Arquivo da tag: Conservadorismo

Climate Science Meets a Stubborn Obstacle: Students (New York Times)

“It’s his website,” she said.

 Mr. Sutter during his Advanced Placement environmental science class. He was hired from a program that recruits science professionals into teaching. Credit: Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

For his part, Mr. Sutter occasionally fell short of his goal of providing Gwen — the most vocal of a raft of student climate skeptics — with calm, evidence-based responses. “Why would I lie to you?” he demanded one morning. “It’s not like I’m making a lot of money here.”

She was, he knew, a straight-A student. She would have had no trouble comprehending the evidence, embedded in ancient tree rings, ice, leaves and shells, as well as sophisticated computer models, that atmospheric carbon dioxide is the chief culprit when it comes to warming the world. Or the graph he showed of how sharply it has spiked since the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping vast quantities of it into the air.

Thinking it a useful soothing device, Mr. Sutter assented to Gwen’s request that she be allowed to sand the bark off the sections of wood he used to illustrate tree rings during class. When she did so with an energy that, classmates said, increased during discussion points with which she disagreed, he let it go.

When she insisted that teachers “are supposed to be open to opinions,” however, Mr. Sutter held his ground.

“It’s not about opinions,” he told her. “It’s about the evidence.”

“It’s like you can’t disagree with a scientist or you’re ‘denying science,”’ she sniffed to her friends.

Gwen, 17, could not put her finger on why she found Mr. Sutter, whose biology class she had enjoyed, suddenly so insufferable. Mr. Sutter, sensing that his facts and figures were not helping, was at a loss. And the day she grew so agitated by a documentary he was showing that she bolted out of the school left them both shaken.

“I have a runner,” Mr. Sutter called down to the office, switching off the video.

He had chosen the video, an episode from an Emmy-winning series that featured a Christian climate activist and high production values, as a counterpoint to another of Gwen’s objections, that a belief in climate change does not jibe with Christianity.

“It was just so biased toward saying climate change is real,” she said later, trying to explain her flight. “And that all these people that I pretty much am like are wrong and stupid.”

Classroom Culture Wars

As more of the nation’s teachers seek to integrate climate science into the curriculum, many of them are reckoning with students for whom suspicion of the subject is deeply rooted.

In rural Wellston, a former coal and manufacturing town seeking its next act, rejecting the key findings of climate science can seem like a matter of loyalty to a way of life already under siege. Originally tied, perhaps, to economic self-interest, climate skepticism has itself become a proxy for conservative ideals of hard work, small government and what people here call “self-sustainability.”

A tractor near Wellston, an area where coal and manufacturing were once the primary employment opportunities. Credit: Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Assiduously promoted by fossil fuel interests, that powerful link to a collective worldview largely explains why just 22 percent of Mr. Trump’s supporters in a 2016 poll said they believed that human activity is warming the planet, compared with half of all registered voters. And the prevailing outlook among his base may in turn have facilitated the president’s move to withdraw from the global agreement to battle rising temperatures.

“What people ‘believe’ about global warming doesn’t reflect what they know,” Dan Kahan, a Yale researcher who studies political polarization, has stressed in talks, papers and blog posts. “It expresses who they are.”

But public-school science classrooms are also proving to be a rare place where views on climate change may shift, research has found. There, in contrast with much of adult life, it can be hard to entirely tune out new information.

“Adolescents are still heavily influenced by their parents, but they’re also figuring themselves out,” said Kathryn Stevenson, a researcher at North Carolina State University who studies climate literacy.

Gwen’s father died when she was young, and her mother and uncle, both Trump supporters, doubt climate change as much as she does.

“If she was in math class and teacher told her two plus two equals four and she argued with him about that, I would say she’s wrong,” said her uncle, Mark Beatty. “But no one knows if she’s wrong.”

As Gwen clashed with her teacher over the notion of human-caused climate change, one of her best friends, Jacynda Patton, was still circling the taboo subject. “I learned some stuff, that’s all,’’ Jacynda told Gwen, on whom she often relied to supply the $2.40 for school lunch that she could not otherwise afford.

Jacynda Patton, right, during Mr. Sutter’s class. “I thought it would be an easy A,” she said. “It wasn’t.”Credit: Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Hired a year earlier, Mr. Sutter was the first science teacher at Wellston to emphasize climate science. He happened to do so at a time when the mounting evidence of the toll that global warming is likely to take, and the Trump administration’s considerable efforts to discredit those findings, are drawing new attention to the classroom from both sides of the nation’s culture war.

Since March, the Heartland Institute, a think tank that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change, has sent tens of thousands of science teachers a book of misinformation titled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” in an effort to influence “the next generation of thought,” said Joseph Bast, the group’s chief executive.

The Alliance for Climate Education, which runs assemblies based on the consensus science for high schools across the country, received new funding from a donor who sees teenagers as the best means of reaching and influencing their parents.

Idaho, however, this year joined several other states that have declined to adopt new science standards that emphasize the role human activities play in climate change.

At Wellston, where most students live below the poverty line and the needle-strewn bike path that abuts the marching band’s practice field is known as “heroin highway,” climate change is not regarded as the most pressing issue. And since most Wellston graduates typically do not go on to obtain a four-year college degree, this may be the only chance many of them have to study the impact of global warming.

But Mr. Sutter’s classroom shows how curriculum can sometimes influence culture on a subject that stands to have a more profound impact on today’s high schoolers than their parents.

“I thought it would be an easy A,” said Jacynda, 16, an outspoken Trump supporter. “It wasn’t.”

God’s Gift to Wellston?

Mr. Sutter, who grew up three hours north of Wellston in the largely Democratic city of Akron, applied for the job at Wellston High straight from a program to recruit science professionals into teaching, a kind of science-focused Teach for America.

He already had a graduate-level certificate in environmental science from the University of Akron and a private sector job assessing environmental risk for corporations. But a series of personal crises that included his sister’s suicide, he said, had compelled him to look for a way to channel his knowledge to more meaningful use.

The fellowship gave him a degree in science education in exchange for a three-year commitment to teach in a high-needs Ohio school district. Megan Sowers, the principal, had been looking for someone qualified to teach an Advanced Placement course, which could help improve her financially challenged school’s poor performance ranking. She hired him on the spot.

Mr. Sutter walking with his students on a nature trail near the high school, where he pointed out evidence of climate change. Credit: Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times 

But at a school where most teachers were raised in the same southeastern corner of Appalachian Ohio as their students, Mr. Sutter’s credentials themselves could raise hackles.

“He says, ‘I left a higher-paying job to come teach in an area like this,’” Jacynda recalled. “We’re like, ‘What is that supposed to mean?”’

“He acts,” Gwen said with her patented eye roll, “like he’s God’s gift to Wellston.”

In truth, he was largely winging it.

Some 20 states, including a handful of red ones, have recently begun requiring students to learn that human activity is a major cause of climate change, but few, if any, have provided a road map for how to teach it, and most science teachers, according to one recent survey, spend at most two hours on the subject.

Chagrined to learn that none of his students could recall a school visit by a scientist, Mr. Sutter hosted several graduate students from nearby Ohio University.

On a field trip to a biology laboratory there, many of his students took their first ride on an escalator. To illustrate why some scientists in the 1970s believed the world was cooling rather than warming (“So why should we believe them now?” students sometimes asked), he brought in a 1968 push-button phone and a 1980s Nintendo game cartridge.

“Our data and our ability to process it is just so much better now,” he said.

In the A.P. class, Mr. Sutter took an informal poll midway through: In all, 14 of 17 students said their parents thought he was, at best, wasting their time. “My stepdad says they’re brainwashing me,” one said.

Jacynda’s father, for one, did not raise an eyebrow when his daughter stopped attending Mr. Sutter’s class for a period in the early winter. A former coal miner who had endured two years of unemployment before taking a construction job, he declined a request to talk about it.

“I think it’s that it’s taken a lot from him,” Jacynda said. “He sees it as the environmental people have taken his job.”

And having listened to Mr. Sutter reiterate the overwhelming agreement among scientists regarding humanity’s role in global warming in answer to another classmate’s questions — “What if we’re not the cause of it? What if this is something that’s natural?” — Jacynda texted the classmate one night using an expletive to refer to Mr. Sutter’s teaching approach.

But even the staunchest climate-change skeptics could not ignore the dearth of snow days last winter, the cap to a year that turned out to be the warmest Earth has experienced since 1880, according to NASA. The high mark eclipsed the record set just the year before, which had eclipsed the year before that.

In woods behind the school, where Mr. Sutter had his students scout out a nature trail, he showed them the preponderance of emerald ash borers, an invasive insect that, because of the warm weather, had not experienced the usual die-off that winter. There was flooding, too: Once, more than 5.5 inches of rain fell in 48 hours.

The field trip to a local stream where the water runs neon orange also made an impression. Mr. Sutter had the class collect water samples: The pH levels were as acidic as “the white vinegar you buy at a grocery store,” he told them. And the drainage, they could see, was from the mine.

It was the realization that she had failed to grasp the damage done to her immediate environment, Jacynda said, that made her begin to pay more attention. She did some reading. She also began thinking that she might enjoy a job working for the Environmental Protection Agency — until she learned that, under Mr. Trump, the agency would undergo huge layoffs.

“O.K., I’m not going to lie. I did a 180,” she said that afternoon in the library with Gwen, casting a guilty look at her friend. “This is happening, and we have to fix it.”

After fleeing Mr. Sutter’s classroom that day, Gwen never returned, a pragmatic decision about which he has regrets. “That’s one student I feel I failed a little bit,” he said.

As an alternative, Gwen took an online class for environmental science credit, which she does not recall ever mentioning climate change. She and Jacynda had other things to talk about, like planning a bonfire after prom.

As they tried on dresses last month, Jacynda mentioned that others in their circle, including the boys they had invited to prom, believed the world was dangerously warming, and that humans were to blame. By the last days of school, most of Mr. Sutter’s doubters, in fact, had come to that conclusion.

“I know,” Gwen said, pausing for a moment. “Now help me zip this up.”

O falso dilema do “infanticídio indígena”: por que o PL 119/2015 não defende a vida de crianças, mulheres e idosos indígenas (Combate Racismo Ambiental)

Protesto “contra o infanticídio” organizado por grupos religiosos em frente ao prédio do governo do RJ. Foto: Gazeta do Povo, 2015.

29 de janeiro de 2017

O Projeto de Lei 119/2015, que trata do chamado “infanticídio indígena”, está agora tramitando no Senado. Não por acaso, no início da semana que se encerrou ontem, 28, voltaram a ser publicadas matérias tendenciosas sobre a questão. Considerando a atual conjuntura, na qual mais que nunca é fundamental estarmos alertas e atuantes, convidamos a antropóloga Marianna Holanda a escrever um artigo que dialogasse conosco e nos oferecesse os necessários argumentos para mais esta luta. O resultado é o excelente texto que socializamos abaixo. (Tania Pacheco).

Por Marianna A. F. Holanda*, especial para Combate Racismo Ambiental

Desde 2005, acompanhamos no Brasil uma campanha que se pauta na afirmação de que os povos indígenas teriam tradições culturais nocivas e arcaicas que precisam ser mudadas por meio de leis e da punição tanto dos indígenas responsáveis como de quaisquer funcionários do Estado, agentes de organizações indigenistas e/ou profissionais autônomos que trabalhem junto a estes povos.

Afirma-se que há dados alarmantes de infanticídio entre os povos indígenas de modo a fazer parte da sociedade pensar que, incapazes de refletir sobre as suas próprias dinâmicas culturais, os povos indígenas – sobretudo as mulheres – matariam sem pudor dezenas de crianças. As notícias de jornal, as pautas sensacionalistas da grande mídia, organizações de fins religiosos e políticos “em favor da vida” fazem crer que não estamos falando de pessoas humanas – no sentido mais tradicional dos termos –, mas de sujeitos que devido à sua ignorância cultural cometem sem ética, afeto e dúvidas crimes contra seus próprios filhos, contra seu próprio povo.

Me pergunto por que um argumento como esse transmite credibilidade entre aqueles que não conhecem as realidades indígenas – pois quem trabalha junto aos povos indígenas e em prol de seus direitos não dissemina este tipo de desinformação. A maior parte da sociedade brasileira não indígena é profundamente ignorante sobre os povos indígenas que aqui habitam e sobre seus modos de vida, mantendo imagens estereotipadas e caricaturadas sobre os índios carregadas de preconceito e discriminação.

Alguns dados importantes sobre infanticídio, abandono de crianças e adoção

Desde os tempos de Brasil império há registros de infanticídios entre os povos indígenas – como também havia inúmeros registros de infanticídio nas cidades da colônia: historiadores apontam a normalidade com que recém-nascidos eram abandonados nas ruas de cidades como Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife e Florianópolis. Realidade que também era comum na Europa e que a igreja católica passou a combater a partir do século VIII d.C por meio de bulas papais e pela criação de Casas de Expostos – lugares aonde podia-se abandonar legalmente crianças neonatas que mais tarde vieram a se tornar o que conhecemos como orfanatos. Não apenas os infanticídios não cessaram como os índices de mortalidade nesses locais foram estarrecedores, beirando a 70% no caso europeu e 95% no caso brasileiro. Recém-nascidos eram retirados da exposição pública para morrer entre quatro paredes, com aval das leis, dos registros estatais e da moralidade cristã da época. (Sobre este tema, ver: Marcílio e Venâncio 1990, Trindade 1999, Valdez 2004 e Faleiros 2004).

Ainda hoje, centenas de crianças no Brasil são abandonadas em instituições públicas e privadas de caráter semelhante, aguardando anos por uma adoção. A maioria – em geral as crianças pardas e negras, mais velhas e/ou com algum tipo de deficiência – esperam por toda a infância e adolescência, até tornarem-se legalmente adultas e serem novamente abandonadas, agora pelo Estado. Os dados do Cadastro Nacional de Adoção (CNA) e do Cadastro Nacional de Crianças e Adolescentes Acolhidos (CNCA), administrados pelo Conselho Nacional de Justiça (CNJ) apontam que das seis mil crianças nesta situação, 67% são pardas e negras.

Apesar da rejeição à adoção de crianças negras e pardas ter caído na última década, o quadro de discriminação permanece. Entre as crianças indígenas, acompanhamos um fenômeno crescente de pedidos de adoção por não indígenas, sobretudo casais heterossexuais, brancos, evangélicos e, em muitos casos, estrangeiros. Contudo, há mais de 100 processos no Ministério Público envolvendo denúncias a violações de direitos nestes casos. O Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente, prevê o direito à permanência da criança com a própria família e ao esforço conjunto e multidisciplinar de profissionais para que isto ocorra. Esgotada esta possibilidade, a criança tem o direito de ser encaminhada para família substituta na própria comunidade indígena de origem ou junto a família substituta de outra aldeia ou comunidade, mas ainda da mesma etnia.

Vale mencionar que estas estratégias de realocação e adoção de crianças ocorre tradicionalmente entre diversos povos indígenas, independente das leis e da intervenção estatal. É muito comum que avós, tias ou primas adotem crianças quando pais e mães passam por qualquer espécie de dificuldade, ou ainda, seguindo articulações próprias das relações de parentesco que vão muito além de pai e mãe biológicos.

Contudo, sob estas recentes acusações de “risco de infanticídio” famílias indígenas são colocadas sob suspeita e dezenas de crianças têm sido retiradas de sua comunidade, terra e povo e adotadas por famílias não indígenas sem ter direitos básicos respeitados. Juízes são levados por esta argumentação falha, que carece de base concreta na realidade, nas estatísticas, nas etnografias. Em alguns casos, pleiteia-se apenas a guarda provisória da criança e não a adoção definitiva, o que significa que a guarda é válida somente até os 18 anos, não garantindo vínculo de parentesco e direito à herança, por exemplo. Quantas violações uma criança indígena retirada de seu povo e de seus vínculos ancestrais enfrenta ao ser lançada ao mundo não indígena como adulta?

Infâncias indígenas no Brasil e crescimento demográfico

Nos últimos 50 anos, as etnografias junto a povos indígenas – importante método de pesquisa e registro de dados antropológicos – vem demonstrando que as crianças indígenas são sujeitos criativos e ativos em suas sociedades tendo diversos graus de autonomia. Aprendemos que as práticas de cuidado e a pedagogia das mulheres indígenas envolvem um forte vínculo com as crianças, que são amamentadas até os 3, 4, 5 anos. Envolvem uma relação de presença e afeto que deixa a desejar para muitas mães modernas. Aprendemos também que a rede de cuidados com as crianças envolve relações de parentesco e afinidade que extrapolam a consanguinidade.

