The Climate Minute: Pipelines and Plain Text (PODCAST)

This week we discuss pipelines in Maine, carbon taxes and legal theories.

You can read about the South Portland decision on tarsands herehere  and here as well as the Administration’s off shore oil plan here , here and here and about climate risk preparations and new off-shore wind energy leases .  The media did a slightly better job covering climate stories recently. This link tells the sad story of the Aussie Carbon Tax

The Courts are back in the news. After reading about the Plain Meaning Rule you can render an opinion regarding attacks on the new carbon regulations or on the interplay of the EPA and the ACA. The old saying goes “Know your enemy”, so you can read about clause 111d here.

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.

…Ted McIntyre

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The Climate Minute: From Australia to Art (PODCAST)

Just a link-dump this week. Happy reading!

Australian Carbon Tax

False balance in media

New gas pipelines in MA:

local opposition
leaks in Boston

July 30 protest

Population and climate:

educate women

One child in Boston?

Climate and art:

Snowpiecer review #1

Snowpiercer review #2

Dog Stars review

YOLD nominated

NYC protest in September

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.

…Ted McIntyre

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Climate Notes: Money Changes Everything (PODCAST)

Welcome to Climate Notes. I’m D. R. Tucker.

2 1/2 years ago, MSNBC star Rachel Maddow aired an interesting segment comparing the public persona of former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney to that of former professional wrestling personality Ted DiBiase. In the 1980s and 1990s, DiBiase wrestled as “The Million Dollar Man,” an embodiment of one-percenter wretched excess. The “Million Dollar Man” would boast of living in a different part of the world every season, owning a watch for every day of the week, and having the ability to do whatever he wanted, whenever we wanted, because, according to him, “everybody’s got a price.”

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/rachel-maddow/46049049

http://youtu.be/H65xYc23cxM

Maddow suggested that Romney’s image as the real-life version of Ted DiBiase’s “Million Dollar Man” character would prove to be a liability in his quest to become president–and she was right.

Sometimes wealth can indeed be a liability. Most of the time, of course, it’s the ultimate asset–especially if you’re trying to influence the way things operate in Washington and in America. There is justifiable concern about the role big money plays in politics–but the inconvenient truth is that most of us aren’t bothered by money in politics *per se*, just the use of money in politics to achieve nefarious ends.

The recent passing of billionaire Dick Scaife is a case in point. Scaife became notorious for financing a series of bizarre efforts to bring down the Clinton Administration, as well as his financing of organizations that viciously attacked climate science and climate scientists; Michael E. Mann chronicled the role Scaife played in financing and furthering climate-change denial in his acclaimed 2012 book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.”

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/023115254X?pc_redir=1404824713&robot_redir=1

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, one of the organizations that received financing from Scaife, the so-called Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, also known as CFACT, targeted me for cyber-harassment several years ago when I first started writing about climate change, so I can’t exactly say I have an objective view of the late billionaire. Having said that, what a tragedy that Scaife–who was many things, but not a dumb person–failed to use his resources to protect the only planet we have, whether we’re rich or poor. What a shame that Scaife used his newspaper, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Tribune-Review, to launch venomous assaults on climate science and climate scientists for years. What a disgrace that a man who lived in such rarefied air didn’t recognize the importance of keeping that air clean.

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/2014/07/04/Tribune-Review-publisher-Scaife-dies/stories/201407040150

 

Just two months before he died, Scaife wrote an interesting op-ed for the Tribune-Review about the power of newspapers. He noted:

“Over the decades, I supported many causes I consider worthwhile. Those include art museums, universities, think-tanks, political campaigns, community redevelopment projects, and countless charities —some local, others national in scope.

“None has given me as great a sense of accomplishment as the newspapers of Trib Total Media.

“I fell in love with newspapers as a boy, when my father brought me editions from around the country and abroad. The day I became a newspaper publisher, buying the Tribune-Review, remains one of the proudest, happiest moments of my life.

“I believed then — as I do now — that newspapers are essential to America, and to any free and prospering nation.

“Even today, when so many kinds of media offer endless information, newspapers are unique and invaluable: They provide the most substantive, trustworthy reporting from the most experienced, reliable writers and editors; they consistently break more of the important stories, investigate more of the critical issues, and expose more of the secrets that we need to know.

“Newspapers, more than any other medium, keep a watchful eye on government at all levels, on business and technology, medicine and science, and other aspects of our lives.

