Tag Archives: cnn

Protests are bringing attention to the ‘everyday violence’ faced by black Americans

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer early last week, cities across the U.S. erupted in protest. As those demonstrations enter their second week, some are calling for a reckoning with not just police brutality but also the wider array of harms disproportionately inflicted by race in the U.S.

Many of those harms are environmental. On Sunday, New Jersey Senator and former presidential candidate Cory Booker went live on CNN not only to call for measures like reforming the federal statute governing police misconduct (18 U.S.C.  section 242), but also to draw attention to the “everyday violence” faced by black Americans.

“Where is the response to the everyday violence that we live in a nation with such toxicity, from ‘cancer alley’ to Duplin County, that is killing disproportionately black people, because race is still the greatest indicator of whether you live around a toxic site?” Booker asked host Jake Tapper. “Where is the outrage and the anguish in the hearts of Americans?”

“Cancer alley” is an 85-mile industrial corridor along the Mississippi River in Louisiana where predominantly African American residents suffer the country’s most severe rates of industrial pollution-linked cancer (and now also some of its most severe COVID-19 outcomes). In Duplin County, North Carolina, toxic emissions from industrial hog farming have been associated with high rates of infant mortality, kidney disease, tuberculosis, and the lowest life expectancy in the state. These burdens are disproportionately suffered by black North Carolinians.

These environmental harms have long roots. For instance, some legacies of redlining — the government-sanctioned denial of home loans and insurance to communities of color — include housing stock that is disproportionately located near polluting industrial infrastructure. That legacy can also be seen in the threats that accelerating climate change poses to below-sea-level neighborhoods of color and urban neighborhoods that disproportionately suffer exposure to extreme heat.

The intersection of environmental injustice and policing can be seen on Rikers Island, New York City’s most notorious jail complex, which is built on a landfill and surrounded by polluting infrastructure. Roughly 90 percent of those behind bars in Rikers are people of color, and they have long suffered extreme summer heat, flooding, and noxious pollution while in confinement. 67 percent of those incarcerated at the complex have not been convicted of a crime and are simply awaiting trial.

Booker made environmental justice issues a centerpiece of his recent presidential campaign. During the first-ever presidential forum on environmental justice in November, the New Jersey senator called environmental racism a “shameful reality in America.” He also unveiled a detailed “environmental justice agenda” earlier last year.

Closing his remarks on CNN on Sunday, Booker connected environmental, economic, and racial justice and said the entire nation would suffer if the issues were left unaddressed.

“We are all weaker because we have allowed so much injustice to last so long,” Booker said. “Now is the time to take this energy and this anger and this focus and keep it until we actually change laws and systems of accountability that can raise standards in our country.”


Protests are bringing attention to the ‘everyday violence’ faced by black Americans

Posted in Accent, alo, FF, GE, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Protests are bringing attention to the ‘everyday violence’ faced by black Americans

The Philippines volcanic eruption is harming public health, but not the climate — yet

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it plunged the surrounding area into darkness as an avalanche of hot ash and lava poured down. Ash buried homes, smoke blocked the sunlight, and deadly mudslides swallowed nearby cities. So when the Taal volcano, located 90 miles south of Mount Pinatubo, exploded on Sunday, many Filipinos feared the worst. It felt like déjà vu.

The Taal volcano, surrounded by the waters of the Taal Lake in the province of Batangas, just 40 miles from Manila, is a famous tourist destination. Visitors and residents alike were caught off guard this week when Taal spat enormous clouds of ash into the air. Tens of thousands of people living within a 9-mile radius of the volcano were ordered to evacuate, some finding shelter in classrooms and gymnasiums. No casualties have yet been reported, but houses and farms were destroyed, and thousands of animals were left behind by their owners.

Nearby regions are still experiencing small earthquakes, while seismologists warn of a possible volcanic tsunami, where water surging from the lake could deluge nearby villages. As of Friday, areas around the volcano still remain on Alert Level 4, which means another eruption could be imminent.