Enquanto a maior parte das populações no mundo está passando pela chamada “transição demográfica”, ou seja, queda e manutenção de baixos níveis de fecundidade, os povos indígenas na América Latina, se encontram num processo elevado de crescimento populacional. De acordo com o último censo do IBGE (2010), a população indígena no Brasil cresceu 205% desde 1991, uma dinâmica demográfica com altos níveis de fecundidade, levando à duplicação da população em um período de 15 anos (Azevedo 2008).

A partir dos anos 2000, começaram a tomar corpo pesquisas etnográficas que apontam o número crescente de nascimentos gemelares entre os povos indígenas, de crianças indígenas albinas e de crianças com deficiência (Verene 2005, Bruno e Suttana 2012, Araújo 2014). Apesar de suas diferenças, estas crianças são estimuladas a participar do cotidiano da aldeia, e muitas delas, ao tornarem-se adultas, casam-se e constituem família.

Há 54 milhões de indígenas com deficiência ao redor do globo (ONU 2013). No Brasil, segundo o censo do IBGE de 2010, 165 mil pessoas – ou seja, 20% da população autodeclarada indígena – possuem ao menos uma forma de deficiência (auditiva, visual, motora, mental ou intelectual). Um número que relaciona-se também às políticas públicas e de transferência de renda para as famílias indígenas nessa situação (Araújo 2014). Tanto o crescimento demográfico acelerado quanto os dados de que 20% da população indígena brasileira tem alguma deficiência nos permitem demonstrar que a afirmação de que há uma prescrição social para que estas crianças sejam mortas por seus pais e familiares não se sustenta.

Como morrem as crianças e adultos indígenas?

A mortalidade infantil entre os povos indígenas é quatro vezes maior do que a média nacional. A quantidade de mortes de crianças indígenas por desassistência subiu 513% nos últimos três anos. Os dados parciais da Secretaria Especial de Saúde Indígena (Sesai) de 2015 revelaram a morte de 599 crianças menores de 5 anos. As principais causas são: desnutrição, diarreia, viroses e infecções respiratórias, falta de saneamento básico além de um quadro preocupante de desassistência à saúde. Ora, sabemos que pneumonia, diarreia e gastroenterite são doenças facilmente tratáveis desde que estas crianças tenham acesso às políticas de saúde. A região Norte do país concentra o maior número de óbitos.

Quando abordamos os números relativos ao suicídio a situação é igualmente alarmante. De acordo com dados da Sesai, 135 indígenas cometeram suicídio em 2014 – o maior número em 29 anos. Sabemos que os quadros de suicídio se agravam em contextos de luta pelos direitos territoriais quando populações inteiras vivem em condições de vulnerabilidade extrema.

Jovens e adultos do sexo masculino também são as principais vítimas dos conflitos territoriais que resultam do omissão e letargia do Estado brasileiro nos processos de demarcação das terras indígenas. Em 2014, 138 indígenas foram assassinados; em 2015, foram 137. No período de 2003 a 2016, 891 indígenas foram assassinados em solo brasileiro, em uma média anual de 68 casos (Cimi 2016). Esses assassinatos acontecem em contextos de lutas e retomadas de terras, tendo como alvo principal as lideranças indígenas à frente dos movimentos reivindicatórios de direitos.

Diante desse cenário de permanente e impune genocídio contra os povos indígenas no Brasil, é importante refletirmos sobre o histórico de atuação dos senadores responsáveis pela votação do PL 119/2015: quais deles atuam ou já atuaram na proteção e no resguardo dos direitos indígenas? Quais deles são financiados pelo agronegócio, pela mineração, pelos grandes empreendimentos em terras indígenas? Como um Projeto de Lei que criminaliza os próprios povos indígenas pela vulnerabilidade e violências causadas pelo Estado e por terceiros pode ajudar na proteção e promoção de seus direitos?

O falso dilema da noção de “infanticídio indígena”

O PL 119/2015 – outrora PL 1057/2007 – supõe que há um embate entre “tradições culturais” que prescrevem a morte de crianças e o princípio básico e universal do direito à vida. Ao afirmar que o infanticídio é uma tradição cultural indígena – como se ele não ocorresse, infelizmente, em toda a humanidade – o texto e o parlamento brasileiros agem com racismo e discriminação, difamando povos e suas organizações socioculturais. Todos nós temos direito à vida e não há nenhuma comunidade indígena no Brasil e no mundo que não respeite e pleiteie esse direito básico junto às instâncias nacionais e internacionais.

Ao invés de buscarem aprovar o novo texto do Estatuto dos Povos Indígenas que vem sendo discutido no âmbito da Comissão Nacional de Política Indigenista (CNPI) desde 2008, utilizando como base o Estatuto o Substitutivo ao Projeto de Lei 2057, de 1994, que teve ampla participação indígena em sua formulação, o parlamento está optando por remendar a obsoleta Lei 6.001 – conhecida como Estatuto do Índio – datada de 1973, carregada de vícios próprios da ditadura militar, como as noções de tutela e de integração dos povos indígenas à comunidade nacional, pressupondo que com o tempo, eles deixariam de “ser índios”.

O PL também equivoca-se ao afirmar que há uma obrigatoriedade de morte a qualquer criança gêmea, albina e/ou com algum tipo de deficiência física e mental, além de mães solteiras. Trata-se de situações que desafiam qualquer família, indígena ou não, mas que em comunidades com fortes vínculos sociais tendem a ser melhor sanadas pois há níveis de solidariedade maior do que os de individualismo.

O dilema do infanticídio também é falso quando afirma que trata-se de uma demanda por “relativismo cultural” diante do direito à vida e dos Direitos Humanos; mas afirmamos que violência, tortura e opressão não se relativizam. A demanda posta pelos povos indígenas é historicamente a de respeito à diversidade cultural – o que implica no reparo, por parte do Estado, da expropriação territorial garantindo a regularização de todas as terras indígenas no País e o acesso a direitos essenciais como saúde e educação diferenciadas. Também é direito das comunidades indígenas o acesso à informação e ao amparo do Estado para lidar com situações em que a medicina biomédica já encontrou cura ou tratamento adequado. A Declaração Universal sobre Bioética e Direitos Humanos, ratificada em 2005 pela UNESCO, é enfática quando trata a diversidade cultural como patrimônio comum da humanidade, e isso inclui, portanto, o direito das crianças indígenas a permanecerem junto à sua família e de receberem suporte médico dentro de suas comunidades.

Há 10 anos acompanhamos a exposição midiática das mesmas crianças – algumas hoje já adolescentes – bem como os depoimentos de indígenas adultos que afirmam que sobreviveram, em condições diversas, ao infanticídio. São histórias que precisamos ouvir e que nos ensinam que os povos indígenas têm encontrado novas estratégias para lidar com seus dilemas éticos e morais. Sabemos que a transformação é uma característica cultural dos povos indígenas; ao mesmo tempo em que lutamos pelo respeito aos Direitos Humanos, lutamos para que as Dignidades Humanas dos povos indígenas sejam respeitadas a partir de seu tempo de transformação.

Nenhum caso de infanticídio e qualquer outra forma de violência, entre povos indígenas ou não, pode ser afirmado como uma “tradição cultural”; ou podemos dizer que a nossa própria cultura é infanticida generalizando tal grau de acusação e julgamento para todas as pessoas? Se a resposta é um sonoro “não”, porque o PL 119/2015 pretende fazer isso com os povos indígenas?

O mesmo exercício pode ser feito com as outras tipificações de violência e atentados à Dignidade Humana no texto do PL como: homicídio, abuso sexual, estupro individual e coletivo, escravidão, tortura em todas as suas formas, abandono de vulneráveis e violência doméstica. Estaríamos nós transferindo os nossos preconceitos e violências para os povos indígenas, transformando isso em parte da sua cultura? Ao fazer isso, afirmamos que violências tão características da colonialidade do poder são o que fazem dos índios, índios.

Por fim, é importante mencionar que o texto inicial do PL 1057/2007 que foi aprovado na Câmara sofreu alterações ao transformar-se no PL 119/2015 que tramita no Senado. O que antes era “combate a práticas tradicionais nocivas” mudou de retórica para “defesa da vida e da dignidade humana” mas não nos enganemos: seu conteúdo permanece afirmando a existência violências tratadas como práticas tradicionais exclusivas e características dos povos indígenas.

Igualdade, equidade e isonomia de direitos

Por uma questão de isonomia e igualdade de direitos, os povos indígenas estão submetidos à legislação brasileira, podendo ser julgados e punidos como qualquer cidadão deste país. Hoje, aproximadamente 750 indígenas estão cumprindo pena em sistema de regime fechado, dos quais cerca de 65% não falam ou não compreendem a língua portuguesa. Portanto, as leis que punem infanticídio, maus tratos de crianças e qualquer forma de violação de direitos, inclusive os Direitos Humanos, também incidem sobre os indígenas, ainda que suas prisões não sejam por estes motivos.

Qual a justificativa de um PL que verse especificamente sobre estas violações entre os povos indígenas e que promove interpretações equivocadas e sem embasamento científico e técnico, difamando as realidades dos povos indígenas? Ao tornar a pauta redundante, os indígenas seriam, duas vezes, julgados e condenados por um mesmo crime?

Não se trata apenas da defesa do direito individual. Um direito fundamental de toda pessoa é precisamente o de ser parte de um povo, isto é, o direito de pertencimento. E um povo criminalizado tem a sua dignidade ferida.

Durante o último Acampamento Terra Livre (ATL) que aconteceu em Brasília durante os dias 10 e 13 de maio de 2016 e reuniu cerca de 1.000 lideranças dos povos e organizações indígenas de todas as regiões do Brasil, a Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB) publicou o “Manifesto do 13º Acampamento Terra Livre” denunciando “os ataques, ameaças e retrocessos” orquestrados contra seus direitos fundamentais “sob comando de representantes do poder econômico nos distintos âmbitos do Estado e nos meios de comunicação”. A nota manifesta ainda “repúdio às distintas ações marcadamente racistas, preconceituosas e discriminatórias protagonizadas principalmente por membros da bancada ruralista no Congresso Nacional contra os nossos povos, ao mesmo tempo em que apresentam e articulam-se para aprovar inúmeras iniciativas legislativas, propostas de emenda constitucional e projetos de lei para retroceder ou suprimir os nossos direitos”.

O manifesto encerra-se afirmando: “PELO NOSSO DIREITO DE VIVER!”, pois é de vida e não de morte que se trata a defesa dos direitos indígenas. Se os nobres parlamentares estão preocupados com a defesa da vida e da dignidade indígenas, que retrocedam neste PL e em tantos outros que os violentam diretamente e que foram elaborados sem sua participação, consentimento e consulta.

*

Referências

AZEVEDO, Marta Maria. Diagnóstico da População Indígena no Brasil. Em: Ciência e Cultura, vol.60 nº4 São Paulo. Out. 2008

ARAÚJO, Íris Morais. Osikirip: os “especiais” Karitiana e a noção de pessoa ameríndia. Tese de doutorado aprovada pelo Programa de Pós-Graduação em Antropologia Social do Departamento de Antropologia da Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas da Universidade de São Paulo. 2014.

BRUNO, Marilda Moraes Garcia; SUTTANA, Renato (Org.). Educação, diversidade e fronteiras da in/exclusão. Dourados: Ed. UFGD, 2012. 224 p.

BURATTO, Lúcia Gouvêa. A educação escolar indígena na legislação e os indígenas com necessidades educacionais especiais. s.d. Disponível em: http://www.diaadiaeducacao.pr.gov.br/portals/pde/arquivos/565-4.pdf. Acesso em: 25 jan. 2017.

FALEIROS, Vicente de P. 2004. “Infância e adolescência: trabalhar, punir, educar, assistir, proteger”. In: Revista Ágora: Políticas Públicas e Serviço Social, ano 1, nº 1. Disponível em: http://www.assistenciasocial.com.br

MANIFESTO DO 13º ACAMPAMENTO TERRA LIVRE. Disponível em: https://mobilizacaonacionalindigena.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/manifesto-do-13o-acampamento-terra-livre/

MARCÍLIO, Maria L. e VENÂNCIO, Renato P. 1990. “Crianças Abandonadas e primitivas formas de sua proteção” In: Anais do VII Encontro de Estudos Populacionais ou http://www.abep.org.br

QUERMES, Paulo Afonso de Araújo & ALVES DE CARVALHO, Jucelina. Os impactos dos benefícios assistenciais para os povos indígenas: estudo de caso em aldeias Guaranis. Revista Serviço Social & Sociedade, São Paulo (SP), n.116, p. 769-791, 2013.

SEGATO, Rita Laura. Que cada povo teça os fios da sua história: o pluralismo jurídico em diálogo didático com legisladores. Revista Direito. UnB, janeiro–junho de 2014, v. 01, n.01 66.

TRINDADE. 1999. Trindade, Judite M. B. 1999. “O abandono de crianças ou a negação do óbvio” In: Revista Brasileira de História, Vol. 19, nº 37. São Paulo. p. 1-18.

VENERE, Mario Roberto. 2005. Políticas públicas para populações indígenas com necessidades especiais em Rondônia: o duplo desafio da diferença. 2005. 139 f. Dissertação (Mestrado em Desenvolvimento Regional e Meio Ambiente) ‒ NCT, UNIR, RO, [2005].

* Marianna Holanda é antropóloga, doutora em Bioética e pesquisadora associada da Cátedra Unesco de Bioética – UnB.

Pesquisadores temem ações de Trump relacionadas à ciência e ao clima (Folha de S.Paulo)

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Com menos dinheiro no orçamento, ciência pode ser uma das áreas mais afetadas
Com menos dinheiro no orçamento, ciência pode ser uma das áreas mais afetadas

SALVADOR NOGUEIRA
COLABORAÇÃO PARA A FOLHA

23/12/2016  02h00

A eleição de Donald Trump pode pressagiar um período de declínio para a ciência nos Estados Unidos.

Noves fora a retórica que lhe ganhou a Casa Branca, os planos que ele apresenta para a próxima gestão podem significar cortes orçamentários significativos em pesquisas.

A campanha do republicano à Presidência bateu fortemente em duas teclas: um plano vigoroso de corte de impostos, que reduziria a arrecadação em pelo menos US$ 4,4 trilhões nos próximos dez anos, e um plano de investimento em infraestrutura que consumiria US$ 1 trilhão no mesmo período.

Na prática, isso significa que haverá menos dinheiro no Orçamento americano que poderá ser direcionado para os gastos “discricionários” -aqueles que já não caem automaticamente na conta do governo por força de lei. É de onde vem o financiamento da ciência americana.

“Se o montante de gastos discricionários cai, o subcomitê de Comércio, Justiça e Ciência no Congresso receberá uma alocação menor, e eles terão menos dinheiro disponível para financiar suas agências”, diz Casey Dreier, especialista em política espacial da ONG Planetary Society.

Entre os órgãos financiados diretamente por esse subcomitê estão a Fundação Nacional de Ciência (NSF), a Administração Nacional de Atmosfera e Oceano (Noaa) e a Administração Nacional de Aeronáutica e Espaço (Nasa).

Existe a possibilidade de o financiamento sair intacto desse processo? Sim, mas não é provável. Algum outro setor precisaria pagar a conta.

SEM CLIMA

Ao menos no discurso, e fortemente apoiado por nomeações recentes, Trump já decidiu onde devem ocorrer os cortes mais profundos: ciência climática.

Que Trump se apresenta desde a campanha eleitoral como um negacionista da mudança do clima, não é segredo. No passado, ele chegou a afirmar que o aquecimento global é um embuste criado pelos chineses para tirar a competitividade da indústria americana.

(Para comprar essa versão, claro, teríamos de fingir que não foi a Nasa, agência americana, a maior e mais contundente coletora de evidências da mudança climática.)

Até aí, é o discurso antiglobalização para ganhar a eleição. Mas vai se concretizar no mandato?

Os sinais são os piores possíveis. O advogado Scott Pruitt, indicado para a EPA (Agência de Proteção do Ambiente), vê com ceticismo as políticas contra as mudanças climáticas. E o chefe da equipe de transição escolhido por Trump para a EPA é Myron Ebell, um notório negacionista da mudança climática.

O Centro para Energia e Ambiente do Instituto para Empreendimentos Competitivos, que Ebell dirige, recebe financiamento das indústrias do carvão e do petróleo. Colocá-lo para fazer a transição entre governos da EPA pode ser o clássico “deixar a raposa tomando conta do galinheiro”.

