Global Warming and Environmental Politics News of the Week

Here’s some of the biggest global warming and environmental politics news and commentary from the last week or so, along with some fun cartoons.

Rocket Fuel in Our Water?

The inspiration for the cartoon above, among other things: information that there is rocket fuel (or a component of it) in water supplies across the U.S. and the EPA is finally looking to address this. More from Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter:

the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would finally take steps to protect U.S. consumers from the potential hazards of perchlorate by issuing the first ever limits of the chemical in drinking water. A component of rocket fuel, perchlorate has been found in the drinking water supplies of 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Widespread exposure to certain levels of perchlorate causes serious health problems including hypothyroidism. It can also affect fetal development and cause cognitive defects among children exposed to the chemical in utero.

We applaud the EPA for taking this vital step to ensure that our water is safe for consumption, as well as the thousands of concerned citizens around the U.S. who have spoken in support of this issue.

Unprecedented Call for Fishing Reform in the EU

Global fisheries are collapsing at an astounding rate. BusinessGreen, based in the UK, reports that an “unprecedented alliance of retailers and conservationists” are now urging “drastic reform” to prevent fish stocks from passing the point of no return in the EU.

Australia Organic Farmer Suing due to GM/Monsanto Contamination

We’ve heard of Monsanto suing neighboring farmers for having genetically modified (GM) crops in their fields because of the wind blowing them there. But now we have a lawsuit that makes sense. An organic farmer in Australia has had his out and wheat crops contaminated with Monsanto’s GM Roundup Ready canola. 70% of his crops have been contaminated. Of course, this hurts him financially (and in perhaps other ways as well) and he is now suing the neighboring farm. With Monsanto supplying the lawyers for the defendant and the defendant following the law by keeping a 5-meter buffer between his field of GM crops and the organic farmer’s, Steve Marsh (the organic farmer) may have a tough time in court. You can read much more about the story, and the problems GM crops are causing. You can also support Steve by donating to his legal costs here.

Greenpeace to Facebook: Go Green by Earth Day

Continuing a long campaign pushing Facebook to clean up its act and go green for real, Greenpeace is now pushing Facebook to stop using coal and Go Green by Earth Day. Time to step it up. (Not sure if this fits this wrap-up, but didn’t know where else to stick it. Figured activism is a part of politics.)

Obama’s Energy and Climate Czar, Carol Browner, to Leave White House

In a shocking announcement, we found out that Carol M. Browner, President Barack Obama’s energy adviser, plans to leave the White House soon. This announcement came just before Obama’s State of the Union Address. Any connection between it and Obama’s silence on climate change? We can only speculate… the official announcement said that she was happy with what would be in the speech.

“She will stay on as long as necessary to ensure an orderly transition,” a White House official said. “Carol is confident that the mission of her office will remain critical to the president, and she is pleased with what will be in the [State of the Union address] and in the budget [next month] on clean energy.”

Americans Want Clean Energy Legislation

Despite what many Republicans and even some Democrats pretend, the U.S. citizenry want action on climate change, want clean energy legislation, and want it now. This is what yet another poll shows.

And turns out that Brits are basically in the same boat. Of course, their conservative politicians don’t deny climate science like ours do.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Tells US, EU, and Big Business to Step it Up in Davos

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon pushes the US, the EU, and big business to step it up on addressing climate change and moving to a low-carbon economy.

“Climate change is showing us that the old model is more than obsolete. It has rendered it extremely dangerous. It is a recipe for natural disaster. It is a global suicide attack,” he said.

He went on to praise China for its cleantech investments.

Green Blogger on Counter-Terrorism Unit’s Police Briefing List

A leading green blogger’s website and lectures are being included in U.S. Counter-Terrorism briefings. Ridiculous, but true.

Capitol Still Not Green, U.S. House of Representatives Says No to Composting Program and Proposal to Cut Bottled Water

Despite a push from nearly 50,000 people, the House of Representatives has said no to ditching bottled water and implementing other green programs. Nonetheless, you can keep the pressure on by signing the petition below.

Petitions by|Start a Petition »

Leading Scientists Ask New Congress to Take Science into Account

Good luck with that one. Nonetheless, good to see that the nation’s leading scientific body, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), is pushing Congress to use science in making important decisions. If only we were so lucky.

Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address

Following up on our coverage of this, there’s more good info and discussions around the web on Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address.

Joe Romm of Climate Progress had more good coverage on this, including the graph below showing that Obama has been using the terms “global warming,” “climate change,” and “environment” even less than Bush!

And Sarah Laskow of Global Warming is Real has a thorough piece on the Obama administration’s failures and how his 2011 SOTU address look to continue those.

Following up on his push for cleantech, Obama announced his “Better Buildings Initiative” at Penn State last week. Center for America Progress has more.

And Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) at Natural Capitalism Solutions in Boulder, Colorado, tells us what Obama should have said in his SOTU address. And love the cartoon Joe Romm included with it:

Sabotaging Climate Science and Attacking Climate Scientists

No Need to Read the Literature or Understand the Science, Just Try to Sabotage it Because Liberals Support It

Simple tactic. Simple thinking. Catastrophic consequences.

Before the video, here’s more from Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

Did you ever wonder why so many websites and comment threads are crawling with right wing climate denying trolls?  There’s a reason. They are an organized movement, promoting ignorance, and hatred for curiosity, knowledge, and expertise.

The clip is from a longer film, “AstroTurf Wars”, which describes how democracy is being distorted and hobbled by corporate funded “citizens” whose full time profession is to spread lies, confuse voters, and disrupt the democratic process with bad information.

Believe me, I see them on here (probably everyday).

12 Politicans and Executives Blocking Progress on Global Warming

Rolling Stone calls out 12 ‘leading’ politicians and business execs who are blocking progress on global warming. Can you guess who’s on the list?

Fabricated Quote Used to Discredit Climate Scientist

I wasn’t sure if I should put this in the science or politics wrap-up, maybe both. Leading climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of NASA was recently misquoted (well, actually, the journalist just made up what he said altogether) in a piece making him look like someone who doesn’t want to discuss the “uncertainties” of climate science. This incidence also made Joe Romm of Climate Progress remember a similar story from awhile back and a good explanation of how the anti-science crowd operates.

Leading Climate Scientist from NOAA on the Climate Disinformation Campaign

“We are facing a well-organized and well-funded campaign attacking our science and our integrity, spreading confusion and disinformation,” Roger-Revelle-medal-winner Pieter P. Tans, a leading climate scientist at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, said recently. More on his take on the climate disinformation campaign available here.

Infamous Climate Disinformer Delingpole Gets His Tongue Tied

If you missed or didn’t watch this part of Science Under Attack, below is one of the parts on Delingpole’s confessions on his lack of scientific expertise and inability to deal with . And here’s more from Joe Romm on the Delingpole interview and his disinformation.

FOX News “Personal Ad” for Climate Science Disinformer

Wow, when you thought you couldn’t expect worse. Here’s some extended coverage from Grist:

Fox News “science” reporter Gene Koprowski doesn’t care if you believe in science. He just wants you to be willing to say it’s dumb. Global warming causing cooling? Climate change changing the climate? What is this, CRAZY TOWN? Would you say that on the record, please? And step on it, he’s on a deadline.

To that effect, Koprowski has put out the world’s saddest personal ad, seeking out the science-averse or hypocritical for long walks on the ever-shrinking, hurricane-pounded beach:

1. ENVIRONMENT/TODAY: Global Warming Causing More Snow? Come Again? —
Deadline: Feb 01, 2011 11:00 PM EST

Former Vice President Al Gore told Bill O’Reilly that: “A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.” We need comments from someone who can point out the ridiculousness of his argument, even if you accept the somewhat-implausible argument. I’ve been assigned this story just now by Fox News in New York for the science and technology desk. I’m looking for comments. Please send comments via e-mail. Please send your name, title and company you represent. Please send comments by 10 p.m. CST. Contact: Gene Koprowski, [redacted]

Wall Street Journal Pro-Science on Other Issues, Anti-Science on Climate Change

Another Rupert Murdoch news outlet (Murdoch was #1 on Rolling Stone’s list above), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is notoriously bad at reporting on climate change and notoriously good at spreading climate misinformation. Professor Scott Mandia recently conducted a survey of WSJ articles and found that its climate science coverage was horrendous, with its coverage almost opposite to the scientific consensus.

The WSJ misreports on climate science 93% of the time!

97% of climate science experts and every international scientific organization endorses the conclusion that human activities are primarily responsible for modern global warming.  An honest newspaper should reflect that consensus,” Mandia writes.

Republicans, Polluters Attacking America’s Clean Air, Water, and a Livable Climate

Politics Run by Business, Environmental Regulations Determined by Polluters?

“In December, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) outsourced his job to business lobbyists when he sent letters to over 150 trade associations and companies, asking them to outline which Obama administration regulations he should target as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He sent the letters to a wide array of fossil fuel producers, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, telecommunications companies, and other interests,” Joe Romm of Climate Progress reports in an intro to a piece on how Darrel Issa “has repeatedly refused to share the responses he received from these industry leaders, even with Democrats on his committee.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on Issa’s committee, notes, “[w]ithholding Committee records is not only a violation of House rules, but a waste of time that could have been avoided with the smallest degree of bipartisan cooperation.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington took the matter into its own hands and sent letters to these trade associations and companies and some of the recommendations, posted in the link above, are truly ridiculous.

