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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: climate change

Renewables Best Coal As America's Second Largest Energy Source

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that renewables generated 21 percent of all electricity in the country for 2020. Renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind accounted for 834 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of the nation’s power last year. That falls just behind natural gas, which generated 1,617 billion kWh or 40% of all energy in the U.S. The news comes from a report released in July that the EIA shared again last week as the year winds down and we look towards 2022. The agency believes that coal-fired electricity use likely rose this year due to rising natural gas prices, increasing about 18 percent compared with 2020. This will likely push coal to be the second-most used energy source in 2021.

It’s highly unlikely that the trend of coal surpassing renewables will continue into 2022. For one, coal-fired electricity has been on the downturn since 2007 when it peaked at 2,016 billion kWh and was the largest source of energy until 2016, most likely because natural gas has replaced much of coal’s capacity. According to another EIA report, dozens of coal-fired plants have been replaced or converted to natural gas since 2011. Some of those decisions made by power companies are in order to comply with emissions regulations, like the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which was unveiled in 2011.

In the following years until 2019, Alabama Power Co. converted 10 of its generators at four Alabama coal plants to comply with the standard, which took effect in 2016.As for renewables, the EIA believes their power generation will rise 7% this year and another 10% next year. The agency also forecast that 2022 will be another year in which renewables are the second-most-used energy source, making 2020 not an anomaly, but a possible sign of trends to come. It’s anyone’s guess what 2022 will hold in terms of emissions, primarily because it’s unclear how deeply the pandemic will continue to affect the power industry.

Graph Shows Alterative Energy Beating Coal in 2021

A report released on December 22 by the EIA shows that 2020 saw a substantial decrease in carbon dioxide emissions due in part to a warmer winter season and factors exacerbated by the pandemic, including more people working from home and traveling less, plus industry slowdowns resulting in lower commercial building activity. One of the long-term factors cited by the EIA was a trend in declining natural gas production. This resulted in a decrease in emissions of 11 percent in 2020, or 570 million metric tons compared to 2019. Such declines in emissions haven’t been seen since 1983, shortly after an amended Clean Air Act was implemented requiring cars built in 1981 and beyond to comply with lower emissions standards. More stringent emissions goals, such as the Biden administration’s push for 50 percent of new vehicles to be electric by 2030, could see a similar reduction that puts the U.S. one step closer to reaching its goal of net-zero by 2050.

Stupid Things Right-Wing Media Said About Climate Change In 2021

1. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro doesn’t think that 4 degrees Celsius of warming is an emergency

On the April 14 edition of The Daily Wire’s The Ben Shapiro Show, host Ben Shapiro stated that “I do not consider it a quote-unquote ‘emergency’ if the climate were to warm 4 degrees Celsius over the course of the next century. … It’s just a way for them to create a certain level of alarmism that is unjustifiable by the facts on the ground."

It’s a good thing that Shapiro, whose publication is backed by fracking billionaires, has no authority or credibility within the climate science community: 4 C of warming would be literally catastrophic for large swaths of the globe. As The Guardian reported in 2019, at 4 C of climate change, we’d have sea levels that would be around 2 meters higher than today (which would render many coastal areas obsolete), destruction of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, oceanic dead zones, temperatures in the equatorial belt so high that would make for impossible living conditions for most of the year, and the beginning of a potential mass extinction for many species. This is not the first time that Shapiro has said something ignorant about the climate crisis; he once theorized that people affected by rising sea levels could just sell their inundated homes and move.

2. Fox’s Dagen McDowell thinks that cold temperatures in certain parts of the U.S. entirely disprove global warming

Fox News personalities regularly conflate climate with weather, and they generally do it to dismiss global warming. On the April 21 edition of The Five, co-host Dagen McDowell mockingly suggested that “they stopped calling it global warming” because of abnormally cold U.S. temperatures.

In reality, our warming climate has not eradicated cold weather, and in some cases, it has even made cold weather more severe and unpredictable. Nor have abnormally cold temperatures caused a dent in the Earth’s alarming warming trend, in which the past decade was the warmest on record.

3. Ex-coal lobbyist Steve Milloy lies about warming temperatures on One America News: “The June 2021 temperature was actually below the 40-year average”

On the August 2 edition of OAN’s The Tipping Point, former coal lobbyist and Fox News contributor Steve Milloy stated: “The June 2021 temperature was actually below the 40-year average. … There’s just so much bad information going on around, and you know, you’ve just got to be careful with climate alarmists.”