Como se isso não bastasse, durante a campanha os principais consultores de Trump na área de pesquisa espacial, Robert Walker e Peter Navarro, escreveram editoriais sugerindo que a agência espacial devia parar de estudar a própria Terra.

“A Nasa deveria estar concentrada primariamente em atividades no espaço profundo em vez de trabalho Terra-cêntrico que seria melhor conduzido por outras agências”, escreveram.

Há consenso entre os cientistas de que não há outro órgão com competência para tocar esses estudos e assumir a frota de satélites de monitoramento terrestre gerida pela agência espacial.

Além disso, passar as responsabilidades a outra instituição sem atribuir o orçamento correspondente é um jeito sutil de encerrar o programa de monitoramento do clima.

BACKUP

Se isso faz você ficar preocupado com o futuro das pesquisas, imagine os climatologistas nos EUA.

De acordo com o jornal “Washington Post”, eles estão se organizando para criar repositórios independentes dos dados colhidos, com medo que eles sumam das bases de dados governamentais durante o governo Trump.

Ainda que a grita possa evitar esse descaramento, a interrupção das pesquisas pode ter o mesmo efeito.

“Acho que é bem mais provável que eles tentem cortar a coleção de dados, o que minimizaria seu valor”, diz Andrew Dessler, professor de ciências atmosféricas da Universidade Texas A&M. “Ter dados contínuos é crucial para entender as tendências de longo prazo.”

E O QUE SOBRA?

Tirando a mudança climática, a Nasa deve ter algum suporte para dar continuidade a seus planos de longo prazo durante o governo Trump -talvez com alguma mudança.

De certo, há apenas a restituição do Conselho Espacial Nacional, criado durante o governo George Bush (o pai) e desativado desde 1993.

Reunindo as principais autoridades pertinentes, ele tem por objetivo coordenar as ações entre diferentes braços do governo e, com isso, dar uma direção estratégica mais clara e eficiente aos executores das atividades espaciais.

Isso poderia significar uma ameaça ao SLS (novo foguete de alta capacidade da Nasa) e à Orion (cápsula para viagem a espaço profundo), que devem fazer seu primeiro voo teste, não tripulado, em 2018.

Contudo, o apoio a esses programas no Congresso é amplo e bipartidário, de forma que dificilmente Trump conseguirá cancelá-los.

O que ele pode é redirecionar sua função. Em vez de se tornarem as primeiras peças para a “jornada a Marte”, que Barack Obama defendia para a década de 2030, eles seriam integrados num programa de exploração da Lua.

(Tradicionalmente, no Congresso americano, a Lua é um objetivo republicano, e Marte, um objetivo democrata. Não pergunte por quê.)

Trump deve ainda dar maior ênfase às iniciativas de parcerias comerciais para a exploração espacial. Em dezembro, Elon Musk, diretor da empresa SpaceX e franco apoiador da campanha de Hillary Clinton, passou a fazer parte de um grupo de consultores de Trump para a indústria de alta tecnologia.

Áreas afetadas

NASA

Assessores de Trump querem tirar da agência a função de estudar a Terra em favor da exploração espacial

Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr
Imagem feita pela Nasa
Imagem feita pela Nasa

PROTEÇÃO?

Scott Pruitt, indicado para Agência de Proteção do Ambiente, já processou o órgão por limitações impostas à indústria petrolífera. A agência pode perder força e deixar certas regulações a cargo dos Estados

Spencer Platt-7.dez.2016/Getty Images/AFP
Scott Pruitt chega a Trump Tower, em 7 de dezembro, para encontro com Donald Trump
Scott Pruitt chega a Trump Tower, em 7 de dezembro, para encontro com Donald Trump

PETRÓLEO

Rex Tillerson, executivo da petroleira ExxonMobil, foi indicado para o posto de secretário de Estado, o que dá mais sinais de que o governo Trump não deve se esforçar para promover fontes de energia limpa

Daniel Kramer – 21.abr.2015/Reuters
Rex Tillerson, CEO da ExxonMobil
Rex Tillerson, CEO da ExxonMobil

Pesquisa sobre portuários é questionada pela Câmara de Santos (Diário do Litoral)

Levantamento aponta uso de drogas pela categoria. Intenção dos vereadores era redigir uma moção de apoio aos trabalhadores

Da Reportagem

Atualizado em 22 de setembro de 2015 às 11h45

Dois presidentes de sindicatos ligados ao Porto de Santos protestaram, na sessão de ontem da Câmara, contra a divulgação de uma pesquisa feita pela Universidade Federal Paulista (Unifesp) apontando o consumo de entorpecentes e ingestão de álcool entre os trabalhadores avulsos do cais.

As críticas partiram do presidente do Sindicato dos Operários Portuários (Sintraport), Claudiomiro Machado, o Miro, e do presidente do Sindicato dos Estivadores, Rodnei Oliveira, o Nei da Estiva. Eles afirmaram que o levantamento feito pela universidade feriu a honra da “família portuária”.

Quase todos os vereadores apoiaram a fala dos sindicalistas e questionaram o método de como a pesquisa foi feita. A pesquisa apontaria que 25% dos trabalhadores avulsos usam crack ou cocaína e 80% fazem ingestão de bebida alcoólica.

Miro questionou, por exemplo, o local onde o levantamento foi feito. “Dentro do Porto o acesso é liberado apenas ao trabalhador. Não foram lá entrevistar trabalhador portuário”.

O presidente do Sintraport relatou o drama vivido por um associado, cujo filho foi questionado na escola sobre a profissão do  pai. “Falaram para o garoto: teu pai é portuário? Então ele usa cocaína, usa crack”.

Já Nei da Estiva se mostrou indignado pelo fato de nenhum sindicato ter sido procurado para comentar os dados da pesquisa.

Intenção dos vereadores era redigir uma moção de apoio aos trabalhadores ( Foto: Matheus Tagé/DL)Intenção dos vereadores era redigir uma moção de apoio aos trabalhadores ( Foto: Matheus Tagé/DL)

O vereador Antônio Carlos Banha Joaquim (PMDB) lembrou que a Unifesp já foi alvo de uma investigação de uma Comissão de Inquérito aberta na casa, que apurou contratos da universidade com a Prefeitura. “Um trabalho científico tem de ser feito com metodologia”, comentou.

Banha também se disse atingido com o resultado da pesquisa. “Meu avô era trabalhador portuário. Ele deve estar rolando no caixão”, comentou, antes de sugerir que a Unifesp seja questionada judicialmente sobre o levantamento.

Para o vereador Benedito Furtado (PSB), o resultado da pesquisa “dá a entender que 80% dos portuários são alcoólatras”. Ele também atacou ferozmente a universidade. “Essa tal de Unifesp não cumpre lei municipal”.

Ressaltando ser filho de estivador, Geonísio Pereira de Aguiar, o Boquinha (PSDB), além de questionar a seriedade da pesquisa, disse que quase todos os alunos da instituição não são de Santos e, por isso,  devem conhecer pouco o cais.

Igor Martins de Melo, o Professor Igor (PSB), foi outro a lembrar que os pesquisadores precisam ter autorização para entrar na área portuária. “Quer dizer, então, que o maior porto da América Latina é tocado por um bando de irresponsáveis? O que é isso?”

Vereador e professor de Matemática, José Lascane (PSDB) disse que é preciso tomar extremo cuidado ao se fazer um levantamento feito pela Unifesp. “A amostra precisa ser bem avaliada, bem como a formulação da pergunta, que precisa ser bem clara”.

Cobrou posição

Marcelo Del Bosco (PPS) deu uma sugestão ao líder do Governo na Câmara, Sadao Nakai (PSDB): o secretário municipal de Assuntos Portuários e Marítimos, José Eduardo Lopes, deve se manifestar sobre o levantamento.

Roberto Oliveira Teixeira, o Pastor Roberto (PMDB), disse que as esposas dos trabalhadores portuários “se sentiram humilhadas com o resultado dessa pesquisa”.

Why so many Republicans can’t resist climate denial (Grist)

Despite the large number of major Republican presidential candidates — now 15, following Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s entry into the presidential race last week — they do not represent the full spectrum of their party’s beliefs on climate change. This is the unfortunate byproduct of the particular fusion of social conservatives and big business interests that came together to form the modern GOP. They don’t always have the same priorities, and so when an issue like opposition to climate action binds them together, it’s particularly sticky among Republican politicians.

Pew polls find that between a quarter and half of Republican voters accept the basics of climate science, depending on how you phrase the question. And roughly half of Republicans support the EPA setting limits on carbon emissions from power plants. You might think that one of the establishment candidates would see a political advantage in being the only contender to embrace a more moderate position — one that would also play better in the general election — as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have done on immigration.

But none of the 15 Republican candidates for president supports EPA’s carbon regulations. With the exception of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (who is polling at 0.6 percent), they oppose regulating climate pollution at all. Walker, for example, pledged never to back a carbon tax. Bush, Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul have all sneered at climate science.

That’s because accepting climate science threatens the very foundations of any GOP presidential aspirant’s base.

For the religious right, climate science is anathema for both doctrinal and cultural reasons. Accepting climate science means accepting Earth science and what it shows us about how the Earth is billions of years old rather than a few thousand. So Christian fundamentalists and all those who interpret the Bible literally or subscribe to “Young Earth Creationism” cannot accept the foundations upon which climate science is built. More broadly, issues like evolution that set up the same tension between the religious right’s medieval belief system and modern science make social conservatives unwilling to accept any evidence that God is not, in fact, personally micromanaging the Earth’s affairs.

For the business wing of the Republican Party, climate science is anathema for both ideological and financial reasons. Ideologically, real acceptance of the science would mean acceptance that greenhouse gas emissions need to be slashed, and the most straightforward way to do that would be more government regulation. For the average Tea Party activist or Ayn Rand fan, government regulation is presumed to be bad, and working backward from that climate science must therefore be bogus. Financially, regulation of greenhouse gases could hurt fossil fuel companies and related interests like the Koch brothers’ industrial empire, but also other big businesses. That’s why the corporations that control the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have set the business lobby against regulating carbon pollution.

The two camps’ reasons are different, but together they make an overwhelming case for Republican politicians to keep denying climate science.

Add in tribal identity and the case for cowardice becomes completely irresistible. Politics is not just about positions, after all, it’s about identity. Climate denial is one way a Republican politician can intimate to the anti-modernity wing of the GOP that he or she is one of them and doesn’t trust professors or the mainstream media.

So intransigence on climate change becomes an appealing way of pulling together the disparate strands of the Republican Party. It keeps heartland social conservatives and corporate bosses on the same team. It’s sort of like the inverse of Democrats’ efforts to connect clean energy with economic populism.

This is notably different from the situation with another hot issue, immigration, on which the GOP is split. Many rank-and-file Republican voters harbor anti-immigrant views, but big business wants immigration reform that would bring more potential workers into the U.S. That’s why we’ve seen some top Republican presidential candidates, such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, embrace immigration reform, while there’s not yet any evidence of such a shift on climate change.

The significance of an issue to business interests is key. Compare immigration to abortion or Republican warmongering in the Middle East: because the business wing of the party does not have a financial stake in moderating on those issues, Republican pols just pander to the conservative base on them, despite divided opinion among their more moderate voters. Twenty-seven percent of Republican voters support abortion rights, according to a Gallup poll from last year, but none of their presidential candidates do except for former New York Gov. George Pataki, who currently polls at an average of 0.2 percent. Thirty-one percent of Republicans support making a deal with Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, but all the Republican presidential candidates oppose it.

In fact, the prospects for GOP moderation on climate change are in some ways even worse than on abortion. While the Wall Street Journal editorial page might make a show of opposing abortion rights, there is no reason to think that if, say, John McCain had chosen a pro-choice running mate like Joe Lieberman they would have refused to back the ticket. Selfish rich white men who live on the East Coast don’t actually care about protecting fetuses, it’s just a trade they’ve made with the yokels in exchange for keeping the capital-gains tax rate low. But imagine how they, or an executive from ExxonMobil, might respond to a climate hawk on the GOP ticket.

That’s why none of the GOP’s top-polling contenders have clearly accepted climate science. The only Republican candidates to even partially acknowledge the overwhelming scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change are ones with little to no chance of winning the party’s nomination — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Graham, and Pataki. According to the Huffington Post polling average, Christie is the only one of those who averages (barely) above 2 percent, and he is the only one who is (barely) placing in the top 10, necessary to qualify for the CNN and Fox News debates. (In 2008, Mike Huckabee, who Huff Po has in seventh place, accepted climate science and supported emissions caps, but he has long since flip-flopped.)

This disconnect between Republican politicians and voters on climate change is not limited to the presidential candidates. In June, 239 House Republicans votedfor (and only four voted against) a bill that would delay EPA from regulating power plants’ carbon emissions until all legal challenges are settled and would allow states to opt out of the rules, thus rendering them worthless.

Major conservative media figures such as talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh and Erick Erickson of RedState and Fox News enforce this trend. They behave like political strategists rather than truth-seeking journalists and unleash fury on candidates who deviate from the orthodox party line.

Is there any hope of breaking this logjam? Currently, Republican politicians get away with denying climate science because the moderate wing of their party shrugs it off. Moderate voters may accept climate science and support carbon regulation, but they don’t care enough about it to vote on it.

What Democrats and climate hawks must do, then, is turn backwardness on climate change into a symbol of backwardness writ large, as I argued in a recent post. They must make Republican moderates embarrassed to vote for a candidate who does not accept climate science and embrace climate action, in the same way it would embarrass them to vote for a candidate who says that women cannot get pregnant when raped. Because the one thing Republican politicians care about more than anything else is winning.

How climate change deniers got it right — but very wrong (MSNBC)

 VIDEO: GREENHOUSE, 1/22/15, 3:34 PM ET

06/16/15 08:30 PM

By Tony Dokoupil

It turns out the climate change deniers were right: There isn’t 97% agreement among climate scientists. The real figure? It’s not lower, but actually higher.

The scientific “consensus” on climate change has gotten stronger, surging past the famous — and controversial — figure of 97% to more than 99.9%, according to a new study reviewed by msnbc.

James L. Powell, director of the National Physical Sciences Consortium, reviewed more than 24,000 peer-reviewed papers on global warming published in 2013 and 2014. Only five reject the reality of rising temperatures or the fact that human emissions are the cause, he found.

“It’s now a ruling paradigm, as much an accepted fact in climate science as plate tectonics is in geology and evolution is in biology,” he told msnbc. “It’s 99.9% plus.”

Powell, a member of the National Science Board under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, decided to share an exclusive draft of his research on Tuesday — just days before Pope Francis is set to deliver a major address on climate change — because he doesn’t want his holiness to reference outdated numbers.

“I don’t want the Pope to say 97%,” Powell said by phone, arguing that accuracy now is more important than ever. “It’s wrong, and it’s not trivial.”

VIDEO: THE ED SHOW, 6/8/15, 5:53 PM ET – Santorum lectures Pope on climate change

Pope Francis is preparing to charge into the political debate over climate change, citing “a very consistent scientific consensus” and the risk of “unprecedented destruction,” according to a leaked draft of Thursday’s papal encyclical.

The notion of 97% agreement among climate scientists started with studies in 2009 and 2010. It wasn’t until a 2013 study, however, that the figure went viral. President Barack Obama tweeted it. The comedian John Oliver set up a slapstick debate between a climate change denier and 97 of his peers.

But Powell argues that acceptance of man-made global warming has grown. The author of a new Columbia University Press book on scientific revolutions used an online database to compile a mountain of global warming papers published in the last two years.

He also tried a different approach than the earlier studies. Rather than search for explicit acceptance of anthropomorphic global warming, Powell searched for explicit rejection. All the papers in the middle, he figured, weren’t neutral on the subject — they were settled on it.

The results include work from nearly the entire population of working climate scientists — close to 70,000 scientists, often sharing their byline with three or four other authors. They also include a dwindling opposition: Powell could find only four solitary authors who challenged the evidence for human-caused global warming.

That’s a rate of one dissenting voice for every 17,000 agreeing scientists, and it’s not a strong voice. Powell called the four dissents “known deniers and crackpots,” and noted that their work had been cited only once by the wider academic community.

“I don’t want the Pope to say 97%. It’s wrong, and it’s not trivial.”
JAMES L. POWELL, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PHYSICAL SCIENCES CONSORTIUM

Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard, hasn’t read the Powell paper but she doesn’t doubt the general direction of the findings.Back in 2004, she became the first researcher to claim a “consensus” on climate change, finding a roughly 75% agreement within the literature.

