Top 20 'Dirty Denier$' Who Accept Big Bucks from Big Polluters
On the campaign trail, many candidates strive to be as innocuous as possible, evading questions or saying they haven't made up their minds on an issue.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Action Fund has been working to strip away the dodges and subterfuges when it comes to candidates' positions on the climate. It spent the month of August exposing what it called the "Daily Dirty Denier$" (#DailyDenier$), officeholders running for reelection who can't dodge the fact that they've accepted money from big polluters in the dirty energy sector and cast votes in their favor.
"Now that Labor Day is behind us, the campaign season is about to heat up in earnest," said NRDC Action Fund director Heather Taylor-Miesle.
"The outcome of the 2014 races could have a major impact on the air we breathe, the health of our families, and the intensity of the climate change outside our doors. Victory could come for candidates who take millions of dollars for fossil fuel companies and ignore the climate threat. Or environmental champions will triumph and expand clean energy and climate action to protect our health and create jobs."
“The same old polluters and polluter allies, cue the Chamber of Commerce, Koch Brothers and Karl Rove, are running the same old attack ads, using the same old lies and scare tactics, and hoping the American public is none the wiser," she said.
In its campaign to wise up voters, the group's DailyDirtyDenier$ campaign focuses on members of Congress who have voted almost 200 times during the current session to weaken or eliminate environmental regulations and how money from polluters is being funneled to these congresspeople to prop them up. It also aims to focus and utilize the increasing support among Americans for action on the climate to defeat these candidates.
Here are the top 20 "Dirty Denier$" to watch out for:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could be running the Senate if the Republicans assume control after the upcoming elections. His 7 percent score from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and the $3.6 million in contributions he's received from the fossil fuel industry make him especially dangerous. He's also been on a crusade to weaken the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, he is facing a serious challenge to reelection from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) also sports a 7 percent score from LCV and has been handsomely rewarded by Big Oil. His position on man-made climate change? He thinks an "equal number" of scientists think it's not happening.
Congressman Cory Gardner (R-CO) is aiming to move up to the Senate, ousting climate advocate Mark Udall. And the Koch Brothers are on hand to help him, with outside ad buys totally nearly $2 million. What do they like about Gardner? Maybe it's his passionate defense of tax breaks for the oil industry—or his insistence that climate change is mostly media spin.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been touted as a 2016 presidential prospect. He's part of the "I'm no scientist but I believe ...." school when it comes to climate denial. That wasn't always his position, but a influx of money from the oil and gas industries seems to carry more weight with Rubio than scientists. Rubio is a special pet of the Koch Brothers.
Congressman John M. Shimkus (R-IL) has raised more than $500,000 from the oil and gas industries, and he's worked hard to be worthy of it. He's also got a big crush on coal. And yes, he's yet another climate denier.
Scott Brown (R-NH) represented Massachusetts in the Senate for two years until Elizabeth Warren kicked him to the curb. He's moved to New Hampshire to try to beat Jeanne Shaheen and now no longer believes climate change is probably real. It's funny how large donations from polluters can make a guy come around.
Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ). As New Jerseyites become more supportive of protecting the environment, Lance, who once had a decent 71 percent score from the LCV, has gone the other way. He's become a predictable supporter of his party leadership's drive to weaken environmental standards.
Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) is another congressperson aiming for an upgrade to the Senate. There she'll be Big Coal's best friend: she got more money from the mining industry than anyone in Congress save McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner. As mining jobs vanish, she' s denying her state a future by blocking renewable energy initiatives.
Congressman John Kline (R-MN) isn't the most vocal denier but he sports an abysmal lifetime score of 4 percent from the LCV. His voting record speaks for itself. He voted to roll back the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and opposes clean energy investment. Two of his top five donors are coal companies. Coincidence? Probably not.
Senator John Boozman (R-AR) signed the Koch Brothers-supported "No Climate Tax" pledge and advocates for more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, despite the ongoing environmental disaster there as a result of the 2010 oil rig explosion (Rig contractor Halliburton just settled for $1.1 billion, probably a fraction of the real cost). He's got a 8 percent score from LCV.
Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) speaks with forked tongue. He says the role of carbon emissions in causing climate change (which he doesn't deny is real but says has been happening "since the beginning of time") is "still a subject of debate." And while he says we should reduce carbon emissions, he wants to stop the EPA from regulating them. His 2013 score from LCV was 4 percent.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has high likability and doesn't come off like a crazy person. But he's confused on the climate. While he sponsored a bill to promote energy efficiency, he's another one who wants to bar government from issuing health, safety, and environmental regulations. He recognizes a "warming trend," but says "the jury is out" on whether it's manmade.
Congressman Tom Latham (R-IA) isn't running for reelection, and that's probably a good thing, since he's out of step with his state, one of the country's leaders in renewable energy. He's consistently voted in the interests of polluters, and while he's not running again, he's already raised $1 million he can pass on to other Dirty Denier$.
