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Why plastic bags suck. Great global overview w/stats & links http://t.co/Fr5jugobnQ

Amazing New Yorker read, bringing sustainability convos into mainstream http://t.co/IiXuFaJkuQ

Important climate risk drum beat for summer’s Risky Business report from Next Generation  http://t.co/r7eRwApRqM

Great job from Greg Harman  on what the skeptics are dishing up next. http://t.co/7xQluh7MaO

Divestment empowerment will have ripple effects. Expect more empowered actions from citizens, like Rutgers students saying “no thanks” to Secretary Rice. http://t.co/T9a76aC7F5

Talking economics, opportunity cost and susty metrics. http://t.co/EdTBCsIo0P

Faith leadership joins for climate action “Blessed Tomorrow.”  http://t.co/kosdLZeXLl

When we get the money people on board, we’ve won. “Why don’t economists get climate change?”. http://t.co/BXU6dWJbcB

Good on McDonald’s for new sustainability plan. Now let’s talk about it. http://bit.ly/McDSusty

The changing tide pulls everything in its wake. Paddle with it. Stanford to divest $18B in coal. http://t.co/bWH5JoQqcT

Message in a bottle of our planet’s plastic burden at @5gyres plastic event. http://t.co/NFkEpajXih http://t.co/PcP0z0NEYT

Love Obama’s climate plan, needs more business.  http://t.co/02yFV91z5I

DEP hosting Northeastern climate change prep conference. http://t.co/IAxJn59rbo

More “consumers speak, brands respond” action | Teen spurs Pepsi & Coke to dump flame retardant chemical. http://t.co/TzvA0sx2dD

Refreshingly transparent talk from UK KFC’s CSR exec 1. KFC doesn’t market 2 kids in the UK. 2. “KFC is a treat.” https://t.co/uwJgy0Yy04

Unilever’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign reports that child diarrhea rate are plummeting. http://t.co/5yuZbk2tpA

Remember when your math teacher said, “Show me the work?”

That’s what the people who maintain  Skeptical Science do with climate science denial. They collect and debunk articles and arguments that claim climate change isn’t happening, isn’t caused by humans, and isn’t a grave threat to humanity.

(They are.)

I can’t even imagine the amount of work it takes. Hat’s off to them.

Showing your work–what we call transparency in accounting, business and government–means other people can trace the steps and have confidence in your result.

It’s a fundamental concept for good business, good science, and good policy.

So in the spirit of showing my work, here are my thoughts on a climate change denial article that is about, of all things, climate change denial.

This Fox News op-ed piece is in response to a Guardian article that reported that “Conservative media outlets [are] found guilty of biased global warming coverage.”

Balance is not bias — Fox News critics mislead public on climate change

What amazes is that Abraham and Nuccitelli still pin their hopes on the cult of consensus. Forging an inter-governmental consensus has been the IPCC’s mission for 25 years, unavoidably politicizing climate science in the process. It has long since begun to backfire. People get suspicious when government-appointed experts define “the science” for the purpose of advancing an agenda that just happens to increase government control of energy markets.

Abraham and Nuccitelli have learned nothing if they think that demanding even greater fealty to groupthink will do anything except energize skeptics and increase their popularity.

The good news is that conservative media are not going to take their advice, because doing so would allow one faction of experts to monopolize the discussion. Scores of government agencies, hundreds of mainstream media outlets, and thousands of Web sites serve up daily diets of climate alarm. Presenting contrarian analysis and commentary is balance, not bias.

Nope. That’s not right.

Fox News made it look like there are two equally valid sides to climate change discussions.

But there’s not. The science is compelling, convincing and terrifying.

And the Guardian reporters are right to call them on it.

Anyway, here’s my work on the response.

* * *

Lewis starts by saying that the 97% consensus among scientists worldwide, that humans are causing climate change and it’s a very big problem, is bunk*

Then he says:

That most scientists agree climate change is happening, but that it’s not all man-made.

But even if climate change is happening and is man-made, that there’s no evidence that it’s really a problem.

