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December 02 2011

22:45

Old Talking Points Die Hard: "Climate Change Is Beneficial" Edition

If you follow the cycle of anti-climate change talking points, you’ll notice a pattern that repeats itself every few years. In between spurts of outright denial, the anti-science crowd will occasionally revert back to a less-heard talking point: Climate change is actually a good thing.

Even as the year 2011 has ranked the 10th warmest year on record, the “climate change is good” talking point has crept back to center stage among conservative pundits and dirty energy apologists who can't help but to acknowledge that climate change is real, but suggest that we don’t need to worry about it.

This particular talking point gained a lot of steam in 2004, when the Cato Institute began hyping the idea that climate change was going to be a net benefit for mankind. From Cato:

Theory predicts and observations confirm that human-induced warming takes place primarily in winter, lengthening the growing season. Satellite measurements now show that the planet is greener than it was before it warmed. There are literally thousands of experiments reported in the scientific literature demonstrating that higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations — cause by human activity — dramatically increase food production. So why do we only hear one side about global warming?

Keep in mind, the Cato Institute was co-founded by oil billionaire Charles Koch and has received over $5.5 million from Koch family foundations since 1997, in addition to at least $125,000 from Exxon in the last 13 years.


During the same period that Cato was touting the benefits of warmer climates, other media outlets like London’s The Telegraph were also downplaying the disastrous effects of climate change. The Telegraph told us that, yes, climate change is absolutely real, but that we shouldn’t worry about it because it isn’t a man-made phenomenon. According to The Telegraph, and a host of conservative media in North America, the earth was just in a “natural warming phase” that would soon end and bring about another “natural cooling phase.”

Well, a few years later, we’re beginning to hear that familiar drumbeat of the positive aspects of climate change all over again.

The New York Post told its readers last month that not only are we currently in an ice age, but that “global warming” is going to benefit us all by preventing a full-blown ice age from taking over the planet.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute staffers who run the website GlobalWarming.org have taken it upon themselves to promote the “climate change is good” talking point each week by posting excerpts from books that also make the claim. This week, they led with an excerpt from Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist:

…Once again, people will adapt, as they do today. People move happily from London to Hong Kong or Boston to Miami and do not die from heat, so why should they die if their home city gradually warms by a few degrees? (It already has, because of the urban heat island effect.)

Pause for a moment to digest the fact that CEI and Ridley are still pushing the myth of the "urban heat island effect" even after the Koch-funded BEST study debunked it thoroughly.

According to Forbes’ contributor Tim Worstall, we can all sit back and relax because climate change isn’t going to be as bad as all the environmentalists and activists want us to believe:

This is however the most important remaining question in the science of climate change. Not is it happening, but how bad is it going to be? The lower climate sensitivity is the less bad it will be and the less attention we have to pay to it.

We’re also seeing numerous articles about how climate change will bring down the cost of goods as it opens up new, easier shipping routes in the arctic.

While certainly a clever attempt to paint a rosy picture of climate change, the “climate change is good for us” talking point is completely false. In North America alone this year, we’ve seen record snow falls, record floods, record droughts, record wildfires – many of them deadly events - and a further list of seemingly endless disasters and extreme weather events that are consistent with climate scientists's warnings about what the future holds for us.

To understand the effects that climate change is already having in some areas of the world, I recommend reading Jeff Goodell’s recent piece in Rolling Stone magazine “Climate Change and the End of Australia.” As Goodell points out, Australia is one of the best examples to see how disastrous climate change will be for the rest of the world. The continent is already experiencing severe hurricanes and droughts, both of which are the direct result of climate change.

The NRDC has also worked to show what the real effects of climate change will be – and it isn’t Christmas Eve pool parties for Canadians, as the climate deniers would have us believe.

The reality is that climate change is going to have a disastrous effect on human health. As they point, in 2011, NRDC points to the following statistics from climate change-related events:

1,689 premature deaths
8,992 hospitalizations
21,113 emergency department visits
734,398 outpatient visits.

How exactly are these statistics "beneficial?" Are those numbers what the “climate change is good” crowd want us to celebrate? The truth is that there is nothing “good” about climate change. And as long as we continue down our path of mutual fossil-fueled self-destruction, things are only going to get worse.

