Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bill Gates donates $700,000 in support of California's new climate law

Gates joins Google co-founder Sergey Brin who donated $200,000 and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore who donated $1 million to the "No on Prop. 23" committee. Proposition 23 is a ballot initiative that would push back California's landmark climate change law.
See previous post ->


NOAA Arctic Report Card 2010

An annual report issued by NOAA shows the Arctic region continues to heat up, affecting local populations and ecosystems as well as weather patterns in the most populated parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

2010 highlights:
  • Greenland is experiencing record-setting high temperatures, ice melt and glacier area loss.
  • Summer sea ice continues to decline and sea ice thickness continues to thin.
  • Arctic snow cover duration was at a record minimum.

NOAA (2010, October 22). Arctic Report Card: Region continues to warm at unprecedented rate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The battle over climate change

One reason for creating this blog was to somehow address the challenge of those who reject climate change. But what else can be done that hasn't already been done to educate people on the reality of climate change? First I think the climate deniers must be identified and then a plan of action developed to combat their beliefs. However I think this will be a steep uphill battle. Almost half (%44) of Americans do not believe in evolution. They reject science. It is clear that science will not reach the majority of Americans who are climate change non-believers it must be by some other means, possibly through religious leaders.

Below is a portion of a poll conducted by the Virginia Commonwealth University. This poll along with others shows that only about one half of Americans believe climate change is a problem that needs to be addressed, obviously that is not enough. I would suggest that for meaningful political action to take place we need over 70% of voters supporting climate change legislation.


"tell me if you believe this represents a major problem, a minor problem or not a problem at all for the country today. Global warming."


Not a
problem at all

% % % %

54 23 19 5


"Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of global warming? Global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by emissions from cars and industrial facilities such as power plants and factories. Global warming is a proven fact caused mostly by natural changes that have nothing to do with emissions from cars and industrial facilities. Global warming is a theory that has not yet been proven."


Fact: Cars,
Fact: Natural
An unproven

% % % %

48 16 29 7


The following CNN poll results show that Republicans are far less likely to recognize climate change as a problem that needs to be addressed. This shows that climate change has become a progressive vs conservative issue.


"Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of global warming? Global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by emissions from cars and industrial facilities such as power plants and factories. Global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by natural changes that have nothing to do with emissions from cars and industrial facilities. Global warming is a theory that has not be been proven." N=523 (Form A), MoE ± 4.5 overall


Fact: Cars,
Fact: Natural
An Unproven

% % % %  

45 23 31 1  

68 18 14    

25 27 47    

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Important documentary on food production in the USA

I think this doc is a must see but if you can't stand the idea of buying from a health food store or becoming a vegetarian then maybe you shouldn't watch it as you may not want to go back to the supermarket.
Food, Inc. is available for download on Netflix.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ellen Page speaks out on Facebook about climate change

Actress Ellen Page has been speaking out recently on climate change on her Facebook page. Her most recent post is a link to an  Alternet page that references an excellent National Journal piece, “GOP Gives Climate Science A Cold Shoulder.”

Columnist Ronald Brownstein quotes conservative British Foreign Secretary William Hague who visited the U.S. last week.
"Climate change is perhaps the 21st century's biggest foreign-policy challenge," Hague declared in a New York City speech. "An effective response to climate change underpins our security and prosperity." The danger was no longer just distant thunder, he suggested, warning that the recent devastating floods in Pakistan heralded the sort of extreme events that will become more common in a warmer world. "While no one weather event can ever be linked with certainty to climate change," he said, "the broad patterns of abnormality seen this year are consistent with climate-change models."

It will be difficult for the world to move meaningfully against climate disruption if the United States does not. And it will be almost impossible for the U.S. to act if one party not only rejects the most common solution proposed for the problem (cap-and-trade) but repudiates even the idea that there is a problem to be solved. The GOP's stiffening rejection of climate science sets the stage for much heated argument but little action as the world inexorably warms -- and the dangers that Hague identified creep closer.
So let's hear it for Ellen Page. I think it's great when celebs put their fame to good use.

