Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – November 18, 2016
Once again the editor has taken inaccurate information about climate change from the Wall Street Journal and used it to espouse a Pollyannaish view of the future (“To save a Gas,” Nov. 7). The scientific credibility of the cited article was rated as “very low” by six climate scientists at climatefeedback.org. Consider just two claims from the article and editorial.
One is that Earth will experience only modest warming this century in the face of continued fossil fuel use. A recent article in Nature Climate Change documents the fallacies in such a claim and concludes that future warming will indeed be around 4.5 degrees Celsius under business-as-usual emissions.
Another is increased farm productivity. Several recent scientific articles show that crop yields will decrease, rather than increase, for most warming scenarios.
Rather than hoping for the best, it would be better for the editor to learn about projected climate change impacts and work toward free-market solutions to the problem.
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – November 18, 2016
One hundred ninety-three countries, including U.S., China and Russia, have signed the Paris Agreement, a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from the burning of fossil fuels.
Instead of helping educate readers on this important issue, the Daily News-Record has gone out of its way time and time again to misinform them (“To Save a Gas,” Nov. 7).
Research shows that 97 percent of scientists who publish about climate agree that change is real and human-caused, and have stated if we keep to business as usual, Earth is headed for a climate that will not resemble anything we have ever known.
By Bishop Dansby Dansby is a retired lawyer, engineer and businessman from Rockingham County.
Climate change continues to be the greatest challenge of our era and probably in all of human history. At first, our government tried to address the issue with comprehensive energy and greenhouse emissions legislation. Lack of Republican support caused the legislative approach to fail, but in the meantime the Supreme Court made it clear that climate change could be addressed under the existing Clean Air Act, and the Obama administration took a number of strong regulatory actions to address climate change through the Environmental Protection Agency, giving the U.S. the credibility to sign the Paris climate accord. Meanwhile, Republicans, including Donald Trump, are doing all they can to roll back these gains.
There has been relatively little debate in the scientific community on the basics of climate change and our need to reduce the use of fossil fuels for a couple of decades. However, among politicians and the public, there has been continual debate, denial and partisan divide.
While Democrats have generally accepted the conclusions of the scientific community, Republicans have vigorously denied them. The position of Republicans has gone from (1) there is no climate change, to (2) there may be climate change, but it is not man-made, to (3) there is climate change and man may be contributing to it, but there is nothing we can do about it. They have never quite gotten to: There is climate change, man is the cause of it, and we can avoid its catastrophic effects if we take adequate action.
Polls show that Republican voters are more progressive on climate change than Republican politicians, with Republican leadership being the least progressive of all. Valley representatives and residents are reflective of the national picture.
With the action taking place in the EPA and other regulatory agencies, the only legitimate role of state and federal legislators is to stand aside and let the regulatory process go forward. Instead, elected representatives like Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, are doing all they can to frustrate the regulation of greenhouse emissions, whether by litigation, defunding or legislation to stop the EPA and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality.
No one is denying that climate change is a formidable challenge. Energy is the foundation of our modern economy, and the discovery and development of abundant coal, oil and natural gas has made possible the modern standard of living we take for granted.
Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that as the problem of climate change forces us to develop renewable sources of energy and more energy efficient buildings and vehicles, we will emerge with a higher standard of living than had we stayed with fossils. While we might not have voluntarily chosen to transition off of fossil fuels (at least, not as quickly), the doing so will usher in a new era of cheaper, cleaner energy and a better quality of life.
It should be said in no uncertain terms that political leaders like Goodlatte, who are ignoring the climate-change challenge, are failing us at an historic dimension. Further, the well-educated physician, lawyer or business person who brushes off the climate-change problem is failing us and his or her descendants. This is a failure of ethics, morality and imagination, and it is a failure that will have enormous practical economic consequences. These politicians and citizens may deprive us of the next and necessary era of human prosperity, not to mention depriving our descendants of a livable planet.
Possibly, the world will stumble forward to address climate change without the help of Republicans. Renewable energy is competitive with fossil fuels, so the market can help solve the problem. Thankfully, most of the other major nations do not deny climate change and are moving forward with policies to address it.
Even if we get lucky and the “market” and the policy action of other nations solve the problem, what does this failure by a large part of our government and citizenry say about the nature of the contemporary American culture? Republican politicians and voters need to show some integrity and join the effort to legitimately and honestly address the issues of climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Let us seize this opportunity to a) solve climate change, and b) build a better world.
Each week, I write a summary of the week’s news items related to climate and energy for the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley. As I do so, I become increasingly concerned about the impact of the upcoming election on the future of our country’s climate and energy policies.
While it is certainly true that many members of the Republican Party support forward-thinking policies, the Party’s platform and their presidential and vice presidential candidates do not. Their election to power would leave the U.S. reliant on 20th century energy sources when most of the world, unhampered by old infrastructure, is moving aggressively forward with 21st century energy sources.
If you want a vibrant economy married to action on climate change, then the Republican Party is not where your allegiance should lie.
The recent article about the Louisiana floods in the Daily News-Record quotes Anthony Cox: “It was an absolute act of God” (“Thousands Hunker Down After La. Floods,” Aug. 16) Yes, it was, in the sense that Louisiana has always been at risk of flooding. But, as climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe told The Washington Post, “climate change is exacerbating that risk…” In other words, we are also responsible.
