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Welcome to Climate Notes. I’m D.R. Tucker.
So I’m reading through news coverage of the conclusion of the Brayton Point case, and I come across this story from Boston Herald reporter Bob McGovern:
“The Bristol County district attorney dropped charges against two environmental activists, letting them walk away from a trial where they were claiming a global warming ‘necessity defense,’ saying he agrees climate change is a major issue facing the planet, and the favorable plea deal was ‘in the best interest of the people.’“Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward were ready to stand trial yesterday at Fall River District Court and planned to argue that blocking a coal shipment to the Brayton Point Power Station with a lobster boat in May 2013 was necessary to save the planet from the theoretical (emphasis mine) dire consequences of global warming.”
This odd story continued:
“The defendants planned to use the necessity defense that would have required them to prove they acted to prevent a significant risk of harm and there was no lawful alternative. Whether the planet is in fact warming and any potential consequences have been highly controversial, with both scientists and politicians sharply divided on the issue (emphasis mine).”
A year or so ago, this Fox News Channel-style reporting on the climate crisis would have ticked me off. Now, I just laugh at it. Look, the Boston Herald will never change. Fox News will never change. The Wall Street Journal editorial page will never change. Rush Limbaugh will never change. Their stubbornness is super-stupid.
I’m not saying these denialist media entities should be ignored. I’m saying they should be ridiculed relentlessly, mocked mirthfully, scorned with a smile. They should be laughed at as ludicrous losers.One such ludicrous loser is Matt Ridley, who regularly writes denialist screeds for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Back in 2012, the Wall Street Journal actually acknowledged: “Mr. Ridley writes the Mind and Matter column in The Wall Street Journal and has written on climate issues for various publications for 25 years. His family leases land for coal mining in northern England, on a project that will cease in five years (emphasis mine).”
In other words, even the Wall Street Journal admits Ridley has no real credibility on climate change. Now how about that!Earlier this month, Ridley wrote another nonsensical rant insisting that climate change had somehow stopped in the 1990s. Even children know this is nonsense, which means Ridley has apparently gotten dumber as he’s gotten older.
Those who are smart enough to understand basic physics—and who aren’t depraved enough to nakedly suck up to the coal industry—called out Ridley for his ridiculous rhetoric. Lindsay Abrams of Salon.com observed: “And now for another installment of conservative media making stuff up about climate change. Our player comes from the esteemed pages of the Wall Street Journal. The blatant lie, again, concerns the ‘pause’ in global warming: the perceived slowdown in temperature increases over the past 15 years that skeptics attempt to use as evidence that man-made climate change isn’t happening (they’re wrong). And as happened last time, the lie appears to have arisen from someone misreading a press release and determining, from that alone, that they’ve found the evidence to contradict the scientific consensus on climate change. Crazy how that keeps not working out for people.
“Matt Ridley, a member of the British House of Lords with a track record for making egregious errors in his opinion columns, asks ‘Whatever happened to global warming?’ To help prove his point that this whole global warming thing was seriously overblown and no longer worth our time, he points to a recent paper, published in the journal Science, that, in his words, concludes that ‘the man-made warming of the past 20 years has been so feeble that a shifting current in one ocean was enough to wipe it out altogether.’ Yes, this is the same paper that, per Climate Progress, provides ‘more evidence that [the] global warming ‘pause’ is a myth’ and, in the words of one climate expert, ‘is another nail in the coffin of the idea that the hiatus is evidence that our projections of long-term climate change need revising down…’
“This betrays Ridley’s fundamental inability to explain how climate change works. Because we didn’t act sooner to act on scientists’ warnings that greenhouse gas emissions were threatening the planet, we are already experiencing the impacts of an altered climate. As the years pass, the stakes are only rising, the consequences of inaction becoming more severe. The next two decades continue to be extremely important: not because they’re going to be catastrophic, but because they’re going to be key to mitigating and preparing for catastrophe. The IPCC made that abundantly clear in its most recent report. The next 20 years, its authors asserted, are a ‘window,’ during which smart planning and effective leadership can actually make a difference. Use that time wisely, and we can be better prepared when accelerated warming returns. Use it to pretend that climate change is over forever and, well, that’s two more decades to live comfortably ensconced in a fantasy. But knowing what we do about what’s likely going to happen once we’re forced to wake up, deniers can’t seriously expect any of us to join them there.”