Amid all the bright lava and towering ash plumes, it’s easy to overlook that volcanic eruptions can dramatically affect air quality. Shortly after Taal erupted, air quality in the province of Batangas and nearby areas spiked to unhealthy levels, and face masks disappeared off the shelves. (Local business owners saw an opportunity in the tragedy, with some pricing face masks at five times their normal cost.) When aerosols like sulfur dioxide are inhaled, they can lead to asthma or respiratory diseases.

You can even see Taal’s volcanic emissions from space. Satellite imagery shows that strong winds pushed emissions from the eruption northward, leaving a trail of red, yellow, and blue.

Volcanoes can also affect global temperatures — though Taal isn’t expected to have much of an effect unless there’s a bigger explosion. During Mount Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption, for instance, 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide and ash particles were released into the air, blowing all the way into the stratosphere. The catastrophic event also emitted tens of millions of tons of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and water vapor. But thanks to sulfur dioxide, which reacts with water to form aerosols that reflect the sunlight back to space, the eruption ended up temporarily cooling global temperatures, which fell as much as 1 degrees F for about three years following the eruption.

Taal — which is currently releasing an average of 6,500 tons of sulfur dioxide per day — probably won’t have a noticeable effect on the climate, unless there’s a much bigger explosion. For comparison, Pinatubo spewed 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the air.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warned residents that Taal’s immense tremors could last from three days to seven months. But Mariton Bornas, chief of volcano monitoring and eruption prediction division in the Philippines, told CNN that the alert level would be lowered if there’s no activity within two weeks.

“We’re still measuring high levels of sulphur dioxide,” she said. “We’re still having earthquakes, new fissures are developing, and the volcano is swollen. So, the potential for an explosive eruption is still there.” Let’s hope the volcano settles down before it becomes another Mount Pinatubo.

Link to original – 

The Philippines volcanic eruption is harming public health, but not the climate — yet

Posted in Accent, alo, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Pines, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Philippines volcanic eruption is harming public health, but not the climate — yet

CNN and the New York Times skip climate change in the fourth Democratic debate

Moderators of the three previous Democratic primary debates caught a lot of flak from environmental advocates for not spending enough time on climate change. On Tuesday night, moderators of the fourth debate paved the way for a new era of climate politics by featuring warming front and center. Just kidding. In actuality not a single question about the biggest threat facing residents of the United States, and the world, was asked of the 12 candidates who qualified for the debate.

That’s despite the fact that CNN, one of the night’s two host media organizations, recently held a climate change-themed town hall during which moderators grilled candidates on all angles of the issue. The New York Times, the other host, has a team of journalists specifically assigned to climate stories. (CNN even ran a Times ad touting its climate coverage during one of the debate’s commercial breaks). And yet, somehow, CNN and the Times were unable to muster even a yes/no question about a crisis that is projected to claim millions of lives and alter the world as we know it.

Instead, the candidates were asked about hot topics in recent news cycles, like about whether President Trump should be impeached and the commander-in-chief’s recent decision to pull troops out of Syria — as well as topics that have come up previously, like gun control, a wealth tax, and the minutiae of single-payer health care versus Medicare for all versus “Medicare for all who want it.” That’s all well and good: It’s certainly important that voters hear from the candidates on those issues. But at the 11th hour, when it seemed the moderators might finally ask the candidates a question about climate change, they delivered a disappointment of epic proportions.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the three-hour debate, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper referenced a recent controversy that erupted when a photograph of comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush watching a Cowboys game together surfaced. “I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s O.K. that we’re all different,” DeGeneres, a lesbian and self-identified liberal said in response to the backlash about her hang with the former Republican president. “In that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impact it’s had on you and your beliefs,” Cooper said to the candidates.

That’s right. Moderators opted to go with a question about Ellen DeGeneres and friendship over the climate crisis. Climate experts and activists were … not pleased.

Even some of the candidates themselves took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the moderators.

One former candidate, climate hawk and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, had to weigh in.

