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Friday, June 29, 2007

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NASA Head Sorry For Global Warming Doubts

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do we really need idiots like this running what should be the premier scientific organization in the world?

NASA Head Sorry For Global Warming Doubts
Michael Griffin Apologizes To Employees For Airing Personal Views During Radio Interview
LOS ANGELES , June 6, 2007

(CBS/AP) The head of NASA told scientists and engineers that he regrets airing his personal views about global warming during a recent radio interview, according to a video of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press.

NASA administrator Michael Griffin said in the closed-door meeting Monday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena that "unfortunately, this is an issue which has become far more political than technical and it would have been well for me to have stayed out of it."

"All I can really do is apologize to all you guys ... I feel badly that I caused this amount of controversy over something like this," he said.

Griffin made headlines last week when he told a National Public Radio interviewer he wasn't sure global warming was a problem.

"I have no doubt that ... a trend of global warming exists," Griffin said on NPR. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

Griffin added: "I guess I would ask which human beings, where and when, are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now, is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

The radio interview angered some climate scientists, who called his remarks ignorant.

An international panel this year predicted that uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions could drive up global temperatures and trigger heat waves, devastating droughts and super storms. Observations by NASA satellites show evidence of rapidly melting glaciers and shrinking of critical marine plant life due to warmer seas.

Griffin reiterated that NASA's job was to provide scientific data on global warming and leave it up to policy makers to decide what to do with it.

Griffin told JPL workers he tried to separate his opinions during the NPR interview, but that it got "lost in the shuffle."

"Doing media interviews is an art. Their goal is usually to generate controversy because it sells interviews and papers and my goal is usually to avoid controversy," he said.

© MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Immigration Deal Survives GOP Threat

The topic of immigration is one that is near and dear to my heart. I have VERY strong feelings about who should be allowed into the United States of America. I feel that if you're intention is to be a contributing member of society; whether that's picking cantaloupes in Rocky Ford or designing the next great cell phone; I say welcome. The U.S. Senate in all it's wisdom has once again taken up the immigration debate. With John Cornyn (R-TX) leading the charge, you know that there's something racist, bigoted, or one sided about the proposal. Democrats in the Senate were able to block the bill yesterday by the narrowest of margins. See the article below.

Immigration Deal Survives GOP Threat
Senate Turns Back Republican Proposal To Bar Felons From Legalization
WASHINGTON, June 6, 2007

(AP) A bipartisan immigration bill narrowly survived a potentially fatal challenge on Wednesday when the Senate turned back a Republican bid to limit the illegal immigrants who could gain lawful status.

The close vote on a proposal by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to bar felons — including those court-ordered to be deported — from legalization reflected the delicate position of the contentious immigration bill, which remains under threat from the right and the left.

The vote was 51-46 against the amendment. Democrats succeeded in sucking support from Cornyn's proposal by winning adoption of a rival version that would bar a more limited set of criminals, including certain gang members and sex offenders, from gaining legalization. The Senate backed that amendment, 66-32.

Cornyn had painted his effort as a "defining issue" for any presidential candidate — a sign of the degree to which the contentious debate is bleeding over into the GOP campaign fray.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., alone among his party's presidential aspirants in backing the immigration measure, opposed Cornyn's bid and backed the Democratic alternative offered by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

McCain was joined in opposing the amendment by the Senate's four Democratic presidential hopefuls, Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, and Barack Obama of Illinois.

After his defeat, Cornyn said those who voted against the proposal "failed to take an opportunity to help restore public confidence that we're actually serious about passing an immigration law that could actually work." Many Americans will conclude instead that the bill's enforcement provisions will not be rigorously enforced, a problem that deeply undermined a 1986 immigration overhaul, he added.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called Cornyn's measure "a stealth, Trojan horse amendment to kill the bill."

The underlying bill would legalize an estimated 12 million unlawful immigrants, tighten border security and institute new enforcement measures to prevent employers from hiring illegal workers. Its proponents were laboring to push through the compromise under new time constraints imposed by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who plans to force a test-vote as early as Thursday morning to end debate on it and move on to other matters.

Senators in both parties implored Reid not to yank the measure, as he has threatened to do if the test vote fails.

"I think it's safe to say that the United States Senate would be the laughingstock of the country if — after all of the hyperbole and all of the publicity and all of the proposals and objections — we're not able to finish this bill," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., a framer.

Reid, who has charged that some Republicans are trying to stall or kill the measure, began the day with a plea for swift progress on immigration. He resorted to quoting a passage from Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat" to describe the depth of the dilemma the issue poses for lawmakers: "This mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we cannot pick it up at all," the Democratic leader rhymed, adding, "Some would say that is what we have in the Senate today."

Still, lawmakers in both parties said they were making headway in fighting off damaging amendments and moving the measure closer to passage.

"We have made very important and significant progress," Kennedy said.

More votes were expected Wednesday on key proposed changes, including a Democratic effort to alter the controversial new temporary guest worker program created by the bill. Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico was seeking to allow workers to come for six consecutive years. The bill requires most guest workers to go home for a year between each of three two-year stints.

Republicans were seeking to change the "Z visa" program whereby illegal immigrants could gain lawful status. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., proposed requiring them to buy high-deductible health plans to be eligible for visas, while Cornyn would allow the information illegal immigrants provided in their visa applications to be used in removal proceedings should their application be denied.

Still looming were several Democratic attempts to add family preferences to the measure.

© MMVII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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JFK Moon Speech at Rice University

Below you will find the text of President John F. Kennedy's speech about going to the moon. It's a passionate speech, full of hope and optimism. Now change where he says "moon" or "space" to "global warming" and "climate change." How fitting these words could be today.


TEXT OF PRESIDENT JOHN KENNEDY'S RICE STADIUM MOON SPEECH

President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief.

I am delighted to be here and I'm particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a State noted for strength, and we stand in need of all all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation¹s own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man¹s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man's history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where the F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.

Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were "made in the United States of America" and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.

The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the the 40-yard lines.

Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs.

We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.

To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year¹s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year--a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority--even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us.

But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out--then we must be bold.

I'm the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [laughter]

However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Thank you.

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Veto clash likely on budget bills

Veto clash likely on budget bills

House lawmakers boost clean energy, veterans funding

Updated: 3:50 p.m. ET June 6, 2007

WASHINGTON - Democrats gave big increases to programs aimed at making cars and buildings more energy efficient and boosting research and development of alternative energy sources in legislation approved Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee.

At the same time, the panel rejected the Bush administration's plans to develop a new, sturdier nuclear warhead. The lawmakers said it would send the wrong signal to the world on nuclear nonproliferation and should not be pursued before a comprehensive strategy on future nuclear weapons needs is developed. Overall, the bill would cut $632 million from President Bush's request for nuclear weapons programs.

The panel also approved separate legislation providing a 13 percent increase over current-year funding for veterans health care programs. That bill, also funding construction at military bases, faces a White House veto threat for exceeding Bush's budget request by $4 billion.

