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Sunday, August 31, 2014

But we've got more water than we can ever use. -Mayor Kenny Evans and the Payson Roundup

Low water levels close C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge) Reservoir and FR751 for the season

 


















From the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service website

Beginning Friday, August 22, the entire C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge) Reservoir, as well as Forest Road 751, has been closed for the season. Rock Crossing Campground nearby will remain open for the season.

The closure will encompass the entire reservoir -– not just the boat ramp -– for public safety due to low water levels, loose rock falling on and around the boat ramp, as well as improvement work throughout the area. Forest managers on the Mogollon Rim Ranger District plan to reopen the reservoir in the spring.

For additional information and suggestions for other recreational opportunities in the area, visit our website at www.fs.usda.gov/coconino or contact the Mogollon Rim Ranger District at 928-477-2255.

California Bans Plastic Bags



Article image
Stefanie Penn Spear
EcoWatch / News Report
Published: Sunday 31 August 2014
nationofchange.org
 
Starting in July of 2015, consumers shopping at grocery stores or pharmacies, in California, will pay a fee if using recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags. A year later convenience stores will also ban plastic bags. It is nice to see a bill pass that is positive for the environment.

The California Senate voted 22-15 late last night to pass a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and create a mandatory minimum ten-cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags.

The bill, which passed both houses of the California State Legislature now heads to the Governor’s desk. If signed, California will become the first state in the U.S. to ban what advocates call “the most ubiquitous consumer item on the planet.”

Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin de León and Ricardo Lara authored the measure that will implement a ban while promoting recycling and California manufacturing, and provides financial incentives to maintain and retrain California employees in affected industries.

“In crafting this compromise, it was imperative to me that we achieve the goals of doing away with single-use plastic bags, help change consumer behavior, and importantly, support and expand California jobs,” said Senate President pro Tempore-elect Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “SB 270 is a win-win for the environment and for California workers.” Senate Bill 270 will:
  • Increase the use of recycled content for reusable plastic bags to promote recycling and California manufacturing.  In 2016, bags will be required to have 20 percent recycled content and in 2020 be made of 40 percentrecycled content.
  • Support recycling of agriculture plastic film which is currently sent to landfills.
  • Require large grocery store chains to take back used bags for continued recycling.
  • Require third party certification of reusable plastic bags to ensure compliance with bag standards which support California manufacturing.
  • Grandfathers existing local ordinances related to grocery bags.
More than 120 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags with more than 1 in 3 Californians already living somewhere with a plastic bag ban in place, in an effort to drive consumers towards sustainable behavior change.

The Clean Seas Coalition, a growing group of environmentalists, scientists, California lawmakers, students and community leaders has worked since 2008 to reduce sources of plastic pollution, and help pass this legislation.

“Data from the over 121 local plastic bag bans, like Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, San Jose and San Mateo has proven that bans are effective at reducing litter and changing consumer attitudes, and have refuted industry’s claims of apocalyptic impacts on jobs and poor communities,” said Leslie Tamminen, director Seventh Generation Advisors and facilitator for the Clean Seas Coalition. “A state plastic bag ban saves taxpayers huge amounts of money spent on litter cleanup, and protects the environment.”

Plastic bags create a direct threat to wildlife, like the Pacific leatherback sea turtles, that mistake the bags for food. A study of more than 370 leatherback sea turtle autopsies found that one in three had plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag. Plastic bags are also one of the most common items littered on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanup data, according to Ocean Conservancy.

“This important step forward shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver, oceans advocate with Environment California. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years. I congratulate Senators Padilla, de León, and Lara for their victory today, and I thank them for their leadership to protect our environment.”

“The experience of over 120 cities shows that this policy works,” concluded Weaver. “I urge Governor Brown to sign SB 270 into law.”
The California Senate voted 22-15 late last night to pass a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and create a mandatory minimum ten-cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags.