Abrams also references a piece by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who also gave Ridley a strongly deserved dope slap:
“That Rupert Murdoch governs over a criminal media empire has been made clear enough in the UK courts in recent years. That the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages, the latest victim of Murdoch’s lawless greed, are little more than naked propaganda is perhaps less appreciated. The Journal runs one absurd op-ed after another purporting to unmask climate change science, but only succeeds in unmasking the crudeness and ignorance of Murdoch’s henchmen. [The September 5] op-ed by Matt Ridley is a case in point.
“Ridley’s ‘smoking gun’ is a paper last week in Science Magazine by two scientists Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung, which Ridley somehow believes refutes all previous climate science. Ridley quotes a sentence fragment from the press release suggesting that roughly half of the global warming in the last three decades of the past century (1970-2000) was due to global warming and half to a natural Atlantic Ocean cycle. He then states that ‘the man-made warming of the past 20 years has been so feeble that a shifting current in one ocean was enough to wipe it out altogether,’ and ‘That to put the icing on the case of good news, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung think the Atlantic Ocean may continue to prevent any warming for the next two decades.’
“The Wall Street Journal editors don’t give a hoot about the nonsense they publish if it serves their cause of fighting measures to limit human-induced climate change. If they had simply gone online to read the actual paper, they would have found that the paper’s conclusions are the very opposite of Ridley’s…
“[W]hat is Ridley’s ‘smoking gun’ when you strip away his absurd version of the paper? It goes like this. The Earth is continuing to warm just as greenhouse gas theory holds. The warming heats the land and the ocean. The ocean distributes some of the warming to the surface waters and some to the deeper waters, depending on the complex circulation of ocean waters. The shares of warming of the surface and deeper ocean vary over time, in fluctuations that can last a few years or a few decades.
“If the surface warming is somewhat less in recent years than in the last part of the 20th century, is that reason for complacency? Hardly. The warming is continuing, and the consequences of our current trajectory will be devastating unless greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) are stopped during this century. As Chen and Tung conclude in their Science paper, ‘When the internal variability [of the ocean] that is responsible for the current hiatus [in warming] switches sign, as it inevitably will, another episode of accelerated global warming should ensue.’
“Mr. Murdoch, and the Wall Street Journal, can it be any clearer than this?”
Another clown who wants the world to drown is Edward Lazear, former advisor to President George W. Bush, who took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal a couple of days before Ridley to argue that we should sit back, relax, and die from global warming. Thankfully, Hamilton Nolan from Gawker.com laughed at Lazear:
“Edward Lazear, a former economic adviser to George W. Bush, argues [in the Wall Street Journal] that cutting carbon emissions enough to mitigate global warming is a lost cause, and we are better off pursuing a strategy of ‘adaptation’ to a fiery new world. This is why pessimists should not be in charge.
“Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Lazear is making a good-faith case for giving up on fighting climate change based on pure economic motives, rather than making a bad-faith attempt to fight environmentalism on the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Lazear begins by projecting nearly three decades worth of growth for emerging economies like China, and argues that even with gains in energy efficiency, a larger and more prosperous China and other nations will almost certainly be emitting far more carbon than they are now. Can America cut its carbon emissions in a meaningful way, to offset possible growth from other countries? Lazear says no. He dismisses various straw man methods (locally sourced food, public transportation) as insufficient. And when he comes to the one method that would actually prove effective on a grand scale—a carbon tax—he has this to say:
“’Very high carbon taxes or severely restrictive cap-and-trade policies might provide substantial motivation to conserve. These could reduce carbon-intensive consumption and motivate a switch to lower carbon power sources like nuclear. But these actions are undesirable because of their adverse effects on the economy. Australia instituted a $22 per ton carbon-dioxide tax in 2012. It repealed the highly unpopular measure this July, mainly because of its economic costs and perceived ineffectiveness. Research and development are worthwhile. But they can be wasteful and ineffective—recall Solyndra—and if R&D is to be government sponsored, all developed countries should participate in funding.’