Bipartisan increases
But House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., dismissed Bush's veto threat over politically popular increases for veterans programs as "not credible," and Republicans joined Democrats in approving the veterans funding measure by a 56-0 vote.

The panel's support for the Democrat-drafted Energy Department budget was equally bipartisan, even though the measure - which also funds Army Corps of Engineers water projects - exceeds Bush's request by more than $1 billion.

Much of that money would go to boosting clean energy technologies such as research into solar, geothermal and hydropower energy, as well as alternative fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Research into next generation automobiles designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions would receive a 25 percent hike over current levels.

The increases for veterans continue a trend in which Democrats have used every opportunity, including the recently enacted Iraq war funding bill, to add to the rapidly rising budget for veterans medical treatment.

Wednesday's panel session was not devoid of controversy, however, as lawmakers sided with utilities to keep in effect a new law aimed at easing construction of new transmission lines. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. and Frank Wolf, R-Va., said the law gives utilities too much power to build lines over objections from landowners and state and local governments.

But Hinchey and Wolf ended up on the losing end of a 35-30 vote in which some liberal Democrats from urban areas needing more electricity sided with GOP allies of electric companies.

Earmark controversy
Meanwhile, Obey sought to quell a controversy over so-called earmarks - homestate projects that lawmakers insert into spending legislation. Obey recently ignited a firestorm by announcing Democrats would sidestep earmark reforms passed in January that require lawmakers sponsoring parochial projects to be identified in documents that accompany spending bills.

Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats plan to add requests for earmarks such as dams, military bases and community grants to spending measures during closed-door House-Senate negotiations in the fall. Opponents contended the move runs counter to promises to make Congress' pork barrel ways more transparent.

Obey said Wednesday he will make rosters of earmarks available well before final votes in the fall so lawmakers and budget watchdog groups would have ample time to review them.

"Members will be able to write this committee if they have any objection to an earmark the conference committee is putting in, and the sponsor of that earmark will have an opportunity to respond to any criticism," Obey said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Gays concerned by surgeon general nominee

Gays concerned by surgeon general nominee

Cite worries Holsinger rejects science and promotes ideology

Updated: 4:51 p.m. ET June 6, 2007

LEXINGTON, Kentucky - President George W. Bush's nominee to be the top health official in the United States has come under fire from gay rights groups for, among other things, voting to expel a lesbian pastor from the United Methodist Church and writing in 1991 that gay sex is unnatural and unhealthy.

The surgeon general nominee, Kentucky cardiologist Dr. James Holsinger, also helped found a Methodist congregation that, according to gay rights activists, believes homosexuality is a matter of choice and can be "cured."

"He has a pretty clear bias against gays and lesbians," said Christina Gilgor, director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, a gay rights group. "This ideology flies in the face of current scientific medical studies. That makes me uneasy that he rejects science and promotes ideology."

Theological versus medical views
Holsinger, 68, has declined all interview requests, and the White House had no immediate comment Wednesday.

Holsinger served as Kentucky's health secretary and chancellor of the University of Kentucky's medical center. He taught at several medical schools and spent more than three decades in the Army Reserve, retiring in 1993 as a major general.

His supporters, including fellow doctors, faculty members and state officials, said he would never let his theological views affect his medical ones.

"Jim is able, as most of us are in medicine, to separate feelings that we have from our responsibility in taking care of patients," said Douglas Scutchfield, a professor of public health at the University of Kentucky.

In announcing Holsinger as his choice for America's top doctor May 24, Bush said the physician will focus on educating the public about childhood obesity.

The previous surgeon general was Dr. Richard Carmona, whose term was allowed to expire last summer. Carmona issued an unprecedented report condemning secondhand smoke.

Opposing actions
Holsinger received his bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky, master's degrees from the University of South Carolina and Asbury Theological Seminary and a doctorate and medical degree from Duke University.

Scutchfield said Holsinger has advocated expanded stem cell research, in opposition to many conservatives, and also has shown political courage in this tobacco-producing state by supporting higher cigarette taxes to curb teen smoking.

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher commended Holsinger for working to fight obesity and other health problems in this Appalachian mountains state, which ranks near the bottom in many categories. "He helped get the ball rolling and focusing on healthy lifestyles," Fletcher said.

As president of the Methodist Church's national Judicial Council, Holsinger voted last year to support a pastor who blocked a gay man from joining a congregation. In 2004, he voted to expel a lesbian from the clergy. The majority of the panel voted to keep the lesbian associate pastor in place, citing questions about whether she had openly declared her homosexuality, but Holsinger dissented.

Unnatural sex
Sixteen years ago, he wrote a paper for the church in which he likened the reproductive organs to male and female "pipe fittings" and argued that homosexuality is therefore biologically unnatural.

"When the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur," Holsinger wrote, citing studies showing higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases among gay men and the risk of injury from anal sex.

Holsinger wrote the paper at a time when the church was one of numerous denominations considering a more open stance on allowing practicing homosexuals to join. It took that step in 1992, saying gays are of "sacred worth" who should be welcomed. Practicing homosexuals are still prohibited from serving in the clergy.

Gilgor, the gay rights activist, called the paper "one twisted piece of work."

As for the congregation Holsinger helped establish, Hope Springs Community Church, the Rev. David Calhoun told the Lexington Herald-Leader last week that the Lexington church helps some gay members to "walk out of that lifestyle."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is opposing the nomination along with the Human Rights Campaign and other local and national groups, calls such a practice "nothing short of torture" for gays.

Phyllis Nash, who worked under Holsinger for nine years as vice chancellor at the medical center, said the views he took in church appear at odds with his professional actions.

She recalled a women's health conference that Holsinger helped organize in 2002 that included a session on lesbian health. Despite complaints from some lawmakers, Holsinger insisted the session go forward, she said.

"His reaction in support could not have been any stronger," Nash said. "He said, as health care providers, we have to be prepared to meet the health needs of anyone who walks into the door."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Denial

Monday, June 11, 2007

Denial (noun) 1 an act of declaring something to be untrue. 2 Psychol. a subconscious defense mechanism where a person does not or cannot acknowledge something distressing. 3 a refusal, especially to grant, allow, accept, or acknowledge something to someone.

I think it's high time that GWB changed his moniker from the "Decider" to the "Denier." For as you can see from the definition, Bush's picture would fit nicely here. Denial about what exactly? Denial about the fact that virtually every scientist on Earth is warning about global warming and radical climate change? Denial in the fact that Iraq has turned into a quagmire from which the U.S. has no hope of extricating itself? Denial in the fact that his lot is already cast in the eyes of history as the worst president in the nation's history? Denial in his turning the democracy of the United States into a fascist state, whereby the corporations have all the power and the people none? The answer to every single one of these questions, and myriad more, is YES!

