The Dernogalizer

November 7, 2010

Don’t believe in global warming? That’s not very conservative

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt Dernoga @ 6:17 pm

There’s a spot on op-ed in the Washington Post today by Bracken Hendricks about how being opposed to action on global warming is not only nonconservative, but will lead to a greater role for government in managing the damage from a warming planet.  The column is re-posted below.

Few causes unite the conservatives of the newly elected 112th Congress as unanimously as their opposition to government action on climate change.

In September, the Center for American Progress Action Fund surveyed Republican candidates in congressional and gubernatorial races and found that nearly all disputed the scientific consensus on global warming, and none supported measures to mitigate it. For example, Robert Hurt, who won Tom Perriello’s House seat in Virginia, says clean-energy legislation would fail to “do anything except harm people.” The tea party’s “Contract From America” calls proposed climate policies “costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.” Even conservatives who once argued for action on climate change, such as as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), have run for cover.

But it’s conservatives who should fear climate change the most. To put it simply, if you hate big government, try global warming on for size.

Many conservatives say they oppose clean-energy policies because they want to keep government off our backs. But they have it exactly backward. Doing nothing will set our country on a course toward narrower choices for businesses and individuals, along with an expanded role for government. When catastrophe strikes – and yes, the science is quite solid that it will – it will be the feds who are left conducting triage.

My economic views are progressive, and I think government has an important role in tackling big problems. But I admire many cherished conservative values, from personal responsibility to thrift to accountability, and I worry that conservatives’ lock-step posture on climate change is seriously out of step with their professed priorities. A strong defense of our national interests, rigorous cost-benefit analysis, fiscal discipline and the ability to avoid unnecessary intrusions into personal liberty will all be seriously compromised in a world marked by climate change.


In fact, far from being conservative, the Republican stance on global warming shows a stunning appetite for risk. When faced with uncertainty and the possibility of costly outcomes, smart businessmen buy insurance, reduce their downside exposure and protect their assets. When confronted with a disease outbreak of unknown proportions, front-line public health workers get busy producing vaccines, pre-positioning supplies and tracking pathogens. And when military planners assess an enemy, they get ready for a worst-case encounter.

When it comes to climate change, conservatives are doing none of this. Instead, they are recklessly betting the farm on a single, best-case scenario: That the scientific consensus about global warming will turn out to be wrong. This is bad risk management and an irresponsible way to run anything, whether a business, an economy or a planet.

The great irony is that, should their high-stakes bet prove wrong, adapting to a destabilized climate would mean a far bigger, more intrusive government than would most of the “big government” solutions to our energy problems that have been discussed so far.

Let’s start with costs. The investment needed to slow carbon pollution might total from 1 to 2 percent of global GDP each year for several decades, according to a 2006 study by the British government. This spending would pay for advanced technology, better land use and modern infrastructure. The same study put the cost of inaction – including economic harm from property damage and lost crops – at 5 to 20 percent of global GDP, lasting in perpetuity, with the risk of vastly higher catastrophic damage. You tell me which option is more fiscally responsible.

But it’s not this cost-benefit arithmetic that should most concern conservatives. Their real worry should be what it will take to manage the effects of climate change as they are felt across the economy over the course of our lifetimes.

The best science available suggests that without taking action to fundamentally change how we produce and use energy, we could see temperatures rise 9 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit over much of the United States by 2090. These estimates have sometimes been called high-end predictions, but the corresponding low-end forecasts assume we will rally as a country to shift course. That hasn’t happened, so the worst case must become our best guess.

With temperature increases in this range, studies predict a permanent drought throughout the Southwest, much like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but this time stretching from Kansas to California. If you hate bailouts or want to end farm subsidies, this is a problem. Rising ocean acidity, meanwhile, will bring collapsing fisheries, catch restrictions – and unemployment checks. And rising sea levels will mean big bills as cash-strapped cities set about rebuilding infrastructure and repairing storm damage. With Americans in pain, the government will have to respond. And who will shoulder these new burdens? Future taxpayers.

