Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Cranky Uncle vs Climate Change: a tool to fight disinformation

by a siegel Thu Mar 5th, 2020 at 05:25:55 PM EST

In the United States, since November 2016, election after election has made clear that Democratic voters will crawl over broken glass to get to the polls to defeat Trump and #Cult45-enabling Republicans. Massive turnout and voters waiting up to seven hours to vote in many Super Tuesday primary states is the latest tangible sign of that.

One of the reasons for this is that Donald Trump is the epitome, a real-life version of the stereotype of the rather lunatic, self-centered, loud, and arrogantly ignorant Cranky Uncle to be put in a corner by himself at family events in hopes that his rantings and rudeness don't blow the event.

George Mason University's Center for Climate Communication research Assistant Professor John Cook has just published a book that should be useful in putting that Cranky Uncle into the corner -- at least when it comes to the issue of climate science denialism (which is one of the (perhaps too numerous to mention) spaces of Trump's worst Cranky Uncle ravings).

Now, for some quick background ...

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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Mitt Romney embraces "Fock the Earth Day"

by a siegel Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 10:20:41 AM EST

Not to be undone by Barack Obama's underwhelming Earth Day proclamation, Mitt Romney celebrated "Fock the Earth Day" with a major speech about the importance of regulations on fossil fuel production ... that is, the importance of eviscerating them so as to please his fossil foolish contributors.

"Holding off on drilling in the Gulf, holding off on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, holding off on drilling in Alaska, trying to impose the federal government into `fracking' regulations with regards to natural gas. Then, of course, all the regulations related to coal, making it harder to mine it, making it harder to use it."

In an effort to make the GeorgeGrand Oil Party W Bush Administration look to be rabid environmentalists (after all, President Bush did speak about Global Warming and did discuss the need to address America's "oil addiction), Mitt Romney has wrapped himself in the Grand Oil Party's fossil foolish mania.

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Connecting dots

by a siegel Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:24:07 PM EST

While the 111010_4541_08 / climate changeCherry Blossoms peaked in Washington, DC, well before the Cherry Blossom festival peaked (and maple syrup production plummeted) while Texas experienced four-foot high 'drifts' of hail, while Alaska had near record snowfall while the lower 48 states broke 15,000 temperature records in March, 2012, with temperatures over 8 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than normal, while Republican presidential candidates ridiculed the concept of climate change (and a marginal group of NASA retirees and employees make noise with a deceitful letter) while the scientific consensus about climate science strengthened with ever-stronger evidentary basis, while ... Are you 'connecting the dots'?

powerful video here (Can someone remind me how to embed videos here ... I can't recall coding requirements.)

On 5 May, 100,000s of people around the world will gather in events to help us (all of us) connect the dots in the complex interactions between our ways of life (whether direct fossil fuel use, consumption patterns, land-use, and otherwise) and the myriads of threats to the very viability of a civilized society that come from this: mounting climate chaos (that hail in Texas and blistering heat in maple syrup areas ...), ocean acidification, rising seas, disrupted habitats and ecosystems, and ... Sadly, as almost everyone reading this already knows, that list can go on and on and on and on and ...

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Zakaria error tweets its way around the world

by a siegel Sun Mar 18th, 2012 at 12:48:58 PM EST

Fareed Zaharia was on with Anderson Cooper in what is an informative and interesting interview which CNN has entitled: Zakaria: Republicans are pandering on gas prices.  Zakaria lays out numerous ways in which Newt Gingrich's "$2.50 gallon of gas" and Republican attacks on President Obama re gas prices are at odds with reality.  (Although, Zakaria doesn't take the next step and address the Republican Agenda to Raise Prices At The Pump.)   Zakaria made a major error ... not in the interview but in his promotion of it.

Zakaria tweeted:

For the first time, the US is exporting rather than importing oil and it has made no difference to our gas prices.