Texas oil companies attempt to stop California's climate law

The strongest global warming law in the country is California's AB32. Two Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, are funding a campaign to overturn the law before it takes effect. They rounded up enough signatures for a ballot initiative, Prop. 23, misleading labeled the "California Jobs Initiative." They are expected to spend more than $50 million bankrolling the campaign.

Additional information can be found at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Funding climate change denial

Why is a large block of the American public unconcerned with climate change? The answer is money. Tens of millions of dollars, if not more, are poured into organizations that promote climate change denial.

Over the years Exxon/Mobile, Shell Oil, PB and many other corporations and industry groups has given millions to promote climate change denial but the biggest donor is most likely Koch Industries, a privately held company owned by David and Charles Koch. The Koch brother's ideological network is known in Washington as the Kochtopus because of its far reaching influence. 

In a recent New Yorker article on the Koch brothers, Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, speaking of the Koch's influence on American politics,
“The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”
An in-depth report by Greenpeace details Koch Industries involvement in climate change denial.
The Koch brothers, their family members and Koch Industries employees direct a web of financing that supports conservative and libertarian special interest groups and think-tanks, with a strong focus on fighting environmental regulation and easing limits on industrial pollution.
This web is currently fueling a campaign to oppose clean energy and climate legislation, by funding organizations that generate, disseminate and repeat inaccurate and misleading information about climate science, clean energy and climate policies. This information is then provided to astroturf groups (fake grassroots organizations that are created or sponsored by industries)—some of which are also funded by Koch interests—which use the misinformation to increase opposition to clean energy policies and climate solutions.
Koch foundations contributed over $48 million to climate opposition groups from 1997 to 2008.
Exactly how much is spent on climate change disinformation is difficult to know but it is clear from the review of literature that the disinformation funding is significant. Koch Industries stands out because the size of its funding but also, and I disagree somewhat with Greenpeace here, the Koch brothers are not exactly secretive about their opinions. At the company website they have a page called "ViewPoint" which implies their ideological leanings. Disinformation does however require secrecy without which it would be apparent for what it truly is.

Does George Will work for ExxonMobil?

In the most recent issue of Newsweek George Will writes a PR piece for ExxonMobile. In fact it's such a "friendly" article I would be surprised if he's not getting something in return. The point of Will's article seems to be to reassure us that there is plenty of oil to be had, we need not worry about running out. I didn't know anyone was worried about running out? Silly me, I thought the problem was the burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of climate change and that is why we should be pursuing alternative energy sources. But then George Will and I live on different planets. My world is based on science and reality and it appears his world is based on the likes of Santa Clause and the tooth fairy. Surely Will and Newsweek are not wasting a full page of their magazine simply to reassure the readers that the world has plenty of oil. No, I think the point of the article to is to reassure us that we needn't worry our silly little heads about climate change. ExxonMolib, and vis-a-vis the entire petromlium industry, will be carrying on business as usual. The company's
"placid CEO, Rex Tillerson, is Big Oil in a blue suit, his serenity grounded in a certainty: His company can continue providing fossil fuels for a world that for the foreseeable future - at least 20 years - will demand them in ever larger quantities.... His foundational fact is that his company will be "not much different" in 20 years because the energy mix over that span "is not going to be markedly different."
Will ends by his piece by stating that ExxonMobil is researching algae-based biomass fuels. But why tout the company's research into alternative fuels if we will "probably never exhaust the world's fuel supply of oil?"

What is climate change denial?

