So overjoyed to hear so many comments about science at the first day of the DNC! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the speeches from science supporters Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders! Here are some snippets:
From Grist– what Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders all had in common in their speeches: Climate change!
PHILADELPHIA — Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders each chose different words to unite their party on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, but there was a unifying theme to their speeches. In outlining the high stakes of the election, they all talked about the huge consequences for future generations.
Take Michelle Obama, who said, “In this election, and every election, it is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.” Warren later said, “Hillary will fight to preserve this earth for our children and grandchildren. And we’re with her!” And then in Sanders’ big finale, he noted “the need to leave this world in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations.”
Anyone who’s concerned about climate change should recognize this argument. Perhaps more than any big issue in this election, climate change is about the decisions we make now and their impact on future generations. Whether they were referring to climate change or not, Obama, Warren, and Sanders were pleading with the Bernie-or-bust section of their party using the same logic.
“This election is about climate change, the great environmental crisis facing our planet,” Sanders said, in remarks that were nearly word-for-word what he said when he endorsed Clinton two weeks ago. “Hillary Clinton is listening to the scientists who tell us that unless we act boldly to transform our energy system in the very near future, there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, rising sea levels. … Hillary Clinton understands that a president’s job is to worry about future generations, not the profits of the fossil fuel industry.”
Warren talked about how dysfunction in Washington, D.C., benefits the fossil fuel industry rather than the public. “Washington works great for those at the top,” she said. “When huge energy companies wanted to tear up our environment, Washington got it done. … When we turn on each other, bankers can run our economy for Wall Street, oil companies can fight off clean energy.”
Obama didn’t hit on climate change directly in her rousing speech, but she didn’t need to. It’s clear enough what inaction on global warming would do to hurt younger generations.
Scientific American (@sciam) July 26, 2016
Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) July 26, 2016
Elizabeth Warren: "we believe that...science matters, that climate change is real." #DemsInPhilly—
Trish Regan Intel (@TrishIntel) July 26, 2016
In promoting his energy plan, Donald Trump made two false claims:
- Trump said wind farms in the U.S. “kill more than 1 million birds a year.” Reliable data are scarce, but current mean estimates range from 20,000 to 573,000 bird deaths per year.
- While discussing the number of eagles that are killed by wind turbines, Trump said that “if you shoot an eagle … they want to put you in jail for five years.” Actually, the maximum penalty is a one-year imprisonment.
On May 26, Trump held a press conference and then gave a speech in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he unveiled what he called an “America First” energy plan. In his press conference, Trump said he is “into all types of energy,” but he singled out wind energy as “a problem” because it kills eagles. In his speech, he also spoke generally about birds that are killed by wind farms.
Via SciCheck – who have featured science mis-statements from the Donald more than once recently. Check the SciCheck site for the full low-down on Trumps lies about wind energy.
I have to tip my hat to the left, this has been one of the greatest propaganda campaigns in world history that the left has pulled off. I mean, they’ve taken this dingbat idea of global climate change and they’ve put it in the schools, they’ve put it in the movies, they’ve put it in the media and the churches — you know, I’m Catholic, even the pope talks about climate change.
So it’s very alarming how this propaganda campaign, that they made this stuff out of, almost completely out of thin air and they’ve convinced millions and millions of thought leaders that this stuff is real.
Seen via Right Wing Watch
Phil Plait has written a scathing take down in Slate of anti-science Representative Lamar Smith and his recent request for oversight over the Union of Concerned Scientists (ironically Smith is the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology). See the many, many, many previous CauseScience posts about Rep. Lamar Smith intimidating scientists and anti-science credentials.
Plait does a great job summarizing Smith’s history against climate change, as well as the recent controversy involving the Union of Concerned Scientists – a quick and informative read:
To the surprise of no one, Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is continuing his unfounded attack on science, ratcheting it up even higher than before. This time, he’s trying to tie up the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The good news? They’re having none of it.
Smith’s been ramping up a new(ish) tactic, trying to flush out what he thinks is a cabal of scientists fighting the fossil fuel industry. On May 18, 2016, he sent a letter to the UCS, an obvious attempt to create a chilling effect on their work to help scientists maintain the freedom they need to do their research.
