Tag: climate change
Joe Biden

House Republicans Denounce Biden's Effort To Cut Carbon Pollution

White House senior adviser for clean energy innovation John Podesta cited recent climate change-fueled disasters on Wednesday in explaining the significance of the clean energy and climate action investments in President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. The Republican National Committee and GOP members of Congress pounced on his statement, framing it as a shocking admission.

Podesta, who is overseeing the clean energy investments funded under the 2022 law, acknowledged at a press briefing that it was “a time of heartbreak as the toll of extreme weather, fueled by climate change, is being felt across the country and the world.” He said:

This summer has brought one climate disaster after another, from extreme heat in Arizona and Texas and across the Southeast, to floods in Vermont and upstate New York, to thick smoke from Canadian wildfires. And all of us have watched in horror as the Maui fires have claimed over 100 lives — the largest loss of life of a fire in the last 100 years in America. … To stop these disasters from getting even worse, we have to cut the carbon pollution that’s driving the climate crisis, and that’s what the Inflation Reduction Act is all about.

Podesta’s warnings are consistent with scientific consensus. NASA said on Monday that July 2023 was the hottest month on Earth since 1880, when global temperature recording began.

The RNC’s research team tweeted a clip of Podesta’s remarks and wrote, “Top Biden advisor John Podesta: ‘We have to cut the carbon pollution that’s driving the climate crisis and that’s what the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ is all about!’”

Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) retweeted that message. Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale wrote: “So the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ was never about reducing inflation. It was always about promoting the Left’s radical climate agenda. This is an insult to the hardworking taxpayers across America!”

“When I said it was the Green New Deal under another name, I wasn’t kidding,” tweeted Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert. “Now they’re saying it too.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s deputy spokesperson Chad Gilmartin wrote, “Translation: Biden’s radical agenda is about to cost American families even more of their hard-earned money.”

While the Inflation Reduction Act is not actually the Green New Deal, a 2019 proposal to address climate change and other issues, it does include significant investments to help consumers lower their energy costs and carbon dioxide emissions.

The Energy Department estimated in August 2022 that by 2030, American families will save an average of $1,000 a year on energy costs due to tax credits and rebates for installing heat pumps, weatherizing homes, and switching to electric vehicles. The law did not raise taxes for anyone earning less than $400,000 annually.

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group dedicated to climate change science, released a “code red for humanity” warning that humans are causing global warming and that immediate action is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert catastrophe.

Republican lawmakers in Congress ignored that report and unanimously opposed the Inflation Reduction Act. Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Lloyd Smucker denounced it as “socialism.”

The law’s investments have already spurred jobs in the clean energy sector in districts represented by House Republicans, but 217 of them voted in April for the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which would have repealed virtually all of those climate and clean energy investments.

On Wednesday, Biden tweeted: “One year ago, I signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law – delivering on the most ambitious climate action in history and lowering costs for hardworking families. We got it done together.”

Tennessee Republican Rep. John Rose tweeted the Biden comment, along with a headline about an August 10 Biden speech in which the president said: “The end result of a lot of these things — and, by the way, the Inflation Reduction Act — I wish I hadn’t called it that, because it has less to do with reducing inflation than it does to do with dealing with providing for alternatives that generate economic growth.”

“It’s been one year since President Biden signed the so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ into law,” Rose wrote. “Now, Democrats are saying the quiet part out loud: it was never meant to reduce inflation! It was just another step closer to socialism.”

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Right-Wing Media Deny Climate Change Despite Extreme Heat Waves

Right-Wing Media Deny Climate Change Despite Extreme Heat Waves

As the climate crisis becomes more evident and destructive, even exceeding climate scientists’ earlier predictions, Fox News and other influential right-wing outlets and figures are downplaying the severity of climate-fueled events and pushing dangerous climate denial.

This summer has been marked by a series of record-breaking extreme weather events, illustrative of the rapidly intensifying effects of global warming. Unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, and floods have wreaked havoc across North America. Meanwhile, global sea surface temperatures have reached alarming levels, and the world just experienced its hottest day on record — four days in a row. These events align with scientists' warnings, but the acceleration of warming and the intensity of this summer’s extreme heat suggest that the climate crisis is unfolding faster than expected.

