The First Climate Election

November 6, 2018

In a country so closely divided as the US is right now, the emergence of climate as an issue that a significant number of voters care about can be a game changer in close races.
We have seen in this cycle a number of Democratic politicians embrace climate, and more broadly, a respect for science and fact, as an issue – as well as advocating for clean energy strategies.

Prominently, Andrew Gillum in his run for the extremely important Florida Governor seat, and Beto O’Rourke in his Texas Senate race, have been fearless and out front on climate change and renewable energy.

In regions like South Florida, Rep. Carlos Curbello, a Republican, has joined a bipartisan “climate caucus” as a means of demonstrating concern about climate and the sea level rise so obvious in his district.

Regardless of today’s results, the importance of climate and clean energy as a political issue has crossed a threshold.

Vox:

The industry’s dilemma is brought home by a recent bit of market research and polling done on behalf of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for utilities. It was distributed at a recent meeting of EEI board members and executives and shared with me.

The work was done by the market research firm Maslansky & Partners, which analyzed existing utility messaging, interviewed utility execs and environmentalists, ran a national opinion survey, and did a couple of three-hour sit-downs with “media informed customers” in Minneapolis and Phoenix.

The results are striking. They do a great job of laying out the public opinion landscape on renewables, showing where different groups have advantages and disadvantages.

The takeaway: Renewables are a public opinion juggernaut. Being against them is no longer an option. The industry’s best and only hope is to slow down the stampede a bit (and that’s what they plan to try).

In our polarized age, here is something we almost all agree on: Renewable energy is awesome.

Here’s the most striking slide in the presentation:

poll18

In case you don’t feel like squinting, let me draw your attention to the fact that a majority of those surveyed (51 percent) believe that 100 percent renewables is a good idea even if it raises their energy bills by 30 percent.

That is wild. As anyone who’s been in politics a while knows, Americans don’t generally like people raising their bills, much less by a third. A majority that still favors it? That is political dynamite.

Meanwhile, there are some on the climate action side who view Republicans like Rep. Curbelo as “climate peacocks”, more show than substance.

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Dear Lamar,…

December 2, 2015

msusat

Rabbit Run:

The news has been full of Lamar Smith, Chair and Poohba of the House Science Committee fulminating about NOAA and his attempts to gangplank Tom Karl.  In a recent op-ed in the Washington Times (fishrap whose time and sugar daddy has come and gone) Smith writes

NOAA often fails to consider all available data in its determinations and climate change reports to the public. A recent study by NOAA, published in the journal Science, made “adjustments” to historical temperature records and NOAA trumpeted the findings as refuting the nearly two-decade pause in global warming. The study’s authors claimed these adjustments were supposedly based on new data and new methodology. But the study failed to include satellite data.

Atmospheric satellite data, considered by many to be the most objective, has clearly showed no warming for the past two decades. This fact is well documented, but has been embarrassing for an administration determined to push through costly environmental regulations.

Now this is very popular on the SKS list of denial as the El Nino driven SURGE is pushing global temperatures through the roof.  Certain folk, including Congressman Smith, invoke the UAH MSU global temperature record as their gold standard.  Yet anybunny looking into the matter knows of the serial screwups and the teeth pulling needed to get any information about the majic Spencer and Christy use to transform microwave intensity to temperatures and how it is hard to figure out what and where is actually being measured.

All is not clear in Alabama.

A friend of the Rabett Run knows quite a bit about MSU units and how Roy Spencer and John Christy have danced with the data.

He wrote a letter to Lamar Smith.

Eli thought reproducing the letter would be a public service.  It is a bit long for a tweet, and, indeed some additional comments have been added at the end.

————————————————–
Rep. Lamar Smith,
Chairman House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
2321 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

RE: your Op-Ed  26 November in The Washington Times

Chairman Smith:

I read your op-ed with considerable interest.  I’m a retired engineer whose work experience included several years in satellite design.  As I read your article, my impression was that you do not understand the so-called “satellite temperature” data developed by Roy Spencer and John Christy of UAH.  Allow me to provide some information.

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Citing unnamed, (ie nonexistent) “experts”,  Inquisitor Lamar Smith of the House Science Committee engages in hallucinatory arm waving in attempting to convince Miami residents that the water around their ankles is completely normal.

Office of Lamar Smith, Chairman, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology:

Dec 1, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after President Obama delivered a speech this morning before the U.N. climate change conference in Paris blaming climate change for recent flooding in Miami, Florida. The president stated, “You go down to Miami and when it’s flooding at high tide on a sunny day, the fish are swimming through the middle of the streets, there’s costs to that.”

Chairman Smith: “The president’s statement that Miami flooding is linked to climate change is entirely false and in fact disputed by meteorologists at the National Weather Service. The experts have reported that the lunar cycle and wind patterns are to blame for unusually high floods in Miami, not climate change. The fact is there is little evidence that climate change causes extreme weather events. The president is ignoring the facts and misleading the American people in order to advance his extreme climate change agenda.”

sea-level_estimates_1-preview

2000 years of sea level: Kemp et al

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inquisition

“Science” Committee’s Bully tactics not getting any love from the science community.
Inquisitions not popular among the intellectually curious.

Who knew?

Washington Post:

A top House lawmaker’s confrontation with government researchers over a groundbreaking climate change study is provoking a national backlash from scientists, who say his campaign represents the most serious threat Congress has posed to scientific freedom.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and demanded that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Their findings contradicted earlier work showing that global warming had paused, and Smith, a climate change skeptic, has accused them of altering global temperature data and rushing to publish their research in the June issue of the journal Science.