“Much of what you read or hear on blogs and other Internet sites, on TV and radio, originated in a newspaper. Many of those other media are useful — yet none consistently produces the quality and quantity of important news that you find daily in almost any American newspaper.

“The work of my newspapers gives me immense pride. We’ve exposed public corruption and incompetence, threats to public safety and health; we’ve interviewed many of the leading political figures of the past decade; we’ve reported on wars and other events around the world — and we’ve also reported big and small, tragic and uplifting stories that make up the daily lives of families, neighborhoods and communities across Western Pennsylvania.

“Many of these stories never would have been told, if not for the Trib newspapers.

“That is why, several years ago, I took steps to ensure that my newspapers outlive me. I believe they are essential to our communities and will be my most valuable legacy.

“Newspapering has changed radically since I published my first edition, and I know it will change even more. The decline of some of America’s once-great newspapers in recent years has been profound and surprising.

“Yet I hope newspapers remain the strong guardians of our lives, the crucial source of critical information, that they have always been – because the health, security, freedom and well-being of our communities, our nation, and all of us individually, depend on them.”

http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6132589-74/newspapers-lives-media

How sad is it that Scaife used his newspaper to hurl invective at those concerned about the carbon pollution that threatens future generations. Indeed, Scaife’s body wasn’t even cold before the Tribune-Review ran a profile of yet another aggressive denier of global warming–Fox News Channel personality Joe Bastardi.

http://triblive.com/mobile/6346288-96/global-warming-conference

I don’t believe in not speaking ill of the dead. Nobody really does. The fact is that Dick Scaife bears a certain degree of responsibility for putting us on the path to climate chaos. He’s not alone in this, of course: Charles Koch, David Koch, Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh and other prominent figures bear a certain degree of responsibility for blocking needed action on climate. Yet I can’t help wondering if Scaife had a few regrets right before he died…if he thought about the horror his actions would inflict upon his children and grandchildren…if he said to himself, right before he drew that last breath, “Damn, I made a mess of things!”

Speaking of people who have tried to drive the country back into the Stone Age on science, courtesy of the Dallas Morning News we learn that Chase Koch, the spawn of notorious climate-change denier Charles Koch, is continuing the dark family tradition.

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20140701-money-from-koch-interests-flows-to-governor-candidate-greg-abbott.ece

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/watch/koch-backed-ag-helps-hide-chemical-dangers-298973251858

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/watch/border-safety-take-spotlight-in-texas-race-299895875973

Any hopes that the next Koch generation will be different in any material respect from the elders have been dashed. Who knew selfishness was a genetic trait passed down from father to son?

You’d figure that the apparent defeat of his uncle William Koch–who spent obscene amounts of money trying in vain to stop the Cape Wind project–would signal to the younger Koch that it’s not a good idea, long-term, to stand in the way of progress. I guess not.

http://blog.ucsusa.org/cape-wind-offshore-wind-power-577

Let us now turn to a member of the one percent who actually believes in supporting progress: Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist who played a key role in the election of Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2013. Earlier this month, in a story almost as strange as the Koch family, the New York Times tried to paint Steyer as a hypocrite on climate. According to the story, “Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund manager, emerged this election season as the green-minded answer to Charles and David Koch, the patrons of conservative Republican politics, after vowing that he would sell off his investments in companies that generate fossil fuels like coal.

“But an examination of those investments shows that even after his highly public divestment, the coal-related projects his firm bankrolled will generate tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years, if not decades, to come.

“Over the past 15 years, Mr. Steyer’s fund, Farallon Capital Management, has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into companies that operate coal mines and coal-fired power plants from Indonesia to China, records and interviews show.”

The story further noted:

 

“Mr. Steyer sold his ownership stake in Farallon in late 2012, but he has not cut ties with it entirely. He remains a passive investor, his aides said, though they declined to describe the size of his investment. Employees at Farallon screen out any fossil-fuel-related holdings from his portfolio, and he no longer earns a share of the profits from the fund, the aides said.”

The Times also reported:

“Asked why Mr. Steyer had allowed Farallon to pursue such investments in recent years, Heather Wong, a spokeswoman for Mr. Steyer’s political organization, NextGen Climate, said, ‘Given how major global funds are structured, they are by definition invested in every sector of the economy, which is why Tom stepped down in 2012.’”