Cox also said, “We’re talking about places that have literally never flooded before.” That is the problem. As Hayhoe also said, “When climate is changing, relying on the past to predict the future will give us the wrong answer.” We are now seeing the effects of our past CO2 emissions. Reducing, and ultimately eliminating, future emissions will reduce those effects. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, has said that rather than spend money on reducing emissions, we should just adapt. Studies have shown that will cost more. It will also be more painful.
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – May 3, 2016
Opinion (Open Forum)
I have a scenario running through my head late at night when I take a break from my climate-change concerns. It was prompted by the assumption that free speech does not mean it’s OK to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. The vision I have was brought to mind recently after the editorial agreeing with George Will that the attempt to prosecute ExxonMobil for its campaign of disinformation about the risks of climate change is really an attempt “to punish the climate denial apparatus” (“Stop The Dissent,” April 25).
In my scenario, there’s also a crowded theater, with people eating popcorn, drinking sodas, and enjoying the latest Mad Max movie. Some are in the balcony in the cheap seats, some are in air-conditioned boxes, but most are just sitting on the main floor. The theater begins to get a little warm but hey, it’s full, so what? It gets gradually warmer and someone goes to the office to ask for more AC. The management says everything’s fine, why not buy a soft drink? A little later some people towards the back think there’s a slight smell of smoke in the air and again go to the office to find out what’s wrong. Management says it’s just the smell of the new popcorn machine, not really smoke, why not have another bag? The buzz of concern grows louder when someone else sees a curl of smoke and a tongue of fire rising from a crack in the back wall. This time the management sprays air freshener and announces that there’s absolutely nothing wrong and that the complainers are just hypersensitive sissies who are trying to spoil the movie for everyone else.
Someone dials 911 to report a possible fire but is told all engines are otherwise occupied with car wrecks and cat rescues. The people in boxes continue to enjoy the apocalyptic film about a distant future. Those in the balcony are being overcome by the smoke and heat but few hear their cries. The management continues to scoff at the complainers and warns them about the criminal consequences of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. They’ve invested heavily in the new popcorn popper and the air-conditioned boxes and nothing can, or will be allowed to, go wrong. The publicity alone would ruin them.
Nevertheless, people begin to leave, with some of those overcome by the thick smoke in the balcony being helped out by their friends. Others are left to die. People in the boxes call in their complaints about not being able to see through the smoke and are reassured that it’s just a harmless special effect. Ultimately they too succumb. And this is the scenario with a happy ending. In the other one, everyone dies because management has locked the doors, contrary to safety regulations they philosophically oppose.
Our constitutionally granted right to freedom of speech is one of our most basic. It protects our right to espouse our own religious and philosophical beliefs. It even protects our right to tell other people what to eat but not to force-feed them. It protected Michael Mann when dissenters tried to shut down his research. It protects the editor’s favorite skeptical scientists whose work is simply ignored when it doesn’t reflect reality. And it protects the editor when he expresses his misunderstanding of the facts of climate science. Free speech encourages active, partisan, loud, even unruly debate over policy, including policy about combatting climate change.
But does it protect management when it denies the theater is on fire and tries to hide the evidence? Does it protect management when deaths occur as a result? My imagined patrons had only to leave Theater A and travel down the road to Theater B. Unfortunately, there is no Planet B. We’re stuck on Planet Earth and it’s beginning to smoke.
THE WAYS IN which current investments in carbon- intensive growth are resulting in ill health as well as climate change are well documented by a number of major international reports. A recent study by the International Monetary Fund estimated that fossil fuel combustion costs $5.3 trillion a year in health and environmental damage.
The study concluded that placing a tax on carbon would cut outdoor air pollution deaths — 3.7 million annually — by half, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 percent. This tax would raise about 3 percent of GDP, or $3 trillion per year. That revenue could be reinvested in growth-enhancing public spending — for example in health, education and the green economy. It would also save hundreds of thousands of lives.
While belittling the idea that climate change is serious, the editor makes much of past natural climate variability, as if that means that we are not responsible for what is happening now (“Hysteria Continues,” Dec. 3). Ridiculous!
Chris Mooney summed up the issue in The Washington Post: “To cite past warm periods as if they somehow invalidate what’s happening during the present one, is to deeply misunderstand the significance of these periods to the current climate debate, and to scientific understanding.”
This newspaper’s editorials continue to try to bring down climate scientists and our need to get a handle on anthropomorphic climate change. (“Hysteria Continues,” Dec. 3).
To me, the hysteria is coming from the editorial board because they realize they may be on the wrong side of this issue, in that 97-plus percent of climate scientists and 60-70 percent of U.S. citizens understand that we have a problem that needs to be addressed.
They quote Matt Ridley and Benny Peiser, neither of whom denies climate change, but who have a “feeling” that a warming world might actually be good for us and doing something might hurt the economy.
This is in direct contradiction to what climate scientists tell us. It seems to me that it would be prudent to act to decrease our carbon blanket as insurance. The economic argument against doing something has been addressed by fee and dividend (Citizen Climate Lobby).
As I ate lunch in a restaurant, a 2-year-old and an infant were at a nearby table. Because an article in the Daily News-Record reported that July was the hottest month on record, I wondered what their lives will be like (“July Sets Record As Hottest Month Ever,” Aug. 21). How high will sea level rise? How will changing precipitation patterns influence agriculture? Where will people go when parts of our country become too hot to be hospitable?
Much has been made of the federal Clean Power Plan and the national commitment to cut CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, both are inadequate for keeping Earth’s temperature increase below 3.6 degrees, an increase too high to stop the ice from melting and sea level rising.
When will we take the hard steps necessary to cut our CO2 emissions drastically? Will it be soon enough to ensure a bright future for all children?