Yes, Bush is in denial about the environment and global warming. No shocker there. However, no administration has done more in its tenure to damage the environment more in favor of corporate profits. The laughable "Clear Skies Initiative" (where polluters are asked not to emit mercury, SOX, NOX and COX) is just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg. I'm sure that every one of these companies, where profit is the bottom line, is going to line right up to voluntarily spend millions of dollars on pollution mitigation technologies. Jeez.

The appointment of radical corrupt corporatists has certainly not helped the natural world. The most loathsome of these demon spawn is Gale Norton, former Secretary of the Interior. Under her watch millions of acres of preserved forests were opened to mining, clear-cutting and oil exploration. Budgets for bureaus and departments tasked with protection and mitigation were slashed. In fact Freddy Krugger on PCP would have envied Norton's haphazard slashing technique. What qualified this most corrupt of officials for the position to which Bush appointed her? She was a defender of nature-loving environmentalists everywhere, right? Ummm, no. She was nothing more that an attorney and mouthpiece for Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, a radical organization that actually argued some companies had the right to pollute. From J. Steven Griles to Phillip Cooney, the litany of industry insiders seems endless.

Bush and his cadre of neo -fascist war-mongers are still in deep denial about the mess in Iraq. This denial so permeates the Republican Party that John McCain is still spouting the "we have to fight 'em over there, so we don't have to fight 'em here" nonsense. Dick Cheney is still running off at the mouth about how Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. What has to happen for these idiots to wake up and see the situation for what it actually is?

Every right- thinking (right meaning correct) American knows that our involvement in Iraq has accomplished one thing: America is in more danger now that pre-9/11. This group of hawks cannot, or does not wish to, see the bitter ugly truth: Iraq is an unmitigated failure. At this point in the sad, and all too long, history of this event the only thing the U.S. can do is bring all the troops home. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second we stay involved in this mess is another day, minute, and second where America's fighting men and women are in harms way. At this point 3,512 service personnel have been killed, and tens of thousands more injured. The blood of every single wounded and killed soldier, sailor, airmen, and marine is on the hands of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. Unfortunately, the blood of the hundreds of thousands of murdered Iraqis is on the hands of America as a whole, because we allowed it to happen in the first place.

As I'm sure most everyone has heard about Jimmy Carter's comments regarding Bush's record. I'm also sure everyone heard the White House's bloated and blithering response: "Jimmy Carter is irrelevant." Are they serious? This man was President of the United States (elected without deception or cheating); helped to ensure countless free elections in countries from Albania to Zaire; tireless force behind Habitat for Humanity and the thousands of homes built world-wide.; and not to mention winner of the Noble Peace Prize, which puts him among people like Nelson Mandela, Teddy Roosevelt, and Aung San Suu Kyi. What is Bush's legacy? Is it a country so deep in debt to foreign nations that it is going to take generations to repair the damage? Is it a country full of imbeciles because we are only teaching to satisfy tests and not to fire imaginations? Is it a country where corporate regulation has been so curtailed that corporations now run virtually every aspect of American life, unchallenged and unchecked?

Because of Bush's denial, corporations are now allowed to run roughshod over the American public. Of course this begins, but not ends, with the Bankruptcy Reform Act. This certainly was a reform, but not for the people of the United States. This reform was a windfall for credit card companies and large corporations. This act makes it all but impossible for disenfranchised peoples to begin their lives anew.

Bush's denial has led to unprecedented corporate take-overs. The Baby Bells are now being reconstituted in the mega-Bells once again; cable companies are now in virtual complete control of almost all programming on television and radio. Furthermore, Bush's cadre of whackos has almost succeeded in getting rid of PBS and NPR. Corporations will continue their power grab until the people say no!

It is high time that we the people hold these criminals accountable for their denials and their actions. To quote a line from V for Vendetta, "People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people." If we assemble en mass, unify, and demand; they will have no choice but to listen. These cravens and cowards are not going to change their behavior until we change it for them! As my mom used to say when I was a kid "It's time for an attitude adjustment."

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Climate challenge bigger than moon shot: PG&E CEO

Climate challenge bigger than moon shot: PG&E CEO

Wed Jun 6, 2007 5:56PM EDT

By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The chief executive of California's largest electric utility said cutting global warming greenhouse gases will take more effort than the United States put into landing a man on the moon in the 1960s.

Peter Darbee, chief executive of PG&E Corp. (PCG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, said beating global warming is also more important than the moon landing in 1969, a challenge President John F. Kennedy put forth in 1961.

"When we set out the target to go to the moon, we only needed the cooperation and collaboration of a portion of the people of the United States," Darbee said in an interview this week with Reuters.

"What the challenge of global warming will require is an unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration and alignment of mankind. The reality is the challenge for mankind is much greater than putting a man on the moon."

Darbee cites Dick Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and a PG&E director, in saying stopping global warming is the "greatest challenge that has ever faced mankind."

It's hard to remember that not long ago energy executives did not talk much about global warming, said Darbee, 54, who in January 2005 became CEO of PG&E, a $34 billion company serving 15 million customers in northern and central California.

"After I became CEO, I asked where we were on climate change," said Darbee, who was promoted from chief financial officer at PG&E.

"The answer was that PG&E did not have a view. So we started a process of scientific inquiry. We started to develop some strong conclusions and points of view.

"About a year-and-a-half ago, they came up with three conclusions, said Darbee, "The earth is warming. Mankind is responsible. The need for action is now.

"Today, that's practically boring. Those sets of conclusions. People say, 'No kidding.'"

At energy, environmental and business conferences around the United States this year, people often have spoken of a "tipping point" when it seemed that most of the world agreed global warming was a critical issue that demanded immediate attention.

Darbee said the "tipping point" is not identified by a single event or day, but was a slow building of concern until sometime last year when "the increased concern of global warming became exponential."

Part of that tipping point came in January when PG&E was among 10 major U.S. corporations including General Electric (GE.N: Quote, Profile, Research and BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research (BP.N: Quote, Profile, Research to form the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.

"Washington was used to hearing from environmental groups, Darbee said. "After some time, that isn't news. But when companies and CEOs who are viewed as very pragmatic and financially driven say this is such a problem, I think what happened is the politicians asked themselves if they were behind."

© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of company.

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A Convenient Untruth

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Here is a great article from the second Green Issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Read and be disgusted.

A Convenient Untruth
For the obligatory "opposing view" on climate change, the media often turn toMyron Ebell, policy analyst, sound-bite artist, and oil-industry mouthpiece. While mainstream experts see global warming as a major crisis, the hotter it gets, the better Ebell likes it.
by Michael Shnayerson May 2007

Al Gore says global-warming skeptics are a group diminishing almost as rapidly as the mountain glaciers.

Myron Ebell begs to differ.

Hurricanes, heat waves, flooding, and droughts—sure, they've stirred some fears. And some corporate allies that used to mock global warming—such as Detroit's Big Three automakers and oil giant Texaco—have, like the glaciers, melted away from the fight. But, for the hardest of the hard core, these are glorious days.