“So Lazear essentially admits that a carbon tax could succeed in providing the necessary motivation to cut carbon emissions to target levels, but then immediately dismisses the solution as ‘undesirable’ because it would cost too much. His evidence: Australia tried it, and it was unpopular. That seems rather thin, considering we are talking about the future of life on earth. A carbon tax is not money that is tossed into an oven and burned. It is a tax to discourage an undesirable activity (carbon emissions), the proceeds of which can be used to fund a more desirable solution (the government-sponsored clean energy R&D that Lazear refers to ever so briefly). A carbon tax is a way to redirect economic activity away from a harmful activity and towards a more positive activity…
“’It is time to end the delusions and start thinking realistically about what can and will be done,’ Lazear concludes. What can and will be done is a matter of human will. Giving up the fight before it starts does not make you a realist. It makes you a fatalist. Edward Lazear will probably be dead by 2050. If you will still be around then, you might have a more expansive view of what is realistic.”
Mockery is what deniers deserve. They certainly don’t deserve any respect. So the next time you come across an idiotic denialist “news” piece or op-ed, have a hearty laugh—and remember that the children and grandchildren of the folks who write this claptrap will be crying with embarrassment over the fact that they’re actually related to these rascals.
Thank you for listening.
In this show, we consider the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11th events, wrap up the Lobsterboat case and take a look at preparations for the People’s March.
With an eye toward what Climate Hawks might think about 9/11 and ISIS, we review some counter-factual historical possibilities. How would things be different if Al Gore had won? But then ask: where does ISIS get its money? How can we starve them of income? Tom Friedman proposes both oil exports and a carbon tax, but is seems a carbon tax alone is a better option.
The Lobsterboat Blockade trial wrapped up this week. Read the DA’s statement and an article by Wen Stephenson. Why did DA Sam Sutton make the deal? ? An interesting twist is that the judge allowed the necessity defense.
The People’s March is building momentum. Reports suggest the demand for buses is high, so check out the transportation page and get on a waiting list if you need to! The logistics page gives advice about what to wear and how to behave. If you haven’t yet, Watch Disruption , the movie form 350.
Finally, DR discusses Betsy Rosenberg’s moving article on Robin Williams and the climate movement.
Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.
Thanks for listening.
The Lobsterboat Blockade case went to trial today. (You can hear about the background here.) In a good outcome, the criminal charges were reduced to civil charges. The defendants will pay a fine, but serve no jail time.
You can read a press release from the defendants or District Attorney Sam Sutter’s statement. The DA did the right thing in brokering a win-win agreement, and the recognized the bigger issues involved in the case. WBUR and Climate Central both have stories up as well.
Thanks for listening.
- The People’s March will take place on SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21 in New York City. The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, said on Huffington Post
- Later this month, on September 23, I am convening a Climate Summit at the United Nations in New York. The Summit has two goals: to mobilize political will for a meaningful universal agreement at the climate negotiations in Paris in 2015; and to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience to the changes that are already happening.
- Despite the fact the leaders of China and India intend to skip the meeting, President Obama has said he will attend. The folks at 350 will release a movie on September 7, called Disruption and you can find a local screening here.
- Buses to NYC will depart from Framingham MA at 6:00 AM sharp. (Price $25 full price, $15 reduced fare.) Buses will also depart Barnstable, Harwich and Sagamore on Cape Cod. Look here for buses from Rhode Island. Check the 350 transportation page to find a bus near you.
- #B4UMarch, tell your congressman and senator what you think. Fing their contact information here.
- The upcoming trial of the Lobsterboat Blockade duo will test the necessity defense in the global warming case. Over at GreenMiles, we see a serious question about why these trials are proceeding in the first place. Check out the story of Tim DeChristopher, another brave Climate Hawk who tried that strategy.
- The people who brought you’re the Deepwater Horizon oil spill suffered a conviction based on gross negligence. They might be liable for an $18B fine, but is that enough?
Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.
Thanks for listening.
The Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN) is a statewide organization that coordinates the work of locally organized groups across Massachusetts fighting the climate crisis. We have a large and vigorous community of 46 affiliated local groups (in a fifth of MA communities), hundreds of members, and others who communicate, network, and share information related to climate action. Our chapters represent a broad cross-section of community-based grassroots organizations, and we have solid collaborative relationships with them. We also work closely with other environmental and community-focused organizations working to create solutions to the climate crisis. MCAN was founded in 2000, and in 2009 became a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
About the Executive Director Position
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director (E.D.) will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for the execution of MCAN’s strategic vision, as well as its staff, programs. The E.D. will facilitate growth and engaged interaction across the MCAN network as well as help inform and mobilize in support of statewide policies related to climate change. S/he will achieve an engaged knowledge of chapters, core programs, operations, and business plans in cooperation with chapter leaders and will share ways in which chapters can contribution to state policy development.