The problem:  this tweet has multiple errors:

  1. The reality is, as of late last year, the United States is exporting more refined oil product (read diesel and gasoline, mainly) than it imports -- not crude oil.
    1. The United States is still importing close to 50 percent of its crude oil demand.
    2. As of 9 March 2012, the United States is a net importer of 8.7 million barrels per day (mbpd) even as it is a net exporter of 1.4 mbpd of refined product  according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
  2. For neither refined product nor for overall crude oil is it true that this is "for the first time".  While it was decades ago, the United States was long a net exporter of both crude oil and refined product.
  3. And, a plausible case exists that the export of refined product contributes to higher US prices. (Note: this is not an argument that I see as especially relevant other than the fact that going ahead with Keystone XL pipeline WILL increase gas prices for many states significantly and thus increase overall average US prices at the pump.)

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DC's Cherry Blossoms as (yet another) Global Warming canary ...

by a siegel Thu Mar 15th, 2012 at 11:21:01 AM EST

Cherry Blossoms at Tidal BasinAmid all the screaming signs about Global Warming's increasingly serious impact on the world around us and on human civilizations future prospects, the 'luxury' symbolic canaries in the coal mine always create mixed emotions.  Global Warming's threat to  skiing (and declining viable Winter Olympics locations), and to wine making and bourbon and beer and chocolate  and  maple syrup and ... production, etc ... Yes, these are tangible examples of how global warming impacts the world around us and impacts us.  On the other hand, compared to increasing natural disasters, devastating storms and droughts threatening vulnerable populations and disruptions to global agricultural production systems, Pancake with Maple Syrup, Panciousthese are "luxury" items that (in and of themselves) whose disruption does do not represent a fundamental threat to human civilization (no matter how important the maple syrup for your pancakes or that bourbon for warming up after a day on the slopes).  Yet, as we all know in our Madison Avenue dominated world, symbols matter and cherished symbols even more so.

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Debunk me! "Lean, mean and easy to read ..."

by a siegel Thu Dec 8th, 2011 at 07:48:15 AM EST

Human society being what it is, we live in a world filled with myths.

By doing that list, I just broke the cardinal law of debunking myths:  Don't lead with and (certainly) don't bold the myth because, as per The Familiarity Backfire Effect, this just reinforces the myth.  When done wrong, "debunking reinforces the myths. ... emphasis of debunking should be on the facts not the myth. You goal is to increase people's familiarity with the facts."

Recently put out (and free to download), written by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky, is the Debunking Handbook (or here).  As the authors explain

Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, there's no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of myths. The Debunking Handbook boils the research down into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation.

Long concerned about the challenges of dealing with uprooted people's false concepts to help foster more reality-based understanding to enable better decision-making (at all levels), I have to say that Cook and Lewandowsky have done a great job of clearly and succinctly outlining the challenge(s) and providing actionable paths forward to deal with them.  As Brad Johnson put it, the handbook is
a must-read summary of the scientific literature on how to extract pernicious myths from people's minds and restore fact-based knowledge. ... Although the examples used come primarily from the world of climate science, the tools in the Debunking Handbook are key for debunking other myths about science, economics, and society.

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Solyndra's DC Showcase ... A Solar Decathlon entry

by a siegel Thu Sep 22nd, 2011 at 10:31:02 AM EST

While Assembly team with the complete Living Light house members of Congress are raising h-ll about the Solyndra bankruptcy along with many who are forgetting that they once touted Solyndra as the future, just a little distance away, Solandra technology is powering an absolutely gorgeous home available for public visit for the coming two weeks.

This house, the University of Tennessee's Living Light, is part of one of the nation's most important (and sadly too little discussed) intercollegiate competitions is about to open in Washington, DC: the biennial Solar Decathlon. Opening to the public 23 September, the Decathlon brings together 19 university teams from around the globe to compete across ten categories (thus, "decathlon"). After having reviewed all the Solar Decathlon entries, this post will look more closely at Living Light.

