It was not a happy Valentine's Day for the Heartland Institute's climate change denial campaigns. First, Heartland's plans for a $75,000 K-12 reeducation curriculum to turn America's children into climate change deniers was leaked to the DeSmog Blog along with Heartland's fundraising plan, which reveals support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation and a "free Koch summer intern."
On January 16, the Los Angeles Times revealed that anti-science bills have been popping up over the past several years in statehouses across the U.S., mandating the teaching of climate change denial or "skepticism" as a credible "theoretical alternative" to human caused climate change came.
Amid difficult United Nation climate talks this week in Durban, lead climate change denier -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) -- sent a patronizing video message to delegates in South Africa celebrating what he called the "complete collapse" of the movement to fight climate change.
His message comes as delegates work night and day in a last-ditch effort to produce a legally-binding deal to restrict the damage already underway due to the rise of carbon content in the atmosphere. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said earlier in the week that a new international climate pact might be "beyond our reach" given the "great economic troubles" many countries are experiencing.
A small study by prominent climate change skeptic Roy Spencer is being dismissed by mainstream climate scientists as containing technical and theoretical faults that make it incorrect. The study, published in late July in the online, open-access journal Remote Sensing, examined the effects that cloud cover has on climate change, and concluded that clouds are more of a cause of global warming than an effect of it. Spencer is known for his views that climate change is not human-caused. His recent study concludes that the question of the role clouds play in global warming "remains an unsolved problem."
As the U.S. suffers through catastrophic tornadoes, heat waves, and other climate extremes -- no doubt just a small taste of what the climate crisis will bring in the future -- polluting industries and the politicians that serve them want to convince you that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is actually a good thing.
Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, the second largest privately-held energy company in America, have poured millions of dollars into creating a web of media influence to increase their power to sow doubt about climate change among the American public. A network of bloggers, pundits, think tanks and foundations get funding from the Kochs, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received over $700,000, and the libertarian Cato Institute, which has received $13 million from the Kochs since 1998. The Manhattan Institute received $1.5 million, Americans for Prosperity has gotten $5.5 million, the Pacific Research Institute has gotten $1.2 million and the Federalist Society $2 million. This web of think tanks and foundations operates blogs and Web sites and house prominent writers who pump out climate denial writings that help spread the Kochs' anti-climate change ideology. The Kochs' influence isn't limited to fringe media, either. Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, who writes for the Weekly Standard and the Washington Post, Philip Anshutz, owner of the Examiner newspapers and the Weekly Standard, Stephen Moore, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, are just some of the conservative media figures who attend the Kochs' exclusive, private annual gatherings.
Back in July, 2010 PRWatch noted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ignorance about the potential for ecological damage from BP dumping millions of gallons of oil dispersants into the Gulf to try to limit damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. Yesterday, scientists released a report that re-confirmed the EPA's voluntary ignorance.
Acquiring "clean natural gas" and "getting off of foreign oil" are pitched as reasons to continue natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. And yet, beyond all the problems associated with fracking, Pro Publica's Abrahm Lustgarten revealed in a January 25, 2011 article that "clean natural gas" isn't all that clean after all. Lustgarten writes,
The United States is poised to bet its energy future on natural gas as a clean, plentiful fuel that can supplant coal and oil. But new research by the Environmental Protection Agency … is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change … Advocates for natural gas routinely assert that it produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal and is a significant step toward a greener energy future …The EPA now reports that emissions from conventional hydraulic fracturing are 35 times higher than the agency had previously estimated. It also reports that emissions from the type of hydraulic fracturing being used in the nation’s bountiful new shale gas reserves, like the Marcellus, are almost 9,000 times higher than it had previously calculated …"
Environmental groups say we should be certain of the factual data about emissions and environmental effects of shale gas drilling before making major policy decisions that push the nation into dependence on methane gas obtained through drilling.
Those who follow energy politics closely should not be surprised. The government-industry revolving door constantly spins rapidly, and thus it is no different on the natural gas front within the United States. This is highlighted acutely by ProPublica in an article titled, "Some Appointees to Oil and Gas Commission Are Industry Execs, Lobbyists."
The article states, speaking about the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission,