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America Burns From Climate Change While Trump Officials Attend Climate Denial Conference
By Andy Rowell
The disconnect could not be greater. As wildfires raged across the U.S. last week, inflamed by climate change, Trump officials attended the America First Energy Conference, where delegates heard age-old fossil fuel arguments that, amongst others, carbon dioxide makes the planet greener and could not be creating a climate crisis.
The conference comes after an unprecedented heat wave in the Northern hemisphere. Scientists are warning that this summer's heatwave is caused by climate change, which in turn has caused unprecedented temperatures and wildfires in Canada, Greece, Sweden and the U.S. Indeed this summer's heatwave was made more than twice as likely by climate change, according to a rapid assessment by scientists.
Some scientists are even warning that we are descending into "hothouse earth," where a series of positive feedback mechanisms could trigger even more extreme warming.
A record number of Americans now believe that humans are causing climate change, too. The latest survey by the University of Michigan Muhlenberg College revealed that "a record 60% of Americans now think that global warming is happening and that humans are at least partially responsible for the rising temperatures."
These high temperatures continue to cause massive wildfires with more than 100 major active blazes in the U.S. right now. Some 30,000 personnel are battling wildfires that have devastated more than 1.6 million acres (648,000 hectares) of land.
Meanwhile, the climate dinosaurs continue as if nothing is happening. They deny the science and evidence as the flames get ever closer.
The conference was organized by the leading climate denial think tank, Heartland Institute, which has been regurgitating the same climate denial old rubbish—what we now would now call "fake news"—for the last two decades. It has received significant funding from Exxon and the Koch brothers to do so.
But all their climate denial friends were there too, according to Reuters, including speakers from JunkScience, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and the Center for Industrial Progress and officials from the U.S. Department of Interior and the White House.
The panels included sessions on "Carbon Taxes, Cap & Trade, and Other Bad Ideas," "Fiduciary Malpractice: The Sustainable Investment Movement," and "Why CO2 Emissions Are Not Creating a Climate Crisis."
Another one of the ludicrous conspiracy theories peddled at the conference was "that the United Nations puts out fake science about climate change to control the global energy market." Oh and they hate renewable energy too, calling wind and solar energy "dumb."
According to Reuters, the U.S. officials who attended included White House special assistant Brooke Rollins, Interior Department Assistant Secretary Joe Balash, and Jason Funes, an assistant in the office of external affairs at Interior. All "praised the administration's moves to clear the way for oil industry activity."
Tim Huelskamp, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, closed the seminar by stating the person who had made the difference to the climate deniers was Donald Trump. "We have a president who has kept his promises," he said. "It proves that one man can make a difference." He called Trump "our last political chance at freedom."
And in many ways he is right. Trump represents the last chance for the fossil fuel industry to wreck this planet. What they call freedom, we call wildfires. When they see freedom, we see sea level rise.
Huelskamp told Reuters, "The leftist claims about sea level rise are overblown, overstated or frankly just wrong."
Ironically, the conference was held in New Orleans, which was once ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. As Reuters—not normally seen as left-wing conspiracy theorists—noted: "Evidence of sea level rise, however, is strewn across the state that hosted the conference."
The panel speakers are so blinkered in their climate denial they do not notice what is happening right now. They may look, but they cannot see. On the speaker's lectern was the strapline "freedom rising." Maybe someone should have just written "sea level rising" instead.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.