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) is a former president of the Club for Growth, so naturally he agrees with that group's stance that nothing should stand in the way of profit, even the future of the planet. The group has given him nearly $900,000 to make sure that dirty energy interests have nothing holding them back.
Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) is yet another dirty energy supporter looking for an upgrade to the Senate. His campaign is being fueled by coal, oil, and gas interests who have no qualms about despoiling Montana's natural beauty. He thinks "solar cycles" are causing warming.
Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) is the wrong-way kid. His score from the LCV has plunged from 100 to 29 percent in a mere five years. What's changed his mind to the point where he's boasting about his vote to block the EPA from addressing carbon pollution? Could it be the steadily increasing amount of donations he's gotten from Big Oil?
Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) has acknowledged that climate change is real and humans are at least partly responsible. Not that he wants to do anything about it. He's consistently voted to block action on regulation emissions and to promote more drilling. It's earned him a 4 percent rating from the LCV.
Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) chairs the House subcommittee on Energy and Power. That's unfortunate. He's used that perch to fight back in the so-called "War on Coal," to attempt to block the EPA from regulating emissions, and to support drilling, drilling and more drilling. He's received more than $1.1 from utilities, oil, gas, mining, and railroads that ship coal.
Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) is the powerful head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee where he's not working for Americans but for his dirty energy donors who have rewarded him with some $2 million over the years. He thinks the EPA's Clean Power Plan is "an unconstitutional power grab" and a "trainwreck."
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is the author of The Greatest Hoax: How The Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. Does anything more need to be said? Well, there's the $1.5 million he's received from dirty energy interests and his lifetime score of 5 percent from the LCV. We're surprised it's that high.
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French winemakers are facing devastating grape loss from the worst frost in decades, preceded by unusually warm temperatures, highlighting the dangers to the sector posed by climate change.
"An important share of the harvest has been lost. It's too early to give a percentage estimate, but in any case it's a tragedy for the winegrowers who have been hit," said Christophe Chateau, director of communications at the Bordeaux Wine Council, told CNN.
Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, has pushed winegrowing seasons earlier, putting crops at higher risk of cold — and wildfires supercharged by climate change also threaten American vignerons and farmworkers as well.
"I think it's good for people to understand that this is nature, climate change is real, and to be conscious of the effort that goes into making wine and the heartbreak that is the loss of a crop," Jeremy Seysses of Domaine Dujac in Burgundy's Côte de Nuits told Wine Enthusiast.
As reported by Wine Enthusiast:
Last week, images of candlelit French vineyards flooded social media. Across the country, winemakers installed bougies, or large wax-filled metal pots, among the vines to prevent cold air from settling in during an especially late frost.
With temperatures in early April as low as 22°F, and following an unseasonably warm March, this year's frost damage may be the worst in history for French winegrowers. Every corner of France reports considerable losses, from Champagne to Provence, and Côtes de Gascogne to Alsace. As a result, there will likely be very little French wine from the 2021 vintage reaching U.S. shores.
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Climate change could make it harder to find a good cup of coffee, new research finds. A changing climate might shrink suitable areas for specialty coffee production without adaptation, making coffee taste blander and impacting the livelihoods of small farms in the Global South.
Published in Scientific Reports on Wednesday, the study focused on regions in Ethiopia, Africa's largest coffee-producing nation. Although studies have previously documented the impact of climate change on coffee production, what's less understood is how varying climates could change the flavors of specialty coffee, the researchers wrote.
The team aimed to fill this gap. Their results provide a glimpse into how future climate change could impact local regions and economies that rely on coffee cultivation, underscoring the value of local adaptation measures.
Researchers analyzed how 19 different climate factors, such as mean temperatures and rainfall levels, would affect the cultivation of five distinct specialty coffee types in the future, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) reported. Although researchers found that areas suitable for growing "average quality coffee" may actually increase over time with climate change, regions where specialty coffee is grown will shrink — a pending problem in light of the global demand for high-quality coffee.
"This is an issue not just for coffee lovers, but for local agricultural value creation," Abel Chemura, the study's lead author, told the PIK.
Coffee profiles rely on specific climate patterns for their unique flavors, levels of acidity and fragrances. But in a warmer climate, the coffee cherry — the fruit picked from a coffee plant — matures faster than the bean inside, making for a lower quality cup of coffee, the PIK reported.
For example, the sought-after Yirgacheffe variety of coffee, which is cultivated in southwestern Ethiopia, could lose more than 40 percent of its suitable growth area by the end of the century, PIK reported. This could impact small farms and threaten Ethiopia's economy, the researchers noted.
"If one or more coffee regions lose their specialty status due to climate change this has potentially grave ramifications for the smallholder farmers in the region," Christoph Gornott, co-author of the study, told the PIK. "If they were forced to switch to growing conventional, less palatable and bitter coffee types, they would all of the sudden compete with industrial production systems elsewhere that are more efficient." In a country where coffee exports account for nearly a third of all agricultural exports, "this could prove fatal," Gornott added.