“Scientists have done so much more work since then,” she said. For me, as a historian of science, it really feels like overkill. One starts to think, how many more times do we need to say this before we really get it and start to act on it?”

One reason for inaction of course is politics. Many of the world’s leaders still doubt the science of climate change, assuming incorrectly that it’s unsettled or exploratory. The view is especially prevalent among the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.

Earlier this month, for example, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told Fox News that the pope would be “better off leaving science to the scientists.” Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, meanwhile, claim that the science remains vague or is made up entirely.

That raises a second reason for inaction, according to Oreskes: intentional deception. Oreskes is the co-author of the “Merchants of Doubt,” a book that demonstrated how interest groups had undermined the science on tobacco, ozone depletion, acid rain and now climate change.

Many self-proclaimed “climate skeptics” no longer deny that the globe is warming, and some even acknowledge a human role in the new heat wave. Instead, they now say, warming is real — it just isn’t dangerous. They also attack the idea of a consensus, whatever the percentage.

“Nothing has really changed there,” said Oreskes. “The details shift but the overall picture remains the same. It’s a bit like Monet’s water lilies; it can look different at different at different times of day but it’s the same picture.”

Powell, however, hopes his work can finally close the debate, end the notion of doubt, move the frame ahead.

“There isn’t any evidence against global warming and there isn’t any alternative theory,” he said. “We’ve been looking for negative feedbacks and we’ve never found one that amounts to anything. It’s not impossible that we will, but I wouldn’t bet my grandchildren’s future on it.”

RELATED: Santorum to Pope Francis: ‘Leave science to the scientists’

RELATED: Pope Francis may drop political bombshell on climate change

Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor (New York Times)

VATICAN CITY — Ban Ki-moon arrived at the Vatican with his own college of cardinals. Mr. Ban, the United Nations secretary general, had brought the leaders of all his major agencies to see Pope Francis, a show of organizational muscle and respect for a meeting between two global institutions that had sometimes shared a bumpy past but now had a mutual interest.

The agenda was poverty, and Francis inveighed against the “economy of exclusion” as he addressed Mr. Ban’s delegation at the Apostolic Palace. But in an informal meeting with Mr. Ban and his advisers, Francis shifted the discussion to the environment and how environmental degradation weighed heaviest on the poor.

“This is the pope of the poor,” said Robert Orr, who attended the May 2014 meeting as Mr. Ban’s special adviser on climate change and described the informal conversation with Francis. “The fact that he is making the link to the planet is really significant.”

On Thursday, Francis will release his first major teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on the theme of the environment and the poor. Given the pope’s widespread popularity, and his penchant for speaking out on major global issues, the encyclical is being treated as a milestone that could place the Roman Catholic Church at the forefront of a new coalition of religion and science.

Francis, the first pope from the developing world, clearly wants the document to have an impact: Its release comes during a year with three major international policy meetings, most notably a United Nations climate change conference in Paris in December. This month, the Vatican sent notifications to bishops around the world with instructions for spreading the pope’s environmental message to the more than one billion Catholics worldwide.

By wading into the environment debate, Francis is seeking to redefine a secular topic, one usually framed by scientific data, using theology and faith. And based on Francis’ prior comments, and those of influential cardinals, the encyclical is also likely to include an economic critique of how global capitalism, while helping lift millions out of poverty, has also exploited nature and created vast inequities.

“We clearly need a fundamental change of course, to protect the earth and its people — which in turn will allow us to dignify humanity,” Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who oversaw the drafting of the encyclical, said at a conference on climate change this spring at the Vatican.

Vatican officials say that the encyclical is a theological document, not a political one, and have refused to divulge the contents. But there is already much speculation about how Francis will comment on humans’ role in causing climate change, a link he has spoken about in the past. The Vatican’s scientific academy recently attributed climate change to “unsustainable consumption” and called it “a dominant moral and ethical issue for society.”

This stance has rankled some conservative Catholics, as well as climate change skeptics, who have suggested that Francis is being misled by scientists and that he could veer into contentious subjects like population control. Others have argued that papal infallibility does not apply to matters of science. In April, a group of self-described climate skeptics, led by the Heartland Institute, a libertarian group, came to Rome to protest.

“The Vatican and the pope should be arguing that fossil fuels are the moral choice for the developing world,” said Marc Morano, who runs the website Climate Depot and once worked as an aide to Senator James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and climate change skeptic.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo of Argentina, who is also chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, has sharply rebutted the criticism and postulated that many of the attacks have been underwritten by oil companies or influenced by conservative American interests, including the Tea Party. “This is a ridiculous thing, completely,” Bishop Sorondo said in an interview at the Vatican.

The first clue of the pope’s interest in the environment came when he chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century friar who dedicated himself to the poor and is considered the patron saint of animals and the environment. Francis had shown interest from his days in Argentina, when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires.

There, he played a major role in convening different leaders to seek solutions for Argentina’s social ills. Francesca Ambrogetti, who co-wrote a biography of Francis, said he pushed for scientists at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina to investigate the impact of environmental issues on humanity. As far back as September 2004, Cardinal Bergoglio cited the “destruction of the environment” as contributing to inequality and the need for social reforms. At a 2007 meeting of Latin American bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, he oversaw the drafting of a broad mission statement that included an emphasis on the environment.

Pablo Canziani, an atmospheric physicist who researches climate change, said Francis, who had once trained as a chemist, became very interested in the links between environmental destruction and social ills, including a dispute over paper pulp mills on the border with Uruguay, which Argentina claimed were polluting local drinking water.

The pope, Professor Canziani added, has stayed in touch. Last year, the Vatican invited professors at his university to contribute ideas for the encyclical. He said they sent a memo focused on legal issues, sustainability, civic responsibility and governance.

“I’m pretty certain Francis will be requesting a change in the paradigms of development,” he said. “The encyclical will focus on why we’re suffering environmental degradation, then focus on links to social issues.”

Pope Francis and Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, during a meeting at the Vatican.CreditL’Ossservatore Romano, via Associated Press 

The final document seems certain to bear the fingerprints of scientists and theologians from around the world. The Rev. Sean McDonagh, an Irish priest who has worked on environmental issues and climate change for decades, said that Cardinal Turkson contacted him more than a year ago and asked if he would write a comprehensive document about the theological and ethical aspects of environmental issues.

Father McDonagh said he had spent two or three months writing about climate change, biodiversity, oceans, sustainable food “and a section at the end on hope.” Then he sent it to the Vatican. “At the time, they didn’t say there would be an encyclical,” he recalled, adding that he was eager to see it.

The hoopla over Francis’ encyclical confounds some Vatican experts, who note that both of Francis’ predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, wrote about the role of industrial pollution in destroying the environment. Benedict was called the “green pope” after he initiated projects to make the Vatican carbon-neutral. Other religious groups, including evangelical Christians, have spoken about the impact of environmental destruction on the poor.

But many analysts argue that Francis has a singular status, partly because of his global popularity. And in placing the issue at the center of an encyclical, especially at a moment when sustainable development is atop the international agenda, Francis is placing the Catholic Church — and the morality of economic development — at the center of the debate. In January, while traveling to the Philippines, Francis told reporters accompanying him that he was convinced that global warming was “mostly” a human-made phenomenon.

“It is man who has slapped nature in the face,” he said, adding: “I think we have exploited nature too much.”

Francis will travel in July to South America, and in September to Cuba and the United States, where he will speak about his encyclical at the United Nations.

“He is certainly going on the road,” said the Rev. Michael Czerny, a Jesuit priest who works under Cardinal Turkson and has been involved in drafting the encyclical. “This is certainly an agenda-setting document.”

Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said Francis had an “emerging agenda” on social issues and seemed determined “to make his period in office one related to the great concerns affecting humanity.” She added: “He is a man in a hurry.”

Ms. Clark and other development officials can tick off myriad ways that the global poor bear the brunt of environmental damage and changing weather patterns, whether they are African farmers whose crops are destroyed by drought or South Asian farmers threatened by rising sea levels. In this context, Vatican officials say, Francis is likely to see moral injustice.

“Rich people are more prepared,” said Bishop Sorondo, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “Poor people are not prepared and have suffered the consequences.”

The May 2014 meeting at the Vatican between Francis and the United Nations delegation came at a propitious moment. The Vatican had just held a major symposium that brought together scientists, theologians, economists and others to discuss climate change and the social impact of environmental damage.

Partha Dasgupta, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences who helped organize the symposium, said many scientists — having dedicated their careers to raising awareness and trying to influence policy — were perplexed at the seeming lack of broad political response. Mr. Dasgupta, an agnostic, said he hoped that Francis could capture public attention by speaking in the language of faith.

“The pope has moral authority,” said Mr. Dasgupta, a prominent expert on development economics and climate change. “It could change the game in a fundamental way.”

Science Under Siege (CBC)

Paul Kennedy

Wednesday June 03, 2015

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/science-under-siege-part-1-1.3091552

Are we living through an Anti-Scientific Revolution? Scientists around the world are increasingly restricted in what they can research, publish and say — constrained by belief and ideology from all sides.  Historically, science has always had a thorny relationship with institutions of power. But what happens to societies which turn their backs on curiosity-driven research? And how can science lift the siege?  CBC Radio producer Mary Lynk looks for some answers in this three-part series.

Science Under Siege, Part 1:  Dangers of Ignorance – airs Wednesday, June 3
Explores the historical tension between science and political power and the sometimes fraught relationship between the two over the centuries. But what happens when science gets sidelined? What happens to societies which turn their backs on curiosity-driven research?

Science Under Siege, Part 2: The Great Divide – airs Thursday, June 4
Explores the state of science in the modern world, and the expanding — and dangerous — gulf between scientists and the rest of society.  Many policy makers, politicians and members of the public are giving belief and ideology the same standing as scientific evidence. Are we now seeing an Anti-Scientific revolution?  A look at how evidence-based decision making has been sidelined.

Science Under Siege, Part 3: Fighting Back – airs Friday, June 5
Focuses on the culture war being waged on science, and possible solutions for reintegrating science and society. The attack on science is coming from all sides, both the left and right of the political spectrum. How can the principle of direct observation of the world, free of any influence from corporate or any other influence, reassert itself? The final episode of this series looks at how science can withstand the attack against it and overcome ideology and belief.

Climate Misinformer Christopher Monckton

Global Climate Scam: An Interview with Lord Christopher Monckton

Climate Misinformer: Christopher Monckton (Skeptical Science)

Christopher Monckton is a British consultant, policy adviser, writer, columnist, and hereditary peer. While not formally trained in science, Monckton is one of the most cited and widely published climate skeptics, having even been invited to testify to the U.S. Senate and Congress on several occasions.

For a comprehensive rebuttal of many of Christopher Monckton’s arguments, check out this presentation by Professor John Abraham. Abraham has compiled many examples where Monckton misrepresents the very scientists whose work he cites. Check out this PDF of Monckton quotes versus the scientists who in their own words explain how Monckton misrepresents their research.

Quotes Articles Arguments Blogs Links Search

Favourite climate myths by Christopher Monckton

Below are many of the climate myths used by Christopher Monckton plus how often each myth has been used.

Climate myths by Monckton What the Science Says Usage
“Climate sensitivity is low” Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence. 15
“Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated” Sea level rise is now increasing faster than predicted due to unexpectedly rapid ice melting. 11
“Hockey stick is broken” Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years. 10
“Sea level rise is exaggerated” A variety of different measurements find steadily rising sea levels over the past century. 9
“Medieval Warm Period was warmer” Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times. 9
“It’s cooling” The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record. 9
“IPCC overestimate temperature rise” Monckton used the IPCC equation in an inappropriate manner. 8
“CO2 limits will harm the economy” The benefits of a price on carbon outweigh the costs several times over. 7
“There’s no tropospheric hot spot” We see a clear “short-term hot spot” – there’s various evidence for a “long-term hot spot”. 7
“Arctic sea ice loss is matched by Antarctic sea ice gain” Arctic sea ice loss is three times greater than Antarctic sea ice gain. 7
“It warmed just as fast in 1860-1880 and 1910-1940” The warming trend over 1970 to 2001 is greater than warming from both 1860 to 1880 and 1910 to 1940. 7
“Lindzen and Choi find low climate sensitivity” Lindzen and Choi’s paper is viewed as unacceptably flawed by other climate scientists. 6
“Models are unreliable” Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean. 6
“Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming” There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming. 6
“IPCC ‘disappeared’ the Medieval Warm Period” The IPCC simply updated their temperature history graphs to show the best data available at the time. 6
“Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming” Extreme weather events are being made more frequent and worse by global warming. 5
“IPCC is alarmist” Numerous papers have documented how IPCC predictions are more likely to underestimate the climate response. 5
“Climate’s changed before” Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing. 5
“Greenland is gaining ice” Greenland on the whole is losing ice, as confirmed by satellite measurement. 5
“It’s global brightening” This is a complex aerosol effect with unclear temperature significance. 5
“CO2 limits will make little difference” If every nation agrees to limit CO2 emissions, we can achieve significant cuts on a global scale. 5
“Arctic was warmer in 1940” The actual data show high northern latitudes are warmer today than in 1940. 5
“It hasn’t warmed since 1998” For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005. 4
“It’s not bad” Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives. 4
“Oceans are cooling” The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming. 4
“An exponential increase in CO2 will result in a linear increase in temperature” CO2 levels are rising so fast that unless we decrease emissions, global warming will accelerate this century. 4
“CO2 lags temperature” CO2 didn’t initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming.  4
“Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy” A number of investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident. 4
“Al Gore got it wrong” Al Gore’s book is quite accurate, and far more accurate than contrarian books. 4
“It’s the sun” In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions 4
“Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle” Thick arctic sea ice is undergoing a rapid retreat.  4
“It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low” Early 20th century warming is due to several causes, including rising CO2. 3
“Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice loss is due to land use” Most glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, notwithstanding a few complicated cases. 3
“There’s no empirical evidence” There are multiple lines of direct observations that humans are causing global warming. 3
“Temp record is unreliable” The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites. 3
“It’s Urban Heat Island effect” Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend. 3
“Earth hasn’t warmed as much as expected” This argument ignores the cooling effect of aerosols and the planet’s thermal inertia. 3
“There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature” There is long-term correlation between CO2 and global temperature; other effects are short-term. 3
“Greenland was green” Other parts of the earth got colder when Greenland got warmer. 3
“Skeptics were kept out of the IPCC?” Official records, Editors and emails suggest CRU scientists acted in the spirit if not the letter of IPCC rules. 2
“2009-2010 winter saw record cold spells” A cold day in Chicago in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming. 2
“Hansen’s 1988 prediction was wrong” Jim Hansen had several possible scenarios; his mid-level scenario B was right. 2
“IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers” Glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, despite 1 error in 1 paragraph in a 1000 page IPCC report. 2
“CO2 limits will hurt the poor” Those who contribute the least greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change. 2
“Antarctica is gaining ice” Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate. 2
“Polar bear numbers are increasing” Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species. 2
“Greenland ice sheet won’t collapse” When Greenland was 3 to 5 degrees C warmer than today, a large portion of the Ice Sheet melted. 2
“Ocean acidification isn’t serious” Ocean acidification threatens entire marine food chains. 2
“Arctic sea ice has recovered” Thick arctic sea ice is in rapid retreat. 2
“We’re coming out of the Little Ice Age” Scientists have determined that the factors which caused the Little Ice Age cooling are not currently causing global warming 2
“CO2 was higher in the past” When CO2 was higher in the past, the sun was cooler. 2
“CO2 is plant food” The effects of enhanced CO2 on terrestrial plants are variable and complex and dependent on numerous factors 2
“Phil Jones says no global warming since 1995” Phil Jones was misquoted. 2
“Global warming stopped in 19981995200220072010, ????” Global temperature is still rising and 2010 was the hottest recorded. 2
“There is no consensus” 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. 2
“Sea level is not rising” The claim sea level isn’t rising is based on blatantly doctored graphs contradicted by observations. 2
“Record high snow cover was set in winter 2008/2009” Winter snow cover in 2008/2009 was average while the long-term trend in spring, summer, and annual snow cover is rapid decline. 1
“Satellites show no warming in the troposphere” The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming. 1
“It’s microsite influences” Microsite influences on temperature changes are minimal; good and bad sites show the same trend. 1
“CO2 has a short residence time” Excess CO2 from human emissions has a long residence time of over 100 years 1
“Glaciers are growing” Most glaciers are retreating, posing a serious problem for millions who rely on glaciers for water. 1
“CO2 is just a trace gas” Many substances are dangerous even in trace amounts; what really matters is the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. 1
“Ice Sheet losses are overestimated” A number of independent measurements find extensive ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland. 1
“CO2 is not a pollutant” Through its impacts on the climate, CO2 presents a danger to public health and welfare, and thus qualifies as an air pollutant 1
“Corals are resilient to bleaching” Globally about 1% of coral is dying out each year. 1
“Tuvalu sea level isn’t rising” Tuvalu sea level is rising 3 times larger than the global average. 1
“Ice age predicted in the 70s” The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming. 1
“Coral atolls grow as sea levels rise” Thousands of coral atolls have “drowned” when unable to grow fast enough to survive at sea level. 1
“Peer review process was corrupted” An Independent Review concluded that CRU’s actions were normal and didn’t threaten the integrity of peer review. 1
“It’s not urgent” A large amount of warming is delayed, and if we don’t act now we could pass tipping points. 1
“It’s not us” Multiple sets of independent observations find a human fingerprint on climate change. 1
“Greenland has only lost a tiny fraction of its ice mass” Greenland’s ice loss is accelerating & will add metres of sea level rise in upcoming centuries. 1
“Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted” Weather is chaotic but climate is driven by Earth’s energy imbalance, which is more predictable. 1
“It’s freaking cold!” A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures. 1
“Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition Project” The ‘OISM petition’ was signed by only a few climatologists. 1
“It’s too hard” Scientific studies have determined that current technology is sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid dangerous climate change. 1
“Animals and plants can adapt” Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales. 1
“Scientists tried to ‘hide the decline’ in global temperature” The ‘decline’ refers to a decline in northern tree-rings, not global temperature, and is openly discussed in papers and the IPCC reports. 1
“Southern sea ice is increasing” Antarctic sea ice has grown in recent decades despite the Southern Ocean warming at the same time.  1
“CRU tampered with temperature data” An independent inquiry went back to primary data sources and were able to replicate CRU’s results. 1
“It’s Pacific Decadal Oscillation” The PDO shows no trend, and therefore the PDO is not responsible for the trend of global warming. 1
“Trenberth can’t account for the lack of warming” Trenberth is talking about the details of energy flow, not whether global warming is happening. 1
“Clouds provide negative feedback” Evidence is building that net cloud feedback is likely positive and unlikely to be strongly negative. 1

