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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Climate Change Real • Fukushima Dangers Were Hidden • Republicans Lie • How Our Wars Help Al Qaeda • Racist Voter ID laws • STUDY: Pot 20 Times More Harmful than Cigarettes • Swine Flu FAR Deadlier than Reported • USA Doesn't Believe in Evolution •

- Japanese Gov't Hid Radiation Information from Public
    The information, showing residents in an area northwest of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant were being exposed to their annual permissible dose of radiation within only eight hours, was not made public, and those residents were not evacuated.
- What Is Wrong With Our Education System? Almost Half the Population Doesn't Accept Evolution
    Rejecting evolution expresses more than an inability to think critically; it relies on a fundamentally paranoid worldview. --- Do you know what the worst thing about the recent Gallup poll on evolution is? It isn’t that 46 percent of respondents are creationists (“God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last ten thousand years or so”). Or that 32 percent believe in “theistic evolution” (“Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process”). Or that only 15 percent said humans evolved and “God had no part in this process.” It isn’t even that the percentage of Americans with creationist views has barely budged since 1982, when it was 44 percent, with a small rise in the no-God vote (up from 9 percent) coming at the expense of the divine-help position (down from 38 percent). Or that 58 percent of Republicans are creationists, although that does explain a lot.It’s that the proportion of college graduates who are creationists is exactly the same as for the general public. That’s right: 46 percent of Americans with sixteen long years of education under their belt believe the story of Adam and Eve is literally true.
- Korean scientists hit back at creationist textbook campaign
    A group of 30 South Korean evolutionary scientists and palaeontologists has released a statement condemning a successful campaign by the creationist group Society for Textbook Reform (STR) to remove some examples of evolution from high-school biology textbooks
- Fox Marks UN Earth Summit By Denying Global Warming
    As world leaders gather for the UN's Rio+20 Earth Summit this week in Brazil, Fox is taking the opportunity to once again deny the threat of climate change
- The Evil of Our Interventionist Wars
    Nearly all states in the Middle East have appalling human rights records, some of them with even fewer redeeming features than Gadaffi’s Libya or Assad’s Syria. But then those states, such as Saudi Arabia, are close allies of the West. Only the terminally naïve or dishonest argue that the states targeted by the West have been selected for the benefit of their long-suffering citizens. Rather, they have been chosen because they are seen as implacably opposed to American and Israeli interests in the region.
- Statement of Ralph Nader on Supreme Court Pro-Corporate Decision
    In reversing the judgment of the [Republican dominated] Supreme Court of Montana that found corporate independent expenditures in elections to be corrupting, the usual “gang of five” majority on the Supreme Court continued its judicial drive to change the meaning of the preamble to our Constitution from “we the people” to “we the corporations.”
- 2009 swine flu outbreak was 15 times deadlier: study
    The swine flu pandemic of 2009 killed an estimated 284,500 people, some 15 times the number confirmed by laboratory tests at the time, according to a new study by an international group of scientists.
- Eat Less Meat, Save The World
    If you believe that earth’s natural resources are limitless, which maybe was excusable 100 years ago but is the height of ignorance now,  or that “technology will fix it” or that we can simply go mine them in outer space with Newt Gingrich, I guess none of this worries you. But if you believe in reality, and you’d like that to be a place that your kids get to enjoy, this is a big deal.
- How Drones Help Al Qaeda
    Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology but rather by a sense of revenge and despair. Robert Grenier, the former head of the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, has warned that the American drone program in Yemen risks turning the country into a safe haven for Al Qaeda like the tribal areas of Pakistan — “the Arabian equivalent of Waziristan.”
- The Danger of Endless War video
    The United States is engaged in a seemingly endless war against a nebulous enemy. Nation Editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, appearing on Current's Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer, explains that by using drones and employing the indefinite detention of enemy combatants, the United States is undermining its own democracy and diminishing its stature abroad.
- Study Finds Media Overwhelmingly Repeat GOP "Job Killer" Allegations With No Verification?
    Media have overwhelmingly repeated claims by Republican politicians and corporations that government policies are "job killers" without citing any evidence for this claim according to a new study.
- Americans saw wealth plummet 40 percent from 2007 to 2010, Federal Reserve says
    The recent recession wiped out nearly two decades of Americans’ wealth, according to government data released Monday, with ­middle-class families bearing the brunt of the decline.
- Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Places Expiration Date on Democracy
    Back in April, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele visited the editorial board of the Erie Times-News newspaper to speak with them about the new photo voter ID bill Gov. Tom Corbett had just signed into law. The bill is supposed to fight or prevent voter fraud, but like with every other state that has passed voter ID laws, this fraud is mostly a boogeyman that seems to only haunt Republicans in their dreams (Check this Rolling Stone slideshow for an excellent ride through voter fraud myth debunkment). .... The stakes are high for Pennsylvania, which is a perennial battleground state, and which has a long history of disenfranchising voters, particularly black students.
- Colorado Wildfire: Our Scorching Future?
    Hayhoe, along with an international team of scientists, discovered that climate change will disrupt fire patterns across over 80 percent of the globe by the end of the century. “Scientists found compelling agreement in long term models that more fires would occur at mid-to-high latitude areas like North America
- U.S. completes warmest 12-month period again, smashes spring record
    The period from June 2011 to May 2012 was the warmest 12-months since records began (in 1895) in the continental United States. This unprecedented stretch of warmth bests the previous 12-month record, established just one month ago.
- In North Carolina, a Political Storm over Rising Seas
    Years of coastal flooding seem to argue for climate adaptation, but [Republican] state lawmakers may ban such policies
- Virginia [Republican] Lawmaker Says ‘Sea Level Rise’ Is A ‘Left Wing Term,’ Excises It From State Report On Coastal Flooding
    Virginia’s legislature commissioned a $50,000 study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state’s shores. To greenlight the project, they omitted words like “climate change” and “sea level rise” from the study’s description itself. According to the [Republican] House of Delegates sponsor of the study, these are “liberal code words,” even though they are noncontroversial in the climate science community.
- Thank You Sisters
    Nuns On the Bus, an activist group of nuns on a nine-state tour, stopped in  Republican Representative Paul Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin to speak out gently but firmly against his budget cuts, and offer their own faithful budget. Beautiful.
- Is marijuana unhealthier than people think?
    As medical and recreational use of marijuana continues to grow, a dangerous lack of awareness about its health risks could be putting millions of lives at risk. This is the conclusion reached by the British Lung Foundation (BLF), a leading charity that is worried about the "alarming disconnect" between the public perception of the drug as being relatively safe, and mounting evidence indicating that it dramatically increases a person's chance of developing cancer.According to a report issued by the BLF, nearly 9 in 10 people believe that smoking cigarettes is worse than marijuana — but the risk of developing lung cancer is as much as 20 times greater from a cannabis joint than a tobacco cigarette. Researchers contend that smoking one marijuana joint is equivalent to smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.