Not all hope is lost. The moderators dropped the ball (and then kicked it into a flaming volcano), but several candidates managed to sneak flicks at the climate crisis into their answers on other topics. Bernie Sanders talked about how his climate plan will create 20 million new jobs in response to a question about manufacturing. Pete Buttigieg mentioned not losing sight of dealing with climate change while many in his party were preoccupied with Trump’s potential impeachment. Tom Steyer, the billionaire newcomer who has launched a campaign to bring out the climate vote, named a grassroots environmental activist in South Carolina as his unlikely friend. In fact, a majority of the candidates on stage thought to mention climate change over the course of Tuesday night’s debate.

Considering that recent polls show that, among registered Democrats, climate change ranks up there with issues like universal health care, gun control, and impeachment, you’d think moderators would want to, y’know, bring it up from time to time.

View original: 

CNN and the New York Times skip climate change in the fourth Democratic debate

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on CNN and the New York Times skip climate change in the fourth Democratic debate

How did the fate of the planet fare at the third Democratic debate?

Another month, another Democratic debate (Round 3, if you’re keeping count).

After the seven-hour marathon that was CNN ‘s Climate Town Hall last week, ABC’s return to the traditional debate format, in which candidates get one minute and 15 seconds to respond to questions, felt like the political equivalent of speed dating. The moderators didn’t exactly prioritize climate change (failing to ask about Houston’s chronic flooding when the debate was in, of all places, Houston), but candidates stepped up, in part, by segueing early and often to the greatest threat to the planet without getting asked.

Although Thursday night’s debate felt comparatively short on time and climate talk, it wasn’t short on drama. Julián Castro seemingly took a jab at Joe Biden’s age and memory, Pete Buttigieg called debate infighting “unwatchable,” and Andrew Yang announced he would give away $120,000 over the next year as part of a pilot program for his universal basic income plan. This debate also brought some fresh pairings: Biden and Elizabeth Warren were on the same stage for the first time, as were Warren and Kamala Harris, the two top-polling women in the field.

In terms of time spent discussing climate change, the third Democratic debate felt like a step back, if only because the candidates didn’t have the same 40 minutes CNN had given them last week to hash out the issue of our times. The longest stretch of conversation about the climate crisis came when one of the moderators, Univision’s Jorge Ramos, bounced a few global warming questions off the candidates in the second half of the debate. That resulted in a lot of reheated leftovers from CNN’s Climate Town Hall: Amy Klobuchar once again emphasized that she had a good vantage point as a Midwesterner to deal with climate change; when asked if American foreign policy should be based around climate change, Warren simply answered “yes.” Harris said that, as California’s attorney general, she’s already taken on Big Oil.

But it did seem as if, fresh off of CNN’s climate master class, the candidates had found their footing on how to integrate the topic into a myriad of issues.

A few candidates brought up the subject right off the bat. Castro, the first candidate up, mentioned the “clean energy economy” in his opening statement. Bernie Sanders was the first contender to actually utter the words “climate change” when he promised — in front of a Texas audience, no less — to end fossil fuels. He also said he would pass climate legislation “to save the planet.” Biden, the frontrunner, also brought up climate change in his opening statement: “I refuse to postpone any longer taking on climate change and leading the world in taking on climate change.”

Cory Booker touted his own $3 trillion climate plan by mentioning environmental injustice during a response to a question about racism. He also talked about the effects of factory farming on the environment. On trade, Warren said she wants ”environmentalists on the table” at future talks.

Sure, it wasn’t the jam-packed seven-hour marathon we had last week, but the candidates often seemed keen to bring it up. Could this be a sign that Democrats are recognizing how our overheating planet touches pretty much every political issue? Tune in for the next round.


How did the fate of the planet fare at the third Democratic debate?

Posted in Accent, alo, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How did the fate of the planet fare at the third Democratic debate?

Burger King’s ‘Impossible Whopper’ is 0% meat and 100% real

Subscribe to The Beacon

Burger King, the fast-food giant known for meaty excess, has announced it intends to pilot a fully vegetarian, beef-free version of its classic Whopper.

The company announced on Monday that it will test out plant-based patties from startup Impossible Foods starting with stores in the St. Louis, Missouri area. And thank the flame-broiled Gods, this does not appear to be an April Fool’s Joke. The chain already offers a meatless patty in the form of the MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie Patty, which is made from vegetables and grains. But the more meat-like Impossible Whopper represents a promotion for vegetarian options from sub-in to front-of-brand star.

Fernando Machado, Burger King’s chief marketing officer, told the New York Times of the new Impossible Whopper that even fans who know the traditional beef Whopper inside and out “struggle to differentiate which one is which.”

Plant-based meat substitutes have been gaining popularity as people have become more aware and focused on the environmental woes associated with standard animal-based food systems. Plus, health-conscious customers may be drawn to plant-based options because of their lower cholesterol and calorie counts.

Burger King is the biggest fast-food company to launch a vegetarian-friendly burger option to date, but it’s far from the first. In January, Carl’s Jr. started offering a meatless “Beyond Meat” option at more than 1,000 locations. And the mostly Midwest-based chain White Castle (of Harold and Kumar fame) has been offering a meatless “Impossible Slider” at their nearly 380 locations since September of last year.

Burger King’s “whopper” of a contribution to the meatless fast food landscape is, at least for now, still theoretical. The Impossible Whopper will only be tested in 59 of the company’s approximately 7,200 locations, with plans for broader rollout in the future if the trial goes well.

One potential barrier to the Impossible Whopper’s success is its price tag: the meatless burger will cost about a dollar more than its meaty namesake. But according to Burger King’s North America president Christopher Finazzo, research shows consumers are willing to pay more for the plant-based burger.

And as Impossible Foods gets deeper into the fast food game, it’s possible prices for the popular, plant-based patties could drop.

“Burger King represents a different scale,” Impossible Foods COO and CFO David Lee told CNN. “The only thing we need to be affordable and at scale versus the incumbent commodity business is time and size.”

Read More: 

Burger King’s ‘Impossible Whopper’ is 0% meat and 100% real

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Burger King’s ‘Impossible Whopper’ is 0% meat and 100% real

The vault holding humanity’s precious seeds is on thin ice

Subscribe to The Beacon

The Crop Trust — the organization tasked by the U.N. with preserving the world’s diversity of crops — has a slippery problem on its hands. Its most important effort, a global seed vault, is buried in an abandoned coal mine in the Svalbard archipelago, a chain of Norweigan islands several hundred miles from the North Pole. Kept at an icy 18 degrees C year-round, and insulated by layers of thick rock and permafrost, the seed tomb holds 968,000 varieties of crops and has the capacity to store 2.5 billion individual seeds.

The Crop Trust says “the Vault is in an ideal location for long-term seed storage,” in part because the surrounding permafrost provides a “cost effective and fail-safe method to conserve seeds.” There’s just one problem: Rising temperatures are melting that critical permafrost, jeopardizing the doomsday vault, the towns in the archipelago, and humanity as a whole.

A researcher at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute recently told CNN that Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard, “is probably warming faster than in any other town on Earth.”

A report published earlier this year by the Norwegian Center for Climate Services shows that the climate in Svalbard is going to change drastically by the year 2100. If humanity continues emitting greenhouse gases business-as-usual, Svalbard is looking at an annual air temperature increase of 10 degrees C (18 degrees F). Even under a medium emissions scenario where greenhouse gases are reduced, it could still see 7 degrees C (12.6 degrees F) of warming. Climate change is projected to increase rainfall in the region by as much as 65 percent by the end of the century, in addition to making avalanches and landslides more frequent.

Norway already committed to spending $13 million to upgrade the facility early last year after melted permafrost threatened to leak into the vault. New additions to the structure will include a concrete tunnel, backup power sources, and refrigeration. But after a frighteningly warm Arctic winter season this year, who knows how much more money will need to be spent to safeguard the vault against the myriad threats posed by climate change.

Originally posted here:

The vault holding humanity’s precious seeds is on thin ice

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, Casio, FF, G & F, GE, Hipe, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The vault holding humanity’s precious seeds is on thin ice

CNN gave a platform to climate deniers, then debunked their lies

Invest in nonprofit journalism today.Donate now and every gift will be matched through 12/31.

