Each of us can make a positive difference stepping up & doing our best / Becoming Planet Citizens
Earth and Space, Politics
- Earth, Science & Politics:
- Planet Citizens, Planet Scientists
The Environmental Magazine: Series of Graphic Charts Tracking Climate Change Data Over Four Decades
Massachusetts Acts: Next-generation Climate Policy & Model Legislation
Massachusetts Steps Up
Via The Guardian / U.K.
U.S. Candidate for President Comes Out Swinging in Fight Against Trump
Joe Biden has unveiled a new, more aggressive climate and jobs plan which advisers say he would take to Congress “immediately”, if elected president.
The new proposal outlines $2tn for clean energy infrastructure and other climate solutions, to be spent as quickly as possible in the next four years, what would be the Democrat’s first term in office. Last year, he proposed $1.7tn in spending over 10 years.
“Addressing the economic crisis is going to be priority one for a President Biden,” a senior campaign official told reporters. “This will be the legislation he goes up to [Capitol Hill] immediately to get done. The reality is we will be facing a country that will be in dire need of these types of investments that are going to be made here.”
Two crises are converging: a devastated economy and high unemployment that could drag on for years as the nation struggles to gain control of the coronavirus pandemic, and a rapidly closing window to significantly cut heat-trapping emissions and lead on global climate action.
Biden unveiled the climate plan, the second part of his “Build Back Better” proposal, in remarks from Delaware on Tuesday afternoon.
“When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax’,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s previous claims that the crisis is fake. “When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs’.” In a detailed climate policy speech, Biden said his proposal would create a million jobs in electric vehicle manufacturing, a million in upgrading buildings and a quarter-million cleaning up after extractive industries. Biden said he would give Americans money back for switching to cleaner cars and making their homes more efficient.
He said he was focusing on his first four years as president because “science tells us we have nine years before the damage is irreversible”.
Time Cover Story, October 1987
... the year before James Hansen's famous climate warning testimony to Congress in June 1988
By Michael D. Lemonick
Oct. 19, 1987
... ten years before Professor Hansen's 1987 U.S. Senate testimony
Passage of the first Congressional Climate Act
In the U.S. ... Political Priorities Out of Alignment with Progress & Security
Historic Levels of Stock Buybacks, Depressed Investment
Historic Level of Environmental Protection Rollbacks
Trump administration, U.S. federal government, attempts to roll back the National Environmental Policy Act
Environmental Protection Agency takes hit after hit, three + years of attacks continue... setbacks will take years to reverse
Remember when 'Futurism' first came into vogue? Here, add this to speculative future thinking:
I’m an automation-employment-crisis skeptic. That is, I believe that even if we were – by some impossible-to-imagine means – to produce a general AI tomorrow, we would still have 200-300 years of full employment for every human who wanted a job ahead of us.
I’m talking about climate change, of course.
Remediating climate change will involve unimaginably labor-intensive tasks, like relocating every coastal city in the world kilometers inland, building high-speed rail links to replace aviation links, caring for hundreds of millions of traumatized, displaced people, and treating runaway zoontoic and insectborne pandemics.
These tasks will absorb more than 100% of any labor freed up by automation. Every person whose job is obsolete because of automation will have ten jobs waiting for them, for the entire foreseeable future. This means that even if you indulge in a thought experiment in which a General AI emerges that starts doing stuff humans can do – sometimes better than any human could do them – it would not lead to technological unemployment.
-- Cory Doctorow
- July 6, 2020
- Enabling & Protecting Life on Earth
As the Earth Rolls at GreenPolicy360
A monthly photograph of the sunrise from a fixed location, and for a whole year. Shows the effect of the earth's movement around the sun.
Photo(s) Credit: ZAID ALABBDI
Statement to Restore Science-Based Policy in Government
Scientists for Science-Based Policy
Members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences
Statement Updated June 2020*
In September 2016, over 375 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) signed an Open Letter calling attention to the dangers of human-induced climate change. The letter warned that U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord would have negative consequences for the world’s climate system and for U.S. leadership and credibility.
In the intervening months, these negative consequences have become more obvious. Human-caused climate disruption is leading to suffering and economic loss. Suffering and loss are not future hypotheticals. They are happening now. Despite these serious negative consequences, the present Administration has fulfilled its threat to initiate U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. The United States is the only nation in the world that has taken this action.
The decision to withdraw is symptomatic of a larger problem: the Trump Administration’s denigration of scientific expertise and harassment of scientists. The dismissal of scientific evidence in policy formulation has affected wide areas of the social, biological, environmental and physical sciences. It has been particularly egregious in climate science. A recent instance of this is the intention of the Administration to assemble a “Red Team/Blue Team” to re-litigate all aspects of climate science. Such an exercise seeks to foster the erroneous impression of deep uncertainty concerning the reality and seriousness of anthropogenically driven climate change.
Scientific evidence and research should be an important component of policymaking. We therefore call on the Federal Government to maintain scientific content on publicly accessible websites, to appoint qualified personnel to positions requiring scientific expertise, to cease censorship and intimidation of Government scientists, and to reverse the decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.
Signed: Over 1,200 National Academy of Sciences signers as of June 2020. The List is updated as others sign.</big>
Via Yale Climate Connections
A new administration could renew the U.S. commitment to the Paris climate agreement, strengthen air pollution standards, and more. But that will take time.
The Trump administration, after less than one full first term, has every likelihood of being adjudged the most anti-climate, anti-science, and anti-environment executive branch in U.S. history. With numerous high-level Trump nominees having cut their teeth as lobbyists with major polluting industries, the administration has been steadfast in weakening or eliminating major conservation and environmental regulations and programs.
The extensive regulatory cutbacks raise questions about how much long-term damage they might pose to air and water quality and to serious efforts to address climate change. With a presidential election now five months away, they also raise “What if…” questions about whether such cutbacks might be sustained or how quickly they might be reversed by a new administration.
Inexhaustible Resource? No. Fresh Water Is an Endangered Vital Resource
Better start measuring, monitoring, and managing it, than lose it
Guarding Earth’s groundwater from space
Using drones and tiny satellites to bring some accountability to the world’s biggest user of H20: agriculture
In many parts of the world, consumption of fresh water in homes is metered and billed accordingly. In agriculture, by far the world’s biggest user of water, that doesn’t happen. Most farmers simply pump up groundwater and use it at will; often, the only expense is the fuel required to get it to the surface.
Given depleting groundwater, and wider concerns over food security, that’s a problem...
Trump administration continues attack on science and environmental policies
Science on the Ballot
People say they care about climate. So why don’t they vote like it?
Judith Lewis Mernit / Capital & Main
May 20, 2020
By Judith Lewis Mernit
In the past three and a half years, officials in the Trump administration have attacked environmental laws and the science that supports them with an unbridled urgency. Rules guiding everything from light bulb efficiency to wildlife protection to fugitive emissions from oil drilling have been thrown out or threatened; “settled science” is no longer. Administration officials have fired experts and stacked advisory panels, such as the EPA’s Science Advisory Board that Zarba headed up before he retired in 2018, with underqualified academics or pro-industry researchers.
“What we’re seeing under the Trump administration is an unraveling of the scientific fabric that runs through government,” says Gretchen Goldman, research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Department of Energy forbade climate scientists from even mentioning climate change in emails; former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who left the agency in 2018 amid conflict of interest allegations, went after a national park superintendent for writing a Twitter thread about the effects of intensifying heat on the desert ecosystem. “We’ve talked to hundreds of scientists who have said they’d altered their language to avoid political backlash,” Goldman says.
Environment Deregulation(US), Climate Litigation (US & Global)
Five decades of environmental progress being rolled back by Trump administration
Over 100 environmental rule roll backs by Trump ... track the deconstruction of environmental protections:
- Climate Deregulation Tracker - http://columbiaclimatelaw.com/resources/climate-deregulation-tracker
- Climate Change Law Tracker - http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatechange
- Environmental Laws Rollback Tracker - https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/regulatory-rollback-tracker
- Silencing Science Tracker - http://columbiaclimatelaw.com/resources/silencing-science-tracker
Anonymous Members of UK Parliament Talk Climate Politics
A Writer promises not to name names, if the politicos talk openly and honestly
Writer for The Guardian, Author of Too Hot to Handle: The Democratic Challenge of Climate Change
(Ed: Following are clips from a "Long Read" article published on May 21, 2020)
She had two, conflicting, demands: she wanted urgent action on climate; and she also wanted government support to allow her local industry to continue polluting. She was simultaneously backing and opposing climate action. She was worried that someone – maybe a constituent or the local paper – would point out this glaring contradiction. But so far, no one had. “I thought I might get a bit of pushback,” she told me. “I’ve had absolutely zero.”
This contradiction sums up the state of climate politics in the UK today. There is strong cross-party support for far-reaching carbon targets. In June last year, the government passed a law to strengthen these targets, committing the UK to end virtually all emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases within the next 30 years. There was next to no opposition – in fact, Labour and the Liberal Democrats argued for an earlier phase-out date. And yet politicians are oddly reluctant to talk about how we might actually meet these targets. There is very little honest debate about the major changes to our economy and society that will be needed if we are to meet this challenge. Like my interviewee, we’re all in favour of climate action, but we haven’t yet had an honest conversation about the power and the vested interests involved, or the choices that will have to be made if we are to achieve significant reductions in emissions.
... the dual reality of climate politics. We know that things need to change, and yet we’re embedded in our current lives and our current politics. We exist in both realities at once. Politicians make grand statements about the threat of climate change, then flip straight back into politics-as-usual.
After the Coronavirus Crisis: Will Things Change?
Covid-19 is, understandably, taking up all the political and media attention there is, for now. But the need for fast, radical carbon cuts – and a political strategy that will allow this to happen – has not gone away. Will green investment be prioritised in the economic stimulus packages that are undoubtedly needed? Will people think differently about travel or food security? Will we emerge with a politics that focuses more on a collective approach to global challenges such as climate? Or will we fall back into desperate attempts to rekindle the old economy and the old ways?
All the politicians I spoke to accepted the science of climate change. And yet they downplayed the consequences. They showed a reluctance to discuss how climate change would reshape human society. A newly elected MP, talking to me in the House of Commons, told me that climate “terrified” him. “Where we’re sat right now might well be underwater, right next to the Thames. I wouldn’t fancy our chances.”
Over the course of the interviews, carried out between 2016 and 2018, I saw a pattern emerge. The way politicians responded to climate didn’t just depend on what they thought about the science. Instead, it became clear to me that there were two main reasons why MPs struggled with the issue: first, because it didn’t fit easily into the culture of political life and their own identity as a parliamentarian; and second, because they worried that public support for climate action was limited, and that, as representatives, they needed to be led by their electorate.
I was surprised by the extent to which the MPs I spoke to felt constrained by the social norms of their workplace. In one conversation, my interviewee was deliciously unguarded in her opinions of her colleagues. She said that just a few of her 600 or so fellow parliamentarians took climate seriously as an issue: “You might not get into double figures.” She told me she saw everything through a climate lens, and was, in private, very critical of measures such as tax breaks for oil and gas exploration. And yet she felt that she had to tread carefully: she has to fit in. I asked her what would happen if she tried to intervene in a budget debate, to make the case that fossil fuels should stay in the ground. She replied: “I think they’d just think you were a bit ‘niche’, is the way I’d put it – I say ‘niche’ in quotes, like a bit of a lunatic fringe.”
One former MP, who had been an active climate campaigner in parliament, said: “I was known as being a freak.” Another told me about how he tried to avoid being seen as a “zealot”. These remarks were common in my conversations with politicians. Some said they avoided any mention of climate for fear that it would put an unhelpful label on them. One confident, outspoken MP who worked on energy policy told me that he did what he could to promote policies that would reduce carbon, but justified his proposals on other grounds, such as reducing fuel bills. “I don’t use climate change as the word because I think it’s just toxic,” he told me. “As is the way in these issues which are contentious, you won’t take people with you politically.”
... climate was not something that people factored into their daily lives... people were aware of, and concerned by, climate change, but chose to ignore it. It was an unspoken collective turning away... “How could the possibility of climate change be deeply disturbing and almost completely invisible – simultaneously unimaginable and common knowledge?”