Like holdouts in the Alamo, the last of the skeptics plug away at the thousands of mainstream scientists now arrayed against them. They take potshots at the scores of studies that say global warming is here, aiming for small incongruities. And they bridle when asked if they take money, as nearly all do, from ExxonMobil.

Many of the skeptics are curmudgeons: old, bald, and bitter. But not Myron Ebell. Tall, slim, and youthful at 53, his blond hair swept back from a handsome face set off by serious glasses, Ebell is one of that rare breed, an elegant nerd. On television, facing interrogation by moderators who clearly feel he should be tarred and feathered for his views, he stays cool and fires back with withering zingers. In the recent surprise hit movie Thank You for Smoking, based on Christopher Buckley's novel, actor Aaron Eckhardt played a tobacco lobbyist who jokes about being a merchant of death and gleefully outdebates all comers. Ebell could easily star in the sequel, Thank You for Warming.

Ebell is a public-policy wonk—not, he hastens to clarify, a lobbyist for the energy industry, as many of his fellow skeptics are, or a scientist whose research is underwritten by the energy industry, or a politician who takes contributions from the energy industry. He lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C., where he and his wife are raising four children, ranging in age from an 11-year-old son to a 21-year-old daughter, all of whom, Ebell says proudly, take a skeptical view of global warming. He goes to work at a think tank on Connecticut Avenue called the Competitive Enterprise Institute (C.E.I.), where his office is modest, but not his influence.

Every day, journalists around the world call C.E.I. for its take on the latest global-warming studies, and Ebell, or one of his colleagues who also deal with the press—Marlo Lewis, Iain Murray, and Christopher Horner—happily obliges. The journalists like to air all views—"on the one hand, on the other"—so they plug in Ebell's latest retorts, giving them equal weight with new scientific findings. Gore is right in one sense: almost no scientist doubts that global warming is here, that man-made greenhouse gases are to blame, or that if we don't cut back on those gases fairly soon we'll be in a heap of trouble. But as the "other hand" in all those news stories, Ebell and his quotable cohorts sustain the impression that a scientific debate is still raging. The more studies that confirm global warming, the more ink Ebell gets. Journalist Ross Gelbspan, a longtime skeptic-tracker, says that's how the skeptics operate. With those doubts neatly planted in the press, the public shrugs, politicians push the problem off to another day, and ExxonMobil parries new fossil-fuel regulations, earning more windfall profits in exchange for a pittance to the skeptics and their work.

Like its ideological soulmates, C.E.I. has taken money—a considerable amount—from ExxonMobil. Ebell says that's irrelevant. "We're not beholden to our donors, because we don't say, 'If you give us this money, we'll do this project,'" he explains, tilting back nonchalantly in a C.E.I. conference-room chair. "I can't even quite tell you who supports us on global warming." In fact, Ebell could go to the ExxonMobil Web site and see that in 2005 the oil giant gave C.E.I. $270,000, a not inconsiderable portion of the institute's $3.7 million budget, and that between 1998 and 2005 ExxonMobil gave it more than $2 million. He could also ask one of his colleagues and learn that C.E.I. gets money from the American Petroleum Institute, various pharmaceutical companies (Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly), and William A. Dunn of Dunn Capital Management. But he says he's never done that. Since its founding, 23 years ago, by free marketer Fred Smith as an all-purpose bullhorn against government regulations, C.E.I. has simply tinkered with issues it chooses—from higher mileage standards in cars (bad) to the Endangered Species Act (worse)—trying to affect public policy and hoping donors come along for the ride.

That may be how C.E.I. sees it. To ExxonMobil, though, C.E.I. has been one of the brightest stars in its constellation of climate skeptics. Other oil companies fund global-warming-skeptic think tanks through the American Petroleum Institute, and various coal interests weigh in, too. But, for the skeptics, ExxonMobil is Big Daddy.

From 1998 to 2005, ExxonMobil spent a reported $16 million funding climate studies at some three dozen institutes. The recipients range from the well-known right-wing clearinghouse American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research ($240,000 from ExxonMobil in 2005) to the obscure Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow ($90,000 in 2005), bookends to a Who's Who of skeptics. None of these groups has any standing in mainstream climate science. Their fellows and scholars crank out policy papers that purport to disprove the latest findings about global warming and only rarely publish studies in peer-reviewed technical scientific journals. Instead, the institutes publish the papers themselves or get sympathetic newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times to run them as op-ed pieces. From there, the papers are taken up by a handful of lawmakers—such as Oklahoma Republican senator James Inhofe and Texas Republican congressman Joe Barton, who deride global warming as an alarmist hoax—and get disseminated on the Internet like viral advertising. It's an all too effective approach.

The stars, as in any constellation, are an eclectic bunch. They include fringe scientists such as David Legates and Patrick Michaels, of the George C. Marshall Institute ($115,000 from ExxonMobil in 2005), a Washington-based public-policy think tank; economists like Kyoto Protocol–basher Margo Thorning, of the American Council for Capital Formation ($360,000 from ExxonMobil in 2005); and historical-climate theorists such as the Battling Idsos—father Sherwood, sons Craig and Keith—of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change ($25,000 from ExxonMobil in 2005), who say high levels of CO2 in the prehistoric era led to lush plant life and better times for all. The skeptics appear on one another's panels, defend one another's work, and give the public the sense that mainstream scientists are nothing more than so many Chicken Littles. The case for global warming has grown all but irrefutable, yet the skeptics have enjoyed enormous influence, for the audience that matters most to them occupies the White House. Eagerly, their papers have been snatched up by the Bush administration as rationales for all manner of public policy, from striking down the Kyoto Protocol to blocking any cap on carbon dioxide emissions.

C.E.I. has become the best known of these global-warming skeptics not just because Ebell is as quotable as he is. Like the hero of Thank You for Smoking, he courts notoriety. He first made the news a few years ago when a Bush White House senior official named Phil Cooney was caught watering down language on global warming in a U.S. government report issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell, as an e-mail later showed, advised the once and future oil-industry flack on how to spin the embarrassment. Not long after, Ebell stirred the wrath of the British Parliament by declaring in a BBC radio interview that the U.K.'s chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, had made a "ridiculous claim" on global warming despite knowing "nothing about climate science." The House of Commons proposed a motion to censure Ebell. (The motion never passed, Ebell says wistfully.) Last year, C.E.I. ran a public-service commercial on television about carbon dioxide so cheeky it verged on parody. "They call it pollution," ran the tagline about CO2. "We call it life." Ebell was delighted at the howls it provoked.

There is, however, one key difference between Ebell and his doppelgänger in Chris Buckley's novel. The tobacco lobbyist of the novel and upcoming TV series is a cynic: he knows he's blowing smoke. Ebell actually seems to believe what he's saying. Which is remarkable, really, because every one of his arguments, put to scrutiny by a murderer's row of the country's top climate scientists, seems to fall apart.

