Posted by: Barry Bickmore | June 19, 2014

Republican EPA Chiefs Urge Climate Action

Four former EPA administrators from Republican administrations testified at a congressional hearing about the new EPA rule on coal plant CO2 emissions, urging action and supporting the rule.  Articles from the AP,  Reuters, National Journal, and Huffington Post.  

Some coal companies bused in a bunch of coal miners to oppose the EPA rule, but one of them brought up an important point in the Reuters article.

Baker, a manager at one of Murray Energy’s mines in Marshall County, Ohio, wanted to attend because he worries EPA rules may not “take into account some of the towns that will be gone” if the pollution crackdown closes coal mines: “We need both sides to act together.”

This is why I have always preferred that Congress initiate climate action, rather than leaving it to the EPA.  What is the EPA supposed to do about side effects like this one?  Republicans have only themselves to blame if they force the administration to act unilaterally.  (BTW, let us not forget that the U.S. Supreme Court already ruled that the EPA has to take action on greenhouse gas emissions.)

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  1. Barry–thanks for posting this, as I do think that it’s crucial to have bipartison support for action on climate change. It’s good to know that there are some Republicans who believe in science although one might conclude that none of them are in office. Do you think that the current GOP office holders really believe that Fox News and the tea party base trump nearly all science and these former EPA administrators under GOP presidents? How many of the GOP Senators and House members really think that climate change is not a threat and how many just follow the party line and play to the party base?

    I think that it’s great that you are working within the Republican party. However, I wonder if you can find any Republicans to vote for, at least on the national level (president, Senate, US House). Decades ago I have voted for some of the moderate Republicans but these seem to no longer exist at the national level. As a fellow scientist, I view climate changes as the biggest problem facing our country and the world and would never vote for a politician who denies climate science.

    • Hi Bill,

      I don’t know what the numbers are with respect to elected officials, but something around 40% of Republicans in general think climate change is a problem. I think if more of the leadership would quit hiding from the Tea Party, more people would come around. It doesn’t help that so many Republicans blow off science in other areas (e.g., evolution) and believe there is some giant atheist conspiracy to keep Creationism out of schools.

    • Bill, there’s not a competent scientist on the planet who buys into this climate doom evangelism. You really need to pull your head out and get an education on the subject–the only places where good science is being discussed is on the skeptical blogs, and be sure, that does not include “Skeptical Science.” For novice lesson number one I might recommend this:

      • AGF–I think that Barry and I are competent scientists. If you want to see my publication record, see my profile on Google Scholar under WR DeMott. Climate is an issue in my field, which is Limnology and Oceanography and I am author on one climate paper (Manca and DeMott 2009; an open access article) but its not my main research area. I agree that climate science is not “gloom and doom evangelism” but just facing the facts and being able to understand the earth’s trajectory. I’ve read 10s of 1,000s of scientific articles and have been a reviewer or editor for over 1200 manuscripts during a long career. Sorry, but good science is mainly discussed in scientific publications and among scientists at scientific meetings. You can also find good discussions among professors and their students.

        • It all depends on the field, the time, and the country, that is, the political situation. Take fluoride in toothpaste–while Europe has largely abandoned it, the CDC still claims success based on a decreased incidence of caries–correlated of course to fluoride use. However, in countries where fluoride was long since abandoned, caries have similarly decreased. It seems to have more to do with better hygiene than fluoride, but when politics are involved, science suffers.

          And scientists don’t need political interference to get everything backasswards. Take Continental Drift–ridiculed for decades by English speaking geologists on the basis of little but irrational opinion and reputations to uphold. We might wonder, is any field completely free of political/social/psychological bias? Take your opening statement, e.g.:

          “Using correlation analysis, ecologists have sought linkages
          between climate warming and phenomena such as earlier
          breeding of amphibians and birds, upward movement of
          alpine floras, northward shift in the range of butterflies,
          and changes in plant community composition.”

          You reckon with a one degree change in T, which might move a microsystem 100m uphill, but make no mention of a 50% increase in CO2 partial pressure which, if CO2 were the sole limiting factor, might move a microsystem one or two thousand meters uphill. This doesn’t detract from the value of a fine paper, but it does hint slightly at group think–you have been taught to think in terms of temperature.

