Getting Competent Speakers On Global Warming – Followup

I complained last week about cable tv coverage of global warming by inviting know-nothing antis instead of using interviews they had already done with real climate scientists. Looks like others are taking notice.

The Weather Channel collected links.

The Trump administration released a landmark climate report on Black Friday, but instead of becoming Thanksgiving leftovers, the 1,656-page report, a rigorous outline of the present and near-future hazards climate change poses to the U.S., was featured prominently on TV networks over the weekend and into the next week. Much of the coverage, however, included inaccurate, misleading or outright incorrect misinformation.

….many of the talking heads featured on TV over the weekend contradicted not just the report’s findings, but even the well-established, widely agreed upon basics of climate science. The first sentence of the nearly 2,000 page report reads: “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.” Even that was up for debate. NBC’s Meet the Press, for instance, invited Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, to share her opinions on the report on Sunday. (AEI, which is known for sowing doubt about climate change, has received millions of dollars in donations from Exxon Mobil and the Koch Foundation.)

And a lot more.

Yesterday, the New York Times chimed in.

As Steven J. Milloy, a skeptic of human-caused climate change and a member of the Trump transition team, said, there had been no need “to stop the deep state” from releasing the report when “this is made-up hysteria, anyway.”

Thankfully, cable news came to the rescue by making sure that those who commented on air about a report produced by scientists across 13 federal agencies were trained experts.

No, wait. That’s not what happened.

On CNN, the former senator Rick Santorum disputed the findings with a canard: “A lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive,” he said. The network later came under fire when “AC360” had Mr. Santorum on again but canceled a planned interview with an author of the government report, the atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University.

A lot more there too, particularly about red tides in Florida. What is notable is that Jim Rutenberg calls the denialists what they are.

Slow, but progress.

And open thread!

Doing Their Part

Two in 24 hours requires formal recognition. Both MSNBC and CNN chose to feature charlatans on global warming when they had full opportunity to broadcast some science.

This is beyond Nero fiddling while Rome burns. This is pouring gasoline on the flames.

Here is a partial explanation from, I suspect, a jackal.

I’m not sure what the best way is to inform the cable networks of their malevolence, but use whatever channels you’ve got.


A Small Step


I just wanted to pass on a tip that may cost you a bit more money but will reduce your carbon footprint. I mean most of us here know this and care about these issues, but that doesn’t always result in action or change, now does it?

So last Friday I spent 30 minutes researching and then changing my electricity provider from the standard (dirty) mix of sources to 100% renewable. It literally took a few minutes to setup and configure my new source which is still delivered by my local power company.

When I first went to sign up, it offered me at no extra charge on top of my normal power bill, a 50-50 mix of wind/renewable and normal. So just by signing up for free and with no premium, I could be 50% renewable. I figured, “Well, they’ve already given me half, might as well make it 100%” and clicked the slider, Apply, and I was done. Of course that’s the sales pitch, and it worked. On top of things, I get a $50 Best Buy card in the mail soon which will come in handy as I shop.

I am now using 100% renewable power, and since this house is all-electric, I can sleep a bit better knowing that I’m helping in a small way every minute. My power bill will increase a bit as the renewable is more expensive, but that’s a small investment in a slightly better future – in this case, value today means outsize effects in the future and I’d rather pay that bill now if possible, before it gets bigger.

In the back of my mind, I knew that I could do this, but didn’t get around to actually doing it until I read about the Federal Government report on Friday and made my small step. In this case, my provider was/is running a Black Friday promotion with the before-mentioned gift card. The physical hookup, etc. remain as they are, so really this just means that they feed my local power company X kilowatts of power each period to cover my usage.

It’s contract, installation-fee, and investment -free, so I can change my mix or mind whenever I choose, though I expect I’ll stick with them as long as the price remains acceptable. I’m not funding some investment jackass’s new furniture to feel pure, so I plan to keep an eye on the rates and how it all goes down.

I’m not looking for accolades, but wanted to prompt as many of you as possible to check your local electricity providers to see if they offer an option for renewable energy, or if you are in an area where you can choose your supplier, see if you can find a renewable provider that you’re comfortable with. In my case, knowing that my local power company still delivers and services the lines means that I should see no difference except less carbon usage and a slightly higher bill.


Open Thread!


The Fourth National Climate Assessment

Photo: Hurricane damage in Florida


Friday afternoon the government released its Fourth National Climate Assessment, mandated by Congress. Friday afternoon of the four-day weekend, of course, is a good time to bury it. But we’ve become accustomed to these tactics, and the report did not go unnoticed.

Thirteen government agencies contributed. The report looks solid, an indication that Donald Trump and his climate deniers couldn’t mess with the agencies’ mandates. This is a pattern that has shown up before in sanctions against Russia. Trump tweets one thing, his political appointees toe his line, and the agencies do their job. It’s encouraging that parts of the government can do their jobs.

Unfortunately, the report is written in relatively difficult language, so it’s slow going. Here are the summary findings.

Communities. Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.

Economy. Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.

Interconnected Impacts. Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.

Actions to Reduce Risks. Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.

Water. The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.

Health. Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.

Indigenous Peoples. Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.

Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services. Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes.

Agriculture. Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.

Infrastructure. Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.

Oceans & Coasts. Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.

Tourism and Recreation. Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.

There’s not much surprising, although changes seem to be taking place more rapidly than anyone expected.

The New York Times, Washington Post, and AP all have pretty good summaries.



Sunday Morning Open Thread

I am trying to hold the wonderment these children express so well — especially considering that, for example, California would be infinitely grateful to have such troubles — but nine inches of wet snow in mid-November is TOO GODSDAMNED SOON.