... it is surprisingly difficult for politicians to talk openly about the need to transition away from fossil fuels. Witness Nicola Sturgeon, leader of a progressive Scottish government that champions strong climate commitments, while also supporting continued oil and gas extraction in the North Sea. When challenged, her reply is always the same: the industry “cannot be shut down overnight”. She’s right. But her dismissive response shies away from the science, which tells us very clearly that fossil fuels need to stay in the ground, and that we need a plan to move away from them, and create opportunities and jobs elsewhere – not overnight, but urgently.
So far, climate action has focused overwhelmingly on low-carbon solutions such as developing renewable energy or offering grants for electric vehicles. These are very valuable schemes, but all this positive activity masks a deeper problem. Little has been done to curb carbon-intensive activity. New coal mines are opened and new airports built with little discussion of climate impacts. If we are constantly finding new ways to dig up and burn carbon, it won’t be enough just to ramp up renewable energy. Study after study shows that meeting climate goals means phasing out the extraction and use of oil, coal and gas – yet no mainstream political party has a coherent plan to do this.
Politicians, then, are constrained by the culture of political life. They also feel constrained by the electorate. There was a striking consistency in my interviews: no MP felt that their voters were putting them under particular pressure to act. As one said to me, “I’ve knocked hundreds, literally thousands of doors, and had tens of thousands of conversations with voters … and I just don’t have conversations about climate change.”
... climate change requires everyone to do their bit. But this claim is often ignored, because people are understandably caught up with their daily lives and struggles, or feel powerless, cynical or overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge. Some politicians point out the economic or social benefits of climate action, such as jobs in renewable energy. As one told me: “I’m happy to use an economic argument if that means more people will come on side.” Another told me about proposals for a new road in his constituency, which he opposed. If he had used a climate argument, he said, “there would have been a rolling of eyes and saying: ‘Oh, here he goes again.’” Instead, he made the case on economic grounds, saying that investment in public transport was a better option.
There’s a danger in dampening down the message in this way. If politicians don’t speak out, people don’t feel a sense of urgency. They are less likely to support climate action if they don’t see their politicians leading the way, or offering up a strategy that is as serious as the problem it is designed to address.
What the pandemic does provide... is the possibility of change. The government has done things in the last few weeks that no one thought possible: paying the wages of millions of private-sector workers; shoring up company finances; involving itself in the lives of individuals in ways that would previously have caused the hackles of even the most radical of politicians to rise. Fundamentally, we are rethinking the relationship between state and citizen. As citizens, we have realised that we need the state to keep us safe from crises, be they immediate, like Covid-19, or longer term, like climate change. Politicians, for their part, have realised that people can rise to the challenge, if they understand what they need to do and why.
If we are to make the right choice here, as a society, the essential first step is a simple one: speaking out. Politicians, and others, need to speak openly and with unflinching honesty about the significance of climate change. As my conversations with MPs have shown, this is a surprisingly difficult thing to do. The left has made a start, with its idea of a Green New Deal. In the US, politicians led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey put forward a plan aiming for net-zero emissions and 100% renewable energy, including job creation in manufacturing, economic justice and even universal healthcare.
Following Covid-19, what the Green New Deal now offers is, essentially, a green route to recovery.
Given a meaningful opportunity to have their say, most people would support action in the face of the climate breakdown that is unfolding in front of us. But our democracies, in their current form, are just not offering people that choice. Politicians and citizens, if they take each other seriously, can turn this around.
Conference with Andy Revkin at Council on Foreign Relations
Science-Based Reporting and Countering Misinformation
Andy, you have a long and incredibly distinguished history of writing about the intersection of politics and science, which is rarely pretty. I remember a story you broke in the mid-2000s, during the George W. Bush administration, about their efforts to silence a top scientist at NASA who was calling for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. So how different is the environment today between the suppression of science and active disinformation? And what do you think are the main drivers of the disinformation you’re seeing on COVID-19? Is it politicians, deep political polarization, wider science denialism than we’ve seen before?
Identifying and Countering Disinformation, Misinformation
Techniques of science denialism
The Science, Testing, Facts & Evidence -- COVID-19
As New York began to rollout plans to reopen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned residents to remain cautious. "Phased reopening does not mean the problem has gone away," Cuomo said. "Follow the data, follow the science, follow the facts, follow the metrics."
After a deeply controversial stint at the EPA, the former chemical industry executive nominated to be the nation’s top consumer safety watchdog is now sidelining 'detailed guidelines' to help communities reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.
The White House ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to revise an earlier draft it deemed "too prescriptive."
The new CDC guidelines, which appear to be watered down from previously leaked versions, provide brief checklists meant to help key businesses and others operating in public reopen safely. In separate one-page documents, the CDC offers decision-making tools for schools, workplaces, camps, child care programs, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants.
Earth Day 2020 50th Anniversary of first Earth Day "Teach-In" / April 22, 1970
Original Art by Olivia Schmidt / BY-NC Creative Commons / Use w/ Attribution + Non-commercial
On the 50th Anniversary
- Memories on the Road to the First Earth Day
Steven Schmidt / GreenPolicy360 Siterunner
It started on a Schwinn bike in the mid-1960s. My road to April 22, 1970. The day that would be called the first "Earth Day"...
The BP America Fire, Oil Blowout and Spill in the Gulf
April 16, 2020 / A Decade After
By Craig Pittman / Florida Phoenix
On March 31, 2010, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited St. Petersburg’s Vinoy hotel to give a speech where he talked about how safe offshore oil drilling was. He was touting his book, Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less.
On that same day, then-President Barack Obama announced he would open a lot of the nation’s coastline to drilling, including two-thirds of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Meanwhile, Florida legislators were considering allowing drilling in state waters just three miles off the coast, figuring that from that distance, the tourists wouldn’t see it, so what could go wrong?
A decade later, this all seems remarkably stupid because within three weeks, on April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank 5,000 feet beneath the gulf.
Two days later, on Earth Day, the damaged rig began spewing oil that coated coastlines in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and even Florida, ruining tourism, charter fishing and other industries that depend on clean beaches and uncontaminated water.
The BP oil continues polluting the gulf even today, according to recently released findings by scientists from the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Sciences. It’s still affecting fish and other marine species...
After the disaster, Obama appointed a federal commission to investigate what went wrong. The commission’s chief investigator, “Sam” Sankar, said the commission’s recommendations called for imposing strong, clear regulations to ensure safety, evaluating the risks of another spill and making sure the oil industry can be held liable in the event of another disaster.
Of those recommendations, “none of them have been implemented"...
As the Saudi and Russian Oil Industry Battle
Long-term Trends Test the Fossil Fuels Industry Future
Vitol, the world’s largest independent oil trading company, has said that oil demand could slump as much as 20 million barrels per day (BPD) over the next few weeks, which would lead to an annual decline of 5 million BPD. Vitol CEO Russell Hardy said “It’s pretty huge in terms of anything we’ve had to deal with before.”
Goldman Sachs said it expected March demand to be down 10.5 million BPD, followed by a further decline to 18.7 million BPD in April. The company noted that this deep plunge would be beyond the ability of OPEC to counteract: “A demand shock of this magnitude will overwhelm any supply response including any potential core-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries output freeze or cut.”
Via HuffingtonPost / Fracking, a ballyhooed but financially fragile sector, struggled to stay afloat with crude selling at $50 per barrel. If prices stay around $30, or even fall as low as $20, U.S. frackers simply might be unable to keep up.
“It’s a financial bloodbath,” said Clark Williams-Derry, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “With oil prices at the current level, there’s a real risk many of them will simply go bankrupt.”
As of the first week in March...
Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s stock price nearly halved as trading closed on Monday. Debt-burdened firms such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Whiting Petroleum Corp. finished the day with stock prices down between 30% and 41%. Even behemoths big enough to weather almost any shock took big hits as Exxon Mobil Corp. fell nearly 12% and Chevron Corp. dropped 15%.
Forecasters are still determining the extent of the likely effect the price drop will have on the broader economy. But it could also have an effect on politics, which are particularly fraught around fracking, the colloquial term for hydraulic fracturing, a drilling practice that breaks bedrock with high-pressured water and chemicals to release difficult-to-reach fossil fuel reserves.
Fracking now makes up 63% of U.S. oil production, the Energy Information Administration estimates. That figure looks set to increase as oil and gas drilling grows faster in the U.S. than any other country, and 90% of that is dependent on fracking, according to a report by scientists at more than a dozen environmental groups.
Contenders in the 2020 presidential election are currently battling over whether to expand, preserve or entirely phase out an industry whose growth all but guarantees climate catastrophe...
Basalts: Carbon Conversion?
Drilled - Website
Drilled - Podcasts
31 Episodes | 2018 - 2020
The Madmen of Climate Denial
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Play
- Pocket Casts
Drilled: A True Crime Podcast about Climate Change
October 21st, 2018 / 2:26
Launched November 14, 2018, Drilled is a limited series investigative true-crime podcast about the crime of the century: the creation of climate denial.
Educators, Teachers, Parents Are Increasingly Pushing Back Against False Science Information Online
Facebook, Google-YouTube Algorithms Feed Suggested 'Phony Misinformation' to Students and Children
Since its launch in 2005, YouTube has amassed an audience of over 2 billion monthly active users. Part of the secret of its success is the personalization algorithm that suggests videos based on viewing habits, a process that can create a feedback loop of misinformation. With just a click or two, students can be drawn into debunked and anti-scientific diatribes about climate change, evolution, and even whether the Earth is flat...
Based on recent surveys, children are increasingly likely to rely on YouTube for information. A 2019 report from Common Sense Media found that 56% of kids ages 8 to 12, and 69% of teens ages 13 to 18, watch videos online every day. According to a Pew Research survey of YouTube users, half said they use the platform for education purposes. But many of the videos they may encounter on science topics are not based on established scientific data at all, and instead promote pseudoscience, false claims and conspiracy theories.
"If you're already predisposed to be interested in conspiracy theories and you're watching videos on conspiracies, the 'flat Earth' videos are going to be suggested to you. When you search for shapes of the Earth, it's the 'flat Earth' data that's going to be presented to you," said Asheley Landrum, an assistant professor at Texas Tech University who specializes in science communication.
"You end up in an echo chamber where you're being exposed more to this evidence than the information that would correct the 'flat Earth' views you're talking about."
YouTube, which is owned by Google, has community guidelines that ban "harmful" content, but there's no specific policy against spreading false or misleading ideas about science.
Re: Critical Importance of Science & Facts
- "You can manage only what you can measure"
50th Anniversary of Landsat (2016)
GreenPolicy360 Siterunner: When Rep. George E. Brown drafted originating legislation establishing a national climate change research program via the National Climate Program Act of 1978, the scientific community and nation were just beginning to awaken to a new national security threat. I remember his concern, our concern. He was trained as a scientist, an engineer, with an ability to see facts and data sets in a way others could not.
Congressman George E. Brown / Science Committee Leadership at the Front of Climate Action
- The first federal program established to study and assess scientifically the issues and risks of human-caused climate change
At the Beginning of U.S. Science on Global Warming
Data, Strategies & Planning
1978, the First Climate Act
Congressman Brown was responsible for the drafting and passage in 1977 of the First U.S. Federal Climate Report
In 1979 came the first follow-on National Science Academy report. This study and report of national scientists was prescient and accurate in its global warming predictions.
Representative Brown, a Congressperson with vision, was out in front of "Big Science". With decades on the House Science committee, and as an engineer, he knew the need for good data with which good policy decisions could be made. He pressed for first-generation earth science satellites and ongoing earth monitoring missions and data sharing. Among his many initiatives, George Brown was a key figure in proposing, establishing, and then saving the Landsat program, the uniquely 'open-access' database of Earth Science imaging when President Reagan attempted to shut Landsat down. Landsat, a model for all the following earth science research missions from space, is now moving into its fifth decade with Landsat 9.
George's profound accomplishments are especially missed now in the current era as anti-science positioning in the U.S. Congress threatens national and global security...
