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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In Reykjavik last month, I had the chance to interview Mike Mann and Stefan Rahmstorf at length. Both are former IPCC authors, Mann is Professor of Geosciences at Penn State U, where he is Director of the Earth System Science Center,  and is well known for his paleo-temperature reconstruction, the famous “Hockey Stick” graph.

Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf is an Oceanographer at Potsdam University in Germany. Both men are founders of the “RealClimate” blog.

I was able to include a lot of footage shot with the help of Phil Coates, an actual professional with a camera, meaning – good lighting, and good sound.  The difference in quality is shocking, in a good way.  Special thanks is also due to Gudni Elisson, organizer of the Earth 101 event which brought us all together in Iceland.

Also, this is the first of what I hope will be many videos produced with support from the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

For anyone that wants a quick, credible intro to what’s in the new report – this should get them started.

The new report Summary for Policy Makers is here.

After watching several videos of the breakup of Beaufort sea Ice during the dead of winter, I decided to contact a leading ice expert, Walt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, for analysis and perspective. I mixed his comments in with the increasingly-on-the-same-page warnings from his fellow scientists around the country.

I’ll post our full conversation later in the week.

Flogging the Scientists

March 15, 2010

As a nonscientist, it’s daunting for me to work thru the huge volume of information on global climate change. I’ve found that the most reliable scientific information comes from respected peer reviewed science journals .

But journals have lots of big words, and lots of small print, and very few illustrations to make it easy for me. You can see why climate deniers don’t like them. But that’s where the facts are.

How can you tell a good science journal?

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Climate deniers have been making a lot of noise about a set of stolen emails from one of the world’s leading climate centers, The Universtiy of East Anglia.

The spin they’re putting out is that the emails reveal what they always suspected, an evil global conspiracy.

(Read the rest for Part 2)

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Birth of a Crock

October 6, 2009

The observation that natural climate variability exists is not a new one.

Early in September 2009, at a gathering of experts on global climate change, one of the world’s most respected and experienced climate modelers, Mojib Latif, made some observations on climate, media and human nature.

The message seemed clear-
natural variations in the long term warming might be misinterpreted
by the media. out of ignorance, or malice.

Climate deniers were quick to take Latif’s remarks, and begin
doing exactly that.

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Sea level rise. It’s been the subject of myth, legend and pop culture for millenia. It is going to be one of the major destructive effects of global climate change. So naturally, its something that makes deniers do and say crazy things.

Here’s the updated, remixed video on a misunderstood topic.