The E.D. is expected to:
- Develop and execute the overall strategic plan (provided below), in collaboration with the Board.
- Develop and implement the operational plans, policies, and goals that further the strategic objectives.
- Fundraise in support of the organizational budget, including the creation of grant proposal and fundraising campaigns.
- Ensure communication and information flow to and between MCAN-affiliated/aligned local groups.
- Represent MCAN in statewide policy issues as appropriate.
- Plan and attend select Board and Chapter Education meetings.
- Act as the spokesperson for MCAN.
- Ensure compliance to minimum standards in accordance with all government legislation, regulations and guidelines pertinent to the organization’s role as an employer and non-profit agency, including limitations on lobbying activities.
- Submit all information, reports and records as requested or required by law to appropriate government officials or the board of directors
- Operate within the established annual budget.
- Prepare the annual budget for board approval.
- Keep the board updated on project, financial and legal activities of MCAN via regular meetings and communications.
- Other duties as needed.
The skills needed to execute these responsibilities include:
- Knowledge and continuous learning about climate issues and implications.
- Demonstrated leadership capabilities at the personal, board, organizational and coalition level.
- Collaboration and leadership in state policy initiatives.
- Demonstrated commitment to grassroots organizing.
- Financial understanding sufficient to guarantee accountability.
- Self-initiation of tasks and the ability to succeed with minimal oversight.
- Grant writing abilities, fundraising and/or development experience.
Job Location: Massachusetts
Employment type: Part time at 40-60% FTE with the expectation of shifting to full time going forward
Salary: Dependent on experience
Contact: Please send a resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include “MCAN ED Candidate” in the subject line.) Applications accepted until position filled.
Massachusetts Climate Action Network’s Three-Year Strategic Direction
“The Massachusetts Climate Action Network seeks to fight the climate crisis. It promotes carbon-reducing and eliminating practices in our homes and communities. It supports MCAN chapters and allied organizations to grow a focused statewide movement. It communicates with its members governmental policies that affect the climate. It encourages citizens to leverage their collective voice on the local and state levels.”
We see a key part of the solution to the climate challenge in the connections between ordinary people, where information, ideas and encouragement can flow freely. We work to forge the human network of connections that channel the creativity and energy of the human spirit into efforts to protect our future from climate disruption.
Our name explains our vision: We are the Massachusetts Climate Action Network.
- Massachusetts: We are focused on action in Massachusetts, with the hope that we will also be an exemplar to the nation.
- Climate: We recognize that the climate crisis is a profound challenge to our society. The threat is urgent and real.
- Action: We motivate and facilitate concrete behaviors to reduce carbon emissions and promote a sustainable society. These pragmatic activities are aimed at both individuals and groups as well as at the State policy level.
- Network: We bring together concerned individuals, groups of committed activists, allied environmental and other groups to inform, engage and encourage one another on a broad range of specific actions.
As an Organization, we will use a three-prong strategy to realize our vision:
- 1. MCAN will be a “connector” for individuals and small groups, helping them find each other and guiding them to resources that support action. By building these relationships, MCAN will expand opportunities for engagement and help break any sense of isolation that these individuals, small local groups, or others may have. The connector role focuses on developing individual member’s activism and sense of community and increasing the success of local groups.
- MCAN will be a “convener” of coordinated initiatives by coalitions of interested groups, bringing together allies from all branches of the sustainability movement. The convener role is targeted at building mutually beneficial connections between groups, so we can help each other reach our shared goals.
- MCAN will be an “honest broker” of the State’s clean energy efforts. The State of Massachusetts has the most ambitious and well-planned program to combat the climate crisis in the country, with $2 billion in funding over the next three years. MCAN will promote this program, find ways to improve it, and when necessary, point out when it functions less well than intended.
In August 1993, Billy Joel released what would turn out to be his final album of new material, the Grammy-nominated “River of Dreams.” The second track on the album is entitled “The Great Wall of China,” and it’s become one of my favorite songs. It’s about a former manager of Joel’s who reportedly swindled millions of dollars from the Piano Man. Joel was very close to the ex-manager, and when he discovered the theft, he realized that honesty was indeed such a lonely word.
“It cost too much and takes too long to find out too late /
Some words are not heard ’til after they’re spoken,” Joel sang.
“Your role was protective, [but] your soul was too defective /
[And] Some people just don’t have a heart to be broken.”
