Year 4, Month 10, Day 29: Jump Like A Willys

The Palm Beach Daily News reports on Bill Koch, who is (surprise!) an asshole:

As someone who states that he has energy in his DNA, billionaire oil-and-gas mogul Bill Koch says those who think carbon is bad should get a reality check.

Koch addressed an audience of 600 on Thursday for the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting at The Breakers, peppering his remarks with off-color jokes and self-deprecating humor.

“Eighty-four percent of the energy used in the world comes from carbon,” he said, explaining that decayed primeval forests below the Earth’s surface are the source of the coal, oil and gas that powers the global economy.

Those who call for taxes on carbon dioxide emissions are “on LSD,” Koch said, making the point that humans produce their share of carbon dioxide naturally and taxes aren’t levied on them. He suggested planting trees as the most efficient way to counter higher carbon levels.

The reliance on fossil fuels is not going away, he said, noting that coal is relatively low in price, that oil has been “pretty cheap” until recently and that there is an abundance of natural gas, available at a price almost competitive with coal.

Spoken like a man who’s never tripped. October 19:

When arch-conservative energy bazillionaire Bill Koch claims carbon-tax advocates are “on LSD,” he’s offering powerful evidence of his own detachment from reality. Yes, human beings produce CO2, and yes, planting more trees is an excellent policy. But the plain fact is that industrial civilization’s carbon dioxide emissions are accelerating, and unless we slow them down, all the trees we can possibly plant aren’t going to scrub our atmosphere rapidly enough to mitigate catastrophic global heating. The greenhouse effect is a scientifically demonstrated phenomenon discovered over 150 years ago and confirmed by countless studies; Mr. Koch’s sneering dismissal of climate science is based only on ideology and has no foundation in fact.

Fossil-fuel advocates like the Koch brothers ignore expensive “externalities” for which we (or our descendants) will eventually have to pay: pollution, health impacts, massive environmental cleanups, global climate change, and a great many expensive and pointless wars. If coal and oil are “cheap” forms of energy, then high-interest credit cards are a source of free money.

Bill Koch’s glib denialism demonstrates that vast quantities of money distort reality far more effectively than any drug.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 10, Day 19: I’ve Been In Some Big Towns, And Heard Me Some Big Talk…

In the Boston Herald, a report about the campaign to get uber-swine David Koch off the WGBH board of directors:

Draped in a WBUR windbreaker,
Lee Stewart of 
Jamaica Plain called Koch — who has 
donated $18.6 million to ’GBH, 
including $10 million to the science program “NOVA” — “a climate 
denier, a polluter.”

“His presence is extremely 
offensive,” Stewart said. “People who are actively fighting to destroy the climate should not have equal political voice.”

Small and Stewart were among some 50 sign-waving activists who protested outside Channel 2’s Brighton studios before presenting a petition of 119,000 online signatures calling for Koch’s resignation. Among the protesters was an activist in an Elmo costume carrying a sign that read, “Elmo Love WGBH Elmo No Love Koch Lies.”

WGBH board chairman Amos Hostetter defended Koch, telling the protesters there’s no “political litmus test” for board members.

“Diversity is something we 
highly value,” he said.

“It’s not because we disagree with Mr. Koch politically,” Small said. “It’s because he is about the destruction of politics in America as we know it.”

Hostetter denied that trustees have any control over programming, and the board quickly moved on to 
other business.

The protest came just hours 
before “NOVA” aired a special on rising sea levels in the 
aftermath of Megastorm 

A Koch spokeswoman said he had no “immediate plans” to resign.

“He particularly enjoys WGBH’s outstanding program ‘NOVA,’ which he 
believes educates the public in a very entertaining way,” said spokeswoman Cristyne Nicholas. “As for climate change, Mr. Koch 
is interested in ensuring 
that energy policies are 
informed by sound science and economic reality,” she said.

But the activists said they’re just getting started.

“People aren’t going to let this go,” said Brad Johnson of Forecast the Facts. “We’re not going to stop.”