Last month, when smoke from hundreds of wildfires raging across Canada polluted the air over major population centers in the U.S., Fox News dismissed the link between the fires and climate change; meanwhile conspiracy theories seeking alternative explanations for Canada’s record-breaking wildfire season flourished online. In response to news that Earth had reached its hottest temperatures ever recorded, bad actors attempted to distract from the unsettling milestone by focusing on CNN’s use of the phrase “hottest day ever.” As deadly heat continues to scorch parts of the U.S., Asia, and Europe with no end in sight, and with a 1,000-year flood event having left parts of Vermont and New York state underwater, right-wing media cling to talking points that deny climate science.

By flooding the zone with climate denial right when the climate crisis is most evident, right-wing media run cover for Republican decision-makers who are actively obstructing climate action, ward off accountability for the fossil fuel industry, and pollute information systems for those attempting to understand the link between extreme weather and our dependence on fossil fuels. This tactic, like the extreme heat, has no end in sight.

Right-wing media responded to deadly climate change-fueled heat and flooding with denial and delay

  • Fox Business host Stuart Varney indulged climate change denier Marc Morano and said climate change is “a good debate.” When discussing extreme heat in Phoenix, Arizona, Morano said, “This is not outside the normal bounds of hot summer weather,” and claimed that CNN, The New York Times, and others are “weaponizing hot summer heat waves to turn it into some kind of climate action.” Varney asked Morano whether “that is not the result of CO2 emissions'' and said, “It's a good debate. This is a very good debate.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 7/19/23]
  • Far-right radio host Steven Crowder hosted climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg, who downplayed the climate crisis by arguing that more people die from cold than heat: “We are not talking about a world where most people die from heat. No, most people die from cold. Cold is fantastically more dangerous for a lot of different reasons.” [Rumble, Louder with Crowder, 7/19/23]
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh suggests that the extreme heat is normal for summer: “Well it’s summertime and that means it's hot outside … This is when the media, as it does every year, claims that the hot weather is a sign of our impending planetary doom.” [The Daily Wire, The Matt Walsh Show, 7/18/23]
  • Far-right pundit James Lindsay: “Climate struggle sessions ramping up. They're going to try and fail to make that transition again. The propaganda isn't going to work this time either, though.” [Twitter, 7/18/23]
  • Fox News host Laura Ingraham, in response to an Axios article about extreme weather: “I'm not taking@Axios seriously until they start crusading against coal burning in China — anyone who claims to worry about carbon emissions should start there or button it. Even the ‘best states for climate change’ get hit with extreme weather” [Twitter, 7/18/23]
  • COVID-19 conspiracy theorist Dr. Naomi Wolf: “Oh! Conclusions: this will happen more and more often because climate change so: stay indoors, do remote work, ‘mask’. Back where we were again.” [Twitter, 7/18/23]
  • Right-wing Irish political activist and conspiracy theorist Ben Gilroy: “Today media continue to propagandise weather showing high temperatures in Death Valley USA — yet the park rangers wear jackets and gloves? The elites UN climate scam is really about securing a world government plutocracy, depopulation, and severely cutting your quality of life.” [Twitter, 7/18/23]
  • Fox host Jesse Watters downplayed the extreme heat as simply “summer”: “It's been a hot July. Some call it ‘global warming,’ some call it ‘summer.’ But what's the best way to beat the heat? Ice cream.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 7/17/23]
  • Lindsay mocked conditions in the southern U.S. that were so humid they had the potential to interfere with humans’ ability to sweat, pushing the limits of survivability. [Twitter, 7/17/23]
  • Longtime fossil fuel shill Steve Milloy: “@AP: 'Around the world, millions feel the heat of an unrelenting summer.' Two points: 1. It is summer. It gets hot. 2. There 8 billion in the world. If only 'millions' are experiencing extreme heat, that doesn't sound much like 'climate change.'” [Twitter, 7/17/23]
  • Misogynist influencer and alleged sex trafficker Tristan Tate: “They’re naming heatwaves like they used to name new ‘Covid variants’. Can somebody in the government give me the job of whoever makes the names up? I’ll do it for free. Watch out! The ‘lovely warm summer’ heatwave has just hit Europe.” [Twitter, 7/15/23]
  • COVID-19 conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine influencer Dr. Eli David: “When the weather is a bit warmer than usual: Experts™: IT'S PROOF OF GLOBAL WARMING!!!!! When the weather is colder than usual: Experts™: WEATHER AND CLIMATE ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS YOU MORONS!!!!!” [Twitter, 7/17/23]