The song provided me with great comfort a few years ago, after I was, as I like to say, stabbed in the front by so-called friends who were outraged over the fact that I had come to the conclusion that global warming was not a hoax, but a legitimate issue of policy concern.
I will never forget–nor will I ever forgive–the onslaught of insults I received from these now-former friends for writing about the climate crisis: being called a “warmist” and “intellectually deficient” is not something one shakes off easily. I can say that those bitter experiences did inspire some of the best pieces I have ever written about climate, a series of pieces for Peter Sinclair’s ClimateCrocks.com website in the fall of 2011.
Every now and then, I’m asked about those former friends, and whether I was too harsh in deciding never to speak to them again. I’ve always given the same answer: No.
Growing up, I learned that if somebody doesn’t want you to be their friend anymore, the wisest thing to do is to honor their wishes. If someone tells you to get lost, well, get lost. The former friends who scorned me when I started writing about climate made it quite clear that they no longer respected me or even liked me. The message was as clear as an old Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song: “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”
It was a heartbreaking experience, but I’d like to think I’ve recovered. I’m listening to happier songs these days! However, as a result of my experiences, I find myself puzzled by articles about how to change the minds of climate-change deniers. We’ve all seen them: these pieces all make the bizarre contention that if we can just connect with people’s underlying values and principles, we can somehow, someway, someday get them to come along.
It was Bill Maher who once observed that you cannot change the mind of somebody who doesn’t have one. That’s a lesson I was forced to learn–and having learned it, I can say that Maher’s remark is an undisputed fact, as undisputed as climate science itself.
I’ve contended in the past, and still contend today, that climate-change denialism is an indicator of other extreme views held by the person who declares war on science. As I look back on the folks who scorned me, I realize that they held other unpleasant views that I was more than happy to get away from. The fellow who called me “intellectually deficient,” and who also believed Michael Crichton’s 2004 novel “State of Fear” debunked climate science? He was also a fan of the extremist political commentator Phyllis Schlafly, and also believed that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor actually hated white people! The fellow who called me a “warmist”? He regarded labor unions as the source of all the economic problems in the country, and harbored a visceral loathing for the great Boston Phoenix reporter David Bernstein, who’s now with Boston Magazine, blaming Bernstein’s reporting for electoral outcomes he deemed unfavorable. Then there’s the ex-friend who considered climate-denying Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby a “realist” on the issue of global warming–and who also referred to opponents of the Iraq War as “domestic insurgents.” Then there’s the ex-friend who was a fan of the far-right political commentator Cliff Kincaid. Then there’s the ex-friend who was a fan of Sen. James Inhofe. And the ex-friend who said that he used to be a fan of the actress Anne Hathaway until he learned that Hathaway played a supporting role in the 2005 film “Brokeback Mountain”! And did I mention the ex-friend who, after I started writing about climate change, started posting articles by climate-change denier James Delingpole on his Facebook page?
You get the idea. And you wonder why I had to wash those men and women right out of my hair.
It’s been a few years since I severed ties with “…a few false friends of whom I am well rid,” to quote President Warren Harding. I imagine that as the evidence of human-caused climate change accumulates, and as cultural and political circumstances bring an effective end to big-time climate-change denial, those false friends will find themselves a little, shall we say, upset.
Frankly, this is why I’m hoping that there’s an overflow turnout for the People’s Climate March on September 21st in New York City. If two to three million people show up in the Big Apple to protest the fossil fuel industry’s 30-year effort to worm its way into American politics and culture, I imagine my ex-friends will be horrified. Good!
If you have ex-friends that looked down upon you because you dared to say that Al Gore was right, I have to ask: do you ever wonder what they’ll cling to as the storms set in? Can’t you see them rifling through old George Will columns, looking in vain for something, anything, to justify their investment in ignorance?
Speaking of George Will, you may have heard that at the end of August, the Washington Post (which, of course, distributes Will’s columns to newspapers nationwide) ran a series of editorials urging strong action to combat carbon pollution. In the first editorial, the Post declared:
“As the U.S. debate has deteriorated, scientists’ warnings have become more dire. According to the authoritative Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , every region of the world faces serious risks , including sea-level rise or worsening heat waves, floods and wildfires — and those are consequences scientists can predict. Though poor nations along the equator may be hit hardest, U.S. analysts are beginning to quantify a variety of direct and negative effects climate change could have in our own country.