This is just the beginning. If conservatives’ rosy hopes prove wrong, who but the federal government will undertake the massive infrastructure projects necessary to protect high-priced real estate in Miami and Lower Manhattan from rising oceans? And what about smaller coastal cities, such as Galveston and Corpus Christi in Texas? Will it fall to FEMA or some other part of the federal government to decide who will move and when and under what circumstances? Elsewhere, with declining river flows, how will the Bureau of Reclamation go about repowering the dams of the Pacific Northwest?

And while we’re busy at home, who will help Pakistan or Bangladesh in its next flood? What will the government do to secure food supplies when Russia freezes wheat exports? Without glaciers, what will become of Lima, Peru, a city dependent on melting ice for drinking water? Will we let waves of “climate refugees” cross our borders?

As the physicist and White House science director John Holdren has said: “We basically have three choices: mitigation [cutting emissions], adaptation and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be.”

Today’s conservatives would do well to start thinking more like military planners, reexamining the risks inherent in their strategy. If, instead, newly elected Republicans do nothing, they will doom us all to bigger government interventions and a large dose of suffering – a reckless choice that’s anything but conservative.



October 20, 2010

Vice President Gore Urges “No” Vote on Proposition 23

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:18 pm
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From the Repower America website

WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Today, Former Vice President Al Gore and the Climate Protection Action Fund have released a new video statement urging opposition to a harmful California ballot initiative, Proposition 23. In the statement, Vice President Gore asked Californians to vote against the ballot proposal that would effectively overturn the state’s pioneering energy and climate law.

“The fight for America’s clean energy future is taking place right now, and it’s come to California,” Vice President Gore said. “This is a fight we simply cannot afford to lose.”

Proposition 23 would suspend the state law known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or AB 32. This law sets limits on the greenhouse gas pollution that is changing our climate, while creating incentives for the production of clean, renewable energy. The funding in support of Proposition 23 has come overwhelmingly from out-of-state oil companies.

The Climate Protection Action Fund is working to defeat Proposition 23 by sending staff members to California for voter outreach and education.

“This is a pivotal moment, and all of us need to be involved,” Vice President Gore said. “The polls show that Proposition 23 is a close vote. We need everyone in California to get out and vote ‘no’ on Proposition 23.”

October 19, 2010

No on Prop 23 Battle Gets Big Boost from James Cameron, Google

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:49 pm
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The No on Prop 23 battle being waged in California against the oil industry sponsored initiative to gut California’s global warming law is very fascinating.  While environmentalists and their organizations are fighting tooth and nail, the clean tech industry in California has grown to be a formidable foe to the fossil fuel industry.  They are matching big oil dollar for dollar, and then some!  Hopefully as the clean energy industry grows in other states, it will gain the kind of influence we’re seeing in California…an influence that can stand toe to toe with the fossil fuel special industry.  A recent poll shows voters are 45-34 in opposition!  The campaign to stop Prop 23 received a nice boost of recent, according to Todd Woody on Grist…

“Since Thursday, the No on 23 forces have raised more than $7.3 million as the Silicon Valley-Hollywood-environmental-industrial complex revved up for the final push before Election Day on Nov. 2.

The Yes campaign’s take since Thursday? $10,000.”

“Avatar director James Cameron attracted the most attention with his $1 million donation on Friday. But Gordon Moore, the legendary co-founder of chip giant Intel, also dropped $1 million into the No coffers that day, and so did Pacific Gas & Electric ($250,000), California’s largest utility and a leading proponent of climate change legislation. Google co-founder Sergey Brin also donated $200,000 on Thursday, and an organization of Silicon Valley tech companies contributed $125,000.

On Tuesday, a group of some 66 investors controlling more than $400 billion in assets are scheduled to hold a press conference to announce their opposition to Prop 23.

In the meantime, national environmental groups and non-profits continued to pour cash into the No campaign last week. The National Wildlife Federation contributed $3 million on Friday. ClimateWorks Foundation, a San Francisco non-profit, gave $900,000. New York’s Rockefeller Family Fund kicked in $300,000 on Thursday and the Natural Resources Defense Council, a top No on 23 donor, added $300,000 more Friday.”

Want to help?