So far, NOAA officials have resisted Smith’s demands, and the showdown has escalated.

On Tuesday, seven scientific organizations representing hundreds of thousands of scientists sent an unsparing letter to Smith, warning that his efforts are “establishing a practice of inquests” that will have a chilling effect.

The Post article indicates the science committee may have blinked.

A legislative aide at the Science Committee said this week that Smith is open to discussions with NOAA to resolve the conflict.

Pope Francis’ visit to the US catalyzed the growing sense across the country, and across the globe, that climate change is, above all, a moral issue.

More and more scientists have realized that speaking to this moral dimension is far more persuasive than speaking the language of science and fact, as compelling as those are.  Most people simply respond better to an issue that is framed in moral terms.

supportdarksnow

The emerging story of what Exxon knew, and when they knew it, shows that the differences have never really been about the science questions – even the major oil companies knew the basic science truths 4 decades ago.  They simply made a moral decision that the lives of the next ten thousand generations of human beings were not as important as their own profits, and we are now witnessing the early impacts of that decision.

“So what’s a Republican, like me, doing at a wind farm?” asks GOP Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner in the ad above.
Damn good question, given the hostility to renewable energy that leading GOP funders and interest groups have been showing in recent years, and the current political campaign.

NYTimes:

In Senate races in the general election, the analysis found, energy and the environment are the third-most mentioned issue in political advertisements, behind health care and jobs.

The explosion of energy and environmental ads also suggests the prominent role that the issues could play in the 2016 presidential race, especially as megadonors — such as Thomas F. Steyer, a California billionaire and environmental activist on the left, and Charles G. and David H. Koch, billionaire brothers on the right — take sides. Leaders of major environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters said they had collectively spent record amounts of money in this election cycle.

“Candidates are using energy and environment as a sledgehammer to win a race,” said Elizabeth Wilner, the senior vice president for politics at Kantar Media/CMAG.

Groups representing the energy industry and environmental advocacy have typically been the lead players in presenting policy positions in ads, but this year the candidates themselves and party political committees are also taking on that role.

“What’s important about what’s going on right now is the extent to which the Democrats feel confident playing offense on environmental and energy issues, and the extent to which polling shows that they are scoring when they do that,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.

What pollsters know, and what candidates are finding out, is that climate and energy issues work to move voters.  In Mr. Gardner’s home state of Colorado, renewable energy is popular, and concerns about climate and environment are high – leading Democratic interest groups to seek to tie Mr. Gardner’s record of climate denial to his stands on other social issues where he seems to be out of step with his constituency.

The election results will tell us something about how well these kinds of attacks, and responses, have worked – but the swing in voter attitudes on climate change is unlikely to stop, especially given the possibility that 2014 could be the hottest year ever in the NASA surface temperature record, and if a developing El Nino warming event in the Pacific plays out in coming months, 2015 could be hotter still.

 

clueless

I’m in a generous mood, and giving her benefit of the doubt. Going with “clueless tool”.
More evidence that being a climate denier is rapidly becoming socially icky in the class of spousal abuse, kiddy porn, or being, well, say,  a holocaust denier.

Following a mass exodus of corporate contributors, and Google Executive Eric Schmidt’s declaration that they were “literally lying” about climate change – new CEO of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch funded science denial organization, goes on national radio and insists they know nothing, nothing, about climate denial. Or climate. Or anything. Why am I here again?

Crooks and Liars:

One week after updating its position on climate change, ALEC’s new CEO Lisa B. Nelson told (NPR radio hostess) Diane Rehm that ALEC doesn’t comment on climate change.

Lisa Nelson, the new CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, doesn’t know her organization’s position on climate change.

In a segment on WAMU’s Diane Rehm Show, ALEC’s Lisa Nelson claimed to not understand the science of climate change, and said, “We as an organization, specifically do not comment on climate change.”

Funny enough, just a week before, ALEC posted its “Position Statement on Renewables and Climate Change,” in response to heightened attention to its role in denying climate change.

The surge of attention is due to recent and very public departures by Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo and even Occidental Petroleum, specifically citing ALEC’s backwards work on climate change.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said people working for ALEC are “literally lying” about global warming, announcing that Google’s staff didn’t wish to continue supporting such work (after Google’s failed attempts to get ALEC to support clean energy).

Diane Rehm Show:

REHM

10:32:49
And you’re listening to “The Diane Rehm Show.” For those listeners who did not tune in that day, I want to read for you the statement made by Eric Schmidt who was the CEO of Google. He says, I think the — when asked why Google was going to drop their affiliation with ALEC, he said that ALEC was twisting science in the pursuit of its political goals at the state level. And here’s his quote. He says, “I think the consensus within the company” Google that is “was that Google’s affiliation with ALEC was some sort of mistake. And so we’re trying not to do that in the future.”

 

He says “The facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring. The people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.” Now, I understand, Lisa, that ALEC has come out and said, we don’t have a position on climate change. At the same time I gather there has been a move by ALEC to move against the creation of solar energy.

yadda yadda

NELSON

10:35:35
What’s not reported in those stories is the fact that the Environmental Defense Fund was also in those conversations and participating in our conversations. So I go back to my original comments that what we really want to do is foster that dialogue between all sides with respect to climate change We, as an organization, specifically do not comment on climate change. What we have issue with is government mandates and subsidies that enable the government to kind of pick winners and losers as they look for energy solutions.
Be thankful for small things.
I sure wouldn’t want this loser picking winners.
FYI – ALEC Position Statement on Climate Change, with Translation, below: