Friday, December 11, 2009

Climate change is the single most important issue of our time

"Global warming will change the nature of where Americans live. For example, this analysis found that if global warming continues unchecked, by 2100, New York City will feel like Las Vegas does today and San Francisco will have a climate comparable to that in New Orleans. In 2100, Boston will have average temperatures similar to those in Memphis, Tennessee today". National Resources Defense Council


Climate change is the single most important issue of our time. It is an issue that transcends borders, and cultures. Inaction will ultimately impact us all. Unfortunately there is still debate about whether climate change is fact or fiction. Part of that debate is funded by millions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry that has a stake in the outcome of the conference. They are "manufacturing doubt" something which they are very good at. They will pay any price to continue spewing there products into the atmosphere for corporate profits. Every credible scientist on the planet recognizes the danger ahead. Climate change has been described as someone driving a car toward the edge of a cliff and instead of taking their foot off the accelerator and putting it on the break, they press their foot further down on the accelerator and speed up. An apt description because as is now understood, warming of the planet will become a self perpetuating machine and once it gets to a certain point there will be no way to control it or slow it.

The is another point of contention and it is dishonest, and the fossil fuel industry know it to be false, is that humans are not responsible for climate change. It would be a laughable argument if it were not so serious. The now recognized levels of Co2 in the atmosphere is a measure of the degree of danger we face. Humans have never lived on the planet where the Co2 has been at the current high levels. Scientists say that the safest highest level should be 350 ppm. The November reading is 388.03 ppm. We are in the danger level.

For a full report from Copenhagen. Democracy Now: The War and Peace Report

***

The debacle that is health care reform
The Democrats it seems have achieved a compromise on health care reform legislation. Compromise is a word used to mean that they did not accomplish what they set out to do. In essence they failed to deliver to the American people that which they said the would, a public option. Anything less is a failure and should be seen that way. The fact the the Republicans opposed virtually any health care reform is understandable as they work for the health insurance industry. The Republican's masters were opposed to health care reform so the Republicans did as they were told and opposed it. The Democrats on the other hand were hamstrung by the Blue Dog Democrats; actually Democrats in name only as they are really Republican in philosophy and actions. They had to wear the mantle of Democrat to get elected then they reverted to type and sell out the electorate to the interests of the health insurance industry like their Republican brethren.
What we end up with will be an insurance reform that fails to deliver health care at competitive prices and fails to lower the cost of drugs. The cost of health insurance for many families will force them to make decisions between food or health coverage. It is a win for the health insurance industry. If the progressive wing of the Democrats turn against the bill it will be poetic justice. The original purpose of the proposed health care reform was to make it affordable and available to all Americans, it fails in the affordability and therefore it fails to be available to all Americans.
The sad things is that the health insurance industry convinced so many Americans to act against their own self interest when it comes to health care. The costs will not come down and for many it will be impossible to pay for the insurance they need and they will have the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats to thank for it, and lets not forget the champion of the insurance industry, Joe Lieberman. The following is a list of the Blue Dog democrats.
• Jason Altmire (PA-4)
• Mike Arcuri (NY-24)
• Joe Baca (CA-43)
• John Barrow (GA-12)
• Melissa Bean (IL-8)
• Marion Berry (AR-1)
• Sanford Bishop (GA-2)
• Dan Boren (OK-2)
• Leonard Boswell (IA-3)
• Allen Boyd (FL-2)
• Bobby Bright (AL-2)
• Dennis Cardoza (CA-18)
• Christopher Carney (PA-10)
• Ben Chandler (KY-6)
• Travis Childers (MS-1)
• Jim Cooper (TN-5)
• Jim Costa (CA-20)
• Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
• Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3)
• Lincoln Davis (TN-4)
• Joe Donnelly (IN-2)
• Brad Ellsworth (IN-8)
• Bill Foster (IL-14)
• Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8)
• Bart Gordon (TN-6)
• Parker Griffith (AL-5)
• Jane Harman (CA-36)
• Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL), Blue Dog Co-Chair, Administration
• Baron Hill (IN-9), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy
• Tim Holden (PA-17)
• Frank Kratovil (MD-1)
• Jim Marshall (GA-8)
• Jim Matheson (UT-2)
• Mike McIntyre (NC-7)
• Charlie Melancon (LA-3), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications
• Mike Michaud (ME-2)
• Walt Minnick (ID-1)
• Dennis Moore (KS-3)
• Patrick Murphy (PA-8)
• Glenn Nye (VA-2)
• Collin Peterson (MN-7)
• Earl Pomeroy (ND-AL)
• Mike Ross (AR-4)
• John Salazar (CO-3)
• Loretta Sanchez (CA-47)
• Adam Schiff (CA-29)
• David Scott (GA-13)
• Heath Shuler (NC-11)
• Zack Space (OH-18)
• John Tanner (TN-8)
• Gene Taylor (MS-4)
• Mike Thompson (CA-1)
• Charlie Wilson (OH-6)
Blue Dog Democrats were been targeted by the health insurance industry for
generous financial contributions to their campaigns and they got their moneys worth.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Harry Reid has nothing to apologize for, he is right

“Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised
-Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy


"...Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, comparing opponents of his health bill to people who had defended slavery and opposed women’s suffrage." Harry got it right this time. The attitude of the Gay Old Party the GOP and their stated goals already attack the rights of women and minorities and would if they could roll back women's suffrage and civil rights. They are not the party of the common man. They are the party of God or at least their version of God. They represent the evangelical Conservative Right white agenda. James Dobson is their spiritual head. Their agenda, is anti-abortion rights, anti-women's rights, anti-gay rights, anti-health care for all Americans, anti-minorities, anti-tolerance, anti-muslims, anti-atheists and agnostics, anti-science, anti-intellectualism, anti-immigrants and anti-people who think and question. Harry Reid has nothing to apologize for, he is right.

***

Today the state of Ohio executed Kenneth Biros 51 for the 1999 murder of Tami Engstrom who was 22 at the time and whose body was dismembered and left in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Biros was executed using a new and untested single injection. I don't know why they don't just use a bullet. It is fast and painless. It is time we stop playing with the concept of politically correct ways of executing felons. If they get the death penalty a bullet is fast and sure. There would be no shortage of volunteers. The state could hire a state executioner and problem solved. The anti death penalty groups will wring their hands and say it is inhumane. But rape and murder is also inhumane and persons guilty of those heinous crime deserve no better. With the death penalty society does not have to worry about recidivism.

***
Who is Palin? Andrew Sullivan on the Joy Behar show. Discussion of Republican values and the nut cases.



CLIMATE ISSUES


Type I climate change is gradual and follows the graphs of most climate modelers; Type II is much more abrupt and results from crossing hidden "tipping points." Pearce explains what some of these tipping points in a credible and balanced manner.
Charles Keeling began collecting CO2 data at the top of Mauna Loa (14,000 feet) in 1958 (315 ppm), 320 in 1965, 331 in 1975, and 380 now - the level is increasing at an accelerating rate. Nineteen of the twenty warmest years have occurred since 1980, and the five warmest years all since 1998. Thus, credible evidence indicates that global problem is real, and getting worse.
Skeptics claim, however, that weather balloon data do not reveal a daytime warming trend. Pearce explains this is most likely because until recently the thermometers used read too high because they were not shielded from UV rays; further, balloon night-time readings have risen during the same period. Others suggest that warming data are due to urban "heat islands" - on the other hand, the greatest increases are in the polar and oceanic areas, and the "heat island" effect are not affected by windy weather. Another possible explanation is sunspots - data from 1850 onward correlates well with temperature increases, UNTIL 1980 when sunspot activity began declining while warming continued. Finally, a review of almost 1,000 peer-reviewed papers on climate change published between 1993 and 2003 found an almost universal consensus that global warming exists.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Anyone who claim that the human contribution of Co2 to the atmosphere has no effect on climate is denying the obvious ... no discussion is possible

"Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy"
-Cigarette company executive, "Manufacturing Doubt" in the 1960 to counter the facts about the cancer link to cigarettes.