See the ridiculous letter from Smith to UCS here. The letter and intent behind it are far overreaching Smith’s jurisdiction – as pointed out by Plait. The head of UCS responded by saying HELL NO, more or less. Below is the response… in fewer words, UCS will not be intimidated by Smith. AND UCS will not allow Smith to set a precedent of overreaching his jurisdiction when it comes to harassing scientists! Way to go UCS! Can’t wait to see the guaranteed McCarthyistic response from Smith and his Committee!
Several members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have sent letters to 17 state attorneys general, the Union of Concerned Scientists and other groups, requesting that they turn over documents and communications among the groups related to investigations into ExxonMobil. Attorneys general from California, Massachusetts, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are investigating whether ExxonMobil lied to its shareholders and the public about the threat of climate change.
Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The premise of Chairman Smith’s letter is a farce. The attorneys general are not investigating ExxonMobil’s scientific research, but rather whether the company misled shareholders and the public about the dangers of climate change in order to continue profiting from a lucrative product. Documents uncovered by UCS and others reveal that scientists with Exxon and other companies knew about the causes and consequences of climate change by the 1970s, but company leaders chose to deny, disparage and downplay this evidence to avoid sensible regulation.
“We are unapologetic about our efforts to expose this deception, and we will not be intimidated by this tactic. Record temperatures, rising seas and unprecedented flooding affects people around the globe and they rightly expect carbon producers to be held accountable for their deliberate strategy to deceive the public, shareholders and policy makers.
“It’s ironic that Representative Smith sees our work as an attempt to stifle scientific discourse, when he has spent the last 10 months harassing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists whose research he doesn’t like. This abuse of power has been repeatedly and strongly rebuked by the scientific community.
“In keeping with Mr. Smith’s calls for transparency, the public should demand that oil companies fully disclose what their scientists knew about climate change and when. And more importantly, the public deserves to know which industry executives made decisions to mislead shareholders, policy makers and investors about the harm of their products.”
The world took a collective sigh of relief in the last days of 2015, when countries came together to adopt the historic Paris agreement on climate change.
The international treaty was a much-needed victory for multilateralism, and surprised many with its more-ambitious-than-expected agreement to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
The next step in bringing the agreement into effect happens in New York on Friday 22 April, with leaders and dignitaries from more than 150 countries attending a high-level ceremony at the United Nations to officially sign it.
The New York event will be an important barometer of political momentum leading into the implementation phase – one that requires domestic climate policies to be drawn up, as well as further international negotiations.
It comes a week after scientists took a significant step to assist with the process. On April 13 in Nairobi, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agreed to prepare a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This will provide scientific guidance on the level of ambition and action needed to implement the Paris agreement.
The signing ceremony in New York sets in motion the formal, legal processes required for the Paris Agreement to “enter into force”, so that it can become legally binding under international law.
Although the agreement was adopted on December 12 2015 in Paris, it has not yet entered into force. This will happen automatically 30 days after it has both been ratified by at least 55 countries, and by countries representing at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Both conditions of this threshold have to be met before the agreement is legally binding.
So, contrary to some concerns after Paris, the world does not have to wait until 2020 for the agreement to enter into force. It could happen as early as this year.
When a country signs the agreement, it is obliged to refrain from acts that would defeat its object and purpose. The next step, ratification, signifies intent to be legally bound by the terms of the treaty.
The decision on timing for ratification by each country will largely be determined by domestic political circumstances and legislative requirements for international agreements.
Those countries that have already completed their domestic processes for international agreements can choose to sign and ratify on the same day in New York.
It is perhaps no surprise that the countries which are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and who championed the need for high ambition in Paris will be first out of the gate to ratify in New York.
Thirteen Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific have signalled their intent to sign and ratify in New York: Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Seychelles and Tuvalu.
While these countries make up about a quarter of the 55 countries needed, they only account for 0.02% of the emissions that count towards the required 55% global emissions total.
China and the United States have recently jointly announced their intentions to sign in New York and to take the necessary domestic steps to formally join the agreement by ratifying it later this year. Given that they make up nearly 40% of the agreed set of global emissions for entry into force, that will go a significant way to meeting the 55% threshold.