          But you want it both ways: “facing…the trajectory” without gloom and doom. What does that mean, “facing the trajectory”? Yes, in the last few decades Major Lake’s euphotic later has warmed at three times the rate of surface T–interesting amplification–but does that mean we should shut down our coal plants (while Germany builds them)? Does it even mean CO2 is responsible for any of the warming euphotic layer in Lake Maggiore? Just how does this apply to Republicans’ acceptance of science? Aren’t we talking about their acceptance of an evangelism of doom, if…if we don’t do something like…shut down our coal plants?

          See Bill, you may be a competent scientist within your field but I don’t think you have got to first base as far as the politics of climate change are concerned. There is no end of outlandish claims of catastrophe (now largely rejected by the IPCC) blamed on supposedly unprecedented climate behavior, blamed on GHG’s, when the truth is the President and his backers are clearly the ones on the wrong side of science–or so the IPCC would tell us. For starters, sea level rise has been fairly constant for 80 years–no correlation with T, no correlation with CO2. Does that observation fall within your expertise or competence?

          Cheers, –AGF

          • Living in Europe I can tell everyone here that AGF is telling porkies. The Europeans use fluoridated toothpaste just like the Americans.

            Perhaps it is typical of AGF’s confusion (and hence failure to understand also climate science) – many European countries do not add fluoride to the *drinking water*. Interestingly, many European countries do have fluoridated table salt, which the US does not have. Guess why it is fluoridated?

            • Any wishing to verify Marco’s claim need only look as far as Wikipedia (“Fluoridation by Country”) to see how little European drinking water is fluoridated. And of course, you can buy NaFl mixed with your NaCl if you wish, if you think it will do you good, and you know how much you’re getting. Marco is your typical CACC dupe–and fluoridation dupe. He can’t even google.

            • Seriously, are you so blinded by ideology that you just make up what others (and you yourself) write?

              You wrote that Europeans do not have fluoridated *toothpaste* (which is factually wrong, which I thus duly pointed out), and now you try to make it sound I denied most European countries do not add fluoride to drinking water, even though this is what I explicitly mentioned in my response!

              It would be funny if it wasn’t this sad. Such delusions…

          • I have to say that most ecologists including me have been surprised at how strongly species have responded to the ecological changes that have already occurred in response to warming. I went to the Dutch ecology meeting while I was working in Europe in 2009, and a large part of the presentations were about plant species from Portugal and Spain that have recently expanded northward into Netherlands and Germany. The actual changes are much faster and stronger than one might expect Many interesting cases at higher latitudes, such as the decline in Arctic fox as red fox have expanded northward, outcompeting its smaller relative that is better adapted to colder conditions. Warmer arctic winters and longer summers have allowed the red fox to live in regions where it could not earlier survive.

            • These are probably legitimate observations that only need context. Such adaptations will occur in response to climate change whether natural or unnatural, and just as glaciers worldwide are still recovering from the LIA, so is the Arctic. Polar bears are probably increasing in number now, with hunting better controlled. But more significant is the response to the “Columbian Exchange”: introduced earthworms are changing the landscape in NE U.S. and SE Canada. Russian olive, tumbleweeds (Russian Thistle), cheat grass, and dozens of other weeds have infested the West. The Suez Canal allows mingling of species between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Bilge water from ships mingles water and species from the seven seas, and mail order seed catalogs allow land species to mingle world wide. This results in whole sale annihilation of species on a level not seen since the K/T catastrophe, and absolutely dwarfs any species response from minor cyclical climate change. Global warming is merely a distraction from the real problems. –AGF

  2. […] 2014/06/19: BBickmore: Republican EPA Chiefs Urge Climate Action […]

    • I agree that “global mixing” is a big cause of extinction. But when combined with climate change, the situation gets much worse.

      • Take Pleistocene megafauna extinction for example. You’re no doubt aware of the old climate/overkill debate. Right when humans arrive in Australia, or the Americas, or any of a number of islands, most or all of the biggest animals disappear. But even before CO2 alarm a whole lot of scientists blamed the megafauna extinctions on climate change. Or climate combined with hunting. But the climate has been going through such cycles for three million years, and the mammoths et al did just fine. And the northernmost mammoths (on Wrangel Island) survived till 4ky, until humans arrived. And the Australian megafauna were wiped out with no help from climate. Same with Madagascar and New Zealand.