  1. Visit the “No on 23″ website, learn the facts & sign up:
  2. Educate yourself on how California’s climate & energy laws have created companies & jobs:
  3. Tell your friends by email, on Facebook, at work, & everywhere else.
  4. Participate in the debate. Write letters to the editor and post comments on blogs & websites.
  5. Contribute (click here). The other side’s leader, right-wing California Assemblyman Dan Logue, has publicly said he expects the oil companies to spend $50 million.

October 6, 2010

Smokin Summer in the US

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 9:12 pm

I’ve always liked to view temperature change by taking the aggregation of record highs and lows in the US around the country.  For example, see this incredible chart below from Capital Climate

The ratio of record highs to lows for September?  Over 5:1!

How does that compare to the previous few decades?

The 2000-2010 decade was the warmest on record globally, and it averaged over a 2:1 ratio of highs to lows.  September blows past that, as do other months in the summer.

September 29, 2010

Fight Prop 23 in California, Ads in Full Swing

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 6:16 pm
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A new poll shows there’s a dead heat on Prop 23, a referendum on whether or not to block California’s climate legislation, one of the most ambitious in the nation.  Want to help?

  1. Visit the “No on 23″ website, learn the facts & sign up:
  2. Educate yourself on how California’s climate & energy laws have created companies & jobs:
  3. Tell your friends by email, on Facebook, at work, & everywhere else.
  4. Participate in the debate. Write letters to the editor and post comments on blogs & websites.
  5. Contribute (click here). The other side’s leader, right-wing California Assemblyman Dan Logue, has publicly said he expects the oil companies to spend $50 million.

Here’s a misleading one by the big oil companies, see the website listed above for debunking

September 11, 2010

Nissan LEAF’s Polar Bear Ad

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 10:57 am
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Interesting advertisement!

August 26, 2010

Tidwell: It’s Not Pepco’s Fault the Weather is Changing

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:22 pm
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I want to cross-post parts of an excellent article by CCAN’s Mike Tidwell.  There have been many outages in the Washington DC region, and lawmakers have started saber-rattling at PEPCO, one of the local utilities for their inability to keep the lights on.  As Tidwell rightly points out, the outages are predominantly coming from extreme weather that is a sign of increased precipitation from a warming planet.

“A hotter planet also means more evaporation of ocean water. And a hotter atmosphere can hold more of that water as vapor in the air. It’s basic physics. And what goes up must come down. It’s not our imagination that rainstorm intensity is rising in our region. In a study released last March, scientists examined precipitation patterns from Maine to New Jersey over the past 60 years. The study revealed an amazing uptick in multi-inch rain events across the region, with strong evidence pointing to rising temperatures as a key culprit.

Trends are what are important here, and Pepco itself has identified an unsettling pattern this summer. Unusually high winds, it says, have repeatedly assaulted trees whose roots are themselves anchored in unusually loose and soft soil thanks to the “anomalously” high rainfall this summer. So branches and trunks are coming down at very high rates. Hmmmm.

But what about the snowfall last winter? The power went out twice due to extreme white stuff. Global warming? How? Well, first, we didn’t set records for cold temperatures last winter. Not even close. What we did do was shatter records for precipitation in the form of snow. Again, an overall warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and significant snowfall events are on the upswing in the United States even as temperatures rise significantly. It’s all the extra water in the air. Since 1970, global warming has added at least four percent more moisture to the atmosphere, according to studies.”

“It’s finally time to come out of the dark on severe weather. If Pepco is to blame for anything, it is this: the company invests woefully insufficient resources into solar and wind power. The same applies to all the region’s utilities. .

Better service means more than rapid repair crews. It means better energy flowing through the wires, rain or shine.”

August 7, 2010

Russia wildfire situation is “out of control”, thousands dead

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 1:57 pm
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From CNN Video

See here from meteorologist Jeff Masters, and more on the out of control wildfires here.