Furthermore, even if climate change is a problem, the solutions being proposed aren’t any good.

And finally, if you keep on telling the truth, it’s only going to encourage the denialists, so you might as well give up.

* * *

This line of anti-science reasoning comes straight from the Big Tobacco playbook. Sow uncertainty and spread confusion.

I really hate gotcha stories that cherry pick facts and demand absolute certainty. It’s not how we live in the real world. The real world is messy, complicated, and full of daily compromises.

Consensus is pretty much how humans get things done. See also: sharing, caring and cooperation.

Continuing to needle and pick and focus on the edges in an effort to sow doubt is (click the link for the curseword version,) being a not-nice person.

Every minute we spend dithering around about “how truely true is climate change?” is a minute lost to solving our energy needs, helping people out of poverty, preparing for weather extremes, and leaving a habitable planet for our children.

With gratitude to the world’s climate science community, I’m going to focus on covering and sharing news about solutions.

* * *

* I found an error in the first step, where Mr. Lewis makes a misleading assumption.

He says, “University of Delaware Prof. David Legates and three colleagues examined the Cook team’s database, and found that less than 1% of the 11,944 abstracts explicitly endorse the so-called consensus.”

Here’s the error.

The majority of these abstracts don’t explicitly state that “humans are causing global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change” because, as the Cook report goes on to detail, human-caused global warming is a known fact to scientists qualified to write about it in peer-reviewed journals.

Scientists arrive at consensus, and they stop having to talk about it. Because they are talking about bigger things.

A shorthand example of this would be: “Most peer-reviewed marine biology papers don’t explicitly state that the oceans are salty.”

In everyday life, there are known facts that we assume others know about too. That’s how we are able to go on about our lives.

Here’s the Cook report.

 

**Gratuitous hat tip to me for spotting the typo. Change site to cite.

 

***And one for the editor for a really confusing headline. Most readers I bet are going to miss the word “critic” and read it the opposite of how intended.

What would you do if your doctor was 95% sure you had a serious illness?

How about if a whole room of doctors said it?

You’d take care of it.

Via the European Commission:

What would you do if your doctor was 95% sure you had a serious illness?

”The issue is not whether to believe in climate change or not.

The issue is whether to follow science or not.

The day when all scientists with 100% certainty warn you against climate change, it will be too late.

If your doctor was 95% sure you had a serious disease, you would immediately start looking for the cure. Why should we take bigger risks when it’s the health of our planet at stake?

The new IPCC report says that climate change is occurring and that is at least 95% certainty that human activities are the principal cause.

OK, got it.

Let’s dig into that 95% number. Seems like there’s some wiggle room there.

But not really. When a scientist says this, he or she is being as precise as possible.

Via AP:

What 95% certainty of warming means to scientists

But in science, 95 percent certainty is often considered the gold standard for certainty.

Let’s put it into some context. Say, the sun.

 “Will the sun come up in the morning?” Scientists know the answer is yes, but they can’t really say so with 100 percent certainty because there are so many factors out there that are not quite understood or under control.

And why is this OK? Because we don’t demand absolute proof on other things before taking steps to mitigate risk. Like car insurance.

George Gray, director of the Center for Risk Science and Public Health at George Washington University, said that demanding absolute proof on things such as climate doesn’t make sense.

“There’s a group of people who seem to think that when scientists say they are uncertain, we shouldn’t do anything,” said Gray, who was chief scientist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the George W. Bush administration. “That’s crazy. We’re uncertain and we buy insurance.”

Give it to me in a more-and-less:

The Associated Press asked scientists who specialize in climate, physics, epidemiology, public health, statistics and risk just what in science is more certain than human-caused climate change, what is about the same, and what is less.

Gravity?

They said gravity is a good example of something more certain than climate change. Climate change “is not as sure as if you drop a stone it will hit the Earth,” Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer said. “It’s not certain, but it’s close.”

The age of the universe?

Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss said the 95 percent quoted for climate change is equivalent to the current certainty among physicists that the universe is 13.8 billion years old.

