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U.S. Senator and climate change denier Jame Inhofe aims his flamethrower squarely at the EPA in his new book.

The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future

The blurb:

Americans are over-regulated and over-taxed. When regulation escalates, the result is an increase in regulators. In other words, bigger government is required to enforce the greater degree of regulation. Bigger government means bigger budgets and higher taxes. “More” simply doesn’t mean “better.” A perfect example is the entire global warming, climate-change issue, which is an effort to dramatically and hugely increase regulation of each of our lives and business, and to raise our cost of living and taxes. In The Greatest Hoax, Senator James Inhofe will reveal the reasons behind those perpetuating the Hoax of global warming, who is benefitting [sic] from the general acceptance of the Hoax and why the premise statements are blatantly and categorically false.

Think climate change is going to be a hot topic for the next 8 months? You’re right. But there’s a twist.

Climate change isn’t about weather anymore, at least as far as Inhofe is concerned.

It’s not about the undeniable see it-taste it-smell-it extremes of floods and hurricanes and earthquakes (in New Jersey?) or crop-killing heat or tree-snapping ice storms.

Inhofe can’t win with facts, so he’s tacked to an emotional appeal that the government is out to get you.

Don’t let this pivot distract you. It’s a smokescreen of doubt and suspicion, designed to make you throw up your hands and say “It’s too complicated. It’s too big. It doesn’t have anything to do with me.”

But it does.

Climate change is close to home. It’s as close as your front yard and definitely as personal as your vote in November.

Just to review, via the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist:

2011 NJ Top 10 Weather/Climate Events
1) Wettest year for NJ (wettest station over a calendar year)

2) Tropical Storm Irene: August 27-28 (3rd wettest rainstorm, record flooding)

3) Wettest month on record for NJ: August (wettest two consecutive months: Aug-Sep)

4) Early-season snowstorm: October 29-30

5) Third warmest year for NJ (11 months above average; seven in the top ten for their month)

6) Second hottest month on record: July (including top ten hottest day: July 22)

7) Snowstorm: January 26-27

8 ) Snowiest January on record for NJ

9) Back-to-back rain storms March 6-7, 10-11 (major flooding)

10) Ice storm: February 1-2

The Feb. 21 2012 Rutgers Environmental Stewards‘ lecture on “The Limits of Science” was given by Dr. Jan Zientek from Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

It was utterly, completely fascinating. We discussed what science is, what it isn’t, how it is defined by scientists and how it gets used by politicians and everyone else on the way to becoming environmental policy.

Here are his 2010 lecture slides. I’ll update them once this week’s 2012 lecture slides are posted.

With these new ideas in my head, I was especially interested in this news piece about the uncomfortable position faced by Republican climate scientists. Rock, meet hard place.

Via Insideclimatenews, by way of EnviropoliticsBlog:

Republicans don’t want to hear from scientists on climate

Inside Climate News reports today that a number of prominent U.S. climate scientists who identify themselves as Republican say their attempts in recent years to educate the GOP leadership on the scientific evidence of man-made climate change have been futile. Now, many have given up trying and the few who continue notice very little change after speaking with politicians and their aides.

In my opinion, just because you stop listening to the truth, doesn’t stop it from being true.

All politics is local. So is climate.

The micro-climate of my backyard is a specific growing terrior with its own proclivities and advantages. My garden warms and cools and drains and grows in a way that differs from every other patch of ground on the planet.

That said, trends hold true. I might get lucky with overwintering a rosemary one year out of 10, but overall my Zone 6B location means it’s a heartbreak waiting to happen.

As my local garden grows, so goes our collective global garden.

Whether my rosemary dies or thrives, the time to argue whether the earth is warming (Or cooling. Or melting. Or experiencing extreme weather events.) is over. The worldwide scientific community is in consensus on these facts.

Likewise, there is broad agreement and understanding that human activities are accelerating climate change.*

We can argue till the cows come home as to who set the fire, but in the meantime, let’s work together to put it out.

When I encounter people who want to deny the facts in front of them (see also: Confirmation Bias), my next line is inquiry is to follow the money (see #3).

While there may be short-term financial gains for climate change denials, in the end we’ll all lose.