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"Who's a Climate Scientist?"

by a siegel Wed May 11th, 2011 at 12:08:43 PM EST

A basic challenge in complex modern society: how does one translate expert opinion on complex issues into broader discussion? This is true for almost every domain of our society, whether discussing nutrition or infrastructure investment requirements or budgetary issues or climate disruption. As for the last, many have been seeking to foster paths for scientists to communicate better with the public.

One of the key challenges: helping the public understand the difference between pseudo-experts and true specialists to help foster an understanding as to who to listen to amid the truthiness- and falsehood-laden discussions seeking to confuse the public about climate disruption threats and climate mitigation opportunities. There are those who seek to train scientists to go on TV talk shows and encourage them to give public lectures. Some people take a different path, such as the rappers below the fold asking -- and answering -- a simple question:

Who's a climate scientist?

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Republicans Plan to Kill the Canaries in The Coal MInes

by a siegel Sat Feb 12th, 2011 at 08:49:24 PM EST

"We think what we can be is the canary in the coal mine," Republican Representative Darryl Issa told reporters.

Congressman Issa's words are prophetic -- evidently he and his colleagues  consider themselves to be the 'canaries in the coal mine' since they are taking steps with the newly introduced Continuing Resolution to kill off as many canaries in the coal mine to protect Americans from environmental, safety, and other risks.  For example, the proposal includes a 22 percent reduction in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, massive cuts in basic science research, budgets slashing seeking to essentially eliminate U.S. government research on climate change, ... a true anti-science syndrome agenda.

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Deceit about Texas Blackouts threatens Prosperity and Security

by a siegel Sun Feb 6th, 2011 at 11:29:37 AM EST

The recent U.S. snowstorm provide a clear case of outright falsehoods and serial deceit in the service of securing a more polluting and less secure future.

In the face of the winter storm that hit the nation, Texans suffered a series of rolling blackouts as some 50 fossil-fueled power plants (coal and natural gas) shut down due to frozen pipes and other problems. (See: Blacked Out Texas: Seeking understanding or Falsely laying blame?)  In the face of readily available information, including from Texas' own grid-managers (ERCOT), there is a bevy of fossil-foolish commentators falsely asserting that 'greening' efforts are to blame for freezing Texans.  For example,

  • The Drudge Report has suggested that  the Texas blackouts were "a direct consequence of the Obama administration's agenda to lay siege to the coal industry, launch a takeover of infrastructure under the contrived global warming scam, and help usher in the post-industrial collapse of America."

  • Rush Limbaugh has put the blame on `federal red tape'.  "It's not just in Texas, that's everywhere. And, folks, let me tell you something: If Obama gets his way, rolling blackouts will be the new norm. What do you think `green energy' is?"

These political motivated and, well, simply false attacks threaten American prosperity and security.

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Is the U.S. election about science?

by a siegel Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 03:40:39 PM EST

When it comes to the November 2010 elections, few people identify science as the core issue. Economic concerns (JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!), fossil-foolish fueled anger at government, passions over the role of government, and otherwise are among the many reasons why the current vogue is to predict a Republican wave come November.  A hidden element of the election, for most Americans, is that this election is fundamentally about science.

Very simply, while most Americans continue to hold science and scientists in high regard, an increasingly large share of the Republican Party's elite, office holders, candidates, and mouth pieces are taking seriously anti-science positions.

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NIMBYite threat ...

by a siegel Sun May 16th, 2010 at 07:22:39 AM EST

Oh, no you don't!

You're not doing that!


This is perhaps one of the most natural of human reactions.

Sludge plant? I might poop but don't put that upwind of me.

Oil Refinery? I'll drive as much as I want but don't let that cancer-causing behemoth ruin my view or threaten my kids' health.

Prison? Put the bums away, far away from me.


Natural and understandable doesn't make NIMBYism right or correct.

