As for letters on climate change, we do get plenty from those who deny global warming. And to say they “deny” it might be an understatement: Many say climate change is a hoax, a scheme by liberals to curtail personal freedom.
Before going into some detail about why these letters don’t make it into our pages, I’ll concede that, aside from my easily passing the Advanced Placement biology exam in high school, my science credentials are lacking. I’m no expert when it comes to our planet’s complex climate processes or any scientific field. Consequently, when deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I must rely on the experts — in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review.
And those scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change. Just last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a body made up of the world’s top climate scientists — said it was 95% certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming. The debate right now isn’t whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us.
On why the LATimes avoids publishing op-eds by climate deniers. Well done, LATimes.
The American Meteorological Society released its annual “State of the Climate” report, a hefty, 258-page document chronicling changes in global warming data. Compiled by members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with 384 scientists from 52 countries, the report is used to set and influence domestic climate policy and distributes statistics that form the baseline for discussions of climate change.
This year’s report holds a wide roster of data—ranging from interesting to doomsday—and most major newspapers and wire serves at least ran something based on the report press release. But considering the importance, and acute detail, of the information contained in the release, the mainstream press provided a surprisingly limited amount of analysis.
Reuters filed a short summary, “Signs of new climate ‘normal’ apparent in hot 2012 report,” culling information entirely from NOAA’s press release, with one skeptical insertion framing the slowing surface temperature rise: “The decrease in temperatures has been noted by climate-change skeptics who question the impact of human activities.”
Finally, some good news about the effects of climate change. It may have triggered a growth spurt in two of California’s iconic tree species: coast redwoods and giant sequoias.
Something isn’t right about this story. The researchers are quoted as saying they don’t really know the source of the sequoia’s growth spurts.
In its annual report, State of the Climate, NOAA reported that the average annual temperature was 55.3 degrees — 3.3 degrees greater than the average temperature for the 20th century.
Shell Alaska said Monday it has abandoned its efforts to drill into hydrocarbon deposits in the offshore Arctic after the latest in a series of glitches on the company’s troubled oil containment barge resulted in damage to the high-tech dome designed to contain oil in the event of an underwater spill.
Company officials said they will continue to drill “top holes” off the Alaskan coast through the end of this season’s drilling window, but will not attempt to reach any oil deposits this year — a serious but not fatal setback for the company, which has spent six years attempting to explore its outer continental shelf leases off the coast of Alaska.
"This critical program … could be an important national resource for the next several decades, and we are committed to doing it safely and responsibly," Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. "We’re not going to rush things for the sake of a few days this season."
The latest setback involves the oil containment barge, the Arctic Challenger, which has been delayed in Bellingham, Wash., undergoing a trouble-plagued retrofit overseen by Superior Marine Technical Services, a Shell contractor.
The vessel has been unable for weeks to win U.S. Coast Guard certification, following problems with some onboard safety systems, along with trouble fixing good stowage for the ship’s anchor chocks and the boom designed to flare gas in the event of a spill. Coast Guard officials documented four minor illegal fluid discharges from the vessel while it was moored in Bellingham.
Federal authorities have not allowed Shell to plumb into hydrocarbon deposits until the barge is on site in the Arctic, but the multimillion-dollar upgrade has been delayed with one problem after another while attempting to win certification from the Coast Guard.
"At Leo Politi Elementary, workers ripped out concrete and planted native flora. The plants attracted insects, which attracted birds, which attracted students, who, fascinated by the nature unfolding before them, learned so much that their science test scores rose sixfold.”
What a great story to wake up to! Read the rest, here.
Dear L.A. Times, Hope it’s OK I post in full… m
“Republicans launched an unprecedented frontal assault against environmental protections and regulations this year, prompting Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to call his chamber "the most anti-environment House in history." Here are the 10 most powerful and outspoken opponents of clean air, clean water, conservation and climate action.
10. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Thought to be the biggest lifetime recipient of oil-industry contributions in the Senate, Cornyn has rewarded Exxon-Mobil’s largesse by supporting the industry’s position on pretty much every energy or environmental issue that has ever appeared before him. That’s why he, like everyone on this list, has a “0” on the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard for pro-environment votes.
9. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. A tireless advocate for opening Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Young was involved in one of the more entertaining name-calling spats in Congress this year when he got into a tiff over the refuge with author and professor Doug Brinkley. You can be the judge of who won by watching the video replay.
8. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista. There may have been a time when the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lived up to its name, investigating and bringing to light incidents of government waste, fraud and abuse. But I can’t remember back that far. In recent decades it has served as a tool for the majority party in the House to bash and embarrass the presidential administration, at least during times such as now when the House isn’t controlled by the president’s party. Issa, the committee’s current chairman, has turned such political gamesmanship into an art form, and has been particularly keen to attack environmental regulators and policymakers. In so doing he has turned up precious little waste or fraud, but provided plenty of political theater for those who want to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency or end subsidies for clean energy.
7. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio. Latta has the distinction of sponsoring the most far-reaching and destructive amendment to the most egregious anti-environment bill passed by the House this year. The TRAIN Act, approved by the House in September but not expected to get through the Senate, is a breathtaking (literally) gift to polluters that creates a committee to study the costs but ignore the benefits of environmental regulation, while also blocking EPA efforts to crack down on deadly emissions from power plants. Latta’s contribution is an amendment that undermines a cornerstone of the Clean Air Act, requiring the EPA to take industry costs into account when setting health-based standards. This would allow corporate polluters to overrule scientists and strikes at the heart of the polluter-pays principle that has guided environmental policy for 40 years.
6. Rep. Edward Whitfield, R-Ky. Another architect of the TRAIN wreck, Whitfield offered an amendment that would block the EPA from regulating mercury and other toxics from power plants, and from coming up with a rule on smog and soot that crosses state lines. Together, these two regulations would save an estimated 51,000 lives per year. But what are a few thousand lives when utility profits are at stake?
5. Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla. One of the most outspoken climate-change deniers in the Senate (he’s renowned for calling global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”), Inhofe is also one of the most influential Republicans in the country when it comes to environmental policy. As ranking member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, he uses his position to push for expanded oil drilling and reduce environmental regulation. Inhofe sometimes even finds himself to the right of the polluter-packed U.S. Chamber of Commerce; this summer he placed a hold on President Obama’s nominee John Bryson as Commerce secretary, even though Bryson had the blessing of the Chamber, because Inhofe felt Bryson was too pro-environment.
4. Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho. Simpson has stepped to the front lines of his party’s war on Mother Nature by adding dozens of anti-environment riders to must-pass budget legislation. Among other things, Simpson aims to let mountaintop coal-mining operations continue to pollute streams, prevent the EPA from regulating coal-ash disposal, and exempt pesticide sprayers from complying with the Clean Water Act.
3. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The enforcer of Republican Party discipline, Senate Minority Leader McConnell is among the key architects of his party’s stance on environmental issues. In 2009, when Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was among the few Republicans willing to discuss a bipartisan climate bill with Democrats, it was McConnell who reportedly convinced him to back away. This spring he led a failed effort to block the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions and overrule its finding that climate change threatens public health — tantamount to a statement that politicians know more about the dangers of climate change than scientists.
2. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. The House Majority Leader released a memo in late August listing the top 10 “job-destroying regulations” his party would battle in the remainder of the congressional session. Seven were environmental rules opposed by the fossil fuel industry, including restrictions on emissions from industrial boilers and cement plants, and proposed rulemaking on smog, farm soot and greenhouse gases. None of these rules really threaten jobs, but failing to approve them would certainly threaten lives.
1. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Upton is the gatekeeper for many of the disastrous anti-environment bills that have been approved or proposed in the House this year. Ironically, he was once known among his state’s conservatives as “Red Fred” because of a somewhat pro-environment voting record, but a recent electoral challenge from his right changed all that. Because of his powerful position and newfound disdain for green regulation, he represents one of the biggest threats to planet Earth on planet Earth.”