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New polling from Yale and George Mason University. Not good news for science denying politicians.

As the election year develops, we can also expect more headline making extreme events that will make a repetitive drumbeat for campaign messages. Should be interesting, and I hope to take part.

Joe Romm at Climate Progress:

A new public opinion survey finds that “Americans across political lines, except conservative Republicans, would support a presidential candidate who strongly supports taking action to reduce global warming.”

The survey of 1,004 registered voters by the Climate Change Communication programs at Yale and George Mason University yielded a number of important findings consistent with earlier polling this year by Gallup.

The new survey found a growing number of registered voters understand global warming is happening: “Three in four (73%, up 7 points since Spring 2014) now think it is happening. Large majorities of Democrats — liberal (95%) and moderate/conservative (80%) — think it is happening, as do three in four Independents (74%, up 15 points since Spring 2014) and the majority of liberal/moderate Republicans (71%, up 10 points).”

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It was former Saudi Oil Minister Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani who first said, “We did not leave the stone age because we ran out of stones.”
Move away from fossil fuels, and many things start to look different.

More evidence that the Oil industry’s troubles are not just another cycle. Not only are Oil’s most entrenched and privileged tyrants thinking of a world after oil, but cracking the door to a more open society.

What is it about fossil fuels that make governments more closed, insular, and anti-democratic?
Recent news from Saudi Arabia reminded me of this piece from Tom Friedman:

When I heard the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declare that the Holocaust was a “myth,” I couldn’t help asking myself: “I wonder if the president of Iran would be talking this way if the price of oil were $20 a barrel today rather than $60 a barrel.” When I heard Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez telling British Prime Minister Tony Blair to “go right to hell” and telling his supporters that the U.S.-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas “can go to hell,” too, I couldn’t help saying to myself, “I wonder if the president of Venezuela would be saying all these things if the price of oil today were $20 a barrel rather than $60 a barrel, and his country had to make a living by empowering its own entrepreneurs, not just drilling wells.”

As I followed events in the Persian Gulf during the past few years, I noticed that the first Arab Gulf state to hold a free and fair election, in which women could run and vote, and the first Arab Gulf state to undertake a total overhaul of its labor laws to make its own people more employable and less dependent on imported labor, was Bahrain. Bahrain happened to be the first Arab Gulf state expected to run out of oil. It was also the first in the region to sign a free trade agreement with the United States. I couldn’t help asking myself: “Could that all just be a coincidence? Finally, when I looked across the Arab world, and watched the popular democracy activists in Lebanon pushing Syrian troops out of their country, I couldn’t help saying to myself: “Is it an accident that the Arab world’s first and only real democracy happens not to have a drop of oil?”

Washington Post:

Saudi Arabia is a country near-synonymous with the oil industry, but now the kingdom is moving to end what it calls its “addiction to oil” with a new plan.

The plan, known as Vision 2030, was announced Monday by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the fast-rising 31-year-old said to be at the helm of Saudi Arabia’s plans to modernize its economy. In an interview with al-Arabiya news channel conducted in his palace in Riyadh, Mohammed said that under the plan, the country will exist “without any dependence on oil” by 2020 and would soon be a “global player” on the world investment stage.

That would mark a big change. Since large quantities of oil were discovered in the then-nascent Saudi kingdom in 1938, the oil industry has come to dominate the country’s economy. Revenue from the industry earned the Saudi government billions and enabled the ruling royal family to offer generous benefits to Saudi citizens. In recent years, the oil industry had accounted for an estimated 90 percent of the government’s income.

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Famine Threatens Africa

April 27, 2016

Money Quote: “I am 80 and in the 80 years of my life,  I’ve never seen such severe drought.”

 

Above, an NBC News report from Earth Day, 1970, contains a dire warning about climate change.

This is the most underreported story of the last, oh, say,… 50 million years.

DesmogBlog:

Throughout Exxon’s global operations, the company knew that CO2 was a harmful pollutant in the atmosphere years earlier than previously reported.

DeSmog has uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company.

It is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels… There is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases of forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Technology exists to remove CO2 from stack gases but removal of only 50% of the CO2 would double the cost of power generation.” [emphasis added]

Those lines appeared in a 1980 report, “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979,” produced by Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary.

#exxonknew - it is assumed

#exxonknew | there is no doubt
[click on any of the screenshots in this story to see a PDF of the full document]

A distribution list included with the report indicates that it was disseminated to managers across Exxon’s international corporate offices, including in Europe.

#exxonknew | distirbution list
[click here to download the full PDF version of “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979”]

The next report in the series, “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1980-81,” noted in an appendix covering “Key Environmental Affairs Issues and Concerns” that: CO2 / GREENHOUSE EFFECT RECEIVING INCREASED MEDIA ATTENTION.