“These factors help explain a [certain] reason for hope: Despite ups and downs in the polling, a solid majority of Americans favors action to curb greenhouse [gas] emissions. As with the recent national shift on gay marriage, feelings on climate change will eventually move more decisively — we hope in time to spare the world unnecessary expense and suffering.
“And the United States is reaching a put-up-or-shut-up moment. As Congress dithered, Mr. Obama filled the policy void with executive actions designed to cut greenhouse [gas] emissions under authorities Congress entrusted to the Environmental Protection Agency decades ago in the Clean Air Act.”
In the second editorial, the Post declared:
“For more than a century, scientists have understood the basic physics of the greenhouse effect. For decades, they’ve realized humans can affect the climate by burning coal, oil and gas. But the country’s leaders remain divided on the need to curb greenhouse [gas] emissions, let alone how to do it.
“Among mainstream scientists, this paralysis is mind-boggling.
“There is now no doubt that the world is warming. In 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration deemed this conclusion ‘unequivocal,’ pointing to multiple, independent lines of evidence, including decades of direct temperature readings. In 2011, Richard Muller, a University of California at Berkeley scientist and former climate-change skeptic, verified this conclusion after a two-year review of the data. The complaint that scientists did not predict a slowdown in warming lately does not contradict this finding: Climate change is a long-term phenomenon; the line will go up and down here and there, but the general direction will be up. As the most authoritative source on climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, explained in its Fifth Assessment Report last year, ‘Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.’
“Further, the panel found, ‘It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.’ Among many pieces of evidence is the breakneck rate of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere, coinciding with measured temperature rise. Other human ‘fingerprints’ are becoming visible: Scientists, for example, are seeing a pattern of warming in the troposphere and cooling in the stratosphere that suggests greenhouse gases — not, say, variations in solar activity — are the cause.
“Waiting to deal with carbon emissions until the effects are clearer or technology improves is not a wise strategy. The emissions humans put into the atmosphere now will affect the climate in the middle of the century and onward. Technological change, meanwhile, could make a future transition away from fossil fuels cheap — or it might not, leaving the world with a terrible choice between sharply reducing emissions at huge cost or suffering through the effects of unabated warming.
“Businesses that do not hedge against the threat of uncertain outcomes fail. The world cannot afford such recklessness on climate change.”
In the third editorial, the Post observed:
“The EPA recognizes that command-and-control regulation is not ideal. It is offering as much flexibility as it can [in its Clean Power Plan], including regional emissions-cutting pacts, which would allow the required effort to be averaged across states and reduce the total cost by 17 percent. Yet only Congress can launch a more ambitious but flexible program giving power to U.S. companies and consumers.
“The EPA is starting the country down a carbon-reduction path, an important signal to Americans and foreigners seeking confidence that the United States will cut its carbon use. But the regulations’ greatest contribution will come if they prod Congress to enact a plan that’s both more comprehensive and more efficient.”
In the fourth editorial, the Post asserted:
“A prominent member of Congress has proposed a comprehensive national climate-change plan. It’s only 28 pages long, it’s market-based, and it would put money into the pockets of most Americans.
“This is not the first time that Rep. Chris Van Hollen…has made the point that the best climate-change policy is not complicated. He introduced a similar plan in 2009. The underlying logic is older still: Since the beginning of the climate debate, mainstream economists, left and right, have argued that the best way to cut greenhouse gases is to use simple market economics, putting a price on emissions that reflects the environmental damage they cause.
“As economists see it, the nation is giving a massive implicit subsidy to the users of fossil fuels, who fill the air with [excess] carbon dioxide, imposing real costs on society, without paying for the privilege. Make users pay for the carbon dioxide they emit and they will waste less energy, while investment will flow into low-carbon technologies. The nation would obtain emissions cuts at a minimum cost to the economy…
“The country is reaching a moment of decision on global warming. Scientists’ warnings are sharpening, and President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is acting in the absence of a policy from Congress. The EPA rules can’t be as clean and efficient as market-based plans such as Mr. Van Hollen’s….Conservatives who truly favor free markets over central planning should come to the table. If they cannot muster the intellectual courage, Rep. John Delaney has a smart second-best idea: Let states escape the EPA’s centralized regulation if they enact their own carbon taxes instead.”