CNN put out a video this week titled, “Don’t believe these climate change lies.” It’s a change of pace for a mainstream media outlet long accustomed to presenting climate change as if it’s an issue that’s still debated by the scientific community.

CNN’s two-and-a-half-minute video features the network’s team of meteorologists debunking a bunch of talking points frequently spouted by deniers. Yes, the climate has always been changing. But never at this rate, the video says. “Only man-made influences, including the burning of fossil fuels, could have created this crisis.”

Watch the video:

As welcome as this is, there’s still a glaring problem: Two of the network’s four examples of how climate deniers operate are clips from CNN itself. One of those deniers, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, was hired by CNN as a senior political commentator last January. Right after the Trump administration released the 4th National Climate Assessment in November, Santorum was on air, arguing that “the reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive.”

The next day, CNN invited Tom DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader, to discuss the assessment. He promptly unloaded a heap of nearly identical denier BS on viewers: “The report is nothing more than a rehash of age-old, 10 to 20 year assumptions made by scientists getting paid to further the politics of global warming.”

In other words, CNN is telling us not to believe these myths about climate change while giving a platform to people who … tell us these myths about climate change. Oy gevalt.

Want to see more award-winning news?

Help us raise $50,000 by December 31! Support nonprofit journalism by making a donation today and all gifts will be matched


Link to article: 

CNN gave a platform to climate deniers, then debunked their lies

Posted in alo, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on CNN gave a platform to climate deniers, then debunked their lies

The good, the bad, and the ridiculous: How media covered the National Climate Assessment

Subscribe to The Beacon

Right-wingers’ efforts to derail media coverage of the National Climate Assessment backfired not once, but twice.

First, the Trump administration tried to bury the National Climate Assessment by releasing it on Black Friday, but that tactic bombed. It turns out that “Trump tries to bury a new climate report” is a much sexier headline than “Scientists release a new climate report.”

Then climate deniers fanned out on TV networks to spread lies and deceptive talking points about the report, but they got far more criticism than they expected, and that criticism kept climate change in the news.

Overall, the report got loads of media coverage in the days after it was released. The quality was decidedly mixed — some good, some awful — but the good coverage appears to have outweighed the bad.

The good

At least 140 newspapers around the country featured the National Climate Assessment on their front pages the morning after it was released, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. That included The New York Times and The Washington Post, which have teams of climate reporters, and also smaller papers all over the U.S., including 20 in California. Some highlighted the ways that climate change is affecting their regions, like the Portland Press Herald in Maine:

MSNBC aired some strong segments. In one, host Ali Velshi mocked President Donald Trump’s claim that his “gut” told him the report is wrong. Then Velshi interviewed climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a co-author of the assessment, who explained the report’s findings and how scientists arrived at them.

CNN served up some highly questionable coverage (more on that below), but it also did some good interviews with climate scientists and with three senators who are serious about addressing the climate crisis. CNN took a novel approach to real-time fact-checking when the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, lied about the report during a press briefing. The network showed live video of Sanders, paired alongside a text bar labeled “Facts First” that corrected some of her false claims:

All of the Sunday morning political talk shows discussed the report on the weekend after it was released. It was the first time this year that every one of them addressed climate change on the same day. That’s how rarely they cover the crisis.

The bad

Unfortunately, we would have been better off without some of that Sunday show coverage — particularly the segments that gave airtime to rabid climate deniers. One of the worst ran on NBC’s Meet the Press and featured Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank supported by the Koch brothers. She employed a favorite denier line — “I’m not a scientist” — and then proceeded to spout pure nonsense about the globe is getting cooler.

Egregious drivel about climate change also cropped up on CNN’s State of the Union, which asked not one but two climate deniers to weigh in on the report. Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, offered a bland, lukewarm serving of climate denial: “Our climate always changes and we see those ebb and flows through time.”

Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum one-upped Ernst by praising the Trump team’s attempt to bury the report and claiming that the scientists who wrote it were “driven by the money.”

