Lets start with the simple truth that climate change is real and it is man made. There is no respected, credible, objective argument against that fact. NASA, NOAA, ESA, EEA, and nearly 200 nations have agreed. First predicted in 1895, consensus on climate change is not the often reported 97% but 99% among peer reviewed experts. That’s an astounding level of agreement from a method famous for its disagreements. Here’s what we know (PDF). Out of 24,000 papers submitted by climate experts for review, 5 rejected man made climate change. The basic science has a long history and it is so simple to demonstrate that you can test it at home. Carbon dioxide raises atmospheric temperatures and CO2 levels are at the highest point in 800,000 years. It is no coincidence that we are breaking global temperature records with each new year, each new month and new day. Sea levels are rising at the fastest rate in 28 centuries. Former treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin warns that climate change could wreck the US economy. Stephen Hawking has compared climate change to the threat of nuclear war.
The Pentagon has warned that it is a national security threat. Hampton Roads, perhaps the single most important military hub in the United States is threatened. Important national security assets like Langley Air Force base and Langely Research Center are at risk.
I know a little bit about this because I grew up in Norfolk, Virginia within sight of what was then called Little Creek Amphibious Base. My next door neighbor at one time was a submarine commander. I’ve met fighter pilots, SEALS, US Navy divers and military from around the world. I’ve done work at NASA/Langley AFB, and been on almost every base in the area at one time in my life. The military capability of the Hampton Roads area alone is more than most nations on earth. The cost of keeping these bases operational in the face of unchecked sea level rise due to global warming is almost incomprehensible. (US Department of Defense Report – PDF)
In a report signed by Bush appointed former Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, eleven former Generals and Admirals came together to warn us of the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change to national security. They said: “We are dismayed that discussions of climate change have become so polarizing and have receded from the arena of informed public discourse and debate. Political posturing and budgetary woes cannot be allowed to inhibit discussion and debate over what so many believe to be a salient national security concern for our nation.” Four former Republican EPA administrators have called on congress to act. Most Americans including 49% of Republicans support the the Paris Climate Accord.
What does our Republican congress do? Exactly the opposite of what experts recommend and what the people want. Ted Cruz has vowed not to honor the global climate deal. Congress moved to block federal rules to cut emissions from coal fired plants and undermine the accord. They vote to deny climate change is happening and tie the pentagon’s hands. They try to force federal agencies from even considering the issue. They have even gone so far as to threaten to defund the EPA. Take a look at America before the EPA and think about that for a moment.
That is the level of legal corruption by fossil fuel industries driving the climate denial machine. They and the politicians they are funding are putting the future of the nation at risk for personal gain. Earth sciences have been a part of NASA’s mission from its inception yet Ted Cruz has gone so far as to suggest NASA not even study climate change. Can you imagine your doctor telling you that you may have a deadly disease and choosing not to test for it? That is what Ted Cruz is suggesting. Because he is paid to. Because if you want Koch brothers money and you want to be President, that’s what you do. It doesn’t get much more treasonous than that.
Charles Koch has said that they have reduced their political spending estimate of almost $900 million for 1016 to a meager $750 million over the next two years. Of the remaining Republican presidential candidates including Ted Cruz, David Koch has said that “if they want our support, one way to get it is articulating a good message to help Americans get a better understanding and a better appreciation of how certain policies … will benefit them and will benefit all America.”
Senator Inhofe even blocked a resolution that would have simply acknowledged climate change is happening. He sites the existence of snowballs for his opinion but if you really want to know why he argues against climate change, it’s because he is paid by “energy” companies (oil, coal & gas) including the ever present Koch Brothers to do so. Paul Ryan says EPA efforts to reduce emissions are “an excuse to grow government, raise taxes and slow down economic growth“.
Republican congressman Larry Bucshon tells us he does not to trust climate scientists because “their careers depend on the climate changing to keep themselves publishing articles”. Oh really? I’m sure his views are in no way influenced by the fact that three of his top five donors are fossil fuel energy companies. Koch Industries comes in at number eight, but then again they have a lot of people to fund.