GreenPolicy360 Siterunner: William Westermeyer writes of a science agency that was established thru the work of Congressman George E Brown, Congressman from East LA and a leader of California's initiatives in environmental science. Gingrich disbanded the US Office of Technology Assessment in the 1995, after its warning on climate change. Today, the science office to advise the president, Office of Science and Technology Policy also brought into existence by George Brown, is moribund with its science executive positions going unfilled. The president is on record saying he doesn't need the science... The nation and world head into the future as science is set aside.
A 'Wright Brothers Moment' -- the First Commercial e-Plane Flies
BBC's Future Planet Series Highlights Electric Flight
More on e-Flight
Australia -- an 'Insane Energy Project'
Japan -- after Fukushima's meltdown, 22 New Coal Energy Projects
It is one unintended consequence of the Fukushima nuclear disaster almost a decade ago, which forced Japan to all but close its nuclear power program. Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power plants — one of the dirtiest sources of electricity — at 17 different sites in the next five years, just at a time when the world needs to slash carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming...
Together the 22 power plants would emit almost as much carbon dioxide annually as all the passenger cars sold each year in the United States. The construction stands in contrast with Japan’s effort to portray this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the greenest ever.
Money & Climate Policy
Why a 17-year-old is a better economist than Steve Mnuchin
No 'Planet B' but NOAA cometh with "Climate intervention" - "Geoengineering"?
Trump administration attacks the 'Magna Carta' of US Environmental Protection, the NEPA Act
Administration officials say they aim to "modernize and clarify" the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA.
NEPA is often said to be the Magna Carta of the environmental movement...
A Green Paradigm
As we look toward a New Year and New Decade, we bring a green world view forward with us
Everything is connected in nature, it is all related
Looking at the climate and how it is changing... Look to the physics of interconnected Earth systems
Here, let Kate Marvel explain:
Tracking the Environmental Rollbacks of the Trump Presidency
Environmental & Energy Law Program / Harvard Law School
Real-world legal analysis for today’s environmental and energy challenges
We provide real-world legal analysis for today’s environmental and energy challenges. We promote creative problem solving and productive engagement through rigorous legal research, and outreach to decision-makers, stakeholders, media, and the public. Our work covers the following issue areas:
Environmental Governance: including Tracking Environmental Deregulation and Tracking the Undermining of EPA’s Mission
Electricity Law and Policy
Private Sector Governance & Innovation
State & Local Climate Strategies
Decision-makers in these areas are faced with the challenges of technological advances, restructured markets, and climate change. These challenges require innovative, nimble responses that are grounded in a thoughtful policy framework. The Environment & Energy law project at Harvard works with policymakers, advocacy organizations, industry groups, and other stakeholders, to contribute legal scholarship that has real world impacts.
Science Under Attack
WASHINGTON — In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.
Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus...
What was achieved at the Climate Summit? Little progress.
Climate Summit in Madrid ends without action agenda. More promises to act, few commitments
In Madrid, world leaders arrive for the 25th UN Climate Change Conference !
"We inherited the planet from our parents, and we need to hand it over to future generations" - @KurtykaMichal formally opens the #ClimateChange gathering before handing over its Presidency to @CarolaSchmidtZ / Webcast
Recently a majority of lawmakers in the European Parliament voted to declare "a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and globally." The European Parliament vote to declare a 'climate emergency' stands in stark contrast to the United States and its president.
More at GreenPolicy360 Climate News
And from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
This has been a pretty unfortunate few weeks for overall climate news, serving up almost a trifecta of bad reports. Consider: A major new United Nations report issued today (Tuesday, November 26) found that greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s biggest polluters have increased, despite the landmark agreement in Paris four years ago to hold the increase in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degree Fahrenheit. “The summary finding is bleak,” the report said, and “…deeper and faster cuts are now required.”
On a longer time scale, the World Meteorological Organization reported yesterday that levels of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have reached another new, record high. “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” the organization’s leader, Petteri Taalas, said.
Meanwhile, evidence has been accumulating that the world is getting closer and closer to what has been called a “hothouse Earth scenario,” in which large chunks of the planet become at least partially uninhabitable, leading 11,000 scientists to publish an open letter on November 5 in the journal BioScience calling for immediate action. The letter said: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”
"We are running out of air" -- Delhi
So they knew...
Via The Guardian / House Democrats on Wednesday laid out evidence that the oil behemoth ExxonMobil had known since the 1970s about the potential for a climate crisis and intentionally sowed doubt about it. One of those testifying was Martin Hoffert, a scientist consultant for Exxon Research and Engineering in the 1980s. Responding to the New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Hoffert testified that in 1982, Exxon scientists predicted how carbon dioxide levels would rise and heat the planet as humans burned more fossil fuels.
Exxon sowed doubt about climate crisis, a House of Representatives Committee heard in US Congressional testimony.
All presidents over the past two decades have nudged science to support their policies, but a report out of N.Y.U. says the Trump administration has driven federal science to a “crisis point.”
Does the Climate Crisis Violate the Rights of Those Yet to be Born?
Carbon Budgeting as Financial Planning Budgeting
As #PlanetCitizens w/ GreenPolicy360, we turn to our friends at #GlobalCitizen for a deep discussion of a heating Earth, CO2 and a ticking clock
"You are failing us"...
Biggest CO2 emitters in disarray as international cooperation drops away
US president/US climate policy push fossil fuels, act to block shift to clean energy
Still seething over California’s end run around its plan to roll back fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions targets on new cars, the Trump administration has launched an antitrust investigation into four automakers that reached an agreement with the state to make their cars run cleaner.
The administration also sent a letter to California officials warning darkly of “legal consequences” if the state does not abandon the agreement. And it’s considering revoking California’s long-standing authority to set tougher auto pollution standards than those required by the federal government — an authority Congress has provided at least since 1967 in recognition of the state’s own efforts to clean its dirty air.
This is a blatant attempt to use the power of the federal government to bully companies that disagree with the president. It’s especially galling that the administration would use the threat of a Justice Department investigation to pressure automakers to make cars that are worse for consumers, worse for the environment and worse for a rapidly warming planet...
The Democratic presidential candidates are finally getting climate action on the agenda. Next to nuclear blunder, nothing is more important for our future.
-- Jerry Brown ... CLIMATE ACTION IS THE REAL DEAL!!! #ActOnClimate
Adding climate change to school curriculums. Geoengineering. Thorium fuel reactors. A Blue New Deal. The Syrian war was a climate war. Climate distress included in asylum petitions. Food deserts. Climate denial is a literal sin. “Democracy” is a verb.
For the first time in the history of the country, these topics and others like them were discussed in detail by presidential candidates on live television, and all with the words “Climate Crisis” in huge letters above them on the stage and flashed in chyrons across the screen. Underscoring the gravity of the topic were constant updates on the ruinous progress of Hurricane Dorian, which reclaimed Category 3 status as it clawed its way toward landfall once again...
CNN / Regardless of what happens in the 2020 presidential election, critics say Trump has already cemented an environmental legacy that will be felt by generations to come.
"He is locking in permanent, irreversible damage to our environment through his irresponsible environmental policies, including his efforts to block progress on climate change," said Dr. Michael E. Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. "Once we go beyond key tipping points -- the melting of the major ice sheets -- there is no going back."
The Amazon Rainforest Burns
Fossil Fuel 'Silver Bullet'?
And What a Record It Is
Environmental Working Group: “The spectacle of the president straining to document a positive environmental record should be seen for what it is – utter fantasy.
There has never been a president who has actively pursued an agenda so hostile to the environment and public health at the behest of polluters than Mr. Trump.”
Experts watching the speech said many of the president’s claims were not based in fact. Those achievements that were real, they said, were the result of actions taken by his predecessors. And they noted the one conspicuous omission from the whole discussion: any mention of climate change, the overarching environmental threat that Mr. Trump has mocked in the past.
The US President Continues His Assault on Environmental Laws/Regulations and Policy
GreenPolicy360: The record of the president on the big picture security issues is a veritable failure. On two existential issues GreenPolicy continues to sound the alarm about, climate and nuclear weapons, the president's record is abysmal by any reasoned accounting. On climate disruption, threats to the global atmosphere, consequences across the nation and globe as a result of environmental impacts to the economy, on biodiversity, life as we know it, the president races to dismantle decades of environmental work even as he attempts to take credit for 'clean air, clean water' work accomplished since the 1960s and 1970s, the foundations of the modern environmental movement. On nuclear weapons, his administration throws out nuclear weapons agreements, abandons nuclear treaties, refuses to enter into nuclear arms control negotiations, speeds up the development of 'usable' nuclear weapons systems, expands the nuclear weapons into space with next generation hyperspace delivery systems, and yet in spite of all of this claims 'he' is 'the answer' to security.
GreenPolicy360 strongly disagrees with those who are ignoring the gathering dual threats of escalating climate crisis and the current proliferation of nuclear weapons.
NOAA says... learn the basics to understand climate data
@Climate.gov / https://www.climate.gov/maps-data/primer/climate-data-primer
NOAA NEWS / RISING EMISSIONS DRIVE GREENHOUSE GAS INCREASES
NOAA’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index tracks the relative climate-forcing influence exerted by carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases since the start of the industrial revolution. This year it rose to a value of 1.43, meaning that the increase in the atmosphere’s heat-trapping capacity attributable to human activity has risen 43 percent since 1990.
The index, known as the AGGI, is based on hundreds of air samples collected from sites around the world each year from NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, and carefully analyzed at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.
“Greenhouse gas pollution traps heat in the atmosphere, which has consequences,” said James Butler, director of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division. “There’s no getting around it -- burning fossil fuels is changing the course of our planet’s future. How society deals with that will be a major challenge in coming decades.”
84 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump
Via the NY Times / June 3, 2019
A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 80 in a Trump administration 'aggressive schedule'...
Trump administration escalates war on climate science
How the oil industry and other polluters paid for studies to downplay climate change and give the GOP cover for inaction:
“You want to understand the climate crisis today? It’s 25 years of corruption in Washington.” -- Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for US president, May 2019
On April 22, 2019, Earth Day in the US
- - A coal lobbyist runs the EPA
- - An oil lobbyist runs the DOI
- - A Monsanto exec runs US Fish & Wildlife
- - A BP oil attorney is the nation's top enviro lawyer
- - A fossil fuel lobbyist is the EPA's air pollution chief
- - A big energy insider regulates our power grid
- Via Public Citizen
Visit GreenPolicy's Climate News
David Attenborough... “Fifty years ago, we didn’t even realize what the problem was. Maybe thirty years ago we did recognize what the problem was but didn’t know much about it, thinking, That’s way in the future. Now we know that it’s right here ahead of us.”
Measuring & Monitoring CO2
- April 19: 413.86 ppm
- April 18: 413.43 ppm
- April 17: 413.63 ppm
- Watching the Keeling Curve, Vital Signs
- Keeling's Curve has been called one of the most important scientific works of the 20th century
- Above and Beyond National Borders
Democrats Now in the Majority in the House of Representatives
The State of Climate Science: Committee on Science, Space and Technology
CLIMATE / Via E&E News
Democrats praise 'refreshing' change in Science Committee
The Science, Space and Technology Committee kicked off its long-awaited climate hearing this morning by agreeing on one basic fact: Climate change is happening.
Back in business! After so many years of inaction, a decade, climate science is again in front of the US House of Representatives.
Climate change is happening. Science-based decisions are needed, resilience is necessary, healthier, more secure communities are the goal.
Antarctica, ominous scientific discovery
- • http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaau3433
- • https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/thwaites-glacier-has-an-enormous-cavity-beneath-it-melted-by-warm-ocean-waters/news-story/d76c01e23593eab1d85324db89c3cd79
Scientists Detect an Enormous Cavity Growing Beneath Antarctica
- Researchers say the cavity would once have been large enough to hold some 14 billion tonnes of ice. Even more disturbing, the researchers say it lost most of this ice volume over the last three years alone.
- "We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it," says glaciologist Eric Rignot from the University of California, Irvine, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
- "Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail."