Santorum was roundly mocked on Twitter for making such a completely bananas claim. Many of the climate scientists who worked on the report were not paid at all for their efforts, and professors working in the field don’t earn more than their colleagues in other disciplines. You might have thought the widespread mockery would discourage other deniers from following suit, or at least discourage CNN from giving them a platform. You would have been wrong.

The following Monday, CNN hosted two more right-wingers who made the same ridiculous claim that climate scientists were in it for the money: Tom DeLay, who resigned as Republican House majority leader in 2005 after being convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, and Stephen Moore, a Trump-loving “economist” who’s worked for Koch-funded groups.

Then on Tuesday morning, CNN seemed like it was trying to redeem itself. It ran one segment in which CNN political analyst John Avlon fact-checked and thoroughly debunked the claim that scientists are getting rich by studying climate change, and another in which climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe explained that she and the other co-authors of the National Climate Assessment were paid “zero dollars” for their efforts.

But a few hours later, the bonkers claims were back. Both Santorum and Moore returned to CNN to repeat the lie that scientists are driven by a multi-billion-dollar climate change industry that has manufactured a false crisis. CNN’s Anderson Cooper found time to air Santorum’s warmed-over lie on his show, but failed to air an interview that he had conducted with Hayhoe. Cooper’s Hayhoe interview was only posted online.

Oh, and CNN also failed to note that Santorum, Moore, and DeLay have all received copious amounts of cash from the fossil fuel industry.

The backlash to the bad

Other media outlets bashed CNN and NBC for featuring climate deniers, leading to even more more coverage of climate change and the National Climate Assessment, mostly for the good.

The New York Times published a fact-checking piece titled, “The Baseless Claim That Climate Scientists Are ‘Driven’ by Money,” which cited and debunked statements made by Santorum and DeLay. PunditFact, a project of the fact-checking site PolitiFact, looked into Pletka’s claims and labeled them “false.”

Always free, always fresh.

Ask your climate scientist if Grist is right for you. See our privacy policy

The New York Times’ media columnist Jim Rutenberg published a story titled “News Networks Fall Short on Climate Story as Dolphins Die on the Beach,” which highlighted the false claims made by Pletka and Santorum and put them in the context of how climate change has hit Florida. The Washington Post‘s media columnist Margaret Sullivan then tweeted Rutenberg’s story.

Climate scientist Hayhoe published an op-ed in The Washington Post that debunked the myths propagated on CNN by Santorum and DeLay, among others.

WNYC’s On the Media hosted yours truly in a conversation about coverage of the National Climate Assessment, including the problem of featuring climate deniers on air.

Politico‘s Morning Media daily newsletter, written by media reporter Michael Calderone, highlighted problems with press coverage of the National Climate Assessment on four different occasions after the report came out.

The ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd was just one of many influential media figures who tweeted their disapproval of segments that featured climate deniers:

The fact that some members of the media screwed up their coverage so royally meant that others kept reporting on the story longer than they might have otherwise.

Fox opts for footwear coverage

Meanwhile, the folks over at Trump’s favorite network were living in their own universe, as usual. Fox News gave the National Climate Assessment very little airtime. A few straight-news segments covered it, but the most popular Fox shows didn’t. CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter pointed out that on the day of the report’s release, Fox spent more time discussing the shoes of Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat from New York, than it did discussing climate change.

Considering what Fox’s top personalities would have been likely to say about the report had they bothered to cover the National Climate Assessment, it’s probably just as well that they kept quiet.

Lisa Hymas is director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters for America. She was previously a senior editor at Grist.

View original – 

The good, the bad, and the ridiculous: How media covered the National Climate Assessment

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, Casio, Dolphin, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, PUR, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The good, the bad, and the ridiculous: How media covered the National Climate Assessment

What the Trump administration got wrong on its own climate report (pretty much everything)

Subscribe to The Beacon

This story was originally published by the Bulletin and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The federal government’s new National Climate Assessment is the latest scientific report to confirm the devastating effects of climate change: Extreme hot weather is getting more common, wildfires are becoming more devastating, rising sea levels are forcing people from their homes, and so forth. “Climate change is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us,” the report says. And without rapid action to reduce carbon emissions, these problems are going to get worse. A lot worse.