  • Newsmax host Chris Salcedo mocked concern over the record heat: “Newsflash folks, it gets hot in the summer.” He continued, “After a few particularly hot days on the Fourth of July weekend, the left — they went into full fearmongering mode.” Salcedo then interviewed Milloy, who warned that climate activists would call for climate lockdowns. [Newsmax, The Chris Salcedo Show, 7/17/23]
  • On The Five, Jesse Watters attacked “the left” for connecting climate change to heat waves across the globe and mocked climate activists: “The left rushing to blame global warming for that dangerous heat wave gripping the nation and the world right now. But I think the heat's getting to their heads. Climate change-obsessed liberals are actually acting crazier than usual, with eco-extremists in Germany literally gluing their hands to airport runways as a way to sound the alarm on how the planet's cooked.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/17/23]
  • Fox host Greg Gutfeld also attempted to downplay the record-breaking heat with bizarre logic: “The problem with using weather — like saying, ‘This place broke records’ — how many states, how many countries didn't break records? Nobody ever provides you the context. They’re going, ‘Three countries had record breaking heat waves.’ It’s like, well, ‘How many countries are there?’” [Fox News, The Five, 7/17/23]
  • On America’s Newsroom, Lomborg suggested that more air conditioning is the way to address extreme heat: “The way to fix this, of course, is to make sure that people get lots of air conditioning and that they can actually afford the energy that they will run their air conditioning on. That’s one. The second one is to remember that, yes, there are many people dying from heat, but many, many more people dying from cold.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 7/17/23]
  • Climate change denier and former University of Alabama professor Matthew Wielicki: “We used to call this summer. Now we call this a climate crisis.” [Twitter, 7/15/23]
  • Milloy: “India's monsoon season is not affected by emissions. Indians have died in monsoon flooding since there have been Indians and monsoons. It is really dishonest and disgusting to surf tragic deaths for climate.” [Twitter, 7/14/23]
  • Right-wing British pundit Brendan O’Neill, who has been praised by anti-renewable energy activist Michael Shellenberger, wrote that “global warming could be good for humankind.” Citing Lomborg, O’Neill wrote that “the truth is that global warming could be good for humankind” because more people die from the cold than heat. “It’s pissing down in Britain,” he continued, “Where’s our global warming? Even the name of the heatwave is designed to conjure up visions of hellfire and torment.” [Spiked, 7/14/23]
  • On Fox News at Night, Carl Demaio, a political operative and conservative radio host, called a California campaign to warn residents about climate-driven extreme heat “wasteful spending” and “fear porn.” [Fox News, Fox News at Night, 7/12/23]
  • Newsmax host Eric Bolling, in response to calls for climate action after flooding in the Northeast, denied that human activity is responsible for warming: “It's raining, so we all must change our behavior. Unprecedented weather events — look flooding’s terrible, loss of property is a disaster, and our hearts go out to those affected. But just imagine, for one moment, the ridiculousness and the pompousness to think that: one, our behavior has any real impact on weather and the Earth, and two, even if that were true — which it’s not — that we could do anything about it without making things worse.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 7/11/23]
  • Fox host Laura Ingraham also mocked the extreme heat and calls to action, suggesting that climate change is a made-up crisis: “It's hot, hot, hot all right. After all, we're in the middle of a season called ‘summer.’” Ingraham later played a clip from a previous show, arguing that “COVID lockdowns set the predicate for more to come.” She said, “Their so-called public health experts were wrong on everything from lockdowns to masks to social distancing. And yet now we see the usual suspects lining up to exploit another hyped crisis: of course, I’m talking about climate change.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/11/23]
  • Right-wing journalist and author Alex Berenson: As climate change hysteria reaches a new level of screeching (1-in-1000 this, world's hottest that), remember that weather-related deaths have PLUNGED since 1970. The wealthier the world becomes, the easier managing climate change will be. And wealth requires energy. Period. [Twitter, 7/10/23]
  • On Jesse Watters Primetime, guest host Pete Hegseth mocked reports of record-breaking heat and blamed media for “hyping climate insanity”: If there is one thing the mindless left loves to magically discover every year, it’s that summer is hot. Hegseth continued, “It was hotter in New York in April. And it’s not even the hottest June we’ve ever had. The data shows that the 80s and 90s … were a lot hotter.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 7/7/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Why Is Elon Musk Empowering Climate Denial On Twitter?