In reality, the U.S. suffered through its hottest June on record, while it was the fifth-warmest June on record globally (followed by the hottest July ever recorded in earth’s history). Milloy is a longstanding figure in the climate denial community, and viewers have really “got to be careful” with his objectively false information.

4. Fox's Laura Ingraham suggests that climate change is really “about controlling the people” and fearmongers that climate action will lead to pandemic-style lockdowns

On both the May 18 and 19 editions of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham theorized that Democrats will use climate change to control Americans’ lives through pandemic-style lockdowns.

This is a dangerous conspiracy theory being pushed by prominent climate deniers that has taken hold among far-right media figures. To be clear, the way to fight climate change is not via lockdowns (COVID-19 lockdowns “only marginally reduced greenhouse gas emissions”), but by bringing about systemic change in our energy system and reimagining our economy and the way we live.

5. Newsmax’s Chris Salcedo doesn’t believe in “proof” that CO2 emissions are contributing to climate change

There were multiple times this year when Newsmax host Chris Salcedo went on a perplexing rant claiming there’s somehow no proof that rising CO2 emissions affect temperatures in any meaningful way. On the August 18 edition of The Chris Salcedo Show, Salcedo called global warming a “religion” that “has not been proven through science” before going on to say, “There's no mathematical proof out there that states that X amount of man-made CO2 yields Y amount of temperature change.”

Then on the December 14 edition of his show, Salcedo stated: “From experts I have read and interviewed over the years, I can say that there is no proof that man's C02 emissions are destroying the planet.” Salcedo must be interviewing some pretty fringe climate deniers as “experts,” as there is effectively unanimous scientific consensus that “humans are changing Earth's climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions.”

6. Fox’s Tucker Carlson rants that climate change is somehow a conspiracy to shrink your children

While Tucker Carlson is no stranger to promoting weird conspiracy theories about climate change, one of his segments from June went completely overboard. On the June 22 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the Fox prime-time host accused climate scientists of wanting to use “human engineering” to “make human children smaller than they are now” and thereby reduce their lifetime greenhouse gas emissions: “All we need to do is experiment on human children and we can solve climate change.”

Tucker Human Engineering

Carlson’s claim was based on a speech given by a bioethicist nearly five years ago. As Gizmodo reported, “The ideas are bad, but they’re utterly fringe. Activists are clamoring for transforming society, not individual humans. You’d never know that from watching the segment, though.” But taking a fringe remark out of context and repurposing it to claim that the government will take over our lives seems pretty on-brand for Fox News.

7. Dennis Prager thinks the simple solution to a warming climate is to just use more air conditioning

Conservative commentator Dennis Prager, who leads a nonprofit online “university” that promotes climate denial, among other conservative talking points, offered his own absurd “solution” to climate change during a talk on September 22: “Did you know that there is a solution to a warm climate? It's called air conditioning. It's very effective.”

Prager’s comments follow a concerning new form of climate denial in right-wing media: acknowledging the climate is changing but claiming there’s nothing we can do to prevent it -- we must learn to live with it instead. In Prager’s case, he suggests that well-off people can just adapt to the warming climate by using air conditioning when it gets hot (which would only increase emissions even further), while those without access to air conditioning will suffer.

8. On Fox News’ The Five, Greg Gutfeld claims that the data to prove climate change is “never there”

On the September 2 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld criticized those who connect climate change to extreme weather events -- specifically to the destructive Hurricane Ida. He stated that the data is “never there,” and that “the severity” of such storms “has been on the decline

For one, science has shown that climate change is affecting hurricanes in a number of ways as storms are dumping more rain, moving slower, and rapidly intensifying -- all hallmarks of Hurricane Ida. Secondly, the data is indeed “there,” as climate models have been correct over the past 50 years. Additionally, Gutfeld talks about “severity” only in terms of decreasing deaths from natural disasters. However, focusing on this statistic obscures the many other reasons that climate change is a serious and deadly threat. As one scientist puts it, “climate change kills, from poor nutrition status and poor health linked to episodes of drought and harvest failures, the spread of infectious diseases, … increasing violent conflict, … and of course the impact of extreme events like tropical cyclones and flash floods.”

