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.
At Least 20 Climate Change Deniers Lead Trump Team, POLITICO Reports https://t.co/angApWTJxF @IMPL0RABLE @American_Bridge— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1520564427.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
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As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
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