Climate change impacts on coffee production are not unique to Ethiopia. In Columbia's mountainous coffee-growing regions, temperatures are warming by 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit every decade, according to Yale Environment 360. Extreme levels of precipitation, which are becoming more common, also impact production, as they spread insect and fungal diseases.
"In earlier times, the climate was perfect for coffee," one small farmer in Columbia told Yale Environment 360. "In the period of flowering, there was summer. During harvest, there was winter. But from 2008 onward, this changed and we now don't know when it will be summer, when the coffee will blossom."
But researchers say there are glimmers of hope, emphasizing the importance of local adaptation measures that are designed for particular climates and communities. For example, in regions where temperature is an important factor for specialty coffee cultivation, the researchers suggest improved agroforestry systems that could maintain canopy temperatures, a promising step toward sustaining the "availability and taste of one of the world's most beloved beverages and, more importantly, on economic opportunities in local communities of the Global South," Gornott concluded.
By Suzanne Cords
One day Lizzie, the first-person narrator of the novel, receives an old book as a gift, with a dedication wishing the reader to be among the survivors. Like the preppers who build bunkers and stockpile supplies in remote areas to be ready for the end of the world, Lizzie is convinced that the end of the world is definitely near in times of a threatening climate disaster.
Lizzie, who lives in New York with her husband and son, is a university campus librarian. She worries about almost everything: her brother, an ex-junkie, or her dental insurance and the future in the face of the apocalypse. She is obsessed with reading reference books and articles about climate change.
She also devours words of wisdom, including about Buddhist spirituality: "A visitor once asked the old monks on Mount Athos what they did all day, and was told: We have died and we are in love with everything." But nothing can lift her spirits.
'Lizzie Is Just Like Us'
Lizzie observes rich New Yorkers plan their move to regions that are less threatened by climate change, something she simply cannot afford. Sometimes she watches disaster movies, which lead her to worry even more.
Above all, she is a gifted observer of her fellow human beings. "Young person worry: What if nothing I do matters? Old person worry: What if everything I do, does?"
Lizzie, the U.S. author told DW, is a bit like the rest of us — well aware of the climate crisis, but because she cares and worries about so many other things, that awareness falls by the wayside. That's how she felt herself, Jenny Offill said, but the more she looked into the issue, the more she saw a need for action on her part, too.
"I also was trying to see if there was a way to make it funny, because, you know, so much of the world of prepping and imagining disaster is actually sort of strangely funny."
The novel was shortlisted for the 2020 UK's Women's Prize for Fiction and has now been released in German translation.
Climate Activist With a Vision
But then, there is also this serious, scientifically based concern about what climate change means. In the past, says Offill, artists were the ones who would predict disasters; today it's the experts, as well as the students she teaches. In the end, their fears and their justified anger motivated her to take a closer look at the issue. Today, she is a climate activist herself, and is involved in initiatives along with many other artists.
Lizzie, the heroine of Weather, hasn't gotten that far. But she voices her fears, and that's a start. "Of course, the world continues to end," says Sylvia, a mentor of Lizzie's, at one point — and commences to water her garden. There is hope after all.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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By Jake Johnson
A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt the final blow to former President Donald Trump's attempt to open nearly 130 million acres of territory in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans to oil and gas drilling.
Though the Trump administration appealed the ruling, President Joe Biden revoked his predecessor's 2017 order shortly after taking office, rendering the court case moot. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to dismiss the Trump administration's appeal.
"Because the terms of the challenged Executive Order are no longer in effect, the relevant areas of the [Outer Continental Shelf] in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and Atlantic Ocean will be withdrawn from exploration and development activities," the court said in its order.
Erik Grafe of Earthjustice, which represented a coalition of advocacy groups that challenged Trump's order, said in a statement that "we welcome today's decision and its confirmation of President Obama's legacy of ocean and climate protection."
"As the Biden administration considers its next steps, it should build on these foundations, end fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters, and embrace a clean energy future that does not come at the expense of wildlife and our natural heritage," Grafe continued. "One obvious place for immediate action is America's Arctic, including the Arctic Refuge and the Western Arctic, which the previous administration sought to relegate to oil development in a series of last-minute decisions that violate bedrock environmental laws."
VICTORY: 9th Circuit ends fight over President Trump's illegal attempt to open up 128 million acres of Atlantic & A… https://t.co/TvYVt2F1jO— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice)1618347073.0
In January, Biden ordered a temporary pause on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, a decision environmentalists hailed as a positive step that should be made permanent.
"We call on President Biden to keep his promise: a full and complete ban on fracking and fossil fuel extraction on public lands. Full stop," Food & Water Watch policy director Mitch Jones said at the time. "The climate crisis requires it and he promised it."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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