Environmental sociologist Robert Brulle did a detailed, peer reviewed study on the funding behind the climate denial machine. He covers everything from direct political support to the think tanks who devise strategy and propaganda to generate public support.
Say for instance you are a fossil fuel company and all of this pesky climate change talk is threatening your profits. You fund The Heartland Institute who then create a climate denial conference and pay people to speak. No need to be an actual scientist. Any yahoo with an opinion and an ego can make $1000 plus travel expenses (see the PDF invite). A policy not common at real scientific conventions where the attendees pay. Who are the experts Heartland cites? Many are directors or fellows at think tanks including their own. Of the few real scientists they can cite, most have no direct expertise in climatology.
Or you could offer $10,000 per climate denial paper as The American Enterprise Institute who are funded in part by Exxon did. Exxon knew about the dangers of climate change years ago but they chose profit over responsibility. So did Shell. They are not alone. Internal fossil fuel industry memos provide a glimpse into how the fossil fuel industry powers the disinformation machine. If you have read an opinion or argued in denial of climate change yourself, chances are that the origins of those arguments came from a think tank with a positive and patriotic sounding name like Americans for Prosperity or the now defunct, Koch brothers funded, Citizens for a Sound Economy. You may not have heard the name before but I’m guessing you have heard of their creation; The Tea Party.
Of course not all climate denial starts with big oil, some of it comes from people who are simply batshit crazy. Not that big oil isn’t happy to support them. If you want to sow doubt, you cite the flawed work of Arthur B. Robinson as proof that there is no consensus. Robinson is a republican activist who promotes intelligent design. In 1998 he created the Global Warming Petition Project. I urge you to read his page on the Summary of Peer-Reviewed Research which has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual peer review process used by the scientific community where other experts in the same field review published papers in an attempt to find flaws in their conclusions or methodology. What Robinson did was to write a paper with his son (neither of whom are climate experts) and Willie Soon who has been discredited for his undisclosed ties to the oil industry including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and sent that paper out as scientific evidence to virtually anyone willing to sign his petition. A thorough review reveals that even Perry Mason and a Spice Girl have signed it. Climate denialists to this day cite his petition as proof that there is no consensus on global warming. Oh, and by the way… Robinson has spent millions of dollars in support of Ted Cruz. Yes, the same Ted Cruz who says NASA should not do earth sciences. The same Ted Cruz who gets more than half of his presidential campaign’s Super PAC money from the fossil fuel industry.
When you read a climate denial article in a respected news magazine such as Forbes, you should be able to trust it, right? Not so fast. First, understand that it is published as an opinion piece because it does not meet journalistic standards for a factual news article. The Author, James Taylor is a senior fellow at the conservative Heartland Institute funded in part by the Koch brothers through some of the many organizations they fund that advance their personal and corporate interests. His articles are more press release than journalism. So here comes the fun part… Ted Cruz cites propaganda written in a Koch funded think tank by James Taylor in his staged climate change hearing and makes outlandish, unsupported claims of ethical violations by scientists while calling any attention to his ties to Oil and Gas ad homonym attacks. James Taylor then writes another propaganda piece praising Cruz for his victory. Neat huh?
How damaging is republican climate denial and protection of the fossil fuel industry to national security? In 2012 republicans voted to resist the US Navy’s Green Fleet initiative with bills designed to prevent them from purchasing biofuels or spending on biofuel refineries. The argument given was that biofuels are more expensive than oil. The problem is that Navy support for biofuels and refineries will drive costs down, and far more importantly, the initiative is more than about being green. It’s about winning future wars. A Navy that can create its own fuel anywhere in the world has a huge tactical and strategic advantage over one tied to a conventional fossil fuel supply line. Especially one that in part flows from and funds one of the most volatile regions in the world. The Navy is wisely moving ahead with its goals in spite of republican obstruction, however all bets are off if a republican is in the white house to give a fossil fuel funded congress free reign.
