Thursday, June 30, 2011

Global Disruption, Global Diaspora, Global Systems Collapse

Headlines don't just include Al Gore's newest essay, published in Rolling Stone magazine. Take a look at the last three days worth, on Democracy Now, but first, a bit on Gore's newest article blogged by the Washington Post:

Al Gore strikes back in Rolling Stone article

By Conor Williams

Former vice president Al Gore isn't known for his great political timing, so perhaps it's no surprise that he's published an environmental broadside in Rolling Stone during a week in which there's almost no political oxygen left. The Beltway is clogged with dreary economic news, debt ceiling worries and President Obama's Afghanistan speech. Even given Gore's prodigious talent for generating heat, he's fighting a losing battle.

That's a shame. Because it's worth a read.

[T]he scientific consensus [on climate change] is even stronger. It has been endorsed by every National Academy of science of every major country on the planet, every major professional scientific society related to the study of global warming and 98 percent of climate scientists throughout the world. In the latest and most authoritative study by 3,000 of the very best scientific experts in the world, the evidence was judged "unequivocal."

Gore goes on to lament that widespread denial of these facts makes meaningful political action on climate change nigh on impossible.

What is it that makes some of us so reticent to take climate scientists seriously? Gore spends a lot of time blasting corporate-funded climate denial. But what makes some Americans willing to listen to it? Climate scientists aren't completely drowned out of the public square, but their message seems to fall on deaf ears.

Read, Climate of Denial here --


Leading U.S. Climate Scientist: Current Extreme Weather in Line with Climate Change

A top U.S. government climate scientist said this past spring had some of the most extreme weather the country has seen in the past century with epic floods, massive wildfires, drought and deadly tornadoes. Deke Arndt, the chief of climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the extreme weather is in line with what is forecast for the future as a consequence of global warming. Arndt said, "In general, but not everywhere, it is expected that the wetter places will get wetter and the drier places will tend to see more prolonged dry periods."

Drought In Somalia Causes Mass Influx Of Climate Refugees To Kenya

In climate news, the aid group, Save the Children, is reporting the massive drought in Somalia has resulted in a mass influx of climate refugees fleeing for Kenya. The group estimates 800 Somali children cross into Kenya every day to escape the drought. The United Nations estimates the drought has impacted 10 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. Mark Bowden is the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.

Mark Bowden, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia: "My final message is that we need to take action if we’re to avert a far larger scale of crisis. There are worrying reports from international agencies working in south Somalia that levels of malnutrition are increasing, possibly some rates of adult malnutrition which I think is a very critical indicator of the levels of distress that are being faced in the area. Unless we are able to take action now, I think that we are likely to see not just more migration, but a level of deaths in Somalia that takes us back almost 20 years and certainly has been unparalleled in the recent decade."

Extreme weather from Texas to Somalia may indicate that a new era of climate war is upon us. Just this month, massive floods have shut down two nuclear power facilities in Nebraska. In New Mexico, the nation’s top nuclear weapons lab in Los Alamos is being threatened by an uncontrolled wildfire. Meanwhile, the United Nations warns the Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in 60 years, affecting more than 10 million in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. We speak with award-winning journalist Christian Parenti who argues in his new book that global warming is leading to social and environmental catastrophe.

"The weather associated with climate change, extreme weather such as the drought, punctuated by flooding in East Africa, punctuated by flooding in East Africa, is adding to this.Climate change very often doesn’t just look bad weather, it looks like ethnic violence or religious violence or banditry or civil war,” says Parenti.

Flood Waters Begin to Recede in North Dakota Following Widespread Destruction

Flood waters are beginning to slowly recede near the North Dakota town of Minot after record-breaking water levels displaced some 12,000 residents there and destroyed more than 4,000 homes. According to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesperson, just 375 of the 4,000 ruined homes were protected by flood insurance. Residents say they were led to believe the coverage was unnecessary because levees were constructed and the Souris River channel was straightened following a major flood in 1969. Residents are not expected to return to their homes for at least 10 days.

Leading scientist John Holdren says "global warming" is not the correct term to use; he prefers "global disruption." "'Global warming' [is] misleading. It implies something that’s mainly about temperature, that’s gradual, and that’s uniform across the planet," says Holdren. "In fact, temperature is only one of the things that’s changing. It’s a sort of an index of the state of the climate. The whole climate is changing: the winds, the ocean currents, the storm patterns, snow packs, snowmelt, flooding, droughts. Temperature is just a bit of it."


Nine Out of Ten Top Climate Deniers Linked to ExxonMobil
By RP Siegel May 9th, 2011

Today’s story probably won’t come as a big surprise to anyone, but in an era where unsubstantiated assertions fly through the news media like raindrops in a hurricane, obscuring the truth to the point of near-invisibility, it’s nice when a bright beam of factual research and analysis shines in to cut through the haze.

A recent analysis conducted by Carbon Brief which investigated the authors of more than 900 published papers that cast doubt on the science underlying climate change, found that nine of the ten most prolific had some kind of relationship with ExxonMobil.

Links to these papers were proudly displayed on the denialist Global Warming Policy Foundation website, where they are still fanning the dying embers of Climategate hoping something will catch, under the heading, “900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of ‘Man-Made’ Global Warming (AGW) Alarm.”

The top ten contributors to this list were responsible for 186 of the 938 papers cited.
Foremost among them was Dr Sherwood B Idso, who personally authored 67 of them. Idso is the president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, an ExxonMobil funded think tank. The second most prolific, Dr Patrick J Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, receives roughly 40% of his funding from the oil industry. Number 3 on the list, Agricultural Biologist Bruce Kimball co-authored all of his papers with the aforementioned Dr. Idso.

The report does not mention the Koch Brothers, who as we know, spent twice as much supporting climate denial groups as Exxon Mobil did.

The researchers utilized the website Needlebase to help conduct their analysis.

The idea of maintaining an atmosphere of doubt in order to keep consumers from changing their behavior is not a new one. It was developed by the tobacco industry decades ago, in their efforts to dispel research results linking second hand smoke exposure to cancer and keep the public confused on the issue.

A recent book on these tactics by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, entitled Merchants of Doubt explores “how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.”

Other prolific authors of climate-change denying include Willie Soon, John R. Christy and Sallie L Baliunas who are all associated with the George C. Marshall Institute, whose website asserts that “…efforts to reach agreement on inferences about human influence on the climate system that can be drawn from science and policy prescriptions for addressing the climate change risk have been controversial.”

Ross McKitrick is a senior fellow at the Exxon funded Fraser institute and Richard Lindzen is a member of the ‘Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy,’ which has also received Exxon funding.

Of course, the fact that these scientists’ livelihoods depend to one degree or another on a very rich oil industry with an extremely large vested interest in the outcome of the climate change “debate,” or more precisely in perpetuating the idea that there is in fact still a debate over anything more than minor details of the climate change phenomenon, does not mean that their positions on the subject are necessarily biased. However, human nature being what it is, a healthy dose of skepticism should be brought to bear here as we try to move forward on the repeated urgent warnings coming from the overwhelming majority of scientists who have studied the subject.

RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.


Yes, you can go to the link at the Guardian and sign on, but I thought this would be best to run the entire story on that "peer-reviewed" journal published climate change denier who was bought off by none other than Koch Brothers and Exxon.

Climate sceptic Willie Soon received $1m from oil companies, papers show

Documents obtained by Greenpeace show prominent opponent of climate change was funded by ExxonMobil, among others
Willie Soon received over $1m from oil companies including ExxonMobil, documents reveal. Photograph: Donna Williams/AP
One of the world's most prominent scientific figures to be sceptical about climate change has admitted to being paid more than $1m in the past decade by major US oil and coal companies.

Dr Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, is known for his view that global warming and the melting of the arctic sea ice is caused by solar variation rather than human-caused CO2 emissions, and that polar bears are not primarily threatened by climate change.

