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Gary Johnson Wants to Watch the World Burn

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by The Green Miles Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party candidate for president, says we should do nothing about global warming. That would doom children born today...

The Impending GOP Retreat on Climate: From Denial to Do-Nothing-ism

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Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Changes in the political climate can sometimes sneak up on you -- just like changes in the terrestrial climate. Case in point: A recent opinion piece in the right-wing Human Events, "A Conservative's Case for Global Warming", provides a hint that the GOP may be about to start tiptoeing away from climate change denial.

While still repeating a number of easily disprovable climate denial whoppers (e.g., that the earth hasn't warmed in the last 18 years, even though it has, and the usual cheap attempts to downplay the overwhelming scientific consensus), the author seemed to be striving to reposition conservative opinion to accept the reality of climate change -- this, even though he is a member of the Heartland Institute, notorious for (among other travesties) its repugnant Unabomber billboard campaign.    

Others have noted the curious phrase that is now ubiquitous among Republican politicians - "I'm not a scientist" -- and like Jonathan Chait, have speculated on whether this phrase represents a kind of tactical retreat:

"I am not a scientist" makes sense as a way to resolve a tension within Republican politics. It may be a political liability for Republicans to openly associate themselves with the kook conspiracy theories popular among conservative ideologues. One solution might be for Republicans to concede that anthropogenic global warming is indeed real, but that any solution is simply too costly. That might allow Republicans to minimize their kook exposure while still hewing to the bottom line party doctrine that individuals and firms ought to be able to dump carbon into the atmosphere for free.

Climate change denial remains rife in Republican ranks, of course - CAP Action counts 56% of Congressional Republicans in the "climate denier caucus".  But look closely and the signs are of the first troops starting to back away, hopefully heralding the very beginnings of a full-scale retreat.

We Saved You, Sen. Warner – Now Help Save Us All

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Dear Sen. Warner:

As the night of November 4th wore on, it became clear that your political future lay firmly in the hands of Northern Virginia Democrats.  Had the progressive counties of NoVa not loyally stood with you, you would now be out of a job.  

This reality may conflict with your self-image as a "radical centrist" who likes to show your "independence" by poking your fingers in our eyes.  Perhaps you're still fondly re-reading the yellowing news clips of your 2001 campaign, of its NASCAR races and turkey hunts.

But politically speaking, that was ages ago. The architect of that campaign, Mudcat Saunders, defected last year to endorse the ultra-right-wing Ken Cuccinelli.  And last week, the NASCAR crowd jettisoned you like so much spare fuel.  

They're not coming back, Senator.  For better or for worse, there is no center remaining in American politics today.  There are only two sides between which every politician must choose.  

The results of last week's election mean that you're stuck with us extremist, wild-eyed liberals, Senator.  You can no longer postpone paying attention to your base.

You need us - but the truth is that we need you too.  We need you to stand up for our values and defend us from all the threats that the new Republican Senate majority represents for our country and our world.  

So let's start with the reality that the scientific community is shouting at us to focus on.

Erick Erickson: Screw Our Children, I Want Cheap Coal Now

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Flooding Danube"Let the seas rise. Let the wind blow." That's top Republican commentator Erick Erickson's position on climate change. I would say he's a "conservative" commentator, but there's absolutely nothing conservative about wanting to gas up your SUV cheaply now and while leaving the pollution bill for future generations to pay. It's pure selfishness - "I've got mine so screw you" presented as profound political philosophy.

Erickson may just be one blogger, but here he gets to the core motivations of today's Congressional Republican leadership - America isn't worth investing in. Energy? Just give me what's cheapest today - if we need alternatives tomorrow, someone else can spend the money on it. Education? If my family needs that, I can pay to send my children to private school, but I won't volunteer a dime in additional taxes to improve our community. The environment? I can buy home air filters and bottled water - if you can't, too bad for you & yours.

"We are all going to die," Erickson cynically concludes. "Just not today." And by then, it'll be up to our children and grandchildren to build massive hurricane barriers outside every East Coast city to keep out the rising seas and monster storms as the bill comes due for all that cheap coal, oil and fracked gas.

Striped Bass Shift Linked to Climate Change? Don’t Ask Virginian-Pilot

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Albert Spells measures a striped bass; this one is longer than 28 inches and too big to keep. ©Janet Krenn/VASGWhen reporters ignore climate change in their stories, they end up sounding like they're blaming the supernatural for events easily connected to climate change. I'm late in getting to this, but take this Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot story from January on a sharp decline in catch of striped bass:
They say there are a handful of elements that have lowered the ocean take the past two years.

Weather has been the biggest reason. Warmer starts to the past two winters have caused many rockfish to stay in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, or up the coast around upper Maryland and New Jersey. [...]

"It's been the strangest year," said Rob O'Reilly, chief of fisheries management for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. "The weather has been so screwy that some fish haven't moved south like they usually do, and the ones that have positioned themselves offshore."

Reporters are often reluctant to connect the dots to climate change because they're not climate science experts and they're worried that doing so will draw the ire of anti-science Tea Party activists.

