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작성일자 2010-11-28
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제목 Climate Zombie Caucus
November 22, 2010
by Faiz Shakir, Benjamin Armbruster, George Zornick, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, Brad Johnson, and Tanya Somanader

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Climate Zombie Caucus

One year ago, the right-wing media machine smeared climate scientists with the "Climategate" conspiracy theory, even as the climate itself continued to get hotter and more destructive and other countries seized the clean-energy initiative. Although the National Academies of Science says "the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change," the Republican Party is now dominated by fossil-funded ideologues who repeat zombie myths about global warming. An exclusive survey by the Progress Report, with research support by Daily Kos blogger RL Miller, has identified the members of Congress from nearly every state in the union that are on record challenging the scientific consensus on climate change. This denier bloc is fueled by remarkable amounts of spending from fossil fuel polluters. The greenhouse pollution industry spent $543 million in lobbying expenditures since 2009 to shape or kill climate legislation -- ExxonMobil alone spent more than the entire pro-environment lobby. Fossil interests spent more than $68.5 million this year on "misleading and fictitious televisions ads designed to shape midterm elections and advance their anti-clean energy reform agenda," and they have contributed over $48 million to candidates.
CLIMATE ZOMBIE CAUCUS : In January 2011, the 112th Congress will open session, with a huge contingent of Republicans who have explicitly rejected the threat of manmade global warming pollution. These climate zombies express the classic variants of global warming denial: that the planet is not warming , that cold weather refutes concerns about global warming, that man's influence is unclear, that climate scientists are engaged in a hoax, scam, or corrupt conspiracy, and that limiting greenhouse pollution would have no impact on global temperatures. There are no freshmen Republicans, in the House or Senate, who publicly accept the scientific consensus that greenhouse pollution is an immediate threat -- but most of them signed onto the Koch Industries "No Climate Tax" pledge. Seventy-six percent of the Republicans in the U.S. Senate next year and 52 percent of Republicans in the House of Representatives publicly question the science of global warming. All four candidates set to take over the House Committee on Energy and Commerce -- Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) -- have disparaged climate scientists and climate policy. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), who is taking over the House Committee on Science and Technology, believes that the "scientific data, from which global warming theories emerged, has been manipulated, enhanced or deleted" and that "reasonable people have serious questions about our knowledge of the state of the science."
REALITY-BASED CONSERVATIVES : This iron wall of denial about the moral issue of our time does not sit well with all conservatives. As former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough (FL) said last week on his MSNBC show, "it's embarrassing." "I'm a conservative Republican," Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) said in a recent hearing on climate science, "but on these kinds of issues I'm not an idiot." At the same hearing, outgoing Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) derided his Republican colleagues for refusing to acknowledge the truth and danger of global warming. In a Washington Post op-ed, former Republican Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) articulated his confusion as to why "so many Republican senators and representatives think they are right and the world's top scientific academies and scientists are wrong." Allowing for debate over policy, Boehlert said he finds the GOP's "dogged determination" to deny the actual science "incomprehensible." The GOP is rebuking the approach of "leaders of some of our nation's most prominent businesses," says Boehlert. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, for example, is "no collection of mom-and-pop shops operated by 'tree huggers'" but rather a group of "hard-nosed, profit-driven capitalists" like General Electric, Duke Energy, and DuPont pushing Congress to see climate change as an opportunity to "create more economic opportunities than risks for the U.S. economy." "My fellow Republicans should understand that wholesale, ideologically based or special-interest-driven rejection of science is bad policy," he said. "And that in the long run, it's also bad politics."

SCIENTISTS RESPOND :  Led by climatologist John Abraham of St. Thomas University, a "climate rapid response team" of a few dozen top climate scientists have "decided to put their spare time to use fielding media questions about climate science, and even going up against hostile anti-science audiences," launching ClimateRapidResponse.org today. Earlier this year, Abraham had comprehensively debunked global warming denier Christopher Monckton's testimony in 126 slides, called A Scientist Replies to Lord Monckton . As "a Utah Republican who thinks his party is headed for a giant belly flop by constantly promoting anti-science," geoscientist Barry Bickmore of Brigham Young University has challenged Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for his "intellectual laziness" in rejecting climate science. Following work by independent science bloggers, USA Today reports that Rep. Joe Barton's (R-TX) "influential 2006 congressional report that raised questions about the validity of global warming research was partly based on material copied from textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticized in the report, plagiarism experts say." Meanwhile, the work of the climate community continues. Climate scientists are reporting catastrophic changes in coral reefs, phytoplankton, sea ice, permafrost, and global ecosystems, while clean-energy technologists, supported by $90 billion from the Obama administration's Recovery Act, are building solutions. "The government is also thinking about the environment, energy independence and national security," said AltaRock CEO Don O'Shei, "and they want to catalyze technologies that will create whole new industries."


North Korea earlier this month showed a visiting American scientist, Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford professor who previously directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory, " a vast new facility it secretly and rapidly built to enrich uranium ." Hecker said he was "stunned" by the facility’s sophistication, where he saw "hundreds and hundreds" of centrifuges and an "ultra-modern control room."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned yesterday of "significant consequences" if the Senate fails to ratify the START nuclear arms treaty, and rejected Republican stall tactics. "Despite what anybody says, I, as secretary of Defense, and the entire uniformed leadership of the American military believe that this treaty is in our national security interest," Gates said.

At the NATO Summit last weekend, European allies signaled "growing alarm" over the possible failure of the Senate to ratify the New START treaty this year. Not only would its failure jeopardize Russian cooperation in Afghanistan and Iran, but would complicate U.S. plans to help reduce thousands of smaller Russian nuclear weapons that are "much more even dangerous" to Europe than long-range weapons.

Gates will release the military's DADT report Nov. 30
, one day earlier than planned, the Pentagon said Sunday. With the Senate slated to vote again on the repeal after the Thanksgiving recess, Gates ordered his staff to be ready a day sooner to allow for Senate hearings and "to support Congress's wish to consider repeal before they adjourn" in December.

Billionaire Warren Buffet told ABC's Christiane Amanpour during an interview scheduled to be aired next week that taxes on the richest Americans should be dramatically raised . "I think that people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it," said Buffet.

A new study from the British University of Exeter finds that carbon emissions worldwide dropped 1.3 percent from 2008 to 2009 , largely as a result of the economic recession. The study also "projects that if the economic recovery proceeds as expected, global fossil fuel emissions will increase by more than 3% in 2010."

Faced with enormous budget shortfalls and balanced budget requirements, some states are now considering what was once unthinkable: dropping out of Medicaid . Officials in half a dozen states have floated the idea recently, according to the Wall Street Journal, and have even produced detailed studies examining the risks -- though even proponents don't expect any state to actually follow through.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush said she hopes former Alaska governor Sarah Palin will "stay" in Alaska , suggesting she does not want Palin to run for president. In an interview with CNN's Larry King set to air tonight, Bush says, "I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful. And I think she's very happy in Alaska -- and I hope she'll stay there ."

And finally: Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) doesn't understand why presumptive House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) cries so much . In an interview with the New York Times Magazine published yesterday, Pelosi said, "He is known to cry. He cries sometimes when we're having a debate on bills. If I cry, it's about the personal loss of a friend or something like that. But when it comes to politics -- no, I don't cry."


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