Now 9-year-olds are armed and dangerous


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Across the United States on Wednesday, a heated national debate began on the extremely complex issue of children firing military weapons.

“Every now and then, the nation debates an issue that is so complicated and tricky it defies easy answers,” says pollster Davis Logsdon. “Letting small children fire automatic weapons is such an issue.”

Logsdon says that the thorny controversy is reminiscent of another ongoing national debate, about whether it is a good idea to load a car with dynamite and drive it into a tree.

“Many Americans think it’s a terrible idea, but others believe that with the correct supervision, it’s perfectly fine,” he says. “Who’s to say who’s right?”

Similar, he says, is the national debate about using a flamethrower indoors. “There has been a long and contentious national conversation about this,” he says. “It’s another tough one.”

Much like the long-running national debates about jumping off a roof, licking electrical sockets, and gargling with thumbtacks, the vexing question of whether children should fire military weapons does not appear headed for a swift resolution.

“Like the issue of whether you should sneak up behind a bear and jab it with a hot poker, this won’t be settled any time soon,” he says.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why Fight For Unions?



 So We Can Fight An Economy Rigged Against Us

Dave Johnson

Working family incomes haven’t gone up in the 21st century. Inequality reaches new extremes. Corporate profits are reaping a record portion of the nation’s income, while worker wages wallow at record lows. Three-fourths of Americans fear their children will fare less well than they have.
This Labor Day, we should do more than celebrate workers – we should understand how vital reviving worker unions is to rebuilding a broad middle class.

The raging debate on inequality and its remedies often omits discussion of unions. Inequality is blamed on globalization and technology that have transformed our workforce. Remedies focus on better education and more training, with liberals supporting fair taxes to help pay the cost.
[. . .] The decline of unions is indisputably at the center of America’s growing inequality and hallowed-out middle class. But what is also clear is that reviving shared prosperity and rebuilding the middle class isn’t likely to occur without reviving the ability of workers to organize and bargain collectively.

Summary:

  • America’s broad middle class was built when unions were strong, representing over one-third of the private workforce. Strong unions helped workers win better wages and benefits at the workplace, and championed vital reforms in the political arena — raising the minimum wage, creating Medicare, raising Social Security benefits, workplace safety and more – that helped build the broad middle class.
  • During those years, workers shared in the increased productivity and profits that they helped to create. Incomes on the bottom actually grew faster than top-end incomes. America grew together.
  • Then furious corporate campaigns succeeded in weakening unions. Laws banned powerful union-organizing tactics. Multinationals wrote trade rules that facilitated moving jobs abroad, enabling companies to threaten workers seeking better wages. Corporations perfected anti-union strategies. And with the election of Ronald Reagan as president, all gloves were off.
  • Unions now represent less than 7 percent of the private workforce. As unions declined, wages no longer rose with productivity. CEOs and investors captured ever higher portions of corporate income. The minimum wage lost value. Corporations gutted pensions and health care plans. Incomes on the top soared, while those on the bottom sunk. America grew apart.
  •  Please click through to Inequality: Rebuilding the Middle Class Requires Reviving Strong Unions.

Wingnut Week In Review: 'No Angel'




 The best of the worst from

wingnuttia this week

Terrance Heath


Here’s the best of the worst in wingnuttia this week:

Friday, August 29, 2014

This one is worse than Michael Brown

The family of Victor White III. (photo: NBC News/William Widmer)
The family of Victor White III. (photo: NBC News/William Widmer)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
27 August 14