But when reporters ignore reality, they leave their audience absolutely baffled. Strange! Screwy! Don't ask me for answers, you're on your own! And then newspapers wonder why half of their audience has stopped paying $15 a month for a subscription. If you have to go find the truth yourself anyway, might as well do it for free on the internet.

Virginia’s Laughing Gulls Decimated by Climate Change

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Laughing GullRising sea levels fueled by climate change are decimating colonies of laughing gulls on Virginia's Eastern Shore, reports The Virginian-Pilot's Diane Tennant:
"It's been clear for a decade that they're really struggling on the lower Delmarva seaside," said Bryan Watts, center director. "What's so dramatic to me about this particular situation is that between 1993 and 2003, there was some indication of this, but it's like in the early 2000s, we dropped off a cliff."

Laughing gulls, with their black heads and loud calls of "Ha... ha... ha," are among the most recognizable shorebirds. Historically, they nested in huge numbers in the marshes of the lagoons and barrier islands on the Atlantic side of the Eastern Shore. But rising sea level has led to periodic flooding that drowns chicks and wipes out nests, Watts said.

"You reach a tipping point," he said. "That's when they're washed out so frequently that they can't hatch chicks. Then those colonies are lost." [...]

"This is just another example of how the climate and sea level are changing, and the response to that," Watts said. "Behind Cobb Island, there's an entire complex of marsh islands that are referred to collectively as Gull Marsh. It's a pretty long string, a mile or so. That used to be a real gull factory there. It is no longer."

It's just one example of birds threatened by climate change. Similar stories can be found up & down the Atlantic Coast, from Maine's threatened puffins to the jeopardized MacGillivray's seaside sparrow in the Carolinas and Florida. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency you support strong new limits on climate-disrupting industrial carbon pollution.

Climate Deniers, Super Typhoon Haiyan Is Looking At You

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Typhoon HaiyanOne year after superstorm Sandy became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, Super Typhoon Haiyan just became the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone on record, hitting the Philippines with sustained winds of 190-195mph and gusts to 235mph. That's as strong as a top-of-the-scale EF-5 tornado ... except Haiyan's eye is eight miles wide.

Why is the storm so historically strong? NOAA blames warm deep water. When climate science deniers claim a global warming "pause," the heat isn't missing - it's right there lurking in the ocean, waiting to put super typhoons on steroids.

Better burn all the coal and oil while we still can.

October’s Lesson for Climate Activists: Skate to Where the Puck is...

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Fake 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee Wayne GretzkyHere's what we learned about Congressional Republicans in October:It's not just that today's Republican Party rejects all available solutions to all available problems because they don't want President Obama to get any credit for solving any problems. They're willing to create entirely new crises solely in hopes of making President Obama look bad.

Congressional Republicans won't support any legislation that gives President Obama any credit for solving the climate crisis, and in fact if the climate crisis did not exist, it's not hard to imagine the House GOP gleefully passing bills trying to create one. The only hope is that either Democrats can re-take the House or that Congressional Republicans get more interested in problem-solving - as Wayne Gretzky once said, skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. Climate activists should be planning and power building now for that moment when it comes, hopefully in 2014 or 2016.

Yet I keep hearing arguments like this:

League of Conservation Voters a “Radical” Organization? Yes Indeed, According to...

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According to the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), protecting Virginia's environment is a radically liberal thing to do, especially if it entails the Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate consulting with the League of Conservation Voters, that horrendous organization that has charged itself with conserving the natural beauty left in Virginia.

In its latest example of insanity, the Republican Party of Virginia "is reminding voters that Terry McAuliffe's experts at the anti-coal League of Conservation Voters have already praised the new regulations." The regulations being referred to are those being enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requiring new coal-burning power plants to limit the carbon dioxide that is released. According to the Republican Party of Virginia, the new coal-burning regulations will "kill jobs."

But instead of throwing the full force of its rhetorical slime at Terry McAuliffe, the Republican Party of Virginia has settled for criticizing McAuliffe for being allies with the League of Conservation Voters, who has praised the new EPA regulations. For McAuliffe's own part, he has said he'll make a decision in the near future about whether to support the regulations or not.

Remember When the Coal Industry Loved “Clean Coal”?

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The Environmental Protection Agency is unveiling carbon pollution limits for new power plants today. The coal industry is screaming bloody murder that no one could possibly expect new coal-fired power plants to implement carbon pollution-cutting technology, but it was only a few years ago that Big Coal was promising Americans it could do exactly that.

The rules will require that coal-fired power plants stop treating our skies like an open carbon sewer. While the rules are only being made public today, the coal industry has spent all week promising to send an army of corporate lawyers to fight the pollution restrictions:

Utility companies with large coal fleets already are preparing to challenge the rule, if it is finalized, on the grounds that the agency is requiring pollution controls that have not yet been "adequately demonstrated" in the marketplace.

Joseph Stanko, head of government relations for the law firm Hunton & Williams, said the EPA's reliance on "federally funded demonstration projects" as the base for its new standard "is illegal, it doesn't 'adequately demonstrate' technology for normal use."

Remember the coal industry was buying billboards promising us coal could be "clean and green with new technologies"?