September 13 2011

17:55

Polluters Join Forces To Pressure Obama On Oil And Gas Drilling

In the wake of President Obama’s speech on job creation last week, major players in the energy industry have banded together to put pressure on the president to speed up the permitting process for new oil and gas drilling leases. At least 17 different companies and interest groups sent a joint letter to the president telling him that the best way to create jobs is to allow the dirty energy industry to drill, baby, drill.

From the industry letter:
  

One policy initiative that simultaneously creates high-paying jobs and increases revenues into federal coffers would be to improve efficiency and the rate of permitting activity in the Gulf of Mexico to a rate that is commensurate with industry’s ability to invest. Because safe, reliable domestic energy impacts all sectors of the US economy — manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and small business – such a move makes sense in light of the new regulatory regime and containment protocols developed by the Interior Department and private industry working in partnership.


The dirty energy industry would like us to believe that the administration’s energy protocols for drilling are hindering job growth in the country, even though the current wait time for drilling approval is about three months. Their claims of “safety” also ring hollow for those of us living on the Gulf Coast who are still witnessing oil washing up on our shores more than a year after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico, spewing oil into the water for more than three months.

The American Petroleum Institute was not a part of the 17 groups that sent the letter to the president, but they have not been silent in the jobs debate. In a recent release, the API claimed that by lifting restrictions on oil and gas drilling, the energy industry would add as many as 1.4 million jobs and generate as much as $800 billion in tax revenue for the federal government. API president Jack Gerard acknowledged that it would take about 7 years for all of these jobs to materialize, far less than the estimated 2 million “green” jobs created in just one year by the President’s 2009 stimulus package.



Despite the fact that the green jobs sector can create jobs faster than oil and gas drilling, the dirty energy industry has a much louder megaphone and more resources to push misinformation onto the public. The folks over at the industry-funded website GlobalWarming.org (funded and maintained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute) recently posted about how the president’s stimulus package and green jobs initiatives actually lost American jobs. They also beat the familiar drum of “job-killing regulations.”

From GlobalWarming.org’s Hans Bader:
  

No net jobs were created in America last month (even as the people needing jobs increased), as the Obama Administration drafted a host of new job-killing regulations and threatened costly lawsuits against employers. But rather than rethink his failed economic policies, Obama is planning to spend billions more on green-jobs fantasies and boondoggles…

The $800 billion stimulus package was indeed a failure. It contained ill-conceived provisions that ignited trade wars with foreign countries such as Mexico, wiping out jobs in our export sector and aggravating America’s trade deficit. The stimulus package’s green jobs funding, nearly 80 percent of which went to foreign firms, effectively outsourced thousands of American jobs to foreign countries, at taxpayer expense. More corporate welfare for “green energy” will do nothing to fix the overall bad business climate, which is discouraging job creation.
 

Again, their claims seem to be at odds with reality, as we recently reported on several studies that prove that the Administration’s environmental protections are actually helping to create jobs in America. And as for their claims regarding the oil they would produce from increased drilling, those are also false. As we previously reported:
  

The oil-loving Bush Administration actually did a wonderful job proving how little the impact would be if we opened up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil drilling. According to their own estimates, the oil would take about a decade or more before it even reached the market, and at that point might bring the price of oil down by about 50 cents per barrel at its peak. That translates to a reduction of about 1 to 3 cents less per gallon of gasoline at the pump. They estimated that there are roughly 10 billion barrels of oil in the wildlife refuge, and since the US consumes 6.6 billion barrels a year, despoiling that wild public treasure would only supply enough oil to completely fuel the United States (no imports or other sources) for about a year and a half. After that, the well is completely dry.

The Gulf of Mexico oil reserves don’t offer much to get excited about either. According to the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the best estimates say that there could be as much as 20 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf (again, at best.) This means that the Gulf could fully supply America for maybe 3 years, if the estimates are correct.

But this doesn’t mean that Obama will turn a deaf ear to their cries. He has been incredibly forgiving to the dirty energy industry, and has managed to give in to most of their demands since taking office. And with national elections a little more than a year away and unemployment the major talking point, the president could easily cave into polluter demands in an attempt to show the public that he did everything possible to create American jobs.

Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

September 08 2011

20:02

Meet Marlo Lewis: The Dirty Energy Industry’s Best Friend

When polluters needs someone to write an industry-friendly article, or make an appearance in the media to argue against the science of climate change, they often turn to a man named Marlo Lewis. A senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Marlo has been on the front lines of the energy industry’s war on science, as well as the fight against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the battle over the Keystone XL tar sans pipeline.

What makes Marlo a valuable asset is that he actually has a great resume. He received a Ph.D. in government from Harvard – a daunting and admirable task that commands respect. He’s also served in various governmental positions, including a brief stint in the Reagan administration, bolstering his credentials among elected officials in Washington, D.C. His position at the CEI also allows him a great deal of influence over our elected officials (it also happens to pay him a $100,000 a year salary for his work.) These credentials allowed him access to Congress a few years ago, when he was permitted to give a rebuttal to Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” to the assembly. Marlo was also allowed to tout the “dangers” of the Kyoto Protocol to Congress in 1998.

But Marlo’s resume does not qualify him as an expert on anything climate or science related. In fact, if you look just below the surface, it becomes starkly apparent that he is just another energy industry crony who is paid to deny that fossil fuel pollution causes problems.

Let’s start with his position at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The CEI has received funding from all sorts of energy industry interests, including the Koch family foundations, ExxonMobil, Texaco, Arch Coal, and the American Petroleum Institute. Because of their funding from the energy industry, CEI has been one of the loudest voices claiming that anthropogenic climate change is a myth, and that the government does not need to limit any global warming pollution.

CEI has even gone as far as running television ads touting the benefit of excessive C02 emissions into the atmosphere. CEI has also staunchly defended mountaintop removal mining, claiming that limiting the practice would destroy jobs and therefore the economy of Appalachian towns.

Marlo Lewis’s work with the CEI eventually earned him a spot as the chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a climate-change denial group representing members of the energy industry and various conservative think tanks. The group makes the following claim in an archived version of their website from 2004: “The risks of global warming are speculative; the risks of global warming policies are all too real.”

The group’s main project is their website – GlobalWarming.org – designed to spread misinformation about climate change.

While his affiliations – and their corporate backing – are bad enough, to really get a sense of how dangerous he is, you have to look at his work. Here are a few choice pieces that Marlo has written in the last few months:

- A short blog post touting the economic benefits of coal.

- An article claiming that cap-and-trade is an unfair tax on coal companies.

- A call to action to stop the EPA from “destroying democracy.”

- A story about environmentalists “institutionalizing” the Department of Defense.

- Claiming environmental policies are hindering economic growth.

- Questioning the legality of President Obama’s fuel economy standards.

As absurd as some of these stories may be, they pale in comparison to his undying support for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Marlo Lewis has posted several stories proclaiming the “benefits” of Keystone XL and the tar sands, and even made a trip to Canada to view the existing Keystone pipeline. (You can find some amusing photos of Marlo posing with the pipe here.) The headline of his enthusiastic story was “My Excellent Journey to Canada’s Oil Sands.”

In another recent story, he made a list of the reasons why we should all “love” the Keystone XL pipeline. Here are a few of Marlo's colorful reasons:

A win for Keystone XL is a defeat for the global warming movement. Green groups view Keystone as an opportunity to regain momentum and offset their losses after the death of cap-and-trade. If friends of affordable energy win this fight, which seems likely, the greenhouse lobby will take another hit to its prestige, morale, and influence.

Keystone XL strains relations between Obama and his environmentalist base. If Obama approves the pipeline, greenies will be less motivated to work for his re-election. If he disapproves, Republicans and moderate Democrats will hammer him for killing job creation and increasing pain at the pump. Either way, the prospects for new anti-energy legislation should be dimmer.

Keystone XL is bringing aging, New Lefties out of the woodwork, where they can misbehave and get themselves arrested.


Marlo Lewis, a man with a Ph.D. from one of the most distinguished universities on the planet, honestly wants the Keystone XL Pipeline built for little more than his personal pleasure so he can give the finger to people who care about the environment. Well, at least he’s being mature about it all.

The point is this – Marlo Lewis is someone whom both the press and the government have previously handed a megaphone to. But given his documented misinformation work for fossil fuel interests, and his chief role working to confuse the public about climate change and the threats posed by reckless dirty energy projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline, why does anyone take him seriously?

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