Like any effective debater, Ebell tends to start by ceding a point or two. It disarms the opposition. "Everyone knows CO2 is a greenhouse gas," he says blithely. "All things being equal, if you add CO2 to the atmosphere, you'll get a little warming."

Actually, that's a revision of what Ebell's fellow contrarians believed in the early 1990s. They used to say that all the CO2 and other greenhouse gases put into the air by man since the start of the industrial age had caused no warming at all. They said this because that was what satellite readings suggested if you read them a certain way and if you decided the satellites were right and all temperature readings taken on the surface of the earth were wrong. Unfortunately for the skeptics, it was the satellite readings that turned out to be wrong. So the skeptics retreated to a view that Ebell still holds. "There has been a little bit of warming," as he puts it, "but it's been very modest and well within the range for natural variability, and whether it's caused by human beings or not, it's nothing to worry about."

This view, too, needs revision, though Ebell isn't surrendering that ground quite yet. Precisely to test the "range for natural variability," climatologist Michael Mann and colleagues charted temperatures going back 1,000 years. They did this by studying the natural records of climate in tree rings, ice cores from glaciers, and coral reefs. The temperature, they found, made modest zigs and zags until the late 19th century—a range of natural variability just as the skeptics claimed. But once the industrial age got under way there was a dramatic rise in global temperatures not seen in the past 1,000 years, concurrent with CO2 concentrations rising from their pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million to their current level of 380 parts per million. Now the climbing lines of the graph shot up like a hockey stick laid on its side. Hence the hockey-stick debate.

Ebell and his fellow skeptics have poured no end of bile on Mann and his hockey stick—because if Mann's findings are true, the skeptics have no case. The graph is global warming proved. The skeptics say the evidence is shaky for the earliest centuries of Mann's 1,000-year period. So the hockey stick, they declare, is wrong.

To settle the debate, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed Mann's hockey-stick data and methodology last year, along with similar studies. The N.A.S. concluded that Mann's evidence for the years from 1600 to the present was very solid indeed. It said the evidence for the years from 1000 to 1600 was necessarily less solid—fewer tree rings and ice cores to go by—but, overall, Mann's evidence did suggest that the 20th century was warmer than any of those six centuries, too.

"Which is exactly what we said in our original report," observes Mann, now a professor at Pennsylvania State University. The headline in Mann's report had noted the "limitations and caveats" of the evidence, given how far back it went. "The principle of caution is what scientists go by," Mann says. Ebell and the skeptics had pounced on those caveats to conclude that Mann didn't know what he was talking about. "It's not surprising coming from C.E.I.," Mann adds. "I've never seen any evidence that they have any interest in being intellectually honest."

"The complaint about the hockey stick has been that the people who did the research didn't know what they were doing," Ebell maintains. "The methodology they used was not adequate to properly evaluate the data that they had." (The n.a.s. specifically rejected that charge in their report.)

In the documentary-film version of An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore stands beside an elongated hockey stick—a graph that goes back not just 1,000 years but 650,000 years. The story it tells is the same. Ebell says the Gore chart is not just inaccurate but misleading in a profound way because it implies that CO2 levels have never been higher than they are now. "Everybody knows it's been higher than that," Ebell says of CO2 in the past, "just more than 650,000 years ago, which is when Gore started counting."

It's a canny point. If earth survived prehistoric periods of higher CO2, when man and industry had nothing to do with it, why are we worrying about CO2 now?

"Yeah, CO2 was higher in the early Cretaceous period," Mann explains. "It probably exceeded 1,000 parts per million. And, yes, temperatures were almost certainly higher then, too. But nature produced these changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations—from volcanic activity and plate tectonics that released gases trapped in the solid earth—on timescales of tens of millions of years! Eco-systems and species were thus able to adapt," Mann says. "Now we're talking about dramatic changes in the period of a century or so. There's no evidence that nature knows how to adapt so quickly."

Ebell is unfazed by such seemingly authoritative talk. O.K., he says: if CO2 levels have indeed gone up a third in the last hundred years, as Gore's hockey-stick chart indicates, and global temperature is supposed to follow, why haven't we seen a commensurate rise in temperature?
"That's pure nonsense," Mann says. "As we increase CO2 levels, we are changing the boundary conditions, if you will, too rapidly for the climate to be in equilibrium while we do this. So the climate is always trying to catch up to what we've done." The correlation between CO2 and temperature, he says, has been studied very well in physics and chemistry. "Our best estimates indicate that the increase in CO2 from pre-industrial levels to the present has already produced roughly 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit of warming in global temperatures."

Ebell is ready for that. What if the earth has actually embarked on a natural cooling phase—a new Little Ice Age—and the CO2 we're putting out there is offsetting it? After all, says Ebell, "we just came out of a Little Ice Age in the middle of the 19th century. And the Little Ice Age was a time of great trial for human civilization."

"Another specious argument," Mann says. First, he says, the so-called Little Ice Age wasn't a major event in terms of impact on global temperature: "While Europe cooled, the tropical Pacific was in an unusually warm state. So you can't just broad-brush the global temperature changes in this way. Models and paleoclimate data both suggest that the global cooling during the Little Ice Age was modest, much smaller than the global warming of the past century." The skeptics say that natural changes, such as a slight reduction in solar intensity, made the Little Ice Age happen. Ebell's suggestion is that that could be happening again. Mann observes that there's no evidence of this. Even if solar variations have had some modest effect on climate today, he adds, they would be more than offset by greenhouse-gas warming. Given the huge and growing volume of gases mankind is generating, says Mann, such natural factors would be dwarfed.

As indeed they are. Every year now, with no discernible slowing from "natural variations" such as solar intensity and volcanic activity, global mean temperatures rise. Twenty-one of the 22 hottest years on record have occurred in the last 25 years. The only reason temperatures rise, agrees virtually every climate scientist not funded by ExxonMobil, is the increasing prevalence of man-made greenhouse gases.

As these hot years accumulate, a skeptic of less determination might throw in the towel—after mopping his brow with it—but not Ebell. He says that one of the three official records of those surface temperatures—the one kept by nasa—is "cooked," because the agency's weather stations are often set too close to "urban heat islands," which read disproportionately high, and that other stations fail to cover large rural areas. The other two records show that 2005 wasn't as warm as 1998. That, Ebell says, is more evidence we're at the start of a cooling period.

Unfortunately for this novel theory, 2006 has just been declared the hottest year on record in the United States. "The United States is not the world," Ebell says. "It's a very small part of the world."

A lot of very strange weather appears to be occurring as a result of those rising temperatures. Global warming, scientists say, evaporates moisture from wet land, leading to more precipitation. It sucks up what little moisture resides in dry land, producing more droughts. As global warming accelerates, they say, the climates of both kinds of terrain will grow more extreme.

Ebell says no. "This is crazy," he declares. "Who could possibly believe that? You can't predict regional climate change." He claims that the federally funded U.S. National Assessment of Climate Change proved this. "They had two climate models for the precipitation impact of global warming in the Midwest. One showed the Midwest becoming a desert and the other one showed Kansas becoming as lush as Indiana."