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Contaminated "American Fuel"

by a siegel Thu Apr 29th, 2010 at 03:37:52 AM EST

Two weeks ago, the "progressive" think tank Center for American Progress issued American Fuel: Developing Natural Gas for Heavy Vehicles.  This misleading and error-prone report strongly supports misguided policy concepts to subsidize heavily transitioning American transportation from one fossil fuel (oil) to a slightly lower polluting alternative (natural gas).  Even though political momentum exists behind this concept, it does not make "T Boone Pickens ... bold plan" a good one.  The report asserts that subsidizing natural gas into transportation offers a path to reducing oil demand by 1.25 million barrels/day by 2035, would not impact the cost of natural gas for other uses, and provides a benefit for carbon reduction.  Putting aside some uncertainty about optimistic assumptions about future natural gas production, choosing to emphasize natural gas for transportation is a far more costly and less effective path to reducing oil demand, controlling natural gas prices, and reducing carbon emissions than a myriad of other option already on the table.

Simply put ... this is a flawed and misguided report supporting a flawed and misguided policy proposal that would send the United States down a flaw, misguided, and reckless path.

front-paged by afew

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Treehugging science

by a siegel Sun Feb 21st, 2010 at 10:02:12 PM EST

Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have published a study, Evidence for a recent increase in forest growth, suggesting that climate change can quite literally be measured by treehuggers. Like the average American citizen, American trees look to have had increasingly bulging middles in recent decades.  Having spent their careers quite literally hugging trees, SERC scientists Geoffrey Parker and Sean McMahon have written a study documenting

evidence that forests in the Eastern United States are growing faster than they have in the past 225 years. The study offers a rare look at how an ecosystem is responding to climate change.

For over 20 years, Parker has gone into a set of forests in the mid-Atlantic, tape measure in hand, and giving them a hug to measure their size. Parker's own hugging has been extended with a robust group of volunteers conducting regular measurements of specified trees. (The boy scout to the right, while in a SERC forest, isn't engaged in actual measurements for the study.) Some 250,000 hugs later, he has quite a database in hand.

The results of analyzing hugs surprised these researchers. Based on the data from these 100,000s of hugs, Parker's and McMahon's analysis documents

that the forest is packing on weight at a much faster rate than expected. ... on average, the forest is growing an additional 2 tons per acre annually. That is the equivalent of a tree with a diameter of 2 feet sprouting up over a year.

Now, there are many things that contribute to plant growth, from soil quality to rainfall to temperatures to CO2 concentrations. Parker and McMahon have concluded that the driver for the bulging middles of the studied groves is best explained through human impacts: the rising levels of CO2 (a nutrition); and the warmer temperatures and extended growing season due to global warming (driven, in no small part, due to the rising CO2 levels).

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Nike ... Just Can't Do It!

by a siegel Sun Sep 27th, 2009 at 12:02:55 PM EST

When it comes to ACCCE, Duke Energy and Alstom Just Did It.

When it comes to the US Chamber of Commerce, PG&E and PNM Resources Just Did It.

When it comes to the US Chamber of Commerce, Nike Just Can't Seem to Do It.

What is "it"?  Reconciling a Corporation's affiliation with scientific understanding of climate change issues and its Corporate affiliations and memberships.

Read more... (2 comments, 544 words in story)

France's carbon tax ... a step forward? step to the side?

by a siegel Wed Sep 2nd, 2009 at 05:07:11 PM EST

The news in France:  a 14 Euro (tax per ton of carbon to go into effect in 2010. While discussion of a carbon tax has been an item of debate within French society, Prime Minister Fillon's announcement of the actual amount and the parameters of the coming have created what might be an explosive discussion.

In short, the parameters:

  • Tax on carbon sources, including oil (gasoline, diesel), natural gas, and coal.

  • Electricity is not included (considering that France is almost entirely 'carbon light' (nuclear 80+%, hydro, and some (growing) wind/solar), this is not surprising)

  • This is a revenue-neutral program, with reductions in other taxes to balance this revenue source.

  • Many details yet to be worked out/announced, such as how to deal with helping those less fortunate deal with the additional costs.