9. On Newsmax, Republican commentator Ford O’Connell claims that “climate change is the ultimate Trojan horse for socialism” before stating that the Earth “may or not be warming”

Newsmax had a wild year of promoting climate denial, and right-wing pundit Ford O’Connell’s claim that the Earth “may or may not be warming” on the October 25 edition of American Agenda

Citation From the October 25, 2021, edition of Newsmax's American Agenda

The context behind this segment is noteworthy -- Newsmax was attacking its much larger rival Fox News for “going woke” and “making a permanent hard-left turn” by suggesting that the newly launched Fox Weather streaming service is taking climate change too seriously. In actuality, Fox Weather is just ignoring the issue altogether, but it’s funny to see Newsmax melt down over the fact that Fox is apparently not right-wing enough.

10. On Fox Business, Patricia Lee Onwuka of the Independent Women’s Forum claims that climate change is a “fallacy”

Discussing President Biden’s response to Hurricane Ida on the September 3 edition of Fox Business' Mornings With Maria, right-wing commentator Patricia Lee Onwuka suggested that climate change is a “fallacy” that Biden is using to advance his agenda; she also said that “the facts dispute” the idea that extreme weather events like hurricanes are connected to climate chan

Article reprinted with permission from Media Matters

US Welcomes Incoming German Government Led By Social Democrat Scholz

The United States said it looks forward to working with Germany's incoming government after a centre-left coalition clinched a deal. Olaf Scholz from the Social Democrats (SPD), who is expected to become Germany's next chancellor, presented the coalition deal between his party and their Green and Free Democrat (FDP) partners on Wednesday as a bold new agenda for action against climate change. Its agreed program includes a much more rapid transition to clean energy throughout German industry and transport.

"We look forward to working with Germany's new government on our goals of revitalizing the Transatlantic partnership, increasing cooperation with our NATO Allies, and raising the level of ambition of our relationship with the EU," a US State Department spokes...

New Poll Shows Strong Support For Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ Plan

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Likely voters in 12 key states strongly back President Joe Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" investment plan, according to a new survey from left-leaning polling outfit Data for Progress. The new survey finds majority support for each of its top provisions, even in states whose GOP senators oppose the agenda.

Data for Progress released polling on Tuesday showing that voters in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin support Biden's Build Back Better plan by at least a 15-point margin.

The data showed support for increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations, expanded caregiving infrastructure, investment to curb climate change, and a pathway to citizenship for children brought to the United States illegally as children and other undocumented immigrants working in the country.

Voters in five of the states, all of which could play an important role in upcoming national elections, are represented by at least one Republican senator who has publicly attacked the legislation and voted against the budget resolution that will potentially allow the Senate to pass it by a simple majority. But their attacks do not appear to have swayed constituents.

"Montana families & business owners are feeling the pain of #Bidenflation as prices skyrocket from groceries & gas to cars & housing," Montana Sen. Steve Daines tweeted on Friday. "Yet Democrats are still planning another massive tax & spending spree that will only make things worse. It's reckless."

But Montana's likely voters back the $3.5 trillion plan 56 percent - 41 percent. They support its investments in long-term care (77 percent - 19 percent), expanded Medicare coverage (75 percent - 22 percent), tax cuts for families (60 percent -34 percent), child care (59 percent- 36 percent), universal pre-K (57 percent - 39 percent), paid leave (55 percent -22 percent), and clean energy (51 percent -45 percent).

They also back increasing taxes on wealthy Americans (64 percent - 34 percent) and corporations (57 percent - 42 percent) and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants (62 % - 35 percent).

Support for the plan was even higher in the other 11 states surveyed.

West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito tweeted, "The Democrats' reckless tax and spending spree will ultimately be paid for by the middle-class Americans they pretend to be protecting."

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey decried it as "massively excess spending" that would combine with inflation in "a recipe for serious problems."

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina tweeted, "President Biden and Democrats are pushing a $3.5 trillion tax and spending spree that provides amnesty to millions while doing nothing to secure our border. Hard to imagine it getting even worse at the border, but their policies will encourage more illegal immigration."

And Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin tweeted, "The Democrats proposed $5.5 TRILLION tax & spending spree is reckless. You tax success, you're going to get less of it. We can't tax our way out of this. When will we get serious about controlling out-of-control spending?"