The Trump administration has responded to the climate crisis by rolling back regulations and policies intended to reduce carbon emissions — exactly the opposite of what experts say is required to slow global warming. So it was no surprise when the Trump administration tried to bury the inconvenient report by releasing it on the afternoon of Black Friday. It didn’t work, though.

On Monday, when asked about the report’s conclusion that climate change will wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, President Trump said, “I don’t believe it.” Tuesday, the White House doubled down on its climate denial, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders questioning the methodology and conclusions of the climate report and saying it was “not based on facts.” That phrase is a fitting description for the talking points offered up by the White House. With one exception, none of these points is factually accurate:

Climate change won’t affect the economy. The president may not “believe” it, but economists do. The report released a few days ago says that if climate change is left unchecked, “annual losses in some sectors are estimated to grow to hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of the century.”

It’s worth noting that the 1,656-page report was issued by Trump’s own government. It is backed by NASA, NOAA, the Pentagon, and 10 other federal scientific agencies. It represents decades of work by more than 300 authors.

Trump is leading on clean air and water. The president and his spokespeople have repeatedly tried to divert attention from climate change by claiming that what really matters is clean air and water. “The president is certainly leading on what matters most in this process, and that’s on having clean air, clean water. In fact, the United States continues to be a leader on that front,” Sanders said at the White House press conference. In case anyone missed it, she said it three times.

First off, the president is not leading on clean air and water. In fact, he has been working steadily to overturn or relax rules and programs designed to protect air and water, everything from the Clean Power Plan to fuel efficiency standards. The only reason America’s air and water are relatively clean today is because of policies and legislation adopted before Trump took office. The level of particulate matter in the air actually increased last year, after a long period of steady decline.

More important, the continued burning of fossil fuels is expected to make both the air and the water more polluted. The National Climate Assessment estimates with “high confidence” that global warming will increase ozone levels across the nation’s central region, and that it will lead to increased smoke from wildfires.

What the Trump administration fails to understand is that climate change is air pollution. Human activities are polluting the air with heat-trapping gases that are raising the planet’s temperature to feverish levels. Reducing climate change is simply a matter of reducing the air pollutants that are causing it.

America’s air is the cleanest ever. In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Trump asserted that the nation’s air and water is “right now at a record clean.” Um, no.

The United States has relatively clean air, but not the world’s best. Canada, Australia, and four other countries have cleaner air by at least one metric. And thanks to wildfires exacerbated by climate change, Northern California literally had the world’s worst air quality earlier this month, dirtier even than the air above smoggy mega-cities in China and India.

The new report relies on extreme climate models, not facts. At the press conference, Sanders claimed that the latest climate assessment “is based on the most extreme model scenario, which contradicts long-established trends … It’s not data-driven.”

Not true, say authors of the report. In a Twitter thread, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University said Sanders actually made two false statements, because Hayhoe and other authors of the report “considered many scenarios” including ones in which carbon emissions would be very low, and the observed increase in carbon emissions over the past 10 to 15 years has been consistent with the scenarios modeled in the report.

The report is based on decades of federal data, not just models — data that show carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures rising in tandem. As Axios reported last week, the Earth has been warmer than average for 406 months in a row: “This means that no one under the age of 32 has ever experienced a cooler-than-average month on this planet.” That’s an entire generation.

Climate modeling is difficult and imprecise. As Sanders said at the press conference, “Modeling the climate is an extremely complicated science that is never exact.” OK, score one true statement for Sarah.

What Sanders didn’t say, though, is that computer models have done a good job of predicting what has already happened to the climate, and they are constantly improving. Also, climate models are more likely to underestimate than overestimate the amount of long-term future change.

Obama’s science adviser agrees with Trump. One of Sanders’ talking points seemed to suggest that skepticism about the climate report was bipartisan: “Even Obama’s undersecretary for science didn’t believe the radical conclusions of the report that was released.” Sanders neglected to mention a few key facts about Steven E. Koonin, the former undersecretary who has frequently argued that climate science is not “settled.”