Climate change deniers blinded by political ideology
By Michael E. Mann
Published Vancouver June 8, 2012 in The Vancouver Sun

A recent commentary by Frank Hilliard of the Individual Rights Party of B.C. that appeared in The Vancouver Sun June 4 misinformed readers when it comes to the reality and seriousness of human-caused climate change. Further, Hilliard's tirade was riddled with fabrications and dishonest personal attacks against me and other climate scientists.

Hilliard demonstrates that he does not understand the so-called "Hockey Stick" graph that my co-authors and I published more than a decade ago, which demonstrated that the nature of recent warming is unprecedented. Our temperature reconstruction was based on hundreds of climate "proxy" records around the world, including tree-ring data from every continent as well as ice cores from polar regions, coral records from the tropical oceans, and other sources of information. Yet, Hillard claims they were based only on "one set of observations of tree rings in Russia." That is simply a blatant fabrication.

Hilliard compounds the problem by citing attacks against our work by two Canadian climate change deniers (Fraser Institute-funded economist Ross McKitrick and energy industry consultant Stephen McIntyre) with-out noting that several independent studies have established fatal flaws in their claims.

Dozens of independent studies have reproduced our original findings and the highest scientific authority in the U.S., the National Academy of Sciences, has reaffirmed our conclusions (see e.g. Science Panel Backs Study on Warming Climate, New York Times, June 22, 2006), confirming that modern temperatures are likely higher than they've been in more than a thousand years.

But all of this is a diversion anyway, as our work is not the central pillar of evidence for human-caused climate change that our detractors would like you to think it is.

Numerous independent lines of evidence, some of it based on basic physical principles that have been known for nearly two centuries, indicate that humans are warming the planet and changing our climate by burning coal and other fossil fuels.

The fact that such falsehoods and fabrications like those put forward by Hilliard could readily appear on the editorial pages of a respected paper like The Vancouver Sun is a perfect example of just how divorced our public discourse about climate change has become from scientific reality.
Indeed, it is the poisoning of the public discourse over climate change that prompted me to write my recent book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, where I describe the circumstances that led to my becoming and accidental and reluctant public figure.

I describe the crescendo of attacks that I have endured as climate change deniers have engaged in a cynical campaign to try to discredit me in the hope that by so doing they might discredit the case for human-caused climate change. I describe how U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), among the largest recipients of fossil fuel money in the Congress, have both launched partisan investigations into my work; as has Attorney-General Ken Cuc-cinelli of Virginia, another recipient of oil company largesse.

Thankfully, the scientific community is doing more to stand up for researchers who find themselves targeted by politicians and ideological groups that don't like our findings.

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, for instance, is soliciting donations from the general public to help cover legal expenses scientists are incurring. This is an incredible help for scientists, who often lack the resources to defend themselves and face attacks from deep-pocketed groups funded by the fossil fuel industry.

It's unfortunate that people who are ideologically opposed to dealing with climate change feel entitled to not only attack scientists like me for doing our jobs, but to attack us again and again when we try to set the record straight.

We have as much right to speak out as any citizen. But as scientists, we have a special duty to make distinctions between our scientific judgment and our opinions as citizens.

Unfortunately, the people who choose to attack us are often so blinded by their ideology, they can't tell the difference between science and political opinion.

The truth is that regardless of one's ideological position on whether or not we should reduce the emissions that drive climate change, we should be able to base decisions about how to protect ourselves from a changing climate on established science.

When I think of my role as a citizen and a parent, I feel strongly we must also confront the ethical choice we face: Choosing not to reduce emissions is choosing to leave our children the legacy of a planet that will be degraded relative to the one we inherited from our parents.
It's time for us to have a grown-up debate about climate change in this country. And attacks on scientists by political operatives like Hilliard should have no place in it.

Michael E. Mann is a member of the Pennsylvania State University faculty, holding joint positions in the departments of meteorology and geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with other scientists who participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.