The legislation condemned by the GOP lawmakers is also highly popular among constituents of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Democrats who have expressed some concern about the plan's price tag.

In addition to the immigration reform provisions, the Build Back Better package would incorporate elements of Biden's American Families Plan such as free community college, free preschool, expanded child tax credits, and paid leave, as well as clean energy and climate provisions from his American Jobs Plan. It would keep Biden's promise to raise taxes only on businesses and those earning more than $400,000 a year.

The recent polling results are consistent with those of earlier surveys that have shown public support for the investments and funding.

Still, every single Republican in Congress has opposed the plan.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Far-Right Disinformation Outfit 'Project Veritas' Sunk By Hurricane Ida

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The destructive flooding of Hurricane Ida as it hit the mainland U.S. has stretched from the Mississippi all the way up the Northeast of our country. The realities of our country's archaic infrastructure has even led to some GOP officials voicing their support for President Biden's infrastructure bill, which they've generally tried to neuter and delay for political gain. The costs in human misery and economic instability of doing nothing about climate change are far higher than the money we should be spending to upgrade our country's vast infrastructure needs.

Bad policy and unproductive political theater will not offer you immunity for defying science and forces like weather. Bad policy decisions concerning climate change and infrastructure hurt everyone. The Daily Beast reports that dirtbag conservative operator James O'Keefe and his Project Veritas crew lost their Mamaroneck, New York, home base to Ida's floods. Peas and carrots or thoughts and prayers, whichever one means less.

O'Keefe is probably best known for breaking the law and getting awards from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' terrible wife inside of a swampy Trump Hotel lobby for his work hiring women to create false sexual assault allegations in the hopes of discrediting real sexual assault allegations. Read that last part over to yourself again and then think about the kind of terrible hole in one's soul you have to have to be involved in that.

In a video posted to the right-wing disinformation group's YouTube channel, O'Keefe unironically says that Project Veritas' next "story" might be delayed as he works on rebuilding the organizations' infrastructure. In the video, O'Keefe calls himself and his "organization" the "most resilient organization anywhere," and then blathers on with a trite reference to the phoenix rising from the ashes. He finishes by misquoting a poem by Rudyard Kipling in sort of a perfect encapsulation of the conservative movement in our country: conjuring up an old famous imperialist, racist, and anti-Semite and then lacking the intelligence and thoroughness to even properly repeat his least offensive poetry.

Guess he'll be asking for some more of that socialist taxpayer money he and his buddies rail so hard against but love to have in the bank for a rainy day.

Republican Legislators Silent On New ‘Code Red’ UN Climate Report

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A new report on Monday from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group dedicated to climate science, warns that drastic and immediate effort is needed to slow climate change. Congressional Republicans are simply ignoring it.

A review of social media posts by House and Senate Republicans on Monday found zero mentions of the report or its findings. Only two lawmakers even mentioned the climate, mocking efforts to protect it.

The Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis report, the sixth assessment by the international body, relied on more than 14,000 studies. It reached the "unequivocal" conclusion that humans are inducing global warming and that it can "have profound consequences for the world's social, economic, and natural systems."

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged immediate action to limit warming in the face of a "code red for humanity."

"If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe," he predicted. "But, as today's report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses."

Several Democratic lawmakers seized on the report to urge the U.S. to take immediate action.

"Today's new @IPCC_CH report makes clear that acting on climate can't wait," tweeted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "Democrats promised bold climate action—and we're making it a vital part of infrastructure legislation."

"Climate action is coming, because it must," agreed Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz.

"Today's IPCC report on climate change is an urgent call to action. We must take climate action now," wrote New Mexico Rep. Melanie Stansbury, adding that in her state, "we already know this urgency—it's time to act!"

Much of New Mexico is facing a dense layer of smoke from the massive wildfires currently burning in California — which experts say are being fueled by climate change.

But congressional Republicans — most of whom deny the science that humans are causing climate change — said nothing.

The lone GOP mentions of the climate on Monday came from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson. Both mentioned it in the context of opposing Democratic proposals to address the environment.

Hinson bashed "out of control spending by the far-left" that would fund "a civilian climate corps."