The paper additionally observed:

“In interviews, several prominent environmentalists argued that Mr. Steyer’s unrivaled spending to support climate-change policies outweighed the impact of the carbon pollution unleashed by his past investments.

“‘This is precisely what we want people to do: sell investments in fossil fuels and get to work solving the problem of climate change,’ said Bill McKibben, a founder of the group 350.org, which pushes financial institutions to divest from fossil fuels.

“Supporters point to the $25 million campaign Mr. Steyer organized four years ago to defeat a California ballot initiative that would have gutted the state’s landmark climate-change law. The law remained in place and is projected to cut about 30 million tons of carbon emissions by 2020. This year, Mr. Steyer plans to spend four times as much in support of Mr. Obama’s plan to reduce emissions from about 600 coal-fired power plants — a plan expected to eliminate 220 million tons of carbon pollution a year.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/05/us/politics/prominent-environmentalist-helped-fund-coal-projects.html

Since the publication of this story, there’s been much social media discussion over whether Steyer is indeed a hypocrite or just a victim of the New York Times’s obsessive desire not to be seen as a member of the so-called liberal media. I must say that, as someone who spent many years supporting the political and media figures whose actions made the climate crisis worse, I am certainly in no position whatsoever to judge Steyer. However, he has certainly not engaged in the sort of active anti-science malevolence that the Koch Brothers and Dick Scaife engaged in.

As Ben Adler of Grist observes:

“The article admits that several leading environmentalists don’t hold Steyer’s past work against him. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and Grist board member, points out that seeing the error of one’s ways and divesting is exactly what they want capitalists to do. You can’t say that only people who have never participated in the dirty energy economy can help clean up the environment. If you did, you couldn’t work with any energy utilities on greening their portfolios, or raise money from any hedge-fund multimillionaires…

“You can, in fact, be a good environmentalist and have invested in fossil fuels. Only a fool would think we can stop climate change by hoping that capitalists refuse to invest in fossil fuel projects while they are still profitable. What we need, as Steyer would tell you, is a price on climate pollution to reflect its social cost. Such a price will change the calculus for profit-seeking investors, incentivizing them to invest more in clean energy and less in dirty energy. No individual hedge fund’s behavior is going to shut off the flow of all capital to coal plants. But if a hedge-fund manager invests millions in electing a pro-environment president and Congress, he might help. This logic is why the companies most concerned about climate change are shifting from focusing on their own emissions to trying to effect public policy.

“Only economy-wide solutions like a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system will ensure the greenhouse gas emission cuts we need. Steyer and the environmental movement know that.”

http://grist.org/climate-energy/why-tom-steyer-is-not-a-hypocrite/#.U7sNwXgVI4M.twitter

http://youtu.be/gVM2qOl144c

The line about “[raising] money from any hedge-fund multimillionaires” is telling. The fact of the matter is that the fight for a stable climate won’t be won with bake sales. It takes *resources* to do so, and if someone who made mistakes in the past wants to use his resources to remedy those mistakes, there’s nothing wrong or hypocritical about that.

Granted, this brings up a fascinating question. There is a very compelling argument, made by (among others) writer and climate activist Naomi Klein and climate scientist Tom Anderson, that in order to resolve the climate crisis we must seriously rethink the culture of laissez-faire capitalism and unlimited growth that brought us to this point of crisis. Klein and Anderson are right to suggest that we cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. On the other hand, if I were a billionaire, even one concerned about climate change, who made (or inherited) my money thanks to that culture of laissez-faire capitalism, would I support efforts to move away from that culture and towards an alternative economic order? Of course not.

http://vimeo.com/m/53656908

http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate#

http://m.democracynow.org/stories/14025

This is an issue that’s obviously difficult to resolve. Henry Paulson is not calling, and will never call, for a shift away from capitalism as a means of resolving the climate crisis, even if that would be, objectively, the best method to protect future generations. Then again, as Margaret Thatcher noted in a 1989 speech on the climate crisis:

“But as well as the science, we need to get the economics right. That means first we must have continued economic growth in order to generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment. But it must be growth which does not plunder the planet today and leave our children to deal with the consequences tomorrow.

And second, we must resist the simplistic tendency to blame modern multinational industry for the damage which is being done to the environment. Far from being the villains, it is on them that we rely to do the research and find the solutions.”

http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107817

http://youtu.be/7U2L86QGKec

Yes, there is a risk that the larger questions about the connection between capitalism and climate catastrophe will inevitably be forced off the discussion table–but is there any way to avoid taking that risk? How does one get around the fact that on some level, it will take the one percent to beat the one percent? Are moral capitalists are only salvation? And if so, can we find some more of them?