Greenland, unprecedented loss of ice
"The reason we care about the changing climate is because it is a threat multiplier," said Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and a political science professor at Texas Tech University. "If you think immigration is a problem now, just wait. If you think international competitiveness, or agriculture or water shortages, or the extreme amount of money that is being spent to help cities and regions recover after disasters, if you think any of that is a problem right now, just wait."
The threat from climate change needs an Oval Office address to communicate its seriousness, said Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina who once rejected climate science but now tries to engage conservatives on the issue.
He said neither immigration nor climate change requires a national emergency declaration. Instead, a Republican president could use the backdrop of the Oval Office to explain that America is prepared to lead the world on climate action. He said he envisions a grand speech that echoes President Kennedy in 1961 at Rice University, where he marshaled the nation's best science for a race to the moon.
"Climate change is this huge challenge, it's a worldwide challenge, it's just a call for American greatness to solve the challenge," Inglis said. "The rest of the world can't solve it. It does warrant that level of attention from a president, and of course that's not what we're getting now."
○ "Humanity faces two imminent existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war. These were virtually ignored in the (US 2018 midterm election) campaign rhetoric and general coverage. There was plenty of criticism of the Trump administration, but scarcely a word about by far the most ominous positions the administration has taken: increasing the already dire threat of nuclear war, and racing to destroy the physical environment that organized human society needs in order to survive. These are the most critical and urgent questions that have arisen in all of human history. The fact that they scarcely arose in the campaign is truly stunning — and carries some important, if unpleasant, lessons about our moral and intellectual culture." -- Truthout, Noam Chomsky, November 2018
"Restore the credibility of the Science Committee as a place where science is respected and recognized as a crucial input to good policymaking."
Nov 6, 2018
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
(Dallas, TX) – Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX) statement
Evaluating the Accuracy of Seasonal Climate Predictions
An analysis of historical modeling outputs is improving our understanding of seasonal forecasting skills
Earth & Space Science News from EOS / AGU
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Nancy B. Beck, the Trump administration’s appointee to help oversee the EPA’s toxic chemical unit, previously worked as an executive at the American Chemistry Council, one of the industry’s main lobbying groups.
Mr. Pruitt faced up to 19 separate investigations into his conduct reflecting a stunning degree of disregard for federal ethics, special-interest and procurement rules. The sheer volume of investigations would be comic but for the harm Mr. Pruitt wrought.
Via the Associated Press:
Mr. Wheeler's public statements show him to be a skeptic, like Pruitt, about the extent to which coal, oil and gas emissions drive climate change... Wheeler was Senator Jim Inhofe's former chief of staff... Inhofe of Oklahoma is the Senate's most ardent challenger of manmade climate-change. After leaving his work with Inhofe, Wheeler then went to work as a lobbyist for top coal companies and other businesses and interests.
"Surviving Victory": Moving Away from "Perpetual War"
Shifting from Fossil Fuel Causes of Conflict to Renewable Energy Alternatives
Trump’s NASA Chief: 'I Fully Believe and Know the Climate Is Changing'
“I also know that we human beings are contributing to it in a major way”
“As far as my position on climate change and how it’s evolved, I’ll be very open...” the new administrator of NASA said at a town hall Thursday (May 17) at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“I don’t deny that consensus that the climate is changing,” he said. “In fact, I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we humans beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it into the atmosphere in volumes that we haven’t seen, and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it.”
... whether Bridenstine’s views on climate change have changed or not, the views of his bosses haven’t, and this remains a point of concern for Bridentine’s critics. The Trump White House has proposed cutting or canceling many of nasa’s earth-science missions. So far, they’ve been spared. Republicans don’t have enough seats in the Senate to pass their dream budgets, so they’ve had to negotiate bipartisan budget legislation with Democrats. This setup has preserved most of nasa’s climate funding, but not all. The latest budget deal didn’t specifically mention nasa’s Carbon Monitoring System, a $10-million program to track greenhouse-gas emissions around the world. The Trump administration took that as an opportunity to terminate the program.
The Trump administration has cut off funding for a major NASA satellite-based climate change research program, according to the latest issue of Science magazine.
The magazine reported that even though Congress has successfully fended off much of the White House's "broad attack on climate science," a spending deal signed in March made no mention of NASA's $10-million-a-year Carbon Monitoring System.
Unlike the satellites that provide the climate data, the research program that uses the data had no private contractor to lobby for it.
NASA spokesman Steve Cole told Science that existing grants for the program will be allowed to finish but no new research will be supported.
Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Mass., told the magazine the monitoring system is an obvious target for the Trump administration because of its association with the Paris climate change agreement and its work with other nations to help them understand their greenhouse gas emissions.
Many of the 65 research programs that the system supports are focused on tracking how global CO2 is stored naturally in forests, rivers, and other natural formations.
- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE / SCIENCE Journal / May 2018
- You can't manage what you don't measure. The adage is especially relevant for climate-warming greenhouse gases, which are crucial to manage—and challenging to measure. In recent years, though, satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet's flows of carbon. Now, President Donald Trump's administration has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned.
- The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University's Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts. "If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement," she says. Canceling the Carbon Monitoring System "is a grave mistake."
GreenPolicy360's Earth POV
Photo credit: NASA
What is there to say about a NASA appointment to the Trump cabinet who in the past has been a climate science denier, even as the NASA mission statement from its beginnings speaks to the necessity of Earth Science as a foremost mission of the agency. Of course, planet Earth has been studied by NASA for decades, coming out of the initial satellite missions of the 1970s and 1980s until today's first generation of sophisticated data-rich baselines of atmospheric-sea-and terrestrial systems. Yet, rejection of the vital missions of NASA seems to fit with rejection of the vital mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Like much of the regression of the Trump administration, the appointment of Jim Bridenstine, over serious objections, demonstrates a policy of deconstruction, a policy that sets aside national security threats and retreats from responsibilities to all citizens in the nation, and a clear U.S. responsibility to cooperate with the international community to envision and achieve common goals as we strive toward attaining a common overarching goal of global security.
Given the pressing needs, the Green Policy position on the new NASA administrator is to raise warning flags. Our skepticism is deep and our patience and forbearance is stretched as we examine the record of this political figure without a science background. Yes, Mr. Bridenstine was a Navy pilot and served honorably. Apart from his service record, his knowledge and understanding of NASA's challenges and its historic mission remains a core concern of ours. How limited is his view. It seems on inspection of his public statements a dangerously limited view.
- Trump's new NASA chief Jim Bridenstine a 'climate change denier' who could make 'terrifying' decisions, US senators warn
The challenge and risk of climate disruption and the role of NASA's satellite missions in studying Earth's life-enabling atmosphere, monitoring and measuring Earth systems essential for human survival, is NO minor responsibility.
We will soon find answers to our questions on his vision and capabilities -- if the new administrator has any idea of real world threats and challenges as he takes on his new role.
The Biggest Cuts Proposed by the Trump Administration to NASA
Earth Science/Atmosphere Monitoring like OCO-3 Proposed for Elimination
Draconian Cuts to a NASA Original Mission -- to Study Planet Earth
There were five NASA Earth Science missions slated for the chopping block in the President's original proposal. These cuts were to vital satellites, all of which are focused on measuring various aspects of Earth's climate, including reflected and emitted light and energy, cloud cover and behavior, and the detection of long-and-short-term climate trends. If you want to understand how the planet's climate works, to forecast seasonal and environmental trends, and to do medium-to-long-term forecasting, you need these missions. Four of these five missions have had their funding restored:
- the Plankton; Aerosol; Cloud; ocean Ecosystem (PACE);
- the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3);
- the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR)'s Earth-viewing instruments;
- and the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder.
- while a fifth, the Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI), remains cancelled. However, future large missions designed to monitor the Earth's climate have received no official nod of support, threatening their long-term viability.
Trump's EPA Continues Assault on Environmental Protection Agency
New York Timed Editorial: "Policies aside — and they’re terrible, from an environmental perspective — Mr. Pruitt’s self-aggrandizing and borderline thuggish behavior has disgraced his office and demoralized his employees. We opposed his nomination because he had spent his career as attorney general of Oklahoma suing the federal department he was being asked to lead on behalf of industries he was being asked to regulate. As it turns out, Mr. Pruitt is not just an industry lap dog but also an arrogant and vengeful bully and small-time grifter, bent on chiseling the taxpayer to suit his lifestyle and warm his ego.
"Any other president would have fired him. Mr. Trump praises him. “Scott is doing a great job!” the president tweeted on April 7.
"Mr. Trump seems to care not a whit about Mr. Pruitt’s mounting ethical problems, which have lately reached a point where Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, has reportedly told the president that he should think seriously about letting Mr. Pruitt go...
"By endless repetition, he has reinforced in the public mind the lie that Republicans have peddled for years and Mr. Trump’s minions peddle now, that environmental rules kill jobs, that limiting carbon dioxide emissions will damage the economy, that the way forward lies not in technology and renewable energy but in digging more coal and punching more holes in the ground in search of oil. And, on the human level, he has been in the forefront of the administration’s shameless effort to delude the nation’s frightened coal miners into thinking coal is coming back, when any comeback is unlikely not because of regulation but because of strong market forces favoring natural gas and renewables.
"The recently confirmed deputy administrator, Andrew Wheeler, is a former coal industry lobbyist who shares Mr. Pruitt’s deregulatory zeal and fealty to the fossil fuels industry. Mr. Wheeler was for many years chief of staff for James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and long the Senate’s most determined denier of the accepted science on global warming."
Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House science committee, who has announced his retirement from Congress, leaves behind a checkered past.
A March 2018 op-ed fror Fox News illustrates again that the Congressman from Texas has ranged beyond facts and science as he represents his district and his base of supporters primarily from oil/gas interests.
A Tale of Two EPAs
To what lengths will Scott Pruitt go to undo the good work being done by his agency’s scientists, researchers, and staff
Sometimes you really do have to stop and wonder what U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is thinking...
- In the U.S., Conflict Continues as Environmental Protection is Cut
- Environmental Protection Agency News
Via E & E News / https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060073703
Trump seeks big cuts to science across agencies
Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The Trump administration wants to eliminate a broad swath of the nation's climate change research infrastructure, including satellites, education programs and science centers.
Though it has little chance of being enacted, the Trump administration's budget proposal unveiled yesterday targets hundreds of millions of dollars in climate science, renewable energy research and climate mitigation efforts across a variety of federal agencies, including NASA, NOAA, U.S. EPA and the departments of the Interior and Energy.
- https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43935.pdf -- The Office of Science and Technology Policy over the past year has undergone deep cuts as the presidential science adviser position goes unappointed and coordinated science and technology leadership is absent. This office has aided presidents understanding and shaping of federal initiatives and programs involving science, research & development, space and technology since the mid 1970s. The current administration has chosen to go without this scientific resource.
- https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-rsquo-s-science-advisor-age-31-has-a-political-science-degree/ -- Trump’s top ‘science adviser’ is a 31-year-old with only a political science degree. Michael Kratsios is an ex-Peter Thiel employee and as deputy assistant in the Office of Science and Technology Policy the nation's federal programs involving science and technology are being "coordinated", or so it seems.
- This past year has revealed much regarding the administration and Republican-controlled Congress positions. Science-based policy is under broad challenge and attack. Clearly, based on the record, the president cares little for science advisers and scientific evidence as a basis for federal policy.
- The newly released 2019 federal budget reveals priorities as sent up to the U.S. Congress. The human/health/environment/education services face deep cuts. Department of Defense/war operations globally and expanded nuclear weapon systems are in line for hundreds of billions in new spending. A new arms race has commenced. Science across federal agencies continues to be set back. The future of the nation and its standing among nations takes another consequential step.
About the Office of Science and Technology Policy
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was established by the National Science and Technology Policy, Organization and Priorities Act of 1976. OSTP's responsibilities include advising the President in policy formulation and budget development on all questions in which S&T are important elements; articulating the President's S&T policies and programs, and fostering strong partnerships among Federal, State and local governments, and the scientific communities in industry and academe. The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): History and Overview -- https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43935.pdf
(GreenPolicy Siterunner: Congressman George E. Brown was a key drafter and co-sponsor of the original 1976 legislation establishing the Science and Technology office and presidential cabinet level infrastructure coordinating federal science/technology policy and initiatives. Representative Brown, my close friend, was the author of the National Climate Program Act of 1978, the first federal program established to study and assess scientifically the issues and risks of human-caused climate change. George's career, especially on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, is notable for his decades of out-in-front efforts to advance "big science". More here about George Brown from California.)