*Bonus Climate Change Acronym: AWG (Anthropogenic Global Warming, meaning human-caused)

Three links:

1. Via OmniClimate: The Climate Change Consensus – In Five Points

2. Via Wikipedia.org: A starting point for major points, players and positions

Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth‘s atmosphere and oceans, which started to increase in the late 19th century and is projected to keep going up. Since the early 20th century, Earth’s average surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F), with about two thirds of the increase occurring since 1980.[2] Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and scientists are more than 90% certain that most of it is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.[3][4][5][6] These findings are recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized nations.[7][A]

3. Via Treehugger.org:  Leaked Docs,  Reveal How Top Think Tank Turns Oil Money Into Climate Denial

Everyone poops. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about toilet paper. Specifically, 100% recycled toilet paper.

Three TP posts came across my desk this morning:

1. From Treehugger.com, a new WWF report on how U.S. consumer buying decisions are reducing habitat for critically endangered Indonesian tigers.  Read it.

2. Find out about Moka, a new 100% post-consumer non-bleached toilet paper that speaks to the forward-looking “dark green” consumer who thinks that “Beige is the New Green.”  Plus, the WSJ’s take on the trend.

3.Via EnvironmentalLeader.com major retailers including Kmart and Krogers are dropping products that originate from the tigers’ habitat.  WWF is urging retailers to monitor and audit their supply chains from forest to tree to pulp to paper…and onto supermarket shelves.

(Before we go any farther, let me be clear. I’m all for toilet paper. Just better toilet paper.)

We all know that non-recycled paper comes from trees. A lot of trees. We’ve gotten comfortable with recycled paper products like copy paper and grocery bags. But toilet paper? Now you’re getting personal.

Exactly. It’s personal, in the best sense of backing up our values with our dollars. That’s the ideal. Here in the the real post-recession world, purchasing decisions are also made on whether an item is easy, cheap and good. So let’s take a look.

Easy? Yes. One hundred percent recycled toilet paper is readily available from leading brands like Marcal at Wal-Mart, all major supermarkets, Staples and bulk shopping clubs.

Cheap? A fellow traveler did the math. She argues heavily for the less-is-more strategy, but even if you are a profligate TP-er, the difference in price does not rise to the level of break the bank.

Good? This one comes down to personal preference. We all have our bottom-lines but new 100% recycled products are light-years better than a decade ago. NRDC has a helpful chart to evaluate recycled paper choices.

Buying recycled toilet paper is not going to grow new tiger habitat overnight, but small actions by many add up. Go buy it.

And if you told your kids that it’s between stripey tigers or snowy-white TP, I’d bet on the tigers every time.

“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”–U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

When it comes to Climate Change discussions, things can get awfully….heated.

Global leaders met in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum last week to talk about, I would argue, how to share the world’s resources.  Some of us are using more than our share, to the detriment of others.  That’s a hard truth.

You know what’s even harder? Getting those of us with more to change how we live, consume, and drive.

It’s an aggravating truth that some people refuse to be swayed by reason to reconsider their positions, even when their current choice doesn’t serve their own best interests. Part of the problem is that people tend to shut down–and do nothing–when bombarded by too many choices. (See: Decision making theory)

I would also argue that a misapplied concept of Face –maintaining or losing social dignity–plays a powerful role as well. To admit we are wrong and take action to make things right, requires a significant cognitive shift.

A Davos participant wrote about this conundrum, and some paths forward, in this Harvard Business Review blog post yesterday.

To this point, a new Treehugger.com article reports on erroneous science reporting and what happens when climate change skeptics cover their eyes to the hard, scientific, facts that the globe is getting hotter. Why is this a problem? Because keeping a mental door shut to scientific facts allows people to perpetuate and protect their social, economic and political positions.

I believe we can all be in agreement about basic facts. We know the world is getting hotter, based on the replicated, peer-reviewed scientific findings by the overwhelming majority of the world’s experts.

For those who are having trouble getting there, let’s build bridges by teaching, learning and practicing analytical skills.  At the end of the day, I believe that when we know better, we do better.

Then we can get down to the business of what we’re going to do about our hotter-than-ever world.

Via treehugger.com:

Every once in a while a spasm of easily debunked but headline grabbing climate change denial splashes across the mainstream media. The last couple of days was one of those times, with a simply factually incorrect piece in the Wall Street Journal and another one in the Daily Mail repeating the tired meme that there hasn’t actually been any recorded warming on the planet in over a decade. Never mind that NASA released data showing quite starkly the exact opposite earlier in the same week.

Read the Treehugger.com article.