That cigarettes are bad for you?

The president of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, Ralph Cicerone, and more than a dozen other scientists contacted by the AP said the 95 percent certainty regarding climate change is most similar to the confidence scientists have in the decades’ worth of evidence that cigarettes are deadly.

The 95% is solid. Continuing to nitpick is just wasting time.

 

So, how’d it go?

Yesterday, new EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz appeared before a House Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

The topic: President Obama’s climate change policies.

Here’s what she said:

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Testimony Before House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power

Chairman Whitfield, Ranking Member Rush, members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

In June, the President reaffirmed his commitment to reducing carbon pollution when he directed many federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, to take meaningful steps to mitigate the current and future damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions and to prepare for the anticipated climate changes that have already been set in motion.

How come? Because:

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Based on the evidence, more than 97% of climate scientists are convinced that human caused climate change is occurring. If our changing climate goes unchecked, it will have devastating impacts on the United States and the planet. Reducing carbon pollution is critically important to the protection of Americans’ health and the environment upon which our economy depends.

Fair enough.

And here’s a snip from Secretary Moniz’ prepared testimony.

The threat of a warming planet to our communities, our infrastructure and our way of life is also clear. Rising sea levels and increasingly severe droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and major storms are already costing our economy billions of dollars a year and these impacts are only going to grow more severe. Common sense demands that we take action.

How did the Sub-Committee members like it? Pretty good.

Via The Guardian.com:

Obama climate change plan gets first airing in front of House sceptics

EPA asserted authority to move forward without new laws from Congress at hearing where contrarian views were on display

There was some climate skepticism. Some explaining of science.

And some outright factual falsehoods. Worth the click to see regular people wearing tinfoil hats.

Via thinkprogress.org:

The Five Craziest Arguments at Yesterday’s Climate Hearing

Here are the five oddest things Administrator McCarthy and Secretary Moniz heard from House Republicans at Wednesday’s hearing.

The upshot? Tomorrow, Administrator McCarthy will present the EPA’s next steps to reduce carbon pollution and climate change impacts. She’s expected to announce curbs on new power plant emissions.

Via EPA.gov:

FRIDAY: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Speaks at National Press Club Sept. 20

WASHINGTON – EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will discuss EPA’s priorities in addressing climate change at a National Press Club Speakers’ event on Friday, Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. Administrator McCarthy will highlight the Administration’s commitment to carrying out President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution and address the impacts of a changing climate. She will also discuss her vision for the EPA and challenges the Agency will face going forward.

Yes. Please.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz will testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. EDT at a hearing to discuss President Obama’s climate change policies.

Why does this matter?

Because:

a) This discussion has been a long time coming. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives hasn’t wanted to talk about it.

b) High-ranking Congresspeople who are on record as denying Climate Change will likely, once again, deny that human-caused Climate Change is a problem for our country and the world. That is good, overall. Sunlight disinfects.

So why now?

c) President Obama is set to announce a new EPA Carbon Pollution Standard on Friday. Without Congress’ help. This ruling will limit greenhouse gas emissions from newly built power plants.

So what are we going to do about Climate Change?

We’re going to tell the truth about it. Until people hear it. And then join us in doing something about it.

I’m hearing a lot more truth-telling. Calling out of deniers. Naming names.

Three recent links.

1) Bill McKibben and 350.org. This Salon interview about his Climate Change activism captures some of what I’m feeling.

Via Salon.com:

Bill McKibben: “Being green won’t solve the problem”

But this [Climate Change] is a systemic problem. It’s going to be solved or not solved by a systemic solution. It’s past the point where we’re going to manage to do it one light bulb at a time.

Right. Climate Change is a systemic, global, planetary, issue. Not one or a million of our individual dollars or works will solve it.

Including business.

2) The Guardian newspaper has been knocking it out of the park with dead-on Climate Change coverage. Last week, journalist Jo Cofino covered the Carbon Disclosure Project’s surprising move to call out the names of blue-chip non-reporters. See, CDP can only report on global emissions if the business world give them the information. And if they won’t, how can we know if they are really doing what they say they are doing?