 

Thanks for listening.

 

 

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The Climate Minute: The “Don’t confuse me with the facts!” Edition (PODCAST)

This week we discuss articles from the NYT, BBC and consider what kind of Anthropocene we need to build.

Here is the rundown:

  • A blog at the NYT suggests that your worldview can trump scientific evidence in setting your beliefs.
  • A report that the BBC will stop giving equal time to climate deniers in the hopes of producing more accurate journalism.
  • One  article says the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) wrote the Obama cola regulations, but  another piece claims pride of authorship for the EPA. Whether it is the NRDC or Dick Cheney’s secret task force, what are the merits of outside ideas for government policy?

Finally, here is a chain of ideas for your consideration.

Recent blog in the Guardian (posted on FB page) reports that the military is funding anthropologists to study the level of activist networks just below those causing terror. In short-those sympathetic to the cause. Into this is rolled climate activism, since the military sees GW as a growing root cause of violence. The bottom line is that the military is using science to understand (and disrupt) the work of people like you, me and other climate hawks.

Military is a creature of the government, and we look to both for continuity and security. That is why we have them. So it is not unreasonable that the military is concerned about real or potential threats. (I argue that when the military/government gets in the way of needed non-continuity, then there is a problem.) Consider the possibility that even Obama has gone quiet on income inequality.

So that leads to another concept, that this mis-identification of the threat is because the US is controlled by money (see “Ascent of Money”), elites (see US as an oligarchy) (Policy reacts to the elite, not the mass…) and corporations (see recent SCOTUS rulings McKutcheon and Hobby Lobby.)

So you have money acting in its own narrow self interest. Hmmm….

This brings us to a new book called Captial in the 21st Century, by a guy named Piketty. I haven’t finished it, buy have read about 1/3, way more than most people , as it happens. (Here is a very critical cheat sheet and the Wikipedia version.

Based on historical evidence, Piketty predicts the next century will be of low economic growth, and not the boom times of recovery from WWI and WWII. That means fewer self made millionaires and in particular new jobs. Things will be more like the 1840s, where your career was pretty much what your mother or father did for a living. In that situation, capital, concentrated money grows faster than income. In short the rich get richer, and all others tread water or fall behind. No big news to most Americans. Piketty essentially predicts a future aristocracy based on money and dedicated to it’s self preservation at the expense of all else.

Piketty doesn’t seem to concern himself with climate, beyond a few sidelong glances, but his general thesis of low growth and capital concentration is interesting to Climate Hawks. Why?

We/I have argued that the world’s obsession with GDP growth is unsustainable, and that we need to contemplate low or no growth in a sustainable contexts. Bill MkKibben has argued for a Happiness index independent of incomes, and for localized economies in his book Deep Economy. This is great stuff and very appealing, but are we building a trap?

In a low-growth, green sustainable economy, how do we avoid the accumulation of capital with all it’s bad consequence? (In a sense, capital concentration is inherently bad for the common weal.) If you become a local farmer, and your children and grandchildren do also it freezes a social structure with less social mobility.

How do we make a sustainable economy with a chance for people to ‘succeed’??? How do we avoid a world of serfdom, castes, aristocracies set in a green sustainable economy??

In the American Revolution the best minds were focused on how to construct government that served the needs of the present and future. In the 21st century, we need the best minds focused on how to construct a future economy. Paul Krugman recently wrote:

“People on both the left and the right often fail to understand this point. (I hate it when pundits try to make every issue into a case of ‘both sides are wrong,’but, in this case, it happens to be true.) On the left, you sometimes find environmentalists asserting that to save the planet we must give up on the idea of an ever-growing economy; on the right, you often find assertions that any attempt to limit pollution will have devastating impacts on growth. But there’s no reason we can’t become richer while reducing our impact on the environment.

So what is the sustainable, socially mobile and fair future economy? Is it a techno future? Should we look to green technologies? Is capitalism (however defined) an enemy or a midwife of this new future? Do we face serfdom? An authoritarian society? An endless Mad Max trailer? Is it already too late? Jeffery Sachs maintains there is still a technical path through the next fifty years of Anthropocene building. Is he right?

Grist posted a blog on two views of the Anthropocene . I am trying to take a clear eyed view. Maybe you can call me an Apocaloptimist.

Posted in Climate Action, Climate Change, Climate Change Denial, Publc Opinion on Climate Change | 1 Comment

Climate Notes: Searching the Globe over (PODCAST)

June 1 was a special anniversary for me. I did not get married on that day, nor did I have a child. I didn’t graduate from high school or college on that day. It doesn’t mark the day I met a girlfriend, or received a promotion, or bought a new car. In some ways, however, it’s more important than that.

June 1 marked the third anniversary of the final time I read an op-ed by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, after seventeen years of reading his material. The reason I decided to stop was because of a column in which he compared the doomsday proclamations of cult leader Harold Camping to the climate warnings of former Vice President Al Gore. (link)

I was horrified by the piece. Yes, I was aware that Jacoby, a libertarian-leaning conservative, was rather dismissive of climate science. However, I found the tone of this particular piece uniquely vicious, intensely contemptuous not only of progressives who were concerned about the climate crisis but also conservatives who accepted the abundant scientific evidence of the gathering storms.

The decision to stop reading Jacoby was not made lightly. As embarrassing as this is to acknowledge today, for many years I modeled my own punditry after Jacoby, and considered him one of the best writers in the United States. I felt that he had the perfect combination of policy analysis, pugnacious commentary, and sharp insight into the human spirit. For many years, I considered it a crime that his erstwhile Boston Globe colleague Eileen McNamara had a Pulitzer Prize and he didn’t.

Thus, that June 1, 2011 column from Jacoby was the equivalent of a sharp slap across the face. It was as if someone you admired told you to go to hell, preferably as soon as possible.

I thought of writing a letter to the editor in response to Jacoby’s column, but I failed to find the appropriate words to convey the anger I felt towards him for writing it. MIT’s Kerry Emanuel came close, however. In a letter to the Globe published on June 5, 2011, Emanuel wrote:

“Jeff Jacoby offers us a false choice between panic and the denial of risk. He begins with a weak but grotesque attempt to link those who take climate risk seriously with street-corner charlatans heralding imminent apocalypse. Even more bizarrely, he ridicules Al Gore for warning of imminent disaster, right in the wake of an appalling run of weather disasters.

“Ignoring sober appraisals of risk, such as that just released by the National Academy of Sciences, Jacoby zeroes in on Newsweek’s hyperventilating rhetoric. Why not go after the National Enquirer?

“Then we are treated to yet another round of the ‘climate is always changing,’ rather like a murder defendant telling the jury that people are always dying.

“Assessing and dealing with climate risk in an environment of highly uncertain science and expensive options is challenging enough without having to entertain the flippancy of your columnist. There is no scientific basis for his certainty that we have nothing to worry about.” (link)

I’ve heard complaints about some of the subsequent columns Jacoby has written about the climate crisis. In September 2011, the progressive site Blue Mass Group called out Jacoby for a follow-up denialist piece, noting:

“For years Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe has specialized in columns that seem designed to incite a torrent of letters to the editor, and this pattern is nowhere more striking than in his periodic columns denying global warming. Perhaps such letters provide ‘evidence’ that Mr. Jacoby is contributing to public debate and therefore merits a platform for his ever-predictable screeds. What is less obvious is why the Globe feels compelled to print his attacks on science.

“Today’s column is a striking illustration of Jacoby’s method. He begins by searching for his opponent here settling on Bill Clinton’s recent climate change [remarks]. Our former President remarked, ‘We look like a joke, right? You can’t win the nomination of one of the major parties in the country if you admit that the scientists are right?’ Jacoby then pulls out his favorite tactic of contacting one of the vanishingly small minority of scientists who reject the ever-increasing torrent of peer-reviewed scientific research outlining the details and mechanics of global warming. Jacoby concludes with a circular argument, asserting, ‘We’ll know that the science is settled when the battles have come to an end.’ The problem here is that there is no real battle, only a manufactured reality, which Jacoby is taking part in creating, so that American Republicans can pass around emails glorifying denial to each other. It’s a remarkable strategy: so long as deniers continue to deny [human-caused] climate change they can claim that the science is not settled. With this approach deniers can assert that the science is not settled indefinitely. Manufacture a false version of reality, and then use that manufactured reality to reject reality.