Why Is Elon Musk Empowering Climate Denial On Twitter?

Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter on October 27, climate change disinformation has flourished on the site.

The influx of junk science content is, in part, the result of several changes at Twitter. Last year the site announced it was making a concerted effort to provide users with accurate information about climate change, but under Musk’s leadership, previously banned accounts are being platformed once again, and popular climate change skeptic accounts have enjoyed a marked increase in followers. Meanwhile, Musk’s ubiquitous “free-speech” declarations are emboldening newer climate misinformation superspreaders, and climate scientists, writers, policymakers, and activists are losing the communities they’ve built, as some active users move to alternative sites.

Musk has taken input on Twitter from right-wing figures such as Catturd, who played a significant role in spreading climate change disinformation about the cause of power outrages during the Texas winter storm in 2021 and explicitly pushes climate change denial. Based on the result of a Twitter poll, Musk has reinstated accounts that promote QAnon and other conspiracy theories, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and antisemitism. Some of these, such as Jordan Peterson and David Vance, are also pushing climate change misinformation as an extension of these views.

Climate change skeptics saw a deluge of new followers after Musk took over

Multiple popular accounts that push climate denial that had been banned or had left Twitter have returned. Since his reinstatement on November 18, Peterson has tweeted a plethora of textbook disinformation talking points about climate change and renewable energy. Climate change denial blogger Steven Goddard (who goes by Tony Heller) started tweeting regularly again from his personal account in early November after Twitter banned his main account in December 2021. According to Hoaxy, a website that lets users visualize how a claim spreads on Twitter, Goddard has been partially responsible for spreading the hashtag #climatescam. According to the Climate Action Against Disinformation coalition, the hashtag has experienced a surge since the summer and for unknown reasons, it has often been appearing as the top search result on Twitter when users search “climate.”

Reinstated accounts aren’t the only ones that appear to be benefiting under Musk. Recently, prominent climate change skeptics — some of whom have been identified as “superspreaders” of climate and energy-related delay rhetoric and disinformation — have enjoyed a large boost in followers. Using Social Blade, Media Matters found that the following climate change skeptic accounts experienced significant growth during November compared to the rest of the year:

Steve Milloy
Milloy is a former big tobacco lawyer who transitioned to climate change denial, working for the largest privately owned coal producer in the country. He was a columnist for Fox News and still appears on the channel as a guest. He also runs the climate change denial blog Junkscience.com.

Milloy gained over 7,800 followers in November, over four times his monthly average increase in 2022.

Michael Shellenberger
Shellenberger is an author and wannabe governor of California whose writing on climate change has been heavily criticized by experts, including those he has cited. He also appears on Fox News and regularly bashes renewable energy and climate activists while advocating for natural gas and nuclear energy. Shellenberger has latched onto other culture war issues such as targeting unhoused people and criticizing liberal cities.

Shellenberger gained nearly 17,900 followers in November, about 1,000 more than his average monthly increase in 2022.

