Chris Hayes throws a fit over climate denial and inaction tonight on his MSNBC show:
There is only one leg on which climate change denial stands: Money.
Chris Hayes throws a fit over climate denial and inaction tonight on his MSNBC show:
There is only one leg on which climate change denial stands: Money.
Looks like Obama intends to back down and let Keystone XL bitumen pipeline go through.
From the NY Times:
SAN FRANCISCO — Appearing at the home of an outspoken critic of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama on Wednesday night told a group of high-dollar donors that the politics of the environment “are tough.”
Mr. Obama appears to be leaning toward the approval of the pipeline, although he did not specifically mention it to the donors. But he acknowledged that it is hard to sell aggressive environmental action — like reducing pollution from power plants — to Americans who are still struggling in a difficult economy to pay bills, buy gas and save for retirement.
“You may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your No. 1 concern,” Mr. Obama said. “And if people think, well, that’s shortsighted, that’s what happens when you’re struggling to get by.”
Maybe the Prez saw this poll from Pew Research:
And maybe it's not a coincidence that this past week James Hansen decided he had to quit his job working for the federal government, and this today argued fiercely against the pipeline:
The perspective of pipeline apologists is contrary to the laws of physics and basic economics, neither of which gives a damn about politics. 
The science on climate change has been in for a quarter of a century. There are no more mixed messages, just catastrophe after catastrophe. The president stands at a fork in the road: Rejecting the pipeline will show the world we are serious and determined to be on the right side of history. Approving it will signal we are too entrenched with business-as-usual to do what's right by the people, planet and future generations.
Meanwhile atop the NY Times, a disturbing story from perhaps the second best-known of all climate scientists, Lonnie Thompson, on the rapid melting of an ice cap in Peru.
Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, scientists reported Thursday, the latest indication that the recent spike in global temperatures has thrown the natural world out of balance.
It's much more than Obama's legacy that hangs in the balance. Regrettably.
The marvelously talented Steve Brodner, nominated for a prize by the design community, says he is pioneering a semi-new kind of drawing, the "illographix," which involves graphing and charting as well as illustration. Here's one example, worked out with two notables editors, and submitted for a prize:
Not sure how new this concept really is. After all, Ted Rall often draws cartoons based on shocking facts. Here's his latest:
Rall also has a spectacularly informative talk/essay (for SWSX Interactive) on the facts of political cartooning in the age of the Internet...and a solution for content providers and papers!
Ronald Brownstein, perhaps the foremost political print journalist of recent years, in Quartz explains how and why the President will make a move to protect the climate.
Note that the story begins with a fact the left and environmentalists generally will not like.
Though President Barack Obama lavished attention on climate change in both his inaugural address and State of the Union speech, he still has little chance of getting Congress to pass a law limiting carbon emissions. But he could achieve the same goal using regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and he is now in a better position to withstand—and even welcome—the confrontation with the energy industry this would entail, thanks to both economic and political shifts.
The key economic change is the surge in domestic production of natural gas spurred by the growing use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That creates a cheaper alternative to coal-generated electricity and has eased fears that restrictions on carbon would send utility bills soaring. “The economic prerequisite for a major move against coal is low gas prices,” says Jerry Taylor, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. “So economically the table is set.”
This leads, the writer argues, to a new political wedge issue. The rise of fracking and cheaper energy from natural gas freed by fracking undercuts the coal industry, as simultaneously we see the rise of a new political alliance, of young women, Latinos, and gay men which diminishes the um, Appalachian vote.
An EPA move against coal-fired power would follow that pattern. One senior Obama adviser said the White House now believes that forcing the GOP to debate the issue will benefit Democrats politically by creating hurdles for the GOP with younger voters. “Republicans will eventually realize their position on climate for young people is the equivalent of their position on immigration for Latinos,” said the adviser.
The earth’s getting warmer: “Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.” President Obama, in the State of the Union Address:
President Obama's makes clear how fast things are changing in the climate in his 2013 State of the Union:
...for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.
Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. We’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.
In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.
Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long. I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.
"I urge this Congess to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
OK, so what's a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change?
In a word, it's fantasy: as long as the current crop of Republicans have a say in Congress, meaningful climate-change solutions are never going to emerge from that body. The sour look at McCain's face as Obama mentioned his name shows just how far the senator's party has regressed on this issue since his failed presidential bid in 2008.
In three words, though, it's cap-and-trade.
The first executive act Obama can take right now to stop climate change is to stop Keystone XL.
(Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday gave Congress an ultimatum on climate change: craft a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the dangers of a warming world, or the White House will go it alone.
Yes, so the climate silence is broken for good, with a threat to the House GOP.
ADD Jonathan Chait on Obama's threat:
Obama has the power to impose powerful unilateral regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions. Whether Obama can follow through on this threat will probably amount to the defining struggle of his second term. A small passage in his speech will eventually be remembered as the opening salvo in a bloody fight of massive consequence.
This is in contrast to how voters aligned with a political party hold on to their beliefs, they said.
"We find that over 10 surveys, Republicans and Democrats remain far apart and firm in their beliefs about climate change. Independents fall in between these extremes, but their beliefs appear weakly held -- literally blowing in the wind," researchers Lawrence Hamilton and Mary Stampone wrote in the journal Weather, Climate and Society.