Via TheGuardian.com:

Shame on you, Apple, Facebook and Amazon

There comes a time when naming and shaming is the only way to get some businesses to start taking their responsibilities seriously.

This is why CDP, the respected global NGO, has for the first time compiled and published a list of major companies around the world that are refusing to disclose details of their carbon emissions.

In the US, that includes household names such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon.com, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Caterpillar and General Dynamics.

Shame on all of you and the other 90 of the 500 largest listed companies in the world that chose not to give CDP the data it requested.

3) There’s been some terrific individual-action climate change coverage on the Daily Kos site recently, including the outstanding Hummingbird blogathon series.

Via DailyKos.com:

Hummingbirds – Hopeful Voices in Our Midst

The “Hummingbirds” Blogathon held this past week was our humble attempt to accentuate the positive and explore what all of us can do as individuals.  After all, successful collective efforts are so deemed because the whole ends being greater than the sum of its parts.  The diaries posted this week were not only inspiring and uplifting, but based on several diary comments I read, opened many eyes.

Why did the blogathon’s writers, journalists, and activists choose a hummingbird?

This is why.

On a visit to Japan, Wangari Maathai learned the story of the hummingbird and the forest fire. While the other animals run in fear or hang their heads in despair, the hummingbird flies above the fire time and again, releasing a few drops of water from its tiny beak.

“Why do you bother?” the other animals shout at the hummingbird. “I’m doing the best that I can,” the hummingbird replies.

That’s all, and everything, we each must do.

Hotter. Colder. Wetter. Drier.

Wilder.

Right now.

That pretty much sums up the draft Climate Assessment Report released Jan. 11 by the U.S. Federal Advisory Committee that keeps an eye on climate change.

The report opens with a Letter to the American People.

The news isn’t good.

Via ncadac.globalchange.gov:

Climate Change and the American People

Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.

This report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee concludes that the evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report, written in 2009. Many more impacts of human-caused climate change have now been observed. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience. So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation.

Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of 12 extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between.

Read the report.

Make a comment (that’s what the draft’s for).

Share with your friends.

Call your legislators. Let them know you’ll support them when climate change, renewable energy, clean energy, and Sustainability issues come up for a vote.

And while we’re at it, you’ll probable need this: How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic

 

 

Just the facts.

Let’s remember that when discussing how our towns should make decisions for our communities.

On Dec 3, the Frelinghuysen, NJ town council held discussions about continuing to participate in the voluntary, advisory and non-binding Sustainable Jersey program.

That’s a fair enough discussion. What’s not fair is that the town council members might have taken far-fetched, false concerns about Sustainable Jersey into their consideration.

Sustainable Jersey is all about helping NJ towns build stronger, healthier communities by sharing good ideas state-wide.

Things like saving money on town energy bills, building nature-friendly parks, and setting up safe bike paths for kids. Improvements that make a town a nicer place to live for everyone.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with a Tea Party-promoted conspiracy theory.  The United Nations is not plotting to take away Americans’ rights to personal property.

The council voted 3-2 to cut ties to Sustainable Jersey.

I blame false equivalency. In my opinion, there has been an erosion of fact-based public discourse in the past decade.

Somewhere along the line, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” morphed into “Every opinion deserves equal weight in public decision-making.”

(See also: Creationism in public school science classrooms and Climate Change denialism in the halls of Congress.)

It doesn’t. Governments need to make decisions based on facts. Not hopes, wishes, dreams, and especially not on paranoid delusions.

This fall, the New York Times redrew the rational thinking line in the sand. In a public editor statement, Margaret Sullivan wrote about the Times viewpoints on “false balance” when it comes to reporting on non-fact-based opinions or untruths.

He Said, She Said, and the Truth

“Recently, there’s been pressure to be more aggressive on fact-checking and truth-squading,” said Richard Stevenson, The Times’s political editor. “It’s one of the most positive trends in journalism that I can remember.”

