The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

States file climate-change suit against EPA

Well, this is interesting. Ten states and two cities today filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency seeking enforcement of the Clean Air Act to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions:

The states, led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [quel surprise—ed.], want the government to require tighter pollution controls on the newest generation of power plants.
In July 2005, a three-judge panel in the same court upheld the EPA's decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks under the Clean Air Act. The agency argues the law does not authorize them to regulate emissions to reduce global warming, and maintains there is not enough scientific data to support such a move.

Not enough data? Tell that to Kiribati and Nunavut.

(Found first on Dr. Heidi Cullen's blog at weather.com

Great moments in energy policy

Let's sum up: The administration's energy and foreign policies have helped create a dire shortage of oil and prevented creation of alternatives. Yet, Bush is "probing" rising gas prices. There are only two possible conclusions: either he does not understand the connection, or he is lying about not understanding the connection.

"Energy experts predict gas prices are going to remain high throughout the summer, and that's going to be a continued strain on the American people," Bush said....
Under pressure from GOP leaders, Bush is taking a tough public line with the U.S. oil companies that are recording record profits and paying hefty salaries and retirement packages to executives.

Remember Upton Sinclair's wisdom: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

This story directly connects to two important milestones for today. First, as of 1pm Eastern time today (17:00 UTC), there are no more than 1,000 days left in the Bush administration. Let's start the countdown; it's our own "thousand points of light."

Second, as many people know, today is the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The Russian and Ukrainian governments are still cleaning up from it, yet nucular—sorry, nuclear—energy is starting to look more environmentally friendly than its principal competitors, oil and coal. This suggests that our problem isn't from where we get our energy, but how much we use. What a concept.

Ode to the Little Birdie

I thought of this lovely poem around 5:30 this morning.

I woke early one morning,
The earth lay cool and still
When suddenly a tiny bird
Perched on my window sill,

He sang a song so lovely
So carefree and so gay,
That slowly all my troubles
Began to slip away.

He sang of far off places
Of laughter and of fun,
It seemed his very trilling,
brought up the morning sun.

I stirred beneath the covers
Crept slowly out of bed,
Then gently shut the window
And crushed his fucking head.

Krugman: Exxon-Mobil is "enemy of the planet"

Economist Paul Krugman (sub.req.) in today's New York Times lays out exactly how Exxon-Mobil has tried to undermine climate research since the mid-1980s:

The people and institutions Exxon Mobil supports aren't actually engaged in climate research. They're the real-world equivalents of the Academy of Tobacco Studies in the movie "Thank You for Smoking," whose purpose is to fail to find evidence of harmful effects.
But the fake research works for its sponsors, partly because it gets picked up by right-wing pundits, but mainly because it plays perfectly into the he-said-she-said conventions of "balanced" journalism. A 2003 study, by Maxwell Boykoff and Jules Boykoff, of reporting on global warming in major newspapers found that a majority of reports gave the skeptics—a few dozen people, many if not most receiving direct or indirect financial support from Exxon Mobil—roughly the same amount of attention as the scientific consensus, supported by thousands of independent researchers.

I still haven't forgiven Exxon for the Exxon Valdez disaster (and neither have the sea otters, who are still affected). This is just one more nail.

Congress passes campaign-finance deform; White House can't take the heat

First, the House last night passed a campaign-finance package last night on a strict 218-209 party-line vote:

The House approved campaign finance legislation last night that would benefit Republicans by placing strict caps on contributions to nonprofit committees that spent heavily in the last election while removing limits on political parties' spending coordinated with candidates.
Lifting party spending limits would aid Republican candidates because the GOP has consistently raised far more money than the Democratic Party. Similarly, barring "527" committees from accepting large unregulated contributions known as "soft money" would disadvantage Democrats, whose candidates received a disproportionate share of the $424 million spent by nonprofit committees in 2003-2004.

I have a dream that someday, the House of Representatives will represent me. I have another dream involving Angelina Jolie. Which dream do you suppose is more likely to come true?

In other news, the best administration we have (as Molly Ivins likes to say) is once again muzzling climate scientists who dare say there is a link between human activity and climate change. This seems to be because there is a link between human activity and climate change, a link the administration's policies are reinforcing:

Employees and contractors working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist working at an NOAA lab, said in interviews that over the past year administration officials have chastised them for speaking on policy questions; removed references to global warming from their reports, news releases and conference Web sites; investigated news leaks; and sometimes urged them to stop speaking to the media altogether. Their accounts indicate that the ideological battle over climate-change research, which first came to light at NASA, is being fought in other federal science agencies as well.

Because if no one talks about it, it isn't really happening, even as the Republic of Kiribati disappears beneath the Pacific...

Spring is here

I'm back in Chicago for the weekend, where today it's 20°C (68°F) and sunny. To some readers in other parts of the world (see, for example, this list) that may not sound like anything interesting, but for me it means I seem to have a number of errands to run in the neighborhood...

Better evidence for the consequences of climate change

This week's Science has a special collection of stories about climate change. The evidence is getting better for a 1–3°C (2–6°F) increase in global average temperatures, with concomitant sea-level rises and significant shifts in local climates:

Recent research papers in Science and elsewhere are pointing to a major acceleration in the loss of mass from the world's great ice sheets. That means that the sensitivity of these giant storehouses of water to climate warming may be far greater than expected—with potentially dire sea level implications during the next several centuries.

Since the current administration doesn't believe in evidence, the new findings aren't likely to spur change here in the U.S. Fortunately, we will have a new administration in less than 1,033 days. One hopes Miami will still be dry by then.