California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris is investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corp. repeatedly lied to the public and its shareholders about the risk to its business from climate change — and whether such actions could amount to securities fraud and violations of environmental laws.

Harris’ office is reviewing what Exxon Mobil knew about global warming and what the company told investors, a person close to the investigation said.

The move follows published reports, based on internal company documents, suggesting that during the 1980s and 1990s the company, then known as Exxon, used climate research as part of its planning and other business practices but simultaneously argued publicly that climate-change science was not clear cut.

(US Rep. Ted Lieu, US Rep – Torrance)  said he hopes the decision by Harris, representing a state with the eighth-largest economy in the world, will prompt other states and the Justice Department to investigate.

San Bernadino County Sun:

This is welcome news. California is investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corp. misled investors about the causes and effects of climate change and the likely impact on the oil company’s business.

It’s welcome not because Exxon Mobil necessarily did anything wrong or deserves punishment. That remains to be seen.

It’s welcome because the investigation by state Attorney General Kamala Harris can help to reveal exactly what Exxon Mobil knows — and has known over the years — about climate risks.

And knowing what companies like Exxon Mobil know could make for a more informed debate about the realities of global warming and what should be done to mitigate damage.

Official responses to climate change have mostly been based on data turned up by government, academic and environmental groups’ research.

Isn’t that data convincing? Not to many people, particularly political conservatives, who charge that the research is inconclusive or even that researchers have cooked the books in order to further arguments for stepped-up government regulation of business and fossil-fuels consumption.

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Above, my video about the effects of sea level rise in South Florida is the most popular entry in the “This is Not Cool” series from Yale Climate Connections.

The vid features an interview with Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell, who has been writing prolifically on climate change and sea level, and had just published a piece on the vulnerability of Miami to rising seas.

Anyway, heads up, I just talked to Jeff yesterday following his insightful play-by-play from the Paris Climate negotiations in November/December of last year.  I’ll be combining that interview with reactions from major scientific players that I was lucky enough to record just days after the Paris agreement was announced. That vid should be coming out next week, fingers crossed..

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, a group of hard-pressed local officials from South Florida have been clamoring for Climate denying GOP candidates to at least acknowledge the sea water that is sloshing up around their collective ankles.  Good luck to them.

Miami Herald:

Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have given little priority to climate change on the Republican presidential campaign trail, and a group of South Florida mayors have had enough.

Fifteen mayors from cities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties wrote the two Miami candidates a letter asking them to meet with local leaders to “discuss the risks facing Florida communities due to climate change and help us chart a path forward to protect our state and the entire United States.”

“As mayors representing municipalities across Florida, we call on you to acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the upcoming crisis it presents our communities,” both letters begin. “Our cities and towns are already coping with the impacts of climate change today. We will need leadership and concrete solutions from our next president.”

Most of the mayors are Democrats, and most of them serve in nonpartisan posts. But at least two are Republican, Tomás Regalado of Miami and Jim Cason of Coral Gables. Regalado is a Rubio supporter who showed up to the Florida senator’s fundraiser at the InterContinental Hotel downtown two weeks ago.

“We are in ground zero, and we need to have our candidates from Florida address the issue,” Regalado told the Miami Herald on Monday. “I understand that it’s a very delicate issue for them, because some of their constituents do not agree or understand.”

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We’re getting closer to the moment when Republican voters will choose which climate denier to run for the Presidency – and the best analysis I’ve seen of the process is this one from Stephen Colbert.

Move Over, Tina Fey

January 25, 2016

Off topic, but can’t help it.

Above, more from my conversation with Carl Mears PhD, senior scientist behind the RSS (Remote Sensing Systems) satellite temperature data set, one which has been used and misused by climate deniers over recent years.

In a December 2015 hearing, Senator Ted Cruz held up a carefully chosen slice of the RSS data, improperly, according to Dr. Mears, purporting to contradict the mainstream science of climate change.  Dr. Mears is clear that the globe is warming, if you look at the complete satellite record, (as well as thousands of other independent supporting datasets), the planet is warming, and humans are causing it.

The Conversation:

Research has identified several telltale signs that differentiate denial from skepticism, whether it is denial of the link between smoking and lung cancer or between CO2 emissions and climate change.

One technique of denial involves “cherry-picking”, best described as willfully ignoring a mountain of inconvenient evidence in favor of a small molehill that serves a desired purpose. Cherry-picking is already in full swing in response to the record-breaking temperatures of 2015.

Political operatives such as James Taylor of the Heartland Institute – which once compared acceptance of the science of climate change to the Unabomber in an ill-fated billboard campaign – have already denied 2015 set a record by pointing to satellite data, which ostensibly shows no warming for the last umpteen years and which purportedly relegates 2015 to third place.

So what about the satellite data?

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Cruz Out of Control

January 24, 2016

D.R. Tucker in the Washington Monthly:

Wingnut World is freaking out over a new video by Peter Sinclair of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication that points out the duplicity of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s assertion that global warming somehow stopped in the late-1990s:

After watching the video, you can’t help wondering whether Texas voters feel any embarrassment about sending a shameless liar like Cruz to the United States Senate. Then again, you can say the same for the folks who are showing up to Donald Trump rallies, the folks delusional enough to think the bigoted billionaire knows a damn thing about “making America great again.”

What attracts somebody to a con like Ted or Don? I can’t help going back to those old articles about Americans addicted to right-wing media. If your cognitive abilities have been compromised by the filth of Fox and the lies of Limbaugh, you’ll believe “anything…except the truth,” as Janeane Garofalo observed in 2009.

tucker2A civilization simply cannot survive if large portions of that civilization have declared war on facts. When you think of the legions of Americans who truly believe that either Trump or Cruz are fit to be the forty-fifth president of the United States, don’t you wonder if something has gone deeply wrong in American society?
There was a fascinating exchange on the January 15 edition of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher in which Maher, interviewing former Vice President Al Gore, suggested that religion was the main driver of anti-science sentiment in the United States. In response, Gore suggested that religion and science can coexist, citing Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si. We can dispute who’s right—but we cannot dispute the fact that Trump and Cruz have become de facto deities in the eyes of far too many Americans.

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