Back to Climate Skeptics

Explosive intervention by Pope Francis set to transform climate change debate (The Guardian)

The most anticipated papal letter for decades will be published in five languages on Thursday. It will call for an end to the ‘tyrannical’ exploitation of nature by mankind. Could it lead to a step-change in the battle against global warming?

Pope Francis on a visit to the Philippines in January.

Pope Francis on a visit to the Philippines in January. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality in a letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Thursday.

In an unprecedented encyclical on the subject of the environment, the pontiff is expected to argue that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has crossed the Earth’s natural boundaries, and that the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds. The much-anticipated message, which will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops, will be published online in five languages on Thursday and is expected to be the most radical statement yet from the outspoken pontiff.

However, it is certain to anger sections of Republican opinion in America by endorsing the warnings of climate scientists and admonishing rich elites, say cardinals and scientists who have advised the Vatican.

The Ghanaian cardinal, Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and a close ally of the pope, will launch the encyclical. He has said it will address the root causes of poverty and the threats facing nature, or “creation”.

In a recent speech widely regarded as a curtain-raiser to the encyclical, Turkson said: “Much of the world remains in poverty, despite abundant resources, while a privileged global elite controls the bulk of the world’s wealth and consumes the bulk of its resources.”

The Argentinian pontiff is expected to repeat calls for a change in attitudes to poverty and nature. “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it,” he told a meeting of social movements last year. “I think a question that we are not asking ourselves is: isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature? Safeguard creation because, if we destroy it, it will destroy us. Never forget this.”

The encyclical will go much further than strictly environmental concerns, say Vatican insiders. “Pope Francis has repeatedly stated that the environment is not only an economic or political issue, but is an anthropological and ethical matter,” said another of the pope’s advisers, Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Peru.

“It will address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of food and the irresponsible exploitation of nature and the consequences for people’s life and health,” Barreto Jimeno told the Catholic News Service.

He was echoed by Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who coordinates the Vatican’s inner council of cardinals and is thought to reflect the pope’s political thinking . “The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits,” Rodríguez Maradiaga said.

The rare encyclical, called “Laudato Sii”, or “Praised Be”, has been timed to have maximum public impact ahead of the pope’s meeting with Barack Obama and his address to the US Congress and the UN general assembly in September.

It is also intended to improve the prospect of a strong new UN global agreement to cut climate emissions. By adding a moral dimension to the well-rehearsed scientific arguments, Francis hopes to raise the ambition of countries above their own self-interest to secure a strong deal in a crucial climate summit in Paris in November.

“Pope Francis is personally committed to this [climate] issue like no other pope before him. The encyclical will have a major impact. It will speak to the moral imperative of addressing climate change in a timely fashion in order to protect the most vulnerable,” said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, in Bonn this week for negotiations.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, is increasingly seen as the voice of the global south and a catalyst for change in global bodies. In September, he will seek to add impetus and moral authority to UN negotiations in New York to adopt new development goals and lay out a 15-year global plan to tackle hunger, extreme poverty and health. He will address the UN general assembly on 23 September as countries finalise their commitments.

However, Francis’s radicalism is attracting resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives, and Rick Santorum, a Republican presidential candidate.

Earlier this year Stephen Moore, a Catholic economist, called the pope a “complete disaster”, saying he was part of “a radical green movement that is at its core anti-Christian, anti-people and anti-progress”.

Moore was backed this month by scientists and engineers from the powerful evangelical Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, who have written an open letter to Francis. “Today many prominent voices call humanity a scourge on our planet, saying that man is the problem, not the solution. Such attitudes too often contaminate their assessment of man’s effects on nature,” it says.

But the encyclical will be well received in developing countries, where most Catholics live. “Francis has always put the poor at the centre of everything he has said. The developing countries will hear their voice in the encyclical,” said Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at the Catholic development agency, Cafod. “I expect it to challenge the way we think. The message that we cannot just treat the Earth as a tool for exploitation will be a message that many will not want to hear.”

The pope is “aiming at a change of heart. What will save us is not technology or science. What will save us is the ethical transformation of our society,” said Carmelite Father Eduardo Agosta Scarel, a climate scientist who teaches at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Earlier popes, including Benedict XVI and John Paul II, addressed environmental issues and “creation”, but neither mentioned climate change or devoted an entire encyclical to the links between poverty, economics and ecological destruction. Francis’s only previous encyclical concerned the nature of religious faith.

The pontiff, who is playing an increasing role on the world stage, will visit Cuba ahead of travelling to the US. He was cited by Obama as having helped to thaw relations between the two countries, and last week met the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the crisis in Ukraine and the threat to minority Christians in the Middle East.

The pope chose Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, as his namesake at the start of his papacy in 2011, saying the saint’s values reflected his own.

Opinion: Pope Francis’s anticapitalist revolution launches on Thursday (Market Watch)

Published: June 16, 2015 10:16 a.m. ET

June 18 treatise from Pope Francis will get the ball rolling on an anticapitalist revolution

Reuters. Pope Francis hugs children during a meeting at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

Mark your calendar: June 18. That’s launch day for Pope Francis’s historic anticapitalist revolution, a multitargeted global revolution against out-of-control free-market capitalism driven by consumerism, against destruction of the planet’s environment, climate and natural resources for personal profits and against the greediest science deniers.

Translated bluntly, stripped of all the euphemisms and his charm, that will be the loud-and-clear message of Pope Francis’ historic encyclical coming on June 18. Pope Francis has a grand mission here on Earth, and he gives no quarter, hammering home a very simple message with no wiggle room for compromise of his principles: ‘If we destroy God’s Creation, it will destroy us,” our human civilization here on Planet Earth.

Yes, he’s blunt, tough, he is a revolutionary. And on June 18 Pope Francis’s call-to-arms will be broadcast loud, clear and worldwide. Not just to 1.2 billion Catholics, but heard by seven billion humans all across the planet. And, yes, many will oppose him, be enraged to hear the message, because it is a call-to-arms, like Paul Revere’s ride, inspiring billions to join a people’s revolution.

The fact is the pontiff is already building an army of billions, in the same spirit as Gandhi, King and Marx. These are revolutionary times. Deny it all you want, but the global zeitgeist has thrust the pope in front of a global movement, focusing, inspiring, leading billions. Future historians will call Pope Francis the “Great 21st Century Revolutionary.”

Yes, our upbeat, ever-smiling Pope Francis. As a former boxer, he loves a good match. And he’s going to get one. He is encouraging rebellion against super-rich capitalists, against fossil-fuel power-players, conservative politicians and the 67 billionaires who already own more than half the assets of the planet.

That’s the biggest reason Pope Francis is scaring the hell out of the GOP, Big Oil, the Koch Empire, Massey Coal, every other fossil-fuel billionaire and more than a hundred million climate-denying capitalists and conservatives. Their biggest fear: They’re deeply afraid the pope has started the ball rolling and they can’t stop it.

They had hoped the pope would just go away. But he is not going away. And after June 18 his power will only accelerate, as his revolutionary encyclical will challenge everything on the GOP’s free-market capitalist agenda, exposing every one of the anti-environment, antipoor, antiscience, obstructionist policies in the conservative agenda.

Just watch the conservative media explode with intense anger after June 18, screaming bloody murder, viciously attacking the pope on moral, scientific, economic and political grounds, anything. But most of all, remember, under all their anger, the pope’s opponents really are living in fear of what’s coming next. What’s dead ahead.

Here are eight of the pope’s key warning punches edited in the Catholic Climate Covenant, from his “Apostolic Exhortation,” and in London’s Guardian and other news sources, warnings on the dangerous acceleration of global-warming risks to our civilization and the environment, along with our responsibility to “safeguard Creation, for we are the custodians of Creation. If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us.”

For Pope Francis, there’s no room for compromise, and his enemies know it. Listen for his warnings to be expanded in his encyclical on June 18:

1. Capitalism is threatening the survival of human civilization

A “threat to peace arises from the greedy exploitation of environmental resources. Monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”

2. Capitalism is destroying nonrenewable resources for personal gain

“Genesis tells us that God created man and woman entrusting them with the task of filling the earth and subduing it, which does not mean exploiting it, but nurturing and protecting it, caring for it through their work.”

3. Capitalism has lost its ethical code, has no moral compass

“We are experiencing a moment of crisis; we see it in the environment, but mostly we see it in man. The human being is at stake: here is the urgency of human ecology! And the danger is serious because the cause of the problem is not superficial, but profound: it’s not just a matter of economics, but of ethics.”

4. Capitalists worship the golden calf of a money god

“We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money” … Francis warns that “trickle-down economics is a failed theory” … the “invisible hand” of capitalism cannot be trusted … “excessive consumerism is killing our culture, values and ethics” … and “the conservative ideal of individualism is undermining the common good.”

5. Capitalists pursuit of personal wealth destroys the common good

Without a moral code, “it is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands. Greed is the motivation … An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.” Instead, the pope calls for a “radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation.”

6. Capitalism has no respect for Earth’s natural environment

“This task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the rhythm and logic of Creation. But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not care for Creation, we do not respect it.”

7. Capitalists only see the working class as consumers and machine tools

“Nurturing and cherishing Creation is a command God gives not only at the beginning of history, but to each of us. It is part of his plan; it means causing the world to grow responsibly, transforming it so that it may be a garden, a habitable place for everyone.” Everyone.

8. Capitalism is killing our planet, our civilization and the people

Pope Francis warns that capitalism is the “root cause” of all the world’s problems: “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems,” as environmental damage does trickle down most on the world’s poor.

Pope Francis’ historic anti-capitalism revolution is divinely inspired

Imagine Pope Francis addressing a hostile GOP controlled joint session of the U.S. Congress in September. There’s no chance of changing the minds of those hard-right politicians, all heavily dependent on fossil-fuel special-interest donations. But he’s clearly laying the groundwork for a global revolution, and his enemies know it.

And watch the ripple effect, how his historic “Climate Change Encyclical” adds fuel to the revolution after Pope Francis addresses the UN General Assembly … how the revolution picks up steam after the UN’s Paris Climate Change Conference announces a new international treaty approved by the leaders of America, China and two hundred nations worldwide … how the revolution kicks into high-gear after the pope’s message has been translated into more than a thousand languages … and broadcast to seven billion worldwide, billions who are already directly experiencing the climate change “evils that tear man from the land of his birth.”

Bottom line: Given the global reach of his encyclical, Pope Francis’ revolution will accelerate. So the GOP’s 169 climate deniers, Big Oil, the Koch Empire and all hard-right conservatives better be prepared for a powerful backlash to their resistance.

Pope Francis’s 2015 war cry is to lead a global anticapitalist revolution, a revolution leading billions to take back their planet from a fossil-fuel industry that’s lost its moral compass to the “golden calf” and is destroying its own civilization on Planet Earth.

Blessed Are the Climate Advocates (Slate)

The Vatican and United Nations present the beatitudes of a new movement.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after a press conference during the a climate change conference organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican on April 28, 2015

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after a press conference during a climate change meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican on April 28, 2015. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

This week, while at Vatican City in Rome to manage press for the first-ever meeting on climate change between Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, my faith in a force more powerful was renewed. I am not religious, despite being descended from a long line of Amish and Mennonite preachers. But at the climate confab, I became a believer again. And I wasn’t alone.

It wasn’t my faith in God that was renewed at the Vatican but rather a faith in our ability to get something done on climate change. And as an American, whose Congress isn’t even close to acting aggressively or quickly enough on climate change, that’s saying something. Even the Pope’s and the U.N.’s top policy officials were clearly inspired by the event, which was hosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Throughout the day I witnessed multiple about-faces of previously cynical staff rapidly turning toward optimism.

This Vatican moment was a game-changer. Science and religion were forcefully and unwaveringly aligning. Tuesday’s high-level session brought together multiple presidents, CEOs, academics, scientists, and all the major religions, and ended with this final, forceful statement. The event was a prelude to the Pope’s summer encyclical on climate change, and it laid a solid foundation.

But more importantly—and this is why it instilled faith in many of us—the meeting featured some of the strongest words yet from the Vatican’s Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope’s right-hand policy man and the drafter of the first round of what will eventually be the Pope’s climate encyclical, and from the U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon.

Beyond the expected shout-outs to the upcoming climate talks in Paris later this year and to the need for a strong Green Climate Fund, which will assist developing countries in climate adaptation, the U.N.’s Ban noted in no uncertain terms how “morally indefensible” it would be to allow a temperature rise of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius, calling on everyone to reduce their individual carbon footprint and thoughtless consumption. His pitch was more pointed than I had heard before. One of the leading rabbis, Rabbi David Rosen, took it one step further, calling out meat-intensive diets as completely unsustainable given their massive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

The Vatican’s Turkson, meanwhile, pulled out all the stops, saying that “a crime against the natural world is a sin,” and “to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation … are sins.” Turkson warned about how quickly we are degrading the planet’s integrity, stripping its forests, destroying its wetlands, and contaminating its waters, land, and air.

These declarations were not soft, feel-good, and vague speeches by politicos keen to be perceived as leading on the most urgent issue facing humanity. These were unequivocal, unwavering statements: “Decision mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity” and the “summit in Paris may be the last effective opportunity” to keep the planet safe.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech during the climate change conference at the Vatican on April 28, 2015

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech during the climate change conference at the Vatican on April 28, 2015. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

The leaders of the conference were undeterred by the hecklers who crept onto the Vatican campus. Marc Morano, for example, who is associated with the climate-skeptical Heartland Institute, snuck into the Vatican and attempted, to no avail, to disrupt the press briefing with the U.N. secretary-general while Ban was reporting on his meeting with the Pope. Morano’s account of what happened, that he was maliciously shut down after offering a benign question, misrepresents reality. Standing beside him, I can attest to what was instead a hijacking of protocol and the microphone. He said a few words about “global warming skeptics coming to talk” but coming to disrupt would be more accurate. He interrupted the secretary-general and the moderator, and was later escorted from the premises by Vatican officials.