John Stossel
Stossel is a former Fox Business host who now hosts a YouTube show with the Koch-funded Reason Foundation that spreads misinformation about climate change and solutions. Stossel is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Facebook over a “missing context” label on two videos, including one in which Michael Shellenberger appeared, inaccurately dismissing the significant role of climate change in the devastating 2020 California wildfires.

Stossel gained 31,000 followers in November, almost 18 times his monthly average increase for 2022.

Bjorn Lomborg
Lomborg is a Danish political scientist and author who downplays the threat of a warming climate. He regularly appears on Fox News and writes op-eds for The Wall Street Journal. Lomborg’s writing and commentary have been criticized due to errors and misrepresentation. Within the past year, both Lomborg and Shellenberger have appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience.

Lomberg gained over 20,700 followers in November, more than five times his monthly average increase in 2022.

Newly created accounts are flocking to climate change skeptics

Media Matters also found that a high number of users who recently followed these accounts also created their Twitter profiles within the last two months. The following percentage of the deniers’ followers created their profiles in October or November:

  • Steve Milloy: 17%
  • Michael Shellenberger: 30%
  • John Stossel: 33%
  • Bjorn Lomborg: 18%

Emboldened by faux free-speech rhetoric, new misinformers emerge

Newer voices have quickly gained a following with the support of more seasoned contrarians. Matthew Wielicki, a professor at the University of Alabama in the Department of Geological Studies, describes himself as a “skeptic on climate alarmism” and uses cherry-picked talking points and parrots arguments from other larger accounts on Twitter and TikTok to claim that “there is no climate emergency or climate crisis.” Wielicki has been a top source of the #climatescam hashtag and his content has been promoted by active climate change deniers such as Tom Nelson and Peterson. Wielicki claims to have gained about 13,000 followers over one week at the end of November, though his screenshots seem to indicate that this increase happened over at least two weeks. Still, that's a significant jump. Wielicki went from having a little over 1,000 followers to his current 14,600 in just a month. Social Blade data confirms that he gained at least 11,700 followers in November.

In the wake of journalist Matt Taibbi’s underwhelming “Twitter files” post, which revealed internal discussion on the platform about whether to remove posts related to Hunter Biden, Wielicki is imploring Elon Musk to “provide information about [the] suppression of skeptical views regarding anthropogenic climate change on Twitter and the institutions and government officials involved.”

Climate experts are taking a hit on Twitter

Renowned climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe has been writing about the changes she is observing on her account, saying that she has noticed a drop in mentions, followers, profile visits, and post impressions. “My list of 'scientists who do climate' has shrunk by 2% & my followers by about the same. So the most likely conclusion, at least for me, is that most of the decrease is due to people closing their accounts,” she wrote on December 1. Climate researcher Zach Labe and marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson made similar observations.

Climate advocates aren’t just seeing their follower counts drop; they also are seeing a vibrant online community atrophy. Paleontologist and climate scientist Jacquelyne Gill pointed out: “A lot of folks I know have left. Especially academics (not so many journalists yet).” Some are joining other spaces like Project Mushroom, a climate justice-oriented Mastodon community launched in November by meteorologist and climate journalist Eric Holthaus. Yet like many newer platforms, Mastodon, the open-source, decentralized Twitter alternative, has a steep learning curve.

With experts saying they fear productive conversation is all but lost on Twitter, it’s unclear how climate change deniers will manage to engage in the type of “civil scientific debate” they claim to want (even though they often get upset when people disagree with them). Climate activist and writer Leah Thomas wrote of Twitter’s deterioration: “I came here for cultural dialogue, following journalists to stay up to date with climate + social justice news and because in many ways it was a tool for movement building. So sad.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Flip-Flopping Phony: Now J.D. Vance Says There's No Climate Crisis

Flip-Flopping Phony: Now J.D. Vance Says There's No Climate Crisis

In 2020, Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance said, 'We of course have a climate problem in our society.' Now he says there isn't one.

Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance has spent the past several weeks attacking clean energy infrastructure investments and lying about whether climate change is a problem. But a just-announced $4.4 billion electric vehicle battery facility in Ohio and his own previous comments undermine his latest claims.

Vance, a millionaire venture capitalist and author with a history of flip-flopping on political issues, has repeatedly criticized his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan, for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act last month. That law will make $369 billion available for energy and climate change infrastructure, make health care and prescription drugs more affordable for millions of Americans, and reduce the federal budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

In an interview on the right-wing "Clay Travis & Buck Sexton" radio talk show on July 28, Vance dismissed both climate science and electric vehicles.

After Sexton said that he did not believe there really is any climate crisis, Vance concurred:

No, I don't think there is, either. And even if there was a climate crisis, I don't know how the way to solve it is to buy more Chinese-manufactured electric vehicles. The whole EV thing is a scam, right? So set to the side these questions about, you know, how much carbon drives the climate change situation. Look, I'm with you on this. I do not wake up in the morning thinking, [We've got] a climate crisis we need to destroy the economy to deal with.

"I gotta say, Stu, this Inflation Reduction Act, which is a ridiculous name for this thing, what it basically does is subsidize rich people to buy electric vehicles at the expense of the Ohio automotive industry. It's gonna put a lot of Ohioans out of work," Vance told Fox Business' Stuart Varney on August 8, calling the Inflation Reduction Act "a joke of an economic program."

"Tim Ryan's green new deal is little more than a handout to Chinese companies at the expense of Ohio workers," he tweeted on August 12. "It's dumb, does nothing for the environment, and will make us all poorer. I wish he'd stick to renaming post offices."

In another tweet that day, he mocked Ryan's vote for the package's electric vehicle tax credits — as well as his attire — writing, "Hey guys I just gave a bunch of rich people tax credits to buy EVs but I have these awesome pink shorts."

A Vance spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

But it appears that Ohio workers will actually benefit from the Democratic majority's clean energy investments: The Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included billions of dollars to support electric vehicle-related manufacturing in the United States, are helping to spur new jobs in the state.

On Monday, electronics giant LG and car manufacturer Honda announced plans to build a $4.4 billion electric vehicle battery production facility in Ohio. Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and production to commence by 2025.

"Making stuff in America once again. You absolutely love to see it," cheered Ryan in a tweet.

Back in February 2020, Vance acknowledged that climate change is real, dangerous, and caused by humans.

In a speech at a conference hosted by the Center for Ethics and Human Values at The Ohio State University, Vance lamented that technological progress on many fronts has slowed in recent years. "Think about energy," he said:

We of course have a climate problem in our society, one largely caused now by unrestrained emissions in China. Part of the reason we have that problem is because we're not generating energy much cleaner than we used to 30 or 40 years ago. In fact, the biggest improvement in emissions is solar energy, which can provide a substantial amount of our power, but can't provide anything like 50% of our power. Definitely not 100% of our power, and through, sort of, our increasing reliance on natural gas, which of course is an improvement over dirtier forms of power but isn't exactly the sort of thing that's gonna take us to a clean energy future.

Vance has also flip-flopped on his position on the viability of coal as a source of fuel.

At DePaul University's Chicago Ideas festival in October 2019, he observed:

I think that the idea that we're gonna bring back hundreds of thousands of coal jobs in Appalachia is probably, almost certainly, in fact, not true, that the big reason that coal has become so much less of a significant employer, or the two reasons are, one, you can produce a lot more coal with a lot fewer people because mechanization has been very successful in increasing productivity in the coal industry, and also, coal is just not as economically viable of a fuel source, as an energy source in the era of natural gas and all the renewables that you just talked about.

But on July 29 of this year, Vance tweeted, "All of this 'bring American manufacturing back' from the Democrats is fake unless we stop the green energy fantasy. Solar panels can't power a modern manufacturing economy. That's why the Chinese are building coal power plants, something Tim Ryan's donors won't let America do."

Recent polls have shown the race between Vance and Ryan for the open seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman to be a toss-up.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.