he shooting death of Michael Brown was more than worth every word and every pixel expended on its coverage. However, for sheer brass-balls police bullshit, what's going on down in New Iberia may be even worse than what happened in Ferguson.
Deputies say they found illegal narcotics on the 22-year-old black man, so he was arrested on possession and taken in for booking. But White's story, the one given five months ago by law enforcement, ends right after his arrival at the sheriff's office, when he's said to have refused to exit the back seat of the deputy's cruiser. The deputy ran for help, and White, in a feat of human elasticity, is alleged to have pulled out a handgun that was somehow undetected during frisking, and with his hands still in cuffs behind his back, fired off a round into his back. White died shortly after, leaving the deputies on the scene as the only witnesses to the incident. The sheriff's office maintains there are no surveillance cameras in that area of the parking lot.
There are so many layers of convenient coincidence atop the official story of Victor White's death that the original story was bound to collapse sooner or later. (No surveillance cameras? The cops frisked a handcuffed man and they were able to find a small amount of marijuana, but they missed a handgun?) Now, though, there is a coroner's report that comes to the unremarkable conclusion that the shooting simply could not have happened the way it was reported.
The autopsy by Christopher Tate, a forensic pathologist with the coroner's office, reveals a number of glaring holes in the deputies' account of White's death, starting with a change in the cause of death from accidental shooting to suicide. The report also shows that White was killed from a gunshot wound that entered the right side of his chest, tearing through his left lung and heart and exiting through his left armpit, leaving the upper arm with lacerations - a much different scenario than the handcuffed man who shot himself in the back as deputies claimed. The autopsy further reveals that White suffered from some sort of blow to the face, listed on the report as two upper facial abrasions near his left eye. In an article posted in the weeks after the shooting, Vice's Cooper reports on a conversation with White's father, Victor White Sr. From that conversation, which came way before the autopsy's release, here's what White says about his son and the deputies who arrested him: "I know they beat him before he arrived at the station, because those who were with him before he was arrested said he didn't have a mark on him."
(Vice is your go-to source on this case. It's been all over it almost from jump.)

While the coroner's report concludes that White committed suicide while in custody, at least it is not claiming that he had to be Mr. Fantastic to do it. White's family isn't buying a word of it, including the coroner's conclusion that this was a suicide. From here, the whole scenario as presented looks like it owes more to Arlen Specter's work with the Warren Commission than it does to anything else. In terms of complete implausibility, this one may be even worse than what happened in Ferguson but, on a number of tragically important levels, they're both the same event.

Agreement will protect Cragin from wildfires


Federal, private and local agencies have reached an agreement to use forest-thinning, prescribed burns and other measures to protect the watershed around the C.C. Cragin Reservoir north of Payson. Officials say the measures will prevent runoff from burned areas from fouling water and damaging waterworks. (U.S. Forest Service Photo)
 
By EMILIE EATON Cronkite News

PAYSON – Federal, private and local agencies signed an agreement Wednesday that will help protect a crucial water source for this city from the effects of wildfires.
The agreement, which participants hailed for its collaborative nature, calls for forest-thinning, prescribed fires and other measures near the C.C. Cragin Reservoir north of Payson.

During a wildfire, ash, debris and sediment can enter reservoir and waterworks, fouling the water, damaging facilities and costing millions in repairs.

Mike Connor, deputy secretary of the U.S. Interior Department, one of the agencies involved, called the agreement a “win-win.”

“It improves the health of the watershed, it reduces the risk of fire and it allows for more minimal damages if there is a fire,” he said.

Other partners include the Salt River Project, which owns the reservoir, the National Forest Foundation, the city of Payson, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service.

Bruce Hallin, director of water rights and contracts at SRP, said he has been pushing for the agreement for a year. The C.C. Cragin Reservoir is an important source of water for both Payson and the state, he said.

In announcing the agreement, officials said three large fires have threatened the reservoir’s watershed since 2002.

“We needed to move quickly before we saw a catastrophic fire take out that watershed,” Hallin said.

He added that it’s expensive to mitigate problems to the water supply after a wildfire has occurred. He estimated that it could be as much as 30 times the cost of prevention.

A 2009 fire cost Los Angeles County $30 million to remove sediment from debris basins, and two fires in Colorado cost one water utility more than $26 million to dredge the reservoir and treat the water, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture news release.