The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 continues
One of the most remarkable weather events of my lifetime is unfolding this summer in Russia, where an unprecedented heat wave has brought another day of 102°F heat to the nation’s capital. At 3:30 pm local time today, the mercury hit 39°C (102.2°F) at
Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Moscow had never recorded a temperature exceeding 100°F prior to this year, and today marks the second time the city has beaten the 100°F mark. The first time was on July 29, when the Moscow observatory recorded 100.8°C and Baltschug, another official downtown Moscow weather site, hit an astonishing 102.2°F (39.0°C). Prior to this year, the hottest temperature in Moscow’s history was 37.2°C (99°F), set in August 1920. The Moscow Observatory has now matched or exceeded this 1920 all-time record five times in the past eleven days, including today. The 2010 average July temperature in Moscow was 7.8°C (14°F) above normal, smashing the previous record for hottest July, set in 1938 (5.3°C above normal.) July 2010 also set the record for most July days in excess of 30°C–twenty-two. The previous record was 13 such days, set in July 1972. The past 24 days in a row have exceeded 30°C in Moscow, and there is no relief in sight–the latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures near 100°F (37.8°C) for the next seven days. It is stunning to me that the country whose famous winters stopped the armies of Napoleon and Hitler is experiencing day after day of heat near 100°F, with no end in sight.

Thousands of deaths, severe fires, and the threat of radioactive contamination
The extreme heat has led to thousands of premature deaths in Russia. According to
Yevgenia Smirnova, an official from the Moscow registry office, “We recorded 14,340 deaths in Moscow in July, that is 4,824 deaths more than in July, 2009.” Undoubtedly thousands of additional premature deaths have occurred in the rest of Russia as a result of the heat. The heat has also caused the worst drought conditions in European Russia in a half-century, prompting the Russian government to suspend wheat exports. The drought has caused extreme fire danger over most of European Russia (Figure 3), and fires in Russia have killed at least 50 people in the past week and leveled thousands of homes. The fires are the worst since 1972, when massive forest and peat bog fires burned an area of 100,000 square km and killed at 104 people in the Moscow region alone. Smoke from the current fires spans a region over 3,000 km (1,860 miles) from east to west, approximately the distance from San Francisco to Chicago. Dozens of flights were canceled at Moscow’s airports today, thanks to visibilities of 300 meters in smoke. Also of concern is fires that have hit the Bryansk region of western Russia, which suffered radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in nearby Ukraine. There are fears that fires may burn through the contaminated area, releasing harmful radiation into the atmosphere.”

Meanwhile, from Wonk Room

“Moscow has reached 102.2° F, after never before even breaking the 100-degree mark in recorded history. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev have flooded the airwaves in response to outrage over the wildfires and droughts caused by the global heat wave, as officials are forced to admit the situation is out of control. The Russian government has recommended people evacuate Moscow, banned wheat exports, diverted flights, fired senior military officers, and warned the fires could pose a nuclear threat if they reach areas contaminated by Chernobyl. Medvedev called the linked disasters “evidence of this global climate change,” which means “we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past.”

Giant Ice Island Breaks Off From Greenland

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 12:28 pm

“A giant chunk of ice four times the size of Manhattan has broken off from one of Greenland’s two biggest glaciers, creating the largest Arctic iceberg since 1962”

That’s a lot of ice

“Ocean warming currents are circulating around the fjord here and eroding the underbelly of Petermann Glacier at an incredible rate, which is 25 times that of the surface melt,” Alun Hubbard, a glaciologist at the University Of Wales, told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time. “There’s been a revelation in the last couple of years in the role that warming oceans play in triggering the enhanced acceleration, break-up and thinning of these outlet glaciers.”

August 5, 2010

More On Russia and Global Warming

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 11:32 pm
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Russian Leader Medvedev says

“Frankly, what is going on with the world’s climate at the moment should incite us all (I mean world leaders and heads of public organizations) to make a more strenuous effort to fight global climate change.”

Joe Romm at Climate Progress has more on Medvedev

our country has not experienced such a heat wave in the last 50 or even 100 years… I want to say that this is, of course, a severe trial for our country, a great trial indeed. But at the same time, we are not alone in facing these hardships, for other countries too have gone through such trials and, despite all the difficulties, have managed to cope with the situation. … Overall, we need to learn our lessons from what has happened, and from the unprecedented heat wave that we have faced this summer.

None of us can say what the next summer will be like. The forecasts vary greatly.Everyone is talking about climate change now. Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past. This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past.”

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