Congress Cares More About Polluters than Children’s Health

Pete Altman of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports on its coordination with Health Care Without Harm to show how members of Congress are choosing the friendship of polluters over children’s health. Here’s an infographic from the piece (click to enlarge):

And he’s got more on the numerous national health associations opposed to Upton’s proposal (see below) to block EPA action as well.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Stuck in the Past, Can’t See the Clean Energy Future

What would you expect from a group led by the leaders of the fossil fuel industry. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continued its long attack on clean energy and progress recently. Brad Johnson of the Wonk Room covered their recent attack as well as decades of them in a recent story.

Reps. Upton and Whitfield, Sen. Inhofe Attack Air Pollution Controls

Continuing the Republican assault on clean air, water, and a livable climate, “Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) released a draft of their House bill to block all federal controls on carbon dioxide pollution,” last week Earthjustice reports.

Fossil Fuel Industry Keeping Its Massive Energy Subsidies (So Far)

While Obama clearly stated in his 2011 State of the Union address that the extremely wealthy fossil fuel industry doesn’t need anymore tax breaks (“We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”),  the Senate has shot down the first attempt to cut these massive energy subsidies. As Bruce Alpert sadly starts a post on this matter, “The oil and gas industry, which beat back new regulatory bills even during the worst days of last year’s massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scored another victory this week.”

And while oil prices continue to rise at a rapid rate, Americans struggle, Big Oil attacks clean energy programs in Congress that would significantly help to address those issues (and successfully kills many of them), the leading five oil companies in the U.S. actually raked in $1 trillion in profits i the last decade. Give those multi-millionaire and billionaire execs their tax loopholes and bonuses!…

Oh, How Politicians Flip and Flop and Try to Turn the Fever Up on Our Planet

Here’s the intro to a good piece in the NYTimes on ridiculous Republican efforts to block the EPA from acting on climate change and reducing carbon pollution.

Shortly after he entered the Senate in 2007, John Barrasso told his Wyoming constituents that the country’s biggest need was an energy policy to deal with carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

That was then. In lockstep with other Senate Republicans, he helped kill last year’s energy and climate bill. Now he has introduced a bill that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency and any other part of the federal government from regulating carbon pollution.

Congress’s failure to enact a climate bill means that the E.P.A.’s authority to regulate these gases — an authority conferred by a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2007 — is, for now, the only tool available to the federal government to combat global warming.

Coal Doesn’t Get a Penny of Subsidies?

Wow, that’s a straight out lie if I’ve ever seen one. But that’s what Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the newest member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who is known for shooting a bullet through a dead Cap-and-Trade bill, claimed last week. For a video of this claim as well as info on how the coal industry gets billions of dollars in subsidies a year, visit Think Progress’ Wonk Room.


Shell CEO: Energy Production Going Down, Demand Going Up, Tighter Market & Higher Prices as a Result

Simple matter:

“Drill, Baby, Drill” is a False Promise

Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress goes into detail on why new U.S. oil drilling, even if it were at the level Republicans propose, could not really affect global oil supply or our long-term energy needs.

More Wars is a Policy,.. Right?

Well, this may not specifically be related to global warming, but it is in a sense. The new, “anti-government” Republicans leading our.. government (hmm..) seem to be against everything — the Clean Air Act, clean water clean energy, green jobs, climate science, evolution…. Oh, wait, they are still for fighting wars. Seems to be how they think we’ll improve our economy, educate our young adults, and supply ourselves with the energy we need. Here’s a great cartoon on just that:

Dependence on Foreign Oil a Serious National Security Threat

Via Global Warming is Real, here’s a video of Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn (U.S. Navy, retired) speaking “on the risks of dependence on foreign oil and the urgency of adopting energy and climate policies as a matter of national defense.”


EPA Strikes Back Regarding Attacks on Its Jurisdiction

While Republicans in Congress throw multiple attacks at the EPA’s legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson is striking back. Ben Geman of The Hill reports:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday attacked bills piling up in Congress that would block the agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and reiterated the White House veto threat.

Jackson, speaking to reporters, initially declined to address whether President Obama would veto bills that stop climate rules, but later said that past threats still stand.

As it clearly should.

Why the EPA Needs to Be Able to Regulate Carbon Pollution

To close out, the Center for American Progress had a great in-depth piece the other day on why the EPA needs to be allowed to regulate carbon pollution: EPA and Greenhouse Gases 101. Check it out.

Citizens Support EPA, and a Clean Energy Bill

While Republicans unrelentingly attack the EPA (after killing a clean energy bill), recent polls show yet again that U.S. citizens support EPA action and a clean energy bill.

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