“Writing letters to the editor at this point may actually make the problem worse—Jacoby wants, after all, to create the illusion that he is taking part in a real debate. However, the Globe’s stance in continuing to publish these columns raises further questions. Under the First Amendment, Jacoby is free to write what he wishes, but the Constitution does not require the Globe a platform for repeated attacks against science.

“Since the Globe is ready to publish columns that deny global warming, it’s worthwhile to wonder what else the Globe would feel fit to print ? Would the Globe publish columns denying that smoking causes cancer? Would the Globe publish columns defending slavery? Why then, do they see fit to take part in stopping any effective response to global warming until it is too late to do anything except suffer the consequences?”(link)

This post generated an interesting response from one Blue Mass Group commenter who posted under the name “JConway”:

“I think Jacoby is a far cry from [the late Boston talk radio host David] Brudnoy and the other right of center greats the Globe once had, he lacks the intelligence and the grace. But I do think it is important to remember that the Globe, in its journalistic pieces, always asserts that [human-caused] climate change is fact much in the same way one would with evolution. For it to publish an opinion piece, by a conservative, on its editorial page to me showcases a liberal bias of pigeonholing conservatives into the anti-science and anti-rational column to poke fun at. We can attack it there. But you would be hard pressed to argue that the Globe has an anti-science agenda and even harder pressed to argue that Jacoby’s opinions have an impact on anyone other than the people that already oppose climate change [legislation] due to idiocy or rational short term economic self-interest. Lastly as a free speech proponent I have a knee jerk opposition to anyone supporting the silencing of an opinion not matter how foolish the utterance.”(link)

Two years later, another firestorm was generated byanother Jacoby column that was seen as giving a middle finger to material facts. Once again, MIT’s Kerry Emanuel wrote a terrific response:

“In his December 4 op-ed column ‘Majority rules on climate science?’ Jeff Jacoby describes climate science as polarized between ‘true believers’ (also known as ‘alarmists’) and ‘skeptics’ (also known as ‘deniers’). The truth is that all scientists are, by nature, deeply skeptical, and are aware that all that science can do is produce a best estimate of the curve of probable outcomes. In this case, those outcomes range from benign to catastrophic.

“Climate risk is real. The evidence, from warming oceans to retreating glaciers to thinning arctic sea ice, is compelling. The general warming of the planet was predicted more than a century ago based on elementary physics, and the greenhouse gas content of our atmosphere is now higher than it has been in at least 3 million years.

“People with political mind-sets can always cherry-pick the evidence. Sure, the atmosphere since 1998 has not warmed as fast as models predicted, even as it rose faster than earlier predictions. The fact is, 97 percent of climate science professionals agree that we are putting our children at risk. Jacoby is right that science is not settled by majority vote, but developing policy based on 3 percent of the experts is foolish.

“In recognizing that the high side of the risk curve presents an existential threat to our descendants, we can take reasonable actions today to mitigate that risk. Or we can gamble that the outcome will be on the benign side of the curve. True conservatives don’t gamble with their children.”(link)

In May of this year, Jacoby apparently took a shot at the fossil-fuel divestment movement. This piece also generated strong criticism; perhaps the best response came from the pen of Jamie Henn of 350.org:

“Jeff Jacoby misstates the goals of the fossil fuel divestment campaign in his latest column. He also ignores the threat that climate change poses to our economy, not to mention the planet. The goal of the divestment campaign has never been to directly affect the share prices of fossil fuel companies. Instead, divestment takes aim at the industry’s social license to operate its business as usual: wrecking the planet. When we weaken the social standing of the industry, it takes away its political power, which can open up space for meaningful climate action.

“It’s not just students saying we need to go fossil free. The World Bank, International Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and many others have concluded that we must keep roughly 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves underground to avoid catastrophic climate change. [Massachusetts] Governor [Deval] Patrick was right to call for a ‘future free of fossil fuels’ at [University of Massachusetts] Amherst’s graduation this month.

“Failing to go fossil free could have a devastating effect on our portfolios as well as the climate. Boston-based financier Jeremy Grantham, whose firm manages more than $100 billion in assets, is among those sounding the alarm about the carbon bubble — the trillions of dollars that are at risk because the stock market is overvaluing fossil fuels that must be left underground to avoid climate catastrophe. If that bubble bursts, it’s going to wipe out more than Harvard’s endowment.