Always free, always fresh.

Ask your climate scientist if Grist is right for you. See our privacy policy

Koonin is a theoretical physicist, not a climate scientist. During the Obama administration, he served within the Energy Department for only 18 months, with limited budget authority and responsibilities. Sanders could just as easily have called Koonin “the former chief scientist for the multinational oil and gas company BP,” a position he held for five years. Or she could have called Koonin “the former Obama official that Trump’s EPA administrator wanted to use special authority to hire.” Either of those identifications would have made it clear that Koonin has far more in common with Trump than Obama.

The fact that one of Obama’s high-level employees doesn’t agree with the latest climate report is meaningless. But it’s a classic climate-denier strategy: Lean heavily on the few scientists who don’t agree with the mainstream consensus on climate change, and hope that the public will be fooled into thinking that scientists are evenly divided on the issue.

Based on facts. During its live broadcast of the press conference, CNN took the unusual step of displaying a “Facts First” sidebar next to Sanders. As the press secretary criticized the report, CNN posted a graphic with bullet points about the report: “Climate Change report involved 300 scientists, 13 federal agencies; Co-Author: Not paid for report; Open for review & transparency before publishing.”

It almost seemed as though CNN was trying to “inoculate” its viewers against what Sanders might say, a communications strategy that may be more effective than debunking false statements that have already been made. If that’s true, perhaps it would be better for me to focus on what the Trump administration isn’t talking about, than on the climate claptrap that came out of the White House over the past few days.

Here’s what Trump and Sanders are mum on: the other climate report published by the federal government on Black Friday. In that report, the Interior Department and the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels produced on federal lands, including offshore areas, was responsible for about one-fourth of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 to 2014. The Trump administration wants to lease even more public land to drillers, at bargain-basement prices, which will make global warming worse. That’s not just a bad deal for taxpayers; it’s a bad deal for everyone on Earth.

Visit site: 

What the Trump administration got wrong on its own climate report (pretty much everything)

Posted in alo, Anchor, Everyone, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What the Trump administration got wrong on its own climate report (pretty much everything)

EPA guard physically shoved a reporter out of the building

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Scott Pruitt convened an EPA national drinking water summit in response to criticism that the EPA and White House had intervened to block a report that disclosed the harmful effects of certain contaminants in drinking water. Now, the summit has become a center of a new controversy. The Associated Press, CNN, and E&E News were barred from covering Pruitt’s speech on Tuesday.

The summit was intended to solicit feedback on a class of chemicals, perfluorinated compounds, PFAS, that can be found in nonstick coatings and firefighting foam. The study, which has still not yet been released by the Trump administration, finds the chemicals can cause health problems and developmental defects at levels far below what the EPA officially considers to be safe.

Dear reader, like what you see here?

Keep Grist’s green journalism humming along by supporting us with a donation today. Your gift will help us fight for a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.

Support Grist   

When AP reporter Ellen Knickmeyer showed up at the EPA building to report on the day’s events, guards barred her “from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building.” When she asked “to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.”

Several outlets still made it in, though they were only allowed to remain for Pruitt’s speech and not for the meetings. The outlets with reserved seats included Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Hill, The Washington Post, Bloomberg BNA, and one of Pruitt’s favorites, The Daily Caller.

“This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event,” EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox said in a statement to Mother Jones. “We were able to accommodate 10 reporters, provided a livestream for those we could not accommodate and were unaware of the individual situation that has been reported.”

An hour after emailing this statement, the EPA announced it was opening the second portion of its summit to all reporters and invited Mother Jones to attend.

This is only the most recent event in Pruitt’s contentious history with press, blocking reporters from press lists and from attending the administrator’s events. Emails recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show Pruitt’s staff going to great lengths to limit public access to the administrator over the last 16 months. EPA staff determined whether reporters belonged to “friendly” and “unfriendly” outlets, and discussed strategies for blocking the so-called unfriendly press from events.


EPA guard physically shoved a reporter out of the building

Posted in alo, ALPHA, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, LG, ONA, solar, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on EPA guard physically shoved a reporter out of the building