"Those studies are dated and irrelevant," says Kevin Trenberth, one of the country's foremost climate experts. Trenberth heads the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (ncar), in Boulder, Colorado. "They were done in about 1995," he says of the studies. "The state of climate modeling was immature.… As many as 23 models since then have superseded them. These models can now simulate the last hundred years quite well, and thus are useful for broadscale predictions of the future."

Those models, says Trenberth, prove that the global mean temperature has gone up about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in that time, most of that since the 1970s. "Warmer air holds more water," Trenberth explains. "So in the U.S. the overall precipitation since 1900 has gone up, mostly in the last 35 years, by 7 percent. Heavy rainfall has gone up l4 percent, and the heaviest rainfall—the top 1 percent—has gone up by 20 percent. It rains more, and when it rains, it rains harder than it used to, and that certainly applies to the Midwest." Dry areas of the U.S., mainly the Southwest, do become drier as warm air pulls up what little moisture there is in the soil, Trenberth says, and so one sees more droughts. "There's simply no rational reason to doubt that those trends will not continue if global temperatures rise, as they seem set to do."

Mainstream scientists say that, along with a warming atmosphere, our oceans are heating up, too. "I think that's made up," Ebell says. "I understand that the oceans are primarily heated by direct solar radiation. I do not understand how—beyond just the surface—they are heated by the warming up of the atmosphere. It seems to me that the atmosphere would have to warm up significantly above the previous level before that radiation could actually heat up the ocean."

"That's the most preposterous bullshit I've ever heard," exclaims Tom Wigley, another senior scientist at ncar and co-author of a new study on ocean warming. "Perhaps that would be the case if the oceans didn't move. But the ocean is continually moving, horizontally and vertically, and continually mixing heat down to the depths. The top 100 meters has warmed about the same amount as the atmosphere—about one and a half degrees Fahrenheit. The deeper ocean warms much more slowly, but each degree increase in atmospheric temperature does propagate down.… In fact, the amount of warming agrees exceptionally well with what computer models say should have happened." Wigley says the models suggest that the rate of ocean warming in the 21st century will probably be four times greater than in the 20th century.

Ebell has a phrase for such predictions. Computer models for predicting climate, he says, "don't even pass the laugh test."

Wigley is astonished: "Does he think modeling is a hoax? Has he ever tried to talk to people about this?, I wonder. Or is he just having a guess?" Wigley observes that scientists have charted actual weather data from the 20th century, then programmed computer models to see how well the models predict the weather that actually occurred. "There are hundreds of papers," says Wigley, "showing that models do a fantastically good job."

Warming oceans already appear to have stirred tropical hurricanes of greater intensity and duration than in the past, though scientists are wary of suggesting that any particular storm—Katrina, for example—is the direct result of warming. What they do say, Wigley observes, is that, if warming trends continue, ocean storms will definitely grow stronger.

Ebell has a cheerier forecast. "Everybody involved in this debate who knows anything about storms knows that a warmer world will be a more stable planet with less big storms," he says. "There may be more hurricanes … but most of the big storms that kill a lot of people are in the winter, right? Cold kills a lot more people than warmth."

Scientists who do believe the ocean is warming—which is to say, nearly all of them—can already measure the cost to sea life. Researchers at the Sir Alistair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, in Plymouth, England, have found that, as a result of warming, the entire eco-system of the North Sea is in a state of "ecological meltdown."

Ebell disputes that. "If the oceans are warming, or the acidity is changing, that will benefit some species more than others," he says. "Some will take over, others will die out or move on somewhere else. The oceans are changing all the time."

For oceanographers, one worrisome sign lies right offshore: in tropical oceans all over the world, coral reefs are bleaching and dying as the acidity caused by warming, apparently, kills the plankton that sustain them.

Ebell is unconcerned. "My impression of corals," he says, "is that they have successfully adapted in the past to warmer temperatures and to cooler temperatures, and there is a good deal of evidence that they can adapt—that they actually changed their composition based on the temperature and the chemistry of the waters surrounding them over time."

"He is, of course, right and, of course, wrong," replies Dr. Elliott Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute. "Corals and their relatives have lived on earth for hundreds of millions of years. They've been more and less abundant, if you take the long view. On the other hand, there have been cataclysmic changes that have happened five previous times in the earth's history. The last was 65 million years ago when a celestial body the size of Mt. Everest hit the earth and caused the extinction of dinosaurs and many other species. It was not a nice time to be around, as I'm sure Mr. Ebell would have found in the minutes before he died."

Actually, warming has already affected countless species on land—or so say experts such as James Hansen, the nasa scientist who first sounded the alarm about global warming, two decades ago. Warming temperatures, he says, are forcing animals to migrate north out of their habitats. As they do, they disrupt the chain of life in their eco-systems, putting themselves and other species at risk. They may also run into man-made barriers that kill them, leading ultimately to their extinction.

"I've never seen a good study on that," Ebell counters. "What you see are studies that show that animals are living at higher elevations than they used to, or higher latitudes. Like you find robins now all over Canada."

Most immediately threatened, says Hansen, are animals of the polar climates: they have nowhere colder to go. As their world warms, the icebergs on which many of them live are melting, dooming them to drown. "Polar bears, in effect, will be pushed off the planet," Hansen has written.

"James Hansen was not trained as a climate scientist," Ebell says. "He was trained as an astronomer. He's a physicist. His dissertation was on the atmosphere of Venus, and he has applied what he's learned in physics and in astronomy to become a climate scientist, but you know from him talking about species' going north, he knows nothing about biology. Have you seen Legates's study?"

David Legates is another hard-core skeptic, director of the University of Delaware's Center for Climatic Research, who recently issued a paper declaring that only 2 of the world's 20 polar-bear populations are decreasing. Most of the others are stable; two are growing. What Ebell neglects to mention is that Legates's paper was published by another think tank, the National Center for Policy Analysis—whose global- warming-denial research was partially funded in 2005 with a $75,000 contribution from ExxonMobil—not in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The polar-bear study that was peer-reviewed—predicting that polar bears are moving toward extinction—was the work of more than 300 scientists and experts around the world in a consortium called the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Even the U.S. Department of the Interior has now proposed that polar bears be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act because polar sea ice is melting—an extraordinary admission for an administration philosophically aligned with the skeptics. But Ebell is unwilling to concede that polar bears are in any trouble at all.

The assessment team also concluded that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world—with some parts of Alaska warming as much as 10 times as fast. As a consequence, over the past 30 years, areas of ocean that are at least 15 percent ice have decreased annually by nearly 390,000 square miles, an area larger than Norway, Sweden, and Denmark combined. "We're facing unprecedented changes," says Dr. Robert Corell, senior policy fellow at the American Meteorological Society, who chaired the study.

"Corell is not a climate scientist," Ebell says. "He's not an Arctic expert. He's not a glaciologist. He's not any of those things. He is an oceanographer and an engineer."