“It’s high time we invested in climate solutions.” (link)

I have observed that climate-change deniers usually hold other views that are eyebrow-raising, to say the least. Recently, Jacoby evidently wrote a piece denouncing advocates of marriage equality–presumably, that includes marriage-equality advocates who happen to be right-of-center in their political views. (link)

I don’t quite get why those who profess to believe in equality under the law can reason that such equality shouldn’t apply to couples of the same gender; likewise, I don’t quite get why Jacoby, who thinks Al Gore’s just making up all this global-warming stuff, never seemed to recognize other valid arguments for adjusting domestic energy policy, or putting a price on carbon emissions. After all, even if climate change *was* a hoax, there would stillbe compelling reasons to shift our energy policy away from fossil fuels.

The national-security/public-health imperative for changing our energy policy is every bit as compelling as the climate imperative. I mean, surely Jacoby remembers 9/11, right? So, surely he must remember that fifteen of the

nineteen terrorists who killed 3,000 people that day came from Saudi Arabia? Surely, he must remember that most of the world’s oil reserves

are in counties that loathe the United States? If that isn’t a compelling reason to shift towards alternative fuels, I don’t quite know what is.

In addition, surely Jacoby doesn’t think coal mining, mountaintop removal and fracking are not without severe air-pollution risks, does he? These primitive energy-extraction efforts clearly play a role in the escalation of health-care costs in this country. Jacoby has always believed that Gore is full of hot air, and he will never change his mind on that score. In that June 1, 2011 piece, he effectively declared: If Al Gore is for something, I’m against it!

Now, June marks another, far more prominent anniversary: the 40th anniversary of public school desegregation in Boston. The late Massachusetts Congresswoman Louise Day Hicks was a vehement critic of the use of busing to desegregate Boston schools, and her famous campaign slogan was: “You know where I stand.”

That could be Jacoby’s slogan with regard to his writings on climate. Of course, the problem is that what works for a politician does not and cannot work for a pundit.

I have been urged, on any number of occasions, to respond to Jacoby’s post-2011 climate-denial pieces, to get up in his face rhetorically, to call him out in print, to lay a scientific smackdown on him. I have always declined, and I decline again now because, well, what would be the point, exactly? What would be gained? Who would be enlightened? Ask yourself: how many of the Globe’s readers are really swayed by his scorn of science? I would submit to you that anybody who thinks Jeff Jacoby is right on climate is an intellectual lost cause anyway.

As you might have guessed, I am quite embarrassed by the fact that I once found Jacoby’s work to be of intellectual merit. I wish I had never read the first piece he wrote for the Globe in February 1994, or any of the subsequent pieces. I wish that I had never viewed him as a political role model.

It’s a painful history, one that cannot be undone. The only thing I can do is move beyond it, which is what I’ve tried to do for the past three years.

I realize now that although I once admired Jeff Jacoby, I don’t really have anything in common with the man. I cannot relate to his vision of the world, just as I’m sure he cannot relate to mine.

I’ve enjoyed three years Jacoby-free, and I’d like to enjoy several more. I realize now that calling Jacoby “anti-science” or a “libertarian ideologue” is not the most appropriate thing you can say to him. I realize now that the most appropriate thing you can say to him, and to those who share his particular vision of the world…is goodbye.

 

Thank you for listening.

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The Climate Minute: Democracy in Action (PODCAST)

The activist group Citizen’s Climate Lobby organized meetings on Capitol Hill recently to let ordinary people ask their Representatives to put a price on carbon pollution.

Here is a link to a detailed report about daily events at the event. One of the speakers was Bob Inglis, and a real highlight was mentioned in D.R.’s blog(see the video there) of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s rousing speech.

A new report highlights the “Risky Business” of climate change. Hank Paulson made the case in the NYT, but generally speaking, the media covered its collective eyes and ears.Here are the stories of an embarrassing mix up at CNBC , a Federal Loan guaranty for Cape Wind and the strange story of a South Pacific nation buying a new country.

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.

…Ted McIntyre

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The Climate Minute: Commencement at Irvine (PODCAST)

The President gave a commencement speech at UC Irvine recently, and delivered a frank and pragmatic recognition that climate change must be addressed.

You can see the speech here, read about the President’s plan here and check out the EPA’s recent plan to control carbon pollution from existing coal fired power plants here.

Because of all the evidence, we must insist that the US put a price on carbon!

….Ted McIntyre

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