But according to a Greenpeace US investigation, he has been heavily funded by coal and oil industry interests since 2001, receiving money from ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Insitute and Koch Industries along with Southern, one of the world's largest coal-burning utility companies. Since 2002, it is alleged, every new grant he has received has been from either oil or coal interests.

In addition, freedom of information documents suggest that Soon corresponded in 2003 with other prominent climate sceptics to try to weaken a major assessment of global warming being conducted by the UN's leading climate science body, the Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Soon, who had previously disclosed corporate funding he received in the 1990s, was today reportely unapologetic, telling Reuters that he agreed that he had received money from all of the groups and companies named in the report but denied that any group would have influenced his studies.

"I have never been motivated by financial reward in any of my scientific research," he said. "I would have accepted money from Greenpeace if they had offered it to do my research." He did not respond to a request from the Guardian to comment.

Documents provided to Greenpeace by the Smithsonian under the US Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) show that the Charles G Koch Foundation, a leading provider of funds for climate sceptic groups, gave Soon two grants totalling $175,000 (then roughly £102,000) in 2005/6 and again in 2010. In addition the American Petroleum insitute (API), which represents the US petroleum and natural gas industries, gave him multiple grants between 2001 and 2007 totalling $274,000, oil company Exxon Mobil provided $335,000 between 2005 and 2010, and Soon received other grants from coal and oil industry sources including the Mobil Foundation, the Texaco Foundation and the Electric Power Research Institute.

As one of very few scientists to publish in peer-reviewed literature denying climate change, Soon is widely regarded as one of the leading sceptical voices. His scientific position and the vehemence of his views has made him a central figure in a heated political debate that has informed the US right wing and helped to undermine public trust in the science of global warming and UN negotiations.

"A campaign of climate change denial has been waged for over 20 years by big oil and big coal," said Kert Davies, a research director at Greenpeace US. "Scientists like Dr Soon, who take fossil fuel money and pretend to be independent scientists, are pawns."

Soon has strongly argued that the 20th century was not a uniquely extreme climatic period. His most famous work challenged the "hockey stick" graph of temperature records published by Michael Mann, which showed a relatively sharp rise in temperatures during the second half of the 20th century. A paper published with Sallie Baliunas in 2003 in the journal Climate Research which attacked the hockey stick on flimsy evidence led to a group of leading climate scientists including Mann deciding to boycott the journal. In a letter to the Guardian in February 2004, Soon wrote that the authors had been open about their sources of funding. "All sources of funding for our research were fully disclosed in our manuscript. Most of our funding came from federal agencies, including the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Nasa," he wrote.

He has also questioned the health risks of mercury emissions from coal and in 2007 co-wrote a paper that down-played the idea that polar bears are threatened by human-caused climate change

The investigation is likely to embarrass Exxon, the world's largest oil company, which for many years funded climate sceptics but in 2008 declared it would cut funds to lobby groups that "divert attention" from the need to find new sources of clean energy. According to the documents, Exxon provided $55,000 for Soon to study Arctic climate change in 2007 and 2008, and another $76,106 for research into solar variability between 2008 and 2010.

Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said this week the company did not fund Soon last year, and that it funds hundreds of organisations to do research on climate and the environment.

Southern gave Soon $120,000 starting in 2008 to study the Sun's relation to climate change, according to the FIA documents. Spokeswoman Stephanie Kirijan said the company has spent about $500m on funding environmental research and development ,and that it did not fund Soon last year.

In one 2003 email released to Greenpeace, that Soon sent, it is believed, to four other leading sceptics, he writes: "Clearly [the fourth assessment report] chapters may be too much for any one of us to tackle them all ... But as a team, we may give it our best shot to try to anticipate and counter some of the chapters ..." He adds: "I hope we can ... see what we can do to weaken the fourth assessment report."

In 2003 Soon said at a US senate hearing that he had "not knowingly been hired by, nor employed by, nor received grants from any organisation that had taken advocacy positions with respect to the Kyoto protocol or the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change."


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