. [my emphasis]

It seems the Republican attempt to drag clean energy into the culture war has reached only the conservative base. Independents outside the Fox-Limbaugh loop still favor it.

In other words, this is a powerful wedge issue that favors Democrats.

With the Wall Street Journal editorial page beating its chest, Politico making sweet, sweet love to the Solyndra non-scandal, and the Chamber of Commerce dumping money into attack ads, Democrats have gotten unduly spooked. They’ve started believing John Boehner’s trash talk, that energy is a wedge to divide unions from greens.

It’s an empty threat. The fact is, overwhelming majorities of Americans — across party, age, and regional lines — support clean, modern energy. A poll conducted by ORC International in November found that 77 percent of Americans, including 65 percent of Republicans, believe that “the U.S. needs to be a clean energy technology leader and it should invest in the research and domestic manufacturing of wind, solar, and energy efficiency technologies.” Last February, a Gallup poll offered a list of actions Congress might take. The most popular option, with an incredible 83 percent support, was “an energy bill that provides incentives for using solar and other alternative energy resources.”

Americans love clean energy. When they hear about green energy infrastructure, according to the focus-group results …

… participants immediately make the connection between new energy and new jobs. They say, “Alternative energy — good jobs, local jobs — I think we have a tremendous opportunity here — it’s about creating goods and services — invest in infrastructure.”

Americans know that clean energy is the future. They want to embrace the future. They want to, well, win it. They certainly don’t want to fend it off for the sake of oil companies. Americans hate oil companies! (Almost as much as they hate congressional Republicans.) They don’t want to subsidize oil companies any more. Even Republicans support ending oil subsidies by a 2-to-1 margin.

The new George Lucas movie “Red Tails” is doing unexpectedly boffo box office, much to the chagrin of Hollywood observers who predicted that the lack of a big name white star in the cast would doom the film to a niche audience.

MTV Movie News:

Lucas appeared on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” earlier this month and claimed that major studios showed no interest in the film when he went to pitch it.

“It’s because it’s an all-black movie,” he said. “There’s no major white roles in it at all. It’s one of the first all-black action pictures ever made.”

“We’ve come a long way from when Martin was marching in the streets and getting rocks thrown at him. We’ve come a very, very long way,” Ne-Yo said. “However, even with that being said, we got a long way to go. As a black person, period, we’re kinda constantly in a state of proving, which is something that I came to wraps with a long time ago.”

Despite the studios’ lack of interest in the film, Ne-Yo decided to let the success of “Red Tails” speak for itself. “At the end of the day, you complain about it, or you prove them wrong,” he said. “I feel like this was a matter of just proving them wrong.”

Why is this relevant?

Because today, the military is once again leading the nation in a critically important way, by being early adopters of renewable technology that is saving money, and soldiers lives, by decreasing reliance on fossil fuels.  President Obama doubled down on this theme in his State of the Union address. 

Another major point President Obama stated in his speech is that the U.S. Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year. He did not offer any specifics, but it is possible that he is setting a more aggressive renewable portfolio standard for the military, which currently is set at 25 percent of its power consumed to be derived from renewable energy sources by 2025.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has a tradition of accelerating technological advancements, serving as early adopters and impacting the broader commercial market in such areas as aviation, computing and GPS. For the past several years, the DoD has been playing this same role in the renewable energy space.

The spiritual heirs of the Bull Connor racists who resisted integration of the military are today’s tea-party-troglodyte climate deniers.  A little googling will show the current tea party line is “Clean energy is being Shoved Down the Military’s Throat”. (always the sexual innuendo – its a template that speaks volumes)

They are being pushed back and proved wrong on a daily basis, but history shows ignorance has never ceded  ground without a fight. It won’t happen unless all of us are willing to let our voices be heard above the small, bigoted and backward minority.

There is no “Planet X” hurtling toward us from space. Nothing particularly on tap astronomically for December 2012. Likewise no pole shift, no need to lay in supplies, so says the manager of Nasa’s Near-Earth Object Office.

I know this isn’t a big issue among my readers, but keep this handy for responding to panicky emails from Aunt Teabag and Uncle Dittohead.

The “Planet X” hypotheses, – fun fact here – was put forward by, among others, Richard Muller, of BEST temperature project fame. So add yet one more check to his oddball resume – you can view more below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Swedish Chemistry

January 27, 2012

Nothing remarkable about this little piece – a bit of explanatory visuals about the chemistry of greenhouse gases – except – it answers a burning question:
How the heck do you pronounce “Svante Arrhenius”.

If you’re pressed for time, cute swedish girl tells you at 2:00.

The SOTU and Climate

January 26, 2012

For those that missed it, the money quotes, 4 minutes worth on energy and a very quick-oh-so-quick blip of acknowledgment of the greatest threat to civilization in history – which is about all you get on the floor of congress these days. Not enough, but no use crying – we have work to do.

Greg Laden:

Obama probably did the right thing in sidestepping climate change, and admitting that we need to side step it for the time being in order to get other things done. Those of us who do not subscribe to that view would have preferred, perhaps, a fire and brimstone demand to step up our national efforts to address Global Warming and the other issues related to the high rate of release of fossil Carbon into the atmosphere. We might have liked to have seen some of the victims of aridification, tornado swarms, regional drought, parasite-affected forestry and agricultural failures in the US and elsewhere, in the gallery seats where real people sit as emotional sidebars in every State of the Union Address. But, President Obama chose to not do that, and it is easy to see why he made this choice.

Read the rest of this entry »