“The idea is here, we’ve got to spend a little bit, invest in that healthy forest and try to reduce that risk or minimize the effects of fire,” Connor said. “And probably what we’re going to find is that’s going to be a cheaper route in the long run.”

Connor and Halin touted the agreement as a model for future agreements in Arizona and throughout the West. The Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working on five similar programs in Colorado, California, Montana and Washington.

Connor visited a reservoir in Colorado last month. “It’s already paying off,” he said.

In Arizona, SRP is looking to partner with agencies and philanthropic groups to protect other water reservoirs, including one at Wet Beaver Creek near Sedona.

“A healthy forest equals a health water supply,” Hallin said.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bill Gates Takes On the NRA

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg already had the gun lobby in his sights. Now Bill Gates is donating $1 million for universal background checks - and there's more where that came from. (photo: The Daily Beast)
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg already had the gun lobby in his sights. Now Bill Gates is donating $1 million for universal background checks - and there's more where that came from. (photo: The Daily Beast)

By Cliff Schecter, The Daily Beast
26 August 14

omewhere in a large glass tower in Northern Virginia, there’s a guy who runs guns with a French name having a bad day. With good reason.

It was reported Monday that Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and incredibly wealthy guy, and with his wife, Melinda, have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.

Gates is only the latest Washington billionaire to give to the effort, with original Amazon investor Nick Hanauer providing crucial early funding, and more recently upping his overall donation to $1.4 million. Additionally, Gates’s Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has provided $500,000 for the cause.

But Gates’s fame brings more attention and further legitimizes the initiative in a way that almost nobody else could. Once the Gates Foundation made it a priority to combat malaria around the world in 2000, it brought down deaths due to the insect-borne disease by 20 percent in 11 years, saving the lives of 1 million African children in the process.

Gates has the ability to grab headlines and make an issue go viral with the constant media coverage he receives, and the financial ability, if he wins, to fund similar efforts around the country. His involvement could be the answer to the public health crisis that makes American children 93 percent of those murdered in the 26 high-income countries around the world.

Meanwhile, the NRA has…Chuck Norris, doing its “Trigger The Vote” Campaign. An actor, in the sense that he showed up in films, who was last seen round-housing Vietnamese extras in B-movies in the ’80s, back when he was only pushing 50. In more recent times, the more Methuselah-esque-appearing Norris has spent his time warning us of 1,000 years of darkness if President Obama is reelected. (He was. Boo!)

That, in short, is why the guy with the French-sounding name, National Rifle Association head honcho Wayne LaPierre, is probably somewhere drowning his sorrows in his Pernod. Because Gates’ involvement in this issue is just about the last thing LaPierre needs.

Already, the NRA has shown its disdain for anyone with the guts and resources to take on its political cartel of legally bribed legislators around the country. It was used to having the field to itself financially in the 2000s, until along came New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. After seeing his constituents and police force victimized by lax gun laws out of state, lobbied for by the NRA, he decided it was time to do something.

The now former mayor’s activism had led to the ire of LaPierre & Company, who’ve just released a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign blasting Bloomberg, replete with his supposed sneering at “flyover country” in between the coasts. Which LaPierre clearly doesn’t do while receiving his million-dollar-plus compensation in the wealthy Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Ironically, it was in Virginia where Bloomberg’s organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, had one of its biggest victories, when it elected a governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in 2013. None of whom thought a 12-year old should be able to open-carry an Uzi in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, because of, you know, freedom. Suddenly those who agree with the 90 percent of the country who support universal background checks had access to similar, if not greater, financial resources than those who pledged their allegiance to an arms dealer-funded front group.

Bloomberg is worth $33 billion, but if that’s not enough, Gates is worth well over two times that amount. Who knows, with that kind of dough, maybe even measures that “only” enjoy 56 percent support like bans on assault weapons and/or high-capacity magazines could pass via direct voting by uncorrupted American citizens. Or perhaps state legislators and members of Congress who bend easily to the will of these Lords of War could be swapped out for those who live in a closer neighborhood to the best interests of the American populace.