The Koch brothers are a blight on the world. October 10:

When his spokeswoman asserts that arch-conservative David Koch wants energy policies that are based on “sound science and economic reality,” it’s a little window into the thinking of a bazillionaire whose mindset is steeped in the McCarthy-era anti-communist hysteria of the John Birch Society.

Mr. Koch probably learned to trust medical expertise over the course of his experience as a cancer patient. I wonder: if 97 oncologists diagnosed a malignancy, while 3 said more tests were needed, would he start therapy…or would he decide that “sound science” demanded a rejection of the medical consensus?

Climatologists are our planetary physicians, and their diagnosis of the human causes and profound danger of climate change is overwhelmingly certain — as conclusive as the causal connection between smoking and cancer. Mr. Koch’s denialism isn’t based on sound science, and his rejection of policies that will end our dependence on fossil fuels is anything but economically realistic.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 8, Day 15: Moron Sacrifice

The Trenton Star-Ledger (NJ) notes a GOP doofus named Steve Lonegan:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan announced today that he signed a nationwide pledge to oppose any climate change legislation that would raise taxes.

The conservative activist also slammed Democratic candidate Rush Holt’s new web ad warning about the effects of global warming, calling it “silly hysteria.”

“Whether or not climate change is being caused by man is highly questionable,” Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, told The Star-Ledger in a phone interview this afternoon. “Whether New Jersey is being affected is highly suspect, to say the least. Certainly, America cannot sacrifice its economic prosperity on the alter of environmentalists.”

The “No Climate Tax Pledge” was organized by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative public policy organization co-founded by fossil fuel magnates Charles and David Koch. Lonegan was once the executive director of the group’s New Jersey branch.

It’s an endless game of whack-a-mole with these teaparty assholes. July 23:

If Steve Lonegan is really that serious about “hidden taxes” and their impact on Americans, perhaps he should look for genuine economic drains on our well-being, such as the billions of dollars each year that go in subsidies to oil and coal corporations, arguably the most profitable businesses on the planet. If having citizen dollars go to pay for CEO bonuses and the continued subornation of America’s lawmakers isn’t a “hidden tax,” then surely nothing else qualifies. And how about those oil spills cleaned up — by U.S. Government employees? Our taxes go to repairing the damages done by fossil fuel companies, while these multi-national miscreants continue to evade paying the court-determined penalties for their negligence.

Perhaps Mr. Lonegan could look at the extreme weather events, many of which have impacted New Jersey in the past year or so — and whose mounting costs are likewise borne by American taxpayers. Responsible governance can save money by planning for the future and anticipating the likely impacts of the actions and policies we put in place today. Signing the Koch brothers’ pledge to avoid addressing climate change is profoundly irresponsible, and solid evidence against Mr. Lonegan’s fitness for elected office.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 8, Day 4: Hey, You! Yeah, You!

The Washington Post reports on the Worst People In The Universe:

When environmental journalist David Sassoon began reporting about the billionaire Koch brothers’ interests in the Canadian oil industry last year, he sought information from their privately held conglomerate, Koch Industries. The brothers, who have gained prominence in recent years as supporters of and donors to conservative causes and candidates, weren’t playing. Despite Sassoon’s repeated requests, Koch Industries declined to respond to him or his news site, InsideClimate News.

But Sassoon, who also serves as publisher of the Pulitzer Prize-winning site, heard from the Kochs after his story was posted.

In a rebuttal posted on its Web site,, the company asserted that Sassoon’s story “deceives readers” by suggesting that Koch Industries stood to benefit from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — a denial Sassoon included in his story. KochFacts went on to dismiss Sassoon as a “professional eco-activist” and an “agenda-driven activist.”