We can expect more announcements of intended ratification schedules on 22 April. Canada (1.95%) has signalled its intent to ratify this year and there are early signs for many others. Unfortunately the European Union, long a leader on climate change, seems unlikely to be amongst the first movers due to internal political difficulties, including the intransigence of the Polish government.
The double threshold means that even if all of the SIDS and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) ratified, accounting for more than 75 countries but only around 4% of global emissions, the agreement would not enter into force until countries with a further 51% of global emissions also ratified.
Consequently, many more of the large emitters will need to ratify to ensure that the Paris agreement enters into force. This was a key design feature – it means a small number of major emitters cannot force a binding agreement on the rest of the world, and a large number of smaller countries cannot force a binding agreement on the major emitters.
The 55% threshold was set in order to ensure that it would be hard for a blocking coalition to form – a group of countries whose failure to ratify could ensure that an emissions threshold could not be met in practice. A number much above 60% of global emissions could indeed have led to such a situation.
The countries that appear likely to ratify this year, including China, the USA, Canada, many SIDS and LDCs, members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum along with several Latin American and African countries – around 90 in all – still fall about 5-6% short of the 55% emissions threshold.
It will take one more large emitter, such as the Russian Federation (7.53%), or two such as India (4.10%) and Japan (3.79%) to get the agreement over the line. The intent of these countries is not yet known.
The Paris agreement may be ambitious, but it will only be as good as its implementation. That will depend on the political momentum gained in Paris being maintained. Early entry into force for the treaty would be a powerful signal in this direction.
We know from the Climate Action Tracker analyses that the present commitments are far from adequate. If all countries fully implement the national emission reduction targets brought to the climate negotiations last year, we are still on track for temperature increases of around 2.7°C. Worse, we also know that current policies adopted by countries are insufficient to meet these targets and are heading to around 3.6°C of global warming.
With average global annual temperature increase tipping over 1°C above pre-industrial levels for the first time last year, it is clear that action to reduce emissions has never been more urgent.
We are already seeing more evidence this year: increases in the monthly global averages of February and March 2016 far exceeded 1°C, record coral reef bleaching, heatwaves, and unprecedented early melting of the Greenland ice sheet this northern spring.
Early entry into force will unlock the legally binding rights and obligations for parties to the agreement. These go beyond just obligations aimed at delivering emissions reductions through countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions to the critical issues of, for example, adaptation, climate finance, loss and damage, and transparency in reporting on and reviewing action and support.
The events in New York this week symbolise the collective realisation that rapid, transformative action is required to decarbonise the global economy by 2050.
Climate science tells us that action must increase significantly within the next decade if we are to rein in the devastating impacts of climate change, which the most vulnerable countries are already acutely experiencing.
For an up-to-date picture of which countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, see our Ratification Tracker.
Representative Lamar Smith heads the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology – and is essentially as anti-science as you can get when it comes to climate change (see our many posts about Smith here). This week FactCheck.org gives Lamar Smith the SCICHECK – and no one should be surprised by the results.
Rep. Lamar Smith at a recent hearing claimed a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change “confirms the halt in global warming.” It doesn’t. In fact, the authors of the paper write, “We do not believe that warming has ceased.”
At the March 16 House hearing, Smith also continued to criticize the Science paper. He said the paper was “prematurely published,” but the editor-in-chief of Science told us Smith’s claim is “baseless and without merit.” Smith also said that the NOAA researchers used “controversial methods” in their study, but the authors of the Nature paper cited by Smith said this wasn’t the case. In fact, they cite the Science paper as having “high scientific value.”
Overall, each study asked different scientific questions, the answers to which can both remain valid and correct, according to the Nature authors themselves.
The SCICHECK also goes on to remind us of the many other times Lamar Smith was way off base when it came to climate science… a trend even an untrained scientist like Smith should be able to recognize.
This is not the first time Smith, a Republican from Texas, has made false statements about climate science and the so-called “Karl study,” named after Thomas R. Karl, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and the Science paper’s lead author.
As we’ve written before, Smith claimed in October 2015 that “climate data has clearly showed no warming for the past two decades” and that NOAA scientists “altered the data” to get the results they presented in the Science study.
Check the whole article for the latest SCICHECK of Lamar Smith!!!