Climate change denial is a term used to describe attempts to downplay or discredit the extent of global warming, its significance, or its connection to human behavior. The sources of climate change denial are generally associated with the energy lobby, industry advocates and free market think tanks.1
The August 13, 2007 Newsweek cover story "The Truth About Denial" reported that
 "since the late 1980s, this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change. Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming; measurements indicating otherwise are flawed, they said. Then they claimed that any warming is natural, not caused by human activities. Now they contend that the looming warming will be minuscule and harmless."
 The article went on to say that individual companies and industry associations—representing petroleum, steel, autos and utilities, among others—formed lobbying groups to enlist greenhouse doubters to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact," and to sow doubt about climate research just as cigarette makers had about smoking research.
One example given in the article points to ExxonMobil as a corporate sponsor of the climate misinformation.
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," concluded a report by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries. Worse, there was now at least a 90 percent likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves, way up from earlier studies.
A conservative think tank long funded by ExxonMobil had offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it was based on.
Paul Krugman wrote in one of his NY Times columns last year:
To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

Temperature increases on the scale predicted by the M.I.T. researchers and others would create huge disruptions in our lives and our economy. As a recent authoritative U.S. government report points out, by the end of this century New Hampshire may well have the climate of North Carolina today, Illinois may have the climate of East Texas, and across the country extreme, deadly heat waves — the kind that traditionally occur only once in a generation — may become annual or biannual events.
In other words, we’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Teflon - Things we can do without

Guess what, Teflon, the nonstick coating on some frying pans, can come off and you can ingest it. Or, if the pan is overheated, which is not uncommon, the coating breaks down releasing toxic fumes. The end result is that over 95% of Americans has the chemical in their bodies. And according to the Environmental Protection Agency it is a likely carcinogen.
In addition, the factories that produce the nonstick products pollute lakes, rivers, wildlife and groundwater with perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical by-product. In 2005 DuPont, the company that makes Teflon, was fined over $16 million for hiding test results that showed perfluorooctanoic acid was contaminating drinking water near a DuPont facility in West Virginia and that the chemical crosses the placenta from mother to child.
PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), like Teflon and Goretex is also a perfluorinated chemical. It is used as a stain repellent on clothing, upholstered furniture and other fabric products including carpets. It is also used in food packaging, particularly for fast food and microwave popcorn bags.
Studies have shown that perfluorinated chemicals are extremely persistent, that they can cause cancer, immune problems, impaired prenatal growth, infertility and disrupt hormones.
The bottom line is that we don't need nonstick cookware or stain repellent furniture or carpets. I've used stainless steel sauce pans for many years and they work just fine. But I do have to wash them. Small price to pay if you ask me.

sources: Scientific American magazine,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why George Will is dangerous

George Will's column in the September 20th issue of Newsweek is about climate change, the title of the which is, "The Earth Doesn't Care." Basically his column summarizes an article published in The American Scholar by physicist Robert Laughlin titled "The Earth Doesn't Care if You Drive a Hybrid." Laughlin explains in his article that our current climate crisis is unimportant relative to geologic time. Geologic time basically covers the history of our planet or 6 billion years. While there is nothing wrong with an article on geologic time in and of itself there is a problem when that artricle sugests our climate crisis or "global warming" is unimportant because the earth has gone through many climate changes and shifts over the millennia so not to worry. Comparing geologic time to the climate crisis completely misses the point. The climate crisis Mr. Laughlin and Mr. Will has to do with the survival of people not the planet. Of course the planet will continue on but this is about our way of life and the survival of of the human race.
So what makes Laughlin an expert?  He is after all a physicist not a biologist or a climatologist. And why is Will quoting him? To further his political agenda.  And this is what makes him and others like him dangerous. Millions of dollars are poured into organizations, "think tanks" and foundations to put forth propaganda regarding climate change. Oil money flows like gold, money falling from the sky, these infinitely deep pockets pour forth some of their bounty into making sure the price of oil doesn't drop. This money buys great influence and Will along with many others are willing soldiers. There to manipulate the unsuspecting public with their misinformation typically under the guise of bad science for those who can't recognize the good from the bad.  And all too often, unfortunately, politics his rolled into the mix. Climate change should not be a political issue. It is not right or left. It is science pure and simple. But with BIG money involved in keeping the status quo politics becomes a needed tool and the undereducated American public the unwitting pawns.