And in the fifth and final editorial, the Post proclaimed:
“…The United States must be a driver [of climate action]; no country has pumped more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, and no global effort will succeed without U.S. buy-in and leadership
“In trade agreements, other environmental accords and arms-reduction pacts, countries have shown they can overcome mutual suspicion when cooperation offers clear, long-term benefits. A U.S. commitment would offer other countries confidence that the United States will jump with them — and allow U.S. diplomats to isolate laggards. Congress can help: Putting a price on U.S. carbon emissions, and applying a charge on imports from countries without a strong anti-emissions policy, would give China and others an incentive to implement plans of their own
“The world will not give up fossil fuels tomorrow — or many years from tomorrow. The transition scientists recommend will be slow, and the world may have to adapt to risks it did not have enough sense to avoid. But pointing out the difficulty of the problem is not a strategy. It is an excuse to shrink from one of history’s greatest challenges.
The series was interesting, to say the least, but profoundly hypocritical. As the progressive media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted on August 26:
“The Post explains what exactly is clear–the planet is indeed warming, and the climate crisis is caused by human activity–and says that ‘most reasonable climate skeptics accept these findings.’
“Except for some of the people the Post pays to write columns.
“Some of the most high-profile media climate deniers–George Will, Charles Krauthammer and Robert Samuelson–are all Post columnists who have done their part to contribute to the ‘shape of the climate debate.’ Krauthammer [has] mocked the idea that the science of climate change was ‘settled,’ and wrote that scientists who warn of the disastrous effects of climate change are ‘white-coated propagandists.’ Krauthammer went on TV this year to mock climate change science as ‘superstition.’
“Will has a long record of distorting climate science; in 2009 he wrote that warming was ‘allegedly occurring.’…
“Samuelson used to pooh-pooh climate change: ‘It’s politically incorrect to question whether this is a serious problem that serious people ought to take seriously,’ he wrote in the 1990s, and he praised George W. Bush for rejecting the Kyoto [Protocol]…
“In 2009 the paper’s op-ed page rather famously turned to noted climate expert Sarah Palin for a piece about how ‘we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause’ climate change.
“So if this series is a sign that the Washington Post has truly shifted on climate change, that’s a good thing. But if we’re to take them seriously about ‘the shape of the climate debate,’ perhaps they would like to offer some thoughts about what their paper’s columnists have done to warp that discussion. Whatever the case, the Post isn’t going to stop running anti-science op-eds. As editorial page editor Fred Hiatt told Joe Strupp of Media Matters, ‘I’m more inclined to take op-eds that challenge our editorials than just kind of join the chorus.’”
Joseph Romm of Climate Progress was even more blunt in an August 27 post:
“Ideally, the Washington Post should simply stop publishing climate science deniers, people who spread misinformation and disinformation on the existential threat that is climate change. Of course, that would include major columnists of theirs, including George Will…
“Does the paper publish more op-eds from people claiming cigarette smoking isn’t harmful to your health simply because the editors accept that fact? Of course not. Yet the scientific community’s certainty about human-caused climate change is as great as that of the medical community’s certainty that cigarette smoking is bad for your health…
“[In addition,] The Washington Post has a long history of giving equal or disproportionate time to the misinformation of climate science deniers.
“But now that they have acknowledged that ‘the science is real,’ there is no longer any justification for their reporters to quote people who are simply spreading misinformation or disinformation. The paper moved beyond quoting the tobacco industry on the supposed harmlessness of their product years ago.
“Two years ago NPR released an ethics handbook for reporters that asserted ‘our goal is not to please those whom we report on or to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.’ In particular, the handbook noted, ‘if the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports.
“Where is that clearer than in the climate discussion, where we know upwards of 97 percent of climate scientists share the understanding that human activity is driving recent global warming?
“In July, BBC’s governing body released a report on its new policy to avoid false balance. It said, ‘science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.’ As a result, BBC reporters are to sharply reduce the air time given to climate science deniers — and others with anti-science viewpoints — [to] make their coverage more fair and accurate.
“Is the Washington Post really going to leave it to a fake news show, John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight,’ on HBO, to be the only U.S. ‘media’ outlet to hold a ‘statistically representative climate change debate’?
Apparently, since that’s the sort of stuff my former friends dig. They like lies and can’t tolerate truth. They hate Al Gore more than they love their kids and grandkids. They consider the Koch Brothers role models. They will scorn tomorrow for satisfaction today.
And they call *me* “intellectually deficient”?
Thank you for listening.