It didn’t stop there. The company took out ads on Facebook and via Google featuring a photo of Sassoon with the headline, “David Sassoon’s Deceptions.” The ad’s copy read, “Activist/owner of InsideClimate News misleads readers and asserts outright falsehoods about Koch. Get the full facts on”

They’ll be coming after me, too, if this one gets published. July 16:

As the newest poster boys for A.J. Liebling’s quip, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one,” the Koch brothers have attracted plenty of opprobrium from the left. Their long history of ultra-conservative advocacy encompasses the reflexive anti-communism of the John Birch Society, an open hostility to the New Deal, and a double helping of the deep mistrust of intellectual accomplishment and expertise which has long been a staple ingredient of the GOP’s faux populism. Their heavy-handed attempts to silence investigators and critics demonstrate the absurdity of “balancing” two billionaires’ wealth and influence against the efforts of those who take seriously their responsibility to the Jeffersonian ideal of a “well-informed citizenry.”

The Kochs would be garden-variety robber barons were it not for their irresponsible readiness to hinder any progress in dealing with the accelerating climate crisis, a factor which moves them into a special category: species traitors.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 9, Day 4: Naked Self-Interest Edition

Another Canadian paper, the Melfort Journal (where? Here.) runs a version of the David Suzuki article used for yesterday’s letter:

Faced with the evidence, many deniers have started to admit that global warming is real, but argue that humans have little or nothing to do with it. Muller’s study was just one of many to demolish that theory.

Our climate has always changed, and natural variation is part of that. But scientists have long known that carbon dioxide and other gases trap heat in the atmosphere. Recent warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate that corresponds to burning fossil fuels. According to NASA, global average temperatures have been rising significantly since the 1970s, “with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.” North America just experienced the hottest July on record, and the first seven months of 2012 were the warmest, on average, in more than 100 years.

This evidence has caused some deniers to change their tune again. Yes, the Earth is warming, they say, but whether it’s from natural or human causes, we can’t do anything about it, so we might as well continue with business as usual, maybe employing technological fixes to help us adapt.

The truth is, as most of us know, that global warming is real and humans are major contributors, mainly because we wastefully burn fossil fuels. We also know solutions lie in energy conservation, shifting to renewable sources, and changing our patterns of energy and fuel use, for example, by improving public transit and moving away from personal vehicles.

Scientists have been warning about global warming for decades. It’s too late to stop it now, but we can lessen its severity and impacts. The side benefits are numerous: less pollution and environmental destruction, better human health, stronger and more diversified economies, and a likely reduction in global conflicts fuelled by the rapacious drive to exploit finite resources.

We can all work to reduce our individual impacts. But we must also convince our political and business leaders that it’s time to put people – especially our children, grandchildren, and generations yet to come – before profits.

I was glad enough that Muller changed his mind a bit, but he’s not being much help in the aftermath. Sent August 29:

Yes, Richard Muller, once a “skeptic,” is raising eyebrows among political conservatives with his recent conversion to the accepted consensus on global climate change. The erstwhile doubter finally laid his reservations to rest with his own Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study, confirming that the planet is warming significantly and that humans are responsible. But it’s still a good idea to keep adding a pinch of salt to Dr. Muller’s public statements, even as his research brings him in line with the climatological wisdom of the 1990s.

Muller’s enthusiastic advocacy of natural gas as an alternative energy source demonstrates that exceptional intellectual powers offer no protection from self-delusion. Natural gas is only cheap when you don’t count externalities like huge infrastructural costs for delivery and extraction technology, and the virtual certainty of groundwater contamination in the aftermath of the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process. Once all these factors are accounted for, it’s neither cheap nor clean, contributing almost as much to greenhouse emissions as do oil and coal.

While it may displease the arch-conservative Koch brothers (Richard Muller’s sponsors), the truth is simple: to survive and prosper in the coming centuries, the world’s civilizations must shift as rapidly as possible to renewable sources of energy. There is no time left to waste.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 8, Day 9: Evolutionary Koch-Bottleneck Edition…

The New York Times prints Richard Muller’s acknowledgement that everybody else was right all along:

CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

He’ll disappear down the memory hole. Or will he? Sent July 29:

Now that Richard Muller’s examination of the data has brought him into agreement with the majority opinion that climate change is of human origin, one wonders how the Koch brothers, who funded much of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, will respond. While Dr. Muller is now nicely aligned with the climatological consensus of the 1990s, if the Kochs’ position simply joined the twentieth century, it would be a major advance.