Global warming is again in the headlines. While the deniers and skeptics are trying to debunk what is actually happening countries around the world are meeting in Copenhagen beginning today to tackle the issue of climate change. There are skeptics and deniers who have bought into the claim that climate change is all a plot to weaken our economic position in the world and destroy our economy, so that the third world can get a leg up. It is a stupid argument. The economic downturn currently effecting western nations and the United States has hurt the third world twice as much as anyone else. They depend on the west for financial aid, in addition to western manufacturing plants that have moved to the third world that would be hard hit if the the western economies declined more than they have at this point. To also claim that global warming is due to the sun and that the methane problem is due to flatulent cows alone is another bogus argument. There are definitely many more cows in the world than a hundred years ago, due to the world's demand for meat and they do have a gas problem, but to ignore the coal fired plants and industrial pollutants and auto emissions is laughable if not intellectually incompetent.

Any scientist will tell you that there can be no certainty when it comes to the science of climate change but there is a high degree of probability based on the research. The fact that some emails were found where scientists were discussing inconsistencies and how to present them still doesn't change the facts. As Abraham Lincoln said "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." For every gallon of gasoline a car uses it puts nineteen and a half pounds of Co2 into the atmosphere; multiply that by the millions of automobiles on the roads around the world every day for just one year and then say that that has no effect. Anyone who claim that the human contribution of Co2 to the atmosphere has no effect on climate is denying the obvious and there is no intelligent discussion possible.

There is something called "manufactured doubt", it was a concept developed by the PR firm, Hill and Knowlton who were hired by the cigarette industry back in the sixties to conceive of an idea to convince the public that cigarettes didn't cause cancer and counter the scientific research that showed that smoking led to cancer. They created their own pseudo research organizations that pumped out reports debunking the medical research, creating doubt and uncertanty. A cigarette company executive has said, "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy".

The new mission is manufacturing doubt about climate change. Manufactured Doubt is now an industry that has matured to become an effective tool used by industries such as the coal industry, the oil industry and even the health insurance industry, evidence the campaign to convince the public to act against their own self interest when it comes to health insurance.

Climate change is one of the new battle grounds. Climate change legislation is opposed by the fossil fuel industries. They have pumped millions of dollars to obfuscate the issue that climate change is man made. They have created doubt. An examination of the money trail shows the commitment of industry in it's opposition to climate change. "[T]he amount of money being spent on lobbying efforts by the fossil fuel industry compared to environmental groups to see their relative influence. According to Center for Public Integrity, there are currently 2,663 climate change lobbyists working on Capitol Hill. That's five lobbyists for every member of Congress. Climate lobbyists working for major industries outnumber those working for environmental, health, and alternative energy groups by more than seven to one. For the second quarter of 2009, here is a list compiled by the Center for Public Integrity of all the oil, gas, and coal mining groups that spent more than $100,000 on lobbying (this includes all lobbying, not just climate change lobbying):" The wunderground.com

Chevron $6,485,000
Exxon Mobil $4,657,000
BP America $4,270,000
ConocoPhillips $3,300,000
American Petroleum Institute $2,120,000
Marathon Oil Corporation $2,110,000
Peabody Investments Corp $1,110,000
Bituminous Coal Operators Association $980,000
Shell Oil Company $950,000
Arch Coal, Inc $940,000
Williams Companies $920,000
Flint Hills Resources $820,000
Occidental Petroleum Corporation $794,000
National Mining Association $770,000
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity $714,000
Devon Energy $695,000
Sunoco $585,000
Independent Petroleum Association of America $434,000
Murphy Oil USA, Inc $430,000
Peabody Energy $420,000
Rio Tinto Services, Inc $394,000
America's Natural Gas Alliance $300,000
Interstate Natural Gas Association of America $290,000
El Paso Corporation $261,000
Spectra Energy $279,000
National Propane Gas Association $242,000
National Petrochemical & Refiners Association $240,000
Nexen, Inc $230,000
Denbury Resources $200,000
Nisource, Inc $180,000
Petroleum Marketers Association of America $170,000
Valero Energy Corporation $160,000
Bituminous Coal Operators Association $131,000
Natural Gas Supply Association $114,000
Tesoro Companies $119,000