Likely the NRA will try to do to Gates what it has attempted to do to Bloomberg for a few years now, and seek to make this fight about him and not its right-wing radicalism in the service of avarice. He’s a billionaire trying to influence our political process, after all, unlike Manhattan resident David Koch, who along with his brother Charles has polluted our political process to no end, including funding the NRA.

Sure, in an ideal world big money wouldn’t play such an outsize role in our elections, such as this hugely important ballot initiative in Washington state. But that’s not what the NRA wants. It just wants its big money still to be all that decides the outcome, and it isn’t. Which is why Wayne LaPierre’s having a bad day.

More good news about medical pot

A jar of medical marijuana is displayed at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles. (photo: David McNew/Reuters)
A jar of medical marijuana is displayed at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles. (photo: David McNew/Reuters)

In States With Medical Marijuana, Painkiller Deaths Down 25 Percent

By Douglas Main, Newsweek
26 August 14

merica has a major problem with prescription pain medications like Vicodin and OxyContin. Overdose deaths from these pharmaceutical opioids have approximately tripled since 1991, and every day 46 people die of such overdoses in the United States.

However, in the 13 states that passed laws allowing for the use of medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010, 25 percent fewer people die from opioid overdoses annually.

“The difference is quite striking,” said study co-author Colleen Barry, a health policy researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. The shift showed up quite quickly and become visible the year after medical marijuana was accepted in each state, she told Newsweek.

In the study, published today August 25 in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers hypothesize that in states where medical marijuana can be prescribed, patients may use pot to treat pain, either instead of prescription opiates, or to supplement them—and may thus require a lower dosage that is less likely to lead to a fatal problem.

As with most findings involving marijuana and public policy, however, not everyone agrees on a single interpretation of the results.

It certainly can be said that marijuana is much less toxic than opiates like Percocet or morphine, and that it is “basically impossible” to die from an overdose of weed, Barry said. Based on those agreed-upon facts, it would seem that an increased use in marijuana instead of opiates for chronic pain is the most obvious explanation of the reduction in overdose deaths.

Not so fast, said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer at Phoenix House, a national nonprofit addiction treatment agency. He said that the immediate reduction in overdose deaths is extremely unlikely to be due to the substitute use of the herb, for one simple reason: Marijuana isn’t widely prescribed for chronic pain.

“You don’t have primary care doctors in these states [prescribing] marijuana instead of Vicodin,” he said. Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, it is only prescribed by a small subset of doctors, and, therefore, probably couldn’t explain the huge decrease in opiate-related overdose deaths.

Kolodny says the study results are more likely due to a host of factors. One example is differences in state policies to cut down on over-prescribing of opiate medications. Also, many people who overdose on painkillers are already addicted, and these individuals are naturally among the most likely to take too much, Kolodny told Newsweek. States that pass progressive laws to treat addiction may be more likely to lower their rates of overdose deaths; for political reasons these states may also be more likely to legalize medical marijuana.

“This is a good example of where policy change has gotten ahead of the science,” Barry said. She and Kolodny would probably agree on that point.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Burger King's tax dodge sparks national outrage

(photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images)
(photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images)

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News
27 August 14

ne of America’s largest, most iconic fast food chains is now risking its entire brand on a tax dodge that a majority of Americans view as greedy and unpatriotic. Even though Burger King’s recent $11 billion purchase of Canada-based Tim Horton’s has already gone through, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is Burger King’s consumer base. And it appears that gorilla is already moving on to other feeding grounds.

