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Michael Mann: This GOP Presidential Candidate 'Understands Less About Science Than the Average Kindergartner'
The Associated Press (AP) asked eight climate and biological scientists to grade (on a 0-100 scale) the comments of top presidential candidates for their scientific accuracy. To eliminate bias, the names of the candidates were removed from their comments, so the scientists were scrutinizing them merely on scientific grounds. The three Democratic candidates scored highly: Hillary Clinton (94 percent), Martin O'Malley (91 percent) and Bernie Sanders (87 percent).
The Republicans did not fare as well. Jeb Bush was the only GOP candidate to receive a passing score of 64 percent. In dead last, at a mere 6 percent, was Ted Cruz.
"This individual understands less about science [and climate change] than the average kindergartner," Penn State University professor Michael Mann wrote after reading Cruz's statements before the candidates' identities were revealed. "That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president."
Cruz scored so lowly for his repeated denial of man-made global warming, even going so far as to argue that there has not been any warming, natural or man-made. In August, Cruz told an interviewer, "If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there's been zero warming. ... The satellite says it ain't happening." He tried to argue the same thing with Sierra Club President Aaron Mair in a Senate hearing last month.
Cruz has argued against "global warming alarmists" that climate change is "not science, it's religion." Last week at a Texas Public Policy Foundation energy event, Cruz said Obama's climate plan was "the sort of power grab that our founders would have recognized as tyranny.”
The scientists who graded Cruz's comments took issue with his claims. "Florida State University's James Elsner said ground data show every decade has been warmer than the last since the middle of the 20th century and satellite data-based observations 'show continued warming over the past several decades,'" reports the AP. "In fact, federal ground-based data, which scientists said is more reliable than satellites, show that 15 of the 17 years after 1997 have been warmer than 1997 and 2015 is on track to top 2014 as the warmest year on record."
Another notable and vocal denier of basic climate science is Donald Trump. "It could be warming and it's going to start to cool at some point," Trump said in a September radio interview. "And you know in the 1920s people talked about global cooling. I don't know if you know that or not. They thought the Earth was cooling. Now it's global warming. Actually, we've had times where the weather wasn't working out so they changed it to extreme weather and they have all different names, you know, so that it fits the bill."
McCarthy, a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, called Trump's comments "nonsense," while Emmanuel Vincent, a climate scientist at the University of California, Merced, said, "the candidate does not appear to have any commitment to accuracy."
But clearly, the two candidates hold appeal among conservative voters. A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows that Trump is the Republican presidential front-runner in the early-voting state of Iowa, "with 25 percent support among GOP voters likely to participate in Iowa's February 1 caucuses," reported CNN. And Cruz (who has eclipsed Carson) is right behind Trump with 23 percent support—double the backing he had just four weeks ago.
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By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.