If one didn’t think the U.S. discussion of climate change was political, think again. U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-West Virginia), added an amendment to a House appropriations bill to fund the Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would prohibit the two agencies from using funds that would “design, implement, administer or carry out specified assessments regarding climate change.”
Another way to put it, from McKinley’s perspective, is if you don’t like science, ban it.
House Republicans took exception to the Department of Defense addressing the recommendations of the National Climate Assessment, and have added two agencies whose work is directly related to mitigating the effects of extreme weather to their list.
The floor debate captured the essence of the politics of climate change:
“Spending precious resources to pursue a dubious climate change agenda compromises our clean-energy research and America’s infrastructure,” McKinley said on the House floor. “Congress should not be spending money pursuing ideologically driven experiments.”
Speaking against the amendment, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) said it disregards the research of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists.
“The Republicans, in general, don’t seem to trust the scientists,” Kaptur said. “This amendment requires the Department of Energy to assume that carbon pollution isn’t harmful and that climate change won’t cost a thing. That’s nothing but a fantasy.”
What next? Click here to read the rest of David Gutman’s coverage of this story in the Charleston, West Virginia Gazette.
And consider that June 2014 was the hottest month on record since records have been collected. Politicians like McKinley would deny the reality of human contributions toward global warming at the same time climate data released from the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that the worldwide average temperature over land and sea in June 2014 was 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the 20th century average of 59.9 degrees. That is reality.
People seeking scientific proof of anthropogenic global climate change are barking up the wrong tree. The goal of science, if unlike McKinley, we accept science, is not to prove, but to explain aspects of the natural world.
Around 1850, physicist John Tyndall discovered that carbon dioxide traps heat in our atmosphere, producing the greenhouse effect, which enables all of creation as we know it to live on Earth.
Carbon dioxide increased as a percentage of our atmosphere since Tyndall’s time at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. As a result, Earth’s average temperature increased by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
The disturbance of the global carbon cycle and related increase in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere is identifiably anthropogenic because of the isotope signature of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
We can also observe the effects of global warming in worldwide glacier retreat, declining Arctic ice sheets, sea level rise, warming oceans, ocean acidification, and increased intensity of weather events.
It is no wonder almost all of climate scientists and all of the national academies of science in the world agree climate change is real, it is happening now, it’s caused by humans, and is cause for immediate action before it is too late.
Politicians like McKinley don’t get it, and advocate against reality. That’s nothing new for some members of the Republican Party.
Based on some research I have been conducting in my basement over the years, most recently Monday. That was the worst storm I ever saw ……
We have lived in the same house for a long time. When we moved in we were told that the basement “would get a little water in it on occasion.” I was young and quite naive. There was a sump pump and I didn’t worry too much. We lived here for 6 years before we got nailed with a downpour on an Independence day weekend. We got water in the basement. We had some stuff down there that we lost. Nothing big. Lesson learned. Be careful what you put in the basement.
We never had dreams of the basement becoming a finished basement. It’s purpose was to hold a household utilities (up at least 3 feet off the ground), and as a shelter from storms. I had used it as a place to lift weights and had a small workshop over the years.
Before the next water incident We had a basement wall cave in due to the extreme dry weather. The ground was so dry the earth shrank from the wall and the wall could not handle the full weight only on the wall. We were far from the only ones who had that problem.
Our next encounter with water was almost ten years or so after the first in ’93. Who didn’t have problems that year? Then it was a little shorter time, with some problems in the late ’90s. The next came after a shorter time span. Now we seem to get significant water every year. We have nothing down there anymore except fans to dry it up after the storms. Our utilities are still down there but should be up high enough that they are not bothered.
This is not an exercise in “woe is me.” This is just to illustrate that by simple observation that things are changing and they are changing quickly. Whether you believe it is caused by man or not it is hard to deny that the climate is changing. Scientists the world over have come to independent conclusions that the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is directly related to the changing climate.
Even if you do not believe the changing climate is caused by man, if it is caused by greenhouse gasses then man can do something to hopefully turn it around by contributing less such gasses to the atmosphere. When we move to less pollution we will also create jobs and make the nation healthier through better air to breathe. Working to turn our climate back around will be a major WIN, WIN, WIN for us all.
The Keystone Pipeline is a powerful symbol of the urgent necessity for climate action. On July 19, the Great March for Climate Action crosses the proposed path of the pipeline outside Bradshaw, Nebraska. We are working with Bold Nebraska on a major public event, and I hope you’ll consider attending to send the message that the pipeline must be stopped.
With a deep sense of urgency I need to ask you step forward and donate to our “Erase the Pipeline” fundraising drive. We have raised $14,363 of the $50,000 necessary to get us through Nebraska. Every time you help us reach a benchmark en route to our goal, we’ll erase a piece of the pipeline. Otherwise, other marchers and I will have to resort to pulling up the pipeline with our bare hands . . . like this:
I made an $18,000 personal commitment to helping the March by declining to accept a salary. I am challenging other marchers to deepen their commitment and make additional sacrifices to assure our success. I challenge you, our supporters, to do so as well. To donate now, click here.
In one-on-one conversations, in small groups, and through social and traditional media– the March is having a far-reaching impact. Thanks to all who have stepped forward to make this epic journey possible.
(Editor’s Note: Al Gore’s article in the June 18 issue of Rolling Stone is hopeful about the climate crisis in a way we have not heard lately. As members of Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps, we see the former vice president receives his share of criticism. He is also on the leading edge of advocacy to mitigate the causes of global warming and related climate change. That makes this article a must read).