Here are the environmental groups that spent more than $100,000:

Environmental Defense Action Fund $937,500
Nature Conservancy $650,000
Natural Resources Defense Council $277,000
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund $243,000
National Parks and Conservation Association $175,000
Sierra Club $120,000
Defenders of Wildlife $120,000
Environmental Defense Fund $100,000

It is basically profits before everything else. The livability of the planet is not important. The greatest harm will be to the third world as they are the least prepared to cope. The deaths, and displacement of millions and maybe billions of souls is of no importance before the almighty god 'Corporate Profits'. Social responsibility be damned. Only when it becomes personal will the deniers, contrarians and skeptics scream uncle.
The science is out there and it is scary. The scientists on the front line that do the work are frightened and have sent the message but the question is, are enough people listening, and is there still time to stave of the worst that could befall us? Is Copenhagen humanities last chance, or is it already too late? My forlorn hope is that sanity prevails and a sense of urgency take hold and something positive begins in Copenhagen for if it doesn't, the alternative is unthinkable.

***

For the skeptics, deniers, and those people with their heads up the butts, read Bill McKibben's report. If this doesn't move you your brain is on permanent hiatus.
"Physics has set an immutable bottom line on life as we know it on this planet. For two years now, we’ve been aware of just what that bottom line is: the NASA team headed by James Hansen gave it to us first. Any value for carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere greater than 350 parts per million is not compatible "with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” That bottom line won’t change: above 350 and, sooner or later, the ice caps melt, sea levels rise, hydrological cycles are thrown off kilter, and so on.

And here’s the thing: physics doesn’t just impose a bottom line, it imposes a time limit. This is like no other challenge we face because every year we don’t deal with it, it gets much, much worse, and then, at a certain point, it becomes insoluble -- because, for instance, thawing permafrost in the Arctic releases so much methane into the atmosphere that we’re never able to get back into the safe zone. Even if, at that point, the U.S. Congress and the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee were to ban all cars and power plants, it would be too late.

Oh, and the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is already at 390 parts per million, even as the amount of methane in the atmosphere has been spiking in the last two years. In other words, we’re over the edge already. We’re no longer capable of “preventing” global warming, only (maybe) preventing it on such a large scale that it takes down all our civilizations."

Bill McKibben


***
Recommended Book: Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming
From Publishers Weekly
Canadian environmental activists Hoggan and Littlemore pull no punches in this spirited indictment of global warming deniers. Their well-sourced research spotlights premeditated prevarications about the threat of greenhouse gas emissions by the oil and coal industry, in league with junk scientists, compliant conservative politicians and unsavory public relations practitioners. Persistent obfuscation of science by these anti-environment players is further abetted, say the authors, by a manipulated media that, in a misguided effort toward journalistic balance, pairs scientific certainty about an encroaching climate crisis with quotations from people who make a living denying it. Readers predisposed to believe the worst about the oil, coal and electric industries will find their fears buttressed by the book's detailed overview of an orchestrated climate coverup by Astroturf (fake grassroots) organizations, right-wing think tank echo chambers, the tens of millions of industry dollars poured into primarily Republican campaign coffers and the PR profession's Orwellian use of language. But global warming skeptics might also be swayed by the detailed dissection of an ongoing campaign to convince the public that climate change is still unproven. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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