Tea Partiers Aren’t as Scientifically Stupid as Believed – Concludes One Smart Liberal

Those that read this blog know that I’m a fan of Dan Kahan, although I don’t know him personally and he and I don’t hang together in the same political spheres.  Kahan has conducted some interesting research on cultural cognition as it relates to climate change and other controversial topics, like vaccines, that require an intellectual capacity (and willingness) to understand scientifically complex issues.  But before delving into Kahan’s interesting results, a brief refresher on linear regression analysis.  The higher the r-value, ranging from 1.0 to -1.0, the stronger the correlation between two variables.  When doing linear regression, you can have both negative and positive correlations.  It should come, therefore, as no surprise to learn that those who are more highly educated tend to have higher scientific literacy and comprehension than those less educated, r-value of 0.36, as shown by the histogram below.  Full post over on Kahan’s blog here

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Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and Climate Change

Linking to an interesting NPR interview this morning with David Folkenflik, author of the book, Murdoch’s World, and not surprisingly the storyline that tends to portray the strong influence exerted by Murdoch over his news outlets, such as News Corp, i.e., the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, on stories such as climate change.  I heard the interview this morning on my commute into DC.  Interesting, it just so happens that, although Murdoch’s outlets convey strong skepticism of anthropogenic global warming, he himself believes the matter serious enough that, in 2007, he declared News Corp would become “carbon neutral” in five years.   Continue reading

Dr. Michael Mann – living in a glass house (with greenhouse gases)

As folks know, Dr. Michael Mann, the climatologist who’s best known for his climate change hockey stick graph, has sued the National Review and Mark Steyn for defamation for poking fun at Mann’s work as academic fraud.  So, here Mann is pressing his legal case, arguing that someone has legally injured him by knowingly spreading falsehoods.  You’d think Mann would understand the seriousness of defamation, and of course the legal elements to establish a defensable claim.  You’d think.  But this week, Mann couldn’t help himself, and tweeted out what appears to be libelous claims about Anthony Watts, whose blog, Watts Up With That, presents skeptical arguments about manmade climate change.

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EPA Priorities in the Waning Hours of the Obama Administration

Toward the end of any administration, there’s always a mad dash by EPA to push through as much of its regulatory agenda as it can.  This past Friday, I was asked to pinch hit for Nancy Stoner, head of EPA’s Water Office, at the ABA’s annual environmental law conference in Baltimore.  Due to the partial government shutdown all EPA officials were threatened prohibited from making any public appearance to prognosticate on the agency’s priorities over the last three years of the Obama Administration.  Sorry, Nancy – we missed you.  But not to be overshadowed by the Air Office and the looming showdown on climate change regulations, I promised big things from you and your office (you’re welcome!), namely the “Big Three” rules, stormwater, waters of the U.S., and nutrients.  Continue reading

Happy National Ethical Investment Week

If you’re not familiar with it, it may sound a bit hoakie.  But it’s legit, and that’s what they are celebrating in the UK this week.  And although the UK is leading the charge on using private finance to leverage social good, the concept of ethical investing continues to gain greater traction here in the U.S..  Now, one might argue that the only social good a company need provide is a good job and decent rate of return for its investors.  And 30 years ago, you would have been right.  But these days, companies are being asked to deliver much much more.  Continue reading

Obduracy of Climate Politics Creates Real Risks

Michael Gerson, a conservative and former speech writer for Bush 43, has a very thoughtful article this week on the climate change debate.  I have grown increasingly frustrated by those voices within the Republican party who, for whatever reason, refuse to  consider the possibility that human activities are contributing to climate change.  Yes, I know, environmentalists have overplayed their hand, made predictions that haven’t materialized, and have exploited fear to leverage action.  The consequences have been greater cynism and, what I refer to as, a crisis of credibility.  However, this crisis of credibility doesn’t diminish the very real possibility that climate change, caused in part by human activity, is occurring.  However, as Gerson argues over in WashPo, politics is poorly suited to address global warming. Continue reading

Environmentalists Debate the Costs and Benefits of Gas v. Coal

Thought it worth posting this thoughtful and civil discussion between Kate Sinding of NRDC and Michael Shellenberger of The Breakthrough Institute on the debate over energy policy and fracking in the U.S..  Some agreement, but mostly disagreement.  As you’ll gather from the interview, NRDC is opposed to fracking primarily because the natural gas boom keeps the U.S. economy hooked on a carbon-based fuel source, an obstacle to more renewable energies.  Shellenberger takes the more balanced approach, arguing that natural gas is better than coal in all respects, including environment impacts, worker safety, and the economic benefits.  Sinding argues “better is not good enough.”  Interesting exchange beginning about 26:05 where Shellenberger points out NRDC’s about position on fracking nearly five years, having previously strongly supported natural gas.  He notes politics and Hollywood hypocrites, rather than environmental concerns, have inflamed the fracking debate.  Good primer for those who haven’t followed the complex and nuanced political debate.