Those notorious global warming denialists will probably shift their opinions from denialism to adaptationism, following the lead of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who recently acknowledged the reality of climate change while blithely asserting that humanity will “adapt,” an ominous euphemism for gigadeaths. While our species will surely change in response to climatic transformations, the question is whether these fossil fuel profiteers will help our civilization avoid catastrophe if it negatively impacts their quarterly returns. The available evidence isn’t encouraging.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 6: DFH Activist Judge Edition

The L.A. Times runs the story: a rare bit of good news for the overly-harassed Michael Mann:

A county Circuit judge in Virginia has sided with the University of Virginia’s effort to restrict the release of personal emails from one of its former faculty members.

The decision late Wednesday would allow the university to alter an agreement it had reached with the American Tradition Institute, which was seeking communications between Michael Mann, a physicist and climate scientist, and other scientists from 1999 to 2005, when Mann was employed by the university.

The American Tradition Institute, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and Colorado, is a nonprofit policy research and education group that has close ties to energy interests that have opposed climate legislation, including the Koch Brothers.

Mann, now a professor at Penn State University, is best known for his contributions to the so-called hockey stick graph that has been at the center of warnings that Earth’s temperature rise has been precipitous and historically unprecedented. It has been used as one of thousands of data analyses that have led the vast majority of climate scientists to conclude that man’s emission of greenhouse gases is trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Perhaps the Tea-Party nuts will start finding Gaylord Finch’s got granite countertops, or something. Sent Nov. 2:

It’s always amusing to see “non-profit” organizations that are closely affiliated with some of the most profit-hungry players in our economy. Groups like the disingenuously-named American Tradition Institute exist entirely to carry out the bidding of their funders — people like the Koch brothers. One wonders if the Kochs would enjoy the experience of legal harassment quite so much if they were on the receiving end.

For make no mistake, the ATI’s demand for emails from Dr. Michael Mann has nothing to do with scientific integrity, and everything to do with hindering the work of a climate scientist whose work might affect the profit margins of the fossil fuel industry.

Perhaps it’s true that hostility to science is a long-standing American tradition — but is the self-serving behavior of the extremely rich and powerful really worthy of adulation?

Judge Gaylord Finch’s decision is the correct one.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 11, Day 5: All Muller, All The Time

The Houston Chronicle, running an AP article on the newest DFH tree-hugging enviro-nazi:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly.

The study of the world’s surface temperatures by Richard Muller was partially bankrolled by a foundation connected to global warming deniers. He pursued long-held skeptic theories in analyzing the data. He was spurred to action because of “Climategate,” a British scandal involving hacked emails of scientists.

Yet he found that the land is 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than in the 1950s. Those numbers from Muller, who works at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, match those by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

He said he went even further back, studying readings from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. His ultimate finding of a warming world, to be presented at a conference Monday, is no different from what mainstream climate scientists have been saying for decades.

What’s different, and why everyone from opinion columnists to cable TV ‘s satirical”The Daily Show” is paying attention is who is behind the study.

I’m getting more material out of Muller than I got from the Deepwater Horizon. I wonder what that means. Sent Nov. 1:

It’s a little confusing to hear Richard Muller confirming the data and conclusions of previous researchers in climate science, while simultaneously asserting that there “…was not enough skepticism” shown in their work. What he seems to be saying is that the scientists whose work he previously doubted didn’t doubt their work enough at the time, but now that he’s figured out they were right all along, everything’s okay. Or something like that.

But that’s not what really matters. What really matters is that Muller, whose work was significantly funded by arch-conservative climate-change deniers, applied scientific method and intellectual rigor to the problem — and came to the conclusion that the world’s atmosphere is getting warmer. The Koch brothers must be seething; conservatives don’t like surprises.

For his part, Dr. Muller is going to discover what life is like when the petroleum funding evaporates. Welcome, sir, to the ninety-nine percent!

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 20: Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha.