Deregulating / Dismantling / Denying
As the current U.S. administration attempts to deconstruct decades of scientific endeavors, technology leadership, and national/environmental security policy...
Climate Deregulation Tracker / Columbia Law School
U.S. Climate Change Litigation in the Age of Trump: Year One / Columbia Law School
Climate Law Blog
Whatever your politics, whatever your religion or beliefs, wherever on Earth you live, take care to make decisions based on sound science and facts.
In the United States, many are questioning the state of science. Let's take a look at Science Magazine as all of us on Earth enter 2018.
On the Anniversary of the Launch of Explorer, January 31, 1958
- NASA Reminder of the Beginnings of Earth Science from Space
- Explorer 1, the first “scientific Earth satellite”
- Six Decades of Measuring and Monitoring
- "NASA has used the vantage point of space to understand and explore our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future..."
- Even as the importance of #EarthScience grows, there are those who are attempting to block the work of science
- The Silencing Science Tracker is a database initiative that tracks government attempts to restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information, since the November 2016 election.
- GreenPolicy360 & Science
- https://www.greenpolicy360.net/w/Stats_-_Green_Research_%26_Science | GreenPolicy & SciencePolicy
- Visit Democratization of Space
- Visit Micro-satellites
- International Cooperation, Framework Convention on Climate Change
The “we are still in” coalition of states, cities, universities, faith groups and environmental activists, aims to show delegates from other nations at the Nov. 6-17 U.N. talks that many Americans are working to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
It says its signatories represent more than 130 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of annual economic output.
Brown has been hailed in German media as the “anti-Trump” for his efforts to keep the United States engaged in the 2015 Paris agreement’s commitments to cut greenhouse emissions...
“It’s hard to get your mind around something so extensive,” said Brown, who was appointed by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the U.N. conference president, to serve as a special advisor for states and regions...
“Let’s lead the whole world to realize this is not your normal political challenge,” he added. “This is much bigger. This is life itself. It requires courage and imagination.”
In the military, the term "beheading" generally refers to battlefield strategy of disrupting the eyes and ears of the enemy, the intelligence communication systems. Here the enemy is us, as the US president moves to disrupt the eyes and ears of NASA earth facing mission monitoring real-time conditions on the home planet. It would be, if the anti-sci caucus in Congress goes along and has their way, a historic mistake. The ability to manage is based on measurement over time and cutting off our overhead earth science research will produce blind spots today and "data gaps" going forward. Read the Sept Jon Gertner 'Going Dark' article to get an idea of what's at stake and some of the consequences of being beheaded.
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- "Look at how thin our atmosphere is. This is all there is between humankind and deadly space."
- -- Astronaut Alexander Gerst @Astro_Alex
- "Thin Blue", Life-Enabling Atmosphere
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America pays a 'denial price' today and tomorrow
It’s useless to explain to those who put political dogma before science that when air is warmer, it holds more water vapor. It’s that simple. The Economist notes that the world’s average temperature is about 1.2 degrees higher (Fahrenheit) than it was as recently as 1979. That’s a lot more water in the atmosphere — and it eventually it’s got to come down.
To such learned men like Limbaugh, who has a college degree from — well, from nowhere — that just means we get rain from time to time. After all, the weather changes every day, right? Brilliant!
But to others, who take such matters more intelligently, it means this: Weather-related disasters are increasing dramatically. Data from Munich RE, one of the world’s leading reinsurers, notes big spikes since 1980 in “meteorological events” (storms), “hydrological events” (floods, landslides and avalanches), and “climatological events” (extreme temperatures, droughts, forest fires). Munich’s data underscores what should be obvious to all but the most partisan skeptic: that the frequency, intensity and duration of “weather-related” events is on the rise.
This is the part where deniers mock “fake news” because it doesn’t jibe with their political beliefs. This is the highest form of ignorance: denying things that have already occurred.
Speaking of denial, one of the first things Florida Gov. Rick Scott did when he took office in 2011 was to ban official use of the words "climate change,” "global warming” and “sustainability.”
Such annoying phrases. Granted, Scott has done a good job in the days before and after Hurricane Irma. But we’ll never know how much less damage there might have been to businesses and homeowners had Scott chosen not censorship, but leadership six years ago by acknowledging climate change and facing it head on. Silence doesn’t make a problem like this go away.
Trump’s actions, meanwhile, have spoken louder than any words, banned or otherwise. He took more money from the coal industry — by far — than anyone else during the 2016 campaign. And as president, he has returned the favor in spades. He famously pulled out of the Paris climate pact — joining only war-ravaged Syria and tiny Nicaragua on the sidelines. He complained about all of Barack Obama’s executive orders, but signed one scrapping Obama’s Clean Power Plan rule designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
Trump has blamed Obama for coal’s decline, but the real reason is lower natural gas prices. Obama became president in 2009, yet between 2000 and 2010, power plants generated 50% more electricity from gas, while coal’s use declined slightly.
Obama gave these trends a further nudge, no doubt about it, but the shift from coal to cleaner, cheaper natural gas appears irreversible. I empathize with the coal industry, just as I would have empathized with the horse and buggy crowd in 1908, when Henry Ford’s first Model T spelled their demise. It’s called progress, folks.
And no column on energy and climate change would be complete without mentioning perhaps the worst Cabinet-rank pick ever made by an American president: Scott Pruitt. Pruitt, a climate denier par excellence, has, behind a cloak of secrecy and fear, turned the Environmental Protection Agency into an arm of the fossil fuel industry that has long had him in its pocket.
Congress takes aim at the Clean Air Act
A push by Republicans to roll back parts of the Clean Air Act would affect California more than any other state...
The House last month passed a bill fiercely opposed by doctors and public health groups, including the American Lung Assn. and the American Academy of Pediatrics, that would delay for years new anti-pollution standards aimed at ultimately preventing 160,000 childhood asthma attacks and as many as 220 premature deaths in California each year.
The Trump administration had already tried using regulatory authority to put the standards on hold for a year, but walked back that action Wednesday after California and 14 other states filed suit against the delay.
SJS / Siterunner: I can literally remember LA movers and shakers pushing and drafting the first clean air legislation to deal w LA smog/air quality, then pushing the first national legislation, and pushing Nixon to sign on to the establishment of the EPA. The beginnings of the modern environmental movement, in many ways, signalled a children's health agenda ...
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GreenPolicy's snapshot of Greenland and NASA's IceBridge studies of melting glaciers -- https://www.greenpolicy360.net/w/Category:Greenland
Don't Believe Lamar's Line
WASHINGTON — Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) — who has spent his career cozying up to fossil fuel interests, dismissing the threat of climate change and harassing federal climate scientists — is now arguing that pumping the atmosphere full of carbon dioxide is “beneficial” to global trade, crop production and the lushness of the planet.
Rather than buying into “hysteria,” Americans should be celebrating the plus sides of a changing climate, Smith argues in an op-ed published July 24th in The Daily Signal, a news website published by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Smith — who has used his power as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to push his anti-science views — kicks off his op-ed by claiming Americans’ perception of the phenomenon is “too often determined by their hearing just one side of the story.”
“The benefits of a changing climate are often ignored and under-researched,” Smith said. “Our climate is too complex and the consequences of misguided policies too harsh to discount the positive effects of carbon enrichment.”
Increased carbon dioxide, Smith writes, promotes photosynthesis, resulting in a “greater volume of food production and better quality food” and “lush vegetation” that “assists in controlling water runoff, provides more habitats for many animal species, and even aids in climate stabilization, as more vegetation absorbs more carbon dioxide.” Warmer temperatures, he notes, results in longer growing seasons.
Smith goes as far as to make a case for why a rapidly melting Arctic, which scientists warn could cost tens of trillions of dollars by the end of this century, is a positive thing.
“Also, as the Earth warms, we are seeing beneficial changes to the earth’s geography,” he writes. “For instance, Arctic sea ice is decreasing. This development will create new commercial shipping lanes that provide faster, more convenient, and less costly routes between ports in Asia, Europe, and eastern North America. This will increase international trade and strengthen the world economy.”
Climate-change deniers go to great lengths to convince the public that there’s a legitimate scientific debate about whether humans are the main cause of global warming, but the Trump administration took this pathology to another level last week: Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, plans to form a group to question the merits of climate science.
The Future of Humanity, or Crime Against
"Clear-eyed outlook?" Not
The Consequences Start Now / June 1
The US will be judged, this day will be long remembered.
He does not see the common security threats. He does not see what our common interests. There's so much he doesn't know & so much he doesn't know that he doesn't know.
- “This current departure from reality in Washington will be very short-lived, that I promise you,” Brown told POLITICO in an interview. “I’ve spoken with Republicans here in the Legislature, and they’re beginning to get very serious about climate action, so the momentum is all the other way. And I think Trump, paradoxically, is giving climate denial such a bad name that he’s actually building the very movement that he is [purporting] to undermine...”
Survey of Trump Attack on Environmental Regulations and Laws
On Earth Day, as Around the World Planet Citizens "March for Science"
Bill Nye: "Our lawmakers must know and accept that science serves every one of us. Every citizen of every nation in society. Science must shape policy. Science is universal. Science brings out the best in us." Nye said. "With an informed, optimistic view of the future, we can — dare I say it — save the world!"
Trump's anti-science budget / America ought to own the solar-electric industry. By rights, we ought to be exporting solar technology, not importing it. Our second-tier status, in a field that we once absolutely dominated, is a direct consequence of budget decisions made by President Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget, and a go-along Congress.
Science has always been at the heart of America’s progress. Science cleaned up our air and water, conquered polio and invented jet airplanes. Science gave us the Internet, puts food on our tables and helps us avoid pandemics. Science and technology are widely considered by economists to be responsible for at least half of American economic growth since World War II.
Defunding science is the intellectual equivalent of eating our seed corn.
On Earth Day — April 22 — I expect millions of Americans to join the March for Science. They will include researchers, teachers, students and people who simply support good sense.
We will be marching because, if we let politics overtake the search for truth, much of what has made America great will disappear.
-- LA Times / April 21, 2017 / Dennis Hayes, a founder of Earth Day
Damaging the Collection of Data and Intelligence Necessary for National/Global Security
Dr. Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the Independent he and other government scientists are “not going to stand” for any funding cuts or other interference in their work.
“The point is simple: the climate is changing and you can try to deny it, you can appoint people who don’t care about it into positions of power, but regardless nature has the last vote on this,” Schmidt, told The Independent Thursday. “It’s something we’re going to have to deal with sooner or later, and it’s better sooner rather than later. We don’t have a choice if we’re going to deal with it.”
18 NASA Earth Science Missions in Space
US President Trump’s budget director/chief of staff:
Mick Mulvaney: “Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward —
We’re not spending money on that anymore; we consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”
US Retreats from International Agreements, Cooperation & Environmental Protection
Rejecting Regional & Global Commitments, US Trump Administration Abandons Critical Obligation & Treaties
Decades of Progress Setback
Environmental Protection Agency Cut, Regulations Rescinded, Health & Safety Priorities Dropped
How Scott Pruitt spent the first year at the EPA
In legal maneuvers and executive actions, in public speeches and closed-door meetings with industry groups, the Trump administration has moved to shrink the agency’s reach, alter its focus, and pause or reverse numerous environmental rules. The effect has been to steer the EPA in the direction sought by those being regulated.
Along the way, Pruitt has begun to dismantle former president Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, halting the agency’s efforts to combat climate change and to shift the nation away from its reliance on fossil fuels.