The whole Arctic assessment, he declares, is cooked data. "If you look at the temperature graph … they show a strong warming trend in the last 34 years.… They cut the data off at 1950. There's a well-known Arctic temperature record that goes back to the early years of the 20th century. The reason they cut it off at 1950 is it was warmer in the Arctic in the 30s and 40s than it is today." The truth, Ebell says, is that "the Arctic warms and cools according to a period of natural cycles of several decades. And we're now in the warm phase; in the 50s and 60s and 70s we were in the cool phase. This is how you cook the data, and this is what these people are all about."

"That's baloney," Corell says. "We did go back further; we have historical records that go back 400,000 years. Parts of the Arctic were probably a little warmer in the 1930s than they are today, but the whole Arctic is warmer today certainly than it's been in the last thousand years—and probably a lot longer than that."

As for his background, Corell notes that, after studying engineering and oceanography, he made his first trip to the Arctic in 1968 and has been in and out of it ever since, taking sediment cores and writing papers, all while heading up the National Science Foundation's climate-study program. "I have never met Ebell," he adds. "He's never contacted me or sent anyone in the assessment any questions."

Corell's team feels that if warming continues at current rates the Arctic polar ice cap will soon start melting completely every summer. Ebell says so what. "The period in which the ice might disappear is a fairly limited one," he says. Besides, he points out, the Arctic polar cap is ice that's floating on water. "So that doesn't have any effect on sea levels at all—just like the ice cubes in your drink, when they melt, they don't change the level."

The same can't be said for the ice sheets over much of Greenland and all of Antarctica: they sit on land. In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore explains how the melting of either the Greenland ice sheet or the western arm of the Antarctica ice sheet would increase the level of the world's oceans by as much as 20 feet, inundating low-lying coastal areas from the Maldives to Manhattan. Ebell says that all this is exaggerated or plain wrong. The new alarm about Greenland, he points out, was based on a study of three years of melting. "It's melting slightly faster than it was four years ago, and we get worldwide consternation."

Though he likes to bash scientists for working outside their degreed fields, Ebell, it turns out, isn't a scientist at all. He majored in philosophy at the University of California in San Diego, then studied political theory at the London School of Economics and history at Cambridge. He was, he readily admits, a misfit growing up in rural Oregon on his father's 2,000-acre cattle ranch: a "pointy-headed intellectual" who "loathed the counterculture." He was a misfit in England, too, he discovered: not smart enough to get a fellowship at Cambridge, as Ebell modestly puts it, and not English enough to make do with the modest pay of an English academic. So he returned—with his Albuquerque-born wife, whom he'd met in England—to the U.S., working a succession of public-policy jobs in Washington, carving out conservative positions on property rights, federal lands, and endangered species. In none of those realms did he have any more than his curiosity and convictions.

"I'm not claiming to be a climate authority—the way Jim Hansen is, or Robert Corell," says Ebell. "Every interview I do, when I'm asked about scientific issues, I say I'm not a climate scientist. I'm just giving you the informed layman's perspective.… If science is going to be discussed in the public arena, then shouldn't people other than scientists be allowed to participate? Isn't that what a representative democracy is?"

With evidence of global warming piling ever higher, even the best of the skeptics has a harder time making his case. So Ebell and his colleagues have hit on a new theme. Maybe warming will occur at more than modest rates in the future, he acknowledges.

Some people think that's not so bad.

"People prefer warmer climates," Ebell declares. "They do better in them. People do better in Phoenix than they do in Buffalo. They feel better, they're happier, they're more productive. They live longer."

All predictions of global warming, Ebell observes, suggest that the tropics will stay about the same. The real effects of warming will be in the upper latitudes. "Northern cities like Saskatoon will be more like Calgary, and Bismarck, North Dakota, will be more like Kansas City, and Kansas City will be more like Oklahoma City. Now, is this really bad?"

Yes, it is, says Dr. Paul R. Epstein, of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. "It's not just the warming," he says. Or the storms and other weather extremes. Or the stress put on visible creatures of sea and land. "It's the pests and diseases!"

Epstein has studied the spread of malarial mosquitoes to ever higher mountain altitudes in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. "In the very places where glaciers are retreating and plant communities are migrating upward and temperatures are warming, mosquitoes are circulating." The pattern is consistent from one continent's mountains to the next. "That," Epstein notes, "creates conditions conducive to disease transmission at high altitudes."

Wrong again, says Ebell. "What Paul Epstein publishes is total rubbish," he exclaims. "Temperature is one of the least important factors in the spread of tropical diseases. Malaria didn't used to be called a tropical disease, because it was endemic throughout the world. It's tropical now because it's the rich countries that were able to eradicate it." Actually, that's not true. Malaria was originally called ague or marsh fever because it emanated from warm-weather swamps. Mosquitoes are warm-weather carriers, and the pioneering work done more than a century ago to identify them as carriers, before rich countries had any inkling they were to blame, was done in Algeria, Cuba, and India—all tropical or subtropical climes.

Epstein has another example: bark beetles. Not long ago, vigilant forestry had drastically reduced their prevalence in the U.S. Now because of warmer winters, he says, they've spread back north as far as Alaska. Frost used to kill them off, but now they "overwinter" and produce more generations each year as they go. "They kill the trees, laying eggs inside the bark," Epstein explains. "So we see vast stands of dead trees, and more forest fires."

Ebell says he grew up with bark beetles on his family's ranch. Their recent spread, he says, is simply due to poor forest management, not global warming. "Epstein is a medical doctor, not a scientist," he says. "He's a mountebank."

"What does that even mean?" Epstein says wonderingly. Though the Harvard doctor does know who Ebell is: "He works for that group funded by ExxonMobil, doesn't he?"

Every five to seven years now, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.), a United Nations–backed consortium of more than 2,500 experts from around the world, issues a voluminous report on global climate—the largest exercise in scientific research ever undertaken. Drafts of the latest report—the fourth—began appearing in February. Its conclusions are devastating. Casting aside the scientific caution of the first three reports, it says global warming is "unequivocal" and largely man-made. It predicts with greater than 90 percent confidence that if carbon dioxide levels rise to double what they were in pre-industrial times, which they'll likely do by the end of the century if fossil-fuel emissions aren't drastically cut, they will push global mean temperatures up between 3.5 and 8 degrees. That would warm the earth to a level not seen in 125,000 years. (That last rise was, of course, a very gradual one, allowing nature to adjust, not a flip-switch jolt in the blink of 350 years.) Already, the warming that's occurred seems likely to increase sea levels 7 to 23 inches by 2100. That's without taking into account the consequences of polar-ice-cap melting, the factor that Al Gore, James Hansen, and others say might cause sea levels to rise by 20 feet or more. The I.P.C.C. scientists say they can't predict the rate of ice-cap melting, and are forbidden, by their United Nations charter, to include speculation. So they just leave that part out. A second part, issued in March, predicts tens of millions of environmental refugees each year from flooding, the rampant spread of tropical diseases (including malaria), and widespread starvation by 2080.