        Climate doesn’t know how to specialize in the biggest game. Hunters do. Species are almost always able to adapt to climate change. Adapting to alien species is another matter. –AGF

        • I favor human hunting form most of the pleistocene megafauna extinctions and I think that the evidence is accumulating. But many animals cannot adapt to climate change in their ecological context, with competitor, predators and parasites.

  3. For well informed climate evangelist humor see this:
    For an example of how green policy takes from the middle class and gives to the rich, see this:
    As for alarmism enriching the rich at the expense of the impoverished, see this:
    –that Pointman is really on a rampage. Eschenbach has treated the subject too:

    So while the Greenies would like you to believe it’s the environment versus capitalism, don’t you believe a word of it. They know very well that only the wealthy can afford to be green. And they also know that they can only be green at the expense of the poor.

    The irony is, that by keeping the poor poor they must rely on firewood, and burn up the brush and forests. If there were a competent environmentalist he might recommend growing more eucalyptus on the Altiplano–that could capture considerable carbon. –AGF

    • I don’t think that it’s the environment versus capitalism. I spent time behind the “iron curtain” before it came down and environmental devastation was worse under authoritarian rule. On the other hand, a free for all capitalism is a disaster for the environment and public health. That’s why president Nixon created the EPA. Personally, I favor free market ideas, including a carbon tax and or cap and trade. Cap and trade has worked fairly well for reducing acid rain.

  4. OK, I got careless on both points: I meant to say drinking water, which sorry to say, Marco did say. The point being, CDC claims fluoridation has saved American teeth, while Europeans, who can choose their fluoride sources, do just fine without it (any figures on NaFl table salt consumption in Europe?).

    The important point being dosage. The same bunch that decries bottled water wants fluoride in tap water. The hotter the weather or the more you exercise, the more you drink, the more fluoride you get. Why should we put fluoride in our salt when we can’t avoid fluoridated water? And the reckless presumption is you can’t get to much, when considerable evidence points otherwise. The recommended dose has been scaled back over the decades due to increasing recognition of fluoridation causing fluorosis. You have to get the dose right.

    Europeans have gone another direction for two reasons: the public should not be medicated against their will, and the case for fluoride is dubious. The science is not settled. But as with climate science, a whole lot of dentists have been indoctrinated with an ideology and they are not capable of backtracking no matter how compelling the counter evidence (for a thorough scientific review see: ).

    Fluoridation is a thousand times simpler than climate, but the doctors and dentists can’t even agree on that. Nevertheless, the dentists got their way and the water has been poisoned ever since. Prescription from ignorance. That describes climate science to a tee. –AGF

  5. Here’s a blatant example of hopelessly unscientific propaganda:

    …claiming every U.S. city will heat up 11F by 2100. The philosophy behind such propaganda seems to be that lies are good for you–you can’t overstate the danger in a teleological sense.

    So no honest scientist can deny some component of junk science involved, yet only the “skeptics” are willing to point out the BS. Say something, BB, Bill, anyone. –AGF

  6. Most of this controversy will fall by the wayside as we realize that we need the power plants we have closed in order to deal with the upcoming long and cold winters. Last winter we came within a hair of having blackouts during the winter because solar power and wind power was not working and the long and cold winter was demanding more electricity for heating. Space heaters are pretty popular. I predict that we WILL have power blackouts this upcoming 2014-2015 winter, and it will require restarting some of those closed power plants to keep people from freezing.

  7. To see what is happening this year in the arctic and globally, look at the links at the beginning of my blog You will be amazed at what has happened suddenly in 2014, that started in 2013. Global Warming is dead, be it from CO2 or any other forces. The predictions from climate scientists emphasizing the effects of ocean currents and Solar Magnetic Fields seem to be right on. We are entering a little ice age. The next two years will make it so obvious that nobody will be able to deny it credibly. We will then see who the “Deniers” are. They will be denying the weather that does not conform to their CO2 Global Warming Models.

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