In acquiring Tim Horton’s, Burger King is using a tax dodge called “inversion” in which it renounces its U.S. citizenship to pay Canada’s 15 percent corporate tax rate. Burger King admitted on its own Facebook page that its headquarters would still be in Miami, and that Tim Horton’s would remain an independent brand. Burger King’s workers would still remain in America, as would the majority of Burger King’s restaurants and revenue. Inversion is simply an accounting loophole that forces U.S. taxpayers to foot Burger King’s multi-billion dollar tax bill.

Wealthy shareholders, many of whom are executives who own stock options, would fatten their pockets with bigger dividends, and U.S. taxpayers would see more budget cuts to public services as a result of the drop in Burger King’s tax revenue. Both Burger King and Tim Horton’s saw their share prices increase with the announcement of the acquisition. A handful of rich people win. The people lose.

One oft-quoted statistic is that at 35 percent, America’s corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. But when accounting for all of the loopholes, credits, and deductions that American corporations take advantage of, the U.S. is revealed to be an incredibly low-tax country for corporations. The U.S. raises just 2.1 percent of its total tax revenue from corporate taxes in relation to total GDP, compared to Canada’s 2.5 percent. And compared to other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development-affiliated (OECD) countries, the U.S. has the 5th lowest effective corporate tax rate at 13.4 percent. Canada’s effective corporate tax rate is 14.5 percent. Even though Canada has a lower corporate tax rate, there are far fewer loopholes to take advantage of in the tax code, equating to a greater overall share of tax revenue for Canada’s public services, like universal health care.

And even though the U.S. has, on paper, the highest corporate tax rate, everyday individual taxpayers, like Burger King’s customer base, foot most of the tax revenue for public services. Yet, while Canadians are overwhelmingly satisfied with their taxpayer-funded health care system, Americans get remarkably shoddy services in return for paying most of the taxes. The World Health Organization has ranked our health care system, which is the only for-profit, market-based health care system in the world, as the world’s most expensive and inefficient. American college students are expected to go decades into a debt for a college degree, while European college students get a relatively free higher education in exchange for paying taxes. Other countries with lower corporate tax rates than ours also enjoy a vast social safety net like a retirement cushion, stable childcare services, paid sick and paternal leave (paid maternal leave goes without saying), and many other benefits. If corporations actually paid a 35 percent tax rate, we would have more than enough revenue to provide all of these services and more to American taxpayers.

Walgreens had planned to undergo inversion to avoid taxes, but blowback from customers scrapped that deal. Judging from Burger King’s awkward PR responses on Facebook and Twitter, the company is feeling the heat from angry customers. A petition targeted at Burger King customers garnered more than 50,000 signatures in just 24 hours, with customers promising to boycott the restaurant unless the company’s board of directors reneges on the deal.

Burger King’s inversion move is a slap in the face to the customers who make their billion-dollar profit margins possible, and to the country that allows them to make those profits. Taxpayer-funded meat inspectors make sure Burger King’s beef is safe to eat. Burger King pays its workers so little that they can’t afford health care and food for their families on their meager salary, so taxpayer-funded Medicaid and WIC programs pick up their slack. Burger King gets its ingredients trucked in on taxpayer-funded roads. And in return for all of these services provided by American taxpayers, Burger King won’t even pay the American corporate tax rate.

Burger King’s executives and shareholders might see a short-term benefit from the Tim Horton’s acquisition, but their greed will hurt them in the long term. Restaurant market research has shown that Americans are overwhelmingly fed up with mediocre burgers from fast food joints like Burger King. Dodging taxes on top of making sub-par food may just be the nail in the coffin for Burger King’s future as a fast food chain.


Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Global Warming Deniers Becoming Desperate

(photo: Shutterstock.com)
(photo: Shutterstock.com)

By Dr. David Suzuki, EcoWatch

he Heartland Institute’s recent International Climate Change Conference in Las Vegas illustrates climate change deniers’ desperate confusion. As Bloomberg News noted, “Heartland’s strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.” A who’s who of fossil fuel industry supporters and anti-science shills variously argued that global warming is a myth; that it’s happening but natural—a result of the sun or “Pacific Decadal Oscillation;” that it’s happening but we shouldn’t worry about it; or that global cooling is the real problem.