Greene warned that Democratic proposals to promote electric vehicles are really just a scheme to "enslave America to China."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Murdoch Son Funded Liberal Groups During 2020 Campaign

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

James Murdoch, son of billionaire media mogul and right-wing supporter Rupert Murdoch, quietly put approximately $100 million into his non-profit organization, Quadrivium, and used the funds to invest in a number of left-wing political groups prior to the 2020 election.

According to CNBC, a 2019 tax document offers a breakdown of how the funds were spent after the $100 million was donated to the foundation. The publication reports that Murdoch's organization committed to donating funds to a number of groups advocating for progress on climate change initiatives.

"Over $38 million, including $14 million in Quadrivium donations and $24 million in individual contributions from the couple, went toward election organizations, including those dedicated to protecting voting rights," the publication wrote, adding that the couple also "donated over $20 million to Biden's campaign, groups supporting him and opposing Trump, and organizations dedicated to disrupting online threats and extremism."

In the time leading up to the Georgia Senate runoff, James and Kathryn Murdoch also donated to "groups dedicated to getting out the vote during the Georgia Senate runoff elections in January," a race which both Democratic candidates won. As of 2019, Quadrivium reportedly had nearly $100 million in assets.


"The $100 million contribution to the foundation came in the form of Disney stock, and it was made the same day that the Fox-Disney deal was completed. James Murdoch made a reported $2.1 billion from the transaction."

The latest report about Murdoch's contributions come shortly after he verbalized his support for voting rights. As Murdoch's father and brother run their right-wing empire, James Murdoch has joined hundreds of other corporations and CEOs who publicly opposed "any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

The spokesperson for James and Kathryn Murdoch declined requests for comment on the matter.

Progressive Democrats Set Conditions For Infrastructure ‘Compromise’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Democratic leaders are reportedly mulling accepting a bipartisan compromise infrastructure plan as long as the Democratic senators working with Republicans on the plan agree to another massive investment package later that would include the care giving and climate infrastructure investments.

According to Politico, they are open to passing a compromise bill with $579 billion in new investment in transportation, broadband, and water system infrastructure being shopped by a group of five Democrats and five Republicans. But they would only do so if they got assurances from those Democrats that they will later support passing more spending through the budget reconciliation process, which would not require any GOP support.

On CNN on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed a similar sentiment: "We must build back better. So if this is something that can be agreed upon, I don't know how we can possibly sell it to our caucus unless we know there is more to come."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week, "We all know as a caucus, we will not be able to do all the things that the country needs in a totally bipartisan way. But we're not going to sacrifice the bigness and boldness in this bill. We will just pursue two paths and at some point they will join."

President Joe Biden initially proposed a $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan that would invest in transportation, water systems, broadband, climate change, clean energy, child care, and caregiving infrastructure. He also asked Congress to pass a $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would provide free community college and expand access to affordable child and health care.

Republicans have objected to both plans, calling them "socialism," not really infrastructure, and too expensive. They also unanimously opposed his proposals to pay for the investment by keeping his campaign promises to raise taxes on corporations and those making $400,000 and up.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of the 10 senators pushing the compromise package, said Sunday that the bipartisan infrastructure plan would contain no tax increases and would be funded mostly by repurposing unspent pandemic relief funds and charging new fees to drivers of electric cars.

Two of the most conservative members of the Senate Democratic caucus are also part of the bipartisan group: Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Both have refused the go-it-alone Democratic strategy in the narrowly divided chamber, pushing to work with Republicans.

Several other Democrats have spoken out against accepting a plan like theirs that does not include investment to address climate change.

"No climate, no deal," warned Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey on June 9.

With "nothing on climate change," said Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden the next day, the package would be "a complete nonstarter."

But if the conservative Democrats promised to support a subsequent bill that included vital investments that were excluded from the infrastructure package, those concerns could be assuaged.

"There would have to be clarity that we're getting the second package. Manchin and Sinema are going to have to give assurances to [Senate Budget Committee Chair] Bernie [Sanders]," an unnamed Democratic source told Politico.

For that to happen, however, at least 10 Republicans would have to agree to the infrastructure proposal. So far, only Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA), Collins, Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), and Mitt Romney (UT) have endorsed it.

If that does not come about, the Democrats could pass the entire plan without a single GOP vote using the Senate's budget reconciliation rules if all of them were to vote in favor.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.