Tracking Environmental Deregulation, Climate Litigation
- http://columbiaclimatelaw.com/resources/climate-deregulation-tracker | Climate Deregulation Tracker
- http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatechange/ | Columbia Law School - Climate Change Law
- http://columbiaclimatelaw.com/resources/silencing-science-tracker/ | Silencing Science Tracker
Lamar Smith Continues Push to Deny Climate Science
- House Science Committee Hearing Attacks Climate Change Evidence and Scientific Community
- Republican Party Denies Profound Risks, Threats, and Damage to National and Global Security
- Watch the March 29th Hearing -- https://www.facebook.com/TheHill/videos/10154707025269087/
- GreenPolicy's response -- Dr. Michael Mann tells the committee the facts of the gathering crisis... "dozens of independent lines of evidence come together... to arrive at the same, consistent answer, over and over again."
- Attacks on Climate Science:
How climate skeptics are trying to influence 200,000 science teachers
Don’t Like The Science -- Make up Your Own Alternative Science
Climate Change Skeptic Group Seeks to Influence 200,000 Teachers
Koch-Funded Group Tries to Persuade 200,000 Science Teachers That Climate Change Is Debatable
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Undercutting National and Global Security:
- US Administration Moves to Eviscerate Earth Science
Science Magazine / March 24 -- Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX) rarely expresses his true feelings in public. But speaking yesterday to a like-minded crowd of climate change doubters and skeptics, the chairman of the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives acknowledged that the committee is now a tool to advance his political agenda rather than a forum to examine important issues facing the U.S. research community.
“Next week we’re going to have a hearing on our favorite subject of climate change and also on the scientific method, which has been repeatedly ignored by the so-called self-professed climate scientists,” Smith told the Heartland Institute’s 12th annual conference on climate change in Washington, D.C.
Emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump, Smith appears increasingly comfortable dismissing those who disagree with his stance on any number of issues under the purview of his science committee, from climate research to the use of peer review in assessing research results and grant proposals. And one key element in his strategy appears to be relabeling common terms in hopes of shaping public dialogue.
“I applaud you for saying you’ll be using the term climate studies, not climate science,” said one audience member. His reference was to Smith’s embrace of a distinction made by a previous speaker, climatologist Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., who argues that most climate scientists don’t deserve to be called “scientists” because they have manipulated their data and ignored contrary results. “But I also urge you to use the term politically correct science.”
“Good point,” Smith replied.
Smith also signaled that he plans to turn up the volume on his criticism of federally funded research that doesn’t fit his definition of “sound science.” In particular, he expressed support for writing legislation that would punish scientific journals that publish research that doesn’t fit standards of peer review crafted by Smith and the committee (although he didn’t say how that would be accomplished).
Lamar Smith / Climate Science Skeptic:
Step-by-Step: Damage to the Nation's Security
The White House to eliminate NASA’s Office of Education, arguing that it was “performing functions that are duplicative of other parts of the agency.”
The budget targets the agency’s work on environmental science, cutting funding for Earth science research grants. It eliminates earth science missions that are still in development, including Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem, or PACE, which was was intended to monitor the Earth’s ocean health; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, or OCO-3, an instrument to precisely monitor the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere; and the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory, or CLARREO, pathfinder, which would have used a solar spectrometer to produce highly accurate climate projections.
On March 14th, Bloomberg reported that President Donald Trump is about to sign an executive order repealing President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and to order a reconsideration of the government’s use of the “social cost of carbon” metric, which measures potential economic damage related to climate change.
Last week, meanwhile, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency administator, Scott Pruitt, suggested that carbon emissions have nothing to do with climate change.
This week, seventeen Republican members of Congress from diverse districts — including representatives from coastal Southeastern states, Nevada, Utah, upstate New York, and Pennsylvania — submitted a resolution in the House acknowledging that “human activities” have had an impact on the global climate and resolving to create and support “economically viable” mitigation efforts.
The resolution, sponsored by Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Elise Stefanik of New York, and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, is being submitted in the midst of an unprecedented effort by the most anti-science administration in recent American history to remove climate science studies and data from federal agencies.
Press Release / March 23, 2017
Scientists Use 'Beetlejuice Provision' to Protect Data From Trump
Records Requests Seek to Preserve Hundreds of Data Sets on Wildlife, Oil Industry, Climate Change, Sea-level Rise
The administration proposing deep budget cuts for government agencies including NASA Earth Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency have fueled new fears of databases being axed...
“We’ll probably be saying goodbye to much of the invaluable data housed at the NCEI,” Anne Jefferson, a water hydrology professor at Kent State University, wrote on Twitter Saturday, referring to the National Centers for Environmental Information. “Hope it gets rescued in time.”
It is illegal to destroy government data, but agencies can make it more difficult to find by revising websites and creating other barriers to the underlying information.
- The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative is an international network of academics and non-profits addressing potential threats to federal environmental and energy policy, and to the scientific research infrastructure built to investigate, inform, and enforce. Dismantling this infrastructure — which ranges from databases to satellites to models for climate, air, and water — could imperil the public’s right to know, the United States’ standing as a scientific leader, corporate accountability, and environmental protection.
- Via Scientific American / E&E News
- Targeting of climate science goes beyond the work of NOAA and EPA
The expected rollback to federal climate science has begun.
In its preliminary budget proposal, the Trump administration has targeted environmental protections and climate change research. And while the cuts are essentially an opening salvo in what promises to be a fight with Congress once the budget requests formally arrive, they also demonstrate the level of hostility many scientists feared their work would face from the White House.
The administration is seeking a nearly 20 percent cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's budget, including to its satellite division, The Washington Post reported. That includes significant cuts to the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, which has produced research that disproved the notion of a global warming pause. NOAA's satellites provide invaluable data on climate change that are used by researchers throughout the world. The NOAA cuts target the Office of Ocean and Atmospheric Research, which conducts the bulk of the agency's climate research.
That's on top of proposed reductions to climate research at U.S. EPA, including a 40 percent cut to the Office of Research and Development, which runs much of EPA's major research. The cuts specify work on climate change, air and water quality, and chemical safety. The Trump administration also has proposed 20 percent staffing reduction at EPA.
- Gina McCarthy, who headed the E.P.A. under former President Barack Obama, said she too saw Mr. Pruitt as unique. “It’s fine to have differing opinions on how to meet the mission of the agency. Many Republican administrators have had that,” she said. “But here, for the first time, I see someone who has no commitment to the mission of the agency.”
- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday (March 8th in a CNBC interview) he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
- "I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."
Clean Air, Clean Water? Healthy Environment? Climate, Sustainable Future?
- Environmental Issues and the Warnings of Science Are 'No Priority'
Congress committee lost in space -- https://eos.org/articles/focus-nasa-on-mars-and-moon-not-earth-witnesses-tell-hearing
- Climate News -- https://www.greenpolicy360.net/w/Climate_News
Science & Politics in the US Congress: Another Year, More Science Denial on the House Science Committee
- Via E&E News and the Smithsonian Online
- House Science Panel Adds Climate-Denying Members
The Science committee has jurisdiction over $40 billion in federal budgets, and influence on climate research and environmental regulations
- The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology continues its move away from acting to ensure national security
- The story - and gathering danger of ignoring scientific warnings - is expanded here by long-time environmental writer Andy Revkin
NASA’s Climate Research, Essential to National & Global Security
Dec 12, 2016
Via Andrew Revkin @ ProPublica)
Piers J. Sellers is the director of NASA’s Earth Science division, and the former astronaut is a climate scientist himself. ProPublica spoke with him recently. Sellers declined to discuss the politics surrounding NASA during a presidential transition, but said the agency has a unique position in the world in clarifying global environmental risks and that part of its mission deserves support.
“We’re doing our best to provide the least dangerous options to getting from here to a safe future,” he said. “That’s our job as U.S. government scientists. NASA has the greatest capability to see what’s going on and has a pretty strong capability to model what’s going on into the future, as well.”
Some of NASA’s most vital Earth science work has been done at a tiny climate research hub, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The center occupies the upper floors of a century-old building in upper Manhattan best known for Tom’s Restaurant, the cash-only corner diner famed because its façade was featured in the sitcom “Seinfeld.”
The institute was led for decades by James E. Hansen, the climate scientist who stepped ahead of most peers in the hot summer of 1988, famously telling a Senate panel it was “99 percent certain” that human-generated greenhouse gases were driving global warming. A decade ago, Hansen defied muzzling efforts during the George W. Bush administration and irked defenders of fossil fuels with his warnings of calamitous warming. He retired in 2013 to focus on activism aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases linked to warming.
The institute has produced one of the four most important records of global temperature trends and, under Hansen’s successor as director, the TED-talking, Twitter-savvy climatologist Gavin A. Schmidt, has continued to refine climate simulations and communicate warnings about unabated warming.
Schmidt declined to be interviewed for this story, citing what he described as selective quoting in recent coverage of possible threats to Earth science under the Trump administration. But he’s shown no signs of dread in his personal Twitter flow, on Thursday night posting this provocative two-parter:
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Read More on Vital Security Interests & Earth Science:
- NASA critics have long wanted to shut the agency out of research related to climate change. The problem is, not only is earth science a long-running part of NASA’s “prime mission,” but it is uniquely positioned to do it. Without NASA, climate research worldwide would be hobbled.
- NASA’s role in earth science began at its inception: The Space Act of 1958, which created NASA, made the study of our atmosphere one of its top priorities. During the Reagan years, Congress amended the act to make Earth the first of NASA’s nine fundamental missions. Right now there are at least 15 earth-science satellites that NASA helped build, launch and operate; they monitor everything from global rainfall to soil moisture.
- Via Business Insider: Scientists around the world are worried about a Trump team proposal to ax NASA's 58-year mission to study the Earth
- Via Dot Earth/NYT: Under Trump, Will NASA’s Space Science Include Planet Earth? / After Nine Years and 2,810 Posts, a Dot Earth Farewell
- By Andrew C. Revkin, December 5, 2016
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Trump to scrap Nasa climate research in crackdown on ‘politicized science’
NASA’s Earth Science division is set to be stripped of funding... Via The Guardian
GreenPolicy: It is painful to acknowledge how slight the attention has been by the US media toward what is, demonstrably, one of the greatest threats rising in the US Congress.
In the above-linked 'Trump to scrap climate research' article, the UK Guardian looks toward the next US administration and points to warning flags that should be raised -- but have not, while the daily-cycle news and mainstream media focuses elsewhere.
We/GreenPolicy360 have been warning about a close-and-present threat in the House science committee and now the danger of profoundly flawed decision-making draws closer as Lamar Smith and a science denial caucus looks to continue, with added powers, their efforts to eviscerate the US Earth Science budget and missions.
The threatened actions of the House Science Committee, in fact, are looming as a serious threat to 'homeland security'. The actions of this science denial group promise to undercuts national/global security.
Take a closer look at what GreenPolicy360 has been reporting taking place in the people's Congress. It is time to draw attention to the risks -- and consequences -- of a Congress rejecting science.
Of course in the legislative process, one has to accept consensus science and the scientific method and policy based on best evidence available and the 'precautionary principle'.
Or, as in the case of the insurance industry, factor in actuarial risks, odds, and a full-cost accounting.
We will soon find out what actions -- and what legacy -- the American people at the beginning of the 21st century pass forward for future generations.
The U.S. and this Congress will be judged based on its actions.
Consider the Existing Earth Science Missions
- The data and Earth observation/monitoring are the resources our generation is passing forward to future generations
- The goal is to provide the capabilities to make informed decisions and shape intelligent policies to protect and preserve security
NASA: Earth is warming at a pace 'unprecedented in 1,000 years'
Science / Earth Observations / Continuing to Measure and Monitor
The planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, at least, making it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year, according to Nasa’s top climate scientist.
“In the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory,” Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”
This year has already seen scorching heat around the world, with the average global temperature peaking at 1.38C above levels experienced in the 19th century, perilously close to the 1.5C limit agreed in the landmark Paris climate accord. July was the warmest month since modern record keeping began in 1880, with each month since October 2015 setting a new high mark for heat.
“Maintaining temperatures below a 1.5C guardrail requires significant and very rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions or co-ordinated geo-engineering.
That is very unlikely. We are not even yet making emissions cuts commensurate with keeping warming below 2C.”