The only common thread, Bloomberg reported, was the preponderance of attacks on and jokes about Al Gore: “It rarely took more than a minute or two before one punctuated the swirl of opaque and occasionally conflicting scientific theories.”

Personal attacks are common among deniers. Their lies are continually debunked, leaving them with no rational challenge to overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is warming and that humans are largely responsible. Comments under my columns about global warming include endless repetition of falsehoods like “there’s been no warming for 18 years,” “it’s the sun,” and references to “communist misanthropes,” “libtard warmers,” alarmists and worse…

Far worse. Katharine Hayhoe, director of Texas Tech’s Climate Science Center and an evangelical Christian, had her email inbox flooded with hate mail and threats after conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh denounced her, and right-wing blogger Mark Morano published her email address. “I got an email the other day so obscene I had to file a police report,” Hayhoe said in an interview on the Responding to Climate Change website. “They mentioned my child. It had all kinds of sexual perversions in it—it just makes your skin crawl.”

One email chastised her for taking “a man’s job” and called for her public execution, finishing with, “If you have a child, then women in the future will be even more leery of lying to get ahead, when they see your baby crying next to the basket next to the guillotine.”

Many attacks came from fellow Christians unable to accept that humans can affect “God’s creation.” That’s a belief held even by a few well-known scientists and others held up as climate experts, including Roy Spencer, David Legates and Canadian economist Ross McKitrick. They’ve signed the Cornwall Alliance’s Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which says, “We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence—are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception.” This worldview predetermines their approach to the science.

Lest you think nasty, irrational comments are exclusively from fringe elements, remember the gathering place for most deniers, the Heartland Institute, has compared those who accept the evidence for human-caused climate change to terrorists. Similar language was used to describe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a full-page ad in USA Today and Politico from the Environmental Policy Alliance, a front group set up by PR firm Berman and Company, which has attacked environmentalists, labour-rights advocates, health organizations—even Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Humane Society—on behalf of funders and clients including Monsanto, Wendy’s and tobacco giant Phillip Morris. The terrorism meme was later picked up by Pennsylvania Republican congressman Mike Kelly.

Fortunately, most people don’t buy irrational attempts to disavow science. A Forum Research poll found 81 percent of Canadians accept the reality of global warming, and 58 percent agree it’s mostly human-caused. An Ipsos MORI poll found that, although the U.S. has a higher number of climate change deniers than 20 countries surveyed, 54 percent of Americans believe in human-caused climate change. (Research also shows climate change denial is most prevalent in English-speaking countries, especially in areas “served” by media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch, who rejects climate science.)

It’s time to shift attention from those who sow doubt and confusion, either out of ignorance or misanthropic greed, to those who want to address a real, serious problem. The BBC has the right idea, instructing its reporters to improve accuracy by giving less air time to people with anti-science views, including climate change deniers.

Solutions exist, but every delay makes them more difficult and costly.

Labor Day wine tasting in Young Saturday

Enjoy a fun day in scenic Young, Arizona, on Labor Day Weekend!

Pleasant Valley Winery's little log cabin wine shop will be open for wine tasting on Saturday, August 30th from Noon-5:00 p.m. Bottled wines and wine glasses are available for sale. 

Please join us this year for a fun Labor Day outing in beautiful Young.

We hope to see you here,

Jim & Marie Petroff
Pleasant Valley Winery
P.O. Box 31
Young, Az  85554
PVWinery.com           

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Pleasant 
   Valley Winery
Labor Day Weekend
Wine Tasting

At the Little Log Cabin Wine Shop
47779 N. Highway 288

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Saturday, August 30th
Noon – 5:00 pm

Bottled Wine Available For Sale
Please Join Us For Our
Labor Day Weekend
Celebration at the Wine Shop