What’s troubling about moments like this is that they work. The U.S. media reporting from the Vatican meeting felt compelled to give Morano critical space in their stories. It’s not just that he was an unexpected and therefore newsworthy interruption—giving his “side” is part of American broadcast media’s history of false balance even when there are not two legitimate sides of a story to balance. To be clear, the verdict is not still out on climate change. There’s overwhelming consensus when it comes to the science behind global warming, yet some media outlets (fewer all the time, fortunately) continue to give voice to the small percent that disagrees. Standing beside Morano, surrounded by representatives of the most powerful institutions in the world, it was quite clear to me that the Heartland Institute, though well funded by the Koch brothers, is ineffectually extreme and ultimately a minority player in society’s overall push toward climate progress.

In many ways, the Heartland emissaries proved, through their apoplectic protest, how peripheral they were to the whole process. There was no need for anyone to fight them in that moment; the majority opinion, the moral call to act on climate, was already winning the day. The global response to our conversation at the Vatican has been unequivocally positive, with every major outlet in the Western world covering the talks favorably.

As we left Vatican City this week—which is carbon-neutral thanks to solar power—there was a palpable sense that history was made within the walls of Casina Pio IV where our deliberations took place. This was no typical conference. This was a Sermon on the Mount moment, wherein the beatitudes of a new era were laid down. And we left as disciples, renewed in our faith that we must and will act in time to save humanity from itself—an agenda that would be a worthy legacy of the Pope’s Jesus.

Conservative think tank seeks to change Pope Francis’s mind on climate change (The Guardian)

Heartland Institute wants to lobby Vatican before pope delivers a moral call to climate action this summer

pope francis vatican

Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and moral duty is expected to be released this summer followed by a meeting with the United Nations. Photograph: Massimo Valicchia/Demotix/Corbis

A US activist group that has received funding from energy companies and the foundation controlled by conservative activist Charles Koch is trying to persuade the Vatican that “there is no global warming crisis” ahead of an environmental statement by Pope Francis this summer that is expected to call for strong action to combat climate change.

The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative thinktank that seeks to discredit established science on climate change, said it was sending a team of climate scientists to Rome “to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science”.

“Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate,” Joseph Bast, Heartland’s president, said in a statement.

Jim Lakely, a Heartland spokesman, said the thinktank was “working on” securing a meeting with the Vatican. “I think Catholics should examine the evidence for themselves, and understand that the Holy Father is an authority on spiritual matters, not scientific ones,” he said.

A 2013 survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals found that 97.1% agreed that climate change is caused by human activity.

The lobbying push underlines the sensitivity surrounding Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, whose aim will be to frame the climate change issue as a moral imperative.

While it is not yet clear exactly what the encyclical will say, Pope Francis has been an outspoken advocate for action on the issue. In a speech in March, Cardinal Peter Turkson, who has played a key role in drafting the document, said Pope Francis was not attempting a “greening of the church”, but instead would emphasise that “for the Christian, to care for God’s ongoing work of creation is a duty, irrespective of the causes of climate change”.

The encyclical is expected to be released in June or July, and Pope Francis is expected to use a planned address before the United Nations in September to discuss the statement.

Any push by the Vatican on climate change could prove politically challenging for conservative Catholic lawmakers in the US who have denied the veracity of climate change science and fought against regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

The American Petroleum Institute, the biggest lobby group representing oil companies in Washington, declined to respond directly to questions from the Guardian about whether it was lobbying the Vatican on the issue.

But – in a sign of how energy groups and those who oppose greenhouse gas regulations are framing their argument to the Vatican – it said that “fossil fuels are a a vital tool for lifting people out of poverty around the world, which is something we’re committed to”.

Heartland has also targeted its argument to appeal to the pope’s views on poverty. It said in a press release that the world’s poor would “suffer horribly if reliable energy – the engine of prosperity and a better life – is made more expensive and less reliable by the decree of global planners”.

The group’s trip to Rome is designed to coincide with a workshop hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Tuesday called Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity, which will feature speeches by Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, and Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs.

The Vatican declined to comment.

The Heartland Institute says it is a non-profit organisation that seeks to promote “free-market solutions” to social and economic problems. It does not disclose its donors, but says on its website that it has received a single donation of $25,000 in 2012 from the Charles G Koch Foundation, which was for the group’s work on health care policy. Charles Koch is the billionaire co-owner of Koch Industries, an oil refining and chemicals group, and is a major donor to Republicans causes and politicians.

Heartland said contributions from oil and tobacco groups have never amounted to more than 5% of its income.

University offering free online course to demolish climate denial (The Guardian)

The University of Queensland’s course examines the science of climate science denial

David Attenborough signs his new book 'Life in the Air' at the Natural Hisory Museum in London.  Attenborough is among the big names interviewed in the University of Queensland MOOC.

David Attenborough signs his new book ‘Life in the Air’ at the Natural Hisory Museum in London. Attenborough is among the big names interviewed in Denial101x. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Sarah Lee

Starting 28 April, 2015, the University of Queensland is offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aimed at “Making Sense of Climate Science Denial”.

 Denial101x summary.

The course coordinator is John Cook, University of Queensland Global Change Institute climate communication fellow, and founder of the climate science myth debunking website Skeptical ScienceCook’s research has primarily focused on the psychology of climate science denial. As he explains,

97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming; however, less than half of Australians are aware of humanity’s role in climate change, while half of the US Senate has voted that humans aren’t causing global warming. This free course explains why there is such a huge gap between the scientific community and the public. Our course looks at what’s driving climate science denial and the most common myths about climate change. 

The course includes climate science and myth debunking lectures by the international team of volunteer scientific contributors to Skeptical Science, including myself, and interviews with many of the world’s leading climate science and psychology experts. Making Sense of Climate Science Denial is a seven-week program featuring interviews with 75 scientific experts, including Sir David AttenboroughKatharine HayhoeRichard AlleyMichael Mann, and Naomi Oreskes.

The course incorporates lessons in both climate science and psychology to explain the most common climate myths and to detail how to respond to them. Research has shown that myth debunking is most effective when people understand why the myth originated in the first place. For example, cherry picking (focusing on a small bit of convenient data and ignoring the rest) is one of the most common fallacies behind climate science myths.

The lectures in the University of Queensland MOOC not only explain the science, but also the fallacies underpinning each myth. This is a unique and important feature to this course, because understanding their origins effectively acts to inoculate people against myths.

Thousands of students from more than 130 countries have already enrolled in Making Sense of Climate Science Denial. The goal is for the students to come out of the course with a stronger understanding of climate science, myth debunking, and the psychology of science denial that’s become so pervasive and dangerous in today’s world.

Leaked: The Oil Lobby’s Conspiracy to Kill Off California’s Climate Law (Bloomberg Business Week)

November 25, 2014


Looking south over Los Angeles and the 101 Freeway, with the morning haze and smog on Jan. 28

Photograph by David Bro/Zuma Press

Looking south over Los Angeles and the 101 Freeway, with the morning haze and smog on Jan. 28

You remember Fillmore. He’s the resident hippie of Radiator Springs in the Pixar blockbuster Cars. Much to the chagrin of his neighbor, Sarge the Army Jeep, Fillmore greets each new day with Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock rendition of A Star Spangled Banner—“respect the classics, man”—and is quick with a conspiracy theory about why biofuels never stood a chance at America’s gas pumps. Perfectly voiced by the late, great George Carlin, Fillmore has a slight paranoiac edge, as if his intake of marijuana may exceed what’s medically indicated.

Well, as they say, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to delay, rewrite, or kill off a meaningful effort to reduce the build-up of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere. A Powerpoint (MSFT) deck now being circulated by climate activists—a copy of which was sent to Bloomberg Businessweek—suggests that there is a conspiracy. Or, if you prefer, a highly coordinated, multistate coalition that does not want California to succeed at moving off fossil fuels because that might set a nasty precedent for everyone else.

Created by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), one of the most powerful oil and gas lobbies in the U.S., the slides and talking points comes from a Nov. 11 presentation to the Washington Research Council. The Powerpoint deck details a plan to throttle AB 32 (also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) and steps to thwart low carbon fuel standards (known as LCFS) in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Northwest Public Radio appears to have been the first to confirm the authenticity of the deck, which Bloomberg Businessweek did as well, with WSPA spokesman Tupper Hull.

Specifically, the deck from a presentation by WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd lays out the construction of what environmentalists contend is an elaborate “astroturf campaign.” Groups with names such as Oregon Climate Change Campaign, Washington Consumers for Sound Fuel Policy, and AB 32 Implementation Group are made to look and sound like grassroots citizen-activists while promoting oil industry priorities and actually working against the implementation of AB 32.

The deck also reveals how WSPA seized on a line from a California Air Resources Board memo that the cap-and-trade program for gas and diesel that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, may affect gas prices in order to launch an ad campaign warning of a “hidden” gas tax that devious Sacramento pols are sneaking through.

“The environmental community is used to sky-is-falling analysis from fossil fuel interests in response to clean energy initiatives, so that part isn’t surprising,” says Tim O’Connor, a senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, to whom I sent the deck for comment. “But it’s eye-opening to see the lengths [the WSPA] has gone to push back rather than move forward. I don’t think anybody knew how cross-jurisdictional, cross-border, and extensive their investment is in creating a false consumer backlash against [climate legislation].”

In California, O’Connor points out, “we have 70 percent voter approval on clean energy alternatives, so it’s offensive and atrocious they’re using these supposed everyday citizens—who are really paid advertisers—to change the public discourse.”

Reheis-Boyd’s Powerpoint deck, entitled “WSPA Priority Issues,” starts by announcing that these are the “the best of times.” Crude oil production in the U.S. is higher than it has been since 1997, with imports subsequently reduced to a 20-year low, according to the American Petroleum Institute. The next six slides describe why these are also “the worst of times” and include images of demonstrators protesting the Keystone XL oil pipeline, demanding government action on climate change, and pictures of professor-cum-activist Bill McKibben and billionaire Tom Steyer, with the latter quoted as saying he wants to “destroy these people”—i.e., people like the members of WSPA.

Then there’s a slide with all the different groups that WSPA has funded to make it seem as if there’s a broad group in three states opposing a series of initiatives to reduce carbon pollution from fossil fuels. The most clever of these is the “Stop the Hidden Gas Tax!” campaign. Who, after all, wants that?

“Let me be clear,” says Hull, the WSPA spokesman. “We did not oppose AB 32 when it passed. We believe it’s good to have the reduction of greenhouse gases as a goal. We support that goal.” In the years since, he says, “hundreds of pages of regulations have been added to what had been a page-and-a-half document, and we do object to many of the additions.” What’s more, Hull says, “we have a legitimate concern over what will happen when the cap-and-trade program goes into effect for gas and diesel.”

Feliciano apresenta PL que torna obrigatório o ensino do criacionismo nas escolas (Portal Aprendiz)

TER, 18/11/2014 – 06:45

ATUALIZADO EM 18/11/2014 – 06:45

Por Pedro Ribeiro Nogueira e Raiana Ribeiro, do Portal Aprendiz

O deputado federal e pastor Marco Feliciano (PSC-SP) apresentou à Câmara dos Deputados nesta quinta-feira (13/11) um Projeto de Lei que torna obrigatório o ensino do criacionismo – doutrina religiosa que se opõe à teoria da Evolução de Darwin – nas escolas públicas e privadas do Brasil. Antes de ser discutido e votado, o PL será encaminhado para a Comissão de Constituição e Justiça (CCJ).

Clique aqui para acessar o PL

A proposta de lei afirma que as grades curriculares brasileiras deverão incluir “noções de que a vida tem sua origem em Deus, como criador supremo de todo universo e de todas as coisas que o compõe”. Segundo o texto, ele deverá ser ensinado “analogamente ao evolucionismo, alternância de conhecimento de fonte diversa a fim de que o estudante avalie cognitivamente ambas as disciplinas” (sic).

Os argumentos que sustentam o PL apontam que é necessário inserir o “conceito de origem divina”, pois “ensinar apenas a teoria do evolucionismo nas escolas é violar a liberdade de crença, uma vez que a maioria das religiões brasileiras acredita no criacionismo”.

Helena Nader, presidenta da Sociedade Brasileira para o Progresso da Ciência (SBPC), associação que congrega mais de 130 sociedades científicas, afirmou que “negar Darwin é voltar ao obscurantismo”.

“A ciência nunca quis discutir a fé. Mas parece que algumas religiões estão interessadas em discutir a ciência”, alertou.

A pesquisadora lembrou que não é a primeira vez que esse tipo de proposta tramita no legislativo brasileiro e que a SBPC manterá seu posicionamento contrário.

“É preciso esclarecer que nada na ciência elimina, para quem acredita, a presença de um ser superior. Por isso, confundir criacionismo com ciência é inadmissível”, defendeu.

Confusão

O texto descreve as crianças que frequentam as escolas públicas como “confusas”, pois estariam aprendendo noções de evolucionismo na escola e criacionismo na igreja. Para o deputado, “o ensino darwinista limita a visão cosmológica de mundo existencialista levando os estudantes a desacreditarem da existência de um criador que está acima das frágeis conjecturas humanas forjadas em tubos de ensaio laboratorial”.

Mas o próprio PL também apresenta suas confusões, ao misturar a teoria do Big Bang – que explica o surgimento do universo – com a teoria da Evolução. “Como é sabido, hoje vigora nos currículos escolares o ensino do Evolucionismo, propagando que a vida originou-se de uma  “célula primitiva que se pôs em movimento pelo ‘Big Bang’”, diz o texto.

Até o fechamento desta reportagem, o Portal Aprendiz não conseguiu contato com o deputado Marco Feliciano.

___________________________

Lei de Diretrizes e Bases da Educação Nacional (LDB)  dispõe que o ensino religioso é parte integrante da formação básica do cidadão e é uma disciplina facultativa das escolas públicas de ensino fundamental, “assegurando o respeito à diversidade cultural religiosa do Brasil, vedadas quaisquer formas de proselitismo”. Em outras palavras, é possível que comunidades escolares se organizem para ensinar história e filosofia das religiões, mas sem qualquer forma de doutrinação.

Koch brothers sought say in academic hiring in return for university donation (The Guardian)

Florida university receives $1.5m from rightwing billionaires

Kochs wanted appointment of ultra-rightwing economics faculty

theguardian.com, Friday 12 September 2014 19.56 BST

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Chairman David Koch in 2013.David Koch, above, and his brother Charles donated to 163 colleges and univerisites in 2012. Photograph: Phelan M Ebenhack/AP

The billionaire Koch brothers attempted to wield political influence over appointments and teaching at a major US university in exchange for donations, newly published documents reveal.

Internal emails and memos from the economics department of Florida State University (FSU) open a window into the kind of direct pressure the Kochs seek to exert over academic institutions in return for their largesse. The 16 pages of documents, obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, show that the energy tycoons demanded through their grant-giving arm, the Charles Koch Foundation, a role in faculty appointments and an emphasis on teaching that was in tune with their radical political views.

Charles and David Koch are major funders of the Tea Party and other ultra-rightwing movements that oppose government intervention and advocate for an unregulated free market.

A memo drawn up by the then chair of the FSU economics department, Bruce Benson, set out the Kochs’ terms for funding, noting that “the proposal is … not to just give us money to hire anyone we want and fund any graduate student that we choose. There are constraints.”

A section of the memo headlined “Constrained hiring” says: “As we all know, there are no free lunches. Everything comes with costs. In this case, the money for faculty lines and graduate students is coming from a group of funding organisations with strong libertarian views. These organisations have an explicit agenda.

“They want to expose students to what they believe are vital concepts about the benefits of the market and the dangers of government failure, and they want to support and mentor students who share their views. Therefore, they are trying to convince us to hire faculty who will provide exposure and mentoring. If we are not willing to hire such faculty, they are not willing to fund us.”

The documents date back to 2007, when the Koch deal was first being negotiated with FSU. Among the other demands made by the foundation was that Benson, a free-market libertarian who shares many of the Kochs’ beliefs, must have his term as chair of the economics department extended for three years as a requirement of the donation.

Dave Levinthal, the centre’s senior political reporter, who broke the story, said: “The documents give a blueprint of what the Kochs wanted and if ultimately they didn’t get everything they demanded it still gives a rare view into their intentions. They were saying ‘We want this, this and that, and if you don’t do it, we are not going to give you any money’.”

The Koch’s financial gift was finalised in 2009 at the sum of $1.5m (£920,000) to be spread over six years – a drop in the ocean for the brothers who own the second largest privately owned company in the US and are valued at $36bn each. The university says that as of April this year it had received $1m.

Under the initial deal with the Kochs, they had direct input into the appointment of faculty members in the economics department through a three-person advisory board set up specifically to liaise with the Charles Koch Foundation over hiring. The terms of the donation have been a running sore within FSU, prompting considerable internal opposition.