Space, Earth Science & Climate Change
I used to be an astronaut, a spacewalker on the International Space Station... The Station goes around the world in an hour and a half, which means it flies through fifty minutes of day, followed by fifty minutes of night, endlessly repeating. This means that during a seven-hour spacewalk, you may see four sunrises and sunsets. I remember holding onto a handrail on the outside of the Station, which was flying silently up the Atlantic, from south to north, and as we moved toward Europe I could see the terminator—the line between night and day—rolling up over the horizon ahead of us. The white sun sank quickly behind us in a showy flurry of orange, pink, and red horizon bands, and then we were suddenly in twilight, floating into the dark half of the world. The terminator flicked over us, and, in the deeper darkness ahead and below us, I could see a huge lit-up city, glued to the curved Earth, sliding up over the rim of the world to meet me. I could see the structure of the city, with its glowing heart, its network of roads and its halo of suburban lights fading into the dark countryside...
The facts of climate change are straightforward: there’s been a warming surge over the past hundred years, with a dramatic uptick in this new century. We are seeing the effects in the shrinking of the summer Arctic sea ice and the melting of the Greenland glaciers. That melt, in turn, has been partly responsible for the three-inch rise in sea levels since 1992. The Earth is warming, the ice is melting, and sea level is rising. These are observed facts.
Are we humans the cause of these changes? The answer is an emphatic yes. Many climate-research groups around the world have calculated the various contributions to climate change, including those not related to humans, like volcanic ash. It has been shown repeatedly that it is just not possible to explain the recent warming without factoring in the rise in anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
As a scientist, I would like to think that the political discussion of climate change and how to mitigate its worst effects would be sober and fact-based. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Climate-change deniers in the United States have done a first-class job in spreading confusion and misinformation. As a result, many prominent politicians insist, and get away with insisting, that climate change is a hoax, a mantra that has gained some credibility through sheer repetition. Climate deniers are also fond of saying that global warming is not resolved in science or is “just” a theory. This is a perfect example of Orwellian Newspeak which also flies in the face of three hundred years of scientific progress, in which intellectual argument and conviction must be based on facts and substantiated theories, rather than personal beliefs or biases.
It is also dangerous.
Coalition of 25 states, cities and counties / AGs United for Clean Power
Unprecedented Coalition - Attorneys General From California, Connecticut, District Of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington State And The US Virgin Islands Agree To Coordinate Efforts
A.G. Schneiderman: Climate Change Is The Most Consequential Issue Of Our Time. This Unprecedented State-To-State Coordination Will Use All The Tools At Our Disposal To Fight For Climate Progress
Attorneys General go after ExxonMobile
Attorneys General from 13 states and more than a dozen members of the House Science Committee enter the fray on ExxonMobil's behalf
ExxonMobile / Climate Politics:
US House Committee on Science Update: Lamar Smith Continues on his Merry Way
- Scientific Organizations Step Up to Block the Chairman's Politics
Open Letter From Legal Scholars on the (California) Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act
May 19, 2016
We, the undersigned legal scholars, are writing to comment on Senate Bill 1161 (Allen), the Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act. As experts in constitutional law, environmental law, corporate law, and securities law, we believe that SB 1161 furthers the protection of consumers from unfair business practices with respect to scientific evidence regarding anthropogenic climate change.
'A growing body of evidence indicates that major fossil fuel companies knew the risks and potentially catastrophic consequences of processing and burning their products for decades, and as early as the 1950s. This evidence suggests that certain commercial representations made in the intervening decades by major fossil fuel companies regarding the scientific link between fossil fuels and climate change would constitute a deceptive, misleading, or fraudulent business practice...
U.S. Presidential Campaign: Environmental Threats
Trump v the World: Announces his Energy policy
- May 25 / The Republican presidential candidate's position -- Cancel the Paris agreement, More fossil fuels, Less Clean/Renewable Energy
Trump declares he doesn't believe the science and believes climate change a hoax
- Environmental Scorecard: Cruz drops out of race. During Texas Senator's term in office, he voted against every green bill,
- and opposed every pro-environment, anti-pollution piece of legislation
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- Environmental Security, Risks
NASA Earth Sciences 2016 Budget No Longer to be Cut $500 Million
The final budget bill provides $1.92 billion for Earth Science research, just $20 million less than the President's original budget request. The cut is slight compared to initial GOP budget cuts proposed in the House and Senate which had slashed as much as $500 million from the President's request.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden argued before Congress this summer and fall that it was critical to increase the size of NASA's Earth Science programs.
Under the newly passed Fiscal Year 2016 NASA Budget, virtually all of the agency’s programs benefit with either full or added funding. This national security priority will be jeopardized under Republican revanchist policy. The security, Earth Science work of NASA/NOAA is perceived not as advancing security, but as a threat to business. The security debate heats up and those who consider the science and data continue to step forward looking to changes in how we must perceive national - and global - security. -- http://www.universetoday.com/123937/nasa-receives-significant-budget-boost-fiscal-year-2016/
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Via the New Republic, Dec 15
Via Strategic Demands, Dec 13
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Democrat presidential candidate debate, November 14, 2015 (LA Times) -- Sanders was asked whether he still believed, as he had earlier stated, that global warming was the greatest threat to national security. “Absolutely,” Sanders replied, suggesting that “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism”, with the fight over natural resources like water possibly leading to even greater international conflict.
Syria May Be the First Climate-Change Conflict but It Won't Be the Last by Joshua Holland, The Nation, Oct 27, 2015 --- Look at Syria more closely...
It was what one expert called perhaps “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent.” It destroyed the livelihoods of 800,000 people and sent vastly more into poverty. The poor and displaced fled to cities, “where poverty, government mismanagement and other factors created unrest that exploded in spring 2011,” the study’s news release explains.
In 2014, the Defense Department released its “Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap,” describing the issue not as a long-term concern, but that climate change “poses immediate risks to U.S. national security.”
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U.S. Congress Science Committee Disputes Climate Science
"The scientific community is telling us if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we're going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable." -- Bernie Sanders, Oct 2015
Republicans Seek to Strangle Paris Climate Pact -- via Politico / Nov 23
Committee Threatens Subpoenas -- via Washington Post / Nov 18
The congressional committee on science issues subpoenas to the Obama administration over a recent scientific study refuting claims that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the last decade...
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NOAA refuses to turn over scientists’ emails....
Showdown looms with climate change deniers / Oct 28
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- Earth Science Faces Deep Cuts
Potentially a ray of promise in the U.S. Senate on one front in the ongoing debate between an anti-science faction and those urging more science effort be directed at climate change issues and data needed for effective policy -- “The Committee encourages the Secretary to increase funding for academia to perform climate model studies that include the collection and evaluation of atmospheric data sets from satellite observations obtained in cooperation with NASA. Satellite observations of the atmosphere, within the context of the Earth as a global system, provide information that is critical in the interpretation of Earth-based observations. In addition, the Committee encourages the Secretary to allocate 5 percent of the Department’s funds spent on climate change models, studies, or evaluations to create a Red Team, so as to ensure science-based findings.” 114TH Congress Report -- SENATE 1st Session 114–54 to accompany H.R. 2028
From GreenPolicy360: A Congressional faction looking to hobble Earth-Science-research-from-space presents a larger challenge. Climate-change denialists and anti-science partisans do not want to face the data from a new fleet of NASA Earth monitoring satellites. The security threat environment, by most all credible sci, is accelerating fast, yet extreme political voices want to cover the eyes of this generation's reporting of NASA earth observation programs "Earth's Vital Signs". The scientific data tracking Earth systems is long overdue, is essential, and should be continued and expanded not radically cut...
Earth Science 'Outrages' Congressional Republicans / October 2015 via Ars Technica
House Science Committee Guts Earth Sciences Budget / May 2015 via Ars Technica
What's at risk in Earth Sciences
GreenPolicy360: The current debate in the United States Congress is highlighted by voices who would set aside the consensus of the scientific community and cut back budgets for Earth Science studies from space. The recent launches of a fleet of new NASA satellites and related missions to acquire critical data of Earth systems is now threatened by politicians who profess they are "not scientists" and, as a result, cannot speak to the validity of human-caused impacts and threats to natural systems. The vantage point of space offers a unique platform for risk assessment, studying and monitoring Earth's systems over time and, hopefully, better managing the well-being and sustainability of critical systems. Those who undercut the environmental and national security of these missions should be questioned and challenged.
GreenPolicy360 will continue to track the positions and responses of politicians in countries around the globe with an emphasis on those with existing earth-space programs.
The extreme point of view of a US Senator from Texas and anti-science perspective a newly elected Congress are coming to the fore and threaten to have more impact on the nation's security. Senator Cruz from Texas questions and doubts the need for scientific studies that are confronting a host of challenges to the planet's environmental security and, as a result, the US security. Rather Senator Cruz from Texas brings evangelical zeal and religious beliefs that sharply criticize the science of NASA and its recent Earth-monitoring satellite programs.
Cruz versus Bolden
March 12, 2015
Texas Senator Ted Cruz: "More Space, Less Earth"
Ted Cruz Tells NASA to Stop Worrying About Climate Change and Focus on Space
The Texas Republican and likely presidential candidate told NASA’s chief administrator, Charles Bolden, on Thursday to focus on “what inspires little boys and little girls across this country.”
Ted Cruz and Charles Bolden would probably agree that the core of the Earth is a mass of molten metal as hot as the sun. But as for the core of NASA's mission, the senator from Texas and the former astronaut split ways.
Since taking the chairmanship of the Senate Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee this year, Cruz has been pushing the agency to adopt a "more space, less Earth" strategy. The Republican lawmaker argues that the Obama administration is wrongfully neglecting the country's space exploration operations—like potential missions to Mars and beyond—in favor of global-warming research. And he wants to know if Bolden, NASA's administrator, thinks so, too.
"I'd like to start by asking a general question," said Cruz on Thursday during a subcommittee hearing on the president's $18.5 billion budget request for NASA for fiscal 2016, which allocates considerable funding for Earth- and ocean-science projects. "In your judgment, what is the core mission of NASA?"
Bolden said he'd been contemplating that mission over the past few days, and had read over the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which created the agency. "Our core mission from the very beginning has been to investigate, explore space and the Earth environment, and to help us make this place a better place," he said, adding that the study of aeronautics is important as well.
Cruz didn't seem pleased with the "Earth environment" part of Bolden's answer. "Almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space," he said. "That's what inspires little boys and little girls across this country ... and you know that I am concerned that NASA in the current environment has lost its full focus on that core mission."
Cruz then pointed to a chart behind him titled "Focus Inward or Focus Outward? Refocusing NASA's Core Priorities" that compared NASA's budget in 2009 with the current request. He said that since 2009, funding for Earth sciences has seen a 41 percent increase, while funding for exploration and space operations, what Cruz "would consider the core function of NASA," has seen a 7.6 percent decrease.
"In my judgment, this does not represent a fair or appropriate allocation of resources, that it is shifting resources away from the core functions of NASA to other functions," Cruz said. "Do you share that assessment?"
Bolden, who decides how to allocate NASA's annual budget, did not. That dip in space exploration funding? That was kind of the whole point. "Mr. Chairman, I am very interested in your chart," he said. "I will say one thing—it is interesting to note that there is a decrease in exploration and human spaceflight when, in fact, that was somewhat intentional because we were trying to get the cost of exploration down as we reach farther out into the solar system."
Bolden said the now-defunct space shuttles cost NASA $2 billion a year to maintain whether they flew or not. Today, NASA has a $6.6 billion contract with private companies Boeing and SpaceX that will provide for 16 human spaceflights over a span of three to four years.
"So I think the decrease is actually a little bit of what we're trying to do to get the cost of flying humans into space down," he told Cruz. "That's what's driving the market, is reducing launch costs."
More money for Earth-science research is a good thing, he continued. "The fact that Earth-science has increased—I'm proud to say that it has enabled us to understand our planet far better than we ever did before," Bolden said.
The NASA chief distanced himself from Cruz's assessment of spending changes within the agency.