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CNN:

Seven police officers were killed while protecting health workers who were vaccinating children against polio in the Pakistani city of Karachi, authorities said.

Eight militants on four motorcycles opened fire on officers who had stopped for food and then shot at a convoy protecting the health workers, police inspector general Feroz Shah said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif released a statement condemning the attacks.

“(The officers) sacrificed their today for securing the future of our coming generations,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar (TTP-JA), claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

Crikey! This is Fracked Up!

Put another swamp on the Barby…

In the world of science denial, Money is Speech, corporations are people, Donald Trump is Galileo, and apparently, lying to your customers and shareholders is exercising your constitutional rights.

Above, brave and patriotic Tobacco executives practice their First Amendment right of Free Speech,  in 1994.

Inside Climate News:

Exxon, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and their allies are invoking free speech protections in a pugnacious pushback against subpoenas from attorneys general seeking decades of documents on climate change. Their argument is that the state-level investigations violate the First Amendment rights of those who question climate science.

Exxon has sued to block a subpoena issued by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in an unusual step, named as a defendant the Washington, D.C. law firm and attorney representing the territory in the inquiry. In its complaint against the Virgin Islands subpoena, Exxon wrote, “The chilling effect of this inquiry…strikes at protected speech at the core of the First Amendment.”

In a pointed letter to Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker on April 20, CEI’s attorney called the subpoena “offensive” and “un-American,” and warned to “expect a fight.” Andrew Grossman, outside counsel for CEI, wrote, “You have no right to wield your power as a prosecutor to advance a policy agenda by persecuting those who disagree with you.”

The conservative non-profit Energy & Environment Legal Institute, an ally of CEI, recently released emails that show that the attorneys general considering investigating Exxon were briefed by two environmentalists. E&E got the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request to the Vermont attorney general’s office. Though such meetings with environmental and industry advocates are widely considered routine, E&E described the meetings as secretive collusion, an idea that has been echoed on conservative websites and among some mainstream media outlets.

The AGs have not changed course amid the counterattack. But Exxon and its allies appear to be aiming as much at public opinion as at state law enforcement. After InsideClimate News and later the Los Angeles Times published stories last year detailing Exxon’s cutting edge climate research in the 1970s and its subsequent efforts to disparage climate science, the company initially argued it has conducted climate science without interruption for 40 years. It also answered a subpoena by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and produced 10,000 pages of records by the end of 2015.

Now, its emphasis appears to have shifted. As the company tries to defend its climate contrarian stance, Exxon argues that it has voiced honest dissent on the science that a conspiracy of environmentalists and attorneys general wants to silence. “Our critics, on the other hand, want no part of that discussion. Rather, they seek to stifle free speech and limit scientific inquiry while painting a false picture of ExxonMobil,” spokeswoman Suzanne McCarron wrote in a post on the company’s blog on April 20 titled “The Coordinated Attack on ExxonMobil.”

Exxon and CEI’s lawyers have experience waging long battles with government attorneys on controversial cases. Exxon’s law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and CEI’s attorneys, BakerHostetler, represented the tobacco industry for years. Exxon’s firm also represents the National Football League as it deals with the scandal over its concussion research.

CEI’s lawyers, Andrew Grossman and David Rivkin, have launched a project called Free Speech in Science, which aims to “stop the intimidation” of those who disagree with accepted climate science. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, the lawyers compared climate deniers to Galileo and added, “As the scientific case for a climate-change catastrophe wanes, proponents of big-ticket climate policies are increasingly focused on punishing dissent from an asserted ‘consensus’ view.”

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cspringsslide

In famously conservative Colorado Springs, they don’t believe in what crazy scientists told them about unstable soils. After all, weren’t these the same people who were saying the planet was warming?

Denver Post:

COLORADO SPRINGS — A geologist knocked on Sherry Cripps’ door more than a decade ago and warned her that her home on Cheyenne Mountain was sitting atop a slow-moving, destructive landslide. He told her to abandon the home.

Cripps dismissed the aging geologist as crazy until 2015, when his predictions came true. She and her husband Denny are close to abandoning their nearly unlivable home, as it is cracking in half and sliding off a hill. The Cripps and their neighbors are confronting a behemoth that lay dormant for years: a landslide zone one and a half times the size of Manhattan.

Thousands of homes in the southwest corner of the city were built in the slide zone, despite repeated warnings from geologists who said the area was risky for development and recommended caution in approving construction.

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Science historian Naomi Oreskes plays a role in my most recent video “Surveilling the Scientists” – and I took the opportunity to pull out some more clips from our 2014 interview in San Francisco.  Oreskes tries to shed some light on the motivations for the “Merchants of Doubt” – a cabal of scientists so wedded to the paranoid right wing vision of a Cold War world, that they were blind to the emerging science of a Warming one.

More below:

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