I’m not going to get deep into technical issues. There are many, more qualified people who can speak to the science behind the issue of climate change better than I. But I do think it’s important to touch on some of the more popular claims by climate skeptics.
Skeptics often cite journalists like Christopher Booker. His impassioned arguments may seem sound until you look a little closer. This same guy has argued that asbestos poses no health risk even after one of the people he cites tries to correct him. Or Matt Ridley, who writes climate denial articles for several respected newspapers and magazines. He actually owns coal mines. Where is the sanity of rejecting the opinions of organizations like NASA and the overwhelming majority of actual climate experts in favor of people like this?
Mike Huckabee claims that global freezing theories from the 70’s shows the fallibility of science. One problem. There was never any kind of scientific consensus on the subject. A study of peer reviewed papers from the time shows the opposite. “The survey identified only seven articles indicating cooling compared to 42 indicating warming. Those seven cooling articles garnered just 12% of the citations”. The Washington Posts finding? Four Pinocchios: “Huckabee is grasping at incorrect media reporting in order to make a ridiculous point. The main scientific consensus at the time of the Time and Newsweek articles was that the world was entering a period of global warming, as a result of man-made effects, that would overcome any possible cyclical cooling. Indeed, the science of that issue is even more settled now, which is why Newsweek 30 years later conceded it had been wrong.”
One popular angle of attack by climate denial supporters is the claim that the stolen emails of Michael Mann prove global warming is a hoax. Multiple investigations by trusted scientific organizations have proven this theory false. The idea that NASA scientists have somehow been paid off by clean energy companies and/or are controlled by secret government directives to control the public is laughable. Such a conspiracy would require millions of people in hundreds of nations. What control is gained and why? It’s simply ludicrous. It supposes that small companies with comparatively little money are somehow out-conspiring and out-spending fossil fuel companies to destroy America for no apparent reason. There is no proof of this. There is no money trail. There is everything to be gained by fossil fuel companies who fund the think tanks and politicians in defense of their massive profits. My question is: Who hacked the university? Who had the means and motive to look for something that may look incriminating and publish the private emails?
Rather than trust in America to face the challenge and act as global leaders in innovation and manufacturing by encouraging green energy solutions, congress is ceding the lead in this important technology to China.
A Treasury Department report (PFD) shows that the fossil fuel industry receives $4.7 billion in subsidies annually. Globally they receive $550 billion in subsidies, including $88 billion in subsidies for exploration. More than double the $37 billion the top 20 oil and gas companies spend themselves. Senate republicans blocked measures to end tax breaks for oil companies. And in return fossil fuel companies contribute 91% of their money to republican campaigns.
In his ruling on Citizens United, Justice Kennedy said that “the absence of prearrangement and coordination undermines the value of the expenditure to the candidate [and] … alleviates the danger that expenditures will be given as a quid pro quo for improper commitments.” He was wrong.
The father of capitalism, Adam Smith tried to warn us when he said “The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public … The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order … ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined … with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men … who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public”. He may as well have been speaking directly of Charles Koch who has admitted telling republican candidates that the support of “Certain Policies“ will gain their financial support and those of like minded donors.
Our campaign finance laws are completely broken. Our courts have legalized the bribery of corrupt politicians who would sell out humanities future for campaign money. It needs to end. The corporations and politicians engaging in climate denial are harming our long term economy as other nations take the lead in renewable energy. They vote against programs that give us a tactical and strategic advantage over our enemies and argue that we should not study climate change when it threatens our national security. They are criminals and traitors and they must be brought to justice.
I have two questions for Ted Cruz: First. How do you justify ignoring the opinions of the nations most prominent scientists and military planners by suggesting NASA ignore earth sciences at such a critical time when our national security is at stake? And second. How do you have the gall to accuse scientists of promoting climate change for money without any evidence, while wallowing in campaign finance money provided by those who profit from your denial?
The 2016 presidential candidates on climate change.
In their own words (PDF)