Ebell says the I.P.C.C.'s verdicts are highly misleading. Most of those 2,500 experts work on small, specific bits of one of three 1,000-page reports. Their work isn't alarmist. Only the summaries are. "Who writes the summary for policymakers?," Ebell asks. "The member governments that belong to the I.P.C.C., not the scientists who work on the three 1,000-page case reports."

"Mr. Ebell doesn't understand how the I.P.C.C. works if he claims that the summaries are only the products of the governments," replies Richard H. Moss, senior climate director at the United Nations Foundation, who's a leading member of the I.P.C.C. as well as a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland. "All lead authors do have input into the summary documents, not just to the underlying chapters or specific portions of the summaries related to their expertise. Almost all concur that the evidence is mounting that we have a serious problem on our hands that we must begin to address."

For Ebell, being a contrarian has proved to be a pointy-headed misfit's idea of good fun. Still, with new studies appearing almost weekly confirming global warming, why not come out for doing something—anything—to help slow its onset in the bizarre event that it's as real as thousands of scientists say it is?

Ah, says Ebell with the grin of a debater who's saved his best points for last, because of the risk. "It's a risk-risk analysis," he says. "What is the risk of some of the consequences of global warming happening and having to deal with them compared to the risks of putting the world on an energy-rationing diet?"

The Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations agreement ratified by, as of February 2007, 170 countries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions but shunned by President Bush, has proved his point already, Ebell says. Many European nations will miss their 2010 targets for reducing fossil-fuel emissions. They're making huge sacrifices—in industry and capital growth—for tiny or nonexistent energy savings. President Bush was right to avoid it, Ebell says: it would cost the U.S. between $100 billion and $400 billion a year by 2050 to offset global warming by seven-hundredths of a degree Celsius. Not by chance was Kyoto's approach voted down 95–0 by the U.S. Senate in 1997—it is a dead end, Ebell says.
"Ever since Kyoto was negotiated," Ebell says, "there's no way I could lose. I hate to say that, because it sounds arrogant." But there it is. "It has nothing to do with us. It has to do with the reality. Al Gore and others … said we think that in order to solve this problem we'll have to reduce emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050." Meanwhile, Ebell observes, the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Energy Agency have each gauged the world's future energy needs. "Between now and 2030—not 2050—world energy use is going to go up by 60 percent!" (The International Energy Agency predicts the world will be using the same percentage of energy from fossil fuels that is used today, around 80 percent.) "This is a vision coming up against reality," Ebell says. "It's a train wreck, and I know which side will win. Reality will win."

As governments fail one by one to curb their greenhouse gases, Ebell suggests, a new generation of leaders will see the Kyoto Protocol for what it is: a loser. "They will want to distance themselves from it because it is a train wreck, and the scientific community will go, 'Oh, well, uh, maybe it wasn't as big a problem as we thought it was!'"

"Ebell may be proved right about Kyoto," says longtime New York Times environment reporter Andrew Revkin. "And because global warming isn't a catastrophe in the traditional definition of the word, its full impact won't be felt tomorrow, or next year, or perhaps even for decades. That makes it easy for Ebell to target some scientists as alarmists. This can perpetuate a false sense of intellectual deadlock. And that masks what is clearly established—that more carbon dioxide will raise temperatures and seas for centuries to come."

The best way to deal with warming, Ebell says, is to do exactly what President Bush is doing: encourage the energy industry to burn more gas, more oil, and more coal. The more energy we burn, the more prosperous the energy industry becomes. The more prosperous it is, the more quickly it replaces its fossil-fuel plants, using new technology that does a better job of trapping greenhouse gases. In 50 years, Ebell says, if global warming has really become the problem alarmists say it will be, the technology to deal with it then will be 50 years better than it is now. So let's wait until then, and tackle it more intelligently, more efficiently—more cheaply—than we can today.

To Harvard's Paul Epstein, that's the skeptics' most reprehensible claim. "Not only have the skeptics and the administration been misleading us about the science but about the economic consequences of trying to deal with this problem," he says. "They've maintained this big lie that we're going to lose if we deal with this now. In truth, Detroit is losing heavily because we're not dealing with this now. We're losing by not moving toward green buildings and hybrid cars and co-generation. Companies that are doing this are saving money."

As nearly every week brings a new alarm about global warming, Ebell stays proudly resolute—rather like George W. Bush rationalizing each new setback in Iraq. Only, with global warming, even the Bush administration is now embracing the latest I.P.C.C. report, in principle at least, and trying to make a case that Bush is now a convert to the reality of the threat. With warming, as with Iraq, alarm is growing among U.S. lawmakers. Recently, West Virginia Democratic senator John D. Rockefeller IV, who has championed the coal industry in his state for 30 years, teamed up with Maine Republican senator Olympia Snowe to write a quietly impassioned letter to ExxonMobil's new chairman and C.E.O., Rex W. Tillerson. The senators asked Tillerson to have ExxonMobil cease and desist from its global-warming-denial campaign. They are, they wrote, "persuaded that the climate change denial strategy carried out by and for ExxonMobil has helped foster the perception that the United States is insensitive to a matter of great urgency for all of mankind, and has thus damaged the stature of our nation internationally." In particular, they wrote, "We fervently hope that reports that ExxonMobil intends to end its funding of the climate change denial campaign of the Competitive Enterprise Institute are true."
Myron Ebell is shocked—shocked—and, of course, delighted. To be singled out among the three dozen ExxonMobil front groups is quite an honor. "Obviously it helps us with our media and general visibility," he acknowledges. In fact, ExxonMobil stopped funding C.E.I. last year. The company has also indicated to the Royal Society, Britain's prestigious academy of science, that it is reviewing the funding of all outside groups, but insists this is an annual process.

The scope of that edict may not be clear until early 2008, when the company publishes its 2007 Worldwide Giving Report. Already, though, Ebell is portraying C.E.I. as "a little flyspeck" up against the awesome clout of the competition. "The major environmental groups in this country have budgets of collectively over $1 billion a year," he says. "Our budget is $3.7 million a year, of which only about a quarter goes to global warming. Add up the other [global-warming denier] groups and maybe you can get to $10 million."

By late January, an eerily warm autumn has given way to an even stranger season. Europe is swept by 100-m.p.h. winds, while the Alps experience their warmest winter in 1,250 years. New Yorkers wear T-shirts and shorts on a 70-degree-Fahrenheit day. A month later, arctic weather descends, and Oswego County, New York, gets 11 feet of snow in a week, as bizarre and record-breaking a stretch of weather as the warm days of the month before. Ebell is unconcerned—still. "I remember a Christmas in the 1980s in Washington, D.C.—it was 78 degrees and I got sunburned," he reminisces. "Records are set all the time."
Michael Shnayerson is a Vanity Fair contributing editor.

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