Archive for the ‘Green politics’ Category

Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy

February 16, 2010

More than a century ago, a legendary New York City newspaper man by name Joseph Pulitzer famously barked “Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy!” at his newsroom staff.

He knew that a single incorrect report could undermine his newspaper’s credibility, and that getting the story right was more important than getting it first.

Unfortunately, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did not adhere to Pulitzer’s golden rule when it published its landmark 2007  global warming report. At least two seemingly inadvertent and inconsequential, but sloppy, errors in the report have fueled climate-change skeptics and thrown up roadblocks for a historic effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

No, there’s no evidence that the Himalayan glacier will melt by 2035, the IPCC had to admit last month. Nor have scientists been able to determine that Africa’s crop yield will be cut in half by 2020 unless steps are taken to curb global warming, as the group reported in its 2007 report.

Some members of the Geneva-based group have acknowledged that procedures for reviewing and including data in IPCC reports must be tightened. But the damage had already been done.

Today, the state of Texas challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gases are a hazard to people, saying the agency’s December finding was based on flawed science.

“With billions of dollars at stake, EPA outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation to a scandal-plagued international organization that cannot be considered objective or trustworthy,” Texas Attorney General Abbott said in a statement.

“Prominent climate scientists associated with the International Panel on Climate Change were engaged in an ongoing, orchestrated effort to violate freedom of information laws, exclude scientific research, and manipulate temperature data…so EPA should not rely upon it to reach a decision that will hurt small businesses, farmers, ranchers, and the larger Texas economy,” he charged.

Texas, a major emitter of greenhouse gases, would probably have sued anyway. But IPCC’s errors gave the state a convenient argument at the right time.

Also today, three large energy companies – Conoco, BP and Caterpillar – pulled out of a coalition of corporations and environmental groups that is pushing Congress to pass a climate-change bill.

Among their complaints: The bill doesn’t do enough to promote natural gas as an alternative to carbon-based energy, and it will hurt the nation’s transportation sector.

Whatever goodwill there was for energy legislation this year seems to have eroded in a matter of a few weeks. Opposition against the bill is gaining steam, and we can thank some sloppy reporting for turning the clock back on climate change policy.

Who paid the Climategate scientists to lie?

December 10, 2009

We’re  held in suspense as the Copenhagen climate talks continue this week. Will the leaked e-mails from the East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, a leading climate-change research center, undercut and derail the summit? At a minimum, “Climategate” is proving to be a distraction when the world’s leaders meet to try to reach carbon-cutting goals.

Lots of people have been weighing in recent days. Ex-Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin called for President Barack Obama to boycott the meeting in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post today.

The leaked Climategate e-mails “reveal that leading climate ‘experts’ deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to ‘hide the decline’ in global temperatures, and tried to silence their critics by preventing them from publishing in peer-reviewed journals,” Palin wrote. “The last thing America needs is misguided legislation that will raise taxes and cost jobs – particularly when the push for such legislation rests on agenda-driven science.”

And here’s John Lott with FOXNews commenting on the scientists whose private e-mails were hacked and displayed for the world to see:

“They were brazenly discussing the destruction and hiding of data that did not support global warming claims,” Lott reported, adding, “The academics here also worked closely with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

They were, asserted Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.), “fudging the data.”

Ouch. Seems the world’s leading climate experts may have made it all up and even gotten the United Nations snowed. No wonder the e-mails have been labeled a scandal.

Except, why would the scientists concoct a story about climate change if it wasn’t true? Who paid those professors who spent months and years poring over climate data to cook their numbers?

Why would they conspire to try to fool the world?

We know and understand where the opponents to climate legislation come from. Unlike the professors, they have economic reasons for fighting cap and trade legislation, or any other government effort to curb emissions.

Large corporations that are forced to clean up their act have shareholders to answer to when profits decline. Switching to greener technologies will cause economic upheaval and  job losses. And rising energy prices will hurt – at least until we downsize our homes and cars.

But those scientists? Are climate theories bringing them fame and riches?  Let’s not fool ourselves here.

What’s wrong with these people?

November 4, 2009

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Less than a month after President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize by noting that it was “an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations,” Republicans have once again reminded the rest of the world why the United States is anything but a leader.

If it wasn’t so sad, it would almost be funny.

All but one Republicans boycotted the Senate hearings on a landmark climate change bill yesterday. The legislation would, finally, place the United States in sync with the European Union and other countries that long ago began addressing global warming.

Only one.

And Ohio Senator George Voinovich only showed up briefly to urge the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to hold off on its hearings until the Environmental Protection Agency has finished its assessment of the legislation, CNN reported. This was, of course, just a stalling tactic since the committee was already planning to consult with the EPA before sending the bill to the full Senate.

I ran into a former neighbor at the bus stop the other day. He happens to working on climate change issues for the EPA, and believes that the Senate legislation will go nowhere, unfortunately. Why?

“Because this bill would require Americans to make some real changes to their way of life. And they’re just not ready to do so yet,” he said.

“But not doing anything about global warming will change our lifestyles, too,” I tried.

“Yes,” my former neighbor said, “but it will not affect us, it will affect our children — or their children.”

At Obama’s inauguration that frigid morning in January, anything seemed possible. The United States had finally gotten its act together and the Republicans — well, they seemed to have gone away. Or so we hoped.

Now they are back in full force, it seems, to stop progress wherever it surfaces. Because uniting for a worthy cause is just not something we do in the United States. That’s how pathetic we are.

 

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