In the face of widespread criticism, the university authorities in 2013 revised the terms of the Koch funding to weaken the brothers’ grip on appointments. A statement from the university released earlier this year said that “the decision was made to eliminate any role whatsoever of the advisory group in the hiring of tenure-track faculty members in the department of economics”.

Benson did not immediately reply to questions from the Guardian. But he told the Center for Public Integrity that the documents had been intended for internal use and were written at “early stages of discussion” over the Koch grant, well before it was finalised in 2008.

Florida State University is not the only academic institution that the Kochs have financial relationships with. According to the CPI, the brothers dispensed $13m in 2012 to 163 colleges and universities.

G20: Australia resists international call supporting climate change fund (The Guardian)

Exclusive: Europe and the US argue strongly that leaders should back the need for contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which helps poorer countries prepare for climate change

theguardian.com, Friday 7 November 2014 00.51 GMT

tony abbottAustralia’s original position was that the G20 meeting should focus solely on economic issues. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Australia is resisting a last-ditch push by the US, France and other European countries for G20 leaders at next week’s meeting in Brisbane to back contributions to the Green Climate Fund.

The prime minister has previously rejected the fund as a “Bob Brown bank on an international scale” – referring to the former leader of the Australian Greens.

The Green Climate Fund aims to help poorer countries cut their emissions and prepare for the impact of climate change, and is seen as critical to securing developing-nation support for a successful deal on reducing emissions at the United Nations meeting in Paris next year.

The US and European Union nations are also lobbying for G20 leaders to promise that post-2020 greenhouse emission reduction targets will be unveiled early, to improve the chances of a deal in Paris, but Australia is also understood to be resisting this.

As reported by Guardian Australia, Australia has reluctantly conceded the final G20 communique should include climate change as a single paragraph, acknowledging that it should be addressed by UN processes. Australia’s original position was that the meeting should focus solely on “economic issues”.

The text that has so far made it through the G20’s closed-door, consensus-driven process is very general, and reads as follows:

“We support strong and effective action to address climate change, consistent with sustainable economic growth and certainty for business and investment. We reaffirm our resolve to adopt a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that is applicable to all parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris in 2015.”

Australia had previously insisted the G20 should discuss climate-related issues only as part of its deliberations on energy efficiency, but the energy efficiency action plan to be agreed at the meeting, revealed by Guardian Australia, does not require G20 leaders to commit to any actual action.

Instead it asks them to “consider” making promises next year to reduce the energy used by smartphones and computers and to develop tougher standards for car emissions.

But as the negotiations on the G20 communique reach their final stages, European nations and the US continue to argue strongly that leaders should back the need for contributions to the Green Climate Fund.

More than $2.8bn has been pledged to the fund so far – including $1bn by France and almost $1bn by Germany. More pledges are expected at a special conference in Berlin on 20 November. The UK has said it will make a “strong” contribution at that meeting.

It is understood the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which leads Australia’s negotiating position, is considering whether Australia should make a pledge.

Asked about the fund before last year’s UN meeting, the prime minister said “we’re not going to be making any contributions to that”. It was reported that at one of its first cabinet meetings the Abbott government decided it would make no contributions to a fund that was described as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

The government also pointedly dissented from support for the fund in a communique from last November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting – a stance backed by Canada.

Abbott told the Australian newspaper at the time; “One thing the current government will never do is say one thing at home and a different thing abroad. We are committed to dismantling the Bob Brown bank [the Clean Energy Finance Corporation] at home so it would be impossible for us to support a Bob Brown bank on an international scale.”

*   *   *

Playing whack-a-mole with Australian adviser’s climate change myths (The Guardian)

Maurice Newman, business adviser to Australia’s prime minister, pops up with a litany of climate change myths and misrepresentations

Maurice Newman, the climate science denying business advisor to Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott.Maurice Newman, the climate science denying business adviser to Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

Reading opinion columns from Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s top business adviser Maurice Newman reminds me of those fairground whack-a-mole games.

You smash those cartoonish mammals over their fibreglass heads with a big rubber hammer as they emerge from little round holes, yet these little subterranean mammals never know they’re beat and just come up with the same grin somewhere else.

In this climate denialist version of whack-a-mole, the mammal is replaced with Newman’s upper torso clutching the latest truthy climate factoid he has plucked indiscriminately from the intertubes.

Just like at the fairground, when you whack-a-Maurice, he just keeps popping up with another myth.

The latest version of whack-a-Maurice comes in his new opinion column in The Australian newspaper, headlined “Inconvenient truths ignored by the climate propaganda machine”.

In the article, Newman attacks renewable energy, the IPCC, Australian Greens leader Christine Milne and climate science in general while telling us that coal is cheap and reliable and that we should put our self-interest in selling that coal above all else.

Newman misrepresents the latest IPCC study, misquotes experts, pushes debunked studies, claims the Scottish Government commissioned a report that it likely never actually commissioned and rounds off by putting his faith in an internet poll that was gamed by climate sceptics.

So join me for a game of Whack-a-Maurice®.

Whack time

In the article, Newman starts with three statements about energy prices and how renewable energy projects apparently “destroy jobs” and have been terribly bad news for places that have embraced progressive policies to encourage renewable energy.

Newman writes:

Clearly [Greens Leader Christine] Milne is unaware of the cost to California, Europe and Britain of their ultra green embrace.

The Golden State’s energy prices are 40 per cent above the US national average, plunging its manufacturing and agricultural regions into depression, with one in five living in poverty.

OK. While it’s true that Californians do have comparatively expensive electricity costs, they actually have among the lowest average electricity bills across the whole of the United States.

This appears due to a combination of the state’s mild climate and its aggressive energy efficiency scheme.

California does have a renewable energy target – recently expanded to push the state to get 33 per cent of its power from renewables by 2020.

The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in the US has studied the impact of renewable target schemes (known there as Renewable Portfolio Standards) in place across the US.

The 2007 Berkeley study (carried out before California upped its target) found these RPS schemes added an average of about 38c per month (about one quarter the cost of one take away coffee) to electricity bills. California’s scheme was among those having the lowest impact on bills.

In 2012, Californian’s had an electricity bill of about $87 per month.

Apparently, in Newman’s razor sharp climate policy mind, it is imposts like a 38c per month rise in electricity prices that is “plunging” the state’s agriculture industry into depression, rather than, say, one of California’s worst droughts in living memory.

El whack

So now to Spain. Newman writes:

Researchers at Spain’s King Juan Carlos University have found renewable energy programs destroyed 2.2 jobs for every green one created.

Newman is referring to a report titled: “Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources” that was published in 2009 and written by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez.

Alvarez is an associate professor at King Juan Carlos University, but Newman doesn’t mention that the study was actually co-commissioned by the “libertarian” think tank The Instituto Juan de Maria that Alvarez founded.

Alvarez has also presented at a Heartland Institute climate conference for “sceptics” and his institute has been a sponsor of one of those conferences.

Who were the other commissioning group?

This was the Institute for Energy Research, a US-based thinktank with strong links to the US Koch brothers, whose foundations have given about $175,000 to the think tank and funnelled millions into anti-climate action projects at similar think tanks. The IER recently claimed Alvarez’s study as its own.

But was the study any good?

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratorytook a studied look at it and, to put it mildly, tore the thing to bits. Here’s some of the choice parts of their critique

The analysis by the authors from King Juan Carlos University represents a significant divergence from traditional methodologies used to estimate employment impacts from renewable energy. In fact, the methodology does not reflect an employment impact analysis. Accordingly, the primary conclusion made by the authors – policy support of renewable energy results in net jobs losses – is not supported by their work …

Additionally, this analysis has oversimplifications and assumptions that lead to questions regarding its quantitative results. Finally, the authors fail to justify their implication that because of the jobs comparison, subsidies for renewables are not worthwhile. This ignores an array of benefits besides employment creation that flow from government investment in renewable energy technologies.

The Alvarez study came in for similar harsh criticism in Spain, as noted here on a blog from the US Natural Resources Defense Council.

Scots whack

And so now to whack-a-Maurice in Scotland. Newman writes:

A study by Verso Economics commissioned by the Scottish government concluded that for every job in the wind industry, 3.7 jobs were lost elsewhere.

Verso Economics? Commissioned by the Scottish government? Sounds impressive.

Indeed, when the report was published in March 2011, it was given extensive coverage in Scotland. And what did the Scottish government make of the study? A BBC report tells us the government’s view.

This report is misleading.

Does it seem odd that the Scottish government should condemn it’s own report?

Perhaps one reason is that there appears to be no evidence that the Scottish government actually commissioned the report that Maurice Newman says it commissioned (I have asked the author, an economist called Richard Marsh, for clarification, but the report itself makes no mention of a commission from the Government and, when Marsh gave evidence to a Scottish parliamentary committee the following year in relation to the report, he didn’t mention a government commission then either).

Verso Economics appears to have been a very small firm with only two employees, Marsh being one of them. This doesn’t necessarily make the arguments wrong, but it is curious that Newman would choose to use the name of a tiny consultancy once based in Kirkaldy that no loner exists (Marsh is now at another firm).

Where’s the next mole?

Whacking scientists

Newman has a crack at former Australian chief scientist Penny Sackett who, according to Newman, had said in 2009 we had only five years to avoid “dangerous global warming”.

Plainly if you read Sackett’s words from 2009, she was talking about a time frame to start radically reducing emissions to prevent “dangerous global warming” down the track and not, as Newman implies, a time by which we should all be frying in our own juices.

Equally, Newman brings up the bête noire of all Australian climate science denialists, Tim Flannery. Newman writes:

When climate commissioner Tim Flannery said that “even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and river systems”, it was sobering, but soon we were donating to flood victims and -suspected he’d dreamt it up to scare us.

Again, Newman ignores the fact that Flannery was not talking about the present, but referring to a time decades into the future if emissions remained on their current path.

Whack. Next mole?

Whacking the IPCC

Newman claims that “temperatures have gone nowhere for 18 years” while ignoring that in those 18 years the world has experienced the hottest decade on record. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000.

If Newman thinks warming has stopped, why is it that between 2002 and 2011, the two main ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland were melting at a rate of about 362 billion tonnes of ice a year – an almost six-fold increase in the rate for the previous decade?

Newman keeps popping up like our proverbial mole with a litany of myths.

He says the recent IPCC Synthesis Report “fails to mention” that the extent of Antarctic sea ice is the highest since records began.

The reason it fails to mention this, is that the record was broken well after the underlying reports were finished.

But yet, the Synthesis Report does mention the increase in Antarctic sea ice extent (read my post What’s going on with global warming and Antarctica’s growing sea ice? for more on this).

Next.

Bleak whacking

Newman writes:

In painting the bleakest picture they can, IPCC authors have projected CO2 levels reaching 1000 parts per million in 2100, largely through coal combustion…

Newman wants us to think that the IPCC authors are a bunch of doom merchants, and so ignores the fact that the IPCC report makes a range of projections for the future concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

As well as the admittedly “bleak” scenario of CO2 levels reaching 1000 parts per million in the atmosphere by the end of this century (delivering something like 4C of global warming), the report also projects CO2 levels at 720ppm, 580ppm, 530ppm and 480ppm.

Newman would have struggled to have missed this, given they all appear on the same chart.

We could go on an on whacking Maurice Newman’s climate denialist moles, and his column has several others, but at some point we have to stop.

Sciencey internet polls

But not before we dwell on Newman’s closing argument that 91 per cent of people think the IPCC is wrong that we’re heading for 4C of global warming.

I think you’ll agree that Newman’s source for this is beyond reproach. It’s one of those really sciencey internet polls carried out by the ABC.

So sciencey was the survey, that climate science denialist groups from Australia to the US were telling supporters to visit the poll.

This is when we have to remind ourselves that Maurice Newman is the chairman of prime minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council, handpicked by Abbott himself.

As Maurice Newman himself concluded, “Enough said”.

Occupy Democracy is not considered newsworthy. It should be (The Guardian)

Sleeping outside for an iPhone is OK, but do it in furtherance of democratic expression and you’re in trouble

theguardian.com, Monday 27 October 2014 15.11 GMT

Occupy London demonstrationOfficers policing the Occupy Democracy protest in Parliament Square, London. Photograph: Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto/Rex

You can tell a lot about the moral quality of a society by what is, and is not, considered news.

From last Tuesday, Parliament Square was wrapped in wire mesh. In one of the more surreal scenes in recent British political history, officers with trained German shepherds stand sentinel each day, at calculated distances across the lawn, surrounded by a giant box of fences, three metres high – all to ensure that no citizen enters to illegally practice democracy. Yet few major news outlets feel this is much of a story.

Occupy Democracy, a new incarnation of Occupy London, has attempted to use the space for an experiment in democratic organising. The idea was to turn Parliament Square back to the purposes to which it was, by most accounts, originally created: a place for public meetings and discussions, with an eye to bringing all the issues ignored by politicians in Westminster back into public debate. Seminars and assemblies were planned, colourful bamboo towers and sound systems put in place, to be followed by a temporary library, kitchen and toilets.

There was no plan to turn this into a permanent tent city, which are now explicitly illegal. True, this law is very selectively enforced; Metropolitan police regularly react with a wink and a smile if citizens camp on the street while queuing overnight for the latest iPhone. But to do it in furtherance of democratic expression is absolutely forbidden. Try it, and you can expect to immediately see your tent torn down and if you try even the most passive resistance you’re likely to be arrested. So organisers settled on a symbolic 24-hour presence, even if it meant sleeping on the grass under cardboard boxes in the autumn rain.

The police response can only be described as hysterical. Tarpaulins used to sit on the grass were said to be illegal, and when activists tried to sit on them they were attacked by scores of officers. Activists say they had limbs twisted and officers stuck thumbs into nerve endings as “pain compliance”. Pizza boxes were declared illegal structures and confiscated and commanders even sent officers to stand over activists at night telling them it was illegal to close their eyes.

Finally, the fences went up, and the guard dogs appeared – ostensibly, for what officers insisted was scheduled cleaning that happened to continue each day of the occupation. Hundreds of participants were thus pushed into the tiny green strip to the north of the Churchill statue, and even then, it seemed like every time they sat down for a seminar on financial reform or planning a response to the housing crisis, they were interrupted by some new pretext for police intervention – someone had an “illegal” megaphone, there was what looked like camping equipment, some regulation might have been violated – and squads of police once again stormed in.

One could speak of many things here: the obvious embarrassment of the police, compared with the perseverance and cheerful good humour of the occupiers, who continually grew in numbers and spirit as the repression increased. But what I really want to talk about is the reaction of the media.

The reason that park occupations are so important is because everyone knows they are there. Activists constantly hear the same refrain from would-be allies: “I agree that there’s been an erosion of democracy in this country, that the money controls everything, what I don’t know is: what can I do?” Our usual reply is: meet with other like-minded people. When people get together, brilliant ideas invariably emerge. But it’s impossible to bring people together unless there is a location, a place where they can always go, 24/7, to meet people and begin to have conversations and make plans. This is precisely what our political authorities have decided that Londoners must never again be allowed to have.

To achieve this, the police and media must take what are ostensibly completely opposite reactions to any occupation. The police act as if the possibility of non-violent camping is an existential threat to the very idea of civil government; hundreds of police are mobilised in a near-panic reaction; hallowed public spaces are shut off.

Official media, on the other hand – and in this case the BBC and mainstream newspapers are acting as if they were an arm of government – take exactly the opposite approach, insisting that the events in question are so trivial and unimportant that there is no need to cover them at all. The very same press that provides wall-to-wall coverage of pro-democracy occupations and police repression halfway around the world, in Hong Kong, acts as if analogous events at home are of no interest. It’s hard to think of a more dramatic story than battles between police and non-violent protesters, or the erection of giant fences and mobilisation of attack dogs directly beneath the mother of all parliaments. Yet while I was in the square, the only TV cameras I saw were being carried by journalists from Iran, Russia and Qatar.

We need to ask ourselves what it means that police suppression of democratic assemblies is no longer considered news. Is the wall of silence, as most activists suspect, simply a continuation of the actual physical wall surrounding Parliament Square, another piece of the same strategy, or is it a token of ultimate cynicism? Britons no longer have the right to freedom of assembly. Sorry, that’s no longer news.

These Two World Leaders Are Laughing While the Planet Burns Up (New Republic)

OCTOBER 21, 2014

Meet earth’s worst climate villains

By

Canada once had a shot at being the world’s leader on climate change. Back in 2002, our northern neighbors had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first treaty that required nations to cut their emissions or face penalties. In 2005, the country hosted an international climate change conference in Montreal, where then-Prime Minister Paul Martin singled out America for its indifference. “To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say this: There is such a thing as a global conscience,” Martin said.