The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate
It’s time to accelerate the shift toward a low-carbon future
By Al Gore
In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem– some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still– almost certainly– be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.
To read the rest of the article, click here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-turning-point-new-hope-for-the-climate-20140618#ixzz354z36Izt
“The United States has a moral responsibility to act on climate,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday, June 2. Her agency proposed what they described as “a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants.” New rules would potentially cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. We couldn’t agree more with the need for action, yet the regulations proposed by EPA to reduce emissions were underwhelming.
While it is important to support the administration initiative, some bandwidth must be reserved for the rest of the fight regarding mitigating the effects of climate change. To serve that purpose, Blog for Iowa made this list of links as a reference for readers.
The proposed rules are here along with a number of additional EPA links to related topics.
The draft rule will be politically contentious, as has been almost every proposal, appointment or executive action by the Obama administration. The Washington Post presents a step by step explanation of the rule making and political fight over it. The article is titled, “Everything you need to know about the EPA’s proposed rule on coal plants.”
Dr. Wendy Ring of Climate 911 recently rode her bicycle across the country, including stops in Iowa, to discuss negative health outcomes related to climate change. “We can do better,” said Dr. Ring of the EPA proposed rules. “It is technically and economically feasible for the U.S. to do much better.” She provided the following links to support her argument:
“Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy” by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.: Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030” by The American Solar Energy Society.
The Solutions Project’s 50 state plans for conversion to 100% renewable energy.
There is a lot to learn about the proposed EPA rules, yet perfect can be the enemy of good. It is time to act on climate, and the administration initiative, while not as good as one hoped, is better than no action at all.
Here is the White House’s web page on the new rules along with social media share buttons.
Organizing for Action has also asked for support here.
On Thursday, U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley released a statement on the proposed rules here.
Hit the follow button to stay tuned to Blog for Iowa’s continuing coverage of the EPA rule making on emissions from power plants.
Bruce Braley Statement on Carbon Reduction Plan
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Washington, D.C.– Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency of a preliminary plan to reduce carbon emissions.
“In the year before these standards go into effect I’ll continue to advocate on behalf of Iowa to ensure that this proposal works for our consumers and businesses—but it’s clear that Iowa utilities are ahead of the curve on these standards, and that’s good news for Iowa’s consumers. The bottom line is that climate disruption is real, and that Iowa has been a global leader in tackling it head on with tremendous growth in areas like wind energy and renewable fuels. Reducing our carbon output is not only necessary for the health of the planet, it’s an opportunity to continue to improve the health of the Iowa economy—which is and will remain my number one priority.”
Leadership on what matters most for our future will come from outside the United States. It’s not that Americans are bad people— for the most part, we aren’t. However, many of us have mistaken the advancement of bad ideas as the right ideas, and there is a difference.
The most recent example was last week’s vote on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is one of the few pieces of legislation that still works through the legislative process the way most of them did back when Congress did more legislative work. Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) offered an amendment which would “prevent the White House from sending funds to the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866.” McKinley questions the validity of climate science research generally, but, according to his website, also argued that reducing the use of coal wasn’t worth the harm it would do to the economy. The amendment passed the House, and is expected to advance to the Senate.
I understand coal country better than most mid-westerners. My family tree has long roots in Appalachia, predating the discovery of coal in Boone County, West Virginia by John Peter Salley in 1742. My career in transportation and logistics took me to Boone County and I learned about its dependence on coal. When the Coal Valley News announced our truck driving school, it was front page news, next to a story about United Mine Worker layoffs in the county seat.
Meeting with businesses, the governor’s office, the school board, local residents and others, I got to know the issues around coal. People didn’t like the mine owners and operators, but were dependent upon them. If life has changed from company-owned coal camps for most, coal camps still exist along with poverty and an extreme dependence on coal to extract a life. The question, “what are we supposed to do without coal?” resonates there if answers don’t.
There is no greater good in McKinley’s legislative work, and there is little point in arguing with climate deniers like him. The preponderance of evidence is that climate change is real, it is happening now, and its effects are causing harm. As the business community wakes up, we are increasingly able to place a dollar figure on the social and economic costs of global warming and related climate change. Economics will drive action to mitigate the causes of climate change, as making a profit remains paramount for businesses. Like it or not, West Virginia, part of mitigation of global warming means drastic reductions in the amount of coal used across the globe.
At the same time, bad ideas like McKinley’s have enough support to advance, making the U.S. Congress less relevant in addressing the most important issue of our time. That’s why I say leadership on climate change, as well as on nuclear abolition and other threats to life as we know it, will come from outside our country. For whatever reason, too many Americans embrace bad ideas to sustain the political will for positive change.
What I don’t get about West Virginia and coal country is that while there is a church in almost every neighborhood, another argument should resonate equally with self-serving economic interests, but doesn’t.
If God is the author of creation and wants humans to do anything, high on the list would be to care for creation. We have not upheld that responsibility even though it transcends politics. Instead, people like McKinley look to mammon for their inspiration, forsaking all of us in the process.
Belief in God is not the same usage as belief in climate change, because the efficacy of the harm done to humans by climate change will out regardless of what people believe or don’t believe. Like many concerned citizens I feel we must wake up to the threat to human health posed by climate change before it’s too late. If the U.S. won’t lead, then others will, because taking action won’t wait for U.S. politicians to get on board with the obvious.