  • This is the first step of a tax that will be gradually increased and spread throughout the economy to help achieve French goals for a 75+% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

On first glance, writ large, this looks to be a positive move, the type of revenue source rebalancing that should be pursued around the globe to help drive moves toward a low-carbon future.

Even so, while "positive", this is causing debate with criticism coming from all directions.

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Tar and Feather ....

by a siegel Tue Mar 17th, 2009 at 07:20:20 AM EST

Humanity engages in many outrages, against each other, against ourselves, against the hability of our planet.  Genocide ... hunting species to extinction ... CO2 emissions and global warming/ocean acidificiation ...   And, sadly, there seems to be a tendency toward 'out of sight, out of mind' for many of these, for many of us. We have our lives to live, the problems before us and the pesky inbox often dominate our thinking and our action over the large, serious problems that don't necessarily slap us in the face and stand outside, it seems, our ability to impact.  

When it comes to 'out of sight, out of mind' on energy issues, there is a long list of items.  But, when it comes to raping the environment to feed our wasteful energy habits, North America has two extremely egregious examples: mountain-top removal (MTR) and Canadian Tar Sands.

Now roughly accounting for 10 percent of the United States' oil imports, the processes for transforming tar sands into fuel for America's gas guzzlers makes traditional oil production (even into ANWR) look benign in comparison.  Devastating for the local (water, forests), regional (air pollution, bird), and global (GHG emissions) environment, Tar Sands is the wrong answer to North America's energy challenges.  

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Greenpeace Grossly Understates Value of Energy [R]evolution

by a siegel Thu Mar 12th, 2009 at 06:15:06 PM EST

Yesterday, in a very interesting session featuring Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sven Teske (Greenpeace), and Joe Romm (Climate Progress), Greenpeace released the latest in their series of Energy [R]evolution analyses.   This high quality report conducted by the German Aerospace Center lays out, using quite conservative estimates, how "the United States can meet the energy needs of a growing economy and achieve science-based cuts in global warming pollution - without nuclear power or coal." And, do so not just cost-effectively, but profitably.

Save the planet and make a profit.  Sounds great.  As Senator Sanders said, "We should congradulate Greenpeace for recognizing, as does President Obama, that amid the crisis is a great opportunity."

Even so, perhaps the most striking thing about this excellent study is what is missing.

Read more... (5 comments, 1019 words in story)

Elation to Confusion to Elation Again: The Obama Appointments roller-coaster when it comes to energ

by a siegel Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 01:11:37 PM EST

We wait and watch, with baited breath President Obama's decisions about who will serve in senior positions in the Administration.  

When it comes to the critical issues of climate change and the creation of a clean energy future, some appointments have created great elation, fostering hope for Change toward something better.

Euphoria has, more than once, shifted to confusion with appointees whose devotion to and experience for creating a sensible path forward remain (generously speaking) open to question.

That confusion (dismay even) can shift quickly, as it did today.

Yesterday, we had news of three absolutely stunningly impressive appointments when it comes to the arenas of science, global warming, and energy.  

Today is a day for great elation and Hope.  Let us hope that tomorrow provides reason for more elation.

Read more... (17 comments, 1909 words in story)

The Organic Silver BB?

by a siegel Sat Oct 18th, 2008 at 04:48:48 AM EST

A few days ago, "Can Organics Save Us from Global Warming?" excitedly brought news of a new study from the Rodale Institute entitled Regenerative Organic Farming: A Solution to Global Warming.  After now having taken the time to read this report, it seems worth seconding the excitement ... even if perhaps seeking to dampen it a little bit.

The report lays out a sensible explanation a path toward a far more climate friendly, a much more profitable, and somewhat more productive agriculture system. There long-term research provides quite real and substantive information about productivity implications in the fields; the financial benefits for going 'organic'; the potential large scale benefits; and core challenges to achieving greater results.

Perhaps the greatest challenge arena: knowledge and education:  

Rodale Institute's experience in training thousands of farms from around the world has proven that the shift to regenerative farming practices is both doable and practical. It's the decision to change that's hard.

Promoted with an edit by afew

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