Australia, too, was briefly a success story. The government ratified Kyoto in 2007 and delivered on promises to pass a tax on carbon by 2011. The prime minister that year, Julia Gillard, noted her administration’s priorities to set “Australia on the path to a high-skill, low-carbon future or [leave] our economy to decay into a rusting, industrial museum.”

Today, the two countries are outliers againfor all the wrong reasons.

According to a 2014 Climate Change Performance Index from European groups Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch, Canada and Australia occupy the bottom two spots among all 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Among the 20 countries with the largest economies (G20), only Saudi Arabia ranked lower than them. Canada and Australia’s records on climate change have gotten so bad, they’ve become the go-to examples for Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who don’t think climate change exists.

How did these two nations go from leading the fight against climate change to denying that it even exists?

On the way to his first trip in the U.S., Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stopped for a full day of talks with Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper in June. The Sydney Morning Heraldreported that Abbott was in Canada’s capital with the intention of building a “conservative alliance among ‘like-minded’ countries” to try to dismantle global efforts on climate change. At a press conference that day, Harper applauded Abbott’s efforts to gut Australia’s carbon tax. “You’ve used this international platform to encourage our counterparts in the major economies and beyond to boost economic growth, to lower taxes when possible and to eliminate harmful ones, most notably the job-killing carbon tax,” Harper said. He added that “we shouldn’t clobber the economy” by pursuing an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax.

This is how Canada and Australia’s top leaders frame global warming. The two stress that they will always choose short-term economic gain first, disregarding scientific findings and even the interests of their political allies in the process.The countries’ abrupt shift on climate track conservatives’ rise to a majority in Canada in 2011 and in Australia last year.

In just a few years, conservatives have delivered blow after blow to the nations’ environmental progress. Canada withdrew from Kyoto in 2011 to avoid paying expensive penalties for failing to meet its promise to cut carbon 6 percent over 1990 levels (Canada’s emissions had risen by nearly 30 percent). Harper offered a less ambitious target instead, one that mirrored the U.S.’s commitment cut 17 percent of carbon pollution by 2020. But Canada will miss that target by a long shot, according to environmental groups who point to the aggressive development of the Alberta tar sands oil and expired clean energy subsidies. The commissioner of the Department of Environment and Sustainable Development noted in a recent report that Canada “does not have answers” to most of its environmental concerns. Australia, meanwhile, had the world’s highest emissions per capita in 2012topping even America’s. The government’s mediocre ambition of cutting emissions 5 percent by 2020 won’t happen either: It projects emissions to grow 2 percent a year, according to Inside Climate News.

The hostility toward environmental interests goes even deeper than energy policy. Harper has battled his own scientists, independent journalists, and environmental groups at odds with his views.

Climate scientists have reported that they are unable to speak to press about their own findings, feeling effectively “muzzled” by agencies that want to script talking points for them. In June, a government spokesperson explained that federal meteorologists must speak only “to their area of expertise,” which does not include climate change, according to a government spokesperson. Journalists sometimes face bullying, too. Environmental author Andrew Nikiforuk told ThinkProgress that “a government of thugs” slandered him and shut him out of events. But environmentalists may fare the worst. Seven environmental nonprofits in Canada have accused the Canada Revenue Agency of unfairly targeting them for audits. According to internal documents obtained by The GuardianCanada’s police and Security Intelligence Service identified nonviolent environmental protestslike people who oppose hydrofracking and the Keystone XL tar sands pipelineas “forms of attack” fitting the “number of cases where we think people might be inclined to acts of terrorism.”

Australia, for its part, has downplayed scientific findings. Abbott, along with his Environment Minister Greg Hunt, have rejected any link between extreme weather and global warming. Abbott, who once called the science of climate change “absolute crap,” said last year that UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres was “talking out of her hat” when saying that rising temperatures were driving more intense and frequent brushfires. “Climate change is real as I have often said and we should take strong action against it but these fires are certainly not a function of climate change,” he argued. Hunt defended his boss, citing Wikipedia as his proof. “I looked up what Wikipedia says for example, just to see what the rest of the world thought, and it opens up with the fact that bushfires in Australia are frequently occurring events during the hotter months of the year. Large areas of land are ravaged every year by bushfires. That’s the Australian experience.” He could have referred to his Department of Environment’s website instead, had it not earlier removed explicit references connecting climate change, heatwaves, and fires.

As the host of the G20 this November, Australia is in an awkward position. Australians have staged protests, while the U.S. and European leaders have pressured Abbott to put climate change on the agenda. He has refused. There’s no room for climate, he says, because the summit is about “economic security” and “the importance of private sector-led growth.”

What’s even more baffling about the rise of climate denial in both countries is that it’s apparently not the popular view in either country. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Australians and Canadians say climate change is a major threatas opposed to 40 percent of Americans who say the same.

Of course, the U.S. has reversed itself recently, too. President Barack Obama is making climate change a second-term priority, and has taken steps to cap carbon pollution from power plants. Such initiatives have put the U.S. on track to meet its pledge in Copenhagen in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. At the same time, China, which faces internal pressure over air pollution, is looking a lot more serious about slowing down pollution; it will begin a national cap-and-trade program in 2016. Even India is redoubling efforts on clean energy, to meet the power needs of its growing population. Half the world plans to put a price on carbon.

It’s true that neither Canada nor Australia has much responsibility for the amount of heat-trapping gasses in the atmosphere. The United States, China, and India make up a combined 49 percent of the world’s carbon emissions in 2013. Canada and Australia, by comparison, emit 3.5 percent of total carbon emissions combined. But the critical requirement for an international climate change agreementwhich negotiatiors will try to hammer out in Paris next yearis that every country big and small make a commitment to greenhouse gas targets. Fortunately, the negligence of two smaller, industrialized countries won’t be the fatal blow to negotiations in Paris. Still, by ducking their own responsibility, Australia and Canada are ignoring their “global conscience”to borrow a former prime minister’s words.

A decade ago, our close allies due north and across the Pacific rightly shamed us on our poor response to climate change. Now, they’ve lost the moral high ground. At the September United Nations Climate Summit, the largest gathering of world leaders yet on the issue, both Abbott and Harper were no-shows. The ministers sent in their place also arrived empty-handed; Australia’s foreign minister suggested that only larger countries should be responsible for more ambitious climate action. Canada Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq repeated an already-public commitment that Canada would copy Obama’s fuel economy regulations requiring 35.5 miles per gallon. Afterward, in an interview with the Globe and Mail, Aglukkaq spoke of the unfairness of a global treaty. “It’s not up to one country to solve the global greenhouse-gas emissions. I mean, seriously now, it’s just not fair. We all have to do our part, big or small countries.”

That’s true. If only her small country would do its part, too.

Battle between NSF and House science committee escalates: How did it get this bad? (Science)

HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE & TECHNOLOGY. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX) and Lamar Smith (R–TX)

Four times this past summer, in a spare room on the top floor of the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) outside of Washington, D.C., two congressional staffers spent hours poring over material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade. Each folder contained confidential information that included the initial application, reviewer comments on its merit, correspondence between program officers and principal investigators, and any other information that had helped NSF decide to fund the project.

The visits from the staffers, who work for the U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees NSF, were an unprecedented—and some say bizarre—intrusion into the much admired process that NSF has used for more than 60 years to award research grants. Unlike the experts who have made that system work so well, however, the congressional staffers weren’t really there to judge the scientific merits of each proposal. But that wasn’t their intent.

The Republican aides were looking for anything that Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), their boss as chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, could use to support his ongoing campaign to demonstrate how the $7 billion research agency is “wasting” taxpayer dollars on frivolous or low-priority projects, particularly in the social sciences. The Democratic staffers wanted to make sure that their boss, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), the panel’s senior Democrat, knew enough about each grant to rebut any criticism that Smith might levy against the research.

The peculiar exercise is part of a long-running and bitter battle that is pitting Smith and many of his panel’s Republican members against Johnson and the panel’s Democrats, NSF’s leadership, and the academic research community. There’s no end in sight: The visits are expected to continue into the fall, because NSF has acceded—after some resistance—to Smith’s request to make available information on an additional 30 awards. (Click here to see a spreadsheet of the requested grants.)

And the feud appears to be escalating. This week, Johnson wrote to Smith accusing him “of go[ing] after specific peer-reviewed grants simply because the Chairman personally does not believe them to be of high value.”  (Click here to see a PDF of Johnson’s letter and related correspondence from Smith and NSF.)

Smith, however, argues he is simply taking seriously Congress’s oversight responsibility. And he promises to stay the course: “Our efforts will continue until NSF agrees to only award grants that are in the national interest,” he wrote in a 2 October e-mail to ScienceInsider.

Ask, answered

How did things get to this point? For the past 18 months, Smith has waged a very public assault on NSF’s storied peer-review system. He’s issued a barrage of press releases that ridicule specific awards, championed legislation that would alter NSF’s peer-review system and slash funding for the social science programs that have supported much of the research he has questioned, and berated NSF officials for providing what he considers to be inadequate explanations of their funding decisions.

NSF has defended itself at congressional hearings, in personal meetings with committee staff and the chair, and with a stream of letters and e-mails. White House officials, university leaders, and Democratic legislators have joined the fray, roundly criticizing Smith for what they see as an attempt to impose his political judgment on a process that draws upon the wisdom of scientific experts. But that nearly universal condemnation hasn’t stopped Smith, who was first elected to Congress in 1986 and last year was named chairman of the science committee.

Smith describes his growing frustration with NSF in a 27 August letter to NSF Director France Córdova. (The committee made this and another letter available to ScienceInsider.) Smith notes that he first asked for materials relating to several grants in the spring of 2013, soon after Cora Marrett became acting NSF director following Subra Suresh’s resignation to become president of Carnegie Mellon University.

But after being rebuffed by Marrett, Smith writes that he “set aside the request … until a permanent NSF director was installed.” Córdova was confirmed by the Senate this past March, and on 7 April Smith wrote her a letter containing a list of 20 grants that he wanted to examine.

Smith’s request created a major dilemma for NSF. On the one hand, Córdova knew that Congress has the authority to obtain information as part of its job to oversee the actions of federal agencies, a right that federal courts have repeatedly upheld. On the other hand, NSF constantly assures scientists that every aspect of the peer-review process will remain confidential. (NSF’s website contains abstracts of projects it has funded, and the public can obtain a copy of a successful application. NSF does not share any information about, or even acknowledge the existence of, proposals that have been rejected.)

Smith wanted the material shipped to his offices on Capitol Hill. But Córdova made a counteroffer that the Texas legislator grudgingly accepted. First, the committee staff could see everything related to the grant except for the names of the reviewers, which would be redacted. Second, the material would remain at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Third, the staff could take copious notes, but none of the information could be photocopied or otherwise reproduced.

Judy Gan, head of public and legislators affairs at NSF, says the arrangement “preserves the integrity of the merit review process.” Even so, NSF officials have sent letters to the president of each university with a grant on Smith’s hit list, hoping to reassure them that everything is under control. NSF had no choice but to comply with the committee’s request, the letters explain. But NSF chose to tell each institution about the request “so that you may take appropriate action to inform your principal investigator and other potentially impacted parties about this production of documents.”

In many cases, NSF staffers had already sounded the alarm. Steven Folmar, a cultural anthropologist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, recalls getting a call from his program manager last month alerting him to the science committee’s pending review of his 2012 grant, titled “Oppression and Mental Health in Nepal.” The 3-year, $160,000 award supported him and two colleagues in a study of how social status affects the mental health of Nepalese adolescents. Folmar has worked on and off in Nepal since 1979, and he says the country’s economic and cultural divisions are so striking that it’s an ideal place to measure the impact of discrimination on those in the lowest caste.

Folmar says that his first reaction after hearing that his grant had been singled out was to hunker down and keep quiet. “I felt like somebody in a war movie, with bullets whizzing over my head.” But after further reflection, he thinks that speaking up may not be such a bad idea.

“I’d tell [Smith] that our work has a great deal of relevance to this country,” he says. Measuring how social inequality can cause depression and anxiety is valuable information for U.S. public health officials, too, he explains, noting that some Nepalese victims display symptoms akin to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The project was a bargain, he adds. The grant covered several months of field work by three senior researchers and their graduate students, he notes, “all for about $50,000 a year. That’s pretty cheap science.”

Parsing the list

The scientific community is scratching its head over how Smith compiled his list of questionable grants. Many have also been flagged by other legislators, notably Senator Tom Coburn (R–OK), who issue annual lists of what they consider to be wasteful government spending. Research grants often appear on such lists. Decades ago, former Senator William Proxmire (D–WI) created what he called the Golden Fleece Awards to poke fun at such supposed boondoggles. In fact, the practice has become so widespread that 3 years ago a coalition of scientific organizations created a counterpoint, called the Golden Goose Awards, which honors federally funded basic research that later turned out to have huge societal benefits.

But Proxmire’s awards were never meant to fundamentally alter NSF’s peer-review system, according to Folmar. “This sounds like Golden Fleece with a much more dangerous twist,” he says.

Smith so far has asked to take a look at 50 grants. (Note: ScienceInsider was able to identify just 47 unique awards.) And the list is hard to characterize. One grant goes back to 2005, and 13 appear to have expired. The total amount of money awarded is about $26 million. The smallest grant, awarded in 2005, is $19,684 for a doctoral dissertation on “culture, change & chronic stress in lowland Bolivia.” The largest, for $5.65 million, is for a project that aims to use innovative education methods to educate Arctic communities about climate change and related issues.

More than half of the grants appear to involve work outside the United States. The largest number—29—were funded through NSF’s social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences directorate. Of those, 21 came from SBE’s behavioral and cognitive sciences division, including a number of grants in archaeology and anthropology. But six of NSF’s seven directorates also funded grants on Smith’s hit list.

What the science committee expects to learn from its investigation is a burning question from scientists. A committee representative declined to answer repeated queries about the criteria used to select the grants. In his written statement to ScienceInsider, Smith said only that “there are many grants that no taxpayer would consider in the national interest, or worthy of how their hard-earned dollars should be spent. … The public deserves an explanation for why the NSF has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on musicals about climate change, bicycle designs, and a video game that allows users to relive prom night.”

Mont Hubbard is the “bicycle designs” grantee on Smith’s intended list of shame. An emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Davis, Hubbard received $300,000 in 2009 to study the feedback system that allows humans to control a vehicle, in this case a bicycle. And Hubbard has a ready answer to Smith’s question about how his research could possibly serve the national interest.

“It’s easy to learn to ride a bicycle, but it’s hard to explain how we do it,” Hubbard says. His broader research into operator control of mechanical systems has applications across many areas, he explains. Substitute “pilot” for “rider” and “airplane” for “bicycle,” he says, and it’s clear that helping humans do a better job of manipulating machines has the potential to greatly improve performance, reduce safety risks, and promote economic growth.

Present stalemate

What’s next? So far, neither side has shown any signs of backing down. In his 27 August letter to Córdova, Smith declares that “the current review work is 5% complete, which implies that this oversight initiative will span at least 12 months.” He accuses her of reneging on a promise to provide the committee with everything it requested and speculates that she “may be banking on a cumbersome, time-consuming federal court process” to back her up. That approach puts NSF “in an indefensible position,” he says, predicting that such tactics will ultimately fail and that NSF will be forced to give in to his demands.

In her reply 2 weeks later, Córdova denies withholding any pertinent information. “To the contrary,” she writes, “NSF has provided the Committee full and complete access to our files for each of the grants of interest.” She disagrees with his assertion that “NSF does not trust the Committee.” But she acknowledges that “we are balancing this access with the need to preserve the trust of the scientific community, whose participation in the merit review process occurs in a confidential environment.”

With such strong rhetoric on both sides, it’s hard to see a quick or quiet ending to this confrontation. Johnson certainly seems prepared to continue defending NSF and, in particular, its funding of the social sciences. “This campaign against NSF’s merit-review system is indefensible absent some compelling explanation of what you are trying to accomplish,” she tells Smith in her 30 September letter. “If your ultimate goal is to cut funding for social and behavioral sciences …I respect your right to try to make that case as Chairman. But please do not compromise the integrity of NSF’s merit review system as part of this campaign.”

WIth reporting by David Shultz.

Correction 3 October, 8:05 a.m.: Steven Folmar studies how social inequality can contribute to, not treat, depression.