On May 8, 2013, the Wall Street Journal trotted out former astronaut Harrison Schmitt and physics professor William Happer to proclaim that 400 ppm of CO2 is no big deal. In fact, they exclaim that this extra CO2 is good for us because it is good for plants.
Media Matters harpooned the WSJ article, citing scientific research indicating:
- That the increased CO2 puts 20-30% of plant and animal species at increased risk.
- That climate change is leading to more floods and droughts, hurting agriculture and severe crop reduction.
- That climate change is “driving a multitude of related and interacting changes in the Earth system, including decreases in the amounts of ice stored in mountain glaciers and polar regions, increases in sea level, changes in ocean chemistry, and changes in the frequency and intensity of heat waves, precipitation events, and droughts.”
- That the WSJ article is wrong to claim that current CO2 levels are historically low, because they’ve only been higher during periods of mass extinction. For the past 800,000 years prior to the industrial revolution, the rate of CO2 never exceeded 300 ppm. Further, the problem is not simply the rate, but the rate of increase of the rate.
- That most species alive today have “never existed in a world with CO2 levels substantially higher than today’s”.
- That the WSJ article is factually incorrect to claim that carbon dioxide levels have “little correlation” with temperatures.
Media Matters also points out that neither of the two authors of the WSJ article has ever written a peer-reviewed article on climate change. Happer is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the George C. Marshall Institute, which accepts funding from the Exxon Education Foundation and the Koch brothers. Schmitt was a director at the industry-funded Heartland Institute. Schmitt has been a member of the Heartland Institute’s board of directors, which received more than $600,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2006 and still receives funding from the Charles Koch Foundation.
Media Matters also points out that the WSJ has made a habit of publishing misleading and outright false information regarding climate change (see citations). In fact the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded that 81% of the information regarding climate change published by the WSJ during 2011-2012 is misleading.
For those who are courageous enough to trust their eyes, these images will shock.
What is sick about the fact that we are destroying our only planet is that there ARE alternatives–sustainable sources of energy and conservation. There’s not as much mega-corporate money to be made with these alternatives and many people (led by corporate mass-media spin) see conservation as weakness and lack of freedom when it is actually the opposite. While these money and culture wars rage, we continue to permanently destroy areas of Earth so large that these time-lapse satellite images serves as a shocking lie detector: It is a huge lie that our continued rate of extraction of fossil fuels is consistent with a high-quality future lifestyle.
From Scientific American, we learn that huge amounts of precious water are being polluted to such an extent that it can never feasible be returned to the planet’s fresh water system. This is horrifying, especially since there are much safer alternatives, including conservation and sustainable energy supplies.
The nation’s oil and gas wells produce at least nine billion liters of contaminated water per day, according to an Argonne National Laboratory report. And that is an underestimate of the amount of brine, fracking fluid and other contaminated water that flows back up a well along with the natural gas or oil, because it is based on incomplete data from state governments gathered in 2007.
The volume will only get larger, too: oil and gas producers use at least 7.5 million liters of water per well to fracture subterranean formations and release entrapped hydrocarbon fuels, a practice that has grown in the U.S. by at least 48 percent per year in the last five years . . . The problem is that the large volumes of water that flow back to the surface along with the oil or gas are laced with everything from naturally radioactive minerals to proprietary chemicals. And there are not a lot of cost-effective options for treating it, other than dumping it down a deep well.
While we in the U.S. are barely moving forward on renewables, Germany is streaking into the future. Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute explains:
While the examples of Japan, China, and India show the promise of rapidly emerging energy economies built on efficiency and renewables, Germany—the world’s number four economy and Europe’s number one—has lately provided an impressive model of what a well-organized industrial society can achieve. To be sure, it’s not yet the world champion among countries with limited hydroelectricity: Denmark passed 40% renewable electricity in 2011 en route to a target of 100% by 2050, and Portugal, albeit with more hydropower, raised its renewable electricity fraction from 17% to 45% just during 2005–10 (while the U.S., though backed by a legacy of big hydro, crawled from 9% to 10%), reaching 70% in the rainy and windy first quarter of 2013. But these economies are not industrial giants like Germany, which remains the best disproof of claims that highly industrialized countries, let alone cold and cloudy ones, can do little with renewables.
Here’s an example of how poorly some of us in the U.S. are postured for divesting ourselves of carbon. This is an example from my home state of Missouri, where the utilities and the coal industry apparently owns the place.
In Canada, big corporate money is funding the environmentally horrific tar sands project and the equally despicable effort to muzzle scientists who would otherwise be reporting on the environmental disaster. IO9 reports:
Big money muzzles truth-tellers. “The Canadian government is currently under investigation for its efforts to obstruct the right of the media and public to speak to government scientists. These policies are widely believed to be a part of the government’s unspoken campaign to ensure that oil keeps flowing from the Athabasca tar sands — even if it’s at the cost of free scientific inquiry, the environment, and by consequence, democracy itself.”
Why is it that fossil fuel industries are getting such massive subsidies? The IMF wants to know too:
Developing and industrialized countries should rein in energy subsidies that totaled $1.9 trillion in 2011 to ease budgetary pressures and free resources for public spending in areas like education and health care, International Monetary Fund economists said in a research paper published Wednesday.
In the paper, “Energy Subsidy Reform — Lessons and Implications,” the economists reviewed a database of 176 countries and analyzed ways to change energy subsidies by examining case studies of 22 countries.
In 2011, energy subsidies intended to contain energy prices for consumers accounted for 2.5 percent of global gross domestic product, or 8 percent of all government revenue, the fund said.
It occurs to me that without these subsidies, energy prices would be shooting upwards due to peak oil, possibly causing a nationwide panic. Then maybe the federal government would have a very difficult time justifying these subsidies, which would panic the 1% who control the fossil fuel industries.
Mitt Romney’s energy plan is the Koch Brother energy plan. It will pollute the planet and crank up global warming. Romney claims that his plan will create jobs. At Rolling Stone, Jeff Goodell denies this claim:
[S]tudies show that investments to spur renewable energy and boost energy efficiency generate far more jobs than oil and coal. A recent report by the Center for American Progress and the University of Massachusetts concluded that $150 billion invested in renewable energy would generate 1.7 million more jobs than the same amount invested in fossil fuels. Another study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a national standard requiring utilities to obtain at least 25 percent of their power from wind, solar and bioenergy by 2025 would create 297,000 new jobs, generating $13.5 billion in income for rural landowners and $11.5 billion in new tax revenues for local governments. In addition, the private sector has recognized the lucrative opportunities offered by clean energy: In 2010 – for the first time ever – investments in renewable energy surpassed those in fossil fuels.
Many of Mitt Romney’s other lies regarding energy are examined in this excellent article.