Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

10 inconvenient truths for climate ‘sceptics’ everywhere…

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…At the going down of the Sun, and in the morning, you should remember them.

The following is extracted from a post on the Center for American Progress (CAP) website yesterday, by Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at CAP, which was entitled, ’10 Truths that Should Be Said at This Week’s House Climate Change Hearing. The article was published in advance of yet another travesty of modern democracy on Capitol Hill this week – a House of Representatives Committee meeting where scientifically illiterate politicians try to validate their prejudiced beliefs by getting scientists to tell them that anthropogenic climate disruption is just a smokescreen for a Communist and/or Zionist plot to stall Western development. However, I should really let Daniel explain the context…

Smoke rises from the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Montana

Smoke rises from the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Montana (SOURCE: AP/Matthew Brown)

This Wednesday, September 18, the House Energy and Power Subcommittee will conduct a long-overdue hearing on climate change. It is unfortunately not to seek scientific facts from reputable institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, and similar experts, as requested 27 times by Ranking Committee and Subcommittee Members Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL). Instead, the hearing is titled “The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies and Activities.”

The scheduled witnesses are Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. During the hearing, they will probably be subjected to a barrage of phony claims by the 14 climate-science deniers who are serving on the subcommittee in an attempt to discredit President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. These members undoubtedly will repeat the false and misleading claims made by the big polluting utilities, coal companies, oil companies, and other special interests that profit from the status quo of no limits on carbon pollution.

Instead of these stale attacks on settled climate science, hyperinflated estimates of the cost of cleanup, or denial of executive authority to act, here are 10 truths that should be said at the hearing.

Here, then, is the list of 10 facts. Anyone feeling the need to dispute any of the following needs to explain the existence of all data from which the reality of these facts has been deduced (see CAP website for details).

1. Climate science is settled.
Similar to the tobacco industry denying that smoking cigarettes can cause cancer, many big polluters and organizations funded by them continue to deny the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change. Nonetheless, the overwhelming scientific verdict is in: Industrial carbon and other pollutants are responsible for climate change.

2. Climate change harms Americans and our economy.
Spewing carbon pollution into the air may be free to coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, but Americans bear the costs. The 25 most damaging climate-related storms, floods, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires in 2011 and 2012 took more than 1,100 lives and caused a total of $188 billion in damages. The number of these extreme weather events, as well as the price tag, has grown over the past three decades.

3. Military leaders warn that climate change will harm national security.
Earlier this year, U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III said that climate change poses the greatest security threat in the Pacific region. What’s more, the Defense Department’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review Report warned that climate change “may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.”

4. There is no limit on carbon pollution from power plants.
Power plants are responsible for 40 percent of the industrial carbon pollution emitted in the United States. Yet these plants can generate unlimited tons of carbon pollution, even though there are restrictions on their mercury, acid rain, and smog pollution. President Obama’sClimate Action Plan would set carbon-pollution standards for new and existing power plants.

5. The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to set carbon-pollution standards.
The Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA ruled that climate change pollutants are covered under the Clean Air Act, and as such, the agency’s administrator must consider whether these pollutants “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” If the administrator finds that this is the case, he or she has the authority to limit pollutant emissions. President George W. Bush’s EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and President Obama’s Administrator Lisa Jackson both made this endangerment finding based on science. This decision provides the legal basis for the EPA to set carbon-pollution limits on power plants, oil refineries, and other major industrial polluters.

6. Pollution-reduction programs create jobs.
Requirements to reduce air pollution create jobs because they require companies to invest in new equipment, practices, or technologies, all of which generate additional employment. Likewise, a carbon-pollution standard for power plants would generate thousands of jobs in labor-intensive energy-efficiency retrofits in buildings; the manufacture, installation, and operation of wind and solar power; and other investments necessary to slash this pollution.

7. Carbon-pollution reductions will increase energy efficiency, saving consumers money.
Reducing wasteful electricity is a cost-effective way to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. This involves improving transmission lines, employing smart-grid technology to better manage electricity use, and making buildings and homes more efficient. Using less electricity will also save consumers money by lowering their electric bills.

8. Carbon-pollution reductions are affordable.
Resources for the Future, or RFF, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates that a “4 percent reduction in the average emissions rate [of power plants] … results in a reduction of 93 million short tons of carbon dioxide emissions” but would lead to an electricity-rate rise of only 1.3 percent. This approach would achieve $25 billion annually in net benefits, according to RFF. With energy efficiency measures, consumers could actually save money because they will use less electricity.

9. U.S. leadership will increase worldwide pollution reductions.
Time and again, the United States recruits other nations to join its climate-pollution-reduction efforts. Earlier this month, the members of the G-20 agreed to support additional measures to use the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs—a super pollutant that is a significantly more potent climate pollutant than carbon dioxide. China recently announcedthat it will ban new coal-fired power plants in three regions, including Beijing, in order to cut its share of coal usage to below 65 percent by 2017.

10. Regulations prompt increased investment and innovation to reduce coal pollution.
Congressional supporters of big coal companies argue that “carbon capture and storage,” or CCS, technology to burn coal with significantly fewer emissions is far from commercialization and too costly… Unfortunately, many of these legislators voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009, which would have provided billions of dollars for CCS research and deployment. Now they oppose the EPA’s efforts to attack climate change, which would boost the development of CCS and enable many coal plants to continue operation while slashing their pollution.

Conclusion
Secretary of Energy Moniz and EPA Administrator McCarthy will likely mention many of these important truths—as will Reps. Waxman and Rush on the subcommittee. It’s time for all committee members to acknowledge these truths, so that Congress can support solutions to the growing health and economic threats posed by climate change.

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