And speaking of positivity, there’s this:

Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez – What a Team! (Part II)

I inadvertently pushed some buttons yesterday with Part I. Today, John Stoehr, who writes his own newsletter and is a columnist at the Washington Monthly, wrote a long tweet stream about the incident. It turns out that my hypothesis wasn’t quite right, but it was close. Here’s the starting tweet, and I’ll put the rest of the thread into a more readable form.

One of the biggest obstacles in the history of American liberalism has been this tendency among liberals to accept as true things liberalism’s enemies say about it and them.

Newly elected members of the US Congress arrived for orientation. @Ocasio2018 spoke at a sit-in featuring about 200 people outside Nancy Pelosi’s office.

The “protest,” as it was called, was organized by an advocacy group aiming to raise awareness about climate change and to advocate for more green-energy jobs.

This was manna to Ocasio-Cortez, who made history as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress after unseating US Rep. Joe Crowley, the former No. 3 in the House Democratic leadership.

The 29-year-old Latina has been stumping for liberal candidates across the country, making liberal arguments in unapologetically liberal ways. That she spoke with activists demanding action from leading liberals should have come as no surprise to anyone any time anywhere.

But then came this bit of disinformation from the spokeswoman of Paul Ryan to Capitol Hill reporters, which set the tone for the entire day: “Huh, well this is unconventional,” AshLee Strong wrote in an email. “The incoming speaker is getting protested by one of her freshman.”

From this point onward, Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t doing what a young dynamic liberal legislator does. No, no, no! She was “protesting” Pelosi!

AshLee Strong paved the way for every Capitol Hill reporter to tell a story they had been wanting to tell even though the narrative” was based on a falsehood: that this unruly mob can’t be controlled.

This “narrative” drew the ire of liberals who would have otherwise cheered Ocasio-Cortez. It rekindled the battle between the youngs and the olds, between “centrists” and “leftists,” and between “insurgents” and “the establishment.”

Worse, it inspired some liberals to trot out the old (often vaguely sexist) nomenclature: Ocasio-Cortez was grandstanding. She was showboating. She was this, that, and whatever. Too many liberals accepted as true what liberalism’s enemies said about it and them.

Thing is, when you actually listen to the women, a different picture comes to light. Not only was Ocasio-Cortez doing what young dynamic liberal legislators are supposed to do—bring new energy and new ideas to the table—she was charting her own course while forging alliances with established powers. She created a bridge between an energized under-30 base & the party’s leadership. She’ll likely be an invaluable ally as Pelosi plots a way forward.

Few can say they’ve accomplished more on their first day.

Bloomberg reported the incident was a challenge to “party unity.” The Times said earlier these renegades may be unwilling to “toe the party line.” Fox’s Laura Ingraham thrilled at the sight of Nancy Pelosi trying to wrangle newly elected “insurgents.” None of it was true.

As is the case when women rise to power, people are eager to project onto them what they want to see, and are not listening to what they are actually saying.

Reporters can be trusted to frame politics in conservative terms. That’s what happened. Right-wing media can be trusted to cement the view that the Democrats are “a mob” and risk “overplaying their hand.” That’s what happened. But liberals ought to know better.

Here is what Ocasio-Cortez said to activists: Should Leader Pelosi become the next Speaker of the House, we need to tell her that we’ve got her back in showing and pursuing the most progressive energy agenda that this country has ever seen.

Later, to the news media: AOC: One of the things I admire so much about Leader Pelosi is that she comes from a space of activism and organizing. And so I think that she really appreciates civic engagement. What I’m here to do is to support the folks who are here. This is about uplifting the voice and the message of the fact that we need a Green New Deal and we need to get to 100 percent renewables because our lives depend on it. … ***We are here to back [Pelosi] up.***

To which, Pelosi said: We are inspired by the energy and activism of the many young activists and advocates leading the way on the climate crisis. We welcome the presence of these activists, and we strongly urge the Capitol Police to allow them to continue to organize and participate in our democracy.

Um, yeah, no. This was not a protest, as Republican AshLee Strong said. It was activism. This was not disunity. It was unity.

This isn’t the Tea Party. This isn’t a conservative party. It’s a liberal and democratic party. Reporters should cover it as such if only for the purpose of accurately representing reality.

But liberals weren’t listening either. They should have been. Instead, they accepted as true what liberalism’s enemies said about it and them.

As I’ve thought about it today, it has occurred to me that it would be a good idea for liberals to represent the interaction as if it were planned and a total success. That’s what Republicans would have done.

Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez – What a Team!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led a protest on global warming outside Nancy Pelosi’s office this morning.

The “adults” I’m seeing on Twitter are stroking their beards (yes, they’re all men) and telling Ocasio-Cortez to show a little respect.

But what if Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez planned this together?

What if Pelosi has plenty of material for a Green New Deal?

Control of the House only means that Democrats won’t be able to get a lot of legislation passed. What they can do is generate enthusiasm for their program and show that the Republicans have no agenda to benefit ordinary people.

Global warming is the biggest issue for young people I talk to. It’s their world we’re wrecking. The hardest problem in dealing with it is getting people’s attention and convincing them something can be done about it.

Start the action right away. Show young voters that their concerns are important and their votes counted. Let the Republicans think (like the “adults”) that there’s a split between Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez to give them false confidence. Get publicity – conflict will do that.

I don’t see any downsides here. Even if Pelosi was blind-sided by the demonstration, she’s smart enough to make use of an opportunity.