It’s all a part of a movement — brought about, in part, by a more demanding public, fueled by media critics, bloggers and denizens of the social media world — to present the truth, not just conflicting arguments leading to confusion.

You’re entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts, goes the line from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, made current again on the PressThink blog by Jay Rosen of New York University, a media critic who has pressed the fact-checking argument.

Simply put, false balance is the journalistic practice of giving equal weight to both sides of a story, regardless of an established truth on one side. And many people are fed up with it. They don’t want to hear lies or half-truths given credence on one side, and shot down on the other. They want some real answers.

So maybe the tide as a whole is turning towards fact-based decision making.

But in Frelinghuysen NJ, perhaps, not.

Sullivan ends her Times comment with a statement I fully support: “The more news organizations can state established truths and stand by them, the better off the readership — and the democracy — will be.”

Climate Change. Hasn’t come up in the debates.

Via ScientificAmerican.com:

Climate Change a No-Show at Presidential Debate, but Candidates Clash on Energy

Three debates down and one to go, and climate change has still not been addressed by the presidential candidates and their running mates in face-to-face confrontations.

I’m hoping there’s a “yet” at the end of that sentence. Hasn’t come up in the debates yet.

There’s one more chance on Oct. 22 for the top men on the ticket to grab the reins.

Will climate change will become a top national energy and security focus, or not?

If I were going to handicap the bet, I’d put my money on President Obama.

The 2012 Republican platform doesn’t even include the words “climate changes.”  (In a sharp contrast to the 2008 platform.) Hard to discuss something you don’t acknowledge.

President Obama’s 2012 Democratic platform speaks the word, and loudly:

2012 Democratic Platform

We know that global climate change [emphasis mine] is one of the biggest threats of this generation—an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making. We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits.

Not that the future-looking business world needs any convincing.

Among the sustainable business community, climate change is a top 3 priority.

Via Environmentalleader.com:

Climate Change Among Top Sustainability Priorities for Business, Poll Finds

Human rights, workers’ rights and climate change are the top three sustainability priorities for companies in the coming year, according to a poll of 500 business leaders.

Tens of thousands of citizens agree and want to hear the candidates talk about climate change at the last debate. This is one of the many petitions circulating on social media.

We can’t afford to wait anymore for government to fully partner with business and civil society on climate change.

There’s precious little time left for “yet.”

 

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Last night President Obama declared that tackling climate change is good for our country, our citizens, our economy and our planet.

Via the New York Times:

Obama Counterpunches “Climate Change is Not a Hoax”

“And, yes,” the president said, “my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future. And in this election you can do something about it.”

Not that he’s been sitting around. In spite of–and despite–Congressional energy policy gridlock, the Executive branch has been moving forward on energy independence, security and job creation.

Like this Aug. 30 Executive Order to clear roadblocks that have held back private sector innovation and investment.

Via Whitehouse.gov:

Aug. 30 White House Executive Order Signed by President Obama to Accelerate Energy Efficiency

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to promote American manufacturing by helping to facilitate investments in energy efficiency at industrial facilities, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Read this Greenbiz.com article explaining the Executive Order:

White House Efficiency Plan Will Up Output, Curb Emissions
The Executive Order aims to help address persistent regulatory, policy, and institutional barriers that have long-prevented proven efficiency technologies from being more fully utilized in the United States.

It also facilitates increased industrial energy efficiency investment through interagency coordination and convening of national and regional stakeholders.

For their part, business leaders aren’t waiting around either.

Via Insideclimatenews.org:

Major Corporations Aren’t Waiting for Washington to Reduce Emissions and Save Money

While Congress has halted work on federal climate legislation, many U.S. business are stepping up to reduce emissions.

With climate policy paralyzed in Washington, a number of leading U.S. corporations are going it alone, squeezing big reductions of climate-changing emissions from their operations and supply chains. With stakeholder criticism and other pressures building, more and more are also releasing rigorous climate data in their financial reports and enlisting third-party firms to make sure it is accurate.

Strong governmental, scientific, and public sector collaboration are a winning strategy.