The Koch Brothers were pranked by “Youth For Climate Truth,” a low-budget Yes Men group which sent out some phony press releases in the name of Koch Industries a while back, claiming the Bircher billionaires had seen the light on climate change and were no longer going to fund denialism in the media. Ha ha. The Kochs then proceeded to sue YFCT. Ha ha.

The suit has now been laughed out of court
. Ha ha:

A federal judge in Utah on Monday tossed Koch Industries’s lawsuit against the pranksters who set up a fake website and sent out a bogus press release saying the company had found religion on climate change.

In a case being watched for First Amendment implications, Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City also said Koch can’t disclose the identities of the “Youth for Climate Truth” members or use any other information obtained via subpoena from two Utah-based domain hosting companies.

The ruling is a major one as courts navigate the intersection of the First Amendment with anonymous speech and computer hacking on the Internet. Koch’s claims included charges of trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting and breach of the company website’s terms of use.

Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha.

Sent May 9:

Koch Industries’ lawsuit against “Youth For Climate Truth” was a mother lode of irony. That one of the world’s most egregiously irresponsible corporations trotted out such massive legal firepower in response to a small group of internet pranksters suggests that these notorious tea-party funders and climate-change denialists are, perhaps, a wee bit sensitive about it. Well, Judge Kimball has laughed them out of court, and rightly so. “Youth For Climate Truth,” the online activists who tweaked the corporate titans with a phony press release, merit our thanks and applause. Given their huge role in delaying and derailing meaningful political action on climate change, the Kochs and their cronies in the fossil-fuel industry have perpetrated a grotesque practical joke on all the rest of us; the American public deserves a few laughs at their expense before the coming decades’ likely ecological collapse strips all humor from the situation.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 3, Day 5: We Don’t Need No Steenkin’ Evidence!

The Nashua Telegraph (New Hampshire) discusses the move in that state to stop participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. They’ve got climate zombies in the state house and misleading robo-calls from the Koch Brothers. What could possibly go wrong?

Americans for Prosperity, an conservative group with financial support from the oil industry, made automated robocalls over the long holiday weekend, attacking RGGI as guaranteeing further increases in electricity bills.

Studies had concluded that RGGI has added 6.5 cents per month to an average consumer’s bill.

Rep. Sandra Keans, D-Rochester, attacked AFP’s calls as “sleazy” and deliberately false.

“I have never seen such a cowardly perpetration pulled on the citizens of New Hampshire,” Keans said.

AFP Executive Director Corey Lewandowski defended the group’s lobbying against RGGI.

“Constituents should be able to call their elected officials to register a concern. Nobody forces people to run for office if they don’t want to hear from those who elected them,” Lewandowski said. “We’re delighted by the strong House vote for consumers.”

Rep. Beatriz Pastor, D-Lyme, said that even if there were questions about climate change science, it’s wise for the state to take preventive measures like RGGI.

“Noah got intelligence (that) a natural disaster was about to occur,” Pastor said of the Bibilical account. “He could have looked out the window and said ‘it doesn’t look like it is going to rain’.”

But Deputy Majority Leader Shawn Jasper of Hudson disagreed.
“Neither man nor cow is responsible for global warming,” he added.

Mr. Jasper seemed like an excellent hook upon which to hang a letter. Sent February 25:

Representative Shawn Jasper is an excellent example of an increasingly prevalent species of Homo Politicus: the “climate zombie,” a politician whose denial of the facts of global climate change is so ideologically rooted that no amount of factually-based argument will change his mind. Our nation used to regard scientists with respect; after all, they were responsible most of our major technological advances and noteworthy achievements (the Apollo program, anyone?). There should be nothing unusual about the idea that when you need expertise in a particular area, you ask experts and take their advice very seriously. But in the world of today’s Republican party, scientists are only to be listened to when their opinions are ideologically convenient. Representative Jasper’s pronouncement that “neither man nor cow is responsible for global warming” has no factual foundation, as author Kevin Landrigan could have ascertained with a few minutes’ worth of research. The fact that this “climate zombie” has been given an unrefuted last word in a supposedly objective article about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is an unfortunate dereliction of journalistic responsibility.

Warren Senders