You asked me about your chart. There's a lot of chartsmanship," Bolden said, chuckling. "I'm not sure what you include in 'exploration,' for example. So, by my statement, I was not acknowledging that I agree with the numbers on the chart. I don't want everyone to say I accept the numbers on the chart."
The exchange offered a glimpse of NASA under a potential Cruz presidency. Climate-change researchers let out an audible groan when Cruz, who is expected to run in 2016, took the helm of the Senate subcommittee overseeing the federal agency in January. Cruz's views—especially his belief that global warming doesn't exist—are at odds with NASA's extensive climate-science programs, which study solar activity, sea level rise, and oceanic temperatures, to name a few. On Thursday, Bolden appeared to hope the senator's opinions wouldn't get in the way of how NASA spends its money.
"We can't go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don't know it—and that's understanding our environment," Bolden said, alluding to the risk that climate change poses to the low-elevation state of Florida. "It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth environment because this is the only place that we have to live."
One Senator's priorities:
... In Cruz's mind, President Obama has spent too much of the agency's resources studying the planet we already inhabit, rather than focusing its missions on the "infinity and beyond" objectives that have the potential to captivate Americans.
For Cruz to rewrite NASA's objectives, he'd need the approval of his subcommittee, votes in the full Senate and House, and Obama's signature. Even for someone used to fighting long legislative odds, it's likely Cruz's role will be less about principled showdowns over must-pass legislation and more about shining a spotlight on perceived priorities.
Last year, NASA launched five new missions to study Earth's climate, and Earth science missions currently occupy about 10 percent of NASA's budget. Cruz believes that has come at the expense of "the core mission of NASA, manned space exploration."
"There are tremendous opportunities for commercial space," Cruz says. "One of the very first focuses of the subcommittee will be on expanding those opportunities, expanding how we can allow the private sector to create jobs, to create growth, and how we can explore new frontiers in space."
Those in the commercial space industry believe Cruz recognizes their potential. "We're seeing a well-diversified commercial renaissance in Texas. That's something that philosophically the senator feels good about," said NanoRacks co-founder Jeffrey Manber. His company contracts with NASA to provide computer-lab space and small satellite launches from ISS.
GreenPolicy360: Of course, much of NASA's work is based in Texas and, as the Texas Senator is all too aware, the earth science and exploration work of NASA brings myriad benefits to Texas, manifold economic benefits and incalculable benefits beyond the state of Texas. NASA has led the world's scientific efforts to study space and Earth's unique life-giving systems in space.
The field of "New Space", extending beyond first-generation space/earth science and continuing NASA missions with economies, is now building a fast-growing vital industry in cooperation with NASA. New Space extends the mission of the US space program as multiple start-up companies supply NASA missions and launch micro-satellites and remote sensing services and Internet distributed products and information across a wide spectrum of business, natural resources, science and critical environmental fields. Over the past several years, the venture capital market has hurried to support these start-ups, as the international business potential has become evident. One company as an example of many NASA-space, earth-science related companies in Texas is NanoRacks, deploying next-gen satellites from the ISS. The Texas "New Space" NASA-related business focus on deploying earth-facing, earth-science satellites is poised to become a worldwide industry.
Visionary space-based, earth-science NASA missions involves billions of dollars in commercial space work grouped around NASA -- the work is essential to diverse, forward-looking Earth Science and 'smart' management of the planet as humankind takes responsibility for the by-products of industrial production and 'externalities'.
March 12/13/14, 2015
“Virtually all academic planetary scientists are in earth science departments, because the Earth, after all, is a planet,” says Margaret Leinen, president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a former head of the National Science Foundation’s geosciences directorate. “Of course the geosciences are part of the hard sciences,” explains Leinen, head of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and vice chancellor for marine sciences at the University of California, San Diego. “They provide us with very fundamental knowledge about the way the planet works, knowledge grounded in the physical sciences.”
Joan Vernikos, member of the Space Studies Board of the National Academy and former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division:
Exploration is intrinsic to our nature...
At what cost? Is there a price to inspiration and creativity? Economic, scientific and technological returns of space exploration have far exceeded the investment. Globally, 43 countries now have their own observing or communication satellites in Earth orbit. Observing Earth has provided G.P.S., meteorological forecasts, predictions and management of hurricanes and other natural disasters, and global monitoring of the environment, as well as surveillance and intelligence. Satellite communications have changed life and business practices with computer operations, cell phones, global banking, and TV. Studying humans living in the microgravity of space has expanded our understanding of osteoporosis and balance disorders, and has led to new treatments. Wealth-generating medical devices and instrumentation such as digital mammography and outpatient breast biopsy procedures and the application of telemedicine to emergency care are but a few of the social and economic benefits of manned exploration that we take for granted.
Space exploration is not a drain on the economy; it generates infinitely more than wealth than it spends. Royalties on NASA patents and licenses currently go directly to the U.S. Treasury, not back to NASA. I firmly believe that the Life Sciences Research Program would be self-supporting if permitted to receive the return on its investment. NASA has done so much with so little that it has generally been assumed to have had a huge budget. In fact, the 2007 NASA budget of $16.3 billion is a minute fraction of the $13 trillion total G.D.P.
“What’s the hurry?” is a legitimate question. As the late Senator William Proxmire said many years ago, “Mars isn’t going anywhere.” Why should we commit hard-pressed budgets for space exploration when there will always be competing interests? However, as Mercury, Gemini and Apollo did 50 years ago, our future scientific and technological leadership depends on exciting creativity in the younger generations. Nothing does this better than manned space exploration. There is now a national urgency to direct the creative interests of our youth towards careers in science and engineering. We need to keep the flame of manned space exploration alive as China, Russia, India, and other countries forge ahead with substantial investments that challenge U.S. leadership in space.
Kathleen M. Connell, a principal of The Connell Whittaker Group, a founding team member of NASA’s Astrobiology Program, and former policy director of the Aerospace States Association:
In the twenty-first century, what would happen if U.S. manned space programs were managed based upon the contemporary demands of the planet and the American taxpayer? NASA could be rewarded to explore, but with terrestrial returns as a priority. Space exploration crews could conduct global warming research on the International Space Station National Laboratory, while other crews from the public or private sector could rapidly assemble solar energy satellites for clean energy provision to Earth. Lunar settlements could be established to develop new energy sources from rare compounds that are in abundance on the moon. Getting to Mars, to develop a terrestrial lifeboat and to better understand the fate of planets, suddenly takes on new meaning and relevance.
I have to come the conclusion, after over 20 years in the space industry, that addressing global challenges with space solutions that benefit humanity and American constituents is the key to justifying the cost of manned space exploration. I believe we are about to find out, all over again, if civil manned space capability and policy can adapt and rise to meet new imperatives.
Keith Cowing, founder and editor of NASAWatch.com and former NASA space biologist.
Right now, all of America’s human space flight programs cost around $7 billion a year. That’s pennies per person per day. In 2006, according to the USDA, Americans spent more than $154 billion on alcohol. We spend around $10 billion a month in Iraq. And so on. Are these things more important than human spaceflight because we spend more money on them? Is space exploration less important?
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- The Hubble Telescope
THE NIGHT SKY... You gaze up into history; you stare into the limits of your own understanding.
The past flies toward you at the speed of light. Why are you here? Why are the stars there? Is it even remotely possible that our one, tiny, eggshell world is the only one encrusted with life?
The Hubble Ultra Deep Field image should be in every classroom in the world. It should be on the president’s desk. It should probably be in every church, too.
“To sense that behind anything that can be experienced,” Einstein once said, “there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness.”
Whatever we believe in — God, children, nationhood — nothing can be more important than to take a moment every now and then and accept the invitation of the sky: to leave the confines of ourselves and fly off into the hugeness of the universe, to disappear into the inexplicable, the implacable, the reflection of that something our minds cannot grasp.
- Following the Hubble in 2018 -- the James Webb
James Webb Space Telescope
Source - New Space Frontiers
The late Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, famously wrote, “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
One day we might be able to explore neighboring star systems, but it will be a while before that happens. All we can do at the moment is crawl slowly across our little solar system. Orbiting astronomical instruments will always be crucial to our understanding of the deeper cosmos. For example, the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in April 1990, completely revolutionized our perspective. But what will come next for astronomy?
Expected to launch in 2018 on a European Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is named in honor of NASA’s chief administrator during the 1960s development of Project Apollo. The core instrument is an infrared telescope with a twenty-one-foot-diameter primary mirror mounted on top of a sunshade the size of a tennis court. The supporting spacecraft, with gyroscopic stabilization systems, communication equipment, and solar power panels, juts out from the bottom of the sunshade.
“It will be looking for very distant and faint galaxies, and often will pick up no more than a single photon of light per second from a target, so we want to catch as many photons as we can.” This extreme need for sensitivity requires JWST to operate in deep space, far from the interference of Earth’s noise and heat. It will orbit the Sun... while simultaneously making a smaller orbit on a special zone known as Lagrange 2 (L2), about 930,000 miles from Earth.
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Fifty Years Ago We Were Warned
As the Modern Environmental Movement Begins, the First National Security Warnings are Issued on Climate
Via The Guardian / On 5 November 1965 climate scientists summarized the risks associated with rising carbon pollution in a report for Lyndon Baines Johnson
Fifty years ago today, as the American Association for the Advancement of Science highlighted, US president Lyndon Johnson’s science advisory committee sent him a report entitled Restoring the Quality of Our Environment. The introduction to the report noted:
Pollutants have altered on a global scale the carbon dioxide content of the air and the lead concentrations in ocean waters and human populations.
The report included a section on atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change, written by prominent climate scientists Roger Revelle, Wallace Broecker, Charles Keeling, Harmon Craig, and J Smagorisnky. Reviewing the document today, one can’t help but be struck by how well these scientists understood the mechanisms of Earth’s climate change 50 years ago.
The report noted that within a few years, climate models would be able to reasonably project future global surface temperature changes. In 1974, one of its authors, Wallace Broecker did just that in a paper titled Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?.
Following on this initial science study, Representative George E. Brown from California led the drafting and, in 1978, Congressional adoption of the first National Climate Report and Plan.
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SJS/GreenPolicy360 Siterunner: As a young political activist, I had the fortune and challenge of entering politics in the 1960s as a result of meeting Rep. George E. Brown.
George became a leader in Congress over the decades. He was known for earth science initiatives, strategic affairs, NASA programs, climate science, earth and space politics over three decades as a member and Chair of the House Committee for Science and Technology. George was directly responsible for myriad first-generation programs that created today's data and knowledge base of earth observation and environmental security -- from LANDSAT and GPS to the work that established the EPA and Clean Air Act.
I will never forget how he talked to me of the dangers of nuclear weapons and the need for nuclear weapons control and anti-proliferation treaties. And how the future of children was a foremost concern of his. He had medical studies of how the children of LA (as I was) were being impacted by the worst smog in the world at that time. His efforts to write and pass new clean air laws and regulations in California changed the transportation industry and set standards and a model for the world.
I was fortunate in my work with him and alongside him in helping to shape a modern environmental movement. In the years following the 1960s, until George's sudden passing in 1999, I've continued attempting, as George always encouraged, creating a new vision of what national and global security should be. We realized that a high risk horizon of environmental and nuclear existential threats is a real and present danger that must be faced.
The initiatives of science are our tools.
Our collected great work is to create new visions and new definitions of the challenges, the risks and solutions that are necessary to meet the threat horizon.
With the memory of George in mind, who was a practical engineer by training and visionary thinker optimistic about humanity's future, we carry on.
Planet Citizens, national patriots, engaged and believing each of us can make a positive difference in shaping our future, we persist.
- National Security, Global Security: Indivisible
- National Interests, Environmental Protection, Global & Indivisible
Visit GreenPolicy's Associate / Strategic Demands
Environmental Security & "Thin Blue"
In the Jan. 2, 1989, issue, the editors of Time Magazine named “Endangered Earth” the most important story of the year, replacing the annual “Person of the Year” with a planet, our own.
The cover of Time, by the artist Christo, showed a 16-in. globe wrapped in plastic and rag rope.
The Climate Crisis was coming into view. How would we, citizens of Planet Earth act to make a difference?
- Earth Science, Environmental Security