Fascinating to see that on this issue, independent voters really are independent.
The UPI story continues:
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2013/01/24/Weather-can-alter-climate-change-beliefs/UPI-68601359064108/#ixzz2K9RV1BdU
"Interviewed on unseasonably warm days, independents tend to agree with the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. On unseasonably cool days, they tend not to," Hamilton and Stampone said.
Hamilton is a professor of sociology and Stampone is a professor of geography and is also the New Hampshire state climatologist.
They used statewide data from about 5,000 random-sample telephone interviews conducted on 99 days during 2 1/2 years, and correlated that with temperature and precipitation records.
Weather had a substantial effect on climate change views mainly among independent voters, they found.
"The shift was dramatic," Hamilton said. "On the coolest days, belief in human-caused climate change dropped below 40 percent among independents. On the hottest days, it increased above 70 percent."
FF: Have you ever fired a gun?
FF: The whole family?
BO: Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there.
In this Obama is much like past presidents, including John F. Kennedy Jr., who in this picture, taken at Camp David before his inauguration, went skeet shooting with Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams.
[pic via BeschlossDC]
A great Washington Wire column in the Wall Street Journal quantifies the true political split on the queston of global warming. It's not Republican vs. Democrat. It's old versus young. In the words of pollster Dante Chinni:
While politicians and the media tend to focus on the Democratic/Republican divide on the issue, the real split is evidenced in other ways – the urban/rural divide, the education divide and, crucially, the age divide. And when you add all those differences together and look at it through geography, you see glaring differences in how various places understand the issue.
It's necessary to read the whole column (and look at the charts) to understand Chinni's point in any depth. But here's a start:
The two biggest supporters of man-made climate change are the Immigration Nation (light blue on the map below) and Campus and Career (green) counties. Those places don’t share a lot of commonalities. There are big differences in income and education levels. But they have one common trait – they are younger than other places.
In both of those county types roughly 50% of the population is under 34 years of age – it’s actually slightly more than 50% in Immigration Nation. In most of the county types that figure is 45% or less. And both Campus and Careers and Immigration Nation counties have fewer people over 65, about 11%. Nationally that figure is 13%.
What does that mean? It indicates that while there are a variety of factors that go into people’s attitudes on global warming, age is profoundly important. In reporting in Campus communities in particular, Politics Counts has found environmentalism is held out as one issue where most all students agree. Liberal and conservative. Democrat and Republican.
If those young people hold on to those beliefs as they age, it has big implications for the global-warming debate in the coming years. As pollsters like to say, the numbers above represent a “snapshot in time.” While the divide in the chart above is stark, it may not always be.
In other words, Chinni hints, if the GOP doesn't change its position to reflect the viewpoint of young people, they stand to lose a generation on this issue.
Fascinating to yours truly that no demographic group is more concerned about global warming than immigrants. Could this reflect experience learned south of the border? Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton researched this a couple of years ago, and believed the answer was yes.
From Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State speech, on climate change:
According to the latest report from the World Bank, carbon dioxide emissions are the highest in 15 million years. At today’s emissions rate, the planet could warm by more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, an event unknown in human experience. California is extremely vulnerable because of our Mediterranean climate, long coastline and reliance on snowpack for so much of our water supply.
Tipping points can be reached before we even know we have passed them. This is a different kind of challenge than we ever faced. It requires acting now even though the worst consequences are perhaps decades in the future.
Again California is leading the way. We are reducing emissions as required by AB 32 and we will meet our goal of getting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Key to our efforts is reducing electricity consumption through efficiency standards for buildings and appliances. Over the last three decades, these pioneering efforts have saved Californians $65 billion dollars. And we are not through yet.
We are also meeting our renewable energy goals: more than 20% renewable energy this year. By 2020, we will get at least a third of our electricity from the sun and the wind and other renewable sources—and probably more.
California's industrial emissions of greenhouse gases dropped for the third straight year in 2011, according to figures released this month by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The decline adds to a so-far unbroken trend since CARB started tracking the emissions in 2008.
The figures include emissions from power plants, oil and gas production and refining, cement manufacture and a few other industrial processes. They do not include CO2 emissions from motorized transportation or from sources such as households and commercial businesses, which altogether account for about half the state's emissions.
According to CARB, the state's reported industrial greenhouse gas emissions totaled 111,044,931 metric tons of CO2 or its equivalent -- down from 117,624,594 tons in 2010. The reduction, 6.58 million tons of CO2, is equivalent to taking 1.37 million cars off the road. Furthermore, 2011's emissions represent a drop in annual emissions of more than 22 million tons from 2008's levels. That's about a third of what humans worldwide emit each day.
This doesn't include car emissions, but it's still impressive, given the rise in emissions worldwide.
Bill Whalen, a GOP speechwriter for Pete Wilson, called the speech "quirky." Uh-huh. Shrugging off the threat of the scorching of a state of 37 million as a matter of no matter.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised at the short-sightedness: Pete Wilson's embrace of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino proposition 187 was similarly myopic, and the beginning of the end for the GOP in CA.